Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
The Texans, Colts, Jaguars and Titans are all off today, as is the AFC South Blog. I hope you are too, and that you have a very Merry Christmas or at least an excellent day off...
Here's a Christmas Day mailbag in case you're desperate for football talk, in need of a few minutes away from your crazy aunt or visiting the page on a new laptop or Blackberry...
Bill from Nashville writes: Before the season started you had something on why you thought the AFC South was the best division. After a few weeks into the season, you did a follow up and said you were wrong. What are your thoughts now?
Paul Kuharsky: Good of you to remember both, the second one said the NFC East was better!
I'd stick with my amended opinion and say NFC East -- everybody's going to win at least eight games and they all had to face Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Granted a full slate against the NFC West was cushy.
The NFC South also won't have a team under .500 and has been very impressive. I say it's second. Those records were built partly in thanks to a weak draw from the other conference -- the AFC West is pretty bad -- and a four-pack against the mediocre NFC North.
I think the AFC South is out of the conversation because Jacksonville did so poorly and Houston wasn't very good when the games meant the most.
Luke from South Bend, IN writes: Sorry I missed the chat, but it looked like it was fun. My question actually involves two AFC South teams. I know the Colts typically don't go out and get free agents, but what would you think about them throwing some money at Haynesworth next year? A team with few weaknesses, and they'll have some money freed up if Marvin is gone.
Paul Kuharsky: "Some" money won't cut it. I figure Haynesworth's 2009 cap number will likely be around $6 million. The Colts stand at $2.9 over the cap right now. So we're talking about clearing $9 million just for him, before dealing with any other personnel or contracts. That's not going to happen. They generally aren't a player in free agency, and they really don't get involved with huge money guys.
I could see the Texans chasing Haynesworth if he makes ot to free agency.
Ed from parts unknown writes: Mr. Paul, you sir are a clown. You think the Titans have been playing the 'underdog card' all year by their own choosing? They have the best record in all of football and were home underdogs by 3 pts. Your coworkers on Sunday Coutdown all picked the Steelers except for Berman, everyone on Fox and CBS picked the Steelers...thats 1 out of 14 so called 'experts' who picked the Steelers to win in Nashville. They dont play the underdog card, you people in the media have labeled them as underdogs due to the lack of respect. If the Giants, Cowboys, Patriots, Colts, or any of the other ESPN darlings had the defense the Titans have, we would never hear the end of how they are one of the best of all time. You rip on the Titans offense, and lack of a deep threat, yet they are the only team to get amass 300 yds on the Steelers D. Somehow Pittsburg offense gets a pass for how awful they are and not only that, Big Ben is mentioned in MVP talk. Its ridiculous. They dismantle Pittsburg and the major story after the game is stomping on a towel, and how 'disrespectful' that is. Your backhanded compliments and cheap shots are nothing short of irresponsible journalism and its disgraceful that ESPN would employee such a clown as yourself.
Paul Kuharsky: Point spreads are set in Vegas to split betting money, not to speak to respect.
I can't talk to what everyone on Countdown said. I can talk to what I say. I thought they might lose, I thought they might win. Even if I said they would lose, how is that automatically disrespectful? Am I not entitled to an opinion counter to the one they'd prefer without it being akin to insulting their moms?
I am around the Titans on a regular basis. Rare is a day when somebody doesn't find occasion to say something about being disrespected. They're allowed to think it. I'm allowed to say it's way overblown.
Please spell out for me by backhanded compliments and cheap shots. I wrote that they "routed" and "handled" the Steelers and have written just one short and straightforward blog entry out of 10 on the Titans since the game ended about Terrible Towels. (The office added a podcast from Trey Wingo.)
Also, Pittsburgh has an h at the end. Are you disrespecting the Steelers?
You replied to what I emailed you back by pointing to this paragraph as my slight of the Titans' passing game:
The Titans are hardly known as an effective downfield passing team. But Collins attempted 10 passes of 10 yards or more and completed 60 percent of them for 13 yards per attempt.
To which I say this: It's a fact that the Titans are not known as a downfield passing team. They say so themselves. Their passing attack is intended to supplement a good defense and run game. That's a philosophical bedrock of the franchise right now and most of the time. Even in that framework, offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, to his credit, takes shots pretty regularly.
Collins, at times this season when they've needed him to, has been effective downfield (at Chicago, for example.) At least one on Sunday he was terrible trying to go downfield (at Houston). They don't have receivers who get much separation.
Am I a happy-on-the-outside, sad-on-the-inside kind of clown?
Unknown from Harrisburg writes: Rout? Manhandling? Tennesse played very well, but Pittsburgh led halfway through the 3rd quarter and outgained the Titans in total yardage. Just as easy to say that Pittsburgh shot themselves in the foot. The difference in the final score was a couple of 2nd half turnovers, the personal foul on the FG attempt, and a garbage pick-six at the end. You compromise your own credibility when you write like a homer. Why should I read anything else you write?
Paul Kuharsky: The Titans won by 17 and there was no question late in the game -- even before Michael Griffin's TD -- who was going to win. I call 31-17 a rout. If you're a fan of the losing team, the tendency is to say, "Yeah, but for this, that and this it was close." I'm not a fan, I am a reporter and blogger and to me if you lose 31-17 you generally got handled...
The turnovers and personal foul were part of the game. They happened. I could unwind every game and show you a handful of plays that if they went the other way, the result would have been different. I'm not generally concerned with how they might have gone. I'm concerned with how they did go.
Allison from Los Angeles writes: The blog you posted on Thursday with the Colts inactives and your take on how much Addai would play won the championship for me. Thanks!
Paul Kuharsky: Glad to be of service. Congrats from a guy who finished 12th in a 12-team lead, even after he managed to swing a deal for Philip Rivers to replace first-round pick Tom Brady.
Brent from Indy writes: Paul, Why do all the analysts not recongize that the COLTS gained 300 yards on the steelers, 302 to be exact. I am also worried about a Colts vs Chargers game. I would feel more comortable with the Patriots, Jets, Dolphins, Broncos, Stee
lers or Titans. The Colts do not match up well with the Chargers! thanks, bp
Paul Kuharsky: You're calculating using gross passing yards, and that's not how NFL math works.
The Colts had 240 gross passing yards but only 228 net passing yards -- the 12 yards sacks comes off the gross total to create the net -- to go with 62 net yards rushing. Thus the 290 total yards and thus no damage to the Steelers' streak of holding opponents under 300 for their first 14 games.
I agree the Colts would match up better with the Broncos -- I think virtually anybody does -- and maybe all the AFC East contenders, too.
Nate from Reading, PA writes: I remember being furious about the Titans first day selections, but the team really proved me wrong. The pick that bothered me the most was at the time was Jones, because I was really hoping for Sweed, who went the pick before to Pittsburgh. I find it ironic that Jones had such a huge day against the team that played a likely role in his selection by the Titans.
Paul Kuharsky: Yes, they look like they hit a couple of home runs. Imagine if they'd hit in the second amd third rounds in 2007, too?
Albert in Nashville writes: Paul, As a die hard Titans fan, could you please thank EVERYONE at ESPN (All of the countdown crew, all the "experts", and Skip Bayliss) for picking the Steelers and having no faith or belief in my Titans....and as you and I know, when no one believes in the Titans, thats when they step it up, and boy did they today. Also, tell all those guys in Bristol that I have a nice Channukah gift for them for the first night....a nice platter of crow....tell them to enjoy!!! Thanks!!
Paul Kuharsky: Why not revel in your team proving "everyone" wrong instead of getting all caught up in predictions? The thing that makes the league great it it's totally unpredictable, no matter what level of expert one is. It was a great win. Why does it matter what a bunch of people in Bristol thought would happen?
The whole sports world wouldn't know what to do with itself if it couldn't rant about disrespect, seems to me.
Marc in Indianapolis writes: Paul, the NFL should revisit the post-season seeding policy. It is absolutely a travesty that a .500 team (San Diego, if they win against Denver) would be able to HOST a playoff game. They should reserve playoff spots for division winners, but the seeding should be based on overall record. The Colts would be the #2 seed should that be the case (based on head-to-head victory over Pittsburgh). The fact of the matter is the AFC West Winner will have a terrible record coming out of one of the worst divisions in football and shouldn't be able to host a playoff game just because they sucked a little less than the other terrible teams in their division. It would also provide more meaning to these late season games.
Paul Kuharsky: I disagree. It's rarely happened. Owners want division titles to mean a home game. I don't think it's unreasonable considering how rare it is that a team wins a division with a poor record. If the Colts were 8-8, winning the AFC South and getting a home game would you have the same objection?