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Week 16 showed Pro Bowl voting flaw, weakness of No. 4 seeds

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Concudan, Dec 23, 2008.

  1. Concudan

    Concudan Meh... Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 5, 2006
    By Pat Kirwan | NFL.com
    Senior Analyst

    Week 16 couldn't have been scripted any better, as the results left us with as many questions as answers.

    1. Hold off on Pro Bowl voting

    As Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams ran for four touchdowns, Chargers QB Philip Rivers threw for four scores and Dolphins QB Chad Pennington connected on three TD passes Sunday, I again wondered why Pro Bowl voting can't take place after the regular season is over. Some of the year's biggest games always happen after the Pro Bowl teams are announced, and it doesn't make any sense to eliminate those performances from the decision-making process.

    Wouldn't you like to vote on the AFC quarterbacks next week after Rivers challenges Broncos QB Jay Cutler for the West title and Pennington meets Jets QB Brett Favre in the Meadowlands for the East crown?

    2. Wild-card teams look better than No. 4s

    The No. 4 seed in each conference has a very good chance of finishing with eight or, at best, nine wins. The 8-7 Cardinals didn't look good while being run over by the Patriots on Sunday, and the 8-7 Broncos likely will struggle to beat the Chargers in San Diego next week.

    But the wild-card teams in each conference will have better records and appear to be more dangerous. No one wants to play the red-hot Colts (locked in as the AFC's No. 5 seed at 11-4), the 10-5 Ravens or the 10-5 Patriots, or NFC wild-card candidates such as the 11-4 Panthers and the 10-5 Falcons, one of whom will win the South.

    It looks like another season in which a wild-card team will go deep into the playoffs.

    3. Towel off, Titans

    I was sitting with Bill Cowher when the camera at the Steelers-Titans game zoomed in on Tennessee's Keith Bulluck and LenDale White stepping on a "Terrible Towel," the symbol of Pittsburgh. For a moment, it seemed like Cowher was back as coach of the Steelers, and he warned the Titans that it was a big mistake to do such a thing after a game.

    Credit Tennessee for the win, but the towel stomping fuels the fire for a rematch, and it won't be pretty if these teams meet again. I'm sure Titans coach Jeff Fisher didn't think his players' method of celebration was a good idea.

    4. Officials keep flags in pockets

    It always seems that when playoff berths are on the line, the officials let teams play. The number of calls are reduced, and the game is left to the players to win or lose. I don't mean that officials ignore the calls, but they aren't hung up on a lot of ticky-tack penalties.

    In the 15 games played Thursday, Saturday or Sunday, 14 teams were called for three or fewer penalties. The Texans had only one penalty, and the Cowboys were the lone team in double digits with 10 infractions. With fewer calls, games had better flow, and eight of them finished in under three hours.

    5. Spoilers do their part

    Some teams controlled their own playoff fate and dropped the ball -- partly because of their opponents' desire not to let them clinch. Pride can produce one last stand when an opponent is playoff-bound and you're not.

    The Bills spent the whole week hearing that they needed a new coach, a front-office overhaul and better players, but they refused to let the Broncos walk into the playoffs. Buffalo has another chance to play spoiler this weekend against New England.

    And even though they were 3-11 entering the game, the Seahawks weren't going to hand the Jets the win they desperately needed to stay atop the AFC East.

    Redskins coach Jim Zorn called himself the worst coach in America last week to absorb the pressure surrounding his players. They responded by beating the Eagles, who had their playoff path cleared when the Cowboys and Buccaneers had already lost. It was interesting to see Redskins LB London Fletcher on the sideline letting his coach know that the players appreciated him for taking the heat for the team's recent problems.

    6. Singletary should stay

    Sometimes, it's a good thing to fire the coach and tear down the team, and sometimes, it's a big mistake.

    The right thing for the 49ers is to give Mike Singletary a contract extension and be grateful that they stumbled onto a coach who can motivate men. I want to see what Singletary, who's 4-4 as San Francisco's interim coach after Sunday's 17-16 victory over the Rams, can accomplish when given an offseason to mold the team and the staff.

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