September is oftentimes a funny month for the NFL. Teams we think won't do so hot end up getting on hot streaks (I'm talking about you Denver and Cincinnati). Or perhaps the teams we expect to be great, end up disappointing us all (looking right at Pittsburgh and Tennessee).
September is also when rookie magic is made (what's up Mark Sanchez?), and old veterans come around for one last hoo-rah (and you thought Brett Favre was finished!).
Here's a quick re-cap of the month that was in the NFL, and what we've learned so far.
I'm pretty sure every person in the football world knew Detroit would be better this season than last. It wasn't hard, as all they had to do was win one game. And Detroit already has that win three games into the season. But can they win more?
I say yes. In fact, I see two more (what I'd consider) easy wins for Detroit against the Rams and Browns. Some even say that they can even steal a division game from the Packers, Vikings, or Bears. I wouldn't go that far, but I'll put money on it that Detroit finished at least 3-13 this season.
Ever since the playoff field was expanded to 12 teams in 1990, only three teams have come back from a 0-3 start to make the playoffs. However no team that started 0-3 has made the playoffs since 1998.
It's safe to say the former No. 1 AFC seed is going to suffer the same fate. Tennessee doesn't look good at all. With an overtime loss to the Polamalu-less Steelers, followed up by a depleting loss to division foe Houston, and now the recent loss to the Jets, the Titans look like their tank is nearly empty. With the Colts twice, Cardinals, 49ers, and the Patriots still left on the schedule, it seems that the Titans are all but sunk.
However if there's any positive to all of this, it's the fact that Tennessee is the NFL's 6th best rushing squad and 11th best overall offense. Can they translate that to wins? That will remain to be seen.
I know it's early, but I can't help but to drink the Bengals-Broncos Kool-Aide. As it stands, the Bengals are sitting right behind the Ravens in the AFC North, and the Broncos lead the AFC West. I also know that the Bengals still have two games to play against the Ravens and Steelers, and the Broncos still have to play the Chargers twice, Cowboys, Patriots, Giants, Colts, and Eagles.
Needless to say, there's a lot of football to be played, but if the Bengals and Broncos can keep it up, I can't help but to think they're going to make a difference in the playoff picture come January.
Week by week, Sanchez is becoming more and more like Matt Ryan of last year. He's taken over a team dismantled by the Mangini and Favre regime, and taken them to a 3-0 start.
But it's his stats that make me a believer that the Jets made the right decision on draft day:
4 TDs (9th best in the NFL) and 3 INT (14th in the NFL) with a 59% completion rate (23rd in the NFL).
His 87.7 QB rating is better than Philip Rivers's, Jay Cutler's, Kurt Warner's, Tom Brady's, and Tony Romo's.
As of now, Sanchez is the front-runner for the Rookie of the Year, and the Jets have a clear runway for a playoff birth.
It wasn't Jim Zorn's Redskins loss to the Lions that may have cost him a job. It's the pummeling by the Giants and the near-loss to the Rams. To put it plainly, Jim Zorn's Redskins stink. The scary part is the Redskins have a ton of talent!
The $100m man Albert Haynesworth, Clinton Portis, and Jason Campbell are all viable players on a team that's sputtering to a 1-2 start with the thickest part of their schedule yet to come. (Two meetings with Dallas and Philadelphia, trips to Atlanta, Carolina, and San Diego. Not to mention games against New Orleans and Denver... ouch). The Redskins' outlook doesn't look good, and if things keep going like this, Zorn will be job hunting soon.
As for Mangini, his 0-3 Browns can't even decide who their QB is. How can they ever figure out what kind of player Brady Quinn is if they never let him play more than two games? Or how can players believe in their coach when their coach fines them over $1,000 for not paying for a $3 water bottle? Seriously coach? I'm starting to think that the Jets' collapse last season wasn't all Brett Favre's fault.
Again, it's way too early to call, but as of now the probability of a Steelers-Cardinals Super Bowl re-match is slim.
The Cardinals are suffering what eight of the last nine Super Bowl losers suffered; a hangover. Kurt Warner is sputtering, as is the offense. In the meantime, division foe San Francisco is starting to turn up the heat with a 2-1 start. Now I'm not saying that they can't make the playoffs, but as of now, it's highly unlikely with a 1-2 record and a tough road ahead.
As for the Steelers, it's obvious that the loss of Troy Polamalu has hindered their defense. The once great "Steel Curtain" now sits in 25th place for the most points given up, and 8th in overall defense. They need to get on track because the 3-0 Ravens are beginning to run away with the division, and the 2-1 Bengals are trying to make things interesting
Granted they are 2-1, but New England was supposed to be 3-0 right now. However Tom Brady really does not look like the same Tom Brady we saw two years ago as he seems afraid to stand up in the pocket.
Now, I'm willing to bet a ton of money that the Patriots are still going to make the playoffs, but most thought they'd get there with a 13-3 record (I'm guilty of saying that). But I think a more realistic 11-5 or 10-6 mark gets them in.
Since Cutler's 4 INT debut in Green Bay, he's become the QB Chicago traded for. However since that night he's thrown 5 TDs and 1 INT for 483 yards. The biggest stat is he's 2-1 in a Chicago Bears uniform.
I'm not about to say he's going to take the Bears to the Super Bowl, but if Cutler can continue his rate of play, the Bears could be contenders. (Providing that defense continues to step up despite injuries).
Baltimore looks great right now. Granted two of their three victories came against Kansas City and Cleveland, yet Baltimore looks too good. They've got the 7th best defense and the 2nd best offense, which has translated into a fantastic start.
Now whether or not Baltimore can keep it going and snake away the division from the Steelers, we'll wait and see. But for right now, the Baltimore Ravens are the favorite to win the AFC North, and possibly the entire AFC.
He causes chaos in the off-season. He's "wrecked" the Packers and Jets franchises. Yet he still manages to perform his best in the final minutes.
Favre got his 43rd career comeback victory over the San Francisco 49ers last weekend as he hit his receiver in the back of the end-zone with 0:02 left in the game to lift the Vikings past the 49ers to advance to 3-0.
Many say Favre was washed up (myself included) and he won't last all season. That of course remains to be seen, but you can't help but feel good for old Brett. However all will be forgotten of Favre doesn't take this team deep into the playoffs.