Pregame Ritual is feeling divisive

Originally Published: January 15, 2010
By Toby Mergler | Page 2

Welcome back to the Pregame Ritual and to the best weekend of the NFL season. Here is a look at the final game on Sunday.

Game Preview

New York Jets at San Diego (Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET)

Compared to most of the teams that made the playoffs, the Jets are a bit of a throwback. While the NFL has become exceedingly pass happy, they prescribe to the old formula of running and defense that won two Super Bowls for the other New York team under Bill Parcells. Rex Ryan believes this team will achieve similar success and has gone ahead and scheduled a victory parade in the Canyon of Heroes. The news took Mark Sanchez completely by surprise, as he had already planned to spend that day watching a "Baywatch" marathon and removing all the sleeves and buttons from his dress shirts.

Best Bandwagon to Join

With only eight teams left, most football fans have seen their favorite team eliminated. But it's no fun sitting out the postseason, so it's time to pick a new team. This week, I am recommending San Diego, which has won 11 straight and might be the only thing on earth more on fire right now than Conan O'Brien. Besides, how can you possibly not want to root for the guy who produced this video. "Electric Glide" looks like it was put together by Cool Abed films, yet I can't stop watching it. I wish that gray-haired guy was my uncle.

Best Topic for Discussion at Halftime

Will Pete Carroll succeed with the Seahawks?

Now that all the palace intrigue is over and Carroll has officially taken over the Seahawks, this is the only real question that matters. Personally, I can't see a single reason outside of blind faith in his abilities that he'll do any better this go-around then he did in his previous NFL stints. The Seahawks don't have an established running back, have question marks on both lines and feature a quarterback who has gone downhill faster than Megan Fox. The uncapped year is going to screw up the free-agent system, neutralizing Carroll's natural recruiting abilities and limiting his options in addressing the team's many needs. And recent history is strongly against him, as a string of successful college coaches have fallen flat on their face in the NFL. What am I missing here?

Top Trash-Talker This Week

Mark Sanchez wins this award in runaway fashion, as he delivered a shot at Pete Carroll with perfect wording and timing moments after equaling Carroll's postseason win total. It also turns out he popped off to Rex Ryan before a key moment in last week's game. He might not make it to the Hall of Fame, but maybe he can get accepted to the Friars Club. This is no good. My urge to like the Sanchize is suddenly rising. Must fight back before it's too late and I get sucked into his plucky little world.

Pump-Up Video of the Week

Instead of watching a montage of quotes this week, check out this collection of classic, old-school, bone-jarring hits to get your adrenaline going. The video doubles as an instructional video for officials on what exactly constitutes a personal foul in today's NFL. Unbelievably, not a single flag is thrown. Many of these hits would lead to 100-yard penalties now and might even cause quarterbacks to take the referee hostage in an attempt to gain safe passage off the field.

Toby Mergler is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C., who has previously written for, Fanball and the Virginia Law Weekly. He can be reached at

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