The three teams I’m most interested in?
No, not the Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers, or even the undefeated Tennessee Titans.
Try the sloppy Cleveland Browns, the surging Houston Texans, and the surprising Miami Dolphins.
All three of these teams are still below .500, are inconsistent as can be, and quite possibly could be out of the playoff picture completely in three weeks.
However, their recent re-emergence into playoff relevance has me giddy with all the possibilities they bring to the table.
1. A quarterback controversy, combined with a coach on the hot seat, heading into a potential divisional opponent playoff match-up. If you haven’t guessed, that would be the Cleveland Browns.
2. How about the Wildcat toting, trick-play dealing, Ted Ginn running Miami Dolphins? Come on, who out there wouldn’t want to see Ricky Williams win a championship and take a drag while holding the Lombardi trophy? Yeah, me neither. But I feel for Chad Pennington.
3. Lastly, the Texans are so hot, I’m getting blisters, and I live in Wisconsin. The Schaub to Johnson connection is better than high-speed internet (sorry, roadrunner), and I simply cannot get enough of it. Oh, and Owen Daniels is becoming an elite tight end.
At the very worst, these three average teams have helped make this season fun to watch. And because of these three teams, I can’t wait to see what else 2008 has in store for us. But there’s 29 more teams to keep track of, whether we like it or not, so take a look:
|1 (1)||7-0||True, the Colts weren’t much of a test, but a win in front of the nation still is impressive. Undefeated is undefeated, folks.|
|2 (2)||6-1||That 4th down bomb to Amani Toomer near the end of the game was a gutsy call. That’s the difference a year and a championship makes. This team is oozing confidence.|
|3 (3)||5-2||I know the Giants have a great pass rush, but when is this line going to get with it?|
|4 (5)||6-2||They could just as easily by 0-8. But you’ve got to hand it to them: they know how to close games. Clinton Portis for MVP, anyone?|
|5 (8)||6-2||Is it just me, or is anything possible when Steve Smith is playing this well? This is an elite NFC team.|
|6 (4)||5-2||They need to figure out fast what kind of team they are. Are they a division winner, or the team that loses next week to the Jets and fades away?|
|7 (9)||4-3||Yeah, that’s Brian Westbrook, and that’s how he rolls.|
|8 (10)||5-2||It seems every week brings a different thought or feeling about Cassel, but does it even matter? The Patriots are 5-2, and the winning doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop.|
|9 (6)||4-3||They played Carolina close, and should feel good even though they lost. 5-2 would have been great, but they’re still in good shape in their division.|
|10 (11)||5-3||Maybe Brooks Bollinger is the answer, after all.|
|11 (7)||5-3||How you let a team beat you with no production from the quarterback is beyond me. This was a letdown.|
|12 (13)||4-3||The Packers bring their lackluster rush offense and 25th ranked run defense up against the Titans. If that isn’t the funniest joke you’ve ever heard…|
|13 (15)||4-3||The week off should cure Jay Cutler’s ailing hand. But the defense? Not so much.|
|14 (17)||4-3||Kyle Orton versus the Lions tells me the Bears go 5-3. Kyle Orton by himself tells me they just might win the North.|
|15 (19)||4-4||Minus the loss of Reggie Bush, is any offense more exciting to watch right now? Drew Brees is playing out of his mind.|
|16 (12)||3-4||Matt Jones has a huge game and the Jags’ still lose. With a pending suspension, is there any reason for hope in Jacksonville?|
|17 (20)||4-3||You call it luck, and I call it Favre. It is what it is, folks. And the Jets win again…|
|18 (18)||4-3||Matt Ryan simply cannot put this team on his shoulders, yet. He’s good, but not that good.|
|19 (14)||3-4||It’s time to stop blaming Marvin Harrison and the other receivers. Peyton Manning is simply not himself.|
|20 (21)||4-3||This is what happens when Joe Flacco plays with poise. But can we really expect him to do that 5-6 more times?|
|21 (23)||3-4||They’ve had some tough luck, and are catching on fire at the perfect time. The minute they beat a good team, they shoot up the rankings.|
|22 (24)||3-4||Tell me you didn’t pick Ted Ginn Jr. up in your fantasy league.|
|23 (22)||3-4||You can’t ask much more out of Gus Frerotte. But hey, Gus, can we have some more?|
|24 (16)||3-5||When I say window, you say closed. Window! *Closed!|
|25 (25)||3-4||Is it just me, or have they come out of nowhere? A win against Baltimore this week, and they’re suddenly in second place in their division.|
|26 (26)||2-5||That was a real bummer. They played a solid, close football game, only to see the refs hand the game to the Patriots. Sickening.|
|27 (27)||2-5||Does this team even want to win every week?|
|28 (29)||2-5||Here, Seattle, have a cookie.|
|29 (28)||2-6||Yeah, Vernon Davis is the problem in San Francisco. Their losing has nothing to do with a terrible offensive line, questionable play-calling, and turnovers. Yep, it’s Davis, alright.|
|30 (30)||1-6||They played the Jets tough. Which, for now, means almost nothing.|
|31 (31)||0-7||It’s hard to knock Rod Marinelli’s heart and “belief” system, but the cleaning has to start from the top. Millen went, and he shall follow.|
|32 (32)||0-8||Carson Palmer is expected to miss the remainder of the season. Carson’s most recent text to relatives: Vacaaaaation!|