Tuesday, December 2, 2008

NFL Powerlines - Week 14

Another week, another bizarre set of games and stories emanating from the NFL. Here I am with my weekly attempt to make sense of the insensible NFL. Enjoy the Powerlines this week.

1. Giants - Okay, obviously the Giants do not miss Plaxico very much, which is good since they will be playing without him for the foreseeable future. (The foreseeable future being the rest of eternity.) I do feel somewhat saddened that this episode may cost Burress his career and likely will mean he has to do some jail time. However, once you get past that part of this story, I have to say from a pure comedic standpoint this Plax escapade is easily the funniest sports story of the year; and whatever second place is on that list isn't even close. Accidentally shooting himself in the leg, trying to hide it, checking into the hospital under the assumed name Harris Smith and then claiming that the whole thing happened at an Applebees?? Seinfeld never had an episode with a more outrageous plot than that.

2. Titans - There is no better formula for getting over your first loss of the year than a Thanksgiving date with the Lions. It's hard to gauge the Titans based on their overpowering win due to the level of competition, but it is safe to say...The Titans are much better than the Lions.

3. Steelers - This is a solid team, and their defense is scary good. As long as Roethlisberger can stay healthy and avoid the brainfreeze to which he is occasionally prone, they have championship potential. The O-Line is their Achilles heel. If the defense is the Steel curtain, the O-Line is the tin foil sheet.

4. Colts - Peyton Manning is amazing, this Colts team survived a horrible early season slump, pretty much due to Manning alone, and now they are in position for a good run in the playoffs with the added bonus of more than likely getting to play the Broncos in the first round.

5. Panthers - If they win the NFC South, they'll have earned it. They finish with The Buccaneers, Broncos, Giants and Saints.

6. Ravens - They no longer just a tough defensive team, they are averaging over 30 points a game in their last seven games, and have been held under 27 points just one time in that span.

7. Jets - And this is why Jets fans are as neurotic as they are...just as the collective media begin hailing them as "Possibly the best team in the AFC" they fall apart at home to a team that was beaten down the previous week by the Raiders. On a positive note for Jets fans, no fan base is better at spelling their team's name in unison.

8. Buccaneers - It's good to know that after the clunker of a Monday Night Football matchup we just had this week, that next weeks game will be for first place in the NFC South. I have an easier time tolerating Mondays when I know I have a good game to look forward to that night.

9. Cowboys - How bizarre is it that the wide receiver causing the greatest controversy in the NFC East isn't named Terrell Owens? Tony Romo has not ended his season well the past two years, I am curious to see if he can overcome his history and send Dallas on a late season run.

10. Patriots - Funny how no one is dismissing the legacy of Tom Brady this week, after Matt Cassell and the Patriots laid an egg against the Steelers.

11. Redskins - I think they have been playing over their level most of this season, and they are finally starting to settle to their appropriate position. I will be surprised if they are able to make the playoffs.

12. Cardinals - The worst thing about these Thursday night NFL Network games are how crazy they are for the road team. Peter King wrote in his column this week about how tough this week was for the Cardinals getting beat at home by the best team in the league, and then having to try and put it all together for a road game in Philly four days later. I know everyone is down on the Cards and thinking that they are frauds, but I want to see how they respond in their next few games before I completely write them off.

13. Falcons - Matt Ryan and the Falcons are hanging tough for a playoff spot in the NFC. I don't think they have quite enough to get it done, but the fact that they are even in the conversation is one of the better stories in the league this season.

14. Dolphins - Equally amazing as the Falcons are the Dolphins who could muster only one win last year, and are only one game out of the division lead in the AFC East. There are still four games left this year, and the Fins have already won seven times as many games as they did all last year. Part of me hopes that they can find a way to finish strong and win this division, just because worst to first stories are always fun.

15. Broncos - The Broncos have lost their past three home games and won their past three road games. I don't believe that there is a team that there is a more enigmatic team in the NFL. They look like contenders by taking out teams like the Falcons, Bucs, Saints, and Jets, but also have fallen apart against the dregs of the league like Kansas City and Oakland. Their defense is terrible, yet they seem to be playing better after losing all of their starting linebackers and (arguably) the best defensive back in the league. Anything can happen to the Broncos, and I refuse to be surprised. They could win their division with a 7-9 record, they could go 11-5 and win the Super Bowl (although I am not holding my breath for this one), they could fall apart completely and somehow miss the playoffs despite having a three game division lead with four games to play, they could start a linebacker at fullback, a quarterback at cornerback, Matt Prater could lead a two minute drill to win a playoff game...NOTHING would shock me regarding this team at this point. I refuse to be surprised anymore.

16. Vikings - Life is going to get a lot tougher the last quarter of the season, as Roger Goodell has just suspended the heart of their defense with drug suspensions for the Williams boys. Losing two of their best defensive players and having to continue to be coached by an unspeakably terrible head coach may cost the Vikes, but they have Adrian Peterson and a one game division lead, so they still have a punchers chance.

17. Bears - Letting the Vikings stop them on the doorstep and then promptly giving up a 99 yard touchdown to former Bear Bernard Berrian may be a season defining sequence. It's hard to overcome something like that, not impossible, but hard.

18. Saints - If they wanted to have a real shot at the playoffs, they really needed to take down the Bucs on a nasty rainy day in Tampa last Sunday. They are not eliminated, but it's going to be awfully tough to make the playoffs now.

19. Packers - Wisconsin may be pining for the days of Brett Favre, but I don't remember seeing him play defense, which is where the Packers are having the most difficulty lately. They have given up 82 points in their last two games, and I don't think #4 would be able to assist them much with that, even if he hadn't been shuffled off to New York.

20. Bills - It must be depressing to be a Bills fan right about now. This season started with such promise with the Bills winning five of their first six games, they have only won once in their past six games, and now Bills fans have to face the reality that not only is their team falling apart, but they are playing their next "home" game this weekend in what is likely their future home of Toronto. The Bills are the new Sonics, that truly is sad.

21. Eagles - Okay, so I was ready to start throwing dirt on the Eagles after their pathetic two week stretch of playing to a tie against the "football challenged" Bengals and then getting pounded by the Ravens. A stretch in which Donovan McNabb looked clueless both on and off the field, admitting he didn't realize there could be a tie and then getting pulled in the second half of the Baltimore game by Andy Reid. So how do I make sense of McNabb then coming home and playing a terrific game to lay the smack down upon the Cardinals? I can't make sense of it, and that seems to be the theme to this wacky season.

22. Chargers - A Chimpanzee could coach this collection of talent to a 4-8 record, which makes me wonder why Norv Turner has a decent chance of keeping this job when he appears to be doing about as well as a large ape would do in his position. Without a doubt, this team is the disappointment of the season.

23. Texans - Perhaps they should wear those goofy looking all red uniforms more often, if they had played with that same purpose and energy all season, perhaps they would have had a shot at the playoffs. And speaking of the Texans, I am still trying to get over losing my fantasy football game by a quarter of a point due to Owen Daniels doing juuuuuuuuust enough to keep me from winning. I literally could not have lost by a smaller margin, and it all came down to Monday night with me hanging on to a tiny lead until Mr. Daniels catches an eleven yard pass midway through the 4th quarter to seal my fate by a quarter point, and then does nothing else so I end up losing by that tiny margin. Ugh, I didn't even know Owen's number before Monday night, and now I hate that guy.

24. Browns - Memo to Romeo Crennell: When the media is reporting that you need a miracle to save your job, and that miracle will have to occur by having Ken Dorsey as your starting QB and you have games against the Eagles, Steelers and Titans, and when people describe your coaching demeanor with such adjectives as "brainless" and "comatose" I'd say that the cards are stacked against you. Good Luck, sir.

25. Jaguars - Jack Del Rio should be ashamed of the lack of effort that his Jacksonville squad displayed on Monday night. It is one thing to have nothing to play for, it is quite another to look like you just don't care, and the Jaguars could not have possibly cared any less in their game against Houston.

26. 49ers - It has been at least three weeks since Mike Singletary did or said something that could be classified as certifiably nuts. This makes me sad, as he started out with such promise. I sincerely hope that he does something interesting in the final four weeks of the season, just because the NFL is more fun when Mike Singletary does Mike Singletary things.

27. Chiefs - This team is making strides towards competitiveness, just in time to stun the Broncos this Sunday in Denver. As a Broncos fan, I am terrified of this upcoming game and the prevailing attitude that the Broncos should win easily coupled with the fact that this is exactly the type of game the Broncos have honked this season.

28. Raiders - The Raiders may be bad this season, but no one is accusing them of being boring this year. Between the Lane Kiffin soap opera, Al Davis announcing to the world that he is still quite nuts, a 76 yard field goal attempt, and that bizarre fake field goal leading to a Chief touchdown on Sunday, at least they keep it interesting at all times, as opposed to say the Rams who are bad AND boring.

29. Seahawks - It is painful to see this perennial contender sending Mike Holmgren out on such a low note. This team just does not have it this year, and the wheels came off very quickly, as they won a playoff game just last season.

30. Rams - It is hard to put a positive spin on a 2-10 start. This team at least played Miami close, which is sort of like a win to Saint Louis, right?

31. Bengals - One win and one tie is probably not enough production to save Marvin Lewis' job. This offseason could see a massive amount of head coach turnover, and I am guessing that Marvin will not be spared, nor should he be, really.

32. Lions - The Lions are playing with all the poise and confidence of a junior high flag football team, actually if they played a Junior High flag football team, I think the Lions would be a three point dog, and I'd say take the Junior Highers and give the points.

No comments: