Monday, January 09, 2006

Randomization: 1/9/06

The Giants showed up...just not on time. Word we got was that the Giants reported to the stadium and commenced pregame warmups at around 4pm ET Sunday. The team was then informed that the game was played at 1pm and that Carolina had won and advanced. Coach Tom Coughlin said he thought something was up when he saw a dry-erase board propped up on one of the lower-deck seats with the words "BIG BLEW IT" scribbled on it. Coughlin said his team was told of a later start time by someone he believed to be an operative working on behalf of the jealous New York Jets.

Don't make me change my mind on Carolina. Yesterday was a shining example of why I wrote about not being able to trust this football team. They looked like a Super Bowl team, and I mean that. Delhomme was sharp, Smith made plays, and Foster ran very well. The question: Can they do it again? I don't doubt that they "can" do it again, but I need a few days to figure out if I'm going to have the guts to call the upset.

Not a good weekend to be a home team. Not only was New England the only home team to win this weekend, but they were the only home team to look like a decent team. Kinda throws this whole 16-game season thing out the window, doesn't it? Teams like the Buccaneers, Giants, and Bengals earned their division titles and earned their home games in the opening round. But none of them looked like playoff teams this weekend. The Bucs couldn't move or hold onto the ball, the Giants did very little right all afternoon, and the Bengals crumbled in the second half as Pittsburgh began to apply the pressure. I have a sneaking suspicion that the home teams will fare better this weekend.

Tom Brady is God. Since Reggie Bush and USC flopped in the Rose Bowl, ESPN has apparently decided that it's time to ride Brady's coattails right into the ground in Denver to the Super Bowl. I'll freely admit that Brady was very good on Saturday, but was his performance (at home and against a clearly inferior team) really that much better than Ben Roethlisberger's road game on Sunday in Cincinnati? Seriously, could Bill Cowher have drawn up a better game for Big Ben? He was accurate, efficient, smart, and he made some big plays with his arm, along with a key first down on Pittsburgh's first TD drive where he took off on third down and got some tough yards. But, no, Tom Brady carving up Jacksonville's defense was more impressive. Of course. I just wonder what the suits are going to say when Brady throws four picks and gets outplayed by Grizzly Plummer on Saturday night.

How? How do you total 120 yards and win? How does your QB hit 7 of 19 for 41 yards with a pick and get the win? I mean, good for Washington, but that was crazy. It shows what a dominant defense can do for you in the playoffs. However, if I were a Redskin fan, I wouldn't be counting on the same type of performance in Seattle. I will say this: I think there will be a ton of pressure on Matt Hasselbeck in this game. The Redskins will do what they did to Cadillac Williams and Chris Simms (they'll make Hasselbeck beat them because Shaun Alexander won't be allowed to get loose). The question everyone will have is whether Hasselbeck will fare well enough to get his team past Washington. I think he will, but it won't be easy. The Redskins' offense won't be held to 120 yards again, and Mark Brunell won't be held to 41 passing yards again. Seattle's going to have to score some points, and they're going to have to do it with some rather pedestrian receivers going against a very talented Washington secondary.

While we're at it...How can you not be ready for a trick play from the Pittsburgh Steelers? Shame on you, Cincinnati. And shame on Chad Johnson for not admitting that his team got pounded yesterday. I don't know that Carson Palmer would have helped much, though it certainly would have been more interesting in the fourth quarter if Palmer had not gotten hurt. Jon Kitna turned into a turnover machine in the second half, and he was a big reason why his team lost. My one complaint about the Bengals is that I don't think they get Rudi Johnson the ball enough. And they panic offensively when they fall behind. They become very predictable, even at times where they don't have to be predictable.

And one more thing...Kimo von Oelhoffen might be fined for the hit on Palmer that put him out, but he shouldn't be. Both his immediate reaction to the hit and his postgame mea culpa make it very clear that von Oelhoffen didn't intend to injure Palmer. In a league, however, that overprotects its QBs, it might not be enough to avoid the letter from the league asking for money. The true crime would be if the league decided to institute tighter rules on low hits on QBs. The last thing this league needs right now is another rule to protect QBs, especially when other rules that are supposed to protect players (horse collars, anyone?) go almost completely unenforced.

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