Shanoff's WUC: Wild Card, Favre, Texas, Snow

Today's Calls: Brett Favre vs. Brad Childress, Broncos vs. Titans, Cowboys vs. Giants, Big Ben vs. OMG!, 85 vs. 15, Jerome Harrison vs. Ricky Williams, JaMarcus Russell vs. Mark Sanchez, Texas vs. UNC, Kobe vs. Snow and More. ↵

↵Brett FavreThe Opening Pitch: Oh, Brett Favre, stop whining. ↵

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↵But I waaaant to plaaaay! ↵

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↵Doesn't matter that he was getting pummeled. Doesn't matter that his team was going to lose. Doesn't matter that his coach gave him an instruction. ↵

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↵Worst of all: Doesn't matter that the Vikings have clinched a playoff spot and should be focusing on keeping Favre from being knocked into oblivion by Julius Peppers. ↵

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↵Favre apologists will spin it as yet another example of Favre being a "gamer" or a "competitor." I think it's just Favre flashing his typical myopia (or, in the case of Favre, "me-opia.") ↵

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↵Things could be worse — so much worse — for the Vikings. They could be the Giants, in a position of needing help from the Cowboys to sneak into the NFC playoffs. ↵

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↵Or Favre could be in the position of one of the SIX 7-7 teams in the AFC, who might all be spinning their wheels the next two weeks while the Broncos frustratingly back their way in. ↵

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↵Last night aside, Favre has had an incredible, MVP-ish season for the Vikings — but it's all for nothing if he doesn't deliver in January. Week 15? Who cares? (Think the Saints do?) ↵

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↵That's all sitting him was intended to help: Get some perspective. Does Favre get that? ↵

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↵More NFL Talking Points: ↵

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↵— AFC Playoff Picture: The Ravens and Broncos both have the inside track on the Wild Card spots (the Ravens are playing particularly well), but a whopping six teams are 7-7 (and if the Broncos can lose to the Raiders, their one-game lead on a WC spot is tenuous, at best — especially going on the road at Philly next week). ↵

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↵(It's really a shame that Jeff Fisher had so little comprehension of how his offense would be jump-started by Vince Young back when the team was going 0-6. They should be cruising into the playoffs right now. Instead, they'll likely fall just short.) ↵

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↵— NFC Playoff Picture: The Cowboys' improbable win over the Saints put them in the drivers' seat for the final WC spot (the Packers are a presumed lock and the Eagles clinched a playoff spot, regardless), although this week's game against the Redskins is precisely the kind Dallas loses. ↵

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↵(Needless to say, the Giants are in a must-win tonight against the Skins, and even then, they still need help — the Cowboys losing to either the Redskins or Eagles. If so, NY might luck out if that Week 17 at Minnesota is one the Vikes phone in.) ↵

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↵— Game of the Day: The Steelers aren't going to make the playoffs, but they sure earned back at least some of the season's chokery by stealing a win from the Packers on that sick last play. (Notable: Big Ben becomes first Steelers QB to have 500 yards passing in a game.) ↵

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↵— 85's Chris Henry Tribute: I'm really glad Chad Ochocinco didn't wear Chris Henry's No. 15 uniform. His emotional tribute — dropping to his knees in the end zone after a TD catch, tears in his eyes — was his finest moment as a player. Most sincere, too. (No one will remember the Bengals lost the game; did anyone expect them to win it?) ↵

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↵— Too bad the Jets care more about letting a rookie QB go through on-the-job growing pains for future years than playing to earn an available playoff spot this year by sitting Sanchez for the more reliable Kellen Clemens. ↵

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↵(I would even argue that Sanchez has fallen way behind his own rookie QB classmate Josh Freeman, who went on the road with his one-win Bucs and led them to a win over the Seahawks. Freeman has a better NFL future ahead than Sanchez.) ↵

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↵— Unlikely Fantasy Stud: Jerome Harrison, in what might have been the best single-game fantasy performance of the season. If you were a fantasy savant who started him in your league's playoffs, you probably won. And deservedly so. (Runner-up: QB Matt Moore) ↵

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↵— JaMania! Anyone see JaMarcus Russell's heroics coming? Anyone? (You did? Liar.) Russell isn't exactly Drew Brees, but he engineered an entirely unlikely win — that's more than you can say about, say, Mark Sanchez. ↵

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↵— Milestones: Ricky Williams set an NFL record for seasons between 1,000-yard rushing seasons, by topping 1K for the first time in six seasons. Remember when critics wondered if Williams had too much mileage on his tires coming out of Texas? Now, he's only the seventh player ever older than 32 to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Mid-career retirements rule. ↵

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↵— Finally: About that Saints loss ... Panic is overrated. "19-0" is over as a story line, and while I credit the Saints for being fearless about talking about it, it is not nearly as important for the franchise as simply winning a Super Bowl. They remain the team to beat in the NFC, and the Vikings’ loss helped all-but-secure HFA through the NFC title game for New Orleans. ↵

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↵CBB Mania: Texas is very, very good. They hadn't had a signature win this season until they clobbered UNC. The Longhorns showcased serious depth and were even more athletic than the defending champs. Very impressive. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, I'll admit I have been a Duke doubter this year, but they just destroyed Gonzaga — a very good Gonzaga team that is exactly the kind of team that gives Duke fits in March — in New York City on Saturday. (Jon Scheyer!) ↵

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↵Gone Bowlin': Two cool milestones in the New Orleans Bowl last night — Middle Tennessee QB Dwight Dasher broke Vince Young's bowl record for rushing yards by a QB (201, to go with 2 TDs rushing and 2 passing), and prolific Southern Miss RB Damion Fletcher became the ninth player ever to have four 1,000-yard rushing seasons (eighth on all-time rushing yardage). ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: Not even the New York snowstorm can stop the Lakers (Kobe: Sleepy 28). ... How did the Dirk-less Mavs beat LeBron's Cavs? Tim Thomas. ... Zach Randolph: League-high 24 rebounds in Grizz W over Nuggets. ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: How about those Mariners? First, they sign Chone Figgins. Then, they traded for ace Cliff Lee. Now, they're signing Milton Bradley, who — when not freaking out — is among the best hitters in baseball. The M's must sense that their division is there for the taking; fans should applaud a team not from New York or Boston or Philly playing to win. ↵

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↵Scandals: What is it about USC and their versatile running backs who allegedly enjoy perks in violation of NCAA rules? My favorite detail is that USC insists they are looking into it, like letting the fox run compliance in the henhouse. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "These shoulders that I have on my body, you can put the earth on it. So just to let you know, I bounced back. I appreciate it." ↵
↵— Randy Moss, after his tough week, leading the Pats to a win over the Bills. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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