Seattle, Seattle, Seattle. We’ve stuck by you, we’ve told everyone to keep believing in you, and this is how you reward us. A loss to the 49ers. Yes, Frank Gore is becoming great, but you couldn’t muster 21 points against that defense? Shaun Alexander only ran for 37 yards on 17 carries and Seneca Wallace threw three INTs. Luckily, you’re in a crap division, so you’re still in first place. But you’re killing us and our ability to somehow work Jessica Alba into the Top 5 each week. People love Jessica Alba. Why can’t you give the people what they want?
Also, we’re wondering what it feels like to be David Carr right now. He’s the only quarterback the Texans have ever had. He’s good looking, got a big arm, and he’s even halfway decent. But the Texans have never surrounded him with any talent whatsoever on either side of the ball (other than Andre Johnson). This team should be confiscated from its ownership and GM and they should be severely punished. To top it all off, Tony Romo gets a date with Jessica Simpson after two starts as Dallas’s quarterback. What’s David Carr gotta do to catch a break? Hang in there David. We feel your pain.
1. Chicago Bears (9-1)
Rex Grossman, what are we going to do with you? NFL defenses have figured you out and you’re the reason the Bears won’t win the Super Bowl. We probably should have seen this coming. Even in his limited action in previous years, Rex has never been a 60% passer and he’s only had one season before this one (18 TD/11 INT) when he had more touchdowns (2) than interceptions (1). Even though he’s in his fourth year, this is essentially his rookie season. Great quarterbacks take time to develop. After a full season and offesason sans-injury, maybe next year he’ll get it together and be good. Eli Manning good, even. They’ve got a game at New England this Sunday, but this isn’t the Patriots defense of years past. But it’s kind of hard to think Bill Belichick won’t figure out a way to make Rex kill the Bears again.
2. San Diego Chargers (8-2)
The Chargers are what the Bears could be if Chicago had any semblance of a running game. IT is impossible to overestimate how important the presence of LaDainian Tomlinson has been to Phillip Rivers becoming the third-rated passer in the NFL. But the beauty part about this season for the Bolts is that Rivers has even exceeded expectations. As a first year starter, pretty much everyone expected him to struggle a little and probably keep the Chargers from being as successful as they would have liked. Instead, he’s been one of the Chargers’ strengths on offense and he’s been a great leader in the locker room too.
At the risk of sounding like every other NFL columnist this week, LaDainian Tomlinson is good at football. He’s the league leader in touchdowns, the third leading rusher, and a hell of a good cook. Ooh, hang on, phone’s ringing…
Hey, Falcons, how’s Michael Vick working out for ya? That bad, huh? 52.4 completion percentage and 29 sacks already? No, you can’t have take-backs on that trade that the Chargers turned into LT and Drew Brees. Jeez, you guys call us after every game and ask that same question. It’s time to move on. You call even more than the New York Giants about trading Eli Manning back to us for Philip Rivers. Yeah, those guys are hilarious. We’ll call you guys from the hotel the night before our first playoff game. Yeah, we know you won’t be busy.
Anyway, that was a huge, HUGE win for the Chargers in Denver on Sunday night. It’s only the sixth time they’ve ever won there and it also gave them the lead in the AFC West. The rematch is in three weeks. Between then and now, the Chargers play Oakland and Buffalo while Denver plays at Kansas City and home against a healthy Seattle team. Which one of those schedules would you rather play?
3. Indianapolis Colts (9-1)
Finally, a reason to put the Colts where they belong in the Top 5. It took 10 games, but they’re finally not the best team the AFC. Don’t get us wrong, the Colts are a good team, but any team with a competent coach will beat them in the playoffs. Okay, so we’re not sure about the Chargers chances against them in that case, but the Colts can’t run the ball and they rely too heavily on Manning to make plays for them. Wide receivers can be covered, but great running backs can’t be stopped in big games. If, as was the case in the Dallas game, Manning doesn’t make every play in a game and play nearly flawlessly, the Colts lose. By the by, he absolutely KILLED my fantasy team this weekend.
4. Baltimore Ravens (8-2)
If it’s possible for an 8-2 team to fly under the radar, this is the team. Why? Because no one takes them seriously as a Super Bowl contender. They’re the Grampa Simpson of the AFC this season. Capable of consistent hilarity, but not much more than a sideshow. They are, however, the exact type of team that could give the Colts trouble in January. That is, if some one can use the Necronomicon and reanimate Jamal Lewis’s corpse and give it incredible supernatural powers from beyond the grave. But Brian Billick wouldn’t go that far. Well, owner Steve Bisciotti wouldn’t LET him go that far, right? Hmm, at least the Chargers-Ravens rematch in the AFC title game will be interesting.
5. New England Patriots (7-3)
Everyone keeps expecting the Patriots to be good, but every week they’re underwhelming. They haven’t really looked like the old Patriots until this week when the trounced the Packers and injured two of their quarterbacks. Now they’ve got the big, bad Bears coming to Foxboro this weekend. This has a chance of being the most riveting 10-7 game of all time. Each team’s defense is salivating while they’re watching tape of the opposing offense. All the Pats have to do is take away the run and put the game in Grossman’s hands. Ironically, the Bears need to put this game in Tom Brady’s hands because, unlike the last few years, none of his receivers are any good at all, so he’s got no one to throw to. Belive us, Reche Caldwell was a Charger until this year. We know how much he sucks.
Honorable Mention: Denver Broncos (7-3), Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4), Dallas Cowboys (6-4)
Denver dropped all the way out of the Top 5 this week, partially due to the fact that they lost at home to the Chargers and also because they have a tough schedule the rest of the way. They have roadies to Kansas City and San Diego and home games against a Seattle team that should have Hasselbeck and Alexander back and another against the resurrected Bengals. The Broncos going 1-3 through that stretch seems rather likely given Jake Plummer’s overall crappiness. Still, that gives the Broncos a 10-6 record and probably one of the Wild Card spots.
Jacksonville looked good against the Giants on Monday night. Well, good for Jacksonville. Their offense is still ultra-conservative and what should have been a blowout turned into a sixteen point win. Jack Del Rio is a good defensive coach, but he’s got to get out of his offense’s way or they’ll never be much better than a 9-7 team every year. He’s a hell of a good dresser though. More NFL coaches need to go with the suit on the sidleline from now on.
Finally, we’ve been longing to mention the Dallas Cowboys in the Top 5. With the win over Indy, we finally get that chance. Tony Romo has been a Godsend for this team, but not because “he’s mobile” like every football hack told us before the switch was made. It’s because he gets rid of the ball on time to open receivers. He doesn’t hold it for hours and hours and then get sacked or throw a bad INT like Bledsoe did. It’s the real reason Romo is the second-rated passer in the NFL now. Oh, and he’s got some guy named T.O. to throw to. Maybe you’ve heard of him? The Cowboys seem to have a lot of momentum heading into the end of the season. Don’t be surprised if the Giants hand the division to them.