Posted: Wednesday September 28, 2005 12:24PM; Updated: Wednesday September 28, 2005 2:58PM
Want to argue about the NFL? Let's go ...
Handicapping the Undefeated Teams
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The '72 Dolphins can start chilling the champagne early this year because no current team is going to duplicate their undefeated season. Four teams enter this weekend without a loss, and I guarantee at least one, and maybe two, won't make the playoffs. Let's evaluate their chances:
Washington Redskins (2-0) -- The Redskins' defense is nasty. But I'd be surprised if the offense ended the season ranked any higher than 26th. Their schedule gets tough in a hurry, with trips to Denver and Kansas City looming. And put down Washington's next game against Dallas as a loss.Chance They'll Make Playoffs: 30 percent
Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) -- Every team on this list has played dogs, but the Bengals have taken on dogs with fleas (Cleveland, Minnesota, Chicago). Don't hand them the AFC North title over the Steelers just yet. And the AFC wild-card race will be a dogfight. Still, Cincy's balance on offense and defense is impressive. Chance They'll Make Playoffs: 70 percent
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-0) -- The Bucs rank No. 1 in overall defense and they play some of the league's worst offenses in coming weeks. They face tough divisional tests in Carolina and Atlanta, but their soft schedule (Lions, at Jets and at 49ers, two games against the Saints) guarantees 10 wins -- more than enough in the NFC. Chance They'll Make Playoffs: 90 percent
Indianapolis Colts (3-0) -- The Colts' D has stuffed three of the worst offenses in the NFL (Baltimore, Jacksonville, Cleveland). We'll see how resurgent the defense really is against the Pats and Bengals. The offense, however, will pick up soon. Chance They'll Make Playoffs: 98 percent
What do you think of this fearsome foursome?
-- Andrew Perloff (12:15 p.m.)
I think you guys are really underestimating the Skins. I know they look terrible, but they have improved dramatically over last year. In fact, one thing no one is saying about the Dallas victory is the role that Joe Gibbs played in the win. The fact is that the Skins fought to the bitter end. Joe Gibbs practically willed the Skins into beating the Cowboys. Even the switch to Brunell was the right call. In Ramsey's three series on the field, he lost the ball or almost lost the ball each time. I think he threw an interception, lost the ball on a fumble, and fumbled with a recovery. Brunell might not be Manning or even Favre, but he's a much better quarterback than Ramsey.
-- Cody Mooneyhan , Washington D.C. (12:46 p.m.)
I think the Bengals will have a late season collapse and miss the playoffs. Tampa Bay will definitely make the playoffs, as well as the Colts. As far as the Skins, it's hard to tell right now so I say they have a 50 percent chance, not 30 percent . Do note that Joe Gibbs teams are very good in December. Last 7 games they are 5-2. If they can win most of the middle games ... playoffs. You said that their defense is nasty, and defense wins championships.
-- Jerrard, Washington D.C. (12:55 p.m.)
Don't hand over the AFC North title just yet? Are you kidding, the Steelers played two cupcakes and then lost at home against a Patriot team who lost the backbone of their defense (Rodney Harrison) and turned the ball over like they were trying to lose. The Bengals have five games left that look tricky (Jags, Chiefs, Colts, and 2 with the Steelers) two of those are at home (Steelers, Colts). The combined record of the teams they'll be facing otherwise is 4-14. Not only will the Bengals win the division, they may challenge for home field advantage in the AFC.
-- Emmanuel Hernandez, Las Vegas (1:01 p.m.)
I think the Bengals and the Redskins won't make the playoffs and the Bucs will barely make it.
-- William Rosenthal, London (1:08 p.m.)
I may just be a "homer" but calling Cleveland a dog with fleas is just wrong. Add in the fact that coming to the Indy game, Cleveland's offense was ranked in the top third overall with the fourth rated QB.
-- Matt, Broadview Hts, Ohio (1:14 p.m.)
I think you are actually overrating the Redskins chances to make the playoffs.
-- Andrew Mullens, New Providence, N.J. (1:19 p.m.)
I think all are on point except the Skins. The QB carousel will continue until season's end. Mark Brunell will be back to his literal "old self" this week. Until they give a QB a real chance, their struggles continue until the "ol hog" himself, decides to ride off into the sunset again.
-- Thomas, Dallas (1:28 p.m.)
The Bengals are for real. Excellent coaching by Marvin Lewis. Giving Carson Palmer time to grow and develop into that offense -- unlike What Tom Coughlin did For Eli -- has really made the difference. Smart money preseason had Cincinnati going to the Super Bowl at a nice price!
-- Joe Bent, Albany, N.Y. (1:29 p.m.)
Defense wins game. All you need to have is a half-decent offense. The Skins could not find any offense last season -- but this year with the return of Jensen on the O-line, a stronger Portis and a core of WR that fit Gibbs style (short and fast), the offense will at least allow the skins to compete and in some cases actually win games (like Dallas). I think that gives them a much better than 30 percent chance of making the playoffs. Betting against Gibbs ability to build a winning team, never paid for anyone.
-- Aashish, San Francisco (1:33 p.m.)
I agree with your take on the four undefeted teams. I'm a huge Bengals fan and it's awsome to see them doing that good, but where I'm at its nothing but browns fans and they keep saying we haven't played anybody. Can you please put something on your Web site telling these fools to stop making excuses as to why we keep winning. Granted we haven't played the Steelers, Colts, or Pats, but thats not our fault. We play who we have to play and we are looking good doing it. I feel sorry for the Browns fans who have to watch their browns win another four or five games on the year.
-- Don Dickson , Columbus, Ohio (1:38 p.m.)
Finally! Someone realizes the Bucs will win a playoff spot? Tell me why they were the unanimous pick to finish last in the NFC South again?
-- Julian Barker, Elkton, Va. (1:38 p.m.)
Are man-crushes on Bill Parcells mandatory for all SI writers? King, Z and yourself all need to get a room ...
-- Pat Mooney, Centreville, Md. (1:39 p.m.)
Washington has no business being undefeated, and they won't remain undefeated for long. They're offense just isn't good enough. Tampa Bay's problem is that its offense revolves around one player, and very soon, teams will start shutting Cadillac down. When that happens, the Bucs will falter. Cincinnati is a good team, and should make the playoffs, but Pittsburgh will win the division. The Colts are a chameleon. If their defense is as good as they have looked so far, then they will win the Super Bowl. The offense is still in training camp, and once they figure out the season has begun, then we'll start seeing some sick blowouts.
-- Bryan, San Antonio (1:44 p.m.)
I can't see how much worse Washington's offense can play, if their defense can stay strong and Brunell can get the offense clicking, they could be a contender in the wild-card race. If Cadillac Williams can stay healthy and eat up as many carries as he has in his first three games, then the Bucs will win their division with ball control and stellar defensive play. The Colts' offense might have already played their worst game of the season (and of Peyton Manning's career) against Jacksonville, so there is no where to go but up for Indy.
-- Robert Gaddis, Gainesville, Fla. (1:49 p.m.)
I'm just praying that the Bengals finish 10-6 and make the playoffs. As long as they beat Houston this Sunday, they only have to go .500 (coincidentally, their record over the past two years) to do it.
-- Tony Hutchison, Chicago (1:58 p.m.)
I gotta agree with you on the 'Skins' chances. Their defense is good, but their offense is so terrible and does not keep them even in close games. Gibbs has to settle on a QB and ride more on Portis to win a max of eight games.
-- Sriram, Santa Clara, Calif. (2:18 p.m.)
Tell me why all these Dallas fans always write in to down the Skins. The Skins have one of the top five Ds, they finally have a healthy O-line, and they have a running back who has put up three consecutive 1,300 yard season. I think Washington will go to the playoffs ...
-- Matt, Richmond, Va. (2:23 p.m.)
Ok, I am seeing a trend, that being failure to give credit where it is do. Last year the story was Indy's great O, no D. Now that we have a D and still no respect. Indy has learned from its shortcomings in the past and has improved. Indy is the team all of the AFC needs to worry about this year.
-- Reggie, Marion, Ind. (2:19 p.m.)
I think the opinons stated are correct. Colts are looking very good defensivly, as long as they stop their opponent from scoring their offense can coast in. I'm hoping the Bengals can pull of at least a 10-6 record, and spot into playoffs. If the rest of the NFL can realize the Steelers' weakness of not being able to consistantly pass the ball they would be beaten more. Bucs and Skins just need to keep it up though I believe the Skins will go out this weekend and be 2-1.
-- Brad Gruber, West Chester, Ohio (2:23 p.m.)
I don't think 10-6 puts you in the playoffs in the AFC this year. Still, the Bengals are rolling and I kind of knew they would be pretty decent. They played Pats tough last year in Foxboro. Anyway, the Skins are going to make the playoffs too, by default. People still don't realize how miraculous that win against Dallas was. Their offense hasn't done ANYTHING to even show they're remotely capable of scoring a touchdown. Who knows? Maybe their QB's have been purposely corraled by Gibbs. Maybe they were waiting for the right moment. I still think Dallas, Carolina, Atlanta and the Bucs are better. Maybe they'll squeek in on a tie-breaker or something. And I live in DC so there's no bias!
-- Filip, Belgrade, Serbia (2:23 p.m.)
I think the steelers should be looking over their back because the Bengals are gaining on them. They have a young, explosive defense, the best young QB-WR tandem in the league, and as a whole are getting better every year. Keep an eye out for the Bengals in '05-06.
-- Matt Walker, Brentwood, Tenn. (2:23 p.m.)
Not a question, a comment.. Please let us know when Tampa Bay beats a team worth noting. The teams they have beat this year are all struggling. Before we sell out the Eagles, maybe we should wait until we get closer to December.
-- Kevin Cook, Charlotte (2:53 p.m.)
Why do people immediately think that when a once-bad team does well that it's a fluke? I don't believe in flukes -- if a team is playing well, then they are playing well. It is possible that it takes longer for some teams to come together then others. I think the parity in the NFL is great and makes for excitement. "Any Given Sunday" any team can look like a champion. Just let the chips fall where they may and enjoy the sport of football. I know ... I'm a Pack fan and we all know their record, 0-3.
-- Jesse Saldivar, Chicago (3:13 p.m.)
Most people ignore how lousy the Ds have been versus the Bengals (except Chicago) and the Os have been versus Indy. Kudos for noting that neither team has had a real difficult test. The real test will be Steelers for the former and Pats for the latter. If both teams dominate those games, I wouldn't be surprised to see a Bengals/Colts AFC championship game (although you can never count the champs out while Brady and Belichick are there.)
-- Jason Jarvis, Derwood, Md. (3:22 p.m.)
I think you should lower the percentage for the Colts, considering they are going to have to be a wild-card team to get into the playoffs. The Jags are going to be first in the AFC South after they beat the Colts in their next meeting.
-- Sean, Jacksonville, Fla. (3:42 p.m.)
Tampa Bay still has the fatal flaw of being coached by Jon Gruden and managed by Bruce Allen. They'll likely battle the Saints for worst record in divisional action and end up somewhere around 8-8 or 9-7 to close the season. Maybe that gets them into the playoffs, but I'm doubting it
-- Sean, Lebanon, Ind. (3:53 p.m.)
I think if you put Jason Campbell in at QB, the Redskins are no worse off than with Brunell or Ramsey. Who knows, maybe the kid pulls a Roethlisberger and gets the Skins in the playoffs. Gregg Williams' D will make plays. Give Campbell the reigns of the "O" and see what happens. Colts will go to the Super Bowl if "