Plenty of NFL mystery

Nobody can figure out the New Orleans Saints this year. (REUTERS)

Nobody can figure out the New Orleans Saints this year. (REUTERS)

Mike Rutsey, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:46 PM ET

Another NFL season, another season of mystery.

We’ve reached the halfway point of the 2011 season with Week-9 games set for Sunday. We’re halfway home and not much has been established.

We have one great team on the top in the 7-0 Green Bay Packers who look to be serious about defending their Super Bowl victory.

We also have a bunch or horrible teams on the bottom as usual but at least this season they comprise a different crew.

The usual lowlife’s such as the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions have pulled themselves up and moved on leaving the Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis and Denver Broncos to scrape along the bottom.

In between the Packers and the aforementioned pond scum are all the rest and that is where the mystery resides.

In their own version of good cop, bad cop so many of the pretenders look unbeatable one week only to fall on their face the next.

Leading the schizophrenia are the New Orleans Saints. I mean, come on, just how can you flatten a team, even one as bad as the Colts 62-7 one week and then get steam-rolled by the 0-6 St. Louis Rams, 31-21, the next?

Races, though, are everywhere, both for the top and the bottom and that’s always a good thing.

At the top of the list and playoff bound are the aforementioned Packers plus one of the surprises in the San Francisco 49ers. The shock isn’t that the 49ers are on top of the weak NFC West but that they’ve gone 6-1.

Last year San Fran was just about everybody’s sweetheart pick to win the division but everyone forgot what an anchor coach Mike Singletary could be. Either new coach Jim Harbaugh is a genius or it shows how bad Singletary was. In any event, they are home and cooled out.

The NFC East is a bit of a dog’s breakfast as few believe the 5-2 Giants will be on top at the end. Everyone is waiting for either the Cowboys or Eagles to ignite and take off. The best bet are the Eagles but then again, who figured they’d lose four straight. This division is up for grab’s and it’s doubtful that it will supply one of the wild cards.

The NFC South is also a puzzle thanks to the Saints throwing a shoe against the Rams last week. The 4-3 Falcons look like a team that is about to put it together and go on a run. It should be a dog fight between New Orleans and Atlanta the rest of the season.

The other wild card team should be the Lions. They have two games left against the Pack and those games will tell us how good they truly are.

In the AFC the San Diego Chargers are disappointing which is nothing new while Pittsburgh and Baltimore are renewing their tong war Sunday. Cincinnati is a surprise at 5-2 but is there anyone who thinks they’ll end up ahead of either the Ravens or Steelers? Didn’t think so.

Houston appears to be filling the void created by the collapse of the Colts who are less than nothing without Peyton Manning. But the Texans can’t seem to stomach success so we’ll have to see more from them.

That leads us to the AFC East where the Bills are on top along with the Patriots. How refreshing and we’re not just ‘Talking Proud.’

The Jets and Bills meet Sunday in Buffalo. A loss by the Jets would put them two games back and their season on the ropes.

As for the dregs, they have their own trophy to chase and it is known as Andrew Luck, the all-world quarterback for Stanford University. The ‘Suck for Luck’ campaign will really be picking up steam in the final weeks and no doubt lead to cries of ‘tanking’ from pundits and purists.

Then there is the Tim Tebow fiasco in Denver.

Quarterback controversies are usually restricted to local interest. For example, in Washington outside of the U.S. capital, who really cares whether Rex Grossman or John Beck runs the show?

The Tebow fiasco, though, has become a national debate south of the border and has taken on a life of its own.

It has completely befuddled the Broncos organization which is now run by former Broncos great John Elway, their vice-president of football operations, and head coach John Fox. An added caveat is the fact that Elway and Fox didn’t draft Tebow — they inherited him from the ousted regime — and therefore have no loyalty to the first-round pick.

But for whatever reason, they caved to fan pressure in the wake of a losing campaign and perhaps like lancing a boil, have decided to give Tebow a look, although it now appears it will not be for as long as initially thought.

Tebow was simply terrible last week against the Lions and if he doesn’t improve Sunday against the Raiders and the following week against the Chiefs, he may get the hook.

Fox, meanwhile, appears to be getting frustrated with the whole affair.

“The goofy thing is, it’s almost like if he doesn’t have success it will be anybody’s fault but his. It’s almost that kind of polarizing thing,” Fox told the Los Angeles Times. “They’ll say it could be his supporting cast, or the type of plays.

“At the end of the day, we are what we are. We’re doing everything we can to win, and we’re finding out about a young quarterback, good, bad or indifferent.

“As a coach or decision-maker in an NFL building, you don’t care what round they’re drafted in, you don’t care who drafted them. You don’t care if they’re short, fat, whatever. You just care: Can they play? So all that other stuff is poppycock.”

Sounds like a coach whose patience is wearing thin.

In the second half look for the Tebow Time to come to a quick end.

JACKSON’S ‘A’ FOR HONESTY

Tarvaris Jackson didn’t accomplish much in his time with Minnesota and now that he is with the Seattle Seahawks that trend is continuing.

To date he has done little to prove that he is a capable first-string quarterback.

He may not be lighting it up in Seattle but we’ll give him an ‘A’ for honesty.

When asked by the Seattle Times to assess how he has played this season, Jackson offered no excuses.

“We’re a 2-5 team, and a quarterback’s (job) is to help the team win as much as possible,” Jackson said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but 2-5 is failing. So I guess I got an F right now.”

Now, how refreshing is that?

As a starter, Jackson has gone 2-3 with Seattle and this Sunday he is up against it as the Seahawks travel to Dallas. On the season, Jackson has completed 60.9% of his passes for 1,335 yards. He has thrown six touchdowns and been intercepted six times. He has also fumbled three times, losing two. His quarterback rating is 78.3. None of those numbers are encouraging.

But Jackson is.

“We’re getting better,” he said. “We’re growing, and I’m feeling more and more comfortable each week. And the guys are feeling more and more comfortable in me. And the coach is gaining more trust in me. So that’s good. My whole thing is I’m always about wins.”

In Seattle, though, wins are hard to come by.

 


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