- I realize this is far and away the least important thing to come out of yesterday's games, but will somebody please tell Phil Simms that the Patriots' big-play cornerback is Asante Samuel, not Asante Samuels. Seriously, the guy was only the MVP of the first quarter and a half of that game and will likely be one of the most sought-after players in free agency this off-season. How can you not know his last name? And this wasn't a one-time mistake either. Simms must have butchered it half a dozen times at least. So until he gets it right, Phil Simms is now Phil Simm. And what do you know, Phil Simm will be announcing this year's Super Bowl. Fantastic. Hopefully Brian Urlachers and Marvin Harrisons will step up and seize their moment in the spotlight.
You Might Want to Learn This Guy's Name, Phil
- Classic Madden jinx moment during the Pats-Colts game. New England had just gone up 21-3 when I received a text message from a Patriot super-fan. She wanted me to title this morning's entry "Quintessential Colts choke". Five minutes later, the Pats received back-to-back penalties, nullifying a first down inside the Indy 20 and costing New England a shot at a field goal. You all know the story from there. Let this warning be heard throughout the entire sports universe: The Madden jinx is real. So real, in fact, that you don't even have to be playing Madden for it to strike. Just do me a favor from here on out. Don't start talking trash until the clock reads 00:00. It will save us all a bunch of pain and heartache.
- Speaking of Pats' penalties, how about New England getting whistled for having 12 men in the huddle as they were getting ready to begin what could have been their salt-it-away drive? I know the Pats were beat up and I know their personnel losses over the years seem to have caught up to them. But you just don't see a Bill Belichick team make those kinds of dumb plays when it's crunch time. As much as Indianapolis won that game, New England choked it away. And don't even get me started on Reche "don't call me Gollum" Caldwell. How'd you like to run into him in a dark alley someday? Wouldn't surprise me if he's trying to catch some fishes as we speak. Of course, that would mean he'd actually have to catch something.
- Don't want to take anything away from what Indianapolis did, though. They had every opportunity to roll over and die, yet they never flinched. Heck, I thought they were done as soon as the Pats caught the break of the year by recovering that fumble in the endzone. Manning made a ton of big plays and did what he had to do. But how about that Colts' defense? Yes, they gave up 27 points (they can't be blamed for the pick-6 Peyton threw) but they didn't allow New England to hammer the ball down their throats when the Pats were playing with a lead. In fact, for the third straight game Indy help an opponent to less than 100 yards rushing... after not accomplishing it ONCE during the regular season. Unbelievable.
- Did anyone else feel that game resembled the Texas-USC Rose Bowl classic? Although no one stepped forward to deliver a truly sublime VY-esque performance, there were plenty of similarities which produced, for me at least, the same sort of chills and shout-out-loud moments that defined 2006's Game of the Year.
- I'm sure we'll hear a lot of talk in the next couple weeks about how Peyton finally has removed the choker label. Poppycock. If the Colts lose to the Bears (currently, a 7 point underdog), the A-Rod comparisons will ring louder than ever. Fair or not, the pressure is still firmly on the artist formerly (for now) known as Mr. Peepee.
- Speaking of the Bears, they were who we thought they were! A swarming play-making defense and a ball-control offense that can put a surprising number of points on the board. Honestly, I was stunned at how many people picked the Saints to win this weekend. The Bears obviously heard the hype and came out ready to prove a point of their own. So I imagine Chicago fans have to be thrilled knowing they're heavy underdogs in Miami as well. And that will only be compounded by the fact Peyton is going to receive at least 75% of the Super Bowl coverage. Ugh. I hate Super Bowl hype.
- As for those aforementioned Bears' fans, they keep giving me grief because I said they had "no chance" to win it all. Allow me to clarify (without backtracking). In a one game setting, ANY team can beat another. I mean, this is the NFL. Crazy things happen every week. You think I don't know this? One month ago, the TEXANS beat the Colts. So of course Chicago can win. Having said that, I completely believe they won't and I wanted to emphasize that fact. Keep in mind, I did predict them to beat New Orleans. But I didn't think they could beat Indy or New England and I still don't. Why? I'm glad you asked.
- Of course, it's all about Grossman. Check the stats. The guy has not played three consecutive good games all year. What makes you think he's capable of that now (not to say these last two games have been "good" for Grossman, but you know what I mean)? Now, I will say this: Chicago has proven they can make up for Rexy's mistakes and win anyway. But they're not playing the Cardinals here. This is the Super Bowl. You can't hide your quarterback. At some point, Rex will be asked to make plays and I don't see him having much success in that department. But hey, I'll be the first to admit I've been wrong before. Especially when it comes to players with ties to the University of Florida.
- You know what scares me about Grossman (besides everything)? He had one good drive yesterday. This, despite the fact New Orleans sold out to stop the run the entire second half. What happens when you sell out like that? It leaves your secondary matched-up one-on-one. But it still took Rex a full quarter to move the football and make some plays. And did you happen to see what Rex did on that drive? He immediately locked onto his target and never looked away. It worked out for him, sure. But that's the kind of rookie mistake that has gotten him into trouble this season. And as Phil Simm told us about one hundred times yesterday, the Colts' secondary LOVES to read the quarterback's eyes. Just throwing that out there.
- Lest I come across as merely a Bears-basher, I do think Chicago will give Indy all it can handle (unless Rex duplicates his Arizona game and I don't foresee the coaches allowing that to happen). I think Devin Hester is almost a lock to produce a big play (especially when you consider what Ellis Hobbs did to the Colts' special teams) and Chicago's D should be able to force some turnovers too. This match-up definitely resembles the New England-St. Louis shocker from 2002. And like that game, I think Adam Vinatieri will provide the winning points.
- As for the Saints, my worst fears became a reality. Sean Payton completed his transformation into Mike Martz and decided he had no use for running the football, despite a solid O-line that cleared Rose O'Donnell-sized holes for Reggie Bush and Deuce McCallister the week before. Look, I know the Bears are susceptible to the pass, but you at least have to make them respect the run a little. Sometimes I think offensive-minded coaches (like Payton) can out-smart themselves when they have too many weapons at their disposal.
- Regarding Reggie Bush, what can you say? Sure, he looked breathtaking on that 88 yard catch and run. So what? A real athlete like Mario Williams would have run over Brian Urlacher instead of pointing at him and then finished off the score with a triple salchow as opposed to a little fruity flip. Reggie sucks. Mario rules.
- Finally, the Big Tuna. No surprise here. You could see the writing on the wall as soon as his name was linked to the Giants then-vacant GM job. Sure, Parcells vehemently denied his interest, but are we really supposed to believe coaches these days? What was he supposed to say? As for possible replacements, big names like Bob Stoops and Jeff Fisher have been mentioned and I suspect Jerry Jones will want to make a splash with whomever he chooses. As for dark horses, how about Mike Singletary? I know he won't even get a sniff, but I'd love to see him coaching my team some day.
Straight up: 2-0
Against the Spread: 2-0
Straight up: 7-3
Against the Spread: 6-4