I always hated report cards. Nine times out of ten, it resulted in my television privileges going away for a few weeks. But not this time, folks. I’M handing out the grades this time and guess who the pupils are: the teams of the National Football League. It’s time to see how these guys are doing as they work toward the playoffs and a spot in Super Bowl 44. So here’s how I see it. Consider this my audition piece for John Clayton’s job at ESPN. You’re not living forever, old man.
AFC North: B-
Coming into 2010, this was supposed to come down to the Ravens and the Bengals with the Steelers having to take a step back and recover from the Big Ben fiasco. The Ravens are what we thought they were (solid and improved on offense), but the surprise has been the Steelers riding the run game to a 4-1 start during the Big Ben suspension and having to resort to Charlie Batch at QB when Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon got nicked up. Now that Ben is back, a manageable second half schedule and the 11th rank rush offense in the league, I don’t see the Steelers falling back.
AFC East: B
1. New York Jets
2. New England
The Jets had big offseason moves and the bluster of “Hard Knocks” leading into 2010 but then stubbed their toes in week one in a 10-9 loss to Baltimore. Since, they’ve played defense the way we expected, Mark Sanchez has managed to not screw the pooch under center and LT is playing like a man 5/6th his age (25 and some change). The Pats only loss is a thrashing at home to the Jets. They’re a shaky 6-1 and are about three weeks removed from trading away Randy Moss (not an upgrade no matter how you spin it). The Jets just lost 9-0 to the Pack but I still think they take a Wild Card with New England winning the division.
AFC South: B+
The Colts got big timed by Houston in game one. Still after a last second hiccup to the Jags, the Colts ended the first half of the season by bringing the Texans back to Earth with a win at home and reclamation of first place in the division. The Texans will slide, with the Titans pushing for a Wild Card spot with newly acquired journeyman receiver Randy Moss (I love that guy). As usual, Indy takes the AFC South. Winner: Indy
AFC West: C
1. Kansas City
3. San Diego
You read that one right. The Chiefs are on top of the division with a grind it out run game, a glorified junior college quarterback and an opportunistic defense. The Chargers have the best offense in the league and are in third. Oakland is just sort of there in second place and Denver is wasting a career year for Kyle Orton in last place. The Bolts are notoriously strong finishers but I just don’t see that one happening this year. Look for the Chiefs to finish the job and win the division for the first time in forever and a day.
NFC North: C +
1. Green Bay
Favre coming back and the Pack being a sexy pick to win it all made this the most intriguing division coming into 2010. But the Vikes have struggled, Favre got caught with his pants off (and his camera phone on) and Green Bay can’t seem to field a completely healthy team to save its life. So we’re left with the 4-3 Bears in first place. The Lions aren’t a factor and the Vikes are too far back. As long as Aaron Rodgers stays upright, I’ll take the Packers to make the playoffs and then have to use the Wisconsin Badgers starting 22 since this team can’t stay healthy to save its life. Winner: Green Bay
NFC East: B-
1. New York
I could laugh at Dallas for days but we all have things to do so I’ll get to the analyzing. Here goes: the ONLY way the G-men lose this one is….never mind. Mike Shanahan gave McNabb the hook for Rex GROSSman. ‘Nuff said. Dallas is starting Jon Kitna, which would have helped back 2001 and Andy Reid keeps messing with the quarterback situation he so badly mucked up to start with in Philly. Giants win the pennant. Giants win the pennant.
NFC South: C
2. Tampa Bay
3. New Orleans
The fuzzy feeling on Bourbon Street is, sort of, gone now. The defending SB champs are trying to stay above water but are getting frozen out by Matty Ice and the Falcons (see what I did there? You’re welcome all 36 of you Falcons fans out there). Super Bowl hangovers are normal, NOLA but just be happy with your wild cart berth. Just deal with it the same way you’d deal with any other hangover: purge at the toilet the night before or pack a bowl. Oh and Tampa Bay is a year or two away. Winner: Atlanta, Wild Card: New Orleans.
NFC West: D +
2. St. Louis
4. San Francisco
This was supposed to be the Niners division to lose. About that…Anyway, this division winner will be the worst team, record wise, of all eight that make the playoffs and be immediately written off. So you’ll pardon me this homer moment when I say that my home town ST. LOUIS RAMS will take this division, and then upset their Wild Card opponent, thus setting up 15 years of Sam Bradford quarterbacking glory. Write it down! Winner: St. Louis
AFC: New England, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, NYJ, Indianapolis, Kansas City
NFC: Atlanta, Green Bay, New York, St. Louis, New Orleans, Chicago
AFC Wild Card: Baltimore over KC, NYJ over Indy
NFC Wild Card: NYG over Chicago, STL over New Orleans
AFC Divisional Playoffs: New England over Baltimore, Pittsburgh over NYJ
NFC Divisional Playoffs: NYG over Atlanta, Green Bay over STL
AFC Title Game: Pittsburgh over New England
NFC Title Game: NYG over Green Bay
Super Bowl 44: Pittsburgh over New York
And since we love hot chicks here at COED, that very Super Bowl result could very well cause the internal combustion of the achingly hot Kate Mara and her equally easy on the eyes sister Rooney. Why is this? Their dad is a Mara (the family that owns the Giants) and mom is a Rooney (the family that owns the Steelers). We here at COED would like to extend a shoulder to cry on and a dinner date invitation to Applebee’s should things become too hard to handle.