If there was ever a time to start considering some minimum standards for teams to make the playoffs, it’s right now. With the potential for both the Chargers and the Cardinals to make the playoffs - and have a home game! - with 8-8 records should be enough to make any football fan cringe. Has the NFL suddenly turned into the NBA’s Eastern Conference? Shouldn’t there be some sort of rule that you have to be above .500 to make the playoffs.
And there there’s the Chicago Bears, who are somehow still in the thick of the playoff chase after pulling out a 20-17 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers thanks ato a blocked field goal with time expiring to keep the game tied. Yes, those Chicago Bears. The one with the offensive playbook that is less sophisticated than that from the old Tecmo Bowl Nintendo game. The one with no pass defense to speak of. The one with Kyle Freakin’ Orton at quarterback.
But here they sit at 9-6, with a chance to either win the NFC North or get a wild card, despite having needed basically every result on Sunday to go exactly as they did for that to happen. If the Bears pull this off, it will be a Christmas miracle the likes of which haven’t been seen in Chicago since Macaulay Culkin single-handedly fought off Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.
The NFL in 2008: you don’t have to be good to make the playoffs, just conveniently geographically positioned.
Of course, the highlight of the whole game might have been during the coin toss. It wasn’t a total debacle like the Jerome Bettis coin toss against the Lions a few years ago, but it was pretty humorous. If you didn’t see it during the game, keep your eye on Brian Urlacher during the toss:
I think the referee needs to practice the coin toss a bit more. And way to not even have your eyes on the coin, Brian. Head on a swivel!
Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers aren’t making the playoffs, but they are playing a lot better under “interim” head coach Mike Singletary (and really, is there any way he won’t be the head coach next season?). And they have a plan for Sunday’s season finale at home against the Redskins.
According to the SANTA ROSA PRESS DEMOCRAT, along with the throwback uniforms, many members of the team will also be sporting “throwback” mustaches. Posted on the wall for motivation are pictures of great mustaches from 49ers past, including John Ayers, Ray Wersching, Jimmy Johnson and Roger Craig. Let’s just hope they don’t decide to imitate Wersching’s financial strategies as well.
- DEADSPIN wonders if Fox NFL analyst Brian Baldinger’s gross right pinky finger is getting - well, even more gross. Honestly, there’s no way to fix that thing? Maybe a pair of pliers?
- Along with baseball, another event on tap for the first month of operations at the New Yankee Stadium is an “inspirational night of encouragement“ by TV minister Joel Osteen. Unfortunately for him, a worker cursed the event by burying an old sequined dress from Tammy Faye Baker beneath the stadium during construction.
- Derek Jeter is hardly opening his arms to potentially welcome Manny Ramirez into the Yankees’ fold, telling the NEWARK STAR-LEDGER that the Yankees “don’t need” the mercurial free agent because their line-up has “scored plenty of runs.” Keep in mind, this is a team that let Melky Cabrera and his .249 batting average get more than 400 ABs last season. I think you could use the help in the line-up, Captain.
- What it is about Texas high school cheerleading that always seems to wind up getting some combination of school administrators, lawyers or the police involved? This time the DALLAS MORNING NEWS says it’s a disgruntled parent who says her daughter didn’t make the team because of harassment from other cheerleaders.
- The BASEBALL THINK FACTORY warns that you not to call Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman and talk about Adam Dunn’s high number of walks. I suggest that we all call his show and demand to talk about that just to see if Brennaman’s head will explode.
- An undersized guard named Curry helping a mid-major team make some noise with a deadly jumper? RIVALS.COM wants the world to get ready for Stephen Curry’s younger brother Seth, who has been leading Liberty back from the basketball wasteland.
- Animal Planet has a new TV show premiering in February called “Jockeys,” about the trials and tribulations of the riders at the Oak Tree Meet at Santa Anita. It’s the most compelling story about little people since “Under the Rainbow” - and 100 percent Chevy Chase free!
- Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint missed the Dragons’ game against Memphis and his mentor John Calipari after being suspended one game for being ejected from his team’s loss to Bucknell last Thursday. The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS says it’s good he missed the game: the Tigers crushed Drexel, 87-49. Hey, at least Drexel still got their $90,000.
- Finally…did you love the Super Bowl Shuffle but wish that involved less football and more rapping about maple syrup and Grey Poupon? Then in honor of the Bears’ win last night, the Super Broker Shuffle is for you: