You can find more from Michael Salfino at Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia
Tough break for those who invested in Colts all year, but having them run away with a No. 1 seed prior to Week 16 is a known risk in drafting Indianapolis players, as they have won the most games this decade and 12 or more games every year since 2003.
We'll focus on the games where the starters were given full reign in the rest of this penultimate Scouting Notebook. Happy New Year and here's wishing your playoff dreams have come true.
Carolina's Steve Smith catching that TD pass when the defender nailed him on the forearm so hard when in mid-air that he ended up with a broken bone shows you the toughness of Smith, who not only held on but stayed on his feet to get into the end zone.
Matt Moore(notes) has had quite a nice couple of weeks and looks like the Panthers QB of the future. Quarterbacks have emerged out of far more humble beginnings. With a couple more weapons, he has a chance because he has a good arm and good feet.
The Giants tackled like they thought they were playing flag football. Even Brad Hoover(notes) was cutting through them like a hot knife through butter when Jonathan Stewart(notes) was tired (he burned a few thousand calories running up and down the field, largely uncontested).
Mario Manningham's(notes) fumble on the Giants' first drive was the last chance for Big Blue, which laid probably its biggest egg ever at Giants Stadium considering the quality of the opponent and the fact that Giants greats through the ages were on hand to celebrate the festivities.
Brandon Jacobs(notes) is one Giant at a career crossroads. Ahmad Bradshaw(notes) looks much better on one good leg. Jacobs can't come close to getting it done half the time even in short yardage. The line has been a problem, but if he's that dependent on his line to get yards, why is he getting all that money?
Laurence Maroney's(notes) fumble on the goal line on the Patriots first drive was one goal-line fumble too many for Bill Belichick, as Sammy Morris(notes) became the main beneficiary with the added workload. Short Maroney futures, at least when it comes to performing for the Patriots.
What's gotten into Ryan Grant(notes) these last couple of weeks? Sure, Brandon Jackson(notes) (three TDs) outscored him, but that was a fluke. Grant has really taken advantage of that great running back environment (deep safeties on every snap) in Green Bay.
Brian Brohm(notes) vs. Matt Ryan(notes) was like Michael Spinks vs. Mike Tyson. That's not noteworthy except that Football Outsiders used their college QB projection formula to state when both were available in the same draft class that Brohm would prove to be the best pick. Time to scrap that formula, boys. In fact, just accept that there is no formula for forecasting amateur QBs, as 80 percent of success at the position is dictated from the neck up. So unless you have fMRI images and know what you're looking for, don't waste your time.
The Bengals are a playoff fraud. They had 53 first half yards against the Chiefs, who gave up 400-plus yards this year to every team except Oakland, Buffalo and Washington. They'll be smothered by the Jets next week even if they play their starters (Cincy has clinched the AFC North).
Derrick Mason(notes) let the game slip through his fingers (actually, off his face mask), but gets another chance as the AFC wild card contenders are the gang that can't shoot straight (unless they're shooting themselves in the foot). If the Ravens beat the Raiders in Baltimore next week, they're in. The Steelers had four snaps in the third quarter and won because of the Mason drop, two more TDs called back by penalties and another flag on a really stupid Ben Roethlisberger(notes) pick that would have given the Ravens one last chance.
Michael Salfino's work has appeared in USA Today's Sports Weekly, RotoWire, dozens of newspapers nationwide and most recently throughout Comcast SportsNet and NESN. Michael also covers the Jets and Giants each week for SNY.tv.
- Michael Spinks