Just call me butter, ’cause I’m on a roll

I'M JUST SAYIN'

Jemal is perfect in his NFL post-season picks. He also has some thoughts about this past weekend

What can I say?

Anybody who’s seen me predict football games in the past knows I stink at it. Now, in two short weeks with Qcitymetro.com, I’m perfect.

In the final week of the regular season, I predicted the Panthers would beat the New Orleans Saints. This past weekend, I correctly picked San Diego over Indianapolis, Arizona over Atlanta, Baltimore over Miami and Philadelphia over Minnesota.

That’s 5-0. Meanwhile, I can’t even predict what time I’ll get to work each morning. Go figure.

In the coming days, I’ll give my predictions for this week’s playoff games, including the Carolina Panthers’ home matchup with Arizona. Can I keep the perfection going? Right now, I’m feeling a bit like a guru. I honestly don’t know if I can be stopped.

Meanwhile, here are a few observations from this past weekend:

Matt Millen – really?
Everyone deserves a second chance. But I can’t be the only person who smirked when former Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen showed up on NBC’s studio playoff show over the weekend. Under Millen’s watch, the Lions had a record of 31-84, including an abysmal 0-16 effort this season, during which Millen was fired.

The team was a laughingstock in each of Millen’s seven-plus years as he made one head-scratching move after another. So upon seeing Millen on NBC Saturday, like a lot of you, I thought, “What the (heck) does Matt Millen know about breaking down playoff football?”

But before he went about destroying the Lions, Millen worked with the FOX network and was one of the most respected football analysts around, so I guess what he did as a general manager shouldn’t really matter. And yet it does.

If NBC wanted to hire Millen and put him on the air next season, that’s fine. But doing it less than a week after Detroit became the first team in NFL history to lose 16 games probably had viewers shaking their heads, rather than listening to Millen’s analysis.

Mike Smith
One of the great benefits of Atlanta’s loss is getting to say buh-bye to Falcons coach Mike Smith and his overzealous fist-pumping. I’m serious. It’s normally cool when coaches show fist-pumping enthusiasm on the sidelines. Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin does it effectively, and I’d like to see Tony Dungy do it a few times before he retires. But Smith is way over the top.

The Falcons won the coin toss? Fist pump! They just got a first down? Fist pump! The ball boy hustles and gets the quarterback a dry pigskin? Well, that’s worth a Tiger Woods-just-sank-a-30-foot-eagle-putt-style fist pump.

Thank goodness the madness now ends – at least for TV viewers — with the Falcons’ playoff exit. Late Sunday evening, it was announced that Smith is the 2008 NFL Coach of the Year. I can only imagine what he did after hearing that news.

Most Vexing Process
It has to be a little embarrassing for the NFL now that four of its top five vote getters for the Most Valuable Player award went one-and-done in the playoffs.

Peyton Manning (Indianapolis) won the award. Michal Turner (Atlanta) and Chad Pennington (Miami) tied for second. And Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) and James Harrison (Pittsburgh) tied for fourth. Only Harrison, whose team had a first-round bye, will be playing this week.

That’s pathetic.

These are the most valuable people in the league?

I’m not one of those people who believe MVP voting should take the postseason into account, mostly because I don’t think the most valuable player necessarily has to play for a playoff team; the most valuable player could be someone who merely helps his overmatched team stay out of the cellar in an extremely tough division. Plus, there often are teams that win nine or 10 games and don’t reach the playoffs, and I don’t believe in punishing those players. But when four of the top five vote getters wind up gone after the first round of the playoffs, something’s not right.

I’m just sayin’.

C. Jemal Horton has covered sports for the Washington Post, Indianapolis Star and Charlotte Observer. He currently is group sports editor for Carolina Weekly Newspapers.

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