NFL Week 4: Hot Topics (NFC East, St. Louis Rams and Big Ben)
The 2010 NFL season is still getting started, yet certainly, there are multiple storylines surrounding the current season that have included thoughts and ideas on various teams, players and records. Below are a few hot topics that Noontime Sports has been burning on with a quarter of the current football season in the books.
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1.) The NFC East: This is a division that clearly belonged to the Dallas Cowboys before the season officially began, but after Sunday’s Philadelphia-Washington matchup, as well as the New York Giants sack exchange against the Chicago Bears, it seems almost uncertain if any of these teams should be deemed playoff bound after four games.
The Cowboys had a much needed bye week, so this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans will allow for various questions to be answered about their success for the rest of the season. Of course, head coach Wade Phillips did a repeat performance from the ’07 season; allowing his players three days off from football, so let’s see if that strategy worked out this time because it didn’t against the Giants prior to the Divisional Playoff round.
The New York Giants sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler 10 times on Sunday, which is somewhat scary to report, but in all honesty, can they repeat that performance week after week? I say no, but with a league like the NFL, anything is possible. Also, quarterback Eli Manning has seemed to return to his rookie ways of looking rather not impressive, but the Giants still have running back Brandon Jacobs’s childish behavior on their mind from Indianapolis two weeks ago.
The Washington Redskins own a gaudy 2-2 record, along with Philadelphia too, but neither of these two squads appears solid through four weeks. Running back Clinton Portis is supposedly going to miss the Redskins week 5 contests against the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Michael Vick is apparently playing the role of Clark Kent, also known as, Superman and doing what he can to return in one to two weeks for the Eagles. Vick suffered a serious rib injury against the Redskins that could sideline him for a longer period of time, not just two weeks, so for now, Eagles fans will have to watch and enjoy the original signal caller under center, Kevin Kolb. Although, could Jeff Garcia return to the NFL, despite currently playing in the UFL? Highly doubtful.
Prediction: I am still sticking with my preseason prediction and believe the Dallas Cowboys will win the NFC East, but if the Washington Redskins keep winning games, as well as earn four more divisional wins, then consider Mike Shanahan’s crew a possible lock for the division in December or January.
2.) The St. Louis Rams: Who isn’t jumping aboard the Sam Bradford Express? I know that I am! The Rams are off to an impressive 2-2 start in the NFC West, but credit is not all owed to just Mr. Bradford, but also, running back Steven Jackson, wide receiver Mark Clayton, as well as their defense that has held opponents to an average of 13 points through four games.
Don’t sleep on the Rams just yet, especially since the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers haven’t shown signs of dominance in this division. The Rams will face a winless Detroit Lions team this Sunday, as well as take on San Diego, Tampa Bay and Carolina before their bye week approaches in Week 9.
Prediction: After watching some of the St. Louis-Seattle game this past weekend, I expect them to seesaw their way toward week 9 and enter their bye with a [4-4] record. Although, playing in front of an energetic crowd when they face San Diego and Carolina could come in handy. The Rams may not be the former “Greatest Show on Turf,” but instead, they are a young group of hard working and blue collared workers that won’t give in. Keep your eyes on this squad for the next few weeks and if they can beat up on some of the weaker teams, Carolina and Tampa Bay, it could be a sign that they maybe a lock for the division crown.
3.) The return of “Big” Ben: It has indeed been four weeks of the NFL season, so now the Pittsburgh Steelers will welcome back their quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. In his absence the team sported a 3-1 record, but now that the two-time Super Bowl winner is back in the saddle, but can he lead the Steelers to an AFC North crown?
Hard to answer that question because a big concern surrounds is physical ability, as well as if he has been studying the playbook and watching film. The Steelers have been dominant on defense thanks to James Harrison and Troy Polamalu, but not so much through the air. So, now that their gun-slinging quarterback is back, expect change to come to this offense.
My guess is that the Steelers offense will be just fine and after reading a report from practice today that explained how an early long ball pass from Roethlisberger to receiver Mike Wallace was recorded a catch could be a sign of things to come. The Steelers have a bye week this Sunday, but will return to the gridiron on October 17, when they face the Cleveland Browns. That contest may actually be a good warm-up/welcome back affair for “Big Ben.”
Prediction: With “Big Ben” back under center, how can you not count out the Steelers? Expect the Steelers to celebrate a win against the Browns in two weeks when he returns, but as long as he continues to practice well, keeps watching game film and is in the right physical shape, expect Roethlisberger to look like his old self.