Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fleece & Flog's NFL Top Five: Week 10

Now doesn't that feel a little better, Bears fans? A week later and another 108 yard return of a missed field goal, and all is right in Beardom.

The life of a kick/punt returner must be a difficult one. Who do you bond with? Sure a quarterback can throw an interception and be a scapegoat, but his lineman bleed for him. A cornerback can feel alone on an island from time to time, but usually a defense will take mistakes on their shoulders as a whole unit even if it's an individual's fault. The return and coverage units are usually manned by the same personnel, the exception being the returners which in the case of the Bears have different guy on the kick-offs and punts. About the only guy as lonely as a returner must be the kicker, and even he has a punter, holder, long snapper and third string quarterback to keep him company. What self-respecting punt returner wants to be seen with those guys?

Who are Devin Hester's friends on the Bears? The equipment boy? The training staff? The receptionist at Halas Hall? The Bears aren't exactly loaded with guys from Miami University, so he can't exactly posse up with guys from The U. In fact, with the plethora of University of Florida Gators residing on the Bears' roster, one would have to imagine quite a bit of jawing going on between Hester and those from the Swamp at Gainsville.

For now, Hester is back in the good graces of his teammates. He did a marvelous job selling the non-return and then bolting for the sideline, and no muffs make for a lot of friends for Devin on Mondays. Heck, maybe he and Nathan Vasher are now good buddies as they both own the record for longest play in NFL history.

Onto the Top Five---------------------------------------------
  1. Indianapolis Colts (9-0): The breaks go the good teams' way, and Indy caught a huge one this past weekend. Denizens of Buffalo must be going mad right now hearing the words, "Wide Right!" Rian Lindell awoke the echoes of Superbowl failures for Bills. That damn lucky Peyton Manning.
  2. Da Bears (8-1): A tight, see-saw affair looked like a blow out in the final score. Rex Grossman found his moxy in the second half, and the Giants found grandma's old cough medicine. A clearly hurting Bears defense stepped it up in the second half. Alex Brown was my game MVP.
  3. San Diego Chargers (7-2): What a week for barn burners. Down at least three touchdowns to Cincinatti, Philip Rivers and LaDanian Tomlinson rallied the Chargers to a win scoring 42 points in the second half alone! I said it before, I'll say it again. Come playoff time, Indy better be scared of this team. This team can score some points in a hurry.
  4. Denver Broncos (7-2): If Denver isn't playing Oakland, they lose this week's game. Despite three interceptions by Jake Plummer, the defense holds off the Raiders, and the Broncos have their Chi-Az game for the season.
  5. Baltimore Ravens (7-2): Like the Chargers, the Ravens were down big. Unlike the Chargers, it was to the Titans. Steve McNair could be co-MVP again with Peyton Manning. What a quiet 7-2 this team has, and they don't have the toughest schedule down the stretch. It's gonna be a race for home-field advantage and a first round bye between 3, 4 and 5.

Add the somewhat reeling New England Patriots to the mix and the balance of power is clearly in the AFC. They have some powerhouses running things over there. As for the NFC, the Giants, Saints and Falcons all lose leaving those divisions wide open for the taking. Seattle has a two game win streak and is about to get Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselback back, and the Cardinals have fallen off the map. Is the AFC better than the NFC? They have a 21-17 edge in head-to-head matchups thru ten weeks which isn't that wide a lead. I guess we'll see come Superbowl time when the Bears will be whopping the Chargers' asses for the title.

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