Once again, NFL playoff hopefuls fall flat

With Week Nine in the NFL almost behind us, I’m left wondering yet again how teams fighting for playoff positions can come out so flat. I’m going to leave San Francisco and the New York Giants out of this (today), and focus on Baltimore, and the pathetic NFC North tandem of Chicago and Green Bay.

Last week Baltimore completely dominated Denver, handing them their first loss of the season, a 30-7 drubbing. Yesterday they traveled to Cincinnati to exact some revenge for a narrow Week Five loss to the Bengals. Yet what ensued was 60 minutes of lifeless football – with the Ravens not even mustering their score until the fourth quarter. Cincy was up 14-0 nothing before the Ravens even knew what was happening, and they were able to set it to cruise control for the rest of the game. Joe Flacco was dreadful, going 18-32 for 195 yards and two picks, and Bengals’ corners Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph had his receivers blanketed all day. Forgot the Ravens competing in the AFC North – they’ll be lucky to make the playoffs if they keep showing as little fire as they did Sunday afternoon.

When Tommie Harris missed Chicago’s Week Seven game against the Bengals, the Bears were pasted 45-10. I said it then, without Harris and Brian Urlacher in the middle of the defence, the Bears are useless. Well, just four plays into yesterday’s tilt with the Arizona Cardinals, Harris had a brain cramp and punched guard Deuce Lutui in the face – immediate ejection. Arizona went on to score on its first sixpossessions, en route to a 41-21 cake walk. Head Coach of the Bears Lovie Smith took over defensive play-calling permanently at the beginning of the season. After yesterday’s debacle, it’s amazing the Bears haven’t pulled a Daniel Snyder and stripped him of the responsibility. Jay Cutler and the offence tried, but they just couldn’t keep up. The Bears are a complete mess right now, and sit three games back of Minnesota in the NFC North. And just think Bears fans, the team doesn’t own its top two draft picks in 2010.

And then there’s Green Bay. I don’t care how composed Josh Freeman looked/played in his debut – you do not lose to the 2009 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. No team in the NFL should have lost to this years’ Bucs, they’re simply terrible. But Green Bay, attempting to keep pace in the NFC North, allows a rookie quarterback to toss three touchdowns and lead his team to victory, even after they’d taken a 7-0 lead under three minutes into the game. Let’s just hope the Packers didn’t make people in Tampa all superstitious – or else we may be in for more of the creamsicle jerseys.



– how can people consider New Orleans a better team than Indianapolis? New Orleans was down 24 points at half to Miami two weeks ago, and down 14-0 in the first quarter to Carolina yesterday. If they even try that in the playoffs, they’re going to get bounced by a team that knows how to finish

– I know Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have both won the Superbowl, and they’re both good-to-great players, but Philip Rivers is the best quarterback from the 2004 draft class. Week in, week out he’s simply outstanding, and watching his game-winning, last-minute drive against the Giants was a thing of beauty

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