The Regular Season Finale of the NFL Held Surprises
by Amy Lignor
There were few games left to play in the regular season that held massive power. The Minnesota Vikings versus the Green Bay Packers for the division title was one. The other came from the snow-filled skies of Buffalo where the Jets had a chance to see the post-season after a very long time of being shut out. Most other games were played to be granted a bye or, as it was with the Patriots, a chance to claim home field advantage throughout post-season. The Patriots ended up losing, leaving the door open for Denver to win and become the number one seed in the AFC. But the scariest part for the team was not worrying about something so trivial, it was watching Tom Brady get hurt and leave the field. A huge sigh of relief could be heard from sea to shining sea when he re-entered the game. Let’s be honest, fans, with Brady a third Super Bowl ring is possible. Without him, not even Gronk could save the day.
What was most talked about this weekend came in the form of coaches on their way out. To begin, the first coach leaving came from Philadelphia. Sending Chip Kelly to the curb allowed DeMarco Murray to prove how good that choice was for the team. Murray – the should-have-been star retrieved from the Dallas Cowboys and brought to Philadelphia this season, signing a lucrative contract to become the Eagles’ RB – showed that he was more than happy with the decision. In less than three minutes into the game facing the New York Giants, Murray scored a TD and a smile was restored to his face.
Of course, on the other side of the ball was Tom Coughlin, coach of the New York Giants. Tom could have played his last game as coach of the Giants this weekend. It will be interesting to see if Coughlin goes, but if he does, he will be the one to resign on Monday. Firing a coach of his caliber is not going to happen.
The 49ers are the lowest scoring team this year, and basically a huge mess. Will head coach Jim Tomsula be sent out to pasture? Frankly, all NFL fans hope so. The man has looked nothing but confused on the sidelines this year, and the fans are even more confused seeing a great QB sitting on the bench with nothing to do while his team goes under.
The future of Saints head coach Sean Payton is also looking a bit gray. This is one team that shines when it comes to any talk about QB Drew Brees, but as far as the coach is concerned, he’s not nearly as special.
One confusing coach issue remains in Dallas. Jerry Jones has basically said that Jason Garrett will remain his head coach. Odd, considering Jones despised Jimmy Johnson, yet Johnson was a coach who garnered him two Super Bowl rings. You gotta wonder what on earth Jason Garrett has – besides being the ultimate “yes man” – that would make Jerry Jones okay with the fact that the mighty Cowboys have most assuredly hit the skids.
Two other definite job openings for head coach come from the San Diego Chargers, which look as if they are relocating to Los Angeles…without Mike McCoy. The other job placed in the sunshine comes from Miami. The Dolphins will be looking for a new guy – not much of a shock to what was the “interim” coach anyway.
Heading over to the player area, this year will most definitely go down in the record books as being the “Season of the Annoying Dance,” with the most annoying coming from the Carolina Panthers’ players. They were taught a lesson last week by a weak team, which may have offered a slap upside the head letting them know that, all dancing aside, they are going to have to do far better if they wish to see a Super Bowl ring.
Aaron Rodgers, to some, is a god. He is that “bad, bad man” who has the data proving he is among the best QB’s in the NFL. The biggest game this weekend came from Rodgers. He had to go in as an actual underdog to win the division over the Vikings at Lambeau Field. So…were you surprised by the finish, or not?
But the biggest letdown? The Jets needed to beat the Buffalo Bills for a playoff berth. If they lost, the Steelers could win and enter the fray. The Jets controlled their own destiny this season and they could shake that stigma of the “Jets being just the Jets,” if they won. They did not. The stigma stands. The Steelers head to the post-season as the sixth seed in the AFC, and the Jets and their fans have to deal with one giant heartache. (Again)
So much left undone. People are heading out of their cushy jobs, and the annoying dances will continue for a few more weeks to come. But, in the end, the leaders this season remain on the path to reach the Big Game. But will the Super Bowl contenders be a surprise? As far as it looks right now…the answer is a definite ‘maybe.’