The Designed Rush, Conf. Title Games: Will Bill Polian Regret His Week 16 Choice?

If there are two overarching themes to this postseason, it's lopsided games and frequent kicker failure. The latter is a something of a mystery, but the former I believe is a cause of the NFL being a little top-heavy this year. So while the quality teams remaining had, for the most part, little difficulty in disposing of lesser competition, there's hope yet for saving what has been a lackluster postseason. ↵

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↵New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts (3 p.m., Sunday) -- ↵

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↵For the sake of re-re-recapitulation: The Colts rested most of their starters in the second half of a Week 16 home game against the Jets, a decision that resulted in a Jets victory that kept their own faint playoff hopes alive while bringing a swift and disappointing end to the Colts possible perfect season. A Jets victory in the AFC Championship Game, after being allowed to stay alive only by dint of the caution of Indianapolis, would not only be one of the most delicious ironies in NFL history but also a mammoth humiliation for Colts GM Bill Polian, whose decision it was to pull the starters in that game. The way Roger Goodell reprimanded teams last month for resting players late in the season, one would assume he wouldn't be opposed to that outcome. ↵

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↵That said, it probably won't happen. No doubt the Jets played well against San Diego, but they also caught an inordinate amount of breaks and lucky bounces: specifically the usually trusty Nate Kaeding missing two makeable field goals, along with the critical interception that caromed off the foot of Vincent Jackson into the arms of Darrelle Revis. That's not meant to dismiss the Jets. Every great team enjoys its share of luck. They just need too much of it to overcome a superior Indianapolis team. ↵

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↵Mark Sanchez is now the third rookie quarterback to make the AFC Championship Game in the last six years. The two before him, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco, faltered badly. If the onus is on Sanchez to make plays coming from behind, he'll probably share their fate. The Jets came out ultra-conservative on offense early against the Chargers with the hope that the game would be close long enough for Sanchez to get comfortable making a few plays. This proved successful, but even as good as the Jets D can be, I don't see them limiting the Colts offense to a mere seven points until the fourth quarter. ↵

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↵Colts 24, Jets 13 ↵

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↵Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints (6:30 p.m., Sunday) -- ↵

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↵The way each of these teams performed in the divisional round, confidence won't be in short order on either side going into a conference championship in the Superdome. After surrendering a long touchdown run to Tim Hightower early, a rested and rehabilitated Saints defense squelched any hopes of the Cardinals joining them in a shootout. The Saints offense got back to doing what it had done most of the season: putting up lots and lots of points. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, the Vikings, much to the consternation of Keith Brooking, did just about anything they wanted against the Cowboys. Brett Favre was supposed to have fallen apart by now, but he hasn't. Sunday might have been his finest performance of the season. No doubt the week of rest did his old bones some good. Having taken minimal damage against Dallas, he should be physical shape to play up to that level in New Orleans. Whether he can replicate that on the road against a defense that prides itself on getting takeaways is another matter. Favre has mostly cut down on the "just having fun out there" plays that have gotten him in trouble in the past, though the Saints will do everything in their power to bring out the reckless gunslinging side out of Brett. ↵

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↵A deciding factor may very well end up being Reggie Bush. That's a notion that would have proved laughable just weeks ago, but Bush ran with focus like few times ever seen in his career on Saturday against Arizona. It wasn't the flighty dancing to avoid contact that has fed his detractors through most of his NFL career. Bush was taking all yards conceded and using power to pick up more. Bush may not have as great an output against Minnesota, but playing the way he did in the divisional round makes defending an already multi-faceted Saints attack that much more difficult. ↵

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↵Saints 35, Vikings 27
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↵The NFL Player/Figure Tweet of the Week ↵

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↵"It's 2:50am Wed am here n australia & goin strong @ Eurotrash!!" -- Terrell Owens, 11 a.m. this morning. ↵

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↵T.O. exhibiting tenacity beating up the beat into the late hours is just the sort of ploy that will impress another horrible team into giving him a one-year deal. ↵

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↵Truth About Advertising ↵

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↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
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↵Oh, joy of joys, the creepy E*Trade babies have returned. Scanning the comments on the YouTube page for the ad, I quickly discover that this is a new baby being featured. Presumably because the previous one has not aged out of the appropriate range for shilling for financial services companies. Not being a parent myself, I don't fall victim to the apparent ecstasy of viewing infants for the first time. I consider this a blessing. ↵

↵Dispatches from Madden Nation ↵

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↵With the NFL season nearly at an end, the Madden Ultimate Team feature is likely to be the last new feature rolled out for this year's edition of the game. And it's fantastic if you like football reduced to a Magic: The Gathering-like tedious collection of cards acquired through purchase. I'm not sure why so many sports games try to implement features wherein players collect player trading cards. ↵

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↵A Delicious Bundle of Gripes ↵

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↵-- I don't know what further expression of bewilderment I can add to the chorus in response to the news that the Bills are going with Chan Gailey as the head coach in favor of other more successful veteran coaches or rising assistants such as Leslie Frazier. It's a move almost calculated in its ability to inspire sheer crushing despair among Bills fans. Short of hiring Matt Millen to run the franchise, I don't know how the ownership could do worse. Well, at least Bills fans need not even bother stoking expectations for at least another full year. Just go out and play with the pink snow. ↵

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↵-- In additional quizzical coaching decisions, Josh McDaniels has sufficiently alienated defensive coordinator Mike Nolan to the point that the two have agreed to part ways. Being that the Nolan's defense spent most of the season masking the inadequacies of the offense devised by supposed mastermind McDaniels, the Broncos had better come up with a quick solution to bolster an offense that might lose Brandon Marshall. Short of that, McDaniels might just be in position to join the passel of former Patriots coaches in Kansas City. ↵

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↵-- The Wall Street Journal has determined that the ball is in play for only about 11 minutes during the broadcast of an NFL game, which is 44 percent less than the time spent showing replays. This is probably supposed to make me feel bad about all the extraneous content a viewer has to sit through during the average football game, but it doesn't. Instead, it makes me annoyed that there isn't a broadcaster taking advantage of this. You could conceivably show all the action in a game in a 15-minute block of time, with space open for two two-minute commercial breaks. I know NFL Network does weekly replays where it condenses full games into hour-long broadcasts. But it could have a feature where it crams four of those extremely condensed 15-minute broadcasts into an hour. You could show an entire week's play over the course of four hours on a weekday afternoon. ↵

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↵-- Dolphins Stadium (nee LandShark Stadium, nee Joe Robbie Stadium, nee Pro Player Park, nee Pro Player Stadium, nee Dolphin Stadium) becomes Sun Life Financial Stadium as of tomorrow. The previous naming rights deal was organized to expire right before the venue would host the Super Bowl this year, which is a move brilliantly designed to hoodwink a foolish company into overpaying for the naming rights. Which is exactly what Sun Life did, to the tune of $7.5 million annually. Just the sort of inspired decision making I like to see out of a financial planning company. I guess when E*Trade has the talking baby market cornered, this is the only avenue to publicity open to you. ↵

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↵-- Reggie Bush has vowed that he will propose to Kim Kardashian if the Saints win the Super Bowl. That raises the stakes a bit for him (well not really, but let's pretend it does), though it's not a bad move in light of what happened Saturday. Kardashian was spotted in a luxury box at the Superdome while Reggie probably had the best game of his career. She's like the anti-Jessica Simpson. And not only because she's a brunette to Jessica's blonde and completely devoid of talent, whereas Jessica has only the slightest modicum of it. UPDATE: Kardashian says it was all a joke taken a little too seriously by one interviewer. ↵

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

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