|Posted on December 11, 2011 at 11:40 PM|
Until, basketball season begins on Christmas Day, let us focus our attention on the thrilling NFL season that is taking place.
My MVP at this point in the season is, without a doubt, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. He is one pace to smash the all-time single-season passer rating – The record is 121.1. Rodgers has 125.3, and the next highest in the league in 105.9 (Tom Brady). In fact, though he has yet to play most of his career, he holds the all-time career passer rating record. The rising star also is on pace the break the single-season completion percentage record, by completing 71.8% of his passes. Rodgers is first in the league in yards-per-attempt as well with 9.4 (next highest in the league is Brady with 8.5)
Rodgers also turns the ball over with nearly absurd infrequency. First, he is one of three quarterbacks (Drew Brees, Matt Stafford, and himself) with no lost fumbles. Secondly, while he leads the league in touchdowns (37), with five interceptions, he has thrown the second fewest in the league (second of course to Tim Tebow… wait… what!?! Tim Tebow has thrown the fewest interceptions of any starter in the league? That’s right. He has played 7.5 games and has onlythrown one interception! That’s amazing, right! Oh yeah… he doesn’t throw the ball… never mind). Anyway, Aaron Rodgers, having played every game of the season, has thrown fewer interceptions than six backup quarterbacks!
He is clearly more valuable to his team than any other player in the league considering they have the 5th worst rushing offense in the NFL, but have the best overall offense in league. Rodgers’ importance to the 12-0 Packers just increases due to the fact that the Packers have the 3rd worst defense in the league. Essentially, Green Bay is undefeated, but the only aspect of the game which they are good at is the passing offense led by Aaron Rodgers.
Offensive Player of the Year is a tough one. I can’t give itto Rodgers just because I like to spread the wealth around, so this leaves several other candidates. First is Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, who is on pace to shatter Dan Marino’s single-season passing yardage record and to set a record for most completions in aseason. Tom Brady of the New England Patriots is another strong candidate, who is only 62 yards behind Brees for the season, and is 2nd in the league in touchdowns, passer rating, completions, and yards per attempt. A third strong candidate is Patriots’ wide receiver Wes Welker, who is on pace to catch the 2nd most balls ever in a season, as well as leading the league in yards by a large margin. The race is so wide open to me (even Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski has a chance by setting the all-time touchdown record for tight ends) that I’m going to let you vote (see sidebar).
Here are my predictions for how the teams will be seeded in the AFC at the end of the season.
#1 seed: Baltimore Ravens 13-3
#2 seed: New England Patriots 13-3
#3 seed: Houston Texans 12-4
#4 seed: Denver Broncos 10-6
#5 seed: Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4
#6 seed: New York Jets 11-5
Denver has a very favorable schedule to close out the season. They play Caleb Hanie’s Bears at home (win), the Patriots at home (probably a loss), the reeling Buffalo Bills (win), and the Chiefs (who have scored the same number of touchdowns off of Hail Maries in the last five weeks than they have in all other ways of scoring touchdowns) at home (win). The Denver defense is playing fabulously (allowing just 18 points per game in their last five games, and scoring three non-offensive touchdowns) and Willis McGahee is having a revitalizing year (averaging 5.2 yards per carry in the last five games) tp help out Tim Tebow in a major way.
However, the main reason why the Broncos are having success is Tim Tebow, though not in the way you would think. It is because he has thrown the fewest interceptions per game in the NFL, and has only fumbled twice even though he holds the ball way more than most quarterbacks. Turnovers are the most important part of the game, and if you don’t believe me, read this: Of the nine teams with the highest differential between takeaways and giveaways, one is 12-0, one is 10-2, three are 9-3, and four are 7-5. For those of you that want an even more conclusive statistic, in week 13, all 14 teams that had fewer turnovers than their opponents won.
The New Yok Jets are not playing with the same quality as they have been the past two seasons when they made the AFC Championship. Much of this regression has been blamed on third-year quarterback, Mark Sanchez, who couldn't complete a pass of greater than 20 yards if his life depended on it. Is Mark Sanchez a problem for the New York Jets? Absolutely. Is he the biggest problem? Absolutely not. The issue for the Jets is Brian Schottenheimer, the offensive coordinator. He single-handedly lost them the AFC Championship against the Steelers last season, by calling four terrible plays in row in the fourth quarter, causing the Jets to not score a touchdown with 1st and goal from the 2 yard line, costing the team seven points. The team lost by five points.
Now, since Sanchez can’t make difficult throws, it’s the offensive coordinator’s job to find situations where the offense can succeed anyway. One way to do this is by running the football, to get the ball out of Sanchez’s hands. In games where the Jets have attempted more rushing plays than passing plays, or ran just one or two fewer rushing plays than passing plays, they are 5-1. However, if the Jets pass at least three more times than they run over the corse of the game, New York is just 2-4. A second way to get Sanchez going is by running plays for his favorite target: tight end Dustin Keller. In games where Keller has the most or second most catches on the team, the Jets are 6-1. When Schottenheimer just forgets that Keller exists, and he is not one of the two leading receivers, New York is 1-4. If they have two offensive game-plans that clearly work, why don’t they use them more? Ask Brian Schottenheimer, and let him defend himself.
Nontheless, I still believe the New York Jets’ team is the leading candidate to snag the final wild-card spot in the AFC. They are battling for the spot with the Oakland Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals, and Tennessee Titans, who currently all sit at 7-5 along with the Jets. If it is assumed that, for the remainder of the season, each of these four teams loses to teams with better records, and beats teams with worse records, the Jets will win the wild-card by 1.5 games! I’m not yet sold on the Bengals because they are a lousy 1-5 against winning teams. On the contrary, the Raiders have piled up several quality wins,but have the tendency to play down to competition, as shown by blowout losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins. Lastly, the Titans play two 9-3 teams in these final four weeks, and they haven’t shown that they can beat great teams.
Here are my predictions for how the teams will be seeded in the NFC at the end of the season.
#1 seed: Green Bay Packers 16-0
#2 seed: San Francisco 49ers 14-2
#3 seed: New Orleans Saints 13-3
#4 seed: Dallas Cowboys 9-7
#5 seed: Atlanta Falcons 10-6
#6 seed: Detroit Lions 9-7
Lastly, here are my top 10 favorite plays from the NFL season so far.
#10 ) Watch Patrick Robinson dive to block a field goal attempt.
#'s 6 and 7 ) Watch two trick plays which both result in non-quarterback's with the name Rice throwing the football.
#4 ) Watch Brandon Lloyd haul in deep pass with one hand.
#2 ) Watch the Titans get tricky against the Buccaneers en route to 100-yard touchdown.
#1 ) Watch Partick Peterson return a punt for a game-winning touchdown in overtime, which happened to be the second longest punt-return for a touchdown in NFL history.
Please comment and tell me what you think.