Crazy season marked by 20 degrees of Welker

Wes Welker

So much doesn’t make sense around the NFL this fall. The season is halfway over and there’s no real Super Bowl favorite. Two teams figured to be among NFC’s best (Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings) have a combined four wins. The best team in the AFC has yet to emerge. Stars have been traded or dumped for nothing.

Start a conversation around the league and sooner or later you will hear: “It’s been a crazy year.”

Crazy indeed.

Normally by now, you would see some kind of separation in the standings. Instead, only the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions and Cowboys can truly say their season is over. The other 26 are very much alive.

Such an inexplicable series of events might best be assessed in 20 degrees through New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker(notes), whose own career is an unlikely rise from a kickoff returner, to a part-time receiver to a star with more than 100 catches in each of the past three years.

Because after all, what is crazier than a season in which two players who are not kickers attempted extra points on the same day? Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh(notes) practically knocked the goal post over with his try while Welker nailed his for the Patriots …

Who looked like Super Bowl frontrunners until inexplicably losing by 20 points to the Cleveland Browns

Who are suddenly winning after team president Mike Holmgren said he wasn’t sure if he could resist the temptation to come back and coach …

Phillips

Which is something Wade Phillips won’t be doing the rest of the year – with Minnesota’s Brad Childress possibly being not far behind. This, of course, coming a season after Phillips led the Cowboys to their first playoff win since 1996 and Childress’ Vikings were a play away from going to the Super Bowl instead of the New Orleans Saints

Whose offense has abruptly chilled, averaging nine fewer points a game, along with a turnover margin of 15 below last season’s – all of which helped the Saints back then to a win in the biggest game over the Indianapolis Colts

Who in their first game this season, allowed an unknown running back named Arian Foster(notes) to run for 231 yards and three touchdowns

Who was rewarded for his brilliance three weeks later by being benched for half of a game against the Oakland Raiders

Who despite being the NFL’s most dysfunctional franchise, are somehow 5-4 and in the middle of a chase for the playoffs after an overtime win Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs

Rivers

Who are the most unlikely leaders of the AFC West at 5-3, a game and a half ahead of the presumed preseason favorite San Diego Chargers

Who might just have the league’s best quarterback (and perhaps MVP) in Philip Rivers(notes) who leads the NFL with 2,944 passing yards despite his team’s losing season. Then again the Chargers might be doomed if not for Antonio Gates(notes) and his 663 receiving yards so far this year – a great figure were it not 215 behind Denver’s Brandon Lloyd(notes)

Who somehow leads the NFL in receiving yards with numbers through half a season that have already exceeded his best totals for a whole year (733 in 2005 with the 49ers)

Who might be the only team in the NFC West not in playoff contention. It’s a division that could send a team to the playoffs with a sub .500 record, which hasn’t happened since the 1982 strike-shortened season when Cleveland went 4-5 as well as Detroit …

Kolb

Whose win over Washington two weeks ago led to Mike Shanahan’s inexplicable benching of star quarterback Donovan McNabb(notes)

Whose departure from Philadelphia was supposed to hand the starting job to Kevin Kolb(notes)

Who lost it to Michael Vick(notes)

Who looked for the first month of the year to be the league’s best player, making everybody forget about Kolb …

Who suddenly had to come back as the starter after Vick injured his ribs, making his own case to be the starter again, despite hanging a pass to receiver DeSean Jackson(notes) who was hammered by Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson(notes) in a collision that led to an outcry over helmet-to-helmet hits that led to a $75,000 fine for Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison(notes)

Roethlisberger

Whose team went through three starting quarterbacks in the first month before Ben Roethlisberger(notes) returned from his player conduct suspension, this after a late exhibition-season injury to Byron Leftwich(notes)

Whose former team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, have scored 61 fewer points than they have given up and yet are only one game behind the Colts and Tennessee Titans

Who are the third team to employ Randy Moss(notes) this season, following his release after four weeks by the Vikings, the team that got him in a trade with the Patriots …

Whose receiver, Wes Welker, kicked an extra point last week.