Monday Musings – Week 14

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5. You know you’re being dominated when you go into halftime with as many yards as the other team has points.  That was the case yesterday when the Patriots led the Bears 33-0 at halftime and Chicago had a grand total off 33 first-half yards.  New England went on to win 36-7 in blizzard-like conditions, cementing its status as the best team in the league.  New England could very well end up 14-2 when the dust (or snow) settles, with a game against a Green Bay squad that may be without Aaron Rodgers preceding contests against the Bills and Dolphins.

6. Graham Gano, Washington’s kicker (well, he’s still their kicker as of the writing of this article at 3:23 a.m. Monday morning), and punter Hunter Smith have passed Stevie Johnson as the biggest goat of 2010.  After missing from 24 and 34 yards, Gano needed to make an extra point to tie the game at 17 after a Redskins’ touchdown with nine seconds left. A high snap from Nick Sundberg sailed through the hands of Smith, causing the Redskins to fall in heartbreaking fashion, 17-16.

7. The Buccaneers, on that note, may be the most overrated team in the league right now.  Tampa Bay is 8-5, but has yet to beat a team with a winning record and had to come from behind and get lucky with a botched snap on an extra point in order to beat a now 5-8 Washington squad.  Two of the Bucs’ eight wins came against the 1-12 Panther, who have been outscored by 174 points this year. That’s the NFL’s worst margin of defeat by a whopping 66 points, as the Cardinals are second to last at -108. Tampa’s other six wins are over Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Arizona, San Francisco and Washington.

8. David Garrard is largely flying under the radar, but he’s having a great season for Jacksonville.  Today he completed 11-of-22 passes for 159 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception while running five times for 32 yards. On the season, Garrard has completed nearly 66 percent of his passes for 2,141 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.  He’s also run for 232 yars and four scores. Garrard is the biggest reason the Jaguars are 8-5, one game ahead of the Colts in the AFC South.

9. I don’t get why more people aren’t talking about a Saints team that’s won six straight games and scored 30 or more points in each of their last five games.  Drew Brees is throwing the ball as well as just about anyone in the league, and the Saints obviously know how to win big games as the reigning Super Bowl Champions.  Consider this as well.  If they catch and pass the Falcons, the Saints would be in line for a first-round bye and likely homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.  If not, they’d be the five-seed in all likelihood, facing a subpar division champion from the NFC West. You have to think the Saints love the way things are setting up.

10. Last and certainly least, I come to Sal Alosi, the Jets strength and conditioning coach who kneed Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll during a punt this afternoon.  It was a despicable act, plain and simple.  It was also beyond stupid in a day and age in which there are numerous cameras filming the game and replays are available from a multitude of angles.  If Mark Sanchez can’t get away with eating a hot dog on the sidelines, how could Alosi possibly think he could get away with interfering with a player on the field?

It will be interesting to see how the league and the Jets deal with it.  How hefty of a fine can you levy on a strength and conditioning coach? Should he be fired or banned from the sideline?  I will give him this: Alosi apologized in person to Carroll, Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano, Jets owner Woody Johnson, Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum and Jets coach Rex Ryan.  I don’t even want to imagine the shame he felt standing in front of any one of them and apologizing, so I do give Alosi credit for being a man and seeking out each individual to offer an apology.  For that, I think he should be allowed to keep his job, but banned from the sideline for the rest of the season and perhaps 2011 as well.  I wouldn’t oppose a suspension without pay for the rest of 2010, but I’m sure the league will dole out an appropriate punishment.

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