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Giants implode as Packers roll to convincing win

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 26: Aaron Rodgers  of the Green Bay Packers is congratulated by Eli Manning  of the New York Giants after their game at Lambeau Field on December 26, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Here are five quick-hit observations from the Packers’ convincing 45-17 win over the Giants on Sunday.

1. If they make the playoffs, the Packers will be a tough out.
Green Bay still needs to beat the Bears next Sunday at Lambeau Field to make the playoffs, but if they do they’re going to be one of the tougher sixth seeds to have ever made the postseason. Pundits often remark how they can’t run the ball, but they won’t need to run the ball if Aaron Rodgers continues to play at a MVP level. I don’t want to downplay the need of a good rushing attack but Rodgers found Jordy Nelson on an 80-yard touchdown on their first possession on Sunday and the Packers were able to turn the game into a track meet. Then they kept throwing late in the second half even though they were up two touchdowns. With the weapons they have in the passing game, they can be aggressive – that can be their game. Granted, the opposing team won’t always turn the ball over six times but the Packers will be a dangerous matchup for any team in the postseason. People seem to forget how good this team is.

2. Turnovers once again kill the Giants.
It’s pretty simple: Turn the ball over six times against any team, regardless of whether or not they’re a quality opponent, and you’re going to lose. Turn the ball over six times against a good team and you’re going to get your face pounded in. Not all of the Giants’ turnovers mattered because one or two came in garbage time when the Packers already had the win wrapped up. But the majority of them hurt. When teams don’t iron out their issues throughout the season, they can come back to haunt them. The Giants started coughing the ball up in Week 1 and have never stopped.

3. The Giants weren’t over last week’s collapse.
The players said they were over their loss to the Eagles and maybe they thought they were. But it sure looked like the Giants needed a quarter to focus after what happened to them last Sunday. They spotted Green Bay a 14-0 lead in the first quarter when Jordy Nelson caught an 80-yard touchdown on the Packers’ first offensive possession when he got by Antrel Rolle at the line of scrimmage. Then Rodgers hit James Jones for a three-yard touchdown with 1:53 remaining in the quarter and all of a sudden it looked as if the rout was on. Credit Tom Coughlin’s squad for snapping out of their funk to tie the game at 14-14, but the Packers just kept coming. Once they took a two-touchdown lead late in the second half, you got the feeling New York was done. Last week was just too much for the G-Men to overcome.

4. Tom Brady, Michael Vick…Aaron Rodgers.
All week it seems as though the sports radio talk shows have discussed who should win the MVP this year: Tom Brady or Michael Vick. But even though the Packers have yet to clinch a playoff spot, Rodgers should at least be in the discussion – even if his name is only briefly mentioned. This was Rodgers’ 10th career game with at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions, which is the most in NFL history for quarterbacks within three years of their first start. Nothing against Matt Flynn (he played well last Sunday night in New England), but take Rodgers off this team and they don’t even sniff a winning record. He has no running game, he lost his tight end in the first half of the season and his offensive line can be very inconsistent. Yet, he continues to put up outstanding numbers. He’s unreal.

5. What now?
The Packers will host the Bears next Sunday in Green Bay and as previously mentioned, if they win they’ll clinch a playoff spot. The Eagles clinched the NFC East with the Giants’ loss and now they’ll fight for playoff seeding. The Giants will wrap up their season next week against the Redskins and they must win. If they win and Green Bay loses to Chicago, then New York is in. The G-Men better not overlook Washington, which has suddenly become pesky.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Jags choke, Colts close in on another AFC South crown

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 26: Quarterback David Garrard  of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs for a touchdaown during the game against the Washington Redskins at EverBank Field on December 26, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Here are five quick-hit observations on the AFC South following the Jaguars’ 20-17 overtime loss to the Redskins and the Colts’ 31-26 win over the Raiders on Sunday.

1. How the South can be won.
If the Colts beat the Titans next Sunday, they’ll have 10 wins on the season. If the Jaguars beat the Texans next Sunday, they’ll have nine wins. Quick math tells me that the Colts would therefore have more victories than the Jaguars and they would win the AFC South. So the mission is simple for the Colts next week: Just win baby. If the Colts lose to the Titans and the Jaguars beat the Texans, they they’d both finish at 9-7 and Jacksonville would win the South because they would have the better division record (4-2). But none of this matters because Peyton Manning isn’t losing at home next week to a team that has nothing to play for. Sorry Jacksonville, but you screwed the pooch last week when you could have won the division then.

2. What a horrendous effort by the Jaguars against the Redskins.
I know Maurice Jones-Drew is Jacksonville’s best player and essentially their entire offense, but seriously? That’s the best you got, Jaguars? Your season is on the line and you can’t muster a win at home against the Redskins? Unreal. Washington went four-of-15 on third down and still won. Jacksonville committed seven penalties for 66 yards, had punts bounce off their own players and turned the ball over twice. The second interception couldn’t have come at a worse time, as David Garrard was picked off on the Jags’ first offensive possession in overtime. The interception put the Skins in field goal position and they eventually won when Graham Gano hit a 31-yarder. The Jags were able to rack up 336 yards on Washington’s miserable defense, but they reached the red zone just twice and failed to score once. Just a bad, bad day all the way around for the men in teal.

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Chiefs win the AFC West as Chargers fail to show up in Cincinnati

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 26: Brandon Carr  of the Kansas City Chiefs is congratulated by Kendrick Lewis  and teammates after an interception during the game against the Tennessee Titans on December 26, 2010 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

For those that were waiting for the Chiefs to collapse and for the Chargers to pull the AFC West crown out of their rear ends, your wait is over.

It ain’t happening.

The Chargers choked in Cincinnati on Sunday, losing to the Bengals, 34-20. And actually, choked isn’t the right word. Choked means that they had an opportunity to win and blew it in the end. But seeing as how the Bengals led the entire game and generally pounded San Diego for four quarters, “choked” doesn’t describe the Chargers.

San Diego fans probably knew that their team’s demise was forthcoming. The Chargers got off to another slow start and even though they started smacking teams in November, their loss to the Raiders a couple of weeks ago and their defeat on Sunday inevitably did them in. Their win over the Brodie Croyle-led Chiefs must seem like years ago.

Maybe if Vincent Jackson had played the entire season, things would have been different. Maybe if Antonio Gates had been healthy, things would have been different. Maybe…

It doesn’t matter. The Chargers are done and the Chiefs are your 2010 AFC West division champions. Who saw that coming in preseason?

Once Niners fire Singletary, they should call Gruden

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 05: Head coach Mike Singletary of the San Francisco 49ers watches as his team takes on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 5, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the 49ers 34-16. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Here are five quick-hit observations from the Rams’ huge 25-17 victory over the 49ers on Sunday.

1. There’s no way Mike Singletary can retain his job.
This was a massive win for the Rams but I have to talk about Mike Singletary first. This man continues to prove that he doesn’t have what it takes to be a head coach at this point in his career. Once again, he got into another shouting match with his starting quarterback when he and Troy Smith went at it in the third quarter. Right before the altercation, Smith had thrown an interception and Singletary told Alex Smith to start warming up. That must have angered Smith, who had been brutal but the Niners were only trailing 22-14 at the time. Singletary decided to put Troy Smith back into the game, but benched wound up benching him for the fourth quarter. Singletary clearly doesn’t know how to manage NFL quarterbacks and if I’m the 49ers’ brass, I wouldn’t wait a millisecond before firing him at the conclusion of the season. He benched Troy Smith in favor of Alex Smith a couple of weeks ago, even though Troy Smith had posted a winning record in his five starts. Then, with the team’s season on the line this weekend in St. Louis, Singletary again makes a switch, only to bench Troy Smith in the fourth quarter anyway. Granted, it doesn’t matter. The 49ers weren’t going to make the playoffs and Troy Smith was awful. But this is the NFL. This isn’t a video game where you jostle between quarterbacks every quarter in attempt to strike lightening in a bottle. Too much preparation and planning goes into a game the week before for Singletary to keep going back-and-forth between quarterbacks. It’s freaking idiotic and seeing as how this wasn’t the first time one of his players has yelled at him on the sidelines, it’s also apparent that he doesn’t have control of his team. I wouldn’t trust him to run my car at this point, let alone my football team.

2. The Niners should call Chucky.
Once San Francisco cans Singletary, the first call the front office needs to make is to Jon Gruden. Assuming he wouldn’t mind leaving the booth and coming down to the sidelines again, Gruden would be a perfect fit for the Niners. After the debacle that is Mike Singletary, San Fran will need a head coach that knows how to manage quarterbacks. Chucky won a Super Bowl with Brad Johnson and won a division title with Jeff Garcia, so clearly the man knows how to do just that. Whether or not they stick with Alex Smith or Troy Smith is irrelevant. Gruden can figure that out once he comes aboard but the key is that the Niners need to hire an established coach that can help restore the order that has been lost under Singletary. The players need someone that they can follow and who they trust, not some windbag who likes to here himself talk but who doesn’t have the faintest idea about the X’s and O’s of the game.

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The Chiefs continue to prove doubters wrong

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 26: Quarterback Matt Cassel  of the Kansas City Chiefs scrambles during the game against the Tennessee Titans on December 26, 2010 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

I’ll be the first to admit that I thought the Chiefs would have collapsed by now and the Chargers would have overtaken the top spot in the AFC West. Kansas City has been in control of the division for most of the year but I’ve patiently waited for disaster to strike.

But it hasn’t. Perhaps I should have considered that their win over the Chargers in Week 1 wasn’t a fluke and this team is for real. But I didn’t. And they are.

Matt Cassel was brilliant in the Chiefs’ 34-14 win over the Titans on Sunday. He completed 24-of-34 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns, all while showing no ill effects from the appendectomy surgery he had three weeks ago. It’s amazing to think that at the start of the year, many people believed KC would have to search for a new quarterback in 2011 and now it appears that the Chiefs will only go as far as he takes them. Understandably, it took a while for him to get comfortable in Charlie Weis’ system but now that he is, the skies the limit for both him and KC. (It also doesn’t hurt that he has a couple of great weapons around him in Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe).

Granted, things could still turn sour for KC next week and seeing as how I have deemed them “for real,” the jinx has probably been set.

But as of this writing, the Chargers are losing at halftime to the Bengals, so it looks like the Chiefs are in good shape. If Cincinnati holds on, KC would win the AFC West for the first time since 2003. If San Diego mounts a comeback and wins, then the Chiefs would have to beat the Raiders next week or have San Diego lose at Denver.

Let’s assume for a second that the Chiefs do win the division and wrap up the No. 3 seed in the AFC. How far could this team go? Well, given how bad the Jets’ (who will have the No. 6 seed) defense has looked in recent weeks, it’s not a stretch to think that KC would move to the Divisional Round of the playoffs. And then, who knows? Nobody outside of the Patriots looks indestructible in the AFC so there’s a chance that this pesky Chiefs team could be the dark horse of the conference.

But first things first: they need to get in and then they can worry about seeding and opponents. Either way, the Chiefs continue to make noise.

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