Matt Flynn just made himself a lot of money. Everyone already knew that Flynn was one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league, but there’s a chance he loses that distinction in 2012, because there’s a chance he finds a starting job as a free agent. After a record-breaking six-touchdown, 480-yard performance against the Lions, Flynn might have emerged as the hottest quarterback slated to hit the open market. What Flynn did Sunday was enough to convince me that the Packers are capable of winning the Super Bowl without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, which is simply amazing.
Rodgers’ MVP stock drops. It’s the most valuable player. And although it doesn’t seem fair to punish a guy for having a really good backup, there might be AP award voters who decide that the Saints would be much worse off without Drew Brees than the Packers are without Rodgers.
Despite an admirable performance, Detroit’s chances of making a Super Bowl run decrease drastically. And they know it. Otherwise, why would they have been going all out just to maintain the No. 5 seed in the NFC? The Lions would obviously prefer to play in New York or Dallas on wild-card weekend, rather than in New Orleans, where they were defeated quite handily in Week 13. The Saints easily beat Carolina to finish the regular season with an 8-0 home record, outscoring their Superdome opponents by an average of 24 points per game. The Detroit offense proved Sunday that it can go toe-to-toe with anybody, and we’re fully expecting a lot of points to be scored next weekend in New Orleans, but that loss to Green Bay will very likely cost the Lions a chance to win their first playoff game since 1991.
5,000 Yard Club adds two new members. Everyone knew that Tom Brady was going to surpass 5,000 yards passing on the season against Buffalo Sunday, and he did it by halftime. Brady went on to pass Dan Marino’s 5,084 mark but fell well short of the new record, Brees’ 5,476. But no one figured that Matthew Stafford would also join the 5,000 Yard Club. But then no one expected Stafford to have the fifth-most prolific passing game in NFL history, with 520 yards in a losing effort at Lambeau. All said and done, Stafford finished the year just 46 yards shy of Marino. Not bad for a 23-year-old.
Jared Allen falls just short of a record that might deserve an asterisk. Allen had 3.5 sacks to finish the year with 22, falling just half a sack shy of Michael Strahan’s single-season record. But don’t forget the way in which Strahan got his final sack to break the record back in 2001 — it certainly looked as though Brett Favre lied down for him. If that hadn’t happened, Allen would have tied Mark Gastineau for the record. Is that enough to get Allen the defensive player of the year award? Sacks are overrated, but the field is quite muddled this year. If you’re wondering, Strahan won in 2001, but Gastineau did not win in 1984.
The Andrew Luck story is about to take over your world. After cutting it closer than expected, the Colts lost to Jacksonville to clinch the first overall pick. Peyton Manning’s on the roster, and Andrew Luck is almost definitely on their radar. While Manning’s future is in doubt due to a neck injury, Luck is allegedly the next great NFL quarterback. The playoffs will distract us for the time being, but come February, this Luck-Manning story is going to dominate. Just warning you.