Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Review of the NFL season after Week 14

The NFL playoffs are just 3 weeks away and teams, coaches and players are going wild and crazy trying to find a way to win each and every Sunday. Last year we had the fascinating story of the dominance of the New England Patriots but this season there is no overachieving team that everyone knows is destined to make it to the Super Bowl or win it, on any given Sunday anyone can lose and hurt their playoff chances or hurt their momentum going into the playoffs just ask the 1968-1969 Baltimore Colts. For some teams like the Baltimore Ravens and the Dallas Cowboys its win or stay home, they both sit at number 6 in their respective conferences or in other terms the last wild card teams to make the playoffs. Both teams have difficult games to play to cap off their season including playing each other on the only Saturday night football game of the regular season, which could possibly be the last home game for the Cowboys in Texas Stadium depending on their playoff standings. For other teams its win and make sure you have no injuries entering the playoffs. Teams looking at it at this stance include the hated Pittsburgh Steelers, with a 10-3 record and the number 2 seed in the AFC and the Tennessee Titans, who tried to create their own pursuit for perfection but were upset by the New York Farves (Jets) which caused them to fall to 10-1. They are now in a close race with Pittsburgh for the number 1 spot in the AFC and home field advantage. The New York Giants are another team with this perspective, they are 11-2 after falling to the Eagles at the Meadowlands, and they just lost Plaxico Burress this week for the entire season due to his off-the-field issues, hopefully the team can go on without him but keep in mind that without Mr. Burress and some key plays that revolved around him during the playoffs and the Super Bowl, Eli Manning might not have joined his brother as one of only 2 Mannings around the world to hoist championship rings. Finally there are the teams that are just waiting until the draft next June and keeping a close eye on the BCS to see some future players they may be competing against on their team or on other squads. Those are teams in the cellar like Oakland, Kansas City, Seattle, San Francisco and Detroit. Absolutely no surprises there, but there were two teams that were real disappointments this year, this includes the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are on the outside looking in with a 4-9 record which is the 4th worst record in the AFC. The Jags had everything going for them, a great running tandem in Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor, a successful quarterback in David Garrard, a consistent offensive line giving Garrard more time at the pocket and an addition in the wide receiver position via free agency with the underrated Jerry Porter who came from the disgruntled Raiders. To top all that, during the playoffs they were able to come out of Heinz Field defeating the Steelers and they came out during the regular season with surprise wins against the reigning AFC South champs in the Indianapolis Colts. But one thing led to another and all hell broke loose, instead of the offense wearing different defenses down, the defenses of different teams began to notice offensive tactics quick which lead to losses, a decreased time of possession during the games and a tired defense who was on the field majority of the game. Put that together with WR Matt Jones getting caught with coke, and offensive tackle Richard Collier becoming paralyzed from the waist down after a shooting and you have an underachieving south Florida football team. Another disappoint this season is the San Diego Chargers who just came 2 wins away from winning it all. The Chargers are likely to be eliminated from playoff contention in the next 2 weeks due to the surprise in Mile High with the Broncos. The Charge of America’s Finest City were filled with injuries including their best player on defense in Shawne Merriman as well as a not so hot LaDanian Tomlinson and a not 100% Philip Rivers. The lose of key free agents of Michael Turner, Lorenzo Neal and Shane Olivea was another factor and at the beginning of the season in training camp, tensions were flying high amongst all the players due to last year’s playoff lose to the Patriots, the lack of a leader to lead them to the promised land after Shawne Merriman’s injury and the lack of a player to step up as a leader during their difficult times through the course of the season. They were expected to be in the Super Bowl and to be one of the teams to take advantage of an injured Tom Brady and a shockingly inconsistent (until recently) Peyton Manning but they were never able to get over the hump, get off the fence and hop over the border. Despite the many disappoints and positives that fill this interesting and intriguing season players still have to remember that there is a lot of football to be played and that even though the numbers behind the teams that they play at the end may not be good, these are still NFL professional football teams, every single team in the National Football League is a team to be reckoned with and not a team to be treated like a mid-major or an amateur team. At least we can draw one conclusion; it’s not a good time to be playing college or pro football in California.

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