Last week, I came on here and told you that the Cowboys were not the best team in the NFL, despite many pundits seeing things differently. If you saw my Wacky Week in Sports (click here if you haven’t), you will see I have acknowledged that the Cowboys are a legit team. But they still aren’t the best. That honor belongs to Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos. They were the best team last season and ran into a hot Seahawks team that is struggling to stay out of the cellar in 2014. Manning now stands alone as the all-time touchdown king in NFL history. It’s a record that will continue to grow, and although they say records were made to be broken, I don’t know how this one would ever be.
Heading into the halfway point of the season, the five best teams right now are the Denver Broncos, the Dallas Cowboys, the Arizona Cardinals, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Indianapolis Colts or Green Bay Packers. All six of these teams have huge games this weekend that are must-wins to keep the likes of the Chargers, Lions and Patriots from continuing to climb to the top. The five worst teams right now are the Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, the New York Jets, the Tampa Bay Suck-a-neers and Atlanta Falcons. The Titans, Vikings and the Saints are probably all worse off than the Falcons, but this Atlanta team was supposed to bounce back this season and instead, they seem to be sinking deeper into the abyss that their 2013 collapse was.
The San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants both have off this week which means we got a pretty full slate of 15 games. What should you be paying close attention to this weekend? Well, that’s why you clicked on this article, right?
1. The Battle of the Birds
The 5-1 Eagles travel to the desert for a showdown with the 5-1 Cardinals. This is a huge game for both teams. The NFC East, which was thought to be a one team race, suddenly has the upstart Cowboys sitting at 6-1. Every win matters for the Eagles in order for them to keep pace with Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray and the rest of the Cowgirls. The Cardinals have done it so far with smoke and mirrors. Somehow they have won games with Drew Stanton at the helms. Their only loss was to a Broncos team that is the best in the NFL and that game was close until Logan Thomas had to replace an injured Stanton. The Cardinals are for real in a very tough division and have Carson Palmer back at the helms. The more they can separate themselves from a slumping Seahawks and 49ers team that are waiting to breakout, the easier a path they have to the post season.
2. The Bears are at it again.
The Bears were 2-1 and the offense seemed as if they were on the verge of breaking loose. They would need to be to keep them in games the way their defense was losing players to injury and underperforming. They are now at 3-4 and Jay Cutler is not having the MVP-season that Brandon Marshall projected (surprise, surprise). It led to a well-documented locker room tirade by Marshall after this week’s embarrassing loss AT HOME to a not-so-good Dolphins team. Cutler and Marshall are known to be on top of their game when happy, but can tear a clubhouse apart when they are babies not winning.
This week they roll into Foxboro in need of a win, but square off against the anti-Bears. Tom Brady and his boys were reeling, blowing an opening day win against the Dolphins and getting spanked by the Chiefs on Monday Night Football. Then it clicked and the Pats have been one of the NFL’s hottest teams. Brady has gone for 914 yards and 9 touchdowns without a turnover over their last three wins. The defense is suspect, especially with Jerod Mayo done for the season, but as long as Brady is rolling, Rob Gronkowski, Shane Vereen and Julian Edelman will continue to put up enough points to win… even if they need to block a kick by the lowly Nick Folk to do so.
3. What’s wrong with the champs?
What is going on in Seattle? The Rams? The defending champs lost to a Rams team led by Austin Davis and Tre Mason. Both are quality rookies who will have a nice, long career in the NFL, but the defending champions of the NFL should be able to go out and shred a team led by two rookies who were third-stringers a few weeks ago. They are coming apart at the seams. Not only have they lost two in a row, the Legion of Boom has been embarrassed, letting up 58 points in the last two weeks. I guess Richard Sherman has spent to much time chasing that Chunky Soup to focus on defense. This week, they sent locker room migraine, Percy Harvin, to the Jets. After Harvin fought with Russell Wilson, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin, squeaky-clean Pete Carroll is looking to change the culture of the Seahawks’ clubhouse.
This week they roll into Carolina. The Panthers aren’t the best team in the world, but they are good enough to sneak one past a good team if they aren’t ready. At the very least, they can pull of another one of those exciting ties like they did when they half upset the Bengals. If the Panthers can find a quality running back who lasts more than 35 seconds without getting injured, they have put together a very stout offense. Cam Newton can kill you in so many different ways. Kelvin Benjamin is an absolute stud and Greg Olsen may be the top tight end in football right now. The Seahawks better be careful, or they are going to lose their third in a row.
Game of the Week: Chargers go to Mile High.
Who would have thought that this game would have so many implications? The Thursday night showdown in Denver is sure to be a great game. At the very least Peyton Manning is going to throw for 300 yards to Demaryius Thomas, who is the most exciting wide receiver to watch in the NFL. Seriously, the guy is always open, right? He streaks over the middle, gets to the sideline and from that point on he was run-ning.
The Chargers have been no slouches either. Branden Oliver has made the injuries to Donald Brown and Ryan Mathews irrelevant and Philip Rivers is possibly the second best quarterback in football. This is the match-up you want to see, two gun slingers in the Wild West shooting it out for AFC West supremacy. I wouldn’t expect much defense in this one.
Survivor Pool Pick of the Week: Well, folks, there were once 80 in the legendary Beat the Pooch survivor pool and thanks to the dismal play of the Seattle Seahawks the past two weeks, the pool is down to nine. Yours truly is still standing. Last week was a close one, as I told you the lock of the week was the Patriots, but a last second blocked kick by the Pats kept me at 7-0 on my locks. This week I am going with the Cowboys on Monday Night Football. They are playing the Colt McCoy-led (come on, stop laughing) Redskins in Big D. Man, the Washington Native Americans are a mess, huh? Their franchise quarterback can’t stay on the field and Kirk Cousins is losing snaps to Colt McCoy. They could have traded Cousins for anything they wanted a few months ago, and now he is being replace by Colt McCoy who has literally never had a good game in his career. The Cowboys keep rolling.
I was 4-1 at one point with my big gamble picks, but I have lost the last two after watching my Texans give the game to the Steelers Monday night. This week I’ve got a real doozy for you. The Jets have played surprisingly well over back-to-back weeks against two teams far superior to them. The Bills roll into town as the Kyle Orton-led Bills (seriously, folks, I’m not making this stuff up, stop laughing) and they have no running backs. Look for the newly arrived Percy Harvin to make an instant impact and for the Jets to roll to victory in this upset special.