DJ Gallo's NFL Hangover, Week 17
The postseason is here. Every team has the same record again. It's all about who plays the best in the next month.
Let's take a look at which teams are entering the playoffs trending up, and which teams are trending down.
Jets (9-7, AFC No. 6 seed): Up -- They won five of their last six games to sneak into the playoffs. And you can't take their last two wins away from them just because their opponents weren't trying. (Please tell us you weren't trying, Bengals. Please. At least pretend you weren't trying.) Best of all for the Jets: Announcers keep saying Mark Sanchez may very well be the next Peyton Manning or Terry Bradshaw because, like those two Hall of Famers, he threw a ton of interceptions as a rookie. Makes perfect sense to me! Congratulations on your upcoming Super Bowl, Jets fans! With your defense and running game backing this unstoppable Peyton Bradshaw hybrid, you can't be defeated.
Ravens (9-7, AFC No. 5 seed): Flat -- Their offense isn't very good, their defense isn't very good and they struggle mightily to win on the road. They are the poster child for a wild-card team. (If posters could scream and dance. Get on it, Fathead!) However, they made the playoffs and the Steelers didn't. In a rivalry, that's like winning a mini Super Bowl. Congratulations, Ravens!
Cardinals (10-6, NFC No. 4 seed): Flat -- The Cardinals got crushed by the Packers on Sunday. But they also sat their starters for much of the game. It seemed like a desperate attempt to recapture the late-season stink of 2008 that propelled them to the Super Bowl. Or something. We'll see if it works.
PAGE 2 PODCAST
It's time for the Page 2 Podcast, where you'll learn:
• Quien Es Mas Macho?
• Who gets the Page 2 Game Ball
• Who should Stay Classy
• Who made the Final Countdown
Bengals (10-6, AFC No. 4 seed): Way Down -- Cincinnati has lost three of its last four. All three losses came to playoff teams, including a 37-0 defeat to the Jets (the team they'll be playing in the first round). Chad Ochocinco says he will be introduced before Saturday's game as "Chad Johnson." That's at least a positive for the Bengals. Maybe hearing that old name will jar Carson Palmer's muscle memory back to that one year when No. 85 was good.
Patriots (10-6, AFC No. 3 seed): Down -- The Patriots are always dangerous. But now they have to play without leading receiver Wes Welker, who blew out his knee on Sunday. This is why Randy Moss never runs hard, Wes. Too risky. It's straight logic, homey.
Eagles (11-5, NFC No. 6 seed): Down -- The Eagles have been swept by the Cowboys this season and now have to head back to Dallas to play the Cowboys again. You have to have serious doubts about whether the Eagles have enough to end their season without yet another crushing NFC title game defeat. I say they don't reach that glory this year.
Packers (11-5, NFC No. 5 seed): Up -- The Packers have won seven of eight, including Sunday's 33-7 win over the Cardinals in Arizona, where they'll have to play again on Sunday. They have to feel good about that. Especially because it's supposed to be 14 degrees on Sunday in Green Bay.
Cowboys (11-5, NFC No. 3 seed): Up -- "Up" is also the name of a movie about a guy who flies his house around the world by hooking it up to a bunch of helium balloons and then, upon landing, fights against talking dogs. The Cowboys playing well at the end of the season seems as realistic to me.
Vikings (12-4, NFC No. 2 seed): Down -- Sorry, Vikings. You don't get to reverse your momentum by crushing the New York Giants. All we learned is that Giants fall to the earth much faster than Vikings. An important scientific find, sure. But it means nothing as far as the playoffs are concerned.
Saints (13-3, NFC No. 1 seed): Down -- I am fully aware of my failings, dear reader. I know that at any given moment on these here interwebs, there are as many as one, possibly two, things that are funnier. Today's example: This column in the Times-Picayune titled "New Orleans Saints right where Sean Payton wants them."
It includes such gems as: "Losers of three consecutive games after Sunday's ugly 23-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Saints are right where Payton wants them as the postseason begins: doubted, distrusted and discounted."
And: "While giving his team what amounts to a much-needed three-week respite, Payton has simultaneously managed to provide them with a motivational edge. He's deftly turned a negative into a positive. And his team has bought into it."
And: "Hailed as one of the NFL's best motivators, Payton learned from one of the all-time greats in Bill Parcells. He speaks fondly of how Parcells masterfully 'created a crisis' when need be. That appears to be what Payton has done, albeit unintentionally."
I love columns that are funny, albeit unintentionally. Now I'll just sit back and see if Sean Payton is a genius, albeit unintentionally.
Chargers (13-3, AFC No. 2 seed): Up -- The Chargers have won 11 in a row. Now all they need to do is to get rid of head coach Norv Turner and they should coast to a Super Bowl title.
Colts (14-2, AFC No. 1 seed): Flat -- The Colts throttle back at the end of the year, lose and then get a week off before they play again. I've seen this movie before. It's like a remake with a new director. "2005: A Colts Odyssey."
Players Who Will Be Drafted Way Too High in Your Fantasy Draft Next Year Because of Sunday's Performance
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: 22-for-36, 276 yards, 4 TD
Arian Foster, RB, Texans: 145 totals yards, 2 TD
Lynell Hamilton, RB, Saints: 86 total yards, TD
Devin Aromashodu, WR, Bears: 5 catches, 46 yards, 2 TD
Dwayne Jarrett, WR, Panthers: 5 catches, 68 yards, TD
Zach Miller, TE, Jaguars: 8 catches, 69 yards, 2 TD
Stat of the Week
2,006 -- Chris Johnson finished the season with 2,006 rushing yards, joining Eric Dickerson, Jamal Lewis, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis and O.J. Simpson in the 2,000-yard club. And when Roger Goodell pushes the NFL schedule to 18 games, this elite club will be joined by guys like Cedric Benson, Thomas Jones and Ryan Grant. It's like when a country club goes semi-private and the people who earn seven figures have to associate with the lowly mid-six-figure earners. Gross.
Quote of the Week
"We're winners. We're not right at .500. It's a great thing. I can say that I was a part of the first winning season for the Houston Texans. We're part of something special."
-- Dunta Robinson, CB, Texans
I didn't see what Robinson said after that, but I'll just assume he added: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and -- doggone it! -- people like me."
Pictures of the Week
DJ Gallo is the founder of and sole writer for the sports satire site SportsPickle.com. He also is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and has written for The Onion and Cracked. His first book, "SportsPickle Presents: The View from the Upper Deck," is on sale now.