SOME NFL MID-SEASON REPORTS; THE NFL IS THE KNUCKLEHEAD OF THE WEEK

November 15, 2009

“The NFL at midseason,…” announced Tom Robinson on amptonRoads.com.
“Eight games into a season in which a full quarter of the teams are still vying for next year’s top draft pick.
Eight games left – except for the New York Giants and Houston Texans who have played nine – for the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts to try to
stay unbeaten.
Eight games left: For the Oakland Raiders, who have six touchdowns, to try and outscore the Saints’ defense, which has seven.
For the Arizona Cardinals to avoid the spooky Curse of the Super Bowl Loser and make the playoffs. Only one runner-up since 2000 has been so fortunate.
Ooooooo…
For the Washington Redskins’ unwatchable descent into nothingness to continue against second-half opponents whose collective record is 37-19. Lots of luck with that.
Speaking of which, eight games left for Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall to tackle somebody.
For San Diego Chargers coach Norv Turner, who has won just 2 of 19 replay challenges dating to 2007, to hire a red-flag consultant.
For the Kansas City Chiefs to run the ball across the goal line. Their dozen offensive touchdowns are all by passing.
For Peyton Manning, though it’s a long way off, to take aim at Dan Marino’s season record of 5,084 passing yards. Marino averaged 317.8 a game in 1984.
Manning’s average to date: 318.1.
For the 6-2 Pittsburgh Steelers, who the last time they were defending Super Bowl champs in 2006 started 2-6, to tune up for their bid to be the third franchise in 13 seasons to repeat.
Eight more games for defensive player of the year candidate Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings to pick on an offensive line his own size. Of Allen’s
league-best 10-1/2 sacks, 7-1/2 are against Green Bay’s porous pass-blockers who yield 4-1/2 sacks a game.
For the perpetually entertaining Brett Favre’s arm to hold up.
For rushing leader Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans to add to his total of plus-40-yard runs. Johnson has six, the second-most since Barry Sanders had 11 in 1997.
For Washington’s mega-expensive defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth to justify the investment.
For Terrell Owens to improve, if he’s still willing and able with the going-nowhere Buffalo Bills, on his career-low, 12.2 yards-per-catch average.
Eight more games for me to get – though it’s highly unlikely – stadium no-sign policies…. Fox’s Tony Siragusa…. The commercial annoyance named
“Jimmy Football.”… Fans in Elvis masks, house dresses and pig snouts…. Why passer rating is a reputable stat when Trent Green is much higher on the career list than Johnny Unitas and John Elway…. How Michael Irvin keeps getting hired for TV…. Why Dan Snyder just can’t get it right.
Offensive most valuable player
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
… over New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Minnesota’s Brett Favre. What’s so impressive: Two of Manning’s top -three wide receivers are a fourth-round rookie (Austin Collie) and a guy (Pierre Garcon) who caught four passes last year as a sixth-round rookie. Plus, Indy only rushes for 85 yards a game; when Manning was offensive player of the year in 2004, the Colts averaged 116 rushing.
Compare Manning’s pace with his ’04 season:
YR COMP ATT PCT TD INT
2009 221 313 70.6 16 5
2004 336 497 67.6 49 10
Defensive most valuable player
Darren Sharper, New Orleans Saints safety
The William and Mary graduate, in his 13th season, has helped give the new-look Saints defense the bite it desperately needed since arriving as a free agent from the Vikings. Sharper has returned three interceptions for touchdowns (97, 99 and 42 yards) and has 11 in his career. That’s second all-time to Rod Woodson’s 12.
Offensive most valuable rookie
Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings
Unless he misses games, Virginia Beach’s Harvin is going to win this for real, on a sprint. Harvin already has the league’s best kick-return average (30.7) and he’s third in receiving yards (369) among rookies.
Defensive most valuable rookie
Brian Cushing, Houston Texans outside linebacker
Buffalo cornerback Jairus Byrd has seven interceptions. But Cushing, out of Southern Cal, is one of the most active players in the league. He’s second in
tackles (78), has two interceptions, two forced fumbles, 1-1/2 sacks, a tackle for a safety and has broken up 10 passes. That’s a heck of a half-season.
Coach of the half-year
Josh McDaniels, Denver Broncos
… for purposefully restoring calm and renewed vigor to a franchise that was reeling from his clashing arrival.
Biggest surprises
Upward-arrow division
Denver Broncos, who have gone from 29th in yards allowed last year to third.
Down-and-out division
Tennessee Titans, 13-3 in ’08 to a 0-6 start, now 2-6. Who knew?
Most knee-shaking, earth-quaking, breath-taking moment so far Brett Favre comes back to Lambeau Field wearing purple.
Flukiest winning play Josh McDaniels wins his coaching debut when Denver’s Kyle Orton – on his own 13 with 28 seconds left, trailing Cincinnati 7-6 –
connects with Brandon Stokley for an 87-yard TD on a ball batted to Stokley by Bengals defensive back Leon Hall.
Fourth quarter that “returned” the most drama The Steelers return a Brett Favre fumble 77 yards, Minnesota’s Percy Harvin answers with an 88-yard kickoff return, then Pittsburgh returns an interception 82 yards to beat the Vikings.
Most inexplicable result Sandwiched between a 44-7 loss to the Giants and a 38-0 loss to the Jets, the Oakland Raiders beat Philadelphia 13-9.
Most hyped preseason stories that went nowhere 1) Punts hitting the relatively low-hanging video board at the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium. Hasn’t happened. 2) Michael Vick operating out of the Philadelphia Eagles’ “Wildcat” formation. A big blah. 3) Redskins win another offseason by signing Albert Haynesworth. Three sacks and a couple dozen tackles. Big deal.
Quite the busy year in the 757 Bruce Smith goes into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Michael Vick goes to the Philadelphia Eagles after leaving federal prison.
Plaxico Burress goes to jail in New York on a weapons charge. Percy Harvin goes to Minnesota after flunking a drug test at the scouting combine and falling to No. 22 in the draft.
And on second thought Let’s see how those preseason predictions I tossed around in September are proceeding, shall we?
AFC playoff teams Patriots, Steelers and Colts are golden. Baltimore and San Diego have work to do. Tennessee? Hmmm.
NFC playoff teams The Chicago Bears sounded good at the time. Looks like the New York Giants are too hurt to make the playoffs. But Minnesota’s
shooting for home field, and Philly, Arizona and Atlanta are in the mix. The Saints? Had them 8-8. Thought they couldn’t play defense. Pretty funny.
Super Bowl New England over Minnesota. Yep. Still like it.”

Scott Ostler awarded his “Knucklehead Of The Week” to the front office of the NFL. ” The NFL has a list, something like a restaurant a la carte menu, of
things players can do and how much it will cost them in fines. Like (actual amounts):
Drill defenseless receiver: $7,500
Chop block: $5,000
Rough the passer: $5,000
(with relish, $7,500)
Go to the ground with a knee to celebrate: $10,000
Let your sock slip, exposing a knee: $5,000
Wear a college hat on the sidelines: $25,000 (seriously)
This is how the NFL convinces us it’s serious about doing minimizing life-threatening concussions? By making a fashion faux pas four or five times more serious than a concussion-producing cheap shot?”

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