Normally when the calendar reaches December in the NFL, we have a pretty good idea what the future holds. Not this year.
The top team in the NFC (Dallas) looked vulnerable losing to the New York Giants last week. The top team in the AFC (Oakland) looked bad losing to the Kansas City Chiefs last week. Some dangerous teams, Pittsburgh and Green Bay and Baltimore, might not even make the postseason. Detroit currently is the second seed in the NFC but I can see them not even making the playoffs. They have a quarterback, Matt Stafford, with a dislocated middle finger and they will likely be underdogs in their final three contests at the Giants, at the Cowboys, and hosting Green Bay in Week 17. And we are talking about Detroit, a franchise that rarely plays meaningful games in December.
And what are we to think about Tampa Bay and Tennessee being tied for first place in their divisions with three weeks to go. We know Carolina is out of the playoffs, but the team that beat them in last year’s Super Bowl, Denver, will likely also miss out on playoff action. You think Detroit has a rough schedule remaining, the Broncos have it rougher. Denver, currently owns the final playoff slot, has to host New England, travel to Kansas City, and host Oakland.
Intrigue, that’s just what the NFL wants. And there will be a lot of it during the upcoming three weeks.
Le’Veon It All Out On The Field
Le’Veon Bell had one of the most productive days in NFL history Sunday afternoon. The Pittsburgh Steelers runningback amassed 298 yards of offense while leading the Steelers to a 27-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Bell touched the ball 42 times. He caught four passes in between rushing the ball 38 times for 236 yards and three touchdowns. Football in the winter lends itself to running the ball. And no one out there is running as well as Bell. I have a feeling opposing teams do not want to see the Steelers in the playoffs.
Do You Realize…
Do you realize that Cam Newton of the Panthers, the 2015 MVP, ranks last among NFL quarterbacks in completion percentage at 53.5 percent? Do you realize that Robert Griffin III came back from injury and started for the Cleveland Browns at quarterback last week? Yes he did, and it did not go well. RGIII may be out of the league soon…Do you realize that former Florida State standout Anquan Bolden now ranks 10th all time on the career reception list? Bolden, 36 years young, plays for the Detroit Lions and now has 1,064 catches.
I have not talked much of the NBA thus far this season and the first quarter of the campaign is over. Here are some of my early thoughts and observations.
Mark Cuban is having a tough year. He came out strong against president-elect Donald Trump early this year. And now his Dallas Mavericks are on a major decline with a 5-18 record.
Kobe Bryant is gone but the Los Angeles Lakers, even at 10-16, are better than they were last year with Kobe.
The New York Knicks finally have some talent around Carmello Anthony. And yes, Mello is passing the ball some now to this talent and the Knicks are off to a 14-10 start. It has been a long long time since they have had a winning record.
I don’t think Russell Westbrook is missing Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City. The Thunder is his team now and there is a chance he may average a triple-double for the season. Without Durant, OKC is off to a 15-9 start.
The Charlotte Hornets are off to a respectable 14-10 start. They do not have any superstars so I took a look at team stats to figure out their success. First of all, they take care of the ball. The Hornets have the best turnover ratio in the NBA. Their trademark of late has been defense and they currently rank sixth in the league. They are fourth in rebounding and move the ball well as evidenced by their third place ranking in assists. Good team basketball that can be enjoyable to watch. Their top two players are Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum. Both may finally make all star appearances.
The San Antonio Spurs, at 19-5, are doing just fine without the retired Tim Duncan.
LeBron James has been quiet but the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers are off to a 17-5 start.
I spoke of Kevin Durant earlier. In case you missed it, he is now a Golden State Warrior. Is funny how everyone loved Durant last year when he was with Oklahoma City. And everyone loved Golden State. Now that Durant is with the talent-loaded Warriors, everyone dislikes them both. Well anyway, Golden State has the best record in the NBA at 21-4.