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A weekly NFL breakdown that heads in the opposite direction of your average pro football analysis.
1. The Cowboys' Tony Romo is the worst big-game quarterback in recent memory. We were all too eager to ordain him the next great quarterback. Romo doesn't have it in him right now.
2. As done as Brett Favre looked after the Jets' loss to the Dolphins on Sunday, counting him out is impossible. He looked just as done last year. But come March, his arm will feel better and he'll remember he doesn't like hanging around the house all day. But make no mistake, Favre should retire. He threw nine picks and just two touchdowns in his last four games and is no longer good enough to carry a team to the playoffs.
3. The Dolphins' Wildcat formation is definitely the biggest story of 2008. The 20 teams that were eliminated should start pouring over game tapes to see what else those crazy college coaches are up to? If I was a coordinator, I'd call Texas Tech's Mike Leach right now and try to pick off something from their suped-up spread offense.
4. Quarterback play is the most critical element to winning in the NFL, right? Then why are four of the top five teams in the league ranked No. 16 or below in passing this season? The Giants, Titans, Panthers and Steelers have all gotten decent quarterback play at times, but let's not kid ourselves about their signal-callers. Journeymen could have carried any of those run-first, defensive-oriented teams into the playoffs. The Giants' Eli Manning has played poorly late in the season, the Titans' Kerry Collins is just a guy off the street, the Panthers' Jake Delhomme has one play - the jump ball to Steve Smith -- and Ben Roethlisberger, while often brilliant, sometimes hurts the Steelers as much as he helps them. Everyone will say quarterback play wins in the playoffs, but this year that could be just an empty cliché.
5. With so much poor quarterback play around the NFL, there will be a lot of turnover at that position next season. After Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco re-defined what rookie QBs are capable of, several teams will likely give first-year players a shot next season. Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez may be drafted in the first half of the first round and could be starting by Week 1. Tim Tebow's running skills could also give him a shot to start on a bad team. And who knows how many small-school Flacco-types are out there who could wow teams at the combine and be playing at this time next year. College systems are getting very close to the pros, so some of these QBs should have success next year.
6. Adrian Peterson became the fifth player in NFL history to run for 3,000 yards in his first two seasons. He joined two Hall of Famers, Eric Dickerson (Rams) and Earl Campbell (Oilers), and two current backs, Edgerrin James (Colts) and Clinton Portis (Broncos). Is Peterson closer to Dickerson and Campbell - two of the all-time greats - or James and Portis, two backs whose careers were jump-started because they landed in the perfect systems?
Everyone tends to get very excited about Peterson because he breaks off long touchdowns and runs with a lot of panache. But Peterson did come into just the right situation in Minnesota. The Vikings have an outstanding offensive line - good enough to allow journeyman Chester Taylor to rush for 1,216 yards the season before Peterson arrived. But that won't matter in the record book. The all-time rushing king Emmitt Smith would have been just an above-average back on most other teams other than Dallas.
7. Things would have been so much easier in Philly if they didn't beat up the Cowboys on Sunday. The Eagles had finally reached a place where they could let go of a bunch of veterans and rebuild from scratch for another Super Bowl run. Now they have to risk disappointing fans once again in the postseason. But even the biggest Andy Reid or Donovan McNabb ripper - of which there are many in Philadelphia - wouldn't trade that win over Dallas for anything. Regardless of what happens in the playoffs, Reid is definitely back, and now McNabb looks like a solid bet to return. But McNabb's contract situation could be one of those ugly offseason stories if the Birds don't reach the Super Bowl.
8. Maybe the Patriots are simply a victim of karma. Their bad luck this season can be attributed Spygate, taunting the Chargers after beating them in the playoffs and Tom Brady leaving his pregnant girlfriend. The football gods might have gotten mad because Bill Belichick thought he knew more than them.
The press box at the Jets-Dolphins game was buzzing about a report Tom Brady was behind on his rehab and New England might be forced to franchise tag Matt Cassel as a backup plan for next year. The Patriots built their dynasty by ruthlessly cutting older players like Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law and Drew Bledsoe. Wouldn't it be great if they decided to keep Matt Cassel and shop Brady on the open market? It will never happen, but can you imagine the feeding frenzy around the NFL if it did? If I owned an NFL team, I'd trade the house for him just to see Giselle in person.
9. Great failures can lead to great successes in the NFL, often involving Bill Parcells. The Giants lose the Miracle of the Meadowlands and a few years later hire Parcells. The Dolphins go 1-15 and get Parcells in the offseason. So the Lions should look at their 0-16 season as an opportunity to land the Tuna or the closest facsimile they can find. If you're a Lions fan and the Fords don't fire everyone, start rooting for another team.
10. Every year we all get excited about a few teams that finish hot despite not making the playoffs. It's called the "Texans Syndrome." But winning in December can be really deceiving after a season full of injuries. Watch out for the over-hyping of these teams based on their late-season play.
Texans -- They won five of their last six and will be everyone's team to watch coming into next season. We've seen this before. Don't buy it. This team has its ups and downs and always ends up near 8-8.
49ers -- They won four out of their last five under Mike Singletary and play in the weak NFC West. But can Singletary keep them fired up for a whole season? A lot depends on who they chose as offensive coordinator.
Bengals -- Did anyone notice the Bengals won their last three? Even the most ardent fan has to admit that's a bit of an aberration and it's hard to believe they'll ever recapture their offensive glory, especially with coming changes to their receiving corps.
Raiders -- They beat the Texans and Bucs in their last two games and Michael Bush emerged as a potential star to pair with this year's first-round pick Darren McFadden. But whatever progress they made will mysteriously disappear by Week 1 of next year.