Your Top Stories
1. Rex Ryan might be giving the term “football” new meaning this week. Deadspin uncovered four videos of a woman who appears to be Ryan’s wife, Michelle, showing off her clod-hoppers in a series of foot-fetish videos. The videos were uploaded to youtube by a user named “ihaveprettyfeet” who shares several biographical details in common with Michelle. In one video, the camera man who sounds strikingly like Ryan converses with the woman about her feet. The fine folks at Deadspin guess that this video was made a few years ago while Ryan was an assistant coach in Baltimore. When asked about the videos, Ryan said it was a “personal matter” and refused to comment. The NFL agreed, saying it would not be investigating. So did Jets management, with New York GM Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson indicating that Ryan has their “full support.” You can be sure our crack news team will be keeping their toes in the water on this one.
2. Indianapolis receiver Austin Collie is out for the season after suffering a concussion in the Colts’ game against the Jaguars last week. It was his second concussion of the year, and enough for Indy to put him on IR, ending his season. Collie has been banged up all year, missing five games completely and missing significant parts of three others after he was knocked out of the game. Despite this, Collie managed to lead the Colts in touchdown receptions with eight, and the loss will deprive Manning of one of his favorite targets over the past two years. Coach Jim Caldwell said, “From a medical standpoint, we are concerned more so about his health than anything else.” Collie’s injury comes in the wake of a number of other significant personnel losses suffered by the Colts, including Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzales, Joseph Addai, and Bob Sanders.
3. Some quarterback quick-hits for you in our third news item of the week. The Broncos indicated that Tim Tebow will be starting the team’s remaining games against Houston and San Diego. Kyle Orton, the team’s starting quarterback for the majority of the year, expressed his displeasure, saying, “I don’t know if I’ll be here next year. We’ll just have to wait and see what shakes out with the organization.” The 49ers are remaining quiet as to which Smith will be starting for them this week – Troy or Alex. An NFL Network report indicated that Troy would start. Alex has gone 1-8 this year, while Troy has won three of five games in relief. Mark Sanchez has been limited in practice due to a sore shoulder, but said he expects to play in the Jets’ game against Chicago this week. Brett Favre might still play despite his concussion last week against the Bears, but the Vikings, and Joe Webb, are preparing as though he will miss the game. Finally, Aaron Rodgers returned to practice with the Packers this week, and he is expected to start against the Giants on Sunday despite having suffered his second concussion this year.
The Playoff Picture
If the playoffs were held today…
1. New England Patriots (12-2)+
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4)+
3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5)
4. Indianapolis Colts (8-6)
5. Baltimore Ravens (10-4)
6. New York Jets at (10-4)
With the San Diego Chargers and the Jacksonville Jaguars knocking on the door at 8-6.
Despite the lack of teams clinching by this point relative to prior seasons, the AFC playoff picture has remained remarkably stable, with only the Colts’ do-si-do with the Jags changing the order from last week. With two weeks to go, the only big questions are: Can the Steelers hold off the Ravens? Can the Chiefs hold off the Chargers? And who will come out on top in the fight between Indy and Jacksonville for the AFC South?
1. Atlanta Falcons (12-2)+
2. Chicago Bears (10-4)*
3. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4)
4. St. Louis Rams (6-8)
5. New Orleans Saints (10-4)
6. New York Giants (9-5)
With the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers knocking on the door at 8-6, and the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers still holding onto a chance to win the NFC West at 6-8 and 5-9 respectively.
Again, the NFC playoff picture has been pretty solid consistent despite a lack of mathematical certainty, and it looks to stay that way over the last two weeks of the season. The big questions are: Can the Eagles hold onto their lead in the East over the Giants? Will one of the Bays, be it Green or Tampa, be able to sneak into a Wildcard spot? And what miserable team will back its way into winning the NFC West?
+ = Clinched Playoff Berth
* = Clinched Division
Head of the Pack
Your statistical leaders in:
1. Peyton Manning (Indianapolis) – 4257 yards
2. Phillip Rivers (San Diego) –4141 yards
3. Drew Brees (New Orleans) – 4122 yards
With Manning jumping to number one.
1. Arian Foster (Houston) – 1345 yards
2. Maurice Jones-Drew – 1324 yards
3. Jamal Charles (Kansas City) – 1303 yards
With no changes for the second week in a row.
1. Roddy White (Atlanta) – 1284 yards
2. Brandon Lloyd (Denver) – 1264 yards
3. Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis) – 1247 yards
With Lloyd and Wayne switching places from last week.
1. Cameron Wake (Miami) – 14.0
2. Clay Matthews (Green Bay) – 13.0
T-3. John Abraham (Atlanta) – 12.0
T-3. Jason Babin (Tennessee) – 12.0
T-3. DeMarcus Ware (Dallas) – 12.0
With Shaun Phillips and Tamba Hali falling out of the top three.
Three Big Match Ups
1. NY Jets at Chicago, 1 P.M. EST on CBS – What makes this game intriguing is that the Jets have a lot more to play for than Chicago. With last week’s win, the Bears clinched the NFC North. If Chicago can win out, or if they can get a little help from the Eagles, they can also secure a first round bye. But thanks to the woeful NFC West, even if the Bears don’t win another game this season, the worst that happens is a home playoff game against the sixth seed. The heavy lifting is pretty much over for Jay Cutler & Co. until the postseason. What makes this interesting is the fact that this is a group who haven’t been to the playoffs, let alone clinched a berth before the end of the season, in four years. Whether Mike Martz can get his crew fired up and ready to play or whether his team will come out flat with so much locked up will say a lot about these Bears. The Jets, on the other hand, are still fighting for their playoff lives after having previously held the best record in the league. How the mighty have fallen. New York still controls their own destiny, and if they can win this game, they’re in the playoffs. Even if they lose, they still have their chances with the underachieving Bills on the schedule for their regular season finale, but the AFC Wildcard race is coming to a head and the Jets need to build momentum as they head toward the playoffs. Last week’s win against the likely second-seeded Steelers should help give the Jets their swagger back, but Rex Ryan’s group still needs to firmly erase the memories of their beat down in New England and their close loss to Miami. What kind of game Chicago plays and what kind of team New York puts on the field will give us a good view of what to expect from both sides in the postseason.
2. NY Giants at Green Bay, 4:15 P.M. EST on FOX – This is essentially a playoff game between the presumptive second place finishers in the NFC East and the NFC North. The stakes are the highest for Green Bay. The Packers control their own destiny, and if they can win out, they will go to the playoff thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker with New York and the strength of victory tiebreaker with Tampa Bay. If, however, the Pack loses this game, they’re officially eliminated from playoff contention and a promising season will go down the drain. With Aaron Rodgers returning after his second concussion of the year, it’s do or die in Green Bay. The Giants are suffering a bit themselves. After giving up a 31-10 lead over Philadelphia Eagles last week, a disastrous fourth quarter and a special teams bungle to end all bungles for New York all but dashed their hopes for winning the NFC East. A win for the Giants would give them a playoff berth thanks to a strength of victory tiebreaker over the Bucs, but the big question going into this game is – how much of a hangover will the G-men be nursing as they walk into Lambeau? This game could lock down a major part of the rough and tumble wildcard race in the NFC. The Packers need the win to get to the big dance, but the Giants need the win to prove to themselves that the Philly game was a fluke and that they won’t fade in the heat. Expect a playoff atmosphere and a great game.
3. New Orleans at Atlanta, Monday, 8:30 P.M. EST on ESPN – It’s rare for two teams this good to be playing in the same division. The Falcons look nigh unstoppable, having not lost a game since the middle of October and stringing together eight wins in a row in the mean time. A victory would be huge for Atlanta, giving them not only the NFC South, but home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Falcons are flying high, and nothing would cap their regular season better than defeating their division rivals to ensure that the road to the Superbowl goes through Atlanta in front of the home crowd. The defending Superbowl champion Saints, however, are no slouches themselves. While New Orleans, at two games back, would need a great deal of help to unseat the Falcons at the top of the NFC South, they would be at least tied for first in six of the seven other divisions in the league. New Orleans is still smarting from last week’s loss to Baltimore, but they have won six of their last seven games, and a win here would clinch them a playoff berth. These are two of the best teams not just in the NFC South, or the NFC, but the league. Expect them both to shine in front of a national audience on Monday Night.