Myth #1:The Texans are AFC Champs
After jumping out to an early 5-0 record matched only by the Atlanta Falcons, the Houston Texans have become a popular pick to emerge as the AFC Champions. Their multifaceted offense revolves around a powerful running game, which is anchored by Arian Foster, the most consistent and arguably most dominant rusher in the NFL. Meanwhile their defense has given up fewer points than any other team in the AFC. But despite the fact that the Texans have never looked quite this good since joining the NFL in 2002, they are still not ready to advance past the early rounds of the playoffs.
While the Texans are now practically guaranteed to win the AFC South, barring any season ending injuries to Foster or Matt Schaub, they are still far from being the best team in the conference. A 5-0 record is always impressive, but it is important to note that their five wins have come against Miami, Jacksonville, Denver, Tennessee, and the New York Jets. All five of those teams currently have losing records.
Houston is a very well-balanced team that is exciting to watch, but their undefeated start to the season will not last much longer, as their next two games are against Green Bay and Baltimore. Furthermore, Houston’s defense was just dealt a huge blow by losing star linebacker and defensive captain Brian Kushing for the rest of the season due to an ACL tear. Currently Baltimore and New England are still the two best teams in the AFC, and I expect both of them to narrowly defeat Houston when they play the Texans in Weeks 7 and 14 respectively.
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Truth #1: The Chiefs are Better Off Without Cassel
One of the biggest headlines of Week 5 was the cheering in the Kansas City stands when quarterback Matt Cassel was knocked out of the game with a concussion, and the livid response of Eric Winston to the Kansas City fans. While I would never support the notion of cheering about a player getting injured, especially when he plays for the home-team, it is not difficult to see why the Chiefs’ fans reacted the way that they did. Cassel had already thrown two picks and lost two fumbles before getting knocked out. His turnover-per-game ratio this season has nearly been comparable with that of Jeremy Lin.
Unfortunately for Cassel, turnovers in football are much more detrimental than they are in basketball. His affinity for turnovers both early on in the game and in incredibly inopportune crunch-time moments had already raised the notion that perhaps he should be benched for Brady Quinn. The concussion on Sunday was just icing on the cake. It is also not ridiculous to assume that the Chiefs’ fans were cheering more about Quinn taking the field rather than celebrating Cassel’s injury.
Quinn is preparing for the start this weekend when the Chiefs travel to Tampa Bay, and while Quinn is certainly no hidden gem with tremendous upside, he certainly has more upside than Cassel. Cassel currently leads the NFL in turnovers with 9 interceptions and 4 fumbles lost. While the Chiefs still have other problems outside of quarterback, Cassel is unquestionably largely responsible for their 1-4 record, and his 5 touchdowns have almost all come in garbage time. He is an extremely poor decision maker for someone who has been in the NFL for eight years, and often holds on to the ball until his pocket collapses and he gets sacked.
Cassel is not a quarterback that is fun to watch or easy to root for, and so at least Quinn may be able to prove a spark that the Chiefs desperately need in order to bounce back from their dismal start to the season. Keep in mind that Kansas City has Jamal Charles, one of the most dominant all-around running backs in the league. If they just had a viable quarterback to complement Charles, their offense could potentially become menacing. In his first action since 2009, Quinn completed 3-3 passes for 32 yards.
Myth #2: Russell Wilson is the Right Guy for Seattle
Pete Carroll needs to know when it is time to stop playing games. The Russell Wilson experiment was an interesting one, as Wilson’s athleticism and ability to throw deep resulted in some early success and flashy highlight reel plays including the controversial Hail Mary pass to Golden Tate against the Packers that subsequently ousted the replacement refs from NFL fields around the nation. More importantly, the Seattle Seahawks are 3-2 with Wilson under center.
But very little of Seattle’s early success can be attributed to Wilson’s play. The undersized rookie quarterback has shown a knack for playing erratically, throwing just 1 touchdown and 5 interceptions over his past two games. His 3 interceptions against the Rams in Week 4 cost Seattle the game, and his 2 picks against Carolina in Week 5 nearly did as well. Luckily for Wilson, the explosively powerful downhill running game of Marshawn Lynch has protected him from receiving much criticism. Furthermore Seattle’s stellar defense has not allowed an opponent to score more than 20 points this season.
It is time to start Matt Flynn. The Seahawks spent the offseason piecing together a dynamic passing attack that could complement Lynch’s running game. Their biggest pickup in the offseason was Flynn, who played nothing short of phenomenal whenever he was called upon to fill in for Aaron Rogers in Green Bay. Flynn was signed and paid because they deemed him ready to be a starting quarterback. However that starting position was snatched away by Wilson and his superior athleticism and flashy plays which were shown off in the preseason.
It is understandable why Carroll chose to start Wilson after the stellar preseason that he had, but it is now inexcusable to keep Flynn around as a mere backup while Wilson’s rookie stats steadily decline. Wilson has displayed NFL talent, but he is simply not ready to be a starting quarterback as he has only completed 79-125 passes. His decision making and maturity may come with time, but right now it should be Flynn’s time, and the sooner that Carroll tabs Flynn the starting quarterback, the better Seattle’s chances will be of making the playoffs.
Truth #2: The Bears are NFC North Champs
They are off to a 4-1 record, their defense has allowed just 71 points over 5 games, and it seems like nobody can defend Brandon Marshall. The Chicago Bears are the real deal. They have the most aggressive and arguably best defense in the entire NFL, and are even tied with the Texans and 49ers for the third most points scored in the league (behind the Patriots and Giants). With the Packers just 2-3 and Aaron Rogers continuing to struggle, it is starting to seem like the Bears are the team to beat in the NFC North.
Not to be ignored and even more shocking than the records of the Bears or Packers is the 4-1 record of the Minnesota Vikings, who had once been expected to be one of the worst teams in the league. However right now their defense looks fierce, Adrian Peterson is running well, and quarterback Christian Ponder is having his breakout year. It will be interesting to see if the Vikings can keep up this high level of play, but nevertheless expect the Bears to edge out the Packers in what could be an incredibly close division race.
Myth #3: The Jets Should Start Tebow
Tebow-mania is officially in full swing. Every week the media pushes harder and harder for Tebow to be unleashed as the starting quarterback in New York. ESPN wants him to start, most Jets’ fans want him to start, and practically everybody who follows the NFL wants him to start. Hell, I want him to start… But by no means is starting Tebow the right decision for the New York Jets.
The team is currently in shambles, especially after losing Darelle Revis and Santonio Holmes for the remainder of the season. Struggling quarterback Mark Sanchez has absolutely no help around him, and that is largely due to their pitiful running game. Sanchez is a below-average pocket passer who flourishes when using play-action, but with no running game to lean on, it has become seemingly impossible for Sanchez to play comfortably enough to succeed. As the injuries pile up and the team continues to unravel, it increasingly appears to be a tailor-made opportunity for Tebow to start for the Jets.
Realistically, Tebow is simply not a good quarterback. New York’s frail defense will not be able to support him for three quarters of each game as Denver’s defense was able to last season. While Tebow can be incredibly exciting to watch, and it would be fascinating to see what he could or could not accomplish with so few weapons surrounding him in that offense, the Jets’ best bet is to stick with Sanchez.
It is Sanchez, not Tebow, who is their franchise quarterback. It is Sanchez who has led them to two AFC Championship game appearances, even if he still has a lot to improve upon as a starting NFL quarterback. The Jets need to allow Sanchez to continue gaining as much experience as possible, and see if he can eventually improve upon his flaws and inconsistencies to one day become an elite quarterback. Sure, Sanchez never would have made it to those AFC Championship game if he hadn’t been backed by some stellar defenses, but the same can be said about the young Tom Brady in 2001.
Truth #3: The Jets Will Start Tebow
Rex Ryan and the Jets are under too much pressure from week-to-week to start Tebow that they will eventually succumb to the media’s requests. The same thing happened last season in Denver, and it is happening before our eyes in New York. Each and every one of Sanchez’s incompletions is being examined under the microscope, and he is heavily scrutinized every time they lose a game.
With the Jets’ sincere lack of offensive production, the general consensus of Jets’ fans seems to be “Well Tebow can’t possible do any worse than Mark.” Jets fans have become sold on the idea that it is Tebow time, and only so many home games can take place in which the crowd boos Sanchez every time he returns to the field in place of Tebow before the official switch takes place. As aforementioned, the right thing to do is to stick with their franchise quarterback and force him to fight through the adversity and develop his passing game. However Tebow’s fame as a backup quarterback defies all logic and he will be unleashed, likely sooner than later.
The Jets may have originally brought Tebow aboard for publicity purposes, but it has backfired due to their lack of offensive production. Tebow will eventually get a chance to start, but if the Jets want to keep their fans sensible, they need to keep developing the players they are committed to, and perhaps even bring a Tebow trade to the table. I hear Kansas City needs a quarterback.