Week 17 Judgements: Broncos' bad draw?

Clark Judge, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Nobody should be less excited about having San Diego in the playoffs than AFC West rival Denver.
It's not just that the Broncos lost at home to them earlier this month; it's that they lost six of their last eight games to the Bolts in Denver.
Moreover, San Diego is 2-0 against Peyton Manning in the playoffs -- both when he was with Indianapolis.
If the Chargers can escape Cincinnati -- and, remember, the Bengals are 0-4 in the playoffs under Marvin Lewis and haven't won a postseason game since 1991 but went unbeaten at home this season -- they move on to Denver, and this just in: Two of the Broncos' three losses this year have been to two of the bottom three seeds in the AFC playoffs.

--2. Then again, Cincinnati should like its chances to buck history. The Bengals aren't just undefeated at home, they averaged 41.6 points the last five games there and scored 40 or more in four of those contests. Plus, they already beat San Diego this season ... in San Diego, 17-10.
--3. Memo to Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop: I wouldn't include Pittsburgh in my offseason travel plans. You might get run over by the Welcome Wagon.
--4. Steelers' fans should be infuriated. First, it's Succop blowing a last-second 41-yard field goal. Then, it's officials missing an infraction against the Chargers that would have moved the kick closer. And later whistling an apparent San Diego fumble dead on a critical fake punt in overtime. The Steelers deserved better, winning six of their last eight and eight of their last 12. They could have been a difficult out for Cincinnati.
--5. The Bears have a tough decision on Jay Cutler, whose contract expires in March. They brought him back to close out the NFC North, and he was 1-2. But it wasn't Cutler who lost the Green Bay game; it was a porous defense that crippled the Bears all season. Memo to GM Phil Emery: Keep Cutler and spend your draft picks on defense.
--6. The good news for Green Bay. Somehow, it made the playoffs. The bad? It draws San Francisco. Uh-oh. The 49ers are 3-0 vs. Green Bay since Jim Harbaugh took over, including a victory in last year's season opener at Lambeau, as well as a beatdown in last year's playoffs. Make San Francisco next week's best bet, and it's all because of good defense. The 49ers play it; Green Bay does not.
--7. Consider that a signature win for Jets quarterback Geno Smith. He not only won on the road, where he'd lost six of his first seven, but made big plays in a game with a playoff atmosphere. More important, he didn't suffer a turnover. Make that a building block for the future.
--8. Now comes the hard part for Peyton Manning. He's 9-11 in the playoffs, including seven one-and-dones. Anything short of reaching the Super Bowl taints this season for the record-setting quarterback.
--9. For a change, the Jets got something right. Rex Ryan should return in 2014. He took what should've been a four-win team and somehow, some way, turned it into an 8-8 club. With Rex's return, score one for stability, a word the Cleveland Browns don't understand.
--10. On the flip side, I can't see how Jerry Jones keeps Jason Garrett. The Cowboys showed zero improvement in his three-and-a-half years there. They've been 8-8 in each of the past three seasons, and, worse, choked down the stretch. They lost four of their last five in 2011; two of their last four in 2012 and three of their last four this season, including that debacle vs. Green Bay where they blew a 26-3 halftime lead to Matt Flynn. That's not bad luck; it's a trend. All I know about Garrett and the Cowboys is that in each of the past three years they had a chance to win the NFC East on the last day of the season, and in each of the last three years they blew it. Check, please.
--11. Nowhere was the value of Aaron Rodgers to Green Bay more apparent than on that last drive when he converted three fourth downs -- including the game-winning touchdown pass.
--12. No question, Nick Foles should've been named to the Pro Bowl. But whom do you replace?
--13. Miami doesn't deserve to be in the playoffs. It not only lost its last two; it scored a total of seven frickin' points against opponents with a combined record of 14-18. Pathetic.
--14. Sorry, but much of the blame for Baltimore's atypical fizzle on the shoulders of quarterback Joe Flacco. Simply put: He was an ordinary Joe when the Ravens needed him most. In their last three games, two of which they lost, they had just two touchdowns and nine field goals. Worse, Flacco had one TD pass and five interceptions. Contrast that to his performance in last year's playoffs when he had 11 TDs and no interceptions, and you see what I mean.
--15. Cleveland tackle Joe Thomas is right. "Great franchises" don't change coaches after one season. But the Browns aren't a great franchise. They were once. Now they're a dysfunctional one, and the more they change the more they stay the same. It's not as if the new administration inherited Rob Chudzinski; it hired him. That tells me more about the decision makers than it does the head coach, and it tells me someone didn't do his homework.
--16. Nobody should be happier the Metrodome is gone than Detroit. The Lions lost 15 of their last 16 there and were 7-24 since the place opened in 1982.
--17. If, as his agent suggested, Oakland's Terrelle Pryor was "set up to fail," he succeeded marvelously.
--18. Lucky for Andy Dalton that Baltimore didn't make the playoffs. The Ravens have more interceptions (11) against Dalton than anyone else, including four Sunday.
--19. Trust me, no matter where it is, retired Washington Reskins linebacker London Fletcher is going to a better place.
--20. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks says he wants to return to the Giants, but why would the G-Men want him? He didn't score all season, hasn't scored in 18 straight games and had 22 catches over his last eight games.


--1. With the first pick of the draft, the Houston Texans must choose a quarterback. Matt Schaub isn't the answer, and neither is Case Keenum. That means there's an opening for a Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, someone, anyone, the Texans view as the top quarterback in the draft, and they jump at the chance to take him next year.
--2. Never, ever, ever, count on Dallas in a season finale. That's the fourth straight time the Cowboys could've gone to the playoffs with a victory the last day of the regular season, and it's the fourth straight time they fizzled. The only difference: This time it was Kyle Orton, not Tony Romo, making the fatal mistake. But mistakes are what characterize the Cowboys in those four contests, with Dallas making 13 of them and their opponents committing two. That will send anyone home in a hurry.
--3. This is Philip Rivers' month. The guy is the anti-Romo, with a 30-6 record in December, and, yeah, OK, so he beat the Chiefs' second team and needed Ryan Succop to blow a 41-yard field goal to survive. He still won. Again.
--4. Indianapolis may be that dangerous team that every year seems to sneak up on people and make a deep run into the playoffs. After floundering in the aftermath of Reggie Wayne's injury, the Colts have recovered -- outscoring their last three opponents 78-20. Granted, Houston and Jacksonville were two of those three, but the Colts scored a decisive ... and impressive ... defeat of Kansas City in Arrowhead. Better yet, Andrew Luck seems back on his game, throwing eight TDs and one interception in his last four starts, and Luck is 13-3 at home.
--5. It's a mixed blessing to win a Super Bowl. Yeah, you get to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, be in a parade, meet the President and go to Disney World. But then what? Zilch, that's what. Baltimore became the ninth straight Super Bowl champion not to produce a playoff victory the following season.


--How much do you trust Andy Dalton in the playoffs?
--What in the world happened to Joe Flacco?
--Where next for Jared Allen?
--Does St. Louis spend a high draft pick on a quarterback?
--Who's got Muhammad Wilkerson in Fantasy Football?


--1. Atlanta center Joe Hawley. It was his blown snap that blew whatever chance Atlanta had for a last-minute upset of Carolina. Hawley snapped the ball as an unsuspecting Matt Ryan wasn't looking, resulting in a 16-yard loss and effectively ending any chance for a game-winning field goal. But, hey, look at like this: Hawley's mistake spared some tough questions for Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula, whose conservative play calling on Carolina's last series kept the Falcons in the game.
--2. The entire Chicago defense. They're the dunderheads who stood around after Julius Peppers hit Aaron Rodgers, forcing the quarterback to fumble. OK, so it looked like an incomplete pass to almost everyone ... almost everyone but the Packers' Jarrett Boykin, who picked up the ball and scored. I swear, I don't understand why coaches don't tell players to pick up every loose ball for plays just like this.
--3. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan. His first-half interception turned into a Carolina touchdown, killing Atlanta's early momentum and setting up the Falcons for another heartbreaking loss. Ryan's gaffe was reminiscent of a first-half interception in a 2010 playoff game vs. Green Bay, a turnover that turned that game into a defeat, too, and it should have earned him a game ball from Carolina.
--4. Chicago safety Chris Conte. He blew the coverage on Randall Cobb's game-winning TD, playing zone when everyone else was in man-to-man defense. He also blew the interception ... or, at least, the deflection ... on an earlier completion to tight end Andrew Quarless that led to a Green Bay score. Bottom line: He stunk.
--5. Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly. You have fourth-and-goal at the six-inch line, you have LeSean McCoy in the lineup and you're playing Dallas. So what in the world is Kelly doing calling a quarterback sneak with Nick Foles? Fortunately for Kelly, his defense came to the rescue, the Eagles won the NFC East and no one looks bad.

--1-8 -- Jay Cutler vs. Green Bay
--1-16 -- Oakland under Dennis Allen when opponents score first
--3-10 -- Matt Stafford in December
--4 -- Drew Brees seasons with 5,000 passing yards
--9-0 -- Ben Roethlisberger at home vs. Cleveland
--10-1 -- Green Bay in its last 11 season finales
--9 -- Sacks of Matt Ryan by Carolina, a Panthers' franchise record
--10 -- Marvin Jones touchdowns this season
--22 -- Joe Flacco interceptions in 2013, a career high
--334 -- LeGarrette Blount all-purpose yardage vs. Buffalo
--1961 -- Last time Washington lost eight straight

--Clark Judge, a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange, has covered pro football since 1982 and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

  • Is Clinton a true Cubs fan? GOP accuses Hillary of jumping on World Series bandwagon

    Clinton has worn the hats of both the Cubs and Yankees. The 2016 World Series begins Tuesday, and Hillary Clinton will rooting for the Chicago Cubs to break the Curse of the Billy Goat and end its 108-year title drought. On Saturday, Nick Merrill, Clinton’s traveling secretary, posted a photo of the former secretary aboard her campaign plane as she watched the Cubs clinch their World Series berth on a staffer’s smartphone.

    Yahoo News
  • Giants finally release Josh Brown, John Mara cites team's 'misguided' actions

    Brown was left home from the Giants’ game against the Los Angeles Rams in London in Week 7 and was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list by the NFL, granting the team a roster spot to replace him. Giants co-owner John Mara explained (via ESPN) why the team released Brown now and not when the allegations of abuse first surfaced, or after the shocking documents in which Brown admitted he abused his wife were released by the King County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Office.

    Shutdown Corner
  • Russell Westbrook's reaction to this 76ers fan's middle fingers is the best

    The start of the NBA season brings lots of excitement for fans. Many of the best athletes in the world are back on our TV screens on a nightly basis, and storylines such as Kevin Durant’s first games with the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first attempts to defend their historic title loom large. Also, sometimes an angry Philadelphia 76ers fan in an Allen Iverson jersey flips off Russell Westbrook and elicits one of the funniest reactions you’ll ever see.

    Ball Don't Lie
  • Is Jake Browning the nation's best quarterback?

    Dr. Saturday's Graham Watson takes a look at the Washington Huskies quarterback in this week's Heisman Watch.

    Yahoo Sports Videos
  • NASCAR America: Brian Scott pleased with second-place finish at Talladega

    Richard Petty Motorsports announced it has partnered with the American Red Cross as the primary sponsor on the No. 44 of Brian Scott this weekend at Martinsville Speedway in an effort to help Hurricane Matthew relief efforts. Scott’s car will feature text message code fans can use in order to donate to the Red Cross’ efforts to help those impacted by Hurricane Matthew earlier this month. Fans can help people affected by Hurricane Matthew by visiting http://www.redcross.org/rpm-pub, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, or texting the word MATTHEW to 90999, which will be featured on the No. 44 Ford Fusion this weekend, to make a $10 donation. “With the significance that Hurricane Matthew had on the Carolinas, Virginia and really all of the Southeast coast, we knew it was extremely important to give back to our community in a partnership with the American Red Cross,” Richard Petty said in a press release.

    NASCAR Talk
  • Tigers not likely to deal Kinsler

    While Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila recently told local reporters he will be looking to cut payroll and shake up his roster before next season, Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech believes the Tigers have no interest in trading 2B Ian Kinsler and RHP Justin Verlander. "We want to get younger," Avila said two weeks ago. "We want to get leaner. We want to run the organization without having to go over our means." Kinsler, 34, who hit .288 with 28 home runs and 83 RBIs this season, will earn just $21 million over the next two years and be eligible for free agency after the 2018 season. Matthew Cerrone | Snapchat | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | About Me The Mets technically need a second baseman.

  • Chicago Blackhawks own the worst thing in NHL right now

    The Calgary Flames scored two goals in regulation against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night. Both were on the power play. Neither should have surprised you, despite Calgary previously having gone 1-for-25 on the power play, because Chicago’s penalty kill is demonstrably the worst thing in hockey right now.

    Puck Daddy
  • Experienced Cup drivers limited to 17 Xfinity and Truck Series races a year starting in 2017

    Kyle Busch will only be able to make 10 Xfinity Series starts in 2017. A rule limiting Sprint Cup drivers in NASCAR’s No. 2 and No. 3 series is official. NASCAR said Wednesday that Cup drivers with five years full-time experience in the series will be limited to 10 Xfinity races and seven Camping World Truck Series races a season starting in 2017.

    From The Marbles
  • Georges St-Pierre shuts down rumored Michael Bisping fight at UFC 206

    A proposed fight between Georges St-Pierre and Michael Bisping at UFC 206 was quickly shot down by GSP. For a moment, there appeared to be a light at the end of the tunnel in the ongoing battle between Georges St-Pierre and the UFC. After St-Pierre declared himself as a free agent, the UFC drew their line in the sand and stated that the former champion was still under contract.

  • Video: World Series Expected to Be Most Expensive to Attend

    And the series is shaping up to be the most expensive to attend in the history of Major League Baseball Cleveland. Hasn't been a series in nineteen years and a ticket there tonight starts at more than 700 dollar. It's actually surprising that it's that love let's not that bad. But the cubs haven't been invited to the dance in 71 years so understandably prices for game three in Chicago start at. 19100. Dollars all of and average about four times as much as ones in Cleveland and those prices are likely to rise even more. Before Friday's first game in Chicago and not even counting how much they have to spend and how much it invested in getting back and forth to the game which is going to be its

    ABC News
  • Rory McIlroy: No-cut rule helped Tiger Woods win so many WGCs

    At the pinnacle of his career, Tiger Woods dominated the World Golf Championships, winning an incredible 18 of them from 1999-2013. No other player is even remotely close to that tally, with Dustin Johnson and Geoff Ogilvy a distant T-2 with three each. Rory McIlroy, who has two WGCs to his name, said Wednesday ahead of this week’s WGC-HSBC Champions that Woods was a beneficiary of the no-cut nature of the tournaments.

    Devil Ball Golf
  • Report: Hawks signing Dennis Schroder to four-year, $70 million contract extension

    The Hawks traded a former All-Star in his prime (Jeff Teague). They waived two experienced backups (Jarrett Jack and Will Bynum), leaving only rookie Malcolm in Delaney in reserve. Atlanta is putting all its point guard eggs in Dennis Schroder‘s basket – not just as the starter on a team that expects to make the playoffs, but a long-term building block. Marc Stein of ESPN: Paying Schroder $17.5 million per year seems fair, because he could wind up drastically underpaid or drastically overpaid. Schroder drives into the lane with abandon and usually produces quality outcomes as a result. He possesses impressive tools and is already beginning to utilize them, including in several clutch situations.

  • Why Ty Montgomery isn’t RB eligible on Yahoo (for now)

    Green Bay Packers wide receiver Ty Montgomery pushes Chicago Bears free safety Adrian Amos away as he carries the ball. There have been numerous tweets and questions about whether Ty Montgomery would become eligible at running back in Yahoo Fantasy after getting a chance to line up in the backfield after a rash of injuries for the Green Bay Packers. After much consideration, Yahoo Fantasy Sports has decided to leave Montgomery as receiver only at this time.

    Roto Arcade
  • Unhappy 49ers fan edits Trent Baalke's Wikipedia page

    The San Francisco 49ers might be the worst team in the NFL. Yes, the Cleveland Browns are winless, but taking a glance at the 49ers roster, there’s not a lot there. As The Mercury-News discovered on Monday, someone did some … creative editing to Baalke’s Wikipedia page.

    Shutdown Corner
  • Olympic boxing gold medalist Claressa Shields turning pro

    Claressa Shields celebrates after winning her second Olympic gold medal. There will be no third gold medal for Claressa Shields. The only American to win a boxing gold medal since Andre Ward in 2004 is turning professional and will make her pro debut on Nov. 19 in Las Vegas on the undercard of the Ward-Sergey Kovalev pay-per-view show.

    Yahoo Sports
  • Bruins' David Backes to miss at least 2 games after elbow surgery

    The injuries affecting the Boston Bruins isn’t only limited to their crease. Aside from being without their top two goaltenders they were also missing Frank Vatrano, Kevan Miller and David Backes. Backes is the newest member of the Bruins’ injured list and his situation was clarified a bit by the team on Wednesday morning.

    Puck Daddy
  • EFL Cup QF draw: Man United-West Ham; Arsenal-Saints in all-PL ties

    Following the conclusion of Wednesday’s Manchester derby in the fourth round of the 2016-17 EFL Cup, the draw for the quarterfinal round presented a pair of all-Premier League clashes. Manchester United will take on West Ham United at Old Trafford, while Arsenal will welcome Southampton to the Emirates Stadium. All quarterfinal fixtures will be played the week commencing Nov. 28. As for the other two matchups, Liverpool host Leeds United at Anfield, and Hull City will face one of the three clubs they replaced in the PL this season, recently relegated Newcastle United, at the KCOM Stadium. Full EFL Cup quarterfinal draw Liverpool vs. Leeds United Manchester United vs. West Ham Hull City vs. Newcastle

  • Welcome to the Tim Tebow baseball and PR Experience

    In the last seven days, I've talked to a handful of Mets insiders, none of whom believe Tim Tebow will be with the team next spring in Port St. Lucie. I've heard several different reasons behind their thinking. But, in the end, everyone agreed that -- if he's still with the organization -- he's more likely to show up in St. Lucie when minor-league camp starts, as opposed to when big leaguers arrive in February. This is good news ... if you ask me. It's nothing against Tebow, who has every right to pursue a career in baseball. It's just, the Mets have real goals, and real business at hand, as they try to right their ship and get back to the World Series. I expect Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah

  • Kyle Schwarber added to Cubs' World Series roster

    For a team that’s supposed to be cursed, everything seems to be coming up in the Chicago Cubs’ favor right now. The Cubs will not only enter their first World Series in 71 years as the overwhelming favorite, but they’ll also do so with a player who was expected to miss the entire season. Joe Maddon then said Kyle Schwarber would be the team’s DH in Game 1. Relief pitcher Rob Zastryzny who hadn’t appeared thus far for the Cubs this postseason.

    Big League Stew
  • Kudos to Fox for not going crazy with the curses

    I turned on last night’s Fox broadcast fully expecting them to spend too much time on history and curses and billy goats and black cats and Steve Bartman and 1908 and 1948 and all of that jive while spending too little time on the game and the players at hand. I will admit now that I was pleasantly surprised that that was not, in fact, the case. To be clear, the pregame show was a friggin’ train wreck in this department. There the narrative framing was basically wall-to-wall. In the first segment, Fox studio host Kevin Burkhardt used the phrase “reverse the curse” within his first thirty seconds of speaking. Then, before much if any actual game stuff was referred to, Burkhardt mentioned all of

  • Column: Should NHRA get with the times to grow sport?

    Drag racing has been one of the biggest motorsport passions of my life. Ever since the first time I went to the now-defunct U.S. 30 Dragstrip in northwest Indiana – with the famous loud and echoing radio liner, “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday, at beautiful U.S. 30 Dragstrip, where the GREAT ONES Runnnnnnn!” – in the early 1970s, I’ve been a big fan of the quarter-mile. (By the way, for those in the Midwest who remember U.S. 30, which closed nearly 30 years ago, efforts are under way to bring it back. But I digress.) As a reporter, I’ve covered drag racing since the early 1980s. I still get as excited today following the sport as I did back then. But … and you probably figured a but was coming. While

  • The Dr. Saturday Podcast: The College Football Rankings are coming

    Will Michigan remain undefeated after playing reeling rival Michigan State. In this week’s edition of the rankings we wonder if Tuesday’s College Football Playoff rankings will mimic the AP poll. As always, you can listen to the podcast in the player below or via iTunes where you can subscribe right here.

    Dr. Saturday
  • Greg Cosell's Week 7 Review: The Colts' adjustments, and Andrew Luck's execution

    The Indianapolis Colts had some offensive obstacles to overcome last week. The Colts had to rethink their personnel groupings because receivers Phillip Dorsett and Donte Moncrief were out. The Colts still had quarterback Andrew Luck, and he was excellent.

    Shutdown Corner
  • Rumor: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope demanding more than $20 million annually to sign contract extension with Pistons

    Pistons owner Tom Gores said he’d pay the luxury tax if a contract extension for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope put Detroit over next season. Yet, Caldwell-Pope hasn’t signed an extension with the deadline six days away. What will it take? Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: There was gossip over the summer that it would take a deal worth north of $20 million per year to get Caldwell-Pope’s signature. That’s not an unreasonable demand. It’s up to Caldwell-Pope whether he’d accept less in exchange for more security, but I think he’d get even more as a restricted free agent next summer – maybe even a max contract, which projects to start at more than $24 million. Caldwell-Pope is a good shooting guard

  • Don’t look now, but the Red Wings have won five straight

    A 26th straight playoff appearance? It seemed, when this season began, that not many were giving the Detroit Red Wings much of a chance to accomplish the feat. Time will tell. Despite their doubters, the Red Wings have now won five straight games, following a pretty uninspiring start with back-to-back losses in Florida to begin the season. Their latest win came Tuesday, as the Red Wings beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. (For Carolina, that wraps up a six-game road trip to begin the season.) Dylan Larkin, who had 23 goals as a rookie in 2015-16, finally got his first two goals of this season, scoring twice against the Hurricanes. So far, 11 players on their roster have scored, with Darren Helm