NFL Assholes: In-and-Out Week
We’ve put 13 weeks on the books in the NFL, leaving four left on the plate. This season, more than any other I can pull from recent memory, seems to be as “competitive” as any (some would argue parity has gotten out of control and the lack of obvious power is a problem… whatever). We have only two squads with ten wins and no one seems to believe they are worthy of unquestioned respect (the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots, who may have earned the bulk of the votes with that whoopin’ they put on the Jets on Monday night). We have teams with .500 records fighting not only for wild-card berths but also for division titles (thank you NFC West). In the AFC the powers that be appear to be crunched into two divisions while in the NFC the list of teams still in the mix is bigger than the list of teams not.
Its the chaos we cheer for from college ball… and these guys are supposed to be professionals.
We’ve already hit on the necessary questions of pain from the world of college football. Today we jump into the polls to take your temp on the big boys of the NFL, and the idea is simple… we give you a team, you tell us if they are in for this year’s NFL playoffs or if they are out.
The list of teams officially eliminated from the discussion: Detroit, Carolina, Buffalo, Cincinnati, and Denver (way to go, Josh… gettin’ in the mix for a shot at the first overall pick after trading up to get Tebow, though I would expect Carolina and Buffalo to take the route of the New York Knicks at this point and just start throwing games to get Andrew Luck… and then ya’ get fired for the holidays).
So the quarterback was laughing on the sideline… he should be. Your stupid-ass is watching him and this horrific-ass team play. Everyone should be laughing just to avoid the manic depression of it all. You’re watching two of the worst teams in the game… and both are still in the hunt for the division. THAT is what you choose to waste time on… and you’re giving Derek a hard time for laughing. Please.
This is the first of four teams out of the NFC West that will be immediately dismissed. Even if you win that division, you suck balls and have no right playing against real NFL teams.
NFC West. Dismissed.
That’s Dez Bryant shortly before his fibula and all hopes for any kind of offensive firepower went to hell. In truth, Dez has been one of the most overhyped rookies of the season and now we get a break from hearing how great he should be. The Cowboys move on with hopes of playing the role of spoiler… ’cause in the NFC East they have no shot to get in the top two. Give ’em credit for getting to four wins, but they still own a -42-point differential through 12 games, and that’s not working for the Yankees of the NFL.
I’m not entirely sure how this team got to five wins… maybe Mike Shanahan should be a candidate for Coach of the Year. We noted the ‘Boys tout at -42 spot in the point differential column… the ‘Skins are at -71. In a division where the top two teams are both over +60 in that same column, you’d be foolish to think this ends well. If we gave you this poll in a week or two, these guys would be off the list.
“Good ol’ Chilly came on through and picked up out thar at the airport… pretty allsum truck Chilly’s drivin’… and we talked, ya’ know, about maybe gettin’ Percy more involved in the offense there… maybe you guys wanna talk about Percy…”
I want the Vikes to stay alive just because Favre’s dialect has become such a reliable joke amongst my set. Everyone does a Brett Favre these days thanks to Seton and his efforts to perfect the art of being Brett Favre.
Besides that, Minny is as good as dead. The hole is too deep with the Bears pulling away from the pack. And, hopefully, that’s all we’ll have to say about that… for this year and beyond.
The Browns are intriguing. They own two straight wins but neither was against a worthy opponent (Carolina, Miami) and they were earned by a combined four points. It’s not like this team is killing you with entertainment in watching… they grind it out… but they can be tricky if you struggle to stop the run. Lots of teams struggle to stop the run… like, say, Buffalo (the worst rushing defense in the league)… or Cincinnati (ranked 24th in the league). They are next on the schedule, so the Browns have a couple wins out there to grab.
After that the Browns hit the wall with Baltimore and Pittsburgh but both games are at home and Pittsburgh, in that final set, may be resting Big Ben and others if they have the division wrapped. Don’t be surprised if you hear the heads are still talking Peyton Hillis and company as we get down to the wire this season.
By all accounts it seems the end of life as we know it in Tennessee. The Titans are in major trouble with five consecutive losses and a quarterback scenario that fails to instill any hope of reversing the trend. Teams are piling up to stop Chris Johnson and, while he often breaks free regardless, he’s taking a toll to keep this team in contention. There are numbers that suggest a few breaks could have brought different results (namely a quality defense giving the Titans a +28 point differential through 12 games), but those breaks aren’t coming around much of late. Add speculation noting owner Bud Adams may be looking to decide between coach Jeff Fisher and prized quarterback-in-failing Vince Young (with more than a few suggesting Young will win) and you have a scenario ripe for failure.
Houston is an absolute joke. They are the offensive respirator, relying on Andre Johnson and Arian Foster to get whatever they can in hopes they outscore every team that comes through the gates. The defense is so horrific it can’t possibly be described as a potential source of influence in these or any other NFL playoffs. Once you hit those final weeks, you can’t be without defense. The Texans haven’t shown any yet and we doubt it suddenly arrives, and thus they aren’t a true contender.
The Colts… it seems hard to imagine where this team has come since Tony Dungy left. Peyton has been asked to take on so much this year and much is made of his performance without his top receiving targets, and all praise is due… but I’m much more impressed with his ability to overcome defensive instability and stay competitive in games he should not be. The Colts give up a ton of points (over 30 per game over their last six) and you can’t give up a ton of points expecting Manning to compensate for it all.
The division (the AFC South) is the only factor keeping the Colts in the mix.
I refuse to believe any team listing “Norv Turner” as an employee is capable of any kind of greatness. I’m aware he has a history with winning teams, but only as a coordinator. He’s had multiple opportunities to break through as a head coach in the world’s greatest game and he has yet to take full advantage of any one of those seasons.
Meanwhile the Chiefs have built on their AFC West lead by taking an ugly win against the Broncos, their third victory in a row. While they may be doing it ugly they are also doing it consistently, unlike the Chargers who seem to rely on Philip Rivers more than any other individual on the planet. With the situation taking form in the AFC East and North it is hard to believe the Bolts could cut in, and their window to fight for the division is closing.
I’m not sure if the Raiders are legit… it feels like they are blessed to see the Broncos take their turn at the bottom and thus they are saved from the typical criticism. There one of many finding benefit from Josh McDaniels. Thank you, Bill.
(If I had asked which coach would you rather gamble on before the season started, would you have taken McDaniels or Tom Cable? Think on that one, bitches.)
With that said, there are some players on this squad and they seem to be formulating an identity, and an identity could take this team deeper than their overall talent and focus might. Richard Seymour has been as good, if not better, as advertised on D. They have Darren McFadden starting to achieve his potential as an offensive weapon of choice. They play Oakland Raiders football, and it’s damn fun to watch. They may not last long but I’ll enjoy watching them try… at least for the four games we have.
After the loss to Cleveland last week, at home by a painful three points, it seems evident this team is not up to the challenge of top-level competition. The damages at quarterback can’t be overcome, the running game has started to fall off in full, and the schedule still carries two games against teams that should be worthy of praise (Jets, Pats), both in their same division. The ‘Fins are moving forward with some serious questions to answer and it sounds like the Big Tuna won’t be there to help ’em take it on.
NFC West… dismissed.
(I love this picture… Spencer Hall from EDSBS first posted this picture with the simple caption, “Hey, they have donuts up here! Did you see this guys? Donuts!” It makes me laugh EVERY time.)
(That’s probably not fair… the Rams have a bit of potential. Bradford has been better in his rookie season than Peyton Manning was as a freshman in Indy. Of course, that Indy team was fuckin’ atrocious… finished 3-13. So… there ya’ go.)
I was so in love with Josh Freeman… more than Simmons and more than my good friend Cheez (the only life-long Bucs fan I know)… and the last two weeks have ended the honeymoon. To be fair, Tampa was in the mix throughout both matchups, and in both they were facing teams we have not discussed (including one that may be the best in the land). Falling 17-10 to Baltimore didn’t hurt nearly as bad as 28-24 to the Falcons, and while it solidifies our faith in this team moving forward, it doesn’t (along with the loss of center Jeff Faine) give us much to go on for 2010.
I still adore Josh… I don’t like my chances of seeing him in the playoffs this year.
I struggle to give this team any of my time, and rather than go with the interview of MJD on the Dan Patrick Show, I prefer to watch the HD clip of a much more entertaining visit… the Jaguars suck. The AFC South is a total joke. They still have the Raiders and Colts ahead. They can’t defend (-43 point differential). They can’t pass (ranked 29th in the league). They can’t do much of anything other than Maurice Jones-Drew, and MJD isn’t winning a playoff game on his own (Peyton might… but not MJD).
And now we’ve given them more time than deserved.
The Chiefs seem to have seized control of the pathetic AFC West and the schedule sure looks vulnerable moving into the playoff run. They’ll travel to San Diego where they might lose some ground in the race for the division title but then they travel to St. Lou, followed by two at home versus Tennessee and Oakland. They own the best rushing offense in the league and while the defensive numbers are lacking, there are playmakers to be found working on their behalf (namely Tamba Hali).
If they can pull the win next week at SD you can ink them into the playoffs and you can start to talk about their ability to earn a higher seed than you might have guessed.
If you follow football at all then you know what you have in the Baltimore Ravens. Its all about defense with hopes the offense can get the points to overcome. This year they’ve found inconsistent performance from that offense but they have, at times, dominated. If they can get quarterback Joe Flacco humming and get rusher Ray Rice involved (be it via the run or the pass), the Ravens can be as stout an offering as you’ll find in the NFL.
They may or may not be the best team in their division but the case can be made for a Baltimore run in this year’s playoffs.
No team enjoys a wider margin between the total points scored (303) and the number of points surrendered (182, a +121 difference) than the Green Bay Packers, yet flaws in their performance over the course of the season have introduced doubt.
The Packers aren’t even the best team in their division, trailing the Bears by one game with a schedule that is clearly of detriment in attaching hope to the crew in Green Bay. Going to Detroit next week doesn’t seem to present much challenge but moving on to Boston to face the Pats before welcoming the Giants and the Bears into Lambeau may be the toughest three-game set any team will close with this year.
That has us wondering if the Pack are truly in the mix or not… the talent is there but the road they will travel will be rough.
I’m going to combine my comments on the two top teams in the NFC East… it makes too much sense not to.
Heading to Week 14 the Eagles own the edge in terms of division record (2-1 versus 2-2 for the Giants) as well as the Week 11 win over New York. The Giants have a better lean in terms of conference record (6-2 versus 5-3 for the Eagles), and both are sitting in awkward spots as we watch from the outside. Both teams have overcome extensive injuries along the offensive line, both teams bring thorough offensive fronts regardless, and both are putting up noteworthy fights on defense (the Giants are a touch better though the Eagles have come on of late). Philly owns a +63 point differential… the Giants come at at +61.
To cut is straight, this is one of three divisional battles that could put undeniable influence on the playoffs. They will fight over these final four for the upper hand as division winner, the team left out will have a tough fight to earn a spot as wild-card entry (Green Bay and New Orleans are right there as well).
This is as good as it gets in these days of parity, and among the three divisions looking to fight to the finish, this may be the most intriguing and entertaining of the group.
Ask any football fan to identify the worst team looking to get in the playoffs as a division winner and the Bears will roll off the tongue shortly after any team listed from the NFC West and the AFC South. They sit at 9-3 with an offense ranks 26th in passing and 22nd in rushing… its the traditional Chicago effort, carried by defense with an offense that will make or break any given Sunday.
With all of that said, they have five consecutive wins and the respect is starting to build… but we aren’t buying in. The only win of note in those five would be the 31-26 win over Philadelphia, and the lackluster set they bullied through the rest wasn’t put to bed by decisive margin.
With New England, the Jets, and a trip to Lambeau laying in wait, we’ll learn if these Bears are for real or not before the playoffs start. Right now, we aren’t too anxious to hit the window and lay the Bears in any of our parlays.
The Saints were my pick to come out of the NFC this season. After five consecutive wins I’m finding a bit more comfort than I would have expressed last week, but still… you review those five wins and the 20-10 triumph over the Steelers in Week 8 is the only note of solace I take away. They struggled to put Dallas to bed two weeks ago and then nearly blew it against a horrendous Bengals squad last week (34-30).
The offense is just starting to find a groove (third in the NFL in passing but 25th in rushing with Chris Ivory just starting to take the role as breakout star of an otherwise troubled committee of rushers) but the defense is where this team can solidify their intention to compete. They have struggled to limit opposing passers and will face some worthy opposition – Sam Bradford, Joe Flacco, Matty Ice, and Josh Freeman – to close out the regular season.
Pull out of that stretch with a spot in the playoffs and they’ll be tempting for the handicapping crowd. Pull the NFC South away from the Falcons and you may have a championship squad peaking at the optimal time for greatness.
We would like to put the Monday night raping in the rearview mirror… after all, the Jets were winners the first time around with the Pats (28-14 in Week 2) and the names on this roster certainly suggest this crew should be kicking ass and taking names when they face any team not included among the game’s elite.
However… note the overall point differential (+35, versus +110 for the Patriots), note the inability to dominate over recent weeks (9-0 loss to Green Bay, two overtime wins against second-tier squads in Detroit and Cleveland, a 30-27 win over Houston), and note the nightmare that is Mark Sanchez and the 11 interceptions versus eight touchdowns thrown over his last seven games played… that’s rough.
Granted, the Jets of 2009 entered the playoffs at 9-7 and no one expected they could compete before laying wax to the opposition and getting all the way to the conference championship… but this is a new year and we’re starting to believe the concerns are piling too high to overcome.
It is beyond difficult to excuse the amount of pressure this team puts on Ben Roethlisberger. They own three consecutive wins. They have a top-10 rushing offense, and their defense is believed to be as frightening as any on the planet.
Facts are facts. Their passing offense ranks 18th in the league and is carried by a guy that may be playing on what amounts to a broken ankle. Their passing defense ranks 24th in the league and has served as the source of downfall in worrisome falls to Baltimore, New Orleans, and the Patriots. A healthy quarterback might get this team from “good” to “great” but undeniable struggles against the recognized powers of this season suggest this team is just shy of cutting the mustard.
And we have no faith in an assertion health will magically appear. Even with the win over the Ravens and a favorable schedule that should give the Steelers the AFC North, it is hard to envision this squad will emerge as a force of reckoning in games that truly matter… and we may have an answer in two weeks after the Jets come to town.
Few seem to believe the Falcons, one of only two 10-2 teams on the docket, are for real. They’ve only beat one team soundly (the Cardinals, way back in Week 2), every game since has been competitive, and as such the naysayers want to see that “signature” win before attaching hopes and dreams to one of the most complete squads in the picture.
On offense it seems difficult to question the power of the Dirty Birds… Michael Turner is running with confidence, Matt Ryan has clearly taken the role of leader for the entire crew, and Roddy White is as potent a target as any passer could hope to target on Sundays. There are a few more questions on defense where the 26th-ranked passing D has allowed almost every team on the schedule to keep pace, and that’s a problem no team wants heading into the playoffs. That rank isn’t likely to change and that marks the Falcons as the consolation prize in our rankings.
With the Monday night beatdown of their division rival, the Pats have posted four consecutive wins with every indication they could be looking for four more to close out the schedule. Only the Packers have a better point differential, only the Falcons are matching their number of wins, and no one is matching the schedule they have left to play: at Chicago, vs. Green Bay, at Buffalo, vs. Miami.
If they treat those teams with the same dominating style they just used to dismiss the Jets, there will be a clear-and-present favorite in the playoffs this year.