It’s coming up on the final regular week in the NFL. To rid us of the tired old cliche’, “things are’t what they used to be” (ie they aren’t as good as they used to be), let me state that I think I’ve seen an outstanding level of footbll played this year. The good teams are very good, but even the teams at the bottom present weekly problems, thus every team is forced to play it’s best or quite likely lose.
As for my 49ers, if they win this week, they’ll end the season at 8-8. Of those 8 losses, only two will have been by more than 7 points–one game against the Eagles, who are probably the best team in the NFL. I’m a fan and biased, no doubt. But, let’s look at the Niners’ schedule this year; it was brutal and maybe the toughest of any team’s.
- Cardinals twice, winning both games. The Super Bowl runner-ups and they only have 5 losses, 2 against the Niners. The Cardinals’ record is better than last years Super Bowl team.
- Minnesota Vikings. Lost on the last play of the game at Minnesota.
- Indianapolis Colts by 4 points at Indy.
- Green Bay Packers–only lost by 6 points.
- The Eagles.
That’s a ridiculous schedule. But I’m hopeful. Alex Smith is a different player in the spread offense and they have 2 first round picks this year.
Anyway. The dark horse team in the New York Jets. They boast the best defense in the league and if rookie QB Sanchez plays well, I think they can play a major spoiler roll. They control their own destiny against the Bengals this week.
The Chargers appear strong all around. Phillip Rivers with his size, arm strength and quick release is reminding some of Dan Marino. Still, they have to go through Indy with Peyton Manning.
The Eagles present the most dynamic team. Their defense is sack happy and their offense is incredibly explosive with DeShean Jackson and underrated rookie first rounder Jeremy Maclin at wideout. I’d like to see their defense keep their opponents from scoring as many points as they do, but why quibble? The team’s won 6 in a row and is second in total points scored.
Then there’s the Vikings. Very talented at the skill positions on offense, I think they’ve been somewhat exposed on defense. If their quick defensive ends get shut down on pass rushing, the Viking cornerbacks are proving inneffective at covering deep routes. I’ve always maintained that a good defense begins with good corner play in modern football. While dangerous, the quick learning coaches around the league studied Minnesota closely and have picked at their weaknesses in the last few weeks.
Dallas is another super-talented team, but very inconsistant. Which team will show up from week to week is anyone’s guess. Same thing with the Saints lately.
All I can say is the NFC is stacked. I look at a team like Green Bay, whose QB Aaron Rodgers has played as well as anyone at that position in the league this year. Check out his numbers–he doesn’t get talked about enough. Then throw in the Packers’ very tough defense, chock full of young stud linebackers like AJ Hawk and Clay Matthews Junior.
Arizona has all the weapons on offense, too, especially with running back Beanie Wells finding his groove.
It’s going to be a very tough playoffs. My predictions are Philadelphia and Indianpolis in the Super Bowl.