Wednesday's NFL Blog: Early Edition

January 10, 2007 ... The right choice for Roethlisberger ... why San Diego isn't going to win the Super Bowl ... despite road losses, Dungy's still confident ... Ravens spew some bulletin-board material ... interesting stats every NFL fan should see ... and more! Check back later for our P.M. Update!

As noted, some links point to articles that are for subscribers only. If you're not a subscriber yet, visit your favorite team's home site today and try it out free for seven days by clicking the "Our Best Deal Ever" ad in the right column of that site's home page. You'll get access to all of the subscriber articles on our network, access to your favorite team's subscriber forums, and a full year of Sports Illustrated with an annual subscription.

By the numbers: Our Vikings site takes a look at which NFL stats were most significant for the teams who made the playoffs, and which ones didn't really matter, noting "There is a fine line between being a playoff team and a disappointment, especially in the NFC, where just two wins were the difference between being the sixth seed in the playoffs and the seventh overall pick in April's draft." This is a good read for all NFL fans that you should link to from your fan forums. It'll generate some good discussion and debate.

All about the QB: Jim Wexell goes against the grain of the general consensus in the Pittsburgh media right now who believe that offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is the best selection for the head coach vacancy because of his close relationship with QB Ben Roethlisberger. Find out why he thinks that will just lead to more mediocrity or regression in Pittsburgh and who he thinks is the right choice for the Steelers -- and especially for Roethlisberger in this subscribers' feature.

One more year: The Giants ended the suspense regarding Tom Coughlin's future with the team by inking him to a one-year extension. So the current number of head coach vacancies is still at four following the Falcons' signing of former Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino. Arizona, Pittsburgh, Miami, and Oakland are still evaluating their options.

Ravens LB Ray Lewis tackles Carolina's Kayshawn Johnson (Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Short memory: At our Ravens site, middle linebacker Ray Lewis is quoted as saying, ""You can be pretty all you want to," a reference to his perception that the Colts are a soft team. "It's going to be a physical ball game no matter how you want to look at it. What this defense creates right now is matchup problems for people. We can't be blocked."  Lewis evidently forgets that the "pretty" Colts have beaten the Ravens the last three times the teams have met, including last season's opener. subscribers can read more of his comments, as well as those of outside linebacker Bart Scott as they provided Indy with some bulletin board material this week.

Edge's pick?  Brad Keller at our Cardinals site continues his analysis of the coaching candidates for Arizona's top spot. In this feature, he takes a look at Colts assistant head coach Jim Caldwell. "It could just be that Edge [RB Edgerrin James] wanted to do one of his favorite coaches from his former team a favor," Keller says. "Caldwell does have a pretty impressive background, some head coaching experience, and he does coach a marquee player at a marquee position." Find out more about the likelihood of Caldwell landing in Arizona here

Hold onto Portis:  That's what Rich Tandler at our Redskins site advises if the team seriously considers trading him away after watching Ladell Betts perform so well this season. "Sometimes the best deals are the ones that you don't make," he says.  "One in that category certainly would be any trade that removes Clinton Portis from the Redskins roster. It's good to know that Ladell Betts can tote the rock, but he isn't the home run threat that Portis is and you'd like your prime back to put the ball on the ground less often than he does." Read the rest of his comments on that topic, why the Redskins shouldn't consider a trade that drops them from the No. 6 spot in this year's draft and much more in this feature.

The Super Bowl Nazi: For all of you old Seinfeld fans, I'm sure you remember the famous "Soup Nazi" sketch where Kramer is told "No soup for you!" after he makes a local merchant unhappy. Well, Michael Lombardo has just become San Diego's "Super Bowl Nazi" with this feature in which he emphatically says, "The Chargers will not win the Super Bowl." subscribers can find out why's he's so adamant on that point right here.

Another coordinator job opens up: Denver has fired their defensive coordinator, Larry Coyer, according to a report at our Broncos site. Coyer has been in charge of the defense for the past four seasons and was Mike Shanahan's third DC in Denver. Get more on this story and other team personnel news here. We've also learned today that Andre Patterson, who was the Broncos' defensive line/tackles coach for the past two seasons, has also been released from his contract.

Not a problem:  Up until their four-game road losing streak in the last half of this season, the Colts had won 11 of their previous 12 away games. But head coach Tony Dungy told the hosts of Sirius NFL Radio on Monday that he's not concerned about the Colts being the visiting team for Saturday's playoff matchup. "Our team is very, very confident. We've gone to Denver, we've gone to Baltimore last year and won on opening day, we've gone to The Meadowlands, we've gone to New England this year on a Sunday night and won," he said. "So we're used to going into hostile environments, I think we'll relish the challenge." subscribers can find out what else he had to say and listen to the complete interview at our Colts site.

New lows:  Think the Vikings will be focusing on offense in this year's free agency and NFL Draft?  They established franchise lows this season for first downs in a 16-game campaign (272) and fewest touchdown passes (13). To make matters worse, two of those 13 TD passes weren't even tossed by a quarterback. K Ryan Longwell and RB Mewelde Moore each got credit for one on trick plays.

Packers WR Robert Ferguson (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Report cards: Todd Korth at our Packers site takes a look at the team's wide receivers and hands out their grades for the season. "Injuries continue to plague this receiver, whose days as a Packer are numbered," Korth says while evaluating Robert Ferguson. "...With two seasons left on his contract, including a salary of $1.8 million in 2007, it seems likely that the Packers will release him this off-season to create salary cap space."  Get his full analysis in this subscribers' feature.

Picking up the pieces:  At our Kansas City site, Darren Carter looks forward to the 2007 season after the Chiefs' disappointing playoff showing against the Colts. But he has some advice for the team's management and coaches to ensure a better outcome next year, including a few players that he believes need to move on. "Ryan Sims' lack of production dictates he find another residence," he says. "Dante Hall's and Eric Hicks' declining production dictates their relocation. The need to get Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page on the field dictates Greg Wesley's departure." subscribers can read more of his analysis at our Chiefs site.

More pressure: Ask Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden what his defense needs to improve on before the 2007 season kicks off and he'll tell you loud and clear. "In the NFL, you have to have pressure," he said.  "[DE] Dewayne White is a good football player and we are going to try and get him back, but you have to have pressure. Warren Sapp applied pressure, real pressure every snap. A disruptive force." White is an unrestricted free agent who is expected to check out his options, while DE Simeon Rice -- who is scheduled to earn $7.5 million next season -- will likely be a cap casualty. Expect the Bucs to at minimum try to find some pass-rush specialists for their depth chart in free agency or through the draft.

Cowboy-killer: Seattle defensive back Jordan Babineaux has haunted the Dallas Cowboys during his three-year career, and he talked with the hosts of Sirius NFL Radio this week about the play that decided the game against Dallas last weekend and the experience of starting in the playoffs. subscribers can listen in to the complete interview at our Seattle site, as part of their pregame preparations as Babineaux also discusses what it will take from the Seahawks' defense if Seattle hopes to upset the Bears in Soldier Field on Sunday, and much more.

Notable: Rookie weakside linebacker A.J. Hawk finished third in voting for the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, but finished second all-time for a team rookie record. Hawk, the fifth overall pick in the draft out of Ohio State, made a team-high 155 tackles this season according to the coaches' evaluation of game film. That places him second for most tackles by a Packers rookie since the team started tracking tackles back in 1975. Rich Wingo holds the record with 166 in 1979.

Got something to say about today's NFL Blog? Well then hit your favorite team's Fan Forum here at and start up a thread on it!

Scout NFL Network Top Stories