Playtime is over! The real tests of the potential wild card teams starts right here and for the next five weeks we’ll be seeing a major Battle Royale take place in both conferences. For the AFC, it’s the Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Miami Dolphins all gearing up for a final five-game push to grab the fifth and sixth seeds in the conference.
Now, that’s all fine and dandy. But the NFC is heating up like no other.
The Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, AND the Minnesota Vikings all have legitimate (though some more mathematically reliant) shots at the final two seeds of the conference. The NFC North has become the powerhouse division in the league and has the potential to send three teams into the playoffs, while the NFC East is less clear with the New York Giants, Redskins, and Cowboys all in positions to fight for every last win to outdo their rivals.
Ladies and Gentleman, let the rough-housin’ and beer sippin’ begin. Sit back, silence your cellphones, and enjoy the show.
Here are the top five big things to keep an eye on during the week’s games:
1) There isn’t a single person in America who thinks the Eagles are still a good team. Look for them to suck more.
Seriously, there’s no way Andy Reid can pull wins out of his over-sized sphincter and keep his job now. There’s just no realistic scenario that can play out now which would result in Reid keeping his head coaching job. Quarterback Michael Vick, running back LeSean McCoy, wide receiver DeSean Jackson, and defensive end Jason Babin are no longer going to be factors in any potential success for Philadelphia going forward, the first two being injured, Jackson having been put on injured reserve and ending his season, and Babin having been waived. Reid’s all out of options, and I have no doubt he’ll be out of a job at the end of Week 17 in late December.
It’s sad really. Reid’s been one of the most successful coaches in the NFL. He’ll definitely be sought after by teams in need of coordinators and potentially head coaches. Good luck to you, sir, and godspeed.
2) Jacksonville recently made a change at quarterback from Blaine “No Gain on the Play” Gabbert to Chad Henne. Look for Head Coach Mike Mularkey to try to save his job on the shoulders of Henne.
I’m just going to say this outright: I love the new uniforms. I have since they came out. Denver, Seattle, Houston, Baltimore, Atlanta, and Detroit have all moved into the future of jerseys and I love it. Still a fan of classics like the Packers and the Bears, but DAYUM. Some of these new uni’s are killing it out there! …But I digress.
Chad Henne, since moving under center for Gabbert against Houston, has been an offensive spark that the Jaguars haven’t had since 2010. Everyone is benefiting: WR’s Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts III, tight end Marcedes Lewis, running back Rashad Jennings, and believe it or not their head coach is loving his chances at returning next year because of Henne. Hell, Chad hasn’t played two full games yet, but he’s adding a downfield dimension to an offense that has been severely lacking a big play aspect with Gabbert. Yes, Jacksonville will absolutely pick up a quarterback in the upcoming draft. Henne is no long-term fix. But he’s going to play a huge part in how the front office evaluates the talent on the team. There’s a difference between watching tape of players led by a talent-less fool with hippie hair reminiscent of Sunshine from Remember the Titans, and a quarterback who…well, plainly, can actually throw.
3) The Dallas Cowboys are next year’s team. Look for them to tease the hell out of their fans with a win in Philly, and then trip on a camera wire in Cincinnati the week after, causing QB Tony Romo to shit himself while losing 30 yards before the game even starts.
Too much talent, not enough wins to show for it. It’s time for this team to be revamped from top to bottom, putting pieces together that actually form a complete unit. Coach Jason Garrett is not the right man to run this team as he’s offensive-minded and is better suited calling plays for that one phase of the game. Although, it’s not all his fault.
Football is not a sport where you just toss big name players together and expect results (for more info, see how well it turned out for Philadelphia). Owner and GM Jerry Jones can see the talent when scouting, but he does not have the vision of men like the Raven’s Ozzie Newsome. Newsome has built a juggernaut in Baltimore that is regularly competing for a Super Bowl every year. He hasn’t just randomly picked up guys who can run and catch. He’s much more methodical in choosing players who will work well in a clearly defined scheme that he wants to be run. Jones is far too enticed by speed and spectacular big-play ability without thinking in regards to how they will fit with his team’s already established players and skill sets.
Jones recently had a petition sent against him to the White House by a fan in Dallas, requesting the removal of Jones from both the ownership and GM positions. If that’s not a signal that it’s time to change, then good luck with the apocalypse, bro.
4) Jim Harbaugh is a quarterbacking god. Look for him to summon a win from the heavens with his angry glare of wisdom.
I feel bad for San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith. The guy goes 19-5-1 since the start of 2011, leads his team to an appearance in the NFC Championship Game, busts out of the gate again in 2012 in helping the 49ers become a powerhouse in the conference, and then…loses his job after being out ONE GAME with a concussion. Such is life in the NFL. “But wait,” you say, “wasn’t he cleared to play the next game after?” He certainly was. But his replacement, and potentially the future of the franchise, quarterback Colin Kaepernick was chosen to start over Smith (after his dominant play against the stalwart defense of the Chicago Bears) by head coach Jim Harbaugh, who seems to have a little farm team of quarterbacks developing under his watch. The man is insane; who else would have the balls to go with their back up quarterback, knowing full well that their successful and proven starter is healthy and ready to pick up where he left off? Only Harbaugh.
It’s working, to the hidden dismay of Smith. Two wins for Kaepernick already, and another is coming against a declining defense in rival St. Louis. If Colin can lead this team to the NFC West title, and potentially some postseason success, it may spell the end of Smith’s time in San Francisco.
I hear Canada is nice around this time of year. Next headline, “SMITH TD TO SOME CANADIAN GUY, WINS THE GREY CUP, EH”.
5) Despite the large leads that division leaders in the AFC have, there is still no clear Super Bowl favorite. Look for the Patriots, Ravens, Texans, and Broncos to try and separate themselves from each other.
My Super Bowl pick this year was, and still is, the Houston Texans. They seem like the most complete team in the league, not just the conference. Quarterback Matt Schaub does everything that he can to help this team win when they’re struggling, and he’s proven that he can win games with his arm. Running Back Arian Foster is still one of the scariest dual running-receiving threats in the NFL and is playing smart football. They benefit from a great defense lead by defensive end J.J. Watt, who is tearing the league apart with sacks, tackles for losses, and batted passes. This team is built tough, so look for them to completely dismantle the Tennessee Titans this week.
But in terms of a firm contender, we still don’t know how the Texans would fare against a red-hot Denver offense led by some guy named Peyton Manning. Manning has this team in prime position for a Super Bowl appearance, and at this point it would be a serious upset if they don’t win at least two playoff games. Houston doesn’t play Denver this season, but they may meet in the postseason. Who knows what could happen?
And what about a Houston-New England match-up? The Patriots have averaged 43 points a game since their Week 6 loss in Seattle and quarterback Tom Brady could very easily take advantage of Houston’s linebackers, who are quietly suffering after the loss of Brian Cushing to a season-ending ACL tear (which, by the way, was gruesome). That would be a hell of a game, and again, it could happen, making my point that there’s no clear front-runner.
The only game I see Houston winning every time this year is against the Ravens, who they thumped in Week 7, 43-14. The Ravens’ loss of future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb have left the team relying on the offense led by quarterback Joe Flacco to win games. Thus far, they’ve done well, excluding the Houston game. But they’re far from a sure bet.
By the way, how in the hell did Baltimore RB Ray Rice pull that run out on fourth-and-29?? He must have finally gotten accepted to Hogwarts, sneakily using a Patronus Charm to keep the mean Chargers defenders away from his route.
Yeah. That’s it.
That’s it from me! Tune in tomorrow to read up on why I think the Super Bowl is getting ridiculously…actually, let’s savor the suspense.
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