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This coming weekend is the final week in the NFL regular season, and this season has been anything but “REGULAR”. There are teams that started strong and consistent, who are now looking at Lottery Picks in the 2012 Draft. And, like always, there are the teams that play like garbage all season, and then try to turn it up a notch in the final 3 or 4 weeks. The past few weeks have provided some extra excitement with winning streaks being snapped, losing streaks coming to an end, the playoff race becoming alittle tighter, and the NFL record books being rewritten.

So, what have I learned from these crazy weeks? This 2011 season was the “PUNCHING CLOWN” Season. Remember the old Punching Clown toy? You could punch it, kick it, or throw it across the room and it would always bounce back into an upright position. This season has bared the same resemblance. We all started the season with preconceived notions on how the weeks would play out. As we progressed through the season, we realized that many of these teams weren’t playing the way we expected them too; some better, others worse. But now, especially in this last quarter of the season, you can see it all correcting itself.

Here is WHAT I THINK I LEARNED FROM THE NFL in Week 16:

“PUNCHING CLOWN” Season…..

The Indianapolis Colts are always expected to be a playoff team. Even with their injury concerns at the beginning of the season, we all expected to see # 18 trot out on the field in Week 2, or 3 at the latest, and get this team rolling. It never happened. We watched week after week, as the Colts were handed a beat-down from every team they faced. After losing their first 13 games of the season, the INDIANAPOLIS COLTS are now on a WINNING STREAK. We all scratched our heads week after week as the loss of QB Peyton Manning seemed to have a negative effect on their offense (obviously), and surprisingly on their defense as well. We analyzed it as their defense being the type that plays better with a lead. Well DUH! Which team’s defense doesn’t play better with a lead? I believe in that first victory of the season they regained confidence. They have the same players, and same skill set, but with more CONFIDENCE. And just to completely correct themselves, they went out last week and beat their division rival, Houston Texans, possibly keeping them from a 1st Round “BYE” in the playoffs.

“PUNCHING CLOWN” Season…..

Remember back in Week 6 when teams like the Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were sitting at the top of their respective divisions? We were all thinking that this was possibly the year that these teams had broken out of their shell and would make the playoffs. Washington had a convincing win over divisional foe, the New York Giants. Buffalo had big wins over the Patriots and the Eagles (both of which were preseason picks to make the Super Bowl). Tampa Bay had already beaten both the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. And then, the season decided to correct itself, and we find all three of these teams right back where we are accustomed to seeing them.

“PUNCHING CLOWN” Season…..

Feeding off my previous point, there was a point in this season when many of the “top” teams were not looking as dominant as we are accustomed to seeing them be. (speaking of the healthy teams) On the flip side, there were other teams that have looked impressive, that we expect to come out and play inconsistent football. The New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and New England Patriots (a great comeback) all went out and looked like the playoff teams we picked them to be. On the other hand, there are also those teams that play so inconsistent each season that it has become all too familiar. The New York Jets, San Diego Chargers, and Dallas Cowboys all had their 15 minutes of fame this season……and now they’re back where we are used to seeing them.

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