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Thursday, December 27, 2007
Updated: December 28, 2:36 PM ET
The holidays are over so start thinking NFL

By David Fleming
Page 2

OK everyone, I warned you to study up over the holidays and I meant it. Backpacks on the floor, books under your desk, eyes on your own paper. It's time for the Flem File's pre-playoff NFL quiz. Quiet please. No. 2 pencils only. Please stack your papers on my desk when you finish. Good luck. And you may begin … now.

1. The best thing about the Patriots going undefeated is:

(a) A chance to watch history
(b) It keeps our focus on the game and not all the ugly, horrific stuff going on off the field
(c) A chance to watch Bill Belichick's Hamburglar news conferences at the Super Bowl
(d) Trying to imagine the cool kind of asterisk the league will use

2. Which of the following items is not an NFL playoff tiebreaker:

(a) Common games
(b) Net touchdowns
(c) Total beer sales
(d) Strength of schedule
(e) Percentage of players dating celebrities

3. Bill Parcells got $14 million from Miami because:

(a) Green Bay's Ted Thompson is worth about $50 million
(b) His last playoff win (in 1997) was just that impressive
(c) The team is going to be awesome -- the year after he leaves
(d) He's a stand-up, old-school guy who means what he says, except, uh, well, yeah, when it comes to retirement
(e) Reviews still show that Scott Norwood missed that field goal

4. The worst part of Tarvaris Jackson's play-action pass technique is:

(a) The way he telegraphs the play by not following the back through the hole with his eyes
(b) By not changing levels in the pocket he never fools the linebackers into taking a few steps toward the line of scrimmage and thus clearing a soft zone for routes over the middle
(c) How most defensive ends don't buy it because he's lazy with the ball fake
(d) It should be the most effective tool the Vikings have on offense but because it isn't, if Minny misses the postseason my buddy Arist might just jump into the Ohio River

5. When I was in Indy last week I saw:

(a) The most laid-back defending Super Bowl champs ever
(b) Tony Dungy who, nearly 30 years later, can still recall the exact details of the day Chuck Noll called him into his office in Pittsburgh to tell him he was being traded for a 10th-round pick
(c) Just where I stand in the hierarchy of the league: The media bathroom is an outdoor Porta-John with a balmy temp of 25 degrees
(d) The way that Peyton Manning still elevates an entire team this time of year by setting the standard in game prep and study

6. The most amazing part of Tom Brady's MVP performance is:

(a) His 68.3 completion percentage despite the fact that most of the time everyone in the stadium knows he's throwing it
(b) The 48 TDs
(c) The wonderful, nasty kind of Belichick-esque competitive streak that came out when he humiliated Steelers safety Anthony Smith and some idiot columnist who came up with 33 reasons why the Steelers would win
(d) How effortlessly he performs under mounting pressure in a game where for most of the quarterbacks in the league poise in the pocket is often just an elaborate form of dimwittedness

7. The best thing about my new flat-screen TV:

(a) The NHL in HD
(b) VH1's "Top 100 Songs of the 1990s" (except for the stomach-turning, finger-in-a-socket glimpse of the current state of Sinead O'Connor, who has morphed into a sad cat lady who works the register at the ACE hardware in town)
(c) When I hook my computer up to the screen I can broadcast your hate mail to planes traveling overhead at 35,000 feet
(d) If my neighborhood ever floods I can use it as a raft to save my family and most of my belongings

8. The Jags are the team no one wants to play in the playoffs because:

(a) Physical always beats finesse this time of year
(b) They do everything well that the Patriots struggle with
(c) Their swarming, spine-cracking defensive scheme is so good it defies logic: The more players they lose to injury the better they play
(d) I think Fred Taylor would trade the Pro Bowl for the Super Bowl
(e) Teams that get hot late always seem to ride that wave to the Super Bowl

9. Bill Belichick won't win coach of the year because:

(a) The award should go to the coach who did the most with the least, like Mike McCarthy or Jon Gruden
(b) To this day his greatest achievement was guessing correctly on a quarterback in the sixth round of the draft
(c) The children; he got caught cheating, after all
(d) Down 500 large after Spygate, he might wear a gray sweat suit tuxedo to the banquet
(e) Like Jack Nicholson he's so good now he makes it look too easy

10. There's nothing I hate more this time of year than:

(a) Cowardly teams like the Bengals, Eagles and 49ers who play with passion and reckless abandon now that the games mean nothing
(b) Games, seasons, lives and legacies being determined by kickers -- guys who don't wear pads
(c) The way one injury -- to Willie Parker or Terrell Owens -- can change everything in a flash
(d) How we talk about the eye-popping numbers produced by backs like Adrian Peterson without ever mentioning Steve Hutchinson, Matt Birk or Bryant McKinnie
(e) Year-end lists

11. Jon Gruden won the NFC South with:

(a) No real running back
(b) Not a single Pro Bowl player
(c) Jeff Garcia, a 37-year-old QB, and Joey Galloway, a 36-year-old playmaker
(d) No one really noticing

12. The most messed-up part of the Pro Bowl balloting is:

(a) The voting stops a month before the end of the season
(b) The entire NFC South was shut out
(c) Fred Taylor
(d) The Packers have three fewer players going to Hawaii than the Vikings, a team they beat by a combined score of 57-16
(e) If this kind of misinformed ballot bumble translates to the presidential election, my money's on McLovin' in a landslide

13. If the gifts I got from my brothers this Christmas could speak they'd say:

(a) It's true, you were adopted
(b) We hate you, Merry Christmas
(c) We would have sent a fruitcake but that was way too expensive
(d) You are a real priority in our lives, which is why we sent you the same crappy gift as last year
(e) We just thought any gifts would only encourage you to talk about your book some more

14. The weirdest thing about T.O.'s injury was:

(a) The way his agent Drew Rosenhaus teleported himself to Owens' side just as the cameras showed up
(b) How in all his pain T.O. still managed to don a Santa hat for interviews -- now that's Christmas spirit
(c) It reminded me that T.O. is the toughest wide receiver in the game, maybe ever, and that we never take into consideration a player's guts and fortitude on the field when throwing around serious words like "character"
(d) The likely playoff-changing difference between a regular ankle sprain and the painful, debilitating "high" ankle sprain T.O. suffered

15. The worst thing to happen to the Falcons this season:

(a) The face of the franchise is serving time for torturing animals
(b) The coach of the team preached family, pride and commitment all season then bailed at the first chance he got
(c) The ignorant players who donned Free Mike Vick T-shirts as if he were a political prisoner
(d) That Bill Parcells may have used such a vulnerable owner and franchise as leverage to get $14 million from Miami
(e) The threat of Marty Ball

16. The saddest thing about the Detroit Lions' 2007 season is:

(a) It's official: Not even God can fix what Matt Millen has done to that team
(b) How the sorry state of the Lions has to be having a negative impact on how car buyers perceive the Ford Motor Company
(c) The team has come to define incompetence in the NFL and yet fans were most offended by Jon Kitna's Halloween costume?
(d) Millen probably earned a hefty bonus for keeping the losses in single digits
(e) Shaun Rogers still hasn't caught his breath after returning a pick 66 yards for a TD in Week 9

17. Patrick Willis' 162 tackles are:

(a) Why he's a lock for DROY
(b) Proof that the 49ers' offense cannot stay on the field
(c) The reason coaches say if you're going to make mistakes as a young player, better to make them while going 150 mph
(d) Exactly 21 more tackles than Ray Lewis has
(e) All of the above

18. If Washington makes the playoffs it will be because:

(a) The team's remarkable heart in staying together and playing on to honor Sean Taylor after his death
(b) Joe Gibbs was able to refocus after a string of terrible coaching decisions late in games
(c) Todd Collins just needed 10 years to get over his last start
(d) The Patriots want to see if they can hang 60 on them next time

19. It's only OK to call Seattle soft if you consider:

(a) The Cardinals are their toughest competition in the NFC West
(b) They have one win against a team with a winning record
(c) They have the lowest rushing average (3.6 yards per carry) of any playoff team
(d) The lyrics to the best grunge song of all time go, "Gramma take me home, Gramma take me home"
(e) There's a chance the editor at Page 2 who loves the Seahawks might not read this far

20. And finally, the best part of January will be:

(a) Miami University's assault on the NCAA hockey title
(b) "Welcome to the Playboy Super Bowl Party, Mr. Fleming …"
(c) Playoff spoilers: Minny, perhaps? The Jags? San Diego?
(d) Playoff performances for the ages: Brady? Peterson? T.O.? Favre? Sanders? LT?
(e) The Flem File's return to its birthplace (Phoenix, 1996) for the astronomical hype, audience and sheer entertainment value of a Super Bowl featuring the 19-0 Patriots versus the 17-2 Cowboys


ANSWERS: 1-C; 2-E; 3-B; 4-B; 5-C; 6-A; 7-D; 8-C; 9-E; 10-B; 11-D; 12-A; 13-B; 14-C; 15-A; 16-A; 17-E; 18-A; 19-B; 20-B

David Fleming is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His latest book, "Breaker Boys: The NFL's Greatest Team and the Stolen 1925 Championship,", published by ESPN Books, has been optioned as a movie. In addition, he is the author of the memoir "Noah's Rainbow." The Flem File will run each Thursday during the NFL season.