(The Monday Hangover is compiled by CHFF contributors and writers from around the blogosphere, including Deshawn Zombie of 18to88.com in Indianapolis, Mark Sandritter in Seattle, Bryn Swartz in Philadelphia and Tony Cocco in his cardboard-box kingdom in Boston.)
You know what we always say: the government can take our cheap rot-gut when they pry it from our cold, passed-out hands.
Minnesota 44, Giants 7
Minnesota earned the No. 2 seed in the NFC behind four touchdown passes from BrettFavre.
The divisional-round home date and the sinking performance in recent weeks of No. 1-seed New Orleans are both good news for the Favrkings: they finished 8-0 at home during the regular season. With a loss by New Orleans in the divisional round, Minnesota could get a pair of playoff games in their warm, cozy dome.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts, meanwhile, have frequently criticized BrettFavre for his off-season waffling and for his brutal late-season performances that have followed him throughout his career.
But his 2009 season, one in which he turned 40 years old, was a performance for the ages.
BrettFavre became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 30 touchdowns or more (33) and seven INTs or fewer (seven) in a single season.
(Interestingly, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers became the second 30-7 man later in the day, when he tossed one TD in the Pack's 33-7 win over the Cardinals. Rodgers ends the year with exactly 30 TDs and 7 INTs. Thanks to alert reader "Josh" for the correction.)
BrettFavre also topped 4,000 yards for the sixth season, tying for second on the all-time list and had a career year by any measure: BrettFavre posted personal bests in passer rating (107.2, his first 100-plus performance), yards per attempt (7.9) and completion percentage (68.4).
BrettFavre also posted a dramatic improvement in his ability to care for the ball: his 4.7 to 1 TD-INT ratio is the fourth best mark in history (min. 20 TD passes).
Here's the top five:
- Tom Brady (New England, 2007) – 6.25 to 1 (50-8)
- Steve DeBerg (Kansas City (1990) – 5.75 to 1 (23-4)
- Peyton Manning (Indianapolis, 2004) – 4.9 to 1 (49-10)
- BrettFavre (Minnesota, 2009) – 4.7 to 1 (33-7)
- Steve Bartkowski (Atlanta, 1983) – 4.4 to 1 (22-5)
Maybe that will teach the Cold, Hard Football Facts not to be so smug in the future ... but we wouldn't bet on it. – BS
Buffalo 30, Indianapolis 7
Ten is an important and sexy number.
- It the number of yards for a first down.
- It is Bo Derek.
- It is Curtis Painter's passer rating.
Whether or not Peyton Manning is the NFL MVP is open to debate. But no team in football has a greater drop off from their No. 1 to their No. 2 QB. Peyton Manning's passer rating for the season is 99.9. Curtis Painter's is 9.8.
Over the past two games the Colts starters outscored their opponents 22-17. With Painter in the game, Indy was outscored 42-0. Painter turned the ball over two times on Sunday and managed to complete just 4 of 17 passes for a mind numbing 2.3 YPA (though, in his defense, the conditions in Buffalo Sunday were not conducive to good passing numbers).
Here's his two-game performance:
- 8 of 28 (28.6%), 83 yards, 2.96 YPA, 0 TD, 2 INT, 9.8 passer rating
For the Bills, meanwhile, running back Fred Jackson piled up 212 yards rushing (6.4 YPA), the fourth highest total in the NFL in 2009.
Hell, Freddie Jackson hadn't looked that good since he was wooing the ladies back in the 80s. – DZ
show video here
Dallas 24, Philadelphia 0
The Cowboys exacted revenge for their humiliating 44-6 loss in the 2008 regular-season finale, while capturing their second division crown in three seasons. It was Dallas's first win in a regular-season finale after 10 straight losses.
The last time the team won on the last day of the regular season was back in 1999, when Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Deion Sanders were still leading the team.
Tony Romo passed for 311 yards to end the year with single-season team record for passing yards (4,483), while the Dallas defense posted back-to-back shutouts for the first time in franchise history.
The Cowboys and Eagles meet again in the premier slot on wildcard weekend (Saturday at 8 p.m.). The Cowboys swept the season series. But no team in the 50-year history of the rivalry has beat the other three times in the same season. (See more about Cowboys-Eagles here
.) – BS
Houston 34, New England 27
There is no truth to the rumor that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will canvass Foxboro this week to measure the amount of radioactive fallout generated by the New England's fourth-quarter meltdowns this year.
For the second time this season, the Patriots surrendered 21 points and a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter of a road game, as the Texans rallied for a stirring come-from-behind victory to finish with a franchise-best 9-7 mark.
The road was particularly unkind to the Patriots. They finished 2-6 in road games (8-0 at home), despite enjoying second-half leads in five of those six losses.
The big story on the day, of course, was the catastrophic knee injury suffered by NFL receptions leader Wes Welker, who went down without being hit while making his 123rd catch of the year – tying Herman Moore (with Detroit in 1995) for the second most prolific season in NFL history. Welker, of course, made all those catches in a little over 13 games.
While that's the big story, New England's second-half collapses are the bigger problem – the one issue likely to have prevented the Patriots from winning the Super Bowl (with our without Welker).
(WEEI in Boston reported Monday morning that the Patriots had been outscored in 8 of 16 second halves in 2009, including five times in the final eight games.)
As for Houston, the win secured the first winning season in the eight-year history of the franchise, but failed to produce a playoff spot. Matt Schaub (24 for 39, 303 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 92.1 rating against New England) passed for a league-best 4,770 yards, while teammate Andre Johnson (6 catches, 65 yards) topped all NFL receivers with 1,569 receiving yards.
The passing yards are nice, but mean little: 2009 will be the 50th straight year in which the league leader in passing yards failed to win a championship. The last league-leader to win a title was Johnny Unitas in 1959. – TC
Green Bay 33, Arizona 7
The Packers had already sewn up a wildcard spot, but their stingy defense still came to play in the finale. Green Bay held Arizona (largely playing back-ups at key positions) to a season-low 187 total yards. It was the fourth time this season Green Bay held an opponent to under 200 yards of offense.
The two teams will face off again next week in a battle of strengths. Green Bay finishes the year No. 1 in our Defensive Hog Index and No. 4 in Defensive Passer Rating, while Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner is among the all-time postseason leaders with 306.2 YPA and 8.4 YPA in his career. – MS
Baltimore 21, Oakland 13
Baltimore decided that as long as no one else really wanted the AFC's sixth seed, they might as well take it.
As one would expect from the Ravens, they leaned heavily on their defense to do it. With their season on the line, they forced two late JaMarcus Russell turnovers, giving them 19 in their past seven games.
Next week, they'll square off with the Patriots in a matchup of two of the leagues most Bendable defenses. Both teams force opponents to chew up a lot of empty yards (the Ravens end the season No. 3 on our Bendability Index. The Patriots are No. 4).
Willis McGahee was Baltimore's offensive star in the win over Oakland, with 167 yards rushing and three TDs, including a 77-yard run to the end zone. That one run alone almost topped his previous high game for the season (79 yards in Week Two).
The Raiders head toward off-season oblivion no closer to finding the "quarterback of the future" they've been seeking since the end of the Rich Gannon Era. Russell's two turnovers give him 19 for the season. With just 297 'touches' (passing attempts, sacks and rushes), he suffered a turnover one of every 16 times he handled the ball this year. – DZ
San Diego 23, Washington 20
The Chargers tied a club record with their 11th-straight win despite playing mostly backups against the now coach-less Redskins (Jim Zorn was fired Monday morning; Mike Shanahan is an early favorite to take the job).
MVP candidate Philip Rivers (9 of 15, 99 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT) finished the regular season with a 104.4 rating and a tremendous 8.8 yards-per-attempt average, as he led San Diego to the second-best regular season record in franchise history, a fourth straight AFC West title and the No. 2 seed in the AFC.
San Diego also established an NFL record by scoring at least 20 points in 22 consecutive game. And the last time they lost a regular-season game played after November 30 was back in 2005, when Marty Schottenheimer was still coach. – TC
N.Y. Jets 37, Cincinnati 0
The J-E-T-S reach the playoffs thanks to a big assist from Bill Polian and Jim Caldwell at Indianapolis last week, and Marvin Lewis and the Bengals this week. Both Indy and Cincy failed to show up for their late-season games against the Jets.
After scoring 19 straight second-half points to beat the Colts last week, the Jets blasted the playoff-bound Bengals this week to capture one of two AFC wildcard spots. They enter the postseason, in other words, on a 56-0 scoring binge.
New York's hellacious pass defense (No. 1 in Defensive Passer Rating) completely stifled Carson Palmer, J.T. O'Sullivan and the Cincinnati air attack (a combined 4 of 19, for just 31 yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT), while the Cincy offense registered just five first downs.
Meanwhile, New York's relentless rushing offense (No. 1 in YPG, 172.2; No. 6 in YPA, 4.53) pounded out 257 yards on the ground against what was the NFL's sixth-ranked rush defense coming into the game (3.85 YPA).
The Jets took a strange path to the playoffs: they raced out to a 3-0 start, then lost six of seven to fall to 4-6, and then won 5 of 6 to finish up at 9-7. The Bengals, on the other hand, are limping into the post-season
, having lost three of four to finish up at 10-6, with the No. 4 seed in the AFC.
The two teams will meet again Saturday afternoon at Cincinnati in a first-round playoff battle. – TC
Carolina 23, New Orleans 10
The Saints sat most of their key players and scored just 10 points in their final game, but finished the year No. 1 in both scoring offense and total offense for the second year in a row (New Orleans had never led the NFL in scoring before 2008).
The Saint are the ninth team to lead the league in both scoring and total offense since 1989. Five of the previous eight teams reached the Super Bowl. However the Saints enter the postseason with three straight losses – as noted elsewhere today
, no team has ever lost three straight at the end of the year and gone on to win a championship.
The Panthers, meanwhile, finished just 19th in total offense. But the running game ranked among the top three for the second straight year. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams became the first tandem in history to each eclipse 1,100 yards
on the ground and, for the season, combined for 437 attempts, 2,250 yards, 5.15 YPA and 17 TDs.
Carolina's 2,498 rushing yards are the highest single-season total in franchise history. – MS
Pittsburgh 30, Miami 24
Three Super Bowl champions of the past decade failed the reach the playoffs the following year: the 2003 Buccaneers, the 2006 Steelers and now the 2009 Steelers.
But Mike Tomlin's team deserves some credit for circling the wagons over the final three weeks of the season and making a hard run at a postseason spot. Pittsburgh appeared to be dead and buried after a five-game losing streak dropped them to 6-7 on December 10. But three straight victories to close out the season, including Sunday's win at Miami, allowed the Steelers to finish 9-7.
The Steelers outrushed the Dolphins, one of the league's best running teams, 202-99, and also won the turnover battle (+2). Pittsburgh's maligned defensive unit knocked both Chad Henne and backup Pat White out of the game, and intercepted Henne (once) and third-string QB Tyler Thigpen (twice).
The Dolphins slipped to 7-9 after last season's miraculous turnaround from 1-15 in 2007 to 11-5 and a division title in 2008. – TC
San Francisco 28, St. Louis 6
The Rams and 49ers began the last decade battling for division championships. They ended it with the only impact being draft position. The Rams "earn" the No. 1 pick in April, by virtue of their 1-15 record. It was probably the worst team in the otherwise proud history of the Rams franchise
San Francisco's offense wasn't much better. It ranked 27th in total offense, 29th in first downs and 29th in third-down conversion percentage.
The one big offensive weapon for the 49ers was Vernon Davis, who set careers highs with 78 receptions for 965 yards, 12.4 YPC and 13 TDs – tying an NFL record for TDs by a tight end (Antonio Gates, 2004). – MS
Tennessee 17, Seattle 13
Chris Johnson averaged just 3.7 YPA on the ground in the 2009 finale, but he finished the season in record fashion.
The NFL's best ball carrier surpassed Marshall Faulk's NFL record for most scrimmage yards in a season with 2,509 and his 2,006 rushing yards are the fifth-highest single-season total in league history. Tennessee won eight of their final 10 games and moved to 26-13 in contests started by Vince Young.
The Seahawks will need some offensive consistency in 2010 if they expect to improve on their 5-11 record. In their 11 loses, Seattle's offense averaged 12.0 PPG with a Scoreability rating of 32.1 YPPS. In their five wins, those numbers improved to 29.6 PPG and 9.9 YPPS. – MS
Cleveland 23, Jacksonville 17
The Browns and Jags are like two ships passing in the night, assuming both are the Titanic and their offenses are icebergs.
The victorious Browns ripped off their fourth consecutive victory to end the season, leading some to speculate that Eric Mangini might keep his job. The question is "why?"
The Browns failed to pass for 100 yards in three of their four straight victories. In fact, the win over the Jags marked the seventh time the Browns failed to pass for 100 yards this season, and remarkably, they actually won four of those games.
Jacksonville, meanwhile, managed to lose four straight games with playoff implications after sitting at 7-5 just four weeks ago. With their season and perhaps their franchise on the line, they were out-scored 107-65.
The main culprit was a moribund passing offense which managed to generate fewer than 210 yards passing in seven of their last eight ball games. David Garrard barely scraped the 200 yard mark again on Sunday, topping out at 202 yards passing. – DZ
Kansas City 44, Denver 24
Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles sparked the Chiefs with a career performance, piling up 259 yards on the ground.
It was the eight biggest rushing game all time and, at 23 years old, Charles is the second-youngest player to run for 250 yards in a game, behind only Adrian Peterson, who did while still 22 years old (single-game record 296 vs. San Diego in 2007).
Linebacker Derrick Johnson was Kansas City's defensive star of the game. He returned not one but two Kyle Orton passes for touchdowns (60, 45 yards). Johnson had only four picks and no TDs coming into the game, but harassed Orton into two critical turnovers.
Over in Denver, meanwhile, no player and no team were bigger mirages in 2009 than Orton and the Broncos.
After starting 6-0, the Broncos managed to lose 8 of their last 10 games and missed the playoffs. Orton produced a TD-to-INT ratio of 9 to 1 after six games, but in his last 10 games threw 12 TDs and 11 INTs.
On Sunday, he threw two backbreaking pick-sixes that doomed the Broncos chances. Ex-Broncos QB Jay Cutler took a lot of heat for Denver's collapse last year, as the Broncos lost their final three games to fall to 8-8, out of the playoffs.
After a change at the helm, the Broncs responded by losing their final four games to fall to 8-8, out of the playoffs.
In other words, maybe the problem's not the quarterback. – DZ
Chicago 37, Detroit 23
The Bears swept the Lions for the fourth time in the last five seasons, as Jay Cutler finished a disappointing season on a bright note. His four touchdown passes for the second straight game gave him 27 for the season, one more than his league-leading total of 26 interceptions.
The Lions concluded the worst nine-year stretch by an NFL team since World War II, lowlighted by a defense that made the average quarterback look like Peyton Manning.
The Lions have gone 33-111 (.229) since 2001, while the 2009 club posted a dreadful 107.6 Defensive Passer Rating, narrowly failing to live down to the standards set by the 2008 Lions, who posted an all-time worst 110.8 DPR. – BS
Atlanta 20, Tampa Bay 10
The Falcons finished with a winning record in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history. For all that, they get a nice "atta-boy" and little else this year.
Atlanta's third-year running back Jason Snelling provided one of the few offensive highlights from the season finale: he rushed for 147 yards on 25 carries, almost doubling his previous single-game high of 76 yards against the Giants back in November. – BS