Whoa....we're halfway there....
Pardon my Bon Jovi song reference (I am a big-haired, neon-wearing, hairband-listening child of the 80s after all), but it is appropriate since we've officially reached the halfway point of the NFL season.
That's right. It's half over, and the Falcons stand at the top of the heap at 8-0, tailed closely by one-loss Houston and Chicago. While I appreciate the difficulty in winning any NFL game, and the Falcons deserve major props for getting this far unscathed, I find it interesting that nobody really seems to care.
Remember a few years ago when the Patriots were on that incredible 18-0 run, only to lose their last game (cough, cough, the Super Bowl)? NFL media types slobbered all over them the entire year. Even by week 3, every feature on every pregame show had something to do with a Patriots' player, coach, family member, school teacher, babysitter, etc. I had to drink a LOT of water that season, what with all that nonsense shoved down and then subsequently lodged in my throat. Oddly, however, we're not hearing that this year about the Falcons. Aside from the occasional shout out to QB Matt Ryan, the Falcons seem to be moving ahead quietly.
Except suddenly, Atlanta players decided to vocalize their displeasure about this lack of recognition. NO!! Don't draw extra attention to yourselves! You ninja under the radar like any silent assassin! It's one thing when I and other NFL media types speak up about the lack of recognition the Falcons are getting for their current streak, but there is something not so charming when the players on the team do it. It's whining. You don't really see the Bears or the Texans players walking around crying out, "Respect us!" because, well, they just let their actions on the field do the talking. Atlanta should consider following suit.
On a different front, if you happened to see Colts' ailing coach Chuck Pagano's post game speech and were unmoved, then you have no soul. Pagano, on indefinite leave as he faces leukemia, delivered an emotional speech and shared his vision of "dancing at his two daughters' weddings" and "hoisting the Lombardi Trophy" with his team. Rookie QB Andrew Luck's performance was also inspiring, as he threw for 433 and two TDs, and became only the second rookie ever to have at least four 300 yard passing games in a season. I know RG3 gets most of the attention as far as rookie QBs go, but I like this Luck kid. He's proving to be a leader on a team that, with only two wins last season, is definitely in the playoff hunt at 5-3.And bonus - according to doctors, Pagano's leukemia is in remission.
Typically at this point, I mention other happenings from the week. However, in the spirit of concluding the first half of the season, I'd like to offer up some things I'd like to see happen (but aren't very likely) during the second half:
-- Eagles coach Andy Reid and owner Jeffery Lurie attend couples counseling.
As entertaining as it is to imagine good old Jeff and Andy as best buds sitting around a fire while humming John Lennon's "Imagine", the possibility of this happening is about as likely as seeing a unicorn in the parking lot. I'd be absolutely stunned if Reid makes it to the end of the season as head coach. With division rival Dallas heading into the City of Brotherly Love this weekend, the pressure is on Reid to win. A loss here could mean curtains.
-- Cam Newton will facilitate brainstorming workshops for all NFL teams, complete with flip charts and group activities.
A couple of weeks ago during a postgame press conference, Cam Newton half-jokingly said he was going to get a suggestion box and welcome all submissions to help the Panthers figure out why they're stinking up the joint. It's really hard to tell for certain if this was a joke, as Newton also made this statement during the same press conference: "This taste, this vibe, I'm not buying it, man." I've got a suggestion for the slumping sophomore QB. PLAY BETTER. And stop whining (see Falcons, Atlanta).
-- In an effort to entice more traditional viewers, the NFL reinstates Brett Favre, Vinny Testaverde and Kurt Warner to take the focus off the rookie "kids."
Testaverde and Warner I could probably deal with, but no more Brett Favre please! And anyway, I find it interesting that the five rookie QBs who started for their teams in week one -- Griffin, Luck, Tannehill, Weeden and Wilson -- are still the starters on their respective teams.
-- Any mention of the word "bounty" results only in a mental image of paper towels.
Bounty Gate. Go away.
Next week, New Orleans tries to keep their slim playoff hopes alive when they host the mighty Falcons, Dallas visits Philly in possibly Andy Reid's swan song as Eagles coach, and Houston heads up to Soldier Field to clash with the Bears. I don't really like to make actual predictions, but you can take this to the bank: Arizona, Cleveland, Green Bay and Washington will not lose this week. I just have the inside scoop. That, and all those teams are on byes. Tomato, tomahtoe.
Until next week, friends, enjoy the games!