Week 13: Wrapping it up
Another interesting week in the NFL, to say the least. The Titans defeated the Colts, which makes it hard to ignore the fact that Tennessee has five wins already. (It's also one of the early signs of the holiday season, the look Peyton Manning has on his face here - that's the look of, "But...I thought WE were supposed to win!"Jeff Fisher, who apparently was in danger of losing his job despite being perhaps the best coach in the NFL, is apparently secure these days. And he’ll get a few votes for Coach of the Year for getting at least those five wins out of an exceptionally young and sporadically talented team.
But who actually wins Coach of the Year – Jets coachErik Mangini or Sean Payton from the Saints? The Saints are probably the best story of the year, and I’d expect Payton to get the nod. But at this point, there’s at least a capable argument for Mangini. The Jets have been a terrible team for a long time, and rarely a team that’s honestly gone into a season with serious expectations of a playoff berth. This season, it is true that they’ve benefited from a pathetically soft schedule, but they earned that by being bad themselves. They won four games last year. Mangini should earn plenty of votes for Coach of the Year.
The Saints, of course, only won three games last season. But it’s clear that they’ve always had talent. Losing Aaron Brooks and signing MVP Candidate Drew Brees are decisions he would have had input on but not final say as he’s not the GM. But the way he’s handled Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister is exceptionally impressive. And having the stones to shuttle off Donte Stallworth and rely on a seventh round draft pick from Hofstra (that’s Marques Colston who should win Rookie of the Year) at wideout is commendable. So I have no problem with Payton as Coach of the Year.
Wow, that was a long time to talk about that topic, especially since there are four whole games left in the year. And yet it feels like things are already getting settled. Look at the playoff picture -- as Andy Cuthill pointed out to me two weeks ago, pretty much all the divisions are set. Failing a major collapse, your division winners are going to be New England, Baltimore, Indy, San Diego in the AFC. And the NFC looks like Dallas, Chicago, New Orleans, and Seattle.
Wild cards are a mathematically equation I’m not particularly interested in doing just yet, but I figure that will sort itself out soon enough. Our heroes – the San Francisco 49ers, of course – are still too young and talent-thin, but Mike Nolan should also get some props for how he’s turning this team around.
And in the Pick ‘Em, it’s still wide open. Look at the home page at the second column, the Group Pts, and you will see 25 teams within ten points of the lead. Two teams whose names shall go unmentioned finished just out of the money in Week 12 and at the bottom of this weeks’ standings. (Um, which means I just pointed out who they are, indirectly.)
This week’s winner is longtime Pick ‘Em player and winner Erik Lindemann who sealed up the victory before Monday night’s game even kicked off, getting 13 of the first 15 games correct. That’s astounding, and were I wearing a hat, I’d tip it in Erik’s general direction.
Remember that I’ve now set the site so that you can make your picks anytime up until five minutes before each game. That means, of course, that for games not started, you won’t be able to see who everyone else has taken until after those games have begun. For those who check their computers several times on a Sunday afternoon, this might apply.
I suppose I couldn’t finish this up without mentioning Reggie Bush and his four TDs against the Niners. Yes, it was fantastic and that guy – in case you hadn’t heard – is very, very fast. And the Saints are probably no worse than the third best team in the NFC. (Begrudgingly, I have to rank the Cowboys #2, just below the Bears. God, I hate the Cowboys.)
Bush and Vince Young are going to give Marques Colston a run for his money at Rookie of the Year, for that matter.
The big story around the league was about how teams in contention aren’t afraid to make changes at quarterback, citing Tony Romo taking Drew Bledsoe’s job, and Jay Cutler taking over for Jake Plummer. (By the way, I drafted Bledsoe and Plummer as my QBs in fantasy football. Sigh.) But after Sunday night, is it still looking so smart to bench Jake? I mean, the Broncos were winning with the Snake. In spite of him, I should suppose. And Cutler looked as bad as, say, Rex Grossman. (Thirty-six yards, Rex? And 3 INT? Not good, my friend. Not good.)
OK, that’s enough for now. Congrats to Erik, and remember – once again, there’s a Thursday night game, so get those picks in!