December 5, 2011
With news that Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Donovan McNabb was released by the team, several teams could be looking to add the potential future Hall of Famer to their rosters. No NFL team claimed the veteran through waivers, but that could have actually been the best thing to happen to him. McNabb will now be able to select his own destination (assuming there are interested teams, of course) and pick what he feels is the best opportunity.
Retirement, of course, is an option. Every NFL team could decide that they’ve seen enough of the 35-year old quarterback, and if he’s unable to find a suitable offer, his career could be over. But the chance clearly exists that he could end up with another franchise before that happens, and McNabb believes he still has plenty of good football left.
So where could Donovan go?
November 15, 2011
The path we are going down this NFL season became much clearer this week. Some teams showed they are pretenders, some lost key players to injury and others took a big step toward the playoffs. Here’s what I learned:
Giants vs. Cowboys
The NFC East is a two team race. The Giants hold a one game lead over the Cowboys but face a much tougher schedule the rest of the way. They meet twice in the last month of the season and those games should determine the division winner. The “Dream Team” in Philadelphia has a stranglehold on the most disappointing team in the NFL crown after losing at home to a two-win team playing with its backup quarterback.
Lions must beat Packers or Saints
After losing three of four, the Lions are in danger of blowing their 5-0 start. They are at 6-3 with two games coming up against Green Bay and one against New Orleans. If they lose those three games, they will likely be on the outside looking in at the playoffs because Chicago is also 6-3 and has a much easier schedule the rest of the way.
49ers headed for a bye
It’s no surprise the Packers are headed for a first round bye but who would have expected the 49ers to do the same? San Francisco is already 8-1 with five games left against the NFC West. They should finish with at least 12 wins and probably the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
Colts getting Lucky
After another loss drops the Colts to 0-10 and the Dolphins and Rams both pick up their second win, Indianapolis has a commanding lead in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Now the questions about what they will do are really going to start. Will Manning be back next year? Do they take Luck and let him sit behind Manning? Or could they trade Manning and really begin the rebuilding process?
Bills, Bengals on the brink
Buffalo and Cincinnati have been surprisingly good teams in the AFC. However, they could be coming back to earth. Cincinnati has three games left against Baltimore and Pittsburgh. They really need to win two of those games to stay in the AFC North race. Buffalo has lost four of six and cannot afford any more no shows like they had against Dallas.
AFC West truly pathetic
Get ready to see an 8-8 team hosting a first round playoff game. At least the NFC West has one team playing well. San Diego has lost four in a row. The Chiefs,who have lost two straight against two of the worst teams in the league, now get to face five straight teams with a winning record. The Broncos are scared to throw the ball and continue to let the fans run the show in Denver. And you never know which Raiders team is going to show up. They beat some good teams and then turn around and lose to some of the bottom feeders.
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.
October 11, 2011
120 FBS teams were undefeated when the season began. We are now halfway through the season, and 13 teams still have a zero in the loss column. If they finish the season with the zero intact, they could be playing in the BCS National Championship Game in January. We will start with the lowest ranked team and work up to the top of the polls, as we look at what might be the biggest obstacle in each team’s path to the championship game.
No. 25 Houston
Biggest roadblock: History
The Cougars lead the nation in total offense. They have scored at least 35 points in every game. But they have no ranked opponents on the schedule. History has proven that an undefeated season isn’t enough for a team from a non BCS conference.
No. 17 Kansas State
Biggest roadblock: The state of Oklahoma
The Wildcats have only played one road game so far and just one team with a winning record. It’s going to get tougher. Much tougher. They host No. 3 Oklahoma and go on the road to play No. 6 Oklahoma St. in back-to-back weeks on Oct. 29 and Nov. 5.
No. 16 Illinois
Biggest roadblock: Wisconsin
We are about to find out if this team is for real. The Illini also have just one road win and it was against Big Ten doormat, Indiana. If they manage to make it to November without a loss, they host No. 11 Michigan and then No. 4 Wisconsin.
No. 12 Georgia Tech
Biggest roadblock: Clemson
The Yellow Jackets offense came back to earth last week and only put up 21 points after averaging more than 50 per game in the first five games. They are on the road for two weeks before an Oct. 29 showdown with Clemson in Atlanta.
No. 11 Michigan
Biggest roadblock: Health
QB Denard Robinson might be the most important player to his team in the nation. If he can stay on the field through the Big Ten schedule, the Wolverines could win every game. If he gets hurt again, they can kiss an undefeated season goodbye with a few tough games coming up – starting this week at No. 23 Michigan State.
No. 8 Clemson
Biggest roadblock: South Carolina
The Tigers have already passed the toughest part of the schedule with three straight wins against ranked opponents Auburn, Florida St., and Virginia Tech. They end the regular season with a trip to South Carolina that will likely be a big game for both teams.
No. 7 Stanford
Biggest roadblock: Oregon
The Cardinal has won every game by 27 points or more. They have the quarterback that NFL teams covet in Andrew Luck and they should be favored in the rest of their games. On Nov. 12 they host what could be a one-loss Oregon team in a game that may change the shape of the BCS picture.
No. 6 Oklahoma St.
Biggest roadblock: Oklahoma
They have already scored 59 or more three times and comeback from a 17-point halftime deficit against Texas A&M. The Cowboys have four ranked opponents left on the schedule with a game against Oklahoma to finish the season on Dec. 3 that could determine the Big 12 champion.
No. 5 Boise St.
Biggest roadblock: Help
The Broncos have finished the season without a loss three times in the last five years but have never reached the national championship game. If they are going to get in the game this year, they will need a lot of help. Aside winning the rest of their games, the Broncos need some teams to knock off the other undefeated teams in front of them. It would also help if the Georgia Bulldogs could run the table and make Boise’s opening week victory more impressive.
No. 4 Wisconsin
Biggest roadblock: Big Ten title game
The Badgers just beat Nebraska by 31 and they were the highest-ranked team on the schedule. They go on the road to play No. 23 Michigan St. and No. 16 Illinois. If they keep winning, they could face Michigan in the Big Ten title game.
No. 3 Oklahoma
Biggest roadblock: Oklahoma St.
They must be feeling pretty good after spanking rival Texas 55-17 last week. The Sooners play four ranked teams in the final five weeks including a Dec. 3 match up with Oklahoma St. that could determine the Big 12 champion.
No.2 Alabama, No. 1 LSU
Biggest roadblock: Each other
As tough as the SEC is, neither team should lose before they meet when Alabama hosts LSU in what would be billed as the game of the year (barring a major upset before then) on Nov. 5. The winner will likely win the SEC and earn a spot in the national title game.
October 6, 2011
NFL Rankings: As we approach Week 5 of the NFL season, here is how each of the NFL teams stacks up.
1.Green Bay Packers (4-0) — As the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair would say, “To be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man.” Until someone beats the Pack, they will be at the top of the rankings.
2. Baltimore Ravens (3-1) — After opening the season by dominating the defending AFC champion Steelers and blowing out the AFC runner-up Jets on Sunday, the Ravens are the class of the AFC.
3. New Orleans Saints (3-1) — Drew Brees and company gave the Packers all they wanted and followed that with three solid wins.
5. New England Patriots (3-1) — Tom Brady’s offense hasn’t been held under 30 points yet.
6. Detroit Lions (4-0) — They won’t be undefeated much longer if they keep falling behind by 20 points.
7. Houston Texans (3-1) — Wade Phillips has got the defense playing much better.
8. New York Jets (2-2) — A two game losing streak makes this trip to New England huge for the Jets.
9. Atlanta Falcons (2-2) — Important stretch coming up for the Falcons with Green Bay and Detroit coming up in the next couple weeks.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) — The Bucs need a win at San Francisco to carry momentum into tough stretch with Saints, Bears, Saints, Texans and Packers coming up.
11. San Diego Chargers (3-1) — Chargers should get healthy with the Broncos on Sunday and their bye week.
13. Tennessee Titans (3-1) – Huge test for surprising Titans this week at Pittsburgh.
14. Washington Redskins (3-1) – The defense is giving up an NFC best 15.8 points per game. They have two weeks to get ready for a divisional showdown with the Eagles.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) – Are the defending AFC champs suffering from a post-Super Bowl loss hangover? Or is it just that they cannot protect the quarterback?
16. Dallas Cowboys (2-2) – No team is more entertaining than “America’s Team”. Do the Cowboys ever play a game decided by more than one score?
17. Chicago Bears (2-2) – The Bears have a good chance to build a lead Sunday in Detroit. The question is will they be able to hold it?
18. San Francisco 49ers (3-1) – Their three wins is one more than the rest of the NFC West combined. The division is theirs to lose.
19. Oakland Raiders (2-2) – It looks like the Raiders are the team that will push San Diego in the AFC West.
20. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) – It’s been a nightmare start for the “Dream Team”. They are probably glad to be hitting the road after the last two performances at home.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) – Got a shot to be 4-2 at the bye with two winnable games coming up. Not bad for a team who’s quarterback retired rather than play for them.
22. Cleveland Browns (2-2) – They have an extra week to recover from getting pounded by the Titans.
23. Carolina Panthers (1-3) – The good news is Cam Newton looks like he is their quarterback of the future. The bad news is New Orleans, Atlanta and Washington coming up.
24. Arizona Cardinals (1-3) – They should have beaten the Giants on Sunday. They head to Minnesota to face an angry Vikings team.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) – The offense is experiencing some major growing pains with rookie Blaine Gabbert now playing quarterback. They average less than 10 points per game.
26. Denver Broncos (1-3) – It’s not Kyle Orton’s fault the Packers put 49 points on the board Sunday. Try telling that to the fans in Denver though.
27. Indianapolis Colts (0-4) – It’s going to be a long season without Peyton Manning. This team won’t quit though.
28. St. Louis Rams (0-4) – Injuries and the schedule have made them look worse than they really are. Unfortunately, they have Green Bay, Dallas and New Orleans for their next three.
29. Seattle Seahawks (1-3) – Put up 21 points in the second half Sunday. Only score 37 in their other 3.5 games.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) – They have played much better in the last two weeks.
31. Minnesota Vikings (0-4) – They would be ranked much higher if the NFL cut games to 30 minutes.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-4) – With a bye and the Jets coming up they could be winless when the Broncos come to town.