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Tag:Brad Childress
Posted on: November 21, 2010 11:29 am
Edited on: November 21, 2010 12:00 pm
 

Favre: Childress insults are a 'damn shame'

Posted by Will Brinson

All the speculation surrounding the Minnesota-Green Bay game today is that it could be Brett Favre's last game in the NFL. There's a belief that if the Vikings lose to the Packers, Favre will limp off into the dusty sunset. (Please note, of course, that you should never, ever, ever-ever-ever assume Favre's gone until papers are filed.)

But No. 4 insists that he's ready to bring it against his old team and, according to ESPN's Ed Werder, Favre has been slinging the ball all week, at some point leaving a dent in wideout Greg Camarillo's helmet with a cannonball of a throw. He's also unconcerned about leaving anything on the field.

"If it comes off, it comes off," Favre said about his arm.

While the idea of the final picture of Brett Favre's career being him shrieking in horror as blood spurts from a dismembered shoulder is a little amusing (in a morbid cartoonish way), it's more than likely that we'll have some sort of image that involves Favre vs. Brad Childress -- Favre told Werder this week that he's still cheesed about the way Chilly handled his presser after the first Packers game.

"It's a damn shame," Favre said " What I think about is going to my press conference knowing he'd taken some shots at me."

Of course, Chilly went to his press conference knowing that Favre has more power in the Vikes' organization than the coach, so, it's kind of hard to blame him, you know?

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Posted on: November 20, 2010 10:01 am
 

Analyzing a Parcells-Vikings marriage

Posted by Andy Benoit

There has been some speculation in Minnesota that Bill Parcells could be coming to town. What propagated this? The increasingly hot seat under Brad Childress, for one. And for two, Parcells’ statement on tonight’s NFL Films documentary: “"Get me back out there. I can do this one more time. That's how I feel."

Before he bought the Vikings, Zygi Wilf was a huge Giants fan. We’ll assume he was a huge Parcells fan, too.
But this is where the connections end. There have been no inside sources suggesting Parcells and the Vikings could be a match – it’s all just outside speculation.

Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune poured a little cold water over that speculation. Here’s an excerpt:

Despite repeated requests in recent weeks to interview Wilf, he has declined. That's certainly his right but it means that any opinions about which direction he might take this organization is pure speculation.

There also has been no indication that Wilf and the rest of ownership are planning to clean house. Hiring a larger than life figure such as Parcells would lead one to assume that he would be given the authority to pick and choose who he kept.

Keep in mind, too, that Zygi and Mark Wilf, who serves as the Vikings president, have had nothing but praise for the job done by vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman and vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski.

It's logical to think that if the Vikings decided to hire a general manager that Spielman would be a serious candidate, with the expectation he would work closely with Brzezinski. Spielman has an impressive title but he does not currently have the type of authority that a general manager does. Childress, for instance, has final say on the 53-man roster and is probably as close to a general manager as the Vikings have under the way things are set up.

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Posted on: November 19, 2010 4:22 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2010 4:29 pm
 

Sidney Rice decides to play

Posted by Andy BenoitS. Rice (US Presswire)

Vikings head coach Brad Childress gave wide receiver Sidney Rice an ultimatum: either play this week or be shut down for the remainder of the season. The fourth-year wideout has decided to play.

Just prior to the season, Rice presumably irked the Vikings by undergoing hip surgery after deciding that he could not fight through the nagging injury. He was placed on PUP and has not been of service to the team all season.

Some have speculated that Rice’s surgery was a negotiating ploy (he’s looking for a new contract). That is illogical, though, as teams generally aren’t encouraged to pay big money to players who prove they can’t consistently take the field. Where the contract situation may have come into play was in Rice’s decision to suit up in 2010 (again, it’s hard to ask for a new contract when you’re not playing). If anything, Rice needs to play in order to shed his reputation for being lazy and content. (This isn't to say he IS lazy and content -- more than a few critics, including Cris Carter, have suggested this, though.)

Rice’s absence doomed the Viking offense from Day One (though a shoddy front line maybe would have ultimately doomed it anyway). The trade for Greg Camarillo has not filled the void at receiver. And, you may have heard, the trade for Randy Moss was not very successful.

So now Brett Favre has his favorite downfield target back. But after being on the shelf for some three months, will that downfield target be viable? And, with the Vikings now 3-6, does it even matter?

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Posted on: November 18, 2010 12:02 am
 

Dey Took Er Jobs: Did We Really Doubt Mike Vick?

Posted by Will Brinson

Dey Took Er Jobs takes a look at the various job controversies around the league. If you don't get the title, you don't watch enough South Park . This week: Where have all the job controversies gone? No, but seriously, we're all locked in! Also, Vick talk, because it's Vick Week. And who's on the hot seat?

It's fairly bizarre that for at least say, oh, five weeks we wondered whether or not Michael Vick should be the starter for the Eagles.

Well not so much wondered but at least kind of debated. Well, okay, after we saw how Vick played against Detroit and Jacksonville there wasn't a debate, but Kevin Kolb's performance against Atlanta and his strong effort while Vick was sidelined at least had people thinking twice.

Speaking of thinking twice, remember when Andy Reid decided to go with Vick and we all got all RABBLE-RABBLE! on him for not being man enough to make up his mind?

Yeah, we should probably all apologize for that, because he ended up being 100 percent correct in his decision making, which culminated in Week 10's fantasy point explosion where Vick piled up 413 yards and four touchdowns via the air and ground. (And really, it's kind of criminal that he didn't win both the FedEx awards this week.)

Reid's decision making also includes signing Vick in the first place, prepping him to be a better pocket passer, and putting him in situations to succeed (even if sometimes those situations have fans of football screaming "STOP LETTING HIM TAKE HITS TO THE RIBS, BIG GUY!").

At the end of the year, if the franchise tag survives the new CBA, Vick's likely to get tagged, which may be why the two sides have yet to discuss an extension. Mike Florio of PFT cites a source who says that Vick's contract/extension value is lower than one might think (relative to the market value of the guy he whipped on Monday, Donovan McNabb, who just got a pretty big deal) unless the Eagles can get some sort of assurances that Vick won't get in trouble. In fact, one of the sources points out that "all he has to do is breathe in the wrong direction and he will be suspended for life." Obviously that's a bit of hyperbole (after all, Vick survived his birthday party that wasn't exactly a Sweet 16), but not that much -- he's about to go from one of the greatest second-chance stories of all-time right back to super-popular, rich mega-bajillionaire.

His current humility and attitude towards life sure seems like it can survive that temptations that come along with that, but in the same way that Reid showed some good faith in Vick, well, the quarterback should reciprocate towards Philadelphia, even if it means taking less money than he could get elsewhere.

Reid's talents for offensive scheming fit Vick's talents for offensive performance, and there's no reason to mess with a good thing. Not saying he should completely cave on contract demands (this is a business after all) and not saying the Eagles should put all their eggs in one basket, particularly one with a history of not always holding up, but this is a pretty good marriage right now, and everyone involved would be wise to let it keep rolling.

****
Elsewhere in the NFL, well, man, there ain't a whole lot of job issues anymore. We can start in Carolina (per usual), but at this point we're debating the semantics between Brian St. Pierre and Tony Pike, which is like debating between, um Mike Goodson and Tyrelle Sutton.

Actually, no it's not, because Sutton, along with Jonathan Stewart, aren't likely to play this week. Which leaves Goodson and whatever poor soul the Panthers have to start at quarterback against a Ravens defense that is suddenly enraged at being called "not elite." Should be good times!

Arizona's "solved" their quarterback problems the same way Seattle has -- by default. It just makes more sense to roll with Derek Anderson and Matt Hasselebeck at this point, rather than go with the alternative, which involves a rookie and Jesus Beard, respectively.

****
Troy Smith appears to have solved the problems in San Francisco (yes, those problems were "losing" coupled with "crappy quarterback play") and, as we mentioned last week, why wouldn't he? Well, except for that ridiculous "week-to-week" tag that Mike Singletary hit him with; that's insulting to Troy and the team and anyone who's ever seen Alex Smith or David Carr lose games.

People lamented his height as a reason for not having quarterback success in the NFL, but that's a poor excuse when the talent is there. And, frankly, probably an indicator of why talent evaluation misses so badly sometimes.

****
Even the Dolphins, who just lost TWO quarterbacks in the last week, aren't a debatable team, because there's Tyler Thigpen, who's had some decent success in Kansas City, and there's Patrick Ramsey, who has a resume with enough teams on it that even Todd Bouman cringes when he reads it.

So …

****
Pants on Fire (Because, you see, it's a hot seat)

- Brad Childress: Once Brett Favre's lost all hope, there's no reason to continue believing that you've got a job as a head coach. Even more telling of Chilly's future is that he didn't know about Favre's "shoulder injury," which should probably be indicative of his status after this year. Frankly, the team's absolutely foolish not to give Leslie Frazier a chance right now.

- John Fox: He's as good as gone at this point, but give him credit for this -- he 100 percent has not lost the Panthers in terms of the team believing him. You can see it from those guys that they buy into what he's saying, even at 1-8, and that's perhaps the best possible endorsement one can give the coach of the worst team in football.

- Marvin Lewis: Donovan McNabb is making fun of his team's record. If you watched Monday night, you know Donovan shouldn't be making fun of anyone. So, yeah …

- Gary Kubiak: He got an endorsement from the owner, which is always considered a good thing, except it always ends in someone getting fired. Still, considering how terrible his defense is, maybe he should be getting credit for the fact that the Texans are 4-5.

- UMM, seriously, what happened? There were at least 15 guys on the hot seat a week ago. Now all of a sudden Wade Phillips gets fired, Jacksonville's a winner again, Lovie Smith is getting freebies from Chilly and everyone's either being coached by a new regime or a guy who's quickly reviving the team (yes, we're even lumping Mike Singletary there, but . NO GOOD PEOPLE. WE WANT MORE FIRINGS.

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Posted on: November 17, 2010 11:08 am
 

Could Sidney Rice miss the remainder of 2010?

Posted by Will Brinson

The short answer to the question of Sidney Rice missing the rest of the year: YES. The long answer, well, that's a bit more complicated, thanks to myriad reasons.

Anyway, Judd Zulgad and Chip Scoggins of the Minnesota Star-Tribune point out that the Vikes have a week from Wednesday to activate Rice from the Physically Unable to Perform list, or else he'll be required to remain on the list and miss the remainder of 2010.

It seemed like Rice might play on Sunday when Minnesota lost to Chicago (even if it was only 30 snaps, as Brad Childress had previously mentioned), but he didn't and that's on Rice, who will make the ultimate decision about whether he's healthy enough to go.

There's just a couple of issues there, however -- because Rice is coming off hip surgery, he has a perfectly legitimate excuse for "not being right." But there was some controversy about the surgery in the first place, because some folks believed it's timing belied Rice's unhappiness with not receiving a new contract from Minnesota. If he and agent Drew Rosenhaus believe that the Vikings won't offer more money any time soon, it's entirely plausible that Rice's decision on his health could be influenced by such factors.

The wideout's leverage in negotiations has also increased recently, with the departure of Randy Moss to the Titans and the resulting promotion of Hank Baskett and Bernard Berrian on the depth chart. Yes, Percy Harvin is immensely talented and a key piece to the future of the Vikes' offense, but combining him and Rice would make things easier for whoever replaces Brett Favre (via trade, draft or default to Tavaris Jackson) and Brad Childress next year.

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Posted on: November 16, 2010 4:45 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2010 4:55 pm
 

Top Ten With a Twist: Potential head coaches



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

With Wade Phillips getting the pink slip last week and with much discussion about the job security of Minnesota’s Brad Childress, it’s become obvious that it’s that time of the year when fans debate the merits of firing the coach of their favorite teams. That obviously equals bad times for coaches like Marvin Lewis, John Fox, Gary Kubiak, Norv Turner, Josh McDaniels and Mike Singletary.

Since Phillips is gone and Childress might as well be gone, let’s dive into the intriguing possibilities of who will be available – some long-time assistants who hunger for their first shot at a head coaching job, some former head coaches who wouldn’t mind getting back into the business and maybe a college coach or two who want to test himself at the pro level.

Many of the following likely will get interviews after the season when the current coaches who can’t work themselves off the hot seat clean out their offices. Until then, let’s speculate on who might be available.

10. Dick LeBeau: I know, I know. He’s probably not going anywhere, and his three-season stint as the Bengals coach wasn’t so good (12-33). But LeBeau has been such an innovator on defense, I’d like to see the Steelers defensive coordinator get another shot at running a team. It’s not going to happen, because he’s 73 years old, but there would be a ton of smiling faces around the league if he got another chance.

9. Rob Ryan: We need – I mean, we NEED – another Ryan brother as a head coach in the NFL. Aside from being the most entertaining coach out there today – publically, at least – Rex Ryan has done a wonderful job turning the Jets into Super Bowl contenders. Now, Rob Ryan, the Browns defensive coordinator, needs to get his chance. With the marked improvement in Cleveland, does Ryan deserve the shot? Probably not at this point. But how awesome would it be if somebody gave him a job?

8. Mike Zimmer:
He arguably performed his best coaching job of his career last year when, despite the death of his wife and of Bengals WR Chris Henry, the defensive coordinator led Cincinnati’s defense to the No. 4 ranking in the NFL. For as long as the Bengals have tried to improve their defense, Zimmer finally was the one to make it happen. Cincinnati’s defense ranks 15th this season, but his players respect him and his coaching style. At some point, you’d think a team will take a chance on him.

7. Jon Gruden/Bill Cowher: Yes, they’ve both got lucrative analyst deals with ESPN and CBS, respectively, and both seem to do a pretty nice job (although Gruden spends a little too much time being a little too positive on his Monday Night Football gig). It’s hard to tell if Cowher is serious about getting back into coaching, but it wouldn’t be hard to believe Gruden wanting to jump at the chance (those are the whispers you hear, at least). He just seems hard-wired for the long hours, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he were to return. For Cowher, it’d probably have to be the perfect job. And I’m not sure that kind of job will appear in the offseason.

6. Marty Mornhinweg: The 5-27 mark he recorded while coaching the Lions is pretty difficult to swallow. But one of the biggest achievements this season made by Mornhinweg – the Eagles offensive coordinator – has been the transformation of QB Michael Vick from a playmaker with brilliant talents to a complete quarterback that’s nearly unstoppable with his legs and his arm. The Eagles rank second in points scored and third in yards per game, and much of that is a credit to Mornhinweg.

5. Cam Cameron: It’s a testament to Cameron that the Ravens, previously known as a strong defense that couldn’t score points, are now known as a high-powered offense that has a more difficult time stopping opponents. Cameron has weapons (QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice, a plethora of receivers), and he knows how to use them. It might not happen for a few more years, but Cameron deserves another chance (if a prospective owner can overlook the 1-15 season he had while running the Dolphins).

4. Perry Fewell: He had a taste of head coaching last season after the Bills fired Dick Jauron and made Fewell the interim. He led Buffalo to a 3-4 record – looking back on it, it was almost miraculous – but he and the rest of the coaching staff were fired anyway. Now, he’s the Giants defensive coordinator , and not surprisingly, they’re the No. 1 defense in the NFL in yards allowed.

3. John Fox:
He doesn’t have much longer in his current role, as the head coach in Carolina, and despite the team’s putridicity (?) this season, he remains a well-respected figure in the league. Why, you ask? Well, he led the Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII, two seasons after a George Seifert-led Panthers squad went 1-15. Overall, he’s 72-65 as the coach in Carolina, and you can be sure Fox will have a job somewhere in the NFL. And quite possibly as a head coach.

2. Jim Harbaugh: If the Stanford head coach still wants an NFL job, he will have an excellent shot to get one. The brother of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, Jim – a 14-year NFL QB who made the Pro Bowl in 1995 – has done wonders in Palo Alto. The previous two coaches before Harbaugh went a combined 16-40, and in the past two seasons, the Cardinal has gone a combined 17-6. He already interviewed for the Jets job that Rex Ryan eventually won two years ago, and it seems like it’s only a matter of time before he beats out somebody else for a head coaching position.

1. Leslie Frazier: How long will it take before Frazier – perhaps the most respected assistant coach in the league - finally lands the head coaching position he so obviously wants? Well, considering his office is just down the hallway from Childress’, it would make sense for Minnesota to hire its current defensive coordinator when it fires Childress. For a defense that hadn’t been good in more than a decade before Frazier took over, he’s transformed the unit and made himself indispensible. No doubt about it, he should be a head coach.

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Posted on: November 15, 2010 11:59 pm
 

Childress: Favre 'sore' but no MRI for shoulder

Posted by Will Brinson

Brett Favre self-diagnosed, um, himself with a shoulder injury following a season-killing loss to Chicago on Sunday. There was some concern that Favre informed everyone except his coach Brad Childress about the injury, but as it turns out (according to Chilly anyway!) Favre's just "sore."

Favre was expected to undergo an MRI on the shoulder this week and wanted to talk to Dr. James Andrews about the injury before proceeding, but Chilly's words seem to indicate that he'll be just fine without any more time missed or medical concerns, thank you very much.

Of course, Childress spoke to trainers about the shoulder issue, so it's not like he's out there making rogue calls on what to do with players (that's not his style, duh), but this shoulder injury, which popped up after the Vikings loss to the Bears, certainly has some people skeptical that Favre might be willing to find a way to gracefully bow out of the limelight and let the season continue on without him.

Again, that's just one theory -- and if Chilly believes that's what's going on, it's clear he's not gonna sit on the sinking ship alone.

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Posted on: November 15, 2010 1:41 am
Edited on: November 15, 2010 1:04 pm
 

10 stories that deserve your attention Week 10

Posted by Will Brinson & Josh Katzowitz

1. Garrett does Dallas

Perhaps the weirdest thing about a really weird Week 10 in the NFL was the Dallas Cowboys' not just winning, but flat-out dominating the New York Giants en route to a 33-20 thrashing of the team everyone thought was the NFC's best just a week ago.

But what could have possibly changed in just one week to take the Cowboys from the definitive punchline of the 2010 season and turn them into a dangerous spoiler machine?

"The difference is the freakish disasters that have defined our season didn't happen tonight for us," Jon Kitna said afterwards.

Well, yes, there's that. But where's the Jason Garrett love?!?!? After all, if he can do this in just one week, imagine what he could do in a whole year with a gigantic contract! (At least that's the argument he's likely pushing to Jerry Jones for the rest of this week.)

Garrett clearly makes the Cowboys a better team right now than Wade Phillips did -- simply based on effort alone -- but whether or not he's the long-term answer as a coach for Jones' organization is going to require more than just four quarters of impressive play from the Cowboys.

But Cowboys fans probably shouldn't bask in the glow of a dominating win against a division opponent -- continued success in a lost season will make Garrett all but a lock for the full-time job in 2011, and that would be a shame, particularly with so many excellent coaching candidates out there after the season.

One thing's for sure, though: whoever coaches Dallas next year and beyond is going to have a very special talent in Dez Bryant. The rookie wideout, whose play this year has to make Jones feel less horrible for passing on Randy Moss so many years ago, continued to light up the stat sheet against the Giants. (WB)

2. Dolphins QBs get tossed into the blender

Entering Sunday’s game, the Dolphins knew exactly where they wanted to go with their quarterbacks. Coaches had determined they needed to replace starter Chad Henne with backup Chad Pennington, and though this couldn’t have been easy for Henne, he took his demotion with class and professionalism.

That lasted all of two plays before Pennington dislocated his shoulder and left the game with a ton of money in hand (not the same hand that’s connected to the shoulder he just dislocated. The other hand, obviously). That’s because he got a $3.25 million bonus to play those two snaps (it was an escalator in his contract that had to do with him playing as the starting quarterback), so hey, good for him.

Next up was Henne, who soon left with a knee injury.

That leaves the Dolphins with one healthy quarterback, Tyler Thigpen. All we’ve heard since he was elevated to starter is how unorthodox of a signal-caller he is but, at the same time, how effective he can be. Apparently, he burns the Dolphins first team defense in practice all the time while running the scout team. Apparently, he’s innovative and, if he can limit his mistakes, he could be a real force. That said, 24 hours ago, he was nothing better than a third-string quarterback.

And to be fair, for all of Thigpen’s attributes, he’s 1-10 all time as an NFL starter.

Miami now will have to shop for at least one other quarterback to back up Thigpen, and the Dolphins probably will add two this week. JaMarcus Russell is apparently one option, as is Sean Canfield, Tom Brandsteter, Todd Bouman, Jeff George, Vinny Testaverde, and hell, I don’t know, Randall Cunningham (only Russell, Canfield, Brandsteter and Bouman are legit, by the way). (JK)

3. Do NOT make the Patriots angry



The debate surrounding the Patriots over the past week was "trap game v. crumbling dynasty." Could the Patriots really be looking that far past a former assistant on Bill Belichick's staff in Eric Mangini? Could Randy Moss have been more important than we thought to Tom Brady's success?

Yes and no are the answers to those questions -- and we can all justifiably hop back on the Pats bandwagon after they dismantled the Steelers on Sunday night behind a monster Brady performance that saw him throw for 350 yards, three touchdowns and rush for another. (Interestingly, all three were to rookie Rob Gronkowski and this was Brady's first game over 300 yards this season.)

Belichick may plan well (22-2 after a bye) and New England may never lose back-to-back games (23-3 following a loss), but not many people saw this coming, even if it was in Pittsburgh, where Brady's consistently ripped owned the Steelers franchise and stomped on the collective heart of the fanbase every time he gets a chance (6-1 against them for his career).

This isn't to say that there shouldn't be any hesitation to crown the Pats the best team in the NFL, because there should be. Their defense is still really young (though it's maturing), and there absolutely questions about the offense, but, really, what you should worry about is not playing them when they're angry. "

And if you saw Brady screaming at his offensive lineman, crunching forward for three yards, slamming the ball once he got in the end zone or referring to the game as "emotional" at least 30 times afterwards, you know the Pats played and practiced angry this week. (WB)

4. What else can go wrong in Minnesota?

Wait, wait, don’t answer that. If there is an answer to that, we don’t want to know the answer.

And we’re not even talking about Percy Harvin’s migraines and Sidney Rice’s hip and Bernard Berrian’s groin and John Sullivan’s calf and Adrian Peterson’s ineffectiveness Sunday and … so on and so on.

We’re talking about how Brett Favre somehow came up with another injury he can fight through (he told ESPN that he’s been having shoulder pains that might be related to biceps surgery he had in 2008) and how he threw three interceptions Sunday to go with a fumble and a QB passer rating of 44.5. Not coincidentally, Minnesota lost 27-13 to Chicago to fall to 3-6 on the season.

But obviously, Favre still thinks his squad can make the playoffs. Right, Brett?

"If I had to gauge today I would say no," he said. "I'm not writing us off. But guys are in that locker room as we did right after the game [saying], 'We've got to find a way to turn it around' – all the cliches that go with it, as you would expect. 'We've got to pick it up. We've got to find a way to win.' And I say yes to all of those.

"Can this team make the playoffs? Yes, I'll say yes to that. Will we make the playoffs? I have no idea. No idea. And for anyone in our locker room to think beyond next week, or really beyond today ... we will be watching the playoffs. That's probably a better guess than us making the playoffs. And that's just being honest."

The truth does, in fact, hurt. Whether Vikings owner Zygi Wilf was being completely honest about coach Brad Childress’ continued employment – he told ESPN that he wasn’t considering getting rid of Childress – we’ll just have to wait and see. But you can’t like the sour attitude that continues to waft through Childress’ locker room. Honest or not. (JK)

5. The AFC West just got wilder

The Oakland Raiders cruised into their bye with a three-game winning streak, but it was reasonable to think the Kansas City Chiefs could put some distance in the AFC West standings thanks to a matchup against the defensively incompetent Broncos.

Then a funny thing happened -- Denver watched how the Raiders beat KC the week before, stacked the box early against Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, and blew out Todd Haley's squad early and often. Late too, for that matter; Josh McDaniels' decision to keep his starters in the whole game didn't exactly sit well with Haley, who refused to shake hands after the game.

What was the long-term outcome of this game? Well, for starters, the AFC West is wide open now. Oakland and KC are both 5-4 and in first, but looming LARGE are the San Diego Chargers at 4-5 and just one game back.

The Bolts are even more terrifying for that division because by the time the second set of divisional games get underway, they'll be in possession of a fully-loaded weapon, as Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd, Vincent Jackson and Legandu Naanee all (should) return sooner than later. 

What might be most weird about this is, given that all eight divisions are completely up in the air at this point, the Chargers might once again represent the team most likely to run away with their division. If they can win their remaining four games against AFC West foes (home-and-home against Denver, home game against Kansas City, home against Oakland), there's a pretty good chance they close the season 6-1 and cruise to another title.  (WB)

6. What else can we say about Palmer?

He’s not just average at this point in his career. He’s worse than average. Carson Palmer showed that again in the Bengals 23-17 loss to the Colts. His stats actually don’t look too bad (31 of 42 for 292 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions). But Palmer, as he’s been the past two seasons, is sometimes so inaccurate, it actually feels like a joke. Surely, he can’t be that off. He must be joshing us.

Yet, he threw another pick-6 Sunday, and against a Colts defense missing most of its key players, he simply wasn’t good enough. He’s also not getting enough help from his teammates, particularly Terrell Owens, who seems to quit on a route at least once a game. Too far out of his reach – which, to be fair, happens quite a bit with Palmer – and Owens doesn’t bother going after it or knocking it away from the defender who’s usually ready to make the interception.

Palmer apparently had a pain-killing injection put into his shoulder before the game – the same shoulder that caused him to miss practice Wednesday and Thursday – and it seems clear Palmer isn’t healthy. Perhaps, he hasn’t been healthy in quite a while. Those are the whispers that follow him around, and though he’s always quick to deny that he has long-lasting pain, that could explain why he’s fallen so far from being an elite quarterback to being one that has dropped below the average line. (JK)

7. When playing not to win works



Pretty sure I'll feel like a jerk suggesting this, but the Browns should have played for the tie on Sunday. And yeah, maybe Herm Edwards won't agree, but when Cleveland dialed up a pass on first down with 1:35 remaining in overtime, and Colt McCoy missed Ben Watson, it ended up costing the Browns the game (and, no joke, a chance to at least get back near the playoff race) because they left the Jets 24 seconds on the clock after a punt to their own 37-yard line.

Now, McCoy had already led an amazing drive to close out regulation, so it's fine putting the game in his hands. But in that situation, you really can't play "just to win," because the risk-reward of having to march 60 yards just to have a shot at a game-winning field goal doesn't pan out. Run the ball with Peyton Hillis twice, and maybe play action on third down. Otherwise you end up losing just like the Browns did. (WB)

8. There's a new Smith in town

When we talked to 49ers LB Takeo Spikes recently about his team, he brought up, with no prompting, how quickly the team had taken a liking to QB Troy Smith.

"Just with Troy’s presence," Spikes said. "He’s a guy who’s not only confident in his abilities but he makes everybody feel confident about themselves and what he’s about to do when we step on the field."

You could really see that against the Rams. Smith threw for 356 yards and a TD on just 17 completions, and as the game entered the second half, he looked completely in control and command. This is not how he looked when he was in Baltimore. Maybe it’s something in that San Francisco air. Or maybe it’s the Rice-A-Roni. (JK)

9. Bills get off the schneid

The Bills have been so close on so many different occasions.

They kept New England in sight before falling 38-30 in Week 3. And after taking their bye in Week 6, the heartbreaks really began to pile up.

In Week 7, the Bills gained 505 yards and scored four touchdowns – and took a 24-10 lead against Baltimore, no less – but the game turned for good in overtime when Ravens LB Ray Lewis lifted up Buffalo Te Shane Nelson (not unlike Patrick Swayze hoisting Jennifer Grey into the air) and stripped the ball away. Four plays later, Baltimore kicked the game-winning field goal.

In Week 8, Buffalo forced overtime AGAIN, and AGAIN, the opponent crushed the Bills souls in the final period. Early in overtime, Bills K Rian Lindell actually kicked the 53-yarder that would have given the Bills the win, but Chiefs coach Todd Haley had called timeout just before the snap. On the retry, Lindell hit the upright and it was no good.

And last week, not even a trip to Toronto could change the Bills fortunes. Despite Buffalo leading 19-14 in the fourth quarter, the Bills allowed (of all people) Bears QB Jay Cutler to throw the go-ahead TD pass with 6:41 to go. The Bears could not respond and fell 22-19.

But Sunday … ah, Sunday. A blessed, glorious victory.

So, Buffalo, how did it feel beating the Lions 14-12? This Associated Press lede should tell you the story:

Elated and relieved, guard Eric Wood could not contain himself as he skipped toward the Buffalo Bills’ locker room door.

“Holy cow! We won a game!” Wood yelled, his voice echoing in the tunnel at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

So, yeah, it felt pretty good. Buffalo can thank RB Fred Jackson, who rushed for a season-high 133 yards and scored both touchdowns. And despite the fact Lions QB Shaun Hill led a furious comeback in the final minutes, the Bills defense cracked down during the two-point conversion and Hill was forced to throw it out of the back of the end zone.

Here’s hoping the Bills enjoy this victory. Lords knows they’ve earned it. (JK)

10. Quick Hitters:

****We had two overtime games this week. In an unbelievable upset, CBS’ Gus Johnson wasn’t calling either game. His game actually was decided on a last-second Hail Mary, which allowed him to be at his best while not having to put any extra (unpaid) time into his shift.

****As a result of the Bills winning, the Panthers look like they're in prime position for the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. It'll be the first time in franchise history Carolina selects first overall -- the closest they came was No. 2 in 2003, which netted them Julius Peppers instead of David Carr. That worked out okay.

****The Lions are 8-1 this season! Against the spread. Which is actually pretty impressive and probably indicative that they're better than their record indicates. So, that's something, right?

****Amazingly, the 49ers had three of their touchdowns called back because of penalties. And they were impressive touchdowns, too. Unfortunately, they’ve gone to that almost-touchdown heaven in the sky, never to be seen or heard from again.

****Speaking of San Francisco, the team was 0-for-11 on third-down conversions until Rams S O.J. Atogwe was called for pass interference in overtime. Two plays later, the 49ers kicked the game-winning field goal. Who said you have to convert third downs to win?

****Shonn Greene was expected to get more carries this week and he did, making the most out of the 20 times he toted the rock (his second-highest total of the season) and giving a good indication that the's prepping to turn into more of a workhorse for the Jets.

****Know what's weird? People just refuse to talk about the Atlanta Falcons as the best team in the NFL. Even though they have a record to match. That is all.

****Mario Manningham and Ramses Barden looked sharp in the loss to the Cowboys, just proving how deep and talented that WR corps of the Giants is -- if Steve Smith misses significant time, it's obviously problematic, but New York can still score.

****Randy Moss said he had a "bad" day/game in his debut for the Titans. And he's correct, but it was odd that he didn't try and blame someone else, merely pointing out he'd do what was necessary in order to help the team win. But that's usually what he does after his first week in a new location. If this keeps up and the Titans aren't winning, things could change. Quickly.

****Pete Carroll's playcalling is so freaking bizarre. It's one thing that the Seahawks simply can't run the ball without Russell Okung healthy (they can't), but it's another to be chunking the ball left and right across the field with little-to-no time remaining. Oh, and his decision to QB sneak in the red zone resulted in a broken bone for Matt Hasselbeck. It's really going criminally underrated because they're having some success this year. 

****Brandon Marshall's temper flared up again Sunday, as he got upset after making a catch and threw the ball into the stands, drawing a penalty. Given that he might be catching passes from JaMarcus Russell soon (no, no seriously), there's a pretty good chance we could be seeing an epic meltdown at some point. 
 
 
 
 
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