Faux Football: Eight Frauds That Won't Make the 2012 NFL Playoffs
It's usually about this point in the NFL season when fans start handicapping who's going to make the playoffs and who isn't. 2012 is proving to be a tougher year to do that, at least in the AFC, where less than half the league is over .500.
But there are teams you can count on to be postseason-bound, like the Patriots, Ravens, Giants and 49ers. But what of the other contenders for division titles and Wild-Card bids? Who's legit, and who should quit? Here's eight teams that won't be making the final cut, frauds about to be exposed as posers instead of players.
If anything, QB Christian Ponder is regressing this season.
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The Vikings are halfway to a 10-6 season, a Wild Card bid, and Leslie Frazier contending for Coach of the Year. But if the Purple wins more than one more regular season game, it’ll make news.
A doughy first half schedule (four of the wins have come against Jacksonville, Detroit, Tennessee and Arizona) got the faithful artificially inflated about the team’s prospects. But that elation will be short-lived and replaced by a masochistic second half. Two games each against the Bears and Packers are waiting, and road games at Seattle and Houston.
LaRod Stephens-Howling (104 yards rushing) and Doug Martin (135) performances the last two weeks have exposed a serious Minnesota run defense deficiency. QB Christian Ponder’s stats are comparable to Chargers’ turnover machine Philip Rivers.
There are no receivers of note to take any pressure off the Vikes’ lone offensive star, RB Adrian Peterson. Vikings fans should prepare for another cold, hard winter.
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Philly fan, things aren’t going to get better. Andy Reid likely needs to reach the playoffs to keep his job. Michael Vick will likely prevent that from happening if he remains the starting QB. The entire offense is under-performing horribly, and the team recently fired its defensive coordinator.
LeSean McCoy has two measly TDs rushing. WR DeSean Jackson is truly earning that new $51 million contract (1 TD). Let this be a lesson to all GMs and owners: Never reward a player who pouts and gives half-hearted on-field efforts a new contract. Never.
At 3-4 and with road games remaining at the Saints, Redskins, Cowboys and Giants, the Eagles will have to do a complete 180-degree turn to make the postseason. That -9 turnover ratio says it won’t happen.
San Diego Chargers
This long-running relationship could be ending soon.
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A month ago, the 3-1 Chargers looked like they were making one last great run under perennially under-pressure Norv Turner. Today they’re 3-4 and trailing Peyton Manning’s Broncos in the weakest division in football, the AFC West. Barring a jarring reversal of fortune, this is it for Turner and the Chargers as we’ve known them for so many years.
What’s happened to QB Philip Rivers the past two seasons is a mystery. Thirty-seven TD passes have been offset by 29 interceptions and 12 fumbles. And that’s just in the last 23 games.
San Diego ranks 21st (!) in pass yards per game, a number that is heresy given the Rivers of old. What may be Turner’s swan song starts tomorrow night at home against the woeful Chiefs. Lose that one, with games against Denver, Baltimore and Pittsburgh remaining, and the curtain will start coming down on the ‘Bolts.
New York Jets
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What will we all do without Rex Ryan? My guess is we’re about to find out. The mega-hyped Green Machine is 3-5, has a putrid offense and is getting blown out at home with alarming frequency. For all his loud-mouthed braggadocio, Ryan is painfully short on results. It’s supposed to be, “Promise Short, Deliver Long”, Rex.
Mark Sanchez has 77 career touchdowns and 81 career turnovers . Tim Tebow was brought in to sell jerseys. The team has already taken dumps on the home field against the 49ers (34-0) and Dolphins (30-9), and though the remaining schedule is soft, there’s no momentum on the Jets’ sideline. Look for a new chant from fans in December: “F-I-R-E! REX! REX! REX!”
Stafford has put the Lions in the down position in the NFC North.
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In the NFC North, you can’t emerge from the gates stumbling. But that’s what the Lions did, losing three of their first four games.
Detroit has rebounded a bit, climbing to 3-4 heading into a road game at Jacksonville this weekend, but with the Bears leading the division at 6-1, the Packers at 5-3 and even the Vikings over .500, the Silver and Blue has an uphill climb to reach the playoffs.
It appeared that the ghost of Scott Mitchell had overtaken QB Matthew Stafford, until last week’s bust-out game against the Seahawks. But he still hasn’t connected with WR Calvin Johnson for a touchdown, and has only eight TD throws on the season.
There is no running game, again. And last year’s defense, which was torrid at times, has been mild at best while dealing with injuries in the secondary.
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The best thing that’s happened to the Cowboys so far in 2012 was the team’s mass cameo appearance in the season opener of “The League” on FX.
The 3-4 record is hard enough to swallow in Dallas; but the single home win to date is what’s really alarming. QB Tony Romo is no closer to proving to the faithful he’s “The Man” than he was six years ago. His 13 interceptions are an almost two-per-game pace.
RB DeMarco Murray can’t stay healthy, nor can he find the end zone when he is (three career touchdowns). The defense lost its heart, LB Sean Lee, for the season, and troubled WR Dez Bryant lives in a 24/7 nanny state.
There are still games against the Falcons, Steelers, and Saints remaining, as well as two games each against the Eagles and Redskins.
The Cowboys are an NFC-worst -11 in turnover ratio, and that’s not a trend that reverses itself very often. Dallas appears on the outside of the 2012 NFL playoffs, which will likely leave head coach Jason Garrett without a job.
Same ol' Cardinals...
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Remember that 4-0 start that caught the nation’s eye? Just another figment of Denny Green’s “Crown ‘Em!” imagination. The Cardinals’ wins over the Patriots and Eagles have been supplanted by four straight losses to teams like the Rams and Bills. In other words, they are who we thought they were.
Injuries have plagued the offense.
But the NFL ship sails every Sunday with the crew you’ve got. And the next two weeks will see the Cardinals sail into Green Bay and Atlanta, respectively. So if you’ve got anything you’d like to say to Ken Whisenhunt, I’d say it now.
How Lewis has kept his job for a decade is mystifying.
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At 3-4 and in the midst of a three-game skid, Cincy reminds me of Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains The Same.” Nothing ever changes.
The Bengals win a division title every five years, stink the rest of the time, and Lewis keeps coaching. No other franchise in the NFL would tolerate such mediocrity.
There was hope in early October when the team was 3-1 and A.J. Green was emerging as a superstar. Now at 3-4 and with games left with the Broncos, Steelers, Giants, Eagles, Cowboys and Ravens, I think we can put these Cats to sleep. Again. And expect no change at head coach. Again.