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Jan. 5, 2008

NFL - regular season recap

by Andrew Kung, Online Sports Editor and Copy Editor, Pia Nargundkar, Online Editor-in-Chief and Nitin Sukumar, Online News Editor and Copy Editor
The NFL regular season is officially in the books, and our predictions crew reflects back upon the 2007 season, with all its ups and downs.

Congratulations to Nitin, who overcame half a season of last-place finishes to capture this year's SCO NFL Predictions title, edging last year's champ Pia by just one game. Anshul, our junior, will have his shot as he continues the hallowed tradition next season. And as for Andrew, well there's always baseball...

Be sure to check out our playoff previews.

Final Standings:
Week 17Season total
Nitin 10-6158-98
Pia 8-8 157-99
Anshul8-8 154-102
Andrew 7-9 147-106

Click <a href="http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/gr/jan2008/picksgraph1.JPG">here</a> to enlarge. Andrew Kung
Click here to enlarge.


Postseason Awards:

Most Valuable Player
Andrew Nitin Pia Anshul
Randy Moss Tom Brady Randy Moss Tom Brady

Andrew says: Simply put, Randy Moss is the reason the Patriots had the top offense in NFL history and ran the table, 16-0. Sure, they had other signings, but the addition of Moss was the true catalyst, turning Tom Brady from good quarterback to legendary record-breaking quarterback. Moss consistently drew double and triple coverage, yet still caught 98 passes for 1493 yards and a record 23 touchdowns. More importantly, after being labeled as a malcontent his entire career, Moss bought into New England's system, drawing praise from coaches and teammates while avoiding any incidents involving mooning, traffic violations, "blue moon" marijuana, leaving early, etc...

Nitin says: When it comes down to it, this award could go to either Brady or his impeccable target Randy Moss. Moss certainly can't take all of the credit for the amazing, pass-heavy season constructed by the Patriots. Fellow wide receiver Wes Welker tied for most receptions in the league and the Pats' offensive line could even give me a shot at completing a pass in the NFL. But when it mattered most, Brady came through for his team, orchestrating four fourth-quarter comebacks this season. Combining a perfect 16-0 season (remembering that the awards aren't even based on postseason efforts) with several shattered offensive records calls for awarding the team's field general. Brett Favre and Brian Westbrook have been completely overshadowed by both Brady and Moss this year.

Pia says: I have to agree with Andrew -- Randy Moss not Tom Brady is the key here. The Patriots practically stole their final piece of the puzzle from Oakland for a mere fourth-round draft pick this offseason, and then sat back and watched him glow.

Anshul says: I think this one is pretty obvious. Even all you haters of the New England Patriots know that Goldenboy-quarterback Tom Brady deserves this award. He shattered multiple NFL records and led his team to the only 16-0 regular season in NFL history and only the second perfect regular season ever. And it was not an easy road. His first couple of games were blowouts and inspired talks of an undefeated season. But tough games against the Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants proved that Brady is the MVP of the 2007 NFL regular season. He finished with 50 TD passes and only 8 interceptions, a plus-42 turnover margin. What he accomplished this season is truly great and should be recognized as such.

Rookie of the Year
Andrew Nitin Pia Anshul
Joe Thomas Patrick Willis Adrian Peterson Adrian Peterson

Andrew says: The obvious pick here would be All Day AP, but credit is due to Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas. Thomas quietly put together a very solid 2007 alongside the revamped Browns offensive line that opened up the holes for the resurgence of Jamal Lewis and gave Derek Anderson the time in the pocket to emerge as a top quarterback. In the NFL, games are won in the trenches away from the action, and Thomas definitely played a tremendous role in Cleveland's remarkable turnaround.

Nitin says: Adrian Peterson has already been given the offensive rookie of the year award, but Patrick Willis deserves the defensive award. Willis led the league with an astounding 174 tackles, with second-place D.J. Williams ending with 141. And of those 174, 135 were solo. Freakish athletic ability combined with relatively quick instincts already have earned Willis a spot among the top middle linebackers in the league. Most memorably this season, he was the key to holding "Purple Jesus" Peterson to a season-low three yards rushing. He might get hurt by the fact that San Francisco's overall defense in terms of yards and points allowed is in the lowest tier of the NFL.

Pia says: How could someone christened as "Purple Jesus" not win the Rookie of the Year award? His outstanding talent not only earned him a spot in the NFL record books with a 296-yard rushing game, but also finally propelled Minnesota into playoff contention.

Anshul says: I'll go with the obvious, the already-declared Offensive Rookie of the Year. Overlooked by Detroit for Calvin Johnson in the draft, rookie-sensation Adrian Peterson showed the world what he could do. Sure, he had his bad moments, like his 3-yard rushing game. But he also had high points, including an NFL-record 296 yard and three touchdown game. He set an NFL record for most rushing yards by a rookie in just eight games. He also brought the Minnesota Vikings to nearly a playoff birth and offset the lacking performance of Tarvaris Jackson.

Most memorable moment
Andrew Nitin Pia Anshul
Redskins lining up 10 men Romo choking with Jessica Simpson watching LaDainian Tomlinson passes childhood hero's record Miami's touchdown in OT to give them their first win

Andrew says: It was an emotional scene, the Redskins starting their game with Buffalo with just 10 men on defense in honor of slain safety Sean Taylor. It was a fitting tribute to an incredible player who brought so much the team and to the community, and the Bills had the decency to run the ball. Although the Redskins would eventually lose the game thanks in part to an unsportsmanlike timeout by Joe Gibbs, it was a tremendous gesture and an unforgettable moment.

Nitin says: Call me cruel but it was just too great. All of those camera cut backs to Jessica Simpson wearing that number nine jersey emphasized what was happening against Philly: Tony Romo was throwing away the game on the field. In the following weeks, Washington and Carolina fans alike pulled out their Jessica masks in an attempt to "ruin Romo." And it seemed to have worked: Romo had an average QB rating of 46.1 in his last three games.

Pia says: There are few great guys in professional sports -- great athletes, plenty, but great people are harder to find. LaDainian Tomlinson, the San Diego Chargers star running back, is one. Tomlinson grew up idolizing Walter Payton, the talented Chicago Bears' running back, and the moment he passed his hero's 110 career rushing touchdowns mark was as sweet as they get.

Anshul says: Miami finished the season 1-15, but before Week 15, people were thinking they wouldn't even pick up that one win. Even in that game, just a couple minutes before it ended people felt Miami would lose it. The Ravens were on the Dolphins' goaline, faced with a 4th and 1. But instead of going for the win, the Ravens settled for a field goal to tie it up and push the game into overtime. And again in overtime, there was a moment where the game was ready for Baltimore's taking. But usually reliable Matt Stover missed a 44-yard game winning field goal and gave Miami the ball. Just three plays later, Miami quarterback Cleo Lemon hit Greg Camarillo, who turned a short gain into a 64-yard touchdown. This stopped a 16-game losing streak for Miami and gave them their only win in the season.

Best story
Andrew Nitin Pia Anshul
Pursuit of perfection Kevin Everett's quick recovery Winning it all for Sean Taylor Redskins making playoffs after #21's death

Andrew says: I guess I could call myself a student of the game, so following the Patriots' run to 16-0 and watching history unravel was an exciting run. The dominance exhibited was awe-inspiring, and in some cases, quite frightening. We may very well be witnessing a dynasty in the making. More importantly though, someone finally silenced Don Shula, Bob Griese and the rest of the champagne-popping 1972 Dolphins, who got to enjoy the end of their record by watching their own team wallow in misery, trying to avoid the other kind of "perfect" season.

Nitin says: Between the deaths of several NFL players, legal troubles of the Michael Vicks and Chris Henrys as well as the overblown "Spygate" drama, 2007 has possibly been the worst year for the NFL. Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett was at the center of yet another horrible story, following a sickening collision and spinal injury during Week 1. Doctors initially feared that Everett wouldn't be able to walk again, but he made a stunning recovery and even managed to show up, on his feet, to the New York Giants game during Week 16.

Pia says: The end of this story isn't written yet, but all of Washington is waiting with baited breath. After the tragic death of safety Sean Taylor during the middle of the season, the Redskins community was rocked to its core. Regardless, the team came together and played through their sorrow for their departed teammate. After winning four in a row, a trip to the Super Bowl would be the perfect goodbye present.

Anshul says: The death of Sean Taylor took all of Washington by storm and rattled the Redskins' organization. A loss in the first game after his death left 'Skins fans feeling hopeless. The season's end seemed to be the regular season end. But when Todd Collins took over, the 'Skins won four straight games and pulled ahead of the Vikings and Saints to claim the final NFC playoff spot. The season is not over yet for the Redskins and all the momentum is on our side. A deep playoff run would be a perfect end to an up-and-down season.

Worst story
Andrew Nitin Pia Anshul
Bobby Petrino Michael Vick Spygate Cam Cameron

Andrew says: Sure he got a raw deal, getting caught up in the Michael Vick fiasco, but for Bobby Petrino to ditch his team in the midst of a 3-10 season was really low. I can understand if he feels that the pro game isn't for him, that he belongs back in the NCAA, but c'mon, at least have the decency to finish the year, no matter how ugly it got (and it indeed got quite ugly). No matter what he does in his return to the college ranks, Petrino will always be associated with his embarrassing mid-season copout. This lowbrow move makes Nick Saban look loyal.

Nitin says: It's impossible to explain in words how unfortunate the deaths of Darrent Williams, Damien Nash, Marquise Hill and Sean Taylor are, so I'll focus on an athlete who had complete control over his fate.
Nearly two years in prison for the NFL's best scrambling quarterback. The decision to stick by his old crew of buddies has been one of many poor choices Michael Vick has made in recent years, and easily the worst. He has given up a huge nine-figure contract as well as millions and millions in endorsements as a result. Vick may have also lost his right to participate in the NFL. We all hope he can learn from his mistakes and change his ways, but a hit like this is just too hard to overcome.

Pia says: The cheating scandal that rocked the NFL and the New England Patriots early in the season has all but dissolved away in most people's eyes. Not for me. The only thing more appalling than the "perfect" Patriots' behavior, is the fact that the "no first round draft pick" slap in the wrist the NFL doled out isn't even true -- thanks to a trade, the Patriots have the 49ers number seven first round pick!

Anshul says: In his only season with the Miami Dolphins, head coach Cam Cameron led the team to a dismal 1-15 record. There were times where the whole world was doubtful that Cameron would win even one game, and I'm sure that he had his doubts at some point too. And now, despite signing a 5-year contract with the team, he was fired. Cameron was supposed to take this team places, but where he took them no team wants to go. Next season looks better for the Dolphins, mainly because they can't get any worse.

Biggest surprise
Andrew Nitin Pia Anshul
Jamal Lewis David Garrard Todd Collins Brett Favre

Andrew says: The Browns were ripped left and right for signing the supposedly washed up Lewis, who had averaged less than four yards-per-carry for two straight seasons after a stint in prison. But soon Lewis silenced the critics who claimed he had nothing left in the tank, putting together arguably his best season since his 2000-yard 2003, including a 216-yard game against the division rival Bengals. The former Raven racked up 11 total touchdowns and played an integral role in the revival of the Browns.

Nitin says: Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio wouldn't agree with this unofficial award; he knew exactly what he was doing when he cut former Jag QB Byron Leftwich. David Garrard has put life into the Jacksonville's previously droning offense, posting a 6 to 1 touchdown/interception ratio, second only to none other than Tom Brady (6.25 to 1). With Garrard's effective game management and a two-headed monster in the backfield, the Jaguars can hold its own in the AFC and are considered a major threat in the postseason. If Jacksonville can find a way to bring in a game-breaking receiver in the offseason, Garrard might be able to improve his impressive numbers even more.

Pia says: Google, the iPod and the Houston Texans all came about in the decade between current Redskins' quarterback Todd Collins's starts. In the one month he has played since taking over for injured quarterback Jason Campbell, the 36 year-old Collins has led the formerly struggling 'Skins to four straight victories and a spot in the playoffs, with an incredible 107 passer rating, five touchdowns and no interceptions. No wonder Redskins' fans are saying, "In Todd we trust."

Anshul says: I can guarantee that nobody saw Brett Favre's play coming. His decision to return for another season last year was a complete shock itself and left many people skeptic as to whether he could still play. But he proved everyone wrong. Not only did he claim the NFL records for most career TD passes and most career passing yards, but he also led the Packers to a playoff birth and the number two seed in the NFC. Nobody saw it coming, probably not even people in the Green Bay locker room. Regardless if this is his last season or not, it was, and still is, a great one.

2007 Stud
Andrew Nitin Pia Anshul
Brett Favre Cleveland Browns' offense Tom Brady Wes Welker

Andrew says: Honestly, I've never been a fan of ol' number 4 and I've been skeptical all year of his career renaissance, just waiting for the bottom to fall out. Well, the regular season is over and the 38-year-old Favre is still standing tall (with no cane, surprisingly). The gun-slinger topped 4000 yards passing once again, and had his best QB rating in more than a decade. This season saw Favre break Dan Marino's career touchdown record (as well as George Blanda's career interception record) while leading the Packers to a 13-3 record and NFC North crown. Who knows, at this pace maybe Favre will break Blanda's record of being the oldest to ever play the game. Just 10 more seasons, Brett...

Nitin says: Following a quarterback controversy, Romeo Crennel's job security and a fallen runner, the Cleveland Browns have put together a huge offensive squad that has launched Cleveland into the upper decks of the NFL following years of being the laughingstock. Rookie tackle Joe Thomas has lived up to every bit of the hype surrounding him, giving quarterback Derek Anderson the time he needs. Anderson, despite his stellar breakout season, can even be considered expendable in the trade market with Notre Dame sensation Brady Quinn donning the clipboard on the sideline. Following last year's debacle as a Raven, running back Jamal Lewis has shown signs of life with over 1500 all-purpose yards to go with 11 total TDs. And certainly not least, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow have finally stepped up (my only correct prediction from my pre-season team overviews). Both racked up 80+ receptions and 1000+ receiving yards each. Edwards, one of the most explosive young recievers in the league, had 16 TD receptions, bested only by Randy Moss. Above all, the two have matured, showing more commitment to the team than ever. Runner up: Tennessee RB Chris Henry for taking the most vicious hit I have ever seen and then getting up like it never happened.

Pia says: It's a bird...it's a plane...nope, it's Tom Brady. Juggling a supermodel girlfriend, a newborn baby and the new record for most touchdowns in the regular season never seemed easier. Brady deserves the most credit for his team's perfect season -- with a +42 touchdown to interception difference and his admittedly good looks, he brings a whole new meaning to "2007 stud."

Anshul says: The perfect regular season by the Patriots was an amazing feat and Brady and Moss are the ones getting much of the praise. But the unsung hero of the New England team this season has definitely been Wes Welker. The slot receiver has done everything this season, from catching passes to running the ball to returning punts. He tied T.J. Houshmandzadeh for most receptions this season and was a major force in the Patriots' offense. Sure Moss was the deep threat and endzone force, but Welker was the one moving the chains by working underneath routes and the middle of the field on second and third downs.

2007 Dud
Andrew Nitin Pia Anshul
Reggie Bush Shaun Alexander Eli Manning JaMarcus Russell

Andrew says: As bad as the Dolphins were this year, at least they weren't as bad as their fight song. On the other hand, after exploding on the scene as a highly-touted rookie, Reggie Bush fell flat on his face in 2007. What was particularly troubling was how poorly Reggie performed with a full feature-back workload after Deuce McAllister was lost for the year. The man once called the next Barry Sanders may be nothing more than a glorified platoon back. And on top of that, it's rumored that Bush is engaged to socialite and "internet video" star Kim Kardashian. Need I say more?

Nitin says: It's amazing that the Seahawks have managed to overcome Shaun Alexander's deficiencies this season to become a legitimate contender in the NFC. Then again, it is the NFC. Two years after his MVP-season, Alexander has been out-rushed by 29 other backs while managing just 3.5 yards per carry and four touchdowns on the ground. He was nearly overtaken by backup Maurice Morris (4.5 ypc). What happened? Even though he's been plagued by injuries, he still fails to perform when he claims he's 100 percent. He needs to rebound during the playoffs to ensure starting security going into the 2008 training camp.

Pia says: The son of the famed Archie, the younger brother of the talented Peyton...Eli will be the Giants' key to success, right? Not so fast. In yet another mediocre season, Eli Manning finished with a quarterback passer rating of 74, 20 interceptions and 7 lost fumbles. In one game against Minnesota, Manning threw four interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. Sure there are worse players out there, but Manning's contribution to the Giants' team is grossly overrated, and he's hardly worth the $20 million signing bonus (the largest ever for a rookie at the time) and $54 million deal he got in 2004.

Anshul says: The first-overall draft choice this year was supposed to give the Oakland Raiders something to look forward to. The Raiders had quarterback issues all season long and JaMarcus Russell did not help them out. In the four games he played, including his one start in Week 17, Russell threw only two touchdowns and four interceptions. He also fumbled the ball four times, two of which he lost. The Raiders won only one game in those four and in that game Russell only threw seven passes. I know he is supposed to be the quarterback of the future for the team, but he needs to improve.

Comeback Player of the Year
Andrew Nitin Pia Anshul
Kurt Warner Brett Favre Kevin Everett Todd Collins

Andrew says: Admittedly, this is a very biased selection, as Kurt Warner's impressive play down the stretch helped me clinch the SCO fantasy football league. The former MVP played well as part of Ken Whisenhunt's early season quarterback platoon, and proved his worth after Matt Leinart went down for the year. Warner ended the season with 8 straight multi-touchdown games in leading the Cardinals to an 8-8 record. Considering the tradition of futility in the desert, .500 is quite an accomplishment. Warner at age 36 is no long-term solution, but he has created an interesting dilemma for Arizona come training camp next season.

Nitin says: A year ago, Brett Favre was contemplating retirement (again). But now that the Packers are legitimate title contenders, he may want to wait a few years before dangling that disastrous thought above Green Bay fans again. After two seasons suffering under center with QB ratings in the low 70s, Favre has played like his old three-time-MVP self. The passing attack has flourished with Mike McCarthy's ability to put the "Fab Five" receivers in position to get yards after the catch. The NFL's iron man shrugged off injuries to keep his great consecutive-games-started streak alive, breaking several of Dan Marino's passing records on the way.

Pia says: It doesn't matter that Kevin Everett didn't finish a game in the 2007 season. To be able to stand up on his own two feet after doctors initially thought that he would never walk again is the biggest comeback I've seen this year.

Anshul says: 10 years between starts is the longest gap I've ever seen. And he didn't miss a beat when he came back. He guided the Redskins to four straight wins and a playoff berth. During that stretch, Collins was playing amazingly. He threw five touchdown passes and no interceptions. Washington had been suffering when he came in from a four-game losing streak and the death of Sean Taylor. There was a lot of pressure for Collins to perform from both the coaches and the fans. He did not disappoint. 10 years without a start, he still comes back perfectly.

Coach of the Year
Andrew Nitin Pia Anshul
Bill Belichick Mike Tomlin Wade Phillips Mike McCarthy

Andrew says: So what if he allegedly "cheated" using illegal videotaping? As they say, "if you ain't cheating, you ain't trying!" (although George Mitchell may not agree). Regardless, he managed to get off with just a slap on the wrist, and then proceeded to lead his Patriots to the first 16-0 season in NFL history. Belichick deserves credit for the offseason acquisitions, including Randy Moss, and for the impressive play-calling, especially in the comeback victories against Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Baltimore. With a fourth Super Bowl ring very likely within the near future, it's becoming abundantly clear why Belichick is the most beloved man in the Northeast and the most hated man everywhere else.

Nitin says: Mike Tomlin came to the Pittsburgh Steelers looking to fill in some huge shoes left by predecessor Bill Cowher. He also had plenty of work to do; the Steelers were coming off of a disappointing season marked by Ben Roethlisberger's struggle to stay healthy. But with Tomlin's schemes, most notably the shotgun sets on offense, the Steelers were able to bring Big Ben to the AFC's club of high quality quarterbacks while letting RB Willie Parker run wild. Even with the departure of LB Joey Porter and with Troy Polamalu's difficulties, Tomlin has managed to put together the NFL's top overall defense. Romeo Crennel is a popular subject in the Coach of the Year conversations, but I think he has had much more to work with, given the excellent draft and stud receivers Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow.

Pia says: After helping the Chargers to an NFL-best 14-2 record last season, the San Diego defensive coordinator was recruited to lead in Dallas, among many questions about his skills on the offensive side and general doubts about his leadership capabilities. With only his first season, Phillips has managed to prove the critics wrong. The Cowboys are 13-3 and the number one seed in the NFC, a normally obnoxious Terrell Owens has been quiet and productive and Tony Romo has continued to develop. Kudos to Phillips -- between Jessica Simpson and painkillers, the Cowboys haven't always been able to concentrate on the field.

Anshul says: McCarthy last season did not perform very well. The Packers were 8-8, but were shutout twice in the season. Undoubtedly McCarty had something to do in bringing back Brett Favre, and that move alone helped the Packers so much. Favre guided the Packers to a 13-3 record and the number two seed in the playoffs, and McCarthy helped him get there. Drafting Ryan Grant gave the Packers a decent running game, something they had been lacking and was needed to become a great team. The play-calling by McCarthy kept Favre in control of the offense. McCarthy gave Favre all the freedom he wanted to bomb it downfield and throw as often as he needed to.



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  • jenn (View Email) on January 5, 2008 at 9:34 PM
    brett should be MVP cuz without brett the pack would be no where near winning it all and bringing the title back to titletown.
  • Will Bucher on January 7, 2008 at 8:28 AM
    How did SD's 110 yard TD not make the most memorable moment nom?
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