The Nickel Week 15
The Broncos haven't lost a game in over 2 months. They're impressive on both sides of the ball. Are they Super Bowl bound?
JAMAR HUDSON: Just when you thought he was done, Peyton Manning has reminded us this year why he is one of the greatest QBs in NFL history. And at 11-3, the Denver Broncos quietly may be the best team in the league. But we've seen this movie before: A good regular season Manning-led team fizzles in the postseason. We'll see if this year is different.
MICHAEL TILLERY: Winning 9 straight says the Broncos are serious contenders. Peyton Manning's comeback is true with another 4,000-yard season. I'd still choose Adrian Peterson as MVP and CPOY, but Manning stepping in and not looking any different for Denver is boss. He is great and his defense is stellar led by Von Miller. Seems like this will come down to Brady vs. Manning again. NE did beat the Broncos earlier this season, so the Pats are my pick to advance to the Super Bowl.
J.R. GAMBLE: Peyton Manning is the Magic Johnson of the NFL, and a historically unique, game –dictator. The future 5-time MVP is that B.I.G. of a difference maker. Manning, the Robo-QB of our generation, is an on-field coach, who passes like Johnny U on HGH. The defense is top five in least yards allowed per game (307.1) and the offense is top 5 in yards per game (387.2). Sounds like Super Bowl balance to me.
RICHARD BOADU: You can’t sleep on a team that has Peyton Manning. The Broncos aren't Super Bowl bound though. Yes, they've won nine in a row, but only one of those teams had a winning record. Once the playoffs come, so will Playoff Peyton...you know the one that comes up short to Tom Brady.
MAURICE BOBB: You’d need to take Nyquil to sleep on the Broncos. Peyton has been the frontrunner for MVP since he orchestrated that historic comeback win over the Chargers in Week 6. That said, I don’t think they’re Super Bowl bound. They’d have to get past Brady and Co. and you can bet Brady won’t be asleep at the wheel, either.
Whats going on with the Ravens? They've struggled for weeks now. Why?
TILLERY: Simple. Baltimore is banged up. Weakened. Ray Lewis, docile on the sideline, is not the same hype beast in the middle of the field energized, but professionally reserved in calling defensive plays. Leaders on the sideline are cheerleaders. Ray wants to hit people and win games. Baltimore is not the same team when injuries happen. No one is. Suggs isn't 100% either. Looks like an early playoff exit.
RICHARD: Injuries. Ray Lewis, Ladarius Webb and Terrell Suggs have all missed several games. The Ravens have always relied on their defense. When the defense gives up points and gets behind in games, it takes the ball out of Ray Rice's hand and puts it firmly in Joe Flacco's hands. You don't want the ball in Flacco's hands. Losses pile up.
JAMAR: Can we stop lying to ourselves and thinking that Joe Flacco is going to eventually develop into being an elite QB? He's nowhere near being in the conversation. Between Flacco's mediocre play and a visibly aging defense, the Ravens are sputtering to the finish line of this season. Their only saving grace is the continued struggles of the rest of the AFC North.
GAMBLE: Losing Ray Lewis was the first nail in the coffin. It was like a punch to the gut. The Ravens took a knee, tried to get up, but can’t continue the fight as serious challengers. Then Suggs got hurt, so that leaves you with no general, half a lieutenant, a decimated army and a lot of finger pointing. It seems the old gang is breaking up.
MAURICE: It’s fair to bring up the Ravens’ injuries, but I think they aren’t going anywhere because they’re following Joe Flacco. He’s not an elite quarterback, never has been. They’ve won in spite of him, not because of him. I’d love to see Ray Ray do his signature strut all the way to the big dance, but it ain’t happenin’. Not this year.
The number one takeaway from that Giants/Falcons game is what?
GAMBLE: That Eli Manning is a great impersonator and Atlanta strippers are working hard to bring chips to the ATL. The Giants played like they got comped at Magic City Saturday night. Usually when Eli has this type of stinker, his facial expressions resemble Gomer Pile and Scooby Doo, lost at sea. Sunday, Manning looked like a bewildered ant trapped under a cup with a lighter on his ass. I read nothing more into it. NFL life is like that.
RICHARD: I've seen this movie before. The Giants, who won the Super Bowl last year, finished with a 9-7 record and barely made it in the playoffs. The Falcons are always dope during the regular season and lay eggs during the playoffs that stink up all of College Park. This game was the predictable movie sequel that went straight to home video.
MAURICE: The Falcons may have turned a corner. They’ve had their slice of humble pie after that stupid prediction by Roddy White and now they’re settled in and playing like we all thought they could. Additionally, it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that the Gents are dunzo, but we’ve seen Eli do this before and still win the chip. Let’s not overreact.
JAMAR: The No. 1 takeaway is that the Falcons may not be a fluke after all. In a crowded NFC, Atlanta had a chance to separate itself from the pack and made a huge statement against the Giants, getting some revenge for last season's playoff disaster. The Falcons dominated from start to finish.
TILLERY: That New York might be in trouble. New York is in a three-way tie with the ‘Skins and Cowboys. This season, New York might have started too late. They end with the Ravens and the Eagles. The Eagles game is not a lock. Stranger things have happened in the NFC East. Since DC owns tiebreaker, New York must win out.
Considering what's going on in Washington, is Mike Shanahan the Coach of the Year? If not him, who?
GAMBLE: Not if they finish 8-8. I don’t reward mediocrity. If they manage to take the NFC East, then Shanahan is in line to reap the benefits of the RG3 effect. RG3 can make piss taste like Pink Nuvo. Luckily, the game the Skins needed to start their backup was against the NFL’s doormat Browns. Like Money Mike said, Petey Playroom gets my vote.
TILLERY: Pete Carroll is Coach of the Year. Seattle is 9-5. No one expected them to do anything and despite San Francisco's win over New England, no one is definitively saying the Niners will run over the Seahawks next week. Carroll named a rookie QB starter after the organization overpaid for Matt Flynn. Mike Shanahan in running RG3 down the line too many times in the read option, and even foolishly has his QB out on pass patterns. I'm not even sure Shanahan wanted RG3. Why else would he pick another QB in the same draft?
RICHARD: No. It’s Bruce Arians. He's an interim coach that's led a young ass team to an 8-2 record behind a rookie QB. You can make the case that if Andrew Luck wasn't the QB then Arians wouldn't look so good, but the reality is, Luck’s on the team and Arians is 8-2.
JAMAR: If the Redskins run the table and win the NFC East, Mike Shanahan has to be Coach of the Year. No question. After a loss that left Washington at 3-6, Shanahan all but buried his team. Reverse psychology? Perhaps, but this turnaround has been nothing short of amazing to watch and, with two rookie QBs contributing, Shanahan deserves his credit.
MAURICE: Can’t be prisoner of the moment here. Yes, RGIII is Black Jesus and Kirk Cousins, it turns out, is one of his apostles, but Mike Shanahan isn’t the God. Not even close. The Skins are winning because of their talent. I like Pete Carroll’s name being thrown into the hat for COY, but for me, and yes I’m playing my homer card, it’s Gary Kubiak for how he’s steered the Texans’ ship.
Adrian Peterson needs 294 yards to break the all-time single season rushing record. He has two game to do it. If he does, will that put him in the top 10 of all time RBs or does he need a few more seasons?
JAMAR: No way Adrian Peterson will crack the top 10 RBs off all time even if he does break the single-season record. The legendary names had sustained greatness and while Peterson's numbers are impressive, he still has a ways to go to be mentioned among the Emmitt Smiths, Barry Sanders and Walter Payton’s of the world. However, if he can keep up this pace, he'll climb that ladder of greats at a rapid pace.
TILLERY: In order, I'd go definitively Jim Brown first, followed by Barry Sanders (my fav back), Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, OJ Simpson, Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, Marcus Allen (if Al Davis didn't disrespect Allen, he might be have led in rushing yards and touchdowns. He might have been extraordinary in reception totals as well), Emmitt Smith and LaDainian Tomlinson. Adrian Peterson has a minute before he catches LT in anything, so no, not yet. Though physically, he might be in Brown's class.
GAMBLE: It’s all about longevity and durability. A.D. isn’t Top 10 yet, but he’s knocking on the door. Top 10, without a decade’s work, is a rare Sandy Koufax-Gayle Sayers feat. Breaking Eric Dickerson’s long-standing mark will help, but who do you cut? Marcus Allen? Earl Campbell? Right now, I’d say he’s Top 15 and picking up Mean Joe Greene type of steam.
MAURICE: Tillery broke it all the way down. This argument sounds a lot like the one we just had with one Kobe Bryant and his Top 10 merit. The glaring difference in the two cases, however, is Bean’s championships. As great as All Day is, and damn it he’s great, he hasn’t delivered the trophy yet. And yes, he actually has to get the record this year, not just come close. So the jury’s still out. But in this case, no one minds being sequestered or stuck in deliberation.
RICHARD: If Gale Sayers only played 6 seasons and is considered one of the greatest backs of all-time why can't A.D.? Peterson can miss the 2k-yard mark and he'll still be one of the top 10 backs of all-time. Write down your top 10 retired running backs. Then look at those ten and ask yourself if you were coaching a team would you draft Peterson over any of the backs you wrote down?