“From Order Into Chaos”
In the clusterfuck that has become the 2010 NFL season, we are poised to witness the first real dogfight to the NFL Playoffs in the last decade. With the Cowboys, Vikings, and Chargers all languishing at the bottom of their respective divisions, there are questions that need to be asked, namely, why are all these teams underachieving at precisely the same moment? Does this represent a shift in the game itself? Or will we eventually see order sprout from chaos and the perennial favorites rise up to defend their hopes of making the playoffs?
The hell we are.
Let’s start with the off-season. With big moves from T.O., Anquan Boldin, TJ Whosyourmama, LT, and DNabb, clearly the balance of power has shifted. While losing impact players, the Cowboys, Cardinals, Chargers, and Eagles have clearly let these off season losses affect their on the field performance, with arguably all of these teams underachieving. Considering only two one-loss teams (Pittsburgh and New York Jets) through week six, it is clear that a power vacuum has begun to form in the NFL. With Charlie Batch and Mark 20 Pick Sanchez (CALL OUT!) suddenly winning games, it is evident that the stars have set the course for this season to be one of many good teams but few very dominant teams. SO which teams are going to defy these stars and rise out of mediocrity and into genuine playoff contenders.
Kansas City Chiefs- Last Season: 4-12
Keys to Success:
The Chiefs have been running over their opposition this season to a 3-2 record, averaging over 160 yards per game – best in the NFL. They have been splitting carries with Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles, which is proving to be very effective considering they’ve only been averaging about 5 yards per carry. And who is Jamaal Charles anyway? Every time this guy touches the ball he seems to simply obliterate defenses. 6.3 yards per carry through the first five weeks? Yes, Madden stats. Keep it up big guy.
Key to Failure:
The Chiefs running game is definitely no joke on both sides of the ball this year. However, it is unfortunately accompanied with one of the worst passing attacks and defenses in the league. The Chiefs’ passing defense is ranked 27th in the league this year, behind Cleveland, Detroit, and Buffalo all have better passing defenses than the Chiefs. What does that say? Kansas City has more wins than all three of those teams combined. With a little improvement, there may be no doubt Kansas City would make it out of that horrendous division on top. And Matt Cassel? The so-called great quarterback who played a decent season in New England when Brady got hurt is anything but great. Last time I checked, playoff winning quarterbacks put up more than 167 yards per game through the air, and considering how Cassel signed one of the highest paying salaries among NFL quarterbacks when he joined Kansas City, I’m sure they were expecting a bit more out of him.
Veterans Looking to Rebound
Vikings- Last Season: Last Season: 12-4
Keys to Success:
With a rejuvenated wide receiver core- the addition of Moss as a deep threat, and Percy Harvin returning from the treatment room, Brett Favre will be able to go old man Favre and air it out. Now, whether he ends up throwing the ball to one of his many great receivers or the defense is a completely different question in itself, one which may never be answered. We’re hoping for the best, Brett.
But what we really hope will get this team winning games is for the defense to step up and become a game breaker for the opposition. While being ranked 29th in totals sacks with 6 through as many games, it becoming clear Jared Allen is not having the impact that he has had in year previous- one sack through six games. For a little comparison, league leaders Titans have 24 sacks. An abysmal sack stat behind, the Vikings secondary clearly cannot catch due to their 21st ranked picks, with 4 in so far this season. Their defense is lacking the ability to both pressure the Quarterback, which is allowing opposing Quarterbacks time in the pocket to make the right pass, evident by 4 picks. If the pass rush does get going, you can expect this Vikings team to make into the playoffs.
Keys to Failure:
Simply Put- Brett Favre. Often regarded as a true lover of the sport and a real iron man- never having missed a game, shows that to be successful on a team it takes more than just showing up to work. Minus a miraculous career year at the age of 40, Brett Pick 6 Favre has thrown at least 15 interceptions in every season since 1996. That’s one of those stats that creates an inception like vertigo clinging to your mind and consuming it, yet he has thrown upwards of 29 interceptions and is averaging 21.5 picks from 1998-2008. For better or for worse, Brett clearly has the ability to morph the complexion of a game between drastically terrible and hall of fame brilliance. The question is which Favre will we see while the chips are down?