It is that point in the 2014-15 NFL season, where the first eight weeks of the season are gone. It seems like September is a distant memory. We’re at the point where teams are starting to show what kind of teams they are. Fans and media types get a better picture of how teams will be, as far as a playoff run, and will also get to re-evaluate their earlier evaluation of teams and players, as perhaps some teams were not as good or as bad as first thought. So much has gone on this season on different teams, that it’s amazing that half the 2014-15 NFL Season is gone. As the band Bon Jovi would sing, “Whoooaaaaa. We’re halfway there, and there are some teams that are already, as the song continues, “living on a prayer.” ( http://youtu.be/lDK9QqIzhwk)
In this blog, I will discuss the events of the first half of the 2014-15 NFL Season. In my previous blog, I did discuss the first quarter of the season. What I aim to do is to talk about more recent events, but I will discuss the entire first half. Again, I will discuss both the on and off the field activities, and the media coverage. I also will use the “Thumbs Up ” and ” Thumbs Down” literary device, like I used the last time. I hope my readers will enjoy the blog.
The AFC NORTH:
Before the season began, all the prognosticators were slamming the AFC North. I heard it from both ESPN and the NFL Network on how the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to be terrible. The experts said the Cincinnati Bengals were the only good team. I also heard about a guy named Johnny Manziel. I am sure my readers have also.
I hate to go Oprah Winfrey on my readers, but the Cincinnati Bengals have a winning record. The Baltimore Ravens have a winning record. The “old and slow” Pittsburgh Steelers have a winning record. The Cleveland Browns have a winning record. Everyone in the AFC North has a winning record.
Each team is within a game of one another. I have always loved this division. It’s the hardest hitting division in the NFL. Each team has had their troubles, but it looks like they’re starting to come to form.
Great performance by Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger against the Indianapolis Colts. He threw for 6 TDs and 522 yards. He won AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 8. The Steelers were pretty shaky in the beginning. How do you lose to the hapless Tampa Bay Bucanners? However, despite all the attacks from the media, it looks like the team has righted the ship.
Browns QB Brian Hoyer has been doing a very good job. The team is 4-3. So far, there’s no need for Manziel. The Ravens started out a little shaky, and even though they just lost a heartbreaker to the Bengals, they’ve looked better. The Bengals concern me a little. They looked like world beaters for the first three weeks, and got killed by New England, and have been Jekyll and Hyde since. That’s a concern.
Tom Brady and The New England Patriots:
I said in my blog, “Defending Tom Brady,” that I had faith that he and the Patriots would get the team going in the right direction. I didn’t buy all the nonsense that was being said about him (washed up, no longer elite, put in Jimmy Garropolo (the backup), trade Brady) after that horrible loss at Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs. I didn’t buy it from the experts at either networks. I didn’t buy it from fans, both non-fans and Patriot fans.
Well, I hate to say that I told you so, but I told you so. Brady has been playing out of his mind. It started with the Sunday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, when he threw 2 touchdowns. He hasn’t stopped since. What has also been helping Brady and the Patriots is star TE Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski is finally becoming healthy. He is becoming the red zone threat. TE Tim Wright is becoming a good target. He arrived very late into training camp as part of the trade for guard Logan Mankins. WR Brandon LaFell is becoming a viable target for Brady. On the other side of the ball, the defense has taken some hits. They lost LB Jerod Mayo for the season with a knee injury, and now DE Chandler Jones for 6 weeks, maybe longer, with a hip injury. However, CB Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner are doing well, as is Vince Wilfork. The team is 6-2.
Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers having MVP-like seasons.
I don’t have to say it, but everyone knows that Denver Broncos Peyton Manning is always in the running for the NFL MVP. Manning’s always had fantastic numbers, with the exception of his rookie season in 1998. He’s had great players during his illustrious career. He’s playing with amazing players now. Manning is playing at an awesome level, worthy of an MVP. He broke Brett Favre’s previous touchdown record of 509 on October 19, 2014 at home in Denver. Every touchdown Manning throws will just add to his total.
While I am not a huge fan of his, San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers is having an amazing year. For the first half of the season, Rivers is having an MVP type of season. He has 20 TDs to 5 interceptions. He has a 68.3 completion percentage. The team has virtually no running game, as several of their running backs are injured. Rivers is pretty much carrying the team on his shoulders.
The NFC SOUTH : Anyone want it?
The pundits, including me, thought the AFC EAST, was going to be horrible. Well, it’s looking like the NFC South will be walking away with the prize. Does anyone want the division? No one in that division has a winning record. No one looks like they’re even competitive.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a hodgepodge of players. They try hard, but have only been victorious once. That sole victory came against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were asleep at the switch. The Atlanta Falcons can’t protect their QB. They can’t hold a lead, not even in London. The New Orleans Saints can’t bring their dome with them on the road. The Carolina Panthers have turned into Kitties lately. What a mess.
Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones:
This is more of a plea. I wish that Jerry Jones would not meddle so much. I understand that he would do anything to help his team win the Super Bowl. He just needs to chill. He needs to hire a GM. Now that QB Tony Romo is hurt, Jones had to jump in and be Superman. The Cowboys would be better off if their owner would let the people he hired do their jobs. I mean, he’s paying these people to coach and all.
The New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders :
Where do I begin with the hapless New York Jets? They’re 1-7. That’s not a typo. How does a team get this bad? They should have beaten the Green Bay Packers and the New England. I know that there is the belief that head coach Rex Ryan eventually will be fired. I don’t blame him so much as I blame GM John Idzik. I mean, drafting Geno Smith as QB, and signing the overrated Eric Decker? The secondary is a mess as well. The team has a money left as far as the salary cap, but it is hard to blame the team’s failure all on Rex Ryan, when the GM hasn’t given the man much to work with.
I also don’t know what to do about the Oakland Raiders. What on earth happened to the team that would give the Pittsburgh Steelers fits? Their motto is “Commitment to Excellence.” From watching this team play, I am wondering if these players should be committed. I am seriously wondering if this season’s Raiders will be a 0-16 team.
Sometimes, I wish I would not watch either ESPN or NFL Network, even after my teams win. Some of what these prognosticators say just stun me. Before the game, they’ll say one thing, and after, they’ll say another. Sometimes, they’ll ignore a team, because the team is not one of the teams that is popular.
Why aren’t the Arizona Cardinals getting any attention? They’re leading the NFC West. I realize that QB Carson Palmer isn’t the man he used to be, but does it matter? They’re banged up defensively, and all, but they’ve been a good team, and they still have WR Larry Fitzgerald. I hardly ever hear a peep about this team.
It also sounds like certain members of the media have it out for certain players. I also feel that certain people in the media are going to say the predictable stuff they always say. On ESPN’ s PTI, this past week, Michael Wilbon was denouncing the Week 8 numbers that Saints QB Drew Brees, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, and Patriot QB Tom Brady as “fake” and ” artificial,” because of the new rules (can’t his the QB and the WRs).
On the Monday after Peyton Manning broke Favre’s record, Mr. Wilbon spoke about how great Peyton Manning was, etc. Wilbon didn’t comment on how Manning’s numbers were “fake.” Manning is playing under the same rules as the aforementioned Brady, Brees and Roethlisberger. While Wilbon said that Brady, Brees and Roethlisberger were Hall of Famers, I didn’t see it necessary to call their numbers fake, and not Manning’s. Wilbon must have forgotten that it was his now ESPN colleague, Bill Pollian, who is responsible for these rules. Polian, while he was on the Competition Committee and was the GM of the Indianapolis Colts (Peyton Manning was the QB) , called for tightening rules on contact with wide receivers.
There’s also been some petty nonsense from ESPN ‘s Stephen A Smith, Jemele Hill, and a few others. These people have been trying to act as if the Patriots’ recent wins at home don’t count. Well, these same folks go bonkers over the Seattle Seahawks’ home field wins. Denver wins at home.
What is going on with the “independent ” investigation into the Ray Rice case, anyway? I have a feeling that this is going to dragged out till after the Super Bowl. I mean, the NFL can’t possibly have any kind of controversy during the season. After all, the NFL’S image must come first.
I know that Ray Rice has appealed his suspension and filed a grievance against the Baltimore Ravens, his former team. The NFL is trying to prevent NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell from testifying. It’s my understanding that it is highly likely that Rice will be reinstated. Again, I find this very disappointing. This whole situation was bungled from the get go. If TMZ was able to get the tape, the NFL should have been able to get it. Whether a team will take a chance on Rice, that’s up to them.
That’s my wrap up for the first eight weeks of the 2014-15 NFL Season. I hope that my readers enjoyed it. I hope that the next four games will be just as much fun. That is when you will be hearing from me again. Comments and feedback are welcome.