December 27, 2004
Peyton Manning:
Best. QB. Season. Ever? But even more impressive than his breaking Marino's single-season TD record was his clutch drive at the end. QUICKIE LIVE! 9-10 a.m.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
DESTINY'S.  WILD.

A handy guide to the NFL's hot-button phrases that get busted out in the standings shake-out following Week 16:

"Controls destiny": The sweetest phrase an NFL playoff wannabe can hear heading into the final week. The formula is simple: Win and they're in.

For the Jets, Broncos and Panthers, the playoffs begin ... now.

"Clinched": For the Top 4 in the AFC (and top 3 in the NFC), a playoff spot isn't simply secured -- the seeding is, too. (Only incentive is avoid injury.)

Then there's the phrase that drives normally sane fans crazy:

"Needs help": Even if a team wins, other teams must lose, too. Arrgh!!! Particularly frustrating if you're aboard the NFL's hottest bandwagon ...

Bills: 6 Straight
How can you NOT love the Bills? They started 0-4, yet are a W vs. Pittsburgh next week in Buffalo (suddenly a reasonable idea) from making the playoffs (along with a Denver L vs. Indy or Jets L vs. St. Louis).

Biggest impact of Big Ben's injury? The Bills' chances of winning, which improve if Ben is held out next weekend. (And why should the Steelers chance it by playing him? They've already locked up HFA. Motivation? Nil.)

Week 16 Notes
Pats deliver in a "statement" W, but now face the prospects of Peyton at Foxboro in the division round.

Explain again how Brett Favre is not Pro Bowl-worthy?

"If-Not-For-Big-Ben" ROY: How about Bills WR Lee Evans (7 TDs in last 5 G). As far as young RB-WR combos go, McGahee-Evans looks sick.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Colts 10x3: Stokely-Harrison-Wayne trio nabs 10 TDs each
Vince Carter: Will makes Nets debut tonight vs. Pistons
Iowa's Kirk Ferentz: New top college-to-NFL name
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Pacers-Pistons bad blood: Event-free game buries Brawl?
Ravens: Brutal O returns, effectively ending p'off hopes
Sacto Kings: Lose to Warriors. What happened to this team?
 
How many Seahawks fans are bummed they made the playoffs, ensuring another year of Holmgren mediocrity.

You just gotta feel for Eli.

Admit it: You'd be kind of excited to see a Bills-Panthers Super Bowl of battling bandwagons.

Reggie White, 43
"Minister of Defense" said God "told" him to go to Green Bay to win a title, and then he did. Fans can appreciate him as a first-team NFL "all-timer," yet still disagree with his outspoken views on social issues.

Kobe vs. Shaq
The NBA's most-watched regular-season game in six years, but forget Kobe vs. Shaq: the biggest winner was Dwyane Wade.

"Flash" flashed a well-rounded, team-oriented game while stealing the show from Kobe, whose own definition of "well-rounded" was finding a variety of ways to jack up 30 shots.

Vick Deal
$100 Million Man: And worth every penny (see "NO 26, ATL 13"). Vick may not be the best QB in the league (or, to some fools, even in the top 10!), but he is the NFL's most exciting playmaker, and that marketing cachet alone makes him worth it.

Saban to Dolphins
The Belichick Protege Effect: He ran LSU like The Genius runs the Pats -- and Saban won quickly, then won a national title.

Don't be surprised when Saban's got Miami at .500 as early as next season; with a few breaks here or there, the Dolphins could have had 6 or 7 wins this season (and they did beat the mighty Pats).

More important: How does he feel about the "Ricky" issue? Is he going to try to convince him to re-join the team?

Jacksonville Gag-uars:
With their playoff fate in their own hands, they got BLANKED by Houston at home, effectively ending their playoff chances.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie Live!
NFL Week 16 Grid
Neyer: Best/worst MLB free-agent signings
 
Ranking NFL Top 5
(w/o Big Ben, TO)
Patriots
Reassert their power
 
Colts
Wow: At NE in AFC semi?
 
Chargers
Nearly won at Indy
 
Steelers
Not favorite w/o Big Ben
 
Eagles
Still best in NFC
 

MNF Watch: PHI/StL. The unlikable Rams can do everyone a huge favor and lose, clearing the way for a pure CAR/NO play-in game next Sunday ...

Forget the Heat and Lakers: the most telegenic show in the NBA is the Suns, who streaked to their 11th straight W and now sit at 24-3 ...

MLB Fray Agency: Indians working to land underrated P Kevin Millwood ...

Explain to me why the Red Sox need a captain (Varitek), when they seemed to do just fine without one in 2004 ...

MPC Computers Bowl: Virginia vs. Fresno St from the blue turf at Boise. UVA could contend in '05 (2, ESPN) ...

Motor City Bowl: Toledo vs. UConn from Detroit. Don't dis the MAC madness, or UConn QB/NFL prospect Dan Orlovsky (5:30, ESPN) ...



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