With the approach of NFL Week 15, ten thoughts on the NFL -
The Patriots are the best organization at overcoming adversity in the league's history - Multiple injuries to core people; massive roster turnover; setbacks that any team would crumble under. Yet be it 2001, 2003, 2008 or any other year, the Patriots prove the doubters wrong and make at the worst a legitimate playoff run. The surprise of 2008 was that the Patriots didn't make the playoffs, not that they won 11 games. Four comebacks from down at least ten points in the last six games, a comeback derailed by bad officiating, a 24-point massacre of the Steelers, and scoring two touchdowns with 61 seconds to go have showcased the unprecedented nature of this organization.
Mike Shanahan is the most overrated coach in the last fifteen years - Since John Elway retired Shanahan never got the Broncos beyond mediocrity stage, posting records above 9-7 only four times in his last ten seasons in Denver. He never got the quarterback position right, muddling through with Bubby Brister, Brian Griese, Jake "The Mistake" Plummer, and finally Jay Cutler, all of whom put up numbers but in the end fell apart as quarterbacks.
Ron Jaworski may need to change his opinion on who the best quarterback down the road will be - Colin Kaepernick is proving a one-trick pony and Robert Griffin III is flaming out. Nick Foles is quietly establishing a legitimate NFL career - one that looks more promising than either Kaepernick or RGIII.
The Chicago Bears should seriously consider keeping Luke McCown - Under Marc Trestman, McCown is proving doubters galore wrong, and proving Cutler is what he is - a flop.
The Jacksonville Jaguars may finally be becoming a contender again - They won't make the playoffs in 2013 but the turnaround in the last six weeks has been huge, and is showing Gus Bradley is establishing legitimacy to himself in the NFL.
So are the Miami Dolphins - Remember the Richie Incognito fracas? Probably not, because the Dolphins like the Jaguars have quietly gotten better, and presently stand 7-6 with two winnable games left on their schedule. While beating the Patriots seems out of reach, 9-7 is not, and the Dolphins under Joe Philbin are becoming the real deal.
Don't buy the Nick Saban to the NFL rumor - The latest rumor is the Washington Redskins are interested in hiring Nick Saban to replace Shanahan based on word leaking out that Saban is negotiating a contract extension with Alabama. That the story was leaked suggests more that Saban is not going back to the NFL rather than the other way around. Moreover, Saban's present deal is far too good to bother with the NFL again.
The Cardinals keep refusing to go away - Could Bruce Arians be the coach that makes the Cardinals a legitimate long-term contender? Presently just on the outside looking in for the NFC playoff picture, the Cardinals have looked steadily more dangerous the longer the season has run; even the loss to the Eagles didn't change that the Cardinals look like a legitimate playoff team. 10-6 looks like the worst the Cards finish this season and with Seattle's loss at San Francisco some vulnerability may show for the Cardinals to exploit.
Should the Colts be concerned about Andrew Luck? - The Colts are 4-4 in their last eight games and losing to the Bengals may be a warning sign. Not that Luck's overall play has deteriorated - he's had over 3,100 yards and 19 touchdowns so far this year, and in three of his last four losses he's broken 60% completion; one would expect much lower than that in losing games - but right now the Colts don't look like a team elevating to the next level.
Andy Dalton may be ready to take that next step - The Bengals more and more look like a 12-4 team and Andy Dalton has been strong, breaking 60% completion in seven of his last nine games. He's already had playoff experience, albiet the discouraging kind, but his game seems to be getting better.
So that's that as Week 15 approaches.