Maybe you had some doubt in your mind earlier this season about the Indianapolis Colts being Super Bowl contenders, even after some huge wins.
But nobody thought it would get this bad for the Colts.
What has happened to Indianapolis? For the second time in three weeks, the Colts were embarrassed. The first time they were down 38-0 at home to the Rams. This week, the Cardinals led Indianapolis 34-3 after three quarters. The Colts lost 40-11.
Since beating the Broncos, the Colts have two wins and they fell way behind in both of them before rallying. They haven't put together a good 60-minute performance in a month, and they've played just one team with a winning record in that stretch. The season-ending injury to Reggie Wayne is a factor, but it doesn't explain everything about this terrible stretch of play.
Something is seriously amiss in Indianapolis. The offensive line is bad, the running game is horrible more often than it is effective, and the defense has serious flaws. The Colts are still going to win the AFC South, but the days of them being considered a true contender are through. Great teams don't get destroyed twice in three weeks like the Colts have.
Aaron Rodgers: No player in the NFL has seen his stock rise over the past three weeks as much as Rodgers, and he hasn't played a game.
Green Bay lost at home to Chicago (the game Rodgers went down) and Philadelphia, lost at the Giants and then looked terrible for most of Sunday's tie against Minnesota. Matt Flynn came on for benched starter Scott Tolzien and the Packers salvaged a tie. With Rodgers on Oct. 27, the Packers led the Vikings 41-17 in the fourth quarter before settling for a 44-31 win. On Sunday, Green Bay needed a furious rally to take the Vikings to overtime.
There are other issues, such as the Packers' defense not lifting its game with Rodgers out, and many other offensive injuries. But at this point, it seems like the difference between the Packers being one of the best teams in the league and one of the worst is simply Rodgers. He has firmly established himself as the best player in the league while standing on the sideline.
Baltimore Ravens: Since the Giants and their fraudulent four-game winning streak were exposed on Sunday, maybe the Ravens are the new Giants?
For years, it seemed like you couldn't get rid of the Giants. No matter how bad they looked for stretches of the regular season, they'd hang around and peak late. Kind of sounds like the Ravens.
Baltimore, which turned it on at playoff time last season and won a Super Bowl, has looked finished a few times this season. Yet here the Ravens are after a win against the Jets, 5-6 and tied for the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs. Don't count them out yet.
Keenan Allen's offensive rookie of the year campaign: Allen is looking like one of the steals of the draft.
The Chargers receiver, who was selected in the third round out of Cal, is making a run at offensive rookie of the year honors. Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon has a good case, Packers running back Eddie Lacy is probably the frontrunner, but don't forget about Allen. Allen had nine catches for 124 yards in a huge 41-38 Chargers win. He has 50 catches for 737 yards on the season, and four 100-yard performances in his last seven games.
Allen has been Philip Rivers' best target, and is one of the main reasons San Diego is still in the wild-card hunt. He looks like a future star.
Mike Glennon: The Buccaneers didn't use a third-round pick on Glennon to just move on from him after a year. Right now, he looks like their quarterback of the future, no matter where the Bucs pick in May's draft.
Glennon was 14-of-21 for 247 yards and two touchdowns in an upset win at Detroit. The Buccaneers have won three straight as Glennon has gotten more comfortable. As NFL Films' Greg Cosell pointed out this week, Glennon has done a lot of things very well as a rookie. He built on some of those things Sunday in a big road win. At this point, there's no reason for the Buccaneers to look anywhere else for their franchise quarterback.
And the Steelers are 5-2 after an 0-4 start. They're right in the playoff mix. It's not a coincidence that their resurgence has come with Brown playing so well.
Brown had a big 41-yard touchdown to set the tone for the Steelers in their 27-11 win over Cleveland on Sunday. He had six catches for 92 yards and is second in the NFL this season with 1,044 yards already. Brown is just 25 and is emerging as a star. The Steelers are still alive this season, and he's leading the way.
NFC North: Why hello, NFC North. Didn't recognize you all dressed up as the NFC East.
The much-maligned NFC East has two teams tied at 6-5 atop the division. As does the NFC North, because the top teams keep tripping all over themselves.
The Lions' home loss to the Buccaneers was shockingly horrible. The Bears' loss at St. Louis wasn't much better. And when the Packers need to rally to tie the Vikings at home, that's nothing to be too proud of either.
The Lions still have the upper hand, because at least they have a healthy quarterback. But nobody really looks like they want to win that division.
Mike Wallace: The Dolphins' high-priced receiver actually had a big day, which has been a rarity for Wallace this year. Wallace had 127 yards, his high mark this season, and his first 100-yard game since Oct. 6 (hey, $60 million doesn't go that far these days).
But, it sums up Wallace's season that when he had the chance to be the hero, the game-winning touchdown fell off his hands.
With the Dolphins backed up at their own 40 and trailing 20-16 with less than 20 seconds left, Ryan Tannehill threw a marvelous pass down the middle to Wallace, who found himself behind safety Mike Mitchell. Wallace got turned around a couple times, but had the pass on his hands. And he couldn't catch it.
"I tried to find the ball," Wallace told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I tried to make a play on the ball. When it came out [Tannehill's] hands, it kind of looked like it was going to the right, so I turned that way. Then it started going back to the left, so I turned that way to find the ball. I just didn't make the play."
It would have been a tough catch. But it would have won the game and been one of the highlight plays of the NFL season so far. That's probably the kind of thing the Dolphins wanted from Wallace when they signed him.
Anyone who says Cam Newton "slipped" on the unnecessary roughness call: I like Newton, probably more than most. And when I say he flopped to get a 15-yard call on Dolphins safety Reshad Jones for hitting him late out of bounds, it's not a criticism. He drew a huge penalty that helped Carolina win the game. But he flopped. If you say otherwise, you're looking for something that's not there.
Watch his right foot as he lands out of bounds, 23 seconds into the video. It never moves an inch:
Jacksonville Jaguars: I swear this isn't a potshot at the Jaguars, who won 13-6 at Houston on Sunday. It was an impressive win. And one that might cost Jacksonville in May.
Jacksonville, which is now 2-9, needs a franchise quarterback. And when the Jaguars were 0-8, it looked like they would get the best one of the 2014 draft class, presumably Teddy Bridgewater. Now they're in danger of falling a few spots. The Falcons and Vikings each have two wins (the Vikings have a tie, too). The Texans have two wins and would pick ahead of Jacksonville if the two teams finish with the same record.
Minnesota and probably Houston (the Case Keenum bandwagon is falling apart fast) would take a quarterback. Atlanta wouldn't, but could pull off a trade like St. Louis did when the Redskins moved up to take Robert Griffin III. It's conceivable Jacksonville's win on Sunday might end up costing them not only their first choice of quarterbacks, but their first two or three choices.
Nobody's condoning tanking, but ... no, wait. That's exactly what I'm condoning. It's the smart move sometimes. Tanking for a franchise quarterback would ultimately benefit a franchise. The Jaguars might end up regretting Sunday's win for a long time.
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