A Perfect Weekend (Except the Bengals)

Fine Fifteen

1. Seattle (13-3). Didn’t think I’d see Percy Harvin (who has played 20 snaps all season and caught one ball) play football again this season. But if he practices well this week, looks like he’ll see the field Saturday in the divisional game versus New Orleans.

2. San Francisco (13-4). Colin Kaepernick has run for 279 yards in two playoff games against the Packers. I sense a trend.

3. Denver (13-3). The NFL didn’t have enough drama this year. To reach the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning will have to beat his old offensive coordinator (Mike McCoy) and either Tom Brady or his successor in Indy, Andrew Luck.

4. Carolina (12-4). Two big, physical helpers to Cam Newton and the Carolina passing game this year—Greg Olsen and Mike Tolbert—combined to catch 100 balls for 1,000 yards. Exactly.

5. New England (12-4). On the playoff bye weekend, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels got interviewed by the Browns. Not sure he’ll get the gig (my friend and longtime Browns beatman Tony Grossi thinks Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase has a very good shot), but the interview with McDaniels Saturday in New England went quite well.

6. New Orleans (12-5). Tremendous second half by Drew Brees. Now I’m thinking the long shot in Seattle isn’t such a long shot after all, especially with the Seahawks looking pretty mortal on offense since wiping out the Saints in December.

Talk Back

Have a question or comment for Peter? Email him at talkback@themmqb.com and it might be included in Tuesday’s mailbag.

7. Indianapolis (12-5). Andrew Luck laughs at big deficits.

8. Philadelphia (10-7). I expected Nick Foles to make more plays early Saturday night, but that was a pretty big stage, and he did lead Philly to 17 points in the final 20 minutes. Bright future for him, and the Eagles.

9. Kansas City (11-6). I realize a pair of key members of the secondary were gone down the stretch, but the lack of a rush on Andrew Luck and any defensive cohesion in the second half was galling.

10. Green Bay (8-8-1). The Packers need reinforcements; Bryan Bulaga, Casey Hayward and Clay Matthews to get healthy; to figure out who kidnapped B.J. Raji … and basically Ted Thompson to have his best offseason. Is that too much to ask?

11. San Diego (10-7). As Philip Rivers told FOX, “We were left for dead five weeks ago, at 5-7.” And now they’re dangerous enough to be scary to Denver.

12. Arizona (10-6). I bet Carson Palmer, watching Sunday, truly felt sorry for Andy Dalton. He’s been there. He’s not the kind of guy to laugh at his successor falling so flat.

13. Cincinnati (11-6). It’s one thing for fans to not trust Andy Dalton, and those from Lima to Lexington surely won’t in 2014. But Dalton’s biggest problem going forward is that his own locker room isn’t going to trust him, regardless of what the players and coaches say publicly.

14. Pittsburgh (8-8). The Steelers would have given the Chargers a much better game than Cincinnati did.

15. Chicago (8-8). Well, Phil Emery got the quarterback signed, and kept the Bears out of the QB business this offseason. Didn’t love the contract, but at least it’s one spot Chicago doesn’t have to worry about.

The Award Section

Colin Kaepernick's legs (top left) helped set up Phil Dawson's game-winner (top right). Donald Butler forced a key fumble of Gio Bernard (bottom left), while Andy Reid has to face more questions about his time management skills after the Chiefs' loss. (Getty Images)
Colin Kaepernick’s legs (top left) helped set up Phil Dawson’s game-winner (top right). Donald Butler forced a key fumble of Gio Bernard (bottom left), while Andy Reid has to face more questions about his time management skills after the Chiefs’ loss. (Getty Images)

Offensive Players of the Week

Colin Kaepernick, quarterback, San Francisco. What must have been going through the head of Kaepernick Sunday, pulling into the parking lot at Lambeau Field, the same place this Packers-idolizer once posed in front of in a Brett Favre jersey? Whatever emotion he had about it, Kaepernick kept it bottled before, during and after the 23-20 playoff victory over the Packers Sunday evening in brutal cold. Kaepernick’s legs (seven carries, 98 yards, including the crucial 11-yard run around left end that put the Niners in field-goal range to win) were better than his arm (16 of 30, one touchdown, one pick, 227 yards, a couple of big misses), but you throw a brick in 10-below wind chill and see how easy it is.

Terron Armstead, left tackle, New Orleans. The third start for the third-round rookie from Arkansas-Pine Bluff was his biggest by far, and Armstead repaid the faith Sean Payton had in him (or maybe desperation, not faith) by keeping the heat off Drew Brees from the right side of the Philly defense. The Eagles had two sacks (for one measly yard) and two more significant pressures in the Saints’ Saturday night upset. Armstead, quick and combative, jousted effectively with Eagle pass rusher Trent Cole and won much more than he lost. Cole had five tackles and one sack, but watching the game, Armstead pushed Cole around pretty consistently.

Andrew Luck, quarterback, Indianapolis. He dug himself a very big hole in the biggest game of his pro career, and the day looked grim when Luck’s second pick helped the Chiefs build a 38-10 lead early in the third quarter, while his third should have put the game out of reach for Kansas City late in the third. But somehow, Luck had enough presence to throw three second-half touchdowns, and even more presence to pick up a bouncing fumble near the goal line and stretch it over for a bizarre but vital score in the 45-44 Indy win. Let the unauthorized Luck biographies (plural) be contracted out.

Defensive Players of the Week

Donald Butler, linebacker, San Diego. Made the single biggest play of the game late in the second quarter, when Gio Bernard grabbed a pass from Andy Dalton and turned upfield inside the 10-yard line to try to score a touchdown to break open a 7-7 game. Butler stripped Bernard (the play was upheld on review) and prevented Cincinnati from taking the lead. And in the second half Butler was everywhere, finishing with a game-high 12 tackles, two for losses, the best San Diego defensive player on the field in a crushing victory over the Bengals.

Aldon Smith, outside linebacker, San Francisco. Smith must have made 10 disruptive plays Sunday—either causing a penalty, chasing Aaron Rodgers out of the pocket, pressuring him severely or sacking (1.5) him in the 23-20 Niners victory. Already can’t wait to see the Aldon Smith versus Cam Newton duel Sunday in Charlotte.

Special Teams Players of the Week

Phil Dawson, kicker, San Francisco. Keyed the first playoff victory of his life—and Dawson turns 39 later this month—with the winning 33-yard field goal at the final gun at Green Bay. With the wind chill around minus-14, Dawson calmly ended the game that no one watching at home wanted to end. “Worth the wait,” he tweeted afterward. Dawson scored the first six points of the game, too, when Niners drives stalled deep in Packers tundra.

Darrell Stuckey, safety, San Diego. What tremendous pursuit on the San Diego punt team by the fourth-year safety from Kansas. On the first Chargers punt of the day, he sprinted down to drop Bengals returner Brandon Tate for a one-yard loss, and later in the half smothered Tate for a five-yard loss. Strong and slithery, Stuckey was the best special-teamer in the field on wild-card weekend.

Coach of the Week

Sean Payton, head coach, New Orleans. Made all the right calls all week, including poking fun at the Saints’ 3-5 road record this year. Payton was lively Saturday night in Philadelphia, airing out his special teams and showing confidence in both the running game (94 yards in the first half, 91 in the second) and recently interception-prone Drew Brees, which paid off in the second half. Payton will figure out some way to mind-game his team into thinking the 34-7 loss in Seattle a month ago was a total fluke.

Goats of the Week

A pair of Andies:

Andy Dalton, quarterback, Cincinnati. Needing a playoff win to get off the schneid after two bad postseason performances in 2011 and ’12, Dalton took a 10-7 lead into the second half, with the ball. His first four series in the half ended thusly: taking a sack to force fourth down, fumbling on a boneheaded forward dive without being touched, throwing a pressured interception right into Chargers corner Shareece Wright’s hands, and throwing another interception to Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram. The Chargers responded thusly: touchdown, field goal, field goal and a punt wedging Cincinnati deep in its territory. Ballgame.

Andy Reid, head coach, Kansas City. After the year he’s had, after the incredible Kansas City turnaround from moribund franchise to important contender, this almost seems unfair. But it’s reality. Reid has to take a hit for the Chiefs’ clock management and use of timeouts in the fourth quarter at Indianapolis. There are many things the Chiefs will look back on and say, “That killed us.” This one is the biggest: KC took its first and second timeouts on successive plays on a mid-fourth-quarter drive, and the third timeout, inexplicably, immediately after the two-minute warning. A colossal, ridiculous waste of timeouts. That is just dumb football.

The Colts took over at their 43 to run out the clock with 1:55 left and a 45-44 lead. Kansas City had no timeouts left. Andrew Luck kneeled down three times to end it. Now, I’m not saying the Chiefs could have stopped a middle-school team by the time the Colts went to run the clock out. But let’s say the Chiefs didn’t waste their timeouts stupidly. The Colts likely would have run on the first two plays and made the Chiefs use them. Faced with a third down and, say, five, yards to go with 1:42 to play, my guess is Luck would have tried a pass to convert. An incompletion would have forced the Colts to punt, and the Chiefs would have gotten the ball back with a timeout left, 1:30 to play and perhaps 50 yards to travel to get into range for a winning field goal. Again, that scenario is unlikely because of how easily the Colts had driven through the Chiefs. But it sure as heck is more possible than letting the Colts take the ball over with 1:55 remaining and having no timeouts.

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537 comments
PubliusK
PubliusK

Hey Peter.  I was looking at your One and Done piece and thought: finally someone is talking about Peyton's playoff futility.  Then I read it.  I thought that Jack Del Rio and Mike McCoy were asking Peyton if he was a one and done guy like he has been for the majority of his playoff career.  Peyton is a freakish fantasy guy.  It is the reason why he gets the love.  His stats are amazing, the best ever.  So if we're going to look at stats, why not look at these:  12 playoff appearances (amazing) 8 years or 67% one and done (not so much) and 10 seasons where he played in 2 games or less (seeing a trend).  In the seasons where 'he' was successful and went further, it was the defense that won it, not Peyton.  In his SB year, he threw 3 TD's and 7 INT's and got bailed out.  His career playoff record is sub .500 (9-11).  In other words, he does not win unless his defense is superior.  And this one gave up more points than any other team in the AFC other than the Raiders and Browns.  Add to this the fact that the team he is playing has never lost to him in a playoff game and has given up fewer points than all but 3 other AFC teams, we are not beating up on the poor guy, we're pointing out the obvious.  Can we take back his 'Sportsman of the Year' award when he does it again?

Jon8
Jon8

I like the all the home teams except Carolina.

scuser1985
scuser1985

I don't care what anyone thinks about previous games, it's going to be the Seahawks and the Broncos on that SB field. This 2014 Super Bowl survey tells us the same too (http://questionpro.com/t/AKpfOZQkn5) Sure, 49ers and Patriots come close, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing Russell Wilson step onto that field. 

cozmikrebl
cozmikrebl

Andy Dalton gets raked over the coals throughout most of the article leading the reader to believe he was the sole reason the Bengals lost yet when it comes to the headline we get "except the BENGALS" and under "things i didn't like"  "same old BENGALS". Well, whose fault is it Dalton's or the entire team? Make up your mind.

Fran Fried
Fran Fried

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me: That you used to work in the original "Jeopardy" studio. Much coolness. I started watching the show when it first aired in 1964 and I was a precocious 3-year-old tot in Brooklyn. One of my life goals is to be a five-time champ. And I'm preparing to take the online test again tomorrow night. I've been in the contestant pool three times now -- the fourth has to be the charm, right?

kissandraknight
kissandraknight

peter ... either you or bedard needs to change the name of your column. seriously. what happened to creative thought? surely mmqb isnt all there is.

scottmacnj@aol.com
scottmacnj@aol.com

BTW- can anyone tell me what the rule for Pass Interference is now, regular season or post season? At least when the rule was yo couldn't touch an eligible receiver when the ball was in the air it was clear. Now with all the pushing off (both offense and defense) "incidental contact", etc. I have no idea what the rule is and I don't think the officials do either. 

scottmacnj@aol.com
scottmacnj@aol.com

If they are using all star officials how the heck did Jeff Triplett get in?!

Serena
Serena

Dalton 3 turnovers = Goat

Luck 3 turnovers = NFL glowing over him


An the media doesn't have favourites

GregAtkin
GregAtkin

Another great PK article  but  the Fouts/train conversation is just showing off.

We get it Pete; players call you.

Never ever did Friedman of the NY times or Elsberg mention how Presidents talked to them. It's like a pilot bragging that he talked to air traffic control.

JeremyMartinM
JeremyMartinM

Agreed about Andy Reid's dumb time management. Real dumb. 

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

Hey, PK. Here's your coffee nerd answer. I just cleaned my K-Cup machine for the third time following the same process.

Fill the reservoir with water until nearly full. Leave enough room for a cup of white vinegar. After adding vinegar fill to top with water.

Now just run the water through continuously, continuing to add water for 15 or 20 times.

After the 20th time or so, change out the cup you have been using and run it one more time. Take a big sniff of the hot water. If you still smell vinegar, run some more water through it. If no vinegar smell make a cup of coffee and do the taste test. It should be fine.

Like I said, used this method three times with great success.

usurper
usurper

Gushing about Kapernick when he was pedestrian passing wise against one of the worst D's in the league and lost the game for his team with an egregious pick on the final drive...except the Packer dropped it.  He had a couple nice throws and some fine runs in an otherwise poor game.

TimLynch1978
TimLynch1978

It's funny, every opponent for the 49ers now is a revenge game for them...but the Broncos ain't getting past the Chargers.  lol  The Broncos are 1-1 against Chargers...the 49ers are 0-1 against the Panthers.


Way to spread the love dillhole.

psychsports
psychsports

The Saint-Eagles game reinforces the old cliché –that is why they play the games!

Few gave the Saints a chance in this game and actually I had my doubts (see below). But I did think that Sean Peyton, Drew Brees and the crew were going to find a way to give Kelly’s group a hard time.

I also felt that Rob Ryan who is underrated in my opinion was going to do just enough to take the edge off the Eagles game and he did that and more.

Sean Payton and crew outfoxed Kelly no one gave the Saints a chance that is why they play the games.

Read more…..

-http://psychologyofsports.com/2014/01/05/saints-eagles-brees-payton-and-ryan-sink-eagles-updated-picks/

.

psychsports
psychsports

Andy Dalton is going to be stuck with the stigma that he cannot win in the playoffs until he does so. He had another horrendous game and his team joined him. The Bengals are going home left to figure out what went wrong after a great regular season and perhaps to ponder what to do with Dalton.

You can bet that there will be a ton of stories speculating if the Chargers are a team of destiny.

http://psychologyofsports.com/2014/01/05/dalton-and-bengals-fail-again-and-fall-to-chargers-denver-charger-preview/

jooo83
jooo83

Peter king should drop political views from his column. Not sure why he or others (Michael Wilbon, Bob Costas, etc) think we are interested in the marriage between political commentary and sports commentary. 

big55ed
big55ed

Would love to see the Chargers win the SB since they got in on the Steelers dime the same way the Steelres usually get in, bad officiating.

bbc
bbc

Would be fun to watch where Chargers end up on these rankings if they manage to win the SB. I'm guessing they might be able to nudge Saints and get as high as 5.

EmmittDale
EmmittDale

Fine fifteen is stupid once the playoffs start. Just make fine whatever amount of teams are still in the playoffs.

AlainLapointe
AlainLapointe

Predictions for next weekend , home teams will lose in the AFC and win in the NFC .

liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3

sooo...Peter King just told everybody about Aaron Rodgers probable social life, admomishing you to "leave it alone"...the exact opposite of what Peter King did by bringing it up.

wwwcash
wwwcash

correction:

andrew luck dug himself a hole and andy reid dug him out of it.

onemoremile
onemoremile

The Vikings took Christian Ponder with the 12th pick the same year that Dalton and Kaepernick were drafter 35 and 26.  Yeouch!

George
George

king actually DID make one decent point this week


I was amused and slightly aggravated by some of the "muggings" of receivers by dbs - that were ignored by zebras, with enabler-commentators providing the same old lame excuse:  "it's the playoffs - let 'em play." 


I hate cheap ticky-tack chicken-yet-game-impacting  PI calls as much as the next person -

but the refs need to at least try to call *flagrant* examples of pass interference and defensive holding the same way they do during the regular season.


Or hey, just remove defensive holding and pass interference rules during the playoffs altogether.  

Equip all defensive backs & receivers with sharp close-in-fighting hand daggers and pepper spray too while we're at it - fun to watch for the whole family!!  Let 'em "play!"

:D


Starstruck
Starstruck

Good photo in this piece of the Chargers contacting Dalton as he fumbled hitting the ground. He had full control of the ball before he hit the ground. Why doesn't the rule ' The ground cannot cause a fumble' apply here? Why does the NFL make an exception for a QB vs. any other position? This is a rule that needs to be changed. Once a QB starts running, he loses the protection that is normally afforded a QB under NFL rules. So why isn't he judged under the rules of a runner and protected against a fumble clearly caused by the ground?  

canadianox
canadianox

@Serena W despite 3 picks, 4 TDs passing, one rushing TD (in one of most heads up plays I have ever seen) and 443 yds helped the glow.

KevinB2014
KevinB2014

@Serena Seriously?  Luck's 3 turnovers were balanced by an incredible comeback effort. After his first two interceptions, his next two possessions resulted in TDs. Then the third interception, followed by three more TDs.  Dalton's 3 turnovers were balanced by.....nothing.

Luck's playing next weekend.

Dalton's looking into disguises so he won't be harassed by everyone in southwestern Ohio over the next 8 months.

Anyone who knows anything about football favors Luck over Dalton. Don't blame the messenger.

blynder
blynder

@Serena 

If Dalton had won; that might be different.  That's is a pretty big IF tho

GregAtkin
GregAtkin

@usurperNot an easy pick at all but i agree with your sentiments. Lots of blatant favouritsm with PK. But i still like the guy.

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

At least Dalton leads his team to the playoffs. Chokey Romo -- not so much.

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

It's Peter King's column. If you don't like to read what he wants to write, read someone else's column.

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

@jooo83 You might be the millionth person with that view. Don't think he cares if you still you read his column.

#31DShell
#31DShell

@big55ed You MUST be from Seattle. Believe it or not, the Steelers get their full share of bad calls too. I'll take Big Ben over Jerramy Stevens any day.

jj55
jj55

@bbcWell, maybe. Do you think Peter and the rest of the East Coast media would actually mention the Chargers by name if they won, or would they simply focus on why the other team lost? 

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

Yeah, that's a pretty valid point. Maybe he should rename it each week to something like Top O'the Heap of Who's Left.

#31DShell
#31DShell

@liquidmuse3 I hadn't heard about it until he mentioned it. Resisted the momentary urge to Google it. Continuing to do so.

canadianox
canadianox

@wwwcash Andrew Luck is filthy money.......he is more money than the US prints every month. I just drank a gallon of the koolaid on Saturday and think he will put up another 40+ points on the Pats. That being said, D may give up  over 50, seems like DBs for Indy don't mind letting receivers behind them.

canadianox
canadianox

@onemoremile Brady was a 6th rounder, Alfred Morris was too, so was Antonio Brown, Terrel Davis was 6th rounder for Broncos (Elway was pleased to see him). Ponder may be better than Dalton. Arian Foster wasn't drafted. Kijana Carter went first overall. Drafting is not an exact science, if it were, parity would be insane.

canadianox
canadianox

@George I have an even better idea than King's....IMHO....call the regular season PI penalties the same as they did this weekend. There is far too much throwing it up for grabs on long passes with  sole intention of looking for P.I. penalties.....specifically Brady, P Manning and Rodgers. It is so nice when players decide the game, not the officials.

Devilsreject97
Devilsreject97

@MartinPStockdaleHad Romo not gotten hurt, I say they make the playoffs....and playing with a messed up back like he did and winning the game he played....is pretty darn impressive. I'd rather have Romo than Dalton..

George
George

@canadianox @George True - up to a point.  I get sick of (e.g.) Broncos receivers going palms up and whining after every incomplete pass where a db had the gaul to try to cover them.


But there HAS to be limits.  Otherwise I just tell my dbs "mug the $#*t out of 'em and sit on 'em" right at the line of scrimmage, or hold / smother them if they get by you.   It's a complex issue with 2 sides to it.

Starstruck
Starstruck

@UBERTAXTHERICH Looks like a touch to me, but regardless, does a RB or receiver have to be touched to negate a fumble caused by the ground? 

pmk1790
pmk1790

@Starstruck @UBERTAXTHERICH The ball was already out before he was touched and the rule doesn't apply to any runners. Its mean so if a player in the air gets hit and loses the ball upon contact with the ground. Any time a ball carrier (RB, QB, TE, WR, etc) simply loses the ball after full possession without being hit (unless he gives himself up, which a headfirst dive is not) it is going to be called a fumble. 

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