As per usual, my look at the weekendÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s football games from a decidedly untrained eye, as evidenced by last weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eulogy for the career of Tom Brady.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no secret that the Saints are currently the best team in football, as evidenced by their demolition of the previously unbeaten Giants. But just how good are they? What is the limit to their potential success?
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tough to say, but things look strongly in their favor. They looked 2007 Patriots-esque against the Giants, putting the hammer down early, and putting it down again and again when the situation dictated. Drew Brees is a wonderful quick decision-maker, and with three solid running backs with different talents and a variety of receivers who like to get open, the Saints turn everything into a track meet.
The Giants defense that they humbled was regarded as one of the best in football, while their offense is no slouch either. Though New York was able to put some things together on offense, they in no way could keep up with the barrage the Saints were putting up on them. I think the Giants will be a factor down the stretch, as one loss does not destroy an entire season Ã¢â‚¬â€œ unless itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in the playoffs. But they obviously have a lot of work to do to catch up to what New Orleans has put together.
Can the SaintsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ defense do enough to complement their wonderful offense? I believe it can, as the fact that theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll likely have other teams attempting to keep up with them puts pressure on opposing offenses. But they may run into what the Patriots did: New England experienced such overwhelming prosperity that when they were smacked in the mouth, they were unable to process what to do to rectify the situation.
But theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll cross that bridge when they come to it. For now, they face the Dolphins next week, who will attempt to control time of possession the way they did against the Colts in Week 2 on Monday night. Of course, they lost that game because of a shaky secondary, which isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t exactly something you want to bring into a game against the Saints.
- Does anyone get their fans hopes up and let them down like the Jets do? They are proving that simply because a formula worked one year for one team, you have to have the personnel to carry it out. New coach Rex Ryan attempted to replicate the Ravens from last year with a rookie quarterback, a persistent running game and a stout defense. But their defense isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t as good Ã¢â‚¬â€œ made worse by the season-ending injury to lynchpin Kris Jenkins Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and though Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are quite a pair, quarterback Mark Sanchez has experienced some growing pains. That begs the question: Is the USC product and Long Beach native averse to playing in cold weather? IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d say before going that far, we consider that perhaps Sanchez simply wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t ready for this stage. His skills appear solid, but once the book got out that he holds the ball an eternity in the pocket, Sanchez Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and the Jets Ã¢â‚¬â€œ began a three-game downward spiral. Something else to consider is that Baltimore was executing this game plan with a quarterback in Joe Flacco that appears to be a special player. Can Sanchez be that? The Jets are banking on it after trading up to the fifth spot in the draft to get him, but it may pay to get him out of the line of fire until heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a little more seasoned. With Jenkins hurt, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to see them achieving the Super Bowl dreams that they had instilled in their fans.
- Speaking of giving up on someone, I was far too soon to rule The Great Brady as a thing of the past. The Patriots quarterback threw a record five touchdowns in the second quarter alone, and then tossed one more after halftime before taking the rest of the game off to chill and enjoy his awesome life. Against a moribund Titans team, Brady picked apart a falling-apart secondary, hitting Moss and Welker at will. And that was in the snow! It looked like they could have been playing in molasses and they still would have put up 40-something. Rodney Harrison said it takes about 5-6 games to feel totally comfortable after coming back from reconstructive knee surgery. Well, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve played six. I figured it would take an entire year for him to be back in business, but as an ACL tear is one of the few injuries IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve never had, I admit to not being an expert in it. If Brady can play like this, and the Patriots can win like that, they have to be right back in the mix in the AFC with Indy, Pittsburgh, and I guess Denver.
- Why do I feel like everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sleeping on the Steelers? TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re always solid, they won the Super Bowl last year, and Ben Roethlisberger is playing out of his mind right now. If Rashard Mendenhall is even decent at providing a running game, the offense has some balance, and the defense is always good, though a gimpy Troy Polamalu bothers me. Two years ago, Big Ben had 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, and after a down year last year Ã¢â‚¬â€œ albeit one that featured a Super Bowl ring Ã¢â‚¬â€œ he may be back to that level this year, as indicated by a quarterback rating of over 113 in each of his past three games. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s funny, I thought the allegations against him would affect the way he played the way they did Kobe Bryant in 2003-04, but heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s risen above them to dominate the past three games, all victories, though two were against the hapless Lions and Browns.
- Poor RamsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve now lost 15 straight, which would have them in Lionsville if all of those losses were in the same season. St. Louis led a lot of the game, and they had a chance to win at the end of regulation but settled for a game-tying field goal. The Jaguars won the coin toss, and that was all she wrote. As one of the true have-nots in football, at least one thing went right for them: The NFL barred Rush Limbaugh from making a bid to buy the team. I thought he probably should have had the right to buy the team Ã¢â‚¬â€œ what other industry doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let someone buy a company because of personality reasons? Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but the Rams didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need that sort of mostly negative attention on top of what has been a horrendous run of football.
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s my latest top 10:
1. Saints (6-0) (Last week: 4) A no-brainer.
2. Vikings (6-0) (LW: 2) Survived a test from Ravens; Favre playing like itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ07.
3. Colts (5-0) (LW: 3) Face Rams, 49ers Ã¢â‚¬â€œ then Texans twice, Pats and at Ravens.
4. Giants (5-1) (LW: 1) TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re still good, but blowout loss to SaintsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ are they elite?
5. Broncos (6-0) (LW: 5) Impressive win over Chargers, but needed two Royal returns.
6. Patriots (4-2) (LW: 7) Any truth to rumor they used SportsAngle death knell as inspiration?
7. Falcons (4-1) (LW: 8 ) Gutty win over Bears Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Big 4 played well, D with a big stop.
8. Steelers (4-2) (LW: NR) Almost put them at 10 last week over Bears. Should have.
9. Cardinals (3-2) (LW: NR) Last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s SB runner-up Ã¢â‚¬â€œ need Boldin to play vs. Giants.
10. Eagles (3-2) (LW: 6) What happened? I think theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re still OK, but awful loss to Raiders.