News and Notes

The NFL’s Midseason Point: 20 Important People Ask 20 Important Questions

It’s time to sift through what we’ve learned about the first half of the 2012 NFL season.

Alas, I’ve called on 20 NFL personalities to pose questions to me in an effort to help dissect what we’ve seen so far and in turn, offer a look at what is to come.

1. Seriously bro, how good are we? – JJ, HOUSTON 

Thanks for the question JJ but for starters, don’t call me bro. This isn’t a kegger at the Delta House.

Anyhow, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. First, the good stuff. JJ, it’s pretty clear that while you may not enter the Hall of Fame this season, you’re going to be the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year by a landslide. You’ve got 9.5 sacks in seven games. You’re a sure thing.

As for your team, I’m worried. It’s pretty obvious that you’re the best regular season team in the AFC. Arian Foster, Kevin Walter, the ghost of Andre Johnson, and Owen Daniels with Matt Schaub as the trigger man is a formidable offense. Of course, your defense is pretty lethal too.

I’ve seen teams like you before though. The 2006 Chargers. The 2008 Titans. The 2009 Chargers. The aforementioned teams were strong regular seasons and that had flat playoff finishes.

In other words, you have two things going against you:

  1. History – Rich Gannon was the last QB not named Brady, Roethlisberger, or Manning not to reach the Super Bowl (XXXVII). JJ, perhaps Schaub should have his last name changed.
  2. Arian – Do you want Foster to be around next year and beyond? He is on pace for nearly 400 carries. That’s a suicide mission.

You may get to the Super Bowl but you’re not winning it. Sorry bro.

2. What are the odds I’m back next season? – ANDY, PHILLY

Sorry Andy, but your time is just about up. You’ve been the head coach since 1999. Granted, you’re run from 2000-2004 is one of the top runs in NFL history. Four straight NFC titles and a Super Bowl appearance. But after that?

Since ’05, the Eagles reached one NFC title game (a loss to Arizona) and have three playoffs win (the last coming in the ’08 playoffs versus Eli Manning).

Plus, you hired first-time defensive coach Juan Castillo to be your defensive coordinator while bringing in the combo meal combination unit that is defensive line coach Jim Washburn and offensive line coach Howard Mudd.

It’s pretty clear your team doesn’t listen to you.

Most importantly, if I hear “I need to do a better job” in your pressers again, I’m going to hit my 46-inch Samsung TV with a bat.

Time’s yours.

3. What are the odds I’m back next season? – MICHAEL, PHILLY

Oh jesus. You too?!?

Here’s the deal Michael.

I want a leader at quarterback; not a guy who is auditioning for the much-needed Lifetime film “Chicken Soup For A Depressed QB’s Soul”.

Also, I don’t think you can get this team to a Super Bowl whether it be this season or 2015. Including the postseason, you’ve only won 10 of 23 starts.

Lastly, Jake Delhomme has more career playoff wins than you (5 to 2). That doesn’t sit well with me.

I hope you have some long-johns for your run as the starting quarterback of the Buffalo Bills in 2013.

4. We still have a shot at the playoffs if we stop mismanaging the clock, make proper play calls, and stop grossly underachieving, right? – TONY, DALLAS 

Oh Tony. The Cowboys never learn. Apparently, you haven’t looked at the schedule yet.

You’ve still got two against the Eagles and two against the Redskins. Games against the Falcons and Steelers loom as well.

You’ll be at home a fair amount. Plus, the Eagles are quickly becoming the Titanic of the NFC.

5. Will I ever get a chance to play quarterback for an extended period of time? I just feel like I’d be good at it. – TIM, EAST RUTHERFORD

HAHAHA! I shouldn’t laugh because you’ll be in there to spell Mark Sanchez at some point.

Let’s face reality though. Look Timmy, you’re a nice kid but you can’t play.

6. When are people going to give my team credit? We might be the best team in the AFC. – PEYTON, DENVER

Hmmmm, I don’t know about that but I’m somewhat surprised at how well you’ve played in the season’s first half.

The Sheriff appears to be alive and well. I must say that watching him with all new players and essentially being a teacher/coach/mentor/quarterback is one of the most inspiring things of the season.

Denver’s one-game lead with Norv and the Chargers (sounds like a bad 1960s soul group) in chase mode might as well be a 60-game margin.

Denver will win the AFC West. As for the conference, you’re not the favorite but you’re definitely in the discussion.

7. Do you have any suggestions on how we can fix our offense? – CAM, CAROLINA

Yep. Try harder. Not giving millions of dollars to running backs you’re not using would help too.   Carolina is 20th in rushing attempts for heaven’s sakes.

8. So, I’ve read some of the things you’ve said about my team not being legit. We just waxed your favorite team in their building by two scores a couple of weeks ago. How’d that taste? Oh, and are we legit now? – MIKE S., ATLANTA

Mike, can we dial down your obnoxious meter? Geez. As for your first question, read the blog and you’ll know how it tasted, creep.

As for the question’s second part, I’m still not buying the Falcons.

So far, Atlanta has played the AFC West and four teams that probably will not make the playoffs (Carolina, Washington, Philly, Dallas).

Denver is the only quality win.

Qtherwise, Atlanta’s first-half schedule has been an abomination.

Plus, should I be worried that your defense is ranked 20th while playing against a collection of bad teams? I think so.

If I’m an NFC contender, I have no problem going into Atlanta for a playoff game. The Packers did it two seasons ago and it worked out well for them.

The Falcons have a bevy of offensive playmakers but have been renowned gag artists in the postseason. I’m passing on the red and black flavored Kool-Aid at the moment.

9. On a scale from 1-10, how badly did Roger Goodell screw us? – SEAN P., NEW ORLEANS

Well, the blood is on your hands so let’s ease up on that. To answer your question though, I’ll go with a 7.

Losing players to suspension can happen. When you’re down to the interim’s interim head coach, that is going to cost you dearly.  If I went to a Chick Fil-A and suspended the manager for improper conduct for a year and then brought in a cashier to run it and then suspended him too for six weeks; and handed things over to the guy who puts the pickles on the chicken sandwiches, there is going to be some impact on the day-to-day operations.

It just wasn’t possible for the Saints to avoid the sting of losing Sean Payton.

Quick sidebar, how much does New Orleans hate themselves for losing to Kansas City….AT HOME!

I don’t feel that badly for New Orleans though. I mean, have you seen that defense?

Gross.

10. Do I actually have a chance to win a playoff game? – ANDREW, INDIANAPOLIS

Well, if Flacco and Sanchez can do it, so can you.

Here is my concern. Let’s say Indy reaches the playoffs. There is a chance that you’ll enter the playoffs as a five or six seed.

That means a potential trip to New England, Baltimore or…………………………………………..

Denver.

Andrew, you’re a nice kid. However, if the Colts play Denver in the postseason, it will be the darkest hour for the Colts franchise since those Mayflower vans left Baltimore.

Peyton is going to attempt to unleash the hounds of hell on Indianapolis.

FINAL SCORE: BRONCOS INF, COLTS 6

11. I’m the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, yes? – BOB, WASHINGTON

If Roger Goodell doled out an award for most exciting rookie, you’d be in good stead. However, after the last few weeks a few problems have developed.

1. Mr. Luck

2. Mr. Touchdown Doug Martin

Martin’s last two weeks puts him in the discussion. While he would have to keep it up to win, it would be tricky.

Sorry Bob. In the long run, this will be Andrew’s race to lose.

12. Why do people keep blaming me for everything that goes wrong in San Diego? What Rivers and A.J. Smith? – NORV, SAN DIEGO

Norv, you’re right. It’s their fault…and yours too.

It’s a problem when it routinely takes two months for your team to respond to you. Blowing a 700-point lead at home to the Broncos didn’t help either.

13. Who’s got it better than us?!?!??!?!?? – JIM, SAN FRANCISCO

In the NFC, a few teams. New York, Atlanta, Green Bay. Basically, any team that has a  good quarterback heading into the playoffs.

San Francisco’s kryptonite is Alex Smith obviously. I think it’s highly difficult in today’s pass-happy NFL to dictate the pace of a game with a defensive-oriented for at least three games in a row to win a Super Bowl.

It’ll take strokes of luck (see 2007 Giants), bad quarterback play (see ’07 Cowboys, ’07 Packers), and sketchy offensive line play (see ’07 Patriots) for the 49ers to make a elongated Super Bowl run.

14. Why in the world does my quarterback think he is elite? – RAY, BALTIMORE

Ray, I feel you. Joe Flacco means well but it’s not going to happen. Do me a favor. Get the NFL.com Game Rewind package and check out the All-22 on the Houston game and watch his performance.

Then, watch Aaron Rodgers’s game against Houston a week earlier.

If you can watch those two games and then tell me Flacco is elite, we’ve got a problem.

By the way, Ray how alarmed are you that Baltimore (an alleged Super Bowl favorite) played the lame Cleveland Browns to a standstill – twice?

15. I’m probably the NFL’s MVP again, right? – AARON, GREEN BAY

Well, your 25-5 TD-INT ratio is pretty awesome. However, the Packers are in second place and two games behind Chicago.

Peyton Manning, on the other hand, is awesome and in first place. His three losses are to Houston, Atlanta, and New England. Those three teams have a combined record of 20-4.

Sorry. Peyton is MVP.

16. What are the odds we get the first pick of the 2013 NFL Draft? – SCOTT, KANSAS CITY

Scott, you’re in the clear. Kansas City has played eight games and hasn’t led during any game!

Such an accomplishment should net you the first pick on principle alone. Prepare yourselves for the Matt Barkley regime!

17. What about us!?!??!! – ELI, EAST RUTHERFORD

New York’s two Super Bowl runs were a product of circumstance as much as luck and talent.

They had two perfect foils – the 2007 Patriots and 2011 Packers. Those two teams were high-powered passing attacks that were susceptible to pass rushing-heavy teams. Also, both were saddled with extremely ordinary secondaries.

Also, they were tested by the NFC East. This year, not so much. Granted, they have two division losses and close calls against Dallas and Washington. However, none of the other NFC East teams are likely to put pressure on the Giants in a divisional race.

Thus, New York will let its guard down heading into the playoffs. It appears Eli and company play best when the pressure is at some sort of extreme level.

Also, one can’t get lucky bounces forever.

18. Can I get back to the Super Bowl if I’m playing two games on the road? – TOMMY, FOXBOROUGH

Yep. Here’s what I’m thinking. Let’s say New England grabs the three seed.

A first-round win against Indy or Pittsburgh is doable. That will be followed by a trip to either Denver or Baltimore – both tough places to win. However, each squad has a shaky defense, which means it’ll be a gettable game for the Pats.

Then, a meeting in Houston for the AFC title.

By no means is that an easy trek to the Super Bowl, but it’s plausible.

The only way New England can muster that type of run is if they make a commitment to the rushing attack. No more Star Wars football.

Tommy, you’re going to need some multi-layered assistance to return back to the Super Bowl.

19. Give me some credit right now. I mean it. – JAY, CHICAGO

I knew there was a reason I didn’t like you. Jay, you’re too mouthy and pouty for my liking.

However, you’ve got one hell of a defense.

The Bears are the NFC’s biggest threat. If they stay healthy, I think they’ve got a great chance to reach New Orleans.

That’s a big IF though.

It appeared Chicago was set for a run last season but the combo of Cutler and Forte’s injuries sunk the season.

Chicago is better equipped this season but I’d feel a lot better if they had more to offer than Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, and a defense that scores.

The Bears need another offensive playmaker or two to win the Super Bowl.

Getting out of the NFC though? That is a possibility.

20. Be a man and declare yourself.Who is getting to the Super Bowl? – JOE, BALTIMORE

Not you Joe. So you can stop reading here.

I’m sticking with my preseason pick of Green Bay and New England. I’m not going to cop out on it…yet.

Although, Chicago vs. Denver is looking mighty enticing.

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