What a huge day today is. The NBA owners and players meet with only the entire 2011-2012 season on the line. The MU Board of Curators meets with only the entire Big XII conference's existance on the line.
Thankfully, the Chiefs can't lose today. If anything, they caught a break by the Colts starting Curtis Painter last night. We've now got a scouting report on how to defense the guy.
As I noted yesterday, the Chiefs are now just one more solid performance away from injecting themselves squarely into the thick of the wildcard race, and we're one decent denver performance away (or one more typical Norv Turner coaching effort away) from controlling our own destiny in the AFC West chase. For those of you who think I am freaking insane for believing that ... this post is for you. So get your reading glasses and your favorite adult beverage and/or herbal remedy, and prepare to be drawn back into this season.
The first quarter of the season is over. Every team has played four games. Here's your handy dandy Stevo Rooting Guide for the second quarter of the season.
First, the current AFC Standings, by division.
Bills 3-1-0 overall, 1-0-0 division, 3-1-0 conference.
Patriots 3-1-0 overall, 1-1-0 division, 3-1-0 conference.
Jets 2-2-0 overall, 0-0-0 division, 1-2-0 conference.
Dolphins 0-4-0 overall, 0-1-0 division, 0-3-0 conference.
Ravens 3-1-0 overall, 1-0-0 division, 2-1-0 conference.
Bengals 2-2-0 overall, 1-0-0 division, 2-1-0 conference.
Browns 2-2-0 overall, 0-1-0 division, 2-1-0 conference.
Steelers 2-2-0 overall, 0-1-0 division, 1-2-0 conference.
Texans 3-1-0 overall, 1-0-0 division, 3-0-0 conference.
Titans 3-1-0 overall, 0-1-0 division, 3-1-0 conference.
Jaguars 1-3-0 overall, 1-0-0 division, 1-1-0 conference.
Colts 0-4-0 overall, 0-1-0 division, 0-3-0 conference.
Chargers 3-1-0 overall, 1-0-0 division, 2-1-0 conference.
raiders 2-2-0 overall, 1-0-0 division, 2-2-0 conference.
Chiefs 1-3-0 overall, 0-1-0 division, 0-2-0 conference.
broncos 1-3-0 overall, 0-1-0 division, 1-2-0 conference.
At this point, we can effectively say three teams are out of postseason contention. The Colts and Dolphins are both winless, are both without their starting quarterbacks, and are essentially tanking the season for a shot at Andrew Luck. And the Jags have already waved the white flag by turning the team over to Blaine Gabbert (which was the absolute right decision). The other thirteen teams are all very much alive for a playoff berth.
Here's what each of those thirteen teams face over the next five weeks, the second quarter of the season, and my thoughts on the schedule, and who to root for in each contest.
Bills: vs Eagles (1-3-0) / at Giants (3-1-0) / bye / vs Redskins (3-1-0) / vs Jets (2-2-0).
Thoughts: We need the Bills to collapse, because the Bills hold the tie-breaker over the Chiefs via head-to-head victory. Fortunately, the Bills have played a relatively easy schedule so far, and it's about to turn ugly. The Eagles are in desperation mode on Sunday. The Giants keep winning ugly. The Redskins somehow are tied for the best record in the division. And the Jets will need this one, if only to secure second place in the division (and the likely wild-card berth that would bring with it).
Rooting Interests: root AGAINST Buffalo in at least the three NFC contests. If they drop all three (doubtful -- they should beat Washington at home), then you can cheer for whoever you want in the Jets game. Again, the Bills hold tiebreaker over the Chiefs, and there's nothing we can do to change that. We need Bills defeats. This stretch represents an outstanding shot at picking up some numbers in the Bills L column.
Prediction: L vs Eagles / L at Giants / W vs Redskins / W vs Jets.
Patriots: vs Jets (2-2-0) / vs Cowboys (2-2-0) / bye / at Steelers (2-2-0) / vs Giants (3-1-0).
Thoughts: if, like me, you believe the Patriots to be the class of the division, root for some wins. This is a tough stretch -- every team is a legitimate threat to reach at least the divisional round of their respective conference's postseason. But three of four at home, and the roadie is against a team they usually beat.
Rooting Interests: root FOR the Patriots in every contest ... except the Jets game, if you believe the Jets are the class of the division. We need one of the three East threats to pull away from the others. It does NOT matter which one. But ONLY one needs to pull away from the pack.
Prediction: W vs Jets / W vs Cowboys / W at Steelers / W vs Giants.
Jets: at Patriots (3-1-0) / vs Dolphins (0-4-0, MNF) / vs Chargers (3-1-0) / bye / at Bills (3-1-0)
Thoughts: an 0 for 4 stretch is not unrealistic. Two tough divisional roadies, a home game against the West division leaders, and while the Dolphins are terrible, trust me as a Jets fan, they are our house of horrors. Doesn't matter how awful the Dolphins are, they will give the Jets a game in two weeks.
Rooting Interests: AGAINST the Jets in the first two games, and FOR the Jets in the last two.
Prediction: L at Patriots / W vs Dolphins / W vs Chargers / L at Bills.
Ravens: bye / vs Texans (3-1-0) / at Jaguars (1-3-0, MNF) / vs Cardinals (1-3-0), at Steelers (2-2-0, SNF)
Thoughts: this is the team to root for in the North. We want separation. Unfortunately, I don't think we're going to get it.
Rooting Interests: FOR the Ravens in ALL four games.
Prediction: W vs Texans / W at Jaguars / W vs Cardinals / L at Steelers.
Bengals: at Jaguars (1-3-0) / vs Colts (0-4-0) / bye / at Seahawks (1-3-0) / at Titans (3-1-0).
Thoughts: wow. This might be your "how they hell are they in contention?!?!" contender come Thanksgiving weekend.
Rooting Interests: AGAINST the Bengals in at least the first three games. Coin flip for who to root for in the Titans matchup.
Prediction: W at Jaguars / W vs Colts / W at Seahawks / L at Titans.
Browns: bye / at raiders (2-2-0) / vs Seahawks (1-3-0) / at 49ers (3-1-0) / at Texans (3-1-0)
Thoughts: the Browns should be 4-0 right now. Losing at home to the Bengals and Titans is inexcusable. Their next four aren't that tough, but you have to figure they're going to lose at least one game in this stretch they have no business losing.
Rooting Interests: FOR the Browns at oakland, AGAINST the Browns for the NFC West teams and the Texans.
Prediction: L at raiders / W vs Seahawks / L at 49ers / L at Texans.
Steelers: vs Titans (3-1-0) / vs Jaguars (1-3-0) / at Cardinals (1-3-0) / vs Patriots (3-1-0, SNF) / vs Ravens (3-1-0, SNF)
Thoughts: it all depends on how hurt Big Ben is. Having four of five at home doesn't hurt.
Rooting Interests: doesn't really matter? I'd say against the Steelers, particularly in the Ravens game (would give Ravens tiebreaker), but the Chiefs still have the Steelers coming to Arrowhead, so we can still gain tiebreaker over them.
Prediction: W vs Titans / W vs Jaguars / W at Cardinals / L vs Patriots / W vs Ravens.
Texans: vs raiders (2-2-0) / at Ravens (3-1-0) / at Titans (3-1-0) / vs Jaguars (1-3-0) / vs Browns (2-2-0).
Thoughts: who would have ever thought Texans at Titans might decide the division?
Rooting Interests: we want either Houston or Tennessee to pull away from the pack, and the other one to collapse. Personally, I'm rooting AGAINST the Texans, because they're the better team.
Prediction: W vs raiders / L at Ravens / L at Titans / W vs Jaguars / W vs Browns.
Titans: at Steelers (2-2-0) / bye / vs Texans (3-1-0) / vs Colts (0-4-0) / vs Bengals (2-2-0).
Thoughts: if somehow they can pull off the upset on Sunday at the Ketchup Bottle, look out. Interesting to note -- the Titans will hit midseason without playing a NFC team. Which means in the second half of the season, they go to Carolina and Atlanta, host New Orleans and Tampa, visit Buffalo, and they are at Houston in week seventeen. I'd argue anything less than 3-1 in this stretch means they're not playing past January 1st.
Rooting Interests: either FOR the Titans in all games, or AGAINST the Titans in all games (if you prefer the Texans to win the South). Again, we need ONE of these two to collapse.
Prediction: L at Steelers / W vs Texans / W vs Colts / W vs Bengals.
Chargers: at broncos (1-3-0) / bye / at Jets (2-2-0) / at Chiefs (1-3-0, MNF) / vs Packers (4-0-0).
Thoughts: come on denver!!! COME ON denver!!! LET'S GO DONKEYS!!!
Rooting Interests: AGAINST the Chargers in all four games. I believe our interests are going to pay off awesomely.
Prediction: L at broncos / L at Jets / L at Chiefs / L vs Packers. And if anyone can find a way to lose to bye, it's Norval Eugene Turner.
raiders: at Texans (3-1-0) / vs Browns (2-2-0) / vs Chiefs (1-3-0) / bye / vs broncos (1-3-0).
Thoughts: interesting stretch. Very interesting stretch. Also, we'll reach week ten, and the raiders will still have to travel to Lambeau, Arrowhead, and Qualcomm, AND host Detroit, Chicago, and San Diego.
Rooting Interests: AGAINST the raiders in all four games. And FOR a terrorist attack on the o.co week 9 early in the second quarter.
Prediction: L at Texans / W vs Browns / L vs Chiefs / W vs broncos.
broncos: vs Chargers (3-1-0) / bye / at Dolphins (0-4-0) / vs Lions (4-0-0) / at raiders (2-2-0).
Thoughts: it all comes down to Sunday. If they upset the Chargers, they'll be a team we have to deal with come mid November.
Rooting Interests: FOR denver against the Chargers and raiders, AGAINST denver when they face Miami and Detroit. And FOR the team plane to crash, and there to be no survivors.
Prediction: W vs Chargers / W at Dolphins / L vs Lions / L at raiders.
And finally ...
Chiefs: at Colts (0-4-0) / bye / at raiders (2-2-0) / vs Chargers (3-1-0, MNF) / vs Dolphins (0-4-0).
Thoughts: this game at Indianapolis is the biggest game of the season for the Chiefs. With a win, the table is set for a six game winning streak heading into the Patriots Monday nighter. A loss on Sunday thought? The season goes on life support, and the priest is standing by to administer last rites.
Rooting Interests: FOR the Chiefs, in all games.
Prediction: W at Colts / W at raiders / W vs Chargers / W vs Dolphins.
Five weeks from now, this is how I project the AFC contenders will look:
Patriots 7-1-0 overall, 2-1-0 division, 5-1-0 conference.
Bills 5-3-0 overall, 2-0-0 division, 4-1-0 conference.
Jets 4-4-0 overall, 1-2-0 division, 3-4-0 conference.
Ravens 6-2-0 overall, 1-1-0 division, 4-2-0 conference.
Steelers 6-3-0 overall, 1-1-0 division, 4-3-0 conference.
Bengals 5-3-0 overall, 1-0-0 division, 4-2-0 conference.
Browns 3-5-0 overall, 0-1-0 division, 2-3-0 conference.
Titans 6-2-0 overall, 2-1-0 division, 6-2-0 conference.
Texans 6-3-0 overall, 2-1-0 division, 6-2-0 conference.
Chiefs 5-3-0 overall, 2-1-0 division, 4-2-0 conference.
raiders 4-4-0 overall, 2-1-0 division, 4-4-0 conference.
broncos 3-5-0 overall, 1-2-0 division, 3-3-0 conference.
Chargers 3-5-0 overall, 1-2-0 division, 2-4-0 conference.
It's not over yet folks. It's not even close to being over ...