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Published:November 23rd, 2009 23:04 EST
Here come the Holidays and With That, Comes NFL Crunch Time

Here come the Holidays and With That, Comes NFL Crunch Time

By Ron G Anselm

     We are now past week ten of the NFL season and are at the crucial point and turning point of the season where the fans are getting restless for their favorite team to become a contender. We are at the point called crunch time where the teams that are leading other teams in their division by one or two games need to focus on finishing out the season with a winning record.

     This is the point of the season where teams are made or broken. Let`s look at yesterday`s loss by the Steelers to the Kansas City Chiefs. That was a very crucial loss by the Steelers because they are in the shadow of the Cincinnati Bengals and was trailing the Bengals by one game in the division before their loss to the Chiefs. The loss by the Steelers to a team that has a losing record, the Chiefs will jeopardize not eliminate the Steelers from possible wild card contention, but will basically put the Steelers in a position to have to win the division to make the playoffs. This will be a hard task to do since the Bengals in my opinion are a better team than the Steelers and will more than likely win the division with ease. Although the Bengals lost to my Oakland Raiders yesterday which proves that anything and everything can still happen at this point of the season, the Steelers are not out of it by a long shot and with the Bengals losing yesterday still keeps that division alive and up for grabs by either team.

     Other teams that are not going to make the playoffs this season have a chance to be the spoiler team. Teams like the Raiders, the Chiefs, and the Lions and so on have the chance to defeat the good teams that are not quite in the playoffs but knocking on the door and knock those potential playoff teams out of contention for a playoff chance. With any loss by any team that is gunning to make the playoffs at this point of the season is basically suicide for them because at this point in the crunch time of the season, anything can happen, but every team needs to win has many of their remaining games as possible.

     The Colts and Saints stayed undefeated with the Colts defeating the Baltimore Ravens and the Saints defeating the Tampa Bay Bucs. The Colts seem to be cooling off a little in offense from the earlier weeks this season since they only scored seventeen points against the Ravens and the week before only defeating the Patriots by a few points. The Colts still have a dangerous and explosive offense with Manning leading the charge in every offensive position but for the Colts to be a big contender in the playoffs they will need to kick it into the next gear in their offensive scoring.

     The Saints are an all-around good team that can score points and hold off teams to minimal yardage and scoring on their defense. Maybe we will see a brawl in the Super Bowl this year between the Colts and the Saints but that is just a thought at this point because there are a lot of good teams out there that have a great chance at going all the way to the Super Bowl and we have all seen teams in the past decade that were picked to make the Super Bowl and win it all only to lose to other not as good teams early in the playoffs, so we will see what happens in the next few weeks.

     One of the big surprise games to me was the Cowboys and Redskins. The Washington Redskins have been a big disappointment this season. They still have a lot of rebuilding to do both on their offense and defense but they gave the Dallas Cowboys a run for their money yesterday by only losing to the Cowboys 7 " 6. In order for the Cowboys to even consider making the playoffs this year will need to improve greatly on offense by scoring more points and they will have to prove themselves by defeating the bad teams by more than one point. If they can`t accomplish that, then we can say the America`s team will be playing golf during January and February.   

     Other teams that are making a good run like the Jacksonville Jaguars are proving to be improving in wins late in the crunch time part of the season. Jacksonville has done a good job this year in improving on offense and with the win yesterday of the slumping Buffalo bills will greatly improve the chances of the Jaguars making the playoffs.

     The Minnesota Vikings continue to win and dominate their opponents. They have a chance to become the come from behind team this year, with their win over the Seahawks yesterday and their record improving to 9 " 1. With Favre at the helm, they can possibly take it all this year. At the very least, they are an exciting team to watch. Every time I watch the Vikings play they remind me of shades of the 1976 Vikings where Fran Tarketon took them all the way to the Super Bowl but only to lose to my Raiders. The Vikings are a good team and will be a contender in the playoffs this year.

     At the start of the season, I thought the Patriots looked like they would be the take it all team this season but over the last few weeks, I have seen the Patriots lose a step both in their offense and defense. Although they did dominate the Jets yesterday with a win (not saying much because the Jets are not a good team) the Pats will have to step it up to be able to be a contender the playoffs. Tom Brady will still have to learn to take a hit to be an all-around quarterback but all in all Brady has the skills to lead the Patriots to the promised land of the Super Bowl.

     The Browns continued losing with a loss 38-37 to the Lions continuing to disappoint their Dog Pound " fans. The Browns have a lot of work to do and will need to get their quarterback situation straight. Is Brady Quinn really that good to be the go to guy at the helm for the Browns? Like any new quarterback to the league it does take time to improve and build the offense around the play and signal calling, but in the NFL nothing else matters but winning. If you don`t win you normally don`t stay in the league very long. We all know this from watching the many past Head Coaches become part of the unemployment line when their teams had losing records and the owners and General Managers of those losing teams lost patience on waiting for the teams to turn around and win.

     The Lions have shown signs of great improvements this season over the last couple seasons. I have seen their offense improve and to me maybe within the next few years with hard work and good leadership, the Lions could possibly be a contender, watch out!

     The 49ers early in the season seemed to finally pull it together and looked like they were going to go all the way. They have lost a step over the past four weeks and are now looking like they will be going home early this season and not make the playoffs.

      They have been a team that has rebuilt over the past few seasons and have really done a good job in rebuilding the team into the once 1980s caliber team that featured players like Montana and Rice in those years dominated the gridiron with hard playing and record setting performances.

     The San Francisco 49ers still need work to become the once 1980s caliber team but with Mike Singletary as Head Coach don`t count them out at least next year because they seem to have just about put the puzzle into place to become a good team once again.

     The Arizona Cardinals and Kurt Werner and the team of Werner and Fitzgerald are looking like the Super Bowl Cardinals team. They are still rolling along with wins and should prove to make the playoffs this year. The Cardinals have really improved their offense over the past few seasons by adding good receivers and a better defense.

       The crunch time part of the season is the most exciting part of the NFL. With the spirit of the holidays in the air, the cold wind chills of Chicago keeping the windy city frozen and the sounds of Rudolf, Blitzen and the reindeer of Santa Clause ready to make their way across the sky on Christmas Eve to fill the many dreams of good boys and girls, maybe some NFL Head Coaches need to also go stand in line at the mall and sit on Santa`s lap and wish for many, many, many wins to come in the next few weeks and fulfill their dream of winning it all and as Santa would say, And to all a good night. " We will see what lies ahead for the teams that are wishing to make the playoffs and for the teams that look like they may be going home early but suddenly rack up the wins late and turn it all around and make the playoffs.

     With this kind of excitement filling the air like a New England nor`easter in December, why else would you want to hit the malls in the busiest shopping time of the year? Sit back in your favorite lounge chair, eat Grandma`s Christmas fudge and cookies, kick off your shoes, light a fire in your fireplace and watch the rest of the NFL season from the comfort of your, "wherever you get comfortable and watch television from and take in the many touchdowns, field goals, and end zone celebrations to come in the next couple of weeks " it will prove to add to the excitement of the NFL, playoffs, and Super Bowl.  The bottom line is teams need to win as many games as they can.