Insider: NFL Notebook
In this edition of the NFL Notebook, we examine the potential damage the Colts did to themselves by rallying for a 19-16 victory over Houston, and we also take a look at some of the most intriguing matchups of the weekend.
What The Luck?
The Indianapolis Colts were so close to clinching the draft rights to Andrew Luck that they could taste it. Instead, the immediate reward of winning outweighed the potential future success of snatching another franchise quarterback as the Indianapolis Colts rallied for a 19-16 victory over the Houston Texans.
"It's huge, I told all the guys and coach (Jim) Caldwell made a statement that we haven't been swept in our division since 2002, haven't been swept. We don't need that tonight. Go out there and play hard and we had this last week and let's make this feeling contagious," Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne said on the NFL Network following the game.
Indianapolis won what many believed was a meaningless game in every aspect other than securing the first-overall pick in the draft. The victory now puts both Minnesota and St. Louis in play in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes- at least for a few days.
The Colts own the tiebreak for the top pick with any of those teams so Indianapolis would still have to win next weekend in Jacksonville to avoid having the sole opportunity to secure Andrew Luck. If Minnesota and St. Louis win this weekend Indianapolis would again clinch the top selection.
"I'm not even thinking about any of that stuff right now," Andrew Luck said when asked about potentially reuniting with friend Peyton Manning as a member of the Colts. "We don't know who will have the number one pick or even who the number one pick will be."
Many believed that Indianapolis was purposely losing games earlier in the season in the hopes to secure Andrew Luck. Where some of the personnel decisions have been questionable- such as starting the season with Kerry Collins who didn't know the system; Or not making the move to Dan Orlovsky following the team's 62-7 beatdown at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, this two-game winning streak proves that it's nearly impossible to coerce players fighting for their jobs to lay down in any way.
"Guys have kept pushing, pushing pushing," Wayne explained.
The Colts are still in the drivers seat to draft Andrew Luck, but the victory adds more intrigue for at least two more days. One would assume that if Indianapolis gets the top pick they will take the Stanford quarterback. The real question is what will they do with Peyton Manning.
"If I were the GM, I'd keep both (quarterbacks)," Reggie Wayne said. "I'd be willing to deal with (having to make a choice between the two) rather by waiting two years from now than right now."
It's a lot easier for Reggie Wayne to make that call being that he's not the one depositing $28 million of his own money into Peyton Manning's account following three neck surgeries.
Sexy Saturday Matchups
Since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year the National Football League in their infinite wisdom (concerned about attendance/ratings) are playing 13 of the 16 games this weekend on Saturday. With 22 of the 32 teams still playing for the postseason, we have a few intriguing matchups.
Matchup #1- N.Y. Giants vs. N.Y. Jets- This isn't technically an elimination game, but it's close. If the Giants lose and the Cowboys win, New York will be eliminated from the postseason. If the Jets lose they could fall one game behind the Bengals who host Arizona.
Aside from the New York hype machine (even though both teams actually play in New Jersey), this is a great matchup. Two quarterbacks who are capable of beating any defense and losing to any defense. A team led by defense and another whose defense is on the IR. A trash talking head coach (who always talks about championships even though he hasn't won any) versus a trash talking wide receiver (who had exactly no catches before this season). Finally whichever team wins will be the team represented at Plaxico Burress's prison Hall of Fame induction speech.
Matchup #2- Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys- What's odd about this game is that it's at 4:00 EST and the NFL should have either moved it up to 1:00 or the Giants vs. Jets game back to 4:00. If the Giants win their game this matchup will be rendered meaningless as Dallas would still need to defeat New York next week to win the NFC East, and Philadelphia would also be eliminated.
Assuming the Giants lose, this should be a solid matchup as the Eagles are playing as well as anyone since Michael Vick's return. Tony Romo and the Cowboys don't want to face the pressures of a winner-take-all game in the Meadowlands next week if they can possibly avoid it with a victory Saturday.
San Diego Chargers vs. Detroit Lions- The Lions can clinch their first playoff berth since 1999 and their first 10-win season since 1995 with a victory on Saturday. It won't be easy as the on again, off again Chargers have been red hot, winners of three straight after dropping six in a row in the middle of the season.
Look for a shootout as both offenses are explosive through the air, as Lions quarterback Matt Stafford is hoping to earn a Pro Bowl selection. On the season he has completed 62.7 percent of his throws for 4,145 yards with 33 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Philip Rivers has been scorching during the team's three game winning streak as he's completed 75 percent of his throws for 804 yards and seven touchdowns.
These games could also be interesting
Denver Broncos vs. Buffalo Bills- The Bills haven't won in months and all the Broncos do is win with Tim Tebow (unless they're facing a legitimate offense). Everyone is sleeping on Buffalo in this game and they, just like most of America are tired of hearing about "Tebow Magic."
San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks- Although this seems like a mismatch on paper, San Francisco will be traveling to a difficult stadium on a short week and the Seahawks have been red hot.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie