Thursday, December 24, 2009
Behind The Scoreboard
NFL heats up
First, let me wish each and everyone of you a Very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years. And thank you for your readership and support. This time of the year is always “one of a kind.”
Speaking of one of a kind, or better yet, then there was one. The luck of the Irish or the elusive magic of the Mardi Gras probably could not have helped the New Orleans Saints preserve their best ever record. The halo boys were looking for that 14th straight win. This was for the sake of the record books. The Saints didn’t need the win to make the playoffs. They had already written that in stone days ago.
Going into Sunday’s games, only one other team had joined the Saints and Colts on that desired plateau. Brett Favre and the Vikes had claimed a playoff spot but needed to beat Carolina to make the acquisition of the division crown pretty much a sure thing.
The Colts, who have locked up everything including a partridge in a pear tree, are tacitly not spouting off about their chances at another SB victory, but moved even closer to their perfect season last Thursday night by defeating the Jaguars 35-31. They have just two hoops left in their quest for an unblemished season. The New York Jets shouldn’t prove to be that much of a difficulty. They meet next Sunday. The Jets is one of those teams mentioned last week which probably has a wild card shot. There are perhaps a half dozen teams which fit that bill. And would you believe they all have records of 7-7?
Then there are teams such as Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, and Kansas City, which have no purpose at this juncture except to play spoiler. To them, their seasons can receive a measure of validation by dashing the future of some of the hopefuls.
So, just what did the game on Saturday really mean to the Cowboys and Saints? The not so obvious is the December plight of the Cowboys. With the win over New Orleans, they went to 9-5. That put them one game behind the Eagles. With the Eagles facing the 49ers on Sunday afternoon, it is not hard to imagine what one of the Cowboys’ Christmas wishes would be.
The Saints would loved to have had the victory, but it was not a do or die situation for them. As stated earlier, their stocking is already pretty full. They just have to guard against the season-ending “blahs” and avoid injuries to key personnel.
Most of the NFL gurus will tell you that the best football is played at this time of the season. To lend credence to that, one need only to look at the games between the Titans and Dolphins and Packers and Steelers. Miami was certain that the challenge from the upstart Tennessee had been successfully met until the overtime period. The Titans had a record (6-7) which was directly opposite that of the Dolphins (7-6). When the last pigskin cleared the uprights, they were even at 7-7. And now both teams have to navigate the wild card quagmire.
Green Bay was hoping that they would go to 10-4 by keeping the defending champs Steelers on their knees. But when the last yard was gained and Big Ben Rothelisberger had set a new franchise record for passing yards with 503, the Pack was stunned. Green Bay apparently had not checked the odds, which had the Steelmen winning by two.
As for Brett and the Norsemen, maybe relying on the odds was their downfall. They were predicted to beat the Panthers by nine points. Check the scores.
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