There is still one more week of the regular season to go, but as we close out the year 2010 this week, I thought I would take a look back at the biggest stories in the NFL in 2010. As usual there was no lack of drama in the NFL so let’s jump right into it in reverse order.
#10- When the Saints come marching in- The New Orleans Saints were winding up the 2009 NFL season as 2010 was just getting started. Drew Brees led the high powered offense of the Saints right to the Super Bowl and defeated the Indianapolis Colts and captured the first ever franchise title for the beleaguered city.
#9- Welcome to the club- Generally there are 6 news teams in the playoffs each season from the previous year, it most likely won’t be that high, but some young teams burst onto the scene this season. Last season, the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers all combined for 13 total wins. With one week left to play, these four already have a combined 33 wins and have promising futures. Rookie Sam Bradford has led the St. Louis Rams to more wins in one season than the franchise has had in the last four seasons combined. Tampa Bay was coming off a 3-13 season in 2009, and now at 9-6, Tampa has some slim hopes for a playoff berth and have a very impressive young quarterback. The Chiefs have the best rushing attack in the NFL while the Oakland Raiders first round draft pick RB Darren McFadden finally is paying dividends.
#8-Not this year- The San Diego Chargers were unable to overcome early season struggles and put together one of their patented late season win streaks. The team ranked number one in overall offense and defense for much of the season, but the magic ran out this season and San Diego will miss the playoffs for the first time in five season.
#7-Who needs Hard Knocks- Sure, the New York Jets got all the offseason exposure with HBO filming Hard Knocks at the Jets training facility this season, but for drama, you had to go no further than the Washington Redskins. The Redskins made noise in the offseason by signing Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen and the respective new head coach and general manager. Then it got better with the Redskins trading for veteran QB Donovan McNabb. Add in overpaid and underachieving DT Albert Haynesworth and it was a blogger’s dream. Neither player would finish the season on the field for the Redskins.
#6-All good things must come to an end- The Indianapolis Colts played in the Super Bowl last season. They have been a very good team for a very long time, however everything comes to an end. After 7 seasons of 12 or more wins, the Colts will limp into the playoffs. The Colts might qualify for the playoffs with a 10-6 record this season, their worst since 2003. The team is aging, the defense is struggling and with no running game, the Colts and Peyton Manning look merely mortal.
#5- You’re outta here buddy- It’s been a tough year to be a head coach in the league this season. The Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49er’s all released their coaches during the season. That is the most I can remember being released in my lifetime during a regular season.
#4- Love them or hate them, here they come again- The New England Patriots. This was supposed to be an off-year for the Patriots. Once the team traded away WR Randy Moss, it was believed that they were giving up on their season. Word is, this is a pretty good Patriots team. They have won 12 of their last 13 games, 7 straight while averaging 38 points a game in those games and Tom Brady is playing out of his mind football. I keep waiting for someone to exploit their 30th ranked pass defense but no one seems able to.
#3- Have a seat my man- Finally, it’s over. Brett Favre has missed a game. At number 297, Favre was unable to play. Favre was unable to duplicate the magic of his 2009 season with the Vikings and the season was filled with all sorts of controversy. Favre allegedly sent nude pictures of Favre Jr. and the Twins to a fellow co-worker while he was with the Jets in 2008. The NFL conveniently drug their feet all season long on the issue. Please retire at the end of the season and do lawn tractor commercials to end your career.
#2- Making the most of second chances- Michael Vick returned to the field as a starter this season and electrified football fans across the league. Vick is playing the best football of his career, and is in the discussion of being named the MVP of the league this season. I think Brady wins the award, but it’s remarkable to watch Vick this year, it’s a shame he didn’t apply himself earlier in his career.
#1- Say it’s not so- The number one NFL story of 2010 has to be not what happened this season, but what might happen next year with the NFL Players Association and the team owners lacking a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The NFLPA is telling players to save their last three game checks, the owners are threatening a lockout while teams are informing fans that they will get their money back for any missed games they will buy tickets for in 2011. I can’t imagine that there will not be football in 2011, but it could be a wasted year with a very truncated season.
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