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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Midway through an NFL season good enough for Hollywood

Published: November 2, 2007
Section: Sports

As we reach the half way point in the 2007 NFL season, football fans have been privy to a season filled with excitement;

there has been controversy, some record breaking perfomances, and a number of new stars.

2007 has been a year filled with stories that could be turned into Hollywood films. Tom Brady and the Patriots perfect start on the field couldn't have been scripted much better. The 8-0 Patriots have been completely dominating their opponents, and new acquisition Randy Moss has been a perfect fit in New England.

In perhaps the most anticipated game of the season, the Pats will take on the other undefeated team, the Indianapolis Colts, who happen to be the same team that knocked the Pats out of the playoffs in the AFC Championship game last season. Even if the Patriots do take this game, the two teams could very well meet again in the playoffs with even better versions of their current teams, as Indy star Marvin Harrison is out, and New England has several players that are questionable. That and the impossible to fathom success of Tom Brady, who has 30 touchdown passes and two, yes two, interceptions, have made this season even more impossible to believe.

And then there's the whole scandal about Bill Belichick knowingly videotaping the rival New York Jets on the sidelines. To make matters even more complicated, the accusations surfaced from one of Belichick's former assistants and current Jets head coach, Eric Mangini.

But that is no longer an issue for this New England team, and the Patriots could conceivably go undefeated in 2007. But knowing the power of the underdog in today's National Football League, the Pats season could also end unexpectedly in the playoffs, to a team that comes from completely out of left field.

There are plenty of candidates in the AFC for this task. Outside of the mediocre AFC East, eight teams are at least 4-3. The Titans are 5-2 despite a lackluster performance from their franchise quarterback Vince Young, and should only get better. Jacksonville stands tied with Tennessee, and slowly has found a winning quarterback in David Garrard, who quietly possesses a healthy QB rating of 102.9.

Then there's the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have given up the fewest points in the NFL, and have completely been overlooked in favor of the two undefeated teams. And don't forget the Super Bowl hungry San Diego Chargers, who have looked dominant the past three weeks despite the unfortunate wildfires that have hit the surrounding region. At 4-3, the Chargers are better than their record indicates.

Rounding out the contenders in the AFC are the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. Cleveland fans have had a lot to cheer about so far this season behind the resurgence of no name quarterback Derek Anderson (17 touchdown passes) and wideout Braylon Edwards (9 TD catches), who are both performing at a remarkable level to keep the Browns in it. The Ravens are probably the weakest of the bunch, as they get the Steelers twice, and are forced to play San Diego, New England, and Indy in consecutive weeks.

The picture in the NFC is a bit cloudier. The team to beat seems to be the Dallas Cowboys, who have put up at least 24 points in all of their games, with their lone loss coming at the hands of New England. After last year's playoff upset, they sure seem hungry in Texas The rival New York Giants, however, will challenge Dallas as the best team in the NFC East, and are set for a huge rematch in week 10 after an opening day defeat. The division could very well come down to the season's final game, as the Giants are at home against New England, in what should be a meaningful game for both teams.

The NFC North has seen a role reversal, as the Packers and Lions have both played well and the Bears and Vikings (with the exception of superstar in the making Adrian Peterson) have performed rather poorly. In what could be his final season, Brett Favre has done seemingly everything for Green Bay. The all-time touchdown leader could very easily be pitted against one of his younger, talented peers like Tony Romo or Eli Manning in the playoffs in a passing of the baton, so to speak. The formerly anemic Lions have turned a few faces too with their 5-2 start, and while they probably don't have the talent to get very far in the playoffs, they have certainly renewed hope in Detroit.

The Seahawks and Panthers are two more teams that could go one way or the other. The Panthers are 4-0 on the road, winless at home, have beaten up on bad teams, and just got pounded by Indy. Seattle has played just well enough to stay in it, and gets to play three of the worst teams in the NFL in the final eight weeks. Regardless of who wins the NFC, they will be heavy underdogs in the Super Bowl.

Of course, the first half of 2007 will not be remembered so fondly by everyone. Just ask the winless St. Louis Rams, and Miami Dolphins teams. Yet in the NFL, which is full of Cinderella stories and surprises, there's always next year. After all, the Pats and Colts both had seasons in the 90's where they only won a single game. Come January, there should certainly be even more to say about what has shaped up to be one of the most exciting football seasons in recent memory.