What a week: Soccer-like flopping, sideline wizzing, bicep stomping, second-string QB injuring, brothers battling, and illegal spiking. Finally, a clear tier of teams behind Green Bay has emerged, and several teams who were teetering on the edge going into the week can now be sure they won’t be playing in the playoffs (even though those Playoff Pictures think 4-7 teams should be considered “in the hunt”). At this point in the season, bandwagoning is so Week 7 and now it’s more of a question of “Who really has a chance in the playoffs?” But that article is for another week. For now, let’s focus on who will get there in the first place. There’s still five games left people!!!!
A Cut Above
New England Patriots– At this point I don’t think New England really cares about defending the pass. They just got torched for 400 yards by Vince Young. Yes, the one and only Vince Young. And it should have been like 450 yards if not for a few bad drops by DeSean Jackson. In spite of the worst pass defense in the NFL, the Patriots are still as ready as anyone to make a run to the Super Bowl. Tom Brady was outstanding on Sunday. I believe Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the league right now, but if I had to win just one game I would take Tom Brady without even thinking twice. All he had to do once was point to Deion Branch and the two connected for a big reception (nice YAC-attack by Branch). With all of the weapons around him, including a solid running back in the Law Firm and the guy who was Darren Sproles before there was Darren Sproles (Kevin Faulk) Tom Brady could lead this team to another Super Bowl and earn his fourth ring.
Baltimore Ravens– The almost complete opposite of the Patriots, the Ravens showed on Thanksgiving that defense can still win championships. They held Frank Gore to 39 yards on 14 carries, recorded 9 sacks, and forced the 49ers to go 2-12 on 3rd down. They only committed three penalties for 20 yards. Joe Flacco played an efficient game. Ray Rice’s poor game can only be expected, as he faced the best run defense in the league. However, it says something that they could win without Rice being a major factor. Combine all of this with the fact that Baltimore defeated the Steelers in both meetings this year and Pittsburgh struggled against the Chiefs, and I think we all know who the best team in the AFC North is.
New Orleans Saints– So I just realized that the cross-bar of a goalpost is 10 feet high and Drew Brees, who is 6 feet tall at the most, can dunk a football over it with full gear on. That’s impressive. However that pales in comparison to how good his offense is. They almost gained 400 yards in the first half. The final drive of the first half just looked too easy. They finished with 577, with a whopping 205 rushing yards, mostly gained by Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas. Sure, they allowed 465 yards and 24 points, but, like the Patriots, does that really matter when you have such a good offense? Look at the weapons the Saints have. Devery Henderson, Robert Meacham, and Lance Moore are all solid wideouts, and Marques Colston, although his numbers aren’t very impressive, would be a star if he caught passes for just about any other team in the league where he would get more targets. Side-note: Ever notice that all four of those guys have numbers between 12-19, rather than the more commons 80’s that WRs wear? Besides those guys they have Jimmy Graham, who just might be the best receiving TE in the league right now (fifth in the league in receiving yards among all players). Ingram, Thomas, and Ivory are all solid runners. And then of course there is Darren Sproles, who John Gruden called the best free agency acquisition. I agree. You can’t underestimate the value of a space player like him.
Houston Texans– Did this season turn out to be the perfect storm or what? With Peyton Manning out, the Jaguars in disarray, and the slow start by CJ2K, it looks like Houston is going to waltz into the playoffs.What a difference a few weeks can make, because somewhere along the way a few bones got broken and T.J. Yates is now the starting quarterback. So is this team a lost cause? I don’t want to make that call until I see them play a game with Yates starting. Keep in mind that they have a very good rushing attack and the number one defense in the league. The rookie QB can also throw the ball to Andre Johnson. So as long as he doesn’t lose the game for them, they might have a realistic chance. We’ll have to wait and see.
Chicago Bears– I really thought this team was going places. I really did. People laughed as they said the name Caleb Hanie, but I remember him as the kid who almost brought the Bears back to beat the Packers last year in the NFC Championship game. With Cutler out, I thought they might still be going places. I might have been wrong. Hanie played very badly. In fact, he prevented them from winning. The rest of their schedule isn’t too bad, though, so maybe they can still make it to the playoffs. With the way the next two teams have been playing, it might not be too difficult.
Detroit Lions– My fears have been realized: they really aren’t that good. Talented? Sure. Good? No. They have lost four out of six now and they just looked so undisciplined against Green Bay. We saw the same thing when the played the Bears at home on Monday Night Football earlier this season. In stead of rising to the occasion of a big game, they committed penalty after penalty and didn’t look like the football team they were supposed to be. Jim Schwartz is getting talked up as a great coach, but if that’s the case why isn’t he reigning this team in?
New York Giants– They’re free-falling now. This team looked very good after their victory against New
England, but their schedule has just proven to be too much. Next up is Green Bay, and the rest of the schedule isn’t a lot better. Laugh all you want; I wouldn’t be surprised if they finish 6-10.
How will the West be won?
Denver Broncos– 5 and 1. Tim Tebow is 5 and 1. Leading a team with a much-improved defense and with Willis McGahee running like the young man who was once nominated for a Heisman, Tebow (and the Broncos) have no apparent reason to think they won’t keeping winning. The rest of their schedule includes: @Minnesota (win) vs Chicago (if Hanie played like he did this week, win) vs New England (loss) @Buffalo (win) and vs Kansas City (win). That looks like 10-6 to me. But will that be enough…..
Oakland Raiders– I’m not sure I’m sold on this team, but with a game lead over the Broncos and a schedule that should include three more wins, they might make it to the playoffs. Carson Palmer is almost there, and if he can play well along with their good rushing attack, this is a decent team. Their mediocre defense could sure use Nnamdi right about now. With the way things are going in Philadelphia, I think Nnamdi might wish he was in Oakland too.
In other news
I used to be okay with Ndamukong Suh. Now I’m not sure if he’s mentally stable or even a safe person to have on the football field. What was up with his ridiculous explanation? It’s one thing to rush off the field and tell your coach that the call was “F–ing bulls—” but claiming after the game when you should have cleared your mind and calmed down that you were trying to regain your balance? And then playing the ‘god knows and you don’t’ card? Obviously God does know, but I’m pretty sure I know too.
Personally I kind of thought Stevie Johnson’s touchdown celebration was kind of funny. I didn’t really like to make fun of Plaxico that much while he was in prison because he had a wife and young child, but plenty of other people thought it was hilarious then. So why is it insensitive and despicable now? Besides that, Plaxico didn’t go to prison for shooting himself, he went for gun possession. I thought the jet crash was kind of clever too (although we need to be careful when making light of something that actually does tragically happen, even though I know Johnson wasn’t thinking about literal jets). The only problem is he must have known he would get flagged and that’s irresponsible to cost your team like that. However, the worst part about Johnson’s day was the dropped pass that could have won the game (yes he would have run the 20 yards to the end zone).
What do you think about this week’s events? Who do you think are the contenders at this point? Like, comment, subscribe, post to Facebook. If you didn’t notice, address is now just ‘sneakygoodsportsblog.com.’ E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.