Health status of playoff contenders varies
Heading into the final month, the Eagles and Chiefs are in top health, while the Vikings and Broncos look sick.
Had your first 103-degree bout with the flu yet this year? Sniffled through that initial, and always miserable, autumn cold? Anyone in the immediate family needed the chiropractor to address a painful backache from shoveling that early and unanticipated snowfall?
'Tis the season, after all, for such maladies.
So now that we've established a new personal record for most question marks used at the outset of a story, what does any of this have to do with football, or with the December playoff stretch run that commences this weekend, with an impressive schedule of games that could have NFL junkies scurrying to order the league's Sunday Ticket package?
From a literal standpoint, we're guessing, absolutely nothing. But teams that are hale in December are typically hearty come crunch time. And while there is no inoculation that can ward off an untimely turnover, no time-release capsule capable of curing an errant quarterback's inaccuracy, not a single medication for curing a head coach's inexplicably poor clock management, healthy teams are usually playoff teams.
One team's panacea might be little more than a placebo for another franchise. But this is definitely the time of the season when players and coaches most want to feel good about themselves. And not just from the standpoint of a short weekly injury report.
"We're at the point now," said Philadelphia linebacker Nate Wayne, "when it's especially important to be physically and mentally and emotionally ready for what is coming."
With that in mind (and body), here is a subjective assessment of the relative health of the playoff contenders at the three-quarter pole of the 2003 season:
Pasquarelli's prognosis: In the pink.