Valuing Pigskin Part Deaux

If you recall from Part One I was attempting to make a case for Drew Brees as league MVP. Obviously the folks in the business know more about it than I do as Ladanian Tomlinson was named MVP about a week ago. However… With the weekend’s games under our belt it is clearer to me that Brees means more to his team and to this NFL season than LT.

It’s not that I don’t like LT. As a matter of fact I love watching the Chargers because of LT (and having former Tiger Marcus McNeil on the OL doesn’t hurt either – more on him later) and I’m not even a Chargers fan. I even like Martyball, although I believe that the conservative game plan and calling down the stretch yesterday is as much to blame for the Chargers loss as it is to any specific player. No, my argument really is about the results of the weekend.

One simple question: Take either Brees or LT off their teams and are the results of this weekend’s games or season different? Yea, I think you can make a case that the Saints probably lose the game with the Eagles and probably are at best a wild card team. And yea, I think you can make a case that LT did all he could do to propel his team to victory but sloppy play from his team mates with the conservative game plan gave Brady and the Pats too many chances.

If you agree then that in essence is Most Valuable Player. Take one guy away and is the team as good or can they accomplish the same things? Enough on that…

I really enjoyed the games this weekend and am looking forward to the conference championships. Secretly I was hoping for a Colts/Pats showdown. I thought it remarkable that the Colts beat the Ravens. Where has their defense come from? They certainly didn’t play like this in the regular season. The Pats are the favorites in my book even though the game is in Indianapolis because of their track record.

For the same reasons I like watching football I feel for the Eagles and Jeff Garcia. I’m not an Eagles fan but I love the way these guys pulled together after McNabb went down and rallied around Garcia. Of course Garcia excelled when he got his opportunity and for a guy that’s been bouncing around the league at almost 37 years of age I was kind of hoping he would get his chance.

But this is the Saints year. When we moved away from Slidell when I was about 7 years old I adopted the Saints as my team. I would watch them every Sunday. In Gadsden, Alabama we were close enough that the local game would be the Saints unless it was in conflict with the Falcons. Over the years and after we moved to North Carolina, I lost track. Seeing those guys have such a good year has brought out those old feelings. Who ‘dat gonna beat dem Saints?!

Super Scenarios:

  • Urlacher vs. Manning would be something to watch. The Bears gave up their chance at best league defense down the stretch but when Brian Urlacher is on his game, calling defensive audibles is art in a gladiator’s uniform. Offensively the Colts have been more humble this year and this matchup could present the lowest Super Bowl score in history won by a field goal of course.
  • Saints vs. Pats would give us the “Cinderella story vs. the old veterans”; pretty standard fare in sports lore. I think the coaching duel between Coach of the Year Sean Peyton and certified genius Bill Belichick would make this match up great. Peyton is arguably one of the brightest young coaches in the game and obviously knows how to get a team focused. I can say nothing about Belichick that hasn’t been written already so I won’t.
  • Colts vs. Saints would provide the fodder of “who is Archie rooting for?” You can’t tell me that this game would not bring a moral crisis to Archie Manning. Mr. Saints will be in tears just to see the Saints play in Chicago next week. Imagine his emotions when they make it to the big dance. On the other side of the field, his son, his legacy at stake in the NFL. Can Peyton win the big game? Archie won’t need any bourbon stocked in the suite, he’ll already be delusional.

Over the weekend, how many times did we hear rookies pointed out during play and even critical moments in the games? I don’t think I remember there being so many first year players impacting the game this late in the season.

I have to send props out to former Tiger Marcus McNeil who was robbed of the Outland Trophy his senior season at Auburn. He only gave up one sack his entire college career and somehow doesn’t get the award for best lineman?! It’s not often you see a NFL rookie lineman make the impact he has had – no holding calls all year and he only gave up two sacks. Unbelievable! Other rookies of note from the weekend:

  • Marques Colston was on pace to become the best rookie receiver ever with New Orleans until his injury. He still finished with seventy catches for over a thousand receiving yards and led all rookies with eight receiving TDs.
  • Reggie Bush would not have had the season he has in Houston. Sean Peyton used him marvelously; over 1500 all purpose yards and nine TDs. If you’re a defense you have to account for him regardless of where he lines up.
  • Devin Hester is every special teams coach’s nightmare. This was evident yesterday as Seattle had trouble just getting the ball away. This year Hester had six TDs from returns including the 108-yarder off of a field goal attempt. You could make the argument that the Bears are a wild card team at best without Hester.

I’m looking forward to the championship matches next weekend for numerous reasons. I don’t remember being this excited for the conference championships before. It’s because of the players and the scenarios above… This has been an exciting NFL season to watch and it only gets better. Enjoy the games everyone.

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