Okay gang, we have Archie, EJ, Dan and David all debating the latest issues. Let’s get started.
1. Which NFC division is the best?
ARCHIE: I say it is the North. Even though all the teams in the west are .500 or better, the total team packages still lie with the North teams.
EJ: Looking at the NFC standings the teams in the East and West leap out at you but I’m going with the NFC North. The Bears are 4-1 and doing it with great defense. The Vikings are a surprising 4-2 and Christian Ponder is playing like a franchise quarterback. The Packers at 3-3 are still finding their footing after being robbed a win at Seattle, but they looked great in their dismantling of the Texans. The Lions might be bringing up the rear at 2-3 but they have more than enough talent to make a run at winning this division. The North feels like a division that can get three teams into the Playoffs.
DAN: To me, it has to be the North. The Packers are in third place sitting at 3-3 and they just destroyed a team that was 5-0 before this weekend. Then you have the Vikings doing pretty well this season, the Lions are a good team that just hasn’t been performing and the Bears have been showing to be impressive, especially in their match-up against Dallas when they picked off Romo an insane amount of times.
DAVID: I’m going with the NFC North. The Lions are the worst team in the division, yet have a QB/WR pairing that can scare you, the Bears have a top D to go with a hit and miss offense, the Packers just squished the last undefeated team, and Minny just wins somehow. I’ll take that over the West.
2. What reflects more from Green Bay’s win at Houston? GB is still the force everyone thought OR the Texans are NOT as tough as everyone thought?
ARCHIE: We may have watched a preview of the SB on Sunday. Green Bay IS still the force to be reckoned with in the NFC. They are one bad game and one bad call away from being 5-1. The Texans on the other hand will have to prove they are still as tough as everyone thinks this coming week against Baltimore.
EJ: Both. Green Bay is still a force on offense and the Texans can be beaten. The Packers under Aaron Rodgers cannot be counted out against any opponent and although the Texans have a good offense and a solid defense they were not going 16-0
DAN: I think that it reflects that Green Bay is still the force everyone thought and they have a very dangerous offense. Aaron Rodgers flipped the switch and started dominating. Like Archie said, the Packers are one bad game and one extremely awful call away from a 5-1 record.
DAVID: Little of both. Houston had to replace their 3rd best defensive player, and had a ton of pressure put on them, and was simply unable to make Aaron Rodgers uncomfortable in the pocket. Simply a bad game and that happens. The Packers D wasn’t exactly stunning, so they are not as good as some think.
3. Okay, the replacement refs are long gone. How do you rate the regular crew’s efficiency for getting the calls right so far?
ARCHIE: I will give them a B minus at best. These are the guys that are supposed to know the rule book inside and out and we STILL see missed calls.
EJ: Honestly? I do not pay much attention to the refs. I did get swept up in the whole replacement referees controversy, but now that the real refs are back I haven’t paid much attention to the accuracy of their calls. However, since there has been no uproar over a call made by the regular referees I will say that they are doing a good job.
DAN: I’m going to give them a C. While they’re much better than the replacement referees, I just don’t think they are doing as good of a job as they could be. I didn’t notice it too much this Sunday, but the last two games (against Colts and Saints), there were some questionable calls. They do seem to be doing a much better job than the replacement referees, although who wouldn’t be doing a better job than that trash?
DAVID: About the same as the replacement Refs, or about the same as last year. NFL refs are never going to be great until they become full time.
4. Which AFC sub-.500-team would you place Vegas bets on for making the playoffs?
ARCHIE: I’m a homer, but I still see the Steelers making the playoffs; only if they can address their OL issues.
EJ: The Denver Broncos. The Broncos still have to play two games against the Chargers, the Chiefs, and one more with the Raiders. The Broncos also have games against Tampa, Carolina, and Cleveland remaining. Peyton Manning has had a decent season and the Broncos are among the lead leaders in points, yards on offense, and passing yards.
DAN: I really like the Steelers and I definitely think that once it gets colder in Pittsburgh, it’s going to be difficult to beat them at home. I think they’ll get a Wild Card spot, though, since Baltimore will win the division, in my opinion
DAVID: Well, considering there are only TWO AFC teams over 500, and another 7 at .500, that gives me few options. I’m going to give the Steelers a slight edge over the Raiders, just because they have experience filling holes, and a 2 time champ at QB
5. You are building an expansion team. On defense you have the option of anyone you want. Who do you take?
ARCHIE: J.J.Watt is a beast with size and up-field quickness. I would love to build a defense around his skill set.
EJ: J.J. Watt. Kid has a motor on him. He already has 9.5 sacks and 33 tackles through the first 6 games. Not only does he pursue the quarterback, he shows good instinct in dropping back in pass coverage. He may only be in his second season but his play for the Texans is why they were confident in letting Mario Williams walk, and trade DeMarco Ryans to the Eagles. Kid is definitely a stud.
DAN: I’m taking Clay Matthews. Such a beast of a defender and he can rush the quarterback too. He’s dangerous in the pass rush, can stop the run and is just a gigantic presence on defense.
DAVID: Patrick Peterson. In today’s NFL, passing is more and more important. A legit shut down corner that will lead my team for a decade is an awesome starting point. Patrick Willis is another good choice, but PP will play 5 more years than he will.
6. Do you think all the protection rules in place are dealt out equally for all Quarterbacks in the league?
ARCHIE: Quite simply, hell no. It has gotten to the point of ridiculous in some cases. Last week against the Titans Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger got slammed to the ground long after the ball was gone. It did not even draw attention by the refs let alone a flag. And he is not the only QB treated differently either; Vick, Freeman and Newton all fit the mold of guys the refs seem reserved about throwing the cloth.
EJ: No. The thing with rules is that it has to be enforced by the referees and the League and unfortunately in football (and in all sports really) there is little uniformity in enforcing the rules. Running quarterbacks in particular take vicious hits (for example the hit on RGIII in the Falcons game) and most of those hits go unpunished. However, if Tom Brady (for example) were to take the same vicious hit in the pocket, there would be a flag and or fine. I hear the word “defenseless” said by broadcasters during the game but to me any player about to be leveled out would be defenseless whether he’s running at the defender or sitting waiting to get hit. It’s either call all the hits the same, or don’t call them at all.
DAN: No, they are. The superstar quarterbacks are going to get a little more protection than the lesser quarterbacks because the superstars QBs are part of what makes the league. If Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers goes down, less people are going to want to see the Patriots or Packers play.
DAVID: More or Less. The refs are almost immune when it comes to the red jersey, but NFL refs as a whole are FAR better than the NBA refs when it comes to the Star System.
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