Hard to believe another NFL regular season ends Sunday.
Like every year, there have been a number of surprises and some major disappointments. Here is a review of the season:
- For the many Cowboys and Vikings' fans, the season can't end fast enough. Both, touted as Super Bowl contenders, were out of the race by mid-season and fired their coaches. A huge disappoint for many locals.
- They call it "Black Monday" as it's the first day after the regular season when head coaches usually get fired. There has already been casualties in Dallas, Denver, Minnesota and San Fran. The Freak predicts that John Fox (Carolina), Gary Kubiak (Houston) and Marvin Lewis (Cincy) will also hit the unemployed line.
- Giants head coach Tom Coughlin could also be fired if New York has another bad performance against Washington. This would be the second year in a row the Gmen had a big December collapse that cost them a playoff berth, and someone needs to be accountable. The Big Apple turnovers all year are another issue. The Freak is loyal to Coach Coughlin for what he has brought to the organization, along with the biggest upset in Super Bowl history, but we can't live in the past forever. Coach, if this is your last game, thanks for the great memories.
- There is a good possibility we have seen our last 16-game season. With labour unrest looming, and no deal on the horizon as the owners are standing pat on an 18-game schedule for next year, which the players are against. This could get ugly.
- Can you imagine if there is no NFL football next season? The only happy people might be your significant other. The Freak would be depressed.
- In terms of next week's playoffs, the AFC is virtually set with the Pats, Ravens, Steelers, Jets and Chiefs. The only games of significance are Indy-Tennessee and Jacksonville-Houston. If the Colts win, they are in. Jacksonville needs a win and an Indy loss. Really no surprises here except the Chiefs making the post-season.
- The Seahawks will make NFL history if they beat the Rams on Sunday. The Seahawks would finish 7-9, and be the first team ever to make the playoffs with a losing record. If the Rams win, they get in at 8-8.
- Saints look to have an easier path back to the Super Bowl as they will play either the Rams or 'Hawks in the first round, and then most likely visit the Falcons. They just beat the Falcons in Atlanta.
- In the NFC, the Giants need to win and a Packers' loss while the Bucs need to win and have the Gmen and Pack lose.
- The Freak's bet for a Ravens-Packers' Super Bowl is alive and kicking.
- Has there been a Randy Moss sighting? Who will dare sign him for next year? What a great week, no Moss, no Owens, no Ochocinco!
- Four rookies made this year's Pro Bowl. They are Ndamukong Suh, Devin McCourty, Marc Mariani and Maurkice Pouncey.
- The 2008 draft has to be one of the best ever for wide receivers as all these guys look to be stars - Jeremy Maclin, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, Percy Harvin, Mike Wallace and Austin Collie.
- Congrats to all those who might have won their Fantasy Football League title (Jaker and Rust won leagues The Freak's in) as most finals were played last week. Enjoy the bragging rights for the year!
- Over the last three weeks, weather forced the Vikings to play a home game in Detroit, outside in Minnesota and the first Tuesday game in 66 years in Philly. The stormy weather sums up the Vikings' season - 100 per cent chance of disappointment.
- See you later Brett Favre, enjoy retirement.
- Happy New Year to all!
Pet peeve of the week
The Freak and a bunch of die-hard local fans were out on the town watching last week's Thursday night game between the Panthers and Steelers. The crew couldn't believe some of the decision making by Coach Fox. Why in the world wouldn't a team that is 2-12 and has nothing to lose not go for it on fourth-and-two on the Steelers' 40? "Cmon man!"
"Can you imagine if there is no NFL football next season because of a labour dispute? The only happy people might be your significant other. The Freak would be depressed." John Turner
Stat of the week
Who would've thought in Sunday's big showdown between the 49ers and Rams that your son-in-law would help get you fired?
Well, it happened to now-fired 49ers head coach Mike Singletary, whose daughter is engaged to Rams' Canadian safety Oshiomogho Atogwe. Atogwe had a third-quarter interception in Rams' territory that prevented the 49ers from scoring a touchdown in a 25-17 game.
Coach Parcells quote of the week
"No matter how much you've won, no matter how many games, no matter how many championships, no matter how many Super Bowls, you're not winning now, so you stink." See Tom Coughlin
The sure thing
The Falcons have too much on the line (home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs) to lose to the Panthers (2-13). Matty Ice won't lose two in a row in Atlanta. If there's a lock, it's this game - Falcons win and get a much-deserved bye.
The Steelers need a win to secure the AFC North. Cleveland is playing everyone tough at home, but Pittsburgh has more at stake. Take Pitt.
The Bears have nothing to play for, and the Packers have everything to play for at Lambeau. Yes, they hate each other, but Coach Lovie Smith isn't that stupid to play his starters the whole game. Packers make a statement that they will be a team to reckon with in the playoffs.
There is something definitely to it - Bengals won without Owens and Ochocinco as quarterback Carson Palmer looked relaxed without those two individuals. Can they do it at Baltimore in a big game for the Ravens? Can't see it. Black birds win.
Don't mortgage the house picks
One-game showdown for all the marbles in the weak NFC West. Coach Spags has done a great job with the Rams in only two seasons, and rookie Sam Bradford looks like the next great young quarterback. Seattle will start quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, who is supposed to be its future quarterback. Well, the future is now for both of them. Seattle enjoys a great home-field advantage, but Bradford plays better than Charlie. Rams climbed a big mountain this season, and win the division.
Indy is trying to make the playoffs for the 10th straight season. The one constant in all those years is quarterback Peyton Manning. Do you think he would let them lose this game after putting them in this position over the last three weeks? Tennessee is just playing out the string, which was evident in a poor effort in KC. As the evil puppet said in the horror film Child's Play, "Sorry Jack but Peyton's back!"
Saints still have an outside chance to be the No. 1 seed in the NFC while the Bucs still have a mathematical chance for the playoffs. New Orleans beat Atlanta last week, and will beat the up-and-coming Bucs.
The Jags need to win to have a hope, but without starting quarterback Dave Garrard and no MJD for a second week in a row it will be difficult when they travel to Houston.
The Texans have been one of the big disappointments and will look to make a statement for next season.
Houston will win one for Coach Kubiak, who will be gone Monday. Jags miss the playoffs once again.
Last week: 4-for-7.
John Turner is a Summerside schoolteacher. His column appears every Saturday during the NFL season. Feel free to e-mail questions and comments to the firstname.lastname@example.org.