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A weekly NFL column that heads in the opposite direction of your average pro football analysis.
1. The Jets probably don't have a chance to win more than one game in the postseason, but they have plenty of reasons to be excited about their future. They have the best defense in the NFL this year and Rex Ryan hasn't been able to truly recreate the unit he had in Baltimore. Wait until he gets his fast outside linebacker type (perhaps Adalius Thomas?) and starts to rush the passer more effectively. With cornerback Darrelle Revis shutting down half the field, they should have one of the better defenses in recent memory next year.
2. Momentum, especially the Week 17 variety, is overrated. After the Cowboys lost to the Giants in Week 13, a defensive Wade Phillips told reporters that December records were overrated because the last couple of seasons saw teams overcome late-season difficulties to reach the Super Bowl. He pointed to the 2008 Cardinals, who were awful in the second half, and the '07 Giants, who lost two of their last three (they did, however, play the then-undefeated Patriots tough). He could have lumped in the '06 Colts, who lost three of their last five with Peyton Manning playing the whole time.
So forget the Cowboys' three-game win streak, the Packers' win over the Cardinals, the Jets' blowout of the Bengals, the Saints' three game-slide and the Colts' two losses. Based on recent history, the hot team doesn't have a significant edge.
3. The Cowboys are the hottest team in the NFC -- and perhaps the most talented -- and embarrassed Philadelphia on Sunday 24-0. But Dallas faces a huge hurdle to start the postseason. Philly's Andy Reid is undefeated in playoff openers and usually has the Eagles fired up after a loss. Wade Phillips has never won a playoff game. The Eagles have some major concerns -- the exchange between Donovan McNabb and backup center Nick Cole and their inability to pressure Tony Romo. But on paper, Philly has the most important edge -- coaching.
4. Not allowing winning teams to sit their starters is actually anti-competitive, since it's forcing them to do something that's not in their best interest. What is Roger Goodell so upset about anyway? The fans of the clinched team have nothing to complain about. They've been treated to a great season and can look forward to the playoffs. Colts fans are the whiniest bunch in the NFL. They should visit Cleveland or Oakland before having such a public hissy fit over nothing.
5. Josh McDaniels did the right thing sitting Brandon Marshall and should feel free to let Marshall go in the offseason. Jabar Gaffney's 213-yard game against the Chiefs on Sunday was no fluke. Any halfway decent receiver can have a huge season playing against the underdeveloped defenses of the AFC West. Considering Marshall could be a free agent and likely won't get big money from Denver, McDaniels was wise to take this opportunity to make a strong locker room statement.
6. If Texans QB Matt Schaub can throw for 4,770 yards in a season (the sixth highest total in NFL history), then the integrity of every passing record in the NFL is in jeopardy. The fact Dan Marino has held on to the record since 1984 is incredible, but it can't last much longer.
7. Titans running back Chris Johnson's 2,006 rushing yards were a great accomplishment, but it underscores the incredible feat of the real single-season rushing king -- and I don't mean Eric Dickerson. O.J. Simpson's 2,003 yards in 1973 has to be the benchmark other backs are judged by. Simpson's personal demise is somehow making him underrated among the great players in NFL history.
8. The Steelers showed once again how un-focused they are by almost letting Tyler Thigpen lead the Dolphins back on Sunday in what was a meaningful game at the time. Pittsburgh came away with the win, but it displayed an attitude that they can coast for parts of games and pull wins out. Still, their talent level hasn't dropped off much from last year's Super Bowl-winning team. Pittsburgh linebacker Lamarr Woodley showed he can take over a game Sunday against Miami and will combine with a healthy Troy Polamalu to lead my prohibitive pick in the AFC in 2010.
9. The Who is performing at halftime of the Super Bowl and is reportedly dedicating "Won't Get Fooled Again" to anyone who wants to read into the Texans' strong finish and predict they'll make the playoffs next year. Never again, Gary Kubiak.
10. Tim Tebow likely played his way into the first round of the NFL draft on New Year's Day by throwing so well out of the pocket. But it was against an awful Cincinnati defense and I'm still not sold. Where do you think "The Chosen One" will be picked in the upcoming draft?