"The chance to bring in a high priced rookie with all the ego that comes with being the number one pick and put him on a team comprised almost entirely of overpriced, aging veterans who have lost a step--or in many cases, several steps--is like watching a train hit its brakes because there is a school bus on the tracks. It's a disaster that will be loud and unavoidable and many, many people will be hurt, but you still can't help but be curious how what it will look like."
Panthers 31, Saints 21
Carolina, picked by most experts to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, knocked off New Orleans, picked by most experts to "suck major ass." Instead, the Panthers will watch from home while the Saints enjoy a bye week--well, technically the Panthers won't really watch that part from home, but you get the point--and play at least one postseason game at home.
"I guess we put them in their place," chuckled receiver Steve Smith as he celebrated his team's victory over the end of the New Orleans bench. "They may be favorites to win the NFC and have a storybook-like season and be the adopted team of everyone in the country, but--ahem--scoreboard!"
Following the game, the Panthers also received a bit of good news about middle linebacker Dan Morgan, who was cleared to play after missing all but one game with a concussion. "Great," grimaced head coach John Fox, "that does me a shitload of good now, doesn't it?"
Eagles 24, Falcons 17
Given the Cowboys' loss, Philadelphia knew before Sunday's game even started that it had clinched the NFC East. "The win was immaterial to the playoffs," pointed out linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, "but we also had the opportunity to ruin a man's career, so you know we couldn't pass that up."
Following the loss, Atlanta management and head coach Jim Mora scrambled to be the first to terminate his job. "You can't fire me," Mora shouted as he dove for the press conference podium, hip checking team owner Arthur Blank into a stack of folding chairs, "because I quit!" Mora then put his hand up and pointed to the podium to confirm he, in fact, had "dibs" on using the microphone first.
Packers 26, Bears 7
Rex Grossman and the Bears locked up the best record in the NFC, but home field might not be as important as they think. Grossman finished the game with just two completions and three interceptions, raising questions of why he was even playing when the game had no bearing on the Bears' season.
"I wanted to rest my starter--" began head coach Lovie Smith before backtracking, "--er, I mean Rex is our starter and will continue to be. I wanted him out there to keep his arm fresh. When we win the Super Bowl, it will be because of Rex Gros--well, that might be overdoing it a little... how about 'When we win the Super Bowl people will certainly remember what Rex Grossman has done for this team'? Yeah, that'll work."
The win gave Packer quarterback Brett Favre his 147th career victory, tying him with Dan Marino and leaving him just one win behind John Elway for the NFL career record, raising speculation that he might return for the 2007 season. "Seeing the way Brett was playing out there," nodded teammate Donald Driver, "he didn't look like a guy ready to hang up his jersey. He just needs two more W's to be the winningest quarterback of all-time and with another 16 game season, he just might get them... maybe even three."
Sure, there were other games too. But if you really care whether Houston beat Cleveland (yes, 14-6) or the Vikings beat the Rams (they didn't, 41-21) or if you believe it matters whether Pittsburgh or Cincinnati won in the match up of AFC disappointments (Steelers 23-17 in OT) or if you had any doubt the playoff bound Chargers, Seahawks, Ravens, and Patriots would beat the non-postseason-headed Cardinals, Buccaneers, Bills, and Titans (they did 27-20, 23-7, 19-7, and 40-23, respectively), that's your problem.
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Jake Bell is a former NBC sportscaster and head writer for Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge.
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