NFL Midseason Report
By Timothy Braun,
11:46AM, Mon. Oct. 29, 2007
Leading to the game of the year, maybe the game of the past five years, between the undefeated Patriots and the Super Bowl defending Colts in Indianapolis, there is very little I can write that hasn’t already been uttered. The Colts win by 24, even when they look sad, and the Patriots have yet to look bad.
If you think this be a blood feud, like a Yankees/Red Sox conflict, you’re wrong. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are chums and eat sushi together in the offseason. Although Vegas is making the Colts four-point home ‘dogs, Indianapolis has a discrete advantage few are talking of. The RCA Dome is a smallish stadium, with a lower roof than most of its ilk. In the Manning era, the fans of Indy have become aware and know when to scream and when to whisper, and sound has no place to escape in Indy. I know. I left the RCA Dome 12 years ago with minor ear damage. I expect this to be the difference in the game.
And this game comes at the right time of the fall. I never pay much thought to football until November. It is all fun and cute before All Saints' Day, but until midseason comes one really has little clue to who’s hot and who’s bogus. Here are few things I have noticed this fall, a few surprising things, that we should all keep an eye on heading toward the later half of the '07-'08 season.
Who Are You, Again?
Derek Anderson, QB, Cleveland Browns. The former Oregon State nobody is quietly having one of the best seasons on a team that was supposed to stink out loud. Anderson is saving head coach Romeo Crennel’s gig and giving freshman golden boy Brady Quinn an opportunity to get acquainted with the bench. The man has a total of 19 TD’s this year. Cross-state rival Carson Palmer, and former number uno draft selection from juggernaut Southern Cal, has 14. If you told me this would happen in August, I would have taken you to rehab.
Coach of the Midterm
Dick Jauron of the Buffalo Bills. I would usually go with Jeff Fischer in this category, but Jauron has Scotch-taped together a battered team with three wins and four losses. No one has done more with less this fall.
Another Team, Another Name, You Would Be a Star.
Let’s stay with former Beavers. T.J. Houshmanzada is averaging 89.9 yards a game and the only consistent cat on a sad Bengals team. Much as Reggie Wayne has over-taken Marvin Harrison, T.J is the best wide receiver (better than glory hound Chad Johnson) on a Cincinnati squad that is stumbling toward mediocrity. Imagine how good he could be in a Patriots uniform.
The Steel Curtain
Allowing only 256.9 yards per game, Pittsburgh once again has the top-ranked defense in all the land. Along with the laughter of children, and the rumbles of bullfrogs, I think the world spins better when Pittsburgh is tops in this category. Keep in mind, this is all with a rookie head coach.
Sure, watching Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in their respective primes is awesome, but we are also in the midst of two great safeties in their golden years. Bob Sanders of the Colts, and Troy Aumua Polamalu of the Steelers both draw comparisons to Ronnie Lott … with more speed.
Five Easy Pieces (a quintet of other football matters on my mind.)
How on earth did Miami let Wes Welker go? Most people talk of Randy Moss in New England, but it’s Wes Welker who is killing the opposition.
The rumors of Bill Parcells going to the Fish in the offseason are brainless. The man is done.
Although we need to pay attention to the Pats and Colts this weekend, watch out for San Diego. Norv Turner woke up and realized he has too much talent to lose.
Have I been taking crazy pills, or do the Detroit Lions actually look solid?
When talking with amigos and contacts around the league, almost everyone agrees that Tennessee is the scariest team in the NFL. They win ugly, and they never quit.
Now, go back and read this blog one more time and count how many times I mention the NFC or a player from said conference and that will tell you everything you need to know about the first half of the season. I would wager the six AFC playoff teams this winter could smack any of the NFC’s top dogs.