What fool picked the Patriots and the Packers?
As we reach the halfway point through the season, let's look at a few things we've learned thus far.
1. The Saints Are for Real
I know. I can't believe it myself. It's still hard for those words to even come out my mouth. But living within a three hour radius of New Orleans, you can sense a confidence in Saints fans that has never before existed. This is including the 2006 and 2000 seasons.
Drew Brees is playing lights out football, and the addition of Darren Sharper has made the defense absolutely frightening.
I still can't crown them Super Bowl bound, and I won't until they make it there. But they have won over their harshest critic.
2. The Colts Will Go 2-14 as Soon as Peyton Manning Retires
Maybe some of you already knew, but it just dawned on me this season. In theory, this guy could win MVP every season. Middle Bro has made Pierre Garcon a household name.
I believed that the Colts would be good, but the way Manning handles the offense is unprecedented. He's more than a coach on the field, as some would like to reference.
He's actually the architect of the entire league and he knows where every individual on offense and defense is going to be every time he gets in between those white lines. There is absolutely no replacing him.
So Colts fans, prepare for an era of futility as soon as he retires.
3. That Romo Kid Ain't as Bad as Some of You Thought
I don't know of any other player that can be so harshly criticized for bad games, yet play beyond spectacular football below everyone's radar.
Recently I wrote an article about some d-bag calling Romo one of the most disappointing quarterbacks in the league along with JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn.
The article was written after the fourth game, in which the Cowboys lost to the one-loss Broncos, and Romo's poor play was a leading factor in the loss.
Romo had thrown for five TDs and four INTs and had a rating of 79.
Since then, in the following three games, Romo has been remarkable, throwing for seven TDs and zero interceptions ! His rating? A 17-point improvement to 96.8. How's that for a disappointment?
4. The Lions, Chiefs, Raiders, Rams, Redskins, Browns, Titans, and Buccaneers Are Worse than Advertised
I don't know if I've ever seen football played this poorly by so many teams. There are, in fact, other teams that could be included in this mix, including the Bills and the Seahawks.
But as far as the bottom eight of the league, this is as bad as it can get. For the Lions, it is a transitional period with a rookie quarterback (although they are always in a transitional period it seems), and that would lead to their record.
For the Rams, Redskins, Titans, and Buccaneers, it appears that it is a quarterback issue. With better QB play from these teams, I think it's feasible for them to at least be competitive.
The Chiefs and Raiders issues are deeper than simple X's and O's, as off the field issues are destroying the teams.
And the Browns?
They are completely dysfunctional in every way. If anyone thought that by them trading Braylon Edwards was going to change anything, you don't know your butt from a hole in the ground.
Cleveland has a team passer rating of 42.7! They are averaging only 9.8 points a game! Their rushing average is an anemic 3.8 yards/game. And their defense is giving up a league worst 409.1 yards/game.
In their one win, Derek Anderson completed two passes in the entire game! Two passes! I don't think their nickname stands for Paul Brown anymore, rather the color of the object their play is most related to.
5. The Spread Offense Is Deceiving
The average points per game in the league is actually only 21.8! Granted, the Browns, Raiders, and Rams are included in the fold. However, the notion that the spread offense is destroying the scoreboards and sending defensive coordinators into a frenzy could not be farther from the truth.
I think it's safe to say that Tom Brady's, Randy Moss's and LaDanianian Tomlinson's records don't appear to be threatened this year. In fact, the Saints and the Vikings are the only two teams that are averaging over 30 points a game.
6. Brett Favre Can Play until He's 50
I never thought Brett Favre was incapable of playing. I just don't like how he's allowed to single-handedly alter the league the way he is.
Favre is probably playing his best football since he led the Packers to the Super Bowl 12 and 13 years ago. If he continues to play at this level throughout the season, for the first offseason in a long time, we might not be talking about him retiring.
7. Where Have the Bengals Been All these Years?
I picked the Bengals to be at the bottom of their division with the Browns. Crow has been eaten.
This is actually turning into one of the more competitive divisions as I can easily see either the Bengals, Ravens, or Steelers winning the division. The sad thing is at least one of these teams is not going to make it to the playoffs.
Here are my awards for the halfway point through the season:
Offensive MVP: Peyton Manning, Drew Brees (tie)
Defensive MVP: Jared Allen
Offensive Rookie: Mark Sanchez
Defensive Rookie: Jairus Byrd
Comeback Player: Cedric Benson
Go-Away Player: JaMarcus Russell