A Sports Fan Speaks  

To Rank or not Too Rank

While our neighbours to the south mercifully end the process of electing the next President… while Donald Fehr and Loathing painstakingly begins to understand that those rumblings and cracks in his union are not the results of a global public warming to his cause…and while 75% of 3-downers prep for the playoffs (and believe me, this is OK in my book)… might I direct your attention to the mid-season of the NFL and that time in the year when we know Contenders from Pretenders, Men from Boys and begin the job search speculations. May I present to you, your mid-season NFL Rankings, Volume 1…in reverse order of course…

32.  The Kansas City Chiefs (1-7).  They stink. When your options at the QB position are Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn you are in desperate trouble. GM Scott Pioli and Coach Romeo Crennel are proving that even with talent like RB Jamaal Charles and WR Dwayne Bowe they have not lived up to the hype of their own post-Bellicheck days.

31.  The Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7).  It’s a lot like peering at a fish tank for several hours – there’s never any sense that anything exciting or violent is likely to happen – and no, Tim Tebow would not make them any better although a spike in jersey revenue never hurts.

30.  The Cleveland Browns (2-7).  Another House that Romeo Built. The Browns defense keeps them in most games but until rookie QB Brandon Weedon shows that he consistently get the ball down the field to WRs such as Josh Gordon, then RB Trent Richardson is going to be staring at a 9-man box every play.

29.  The Carolina Panthers (2-6).  Despite a win in D.C. yesterday, Cam Newton and his crew are anaemic offensively. You would think 2 overpaid RBs and an under-sized WR in Steve Smith would be enough…huh, who knew? Somebody find Newton a Sophomore Slump-Buster, works every time… nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more.

28.  The Buffalo Bills (3-5).  When did the Bills win 3 games? Rip Van Winkle wants to know. This Fan Base deserves better than humiliating doses of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and DE Mario Williams each week.

27.  The Tennessee Titans (3-6).  I want to believe they are better than this… but I don’t. The ageless wonder QB Matt Hasselbeck seems to have helped RB Chris Johnson find his footing but it seems to be a squad with a lot of Give Up on it… 51 points to the Bears...inner Chris Carter “C’mon Man.”

26.  The Oakland Raiders (3-5).  I miss Al Davis. He was a constant clothing reminder of the Glory Days of the franchise and while I think current Coach Dennis Allen has done a decent job, offensive injuries and a D that gave up 251 yards on the ground to Doug Martin is cause for concern.

25.  The New York Jets (3-5).  Too low? Too bad. Over-rated Coach, awful Offensive Co-ordinator and for some unknown reason – no QB controversy! I’d rather watch Real Housewives of New Jersey than this weekly debacle.

24.  The Washington Redskins (3-6).  It was fun while it lasted but RG3 can’t win on his own every week. Without WR Pierre Garcon and TE Fred Davis, the receiving corps is dreadful and Coach Shanahan is already calling for the guillotine…heads are gonna roll.

23.  The New Orleans Saints (2-5).  They can’t stop anybody, the Eagles can’t score, Monday Night should be fun…just want to nail a $20 bill to the goal-post and see what LB Jonathan Vilma does…

22.  The St. Louis Rams (3-5).  The Jeff Fisher era has already taken this team from laughing-stock to competitive on a week-to-week basis and with WR Danny Amendola coming back in Week 10 and the D well rested, they should continue to improve.

21.  The Cincinnati Bengals (3-5).  Losers of 4 in a row after a solid 3-1 start, Coach Marvin Lewis will, in a surprising last minute plot twist, keep his job again…yeesh…

20.  The Arizona Cardinals (4-5).  Remember when they were 4-0…no? Neither do they. I never thought I’d ever hear Fans desperately wishing QB Kevin Kolb was still healthy…somebody please bring a bib, I think Skelton is drooling on himself again…

19.  The Philadelphia Eagles (3-4).  So much talent, so little coaching. While it may not be PC to say, Coach Andy Reid may be getting a personal tragedy pass until the end of the season… Monday Night is a must-win over the Saints.

18.  The Dallas Cowboys (3-5).  A team with the unerring ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Jerry Jones will be the Great White in the water hunting free agent Coach Sean Payton at year’s end… Jason Garrett is a dead Coach working…

17.  The San Diego Chargers (4-4).  It’s November, one has to fully expect the Chargers to win out and then Norv Turner will lose in the first round of the playoffs…ho hum…

16.  The Detroit Lions (4-4).  The Lions may have finally found a running game with Mikel Leshoure and QB Matthew Stafford seems to have settled down. WR Calvin Johnson is no longer an only option but questions remain on the defensive side of the ball… like tackling…

15.  The Miami Dolphins (4-4).  Coach Philbin is getting a lot out of a little. Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill is proving capable and the run D is fearsome… however, this is a throwing league and the pass D is nightmarish…Happy Halloween.

14.  The Indianapolis Colts (5-3).  Playing with heart and passion behind rookie phenom QB Andrew Luck and for cancer-stricken Coach Chuck Pagano – enough said. And, oh yeah, WR Reggie Wayne takes less money to stay in Indy… stars are aligning…

13.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4).  Two words – Doug Martin. All of you out there who had a QB winning Rookie of the Year, please stand up, please stand up. His 251 yards against the Raiders’ tackle dummies was poetry in motion…and best nickname – “The Muscle Hamster.”

12.  The Minnesota Vikings (5-4).  This might be too high with WR Percy Harvin in danger of missing some time but RB Adrian Peterson continues to rumble and the D generally doesn’t give up the big play. My thoughts on QB Christian Ponder are still unclear…

11.  The Seattle Seahawks (5-4).  Coach Pete Carroll has instilled his team with a nasty attitude and belief system. QB Russell Wilson is learning how to see over and around his O-line, RB Marshawn Lynch is in full Beast Mode and the D plays every down like the opposition just slapped their mothers… but can they win when it matters?

10.  The Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3).  Fresh off a beat-down of the Giants, the Steelers are proving yet again that any RB will do and older sometimes does mean smarter. Safety Will Allen has fit in nicely, allowing Troy Polamalu to continue his flourishing Head and Shoulders career.

9.  The Denver Broncos (5-3).  Peyton Manning, Willis McGahee, Champ Bailey…no it’s not roll-call at the Senior Centre – it’s the AFC West Division leaders. And that weird, goofy grinning guy in the luxury box, it’s not Gary Busey on Prozac or the ghost of Secretariat...

8.  The New England Patriots (5-3).  An offense that is unstoppable when healthy and…gasp…has added a running game and a defensive front 7 built to stop the run. One weakness – 2 homeless guys (sorry, habitat challenged), Steve Nash and a pony would do a better job than their current secondary.

7.  The New York Giants (6-3).  True to form, it’s the regular season and Eli and the Giants seem content to do enough to make it to the post-season. WRs Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are battling injury but the front four on D make me scared to walk Big Apple streets late at night.

6.  The Baltimore Ravens (6-2).  We may have seen the last of LB Ray Lewis and no-one but QB Joe Flacco thinks QB Joe Flacco is ‘elite’ but RB Ray Rice is a bowling ball and this is WR Torrey Smith’s break-out year so despite a D unable to stop the run, an AFC Super Bowl run may still have to go through Baltimore at some point.

5.  The San Francisco 49ers (6-2).  Speaking of non-elite QBs, Alex Smith is game managing the 49ers’ offense just well enough to keep himself out of the destructive orbit of wrath that surrounds Coach Harbaugh’s all-too-real weekly impersonation of The Fisher King gone-a-ranting.

4.  The Chicago Bears (7-1).  Sick D still led by LB Brian Urlacher but the offense is still led by QB Jay Cutler and if WR Brandon Marshall ever goes down hurt, I am not sure if RB Matt Forte will be enough to go deep in the post-season.

3.  The Green Bay Packers (6-3).  It took a while but QB Aaron Rodgers has them rolling despite no running game other than for show and WR Greg Jennings on the shelf. WR Randall Cobb might be team’s MVP and the D is just about good enough…

2.  The Houston Texans (7-1).  RB Arian Foster is unstoppable, plain and simple. Despite losing LB Brian Cushing, the D is aggressive and unapologetic and possibly no team is more anxious to seal up home-field advantage all the way to the Big Show. The one foreseeable issue – there is no history of success in the playoffs and no-one really believes in Coach Kubiak outside of that locker-room.

1.  The Atlanta Falcons (8-0).  Can’t be any argument here. Could this finally be the year TE Tony Gonzalez wins a playoff game? You would think. WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White are dominant, RB Michael Turner is getting rest thanks to RB Jacquizz Rodgers and QB Matt Ryan is poised and confident in the pocket. The secondary is solid but the one weakness appears to be stopping the run which tends to get over-looked when they continue to win tight games. The 1972 Dolphins continue to monitor closely.

Until next time Kelowna, look after yourselves and one another…

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About the Author

Sean McEachern is above all else a Sports Fan. Originally from Ottawa, Sean was educated at Strathallan School in Scotland. A former golf professional and graduate of the San Diego Golf Academy, Sean and his fiancee settled in Kelowna in 2010. A hospitality industry 'lifer', Sean is a sports trivia enthusiast and discussionist and is currently a staff writer at www.freethesportsman.com and at Okanagan Collection magazine. Sean recently welcomed his daughter Keira to the world on July 27th. 

Follow Sean on Twitter @sportsfanspeaks and feel free to comment on any stories at www.asportsfanspeaks.com.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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