Wednesday, October 31, 2012
NFL Season Checkup
AFC East: It's almost impossible to see anyone other than the Patriots winning this division. Past history would suggest they'll find a way to get it done. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the best team that could challenge them, the Jets, are an absolute mess. The Tebow experiment has been a distraction at best and a disaster at worst. The Dolphins are a good story, but even a wildcard berth will be a great accomplishment given their competition for that spot.
AFC North: As usual, this division will come down to the Steelers and the Ravens. They're separated by a game at this point with the Ravens in the lead, but I agree with Colin Cowherd that the Steelers are poised to make a run. They are getting healthy and based on their play against the Redskins, rounding into form. Interestingly enough, the Ravens host the Steelers for their final meeting of the season on December 2 with the winner probably gaining an edge in the division race. I think both teams make the playoffs, but I'm not ready to pick a winner yet.
AFC South: The Houston Texans are the class of the division and shouldn't really be challenged for the title. Their goal is a bit loftier, looking for home field throughout the playoffs. With their balanced offense, tenacious defense and weak division, they have a great shot at it. The real surprise is how the Colts have come together under rookie Andrew Luck. Making the playoffs in his rookie season and with head coach Chuck Pagano sidelined during cancer treatments would be the feel good story of the season.
AFC West: Are you kidding me? The Chargers managed just 6 points against the Browns? If Norv Turner is coaching this team next season, then San Diego's management is simply delusional. As far as the division goes, Manning is just now starting to get that offense cranked up. The Broncos are true Super Bowl contenders, so the rest of the West can just get out of the way. Of course, the Chargers could get hot near the end of the season, but only to challenge for a wildcard spot.
NFC East: The Giants have kept the momentum from their Super Bowl victory and looked poised to contend once again. I don't think the Falcons can continue winning, the Bears and Packers have to contend with each other and the rest of the East is a mess, so the Giants have a real shot at home field advantage, whether they want it or not. I believe the Redskins are a year away from contending, but when they get it together, watch out. As far as the Cowboys go, Jerry Jones needs to get a football guy in there and get out of the way. He's proven that he can't put a team together under in the salary cap era and he needs to clean house on the coaching staff. This team has too much talent to be struggling to make the playoffs year in and year out. And then there's the under-performing Eagles, with or without Vick at quarterback, who just can't seem to get this group to win games convincingly and consistently.
NFC North: This is one tough division, but the Bears and Packers are once again moving to the top. The Lions just can't seem to put it all together, but I could see both wildcards coming from this division, especially if Minnesota has reached its peak and slips the rest of the season. I like the Bears with that combination of run and pass, offense and defense. Very balanced and very dangerous at the same time.
NFC South: Atlanta will roll here, but not because they are especially strong. The Saints are an absolute mess, but that's no surprise given the off season issues and lack of a true head coach. It had to be embarrassing for Saints fans to watch Manning carve them up like he did Sunday night. This is definitely the weakest division in football, and the beneficiary is Atlanta.
NFC West: Obviously, the class of the division is San Francisco. I think Seattle can really make a run to challenge for the second wildcard, but they have been a bit inconsistent on offense. Arizona, with Kolb out at quarterback, looks pretty terrible with Skelton leading the way. The Rams are going to need another year under Fisher to contend.