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The Five Things That Will Make or Break Your NFL Team

Oh how there were some painful games to watch yesterday in the NFL...

Its become painfully apparent that within the first five weeks of the NFL season that there are certain teams that are built for the long haul and there are some teams that have a ways to go in figuring out who they are as a football team. Therefore, I have created the "Is My Team Really Worth A Damn" manifesto. It has been created to basically tell us...whether your team is really worth a damn or not. If you're team can check all 5 points, then you're probably a championship contender. If you're team is missing one or two key points, you still have a chance of being really good, just manage your expectations. If you're failing on three or more...just cash in your chips and make plans for the 2011 draft.

With that being said, here is the official ETSF "Is My Team Really Worth a Damn" manifesto.

#1. Your Team's QB Won't Single-Handedly Lose The Game - Now let's be perfectly clear about this, this isn't the same as "My team's QB can single-handedly WIN a game for us" because not all teams are created equal. However, if you go into games just praying and wishing that your QB doesn't have a meltdown or go into "interception-seizure" mode (I'm looking at you, Bears fans) then you might have a QB problem.

Example - Ask Bengals fans how they feel about Carson Palmer, who is now 5 years removed from the man who was once considered a top five quarterback in this league. The Bucs had no business beating the Bengals yesterday, however, throwing a pick 6 and two dastardly interceptions in the 4th quarter sealed the Bengals fate yesterday. These things just can't happen.

#2. Your Team Has No Desire To Run The Ball - Now again, let's be perfectly clear about this, this isn't the same as "My team has the ability to run the ball successfully" because again not all teams are created equal. However, this is the National Football League. If you don't at least make the other team THINK you're going to run the ball then I'm going to pray for your quarterback when he drops back to pass.

Example - Ask Bears fans about their inability to consistently try and run the ball what happens to their QB...or better yet, ask Cowboys fans why they don't run the ball more often? Allegedly, they have the best runningback triumvirate in the NFL, but no one can prove this because Jason Garrett doesn't give the firm of Barber, Jones, and Choice 35 carries a game. The Cowboys have the biggest line in the NFL, and they have an offense that is really good. The problem? The Cowboys are predictable, which led to Romo getting sacked six times in a tough 34-27 loss. Insert blindly loyal Cowboys fan – "So what, we’re 1-3! We are America’s Team!" Yeah...real Cowboys fans know the truth.

#3. Your Team Doesn't Play 4 Quarters of Football - We've all seen it, you have a team who seems to be rolling on all cylinders and has the game in control, then all of a sudden your team implodes like that guy in high school that had no business being in chemistry class and had the entire school evacuated. Some great teams can get around the bad quarter or two of football, but this is why on any given Sunday...

Example - Let's be perfectly clear about something right now, the New Orleans Saints had no business beating the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game last year. Brett Favre
decided to go into "interception-seizure" mode for the first time the entire season and Adrian Peterson & Percy Harvin were dropping the pill like an old man with Parkinson's. A more recent and relevant example? The San Diego Chargers. I've never seen one team have more random mental lapses than the Chargers. From the general manager being called "The Lord of No Rings" to the consistent mental mistakes on the field on a game by game basis, this never ends. The team is so good that they can usually get by and still win more often than not, but I'll never in life pick the Chargers to win a title because...we'll, they're just too damn inconsistent.

#4. Your Team Can't Make a Defensive Stop To Save Their Life - There's a fine line between "bend but don't break" vs. "if we leave anything more than one minute on the clock at the end of the game, we're gonna lose".

Example - The Indianapolis Colts immediately come to mind, because I thought my Jacksonville Jaguars would become victim to the "damn we left too much time on the clock and Peyton is going to score in less than two minutes" tragedy. Of course, the Jaguars did, and the score was tied at 28. However, the Colts left :48 seconds left on the clock, and of all the offense that have no business getting down the field to score, its Jacksonville. Yet, David Garrard got to the Colts 41-yard line and put "The Colt Killer" aka Josh Scobee to kick a 59-yard field goal to put the Colts away for good.

#5. Your Team Just Doesn't Have "It" - Its simply a confidence thing, its not easily definable, its just..."it". For lack of a better way of saying, you have to pass "the eye-ball" test. Does your team have the chemistry to go a long way, does your team seem to make the right play when needed, or do they seem to not make the huge mental mistake. There are teams that will always be very good because they just play smart football, and there are teams that will never make it because they play dumb football.

Example - The Houston Texans vs. The Baltimore Ravens. The Texans are good enough on paper to make us believe that they are legitimate contenders, and maybe they are. It doesn't help that this team has never in their history made the playoffs, but they also play in the toughest division (in my opinion) in the NFL. However, when I watch the Texans week in and week out, I just don't believe yet. Maybe I'll see "it" later in the year, but as of right now I just don't see it. There's too many peaks and valleys with them and the toughest thing in the NFL is to be consistent week in and week out. #5 is similar to #3, but the difference is there are teams like Baltimore that might play a lethargic quarter or two but make two or three great plays and win themselves a game. They have chemistry like none other, and that comes from the leadership of their stars and their organization. Houston doesn't have that, not yet, and that's the one thing they've got to work on.

So where does your team fit, is your team really worth a damn? Let us know your thoughts.


P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!


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