Every Sunday night, Around The League takes a closer look at four of the weekend's most interesting subplots. We call it The Filthy Four ... mostly for alliteration purposes.
Tebow cannot be stopped
The Broncos' season officially has made the leap from made-for-TV movie starring Kirk Cameron to large-scale theatrical release starring Christian Bale.
Of course, being the evil genius that he is, Belichick didn't waste any time beginning the gamesmanship. Minutes after Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas brought down the building in Denver, the Patriots announced Josh McDaniels had rejoined the coaching staff as an offensive assistant.
This is extremely significant because McDaniels was the head coach when the Broncos selected Tebow (and Thomas) in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. McDaniels now finds himself in a very interesting position: If Tebow conjures up more magic at Foxborough next Saturday, McDaniels will be fully vindicated in his decision to reach for the quarterback. Of course, this vindication would come at the expense of his new employer.
As for Tebow, he once again threatened to blow up the Internet with his 10-of-21, 316-yard, three-touchdown performance.
How surreal has his season been? Lady Gaga -- yes, the same Lady Gaga who once green-lit a dress made out of raw meat -- summed up a crazy day best.
"Giants fan but wow," she tweeted. "#Tebow Thats what the (expletive deleted) a champion looks like."
Tim Tebow is a Fame Monster.
Big Blue rolling into Lambeau
The Giants are a swaggering beast of a team right now.
If you smelled something burning, that probably was Matt "Matty Ice" Ryan's reputation going up in flames. Also burning: The gasoline-soaked résumé of Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, who probably cost himself any shot of landing an NFL head-coaching gig with Sunday's stinker.
The Giants' reward for victory is a trip to Green Bay to take on the 15-1 Packers. Many people will make the Giants their divisional-round upset special, and there's certainly logic to that thinking. New York has Eli(te) Manning, a resurgent run game and, of course, that ferocious push provided by its front four. Factor in the return of Tom Coughlin's positively intimidating Lambeau Field Face, and you can practically hear Alicia Keys' "Empire State Of Mind" chorus blaring out of a triumphant Giants locker room.
Of course, the Packers might be the first defending Super Bowl champions to nearly go undefeated and somehow still have doubters. If Aaron Rodgers and Co. needed more motivation, surely a week of hearing about how the Giants are going to knock them off will do the trick.
Here's to hoping a nasty cold front rolls into Wisconsin next Sunday. This game deserves to be played in some John Facenda-endorsed elements.
Detroit begins to warm up
Truth is, there is no shame in the Lions losing 45-28 to the Saints on Saturday in the wild-card round. In fact, defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch summed things up best about this up-and-coming team that delivered Detroit its first playoff appearance in 11 years.
"A loss like this makes us want to return to the playoffs even more," Vanden Bosch said, according to The Associated Press. "It will be no surprise to everyone when the Detroit Lions start to make the playoffs each and every year."
Jim Schwartz and Ndamukong Suh might need some anger-management classes, and the team overall -- with its lack of discipline -- maybe could use a visit from D. West. But there's a whole lot more good to build upon, mainly the high-powered offense led by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. We already knew what Megatron was capable of; we had a feeling about Stafford but had been waiting for a full season to find out. Well, 5,038 yards and 41 touchdown passes later, we know.
And for that, fans in Motown should be jamming to Stevie Wonder with optimism.
Watt's sweet revenge against Dalton
Just one year ago, the two rookies met on the big stage -- the "grand daddy of them all," actually -- when Watt and the Wisconsin Badgers fell to Dalton and the TCU Horned Frogs 21-19 in the Rose Bowl. Dalton played pretty well in that game, throwing for 219 yards and scoring two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). But, for the record, Watt was pretty emotional following the defeat.
Fast forward to Saturday, and here they were on the big stage again. Not only did the Texans dominate in a 31-10 win over the Bengals, but Watt made the play of the game just before halftime. His spectacular interception snatched out of the air and returned 29 yards for a touchdown gave the Texans a 17-10 lead just before halftime and completely swung momentum toward Houston. The Bengals never recovered, and Dalton finished with three interceptions in the loss.
Revenge? Heck yeah. And whether Watt admits it or not, that had to be satisfying.