Before I get going about the NFL, I just wanted to say a few words about Barry Bonds and his amazing season.
When Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs everyone thought that would be the new standard in baseball, a record that would stand the test of time. But now, only three years later, Bonds has done the unthinkable, blasting 73 home runs, in perhaps the greatest single offensive season in MLB history. Although the Giants failed to make the playoffs, I can’t see anyone else in the National League winning the MVP. If a .328 average with 73 bombs and 137 RBIs isn’t good enough for MVP then I don’t know what is.
Enough with baseball, now on to the gridiron.
Well, what can I say about week four in the NFL? I wish I could say that I knew the Seahawks would finally get their offense in gear and thump Jacksonville. Or that I saw Arizona’s huge upset of the Eagles coming. But I can’t. What about Chicago exploding for 31 points and routing the Falcons? Nope, that one wasn’t in my crystal ball either.
But that is the state of the NLF today. The oft-spoken phrase “any given Sunday” has taken on a whole new meaning in the National Football League. Teams that have been rebuilding for the last three or four years, such as the aforementioned Bears, have finally turned the corner and look to be on an upswing. And who could have predicted that when the Chargers met the Browns in week four both teams would be in first place in their respective divisions?
But the biggest surprise from week four? For me, it has to be the Baltimore Ravens absolutely destroying the Tennessee Titans, 26-7. With the return of Steve McNair at QB for the Titans, many thought that Tennessee would be able to hang with the defending champs. But once again the Ravens proved that they are the top team in the AFC. For Baltimore it all starts with defense, and that was the case again against Tennessee, as the Ravens held Eddie George to a measly 26 yards on 13 carries. The loss now leaves the Titans at 0-3, meaning that one of the preseason favorites to win the Super Bowl is now in serious danger of missing the playoffs altogether.
But that’s not to say that there were no constants in the NFL on Sunday. Favorites such as the Dolphins and Giants played to their ability, crushing the Patriots and Redskins, respectively. The heavily favored Denver Broncos bounced back from their manhandling at the hands of the Ravens to soundly defeat the Kansas City Chiefs. And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers played their usual low-scoring, high-intensity game. The only surprise in Tampa was that Brett Favre couldn’t lead the Pack to a touchdown on the final drive of the game.
Now, with a quarter of the NFL season behind us, a recurring theme is being established in the National Football League, and week four is a perfect example. The trend is pure and simple mediocrity. Only a handful of teams in each conference have the talent to compete for the Super Bowl title and the rest are extremely close in terms of talent.
Aside from St. Louis, New Orleans and New York in the NFC and the Oakland Raiders, the Broncos and the Ravens in the AFC, no team has a clear-cut advantage from week to week. These teams have proven they have the players, desire and coaching to win the Big One in New Orleans and these teams will remain the elite in the NFL, while the rest will struggle to put serious winning streaks together.