I need like 5 televisions and 10 eyes. This should be fun starting at 4 pm eastern. Of course, Kelli Croyle and I will be intently watching the proceedings taking place in sunny San Diego, where her husband will be starting for Kansas City in place of the appendix-less Matt Cassel.
The Chargers showed up at the golf course a little hung over this year, have continually pulled out the driver even if the course called for an iron off the tee, and just used their last mulligan after a shot in the drink against Oakland. San Diego is a huge favorite against the Chiefs at home, but another bad loss means that the Chargers are eliminated from winning the division, and for all practical purposes, eliminated from a wildcard spot. The Chiefs got things going a couple of weeks ago on the road at Seattle, but are coming off a less than stellar performance at home where they squandered opportunities.
Brodie Croyle is 0 for 9 as a starter, though to be fair, most of those came back in 2007 with a really old and bad offense. He has as good an arm as Cassel, but has had trouble staying healthy throughout his college and pro career. I think the Chiefs will miss the pass defenses they have played over the last month a half more than Cassel. I expect the game plan to be very similar to what it would have been if Cassel was in, a heavy dose of Charles and Jones on perimeter runs and screens, with Dwayne Bowe getting targeted on slants and play action downfield.
That game in Chicago should be epic. We know that Tom Brady can play in the cold, but the wind conditions should make downfield passing difficult. That helps the Patriots on defense, while Brady will probably rely on short routes to Welker and the tight ends, and throws to Woodhead and Green-Ellis, with a heavier than normal dose of the backs running the ball.
The Jets have had so many memorable games against the Dolphins in the Meadowland, and this one ranks right near the top in importance. A loss at home, and all the whispers and negative energy of failures past return. A win by the Jets would eliminate the Dolphins (a Ravens win also should officially do it).
The Rams get a tough road test in their quest to go from 1-15 to the playoffs. The defending champs have been enigmatic, as the offense has been playing better of late, particularly with Chris Ivory emerging as a more efficient runner, but they have really played to the level of their competition. Bradford will have a tougher time against the Saints duo at cornerback than he has in recent weeks.
San Francisco can blow their last game of the year as a favorite and officially be eliminated. It seems like an eternity ago that the 49ers went to Seattle on opening day and got creamed, and the Seahawks haven’t had a performance that good since. The 49ers can make things very tight in the West with a win coupled with a Rams loss at New Orleans.
Finally, Denver and Arizona will play a football game today because of contractual obligations.
[screen grab via PartMule]