It’s amazing how time flies. We’re already beginning the 2nd half of our beloved NFL season, So of course, it’s time to see how your favorite team fared midway through the 2011 season. Only, instead of giving actual grades, I’m breaking them up in categories. Same analysis as ESPN, but better because it’s not so formal. So without further ado…. the midseason report cards.
F*ck It, I’m On One!: Green Bay Packers
The Packers deserve a column of their own. As far as NFL class goes, there’s the Packers and then there’s everyone else. No one is touching them right now and to be honest, I don’t know who will. Aaron Rodgers is playing like he’s possessed right about now. I like Green Bay but the little hater in me says they need to sit their bragging asses down somewhere. No reason why I feel that way, I’m just a little green and tired of seeing them win.
They Are Who We Thought They Were: Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots
The Steelers started out old and slow, but they’ve finally got the ball rolling. They’ve been on fire the past few weeks, and have picked up from last season, thanks to the emergence of guys like Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders. The Patriots make this list because they’re still a team of concern if they’re on your schedule, but they can’t stop a nose bleed (Bart Scott voice) so unless they figure out to stop good teams, they may be in trouble….
Well I’ll Be John Brown (c/o @DragonflyJonez): Cincinnati Bengals, San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills
I dedicate this category to my Twitter buddy, who always uses this term at the right time and better than anybody I know. Most of us looked at contenders for 2011 and didn’t think about any of these teams, for a lot of reasons. New players, lockout hangover, inconsistent or not good in years past…. for whatever reason, unless you were a fan of these teams, they simply weren’t on your radar. Well I’ll be John Brown if they aren’t now. The Bengals are 5-2 with a Top 5 defense and have shown success with Andy Dalton and AJ Green. The 49ers changed their coaching staff and brought in Jim Harbaugh and have only lost one game so far, even giving Alex Smith some life. And the Bills, who had every bounce against them in 2010 despite playing hard, are finally getting the ball in their court. The Lions are probably the least bit shocking, since they finished 2010 strong. But it’s the Lions…. you still haven’t forgotten about 0-16 and Matt Stafford gets hurt if you blow on him hard enough. Alas, no bad karma and all teams are doing big things
They’re Good, BUT……..: Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, San Diego Chargers, Houston Texans, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons
These teams have a winning record so they’re good based on record but we really have no idea what to expect for the 2nd half of the season. The Ravens have beaten quality opponents in Pittsburgh, Houston and the Jets, but have crapped the pot against teams they should have beaten in Tennessee and Jacksonville…… The Giants are decent, but their schedule the next 6 weeks is beyond brutal and one has to wonder will the injuries they have finally start to catch up….. The Chargers are actually starting out with a winning record for once, but QB Philip Rivers (my boo!) hasn’t looked like the Rivers of old, and fumbled control of the AFC West away last Monday night……. The Texans are good, but losing Mario Williams for the year and Andre Johnson for some time may hurt them in the long run…..The Jets have seemed to regress a little on defense, and Mark Sanchez not getting much help from his run game is an issue…..The Saints WERE in my “They are who we thought they were” column, but they lost to the Rams, The WINLESS ST. LOUIS RAMS, WITHOUT SAM BRADFORD! Yeah, they go down a notch after that one….. The Bucs have youth on their side, but their lopsided loss to San Francisco puts them in this category….. Atlanta always leaves me scratching my head at the end of their games. With all of the offensive weapons they have, I don’t see how they don’t put up 30 points easily, each week. They have some inexperience on defense that holds them to this category.
Ehhhhh……………..: Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans
It’s not that I don’t think these teams are good or can’t be good… it’s just that I couldn’t add them in the “They’re good but” category because they’ve done something not worthy of that category. The Bears’ offensive line blocks like Cutler stole their girl……The Eagles started out slow, and with the “Dream Team” talk prior to the season, expectations were above normal so their 3-4 record is underachieving at best… The Cowboys need a TV time out with the way they’ve played football lately. I thought they’d be better than this at this point. I haven;t totally written them off, tho. They have talent….. The Chiefs started off rough (remember Matt Cassel’s blow up with HC Todd Haley on the sidelines??), but they’ve rebounded well. It’s the AFC West so it’s hard to be impressed just yet…..The Raiders looked like they were gonna have a good season before Jason Campbell went down. Oakland traded their 2012 #1 pick and a conditional pick to Cincy for Carson Palmer, but all Palmer did was stink it up in his debut. He’s not the same QB he was before 2005 and quite frankly, I wonder if Al Davis came back from the dead to make one last WTF personnel decision… Despite Carolina’s record, I’m gonna put them in this column because I seriously believe they try hard each and every week, yet fall short. This team reminds me a lot of Buffalo’s team last season. They hang in there, but can’t get the “W” in the end. I can’t be mad at that. They should be added in my next group but I love their resilience. The Titans are here by default, because they have a good record. But Chris Johnson got paid and told the Titans, “Fcuk your couch”. He’s still holding out but we didn’t know until now. With Kenny Britt going down, that hurt big time for Tennessee. Good thing is, the AFC South could be a 2-man race, and they’re still in it.
“Insert Comment Here”: Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Washington Redskins
Face it- these teams’ style of play are boring and uninspiring more times than not (minus the Vikings the past 2 weeks. But that’s because Ponder now has the keys). Put yourself in my shoes…. What could you possibly say about any of these teams individually that doesn’t sound like the others in this group? Can’t figure it out? Me neither. So feel free to insert your own comment here.
Bad…. Real Bad Michael Jackson: Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos
I guess this group could be called the “Suck For Luck” lottery, but that’s unoriginal and overused at this point. These 4 teams stink and I’d bet my money on LSU or Alabama if they played any of these teams at this point. Probably the worst team of them all is Indy. Never have I seen a franchise fall so fast from one key player going down. That’s a direct reflection of the GM and ownership and it’s inexcusable. The Rams have some good pieces and aren’t AS bad as Indy (not saying much), but their defense isn’t that good, particularly their secondary (although they did hold NO to one offensive TD in Sunday’s win) and there isn’t a true #1 WR on the team. The Dolphins need a new makeover, period. Not only did you celebrate the FLORIDA GATORS championship in MIAMI HURRICANES-land, you let Tim Tebow beat you in the Final 5 minutes of the same game. Yeah, you suck, Miami…….. Speaking of Tebow, he is getting KILT in the media (yeah, I said it… not killed, but KILT!) on what most of us already knew: Great college player, lots of heart and passion, not going to translate into the NFL. It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much attention lay on one guy like this. Denver officially came into the Top 5 pick race as of Sunday.