The Nickel: Week 8


(Editor's note: Thank you, NFC East, for being schizo; and thank you, Atlanta, for being such a "mehhh" undefeated squad — no one can get a handle on this season. AP and Manning have a handle on theirs, though. As usual, we got some TSL staff together to drop gems.)

QUESTION No. 1: Jets score nine points. Mark Sanchez had another inaccurate and feeble Sunday afternoon (just 28-54 with an INT). Quite simply — is it Tebow Time?

MAURICE BOBBTime’s up for Sanchez, he lacks the minerals and vitamins to QB the Jets.  No one knows if Tim Tebow can deliver another miracle on Broadway, but one’s things for sure – he ain’t shook.  Let’s see what the kid can do, Rex.  If he does some of this and shepherds NY through the valley of darkness, we’ll all have to admit that Timmie's heroics in Denver was more than just dumb luck.

MICHAEL TILLERY: 5.2 yards per pass isn't going to get it done, no matter who the quarterback is. With a roster depleted with injuries and honestly lacking in talent at the skill positions, what the hell is Tim Tebow going to do to change a culture of New York Jets 2012 mediocrity? I guess it depends on how y'all want it…but the New York circus begins and ends with Rex Ryan. Put his clown ass on the bench.

J.R. GAMBLE: Unless Tebow turns in to John Elway, hell to the N0! Tebow couldn't stop GM Mike Tannenbaum from hiring Tony “Sporatic.” Tebow can’t stop Rex Ryan’s overrated Jets defense from coughing up 30 points to a journeyman backup QB. And he is not going make Stephen "I drop bombs like Flex" Hill play like Jerry Rice. The Jets are waving the white flag if Tebow Time is the next power move.

NUBYJAS WILBORN: I don’t blame Mark Sanchez for the loss this week. I blame the lackluster defense for trying to trash talk a grown ass man in Reggie Bush. If you play Tebow, instead the proverbial “fat lady,” you can bring out Wanya, Michael, Nathan and Shawn because it will be the end of the road

VINNIE GOODWILL: I agree with J.R.. Besides, this is the year of mediocrity, right Khalid? You have eight AFC teams with a 4-3 record or 3-4. Only Houston can say they're far and away better than everybody in the conference. Do I think the Jets are going anywhere, with or without Tebow? Hell no! But I'm not Rex Ryan either, promising Super Bowls, but talking for free.


QUESTION No. 2: The last undefeated team of each season reaches the Super Bowl 45 percent of the time. That's not necessarily a sure thing, but it is a telling statistic. The Falcons handled Philly this week. Can this be classified as Atlanta's early season signature win?

VINNIE: Everybody's in a rush to crown Atlanta, like whomever calls it first gets monopoly money to use at Magic City. Before we Denny Green them, examine: They can't run and they can't stop the run. Since when is that a recipe for a Super Bowl champ? I present to you the 2011 Green Bay Packers, who did the same damn thing. And as good as Matt Ryan is, he ain't no Aaron Rodgers.

NUBYJAS: Who is trying to crown the Falcons so early, Vinnie? Vegas and most of the talking heads picked the Eagles to win. I get that people won’t buy in until Atlanta wins a playoff game, but let’s give some credit to a good team that finds ways to win. 

TILLERY: In my opinion, the Atlanta Falcons must beat a team clicking everywhere to be considered a true Super Bowl contender. Look at their schedule. They've bossed teams with .500 records or less. Philly is a team in flux. Have you ever heard of a successful team firing a top level coach in the middle of the season? Nah. Falcons should have won yesterday and honestly, I need to see so much more.

J.R.: Atlanta’s 7-0 clip has come against teams with a combined 17-31 record, including two miserable 1-6 squads (Chiefs, Panthers). Who’s zoomin' who, here?  If a win over the Illy Philly Funkstaz – 11-15 since December 2010 – is a signature win, ATL is NFC road kill in the playoffs.

MAURICE: I’m with J.R., the Falcons may be undefeated, but every team they’ve played has been easy like Sunday morning.  At this point, with the way the Eagles have quit on Andy Reid, even the lowly Jags could handle Philly, so the only way I’m buying them as a signature win is with Monopoly money.


QUESTION No. 3: Pittsburgh had Robert Griffin out there looking like Stewie Griffin. That's a cold pass defense, top ranked in the NFL. And here comes Jonathan Dwyer out of nowhere with his second 100-yard rushing game in a row. With, perhaps, their run-game problem solved, and an elite pass defense, coach, QB and receiving corps — are the Steelers back in contention?

J.R.: You figured Pittsburgh was going to make noise eventually. Tomlinson is like the Birdman of the Steelers. If Baby can sell Lil Wayne as a legendary lyricist, then with basic Steeler principles in tact – running and defense – Tomlinson can convince the NFL that the black and gold are back in contention. 

VINNIE: Back? The Steelers never left. There's a few things we can count on in sports: Bobby Petrino lying, Kobe Bean Bryant making shots like this, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the year of mediocrity, you think the Steelers are afraid of going to Foxboro or Reliant Stadium for a playoff game? Big Ben has a run game now and what other QB in the AFC has won multiple SBs in the last decade?

MAURICE: Yeah, uh huh, you know what it is…the black and yellow are back to doin’ work in the AFC North. Every year, it’s the same old song.  Pittsburg is always in contention, no matter what problems they have.  Dwyer may be a new phenomenon, but Mike Tomlin and Big Ben are a proven commodity that know how to stack Ws.  I’ll ride with that combo ‘til the wheels fall off.

TILLERY: Few teams come close to the consistent excellence of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Every season is like a Greg Lloyd super speed knock. Team chemistry is talented, driven…relentless. Realistic NFL turnover present, but Super Bowl goal oriented discipline intact…patient. How many franchises in sports can claim to have just three coaches since 1969? Steel City fans only love 'em when the Rooney's are crowned. Of course the Steelers are back in contention…for in actuality, they never left.

NUBYJAS:  Don’t believe the hype. You have to respect the Steelers history but, it has no bearing on what’s happening now. They caught a young RG3 slipping. Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu, Lamar Woodley, and others can’t stay healthy. They may make the playoffs, but will get another first round knockout. 


QUESTION No. 4: The Giants almost gave up a 23-point lead. Romo was doing everything he could to win and then lose and then — wait! — win and then — word, fam? — lose the game. You can hardly call it an impressive win for the Jints. Is this going to be yet another season where a team wins the NFC East by semi-default?

NUBYJAS: Giants are the dominant team in the NFC East. They’ve shown when they’re locked in, they can win big games even when they aren’t at their best. Cowboys are their usual mediocre selves, Eagles can’t hold on to the ball and the Skins aren’t consistent enough yet. Giants will win going away.

MAURICE: Voltaire said you can’t let perfection be the enemy of good and the G Men are the perfect example of that.  Their wins aren’t pretty, at all, but, for the Giants, there is no competition in the NFC East.  

J.R.: Wins don’t have to be impressive. Especially within the tough NFC East, where games are traditionally mosh pit slam dances, not beautiful waltzes. A win is a win. Super Bowl champs are the hunted. It’s hard enough winning when everyone is after you like you banged their wife. In Dallas' case, Dez Bryant still hasn’t learned to keep his hands to himself.

TILLERY: The NFC East is always a tossup. Since 2000, only Donovan McNabb has won more than three division titles. Games unforeseen become ugly contests decided by classic inches – records immaterial.  Could Eli become the next QB to rule the most dramatic and toughest corner in the league? I would say so. Eli seems clumsy as hell at times, but maybe it takes his temperament to slow down the schizophrenic divisional craziness and get that crown.

VINNIE: The only thing in the NFL more hyped than the NFC East is a backup QB in New York.


QUESTION No. 5: Peyton Manning is slinging bombs again (acumen, decision-making and game management was never rusty). Adrian Peterson leads the league in rushing. Which of the two has been more impressive in their injury-comeback, this season?

J.R.: Peyton Manning’s always been the MJ of the NFL. MJ made Chi-Town NBA central, left to play baseball and returned to the top. Manning, another immortal game-changer, turned the Colts into a big deal. Then Peyton fails to protect his neck, abruptly leaves the league amidst a whirlwind of uncertainty, rehabs like a broke college kid looking for a special teams spot, and now has Denver rolling. This could be Jordan ’96 for Air Manning.

VINNIE: With all due respect to Mr. Manning, it's gotta be ALL DAY. Adrian Peterson is taking hits ALL DAY. Peyton can at least avoid the rush, where's the protection for AD? A lot of people picked Manning to take the Broncos to the Super Bowl (short-sighted, but I digress). How many people truly thought ALL DAY would look like himself nine months after this?

MAURICE: Peyton Manning season has returned.  He’s back and he’s droppin’ bombs like Hiroshima, but I’m with Vin-Rock.  Peyton may be having a great comeback this year with the Broncos, but AP is having the best comeback of all time.  You don’t just recover from that kind of knee injury and come back to lead the NFL in rushing.  If he keeps this up, he should definitely win the Offensive POY.

NUBYJAS:  This is the equivalent of asking me to choose between a date with Janet Jackson or Beyoncé – choose between Beverly Johnson and Pam Grier. You can’t go wrong with either, but deep down you want both. However, since I have to pick, I’ll take Peyton – but, only because NFL is a QB driven league.

TILLERY: I dig that analogy Nu, but of all the fine sista girl lovelies you mentioned, I gotta go with Pam Grier. When she followed me on twitter, I screamed like a chick and called Pops real quick. That being said, I gotta rock with Maurice and Vinnie. It's Adrian Peterson. All Day came back from injury faster than most (put it on your toast) and is doing his thing with action. Definitely my NFL MVP.

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