September 28, 2012
September 25, 2012
Editor's Note: Cameron Martin, formerly of ESPN's Page 2, is bringing his popular 'Pregame Flyover' column to RealClearSports. His weekly irreverent preview of the upcoming NFL weekend will appear each Friday.
Welcome to the Pregame Flyover, your weekly buffet of all things NFL-related. Gossip? Injury updates? Unfounded opinions? Yes, you will get all of that and more. If you don’t like what you read from me, take heart: The regular columnist is locked out, but she’ll be back once RealClearSports stops trying to steal her pension. According to RealClearWorld, that could be any day now.
Now before we get to this week’s slate of games - and tell you which games will Probably be worth watching, which games will be of Questionable worth, which games will be of Doubtful worth, and which game will feature the Browns - let’s look at the six remaining unbeaten teams and assess their odds of ending the season with a perfect record.
Undefeated Team: Niners.
So far: The Niners have handily beaten the Packers on the road and the Lions at home, and these victories have catapulted San Francisco to the top of every power ranking in the English-speaking world. When your offense can move the ball with ease against the vaunted defenses of Green Bay and Detroit, lemmings will align themselves to sing your praises.
Why that undefeated record looks suspect: Alex Smith has the second-highest passer rating in the NFL, which seems impossible until you remember he’s faced the Packers and the Lions.
Odds they go undefeated: The same as Randy Moss winning the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Undefeated Team: Cardinals.
So far: The Cardinals almost lost in Week 1 when the replacement refs gave the Seahawks an extra timeout in the fourth quarter, and they almost lost in Week 2 when Bill Belichick inexplicably decided to down the ball three times to set up a game-winning field goal attempt – which Stephen Gostkowski shanked, warming the joyous hearts of the smug contrarians who didn’t take the Patriots in their survivor pools.
Why that undefeated record looks suspect: It doesn’t. The Cardinals are obviously among the best teams in the NFC West.
Odds they go undefeated: The same as you wearing a William Gay jersey to a Mitt Romney fundraiser.
Undefeated Team: Texans.
So far: The Texans have bottled up the likes of Ryan Tannehill and Blaine Gabbert, proof they can contain quarterbacks from Florida.
Why that undefeated record looks suspect: They’ve beaten the Jaguars and the Dolphins, who’ve collectively beaten the Raiders.
Odds they go undefeated: The same as an expansion team naming themselves the Los Angeles Californians.
Undefeated Team: Eagles.
So far: They’ve beaten the Browns, who are universally considered terrible, and the Ravens, who are universally considered a bunch of whiners. (Relax, Steelers fans; back in your cages, Back!)
Why that undefeated record looks suspect: The Eagles are a classic case of a team that plays to the level of their competition. With their level of talent on both sides of the ball, it’s not surprising the Eagles are 2-0; but it is surprising that they won these games by a combined total of two points.
Odds they go undefeated: The same as Michael Vick sharing the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award with Randy Moss.
Undefeated Team: Falcons.
So far: They’ve pasted the Chiefs 40-24 on the road, and held off the Broncos 27-21 at home. Atlanta is looking brilliant for its decision to trade up and take Julio Jones in last year’s draft. With Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez, quarterback Matt Ryan has a plethora of offensive weapons. Their only offensive weakness is at running back, where Michael Turner’s inability to call a freaking cab could lead to a suspension for his DUI arrest.
Why that undefeated record looks suspect: It doesn’t. The Falcons were supposed to be one of the best teams in football, so they should be congratulated for meeting expectations through the season’s first fortnight.
Chances they go undefeated: Not good. The Falcons still have to face the Chargers, Cardinals and Eagles, three undefeated teams who share the same dream of shoving it down the throats of Mercury Morris and the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
Undefeated Team: Chargers.
So far: They’ve been the quietest team to go 2-0, beating the Raiders in the Monday Night late game that was watched by six people east of Carson City (Source: Nielsen Ratings); and beating the Titans 38-10 in Week 2, a game that will be remembered fondly by the families of Dante Rosario and Jackie Battle.
Why that undefeated record looks suspect: We all knew Dante Rosario was the best tight end in football, but can we really expect him to score three touchdowns per week? What ... he only plays when Antonio Gates is hurt? OK, then maybe we can.
Chances they go undefeated: The same as Norv Turner being named NFL Coach of the Year.
Backup Quarterback Rankings
From time to time we’ll look at the top three backup quarterbacks in the league. We arrive at these rankings using a complex algorithm that accounts for many things, including the won-loss record of the starter, the potential of the backup quarterback, and the possibility that sports columnists will talk out of their ass when discussing the intangibles of the backup quarterback.
1. Tim Tebow. If the Jets’ offense struggles again this week and the team loses to the Dolphins and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, you can bet that Tebow will still be third-best quarterback on the Jets (hey, Greg McElroy) and yet be tabbed as the savior of a team that considers Santonio Holmes a No. 1 wideout.
2. Brock Osweiler. Coming off four neck surgeries, the arm strength of 36-year-old Peyton Manning is a little questionable, especially on deep throws. At the end of Monday’s loss to the Falcons, Manning’s backup was warming up in the event that the team needed to throw a Hail Mary. Too bad his backup wasn’t the departed Tim Tebow, because the odds of completing a Hail Mary would have gone up precipitously.
3. Ryan Mallett. Matt Cassel will tell you: The backup to Tom Brady is only one play away from being the overpaid starting quarterback of some championship-starved team next season.
Welcome to the Weekly Best, where we tackle the best in football.
Best running back in football: Is obviously C.J. Spiller.
Best new drinking game: Drink when someone bitches about the replacement referees.
Best term for the people who threatened to kill Josh Morgan for his gaffe at the end of the Redskins’ loss to the Rams: Redskins fans.
Best winless team in the NFC: The Saints.
Best reason for that: They’re the only winless team in the NFC.
Best football team in Ohio: The Bengals (until their next momentous clash against the Browns).
Best look in the mirror: Chris Johnson.
Best guess: Jay Cutler ends his career as an Oakland Raider.
Best use of a franchise tag: The Patriots slapped it on Wes Welker, who didn’t even start last week.
Best suggestion about kneel-downs: Eliminate them completely, says Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Best question about RGIII: Why doesn’t he wear No. 3 instead of No. 10, asks Dave Dameshek of NFL.com.
Best indication that the replacement refs are doing a shoddy job: Cortland Finnegan says they’re doing a great job.