Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The NFL After Five Weeks

The NFL season has concluded five weeks of play and all teams have played a minimum of four games. We've seen amazing plays, total blunders, and even three trades occurring in the last seven days. On top of that, we have no undefeated teams remaining this early in the season!

We've also seen concussions to big name players and major injuries have already hampered some teams. Some teams have pleasantly surprised, some have hugely disappointed, and yet some just leave fans scratching their heads.

This is why we love the National Football League. Each week gives us something to talk about and we never know what will happen from play to play, let alone week to week.

Here is what I've seen after five weeks of play from team perspectives of the 2010 season.

Teams doing as expected, both good and bad:

I figured that the New England Patriots, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Atlanta Falcons would play well to this point. Each team has lost just once and all have played decent competition while playing different styles of football.

The Patriots do it strictly with Tom Brady and an improved running game while not playing great defense. The offense may suffer a bit with the trade of Randy Moss to Minnesota but I don't believe it will be as much as most pundits are leading us to believe.

The Jets, Ravens, Steelers, and Falcons all have very good running games and defenses with Pittsburgh's defense being the NFL's best. The quarterbacks for New York (Mark Sanchez), Baltimore (Joe Flacco), and Atlanta (Matt Ryan) are all improving while Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger returns from suspension.

Personally. I think Pittsburgh is the best of this fantastic lot.

I had a pretty good idea that the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, and Carolina Panthers would not be very good. Buffalo, Cleveland and Carolina are total messes while Detroit may be building a decent future, but not for a couple of seasons yet. Enough of those teams.

The surprise teams, both pleasant and disappointing:

I'm pleasantly surprised by the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Chiefs and Bears play tremendous defense and can run the ball. The Bears also have great yet enigmatic talent at quarterback in Jay Cutler returning from being concussed by the New York Giants two games ago. How the Buccaneers are winning is something I have yet to comprehend. The offense nor defense makes me go “Wow!” but they have made key plays in key moments as witnessed by the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday.

I think Chicago has the best chance of sustaining their good play providing Cutler plays to his ability.

What team can be more disappointing than the Dallas Cowboys? The sexy pick to play the Super Bowl at their home stadium has been absolutely horrible in three areas --- head coach, quarterback, and discipline.

Head Coach Wade Phillips looks the part of the village idiot in Cowboy games I watch. I have never bought into the hype of quarterback Tony Romo. His numbers look great but he makes critical mistakes at moments when Dallas needs him most. Yeah, I think he's overrated. The discipline is the inordinate amount of penalties this teams takes and many are downright stupid! That brings us back to Wade Phillips...enough said.

Other disappointing teams are the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers. With the Vikings, bringing back Brett Favre looks like a bad decision at this time and at 1-4, they could be in deep trouble. I find it hard to believe that the 49ers are winless in five tries and seem undisciplined, which goes against what head coach Mike Singletary stands for.

The teams that leave us scratching our heads:

The Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, and New Orleans Saints are teams that make me wonder what their identity really is.

The Bengals at 2-3 run the ball pretty well, but quarterback Carson Palmer has not been as sharp as anticipated with two great receivers in Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. The supposed vaunted defense hasn't played that well either.

The Colts have the most prolific passing game in the NFL with Peyton Manning being...well, Peyton Manning. But the usual problems show up game in and game out --- lack of a running attack and poor pass defense. Indianapolis will only go as far as Manning takes them.

Speaking of a Manning, kid brother Eli's Giants have the making of being a very good team. The offense is well balanced and the defense has seemingly improved under defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, but can they hold up? We'll see as the Giants have a home game with Detroit and a divisional contest with Dallas in two weeks.

The Packers are a team decimated by injuries at the moment on both sides of the ball. Gone are super tight end Jermichael Finley, top notch running back Ryan Grant and linebacker Nick Barnett. To go with all that, Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rogers was concussed in a loss at Washington and his status for this coming week is uncertain. This could be a tough row to hoe for the Pack.

What is it with the Texans? Great offensive balance but inconsistent and a defense that has shown no improvement at all. I haven't a clue as to what team will show each week.

The Chargers are off to their usual slow start. Philip Rivers is a great quarterback, Antonio Gates is perhaps the leagues premier tight end and rookie runner Ryan Matthews looks as though he can carry the load. The defense is so-so at best, so Rivers and company will shoulder the load nearly every game. Also, this team cannot win on the road as witnessed by their 0-3 record.

Then there's the defending Super Bowl champion Saints. It's hard to believe the offense is stagnant, but with both Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas out with injuries, this can be somewhat expected. I'll tell you though, the offense will have to pick up the pace to support a suspect defense. I think New Orleans will get back on track quickly.

Well, that's how I see the NFL after five weeks of play. Agree or not, this has been a different start to the season and we can expect more wild and wacky events each week.


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