In this installment of CBCSports.ca's weekly NFL chatter, the guys look deeper into Joe Flacco's big drive , whether Eli Manning is as good as Tom Brady, and if the Dolphins' win in Kansas City was a case of bad luck.
Joe Flacco engineered a 92-yard drive which led Baltimore to a last-second win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Is Flacco, who many still consider a game manager, finally turning the corner?
Jesse Campigotto: It seems like every week there's a need to either write off Flacco as a sub-par quarterback, or declare that he's realized his Pro Bowl potential. As always, the truth lies in the middle. Hats off to Flacco for a really good performance against a nasty defence in a tough environment, but his completion percentage for the season is still just 54.7, putting him 32nd in the league and behind such luminaries as Rex Grossman, Donovan McNabb and Tarvaris Jackson. A low completion mark can be excused if you're consistently going for (and hitting) big plays downfield, but Flacco ranks 23rd in the league in yards per pass attempt.
Tony Care: Flacco has been in the league for four years now and I'm still waiting for him to just be above average. He definitely had a great game against the Steelers, throwing for 300 yards and leading that last TD drive. But this is the same QB who put on an embarrassing passing display against the lowly Jaguars two weeks earlier. It's going to take more than a couple of games for Flacco to prove he belongs with the best.
Jason Davidson: I was thoroughly impressed with Joe Flacco's poise on that late drive. He completed 28 of 47 passes for 300 yards overall and didn't get picked off once against the Steelers. Pretty solid accomplishment. I will concede however that Flacco won't likely match last season's total of 25 touchdown passes as he currently sits at nine halfway through the season. But as far as passing yards go, he's still in the top half of the league. Flacco is not an elite QB but he's still getting the job done and that's good enough for a Ravens' team that sits at 6-2.
Earlier in the season, Eli Manning, responding to a question asked by a New York radio host, said he belongs in the same category as Tom Brady. After seeing Manning rallying the Giants to another fourth-quarter win over Brady and the Pats, is he right?
Tony Care: There are two questions here: Is Manning an elite quarterback? I believe so. He's already won a Super Bowl, pulling off one of the greatest upsets in NFL history in Super Bowl XLII. He's enjoying his best season, posting the fifth-best passer rating (98.8) in the league. But is he as good as Brady? No way. Remember, when Brady is compared, it's to a guy named Joe Montana, who I consider the greatest of all-time. Manning still needs to overcome bouts of inconsistency, but he has to this point of the season.
Jason Davidson: Now that Manning followed up his Super Bowl XLII comeback effort with this performance at Gillette Stadium, it's hard to dispute his claim. Eli is a clutch performer plain and simple and he's proven that on numerous occasions. I'm quite impressed with this New York Giants squad, which leads the NFC East with a 6-2 record. Manning is a big reason for the team's success. My only knock against Manning goes back to 2004 and his declaring that he would not play for the San Diego Chargers if drafted by them. But that was a long time ago.
Jesse Campigotto: Well, was he talking about 2010 Tom Brady or 2011 Tom Brady? Because if it's the latter, Manning's at least in the ballpark. He's beating Brady in a couple of key categories (yards per pass attempt, interception rate) and is close in some others (passer rating, completion percentage). I'd still take Brady, but Manning is having a pretty good year against a soft schedule thus far. Now let's see how he does against this upcoming gauntlet: @ San Fran, vs. Philly, @ New Orleans, vs. Green Bay.
The Miami Dolphins won their first game of the season when they beat the Chiefs. However, in doing so, the team may have hurt its chances of drafting prized Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. So was this a "bad win?"
Jason Davidson: A win is a win. There is no such thing as a bad win in my mind. Remember what Herm Edwards said: 'You play to win the game.' Dolphins players like head coach Tony Sporano and they will try and eke out a few wins to make sure the guy keeps his job at season's end. But Miami is not a good team and will probably be no better than 3-13 when all is said and done. Meanwhile, in Indy, Jim Irsay is furious at the fact that his Colts have yet to win a game. Do they want to be in this predicament? Absolutely not. Will Peyton Manning stand idly by and allow Colts management to draft Andrew Luck if they have the opportunity? No. Meanwhile, there's no way the St. Louis Rams, presently at 1-7, will go after Luck two years after taking Sam Bradford first overall. I still see Luck ending up in South Florida.
Jesse Campigotto: Not really, because even before this week I didn't consider the Dolphins the front-runner (or would that be back-runner?) in the Suck For Luck race. To me, that "honour" belongs to Indianapolis, a team that appears to have openly given up on both the season and inept coach Jim Caldwell. 0-9 Indy has lost its last three games by an *average* of 32 points, including a 65-7 blowout at New Orleans. With a minus-155 point differential through nine games, I'm giving Indy the nod over 1-7 St. Louis (minus-111), which needed eight games to reach the 100-points-scored plateau but gets to play Cleveland, Seattle and Arizona over the next three weeks.
Tony Care: If I was a Dolphins fan, I'd be upset. Miami has not had a legitimate pivot since Dan Marino, who retired in 1999. Luck is a once in a generation QB. He's got all the traits necessary to become a franchise player. I'm not suggesting the Dolphins should've tanked the game or the season. That's ridiculous. But for the franchise's future, let's just say the Dolphins got a little "bad luck" in Kansas City.
Let's look to Sunday night's important AFC East clash between the New England Patriots and New York Jets. The winner takes a giant leap toward the division title. How do you see this game playing out?
Tony Care: I've loving the way the Jets are playing. The defence is back to form and the running game has really taken the pressure off quarterback Mark Sanchez. The Patriots are in a bit of trouble. Brady has been under constant pressure in the last three games. There are no deep threats on the roster, and oh yeah, the secondary can't stop anybody. I like the Jets in this one.
Jesse Campigotto: I was surprised to see the betting line for this game open at a pick 'em (though it was quickly bet to Jets -1.5). If home field is worth three points, then the books were saying the Patriots are a field goal better than the Jets? I don't buy it. Sure, New England has a big edge in the quarterback matchup, but New York's defence is much better and the Pats are reeling after losing consecutive games in which they were favoured (at Pittsburgh and home to the Giants). One point I'll make in the Pats' favour is that the Jets' pass rush isn't as good as its reputation suggests (it ranks 14th in sack rate), so I don't think Rex Ryan will be able to duplicate what the Giants (fourth in sack rate) did with their dominant front four this week.
Jason Davidson: This football game could very well decide who wins the AFC East as I now see the Buffalo Bills falling out of the mix (sorry Jesse). But then again, I could be wrong but the Bills looked nowhere near being able to compete with the Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The defence forced three turnovers and Ryan Fitzpatrick was unable to get any momentum going. The Jets have a decisive advantage over the Pats on the defensive side of the football, but this is New England and I just don't see them losing its third straight. Patriots take this one but it will be close.
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?