NFL’s Second Half Could Be Different Than The First Half

The first week of the second half of the National Football League began last week as teams have a much better idea of their own strengths and weaknesses and also that of their upcoming opponents.

There were at least a half-dozen games that were decided in the final minute of the game Sunday and there also were that same number of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks whose team was saddled with losses Sunday.

The stronger divisions of the two conferences appear to have dominant leaders, while the weaker divisions are in a turmoil. Teams that have been strong defensively over the years are sitting near the bottom of their division today.

Head coaches are throwing that red challenge flag, disputing the game officials’ decisions until they have no more challenges remaining, which hasn’t happened in the past. It must make the referees gun-shy to call obvious rules infractions.

The day of the 100-yard rusher seems to be disappearing rapidly as quarterbacks are now throwing the football 50 or 60 times a game.

Rarely is there a kickoff or punt return where there isn’t a flag thrown for a holding or block-in-the-back infraction. And some of the most serious injuries are caused on a return play.

Each week there are disputes of what constitutes a legal catch and what doesn’t. I watched two instances Sunday when the receiver caught the football and then got mugged in the end zone or out of bounds and dropped the ball. After discussions with the replay booth and those monitoring close plays in New York, the ruling was overturned.

Some of the best head coaches in the NFL are having major problems winning football games. New Orleans Sean Payton has a big problem, and that’s the Saints’ defense, which has allowed four touchdown passes in each of the last three games.

And when a particular facet of the game is going badly, that’s when the team needs to make changes. I’ve said all along that the biggest problem at New Orleans is their rotund defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who’s been fired from every job he’s ever had in the NFL. He may be gone before this Korner hits the streets on Wednesday.

Mike McCarthy has been doing a tremendous job as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, but they’ve hit a big bump in the road after being undefeated through their first six games this season.

The Packers have lost their last three games–and it’s no disgrace to lose to the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers who were both undefeated when the Packers played them—but to get beat Sunday by the Detroit Lions, who had won only one of eight games is ridiculous.

There’s a real good chance Green Bay’s losing streak may extend to four games when they travel to Minnesota Sunday to play the red-hot Vikings.

Seattle Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll has been successful in most of his stops along the way to the NFL, but his team seems to have a major problem—holding fourth period leads.

Believe it or not the Seahawks have led in their last 57 straight games, which is an amazing statistic. And in their five losses they’ve suffered so far this season, they were leading in the fourth period, only to somehow lose it in the closing minutes. And they boast perhaps the best defense in the NFL.

Anyone who has watched the last few Denver Broncos’ games has to believe something is wrong with quarterback Peyton Manning. Although his team was undefeated until two weeks ago, he just doesn’t look like one of the game’s greatest quarterbacks.

Monday it was revealed that Manning has a tear on the plantar fascia of his left foot and will miss at least the next game against the surging Chicago Bears.

Here in Texas, the Dallas Cowboys are still reeling from the loss of quarterback Tony Romo, who may return to action Sunday at Miami, while the Houston Texans are just suffering due to the lack of a bona fide NFL quarterback and a hard-headed head coach.

There are plenty of reasons why the division standings look like they do, and there’s a good chance that when the second half of the season is complete, things should look a bit different.

That’s my promise to you!!!

KWICKIES…Eight members of last week’s Associated Press Top 25 College Poll suffered losses Saturday with three of those setbacks coming to another member of that poll, including No. 4 Baylor, who took it on the chin 44-34 to the No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners. No. 20 Mississippi State was soundly defeated by No. 3 Alabama while No. 25 Memphis was edged by the undefeated Houston Cougars 35-34. Other Top 25 teams losing last week included No. 7 Stanford, No. 9 LSU, No. 10 Utah and No. 18 UCLA.

This week’s AP Top 25 College Football Poll has Clemson, Ohio State and Alabama retaining their top three place, Oklahoma State and Notre Dame each moved up one spot to No. 4 and No. 5, respectively. Big changes occurred in the second five with still-undefeated Iowa up two notches to No. 6, Oklahoma jumped five places to No. 7, Florida came up three slots to No. 8, Michigan State jumped five places to No. 9 and Baylor dropped six spots to No. 10. TCU came up two notches to No. 11, Houston moved up three places to No. 13 and LSU tumbled from No. 9 to No. 17. Newcomers decorate the bottom four places in this week’s poll—Southern Cal, Oregon, Washington State and Ole Miss.

I Fearlessly Forecasted 31 of the 33 high school playoff games correctly last weekend, which is a high for me. Unfortunately, that coin has two sides and I missed 9-of-14 Pro Picks to bring me crashing back to Earth.

JUST BETWEEN US…Houston Astros outfielder Colby Rasmus, who belted four home runs in the first four playoff games last month, accepted the Astros’ qualifying offer of $15.8 million to remain on the club. In the previous three years since becoming part of the last collective bargaining agreement, all 34 players who received qualifying offers declined those one-year deals, according to a recent article in the Houston Chronicle. But Rasmus really enjoyed being a member of the Astros and decided to accept their offer rather than becoming a free agent. If he did turn down the offer and signed with another team, Houston would receive a draft pick in the first compensation round of the 2016 draft.