The NFL regular season has reached the midway point and not without some surprises. Who would have thought that the Kansas City Chiefs would be the league’s lone undefeated team at 8-0? Equally as surprising, the Steelers, Texans, and Falcons are near the bottom of the NFL pile after being widely predicted to make a run at their respective division titles. I guess that’s why they play the games! A team has never won the Super Bowl without showing up and playing the games. Below are my top five power rankings for Week 9. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
1. Kansas City Chiefs 8-0
The Chiefs struggled late in the game against the Browns, but ultimately did what good teams do – they win ugly. In every championship season, winning teams will gut out some ugly wins and barely escape with the victory. But in the NFL a win is a win regardless of what it looks like.
2. Denver Broncos 7-1
Peyton Manning has finally shown signs of being human lately. He is also beginning to show his age. In the last few weeks his health has been the subject of much debate. No one can argue his Hall of Fame career or unbelievable season to date, but the retirement party is clearly on the horizon for Peyton. Meanwhile, the return of Von Miller has certainly strengthened the defense for their second half run.
3. Seattle Seahawks 7-1
Speaking of winning ugly… The Seahawks had a gut check week much like the Chiefs did. They went into St. Louis to play a bad team who recently lost their starting quarterback. The Rams reached out to Brett Favre last week but he turned down the opportunity to return for what would have truly been a spectacle. Things must be bad when you start calling senior citizen centers in search of a starting QB. Everyone expected a blowout in Edward Jones Stadium. Everyone but the Rams that is.
4. New Orleans Saints 6-1
The Saints are quietly putting up a great season. They have battled late in a couple of games this season, but held on to get the win. Drew Brees continues to just be a great quarterback and leader. The Saints may be the team that no one wants to face in the play-offs especially in the Super Dome.
5. 3 way Tie: Indianapolis 5-2, Cincinnati 6-2, and San Francisco 6-2
I don’t often list teams in a tie, in particular, a three-way tie. However, a really good case could be made for each of these teams to be at number 5. Andrew Luck has successfully lifted his team to the top shelf after replacing perhaps the greatest NFL quarterback of all time. Meanwhile, the Bengals are red hot and look prepared to run away with their division. If their offense begins to run smoothly with all of the parts in place the rest of the league had better look out. And we can certainly make a case for the Niners whose only losses have come to two teams also in the top 5: Indy and Seattle. The Niners are looking dangerously tough recently and we had better plan to see them playing deep into the play-offs.
In a league that is becoming increasingly more “pass first,” top level NFL receivers are at a premium. COwboys receiver, Dez Bryant recently opened a can of worms when he claimed in a radio interview that he was better than Calvin Johnson. Seriously? Is there a receiver on planet earth that is better than Megatron? On paper, probably not. But touchdowns are caught between the lines and not on paper.
With that in mind, an objective review of the current stats through 7 weeks reveal a number of receivers who could claim the title of “Receiver of the Year…So Far.”
In no particular order, here are my top five “Receiver of the Year” candidates after 7 weeks:
Wes Welker – leads the league with touchdown catches at 8
A.J. Green – near the top in all major statistical categories
Calvin Johnson – Look up “Beast” in the dictionary and you will find Johnson’s photo
Dez Bryant – Nudges out Julio Jones by a whisker
Demaryius Thomas – Ranks high in most stat categories
- Dez Bryant Comparisons to Calvin Johnson Not Unwarranted (bleacherreport.com)
- Nate Burleson scoffs when Dez Bryant compares himself to Megatron (profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Rankings and grades: Jason Hatcher is NFL’s top-ranked DT; Sean Lee No. 2 among inside linebackers (cowboysblog.dallasnews.com)
Here are my Week 8 NFL power rankings (top five). Let me know if you agree or disagree!
1. Kansas City Chiefs – The defense has been outstanding so far. For all of my KC Chiefs fans friends (and you know who you are) congratulations!
2. Seattle Seahawks – Percy Harvin is looking to make his return to an already loaded Seahawk team. Look out NFC1
3. Denver Broncos – Yes, Indy just beat you on Sunday night night, but Peyton Manning still wins more of those match ups than he loses.
4. Indianapolis Colts – You looked great in the win over Denver but losing Reggie Wayne was a critical loss.
5. New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees has the Saints cruising in the NFC South. Let’s see if it continues.
Every season is filled with surprises. Games that are surprisingly won or surprisingly lost. Teams that catapult to the top of the standings when no one dreamed it possible. Solid teams that plummet to the bottom of the standings in spite of their talent and previous accomplishments. The NFL can be as unpredictable as the weather and that is one of many reasons why we love it so much. Here are five of the biggest surprises of the season in my opinion. They are in no particular order.
1. The New York Jets have won three of their first six games. Who would have guessed, other than Coach Ryan, that the NFL’s most dysfunctional team would win three games in the entire season?
2. The Pittsburgh Steelers are 1-4 and in last place in the AFC North. That means that even the Cleveland Browns are ahead of the Steelers. It has been decades since the Steelers had a season like the one unfolding this year. Even their own quarterback declared them the worst team in the NFL. Ben has obviously not seen the Jaguars play.
3. The Kansas City Chiefs are undefeated at 6-0! We all knew that Andy Reid was a good coach, but undefeated as we approach the halfway mark? C’mon man, that is an awesome turnaround for any team. I will be cheering for the Chiefs to continue. Their good fans deserve it.
4. The New York Giants are 0-6 and look awful. We love the Manning family and any member of the Manning family gets a pass for just about anything, but one has to wonder just how long Eli can milk his family’s street cred. Even more vulnerable is head coach Tom Coughlin’s job in the wake of six straight losses. Really? The Giants 0-6? See #1 above for additional insight.
5. The #5 biggest surprise is a tie between the 1-4 Falcons and the 1-4 Redskins. Both teams have suffered catastrophic injuries which certainly will put the brakes on any season. The Falcons have lost their entire receiving corps and the Skins are trying to rehab their quarterback. But injuries aside, no one in Atlanta or DC thought that they would be at 1-4.
Stay tuned as more surprises are sure to come!
- NFL Week 6: Live Scores, Highlights and Reaction (bleacherreport.com)
There’s an old saying that claims that death and taxes are the only two things in life that are truly inevitable. I disagree. I have faithfully cheered for the Cincinnati Bengals for my entire life, or at least since being old enough to watch, play, and understand the sport. While I do not consider myself a football “expert” by any stretch of the word, I do feel as though I am qualified to speak intelligently on the historical accomplishments and blunders of the Bengals. I was there during the 1990’s, so I’m using the word “blunders” graciously!
So here is my list of ten things that you can count on to happen in every Cincinnati Bengals football game.
10. A disproportionate amount of off-tackle running plays.
The Bengals are not known for their offensive creativity. In a passing league, Marvin Lewis remains an “old school” smash mouth coach. Expect to see Ben Jarvus Green Ellis go off-tackle for two yards over and over again. Here’s hoping that the addition of Gio Bernard will change things in time.
9. In nearly every game the Bengals are good for at least one turnover in critical situations. For example, Andy Dalton threw an interception today against the Bills just outside the red zone. In their season opener loss to the Bears, Mohammad Sanu fumbled inside the red zone resulting in the potential loss of much needed points.
8. The Bengals defense will have their opponent on a 3rd and 17 only to allow an 18 yard pass for a first down to sustain a scoring drive. Seen it more times than I can count.
7. The Bengals opponent will get the ball near the end of the first half with a full field between they and the endzone. Lax defense will allow the team to march 60-80 yards in less than 90 seconds to give up a throw away field goal or touchdown which almost always comes back to haunt them later.
6. Not everything is negative in Bengal Land. In every game you can count on the Bengals looking absolutely brilliant on a series or two. This sounds like a positive but, in fact, it is a negative because we see what they have the potential to be if they could only overcome their inconsistency.
5. The inability to smell blood in the water and put a team away. It’s common for the Bengals to play well for 2-3 quarters and have their opponent on the ropes only to allow an amazing comeback that results in a dramatic Cincinnati loss. (Please see both of the Bengals last minute Super Bowl losses as proof)
4. That leads to me to my next point which is that the Bengals opponent will always make a run regardless of the score. Even in games that they do win we often see them give away a big lead only to win a nail biter (see today’s victory in Buffalo as evidence.)
3. The Bengals have the unique ability to make a rookie or untested veteran look like a Hall of Fame player. Again, just visit today’s game in Buffalo. Injuries forced the Bills to call a quarterback off the practice team earlier this week. One would think that such inexperience would result in a blow-out win for the Bengals, but one would be wrong!
2. The Bengals frequently play up or down to the level of their opponents. Last week the Bengals played the Patriots well and notched a big win. They played like a serious play-off caliber team. Today against the Bills, and earlier in the season against the Browns, they played down to the level of two clearly inferior opponents. In the process they lost to the Browns and nearly lost to the Bills. Great teams always the games that they are supposed to win.
1. And the number 1 thing that you can always count on during a Bengals game is asking yourself, “Why do I root for this team?” It can be hard to be a Bengal fan and you can expect a great deal of second guessing of your allegiance to a team that more often than not leaves you scratching your head and asking, “Why?”
- Bengals escape in overtime against Bills (profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Bengals vs. Bills: Bengals improve to 4-2 after 27-24 overtime win against the Bills (cincyjungle.com)
Due to the current government shutdown any visits to The Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota are forbidden. On the bright side, the sports version of Mount Rushmore never closes. Let’s load up the kids and head for football’s Black Hills.
Four larger than life granite faces of former U.S. Presidents are carved into the granite of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota. The sculpture is a memorial to the leadership of these Commanders-in-Chief and the contribution they made to our great nation.
History tells us that the decision to depict Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln was not without controversy. Apparently, the decision of which four Presidents to be depicted was a matter of intense debate. In like manner, there is typically great debate surrounding the selection of athletes to the sporting Mt. Rushmore’s.
With that said, let’s consider a Mt. Rushmore of NFL Quarterbacks. Let the debate begin!
My personal choice for the Mount Rushmore of NFL quarterbacks (all-time) are as follows: Joe Montana – Bret Favre – Peyton Manning – Tom Brady. Apologies to Johnny Unitas, John Elway, and Dan Marino among others.
Jadeveon Clowney, arguably the best player in college football, chose to back out of Saturday’s game against Kentucky, claiming that he had a rib injury. In the wake of that decision many outsiders have questioned the legitimacy of the injury. Barring a catastrophic injury, Clowney is expected to be the first pick in next year’s NFL draft. Simply put, Jadeveon Clowney has millions of reasons for remaining healthy. The young man stands to make a lot of money if he is picked number one in the Spring.
Only Jadeveo Clowney knows if he is truly hurt or not. Many have found it suspicious that Clowney himself and not a trainer or doctor informed Coach Spurrier that he could not play. Not to mention that the disclosure came so close to kick-off.
In a post game interview Coach Spurrier gave the impression that he was not in support of Clowney’s decision, but he has since changed his tune. In fact, earlier today he praised Clowney to the point of crediting him with the invention of sliced bread. It sounded like the typical waffling that comes after controversial remarks are made.
I don’t know if he is hurt or not, but as a fan of his ferocious defense play I now have some concerns. If he is concerned that an injury will hurt his draft stock then simply say so and leave the team. I get that and who wouldn’t be concerned? Millions of dollars are on the line and I can respect such a concern. But have the wherewithal to say so if that is what you are worried about. What happens when an undesirable NFL team selects him in the draft? Will the mysterious injury reappear preventing him from suiting up for the Jags? Any time a football player uses the leverage of taking himself out of the game I become suspicious.
Jadeveon Clowney will long be remembered for one of the greatest, if not the greatest play, in college football history. But now I’m afraid he may also be remembered as the player who quit on his current team for a bigger payday in the future. He is a tremendous player and I hope to see him in opposing backfields next Saturday.
1. Denver Broncos 4-0
There is really no debate on this selection. Peyton Manning is playing at an insane level of greatness. I doubt that the Broncos will go 16-0 because it is just too hard, but if any team can in 2013 it’s this team.
2. Seattle Seahawks 4-0
The Seahawks engineered a great comeback win against a potential Super Bowl opponent in the Houston Texans. Look for Russell Wilson to lead his team to the NFC Championship and possibly beyond.
3. New Orleans Saints 4-0
The return of Sean Payton has paid immediate dividends for the Saints. They look solid at home and should give the Falcons all they can handle in the NFC south.
4. New England Patriots 4-0
Gronk is getting healthy and the Patriots are still the Patriots. Expect a solid season where they can win any game and go deep in the playoffs.
5. Kansas City Chiefs 4-0
OK. No one saw this coming. Andy Reid has turned things around at Arrowhead quicker than anyone could have imagined. Will it last? Only time will tell, but for now, the Chiefs are in the top five.
- Week 4: NFL Rankings of Power 1-5 (brentmwold.wordpress.com)
- Week 5 NFL Power Rankings: Broncos and Saints separating themselves from the pack; Seahawks slip (milehighreport.com)
I like Marvin Lewis. A lot. I like the professional way in which he has represented the Bengals over the years. I like the way he has reached out to players in personal distress and seen many of them turn their lives around. I like the many contributions he has made to his community. Coach Marvin Lewis has exemplified likability and loyalty which are two character qualities that go a long way with owner Mike Brown and the Cincinnati fan base.
However, there comes a time when NFL coaches need to win football games. That time has come for Marvin Lewis and the Bengals. We all know what a tremendous man Coach Lewis is. He has proven himself in those areas, but its time to win.
Yesterday’s loss is clearly on Coach Lewis and his staff. The Bengals are are a clearly superior team to the Cleveland Browns. Many have predicted the Bengals to play in the Super Bowl, or at least go deep into the play-offs. They have added tremendous talent on both sides of the ball. They have drafted well and made key free agents acquisitions. They have a quality team that is loaded with talent and ability.
So why does such a talented and superior team line-up against a struggling opponent and play as poorly as the Bengals played yesterday? Coaching. Preparing a team to play well and demanding that from your players is squarely on the head coach. And it appears that Marvin Lewis, as likable as he may be, simply cannot get his team fired up enough to beat an inferior opponent with a quarterback making only is second start in the NFL.
The Bengals were not just defeated yesterday. They were manhandled. The high powered offense that supposedly makes defensive coordinators lose sleep was totally silenced by the Browns defense. The Bengals ferocious defensive front allowed a rookie quarterback to play like a Hall of Famer. No passion. No emotion. No determination to win, and that is on the head coach. Perhaps losing has become acceptable to an organization so familiar with it.
If it were not for a double fumble and a crazy, fortuitous bounce at the end of the Bengals-Packers game the team with such a high ceiling would be 1-3 right now. With the Patriots next on the schedule don’t expect winning to get any easier in the near future.
I like that I like you Coach Lewis, but the time has come to win.
The drama that unfolded last night in Yankee Stadium as Mariano Rivera pitched for the final time in “The House That Ruth Built” has been on my mind all morning. I have been mulling over the greatest moments in sports that I have been privileged to watch in my lifetime. In an effort to remember some of those great moments I did an internet search and found the below Youtube video. It is six minutes of sheer joy for those who love sports. No need for me keep writing when a picture is worth a thousand words. Enjoy.