I live in New York and the Jets and Giants (in that order) are my teams but over the years I've come to enjoy and respect well played and well managed football.
Kudos to the Patriots' front office that gave a tutorial in re-tooling an already formidable team. In 2006 QB Tom Brady's most dangerous receiver was the unreliable WR Reche Caldwell who lacked courage and play making ability. We all know the results of having added WRs Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth but the Pats front office deserves so much credit especially having done so on the cheap and for dessert they look to have landed a top 5 selection in the upcoming draft from the 49ers.
The Colts front office has been exceptional in their evaluation of talent and effective selection in the draft. The Colts decision to trade RB Edgerrin James and go with rookie RB Joseph Addai last year now seems visionary and they dramatically upgraded their secondary with CBs Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden, especially in run support. The Colts know ability when they see it. The loss of DE Dwight Freeney probably won't stop the Colts from making the playoffs but they'll need some help to make the AFC championship game and I can't see Robert Mathis being too pleased with the extra attention that he'll now face. How impacting are the injuries? QB Peyton Manning threw 6 picks sometimes without a Colt receiver in sight but that's because they weren't where he expected them to be. That's the problem with meeting your wide outs on Wednesday. How good are the Colts? Despite the 6 picks they were a blown Vinatieri 29-yard FG from winning.
Herman Edwards's decision to go with 2nd year QB Brodie Coyle seems to be ill timed for a team still in their divisional playoff but displaced QB Damon Huard didn't set the bar very high. There's little downside for the Chiefs but an inexperienced QB should be a kiss on the wound of loosing Dwight Freeney for the Colts. The Chiefs will pressure Manning but expect his receivers to be where he wants them to be.
Belichick and Dungy are the two best coaches in the game who regularly prepare their teams to win every week. It was the Pats adjustments against the Colts won the game for them. Brady looked mortal in a first half where he was pressured and threw two picks but the Pats understand winning. The Colts may have exposed the Pats Achilles Heel where their age and lack of speed at linebacker was exploited in pursuit. The Pats remain strong at the point of attack but there may be issues if you can keep them running to the sidelines.
I just read the top 10 most disappointing running backs in the NFL and must take issue with the inclusion of Thomas Jones on that list. He's run hard and done as much as he can with a line that was disrupted and downgraded by the trade of G Pete Kendall. His replacement, Adrien Clarke, has been dismal. An old rule of thumb in buying stereo equipment is that the sound quality will be as good as your worst component. When linemen compensate for an ineffective player it negatively affects the entire unit. Chad Pennington is no villain, just a QB who lacks a line that can properly block for him and control the ball with the running game. Jerricho Cotchery remains a bright spot, a tireless worker with courage and an awareness of the game. Keep an eye on him.
The Jets have shown too many ways to lose to have any shot against the Steelers who are winning ugly but often.
The Giants secondary was effective and aggressive in their 6 game winning streak but exposed by the Cowboys in their 31-20 win over the G-Men. The Cowboys adjusted well to take control of the game and isolate Terrell Owens for a couple of late TDs that sealed the game and in the process they proved that they are the best in the NFC. The Giants remaining schedule is tough more than daunting but that means that they aren't going to have any easy games. I hope I'm wrong but I see them at 9-7 by years end. Michael Strahan is still a stud.
Lion QB Jon Kitna is like an old Timex watch, give him a licking and he keeps on ticking. He gets sacked a lot but is a top QB under pressure and that's the long suit of the Giants. I hope I'm wrong but Kitna should be able to expose the Giant secondary as Tony Romo did last week.
This past week (11-11-07) I picked Cleveland to upset Pittsburg and they came close in their 31-28 loss. The Browns are developing into a quality team that has a real possibility to be in this year's playoffs. Undrafted rookie CB Eric Wright impressed with his solid hitting and run support as well as a pass defended in the end zone, ending up with 12 tackles and a sack. WR Braylon Edwards' TD toe dance was a thing of beauty and though that was his only catch of the game he's become an elite receiver. QB Derek Anderson has had some big games this year but the Steelers half time adjustments left him looking confused and ineffective but to his credit he threw no picks and that allowed the Browns to stay in the game. Other than week 2 vs. Cincinnati the Browns OL isn't giving RB Jamal Lewis any consistent opportunity to run the ball effectively and they might want to give little-used RB Jerome Harrison some more touches because he's quicker and might be able to make more with the little that this line is providing. If they should make the playoffs they'll need better play from their front 5. KR Joshua Briggs was electrifying and is another Brown playmaker. There's a lot of talent on this squad.
Having already traded their #1 pick the 49ers should have no interest in having the worst record in football but after an auspicious 2-0 start they've lost 7 straight and may not win again this season. The Seahawks 23-0 win isn't because they're that good rather that the 49ers are a mess and that bad. Sympathies to 49er coach Mike Nolan and his family on the passing of his dad, former 49er coach Dick Nolan.
Safe Home to all.