NFL Monday Morning Ramblings: Rodgers, Brees and Brady Are Tearing It Up
In the NFL, the greatest gift of all is that of a superb quarterback. With the incredible seasons that quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady are having, it’s safe to say that fans of the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots are very satisfied with their quarterback presents this holiday season.
This time a week ago, I was ready to hand Brees the league MVP after Rodgers’ lackluster effort against Kansas City. However, I’m officially recanting my MVP vote, thanks to Rodgers going off (yet again) against another unfortunate victim, the Chicago Bears on Christmas night.
The Packers' quarterback threw a career-high five touchdown passes as Green Bay clinched the NFC’s top seed against the Bears. For the season, Rodgers has an unparalleled 45 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He actually has a remote chance of catching Tom Brady’s record-setting 50-touchdown season of 2007 if he can repeat his Christmas performance against the Detroit Lions next weekend.
In my mind, the three best seasons from quarterbacks in recent memory are Peyton Manning’s 2004 (49 touchdowns), Brady’s aforementioned 2007 and Rodgers’ 2011. Manning and Brady both won MVP honors for their Herculean efforts; therefore, Rodgers will probably do the same.
Even with that said, maybe we can split that MVP trophy three ways, as both Brees and Brady are having pretty memorable seasons themselves. Barring injury, Brees is destined to break Dan Marino’s elusive 1984 passing-yardage record Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons.
That accolade alone makes Brees very worthy of some MVP votes. But if that wasn’t enough, Brees and his high-octane offense have the Saints in position to make some major noise (perhaps even Super?) in the playoffs. This will make the free-agent-to-be Brees a very rich man this offseason.
And while Brady won’t do it first, it's likely he’ll also break Marino’s once-elusive record next weekend against the Buffalo Bills. If you’re wondering why Brady is deserving of a third MVP title in his Hall of Fame career, consider the fact that—for virtually the entire season—the Patriots have statistically had the league’s worst defense, yet New England is one win from locking up the AFC’s top seed for a second consecutive season.
Either way, we’re splitting hairs here. Whether you’re a Pats, Saints or Packers fan, you’re resting a bit easier these holidays knowing you have an elite quarterback leading your team to glory on a weekly basis.
Here are some other ramblings from Week 16 in the NFL.
Giants Poised for the Playoffs; Jets Flying out of the Postseason
The battle of New York went the way of the Giants, perching Big Blue on the playoffs’ doorstep while leaving Gang Green on death’s door in 2011. With the Giants’ 29-14 win over the Jets, Eli Manning and company are just one win away from capturing the NFC East next weekend against Dallas in prime time.
I think the Giants will win and advance because a) they’re playing at the Meadowlands b) the Cowboys have lost three of their last four and c) we just don’t know how Tony Romo will perform in the aftermath of his hand injury.
Meanwhile, the playoffs looked like a sure thing two weeks ago for the Jets. Now, after consecutive losses to the Eagles and Giants, Rex Ryan’s crew needs a small miracle to make the playoffs for a third-straight season.
Point blank, I’ll say the Jets won’t make the postseason. They simply need too many scenarios to break their way next weekend to do so.
Therefore, who gets the blame in this mini collapse? Some will say it’s Ryan’s fault for his boisterous and empty declarations about his team’s greatness. Others will throw quarterback Mark Sanchez under the bus for his regressive play this season.
Surely Ryan and Sanchez take some of the blame. However, I think Gang Green’s defense (or lack thereof) takes the cake here.
This definitely isn’t the same vaunted defense that propelled the Jets to consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances. They were torched by Tom Brady and the Patriots twice, lit up by Michael Vick and the Eagles, allowed Tim Tebow and the Broncos to have the last laugh and were eventually overpowered by the Giants. It’s safe to say they’re sorely missing underrated safety Jim Leonhard right now.
Tim Tebow and the Broncos Are Losing Their Luster
It looks like Tebow Mania has gone as cold as the Rocky Mountains on Christmas night. As of two weeks ago, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow could do no wrong.
Now, the Tebow naysayers are laughing it up, thanks to his four-interception performance in a 40-14 thrashing at the hands of the Buffalo Bills. I still think Tebow and Denver will get the best of former Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton and the Chiefs next week, which means the Broncos will win the AFC West and advance to the playoffs.
However, I believe Tebow’s sloppy passing skills, coupled with Denver’s faltering defense down the stretch, equates to a quick playoff exit.
T.J. Yates and the Houston Texans Don't Look Much Better
In this third-string quarterback battle, former Texan and current Colt Dan Orlovsky bested Houston rookie T.J. Yates.
Not only does this mean that the Colts have seriously jeopardized their stranglehold on the first pick in this spring’s draft, the Texans have basically kissed a playoff bye week good-bye. If I’m Houston coach Gary Kubiak, I’m warming up either Jake Delhomme or Jeff Garcia for the playoffs, because it doesn’t look like Yates will have any more success under center this season.
Jerome Simpson Vaults the Bengals into Playoff Contention
I’m betting that Cincinnati Bengals receiver Jerome Simpson will get invited to the next season of Dancing With the Stars after he flipped out against the Cardinals. In arguably the play of the year in the NFL, Simpson pirouetted over a Cardinals defender into the end zone for a critical touchdown in the Bengals’ win over Arizona.
With the win, Cincinnati stays alive for the AFC’s final wild-card spot, while the suave Simpson vaults his way into highlight-reel lore.
Cam Newton Is Silencing the Doubters (Like Myself)
I’ll admit I had my doubts about Cam Newton’s ability to perform on the NFL stage entering this season. Those doubts have been thoroughly erased after Newton’s impressive rookie season.
In the Panthers’ 48-16 win (their sixth of the year) over the lowly Bucs, Newton broke Peyton Manning’s record for most passing yards by a rookie quarterback in a season.
Newton has rejuvenated the Carolina franchise with his electrifying arm and legs; he’s by far the easy choice for NFL Rookie of the Year. One of my early predictions for the 2012 season is that Newton will lead the Panthers to a playoff appearance, something that was thought to be virtually impossible before Carolina drafted Newton last spring.