Weekly NFL Thoughts

>> Thursday

Here's a copy of Dan's notes from the site he writes for. He's a dickbag who doesn't know how to set up a blogger account, so he e-mails them to me. I'll have my picks and a story about my terrible week tomorrow. - Bobby

It is convenient for Pats fans to remember Deion Branch as the former Super Bowl MVP who was one of Tom Brady’s favorite receivers during the early part of the last decade, but let’s make one thing perfectly clear: He’s not, nor has he ever been, Randy Moss.

The 31 year old was a nice fit on a more balanced team five seasons ago, but stepping into Moss’ shoes is like Brian Hoyer taking over for Brady. There will be a huge drop off, which means we’re likely be see a trickledown effect on the entire offense. If that is the case, the Pats’ promising start could quickly fade into a disappointing season.

The team comes off its bye week entering a grueling portion of the schedule that features five games with serious playoff contenders over the next six weeks. It starts Sunday against Baltimore, a team many consider to be the best in the league, and is followed by road trips to San Diego, Cleveland and Pittsburgh and two home games against Minnesota and Indianapolis. With Moss, a 4-2 or even 5-1 stretch was not out of the question. But with Branch, everything is up in the air.

Just like the Pats’ season.

Is Green Bay in trouble?
Coming into the season, Vegas gave the Green Bay Packers 12-1 odds of winning the Super Bowl and they were among every pundit’s picks to at least reach the NFC Championship game. But this week, with the team facing numerous injuries, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King questioned whether or not the Packers have what it takes to be great.

Fantasy favorite Aaron Rodgers is questionable for Sunday’s game with Miami after suffering a concussion in last week’s loss to Washington. The team also lost top tight end Jermichael Finley for what looks to be the rest of the season. If you combine that with a banged up defense, a limited running game and a brutal upcoming schedule, the 3-2 Packers appear to be on the verge of a lost season.

Favre suffering from a hurt elbow, bruised ego.
While it’s unfair to question the injury status of Brett Favre, it is worth mentioning that he also has to be feeling the effects of the recent allegations against him. As the whole world now knows, Favre is accused of sending naked pictures via text message to a former New York Jets’ reporter.

Favre apologized to his team before Monday’s loss to the Jets, but you have to wonder how much of a distraction he is causing in the Vikings’ locker room and whether or not it might be best to call it quits during the season. Favre is the NFL’s versions of Cal Ripken Jr., so his pride might now allow him give up so easily. However, if a suspension is handed down, it is unlikely Favre, who has claimed this will be his final season, will return to the team.

The Giants are good again.
There isn’t a more week-to-week team in the NFL than the New York Giants. Following two blowout losses to Indy and Tennessee, the team rebounded with victories over Chicago and Houston and now is being considered by some the favorites in the NFC East.

It seems the reports of Tom Coughlin’s job being in jeopardy were premature and people are finally starting to respect the team’s receiving corps, which has quietly become one of the best in the league. The jury is still out on Eli Manning’s ability to get it done without the help of a great defense, but that might not matter in this division. With Dallas faltering, Philly limping and Washington being Washington, a return trip to the playoffs seems likely.

The league of parity
For the first time since 1979, there isn’t an unbeaten team left in the NFL after five weeks of play. It appears as though we have a handful of very good teams (Jets, Ravens, Steelers, Falcons), a handful of bad teams (Panthers, 49ers, Bills, Browns), but virtually every other team in the league seems pretty even on paper. It’s the old any given Sunday rule, a socialist’s dream.

But is it good for the league to not have a truly dominant team? The NFL was built on dynasties from the Packers and Steelers on to the more recent Cowboys and Patriots. Now every week is a tossup, which gives fans of traditionally weak teams the chance to taste success, but it also seems as though the product is a bit diluted.

If I had my choice, I’d take a couple great teams over a league filled with average teams any day. There hasn’t been a more exciting team in recent memory than that Patriots team in Moss’ first year, and it was because as they continued to pile it on their opponents, you kept wondering how long it could last. If that happened this year, the answer would probably be one week.

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