John Madden always likes to say that it isn't worth judging a team and projecting its fate until after Thanksgiving.
Well, the turkey, stuffing and requisite leftovers have been digested. My wife's cooking was superb. Some of the play in the NFL? Well, not so much.
1) Joe Flacco
I never have trusted Flacco. Right now, it looks like I never will.
Baltimore is 9-2. But who believes in the Ravens as a Super Bowl team? I don't. Flacco was average at best (completing 30 of 51 passes for 355 yards and one touchdown) in Sunday's squeaker of a win over the San Diego Chargers. Perhaps lost in the discussion of Ray Rice's majestic run after the catch on fourth-and-29 from his own 37 was the fact that Flacco checked down on fourth-and-29.
In a loss to the Houston Texans in Week 7, Flacco was horrible. In a win against the Cleveland Browns in Week 9, Flacco started hot and made a big throw late, but slept through the rest of the game. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11, Flacco threw for just 164 yards. Yes, he torched the Oakland Raiders in Week 10, but he was facing a Raiders "defense" that is an embarrassment to professional sports.
On my SiriusXM NFL Radio show in January, Ravens safety Ed Reed called out his quarterback. There was a reason for it. Flacco is not a difference maker. The Ravens' defense has not been the same sans injured players Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis, and the team needed Flacco to provide a boost. He has failed.
2) Michael Turner
When I wrote about the Atlanta Falcons at the halfway point of the season, I critiqued their run game. General manager Thomas Dimitroff correctly told me that it must get better. While Jacquizz Rodgers has given the team a little bit of juice, Turner is the featured back, and he hasn't gotten started. Why would I think he could turn it on now?
Take a look at Turner's last three games. He barely registered in Sunday's win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, carrying the ball 13 times for 17 yards. When Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw five picks against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11, Turner couldn't do much to help "Ice," running for just 46 yards. In the Week 10 loss to the New Orleans Saints, Turner averaged an unacceptable 1.2 yards per carry.
Ice needs balance on offense. The defense needs rest, and the long, sustained drives that can provide it.
3) Ben Roethlisberger
It's not necessarily that I don't trust Big Ben. I've been on record for years as saying he's an elite quarterback who plays his best when it matters the most. Roethlisberger is a future Hall of Famer who has stepped up for the Steelers, masking areas of deficiency and making up for injuries all season. Anyone who doubted Roethlisberger's value has seen the Steelers' total ineptitude in the two games -- both losses, and abject failures, at that -- Big Ben has missed.
But if Roethlisberger returns, I wonder if he will actually be healthy enough to play at his customary megastar level.
4) Marshall Newhouse
It's really not fair to pin all of the blame on the Green Bay Packers left tackle, but he's been the poster child for the team's troubles with a suspect offensive line.
This unit was supposed to be solid. However, matched up against the elite pass rush of the New York Giants on Sunday night, quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn't have a chance to work his magic.
5) Russell Wilson
Sherman's only been one of the best defensive players in the sport this season. The suffocating Seattle defense has functioned off of the "Legion of Boom" making plays and being physical on the back end.
6) Tim Dobbins
7) Christian Ponder
Can he play quarterback?
8) Ndamukong Suh
Suh has a ton of talent, but he's been an irresponsible, underachieving, classless player. His performance this year also, sadly, serves as a microcosm of the 2012 Detroit Lions.
9) Larry Fitzgerald
This is my exception for the year.
What is this, amateur hour?
Two weeks ago, I was in first place in my "Syracuse Alumni" league. Now I'm in jeopardy of missing the playoffs. Same in my league with my SportsNet New York colleagues.
I can only imagine how Fitz feels ...