This has been an interesting season so far in the NFL. I really love the way the National Football League is compared to other major sports. You don't really have a team like the Yankees, Lakers, or Celtics that dominate yearly. The way the league is set up you really have few dynasties and the makeup of contending teams changes every year. An example of this is the Indianapolis Colts, who were abysmal last year and are 6-3 now. I can't help but to pull for them. Andrew Luck has probably had more pressure on him to succeed than any players in the last couple of decades, well perhaps Aaron Rodgers from a couple of years ago. Other surprises include the Falcons and the Bears who are 15-1 combined. These two teams were good teams last year and undoubtedly playoff teams but 15-1....that's pretty amazing. There are a few story lines and players that I would like to discuss and give some opinions and/or predictions on what will happen the rest of the year.
Peyton Manning - If there was any doubt in any ones mind how good Peyton Manning is then this season should be clear cut evidence that he is one of the top 3 QBs of all time. The guy is a winner and can single handily raise the play of the players around him. Try and think of 3 other Bronco offensive players...its hard to do. The guy is alot like Magic Johnson was in the 80s to the LA Lakers. The guys drive to win is so strong that it is contagious. I truly believe that Peyton will bring the Broncos to the AFC Championship game. I don't believe they will make it to the Superbowl but it would not surprise me.
Atlanta Falcons - The Atlanta Falcons are the leagues only undefeated team and they have a bunch of talent but my main problem is that they can't ever bring it together playoff time. I sense that the Falcons may suffer the same fate as the Packers did last year. The Packers looked unstoppable in the regular season but then fell flat on their faces in the post season. I sometimes think its counterproductive to win most of your games early in the season because you begin to become arrogant about your play and then when you do lose its panic time. Obviously you don't want to lose any games but sometimes it helps your team to lose one every now and again. The patriots were undefeated all the way into the Superbowl with the Giants and we all know what happened there. They obviously have the talent and Matt Ryan is having an MVP season but I don't think they will win the Superbowl.
Baltimore Ravens - The window is closing for this team. I think sometimes a team can just get by on the spirit of one of their great players. Ray Lewis is the Peyton Manning of defense. Other players want to excel for Ray Lewis but with him sidelined with the torn triceps i think the Ravens will start to tank soon. I think that Joe Flacco is decent QB at best and is way too inconsistent at the position. They have one of the top all purpose running backs in the league with Ray Rice but I just don't see this team going far in the playoffs. I fully expect the Steelers to eventually outlast them for the division title.
Michael Vick - I think that Michael Vick is the most Overrated football player maybe of all time. I have never thought of him as a top tier Qb. The guy is an athlete but that doesn't translate into wins in the National Football League. He reminds me of a low rate Randall Cunningham. The guy is getting older and he is just too careless with the football. I don't blame him for all of the Eagles problems because that offensive line is atrocious. Andy Reid is the longest tenured coach in the NFL but its time to let him go. They have very talented skill players on offense that would be doing way better with a different offensive scheme and QB. I predict this is the last year for both Vick and Reid.
I'd like to now take some time to discuss my hometown Bengals who have yet again underachieved this year. I think the biggest mistake the Bengals made this year was not attempting to being in a more established running back that Benjarvis Green-Ellis. The lack of a running game and the non existence of a second go to receiver has doomed the Bengals. I cant remember more than maybe one run play this entire season that was over 20 yards. Green Ellis just falls forward for 4 yards and that's it. I'm sure it has something to do with the O-line but good running backs find a way. Cedric Benson was a way better option. I just find it frustrating because the Bengals have always struggled over the years but they usually had a decent running back...James Brooks, IckyWoods, Harold Green, Corey Dillon, Rudy Johnson....but this year it is painful to watch. The defense is good enough to win games but the offense is falling flat on their face as of late. The defense is not perfect, their secondary is way too old and i can almost guarantee what they will be drafting come draft day. I think the perhaps the Bengals biggest problem is game planning and that falls on the shoulders of Marvin Lewis. I think its time to say goodbye to Marvin. I liked Marvin when he was first hired but it just seems like he has the inability to motivate the team for games that either they should win or big divisional or playoff games. I thought it was funny that he called out recently Dalton and Rey Maluega (sp?) when in reality he needs to be called out. There is no excuse for the Bengals to lose to both the Rookie led Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns in consecutive weeks. I know that some of it has to fall on the players executing but I think that Marvin has to be able to call a better game. I also think that Marvin needs to use better judgement on using that damn red flag for replays. The Bengals are not making the playoffs this year and for a team that is as young as it is, they need to not fall back on the losing mystique of the Cincinnati Bengals. Mike Brown needs to get rid of Marvin and bring in someone like Tony Dungy to come in here and fix some the glaring problems of this team. Draft Secondary, Running Back, Offensive Line...Pick up a decent wide receiver in free agency. Perhaps the Bengals will be able to turn their season around but I'm not counting on it. If they do I will admit I'm wrong about them but with the final four games being Dallas, Philly, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore I just don't see a playoff scenario. The game against the Giants today is a make or break game for the Bengals so I hope I'm wrong. Who Dey!