by Scott Benson

There’s still another week still to go before the Pats take the field again, but today the 2007 NFL playoffs begin in earnest with the first of four wild card round matchups. Here’s a few random ruminations for your consideration.


I couldn’t bring myself to prepare one final Niner Watch spreadsheet, as the whole of the free world now knows that the Patriots will pick seventh in next April’s NFL Draft, thanks to the 5-11 49’ers. For a full rundown of the order as it stands today (the top 19 anyway), click here.


So Josh McDaniels has decided to eschew offered interviews for vacant head coaching positions in Atlanta and Baltimore, which probably means two things: 1) he’s not a sniveling opportunist desperate for one big score before his considerable inadaquacies are revealed, and; 2) he won’t end up sticking a shiv in Bill Belichick’s back by ‘exposing’ a tactic he once happily exploited for his own gain. Awesome! 


Speaking of awesome, this week the national sporting press saw fit to name the man who led his club to the league’s first ever 16-0 regular season as coach of the year. That was big of them. Well, big of most of them anyway. The guy that voted for Jon (9-7) Gruden, though? Might have been the first COY vote cast for a guy who lost three of five games in December.


Of all the pests, the hypocrite is the most pervasive. For example, they’re running rampant through the AFC South, home of three playoff teams.

“There’s no place for it. Everybody clearly understands the rules. The competition committee’s responsibility is to protect the integrity of the game. With technology the way it is right now, things could get out of hand in a matter of weeks if we don’t protect the integrity of the game.” — Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans

“To me, integrity is what you are all about. It’s what is inside of you. And what’s inside is going to come out when it gets to a critical situation. In my opinion, that’s the difference between a championship team and a good team. It’s the difference between a person you really want to follow and one who is just another person in your life. With people of integrity, you know what you are going to get because that person is the same way all the time; situations don’t change them.” — Tony Dungy, Indianapolis Colts

Well, maybe some situations. Like when a fellow member of the Competition Committee needs you to keep a timeout in your pocket. Then maybe you move those integrity goalposts a little bit.

Especially when you agreed to it beforehand.

The national sporting press was so distracted with their own moral dilemma (“How can we give this award to someone else?”) that they totally “missed” this breach of the principles they so vigorously defend, at least when they’re breached by someone they don’t like.


Now everybody, even Jim Nantz, knows that the price for offending Cris Collinsworth is $15,000. Naturally, the girlish, handwringing Mike Florio has demanded Wilfork’s immediate suspension. That’s Mike Florio of the edgy, fiercely independant website Pro Football Talk, brought to you by the NFL Network.


Dean Pees went to bat for Ellis Hobbs on Friday, which I kind of appreciated, because Hobbs is one of those unfortunate souls that always seems to be the last guy standing between the Patriots defense and a touchdown pass, even though you get the sense that there was more to it. By the way, that HUGE fourth quarter interception of Eli Manning last Saturday? It was Hobbs’s first pick of the season. Well timed.


I’ve fretted about the running game all season (rarely for good reason, but whatever) but after those two brutal (in the best, Corey Dillon-sense of the word) red zone touchdown runs last Saturday, I’m done.


Is there any way all four of these teams can lose this weekend?