So as we reach the end of Week 9, every team is now halfway through the regular season. Some teams have been great surprises and others have not. Meanwhile, Oakland is, well, yeah. It’s at this point in the season where I like to take a look at my preseason predictions and see which ones were good, and which ones were not so good. Let’s start with some of the good ones.
1. As predicted, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are well on their way to taking yet another AFC East crown with relative ease. Since the Week
2 loss to the upstart Jets, the Pats have looked very much like the perennial playoff team we’ve been used to seeing since the beginning of this decade. Their true test of whether or not they are completely back as a contender comes on Sunday night against the undefeated Colts, but even if they lose that game, it’s hard to see them lose this division. It would take a collapse much like the Jets had last year, but let’s be serious now people. If anyone truly believes that The Golden Boy is going to let his team falter then stand up and show yourself because I’d like to examine your brain. Yet again, the bane of my existence in Tom Brady will guide the Pats to a deep playoff run.
2. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the T.O. in Buffalo situation just doesn’t seem to be working at all, which I feared at the beginning of the year and is the main reason I had picked them to finish dead last in the AFC East. Through eight games, Owens has been limited to 15 catches for 215 yards and 1 TD…wow. Trent Edwards has somehow managed to avoid his primadonna wideout’s venom so far this season. However, if this trend continues, expect to be hearing from ESPN’s favorite disgruntled WR very soon. Get Ed Werder on the next flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Buffalo.
3. The Indianapolis Colts remain the class of the AFC South, especially after pulling out a 20-17 win over the Texans today. At 8-0, it’s only a matter of time before the Colts clinch the division and start playing Jim Sorgi and a plethora of other reserves in the middle of Week 14. It’s amazing how consistently dominant the Colts have been since Peyton Manning took the reins of the franchise in 1999. Staying in this division, the Houston Texans, despite the loss, seem to be in decent position to make the playoffs as a wild card. So long as they can avoid some of the baffling losses they’ve had in the past, they should be able to get to 9-10 wins and sneak into the postseason.
1. The Cincinnati Bengals are 6-2 and leading the AFC North at the end of Week 9. I predicted said Bungles to finish 5-11 this year. It’s partly luck that
they are where they are, but it’s also partly bad luck that they aren’t 7-1 considering their Week 1 loss to Denver, who we’ll revisit in a bit. Cedric Benson has been a massive surprise on the offensive side of the ball, giving Carson Palmer the complement that he hasn’t had since Rudi Johnson’s sudden decline and subsequent exiling to Detroit. If the Bengals have staying power, then I look for this team to finish with 11 wins and potentially win the AFC North, meaning that either Pittsburgh or Baltimore is staying home this year for the Playoffs.
2. Well, I was right about the Tennessee Titans taking a step back this year. But they have taken several hundred steps back. sitting at 2-6, with back-to-back wins now, thanks in part to Chris Johnson getting going in a big way. Vince Young has replaced Kerry Collins, playoff hopes seem bleak at best, and we even had Jeff Fisher donning a Peyton Manning jersey because he “wanted to feel what it was like to be a winner.” This team’s got issues, but should manage to finish with 5-6 wins and spend the offseason regrouping for 2010.
3. Who are these Denver Broncos, and since when do teams in complete disarray perform well on the field? (see Raiders, Oakland) I guess at 6-1 going into their Monday Night showdown with Pittsburgh, we have to say that the Broncos are for real, even if I can’t figure out how they’re winning games. I still think San Diego is going to win this division, and I really think Denver should have lost in Cincy and at home to New England, yet Kyle Orton continues to win like he’s still in Chicago. I guess it’s poetic justice in the sense that Orton has outperformed Jay Cutler, but other than that I just don’t get how this team hasn’t completely melted down yet.
1. Brett Favre has been as good as advertised for the Minnesota Vikings, who at 7-1 look poised to run away the NFC North. Jared Allen has looked
completely revitalized and Adrian Peterson is making Favre look like the All-Pro QB he was in his prime. I really hope that we get to see these guys play the New Orleans Saints for the NFC title. That would be one helluva game.
2. The NFC East remains the toughest division to call in all of the NFL. After a 5-0 start, the New York Giants have fallen way back to Earth and almost to the .500 mark at 5-4. Meanwhile, after looking like they were going nowhere fast, the Dallas Cowboys are leading the pack at 6-2, scoring a big win in Philadelphia earlier tonight. The Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants will certainly take advantage to playing the Redskins, so it should come down to head-to-head battles between the three teams.
3. The worst teams in the NFL still reside in the NFC. The Rams, Lions, and Buccaneers’ seasons are already over, as all three stand at 1-7. The question at this point is will these teams continue to play hard for the final eight games, or think better of it and just throw away contests to try and get the first pick? It’s never fun to have to look at it that way, but it’s a cruel reality in St. Louis, Detroit, and Tampa Bay this year.
1. Who Dat? Apparently “Dat” is the New Orleans Saints, led by Drew Brees, a solid rushing attack, and a better than advertised defense. The Saints are 8-
0, and unless they do the unthinkable and lose every single game from here out, they will not finish 8-8 as I originally thought. The Saints have separated themselves from the pack and hold a three game lead over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South. With games left against their division opponents, they should have very little trouble getting to 11 wins. How many beyond that remains to be seen, but if they get to 10-0 or 11-0, you know that Mercury Morris and the ’72 Dolphins are going to be getting thirsty for their champagne.
2. The Eagles are definitely not a 12-win team this year and with the loss to the Cowboys tonight, might not even make the playoffs. The team just has too many issues on the offensive line and too many young skill position players to win big games, which showed tonight. To complicate things further, Brian Westbrook’s concussion took the main cog right out of the Philly offense, which means it’ll be on LeSean McCoy and Leonard Weaver to get the job done, which they failed to do tonight.
That just about does it for the things that are either surprisingly spot-on or just way off mark for me in the first half of the season. If I missed anything or if you just want to nitpick a bit, then go right ahead. Look back for picks for Week 10 on Thursday or Friday.