Before wishing everyone a Happy New Year and good luck in finding your favorite NFL player out of jail this morning, let's take one last look at the best and worst that 2009 and the 2000s had to offer.From 2009:
Player of the year: Peyton Manning. Turns out the only guy who could stop him is Colts coach Jim Caldwell.
Biggest surprise of the year: Either the Titans starting 0-6 or the Titans going 7-1 after that.
Coach of the year: How 'bout Marvin Lewis, who went from 4-11-1 to an AFC North title without a Pro Bowler?
Biggest disappointment of the year: Forget the NFL. It's Tom Watson missing that putt to win the British Open.
Story of the year: Brett Favre! No Brett Favre. Brett Favre! No Brett Favre. Brett Favre!From the 2000s:
Player of the decade: Manning. And we don't mean Eli.
Team of the decade: Patriots.
Best single-season team of the decade: 2004 Patriots. They went 14-2 and routed the 12-4 Colts (20-3) in a divisional playoff game and the 15-1 Steelers (41-27) in the AFC Championship Game at Pittsburgh. Then they beat Philadelphia 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX.
Now here's a look forward at the Week 17 matchups:
NYG +9 at MV: Vikings by 3
If the Vikings don't turn things around, we could be as close as eight days to the start of ESPN's "FAVRE WATCH 2010!"
IND off at BUF: Colts by 3
If Caldwell doesn't care, neither do we.
NO off at CAR: Saints by 3
Panthers are 3-1 AD (After Delhomme). Good luck in 2010, Jake.
JAC +1 1/2 at CLE: Browns by 3
The Browns have a three-game winning streak that includes K.C. and Oakland. Bye-bye, Mangenius.
PHI +3 at DAL: Cowboys by 7
The winner claims the NFC East. If it's Dallas, big deal. Win a playoff game, Wade.
CHI -3 at DET: Bears by 7
For about 15 hours, the Lions will be undefeated in the 2010s. Baby steps, Detroit. Baby steps.
NE +8 at HOU: Patriots by 3
If we were a cornball TV news anchor, we'd say something like, "The Patriots win a shootout in Texas." (Cue the giggling co-anchorwoman and the overcaffeinated weather guy).
PIT off at MIA: Steelers by 3
Is it me or has Troy Polamalu made a strong case for NFL Defensive MVP by missing 10 games?
SF -7 at STL: 49ers by 10
Rams rookie James Laurinaitis has 101 more tackles than his team has wins. He leads all NFL rookies.
ATL -2 1/2 at TB: Falcons by 7
In their 44th year, the Falcons need a win for their first back-to-back winning seasons. So cheer up, Vikings fans.
GB +3 1/2 at ARI: Cardinals by 7
The Packers might want to be careful. Aaron Rodgers has been sacked more times than a Tiger Woods mistress.
KC +13 at DEN: Broncos by 7
Denver needs a win and some help to avoid joining the 2003 Vikings and 1978 Redskins as the only teams to start 6-0 and miss the playoffs.
BAL -10 1/2 at OAK: Raiders by 3
The Raiders should lose. But tell that to the Eagles, Bengals, Steelers and Broncos.
WAS +4 at SD: Chargers by 7
Will the Chargers keep their momentum going or curl up in the Caldwell, er, fetal position like the Colts?
TEN -4 1/2 at SEA: Titans by 7
Chris Johnson needs 234 yards rushing to break Eric Dickerson's record (2,105) and four lost fumbles to catch Adrian Peterson.
CIN +10 at NYJ: Bengals 24, Jets 21
The Jets need a win to make the playoffs. The Bengals need to find out how Vikings fans were so darned successful in stuffing the Pro Bowl ballot boxes.
Last week's upset pick: Chargers by 3
Result: Chargers 42, Titans 17
Upset Special record: 5-11
Last week; vs. spread: 11-5; 9-7
Season; vs. spread: 143-87; 112-118