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Eight weeks into the NFL season and things are a lot different than we expected. Who would have thought that the NFC East would only have one team with a winning record at this point in the season? The Giants sit alone on top with a 6 – 2 record, while the rest of the division is below .500. The Minnesota Vikings are tied with Green Bay for second place at 5 – 3 in the NFC North. I figured Atlanta would be good this year, but I didn’t think they would be the only undefeated team left after eight weeks. However, the most surprising thing to me is that if the playoffs started right now, the Miami Dolphins and the Indianapolis Colts would be the two Wild Card teams in the AFC. So what did we learn this week?
Knee-jerk Reaction # 1 – This week I heard a conversation that I didn’t know was possible. I guess I should preface this by saying my world revolves around sports. I watch it, talk about it, and obviously I write about it as well. However I still didn’t know this was possible. A mother and daughter were talking about High School football, and they were talking about a team and the amount of players on the team. The mother turned to the daughter and asked how many players are on the field at once. The daughter said, “six.” The mother asked if she was sure because she was certain it was more than that. She thought nine or ten sounded better. I stood there listening to this like a deer staring at head lights. Now, granted, I don’t expect everyone to know exactly how many people are on the field and that’s not what had me dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe there were actual humans out there that didn’t know anything about football. My first thought was what planet they were from. I had to step back and ask myself, “Could there be others out there that don’t know the game?” If there are, surely there can’t be that many right? Third world countries, yes. But America? Really?
Knee-jerk Reaction # 2 – Apparently six turnovers won’t guarantee you a win in the NFL. Just ask the New York Giants. The Giants jumped out to a 23 – 0 lead against the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon. The Giants were the recipients of six miscues from Dallas. Tony Romo threw four interceptions, while Dez Bryant and Felix Jones both fumbled the ball. With all of this going against them, somehow the ‘Boys still managed to come back and take a 24 – 23 lead at the end of the third quarter. They had over 430 yards of offense against the Giants defense. Eli Manning proved again why he is one of the best in the fourth quarter. He led his team down the field twice in the quarter, which led to two field goals. With the Cowboys now trailing 29 – 23, a miracle would be needed for Dallas to escape with a win, and a miracle is almost what they got. With time almost out in the game, Romo threw a desperation pass to the back of the end zone. Dez Bryant leaped up and caught the pass. It was an amazing play that seemed to give the Cowboys the touchdown and the win. However, after reviewing the play, it was determined that as Bryant was bracing himself for the fall his pinkie touched the out of bounds marker. Therefore, the pass was considered incomplete and the Giants won the game. I’ve always heard that football is a game of inches, but this time it was a game of centimeters.
Knee-jerk Reaction #3 – Vick Ballard had the play of the season on Sunday. In case you don’t know who he is, Ballard is a running back for the Colts. The Colts and Titans were tied at 13 and in Overtime. With the ball on the 16 of the Titans, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck threw a screen pass to Ballard. Ballard ran down the sideline and edged closer the goal line. As he got to the four yard line he dove towards the end zone, as so many players often do. This play was different, though. As he was stretching out and turning parallel towards the ground, his body twisted 180 degrees. Now, Ballard is soaring towards the goal line with his face up towards the sky. Not sure where the goal line is he stretches out the ball. Just as he is reaching the end zone, a Titans defender hits him. It’s too late, though. He had already crossed the line. Indianapolis had scored a touchdown, thus winning the ball game. In my opinion, this is the touchdown of the season so far in the NFL.
Knee-jerk Reaction #4 – I would like to say congratulations to the San Francisco Giants. What an amazing October they put together. In the Division series, they were down two games to none before winning three in a row on the road to beat the Reds. The Cardinals went up three games to one on the Giants before they rallied to win three in a row to advance to the World Series. In the World Series, they faced arguably the best pitcher in baseball in Justin Verlander, and they faced the triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera. Everyone was talking about this being Detroit’s year to finally win it. The Giants weren’t having any of that talk as they went out and swept the Tigers to win the championship. Congratulations to the Giants, the 2012 World Series Champions.
Knee-jerk Reaction #5 – The Broncos coaching staff finally learned something: let Peyton Manning be Peyton Manning. This is something the Colts learned early in his career. Let him run the offense and, more times than not, he’s going to succeed. The Broncos seemed not to understand that early in the season. This all changed when the Broncos made a dramatic come from behind win against the Chargers on Monday night football a few weeks back. The second half saw Manning being himself. This is what the rest of the AFC didn’t want to see happen. They didn’t want him to resort to the old Manning, who controls an offense and reads defenses better than any quarterback in the game. If he keeps playing at this level, the Broncos are going to be really good for a while, so get ready AFC.
Knee-jerk Reaction #6 – My Super Bowl prediction this week is going to be different than it has been. I’m predicting that we will see an all Manning Super Bowl this year. Peyton Manning will face his younger brother, Eli, for the right to be called Champion. It would be the third Super Bowl for each of them. Eli has two championships while Peyton has one. Peyton will finish his career as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game while Eli is asserting himself as an elite quarterback now. Which brother will reign on top this year? We shall see.