November 18, 2011
Could the Indianapolis Colts go 0-16?
Going into their bye week this Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts are a brutal 0-10. Before the Detroit Lions in 2008, losing every game on your schedule in a 16 game season was thought to be impossible. Could it possibly happen again just three years later? I thought I would take a look at the Colts remaining 6 games and see just how real the possibility may be.
This could be their best chance at finally getting a win. The Colts have been at home for their previous two games and will be yet again when Carolina comes to Lucas Oil Field. Add to that the extra time they have to rest from their bye, and Indianapolis should be well prepared for this game.
Unfortunately for them the 2-7 Panthers are no pushover. Cam Newton is getting better and better as he continues to get more comfortable in the NFL. If the Colts can’t find a way to shore up their run defense (31st in the league), they could lose yet another decision.
The Colts are going to have a hard time leaving Foxborough with a win. Even if New England has the 32nd worst pass defense, I don’t see the Colts winning a shootout with New England. The Colt’s defense will simply be outmatched with the firepower Tom Brady and the Patriots have on offense. Besides, New England might take pleasure in beating a recent rival who is down.
Double what I just said above. Ravens fans have a deep-seeded hatred for the Indianapolis Colts, who were once the Baltimore Colts. Expect M&T Back Stadium in Baltimore to be rabid as they hope to help their old team to a winless record. The Ravens are better in all phases and should have an easy time getting a win at home.
This game starts the stretch of divisional games that will run through the end of the season for the Colts. If the Colts don’t have a win by this point in the season, their spirits won’t be very high. Having already lost at Tennessee this year, chances are slim home field advantage will be able to make up the difference in this match up. The Titans at this point in the season still have a shot at the playoffs. If that is still the case in Week 15, you can bet they will be poised not to let this game get away.
The Colts may have caught a break in this game (no pun intended) as Matt Schaub may be done for the season with a foot injury. However, Texans fans would probably still like their chances with Arian Foster against the Colts run defense. If the Colts can avoid Schaub and stop the run, this could be a game they could sneak away with.
Could you imagine the pressure if the Colts are 0-15 going into this game? The Colts fans would be in attendance for what could be a historically bad ending to their season, something Lions fans were spared in 2008. The good news would be, Jacksonville is not a world beater, and if the Colts haven’t packed it in already, they could save themselves in the 11th hour.
So many twists and turns could happen between each week of this outline. Regardless, the tension (and fear from Colts fans) is palpable as Indianapolis travels towards a mark that no one wants to be associated with. If they do achieve this unfortunate record, at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel. They will be getting Peyton Manning back next year, and they will have his successor, Andrew Luck, ready to learn.
October 27, 2011
It’s seven weeks into the NFL season, and the division races are starting to take shape. NFL teams like Buffalo and Detroit have thrown their hats in the ring, and others like St. Louis and Indianapolis have played their way out of it. Here’s where we stand:
It was supposed to be a battle between the Jets and Patriots, but the Bills have made it a three team race. New England’s only loss came at the hands of the Bills and their New Year’s Day rematch ought to have playoff implications. Buffalo has a few games against NFL teams at the bottom of the standings and two meetings with the Jets, so the schedule sets up well for them to stay in the race. The next month will be critical for the Jets. They play the Bills twice and New England once. One of these teams is going to be watching at home in January.
Cleveland and Cincinnati are hanging around. This is the only division with no NFL teams below .500. Wins against New England and Baltimore in the next two weeks would put the Steelers in the driver’s seat in the AFC. Things are going to get much more difficult for the Bengals with two games left against both Pittsburgh and Baltimore. We’re about to find out what this team is made of. Nov. 6 at Pittsburgh is the game of the year for the Ravens. If they can beat the Steelers for a second time, the division should be in their controls. The Browns are in the conversation at 3-3 but they haven’t beaten anyone worth bragging about. Can they steal a couple against the big boys?
All it took was one injury for the Colts to go from AFC South dominance to one of the worst teams in the league. Someone is going to take advantage and after Sunday’s beat down of the Titans, it looks like it will be Houston. The schedule sets up nicely for them with most of their tough games already behind them. If Tennessee can get back on track, the New Year’s Day rematch could be huge.
As usual, the Chargers are the heavy favorite in the West. And as usual, they let the rest of the West hang around. They host the Chiefs on Halloween in a must-win for Kansas City. The Chiefs really have to win the next three to stay in the race because they have a brutal five-game-stretch coming up. If the Raiders can get their act together during the bye week and get Carson Palmer ready to go, the West title may be on the line when they meet in the last game of the season.
There will be lots of entertaining games between now and week 17, but it almost seems like we can just skip ahead to the last day of the season when Dallas is at the Giants and Philadelphia hosts Washington. That’s when this division will be sorted out.
The Packers have already got people talking about a 16-0 regular season. It’s probably not going to happen, but as long as Rodgers is healthy, they should win the North division. Detroit still has two shots at the defending champs though so they could make things interesting. Chicago is too far back to catch Green Bay but the Bears will be in the thick of the wild card race.
The Falcons, Saints, and Bucs won a total of 34 games last year. They are on a similar pace right now, and, just like last year, one of them is going to get left out of the playoff picture. New Orleans has a one game lead and the last two at home, so they should have an edge. It could come down to which team gets knocked off by Carolina in the last month of the season.
San Francisco has five wins. The rest of the division has three. It is the 49ers‘ division to give away. And if they keep playing well with a soft schedule coming up, they could even earn an opening round bye.
September 20, 2011
We are just two weeks into the NFL season and the landscape of the league has already changed. Some NFL teams have dug themselves a big hole to try and climb out of. Others have played better than expected. Here are some teams that have me reconsidering my NFL season predictions.
It’s no surprise that the Patriots and Jets are 2-0 but did anyone expect to see the Bills destroy the Chiefs and win a shootout with Oakland? I don’t think so. It’s not that the Bills won two games; it’s the way they’ve done it. Ryan Fitzpatrick has led the now high-flying Bills to a league leading 79 points. Buffalo didn’t score its 79th point last year until the fifth game of the season and started out 0-8. How much has Buffalo really improved? We are about to find out. Tom Brady and the Patriots come to town this week.
When Peyton Manning was ruled out for most of the NFL season with a neck injury, it was pretty clear the Colts would relinquish their strangle-hold they have had on the AFC South. The Colts have proved in the last two weeks just how great Manning is. The offense is near the bottom of the league and hasn’t scored a touchdown in either game until the outcome was already decided. If they continue playing like this, there will be no reason for Manning to take the field when he gets healthy.
Kansas City Chiefs
Just when it looked like the Chiefs were going to be the team to challenge San Diego in the AFC West in the next few years, they are off to a horrendous start this NFL season. They are just a game back in the AFC West but after being outscored 89-10 in two games, confidence of a turnaround cannot be high. It’s been so bad that I’m not even rubbing it in to my friend who is a Chiefs fan. Matt Cassel has not been good but the worst part is the loss of Jamaal Charles for the season. Not to mention losing Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki as well. It could be a long season at Arrowhead.
The Redskins weren’t even supposed to contend for a spot in the NFL playoffs, let alone win the NFC East, but here they are at 2-0 and in first place. The Giants and Cardinals may not be NFL heavyweights right now but a win is a win and teams that stay in the race need to win at home. Things get a bit tougher for Mike Shanahan’s team this week though with a trip to Dallas. A road win over a division rival would be huge.
When I say “Carolina Panthers”, what I mean is “Cam Newton”. When I picked Newton up for my fantasy team I never imagined he would throw for 854 yards in two games. He looks like he is going to be the real deal and even though the Panthers are 0-2, they have looked much better than the team who earned the first pick in the NFL draft last season.
August 23, 2011
New England, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. That’s really all you need to know about the AFC. One of those teams has been to 11 of the last 16 Super Bowls and 9 of the last 10. So will one of them be playing in Indianapolis on Feb. 5 or will the run of dominance come to an end or will a team like Baltimore or the Jets break through?
This appears to be a two horse race. The Patriots are the two-time defending division champions, but the Jets have been to the last two AFC title games. Both teams have added big name players who come with baggage. For New England, it is Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth. The Jets have added Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason. The team that gets the most out of these new players will likely finish the season on top in the division. Buffalo and Miami have made some interesting moves as well but are still not in the league of the Jets or Patriots.
Division winner: New England
The Steelers and Ravens both won more games last year than the Bengals and Browns combined. That could happen again. Colt McCoy and the Browns seem to be headed in the right direction. Carson Palmer and the Bengals do not. The lockout gives an advantage to teams that have stability at quarterback and coaching positions. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are two of the most stable franchises in the NFL. The Steelers are the defending AFC champs. The Ravens have several veterans looking for one more shot at a ring. They meet in week 1.
Division winner: Baltimore
2011 is an important year in the South. Just once in the last eight seasons has someone other than Indianapolis finished the season at the top of the South. If the Colts are going to stay at the top, it is going to be on the strength of Peyton Manning’s neck. If he is able to go another season without missing a game, the Colts have a great shot to keep their thrown. It’s now or never for Gary Kubiak and the Texans. Every year we think this is the year they take that giant leap forward. Every year they disappoint. But now Wade Phillips is on board to fix the defense. If he can, the Texans will be playing in January. The Titans and Jaguars both appear to be transitioning to their newly drafted quarterbacks of the future.
Division winner: Houston
Kansas City was the surprise division winner in 2010. That might be enough to get San Diego to play the first month of the season as if the games actually count. The Chargers continually start terribly and finish strong. The Chiefs finally made them pay. Philip Rivers and company will have a battle on their hands for the West crown. Kansas City has plenty of young talent and should be tough for years to come. The Raiders improved to .500 but won’t be much better. The Broncos are still trying to dig out of the hole Josh McDaniels left them in.
Division winner: Kansas City
Wild Card winners: New York Jets, Indianapolis
AFC champion: Baltimore
April 27, 2011
The NFL Draft is just a couple days away. It seems like everyone is doing mock drafts these days so I decided to join the party. I’ve made sure to include some trades to ensure that I don’t go 32 for 32. I’d feel bad if all these picks are correct. I’m not doing this to take Mel Kiper’s job.
Marcell Dareus – DT – Alabama
The Panthers have a ton of holes to fill. They cannot afford to miss on this pick so they go with a safe pick in Dareus to be an anchor for the defense. This gives Jimmy Clausen one more year to develop and if he doesn’t, Carolina could get “Lucky” in 2012.
Cam Newton – QB – Auburn
Things are uglier than usual in Cincinnati. Carson Palmer says he will not play in a Bengal uniform again. The Bengals say they aren’t trading him. Someone has to play quarterback and Newton’s controversial history seems to fit the Cincinnati mold. When the Panthers pass on Newton, the Bengals trade up two spots to grab him.
Blaine Gabbert – QB – Missouri
Von Miller – OLB – Texas A&M
Miller could be the best player in the draft. The return of Elvis Dumerville and the addition of Miller will go a long way toward fixing the Denver defense. They move back two spots to pick up an extra pick from the Bengals.
A.J. Green – WR Georgia
Arizona nearly won the Super Bowl with a high-flying passing attack. If the Cardinals can pull off a trade for Kevin Kolb and pair A.J. Green with Larry Fitzgerald they can be dangerous in the weak NFC West.
Robert Quinn – DE – North Carolina
Cleveland needs to rebuild its defense. Dick Jauron is taking over the defense and could use a pass-rushing end.
Peterson has been compared to Champ Bailey and Deion Sanders. The 49ers are thrilled he is still on the board.
Nick Fairley – DT – Auburn
Tennessee needs a quarterback but Newton and Gabbert are off the board so the Titans go after their next Albert Haynesworth.
Tyron Smith – OT – USC
The Cowboys have to protect Tony Romo. Smith will help them do that.
Whoever ends up playing quarterback for the Redskins in 2011 is going to need someone to throw to. Jones would give him a big, physical target.
11. Houston Texans
Prince Amukamara – CB – Nebraska
The Texans have the offense to keep up with Peyton Manning but they don’t have the defense to slow him down. Adding a Prince to the secondary should give Houston a better shot at taking down the king of the AFC South.
Jake Locker – QB – Washington
Minnesota can finally move on from the Brett Frave era. The Vikings hope Locker will be their quarterback of the future.
13. Detroit Lions
Anthony Castonzo – OT – Boston College
Detroit’s future is riding on Matthew Stafford. The top priority is to keep Stafford on the field.
Mike Pouncey – OL – Florida
New England usually trades down for more picks. This time the Patriots move up to add some youth to the aging offensive line.
J.J. Watt – DE – Wisconsin
The Buccaneers move up to get the pass-rushing defensive end before San Diego can.
Ryan Kerrigan – DE – Purdue
Aaron Kampman has been injury-prone. Kerrigan could be his replacement.
17. St. Louis Rams
Kyle Rudolf – TE – Notre Dame
St. Louis has the foundation in place. It’s time to give Sam Bradford some weapons.
Cameron Jordan – DE – Cal
The Chargers add one of the top pass rushers in the draft.
19. New York Giants
Gabe Carimi – OT – Wisconsin
Carimi is a solid tackle that fills the Giants biggest need.
20. Miami Dolphins
Andy Dalton – QB – TCU
Miami has not gotten good enough play at the most important position on the field so they take a shot on Dalton.
Corey Liuget – DT – Illinois
Liuget will be a big, physical presence in the middle of the Kansas City defense.
Nate Solder – OT – Colorado
The Colts take the best offensive lineman left on the board.
Jimmy Smith – CB- Colorado
The Eagles need a solid corner to play opposite Asante Samuel.
Da’Quan Bowers – DE – Clemson
The Saints get one of the better players in the draft, but he comes with injury concerns.
25. Seattle Seahawks
Danny Watkins – OL – Baylor
Seattle will try to upgrade its interior offensive line.
26. Baltimore Ravens
Torrey Smith – WR – Maryland
The Ravens could use another speedy receiver.
27. Atlanta Falcons
Aldon Smith – DE – Missouri
Atlanta scores a pass-rusher to pair with John Abraham.
Akeem Ayers – OLB – UCLA
The Patriots would like another outside pass-rusher.
29. Chicago Bears
Derek Sherrod – OT – Mississippi
Jay Cutler was hit a lot in 2010. The Bears need to find someone to prevent some of those hits.
30. New York Jets
Cameron Heyward – DE – Ohio State
Rex Ryan loves his defense. He loves it even more when Heyward is still on the board.
Brandon Harris – CB – Miami
Mark Ingram – RB – Alabama
The Super Bowl champions have a lot of help returning from injury so they make a luxury pick.