Monday, October 12, 2009

NFL 5th

Okay, so it is turning into a sports blog. Who cares? The NFL season is shaping up in a predictable way, with big winners and big losers and a few in betweens. But the names of the big winning teams were totally unpredicted: for among the unbeaten teams are Denver, New Orleans and Minnesota. With the Bengals close behind, and at the top of its division. The pre-season favorites (New England, San Diego) are struggling, and last year's almost undefeated team, the Titans, is winless so far this year.

The Steelers meanwhile are in between. They survived their game in Detroit with the one-win Lions, but until the last stand the defense made, the fourth quarter collapse continued. At least their loss to Cinncy wasn't totally flukish--the Bengals are beating everybody. But their last minute win over the Titans looks troubling.

They play the hapless Browns next week. But their three games after that will tell the season: Minnesota, and after the bye week, Denver on Monday night, followed by the Bengals. The toughest will be at Denver, partly because it's at Denver, and partly because Denver's strength (fourth quarter finishes) is so far the Steelers' weakness. The return of Troy Polamalu (by Minnesota, looks like) should help a lot, but it doesn't necessarily solve the problems--they had a fourth quarter collapse in the Super Bowl as well, with the defense giving up big plays and points, and the offense unable to sustain drives or score. But they won it, of course. You can't ever count them out. This team is even more mercurial than last year's.

Well, I learned a lot about the NFL watching the postgame shows Sunday. I heard a lot about Dallas, etc. Long analyzes of every game, almost. In the almost category as usual: the Steelers. Barely a mention. The P-G's Ron Cook may compare Big Ben to John Elway, but to the TV talkers, he barely exists. Meanwhile, half the fans in the Detroit stadium were Steelers fans. Steeler Nation. But not worth talking about.

Update: Things got bleaker for the Steelers with a season-ending injury to defensive end Aaron Smith, a key player to run defense. Minnesota in particular must be salivating.

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