Wasn't this week fun? Thanksgiving Day football. A game worth watching Thursday Night. The Colts vs Texans, Eagles vs Redskins, and Dolphins vs Bills in the early games. The Titans vs Cardinals in the late game. A good Sunday Night game, and a well hyped Monday Night game.
If you're like me, you digested as much football as you did calories this past week, and like any overweight American; you want more.
Thankfully we have great college and pro games coming in the next few days.
Until then, here's how the NFL is shaping up entering December.
01. New Orleans Saints - Are you still doubting the Saints? I don't think there's a reason to doubt anything about this team until the playoffs. They're built to score points, and until they meet either an offense than can go head to head with them (Indianapolis may be the only one) or a defense that can slow them down (only Pittsburgh and Minnesota come to mind) this team is going to keep on winning. Despite their 11-0 record they still don't have a remotely comfortable lead in the NFC.
02. Indianapolis Colts - It's understated but this team may be the toughest in the NFL; mentally, physically, emotionally, this team is tough. They were down 17 early on Sunday and weren't even phased. All the media reports is "missed field goal by Kris Brown," or "4th and 2,"or "Flacco interception," at what point are we going to accept that this is the best team in the AFC? Because they are.
03. Minnesota Vikings - I've heard a lot of people, including respectable football personalities, call this team the best in the NFL. That's a joke. They're not even the best team in the NFC. The Vikings are good though, and they look to be Super; especially that defense. Let's not forget that we're talking about Vikings, who as a franchise make the Bills look like the Steelers. Let's also not forget we're talking about Brett Favre who hasn't won a big game since the 1997 NFC Championship. That's a long time ago. Favre was 8-3 at this point last year with the Jets and the toast of the NFL. Let's see how these Vikings hold up these next five weeks before we crown them champions.
04. San Diego Chargers - As hot of a team as there is in the league, though they have benefited from a favorable schedule. In the NFL though, all you have to do is win the games you're given. This team will be dangerous come playoff time, especially if they can get a first round bye. Their run defense and run offense are very suspect though.
The Very Good
05. Cincinnati Bengals - Okay, so they beat the Browns. They were supposed to beat the Browns. Just think how good things would look had they beaten the Raiders last week. They pretty much wrapped up the AFC North this week, so it all comes down to seeding. Whatever seed they are, I've got a feeling that they're going to be one-and-done for the second time in the Lewis-Palmer era.
06. Dallas Cowboys - The schizophrenic Cowboys enter the month that they've feared all season; December. It's do or die time now for Tony Romo. I'm sure he'll be the Cowboys QB in 2010, but he needs to take this Cowboys team to the playoffs. Scratch that. Romo needs to lead the Cowboys to a division title.
07. New England Patriots - At 7-4 you have to start wondering, are they even close to a big game team anymore? I mean, I don't mean to "hate" on the Pats here but think about? When was the last time they won a "big" game? Beating an injured Chargers in the 07 AFC Championship game? Beating the Giants in week 17 of 07? Since then they're awful. They're 0-4 this season on the road as well. They're likely going to have to win two on the road to get to the Super Bowl. They can still get there though; the Chargers, Bengals, and Broncos are still scared of them.
08. Arizona Cardinals - They actually impressed me this past week without Warner. The defense played well, despite letting up a 90 yard run and a 99 yard drive. Truth be told they made a lot of stops. Warner's value to his team, often questioned by the media and fans alike, was proven this past week.
09. Denver Broncos - Back in the top 10 after falling fast. With Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Miami, and Houston losses on Sunday, the Broncos playoffs hopes regained some serious footing. Chargers vs Broncos III may be coming this January. This division isn't totally out of reach yet, either.
10. Philadelphia Eagles - The Eagles won on Sunday, and in division games like that, that's all that matters. The playoffs seem likely for the Eagles, but you have to believe they want a home game.
Hanging In There
11. Tennessee Titans - Are they the hottest team in the NFL? It's hard to say they're hotter than San Diego, but this team is hot. Vince Young gets his first real test of the season this week at Indianapolis (I don't consider Houston a test, and Matt Leinart's Cardinals are a lot different than Kurt Warner's). A win against Indianapolis and the Titans will probably be in the playoffs, a loss against Indianapolis and their season is over. It's that kind of a game.
12. Green Bay Packers - They've done a good job winning the games that they're supposed to win all year (outside of the Tampa loss). They won't do much damage in the playoffs, but they'll probably be there. That looks more clear now than ever.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers - Slowly fading out of the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl for the second time this decade. You have to believe that if Big Ben played on Sunday the Steelers would've sent the Ravens home for the season. I won't write this team out of the playoffs until they're mathematically eliminated. And I still believe that the Chargers will be scared to death of seeing them in the first round,
14. Baltimore Ravens - Baltimore saved their season this past week, and I'm not one to overuse the word luck, but the Ravens lucked out. I can't see them in the playoffs, but if they get there they'd be more interesting to see than a lot of the other teams muddled in the AFC playoff race.
15. New York Giants - Despite the ugly Thanksgiving loss they're still the 7th team in the NFC picture, and if Eli is healthy, he'll be hosting the Cowboys at home this week. They're going to need him to be healthy to win. If not, their 2009 is toast.
16. Atlanta Falcons - When Matt Ryan went down it looked as though this teams season was over. Leave it to Chris Redman to guide them to victory. Ryan needs to be healthy if the Falcons want to get back into the playoff mix.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars - We knew the wheels would fall off for this team. I mean, the Jaguars were overachieving all year with a mediocre roster. Jack Del Rio probably did what he had to to save his job; Now Tim Tebow needs to save this franchise.
18. Miami Dolphins - What a brutal, crippling loss. A win against the Bills would have given them a free loss against New England this upcoming week. Now, the New England game is a must win. This is a team that will probably be watching the playoffs, not participating in them.
19. New York Jets - I feel bad for Jets fans this season. When they think they're for real they suffer awful losses, when they think they're awful they put up nice wins. They won't make the playoffs this year, but they're not totally dead. If things fall the right way for them they'll be in good shape after this week.
20. San Francisco 49ers - A nice win against Jacksonville mixed with help from Tennessee have put the 49ers temporarily in the playoff picture. Don't get too excited '9ers fan, they'll fall out.
21. Houston Texans - And the horn finally blasts in this franchises ear. After eight years, the team finally had expectations, and after a collapse, the media has finally set in. The Houston Texans franchise is filled with talent on both sides of the ball, but can't seem to win. They destroyed the development of David Carr by throwing him behind an awful offensive line, and now they're in danger of wasting Andre Johnson's prime.
22. Buffalo Bills - Their fans can't wait until 2010, but the players still want to play. T.O is hot right now, as the team heads to Toronto to play the Jets.
23. Carolina Panthers - The Jake Delhomme era is over. It has to be. It doesn't matter who else is on that roster, Delhomme is done. I know Revis is great, but c'mon. Delhomme is done. Give him credit though as a quarterback who did what he had to do to get to the Super Bowl in his career. A lot of great players never get there.
24. Chicago Bears - Jay Cutler and Chicago were a bad fit. That is, Jay Cutler and the Bears as constructed were a bad fit. You have to believe the Bears are going to try and build around Cutler; beginning with the firing of Lovie Smith.
25. Seattle Seahawks - It's ugly in Seattle. How did Jim Mora, Jr. get another team so fast? 2005 seems like a long time ago, and it may be a long time before they get back.
26. Washington Redskins - This team is proving they're not that far away from competing in the NFC. They're also proving that Jim Zorn and Jason Campbell do indeed, have to go. No matter how unfair that sounds.
27. Kansas City Chiefs - What a gross, disgusting, loss to San Diego. I understand San Diego are infinitely better, especially right now while they're hot, but c'mon, you just beat Pittsburgh last week. What's up with Chris Chambers though? Matt Cassell is making him look better than Rivers ever could. That's probably all Cassell can do better than Rivers though.
28. Detroit Lions - In the first quarter on Thanksgiving we thought we'd have a game. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson should take it easy the rest of 2009, no need to risk the future.
29. Oakland Raiders - The fact that the NFL had the audacity to put this team on Thanksgiving is a joke. Poor East Coast had to watch that game while eating dinner. Oh, and c'mon Raiders, I know Bruce Gradkowski won the week before, but if you're going to force the entire country to watch you play a game, at least put JaMarcus Russell in so families can gather around the television and bond over his quarterbacking play.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - This team has a lot going for them, including their rookie quarterback. Before they take the next step they're going to have to lose their rookie head coach. It was a nice idea trying to emulate Mike Tomlin, but it failed.
31. St. Louis Rams - Poor, poor Rams fans. They entered this decade as the best team, they're probably going to exit it as the worst. They've done well in the draft these past two years avoiding skill position players while developing the pieces that will need to be there to win in the future. 2010 begins the beginning of the rebuilding era in skill positions. I look at them as the New York Knicks of the NFL.
32. Cleveland Browns - Eric Mangini's team keeps digging their coaches grave. They may not win another game this season, and if they don't Mangini will get fired. That'll set the Cleveland franchise back even further. Mangini's 3-4 NY Jets team looks good this season, and they may be better with him than Rex Ryan this year. Maybe.