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I wonder... about the NFL.

...if Cincinnati has a realistic shot at the playoffs. Admittedly, I expected the Bengals to win at least 10 games this season. I even upped the ante to twelve, with fable expectations, that Cincinnati’s talent was better than any team on our schedule. Injury and the perception of a locker-room lacking unity have dampened those spirits. As of now, Cincinnati is ranked 9th in the AFC as the only 4-5 team. The first wild card slot is out; that’s reserved for the second best AFC West team. However, the second spot is wide open. As of now, Cincinnati needs to jump Jacksonville (5-4), the New York Jets (5-4) and the Kansas City Chiefs (5-4).

On the intra-conference records and upcoming games.
The Jets are 4-4, the Jaguars are 3-3 and the Bengals are 3-3 in conference games. The remaining games for the Jets in the conference are Houston, Buffalo, Miami and Oakland. That’s not very encouraging, is it? The remaining games for the Jaguars are Buffalo, Miami, Indianapolis, Tennessee, New England and the Chiefs. The Bengals have Cleveland, Baltimore, Oakland, Indianapolis, Denver and Pittsburgh. I’m sure, if the Bengals end up in some multi-team tie (more than two) that this will come into play.

…if the NFC will ever catch up to the AFC. For the past few seasons, it’s been acknowledged that the AFC is the dominant conference. The talent is better but the coaching is superior. The second ranked NFC team, the New Orleans Saints, are only 6-3. In the AFC, Indianapolis is still undefeated and Denver, Baltimore and San Diego are 7-2. New England has the fifth best record in the AFC at… 6-3. Only three teams (Dallas, Atlanta and Carolina) in the NFC have winning records against the AFC. Seven AFC teams have a winning record against the NFC – including Kansas City who went 4-0. The Chiefs are ranked as the eighth best team in the AFC.

Look at the Pro-Bowl. The NFC hasn’t won back to back games since 1989-90. The AFC has won seven of the past ten Pro-Bowls. AFC teams have won seven of the past nine Super Bowls.

It hasn’t always been that way. The NFC was once the dominate conference with the Cowboys, 49ers, Redskins and Packers. Not anymore… it’s the AFC’s time.

…about Mario Williams vs. Reggie Bush. So far this season, Mario Williams (the number one pick) ranks seventh on the team with 26 tackles and leads the team with 4.5 sacks. Reggie Bush (the number two pick) has 256 yards rushing, 352 yards receiving and returned 18 punts for 188 yards. That adds up to 162 touches for 796 yards – or 4.9 yards gained per touch. Yet Bush’s teammate, Marques Colston, is the best rookie out of the draft. Who freaking saw that coming?

…if the Colts will go undefeated. I think as cool as it is for an NFL team to knock off those old Miami Dolphins guys that went undefeated; I fear it will never happen. It’s time to usher in a new generation of annual celebratory champions that did the impossible. However, I still don’t think it’ll happen. Not because the Colts can’t do it. There’s so much pressure on these guys from the media to do the impossible that eventually it breaks them down. Plus, do the Colts want the added burden of becoming the first undefeated team in NFL history to lose in the playoffs? I’ve always believed if you don’t fail during the regular season, you most certainly will during the post-season. So here’s my advice to the Colts. Lose now.

…if Tiki Barber should get Hall of Fame mention. I’m not here to advocate Barber’s nomination for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, Barber is 242 rushing yards away from 10,000 making him the 18th player to reach that plateau. His career 4.7 yards per rush average is better than Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson, Tony Dorsett and Marcus Allen. The biggest knock on Barber is his lack of career rushing touchdowns and not being apart of a known winning tradition (i.e. you don’t think of Barber as a winner).