- The Washington Times - Monday, December 11, 2006

A quick 10 thoughts this Monday morning.

1. Saints impressive

The most impressive win of the NFL weekend - by far - was New Orleans’ dismantling of the Cowboys in Dallas on Sunday night. The Saints played and coached like a team with supreme confidence, unafraid to throw it downfield, unafraid to take gambles (like an onside kick) and unafraid to go into Texas Stadium and hammer the Cowboys.

As luck would have it, next up for the Saints (9-4) are the Redskins Sunday in New Orleans. It will be interesting to see if the Redskins can even remotely slow down Drew Brees and Co. Brees became the first opponent in Cowboys history to throw five TD passes in Dallas.

2. Typical loss for the Redskins

Sunday’s 21-19 loss to Philadelphia was pretty typical for the Redskins (4-9). They are a team that is capable of doing several things very well - offensively, defensively and special teams. But they are not good enough to overcome turnovers, dropped interceptions and red zone chances.

Most disturbing for Joe Gibbs has to be the Redskins’ 1-4 record in games decided by three or fewer points. Veteran teams with experienced coaching staffs win those games.

3. Minimal takeaways

I spent most of Sunday night crunching some NFL turnover numbers. The official league statistics account for all turnovers - defense and special teams. I went through each teams’ media packet from this past week to ascertain defensive takeaways only.

I did this because the Redskins’ defense has eight takeaways in 794 plays - one turnover every 99.25 plays, an astounding figure. The best figure is Chicago - one every 20.9 plays (35 takeaways in 732 snaps).

Look for more on the lack of turnovers and just how badly the Redskins trail the rest of the league in Tuesday’s Washington Times.

4. Playoff picture

With three weeks remaining…

AFC: 1. San Diego (11-2), 2. Indy (10-3), 3. Baltimore (10-3), 4. New England (9-4), 5. Cincinnati (8-5), 6. Jacksonville (8-5).

NFC: 1. Chicago (10-2), 2. New Orleans (9-4), 3. Seattle (8-5), 4. Dallas (8-5), 5. N.Y. Giants (7-6), 6. Philadelphia (7-6).

5. Dallas takes step back

The Cowboys’ four-game winning streak ended, but the loss hurt them more than in just the ‘L’ part of the standings. Dallas is 5-4 in the NFC, only Seattle has more conference defeats but the Seahawks are safe as the likely NFC West champion.

Dallas (8-5) is only one game ahead of the Giants and Philadelphia. Dallas hosts Philly on Christmas Day, and the Eagles won the first meeting. It would behoove the Cowboys to win the NFC East or their seed will plummet as a wild card.

6. Top 10 pick possible

If the season ended today, the Redskins could draft as high as fourth or as low as eighth.

And if they do finish with a top 10 pick, the Redskins SHOULD NOT draft a defensive back. They picked Sean Taylor fifth overall in 2004 and Carlos Rogers ninth overall in 2005. Those players haven’t delivered a top 10-type impact as of yet.

7. Time’s up for Rex

FOX Sports said yesterday that Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman will be evaluated on a half-to-half basis and backup Brian Griese got more snaps in practice this week.

Tonight should be Grossman’s last shot. The Bears play at St. Louis, and though Grossman will eventually be a good QB, this team has a chance to win the Super Bowl. Lovie Smith has to make a move for that very reason - these chances don’t come along very often.

8. L.T. on cusp of record

San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson scored three touchdowns yesterday, giving him an NFL single-season record 29, breaking Shaun Alexander’s record of 28 set last year. What’s incredible is that L.T. did it in 12 games.

Next up is a record that has stood since 1960 - Paul Hornung’s single-season scoring record. Hornung had 176 points (15 touchdowns, 41 point-afters, 15 field goals) for Green Bay. Tomlinson as 174 points.

No question, L.T. is this year’s NFL MVP.

9. Running wild

The Colts should be concerned about yesterday’s 44-17 loss to Jacksonville.

The Jaguars rushed 42 times for 375 yards - an incredible 8.9-yard average. Teams that can’t stop the run usually don’t go far in the playoffs, even those teams that have Peyton Manning as quarterback.

Jacksonville’s rushing day wasn’t close to an NFL record, though. Detroit gained 426 against Pittsburgh in November 1934.

10. “Borat” is worth it

Non-football thoughts …

* There were some scenes that had me covering my eyes and other scenes that had me laughing out loud. It produced enough funny moments that I recommend it, but only a matinee prices.

* Saw a preview of the “Reno 911” movie. It may be the dumbest idea since “Slap Shot 2.” Who green lights these projects?

* This is how bad NFL pregame shows have become: My father, who is a big NFL fan, has the Sunday Ticket and makes sure he’s home on Sundays, etc., has given up on the pregame shows so he can watch an English Premier League soccer match that runs from 10 a.m.-noon Central time. Yesterday was a 1-1 tie between Arsenal and Chelsea. I’m sure that was better than Michael Irvin interviewing Terrell Owens.

* I’m interested to see what kind of crowd will be at Verizon Center tonight for Penguins-Capitals. Alex Ovechkin, Sid Crosby, Evgeny Malkin. Should be good, though the Monday night crowds aren’t that great.

* The Wizards’ alternate uniforms should be burned. They’re so ugly, I wouldn’t even try to sell them for charity cash.

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