With so many current issues in sports I have a variety of things to talk about. Of course the big one is Tiger Woods. But I am not going to go there! Instead I'll focus on my passion, the NFL. The playoff race is heating up and I have some opinions on some of these so called playoff contenders.
We will start in the NFC. And go top to bottom.
New Orleans Saints- These guys are incredible. Every part of the game is covered by them. Yes they are weak in the secondary right now but those guys will get healthy. The biggest factor for this team is their play-making ability. This happens on both sides of the ball. Whether it is Brees throwing deep or Sharper returning a pick for a touchdown. And how bout Robert Meachems strip and run to the end zone this past Sunday. These guys find ways to win. REMAINING OPPONENTS (20-28): at Atlanta (6-6), Dallas (8-4), Tampa Bay (1-11), at Carolina (5-7).
Minnesota Vikings- I really believe the only thing holding this team back is Brad Childress. This team is capable of the most balanced attack in the NFL but he somehow manages to screw that up every few weeks. Favre is having a great year and his mistakes have been minimal but in the two games they have lost he has at least 45 pass attempts. In the two other games where he has 40+, the 49ers and Bears. One of which took a mini-miracle to win. Now of course the argument is you need to pass to catch up. But I don’t believe that when you have #28 in your backfield. He has home run potential on every play. Could they be saving him for the playoffs? Potentially, but I don’t buy that either. I can’t wait to see Childress blow this in the playoffs and really show that he earned that extension. REMAINING OPPONENTS (26-22): Cincinnati (9-3), at Carolina (5-7), at Chicago (5-7), N.Y. Giants (7-5).
Arizona Cardinals- Who knows what to make of this team? They are excellent on the road but terrible at home. But then they go and stomp the Vikings on Sunday night. I’m starting to believe that they only perform when they have something to prove. This is why they perform so well on the road and on primetime. With the exception of the Colts game, Arizona has looked dynamic in primetime games. I believe they still play with a chip on their shoulder from last year which is why they are so good on the road. They want others to see how good they can be. The people in Arizona know. That’s why they drop games there. It’s hard to say that a team that was in the Super bowl the previous year is the dark horse now but that’s exactly what they are. REMAINING OPPONENTS (16-32): at San Francisco (5-7), at Detroit (2-10), St. Louis (1-11), Green Bay (8-4).
Dallas Cowboys- Tis the season for Dallas to blow it. It’s December and Cowboy fans know what that means. Time for epic failure. Dallas has not won a game in December since the 90s. Wow. So you cant blame this just on Tony Romo or Wade Phillips. I say the blame falls on Jones. Numerous coaches and Quarterbacks have failed for Dallas over the past 10 years and the trend doesn’t look like its going to be broken. The Cowboys probably have the hardest remaining schedule in the NFL. Couple w\that with the fact that they play in the uber competitive NFC East and it might be another season of no playoffs for Americas Team. Which will probably also be the end of Phillips. REMAINING OPPONENTS (32-16): San Diego (9-3), at New Orleans (12-0), at Washington (3-9), Philadelphia (8-4).
Philadelphia Eagles- During the Mcnabb and Reid era the Eagles always finish the season strong. Although they have a difficult schedule I don’t see this trend changing. With games against Dallas and New York I can see Philly taking full control of the NFC East. Mcnabb is having his usual solid year and with the defense playing with heavy hearts they have remained at the top of their game despite losing Brian Dawkins. I realize this was only one game and it was an emotionally charged one but teams need to plan for Michael Vick now. Vick is not going to win them the game but he is a factor now. Some people have already called this a failed experiment but I believe we are just seeing the start of the Vick project and he will continue to impress over the next few weeks. REMAINING OPPONENTS (28-20): at N.Y. Giants (7-5), San Francisco (5-7), Denver (8-4), at Dallas (8-4).
Green Bay Packers- Aaron Rodgers is having an MVP season. But because of the sack issues and other performances in the NFL he is being overshadowed. The packers have looked pretty good as of lately and are surging at the right time. They will not win the division but the wild card seems to be a lock. And if the football Gods have their way we are looking at another Favre vs. Packers matchup in the playoffs. And if the Pack loses that one be prepared for mass suicides across Wisconsin. The Packers have transitioned nicely to the 3-4 defense. I think a big reason for this is the play Clay Matthews. When you can have a rookie come in and have the affect that he has you are seating pretty. REMAINING OPPONENTS (24-24): at Chicago (5-7), at Pittsburgh (6-6), Seattle (5-7), at Arizona (8-4).
In the Hunt
New York Giants- It’s hard to rule out the Giants but I just haven’t seen enough from them to think other wise. They had a huge win against Dallas this past Sunday but you can attribute that to Dallas and their December woes. But this is also a team that started off 5-0. These guys have had their backs up against the wall before and came out on top but this year it will be more difficult. The defense that used to strike fear into opponents just doesn’t have the same edge anymore. You can blame that on the new defensive coordinator. The offense has never been spectacular but when they needed to step up because of the absence of the defense they haven’t been able to do so. They control their own fate with divisional games in the next few weeks and the having the tie breaker over Dallas but I don’t see it happening. REMAINING OPPONENTS (26-22): Philadelphia (8-4), at Washington (3-9), Carolina (5-7), at Minnesota (10-2).
Atlanta Falcons- I don’t like saying its over but it is for this team. Turf toe is one of the worst injuries you can get. It essentially zaps all of your ability. And when your starting quarterback has it you cannot be happy about your chances. Also factor in Michael turners injury and an undersized defense. The outlook is grim but the potential for next years team is high. But we do get to see Chris Redman play for a new contract! This NFL journey man came into the league with a ton of potential and amounted to none of it. I always find great enjoyment in watching guys in contract years. Maybe we will se some cool stuff over the next few weeks. REMAINING OPPONENTS (23-25): New Orleans (12-0), at N.Y. Jets (6-6), Buffalo (4-8), at Tampa Bay (1-11).
Well there you have it. My outlook on the NFC. JD will cover the AFC. Hopefully you enjoyed reading this and if you didn’t... Please don’t go all Elin woods on me. Sorry. I couldn’t help it.