My football observations, both NFL and CFL.
After week 9 in the NFL…in particular a hard look at the New England Patriots, a team I like to dislike because of the idolization of Brady/Belichek by the media. A group that just does not want to be the first to admit that the Pats are not nearly as good as their record this year and that Tom Brady is not “great” any more. My argument follows:
The Patriots schedule to begin this season was a joke.
week 1 Steelers played awful and got crushed
week 2 smoked the fish (Miami could well go with only 2 wins this year)
week 3 beat Jets (currently 1-7, no hope of getting much better)
week 4 beat Bills (until then the only team above .500 the Pats faced)
week 5 skinned washington
week 6 beat nyg
week 7 crushed jets again
week 8 thumped browns
week lose to ravens
To date, not one single team the Pats have beaten with the exception of the Bills in week 4 were or are above .500. The Ravens were the first solid team they played and with the exception of the 2nd and parts of the 3rd quarters were manhandled by the Ravens.
Next games are: @ Eagles then host Cowboys…@ Houston…host KC…@ Cin…host Bills…host Miami…
5 of the remaining 7 games are all against teams with winning records (the Bills may not be as good as their current 6-2 record either…wins all vs teams with losing records, both losses vs teams with winning records to date)
My point? The NFL and broadcasters continue to fawn over Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Sunday night game case in point. While being dominated by the Ravens for most of the game, Collinsworth and Michaels could not bring themselves to state the obvious. The Pats are not as good as their record and it was right in front of them. It wasn’t until early in the 4th quarter that Collinsworth finally (and you could almost hear him choking on the words) admitted that New England has some serious problems. The Ravens pounded them on both sides of the line of scrimmage, ran pretty much at will and were very efficient throwing the ball. The Pats (with the exception of Sanu, whom got a lot more passes his direction than the Ravens expected for a guy that was only with the Pats for a week) were average in the passing game and much the same running the ball.
The NFL media is going to realize soon that their darlings are not really all that great. The schedule makers gifted the Pats a very, very soft start of season that basically handed them their 8-0 start. That won’t last long with the upcoming games they have.
Trouble is, with the great start given them the Patriots are likely to win the AFC East. I expect them to finish their final 7 games 3-4 and end up with an 11-7 record, certainly good enough to win a very very weak AFC East. The Colts, Chiefs, Texans, Bills (maybe) and Ravens could very possibly finish with a better record than New England. I do not think the road to a championship leads through Gillette Stadium this year. The Patriots are going to have to go on the road to make it to the Superbowl and I just do not see them with the talent to do that. Even with the genius of Belicheck and the very real talent of Tom Brady, they do not have the team to do it.
I also think I saw Brady not being able to make some pretty simple passes. Bounced a few short ones in, missed several long balls badly and the late INT showed his lack of arm strength. Time is catching up to arguably the greatest QB of all time. I have no problem acknowledging the amazing record he and the Patriots have compiled. I just think the window is closing on them and a first round exit from the playoffs this year is very likely.
However football is played on the field not on paper so time will tell if I am anywhere near accurate.
CFL post season is upon us!!
I start by admitting to being a dyed in the wool, bleed green Rider fan. Having said that, here goes…
The West is the best and it showed up pretty clearly in the final standings. With the exception of Hamilton and maybe just maybe Montreal I don’t see either of them being able to win the Grey Cup against the team that wins the West.
Ah yes the Western Conference. Saskatchewan gets the bye and hosts the Western Final. The Bombers have to travel to Calgary for the semi final but have to play with a third string QB, while the Stampeders have the luxury of both home field and a healthy Bo Levi Mitchell. Both have stout defensive squads, the Bombers have a better running game and that could well be the difference. Weather can often play a factor in these games and if it is a prairie winter day then whomever can run the ball better, wins. If it is wet, windy and/or snowing I give the edge to the visiting Bombers. If the weather cooperates and the Stamps can throw the ball, they win.
The Western Final…now it gets troublesome for us in Rider nation. With Cody Fajardo nursing an oblique injury (and it is not being disclosed whether it is a strain or a tear…strain, he plays and tolerates the pain. A tear and he probably will start but may not be both effective or able to do the distance), the bye week is huge. Whether the Stamps or Bombers come to Mosaic for the final, the game plan won’t change much anyway. Run the rock, pound the ground with William Powell. Control both sides of the scrimmage line, which they have shown they can do. The passing game will be dictated by the weather and by the QB on the field. If Isaac Harker is playing, simplify the passing game package to keep it safe. At the end of the day, if the Riders want to advance to the Cup they are going to need to control the time of possession.
Back east, the Ti-Cats are the team to beat. Perhaps Montreal will ambush them and have the game of their lives to win but I don’t think so. I also do not believe that Edmonton can win in the crossover Eastern semi-final versus the Alouettes. Did the Eskimos get any wins over winning teams this year? I don’t think so and after losing the Eastern semi, the Eskimos will fire Jason Maas and start again.
Let the games begin!!