This time of year in the NFL the playoffs are more or less set, the favorites have been identified, and the faux teams exposed. All that remains is identifying those teams that get included in the darkhorse category and those teams that are looking for new coaches.
This may be one of the harder things to predict as a looming lockout might (will) change calculations. Does any owner really want to be paying for 2 coaches with no football on? On the other hand how many owners are willing to sit pat with mediocrity/putridity. Two of the tells for how bad the lockout might be might sit in the AFC South. Jacksonville and Houston - 2 teams that have neared getting over the hump but not quite getting there, 2 teams with long term coaches. Will changes be made there?
Bears v. Jets
One of the bigger games to distinguish teams was the Bears v. Jets. The Jets road a hot streak into the playoffs - this year their defense looks average and their turnovers numerous. It's hard to imagine this Jets team contending with the AFC elite. Meanwhile the Bears seem to be under the radar as the Eagles and Falcons have gotten most of the NFC hype. With a bye t and the Cutler/Martz combo clicking the Bears seem positioned for the dark horse role in the NFC.
Last Bit of Intrigue
With the Packers dismantling the Giants and the Chargers choking against the Bengals there remains only one last bit of intrigue...the final NFC playoff spot . The Packers, Giants, and Tampa all have divisional matchups to determine the last spot. Should be exciting.....
Big 10 Blues
With the now annual the Big 10 must win its bowl games or they obviously suck meme that dominates ESPN in full swing the Big 10 has it's work cut for it to maintain the respect it earned last year. Going into the bowl season they were only favored in 1 of their 8 bowl games. Add in suspensions to Iowa's top receiver/running back, controversy surrounding key Buckeyes, and rumors of RichRod being fired after Jan 1 to save money, and it's hard to imagine Vegas being wrong.
As always MMBSD and Mighty Mike takes off the rest of the year. So happy new year to all . Here's hoping for a happy, healthy, and Sara Jean Underwood filled new year.