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Thread: Score one for the Commish

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    Default Score one for the Commish

    Score one for the Commish

    Len Pasquarelli
    Updated Jan 1, 2011 10:25 PM ET

    When it comes to decisions involving Brett Favre's private parts, a pair of Crocs and a cell-phone camera, Roger Goodell is no modern-day Solomon. In the matter of scheduling, though, the NFL commissioner has proven to be a wise man, indeed, a guy with a doctorate in, well, doctoring.

    After the conclusion of the 2009 regular season — when so many franchises whose playoff seeding already was determined rested key starters for a week in the finales, and saved them for the postseason — Goodell mandated that all of the games in Week 17 of the 2010 slate be divisional matchups. It took some tweaking, and several teams still essentially will grant one-week furloughs to their wounded, but the master plan has worked out pretty well.

    The league takes some pride in the motto "Every game counts," and as hyperbolic as the cry may be, the Goodell blueprint has made it more than just a hollow marketing ploy. There is no way, of course, to ensure that every one of the 256 regular-season games has playoff ramifications. Any motivation in Sunday’s San Diego at Denver contest is connected to personal survival, not team accomplishment.

    But give credit where it's due: In ordering the schedule-makers to concoct things so that all 16 final-week matchups include divisional rivalries, Goodell has successfully hit on a winning formula.

    The Cleveland Browns have nothing at stake, beyond validating that Colt McCoy is the quarterback of the future, and perhaps demonstrating that Coach Eric Mangini deserves a reprieve for another season. But the Browns would relish upsetting the Pittsburgh Steelers and keeping them from another AFC North title. As was so aptly pointed out by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette earlier this week, the series has become so one-sided it no longer can be considered a rivalry, but some animus still exists between the franchises and the cities, and it might be resurrected a little by a Cleveland victory.

    "To our guys, it's still Cleveland," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "We have a lot to play for . . . but the fact it's the Browns, yeah, that adds something to it."

    Many of the playoff scenarios would have been the same for Sunday no matter who was on the schedule. But by declaring that every game be a division tilt, Goodell has added a layer of good ol' fashioned bile. Yeah, there are still some star performers, such as Michael Vick, who never will discard their warm sideline wraps. But that does not mean the competition won't be heated. And the divisional element could stoke things a bit.

    Tampa Bay can't keep New Orleans from a playoff spot, but the Saints still have an outside chance to win the NFC South, and the Bucs aren't yet eliminated from any chance at the playoffs. Tennessee long ago folded its tents, but the prospect of being able to block Indianapolis from the AFC South championship might be enough to rally the troops for three hours. In the league's longest-running feud, Chicago and Green Bay will battle for the Packers' right to a postseason berth.

    In all, nine of the 16 games this weekend have varying degrees of bearing on the playoff lineup. And while it is happenstance, in the final game of the season, the worst for last is, in essence, the best for last, as St. Louis visits Seattle in a winner-takes-all tussle for the NFC West championship.

    Tainted though it may be, the title still includes a ticket to the Super Bowl tournament. No, we won't insult your intelligence by suggesting that anything is possible in the playoffs for the Rams or Seahawks — hey, have you seen the NFC West's embarrassing quartet? — but a title is still a title, no matter how blighted it might be.

    The commissioner has had a few more missteps this year than last. Some of his decisions have been of the slippery-slope variety. But in decreeing that each game in Week 17 be a divisional bloodletting, Goodell has hit on a winner.

    Len Pasquarelli is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange. He has covered the NFL for 33 years and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. His NFL coverage earned recognition as the winner of the McCann Award for distinguished reporting in 2008.

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    Default Re: Score one for the Commish

    Seriously, Len. WTF are you smoking?

    This decision by Goodell is meaningless and worthless. Just like all of his decisioons that are supposed to be "good" for the league, they end up either not mattering or making the sport worse for everyone but mainly the fans.

    This game against Cleveland means nothing IF we didn't have the #2 seed on the line. In 2008 we played Cleveland in the final game and we sat Ben by half time and various other starters. The game was meaningless. We won 31-0 but had we played a crap team like say Carolina in the last game, we'd still sit starters.

    Division game or no division game, these last games of the season still come down to whether playoff spots are secured and seeds are secured or not. That's it. whether it's a division rival or not makes no difference what so ever in the decisions of the coaches.
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    Default Re: Score one for the Commish

    A number of Steeler games this year got switched to another game in the third quarter here in Eastern PA. **** Goodell and his goonsquad, I really enjoy watching half a game.

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