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Home-field advantage? What
home-field advantage? Sure, Minnesota is a tough
matchup for Philadelphia, but let's keep this in
perspective. First, the Eagles beat the Vikings
earlier this year. Second, they're outside, where
Minnesota has won just three of its last 23, including
Sunday's 31-17 demolition of Green Bay. And third,
it's the playoffs where dome teams don't exactly
do well outdoors. home teams won only 55 percent
of the time this season, but this isn't the season.
This is the postseason, and over the past 10 years
the home teams won divisional playoff games more
than 75 percent of the time.
In the AFC, the record is 14-6;
in the NFC it's 17-3. That's not exactly to Minnesota's
advantage; nor is it to the Rams', but St. Louis
was the bigger winner this weekend. Why? The Rams
move back into a climate-controlled environment
where they're more comfortable, better suited and
That's the good news. The bad? They play Atlanta,
and the Falcons hammered St. Louis at the Georgia
Dome the second week of the season. Still, the Rams
know they're where they have a chance -- even if
it's against Michael Vick.
The Vikings know they have
a chance, too, especially with Terrell Owens out,
but it's not much of one. The Eagles' defense isn't
just better than Green Bay's; it's vastly better.
The Eagles lost once at home this year; Green Bay
lost five times at Lambeau, including Sunday. And
Minnesota has a checkered history outside the dome,
winning two of its last nine playoff games there.
The two wins? They were in the wild-card round.
History tells us that one of
next weekend's underdogs wins. Looking at the lineups,
I'll take Indianapolis -- partly because of what
Peyton Manning's doing and partly because of what
New England's doing, which is losing star defensive
players. The others? They're about to find out there's
no place like home.
Tidbits I thought I’d drop on you for a bet
Peyton Manning is going where
few have gone before, rubbing elbows with the NFL's
truly elite, the select few who have been singled
out as the Associated Press Most Valuable Player
more than once.
As expected, Manning picked up the league's most
prestigious individual honor yesterday in a vote
by a national panel of sports writers and broadcasters.
The Indianapolis Colts' record-setting quarterback
shared the award with Tennessee quarterback Steve
McNair a year ago, but there was no suspense this
time. Manning became just the third player since
the award's inception in 1957 to win it in consecutive
The inevitable was nearly unanimous.
The 48-member panel funneled 47 votes to Manning,
one to Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick.
Manning is just the seventh multiple winner, the
first since Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre in
1995, '96 and '97. Three of the five other two-time
winners are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Johnny
Unitas, Joe Montana and Jim Brown. A fourth, Steve
Young, is eligible for enshrinement with the Class
Manning's legacy remains a
work in progress: seven seasons, 112 regular-season
games, seven postseason starts. His résumé
includes NFL season records for touchdowns (49)
and passer rating (121.1), each registered while
leading the Colts to a second straight 12-4 record
and AFC South championship.
But if the company he's keeping as a multiple MVP
is an indicator of what's to come, the Pro Football
Hall of Fame needs to reserve a room.
Three days after arguably
the worst season in the history of the franchise,
Niners co-owner John York said his first order of
business after firing head coach Dennis Erickson
and general manager Terry Donahue — a move
that could end up costing up to $15 million in salary
payoffs — was to hire a proven winning head
coach at the NFL level to usher in a new era of
success and genuinely excite an increasingly skeptical
In other words, York very
much wants to hit a home run and is apparently willing
to reach deep into the company coffers if necessary.
In the “excitement” department, two
top candidates quickly emerged: USC head coach Pete
Carroll, fresh off back-to-back national championships;
and Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren, a big-name
Bay-area native and former Niners assistant coach.
Carroll quickly announced that he had no interest
in the Niners’ gig, but we hear that won’t
stop York from making an impassioned sales pitch
at some point in the near future. The same was expected
to be the case with Holmgren — if he were
to cut the cord with the Seahawks.
The Niners got the interview
process going last Saturday, flying to New England
to meet with Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo
Crennel, who one day earlier was interviewed for
the Browns’ head-coaching vacancy.
Other candidates who we hear
are on the 49ers’ short list are Eagles offensive
coordinator Brad Childress, who previously interviewed
for the head-coaching job after Steve Mariucci was
fired; Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan,
the son of former 49ers head coach Dick Nolan; Titans
offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, who could
come in an attractive package deal with well-regarded
defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
Randy Moss is almost sure to be fined for pretending
to moon fans in Green Bay during a playoff win,
according to NFL rules.
The league is looking into the star receiver's antics
in Minnesota's 31-17 win over the Packers on Sunday
and will announce its ruling later this week.
When asked whether the oft-fined Moss would be penalized
again, a league spokesman recited NFL rules mandating
discipline for "obscene gestures or other actions
construed as being in poor taste."
A fine for the first offense under those guidelines
is $5,000. Moss has not previously been fined for
such action, but he paid a $25,000 penalty in 1999
for squirting an official with a water bottle.
On Sunday, Moss caught a touchdown pass in the fourth
quarter and headed toward the goalpost. He then
turned his back to the Lambeau Field crowd, bent
over and pantomimed pulling down his pants.
"Just having a little fun with the boys,"
Moss told a Fox reporter as he left the field. "I
hope I don't get in trouble by it, but if I do I'll
take the heat."
Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy said Moss' action
was "kind of humorous."
"It's not the kind of thing you want to see
on national TV, but I understand what it was all
about," Dungy said. "Anyone who has played
in the NFC Central knows what that's about. The
fans in Green Bay have a tradition in the parking
lot after the game where they moon the visiting
team's bus. It's kind of a unique send-off.
"I had seen it seven times because when I was
with the Vikings, we lost to them seven times up
Running back Moe Williams might have to miss the
Vikings' playoff game at Philadelphia on Sunday
with a sprained right ankle. Moss also has a sprained
ankle, but he is expected to play.
• Rick Neuheisel, former University of Washington
coach, is scheduled for a second interview this
week for the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator
job. Neuheisel interviewed last week and is one
of several candidates to replace Matt Cavanaugh.
The Ravens released offensive-line coach Jim Colletto
• The 49ers, searching for a coach to replace
fired Dennis Erickson, will have interviews this
week with Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger
and Tim Lewis, defensive coordinator for the New
York Giants. Owner John York has already interviewed
New England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel
• Terry Robiskie, interim coach of the Cleveland
Browns, met with team owner Randy Lerner, president
John Collins and general manager Phil Savage in
New York yesterday to interview for the position
that became open when Butch Davis resigned. Robiskie
is the fourth candidate interviewed by the Browns,
joining Crennel, Philadelphia offensive coordinator
Brad Childress and Pittsburgh offensive-line coach
• Jim Bates, the Miami Dolphins' interim
coach for the final seven games this season, said
he'll seek work elsewhere rather than remain with
the team as an assistant to new coach Nick Saban.
When Dave Wannstedt resigned as coach in November,
Bates was promoted from defensive coordinator and
led Miami to three wins.
• The Dolphins will rename Pro Player Stadium
Dolphins Stadium and begin a three-phase renovation
funded by owner Wayne Huizenga. The Dolphins have
played in the facility since 1987, when it was named
Joe Robbie Stadium after the team owner who built
it. Huizenga had no success in finding a new naming-rights
sponsor since Pro Player was bought out five years
ago. The sports apparel company had signed a 10-year,
$20 million deal with the Dolphins in 1996.
• The Patriots signed CB Hank Poteat, less
than a week before their playoff game against the
Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots' secondary has
been hit by injuries all season. Ty Law missed the
last nine games and went on injured reserve last
week; Tyrone Poole has been out since September;
safeties Eugene Wilson and Randall Gay also have
spent time on the injury list.
• A month before thousands of fans arrive
in Jacksonville, Fla., for the Super Bowl, a county
judge ruled the city's ban on drinking alcohol in
public is unconstitutional.
Enjoy This weeks matchups
Folks – Now Get Back To Work……….
Weekend Stud - Reggie Wayne
I'll say this for Reggie Wayne:
He is now the MAN in the Indi offense. Sure
they have Harrison, and Clark, and Pollard
and Stokley, but Wayne is the guy consistently
doing it for them this year. Watch out for
this guy vs the Pats.
On Football Writer Ray Monohan is an NFL analyst with
10+ years of experience covering the NFL. He provides
a great perspective on the NFL with player and team insight
unmatched in the NFL football betting industry.