Dirty Dozen: Are Pats, Colts NFL's Best?
With the ascendancy of Twitter, it appears to be Pats-Colts conspiracy week.
Since I don't have 3,123,174 followers, like my friends Peter King, Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen (@SI_PeterKing, @Adam_Schefter, @mortreport, respectively), I'm reduced to following their answers to fan questions as unofficial Twitter answer men on the NFL. Their responses (especially the ones from Peter) are, at times, to questions implying some sort of conspiracy by the NFL and the networks to make sure the Patriots and Colts play every season.
Peter put that one to rest by noting that there's no conspiracy although he couldn't explain the whole thing in 140 characters.
So let me (@deegle84) try in a more lengthy format.
The NFL's scheduling formula has resulted in Pats-Colts games every year because if the AFC East and AFC South aren't meeting (a once-every-three years thing), the teams that finish in corresponding positions the previous season play each other. Indy and New England, of course, finish first almost every year -- except 2008, when both finished second -- to Tennessee and Miami, respectively. My how things change.
But just to set the record straight, there is one "conspiracy'' involved between the NFL and the networks, who always schedule the Colts-Patriots game for November, "sweeps'' month. Ratings, folks! The networks base their advertising charges on the November rating, which means the best games (or the best quarterbacks) bring the most money.
Are these the best teams?
The midseason records say sort of. Reality says that with Pittsburgh, they're the best in the AFC, which I guess means that line about change is premature.
Top 6 (based on current level of play)
1. New Orleans (8-0): It never hurts to get a scare, as the Saints did from Carolina last week. It doesn't hurt to get a loss either, which probably will happen down the line.
2. Indianapolis (8-0): The Colts got a scare last week, too, from Houston. But if Texans kicker Kris Brown had made his field goal to tie it, the Colts would have won anyway in overtime. Because they always beat the Texans.
3. Minnesota (7-1): I don't like midseason awards but I might make Brett the MVP over Peyton and Drew. Without him, the Vikings might be 5-3 or 4-4.
4. Pittsburgh (6-2): One player can make a difference if he's named Polamalu.
5. New England (6-2): Belichick won't be coach of the year, but the way the Patriots are playing with a very new defense and a lot of injuries on offense suggests that he might deserve consideration.
6. Dallas (6-2): I really hate to do this but Romo's playing well, Wade is coaching well (or reasonably so) and opponents really have to worry about Miles Austin, who's a lot better than both T.O. and Roy Williams.
Too many teams to fill too few spots at the bottom, but ...
27. Kansas City (1-7): Give Scott Pioli time. Getting rid of Larry Johnson was the right decision -- not only for his disruptive behavior, but because he's hit the 30-year-old running back wall.
28. Washington (2-6): Interesting that DeAngelo Hall put himself into the middle of a fight with Mike Smith. Hall's another waste of big money by Dan Snyder. Maybe it's a tax deduction.
29. Oakland (2-6): Now Al Davis reportedly wants to dump Tom Cable "for cause.'' I still think the NFL should work like European soccer leagues and relegate -- the Raiders would be in the fourth division "for cause'' by now.
30. Tampa Bay (1-7): OK, the Bucs have their win for the season. And maybe their QB -- Josh Freeman was pretty decent against the Packers.
31. St. Louis (1-7): The Rams' future depends on who buys them. A good owner and in a few years ...
32. Cleveland (1-7)" The Browns won't be sold, and Randy Lerner doesn't seem to listen to the wise heads he consults. Maybe the next "consultant'' should be Martin O'Neill, who's done a pretty good job managing Lerner's Aston Villa soccer team.