NFL Week 12: Playoff Picture Still Unsettled
Well, week 12 will wrap up after tonight’s Saints Vs. Packers Game, but not much has been established. The last five weeks of football figure to be extremely entertaining as teams will be fighting for playoff spots up until the end. In the AFC, the Jets dominated the unbeaten Titans to move to 8-3 in a huge statement game. They will likely win the East or at the very least claim a wild card spot. The Steelers defeated the Bengals to improve to 8-3, but their prospects are not as clear as they are facing a tough stretch of opponents in their final five games, including a pivotal match-up against the 7-4 Ravens who are breathing down their neck for the division lead. The Broncos lost against the Raiders to fall to 6-5, but they will win the west by default as the Chargers fell to 4-7 against the Colts. The Colts look like a strong candidate for a wild card spot improving to 7-4 and facing an easy schedule in the last five weeks of the season. Elsewhere the Pats are keeping their division hopes alive by improving to 7-4 with an impressive performance over the 6-5 Dolfins.
In the NFC the Giants defeated the Cardinals to improve to 10-1 and are a lock to win the NFC East. The Cardinals fall to 7-4 but are going to win the NFC West by default. The Bears improve to 6-5 with a victory over the Rams to claim a share of the NFC North lead with the Vikings. The Vikings are sitting at 6-5 and are hoping the Packers lose tonight to the Saints to fall to 5-6. If the Packers lose they will be on the outside looking in. The Panthers fall to 8-3 against the 7-4 rival Falcons. The Falcons surprising victory keeps their division hopes alive as their jocking for position to make the playoffs along with the 8-3 Buccaneers. The Bucs look like they are going make the playoffs as they have the easiest remaining schedule of all the NFC South teams. The Cowboys improve to 7-4 with a nice win against San Francisco and appear to have an easier remaining schedule then the 7-4 Redskins. The Redskins beat the woeful Seahawks in a tight game which may prove that maybe they will not be a playoff team this year. The long and short of it is not much is settled in either conference, and the last few weeks of the season will be pivotal for virtually every team with playoff aspirations.
Is the Season Over Yet?
Is it me or I have I seen all I need to see this season from the NFL? In just eleven weeks I think we have already seen who will be the four teams playing in the conference championships. Obviously this is just my opinion, but for the first time in a long time it seems pretty easy to identify who the best teams in each league are and at this point I already want the year to end. So with that said I am going to make a bold prediction. The teams that will play in the conference championships are actually match-ed up against each other in week 12.
In the NFC I think the two teams that will be battling to go to the Super Bowl will be the Giants and the Cardinals. The Giants are an easy pick to make, but many people might scratch their heads at the Cardinals. I think Arizona is going to make it for two reasons; they are actually a legitimate team that has strong offense and an underrated, opportunistic defense. Their offense is currently ranked second in scoring. Their defense is top ten against the run, they rush the passer, and force a lot of turnovers. Also, let’s face it, the other probable playoff teams don’t scare anyone. The only other threat besides the two I just mentioned is the Carolina Panthers. After them who is there? The team coming out of the North will not be a factor, as there is a three way tie for first with each team sitting at 5-5. The East will probably have one other team, whether it is Redskins or the Cowboys, neither team is complete, and the last team will be either the Falcons or the Buccaneers. One team has a rookie quarterback and the other team’s offense doesn’t scare anyone.
The AFC is the same story as the teams that will play in January will play this week. The Titans are playing the Jets in a game that could will give either team a chance to make a big statement as to what will happen when the playoffs begin. The only other team that may have a chance is the Colts, as any team with a Manning will always have a shot. The AFC West team will most likely be the Broncos and their whole team is Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. Then in the Central you have the Pittsburgh Steelers. They have a good defense, but on offense Big Ben has been sacked 32 times and has thrown more picks then touchdowns. The last team will most likely be the Dolphins or the Pats, and neither team has a good enough offense.
Well, since I’ve sorted everything out already, let’s just start the playoffs already.
Country Boys Can Play
“Just two good ol’ boys, never meaning no harm…,” and you know the rest. Waylon Jennings’ Dukes of Hazard theme song couldn’t be anymore perfect for the two New York quarterbacks. Both leaders have their teams in positions to control their own destinies, and they are in position to make significant playoff runs.
Eli Manning of New Orleans, after years of being criticized and negatively compared to his brother Peyton in the media, delivered a Super Bowl championship in just his fourth year with the Giants, and only his third full season as a starter. The main issue has always seemed to be his confidence and his accuracy. Those questions however have completely gone away, as Eli in attempt to get the Giants to the promise land once again, has looked great this year. Plain and simple the guy is playing like there is no situation that is to big for him. It doesn’t get any bigger then leading your team’s game winning drive and throwing the touchdown pass to complete possibly the biggest upset in NFL history. That’s the stuff legends are made of.
Brett Favre is also on a mission this year, as his Jets are in position to take the lead in the AFC East. He started off well, then hit a rough patch, but now seems settled into the position of playing quarterback in the largest sports market in the United States. The Mississippi boy is doing quite well for himself as of late, and New York City has fallen in love with him. He has the fans believing in the Jets this year, something that hasn’t happened in a long time. Say what you want about his interceptions, but like the song says, he isn’t meaning no harm. Unlike before, the Jets can actually compete in shootout games. He doesn’t have the arm he used to have, but even diminished he still has one of the strongest in the league. Thanks to the swagger of this former Super Bowl Champion, the Jets are feeling like they can compete against anyone in the AFC.
The Giants are starting to distinguish themselves as the clear-cut favorite to win the Super Bowl again, as Eli is playing at a high level which knows no boundaries. The Jets are playing as well as they have played in years, and in a weak AFC, they are looking like a serious threat to make a Super Bowl run. The Titans are undefeated, but to my eyes I see a championship defense, not a championship team, only time will tell if they are the real deal. With that said don’t be surprised if you see a good ol’ southern reunion in the final game of the season.
Beasts From the East
How often can you say nine games into a season that all teams from one division have a winning record? That scenario is very unlikely and rarely plays out over a whole season. With that said, only three teams from a division can make the playoffs. This is also uncommon, although it did happen twice last year as both the AFC South and the NFC East each had three teams make the playoffs.
As many people may have guessed, the NFC East is again one of the powerhouse divisions in football, with all four teams positioning themselves to make playoff runs. That division is hotly contested every single year. Another division is making its claim as the toughest in the league and that’s the AFC East. Coming into the season the AFC East was no where near as heralded as the NFC East, but they can also boast that all their teams have winning records.
Unlike the NFC East, the AFC East is yet to have a clear cut favorite to win the division. The Jets and the Patriots are both 6-3 and are heading into a Thursday night showdown that could give us a glimpse as to what might happen down the road, although the loser will be very much in the thick of things. Miami is playing the dysfunctional Oakland Raiders in what is a very winnable game. The Buffalo Bills, who have been struggling losing there last three games, are facing the 3-6 Cleveland Browns. After this week there is a good chance that there will be a three way tie for second place, with all teams being 6-4 and only one game out of first place.
The NFC East is a bit of a different story despite the overall success of the division as a whole. The New York Giants have distinguished themselves as the best team after beating the Eagles Sunday night, but that doesn’t mean that the other three teams are out of the playoff picture. The Redskins are 6-3 and find themselves playing the perennial paper champion Cowboys in what will be a crucial game that could define the future of both teams. The Eagles, coming off a loss to the G-Men, have a great chance to keep their playoff hopes alive playing the pathetic Cincinnati Bengals. So basically, nothing will be settled in either one of these divisions as far as how many teams will make it to the postseason until the last two or three weeks of the season. However, all the teams control their own destiny, and we may witness a rare situation in which six playoff teams reside in the NFL’s East Divisions.
Lack of Discipline Sidelines NFL Stars…AGAIN?
Since elementary school it’s been preached; for every action there is a reaction or consequence. Every year we are urged to stay out of trouble whether it is in or out of a sports season. Sure, it has probably stuck with the majority of society but that’s not the case for two of the most talented names in the NFL. Both Dallas Cowboys’ Defensive Back/Return Specialist Adam “Pacman” Jones and Kansas City Chiefs Running Back Larry Johnson found themselves in a tough spot this past week.
Let’s start with the “experienced” one. Adam Jones was involved in a confrontation that escalated into a physical quarrel with a team-appointed bodyguard on October 8th at a Dallas hotel. The incident ended with the police being called to the scene and Jones recently getting smacked with a 4-game suspension after being reinstated to the NFL by new Commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this year. When he was first drafted by the Tennesee Titans in 2005, Jones was immediately into troubled times. Having been arressted six times since his rookie season, one must begin to ask, when is it enough? Commissioner Goodell spoke on the situation and after Jones serves his suspension, he plans to re-investigate the situation and perhaps give Jones an additional punishment.
Now although it may seem extremely difficult to live up to such high standards set by the Cowboys’ Cornerback, Chiefs Running Back Larry Johnson is doing his best. Johnson, during the same week was charged with assault on a woman in a night club. While at this club, Johnson allegedly shoved the side of a woman’s face while telling her not to touch him. He is scheduled to appear in court December 3rd and faces a maximum jail term of six months and a $500 fine. This is very similar to the charge that he faced on February 24th while at a night club in downtown Kansas City. Johnson, who has now had his third encounter with the law since entering the NFL, still has work to do in order to catch the speedy Cornerback.
These athletes haven’t proven to witty off the field to say the least. Their performance this year on the field has unfortunately seemed to have gone hand in hand with their off-field antics. Besides his 198 yard, 2-score highlight reel against the Broncos, Johnson has rushed for just over 200 yards in the other 4 games; averaging about 50 yards a game and only reaching the end zone twice. As for Jones, the “shut-down” corner hasn’t picked off a pass all season. He also fumbled a punt return in the season opener against the Browns. (How bout this Cowboy?!?!) The point is guys, your professional athletes. I’m not asking to step up your sub-par performances on the field this year, but at least set an example for some young adults who look up to you.
Giants’ Back-Ups Step up
Great teams are defined by great players. But what happens when you lose those start players. The teams that are truly special find ways to win without them. Back-ups don’t necessarily have to perform at a star level, just good enough so they are not recognized as a liability. This is what makes the Giants a great team. Not only have they had guys fill in when key starters are were missing, those players have performed at a high level. From last season’s championship run to this season’s 4-0 start, this has been an essential factor to the Giants’ success.
On Sunday we saw another example of this. Eli Manning’s number one weapon on offense, Plaxico Burress, was suspended for this week’s game against the Seahawks. He was disciplined by the Giants for pulling a no show/no call during the by week like he worked at a McDonald’s restaurant. In his absence there was a question as to who was going to step up this time, and that was answered rather quickly.
Reserve wide-outs Dominic Hixon and Sinorice Moss were certainly up to the task on Sunday. Dominic Hixon alone was able to produce Plaxico like numbers, providing a deep threat on route to a 100 yard, one touchdown day. Moss who was on the verge of being cut by the team at the start of the preseason, was able to snag his first career touchdown catch against the Seahawks. On a day they needed one receiver to fill Plaxico’s shoes, two combined to produce in his absence.
Of course this is nothing new to the Giants, who last season lost starting running back Brandon Jacobs for a length of time only to have Dedrick Ward and Ruben Droughns come up big and play at a high level during his stint on the injury report. They also lost tight end Jeremy Shockey for the entire playoffs only to have Kevin Boss fill that void and make a key catch in the Super Bowl. This year they lost defensive linemen Michael Strahan to retirement and to Osi Umenyiora to an injury, and their pass rush has remained highly effective. As long as they continue to get this kind of production from their role players, the most disrespected Super Bowl Champions of all time will continue to show and prove.
Sunday NFL Action
First things first, I love Brett Favre almost as much as John Madden, oh wait, that’s impossible. But how could I start without mentioning his incredible six touchdown pass performance. Everybody was ready to write his obituary after last monday night’s game, but consider this, after just four games this season his touchdown total is already at 12. He’s on pace to have a 48 t.d. pass season. Alright, maybe that’s looking Favre ahead, yeah I thought of that, but is it crazy to think he will surpass his last season’s total of 28, I don’t think so. Let’s see the New York media’s treatment of Brett if he does exceed that number, keeps the into’s under 20, but they still miss the playoffs. I’ll tell you what, if they don’t make it will because a lack of a running game, and inconsistent defense. Elsewhere around the league, just when you thought the St. Louis Rams couldn’t get any worse, well they did. Former Head Coach Scott Linehan is out, unfortunately most of the players on the team aren’t. So with that said, don’t expect any better from this terrible team. I know the Bills were 3-0, but they are a soft 3-0 who scored 31 after the Rams jumped out ahead early in the game. That’s not to say the Bills won’t make the playoffs, but lets be honest, the only real team they have played thus far is the Jacksonville Jaguars. The other three teams they have beaten, the Seahawks, the Rams, and the Raiders, have a combined record of 2-9.
Speaking of the Raiders they are bad, but they could easily be 3-1 right now. At least they have been competitive, unlike last year. I know its too late for Lane Kiffin now, but the defense has really let that team down in the second half of games this year. Last time I checked Kiffin ain’t the defensive coordinator. I got your back homey. On to the AFC South where I just have one question, who the hell is Chris Johnson? Apparently a pretty good rookie running back. Johnson and starter Lendale White have formed a formidable two headed monster at tailback which has lead the charge for the 4-0 Titans. With the defense playing great bolstered by the two great defensive tackles in the middle, Albert Haynesworth and Tony Brown, they look for real. Then there is the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that has not been anywhere near the team they were last year, but find themselves at 2-2, second place in their division in a weak AFC, and going against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Jaguars have won about a hundred straight games against the steelers since 2001, and I expect them to pound the Steelers again when they play. Fred Taylor will rush for one hundred yards against the NFL’s weakest 3-1 team. The Steelers have been bringing a knife to a gunfight offensively for three straight weeks now, and have been lucky to play the teams they have thus far. With Willie Parker out with an injury on Sunday, Big Ben will be going down faster then a beer on St. Patrick’s day. When the Jags get going on all cylinders, starting Sunday night, the league will have to take notice.
Sunday NFL action
This past Sunday had a lot of good action and hard hitting, but it also forced a lot of teams to take a good long look in the mirror and realize what they really are. For instance the Minnesota Vikings. They were a trendy pick by a lot of so called experts to not only make the playoffs, but make it to the Super Bowl. Yeah that’s not happening. They are like that High School girl who everyone liked throughout high school, then she gets to college and has to realize, hey maybe I’m not that hot.
Green Bay is also in a similar situation, with starting QB Mr. Rodgers, already suffering a serious injury after just four games, so much for following in the footsteps of NFL’s Ironman. Luckily for them, they play in a mediocre NFC North. One of the teams in that division looks like that girl who you never paid attention to in High School, then she shows up at a party over the summer and think to yourself “Hey she’s pretty cute.” The team I’m talking about definitely isn’t the Millen-less Lions, but the Chicago Bears. They play solid defense, Orton seems to be improving, and rookie running back Matt Forte looks like the real deal. They needed him to come through as Cedric Benson made their last first round running back selection, Curtis Enis, look like Eddie George.
There’s a lot of things going on in the NFC East as well. The Cowboys after being crowned as Super Bowl Champions before the season even started, better get used to the fact they are at best going to be the second prettiest girl at the party, the Giants being the most voluptuous. They better watch their back because the Redskins are looking like a pretty good team with the very underrated Jason Campbell at quarterback, and the Eagles are sitting at 2-2, and were a couple plays away from being 4-0. This is by far the strongest division in the NFL, and I would not be surprised to see the last place team finish above 500. In the NFC south the Falcons have been overachieving, but do not expect them to be any better then 7-9 or 8-8. The Carolina Panthers reminded them of their faults on Sunday. The Panthers are looking like the division champions already in a pretty good division. The Buccaneers are playing good defense like they always do, at 3-1, and the Saints are still looking like one of the leagues better offenses, despite lack of production at running back from Reggie Bust, I mean Bush.
Then we have the great NFC west. I say that with a smile on my face. I still like the Cardinals in this division, but as the weeks go on I feel like the description that best fits this division is “Okay, first team with nine wins goes to the playoffs.”The Seahawks are 1-2 and I’ll be hard pressed to think they will beat the Giants this weekend. The 49ers quarterback is J.T. O’Sullivan, enough said, and the Rams are…the Rams. In the AFC west, the Broncos are looking like an extremely one dimensional team. They play defense as bad as the Rams in thier glory years, but they are almost as good as those Rams teams on offense. Yeah they got beat by the Chiefs and Grandmama Larry Johnson, but I still see them in the playoffs. The Chargers are looking a lot better, and they should creep up and steal the division by the 11 or 12 game point of the season. The Raiders are a team in complete dismay, but could still win about 6 games despite the sideshow that is Al Davis. Now to the bottom of the barrel where it is really starting to look like the Browns, Bengals, and the Texans may be the official punching bags of the AFC. Let’s see if they punch back. (I Doubt it.)
USC Moves To No. 1 in Polls
After a dominant victory over Virginia , USC has claimed the top spot in The Associated Press Top 25 Poll.
While former No. 1 Georgia opened its season with a glorified scrimmage against an FCS team (Formerly Div 1-AA) USC took a long trip across the country and battled it out against a BCS conference team coming away with a decisive 52-7 victory and staking their claim as a force to be reckoned with this coming season.
USC moves to No.1 In AP Poll
USC moves to No.1 In AP Poll
The move to No. 1 dropped Georgia and Ohio State the preseason No. 1 and 2 to second and third respectively.
The voting was extremely close with USC receiving 21 first place votes and 1,539 points. Georgia received 20 first place votes and 1,506 points. Ohio state pulled in 15 first place votes and 1,497 points.
Ohio State opened its season with a 43-0 win over Youngstown State, while Georgia beat Georgia Southern 45-21.
It is very early in the season and polls don’t mean much after the first game…that is unless you’re being moved out of or into the top 25. That was the case for a number of teams who had some dissapointing season openeres or some unexpeted victories.
Perhaps one of the most dissapointing performances came from Pittsburgh who entered the season at No. 25 in the AP poll and were expected to be a major player in the Big East Conference. Pitt lost its opening game to an unheraled Bowling Green team and were knocked out of the Top 25 when thte new poll came out Tuesday.
Clemson is another team that took a huge hit after their troubling loss to Alabama last week. The Tigers were dropped out of the Top 25 after being ranked ninth the opening week. Clemson was handled by Alabama 34-10 which jumped up 11 spots after its victory to claim the 13th spot.
Also falling out due to opening week loses were Virginia Tech and Tennessee. Tennessee lost a heart breaker to UCLA in overtime after tying the game on a 47 yard field goal at the end of regulation. Virginia Tech dropped its opener to East Carolina 27-22.
There are a few teams out there that have to be excited about the new poll having jumped into the Top 25 for the first time this season. Among them are No. 21 Fresno State who defeated Rutgers in their opening game, No. 22 Utah, No. 23 UCLA, and No. 24 South Carolina.
This marks the first time that a preseason No. 1 lost its spot in the opening week since Florida in 2001. The gators defeated Marshall 49-14, but No. 2 Miami beat Penn State 33-7 and secured the No. 1 spot.
Don Bosco Football- Where Legends are Created
Don Bosco Prep Football-Established 1956
•10 State Championships (1968, ‘70, ‘73, ‘85, ‘90, 2002, ‘03, ‘06, & ‘07)
•Members of the NNJIL since 1981 (14 championships)
•8 consecutive NNJIL championships
•Finished season nationally ranked 4 times since 2002
•4 State Championship since 2002
•New Jersey team of the year 4 times since 2002 ( 2002,’03, ‘06, ‘07)
•MSG Tri-State Team of the year 4 times since 2002 (2002, ‘03, ‘06, ‘07)
•2003 Team Named Greatest Team in the history of New Jersey (Star-Ledger)
•2003 team finished #2 in USA Today poll
•2007 team finished #3 in MaxPreps poll
•71-1 regular season record since 2000
•Enter season w/24 game win streak
Former Players on College Rosters
•Brian Toal- Boston college
•Mike Teel- Rutgers University
•Eric Cumba- University of New Hampshire
•Corey Wooton- Northwestern University
•Michael Ray Garvin- Florida State University
•Brian Roche- University of Louisville
•Darius Mann- University of Louisville
•Joe Marcoux- University of Villanova
•Nate Nurse- California University of Pennsylvania
•Ryan Lindsay- Boston College
•Tom Mele- Sacred Heart University
•Jason Mills- Lafayette University
•Matt Simms- University of Louisville
•Justin Trottau- University of Florida
•Sam Griffin- University of Cincinnati
•Ken Marcoux- Pace University
•Dan Marcoux- University of Akron
•Mike Farr- University of Rhode Island
•Alexander DiSanzo- Boston College
•Nick Mistretta- Columbia University
•Curt Williams- Columbia University
•Kevin Rose- William University
•Logan Siska- Iona University
•Ken Mahoney- Iona University
•Gerald Ford- Iona University
•Jack Daniels- Monmouth University
•Greg Kafaf- Colgate University
•Ken Prior- Colby College
•Braezen Subick- University of Rochester
•Orry Michael- John Hopkins University (Lacrosse)
•Brandon Boykin-Rutgers University (Baseball)
•Dale Fava- Delware Valley College (wrestling)
•Steven Proscia- University of Virginia (Baseball)
•Kevin Ferber- Amherst College
•Guy Germinario- Fordham University