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Divisional Round Sunday: San Diego Super Chokers

He shouldn't get complete blame. Maybe just 50 percent or so. Like his playoff accuracy

Typical Chargers. Great regular season. High expectations.  But once again, they find a way to lose a home playoff game. That’s three in six years. Two of them would have put the team into the conference championship game. But there is something about success that this franchise just can’t handle. It’s 17 weeks of a tease that raises the hopes. Then the playoffs come and you find out it was all for naught. And now it’s trend. If there wasn’t a five-day rain system on the way, I’m fairly confident that San Diego would be burned to the ground tonight. The fans would be to blame for it. But I wouldn’t blame them for doing it.

Jets vs. Chargers

  • Nate Kaeding misses three more field goals in January. Now, you can’t expect him to make a 57-yarder, but all three were never on course. He is just 8-for-15 in the playoffs. Just to let you know, Kaeding still has two seasons remaining on a six-year deal.
  • Norv Turner is a lot less safe than Kaeding. The Chargers fired a 14-2 head coach after the 2006 season. I don’t think it will have a problem firing a 13-3 head coach after this massive disappointment.
  • Is Shawne Merriman hurt or out of the league or was he traded or did he quit? I didn’t hear his name once today. Turner said earlier in the week that he expects Merriman to be as healthy as he’s been all season for the Jets game. If that was the case, what a quick fall from the top for him. I doubt he’ll be back.

  • LaDainian Tomlinson is probably on his way out the door, too. With Darren Sproles, Michael Bennett and Jacob Hester on the roster, the Chargers don’t have an every-down back without Tomlinson. But I’m sure they’ll find someone through the draft or free agency. It’s hard to believe that the Chargers would pay Tomlinson the $5 million he’s owed in 2010 under his current contract after a 3.3 yards-per-carry campaign. Basically, he was a productive version of LenDale White this season.

    The end comes for everyone

  • The Jets did what the Ravens couldn’t do on Saturday to keep their Super Bowl hopes alive. With the Chargers up, 7-0, and driving for more points before halftime, it was obvious that a two-score deficit would be nearly impossible for New York to overcome. But they were able to hold the Chargers far enough away from a “makeable” field goal and Kaeding sent a 57-yard try to the right. I think that sending the game to break trailing by only one score gave the Jets a lot of hope and belief.
  • Jay Glazer said before the game that Shonn Greene would get more carries for the dinged-up Thomas Jones. Not only was he correct, but the Jets would have lost this game if they had stayed faithful to the veteran. Greene’s fantasy stock has surely risen in these past two weeks, but he’s still just a lesser version of Jonathan Stewart for as long as Jones is in New York.
  • The Jets are lucky that what turned out to be the game-winning score wasn’t brought back due to an offensive pass interference call on Dustin Keller.
  • You can’t just say that the Chargers solved Darrelle Revis. Both Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates recorded at least seven catches and 90 yards. But Revis moved all around the field. He guarded Jackson, Gates, Malcolm Floyd, Legedu Naanee. I don’t know what those players did when facing Revis. But I’m sure it wasn’t much. Revis also had an interception that had a distinct Antonio Freeman-feel to it.
  • Meanwhile, this had a Detroit Lions-feel to it. What is that, exactly? A bad overthrow by Philip Rivers or a horribly careless route by Antonio Gates?
  • I love how CBS analyst Charley Casserly pronounces “LaDainiel Tomlinson.” Obviously, it’s incorrect, but it’s not like Casserly has been wrong often.
  • The early line has the Colts as a 7.5-point favorite over the Jets next Sunday. That sounds about right, but I have to take the Jets. Indy’s defense is no better than San Diego’s. Mark Sanchez isn’t making mistakes. Greene is helping the Jets win time of possession. And if there is any defense right now that can slow down the Colts’ passing attack, it’s the Jets’. We saw it earlier this season. Even though the Jets beat the Colts while Manning, Wayne, Addai and others were on the bench for most of the second half, the starters were only up by five when they departed. And then as we saw Sunday, the longer the Jets can hang in, the more the game favors them.

Cowboys vs. Vikings

  • This one is simple. The Cowboys couldn’t protect Tony Romo and thus had no viable offensive weapons other than Felix Jones. The injury to Flozell Adams basically squeezed all of the potential out of this game. Ray Edwards and Jared Allen just teed off all day long, the Vikings tallied six sacks and this one was basically over by halftime. That was an unfortunate theme in this divisional round weekend.
  • Before the Flozell injury, the Cowboys had a chance to make this worth watching. But they couldn’t do anything with first-and-goal at the 9 and were left to take a field goal. The Vikings came back with a touchdown on their next drive to make it 14-3. Tony Romo fumbled two plays into Dallas’ next possession, which led to more Minnesota points and you just had a feeling from there that it was over.

    An example of what happens when your star left tackle gets injured and you must use an inexperienced backup to guard one of the league's premier badasses

  • The Vikings played it smart, running more than throwing. But while Adrian Peterson was bottled up, Brett Favre was effective and efficient. I’ve criticized him a lot this season, but he was brilliant today. It doesn’t get any better than this. I wouldn’t really call it a catch by Rice. It just kind of fell into his hands like a loaf of bread on a string above his head.
  • Let’s not take all of the credit away from Rice. On two of his three touchdowns, the coverage was perfect. He is just a fabulous, young receiver.
  • Marion Barber reportedly looked healthy in pregame warm-ups. Everyone looks like a line-drive hitter in batting practice, too. Eight carries, 14 yards. I think his injury is a little more serious than a swollen bursa sac. Either that’s true or his career is officially on the downside.
  • Some of the Cowboys had a problem with this late touchdown. I understand that, but just because you are going to lose doesn’t mean you stop playing defense. Stop the opponent. It’s that cut and dry. However, if I was facing Favre in a fantasy matchup this weekend, I would probably be a lunatic after that cheap TD.
  • What did the Cowboys expect from Shaun Suisham when they brought him in? They did see him miss a game-winning kick against the New Orleans Saints, didn’t they? There is a reason why he was cut during the season. He cost the Redskins two games. He didn’t lose Sunday’s game, but he definitely took away some momentum from his sideline early on.
  • Now that the Cowboys were not only beaten but thoroughly embarrassed, does all that pressure about not being able to win the big games fall back onto Tony Romo? Does Wade Phillips lose his job? The silence speaks volumes. I think there is a realistic chance that Wade is gone. But any bashing of Romo is really unfair.
  • Early line on the Vikings-Saints matchup has the Saints at minus-4. I will take that to the bank. The Vikings are a very different team on the road and while I liked what I saw out of Favre today, the Saints are a better team. Better quarterback, more weapons, more advantageous secondary are just a few of the pluses. The home-field advantage certainly helps. Plus, if you’ve watched the NFL playoffs, it’s probably a smart move to expect a double-digit winning margin. I won’t predict a score, but I think the Saints will easily win.

The everlasting journey continues

  1. January 18, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Here is my thinking on Jets-Colts:

    Do the Jets present anything drastically different than the Ravens did this weekend? I don’t know. I think they have a better defense, but is that rushing attack and offensive line better than Baltimore’s? I don’t think so.

    Maybe Sanchez will be the one who can keep his time within scoring range for crucial portions of the game, but I am not sold on that.

    You know what I think is really interesting? Peyton Manning, arguably the best quarterback we will ever see, seems to be almost leisurely out there. Not in a passive sense. But. Shit. OK, lets say its the Pats from one of their good seasons going up against the Jets.

    There would be no doubt that Brady and Moss and company would be gearing up to absolutely throat fuck New York. Just abuse them in every way possible. Try to win by 40, because fuck the Jets.

    With the Colts, it sort of seems like they are content just doing their normal routine and pulling out the win.

    Does that make sense?

    • spokes310
      January 18, 2010 at 10:55 pm

      That’s an interesting thought about Manning. I really don’t have an explanation for that, but I’m guessing a lot of it has to do with image. We haven’t seen the Colts’ offense really play that well in about a month and they haven’t blown anyone out since October. They are not a perfect team, but I don’t think there is any cause for alarm. They get their points when they need to. They find a way to win. I guess that’s all that matters. It may not be as smooth a Colts offense as we’ve seen in the past — mostly because they can’t run at all — but it’s still effective for the AFC. I think both teams in the NFC would beat the Colts.

      The Pats had a great offensive season in ’09. This was their best offensive season in a decade outside of that one big year. And when they met in New England this year, yeah, Belichick tried to obliterate the Jets. But I guess that’s just not the way the Colts operate. Again, it doesn’t worry me. They are still winning rather comfortably when the starters play 60.

      But here is my thinking about the Jets and Colts: The Jets certainly have a better rushing offense and offensive line. I think there is no doubt about that. Those two units are the respective best in the league. As a pure running game, I would much rather have Jones and Greene rather than Rice and McGahee. The defense is obviously better, but especially in the secondary. The Ravens’ secondary had been limited due to injuries. But if you put Revis on Wayne, that’s a big piece of that offense out of the equation. I understand they have Garcon, Collie, etc. But how will those young WRs play on such a big stage when they will have to make plays. Again, the Colts can’t run.

      Sanchez doesn’t have to do much, but neither does Joe Flacco. That’s a wash.

      The Jets have a lot of confidence and swagger. They have already seen that it can win against big odds on the road. And most importantly, they aren’t making mistakes. The Ravens could have made Saturday’s game compelling and maybe even have won, but those fumbles and penalties were crushing. You don’t see that from the Jets. Fundamentally, they are outstanding right now.

      Before this weekend, I didn’t think the Jets were better than the Ravens. So, this may look like flip-flopping. But … you can’t prove it. I’m not saying the Jets will win. But they will certainly cover that early line. That has all the makings of a close game. Of course, now that I’ve said that, it’ll probably be Colts 31, Jets 6.

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