Super Bowl Madness Podcast with Wonder

Friday, December 23, 2011

NFC Playoff Picture

It is officially crunch time. What do we see happening? Who do we predict is going to make the playoffs? Let’s take the NFC first.  

NFC East. The game of the year is not the Cowboys at the Giants. The bigger game is this week, Philadelphia at Dallas. Here's why. The Giants will PROBABLY win at the Jets. If the Jets win that game and if Dallas beats the Eagles this week, Dallas clinches the division. If both of them win, THEN it is for all the marbles. But that requires those two things to happen. Neither are locks. Tthere is at least a possibility that the Jets beat the Giants, which would eliminate the Giants, then Big Blue will probably pack it in on New Years Day against the Boys. The door would be open for the Eagles to sneak into the playoffs. The prediction is going to be the Cowboys for one simple reason—the Cowboys basically have the easiest route to the division title. Any result here wouldn’t shock me. 

Moving on to the NFC North. Obviously Green Bay is going to win this division. Everyone says the loss takes some pressure off of them and makes it even easier for them now— don’t know about that. We think they had momentum and desire to go undefeated and this may take a little bit of wind out of their sails. AND, their o-line is real banged up and could be a major roadblock for Rodgers and the offense.  

Now to the competitive NFC South. New Orleans is the team there, the only thing they have to be afraid of is a trip to Candlestick or Lambeau in January. Maybe this year’s team will be different. Can they win in both places? Doubtful but we will see.  

Let's take a look at a much better than expected NFC West. The 49ers have this one wrapped up and have two easy games to finish out the schedule but they are not done yet. THEY HAVE TO WIN OUT. They cannot go to New Orleans to try to win a game. They just cannot do it. But at home, on the turf, it’s a different animal. I think the Niners, coming off of the big win against the Steelers, run the table to make for an interesting playoffs.  

The wild cards have been wrapped up more or less. Detroit is in and Atlanta is in. Atlanta actually is playing very well, they have a good formula. They’re a dangerous team. Just not sold on them particularly if they have to go to the northeast to play the Giants or the Eagles in round one. They should be hoping for a match-up with Dallas. As for Detroit—they could make some noise if they can just get a little bit of production on the ground. The NFC is so much stronger than the AFC this year in terms of the depth of their teams and of course with Green Bay at the top.

AFC Playoff Picture

This conference has weakened. The tide has now turned back in favor of the NFC. We will find out for sure in February though.

Let's start with the AFC East. New England has already clinched and probably will get the No. 1 seed in the bracket. The interesting thing is that the Patriots are probably better off playing in a dome or in some warm weather spot then at Foxboro. They obviously want to win home field and that would close their season on an eight game winning streak. That being said, the defense is just horrible. How can Bill not get this thing right? It's part personnel too. But man can Brady just light up the scoreboard. Try getting down 14-0 to them. We'll see what happens but the Patriots are going to be the betting favorite in the AFC but I still think it will be Baltimore or Pittsburgh. I just don't see New England beating both of these teams.

Next up is the AFC North. Baltimore or Pittsburgh? Baltimore, you know, could have run the table and finished 13-3 and gotten the No. 1 seed. Instead they lost but caught a big break when the Steelers lost too. There is no way they make that mistake again. They will finish 12-4 and win the AFC North and the potential No. 2 seed. Pittsburgh will obviously end up being the five seed. They should be focused on team healing going into the tournament.

As for the AFC South, Houston was the one team that you should feel bad for. The injuries are just so much and they still have 10 wins. Yates has done ok but he is still a late-round rookie quarterback. If they somehow could have run the table and gotten the one seed, then they would have at least gotten a chance. I don't think that they are going to go very far. If Houston wins out the No. 2 seed is their's.

That brings us to Denver in the AFC West. They kind of win by default here. They are going to win one of their next two and finish 9-7 here. Oakland doesn't have it in them.

For the Wild Card teams. We know Pittsburgh is going to be one of them. The Jets still feel like the other one. Even though we have them losing to the Giants, it's possible they can come out and run the ball down the throat of the G-Men. However, they can even lose to the Giants as long as they beat Miami in Week 17 and the Raiders lose one of their last two games and the Bengals lose to Baltimore in Week 17. So I'm still picking the Jets for the six seed. They will get crushed in Baltimore in round one. The Jets (or whoever is the six seed) desperately need Houston to lose one of their last two so that the Texans are the No. 3 seed instead of the Ravens.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Week 15 Odds and Ends Part 2

Chiefs at Packers- Shock of the year. I really thought Green Bay was headed for 19-0. I think they really wanted to go 16-0 too. I know the Jennings loss hurts a bit but still. That O-line is really beaten up and they are now down three starters. If Rodgers doesn't have the chance to work his magic that would be really sad. It's clear that in order to beat the Packers you just have to pressure him non-stop.

Lions at Raiders- Oh how the mighty have fallen. Once 7-4, Oakland is now EL FOLDO. How do you blow a 27-14 lead at home with six minutes left in the game. Terrible everything. Just folding. Detroit just keeps coming back. They are great at it. No team has overcome 13 point deficits like Detroit has this season. As for Megatron, it's close, but I think he is the best receiver in the league. If they had only not lost Leshoure before the season started, or even Best, this would be a scary, scary team. Instead I think they are one and done in the tournament. Maybe one win.

Patriots at Broncos- Well, I was waiting for this to happen and it certainly did. Denver did come out strong with the run until the Patriots figured them out. This says a lot about both teams. I think Denver gets a bit of confidence from this. Tebow is really unlike anything we've seen in this league and they are doing a good job of designing an offense around him. They literally, LITERALLY, have to work as a team on going no-huddle two-minute drill basically nearly every snap. They cannot put him under center. It's the only way they can play and be successful. This is a big, strong boy and he can deliver it just as well as he can take it. I think they make the playoffs, one and done though. As for New England- I've never seen a worse contrast then the one that exists between their offense and defense. Brady is unreal, the offense can't be stopped. But their defense cannot stop anybody. Even with that being said, the Patriots are going to be a real tough out in January. Still, one and done is possible, especially if they get Pittsburgh in the divisional round.

Jets at Eagles- Could the Jets have played any worse. Holmes? That was a pathetic exhibition. Jets were just horrible. They started off fine and held the Eagles. The Jets absolutely stunk up the joint. But they've done that before, the question is--will they bounce back like the last few years? I'm not so sure. I think they are in trouble. As for the Eagles, it could be scary if they get in. A lot of if's that I don't think will happen, but still.

Cardinals at Browns- Cardinals didn't play a real good game but I'll tell you one thing, my boy John Skelton was a great late round pick. I think he has been much better than Kolb, it's not even close. I don't think they'll have the guts to play Skelton over Kolb but they should. He's 5-1 as a starter and can really rifle the ball. Interesting team moving forward. Washington and Peterson, two guys I loved in the draft, are going to anchor that defense for years to come.

Chargers at Ravens- Ravens could have secured their first ever No. 1 seed if you won your last three games and what do you do? You go stink up the joint vs. San Diego. Granted the Chargers are playing quite well at this moment, but still. Flacco and crew just did not show up at all. 10 carries for Rice? What is that. Run it down their throat. In any event, the Ravens caught a big break with the Steelers' loss. As for the Chargers, I guess this is their classic December charge to save Norv. They would have had a much more realistic chance if the Bears didn't blow that game two weeks ago to Denver but as of now it looks like too much. For Chargers fans, they better hope that changes are made from teh top and they get rid of Turner and get someone who will be a bit tougher on that team.

Steelers at 49ers- We had the 49ers winning this one, but for them to just control and physically dominate Pittsburgh was shocking. It was just a beat down. The Steelers should do the smart thing--sit out Roethlisberger the next two games and let him prepare for the playoffs. Still have faith in them, they will be a scary, scary team in the playoffs. As for the 49ers--they desperately want to win their last two to get that bye and to avoid the dreaded trip to the Superdome to face the Saints.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

NFL Week 15 Odds and Ends: Part 1

Falcons at Jaguars- As I thought, Atlanta is rounding into form. The Jags and Gabbert are just pathetic. I think Atlanta is going to be a very tough out in the playoffs this year. Another huge one for Julio Jones, maybe worth every bit of their "overpriced" draft pick trade for him. He is a true stud.

Cowboys at Bucs- Dallas put a whooping on Tampa. I dont know if Raheem Morris is fired at the end of the year but they have taken a giant step back. They have given up on the season. Freeman looks horrible. Dallas controls their own destiny--win their last two and they are in. Dallas is just so, so inconsistent and changes their colors so often you never know what to expect.

Panthers at Texans- Sort of an upset. I know it was Newton vs Yates but that whole concept of Houston playing hard. Playing good defense. Running the ball. WITH A NO. 1 SEED AT STAKE! They folded like a cheap suit. Doesn't bode well as they head into the playoffs. I still have a good amount of faith in them but they just have to play a very solid, clean game if they want to advance in the playoffs.

Redskins at Giants- I can't say how badly Coughlin needs to go. For a team that could have controlled their own destiny EVEN if they lost to the Jets this week. For them not to come out, after having beat Dallas the week before, and absolutely annihilate Washington-that's a reflection on the coach. Washington is playing hard and need to address the QB situation in the off-season.

Dolphins at Bills- I thought they were going to pack it in because of the situation (new coach, weather in Buffalo). Reggie Bush 205 yards, where did that come from?. Moore was solid. How do you think Buffalo feels about their $60-million dollar contract for Fitzpatrick right about now?

Seahawks at Bears- I almost feel bad for the Bears. I wasn't a huge fan of theirs at the beginning of the season but Cutler and Forte were playing great. When those two went down, the ship began to sink. Hanie isn't a second or a third string quarterback. He belongs with Palko somewhere else like the Arena League. Seattle defense played great, they are playing hard for Carroll. They NEED a quarterback.

Saints at Vikings- I mean what can you say? They are just so scary on offense its amazing. Brees is a magician. As for the Vikings, they packed it in a long time ago. What a waste of some great skill players on offense. I know Fraizer has only been there for a year but he is just not a good coach.

Bengals at Rams-Hey- the Bengals won a game they had to win. They didn't blow them out but they did what they needed to do. The Rams are a horrible team. Poor Bradford continues to get pounded. They got to do whatever they can to strengthen that offensive line. Also need to get Bradford another REAL playmaker on the outside.

Titans at Colts- SERIOUSLY MUNCHAK? ARE YOU SERIOUS? Maybe your biggest game of the year- a chance to get into playoff position. And what do you do? You lose to Indianapolis. HORRIBLE. HORRIBLE. HORRIBLE. As for the Colts, you hate to see any team go 0-16, maybe that saves Caldwell's job. If it did--poor Colts fans.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The NFL Totem Pole at the Quarter Point: The Detroit 2011 Version Division

We take a look at where the 32 NFL teams stand at the quarter mark of the season. Find out which teams are set to make a move, which teams are due for a fall and which teams are just stuck in neutral.   

The Detroit 2011 Version Division    

Indianapolis Colts- They will equal Detroit's 0-16 record of a couple of years ago. I will say this, it's better to be 0-16 then 5-11. That being said, when you look at this team and you see talent like Mathis and Freeney on defense. And Wayne, Clark, Addai, Brown, Gonzalez, Collie and Garcon, there really is no excuse for this team to be 0-12. I think they packed it in when Peyton got hurt. There has been a lot of talk by Archie, who has flip-flopped on his stance on a new quarterback. What they need to do is trade Peyton Manning. They need to draft, whoever they feel, is going to be the best quarterback moving forward for the Indianapolis Colts. Until you get these guys in and meet them, and see how they fit with your philosophy, you shouldn't make decision. Game film against bad teams shouldn't be enough in deciding who the leader of your franchise will be going forward. There has got to be a sense of creating a bidding war for Manning between Washington, Miami, Seattle, maybe even Tennessee, create something where you play these teams against each other and you get a lot for the twilight of Peyton's career. I mean look what Oakland gave up for Carson Palmer!!

The NFL Totem Pole at the Quarter Point: The No Excuses Division

We take a look at where the 32 NFL teams stand at the quarter mark of the season. Find out which teams are set to make a move, which teams are due for a fall and which teams are just stuck in neutral.  

The No Excuses Division

Minnesota Vikings- Ponder has played better than I thought that he would. He shows some promise. If the Vikings ever get an outdoor stadium, they'll be in trouble with Ponder. In the dome he has done okay. What has happened to their defense? Some of their draft picks in recent memory were just horrible. They really needed to retool their secondary and they failed to do so. I think they really have a long way to go. They are wasting the prime years of Adrian Peterson's career. 

Miami Dolphins- Have really played well in the second half of the year. Even Matt Moore has played better then expectations. Getting to throw to Brandon Marshall is a real joy for any quarterback. Reggie Bush has been ok, he surprised some people with his ability to run between the tackles. Their defense has been stout too. They are just thin, they are a thin group who is offensively challenged. It would have been better for them to lose enough games to make sure they got one of the big three quarterbacks (Luck, Barkley, RG3). 

St. Louis Rams- I can't figure them out. I know they got destroyed by injuries but for them to just regress so much under Steve Spagnuolo is just truly disappointing. I think he is going to get a pass and they are going to give him another year because of all of the injuries but he hasn't really developed the defense as much as I thought he would over three years. I just think they need to do a better job on that end, collectively. Some of their draft choices have been suspect. 

Jacksonville Jaguars- Finally got rid of Jack Del Rio who had worn out his welcome a long time ago. Their biggest problem is that they used the No. 10 pick on Gabbert and unless he makes some major improvements in the next off-season then he may turn out to be a bust. Thin offensive line, few quality wide receivers, they just need new fresh blodd and an infusion of talent.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers- I did predict, very accurately before the season started, that the Bucs would take a step back as a team. But a step back and a mile back are two different things. This team has really gone backwards. Morris really needs to figure out what has been going on. McCoy hasn't provided anything yet. Freeman has been just awful this year. Some of that has to be due to coaching. They aren't really taking advantage of their talent at the skill positions on offense.

The NFL Totem Pole at the Quarter Point: The Trying But No Talent Division

We take a look at where the 32 NFL teams stand at the quarter mark of the season. Find out which teams are set to make a move, which teams are due for a fall and which teams are just stuck in neutral.  

The Trying But No Talent Division

Seattle Seahawks- They aren't that untalented. Their biggest and main problem is the quarterback position and as we all know that is a big problem. Seattle does have some promising young players, particularly one of my favorites from the draft two years ago, Golden Tate. Earl Thomas is a beast as well, same for Kam Chancelor.

Washington Redskins- The more I see the more that I think time has passed Mike Shanahan by. He thinks he has John Elway and or Terrell Davis on his team and he doesn't. And their whole team identity is lost in the shuffle, its unclear what they are even trying to do. Yes they have a promising young back in Helu, a guy who I liked out of the draft. Same with Fred Davis a few years ago. They also got Ryan Kerrigan who was a guy I liked in this past year's draft. They are thin on the offensive line. They more than anybody desperately need a quarterback from this year's deep pool of passers. 

Carolina Panthers- I love Cam Newton. I think he is going to be a star for years. He has a great attitude, great temprament. People forget how big he is at 6'5'' 260 pounds. He is tough to take down and most surprisingly he is really accurate. The sad part is that Steve Smith is getting older because he and Newton have been tremendous together. I like some of their defenders, they just need some more depth and I don't quite understand why they have not been able to run the ball more effectively with Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams which should be one of the best 1-2 punches in the league. Maybe it's the line.

Arizona Cardinals- I kind of like some of them. I love Darryl Washington, who I think is playing at an all-pro level. I had him ranked way up there in the draft two years ago. Giants fans know how much I was recommending on that the Giants take Washington and it is a decision they make regret for years to come. I think they overpaid for Kolb, not only with the money but also by giving up a developing all-pro cornerback who had begun to thrive in your system. 

Cleveland Browns- Their biggest problem is that Mike Holmgrem suffers from a "God-complex" and thinks that he can do anything. I like McCoy, but let's face it. He is just not strong-armed enough to play that close to Lake Erie as the winter approaches with the wind and the cold. He's a tough kid and can take a pounding but we will see what happens with him. 

Kansas City Chiefs- They're a little bit different than the others only because I feel that they have been a bit snake bit this year with injuries. Everyone knows how much I loved Eric Berry out of the draft, for them to lose him is an absolute disaster for that defense, who still hasn't played that bad. To lose Jamaal Charles, who let's face it, may never be the same again, is something different. Losing Cassell is pretty brutal too. They have plenty of talent. Hali has been better than I could have ever predicted for Kansas City. They lack a bit of depth. They lost Moeaki who I thought was a steal in last year's draft in the 4th round. He is one of the best all-around tight ends in the league.

The NFL Totem Pole at the Quarter Point: The El Foldo Division

We take a look at where the 32 NFL teams stand at the quarter mark of the season. Find out which teams are set to make a move, which teams are due for a fall and which teams are just stuck in neutral.  

The El Foldo Division- Teams who have just absolutely tanked. 

Philadelphia Eagles- Yes the Dream Team is 5-8. As talented as Vick is, he is going to get beat up, he is going to get hurt because this is the big boy league. The Eagles should have realized that if they wanted to commit to Vick long term, which they did, what they needed to do was spend all of their draft choices over the last couple of years to stack up their pathetic offensive line. They haven't. And it's reflected in the fact that Vick gets killed every single week. If it wasn't for his mobility, he'd be on the IR already. The biggest problem with the Eagles is that Andy has lost the team. They started believing their own headlines. The defense has been problematic. Have misused guys like my boy, Dominique Rogers Cromartie, my boy. 

San Diego Chargers- A team who started off 4-1 and completely fell of the map. They should be definitely the favorite to win that division and they have not done so, they gotta go and rebuild their defense, beef up their offensive line and I am still a believer in Philip Rivers. I think he is still a great player and a good quarterback for years to come.

Buffalo Bills- I give them credit starting out 4-1, beating the Pats up in Buffalo. For whatever reason, when the Jets went up and pounded their brains in, it seemed to take the wind out of their sails. They have just gotten their head handed to them since. It's great to give Fitzpatrick all of this money, but he is not the be all end all. Losing Jackson was obviously a killer. They gotta get rid of Stevie Johnson, he's a cancer, he's a problem. He does too many dumb things off and on the field. 


The NFL Totem Pole at the Quarter Point: The Alydar Division

We take a look at where the 32 NFL teams stand at the quarter mark of the season. Find out which teams are set to make a move, which teams are due for a fall and which teams are just stuck in neutral. 

The Alydar Division-For those of you too young to remember, Alydar was a horse that finished second to Affirmed in all three Triple Crown races in 1978, getting nipped at the finish line by his rival all three times. These are the close but not quite teams of the NFL. Two of these teams are going to make the playoffs, not that they actually deserve it, but the rules call for 12 teams.

Detroit Lions- Of all the teams that I listed the lions are the ones that SHOULD have made the jump. They have all the pieces in place-enough talent on both sides of the ball to at least be an also ran and to compete with those above them. However two things have occurred. 1-The Suh mess has somewhat polarized the team from the rest of his peers and the rest of the NFL, putting a target on the Lions back. I had Suh as my highest rated player in my 2010 Draft Project but there is something wrong with him and if it is not corrected then there will be more serious problems in Detroit. His actions and more importantly the responses to them make him and the team an embarrassment to the league. They reflect on the lack of control that Jim Schwartz, a guy I really like, has over this team. Yes, Suh has changed the culture of losing in Detroit, but Schwartz missed an opportunity to take the bull by the horns and suspend Suh himself to set an example for the rest of the team. 2- They have also had bad luck at the RB position with injuries to Jahvid Best, who I really like, and Kevin Smith, who looked great before his injury, that has made their offense one dimensional. 

Bottom line is- the Lions have trouble understanding the difference between a tough and physical football team (what they want to be) versus a cheap and dirty team (what they actually are).

Chicago Bears- I'm not a big Lovie Smith fan, nor am I a big fan of the bears or the way that they play but you have to give them credit for playing tough, good defense and really placing an emphasis on running the ball in what is becoming a pass-heavy league. Cutler was having his best year as a pro and was making plays but more importantly, WAS NOT MAKING PLAYS FOR THE OTHER SIDE! Even if Forte comes back and shines, they aren't going anywhere, even if they manage to sneak into the tournament. 

Cincinnati Bengals- I have to give Marvin Lewis credit because we all thought the places were in place for a bad team (4-12 team that adds a rookie QB). Dalton has played fantastic for what I consider a "limited-upside" quarterback. A.J. Green has been everything I envisioned and them some. The Bengals can sneak into the playoffs. 

New York Giants- Dare I say the Giants have once again collapsed in the second half of the year. It's ok to lose to New Orleans, it's ok to lose to San Francisco although frankly I think the 49ers are a bit of an overachieving team. With that being said it was totally unacceptable to lose to Seattle at home, to the Eagles at home, who are just cascading downward in terrible. To lose to them at home in a game you needed, with a backup quarterback, terrible. Tom Coughlin has lost control of the team and he has to go, EVEN IF THEY MAKE THE PLAYOFFS. And lets not forget that opening day loss to that powerhouse team they affectionatly refer to as the Washington Redskins. They need to go back to playing Giants football, that means running the ball 45-47% of the time, it's a mentality. Stopping the other team from running the ball. 

New York Jets- They have changed their culture, they're exciting, fun, they talk a lot. I'm all for Rex Ryan and what he has to say but at some point he has to shut up, enough is enough. Not all of your players are all-stars, some of them are not all that good. Don't continue to feed their egos and tell them they are a great team when they are not. Losing to New England, acceptable. Losing at Baltimore, acceptable. Blowing leads vs Oakland and Denver, unacceptable. The Jets have to understand that they desperately need a couple of pieces that they are not willing to go out and get. Wake up, your safeties stink. They can't cover, they can't tackle. They are basically just terrible. 

Tennessee Titans- Interesting team. Good offensive line, not as good as in years past but still good. Solid defense. They have a quarterback who I kind of like. He has given them a chance to compete. The problem that I have is that the Titans need, as quickly as possible, to develop Jake Locker. They have to. While I like Hasselback, he certainly isn't the future of the franchise. It's almost as if this year is a bit of a waste in terms of developing Locker.

Denver Broncos- God I hate the Denver Broncos. I can't believe they are where they are with Tebow at quarterback. I'm here to tell you I cannot understand how this guy can be a quarterback. But I give him credit, he is getting the job done. A little bit of luck, a little of the teams they are playing against self-destructing, a somewhat favorable schedule, and a lot of a great defense.


Monday, December 12, 2011

The NFL Totem Pole at the Quarter Point: The Also Rans Division

We take a look at where the 32 NFL teams stand at the quarter mark of the season. Find out which teams are set to make a move, which teams are due for a fall and which teams are just stuck in neutral.

The Also Rans Division- These teams are PRETTY good and are going to make the playoffs, it's just that I don't see them going very far.

Houston Texans- It's sad what has happened with Schaub and Williams because what they have done this year is tremendous. Even without Williams they are still playing great defense. Three unsung players who I once touted in the draft have been huge contributors for them; QB T.J. Yates, HB Ben Tate and DE J.J. Watt. With that being said, there is just no way they can survive the playoffs without a seasoned quarterback.

Dallas Cowboys- The most dangerous of all the also rans, you never know what your going to get with the Cowboys. The defense has been disappointing, especially the back four. They are just not getting the pass rush and the defensive coverage. With Dez Bryant,  Miles Austin, Laurent Robinson and Jason Witten running routes, Tony Romo has a dangerous set of weapons at his disposal and without those two blown games (@ NYJ, vs DET)

Atlanta Falcons- No doubt that they will make the playoffs. While Ryan isn't an elite QB and I'm not sure he will ever be, he is a solid, solid, passer who can lead your team to the Super Bowl. Having the two beasts on the outside Roddy White and Julio Jones (I had Jones as a can't miss WR the same rating that I gave A.J. Green and only three other guys in the last ten years- Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson). 

Oakland Raiders- My preseason pick for the AFC West, I wasn't crazy about how much the Raiders gave up for Palmer, especially after seeing how much zip he lost on his fastball at the end of his time in Cincinnati. However, he's been quite productive for Hue Jackson (the WR coach when Palmer was in CIN) and the defense has been stout led by Rolando McClain. Biggest mystery for them is whether or not McFadden can get healthy and stay healthy for the playoffs, which would make for a dangerous backfield and take some of the pressure off of Palmer. 


The NFL Totem Pole at the Quarter Point: The Avis Division

We take a look at where the 32 NFL teams stand at the quarter mark of the season. Find out which teams are set to make a move, which teams are due for a fall and which teams are just stuck in neutral. 

The Avis Division- This group is reserved for those teams who are second and have to try just a bit harder to reach the NFL summit. This year's Avis division features plenty of quality teams and if it weren't for Green Bay, it would be wide open.

Baltimore Ravens- I think Joe Flacco is better than most people think and I think some of their game planning is weak and some of their execution is weak but I think it can be cleaned up. More importantly, I believe in the Ravens defense, especially if they hold on and get home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. They have a soft schedule from here on out so they may be able to do that. If they finish 13-3 and are the No. 1 seed them I think this is the year they finally overcome the Steelers. I also think Baltimore represents the most difficult challenge for the Packers but we will see.

Pittsburgh Steelers- If totally healthy and they could somehow gain home field then I would have them over Baltimore. The home field is huge because Pittsburgh can finish 13-3 and still be the five seed which may seem a bit unfair, but it is what it is. I think they are the second best team in the AFC but if they are the five seed I just don't see them winning three straight road games. I also question healthy (Harrison, Woodley, Polamalu's concussions) and I think their o-line has some serious question marks, especially the ability to run the ball. But don't be mistaken- the Steelers are a dangerous team!

New England Patriots- The most dangerous team in the AFC, no one can light it up like the Pats. There is zero doubt as to what Brady can do (even though he has struggled in the playoffs as of late), however, their defense has been pathetic over the last few years and to expect him to carry a team all the way through the gauntlet that is the NFL playoffs is unreasonable. They are the 32nd ranked defense and getting a bit better, but in terms of making a critical stop at the end of a game, I just don't trust them. Let's not forget that the Pats haven't won a playoff game since the 2007 AFC Championship. They are an unbelievable regular season team but at this point I question their ability to win in the postseason but that obviously depends on seeding and matchups. If they have to play the Steelers in the first round THEN play Baltimore they just aren't going to do it.

New Orleans Saints- Only team with a remote chance of beating the Packers in the NFC. Brees is having a phenomenal year, they can light it up all over the place, the problem with the Saints is that they have the biggest home field advantage in the NFL which is a good and a bad thing. They are two different teams at home and on the road. Having said that, they played phenomenal on Kickoff Thursday this season at Lambeau. Problem is that it was early September and the playoffs are certainly not played in September. They need a miracle like a Green Bay loss in the first round to have a chance. They are just not as good at taking away the ball and making stops as they were their championship season. 

San Francisco 49ers- I had guessed before hand that Harbaugh would be a great coach but it was hard to envision how much he has gotten out of Alex Smith, who is playing within himself. They are doing quite well, problem is they are never going to beat a high quality team unless that team makes mistakes on offense. Same deal as the Saints (or whoever is in the 2 seed), they have a shot as long as someone knocks off the Packers before them.

The NFL Totem Pole at the Quarter Point: The Michelangelo Division

We take a look at where the 32 NFL teams stand at the quarter mark of the season. Find out which teams are set to make a move, which teams are due for a fall and which teams are just stuck in neutral.

The Michaelangelo Division- This division is reserved for the artist known as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers- Basically there are two leagues, the Packers and everybody else. Anyone who thinks that this is not the case has obviously not seen the wizardry of Rodgers. Well people can say--their defense is ranked 30th, how good can they be? Well the reality of it is that because Rodgers and the offense is so good, their defense gambles early in the game and tries to create turnovers, which they excel at. If they make mistakes, their offense will compensate. In addition, to that you have to realize that when teams are behind the Packers by two touchdowns they are abandoning the run and wining the ball all over the field and at that point Green Bay is going to give up some yardage.

In any event, they are clearly the best team in the NFL. I give them a reasonable chance at running the table, that's how good Rodgers is.