|Monday, January 7
Patriots more surprising than Bears
By Joe Theismann
Special to ESPN.com
ESPN analyst Joe Theismann answers five key questions after Week 17 of the 2001 NFL season:
Who were the biggest surprise and biggest disappointment this season?
The Denver Broncos were the biggest disappointment. The Broncos had no running game. You wouldn't believe that the loss of Ed McCaffrey would change their entire season, but it did. Brian Griese did not play as well as he did a year ago. The Minnesota Vikings were another disappointment, although it was more expected because Robert Smith retired. I'm disappointed the Miami Dolphins' offense wasn't more productive. But they are in the playoffs, and that's all that matters.
Who will win the NFC's wild-card games?
San Francisco has to travel to Green Bay, where the Packers have never lost a playoff game. Everybody will focus on the Packers' offense, with Brett Favre and Ahman Green, but their defense is solid. In the playoffs, games become more defensive, and the Packers have the ability to get after Jeff Garcia, who is on a roll. The Packers will have the edge at Lambeau Field.
Which AFC teams are looking the strongest heading into the playoffs?
The Jets have found ways to win, but I don't think they can afford to turn every game into a 60-minute contest, as they have done during the regular season. So much will depend on Curtis Martin's ability to run the football. We don't know which team will play in Oakland next weekend, but the Raiders are struggling. While the Jets have won close games at the end, the Raiders have lost them the last three weeks.
If the Baltimore Ravens win Monday night, they could go on and defend their Super Bowl championship if Elvis Grbac plays only decent football. He doesn't need to be great. He must become like Trent Dilfer.
Who'd be a better coach for the Redskins: Steve Spurrier or Marty Schottenheimer?
Should the Colts stick with Jim Mora? If not, who should they hire?
A game analyst for ESPN's Sunday Night Football, former NFL QB Joe Theismann won a Super Bowl and a league MVP award. He reviews the NFL each week for ESPN.com in Cup o' Joe.