Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Andrew Luck Sweepstakes -- Week 5 Update

This guy could become the biggest factor in the Sweepstakes! Recognize him?

Usually I try to write a short intro. Since my wife and I just had a baby yesterday, I didn’t have time. Sorry. Still, I managed to plow through the rankings! Let’s see how things look after Week 5:

Dropped Out:

Oakland Raiders

Current Record:  3-2
Last Game:  Won 25-20 at Houston
Current Starter:  Jason Campbell
Last Game:  15-35, 190YDS, 2TD, 1INT, 67.6 QB Rating

Summary:  It doesn’t feel right to have a contest for bad teams and not include the Raiders. Aren’t we kind of sullying the recent memory of Al Davis by dropping them out? Is there any way I can justify keeping them in? Well, after last week’s shocking victory over Houston, the answer is no. At 3-2, the Raiders look far too competent to have any real chance at landing Andrew Luck. That’s a shame since the franchise is probably one real QB away from being a legit contender. With a strong nucleus of young talent and the surprising development of their young receivers, a guy like Luck could take them places. Jason Campbell? Well, he can take just far enough to wave goodbye to Luck, but not far enough to accomplish anything worthwhile. Still, we must say our sad farewell to Oakland.

Cincinnati Bengals

Current Record:  3-2
Last Game:  Won 30-20 at Jacksonville
Current Starter:  Andy Dalton
Last Game:  21-33, 179YDS, 2TD, 1INT, 85.3 QB Rating

Summary:  As if dropping Oakland wasn’t enough, now we have to drop Cincinnati! That means four of our prime pre-season contenders (Cincy, Oakland, Buffalo, Washington) have all bowed out of the race…BY WEEK 5! The thing is, Cincinnati can’t actually feel too bummed out about this because Andy Dalton has looked pretty good. With Dalton, A.J. Green, and the other young receivers looking pretty solid, Cincy appears to have a pretty solid core. Dalton’s going to have to show he can be more than a game manager at some point, but they’ll keep getting wins if he continues playing like he is.

Can’t decide if we’re in or out!

Chicago Bears

Current Record:  2-3
Last Game:  Lost 13-24 at Detroit
Current Starter:  Jay Cutler
Last Game:  28-38, 249YDS, 1TD, 0INT, 99.6 QB Rating

Summary:  Again, the Bears have almost no chance to land Luck as they are currently comprised. They have a solid defense and some talent on offense. What if things go south though? What if the offensive line gets Cutler killed? What if Forte’s contract situation becomes a major distraction for him and the team? What if older players like Urlacher and Briggs go down? Those are all plausible scenarios and I really don’t think a Doomsday scenario is too out of left field. Having 2 wins hurts, but they have a tough remaining schedule. A sleeper for sure, but not unrealistic.

We’re going the wrong way!!!

Philadelphia Eagles

Current Record:  1-4
Last Game:  Lost 24-31 at Buffalo
Current Starter:  Michael Vick
Last Game:  26-40, 315YDS, 2TD, 4INT, 66.1 QB Rating (90YDS Rushing)

Summary:  There is absolutely no reason for the Eagles to be on this list. None at all. At times, they look completely unstoppable. At other times, they look like a JV team. Michael Vick’s 4 INT game against Buffalo was just the latest in a string of collapses that have the Eagles staring down the barrel of a gun. This week’s game at Washington will likely determine whether they still have a chance to make the playoffs. Even in Week 6, it’s an absolute must win. Call me stubborn, but I still think they’ll get it going. Either way, they just have too much talent to land Luck. Then again, crazier things have happened.

Kansas City Chiefs

Current Record:  2-3
Last Game:  Won 28-24 at Indianapolis
Current Starter:  Matt Cassel
Last Game:  21-29, 257YDS, 4TD, 0INT, 138.9 QB Rating

Summary:  The Chiefs, a team that started off horribly and projected to be a prime Andrew Luck contender, are the antithesis of the Eagles after claiming two costly victories. After completing a big comeback against the Colts, it appears as if the Chiefs are simply too mediocre to hang with the big boys. They’re on a bye this week and all they can do is hope the rest of the true contenders finds a way to win.

The Morale Victory Division

Carolina Panthers

Current Record:  1-4
Last Game:  Lost 27-30 vs. New Orleans
Current Starter:  Cam Newton
Last Game:  16-31, 224YDS, 2TD, 1INT, 83.3 QB Rating (1 Rushing TD)

Summary:   Cam Newton and the Panthers always seem to find a way to keep these games close, but they just can’t break through and take home any victories. You have to be impressed with Newton so far, but a loss is a loss. Eventually they’ll have to prove that they can actually win some of these games. At Atlanta is another tough matchup for them, but considering how Atlanta has been playing, it’s a great opportunity to finally pull one out against a somewhat quality opponent. Regardless of what happens this week, it definitely seems like they’re much better than the rest of the teams on this list.

Andrew Luck’s Secret Admirer

Cleveland Browns

Current Record:  2-2
Last Game:  Bye
Current Starter:  Colt McCoy
Last Game:  Bye

Summary:  The Browns had two weeks to figure out how to get more than two yards per pass, and we’ll see if they look any better at Oakland. Again, this is a winnable game despite how well Oakland played last week. At 2-2, it’s somewhat of a turning point game. If they win, they technically still have a chance to put together a solid season and maybe even be on the fringes of the playoffs. The rest of the schedule is more than manageable, with the NFC West and Jacksonville still left to go. A loss, however, and perhaps they’ll start thinking about life after McCoy.

The Charlie Whitehurst Division

Seattle Seahawks

Current Record:  2-3
Last Game:  Won 36-25 vs. New York Giants
Injured Starter:  Tarvaris Jackson
Last Game:  15-22, 166YDS, 1TD, 1INT, 86.6 QB Rating
“Should Be” Starter:  Charlie Whitehurst
Last Game:  11-19, 149YDS, 1TD, 0INT, 100.5 QB Rating

Summary:  For whatever reason, people seem to think Seattle badly needs this bye week to get their QB situation hammered out. Huh? Here’s a solution for ya’…PLAY THE GOOD QB!!! Yeah, it really is that simple. We have mountains of evidence to suggest how bad Tarvaris Jackson is. With him at the helm (aka. throwing passes directly into the ground), Seattle ranks an abysmal 25th in total offense. Yes, in an era of unprecedented scoring, the Seahawks are posting an abysmal 18.8 points per game. So please, let’s stop talking about Jackson’s injury. Here’s a real status update for you…Tarvaris sucks. End of story. Maybe Whitehurst does, and maybe he doesn’t. He looked alright in his limited action last week and it’s time to give him a shot. At 2-3, the Seahawks aren’t actually out of it yet. Unfortunately, a full load of Whitehurst and they’ll be bowing out of the Luck Sweepstakes sooner rather than later.

The Contenders

Minnesota Vikings

Current Record:  1-4
Last Game:  Won 34-10 vs. Arizona
Current Starter:  Donovan McNabb
Last Game:  10-21, 169YDS, 0TD, 0INT, 75.3 QB Rating (1 Rushing TD)
QB of the Future:  Christian Ponder
Last Game:  DNP

Summary:  It’s time to be concerned if you’re a Vikings fan. No, not about your playoff chances! The time for that came at the beginning of last year when they stuck with Favre. It’s time to be concerned because Minnesota’s utter domination of a fellow contender bodes ill for their Luck chances. I’ve said it many times before, but I think they might be too good. That having been said, they still only have one win and McNabb still looks old and washed-up. To make matters worse, or perhaps better, the remainder of their schedule looks like a death march if sorts. At Chicago, vs. Green Bay, at Carolina, at Green Bay, vs. Oakland, at Atlanta, at Detroit, vs. New Orleans, at Washington, and vs. Chicago are all to come. And, of course, they also have to face the Fighting Tebow’s…a guaranteed loss if you ask me! In all seriousness, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Vikings dropped eight or nine more games this year. And that doesn’t even account for the Christian Ponder factor! Andrew Luck is still very much in play here.

Arizona Cardinals

Current Record:  1-4
Last Game:  Lost 10-34 at Minnesota
Current Starter:  Kevin Kolb
Last Game:  21-42, 232YDS, 0TD, 2INT, 46.9 QB Rating

Summary:  So, this is what $65 million gets you? No thanks. Heck, I’d rather stick with Chok-mo (Tony Romo)! It appears as if I missed on several QB predictions this offseason (Cam Newton, Andy Dalton), but it looks like Kolb is every bit as bad as I thought…and worse! I know they’ve invested a ton of money, but Arizona needs to be honest about their situation. If Kolb can’t turn things around quickly, it might be time to hit the reset button on this experiment. It’s not just that the Cardinals are losing; it’s that they look completely and utterly terrible in doing so. I’m not saying they should tank things, but a midseason switch back to John Skelton would certainly give them an opportunity to quickly rebound from the Kolb debacle.

St. Louis Rams

Current Record:  0-4
Last Game:  Bye
Current Starter:  Sam Bradford
Last Game:  Bye

Summary:  After a disastrous start to a once promising season, the Rams got a much needed reprieve last week. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what the Rams could actually fix with the extra time. Shy of a medical miracle to save their injured players (also a way to bring them off IR), St. Louis still has the same major problems they had before. Oh yeah, and did I mention that they have to visit Green Bay this week? 0-5, here come the Rams! Given their schedule, 0-7 seems like a foregone conclusion. After that, they might be able to cobble together some wins, but who knows how they’ll respond to such a bad start? They have as good a chance as anyone to land the #1 pick. Maybe they can trade it for someone who can actually block or catch the ball!

Denver Broncos

Current Record:  1-4
Last Game:  Lost 24-29 vs. San Diego
Disgraced Starter:  Kyle Orton
Last Game:  6-13, 34YDS, 0TD, 1INT, 21.0 QB Rating
Savior:  Tim Tebow
Last Game:  4-10, 79YDS, 1TD, 0INT, 101.7 QB Rating (38 Rushing Yds, 1TD)

Summary:  They don’t need the #1 pick! They have Tebow! OK, time for me to be serious. The ongoing QB situation has been a major issue for this team and the move to Tebow has to be somewhat of a relief for the players and fans alike. The fact is Orton just wasn’t getting the job done. Now, whether or not Tebow is the long term solution is still very much in the air, but it was DEFINITELY time to find out. The stats weren’t fantastic, but he played pretty well against San Diego. More importantly, the team seemed to respond to him and the Broncos played much better after he was inserted. We’ll see how long that energy is maintained, but I honestly think they’re going to be much more competitive from now on. I’ll admit that I’m somewhat blind from Tebow love, but you can’t convince me that he can’t be a good QB. Thankfully, we’re all about to find out. If he’s good, then Denver is out of the Sweepstakes. If he’s bad, then we might have a winner.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Current Record:  1-4
Last Game:  Lost 20-30 vs. Cincinnati
Current Starter:  Blaine Gabbart (Still spelled wrong)
Last Game:  15-28, 221YDS, 1TD, 0INT, 91.5 QB Rating

Summary:  He definitely didn’t do enough to make me spell his name right, but he looked competent enough to warrant the correct spelling of his first name. That having been said, Jacksonville gave up 30 points to a below average Cincinnati offense, despite holding Cedric Benson in check. That’s not good. The rumbling has already started about the status of Jack Del Rio’s job, and that could have a significant impact on this race. Their next three are at Pittsburgh, vs. Baltimore, and at Houston. You don’t need me to tell you this, but I’m pretty sure they’re going to get blown out in all three. Their bye week immediately follows the Texans game, and it seems like a pretty good bet that they’ll be transitioning to an interim coach at that time.

Indianapolis Colts

Current Record:  0-5
Last Game:  Lost 24-28 vs. Kansas City
Current Starter:  Curtis Painter
Last Game:  15-27, 277YDS, 2TD, 0INT, 115.8 QB Rating

Summary:  Color me confused, because Curtis Painter looked pretty decent on Sunday. Despite this, the rest of the team was able to overcome a big early lead to maintain their status as an Andrew Luck front-runner. With a winnable game at Cincinnati on tap, they’ll need Painter to return to his Painter-ness in order to avoid another near win. Even if he proves competent, injuries could prove to be the biggest factor in determining their overall fate. After injuries to several key member of the defense, Joseph Addai went down Sunday with an apparent hamstring injury. If this isn’t already their strategy, then it definitely should be.

Miami Dolphins

Current Record:  0-4
Last Game:  Bye
New Starter:  Matt Moore
Last Game:  Bye
Also in the Mix:  Sage Rosenfels
Last Game:  Bye

Summary:  I know, I know. You can’t understand how I could keep them at #1 after signing the legendary Sage Rosenfels. Believe me, I’m puzzled myself. Rosenfels has been so impressive during his career that five teams have wanted him! Heck, the Dolphins were so enamored that they’ve wanted him twice! This can only end well…

Games Andrew Luck might want to watch this week:

Indianapolis at Cincinnati – Cincinnati is technically out of the rankings, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a factor. Despite their three wins, they represent a decent opportunity for the Colts to steal a win. Given the troubles of Miami and St. Louis, I’d advise the Colts to pass on this one.

Minnesota at Chicago – Minnesota easily dispatched a bad Cardinals team last week, and this game gives us a chance to see if they really belong in the “Contenders” section or not. My instinct is to say no, but what do I know? Also in play here is the future of McNabb. Another bad outing, coupled with a loss, and the beginning of the Ponder era could be upon us.

Miami at New York Jets – I toyed with adding the Jets this week, but decided against it. I’ve seen a lot of people pick Miami here, and that would definitely bring about the inclusion of the Jets next week. I don’t think Miami has a prayer, but that’s mostly why this is a game to watch. With Matt Moore taking over, it gives us a golden opportunity to see football at its worst.  

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