Isn’t it amazing how those who forecast on any subject are never around when it comes to accountability?
They rarely come out and say they were wrong.
They hope you don’t remember.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s sports, or politics, or business.
It’s easy to predict.
Not so easy to admit you made a wrong call.
That’s not happening here.
I thought the Dallas Cowboys were going to be the dominant team in the NFC, maybe the entire league as well.
How is that working out?
Not so good.
The Cowboys are 2-7. Ouch!
Yes, I know they lost their outstanding starting quarterback Dak Prescott.
But that was in week 5. America’s Team lost three of their first four before the Prescott’s gruesome ankle injury.
Without your starting QB every team is forced to play with one arm tied behind their backs.
The same is true if your offensive line is decimated.
That was the case last weekend when I saw the Bears play perhaps with both hands tied behind their backs against the Titans.
They had to use three backups on the line. Their center had never played the position. Their rookie left guard had never taken an NFL snap.
So, now, with every team having played at least eight games, we’re at the halfway mark in this strange season.
The league has added a seventh team in each conference to the playoffs this year, and there is even talk there might be an eighth.
Leading the parade at this point are the Pittsburgh Steelers.
They’re the only unbeaten team. 8-0.
They’ve won five Super Bowls, but have never been 8-0.
Most of their victories have been close ones.
Their last three have been by five, four, and three points.
Don’t be fooled by those margins.
The teams that win games that could go either way are the best teams.
Teams that win close games show they have what it takes to survive in the clutch. Teams that win blowouts, ride the wave of seeing their opponents have to resort to desperate measures. I’m never overly impressed by huge margins of victory.
I respect the teams that win the close games. That’s me.
While their remaining schedule isn’t very threatening, I don’t see anything close to an unbeaten season for the Steelers.
Something, somehow, always happens in a game, even the ones you’re expected to dominate.
The big challenge is the rematch against the Ravens Thanksgiving Day.
A lot will depend on the health of their veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
As he said, with considerable bravado after the comeback win over Dallas, “the Cowboys may be America’s team, but we are the World’s team”.
I still think the AFC road to the Super Bowl goes through Kansas City.
I still think the Ravens will be a major player.
The Patriots are not in any kind of conversation. I thought the Bills would take over leadership in the AFC East. I still do, but I never figured the Miami Dolphins would emerge this quickly as a strong division, and playoff challenger. I’ve been riding the bandwagon of head coach Brian Flores, even when the Dolphins were playing like their recent losing ways.
But they are growing. And with rookie Tua Tagovailoa adding his name to the new and exciting crop of signal-callers, Miami has become a team to watch.
Tennessee reached the AFC title game in 2019, and they likely will capture their division, but it appears their defense will prevent them from getting even close to that level this time.
The NFC has become as head-scratcher.
There is no dominant team in that conference, and that includes Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who look to be the best right now.
The trouble is, people like to take the temperature of teams weeks to-week. So you have the ups and downs depending on whether a team won or lost.
One game Seattle is the best. Now with back-to-back losses, no one talks about them.
The same with Tampa Bay. One minute, Tom Brady is taking the Bucs to the Super Bowl, then he throws three interceptions, the Saints win with ease, and the nay-sayers are out in force.
That’s been the story with the Saints (up), and the Rams(down).
I never figured the Bucs would beat out the Saints in the NFC South and I still don’t. It’s called learning how to win, and Tampa Bay, talented as they are, are still learning.
The injury plague as knocked the defending conference champs, the 49ers, out of the running.
The Eagles have a losing record, but still lead the East.
Who else can possibly win that division? The answer, no one.
In prepping for the Bears and Titans last week, Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel made a solid point.
He talked about those teams with sub-par records at the halfway point, and those who who are 5-3, or better.
How often have we seen the winners wind up .500 at best, and the struggling outfits run off substantial winning streaks and become strong post-season contenders? The answer to that question, is often.
It happens every year, and will again.
That’s why history indicates that the strong finishers are there at the end.
And the fact is, we don’t know who they are.
Will it be a team like the Vikings, who are 3-5? Or even one of the many 5-3 clubs not talked about, like the Cardinals, Rams, Raiders, Browns, or Colts.
That’s why the race is only half-finished.
The real drama has yet to played out.
You’re probably safe if you’re talking Steelers, Chiefs or Ravens in the AFC.
But what about the NFC?
The Packers remaining schedule is hardly compelling.
I can admit that I wasn’t high on them when the season began.
Thus, I wind up the way I began, taking full responsibility for my cloudy crystal ball.