Bill Belichick is famed for cleverly disguising defenses.
The famously dour coach apparently also has a way to cleverly disguise his own identity: by smiling.
A funny story today in New Hampshire's Seacoast Online reports that a smiling Bill Belichick actually confused a New England woman named Natalie Healy, the mother of New Hampshire Navy SEAL Daniel Healy, who died in Afghanistan in 2005.
He's one of the SEALs portrayed in the new movie "Lone Survivor."
Jeff McMenemy of Seacoast Online writes that Natalie Healy was at a reception for the movie in Hingham, Mass. when she went up to a man sitting at a table and said:
"Excuse me sir you look kind of familiar. Were you in the movie?' and they all started laughing,” Healy recalled.
“So Mark (Wahlberg) said, no that's Coach (Bill) Belichick from the New England Patriots, so then they fell over (laughing).
"Healy then replied, “'Oh I'm so sorry sir, I didn't recognize you because you were smiling so much,' and they fell over again.”
We created the Cold, Hard Football Facts Intelligence Index before the start of the season with two purposes in mind:
ONE – Quantify the importance of situational football, if possible, in separating winners from losers in the NFL.
TWO – Find a new way to break the statistical containment of the Vegas point spread and outrun the betting public.
It proved a rousing success: smart teams consistently won and won big; dumb teams consistently lost and lost big.
In the meantime, here are the year-end results.
Final 2013 Intelligence Index
Following his collapse in the AFC WildCard loss to San Diego, Andy Dalton enters the final year of his rookie contract 0-3 in the postseason with one touchdown, six interceptions and a lost fumble in those three games.
The CHFF's warned of the turnover issue following Week 12, when the Bengals were 7-4 and Dalton was unphased, coming off a span of nine picks in four games.
"I'm a lot better than I was the last two years. There's some things that I've done this year that I didn't do the last couple of years. For me, I've got to keep improving and keep trying to get better."
To be fair, Dalton is on pace to break his career high 27 touchdown passes and the Bengals are 7-4, comfortably atop the AFC North.
For the Bengals to thrive in the last leg of the season and postseason, Dalton will have to cut back on the turnovers.
Dalton did indeed break his career high in touchdown passes, setting the franchise mark with 33. But Bengals fans are looking long and hard at Dalton and head coach Marvin Lewis.
Such is life for the team that hasn't won a playoff game since Home Alone was the No. 1 movie at the box office.
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is one of the most dominant players in NFL history, and about to win his record fifth NFL Most Valuable Player award.
As you might imagine, few teams have had enjoyed much success against him.
But as we noted today in our look at the Ghosts That Haunt Manning's Postseason Soul, he's had little success against the remaining AFC playoff field.
In fact, Manning is 14-21 in his career against the Patriots, Chargers and Colts. Interestingly, he was nearly perfect, at 19-1, against the two teams, the Chiefs and Bengals, bounced from the AFC playoffs in the wildcard round.
The Patriots have bested Manning 14 times, easily the most losses he's suffered against any NFL team.
The Chargers are a respectable 6-7 vs. Manning, and are the only team that's a perfect 2-0 against his teams in the playoffs.
The Colts, meanwhile, have faced their former face-of-the-franchise QB only once. But Indy won that game, 39-33, back in Week 7. It was Denver's first loss of the 2013 regular season after a 6-0 start.
Manning's 13-3 Broncos went 1-3 against the three other remaining AFC playoff contenders during the 2013 regular season.
We look at his record vs. every NFL team below. We break it out by conference, because the number of games against the AFC is so much greater than the number of games against the NFC. Records include postseason, too. We also break out postseason record separately.
Manning Career Record vs. AFC (includes playoffs)
|Total vs. AFC||133||63||0.679|
Manning Career Record vs. NFC (includes playoffs)
|Total vs. NFC||43||21||0.672|
Manning Career Postseason Record
By: Michael Quinn
Cold, Hard Football Facts Eagles Expert (@PJbleedsgreen)
Two numbers that are burned into the heads of Eagles fans for months to come. It was a close game, surprisingly, even after the Saints took a commanding 13 point lead.
The game went a little different than the normal 2013 script. Nick Foles (105.0 QBR) was automatic as usual, but LeSean McCoy struggled early and often. On 21 carries (averaged 19 during 2013) McCoy only managed 77 yards. The lack of production could be due to the offensive line, which was no match for New Orleans' lackluster defensive line.
DeSean Jackson was a non-factor until the second half, and even then, his biggest contribution was drawing a pass-interfence late in the game.
Riley Cooper, who was one of the regular season heroes, was the team's leading receiver on the night despite a bad (I mean BAD) drop on 3rd-and-2.
The defense played pretty well in the first half, intercepting Drew Brees twice. Unfortunately, the offense wasn't able to score any points off of the only turnovers of the game.
In terms of coaching, Chip Kelly, as he has all year, made a couple questionable calls. There was a bad timeout taken, and of course his knack to go for it on fourth down. Though one fourth down resulted in a touchdown, another fourth down conversion later turned into a intentional grounding followed up by a huge sack by Foles. Instead of kicking it at the 20 or 25, Alex Henery (82% on the year, tied for 22nd) was forced to kick from 47-yards out. By now, we all know how that went.
Had Kelly not gone for it on fourth down, it would have been a chip shot. Instead, the trouble kicker missed yet another field goal, and likely lost his job in the process.
With all the rocky play from Saturday night, the Eagles have a lot of good to take out of it. First of all, being down 13 points in the second half of his first playoff game, Nick Foles kept his head cool and brought his team back into control and actually had the lead, 21-20 (their first lead in a Playoff game since 2008). That's not something you can always find in even a Pro Bowl quarterback, much less a second-year former third-rounder.
Second, the defense is clearly on the rise. Despite seemingly collapsing in the second half, players like Brandon Boykin, Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks are clearly mainstays on the unit.
Last, and maybe most importantly, Chip's gameplan worked. Before the season got started, analysts and experts were split -- it would be hit or miss. After the first thirty minutes, we all knew it was a hit. Kelly's offense not only came as advertised, it broke just about every franchise record that previously stood. Sure Kelly is 0-1 in the postseason, but at least he made it there his first year.
You can blame the Eagles Wildcard loss to the Saints on a variety of things. But in the end, they surprised the entire nation this year. The team, coaches, and fans for that matter, have a whole lot to be proud of.
Between finding your franchise quarterback, and of course beating out the Cowboys for the NFC East title, this year wasn't that bad at all. As long as Nick Foles and Chip Kelly stay on the same page headed into the 2014 season, they can and likely will find all the success in the world.
The Philadelphia Eagles are flying high and will be ready for 2014.
Dallas owner and general manager of the 8-8 Cowboys (three years running) thinks the NFL should add four more playoff teams so that .500 teams and their cities can benefit from the playoffs. Okay then.
"From the standpoint of looking at how exciting it is for a city or a community to be involved in the playoffs and the fact that you can have a team that might have literally operated at .500 or in that area ... you can have that team win the Super Bowl. That makes a big case for adding a couple of more cities or communities that have NFL teams to the playoffs.
"It just creates that much more excitement and that much more interest for people in those communities. So I fall on the side of the ledger that would increase the playoffs."
Even if the NFL added four more playoff teams (two in each conference), Dallas would be on the outside looking in.
Kind of like the view from the AT&T owner's box where torment and disappointment reign every season in Big D.
At this point, Jerry is closing in on Al Davis' late years on the NFL senility scale.
It's Wild Card Weekend and three of the four host teams are facing blackouts.
The NFL extended the Thursday afternoon deadlines by which all tickets must be sold to Friday afternoon. As of this typing, the Bengals, Colts and Packers still haven't sold out their stadium.
As accurately pointed out by Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star, this is a black eye for the league, not the host teams and cities.
No, the possibility of a blackout is not an embarrassment for the city of Indianapolis, any more than it's an embarrassment for Cincinnati or Green Bay (which has sold out every game since 1959, except for a 1983 playoff game during the strike-shortened year).
It's an embarrassment for the NFL, which continues to handle postseason tickets in a way that makes it too difficult to sell out stadiums for the country's most beloved and popular sport.
It's an embarrassment for a league that only had two blackouts all season, and hasn't had a playoff blackout since 2002.
It's an embarrassment, a black eye, for the NFL, which overprices playoff tickets.
Factor in the HD TV experience, the holidays and the fact that host teams didn't have an opponent until the final week of the season. Colts Vice President of Ticket Operations/Guest Services Larry Hall has more input:
"This is what the league wanted: a 17th week that meant so much to so many teams. The problem is, we didn't know until halftime of the Sunday night game who we were playing and what date and time."
If the host venues don't sell out for this weekend's Wild Card round, it will be a slap in the face to the fans of the host cities. Taxpayers subsidized the stadiums in Indianapolis and Cincinnati and paid for the renovations to Lambeau Field.
So the Average Joe Taxpayer who helped fund stadiums in his home city won't get to watch the game unless he spends hundreds more dollars on a ticket. What a crock of manure.
In the summer of 2012, we wrote about the NFL's attendance problem.
Here's the problem, folks: Television ratings are better than ever and overall NFL revenue is the envy of the sports world. But the league is facing big trouble at the ticket window. NFL attendance has steadily declined since peaking in 2007. It hit bottom in 2011.
The NFL must do something dramatic to bring the Great American Couch Potato back into the arena. After all, that home experience, which generates such great ratings and great revenue for the league, will lose quite a bit of its appeal if fans suddenly find themselves watching games played in silent, half-empty mausoleums.
The question is: what can the NFL do, other than lower ticket prices?
On its current path, NFL home games will be played in stadiums with simulated crowd noise and fans. At that point, what will The League do to make up for the lost revenue?
My guess: make TV viewers pay subscription fees to offset the losses.
Maybe the NFL will try to regulate fantasy football.
Whatever the case, the bad news for the league will in turn be worse news for fans. At least, that's the precedent the league has already set by threatening to black out home playoff games.
UPDATE: 12:50 PM ET - The Green Bay Packers have avoided the blackout and sold out Lambeau Field.
The Chicago Bears signed Jay Cutler to a seven year contract extension. This Bears fan photo sums up the collective reaction.
To Cutler's credit, he's saying and doing the right things off the field. From the Chicago Tribune:
Asked about the size of the deal and whether he could have pursued more money elsewhere, Cutler said, "You get to the point where it's, 'What's the most important part of your career? ... Dollars? ... Championships?' We're here to win.
"We reached the amount of money that we're going to be taken care of. ... Whether it’s $15 million or it’s $22 million, it’s hard to spend all that in your lifetime."
Now it's a matter of doing the right things on the field for Cutler.
Here's a look at the 2013 NFL playoff slate, along with schedule through the Super Bowl.
American Football Conference seeds
1. Denver (13-3, AFC West champion)
2. New England (12-4, AFC East champion)
3. Cincinnati (11-5, AFC North champion)
4. Indianapolis (11-5, AFC South champion)
5. Kansas City (11-5, wildcard)
6. San Diego (9-7, wildcard)
National Football Conference seeds
1. Seattle (13-3, NFC West champion)
2. Carolina (12-4, NFC South champion)
3. Philadelphia(10-6) (NFC East champion)
4. Green Bay (8-7-1, NFC North champion)
5. San Francisco (12-4, wildcard)
6. New Orleans (11-5, wildcard)
NFL WILD CARD WEEKEND
Saturday, January 4
AFC: Kansas City at Indianapolis (NBC), 4:35 p.m. ET
NFC: New Orleans at Philadelphia (NBC), 8:10 p.m. ET
Sunday, January 5
AFC: San Diego at Cincinnati (CBS), 1:05 p.m. ET
NFC: San Francisco at Green Bay (FOX), 4:40 p.m. ET
NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
Saturday, January 11
NFC: Green Bay/San Francisco/New Orleans at Seattle (FOX), 4:35 p.m. ET
AFC: Cincinnati/Indianapolis/Kansas City at New England (CBS), 8:15 p.m. ET
Sunday, January 12
NFC: Philadelphia/Dallas/Green Bay/San Francisco at Carolina (FOX), 1:05 p.m. ET
AFC: Indianapolis/Kansas City/San Diego at Denver (CBS), 4:40 p.m. ET
CONFERENCE TITLE GAMES
Sunday, January 19
AFC on CBS, 3:00 PM ET
NFC on FOX, 6:30 PM ET
Sunday, January 26
The 2014 Pro Bowl on NBC, 7:30 p.m. at Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii
SUPER BOWL XLVIII
Sunday, February 2
NFC champion "at" AFC champion, FOX, 6:30 p.m.. ET at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ
Week 17 Statistical Highlights
From NFL Media Services
- Denver quarterback PEYTON MANNING completed 25 of 28 passes (89.3 percent) for 266 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in the Broncos’ win as the team clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Manning set the NFL’s single-season passing-yard record with 5,477 yards, surpassing DREW BREES’ mark of 5,476 yards in 2011. Manning finished the regular season with 55 touchdown passes, also the most in a season in NFL history.
He is the first player to set both the single-season passing yardage and touchdown records in the same season since Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO in 1984.
- New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES passed for 381 yards and four touchdowns in the Saints’ win over Tampa Bay. Brees, who has 5,162 yards this season, registered the fourth 5,000-yard performance of his career. There have been eight 5,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history and Brees has half (four) of them.
- Seattle quarterback RUSSELL WILSON led the Seahawks to a win over St. Louis. Wilson is now 15-1 in his career at home and his 15 home wins are the most by a player in his first two NFL seasons in the Super Bowl era.
Indianapolis quarterback ANDREW LUCK guided the Colts to a 30-10 win over Jacksonville. Luck has 13 home wins in his first two seasons, tied with MATT RYAN for the second-most in the Super Bowl era.
Luck passed for 282 yards in the Colts’ win and has 8,196 yards in his career. He is the first player in NFL history with 8,000 passing yards in his first two seasons.
- Philadelphia running back LE SEAN MC COY enters tonight’s game against Dallas with 1,476 rushing yards, the most in the NFL. McCoy will be the first Eagle to lead the league in rushing since Pro Football Hall of Famer STEVE VAN BUREN in 1949.
Cleveland wide receiver JOSH GORDON had seven catches for 82 yards and finished the season with 1,646 yards. He currently leads the league and can be the first player in franchise history to lead the NFL in receiving yards in a season.
Washington wide receiver PIERRE GARÇON had six catches and finished the season with a franchise-record 113 receptions. He currently leads the NFL and can be the first Redskin to lead the league in receptions since Pro Football Hall of Famer ART MONK in 1984.
- Minnesota rookie wide receiver CORDARRELLE PATTERSON had a rushing and receiving touchdown in the Vikings’ 14-13 win over Detroit in the final game played at the Metrodome. This season, Patterson has four receiving touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns and two kickoff-return touchdowns and is the only player in NFL history to accomplish the feat.
Patterson, who had a 50-yard rushing touchdown today, has a 79-yard receiving touchdown and 109-yard kickoff-return touchdown this season. He is the first player in NFL history with a 100-yard kickoff-return touchdown, 75-yard receiving touchdown and 50-yard rushing touchdown in a season.
- The CAROLINA PANTHERS set a franchise single-game record with nine sacks in the team’s win at Atlanta to clinch the NFC South and a first-round bye. Carolina, which started the season 0-2, is the first team since the 2003 Philadelphia Eagles to earn a first-round bye after an 0-2 start.
Defensive end GREG HARDY had a franchise single-game record four sacks today and tied the team’s single-season record with 15 sacks (KEVIN GREENE, 1998). The Panthers also tied the club’s single-season record with 60 sacks.
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