We've got mail:
Question: If the Cowboys are the best team in the NFL, I'm Santa Claus. You guys are nothing but statistic hounds. Tony Romo this, Dallas that. It is downright sickening. We should just crown them champs right now. Oh yeah, I forgot. They were supposed to win last year, too. I guess there are no other teams in the NFL except America's team. -- Edmund R., Las Vegas.
Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to write, Santa.
My perspective reflects the current competitive state of the league, not what it will look like in January -- or, for that matter, in October or November or December. Nor does it reflect what has taken place in previous postseasons, whether it's the Cowboys losing or the New York Giants winning the Super Bowl.
This stuff can all change, depending on the performance of all of the teams in the league. That's all, as in the Cowboys and 31 other clubs.
You're getting your hopes up way too soon.
I'm not saying the Super Bowl is out of the question for the Bills, but they have a long way to go to prove that they have what it takes to get there. They are a very good team, but they are a very good team that is still learning how to win. So far, they have made significant steps through the first three weeks.
Step One: In their lopsided, home-opening victory over Seattle, they kept the pressure on a struggling opponent and never let up.
Step Two: In their Week 2 trip to scorching-hot Jacksonville, they showed the stamina and composure to overcome a fourth-quarter deficit against a strong opponent.
Step Three: In their Week 3 home encounter with the struggling Raiders, they again showed composure and mental toughness to rally from a nine-point hole in the fourth quarter.
The Bills have the components of a postseason contender: Strong defense, solid special teams, and a steadily improving young quarterback in Trent Edwards. They also have a schedule that is setting up nicely for them to go 4-0 and to possibly be 5-0 when they reach their bye. For now, they look like they have a decent shot to win the AFC East. Super Bowl? Let's pick up that conversation when you've had the snow shovel out a few times.
Question: How can anyone blame Brett Favre for the loss to the Chargers? Favre isn't the one who allowed them to put up 48 points, and did end the game with a good quarterback rating. He has actually had a good quarterback rating for all three games so far. The Jets' problem is their defense, and until something is done, they will continue to lose. -- Shawn J.
However, we both know the story of the 2008 Jets isn't their defense. It will always be about a legendary figure who changed teams and whether he still is performing at the level that made him a legendary figure -- the only level that justifies his $12 million contract and the tidal-wave-causing splash his arrival in New York caused.
You mentioned that Favre ended the Chargers game with a good passer rating, but that was not a true reflection of his performance. He put up most of his better numbers when the Chargers already had the game in hand and their defense was playing lose coverage underneath. When the game was more competitive, Favre was not at all sharp. He doesn't look anything like the guy whose career had a rebirth in 2007. He doesn't look like he is having much fun, either, and that is not just because of the Jets' two losses or their shortcomings elsewhere.
In his latter stages with Green Bay, Favre talked about how increasingly difficult it was for him to maintain the lofty standard he had created for himself, to be "Brett Favre" every time he sets foot on the field. Right now, he's playing below that standard, and I'm not optimistic he is going to reach it any time soon.
Question: What do you make of Marc Bulger's benching? I don't really feel like he's the problem. Other than Scott Linehan (11-24 since taking over as coach), I see the line as the real key to the Rams' problems. That line hasn't given Steven Jackson much room to run, either. This is obviously a desperate move by a coach who seems to be out after this year. What do you make of it? -- Aaron, Florida.
The quarterback change looks like an obvious appeasement to a fan base fed up with Bulger's struggles and the team's embarrassing performance. It wasn't so much that the fans were clamoring for Trent Green to start; they were just clamoring for change of any kind. Linehan gave it to them. He also gave them the release of cornerback Fakhir Brown and other lineup changes.
However, given the multitude of problems that the Rams have, including the horrendous play of their offensive line, that won't be nearly enough. For Linehan, it is probably too little too late.
But if they're going to make such a surge, they need to get healthy. Although the Titans are looking as if they could very well run away with the AFC South title and the Jaguars got their first win against the Colts, I'm not convinced that we have heard the last from Tony Dungy's team. Let's see what happens when they start getting some injured players back in the lineup and when Peyton Manning shakes off more of the rust from missing all of the preseason and the younger players in the lineup have a more game experience.