September 27, 2013
The Bears picked up two last-second wins over the Bengals and Vikings before beating down Pittsburgh on Sunday night. Chicago has a tough match-up in Detroit this week and will get another last-minute win in a shootout to go 4-0. But they won’t get to 5-0 because the New Orleans Saints come to Chicago on Oct.6 and will hand the Bears their first loss.
This looks like the best team in the league right now. Peyton Manning has put up at least 37 points every week and that makes it easy for the defense to make enough stops. I’m not seeing a lot of losses on the schedule with just a couple games against the top teams in the league. They play Dallas, Indianapolis, New England, Kansas City and Houston all on the road. All those games could be tricky. But they will survive in Dallas and Manning will get it done against his former team. Speaking of getting it done against a former team…it will be Mike Shanahan and the Washington Redskins that hand Denver its first loss on Oct. 27.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are the most-improved team in the league and already have more wins that last season. And if they can pick up another one at Arrowhead against the reeling New York Giants, they’ve got a good chance to get to 6-0 with Tennessee and Oakland up next. But I don’t think that happens because the Giants can’t start 0-4 can they?
Nobody expected the Dolphins to be 3-0. And I don’t expect them to reach 4-0 because they will be on the losing end of a battle of unbeatens on Monday Night in New Orleans.
The Patriots are at it again. The names and faces surrounding Tom Brady keep changing but the wins keep coming. And they will get a couple more against Atlanta and Cincinnati before Brady gets out-gunned on his own field by Drew Brees on Oct. 13. (Is there a pattern here?)
New Orleans Saints
The Saints have two divisional wins over the Falcons and Buccaneers to go along with a blowout of Arizona. They’ve got three straight games coming up against undefeated teams in Miami, Chicago and New England. They’ll find a way to win all of them before heading into their bye week. They’ll get by a couple of weak AFC teams in the Jets and Bills to get to 8-0 before hitting a brutal stretch against the Cowboys, 49ers, Falcons and Seahawks. And their first loss will come in that stretch. At home. At the hands of the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.
At 3-0, the Seahawks have looked unstoppable and already have a two-game lead over everyone in the NFC West. Don’t expect them relinquish that lead anytime soon. But they won’t be undefeated for long because they’ve got an early game in Houston on Sunday and the Texans are going to be irate after getting beat up in Baltimore. Houston will get the win and hand Seattle its first loss.
October 23, 2012
College football’s BCS championship contender field is narrowing each week. We are down to just 11 unbeaten teams (really 10 because Ohio State is not eligible this season) as we approach week eight and as that list continues to shrink, the chances of the top 1-loss teams continue to grow. Now that we’ve got a second edition of official BCS rankings, the championship picture is getting clearer…or is it?
The battle for the SEC spot in the BCS title game has gotten much more interesting with the emergence of the Florida Gators. Their dominating win over South Carolina gave new life to No. 10 Georgia. Now the Bulldogs and Gators will go to the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” with a likely spot in the SEC Championship Game on the line. The winner should take on the winner of the Nov. 3 showdown between Alabama and LSU. (Sorry Mississippi St., but you’ve got to beat somebody that is ranked before entering the conversation.)
That leaves the non-SEC unbeatens Kansas State, Rutgers, Louisville, Notre Dame, Ohio, Oregon, Oregon State and a few 1-loss teams in a battle royal for the other spot on the BCS Championship field in January. Obviously some teams are in better shape to be serious contenders and some are too far down the BCS rankings to make a real run. Here’s a look at the teams best positioned to play for the title.
No. 3 Kansas State
Road wins over Oklahoma and West Virginia were impressive. Now the Wildcats have No. 15 Texas Tech to deal with and TCU, Baylor and Texas will not be easy. Even if they run the table, they probably would get passed over for an unbeaten Oregon or Notre Dame.
No. 4 Oregon
The Ducks have scored at least 42 points in every game. Expect them to get to 8-0 before facing three more ranked teams in November and then a possible Pac-12 title game. They win out and they will get a title shot.
No. 5 Notre Dame
It’s not very pretty but the Irish keep finding ways to win. If that happens in big games at Oklahoma on Saturday and at USC to end the season, the Irish will have an excellent chance to play for the BCS title no matter what anyone else does.
No. 7 Oregon State
Could we be headed for the biggest “Civil War” of all time? If the Ducks and Beavers are still perfect, the Nov. 24 game may be the biggest event in the state’s history. The Beavers will likely need Notre Dame to lose get a title shot.
No. 11 Mississippi State
Go on the road and beat No. 1 Alabama on Saturday and then we’ll talk.
No. 15 Rutgers, No. 16 Louisville
If they both keep winning until the season finale on Nov. 29, that would be a huge game. Winner would also need everyone to lose. At least once. Maybe more.
No. 24 Ohio
They are beating everybody, but they aren’t playing anybody. It will be interesting to see if they can run the table and sneak into a BCS game, but it won’t be THE BCS game.
There are still a few teams with one loss that could get back in the mix if the rest of the season is as wild and crazy as they usually are. Here’s what you should be rooting for if you are a fan of one of these teams.
No. 8 Oklahoma
The Sooners have been crushing people since losing to Kansas State. They take down Notre Dame on Saturday and they will be right back in the conversation and if they run the table and both Oregon schools lose, the Sooners will be there.
No. 9 USC
The Trojans will need to run the table, which would require beating Oregon and Notre Dame and hopefully for USC a rematch with Stanford or an unbeaten Oregon State in the PAC-12 title game. They’ll also need Kansas State and maybe Oklahoma to lose.
No. 12 Florida State
The Seminoles don’t have the schedule they need to jump over all the teams in front of them. A win over an undefeated Florida to end the regular season would be very impressive but they would need Kansas State, Oregon, Oregon State, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, and USC to lose and even that may not be enough.