We all watched Hard Knocks, and I think we all came away with the same opinion. The Fish will be terrible this year. They lacked talent all over the field, from receiver to the defensive front seven. And then they traded away their only legitimate corner in the middle of camp. I was thinking 2, maybe 3 wins. At least they'll get a great pick.
On Sunday, the Miami Dolphins took the New York Jets, a division rival, behind the woodshed and I had to cover my eyes for the rest. Although I did laugh a little when Sanchez threw that Red Zone pick; on their way to 1 for 4 in the scoring area.
This is the same Jets team that went into Foxboro last week, and forced overtime with the Patriots in a highly competitive game that featured numerous bright spots for Gang Green. This against a Patriots team with Hall of Famers in the organization and well deserved respect around the league. Does this mean that in Week 13, when Pats travel to South Florida there's a chance the Dolphins could be favored? The same Dolphins we saw in Hard Knocks?
The AFC East is hardly the most confusing to me; the rest of the conference has some 'splainin' to do as well. The only two teams that have less than 3 losses in the conference are the Ravens and Texans, who happened to play each other last week. What on earth happened in that game? I was all geared up for an elite matchup: great defenses, world class running backs, mediocre QB's; what more could you ask for! Biggest snooze fest ever. The game was a thorough beat down from start to finish, and all I was left with were some serious doubts about the Ravens being able to make another Super Bowl. Ever. Is the loss of Ray Lewis and Ray Rice's newfound hatred of picking up blitzes worth 30 points? Goodness gracious.
Then there's the hapless AFC West. Sure, Sherriff Peyton is in town, but the rest of the division needs to be relegated. As a Raiders fan, I was very happy there was at least one other game in the late afternoon slot. No one wants to watch that. The Brady Quinn era in Kansas City was a bigger joke than the replacement ref era.
I remember a scintillating Monday night game back in 2009 where the Browns lost to the Ravens 16-0. Quinn was obviously totally ineffective, and in garbage time Gruden and Turico were trying to fill the space with various stories until Quinn let loose two of the worst deep throws you've ever seen. Both balls landing anywhere from 5 to 7 yards out of bounds, sending photographers ducking for cover. After the second one, Gruden, who is notorious for never ripping any player or coach on air, stops everything and lays into Quinn. And that wasn't even the low point of his career.
A silver lining does exist in all of this, at least for me. It was not long ago that the AFC was so dominant, the NFC Champion was nothing more than an invited guest to the AFC team's coronation. Whether it be Brady, Manning, or Big Ben; it was always the same. I don't even remember who lost half of those Super Bowls. But with the help of the Giants and Saints shifting the tide, the NFC once again reigns supreme. This swing in the NFL suggests to me that the model works. That power ebbs and flows between the conferences as it should, and we truly don't know who may rise up next. Other sports (ahem, baseball) could, and should aspire to this.