3 things I learned from NFL Weekend (Sep 25-26)

1) THE DETROIT LIONS ARE NOW THE TEAM TO BEAT IN THE NFC NORTH

It’s amazing that I could even write that line and be absolutely 100% serious, considering the Lion’s team that was put on the field one year ago. They are in the hardest division in the NFC (Champion Green Bay Packers, Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bear Defense, Adrian Peterson and the Vikings), and yet I feel it needs to be said that the Lion’s (at least now) look like they will win the division. They have every piece that a young, up-and-coming team would want in order to immediately contend and put fear in their opponents. All those losing seasons and high draft picks have now come full circle for the Motor City. Matthew Stafford has shown that he is one of the best young QB’s in the game today. Against the Vikings Sunday, making a 2nd half comeback (even against a team that has been outscored 67-6 in the 2nd half so far this season) and after being down 20-0 at the half is something Detroit fans should be very excited about. Can he stay healthy for a full season? That is the lingering question on everyone’s mind. But with a core of Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Jahvid Best and Ndamukong Suh, this is a team that will be fighting for division titles for many years to come. Packers…..watch out!

2) THE BUFFALO BILLS ARE LEGIT…….BUT THEY’RE NOT PLAYOFF CONTENDERS JUST YET….

There is no better story in the NFL after 3 weeks then the 3-0 Buffalo Bills. After being at the cellar of the AFC East for years, fans of the team now have something to cheer for and be proud of. All the credit in the world should go to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, for turning out to be quite the offensive force after being ridden off years ago. The Bills have some nice pieces in Fitz, RB Fred Jackson and WR Stevie Johnson, as well as some defensive pieces in Nick Barnett, Jairus Byrd and former “Lights Out” star Shawn Merriman, and that should keep this team competitive in the long run. Is this a playoff team? Sorry to say, but I don’t see it….at least just yet. Yes, a victory over the seemingly unbeatable New England Patriots and the “Golden Boy” Tom Brady is something to build on. However, the Patriots secondary was beat up to no end, and with an offense like Buffalo’s, they had no trouble tearing it up for 34 points. Is Tom Brady going to throw 4 picks again against the Bills? Or anyone else for that matter? The answer is no. The Bills took advantage of an off day for Brady and made the Patriots pay for their errors. The Bills 3 wins have now come against the worst team in the NFL (The Chiefs), a team that had to travel across time zones and the country to play them (The Raiders) and the Patriots (31st ranked pass defense in the NFL).  The AFC is stacked with playoff-worthy teams (Chargers, Steelers, Ravens, Patriots, Jets, Raiders), and the Bills still share a division with two of those them. 2 more games against the Jets and 1 against New England later this season will show whether the Bills are Contenders or Pretenders. Right now, just enjoy the ride Buffalo.

3) THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES ARE NO “DREAM TEAM”

The Eagles are good. Very, very good. Calling them the “Dream Team” is an absolute joke. They are nowhere near perfect. This is a team that has glaring weaknesses that are over-shadowing their strengths right now. Clearly, this team revolves around QB Michael Vick. After signing the Quarterback for $100 million over the offseason, they basically gave him the keys to the team and said let’s go with it. That was a very risky move on the part of Eagles management. Vick is known for having issues with his body over the years, considering his unique style of play. No QB in the league (maybe Cam Newton down the road) plays like Michael Vick does. His ability to out run defenders and use his athleticism to make plays on his own makes him one of the most entertaining players in the league. But….Michael Vick gets hit…..and he gets hit a lot! No QB could withstand getting knocked on his butt like that for a full season. After 3 weeks, Michael Vick has been knocked down 30+ times and has suffered one concussion and an injury to his non-throwing hand. His back-up as of right now is Vince Young, a player that has not shown that he can run a team effectively, or stay healthy long enough to do it. The WR core on the team is one of the better groups in the league (DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Steve Smith) and a secondary of Rodgers-Cromartie, Samuel and newly signed Asomugha will make teams think twice about throwing. But in the end, the success of this team will depend on whether Michael Vick can stay on the field, and whether he can run this team to it’s fullest potential. 2 weeks ago against the Falcons, the team had a 4th quarter lead before he went down with a concussion, eventually costing the team the win in the end. All it took was a five minute span for fans to realize that without Michael Vick, this team is borderline average. The offensive line has to do a better job of protecting there QB, because if Vick is lost for multiple games, then the Eagles playoff chances may be lost with it.

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