First, to start, my picks:
MVP: Tomlinson, edging Brees because of Payton
DMVP: Champ Bailey
OROY: Young, edging Colston due to injuries
DROY: That dude from Houston...not Mario
Comeback: Garcia or Pennington
NFC Champ: Chicago
AFC Champ: Baltimore
Super Bowl Champ: Chicago
Well, this was the year of logic in the NFL. No ridiculous turnarounds that can't be explained by anything other than "chemistry" and "fan support." Getting Brees who thrives in the dome saved New Orleans, getting a still-injured C-Pepp sunk Miami, Edge couldn't run the ball away from the league's best offense, and Tony Romo showed his true self at the end. In the playoffs, throw out the "anything can happen" motto: Each victory will be clear-cut, even if the score is close. I don't expect more than one crazy upset, and that's a stretch.
The 'Skins, who prove a new aphorism annually, be it "defense wins games", "don't believe the hype" or "it ain't over til the fat lady sings" chose to prove "too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the
broth." Billick and Baltimore proved this in reverse fashion by canning Fassel. A number of teams lost to the odds by letting their QBs, including "scramblers" get creamed by neglecting the O-line.
Looking back on this season, it will be seen as the year that the Saints completed an improbable turnaround only to get creamed at Soldier Field, and the season that Tomlinson put himself firmly into the argument for "greatest back ever." Also, maybe I'm being optimistic, but it could be seen as the year Vince Young took the league by storm before becoming a yearly Pro-Bowler and guarantee for Tennessee to make the playoffs. It WON'T be seen as the dawn of the greatest playmaker ever, who WON'T be Reggie Bush. And since Payton will be Coach of the Year, history will forget Mangini, in 2006 at least, and probably for as long as Brady and Belichick are plotting together. And the Super Bowl will be fun to watch but a real snoozer for the casual fan, until the final 10 minutes of the game.
Tough for me to enjoy a year when the Redskins go 5-11, missing the playoffs in a season that I expected to produce a Super Bowl run. Players were added to mend holes at WR, DE, and SS. The most touted Offensive Coordinator in the league was brought aboard, and everything seemed to be going right for the most balanced, productive Redskins team since the 1991 Super Bowl. Add that to a 6-1 finish ended by the NFC Champs, and everything was looking up. Truth be told, I'm still trying to figure out what made that team so good and this team so god-awful.
It could've been that they strayed too far from their true style of play, going for a new west-coast offense and a less aggressive defense over last season's smash-mouth offense and aggressive defense. Maybe it was injuries...the loss of Portis and Springs sure did hurt this team. But I can't attribute it to that, as last year this team limped, hell, it wheel-chaired its way from 5-6 to a playoff run. You name the player: last year he was either missing time or playing injured.
When it comes down to it, I think that the rest of the NFC just played much better this year than last year, especially in the division. The Redskins went 10-2 in conference, 0-4 against the AFC last year. This year, we fared much better at 2-2 against the AFC but were an awful, unforgivable, 1-5 in our division (compare to 5-1 last year). The 'Skins took advantage of a psychologically defeated Dallas team, a shell of the Eagles, and the rest of the ramshackle NFC to claw their way into playoff-dom last year. Tough losses against Tampa, Atlanta, Philly, and Minnesota are what spelled the difference between playoffs and a top-10 pick, in my opinion. These four losses (Phi. 27-3, not week 14) really broke our backs.
And with that, I'm outta here. I'll see you all in 2008 (as some here know, I play fantasy football every other year, because a season of football without worrying about Fred Taylor's [name body part] is a good one indeed. And I don't mean that as in insult, Fred. I should've started you over Ronnie Brown all year). Good luck in 2007! And don't take Larry Johnson before pick 5, because he's a 75% chance to get injured, the way Herm plays him!