Monday Morning Left Guard
October 31, 2011, 1:26 pm
By Bernard Bokenyi
Week eight is just about in the books. We have some answers but more questions have been created as there are several teams that are still finding an identity. I begin in Baltimore as the Ravens are a team that needs to be concerned about the status of their offense.
After an awful display on Monday night in Jacksonville, they show up lifeless in the first half on Sunday at home against Arizona. I had mentioned a few weeks back that Baltimore will go as far as quarterback Joe Flacco takes them. Arizona took a 24-6 lead to the locker room at halftime and gave that game up. Fueled by the energy of the Ravens defense, Flacco and company go their act together in the second half and came back to take the win at home. I give them credit for rallying, but if they once more have to go on the road in the playoffs, this kind of comebacks will be extremely tough to expect.
Pittsburgh had a big win at home against New England, but I still have doubts. Sitting at 6-2 they have the best record in the AFC. I am constantly amazed how Ben Roethlisberger stays in the pocket as long as he does. He has made a career of doing this and for the most part has had success. I look at the Steelers though and I see them as a team with holes. There is a lot of talent there, but they are far from a perfect unit. Roethlisberger needs to cut down the amount of hits he takes. He won’t do his team any good sitting on the sideline. The number one things young quarterbacks struggle with is getting rid of the ball quickly. The Steelers have the tools to once more win the AFC, but they are not the only ones. Getting home field advantage in the AFC will be crucial. Although at this point I would be shocked if that path runs through Heinz Field.
Games in this league are always unpredictable, and that is a great thing. There is no reason that New Orleans should struggle to score points at St. Louis. Just a week before the Saints put 62 on the board. The Rams had yet to grab a win on the year and they were playing without Sam Bradford. But this is why the games are played on the field. I actually feel this is a good loss for the Saints. They will be right there down the stretch to win the NFC south. Wake up calls are important in the NFL. You need reminders of what you need to work on and what flaws you have. Give credit to St. Louis for shutting down the Saints offense in the first half and holding on down the stretch. The Rams defense has some playmakers. Chris Long and James Laurinaitis seem to be coming into their own. Rookie Robert Quinn had his second sack on Sunday. If the Rams can get a true number one wide receiver for Sam Bradford, I really feel they can turn things around. There is reason for optimism for Rams fans, I truly believe that. I expect them to win a few more games this season.
Detroit made a statement on Sunday. Now true, they took on a team that does not have an NFL quarterback, but I still like what I saw from the Lions. Matt Stafford had three touchdown passes and the defense had two scores as well. It was a solid outing for Detroit as they needed to end their slide. I am chuckling right now as I look at the game story. You would think an appropriate title may be “Stafford leads Lions to victory”, or “Detroit handles the Mile High challenge”. But no, the headline on NFL.com reads “Tebow has no answers as Lions pummel Broncos”. The propaganda on this guy is enough to drive me to drink. Enough already, he can’t play the position at the NFL level! Why does Fox Sports feel it necessary to talk about him during the World Series? When Joe Buck was promoting the NFL coverage for the upcoming weekend, he was forced to talk about an interview with Tim Tebow. The guy has done NOTHING in the NFL to warrant any of the media attention we are stuck to endure. If you don’t believe me, take a listen to Greg Cossell of NFL Films. His job consists purely of breaking down game film and analyzing players. He joined Chad Doing on 750 The Game. I agree with everything Gregg says.
The Eagles are a team to watch in the second half. They play in a division with no clear cut leader. Dallas is a mess, as long as they stick with Tony Romo at quarterback. Washington wishes they had Tony Romo, which is how bad their situation is. The Giants are leading the way, but a home loss to Seattle and a scare on Sunday at home against Miami makes me doubt New York. What we saw from Philadelphia on Sunday night is a lot more of what I expect down the stretch. I don’t know that the Eagles have enough to make noise in the playoffs, but you have to believe they can be in the race for the NFC East title. At this point though I really can’t see any team in the NFC matching up with Green Bay. Given the rough start out of the gate though, I have to believe the Eagles would be happy to make the playoffs, even if they lose in the Wild Card round.
I will end this week with an update on the competition for the first pick of the NFL draft. I am a little too fanatical when it comes to following the draft, I admit that. However with Stanford QB Andrew Luck waiting in the wings, this is a very intriguing story to follow. Miami is awful and blew a chance to steal a victory in New York on Sunday. However, the Dolphins will find a way to grab a win or two at sometime this year. Finishing 2-14 is no prize in the NFL. Miami will likely stumble into a few victories. I have to believe that Indianapolis will end the year with the worst record in the league. Poor drafting these last few years has caught up with the Colts. This just goes to show how amazingly good Peyton Manning is. Take him off the field and his team has no chance. I have always believed Manning is the best quarterback to ever play, this year just reaffirms my belief. He sure picked a good year to miss due to neck surgery. I just hope he gets healthy for 2012. A monumental decision could be on the line for the Colts as Andrew Luck just may be sitting there come April. I hope we get that kind of drama. Luck just might produce three first round picks if a team would trade out of the top spot.