Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The NFL's Quarter Pole

Now that the National Football League has reached the quarter pole in the regular season, it's time to see who are the best teams, biggest positive surprise team, and the team that is the biggest disappointment. Notice I didn't include the worst team --- the Oakland Raiders (St. Louis Rams close behind) --- just not worth the waste of effort.

Without further adieu, here are my opinions in no particular order:

Best Teams:

*Denver Broncos --- The Broncos were supposed to be “Team Turmoil” when Head Coach Josh McDaniels revealed he was looking at quarterback Matt Cassel to run the offense, henceforth upsetting incumbent Jay Cutler so much that the Broncos traded him to Chicago for Kyle Orton. As we have seen, Orton has played very well, and Denver is off to a 5-0 start. But the big surprise is the defense allowing a mere 43 points. A major reason is that the Broncos get to the passer, lead by Elvis Dumervil who is tied for the league lead in sacks with eight. An even more surprising statistic is that the supposed maligned run defense has allowed only 81 rush yards per game. Of course, Champ Bailey is still considered the best lock down corner back in the NFL. The defense will be severely tested as Denver travels to San Diego to face the Chargers on Monday night October 19th.

*Minnesota Vikings --- The undefeated Vikings have the most explosive running back in the league with Adrian Peterson, a rejuvenated QB in Brett Favre, and a tremendous rookie receiver/kick returner in 1st round draftee Percy Harvin. Defensively, Minnesota has Jared Allen who pressures the passer as well as anyone in football, Pat and Kevin Williams at defensive tackles, in my opinion the best pair of run stuffers in the league, a swift linebacking corps led by E.J. Henderson, and a decent secondary with veteran Antoine Winfield leading the way. Minnesota has two crucial tests in the next 2 weeks as Baltimore invades the Metrodome Sunday the 18th, then travel to Heinz Field to play the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

*New Orleans Saints --- The Saints have the most explosive offense in football led by All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees, a solid running game, a surprising 2nd in the league 166.2 yards per game, with Mike Bell beginning the season and starter Pierre Thomas returning from injury, and a fantastic receiving corps with Marques Colston and deep threat Devery Henderson as the leaders. Also, the addition of tight end Jeremy Shockey has bolstered Brees's threats. It's no wonder why the Saints are averaging a league's best 36 points a game. The defense has been stout allowing 16.5 points per game and stingy in all around defense allowing under 300 yards a game, ranking sixth. The leaders of the defense are linebacker Jonathan Vilma and big play making safety, the seemingly ageless Darren Sharper. The Saints schedule gets a little tougher over the next 2 weeks as they face Miami in 2 weeks at Miami. But the Saints next game will be the litmus test to see how legitimate they are. New Orleans will be at home in the Superdome to face the...

*New York Giants --- The G-Men are hitting on all cylinders offensively, defensively, and on special teams. The offense is lead by unquestioned leader Eli Manning at quarterback and a terrific tandem of running backs in the large Brandon Jacobs and the elusive but powerful Ahmad Bradshaw. The receiving group, a huge question mark in training camp, has developed into one of the leagues best with possession receiver Steve Smith, the NFL leader with 481 receiving yards, deep threat Mario Manningham, and exciting rookie, top draft choice Hakeem Nicks. The Giants are 4th in rushing, 9th in passing, adding up to the NFL's #2 total offense. To go along with those numbers, the Giants are averaging 30,2 points a game ranking 4th in the league. In my opinion, these statistics reflect that the Giants have the best offensive line in football led by center Shaun O'Hara and Pro Bowl guard Chris Snee. The defense led by defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora is ranked #1 by allowing a mere 210.6 yards a game due in part to giving up and average of 104.8 yards of passing a game. The Giants defense also allows the 3rd fewest points per game at 14.2 a contest. While the numbers on both sides of the ball are gaudy, the G-men will be severely tested as they play New Orleans in their next game on Oct 18th at the Louisiana Superdome. Should the Giants prevail, I feel they will be considered the best team in football.

*Indianapolis Colts --- Right now I feel this is the best team in football. Peyton Manning is the top quarterback in the NFL once again, the receivers led by Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark are second to none and the defense has been brilliant thus far. Offensively, Indy has averaged 27.4 points per game and has passed for the most yardage at 326.0 a game. Peyton Manning already has 12 touchdown tosses, has thrown for at least 300 yards in every game, and is threatening to rewrite the record books. The running game has yet to get going but in time Joseph Addai and rookie Donald Brown will find openings. On the defensive side, defensive ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney have recorded 10 sacks --- the healthy and rejuvenated Freeney has six. The Colts schedule for the next 3 weeks feature a road game at woeful St. Louis, then 2 home games at the new Lucas Oil Stadium versus San Francisco and Houston. This could be an 8-0 team heading into the November 15th showdown at home against their arch-rivals New England Patriots. Let's not forget that new Head Coach Jim Caldwell is a direct disciple of his mentor Tony Dungy. Nothing has changed much as the Colts continue to roll.

Most Pleasantly Surprising Team:

*Cincinnati Bengals --- Aptly named “The Cardiac Cats” for their last second victories, the Bengals are no longer the NFL's laughing stock. At 4-1, the AFC North Division leaders don't wow people, but have shown grit and togetherness. The Bengals are a team in every sense of the word. Quarterback Carson Palmer is healthy and fairly productive, Chad Ochocinco is happy and playing well, and running back Cedric Benson has revived his career behind a much improved offensive line. The defense has played well enough to keep them in every game and have recorded 14 sacks, led by NFL co-leader Antwan Odom with eight. The Bengals have 2 home games before their bye week, both at home against Houston and Chicago. It will be interesting to see if Cincy can keep the momentum going.

Most Disappointing Team:

*Tennessee Titans --- Who would have thought that a Jeff Fisher led Titans team would lose all 5 games to begin the season? Tennessee has a good ground game with Chris Johnson and LenDale White, a decent if not spectacular quarterback in Kerry Collins and a very good defense. None of it has come together at all and Titans fans have been clamoring to see Vince Young take over the signal calling. The numbers across the board, except for rushing, are horrible and it appears the loss of All-Pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth has devastated the team defense. Tennessee's next game is at Gillette Stadium against the Patriots. Can anybody say 6 consecutive losses?

There you have it...if you have any other or different opinions, feel free to comment or email me.

Happy Reading!

Send email to dlafrance2@207me.com

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  1. Being a Giants fan, I like to think they're the best team in football, but Indy has been quite dominant as well. I also think the Chargers are quite disappointing. Every year they seem to have a lot of hype and never live up to it.

  2. Dylan, we'll find out Sunday in New orleans for sure. The Giants have yet to play a good team, which includes the Cowboys.