Thursday, December 8, 2016

Todd Bowles and Mike Mccagnan Belong on Hot Seat

The Jets got crushed on Monday Night 41-10 by the Indianapolis Colts.  But it wasn't so much the game itself as much as the full display of a lack of effort on the part of the Jets that was so disturbing on Monday night. So disturbing that many are wondering if Todd Bowles is the right man for this job.

The Jets never tired on Monday. Colts wide receivers like T.Y. Hilton and tight end Dwayne Allen were open all day, and in some cases, so wide open that the closest defender was at least five yards away. Andrew Luck, who has been beaten to smithereens this season with sacks, was only touched once by the Jets defense. Frank Gore who has looked older with each passing game, looked spry on Monday night.

And don't forget the Jets lackluster offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick was plan awful. He was 5-of-12 for 81 yards and a pick. The man who single-handedly held the Jets hostage during the offseason over a contract dispute, piloted the Jets into the 2017 off-season, and with it, piloted his Jets career, and possibly his NFL career into oblivion.

It was ugly. And a lot of blame this week has fallen on the shoulder's of head coach Todd Bowles. Bowles was even quoted twice this week as saying he is not worried about his job security, and understands that NFL coaches are always under an intense microscope.

However, when you are coaching in New York City, especially a franchise that hasn't won a championship in nearly 50 years, intense microscope isn't the half of it. Bowles is on a volcano and it is about erupt.

To be fair, Bowles and GM Mike Maccagnan under normal circumstances should be allowed some wriggle room here, and be allowed to come back for a third season to prove they can rebuild the team. But here lays the problem. Both men, especially Maccagnan, came to New York under the guise they could have a "competitive rebuild" of this team. Maccagnan frivolously spent Woody Johnson's money on bringing back Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, two players whom the previous GM, John Idzik got rid of because of many of the same reasons we see now -- age and price tag. They also threw big money at Brandon Marshall and Ryan Fitzpatrick to speed up the rebuild.

In economic terms Maccagnan inherited a surplus and turned it into a deficit. The Jets are in salary purgatory once again, and many veteran players are likely on their way out, including Revis and center Nick Mangold.

Not to mention, Maccagnan's drafts have been suspect. Outside of Leonard Williams, the Jets don't have many standouts that were drafted by Maccagnan. His drafting of two quarterbacks, Bryce Petty in 2015 and Christian Hackenberg in 2016 is looking worse and worse with each passing week. Petty will get the start for the rest of the year, but he is too green in the gills for this. Word on Hackenberg is the guy can't play.

In retrospect 2015 was the worst thing that could happen to both Maccagnan and Bowles. Winning 10 games ratcheted up the expectations, and the fans demanded a winner this year.

It wasn't all that surprising that the Jets suffered a five-game losing streak in September and October, especially when one considers they had to play Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Seattle, Arizona, and Cincinnati in that stretch.

However it has been the way they have lost games this year, combined with the fact that Bowles has failed in every phase of coaching that has doomed this team in 2016. He has shown little depth and charisma when it comes to handling a locker room as Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson have gone rouge on him way too many times to count.

He has allowed the quarterback situation to get totally out of hand, with the latest gaff coming when he never informed Fitzpatrick that he was going to be benched for the final games of the season, regardless of the outcome of Monday night. Fitzpatrick only learned about it through the media after Colts 41 - Jets 10.

He has shown little interest in getting involved in the offense -- a trademark that buried Rex Ryan after six seasons -- instead leaving the offense in the hands of Chan Gailey. We are still waiting for Gailey to discover football in the 21st Century.

More importantly, Bowles bread and butter, his defense has been dreadful. The secondary can't stop flies as the Jets are ranked 23rd in the NFL in pass defense and 16th in the NFL in total defense. The Jets also have the second to worst turnover ratio in football at -17. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars at -18 is worse. The fact that the Jets can't stop anyone is a huge indictment of Bowles. It is even worse when ESPN cameras catch Bowles yelling at his players on the sideline and they just shrug him off.

To compare him to Rich Kotitte isn't fair. At least Bowles won 10 games in a season. Kotitte never won more than three games in a season for the Jets. But, the feeling of loss and hopelessness is reminding Jets fans of those dark days from 1995-1996 when the franchise was a combined 4-28.

So the Jets are at a crossroads. They have four games to prove that they have some semblance of pride in that locker room. They have four games to prove that they, as individual players, belong in the National Football League. They have four games to possibly prove that Todd Bowles should remain the HC of the NYJ.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Giants exposed by Steelers in blowout loss


The Giants six-game winning streak turned into a pumpkin on a cold Sunday evening in Pittsburgh. The Steeleres walloped the G-Men 24-14, and it wasn't even that close. The Giants were totally slapped around by a Pittsburgh team that gashed the Giants defense for 389 yards, and was 7-for-15 on third down.

By halftime the score was 14-0, Steelers. The lead soon ballooned to 24-7 before the Giants got a garbage time touchdown to make the final score somewhat respectable. Still it was a horrible loss that puts the Giants in a situation where they have no choice but to settle for the wild card.

Inconsistent Eli Manning: Manning wasn't great on Sunday. He failed to lead the Giants stagnant offense, especially in the first half where they were shutout for the second straight week. Manning threw a costly interception at the Steelers nine-yard line that eventually led to a Pittsburgh touchdown before the half. Overall, Manning threw for only 195 yards on 35 attempts with two interceptions. While the offensive line certainly deserves plenty of blame for not giving Manning enough time in the pocket, he isn't getting the job done consistently this year.

Odell Beckham Jr Delivers More Headaches: Beckham had a good day, hauling in 10 catches for 100 yards, but the guy continues to be a lightening rod for controversy. He was blasting the officials after the game, and his wore his friendship with Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown on his sleeve on Sunday. When Brown scored a touchdown for Pittsburgh, the camera's quickly shot over the Beckham who was smiling and clapping his buddy on. What is with this guy? Clearly Beckham continues to fail when it comes to understanding the game both on and off the field. He shouldn't be rooting for his friends especially when they are playing against him.

The Giants D was Woeful! The Giants defense has easily been their strength this year, but on Sunday they couldn't stop a nose bleed. Le'Veon Bell gashed them for 118 yards on the ground, and Ben Roethlisberger picked them apart for 289 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Outside of Olivier Vernon's two sacks there was not much to talk about regarding the Giants' defensive effort on Sunday.

What is next? More tough games. The Giants host the Dallas Cowboys (11-1) at the Meadowlands on Sunday night. The Cowboys are due for a loss, but the Boys remember that their only L this year came against Big Blue in Week 1. Expect some serious payback. If the Giants tackle the way they did in Pittsburgh, Eziekiel Elliot will have a monster evening.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Cespedes for the Rest Of Us. Mets and Yoenis Agree to 4-Year Deal

While the New York sports scene has been filtered with negative headlines on the Jets and Knicks for a better part of the past month, the New York Mets were quietly going about their business this off-season.

Once the season ended ingloriously in the NL Wild Card game against the San Francisco Giants, the Mets barely popped up on the radar screen until Wednesday night. On Wednesday the Mets finalized a four-year extension with outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, cementing a long term deal with the All-Star after two productive seasons in Mets blue and orange.

As Mets General Manger Sandy Alderson put it, this is the third time the Mets have acquired Cespedes. They got him in a trade with Detroit in the middle of the 2015 season, and signed him to an opt-out friendly one-year deal last off-season. Many suspected that Cespedes would sign elsewhere. The Yankees were said to be interested. The Giants and Nationals were also on Cespedes' trail, yet the Cuban native wanted to stay in Queens.

"I said long before it happened, I wanted to be with this team," Cespedes is quoted as saying. "I wanted to come back. God willing I will finish out my career with this team."

At 31-years-old, Cespedes' contract is good for four years at $110 million with a no-trade clause. He will make $27.5 million a year, the most ever given to an outfielder in baseball history, and most the mets have paid in annual salary to a player ever; and this is a team that paid big money to Mike Piazza, David Wright, Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, and, yes, Bobby Bonilla in the past.

Paying Cespedes this much is a huge shift for the Mets. This is a team synonymous with not paying big bucks, rather settling for the cheap fix ever since Fred and Jeff Wilpon were caught with their hands in the Bernie Madoff cookie jar. But times have changed. The Wilpon's are making money, and the team has been fairly successful the past two seasons. It is time for this team to go for it.

Cespedes gives the Mets relevancy. While the team is still unsure how its infield will look in 2017, and is still unsure if David Wright will ever play again, and unsure how Matt Harvey will bounce back from a season on the disabled list, signing Cespedes was a must.

When his head is in the game, Cespedes is a five-tool player. He has come off his two most productive seasons at the plate, 35 homers in 2015 and 31 homers in 2016, and has been a consistent .280-.290 hitter in Terry Collins lineup. The Mets needed Cespedes even more than he needed them.

The Mets are not done. Rumors are they will try to trade disappointing outfielder Jay Bruce at some point during the Hot Stove season. They will also need to heavily upgrade their catcher position, since Travis d'Arnaud has become an unreliable bust. The bullpen will need tweaking too with closer Jeurys Familia expected to be suspended by Major League Baseball for his involvement in a domestic violence incident with his wife. Who will play third base? That is anyones guess because of Wright's health issues. How about first base? Lucas Duda was not bastion of health either in 2016. His status is also uncertain.

So while there are plenty of questions for the Mets as they enter 2017, at least they have one of the best outfielders in baseball under their Christmas tree before the hot stove heats up.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Same Ole Jets Invent New Ways to Lose to Patriots


It is getting harder and harder to call the Jets-Patriots rivalry 'a rivalry.' If you wanted to see a real rivalry, you were better off watching the Kansas City Chiefs-Denver Broncos game; at least those two teams are competitive and good. Here the Patriots have dominated the Jets for well over a decade, and Sunday was no different.

The game felt like a big tease with Gang Green jumping out to a 10-0 lead, and holding a slim 17-16 lead late in the fourth quarter. You knew it was only a matter of time before Tom Brady figured things out and beat the Jets, which he did.

Jets Mistakes: The Jets made a number of costly mistakes in this game against New England. When facing the Patriots, a team like the Jets can ill afford to make mistakes, and it came back to cost them in the end. The first mistake came with 9:59 to go before the half when Robby Anderson fumbled the football at midfield after a 25-yard completion. The Jets were ahead 10-3. This is not to say that if Anderson had held onto the football the Jets would have scored on this drive, but the fumble changed the complexion of the game. The Patriots turned the fumble into points when Tom Brady found Malcom Mitchell for the tying score.

Later on in the second quarter, Todd Bowles made a horrible coaching decision when he decided to kick a long 54-yard field goal rather than punt the football and pin the Patriots deep. The kick was blocked and New England had great field position with which to work. Fortunately for the Jets, Stephen Goskowski missed the field goal at the buzzer.

Ryan Fitzpatrick: The Jets mistakes continued to spring up thanks in big part to Fitzpatrick. In the fourth quarter, he killed the Jets with an intentional grounding penalty that pushed the Jets back into a third and 11 from their own 30. The Jets couldn't convert and had to punt back to New England.

After the Patriots took the lead 22-17, Fitzpatrick killed the Jets hopes when he got stripped of the football by Chris Long to seal the deal. While Fitz didn't throw a pick, he was horrible in crunch time. If this doesn't signal that Todd Bowles needs to make a change, I don't know what will.

Quincy Enunwa's Butt Catch: You may have heard of the buttfumble and the helmet catch, well on Sunday we had the butt catch. In the Jets lone bright spot of the evening, Enunwa hauled in a Fitzpatrick pass in the back corner of the end zone, got one foot down and fell on his rear end inside the end zone for the score. One butt = two feet in the NFL. Touchdown Jets!

The Other Guys: With Rob Gronkowski hobbled by back and lung issues, Tom Brady had to look elsewhere for support and he found it in Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan. The two virtual unknowns combined for 112 yards on nine catches and two scores. In fact it was Mitchell who burned Darrelle Revis on the game winning score.

The Patriots May Not Be That Good: This was a game that the Patriots were supposed to roll in, but they really struggled with the Jets. While it is a divisional game, the Patriots are supposed to be light-years ahead of the Jets, but it didn't look like it on Sunday. New England struggled to handle the Jets blitzes early on, and made a number of costly mistakes themselves (see James White forgetting how to score a two-point conversion). The Patriots (9-2) are supposed to be the best in the AFC, but it sure didn't look like it on Sunday. The monsters in the AFC West are aware.

What's Next: The Jets disaster of a season continues next Monday night against the equally inept Indianapolis Colts. The Jets would have an advantage, but it looks like Andrew Luck will play. At least that draft stock keeps ticking up for Gang Green.

What to expect: More losing.

Giants Ugly Ways Make Browns Game Too Close


Big Blue's ugly ways continued this week, and it almost led to the Cleveland Browns finding a way to get their first win of the year. While Big Blue won this game by two scores, had the Giants not cashed in on a couple of huge turnovers this ugly win could have easily become an ugly loss.

Tis the life of Ben McAdoo's Giants. They love living on the edge of disaster and greatness. They are good enough to win six straight ball games inspite of their painfully obvious deficiencies. Let's break it down.

Invisible offense returns: The Giants offense was once again invisible for large chunks of this game against Cleveland. Midway through the second quarter the Giants mustered only 65 yards of offense against the Browns, which is totally inexcusable. At times the play calling was ultraconservative; in other instances, Eli Manning was just flat out off his game, throwing a handful of dreary incompletions and was sacked in the opening quarter.

Even when the Giants put up points in the second quarter, there was something amiss. There was no flow to the Giants attack all day. In fact in the third quarter alone, the Giants were held to 32 total yards of offense and punted four times. This hot-n-cold pattern has become way too prevalent for the Giants, and with a tough schedule ahead, they won't get away with it for much longer.

Odell Beckham had a huge afternoon: Beckham had a huge day for the Giants. One could argue that without him the Giants probably would have lost this game to Cleveland. Beckham had a 32-yard touchdown catch on second and ten from the Cleveland 32 with 1:13 to go before the half to give the Giants a 14-3 lead. Later, Beckham hauled in a 41-yard completion to move the football into Cleveland territory. Beckham would score the Giants final score of the day on a four-yard pass from Manning.

While Beckham was great, lets give a nod to Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepherd as well. Cruz had a 37-yard catch that set up the Giants second touchdown, and Shepherd had a 22-yard run on an end around to set up the final score of the day.

Jason Pierre-Paul: JPP had a huge afternoon for Big Blue, recording three sacks and had a 43-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in the Giants victory. He deserves a lot of credit for coming back with vengeance this season after last year's 4th of July fireworks incident.

Josh McCown Stinks: How bad are the Browns? They are so  bad that quarterback Josh McCown can't do the simple things right. Ask him to lead Cleveland on a scoring drive? Impossible. Ask him to get the Browns a much needed touchdown? Nearly impossible. This guy flat out stinks. Forget the fact he threw for 322 yards, McCown was sacked seven times and never got anything going for this Browns team. Cleveland regrets more and more for trading down in the draft to avoid taking Carson Wentz.

What is Next: The Giants are about to hit a very tough stretch in their season. At 8-3, the Giants are in control of their playoff fates, but with a trip to Pittsburgh upcoming, those plans could begin to get dashed quickly. The Giants are a flawed team, with an inconsistent offense and a defense that is prone to giving up the big play. This could be a total nightmare for the Giants this Sunday, and maybe for the entire month of December.

What to expect: Like I said, the Giants face Pittsburgh, Dallas, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Washington in the last five weeks of the year. Four of those teams are likely heading into the playoffs and will need wins against the Giants in order to get there. This season could spiral out of control really, really fast.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Big Blue Defense Clamps Down on Bears


It was ugly, but the Giants still found a way to get the win. Where have we heard this refrain before? Just about every week for that matter when it comes to the New York Giants. No I didn't copy and paste from Monday's recap of the Bengals-Giants game, although it wouldn't have made much of a difference. Sunday against the Bears was ugly, but in the end it didn't matter, because Big Blue found a way to extended their win streak to five games.

Bears Dominate First Half: A lot of people tapped this match-up as a trap game for Big Blue, and for the entire first half it was coming to fruition as the Bears were flat-out dominating the Giants.

Jay Cutler was extremely poised in the Bears opening series as he guided Chicago to a game opening touchdown pass to Zach Miller to take the early 6-0 advantage. The Bears would score on their first three possessions of the football game, with tight end Zach Miller and tail back Jordan Howard killing the Giants defense.

On the Bears second possession, Miller had a 34-yard reception on third and nine from the Bears 40 that set up a Connor Barth field goal to give the Bears the lead back at 9-6.

At the start of the second quarter, Cutler picked apart the Giants again, this time with soft tosses of 10-yards and 16-yards to get the Bears to the Giants 38-yard line. Finally, Jordan Howard did the rest when he shot up the right side and dashed all the way to the Giants seven-yard line before being chased out of bounds. Jeremy Langford would cap off the drive a one-yard plunge into the end zone to give the Bears a commanding 16-6 lead with 8:35 to go before halftime.

The Good Eli Shows Up When He's Needed: While it was an inconsistent day for the offense, like he had last week against Cincinnati, Eli Manning was great when he needed to be. He calmly led the Giants down field for the tying score on their first possession of the game in the first quarter. On the drive, Manning was 5-of-7 with his biggest pass of the game coming on fourth and two at the Bears 17 when he hit Sterling Shephard for a 15-yard gain to the two. Rashad Jennings finished the drive with a two-yard dash into the end zone to tie it up at six.

Manning later elevated his play into a higher gear at the start of the third quarter with his team coming out of the halftime locker room trailing 16-9. He completed a big third and eight  with a 12-yard completion to Shephard to get into Bears territory. On the next play, Manning found Odell Beckham Jr. for 20-yards near the sideline to set up first and goal. Two plays later, Manning found a wide open Will Tye for the score to tie the game up at 16.

After the Giants defense forced a Bears three-and-out on their first possession of the third quarter, Manning went right back to work. He connected with Shephard for five yards on second and nine from the Giants 22-yard line, then, Manning ran for a first down on third and short. On first and ten from the 31, Manning hit a streaking Victor Cruz for a 48-yard bomb to drive right into the Chicago red zone. Three plays later, Manning found his new favorite target in Sterling Shephard for the touchdown to put the Giants up for the first time all day, 22-16.

Sterling Shephard: Shephard had a huge day for the Giants. The rookie from Oklahoma hauled in five passes for 50-yards and a touchdown. He is second on this team in receiving yards, and is quickly becoming one of Manning's favorite targets.

Rashad Jennings: Jennings had his second straight solid game for the Giants out of the backfield. New York showed more commitment to the run, and Jennings awarded Ben McAdoo's confidence with 87-yards on 21 carries and his first touchdown of the year. While, the Giants offense did fall asleep after taking a 22-16 lead, the effort Jennings displayed is hard to ignore.

Giants D' Does it Again: Another close ball game, another big day for the Giants defense. After watching Jay Cutler have his way with them in the first half, Steve Spagnuolo's crew had none of it in the second half. Of the seven possessions the Bears had in the second half, only one drive went into Giants territory, a drive that would end in a missed field goal by Barth. Overall the Giants held the Bears to a grand total of 81-yards of offense in the second half. That is domination.

Jay Cutler was running for his life in the second half, as the Giants sacked the sluggish QB four times, two of which belonged to Jason Pierre-Paul. Landon Collins finished off the game with another game-killing interception for Big Blue. The interception gives Collins now five on the season, and one in each of the last four games for the Giants. It was also a big day for nose tackle Damon Harrison, who had six tackles on the day.

Not So Special Special Teams: Sunday was not a good day to be a kicker. Thanks to the bitter cold temperatures, rain, wind and snow across the lower 48, there were a total of 12 missed extra points in the NFL -- a new league record for a single day. The Giants-Bears game was no exception. Bears kicker Connor Barth missed an extra point and a field goal in this game, while his counterpart, Robbie Gould missed two extra points. Had this game been played in better weather, the score likely would have been 24-20, not 22-16.

What is next? The Giants have another "trap game" on the schedule for next Sunday when they visit the winless Cleveland Browns (0-11). The Browns are a horrible football team -- which is putting it mildly. Cleveland's best chance to win a game came and went when they blew a 20-7 lead against the Jets a few weeks ago. The Giants are a much better team than their MetLife Stadium counterparts, so the Browns are the ones who are in for it. This is a game Big Blue should win fairly easily.

What to Look For: Don't look now, but the NFC East is turning into a powerhouse division before our very eyes. Not only are the Cowboys 9-1, but the Redskins and Giants are right in the mix for the two wild card slots. The Skins destroyed the beat-up Green Bay Packers on Sunday night 42-24, and head to Dallas red hot at 6-3-1. The winner of the Dallas-Washington Thanksgiving tilt will give the Giants a good indication of where they stand in the race for the NFC East title and wild card berths. Not to mention, with Green Bay's loss it is looking more and more likely that the NFC East could send two teams to the playoffs. Keep in mind however that Minnesota does own a tiebreaker against the Giants.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

NFL Week 10 Power Rankings

After the best week of football this season, the dust has finally settled on week 10 of the 2016 NFL season, and, boy, did we have a landmark week. Of the 12 games played this weekend, the four highlight matches: Broncos vs. Saints, Panthers vs. Chiefs, Cowboys vs. Steelers, and Patriots vs. Seahawks all lived up to the hype. How did Week 10's results affect our power rankings? Let's dive in.

1) Dallas Cowboys (8-1): The Cowboys have knocked the Patriots from their perch atop the power rankings for this week. And why not? The Cowboys earned a hard fought 35-30 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Ezekial Elliot absolutely dominated the game, rushing for 114 yards, and adding 95 more yards on the receiving end. All told, Elliot scored three touchdowns on the night, including the final two scores of the day to push Dallas over the top. The Cowboys are rolling with Elliot and quarterback Dak Prescott, and it appears that nothing can stand in their way -- at least right now.

The Cowboys have a very interesting game this week against the Baltimore Ravens at home, this just days before their Thanksgiving Day clash with the Redskins. These are two big games to see if Dallas can keep the momentum train running against playoff caliber opponents.

2) Oakland Raiders (7-2): It's not often that a team can rise in the polls due to being on a bye, but with the Raiders being idle and the Patriots losing in Week 10, Oakland jumps up to number two in our rankings. The Raiders boast the NFL's 5th ranked offense both in yards per game and scoring. Their defense, however, is the achilles heal of this team. If the D can pick it up down the stretch, then the Raiders will be even tougher to beat.

3) New England Patriots (7-2): Hard to envision these guys slipping this far, and it will likely be the only time for the rest of the year. Sunday was not a good day for the Patriots. Bad turnovers and costly mistakes did them in against the Seattle Seahawks. Yet, there they were at the Seattle one-yard line with a chance to tie the game in the final minute. Unfortunately for the Pats, Tom Brady fumbled the football on third and goal, and overthrew Rob Gronkowski on fourth and goal. It has become commonplace for the Patriots to have that mid-season loss in recent years, and this was another one. Look for New England to go on a major run here and get back into the top spot in the power rankings.

4) Kansas City Chiefs (7-2): The surging Chiefs deserve the respect that comes with a top five ranking. This team has won five in a row, and if you go back to the final 10 games of last season, are a combined 17-2 in their last 19 games. And this is a team that hasn't had the services of James Houston and Jamaal Charles predominately all season.

 The best aspect of this team is their defense. Led by a stingy secondary of Jason Peters and Eric Berry, the Chiefs lead the NFL in turnover margin at +14, and are seventh in the NFL in points allowed at 18.7 points per game. It was the Chiefs defense that was the reason they came back and won on Sunday in Carolina. First Berry picks of a badly thrown Cam Newton pass and brings it back for a touchdown. Then, it is Peters who wrestles the ball away from Kelvin Benjamin and sets up the game-winning field goal.

5) Denver Broncos (7-3): Denver was this close to starring at 6-4 and an uncertain future in the crowded AFC playoff picture when Drew Brees connected on a 32-yard touchdown that tied the game at 23 with a little over a minute to go. Then the blocked extra point happened, and just like that the Broncos pulled the game out of the fire 25-23. It wasn't a perfect day for Denver, far from it. They blew a 10-0 lead and trailed 17-10, before coming back to take the lead. Trevor Siemian was inconsistent; he threw two touchdowns and was picked off twice, and sacked six times.  While they are 7-3, this is a very flawed Broncos team.

6) Seattle Seahawks (6-2-1): Sunday night's win in New England was huge for the Seahawks, mainly because Seattle's offense showed signs of getting its grove back.  The Seahawks biggest issue had been their inability to run the football, and Russell Wilson quelled those fears with an outstanding performance under center. He threw for 348 yards and moved around the pocket like the healthy Wilson we remember. Not to mention Seattle's stingy D played a huge role in upending the Pats. Next to Dallas, this is the best team in the NFC.

7) Atlanta Falcons (6-4): A very uneven day for the Falcons. All season I felt this team was walking on eggshells because of its rather weak defense. Little did I know that their offense would finally hit a wall. That is exactly what happened on Sunday in Philly. The Falcons trailed for almost the entire game, and inspite of his 135 yards receiving, Julio Jones had two big drops in key situations.

Before I move on to my last three teams in my Top 10, let me be clear, after the Falcons there is a such a drop-off in quality teams it is nearly impossible to rank a solid and complete top 10 without some trepidation. It would be easy to say the Giants are number 8 because they are 6-3; but I just don't love them to be that high on this list. So without further adieu ...

8) Washington Redskins (5-3-1): Here is why I pick the Skins. Not only do they have a win over the Giants, but just recently had a four game winning streak in October. While the Skins are definitely flawed, they are the defending NFC East champs, and have had a tendency to play well in big spots, like they did on Sunday against the suddenly sinking Vikings. So for now, the Redskins get a top 10 posting.

9) New York Giants (6-3): The Giants are a weird team. They have won games by the skin of their teeth, and at times have looked over-matched in games. Yet, they keep winning. Their defense finally stepped up to the plate on Monday night to deliver the win, with their best defensive player, Landon Collins playing a vital role. The Giants could go on a run here with games against Chicago and Cleveland on the docket.

10) Detroit Lions (5-4): Holy cow, the Lions are in the top 10! Another case where the bye week helped them move up. The Lions are in first place in the NFC North, and have some quality wins against the Vikings, Redskins and Eagles this year. Matthew Stafford is having a MVP-type of year, and they have two very intriguing games at home coming up. They will host both the Jaguars and Vikings over the next two weeks. Should they win both, can you say 7-4 Detroit Lions?

Play Ugly, Win Ugly Formula Works for Giants


One thing has become commonplace for these 2016 New York Giants, they know how to win ugly. Monday night was no exception. The Giants found a way to hold-off the incredibly putrid Cincinnati Bengals 21-20 to push their winning streak to four games. At 6-3, the Giants are firmly in control of one of the  two NFC Wild Card slots. Let's look back.

Early Fireworks: It looked like we were in store for a shootout at MetLife Stadium. The Giants opened the game on a thunderous 8-play 80-yard drive that ate up 3:55 to take a 7-0 lead. The Benglas quickly responded with a 3-play 80-yard scoring drive that culminated in a Andy Dalton touchdown pass to A.J. Green. The Bengals and Giants made it look real easy -- as the game had 45-38 written all over it at this point. Little did we know that the defenses would step it up.

Eli Manning struggles: It was not the best of days for Manning and the Giants offense. After their long opening touchdown drive, they went into a collective shell with their next four possessions ending in either a punt, a turnover on downs or an interception. It felt like the Greg Lewis drop on third and seven with 7:52 to go in the first quarter hung over the entire unit as the just couldn't get in sync.

As for Manning he was either missing guys or throwing floaters that could have easily been picked off had the Bengals played the ball better.

Any form of offensive brilliance was few and far between. The Giants late touchdown to close out the first half came on a Manning slant to Odell Beckham Jr. with 1:17 to play. New York would not score again until there was 14:05 to go in the fourth quarter.

Manning finished the night 28 of 44 for 240 yards with three touchdowns (the good) and two interceptions (the bad). Overall, it was an uneven night for Manning and the offense.

Giants Defense Steps up Big: With the offense sputtering once again to find itself, the Giants defense came up huge for the third straight week.  After the Benglas scored on their first two drives to start the second half to take a 20-14 lead, the Giants never allowed Cincinnati to get past mid-field. Of their final 23 plays of the game, the Bengals gained only 37 yards, with the Giants putting tremendous pressure on Dalton.

It seemed like every single time he dropped back to throw, Dalton was trying to avoid the Giants pass rush. The combination of Olivier Vernon, Damion Harrison, Jonathan Casillas and Jason Pierre-Paul were too much to handle for the Bengals offensive line. Harrison and Vernon both had big sacks of Dalton on the final Cincy drive of the day to ice the win. The turning point of the game came on Landon Collins interception, which came shortly after the Giants reclaimed the lead 21-20.

Giants Running Game Finally Shows Up: Holy smokes the Giants running game actually came to life!! The Giants have taken a lot of heat for not committing to the running game, and Rashad Jennings is probably the worst starting tailback in the League, but when it mattered on Monday, he got the job done. Jennings ran for 87-yards on 15 carries. He had a huge 24-yard run during the Giants game-winning scoring drive that pushed Big Blue into the red zone. He even had runs of nine yards and 25-yards to move the chains and end the game.

What's Up Next for Big Blue? The Giants host the Chicago Bears on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Bears (2-7) are just awful. Jay Cutler has been uninspiring and the Giants are in a position to make some serious noise in the month of November.

What to look for: Don't be shocked to see the Giants at 8-3 when the dust settles for a long Thanksgiving Day weekend. The Giants get the Bears this week and the Browns on the road next week. If the Giants get these two wins it will set them up for a very difficult December that has all three divisional opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers and first place Detroit Lions.