1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay. This race for MVP is going to be the most anticlimactic since Tom Brady's 50-8 TD-to-pick season of 2007.
2. Tom Brady, QB, New England. He's doing the most without a deep threat and a running game, but I'm open to Drew Brees being number two depending on the stretch drives.
3. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans. The Giants will provide a good test, because they can send four rushers and pressure the passer, thus keeping enough men in coverage to create traffic in the back end.
4. Terrell Suggs, OLB/DE (you figure out the position; technically he's an outside 'backer, but he sure looks like a defensive end the way he lines up to me), Baltimore. When he's really good, the Ravens don't lose.
5. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh. Now 5-1 on the road. While every big Pittsburgh star misses time with some injury or other, Roethlisberger's playing with a broken thumb, and playing very well.
"Each team must have an opportunity to possess the football and score.''
-- Referee Jeff Triplette, at the start of overtime before Denver and San Diego.
Did you think you were hearing things when Triplette said that? Were you, like me, gawking at the TV and saying, "What? Is this the playoffs?'' It's unfathomable that Triplette would make that mistake with the nation watching -- and six weeks before the first playoff games of the season.
"Coach! Hey coach! I just wanted to tell you: I'm thankful you're my coach."
-- San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis, on the NFL Network's "SoundFX'' show Saturday night, from a micing of Willis on Thanksgiving night.
Cool. Almost touching. Made me think very highly of Willis.
"The lap band was in trouble. I was stretching that bad boy out.''
-- Jets coach Rex Ryan, who has had weight-control surgery, on his Thanksgiving habits.
I'm not a big fan of passer rating, and there's no doubt the new ESPN rating system is a better way to measure the relative merits of a quarterback's total performance. But the rating is what the NFL uses -- for now -- and it's part of the measuring stick I'll use to judge the final numbers of Aaron Rodgers' amazing season. It's clear he's on his way to one of the best statistical seasons ever.
I've measured Rodgers' first 11 games against the first 11 games of three recent record-setting seasons: Peyton Manning's passer-rating record of 121.1 in 2004, Tom Brady's 50-touchdown year in 2007, and Drew Brees' record season for accuracy (.706) in 2009. Rodgers looks pretty good in comparison.
|Through 11 games|
Interesting, isn't it, that the combined records of the four passers after 11 games in their best years is 41-3, and three of them either chased or are chasing perfect seasons?
Before Sunday, the last time Matt Leinart had thrown a touchdown pass was in December 2008, for Arizona, to Larry Fitzgerald, in a 47-7 loss at New England. How long ago that was: The leading tackler for New England that day, Junior Seau, and the man covering Fitzgerald on the touchdown pass, Ellis Hobbs, and the leading rusher for the Cardinals, Edgerrin James, and the starting quarterback for the Cardinals, Kurt Warner, are all retired.
I'm hardly the arbiter of great parenthood -- that would obviously be Steve Martin -- but sometimes it's hard to keep your mouth shut when you see some of the interesting parenting out there.
On Saturday, I flew back from San Francisco to New York after spending a family Thanksgiving in California. Across the aisle from me were a mom and her 3-year-old (I'm estimating) daughter. As we ascended above 10,000 feet, the mom and daughter got organized for the flight. The mom put a video machine in front of the daughter on the tray table and put in a movie for her. The mom put her own headphones on and opened a book. After about 90 minutes, the movie was done, and the kid was restless, and the mom kept shushing her. "Sssssshhhhhh!'' And the kid would say, "But Mommy!'' and ask for drink or food or whatever, and the mom would say, "Sssshhhhhhhh!'' This went on, on and off, for the rest of the flight, the mom refusing to pay attention to the kid, the kid crying out for attention -- any kind of attention. Five hours of the mom ignoring the kid other than to shush her.
Those two have some interesting years ahead of them.
"@ochocinco How You Get Hurt On Your Year Off??''
-- @qbkilla, former Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp, now with NFL Network, on Saturday night to lightly used New England receiver Chad Ochocinco, out this weekend with a hamstring injury.
"I love Clinique! I use Clinique Happy for men before I go out! I'll be wearing this home after our win tomorrow. Leaving Oakland smelling good!''
-- @jmarcuswebb, Bears left tackle J'Marcus Webb Saturday night, tweeting about the scent he enjoys, apparently. I wonder if he was Clinique Happy after a 25-20 loss.
Tweet A: "... Go on a diet, fat-so!! Y r u worried about wht I'm tweeting?! ... It wasn't a diss @ T-new, it ws my observation like my observation that u're FAT & need to hit the treadmill ASAP!! #RealTalk''
--@terrellowens, defending himself against criticism from a Dallas sports anchor that Owens had been critical of Cowboy corner Terrence Newman Thursday.
Tweet B: "@terrellowens I'll get on a treadmill when you pay your child support. #deadbeat''
--@newyscruggs, the sports anchor Owens ripped, Newy Scruggs, in a Twitter feud with T.O.
-- @stevepoliti, the columnist for the Newark Star Ledger, after Ndamukong Suh stomped on Packer guard Evan Dietrich-Smith Thursday.
A few good Suh tweets from others, such as this one from @rosstuckernfl: "Suh must be a big Seinfeld fan. 'It's not a lie if YOU believe it.' -- George Costanza.''