Craig: What we have learned about the NFL so far

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 3, 2012 - 5:57 PM

Thumbs up to the Falcons, Lovie Smith and Peyton Manning. Thumbs down to the Saints, Rex Ryan and Tony Romo.

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning

Photo: David Zalubowski, Associated Press

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If you're an unsuccessful gambler hoping to kick the habit, look no further than Lucas Oil Stadium for the realization that predicting the outcome of NFL games is better left to dumb sportswriters who are smart enough not to gamble.

At the (kind of) halfway point of the season, the 4-3 Indianapolis Colts play the 4-3 Miami Dolphins in a game no one would have attached playoff implications to when those two teams and their rookie QBs were getting beat by a combined 40 points in Week 1.

"I think you could go with Miami as the surprise team of the first half," said Vikings defensive end Brian Robison. "Then again, really and truly, if you want to get down to it, Indianapolis could be the team. To go 2-14, start over, a new quarterback, all the turmoil with their coach [Chuck Pagano] battling leukemia. That's pretty amazing."

At 5-3, the Vikings also are in the mix as most surprising team. Of course, they're also in the mix to be this year's version of last year's Buffalo Bills.

Like the Bills last year, the Vikings started 4-1. Like the Bills last year, the Vikings were 5-2 before losing their eighth game. The Bills, of course, ended up losing seven straight en route to 6-10. So much for surprise starts.

The Cardinals are 4-4 after a 4-0 start. The Falcons are 7-0 for the first time ever, not that anyone outside of Atlanta notices. The Bears are 6-1 and Lovie Smith is suddenly smart again.

Tony Romo keeps finding ways to help the Cowboys underachieve. Mario Williams is turning into another defensive lineman who becomes a high-priced free-agent bust. And who the heck knows what Rex Ryan and the Jets are thinking when it comes to Tim Tebow.

The Chiefs are a letdown at 1-7 and have yet to lead a game in regulation. But they can't top the 2-5 Saints in terms of disappointment. The Saints are the first NFL team since at least 1950 to allow 400 or more yards in seven consecutive games.

"Obviously they had a lot of distractions with the [bounty scandal]," Vikings left guard Charlie Johnson said. "But still. You figured even without [coach Sean] Payton, this was still pretty much the team that went 13-3 a year ago and won the Super Bowl a couple years ago. What's happened to them this year is the biggest surprise to me."

The NFL's Comeback Player of the Year could be a battle between Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who leads the league in rushing after blowing out his left knee last December, and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who leads the league in passer rating (109.0) after missing last season with multiple neck surgeries and then being released by the Colts.

As great as Peterson's story is, Manning probably will win that award and perhaps his fifth league MVP as well. In his past four games, he has set an NFL record for consecutive games with at least 300 yards passing, three touchdowns and a completion percentage of 70.

"Peyton is not a surprise to me at all," said Johnson, who played with Manning in Indianapolis. "His work ethic is always unbelievable. His want-to, his will to win and be successful is unmatched. I haven't been around anyone who has the drive like that. He's proven a lot of people wrong."

The way this season is shaping up, don't be surprised if Manning and the Broncos end up at Lucas Oil Stadium for a playoff game against Andrew Luck and the Colts.

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Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister 3 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle - LP: F. Rodney 2 FINAL
Texas - WP: P. Figueroa 3
Boston - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: L. Garcia 4
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 6 FINAL
Houston - LP: J. Williams 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland - LP: D. Pomeranz 4 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Smith 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 4
Los Angeles - LP: J. Howell 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Machi 2
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 105 FINAL
Memphis 106
Detroit 111 FINAL
Oklahoma City 112
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 100 FINAL
Miami 87
Utah 136 FINAL
Minnesota 130
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 FINAL
New York 95
Golden State 116 FINAL
Denver 112
LA Clippers 104 FINAL
Portland 110
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Montreal 5 FINAL(OT)
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 3 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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