Monday, January 16, 2006

Ah, how the mighty do fall.

Nobody is playing better football than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Nobody. I figured they'd beat the Colts, but they proved that Roethlisberger is no fluke. Big Ben is a real stud who can be relied upon to make things happen when he's dared to throw the ball. Combine a genuine passing threat with a dynamic running attack and you have a team that can score quickly or grind down the clock. Their choice. Then you have one of the best all around defensive units in the game. Peyton Manning didn't get a good look at that defense because he spent so much time staring at the RCA dome ceiling, but the bumps and bruises speak volumes. The Steelers figured out how to confuse the professor in his own lab and they'll be able to charm the snake on the road as well. At least Vanderjerk won't be able to spend another off season talking about how his team let him down again. In his defense that turf was rough and kickers were slipping on it all night...wait, sorry wrong game. Indy's turf was pristine. So much so that Jerome Bettis was drilling 56 yard kicks in the pregame warm up. Ok not really, but he could have. Kimo von Oelhoffen was. Now that the Steelers have won a game without cheating , the NFL should force them to wear Bengals jerseys the rest of the way and represent Cincy.

Carolina is a lot like Pittsburgh. That is to say they cheat and their coach needs a visit from the Queer Eye crew. They also let the season get away from them for a while but they didn't quit. Now they've gotten themselves back on track and they're playing the best football in the NFC. Seattle? Somehow I think the story would be different if Seattle didn't play in such a weak division. Apparently the NFC West didn't tell Seattle that they were trying to corner the market on the top five picks in the NFL draft. Seattle's favored by virtue of playing at home, but after watching Steve Smith lead the faculty in taking Chicago's defense to school, I doubt the Seahawks are going to give the Panthers a look they haven't seen yet. Can Seattle score enough points to keep Carolina on the outside looking in? Nope. They couldn't run up the score on Washington.

Next Year?

Hey Cincy! If you like Kimo von Oelhoffen you'll love Chad Johnson's new agent! Drew Rosenhaus is coming. The one thing CJ didn't need was a business manager who talks more than he does. Don't count on improving much this year. Nobody can ruin a season quite like Drew Rosenhaus. He'll bring out the worst in Chad Johnson. Anybody with kids knows that you can go from rather precocious to reprehensible in the blink of an eye. Drew Rosenhaus makes that inevitable. Think about it...who would have thought T.O. could get any worse than he already was? Enter Drew Rosenhaus...

The Colts need to put a leash on Manning. He might be able to call the shots during the regular season with some success, but his post season record is awful and this last game proves that it is on him. If the Colts got outgunned 42-38 you could point the finger at the defense and the coaches, but Manning seemed to spend 10 seconds on every play calling audibles and identifying the defensive alignment, then he'd get sacked or he'd throw a bad pass. Manning blamed the protection, but wasn't he stepping up to the line on every play pointing out the blocking assignments? Somebody get that guy a binky.

The Bears need to get a real offense. It seemed as though the defense was so focused on carrying the team that they overplayed. Had that defense known that their offense was going to show up, they might have stayed loose and kept Carolina under wraps. The Bears had better be thinking about big enhancements in the off season because their offense is every bit as bad as people think it is and the defense is grossly overrated. Here's a helpful hint, cover the other team's best receiver. Just a thought.

The Redskins won't be back. Not with the Amish offense Gibbs is so in love with. The Redskins sneaked into the playoffs and squeaked past a poorly coached Giants team. The Patriots will be back. Tom Brady proved that he is a consistent go to guy and not just a cog in a sturdy wheel. He can be the hub and he was the hub when the Patriots were staring a losing season square in the eye. He stepped up, provided regular season leadership and made plays. Brady's always been a working man's QB, simply executing the offense as directed. He took his game to the next level this year.

The NFL needs to do something about the officials. I've never seen a post season with so many blown calls. The worst was the pass inference call in Denver. It would have been bad enough to simply not call offensive pass interference, but to see offensive pass interference and throw a flag on the defense is inexcusable. That whole officiating crew should go. Actually getting fired isn't enough. NFL Europe?

Of course none of that matters because The Cleveland Browns are going to knock the rest of the NFL on its butt next year. They'll make a few moves and toughen up and Bobby Carpenter will emerge as the next great pass rushing hybrid player. Look for a 14-2 finish and a romp through the playoffs. At least until they get to the AFC title game where god has consistently proven that he does exist and he hates Cleveland.

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