It's become a common refrain to acknowledge that NFL teams are the ultimate fact-driven entities in sports. They are what their records say they are. Period.
And as the Giants have proven in recent years -- and even the Packers a few years ago -- all you have to do is find an invitation to the dance and ride a wave. That can be enough. It can be enough to raise trophies and get trips to Disney and end history, like the Giants did to the Patriots in 2007.
But if the ultimate statement is you are what your record states -- if that's the baseline and the bottom line, a quid pro quo of geometry and sabermetrics that converge in parallel universes and perpendicular points of view -- the hidden truth in today's NFL is that you are no better than your quarterback. Meaning that the splits in this league make you ask how good are we at protecting our quarterback, or how much do we trust our backup quarterback.
Take Monday night, for example, when Chicago turned to Josh McCown, who outdueled Packers replacement Seneca Wallace in a game that could be titanic come December.
So it goes, and so goes the power structure in today's NFL.
1. Kansas City: Unbeaten is unbeaten. And, no, there will not be an extra charge for that kind of analysis. These Chiefs have flipped the script and are comfortable with the Malcolm X approach to the Generation X NFL. Sure, the rest of the league's elite may be flush with quarterback greatness -- although only two of these top five have former No. 1 overall picks at quarterback, and the Chiefs are one of the two -- that proudly serves the me generation. The Chiefs? By any means necessary, thank you very much, including last week's 23-13 win in which the Chiefs did not score an offensive touchdown. Former top pick Alex Smith may be the comeback player of the year, but even the most optimistic K.C. fan does not want him trying to lead too many comeback drives late in fourth quarters.
2. Denver: The top two in the power poll will face off a week from Sunday, and we all expect the Broncos to be at least a touchdown favorite. Side note: Was anyone else expecting the Broncos to come out and issue a statement in the aftermath of head coach John Fox needing heart surgery along the lines of: "We wish Coach John Fox the best, and as he recovers the defense will be handled by Jack Del Rio, and Peyton Manning will continue to oversee the offense and the day-to-day operations of the team."
3. Seattle: Maybe we are overselling the Seahawks, who have struggled against Tampa Bay among others, but that defense combined with the maturing Russell Wilson is enough to give anyone fits.
4. New England: Pssst, look out, NFL, Tom Brady's getting the band back together. And with something that resembled his full arsenal of weapons, Brady torched Dick Lebeau and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Heck, here's saying that Brady was reuniting with so many guys he had not seen since training camp that he made them wear name tags in the first half.
5. San Francisco: The 49ers have the league's most talented roster. Period. How talented you ask? Well, after activating cornerback Eric Wright, San Fran is set to cut former first-rounder Nnamdi Asomugha, who has been an all-pro and is married to TV star Kerry Washington. Hey, we like Kerry Washington.
28. Atlanta: The Falcons stink. And they stink in the worst kind of way. It's one thing to stink when you are expected to stink. Take the Jaguars (please -- copyrighted by Henny Youngman). Everyone knew they stunk on toast. These Falcons were one play from the Super Bowl last year, and now they are two plays from being winless. Was Matty Ice Ice Baby a one-hit wonder? Discuss.
29. Pittsburgh: The Steelers allowed 55 points to Brady and the Patriots. It was the most ever by the franchise. Read that again. When you are talking about the most or the worst or the what have you about some NFL franchises such as the Packers, Bears or Steelers, you have to realize those teams have been around a long, Long, LONG time. It's not like saying it's the most points Tampa Bay or Carolina has allowed. Wow.
30. Minnesota: Are the Vikings still here? Let's just move along. Seriously, what's the offensive coaching staff meeting like when they review the quarterback video and try to choose a starter among the Moe-Larry-Curly trio that is Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman and Christian Ponder? Do you think the offensive coaches have set aside time to work on their resumes in the work day, or do they do that at home?
31. Tampa Bay: The Bucs pushed all their chips in for a hard-fought, spirit-crunching loss at Seattle. Here's saying the Bucs lose this week by three touchdowns (and we're not even sure who or if they play, but we'd take Bye minus-15 over Tampa right now).
32. Jacksonville: Hey, let's be nice. We know the Jags stink, and to coin Stewart Smalley, that's OK. On the bright side, the mess for the other Florida team -- wow, Miami, you've got some issues -- is way worse than being bad on Sundays in the fall.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...