Tuesday, November 29, 2005

AFC Report: Week 13
By Ben Valentine

Unlike the NFC, the AFC is much more muddled. No teams appear to be willing to relinquish their chances at the postseason easily, while everyone stares up at those boys from Indy. Can they go undefeated? Does it matter so long as Peyton Manning hasn’t won the “big game” yet? And does the AFC East deserve to lose it’s automatic berth to the postseason based on the division’s performance this year? All that and more will be answered in this week’s AFC report.

Stampeding Towards History?- Indianapolis Colts (11-0)

I keep waiting for the Colts to lose. They don’t even play close games anymore. The team still has some tough games on its schedule; at Jacksonville, at Seattle and home against San Diego… But with the way they’re playing I’m beginning to think they might just do it. Of course as I said in the opening, it won’t matter unless they finally get to the Super Bowl. But with home field all but assured at this point, I don’t see anyone going into Indy and beating the Colts. Except perhaps… the Chargers. In fact if the Colts do lose this season, I’m convinced San Diego with their high flying multi-dimensional offense will be the ones who do it. As the Steelers were shown tonight, defense isn’t going to stop Indy. You have to score with them.

Remaining schedule: Tenn, @Jax, SD, @Sea, Ari,

The Horsey Parade Continues- Denver Broncos (9-2)

I feel the same way about the Broncos that I do about almost every team from the NFC. They’re not as good as their record shows and eventually someone will expose them for what they are. But at 9-2, the Broncos have put themselves in a good position to at least make the playoffs and probably win the division. They have a two game lead on both the Chargers and Chiefs, plus have already beaten both this season. Their remaining schedule isn’t easy, but they should get to 11 wins by beating Baltimore and Oakland. Jake might be a fake, but odds are that doesn’t get shown until the postseason. By the way if the Broncos play the Colts in the AFC championship game, expect Denver to lose by 40. They always do.

Remaining Schedule: @KC, Baltimore, @Buf, Oak, @SD

Surging Forward- San Diego Chargers (7-4)

I know they have a tough road to the postseason, but I firmly believe San Diego is the second best team in football. Sure, they didn’t look great in Washington, but on the road, cross country, that’s a win to be proud of. Remember, they got poor performances out of Drew Brees and Antonio Gates, yet still managed to pull it out. That’s a good sign for the Bolts and speaks volumes to the depth of that offense. LaDanian Tomlinson is the best player in football people. They also truly hold their destiny in their own hands with games left against the Chiefs, Broncos and Colts. The next two weeks are key; they have the Raiders and Dolphins at home. If they win both and get to nine wins, they should be able to win one of those last three games and get in.

Remaining schedule: Oak, Mia, @Ind, @KC, Den

The Fighting Irish of the NFL - Cincinnati Bengals (8-3)

What do I mean by that? Well the Bengals haven’t beaten anyone good this season. (But hey, they played the undefeated Colts close!) However, that doesn’t matter because they have exactly two tough games left on schedule; next week in Pittsburgh the season finale at Kansas City. The rest of their schedule is filled with teams under .500. Thus Cinci should get to 12 wins by beating who they should. If they manage to win one against their tougher two opponents, then they could get a first round bye.

Remaining schedule: @Pitt, Cle, @Det, Buf, @KC

Welcome to QB MASH unit- Jacksonville Jaguars (8-3)

Byron Leftwich joins the seemingly high numbers of starting QBs who have gotten hurt this year. Reports today suggest he might not return at all. Marshall QBs really do seem to be pretty brittle eh? Anyway, that would tempt me to put the Jags lower, but their schedule is easy and I have heard positive reviews of David Garrard. ( The Sports Litter is real high on him) Add him to the mix of guys who could be auditioning for the Jets starting QB job next year. Of course more importantly, the Jags have been winning with defense all year, so one expects them to play conservatively until Garrard proves his worth. Plus who needs to take chances when you play the three worst teams in the NFL, the Titans, the Niners AND the Texans? Seriously, they could probably make the playoffs with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB. Oh yeah, they also play Indy, but that’s the only marginally difficult game on their schedule.

Remaining schedule: @ Cle, Ind, SF, @Hou, Tenn

The Big East- New England Patriots (6-5)

At least West Virginia had the decency to go 10-1. I think that’s all I can say about the lousy Patriots, who got destroyed by a decent Chiefs team. The real test to see how bad this defense has fallen comes this weekend. If Brooks Bollinger lights them up, I think the AFC East should lose their right to go to the postseason. I'm not even going to put their remaining schedule up. That would insinuate they are actually equivalent to these other teams. They're not, even if Homer Simpson is right and default really is "the two sweetest words in the English language!"

It All Comes Down to This- Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4)

A QB need not have a season ending injury to ruin his team’s chances at a playoff spot. Sometimes missing just a few games can kill them as well. That’s the case for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Tommy Maddox cost the Steelers games against Jacksonville and Baltimore, the latter being inexcusable. Those two losses could well come back to bite the team, as they now sit 7-4. A loss to the Bengals next week would all but doom the Steelers, considering their competitors strength of schedule. Pittsburgh doesn’t have the hardest road, but if they were to fall to 7-5, one would figure they would have to go 3-1 just to have a shot at the postseason. With games against Chicago and at the Vikings, that might be easier said than done. Add in the uncertain status of Big Ben’s knee and the Steelers are definitely in some trouble.

Remaining Schedule: Cin, Chi, @Min, @Cle, Det

No Respect from Me- Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)

Yeah they beat New England… so what? Everyone does. I still can’t get over that game they blew against the Eagles early in the season. It’s probably the game that will cost them a postseason spot. Hey I could say the same thing about the Chargers too. In fact, they and the Chargers are in similar spots; good offense, not so great defense, in control of their own destiny with their schedule. The difference; San Diego’s a better team and KC has the hardest schedule out of any of the teams. Every team they face the rest of the way is over .500. The Chiefs will struggle down the stretch and miss the playoffs.

Remaining schedule: Den, @Dal, @NYG, SD, Cin

They’re better than Syracuse- New York Jets 2-9

They get mentioned because they’re my team and I’m doing the AFC report. Well it was nice to see the offense move the ball for once. They have to work on the red zone efficiency, but you’ve got to walk before you can run. By the way, in the ways this season parallels 1999, outside of Brooks Bollinger showing that he, like Ray Lucas, is a capable NFL backup: Ty Law. Remember Steve Atwater Jet fans? He was brought in after the 98’ season to finally solve the gaping hope at free safety? Remember how we all found out there was a reason Denver let him go? Yeah that’s how I’m feeling about Ty Law right now.

They’re not better than Syracuse, or Yale- Houston Texans (1-10)

Seriously the Texans are so bad, they probably deserve a post of their own. I’m sorry, but I’m still in absolute shock they blew that game yesterday. How can you blow a 21 point lead, at home, to a team that is not only done, but on it’s SECOND head coach and THIRD QB??? And that third QB was playing his games last year at Harvard… HARVARD!!! Look there are some businesses where having a Harvard grad is a good thing. Starting NFL QB is not one of them. Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t even see a division one college defense last year! I guess he still hasn’t. On the bright side, we’ll get to see if Fitzpatrick can be added to David’s list of “guys the Niners should have drafted ahead of Alex Smith” when Smith faces Houston in the season finale. Meanwhile, the Texans are such a joke, the Jets nor any other team have any hope of getting that number one pick. Hopefully that entire regime gets fired. If I were David Carr, and they didn’t draft D’Bricksaw Fergueson #1 in April, I think I might just retire. Unless of course, they draft Matt Leinart. In which case, I’d send them a “thank you” card and be out of town so fast, you’d think I’d just gotten a reprieve from the governor. Well in many ways, I would have. And for Matt Leinart, I’d probably demand a trade. Seriously, nobody deserves that punishment, not even Jeremy Shockey.


Blogger The Armchair Quarterback said...

I know the Patriots haven't looked good this season but they are going to be in the playoffs (a real travesty considering Pittsburgh or San Diego will probably be left out in the cold) and I think despite their record and the general impression that they will be the worst AFC team in the playoffs, no team will want to face them in the first round.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Ben Valentine said...

The problem for New England is there defense is just so putrid that everyone in the postseason except possibly Pittsburgh will score on them at will. They'll get a home playoff game but if they see San Diego, Cinci or even Jacksonville, I don't see them stopping any of those three offenses.

I don't care if they are the Patriots. If I were a wild card team, I'd much rather see them than Denver, Cinci, San Diego or Pittsburgh. You can only cover up so much when it comes to talent deficiencies.

5:33 PM  

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