Five Things I Think About the Second Half of the Season:
"The whole thing's for Spielberg,'' interim coach Bruce Arians told me Sunday night, meaning Steven. Meaning it's going to be a movie someday. Watching the Colts, no question inspiration helps. But a franchise quarterback playing very well does too, with a receiver group that's much better than it should be at such a young age (excepting Reggie Wayne, of course). And on defense, the Colts are getting good pressure, but I shake my head at the production when I see this stat: Indy's allowed 14 touchdown passes with just two interceptions. The Colts will have to be better in the back end if the Cinderella season is to progress to the playoffs.
And now for your email:
THE BRONCOS FAN THANKS JOSH MCDANIELS.
Good point. In the demonization of coaches and GMs when things go bad, you sometimes forget that some of the decisions made turn out to be good ones. I still recall thinking on the overtime touchdown from Tebow to Thomas to beat Pittsburgh last year how conflicted Denver fans who thought Tebow wasn't the answer must have felt.
ON CHICAGO, AND THE FINE FIFTEEN IN GENERAL.
All true. In ranking the teams each week, I try to balance what's happened recently with how a team has played through the season. This week, for instance, it pained me to put the Giants behind the 49ers. Three weeks ago, the Giants throttled the Niners in San Francisco, so the ranking didn't make much sense. But when I do the rankings I do them on the basis of who I think would win if they played on a neutral field. And today, on a neutral field, I'd pick the Niners to beat the Giants. Same at the top of the ranking right now. I'd been savaged by Falcons fans on Twitter, angry that I don't have Atlanta, the only unbeaten team in football, as the number one team. I like Houston a little better right now, even after the Green Bay rout of the Texans. Maybe, but if Atlanta and Houston played on a neutral field right now, I'd pick Houston, because I like what their defensive pressure can do.
As for the Bears, there's not much not to like. They've got a retooled passing game with a receiver on pace for a 1,594-yard season, a franchise back averaging 5.0 yards a carry, a scary-good defense, and very good special teams. If Chicago's offense line can protect Jay Cutler, the Bears have a good chance to win the NFC -- but remember, the Falcons, Niners, Giants and Packers do too. It's going to be a great last eight weeks of the regular season.
ON STEELER TRAVEL.
You might have me confused with someone who actually said it was an obstacle to winning. I wrote: "[Steelers coach Mike] Tomlin didn't make a big deal of it, which was smart. 'A lot more people have a lot more adversity than what we had on this trip,' Tomlin said. Not only was it not a particularly difficult hardship, it would have sounded absurd to complain about logistics when thousands of people had homes and property destroyed.''
WELL, THIS IS AN INTERESTING TAKE.
I believe so.
ON THE CANCELLATION OF THE NEW YORK MARATHON.
I favored the cancellation of the Marathon because of the crassness of running close to neighborhoods in shambles, with people who don't know where they're sleeping that night. I favored the Giants and Steelers playing. If the governor hadn't favored it, he would have told commissioner Roger Goodell, and I'm sure the league would have considered either postponing the game or moving it. It was an arduous task to get to the game for many, yes. But this was one time I felt many people, and not just those in the stadium, were served by the game being played. Read the reactions of Giants fans
DOUG MARTIN'S PRETTY GOOD.
He's definitely on the list, and if he comes close to winning the rushing title -- which he may do considering how much the Bucs run the ball -- I guarantee you he'll get some votes.