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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 16
David Dorey
December 18, 2006
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Michael Vick 237 / 56 4
Alex Smith 162 / 33 3
Tim Rattay 268 3
Running Backs Yards TD
LaDainian Tomlinson 204 2
Brian Westbrook 137 2
Steven Jackson 127 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Laveranues Coles 144 1
Terrell Owens 69 2
Joey Galloway 107 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Desmond Clark 125 2
Jerramy Stevens 64 1
Robert Royal 62 1
Placekickers XP FG
Stephen Gostkowski 4 4
Mike Nugent 2 4
Jeff Reed 4 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Tennessee 3 5 4
New England 1 4 4
Dallas 1 4 3
(note - This will be the final Tunnel Vision of the year since next Monday is Christmas Day and the following Monday is New Year's Day. All other articles on the site will only be delayed by one day if that for the next two weeks along with new material for the playoffs. Thanks for reading this season and hope your year is ending well and that 2007 proves the best yet for you.)

Week 15 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Most every one who can get injured already is...

Fred Taylor (JAX) - Re-aggravated hamstring strain
Maurice Drew-Jones (JAX) - Leg injury
Drew Carter (CAR) - Sprained ankle
Steve McNair (BAL) - Hand stepped on
Willis McGahee (BUF) - Possible mild concussion

And the beat goes on...

LaDainian Tomlinson continues to rack up the accolades, adding the most consecutive games with multiple touchdowns (8) and now the all-time highest scorer in a season in the history of the NFL. This all ignores his two touchdown passes this year so the Chargers should compensate by allowing Tomlinson to kick a field goal before the season is over.

One more thing - no need for the acronym LT2 anymore. Lawrence Taylor was great in his era but Tomlinson is now great in any era.

Getting everything done under the wire

Brett Favre has now passed Dan Marino to become the NFL all-time leader for completions with 4,986 in his career which does not even count those caught by defenders (267). Favre also holds the record for most consecutive seasons over 3000 passing yards with 15.

Michael Vick set the new single-season rushing record when he ended with 990 yards on the season after the Dallas game.

Morten Andersen became the all-time leading career scorer in NFL history with 2,347 points. It should take Tomlinson at least one more season to pass Andersen.

Heading into January

AFC East W L   NFC East W L  
New England 10 4 Needs one win or a NYJ loss to clinch division. @JAX, @TEN Dallas 9 5 Clinched playoffs. PHI, DET - just needs to beat PHI to win division
N.Y. Jets 8 6 @MIA, OAK Philadelphia 8 6 @DAL, ATL
Buffalo 7 7 TEN, @BAL - Needs help N.Y. Giants 7 7 NO, @WAS - Needs help
Miami 6 8 NYJ, @IND - Needs miracle NFC North W L  
AFC North W L   Chicago 12 2 Already #1 seed, @DET, GB
Baltimore 11 3 Needs win or a CIN loss @PIT, BUF Green Bay 6 8 MIN, @CHI - Needs help
Cincinnati 8 5 @IND, @DEN, PIT Minnesota 6 8 @GB, STL - Needs help
Pittsburgh 7 7 BAL, @CIN - Needs help NFC South W L  
AFC South W L   New Orleans 9 5 Clinched division, @NYG, CAR
Indianapolis 10 3 Clinched division CIN, @HOU, MIA Atlanta 7 7 CAR, @PHI - Needs help
Jacksonville 8 6 NE, @KC Carolina 6 8 @ATL, @NO - Needs a miracle
Tennessee 7 7 JAX, @BUF - Needs help NFC West W L  
AFC West W L   Seattle 8 6 Needs win or SF loss, SD, @TB
San Diego 12 2 Clinched division, @SEA, ARZ San Francisco 6 8 ARZ, @DEN - Needs lots of help
Denver 8 6 CIN, SF St. Louis 6 8 WAS, @MIN - Needs lots of help
Kansas City 7 7 @OAK, JAX - Needs help Clinched Playoffs      

This shows all the teams still alive at least mathematically in the playoffs. In the AFC, all 7-7 or 6-8 teams need other teams to lose, if not lose both their final games in order to land a wildcard spot. Best bets currently are that SD, BAL, IND are joined by NE as division winners and then the wildcards are most favorable to CIN, DEN, NYJ or JAX. This week CIN plays DEN and could clear that up, depending on what CIN does on Monday night.

The NFC is much murkier mainly because it has yet to clearly show who will get beaten in the Superbowl yet (sure, probably Chicago but no guarantee there). Seattle only needs one win or a SF loss to take the NFC West. Dallas only needs to beat the Eagles this week to take the NFC East. The 6-8 teams all need major help with other teams losing but it could happen in a conference with a lost of mediocre teams this year.

The good news in fantasy football is that the Chargers cannot start resting yet since they need to win to get the #1 seed - Baltimore beat them earlier this year. Indianapolis won't be able to rest anyone through the final week. At this point, it looks like all AFC teams will have to strive to win both final weeks to preserve their seeding.

The bad news is very small - the Bears have nothing more to win or lose so the tough to guess backfield just became nearly impossible. Plus there could be reason to give Griese some playing time.

Huddle Player of the Week

Michael Vick - Always unpredictable, usually productive, occasionally horrible, Vick not only ran for 56 yards to break Bobby Douglass' record, he threw for 237 yards and four scores - the second time this season with that many passing scores. While many players involved in the passing game were unproductive today around the league, those owners that knowingly rolled the dice with Vick in this most important week and were rewarded with a surprisingly good passing game. He may flop next week, he may do it all again, but at the very least - he was the best fantasy player on Sunday.

Salute!

Drama 101 - Somebody has to laugh, somebody has to cry

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Tim Rattay 268 3 QB Marc Bulger 137 0
RB Vernand Morency 54 2 RB Tatum Bell 41 0
RB Justin Griffith 49 2 RB Julius Jones 26 0
WR Demetrius WIlliams 100 1 WR Torry Holt 59 0
WR Roddy White 104 0 WR Steve Smith 56 0
WR Robert Royal 64 1 WR Roy Williams 11 0
PK Mike Nugent 4 FG 2 XP PK Josh Brown 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 106

Huddle Fantasy Points = 25

Sunday's Couch Commentary

SF 24, SEA 14 Okay, so the Texans own the Jaguars and now the 49ers own the Seahawks. It was a wonderful torrential downpour that greeted these teams and a perfect set-up for Alexander to finally turn in a big game with touchdowns and the Seahawks could make amends for their loss in SF just a few weeks ago. Instead Alexander gained just 72 yards on 23 with one touchdown for a less than hefty 3.1 YPC. Instead the 49ers caught fire in the fourth quarter and Frank Gore was the stud of the game with 144 yards on 29 carries and 34 yards on four receptions with one score. Alex Smith threw for two scores and 162 yards and the 49ers got 97 yards from Arnaz Battle. Any similarities between the Seahawks and the team that won the NFC last year are purely coincidental. Hasselbeck threw like he was Smith and had two interceptions while the best receiver was D.J. Hackett (8-87) and just to add to the surreal nature of this game, Jerramy Stevens caught a touchdown and never dropped it. Then again - that was during the final nine seconds of play in a game already decided. Now the 49ers are 6-8 and return home to face the Cardinals while the Seahawks drop to #4 seed at 8-6 and host the Chargers this week.
DAL 38, ATL 28 Lotta points in this one. The game started out slowly enough until these teams combined for 35 points in the second quarter and were knotted at 21-21 at the half. Another surreal game at least for the first half, the Cowboys continued to stick with Julius Jones in the first half while the Falcons relied on Vick throwing four scores - one did go to Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware though. In the second half, Vick added his fifth TD pass (4th to his own team) and had 237 passing yards. He also ran for 56 yards which broke Bobby Douglass' record and only needs ten rushing yards in the final two games to break 1000 rushing yards though his groin is strained. Ashley Lelie caught a touchdown which was the first time any wideout other than Jenkins had scored this season and Roddy White had 104 yards on three catches during the weekly "burn CB Anthony Henry" showing and that was the first time any Falcons wideout had topped 100 yards this season. But the game was finally over when someone remembered that Marion Barber is the better runner and he came up with a clock chewing drive at the end of the game. Barber ended with 11 carries for 69 yards and had two touchdowns. Jones had 13 carries for 26 yards but he like, you know, softened up the defense for Barber... yeah... that's the ticket... Now the Cowboys are 9-5 and host the Eagles this week while the Falcons flop down to just 7-7 on the year and host the Panthers this week. But hey, Vick should set the rushing record this week. That's enough for the Atlanta fans, right? Right?
PIT 37, CAR 3 The Steelers finally found a winning combination on the road - have Roethlisberger only throw 18 passes without an interception and finally get some nice production from Parker away from Pittsburgh. Oh yes, and face the Panthers who have lost all punch offensively. Weinke threw for 170 yards and one interception before giving way to the rookie Brett Basanez who also threw a pick. In their quest to get a better draft pick in April, the Panthers continued to rely on DeShaun Foster who ran seven times for 42 yards which was actually a 29 yard run and then six carries for 13 yards. DeAngelo Williams only had two carries in the game and it all got out of hand rather quickly anyway. Steve Smith was held to just 56 yards on five carries while the rest of the team saluted the white flag. Parker ran for 132 yards on 23 carries with one score and the best Steeler receiver was Hines Ward with 59 yards on four carries. Parker's big game was sparked, perhaps, to having grown up in North Carolina along with the Panthers just getting out of his way when he ran. At 6-8, the Panthers have officially thrown in the towel and even a geek with a calculator could not convince them they have any chance at the postseason. The Panthers head to Atlanta this week while the 7-7 Steelers have a shot at a winning season but head home to host the Ravens and end the season in Cincinnati.
MIA 0, BUF 21 Following the theme of throwing in the towel, the Dolphins pipe dream of turning in a big end of the season took a major setback when they came off a shut out over the Patriots but now have just been skunked themselves by the Bills. Joey Harrington was as bad as he has ever been completing just 5 of 17 passes for 20 yards and two interceptions. He too was replaced and Cleo Lemon's 98 passing yards looked astronomic by comparison. Sammy Morris ran for 71 yards on 20 carries and maybe is not the clone of Ronnie Brown. Those owners of Chambers and Booker were rewarded with 11 rushing yards for Chambers and two yards for Booker. Then again - neither player had a catch. Losman ripped up the Dolphins defense for 200 yards and three scores while McGahee ran for 79 yards on 28 carries. Lee Evans, naturally, had a touchdown catch but so did TE Robert Royal and Josh Reed. The Fins sink down to 6-8 on the season and return home to host the Jets while the Bills rise to 7-7 and host the Titans this week.
CLE 17, BAL 27 Yeah Charlie, you just sit there and get better.... no rush. Derek Anderson threw for 223 yards and two scores in Baltimore though he had two interceptions but tied the score 17-17 in the third quarter. The Browns had almost no rushing game with Droughns and Wright neither topping 37 rushing yards but Braylon Edwards scored once with 68 yards on five catches and Jurevicius had the other score with five catches for 46 yards. Winslow had been quietly recently but still had 61 yards in Baltimore. With McNair injured, Kyle Boller threw for 238 yards and two scores with one interception since Demetrius Williams caught a 77-yard touchdown pass. Heap's 58 yards were just average but Jamal Lewis turned in 109 yards and one score on 22 carries like the last few years never happened. The win lifts the Ravens to 11-3 and all that remains is a road trip to Pittsburgh and then a home game against the Bills. The Browns drop to 4-10 where that 2007 rookie running back is being upgraded every week. They host the Buccaneers this week and end in Houston, so there's still time left to get a worse draft pick.
JAX 17, TEN 24 So maybe it never ends. But Vince Young's media deemed wing in the Hall of Fame won't be fed by this game where Young only had 85 passing yards and four runs for four yards. None of the Texans really had any stats on the offense because the defense was on the field for 44:28 which was fortunate since they outscored about half the NFL teams on Sunday. The TItans returned two interceptions for a score and also a fumble for 21 points. The Titans offense never had the ball to have much impact. Fred Taylor ran twice and gained 35 yards on his second carry but pulled up lame while holding his hamstring. That left Maurice Jones-Drew to gain 98 yards on 25 carries with one score and catch three passes for 47 yards. David Garrard threw for 233 yards and a score to Matt Jones (3-12) but his three interceptions and one lost fumble proved extremely costly on Sunday. Reggie Williams caught four passes for 88 yards but his nice game was overshadowed by the bedlam that reigned all around him. Now the Jags fall to 8-6 and host the Patriots this week while the perpetually surprising Titans head to Buffalo this week.
WAS 16, NO 10 Okay, so Saints can beat anyone, anywhere, other than a 4-9 team on the road without their starting QB or RB. The Saints tried to mail in this game after so many big wins lately and got caught by the Redskins who had Jason Campbell with 204 passing yards and one score to Santana Moss (3-37) and 80 yards to Chris Cooley on four receptions. Ladell Betts had a nice game with 119 yards on 22 carries and added 43 yards on three catches. Brees could not maintain his torrid yardage pace and only had 207 passing yards with one interception though Marques Colston's seven catches for 84 yards were tops for the team. McAllister only gained 48 yards on 15 carries but he scored once and Reggie "Don't call me Roy" Bush only had 14 yards on seven runs and 19 yards on five catches. This was more like a bye week for the Saints other than the record falling to 9-5. They head to New York to play the Giants this week while the 5-9 Skins go to St. Louis to play the Rams.
HOU 7, NE 40 Tossing in the white flag as well this week were the Texans who were soundly beaten by David Carr when he threw for only 127 yards and four interceptions. Ron Dayne covered 94 yards on 18 carries and scored once but the rest of the Texans offense went into hiding, something they may want to do when they are back in Houston during the offseason. Ton Brady only threw for 109 yards but had two scores while Corey Dillon gained 61 yards on 20 carries. The star of the game was Kevin Faulk since he was counted on by no fantasy team in the country. Faulk ran for only 22 yards on four carries but scored once and led all Patriot receivers with two receptions for 46 yards and a second touchdown. The Patriots needed a big smack down after getting skunked in Miami last week and the Texans were the perfect visitor. Now the Pats are 10-4 and back on track with a game in Jacksonville next week. The Texans are 4-10 and host the Colts this week. They will be able to let truly outstanding quarterbacks and running backs float past in the draft again next April.
NYJ 26, MIN 13 When the Vikes defense played well, they kept them in games so that their offense could sputter and lose the game. When the defense does not work well - the Jets stroll to a win even as the visitor. Pennington threw for 339 yards and one score with Laveranues Coles (12-144) and Cedric Houston ran in a score as well on 21 carries for 53 yards. This could have been a nearly even game if only had Mike Nugent not kicked four field goals that included a 52-yarder. Brad Johnson was replaced, again, by Tavaris Jackson who was at least no worse when he threw for 177 yards and one score with one interception and Jackson also gained 20 yards on three runs. But Chester Taylor could only gain 38 yards on 11 carries while the passing game has gone full circle finally with the best players once again as Travis Taylor (6-81, 1 TD) and Troy Williamson (6-74). The loss drops the Vikes to 6-8 and sends them to Green Bay next week knowing the post season is not an option this year. The Jets rise to 8-6 to keep their hopes alive and will play in Miami this week.
DET 9, GB 17 What a disappointing game. Two of the worst defenses on the planet converge and all we get is Vernand Morency running for two touchdowns? Kitna had 135 passing yards and two interceptions against the defense that most tear apart and the Lions rushing game is so pathetic now that Kitna was also the leading runner with 34 yards on seven runs. Arlen Harris only had 18 yards on nine carries and Roy Williams ended with one catch for 11 yards - against the Packers. The only thing preventing the Lions from throwing in the towel is that they still need it to wipe the blood off of Kitna. The Packers only got 174 yards and three interceptions from Brett Favre - against the Lions! Driver only had 70 yards on seven catches while Ahman Green gained only 79 yards on 22 carries against the Lions! This game was like a big old chunk of coal for anyone with fantasy players in it. Now the Lions are 2-12 and every player breathes a sigh of relief when they still see their name on their locker. The Lions host Chicago this week, at least it has not been cancelled yet. The Packers remain home to play the Vikings which all reminds us that the Bears say a thankful prayer every night for being in the NFC North.
DEN 37, ARZ 20 Looks like Cutler 1, Leinart 0. The Denver rookie comes off his best game with 261 passing yards and two scores with only one interception while Tatum Bell (18-29) once again showed why every Mike Bell (16-61, 1 TD) is still fuming about the Denver backfield. Javon Walker had a 54-yard touchdown catch and fellow rookie Tony Scheffler (3-58) and Brandon Marshall (5-58) both came up big. Leinart has 214 passing yards but two interceptions and no scores. Fitzgerald was tops with 77 yards on five receptions while Boldin turned in 60 yards on five catches as well. Edgerrin James gained 63 yards on 14 carries and scored once but this was a slow moving game without any fantasy stars produced. The win brings the Broncos to 8-6 and they host the Bengals this week while the Cardinals are 4-10 and head to San Francisco this week. Denver really isn't as bad as they seemed and the Cards were not as good.
STL 20, OAK 0 This wasn't the Raiders throwing in the towel, they never really held one this year anyway. The Rams defense has been more than a little suspect this year but a shutout over the Raiders in Oakland is a nice demonstration of why the Raiders not only need the #1 overall pick in the NFL draft, they could really use about a half dozen. There were no touchdowns and no fantasy relevant stats coming out of this game other than Ronald Curry's nine catches for 87 yards. They were shut out, at home, by the Rams. Those of you relying heavily on the vaunted passing game of the Rams were probably a little disappointed when Marc Bulger only had 137 passing yards and no scores while Tory Holt led all receivers with just 59 yards on four catches. Steven Jackson took all the fantasy stats in this game (for both teams really) when he had 127 rushing yards on 31 carries with two touchdowns but he only had one catch for one yard. Outside of Jackson, this game too had no fantasy stars. Now the Rams are 6-8 and return home to host the Redskins this week while the Raiders next Christmas gift goes to the visiting Chiefs. What? A Chiefs win? Why, thank you Uncle Al!
PHI 36, NYG 22 This was very nearly the Game of The Week. As so often happens, the game was much closer than the score suggests thanks to an interception returned for a score by the Eagles with less than three minutes left . Jeff Garcia only had 237 yards and one score against one interception but that was better than Eli Manning who had 282 yards and two interceptions. Actually, both quarterbacks threw for one score, just all to the same team. Brian Westbrook ran for 97 yards on 19 carries and scored two times while also adding 40 yards on five catches. Reggie Brown turned in four receptions for 77 yards and the one receiving score while Stallworth only had one catch for five yards but he did make a tackle on the interception and probably saved a touchdown from being scored. Barber gained 75 yards on 19 carries and scored once as did Brandon Jacobs. Both Plaxico Burress (6-120) and Jeremy Shockey (8-70) had big fantasy games even if the Giants lost. Now the G-Men are just 7-7 and host the Saints this week while the Eagles are 8-6 and looking good for at least a wild card. The game in Dallas this week has suddenly becomes all the bigger - the winner likely takes the NFC East.
KC 6, SD 17 Same song, verse #8. The Chargers were led by LaDainian Tomlinson who scored two more touchdowns and gained 195 yards on 24 carries that included a personal best with an 85-yard touchdown run. He added one catch for five yards just for giggle. Rivers was off the mark for most of the game and ended with just 97 yards and two interceptions and only that much thanks to a 46-yard catch by Vincent Jackson late in the game. Antonio Gates may be the gold standard for tight ends but he only rang up one catch for seven yards. Larry Johnson ran for a respectable 84 yards on 19 carries and added three catches for nine yards. Gonzalez reeled in six catches for 53 yards to lead the Chiefs but this game was like almost every other one this year for the Chargers - it was all about LT who passes amazing a month ago. The win props the Chargers up to 12-2 on the season and they head to Seattle this week where Seattle defensive coaches finally get a shot of what their offense was doling out last year. The Chiefs lose a game they could not afford to lose and fall to 7-6 but get to travel to Oakland for their free win this week.

Game-O-The-Week

Fantasy playoff time and now you remember why it is so important to own good running backs - they score a lot more at the end of the season than the wideouts do. Several teams have already thrown in the towel and many others are soon to follow. Seven games - almost half - had one team scoring ten points or less and four teams had no touchdowns. It's all coming down to the wire and already some teams are giving up.

The Game of the Week is a surprise to be sure since it was assumed to be the biggest slam dunk of the week.

Buccaneers 31, Bears 34

This game is the NFL season in a nutshell. The Bears were favored 13 points against the lowest scoring team in the NFL. The Buccaneers were only 3-10 this season and playing in Chicago was about the last place to expect a turnaround. Heading into the game, the Bucs had no semblence of offense. Their defense was only good in the sense that most teams got bored of scoring and did not need much to win.

Nearing the end of the third quarter , Chicago already led 24-3 but the Bucs had already switched to Tim Rattay to make the loss look a little different when they broke down the film on Monday. After the Bears had kicked-off following a field goal, the Bucs returned it to the 43-yard line where Rattay set-up shop. Using passes on almost every play, Rattay drove the field until 51 seconds into the fourth quarter when finally Mike Alstott ran over right end for a 14 yard touchdown just to tweak every Cadillac Williams owner yet again. That first touchdown came with only 32 seconds left in the third quarter and brought the score to 24-10 in favor of the Bears.

On the ensuing kick-off, Devin Hester fumbled and the Bucs recovered at the CHI 16-yard line. Three plays later, Rattay hit Alex Smith (the tight end, not the quarterback) for a 9-yard touchdown pass with only 51 seconds gone in the fourth quarter. Suddenly the blowout was a 24-17 game. Like an actual football game and everything.

Just to establish a healthy margin, the Bears then drove 77 yards on their next drive, culminating with Cedric Benson scoring a four-yard touchdown just to reward those of you who actually though Benson would have a big game. at 31-17, crisis was adverted and the Bears staff resumed trying to make reservations at Mortons.

On the first play of the Bucs next drive, Rattay threw an interception. Okay, can't get into Mortons. Anyone up for some pizza, maybe?

But the Bears ended up having to punt after three plays and the Bucs started on their own 5-yard line. On third and nine, Rattay found Galloway for a 30 yard gain because only Galloway is allowed to catch long passes for the Bucs. That reached the TB 36-yard line where Rattay threw an incompletion to Galloway followed by a 64-yard touchdown to Galloway because only Galloway is allowed to score long touchdowns for the Bucs. The score was 24-31 and almost interesting.

A bit concerned that Benson owners had already gotten too many fantasy points, the Bears opted to use Thomas Jones in the next series that ended quickly with a fourth and one from the CHI 18-yard line. They punted because they also had the Chicago defense to rely on.

WIth 4:31 left to play, the Bucs took over at midfield after an 11 yard punt return and Rattay hit the rookie Muarice Stovall for a six yard game. Then on second down, he connected with Ike Hilliard FOR A 44 YARD TOUCHDOWN PASS! THAT'S NOT IN HIS CONTRACT! What? The extra point made it 31-31 with 3:54 left to play.

The Bears could not score on their next two series nor could the Bucs on their one and overtime was on.

The Bucs won the coin flip but lost a fumble on their second play. Starting at the TB 22-yard line, the Bears could gain only three yards before they went for the 37-yard field goal on third down so that they could still make it to Burger King before the drive-through line was too long. But he missed.

The Bucs and Bears traded series and then the Bears downed their punt at the TB 2-yard line. After gaining only four yards, the Bucs punted and the Bears took over at mid-field with 6:23 left in overtime. A 28-yard pass to Rasjied Davis reached the TB 20-yard line and then Adrian Peterson ran the ball to the TB 7-yard line because YOU started Benson and on first down, Robbie Gould kicked in the winning 25-yard field goal.

Sure, the game ended like everyone expected but it went into overtime after the Bucs rolled out a new quarterback and the Bears forgot how to cover wideouts. A chance for nice rushing yards was ruined when Jones (17-68), Benson (15-53, 1 TD) and Adrian Peterson (2-13) all played. Just wait to see what they do now that they have clinced everything with two games left to play.

The bad team wasn't really all that bad and the good defense was not really all that good. There's only two weeks left to the season and for most, one week in the fantasy season. But every team still has something to win next week other than Chicago and the playoffs shouldn't have any surprising benchings in the secnd half to rest players.

Best of all - more time to watch Tomlinson assault both NFL records and our sense of what it possible.

To all in the playoffs still - best of luck!

To those left watching - next year. I mean it. Really.

Happy Holidays and a happy New Year to all!

Now get back to work...