On of my favorite articles to write every year is my Week 2 “over-reactions” post. Almost without fail, the media and masses begin to freak out after Week 2 of the NFL season as some “super power” team is stuck at 0-2, while some other teams that were supposed to be bad are sitting pretty at 2-0. I’ve always found the over-reactions to be pretty entertaining and taken pride in my ability to keep a level head. I guess that’s what happens when your own team gets shut out 31-0 on opening day and then goes on to win the Super Bowl. I’ve seen the Patriots start 0-2 and raise the Lombardi. On the flip side, I’ve seen them start 18-0 and, unfortunately, fail to. The bottom line is that while Weeks 1 and 2 certainly count towards the standings, they mean absolutely nothing in regards to which teams are going to catch fire and go on nice post-season runs.
Oddly enough, for the first time since I started running this annual piece in 2003, I can’t say that much over-reaction is going on in the media. Perhaps everyone has finally learned their lesson, but my personal thought is that things have fallen in line perfectly to keep everyone calm. For example, nobody is getting too worked up about 2-0 Chicago, because everybody was already hyped up about 2-0 Green Bay and they just assume the Pack will overtake them. 0-2 Dallas is a mere one game out of first place thanks to Washington losing in OT to Houston. Speaking of the Texans, they also happen to only be a game ahead of the Colts, who everyone naturally expects to overtake them. Kansas City and Tampa Bay are also both 2-0, but were expected to be in the bottom 20% of the league, and nobody is taking them too seriously. Everyone is so sick of Brett Favre that nobody cares his Vikings are 0-2.
Now, had Indy lost to the Giants, had the Patriots layed the smack down on the Jets, had Washington beaten Houston, or had Green Bay stumbled in Philadelphia, then I think we’d see plenty of people starting to get worked up. However, none of those things did happen, and thus level-headedness has prevailed.
That doesn’t mean we can’t make some predictions though…
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#1 – Neither the Buccaneers or the Chiefs will make the playoffs
The Buccs have to deal with both New Orleans and Atlanta in the NFC South, so I feel pretty safe with that prediction. Could the Chiefs overtake the shaky Chargers? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, I’m going to ride the more-talented Chargers. I don’t see a wild card coming out of the AFC West.
#2 – The Chicago Bears will…
…as a wild card. I have Green Bay taking the NFC North. Taking a gander at the rest of the NFC landscape, I’ll peg the loser of New Orleans/Atlanta in the South for a wild card slot. The NFC West is a joke. The NFC East crew all seem a bit too shaky at the moment and I foresee them all beating on each other just enough to bring the 2nd place team’s record below the Bears’.
#3 – Dallas will take the NFC East
They’re a mere game back at this point with 14 games left to go. Neither the Skins, Giants, or Eagles are inspiring much confidence for me at the moment. When all else fails, I’ll go with talent.
#4 – Houston makes the playoffs…
…also as a wild card. Don’t count out the Colts just yet. Again, the AFC West is pathetic. I think that Houston, with one game vs. Indy already down as a win, will have a much easier time dealing with the Jaguars and Titans than any of the AFC East and North contenders will with the rest of their division opponents.
#5 – The AFC East title will be decided by the outcome of the Week 17 Miami @ New England game.
This isn’t to say that the Jets are out of the running. It could very well be that a Miami or New England loss would lock up the division for New York. The bottom line is that I expect this division race to go down to the wire. It’s going to be an exciting year for the AFC East.