Wade Payne, Associated Press
Black Friday passed on this holiday weekend, and I'm hoping that our loyal NFL readers were out buying me great gifts.
Realistically, I know that's fairly doubtful. There isn't much I need anyway, but there are plenty of things I want, especially in regards to the NFL. I understand that it isn't realistic to ask for some of these things, but hey, it doesn't hurt to make an NFL wish list, especially during these holiday times. These are items that I'm not even asking for myself; they are for others who I feel could use some holiday gifts this season. I know it's unselfish of me, but that's just the kind of guy I am.
For Chris Johnson: Some MVP consideration. I get it, the NFL is a quarterback's league, always has been and always will be. Johnson, the Titans' star running back, is getting the shaft, though, when people talk about MVP candidates this season. It seems like people are only considering quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Brett Favre.
But Johnson should be in the conversation. He's rushed for 1,242 yards, gained a whopping 6.2 yards per carry and looks to make a rare run at a 2,000-yard season. Minnesota's Adrian Peterson is widely accepted as the NFL's best running back, but Johnson belongs in the same league as Peterson, as well as in the MVP race with Manning, Brees and Favre.
For Green Bay fans: Blinders and ear plugs. Packer fans can't help but feel sickened with the sight of Favre wearing Viking purple and how well the 40-year-old quarterback is playing this season. I have to admit I'm pretty annoyed by it. He never started a season with a 21-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio when he played for Green Bay like he has for the Vikings this season. No, he thought he had to do everything himself and would throw fade passes to heaven when they seemed necessary to him when he was a Packer.
It's going to get worse for Green Bay fans. Analysts are going to continue talking about how great Favre is, how much passion he has for football, what a great teammate he is and blah, blah, blah. Just ignore the talk, put some blinders on and earplugs in, and wait and see if he has a playoff game like the six-interception masterpiece against the Rams, or if he'll throw stupid picks like he did in overtime in playoff-elimination losses to the Eagles and Giants when he was with Green Bay.
For Eli Manning: A time machine. Dude, what's with Eli Manning? I wish he could turn the clock back to 2007 and play the way he did during the Giants' Super Bowl run. He seems to have regressed this season, as his team has lost five of its last six. He ranks 13th in passer rating, 13th in passing yards per game and he's tied for seventh for most interceptions thrown. Not all of the Giants' problems are because of Manning, but he could be playing a lot better. To only get six points on the board against a Denver team that has struggled is inexcusable.
For Mike Singletary: Some advice. Dude, what's it going to take to get coach Singletary to open up the 49ers' offense for Alex Smith? It's frustrating, and it's maddening enough to make me use the word dude twice in one column.
If you look at Alex Smith's numbers for the season, they aren't that impressive. He has an 81.9 passer rating, and he's thrown nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. But wait a second. In second-half rallies against the Texans and Packers, games in which the 49ers were in big holes at halftime and had no choice but to throw it in the second half, his numbers and play speak for themselves. In the second half against the Texans, he completed 15-of-22 passes for 206 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Against the Packers, he completed 13-of-26 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns in the second half. Come on, Singletary, open up the offense and let Smith throw it around.
For the NFL Network: An "R" rating. So I'm watching the Broncos-Giants game on Thanksgiving night and Denver coach Josh McDaniels is letting his offensive line have it. While doing so, he let out some pretty harsh cuss words that were somehow allowed onto the telecast. They weren't words I've never heard or anything, but come on NFL Network. Are you HBO? Kids are watching. Sheesh.
The network did apologize for it later, so I'm confident it won't happen again.
For Mark Sanchez: A break. That's my guy playing quarterback for the Jets. But after watching him play against the Patriots last week, coach Rex Ryan needs to put him on the bench for a week or two. Sanchez looks to be pressing and unsure of himself. The interceptions he threw against New England were bad ones, and he probably could use some time watching from the sideline in order to regroup.
For Jay Cutler: Contact lenses. The Bears' quarterback shares the league lead for interceptions (18) with rookie Matthew Stafford, but the Detroit quarterback has played one more game than Cutler. You watch some of the interceptions Cutler throws and just wonder what he was looking at or if he thinks footballs can magically travel through defensive players. I'm guessing Bronco fans are no longer as bitter about losing him as they once were.
For Michael Vick: More opportunities. It seems like Donovan McNabb's fragile psyche can't let Vick get too many chances to play, and I believe that's a big reason why Vick hasn't made much of an impact as the Eagles' backup quarterback this season. That was a nice reminder we got of his talent and elusiveness when he had a 34-yard rush against the Bears on Sunday night. I'd like to see him play more often.
For Ronnie Brown: A break, but not the type I'd like Sanchez to get. Brown, Miami's leading rusher before he got hurt, seems to have the worst luck of any current player. He suffered a season-ending injury after rushing for 648 yards. It's the second time in three years he's suffered a season-ending injury, and the timing couldn't have been worse because he's in the final year of his rookie contract.
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