Every Sunday we’re featuring the Sunday Six Pack that covers the day’s biggest storylines. We follow this up each and every Monday with the Monday Hangover, which looks back on those stories and covers what we learned. These back-to-back articles are sure to get you primed, pumped and informed throughout the entire season. In addition, reading these articles will ensure you understand the dangers of not paying attention or drinking too much on Sundays.
Can #1) Vick’s Audition
In his last audition for 2013, Michael Vick did little more than show that which everyone already understands about his game. He’s got a rocket arm but underwhelming accuracy. He’s still got elite quickness and speed, but less-than-desired pocket presence. And, ultimately, he just doesn’t have the intangibles as a quarterback to take a team upon his shoulders and will them to a win. On the day against the G-men, Vick threw for 197 yards, completing 19 of 35 attempts, with one touchdown and one interception. He also added 25 yards on five carries. There’s little doubt that Vick will find a new home as there are many teams in need of a quarterback for 2013, if not only for a short period of time while a younger arm can be developed. My money is on the Jets for a two-year deal, but don’t count out Kansas City.
Can #2) How Long Will The Falcons Fly?
In one of the bigger surprises from week 17, Atlanta didn’t rest their starters as expected. Matt Ryan took every snap under center while both Roddy White and Julio Jones played their usual roles as well. The soon-to-be 37 year-old Tony Gonzalez finished the day with five receptions for 41 yards and one has to wonder should the Falcons make a strong run at the Super Bowl but come up short, whether Gonzalez will stick it out for one more year. He still moves well, has been durable and seemingly has at least one more year in him. But for the Falcons as a team, losing to the Buccaneers was not the way they wanted to enter the playoffs, first round bye or not. At just 2-2 in their last four contests, the Falcons don’t look like the same team that started 9-0.
Can #3) Calvin 2,000
It’s been a year of disappointments for the Detroit Lions. Finishing 4-12 on the season, the Lions reverted badly to an old familiar form. But if there was one story that was still being watched, it was that of Calvin Johnson’s quest for 2,000 receiving yards. In a fitting end, not only did the Lions lose to the Bears by the score of 26-24, but Johnson came up 36 yards short of the mark. But similar to Adrian Peterson’s failed attempt at the all-time single-season rushing record, Megatron need not hang his head. He’s as elite as elite can be and I’ve never seen a specimen at receiver who can seemingly do anything he wants to at will. With 122 receptions on the year for 1,964 yards, it’s stunning he only found the end-zone only five times. Frankly, given the year that Detroit has had, I find it almost insulting the Lions’ coaching staff didn’t have one goal very near the top of the board for Sunday’s contest: Get Johnson his 2,000 yards.
Can #4) Pryor and Subsequent Quarterback?
Well, he wasn’t the second coming of Robert Griffin III, but Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor didn’t embarrass himself in his first start as a Raider. On the day, Pryor completed an unimpressive 13/28 for 150 yards, but did manage to toss two touchdowns along with only one interception – he also added 49 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. In the end, he showed enough to at least keep the Raiders’ brass intrigued for another year as the Carson Palmer era plays itself out. Without the draft picks to significantly rebuild in 2013, Oakland will need to find a way to develop their young team via experience and better coaching. It’s not out of the question that Pryor could be starting by week eight in 2013, but there’s just too many balls in the air to accurately assess. What does seem easy enough to predict is that the Raiders are still multiple pieces away from being ultra-competitive.
Can #5) Vitt Happens
The Saints are nothing if not consistent. Consistent in their ability to score a lot of points and consistent in their ability to get beat by allowing more. If you had a week 17 championship game, you had to be happy if you had Drew Brees in your lineup. Brees threw for 396 yards on 29 of 43 passing with four touchdowns to only a single interception. All New Orleans’ receivers posted good numbers on the day as well, while the running backs were largely dismal unless you had Darren Sproles in a PPR league.. Now with a new contract under his belt, Sean Payton returns to the Saints in 2013 and will be looking to completely overhaul his worst-ranked defense. One Panther note on the day. DeAngelo Williams owners can hold out hope he has another couple years in him on a new team with his Sunday performance: 21/210/2. Williams gashed the Saints time and again with nifty cutbacks and speed on his way to a career day. With competitive teams such as Green Bay, Atlanta, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh needing an extra dimension at the running back position, Williams and his relatively young (fewer carries) legs could have a late-career Willis McGahee-esque revival.
Can #6) Showdown in Indy
No win vs. Indy. No first-round bye. No momentum. After going 12-1 to start the season, the Houston Texans dropped three of four contests to end the season, finishing as the third seed in the AFC. Now they host the surging Bengals in the first-round of the playoffs. As for rookie phenom Andrew Luck and the Colts, they now travel to Baltimore to take on the wounded Ravens. It’s not hard to see both the Colts and Bengals moving on and leaving their respective hosts licking their wounds. For Houston especially, an early exit will badly sting. A top ranked defense for much of the year, the wheels came off in week 14 vs. the Patriots and they’ve now allowed an average of 27.5 points per week from that week on. As for the Colts, they’ve now won five of their last six contests and nine of their last eleven. Andrew Luck has put himself squarely in the ROY race with Washington’s Robert Griffin III and even Seattle’s Russell Wilson.
You can find Jeff on Twitter at @dlf_jeff