STORY OF THE WEEK
The choking sounds coming from sunny South Florida and the swamps of New Jersey aren’t a beached manatee or the Boss fighting a bad cold.
The Miami Dolphins and New York Giants both suffered losses at home that wiped out their playoff hopes.
The Dolphins’ 27-20 defeat at the hands of a decent Texans team at least was understandable - especially coming on the heels of a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Titans the previous week.
And the Dolphins never figured to be alive in Week 16 anyway, not after starting 0-3 and losing quarterback Chad Pennington for the year.
The Giants have no such excuses for their embarrassing 41-9 loss to the Panthers.
Sure, they had one less day to prepare because of their Monday night obliteration of the Redskins last week. Still, they were in the hunt for a playoff berth, and the already-eliminated Panthers had nothing to play for.
But the rout of the Redskins aside, the Giants simply haven’t been the same since their 5-0 start ended with a whipping by the Saints. They lost six of their next eight games, and their long-stout defense got bludgeoned on a weekly basis.
Tony Sparano, voted coach of the year by the Pro Football Writers of America in his debut last season, doesn’t have to fear for his job.
Neither does Tom Coughlin, who led the Giants to four straight playoff berths and the 2007 Super Bowl title.
But the lack of fight showed by the Giants and Dolphins with the playoffs on the line has to be a big concern for each coach as he prepares for next season.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
They were overlooked because of the dominance of the Colts and Saints.
But the Chargers have been magnificent since the middle of the season, capping a run of 10 straight victories with a 42-17 destruction of the Titans on Friday that squashed Tennessee’s playoff dreams.