Monday - Jan 25, 2021

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Ranking the Contenders

Many fans outside of New England never appreciated how good of a player Tedy Bruschi was and how much he meant to the New England Patriots. Many attributed his knack for making big plays to the players around him or the system. But the truth is that he was a truly special player that changed games. His return to the NFL after he suffered a stroke in February is an inspiring story.  And certainly the 3-3 Patriots could use a little inspiring and play making to turn their defensive struggles around.


1.      Indianapolis Colts 6-0 (1): Another week and another victory because of the Colts stout defense. It didn’t start well, but when you put the Colts propensity for getting turnovers and the Rams propensity to give them up together, it was bound to happen.


2.      Denver Broncos 5-1 (3):  This team is back to doing what made them champions, solid running, limited mistakes by the QB and solid defense. The big play ability of Tatum Bell has finally showed up.


3.      Cincinnati Bengals 5-1 (5):  The Bengals put themselves in control of the AFC North with a key win on the road after their first loss a week ago. The Bengals are clearly among the top teams in AFC as long as the Palmer to Johnson connection continues.


4.      Atlanta Falcons 4-2 (6):  Big plays by the defense and special teams, along with another solid day by Warrick Dunn helped overcome a solid performance from a Saints team who had every excuse to lose.


5.      Seattle Seahawks 4-2 (11):  Even against the pathetic Texans, 320 yards rushing is impressive. It’s amazing that the Seahawks barely got a sniff when they put Alexander up on the trade market.


6.      Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-1 (14): The Bucs bounced back from their first loss behind solid plays from their defense and a good day by fill in Michael Pittman. Cadillac Williams didn’t play and Brian Griese went down as well, the bye week comes at a good time.


7.      Pittsburgh Steelers 3-2 (2): Does anyone want to question Ben Roethlisberger’s value to the Steelers now. He doesn’t turn the ball over 4 times leading to 14 Jaguar points.


8.      Jacksonville Jaguars 4-2 (8): They took advantage of the Pittsburgh QB situation as they scored 14 points off of four Tommy Maddox turnovers.  They seem to make just enough plays to win games.


9.      Washington Redskins 3-2 (7):  Again Mark Brunell went into a hostile environment on the road and performed well. And again the Skins got beat by big plays, this time a 60 yard TD catch by Priest Holmes. But even though they have dropped two straight, they have proven that the 3-0 start wasn’t a fluke.


10.  Dallas Cowboys 4-2 (12):  In a sloppy victory were both teams accounted for eight turnovers, the Cowboys found a way to win in OT as Drew Bledsoe continued to throw the ball well.


11.  San Diego Chargers 3-3 (9): After rushing, receiving and passing for a TD on Sunday the Chargers should release Nate Kaeding and hand over the kicking duties to LT as well.


12.  Carolina Panthers 4-2 (15):  Jake Delhomme was knocked out of the game after throwing two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. But Chris Weinke, playing for the first time since 2002 lead the Panthers to a game winning score.


13.  Philadelphia Eagles 3-2 (13): McNabb’s injuries aren’t going to disappear over the 2 week break, but maybe it was enough of a break to get his team back on track.. They’ll need it because the NFC East will be a battle.


14.  New England Patriots 3-3 (4): The bye week can’t come at a better time as the defense hit rock bottom in the 1st half of the Denver game. The question will be if Richard Seymour and a storybook return of Tedy Bruschi can start a dramatic upswing.


15.  NY Giants 3-2 (10): Eli Manning had to lead his team to the end zone for a second time late in the 4th to keep the Giants hopes for a win in OT alive because of a Brandon  Jacob’s fumble on the one. But it was all for naught as they G-Men lost in OT.


16.  Kansas City Chiefs 3-2 (16): A big win at home, but Tony Gonzalez has to start putting up some numbers for the Chiefs to be successful. The defense still has some issues, but Priest Holmes age is certainly not an issue anymore.


17.  Buffalo Bills 3-3 (20):  2-0 since Holcomb took over. He hasn’t been spectacular, but the move was the right one as they Bills share the AFC East lead.


18.  Cleveland Browns 2-3 (18): Trent Dilfer’s return to Baltimore didn’t go quite as he planned as the Browns offense got stalled. But the defense played well and the Browns still continue to be competitive at the least.


19.  Miami Dolphins 2-3 (17): Ricky Williams was a non factor in his return, but no one else was in the Miami running game either. The talent starved Dolphins have a long road ahead.


20.  Chicago Bears 2-3 (29): Kyle Orton outplayed Daunte Culpepper, remember when that meant something. The defense was solid again and the Bears are alive in the pathetic NFC North race.


21.  St Louis Rams 2-4 (19):  Things started out well as they built a 17 – 0 lead over the Colts as the Rams concentrated on running the ball. But the loss of Bulger and 4 turnovers ended that fast. I have never seen a team that beats themselves so much as this team has the past 2 years.


22.  Baltimore Ravens 2-3 (26):  The Ravens defense finally played like expected, shutting down the Browns and creating turnovers. The offense still wasn’t great but it was finally good enough for a win.


23.  Tennessee Titans 2-4 (23): The Titans could only keep the Bengals high powered offense down for three quarters as they gave up 14 fourth quarter points and the game.


24.  NY Jets 2-4 (22):  I guess we know why there are not many 41 year old QBs starting in the NFL. But at least Curtis Martin looked younger this week.


25.  Green Bay Packers 1-4 (24):  After a 0-4 start, they beat the Saints by 49 points, get a week off, and now get to face the Minnesota Vikings with a chance to get a share of the division lead. That’s about as good as it gets for start like theirs.


26.  Detroit Lions 2-3 (25): The defense was excellent, picking off Jake Delhomme three times, two of which were returned for touch downs. But letting Chris Weinke, who hadn’t played since 2002, to drive 79 yards for the game winning score erased all that. Again they got little going on offense.


27.  New Orleans Saints 2-4 (27): They had every excuse to roll over and get killed this week as badly as they struggled last week while losing Deuce McAllister for the year. But they didn’t and played as well as they could, but just lost to a better team


28.  Oakland Raiders 1-4 (21):  With or without Moss the team has issues on offense, as the running game disappeared after a brief one week appearance.


29.  Arizona Cardinals 1-4 (30): Warner returns this week, but after what McCown as done, there is no QB battle.


30.  Minnesota Vikings 1-4 (28): Two weeks to prepare for a division game versus the 1-3 Chicago Bears, lead by a rookie QB that has been horrible to say the least. They lost 28-3, how does Mike Tice have a job after this?


31.  San Francisco 49ers 1-4 (31): Tim Rattay has been shipped off to Tampa Bay, so there is no choice but to keep Alex Smith at the helm. Washington isn’t exactly the defense he wants to see after his atrocious start two weeks ago.


32.  Houston Texans 0-5 (32):   They just suck………

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