Alright, let's look at what we've got around the AFC. Remember: what matters most when it comes to making the playoffs are the slate of opponents in your OWN conference. Besides, that way we don't have to think about Favre:
NY Jets (4-1):
I'm not really sure how to take this team. I still don't think Mark Sanchez is a quarterback that I'd trust with the keys to a franchise as the passing game for the Jets is middling, but he's certainly improved from last season. The Jets are average at best against the pass, too, something Reivis' nagging injuries would keep me from saying that will change. But, there's really no denying LaDanian Tomlinson was one of the best signings in the off season as he's carrying the bulk of the Jets' top-ranked run offense, averaging an impressive 165 yards a game. The Jets have the highest positive point differential in the NFL, a win against every team in their division, a top-10 defense and impressive play-calling on both sides of the ball. Damn. I guess I do know how to take this team: They are winning the AFC East. Baltimore (4-1):
Sommonabitch. Looks like the only other team to 4 wins are these bunch of purple-clad miscreants. Baltimore's better than last season on the offensive side of the ball. Ray Rice's is a threat, even if we were able to mostly neutralize him, and the WRs have definitely been an upgraded from last year. Of course, the only win that indicates they are an above average squad to me was this week at home against Denver. I don't think Flacco will ever hoist a Lombardi Trophy, but then again Trent Goddamn Dilfer did for these guys. Which brings me to my point: this is not a championship caliber defense. Yes, they'll be getting Ed Reed back, but he doesn't play in the front seven, and they're the ones giving up chunks of running yards. Still, with Buffalo, Carolina and Cleveland left on their schedule, Joe Unibrow seems to be able to manage his way to enough wins that we'll likely be in chase made for awhile. It's a long season yet, but we'll need their two marquee match-ups against The Pats & Saints to go our way or we might not even be able to catch them come December 5th. UGH. If I spend all season pissed at Housh's catch over the middle, I'm going to swallow some antifreeze. Words elude me when I try to summon the hatred I have for the Ravens and their fans. Well, let's try:
I hate Edgar Allen Poe, that dark bastard deserved the cold, self-loathing existence he had.
Old Bay. That's all that's good in Baltimore. That's it.
Kansas City (3-1):
Yeah, they just got their run at immortality dashed by the Colts. But if you watched that game, you saw a surprisingly adept defense. They don't put up crazy numbers, in fact, they're last in the league with 3 sacks. I hate the cliche, but it's more of a "bend, don't break" approach. Jamaal Charles. He's good. Matt Cassel. He's not. Prognosticating is worth less than my Enron stock, but look at their SCHEDULE. Jesus. Only three of those opponents had winning records last year, one of which is San Diego, whom KC already beat. See you in the playoffs.
Moss is gone. All that is left is a receiving corps whiter than your local racquetball club. Previous experience would lead us to believe Brady is going to bootleg and slant their way to a winning record. I'm not buying it. The defense is the real story here. They're averaging allowing over 20 points a game. And that wasn't against any real contenders, save the Jets. We'll know more after this Sunday as the Baltimorons head to Foxboro for a game that I would hope ends with a mass grave. Oh, Mass. grave, get it? (State Abbreviation Joke!)
"And now, The Entire AFC South"
Arian Foster was eating bullets and sharting ice cream the first couple of games there, huh? And the rest of the offense, as we perhaps recall too strongly from last season, is pretty potent with Andre Johnson and Schaub chuckin' it. The Texans throw the ball sixty percent of the time. But their opponents throw it nearly eighty percent against them. That's a secondary that has given up 1,648 passing yards, dead last in the NFL. One dimensional teams are not long for the win column. Look for Houston to fall back with four of their next five against teams with winning records.
Two losses this early? The injury situation here is about as bad as I can recall this early in a season. Addai, Garcon, Wayne, Brown and Hart all with nagging issues on offense, not to mention Bob Sanders, Antoine Bethea and Gary Brackett all casualties on the other side of the ball. Still it'd be hard to believe a playoffs without "Pay-Pey™". The bye week should yield some positive momentum just in time for the uber-important Week 8 matchup with Houston, where a loss would mean giving up the tie-breaker and a probable Wild Card birth at best for Indy.
Since assuming the role of starting QB for the Jags in 2005 (Yes, he's been their guy for 6 six years, I know, right?) David Garrard has had an average passer rating of 85.something. He throws for more TDs than picks and he hands the ball off to MJD. He's a dependable game manager and the Jags always seem to find themselves right around the playoff bubble come year's end. This year, the AFC South seems to be more open, so are they capable of more? Not really. Garrard, Jones-Drew and Sims-Walker's numbers are all down a bit. Jacksonville's D is giving up 27 points a game. And they're averaging 20 a game on offense. Um, that'll be an issue. In order to avoid their usual fate, Jacksonville will need to pull off some impressive wins, yet. This week's matchup with the Titans would be a good start.
These guys have to be the front-runner to come out of their division. Both of their losses (to us and Denver) were by a single score. In both instances, Chris Johnson was almost completely neutralized, something I can't imagine most teams doing. Vince Young only has 600-some yards passing and only 2 picks. Because he hasn't needed to throw the ball that much, running an offense that still manages 27 points a game. Just this past week, they were able to defeat a desperate Cowboys team. But, they rely on Johnson too much. And their D is really susceptible to the pass. And that's how it will remain until their ousting in the first or second round of the playoffs. If it weren't for the fact that Johnson IS able to be bottled up and defense is at a premium in the playoffs, I'd pick them as a threat to do more.
Another difficult one to call. Two decent running backs, a legit deep threat wide out and a top-ten defense. But, Chad Henne's stock is plummeting, aided by a public statement of lack of confidence by his own GM, and The Fish suuuuuck against the run. Wins over Buffalo and Minnesota don't look so impressive, now. Coming off the bye, I'd expect them to pull of a mini-upset and snag a win against Green Bay, especially if Matt Flynn (36.1 career passer rating!) is under center. If that happens and they are able to figure out a way to get the ball to Brandon Marshall, this squad could take advantage of a paddy-cake schedule and back door in to the playoffs. I wouldn't bet on it, though.
We remember Bruce Gradkowski. He's the hometown guy who sent us spiraling down to playoff purgatory last season. Well, he's back, after a failed attempt to give Jason Campbell the reigns in Oakland. The fact is they simply don't have enough weapons here. Louis Murphy is a good 3rd teir receiver and McFadden and Bush are capable of putting up 100-yard games occasionally, but when your tight end is your main target, something is amiss. They'll hover below .500 all year. The Raiders will be coming off the bye when we play them on Nov. 21st, which would make repeating the mistake of overlooking them all the more egregious.
"Almost Pity. Almost."
Aside from a hilarious victory over Cincinnati, The Browns are winless. But there are some salvageable parts here: Peyton Hillis is tied for 3rd in the league in rushing TDs and...NOPE, THAT'S IT. THAT'S ALL THEY GOT. When you are disappointed that Seneca Wallace is hurt and unable to start for you, your season is over. Dead. It's actually impressive that they've been able to contend in every game, loosing four games by a total of 22 points. They'll jump up and nab 2/3 more wins this year, but it sure as hell better not be against us.
Fred Jackson put up some numbers this week. The rest is horrid. When you start a QB one week and then he winds up on waivers the next, it's generally not a good sign. If you're in a suicide league pool, these guys are your horse to ride all season. Though, I would love NOTHING more than watching them come off the bye and posting a W on Bawltymore. Hey, a kid can dream, right?
Only 5 teams in the AFC with a single loss as we pass the quarter pole? It seems to me that the conference is more open than usual. I mean, just look at the AFC South. The AFC jumped out to an early lead on the NFC as far as W/L, but hold only a slight advantage, now. Still, I think 9-7 will snag a Wild Card spot in the NFC, while it'll take 10-6 in our conference. Playoff Picks are essentially pointless at this point, but hey why not?
East: NY Jets 12-4(BYE)
North: Baltimore 12-4(BYE)
South: Tennessee 11-5
Pittsburgh - 11-5
(Don't hold me to this stuff...)