Faceoff: Colin Stevens vs. Andrew Constant
Who is the midseason NFL MVP:
Andrew: One guy that has stood out more than the rest through the halfway point of the season is Philip Rivers.
I realize his team is 3-5, but the guy is racking up numbers like a champ. Coming into Sunday’s game against Tennessee, he had thrown for 2,344 yards and 13 touchdowns while completing 63 percent of his passes. I really wouldn’t pin the Chargers losses on his shoulders so far this season, aside from his hissy fit at the end of their season-opening loss to Kansas City.
He’s not getting much help from the running game, and with Vincent Jackson holding out until last week, his deep threat has been missing. Rivers has done all he can with much less help than he’s had in the past, and in my opinion, he’s been the Most Valuable Player in the league so far this season. Take him away from the Chargers and they’re 0-7.
Colin: Andrew makes a great argument against his pick – you can’t pick someone with a losing record. That’s why I’m going with the always-dominant Peyton Manning. He continuously leads the Colts to winning records against the odds. This season, he’s making a lot of plays without a lot around him. Joe Addai hasn’t been exactly tearing it up, save his 128-yard outing against the Redskins. I’m still not convinced that either Austin Collie or Pierre Garcon are more than above-average players catching passes from one of the most prolific passers in history. The only other elite players on the Colts, offensively, are Reggie Wayne and a few players along the offensive line. Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney keep the Colts in the game on the defensive end, but Manning wins the games. He’s the smartest player in the league and calls his own plays. He’s the main reason the Colts are 4-2, and the Colts wouldn’t be the same without him.
How would you grade the Heat’s first four games?
Andrew: All right, the Miami Heat has now played four games with their new super-duper roster, and they’re 3-1. Their loss came opening night against my Boston Celtics, and to be honest, the Heat looked like they had never played basketball with each other before. Since then, they’ve rebounded nicely, winning at Philadelphia and New Jersey and thrashing Orlando at home.
Beating the 76ers and the Nets is something the 2009 Heat could have done. Yes, the Nets are getting better and the sixers are making strides in their own right, but come on. If the Heat had lost either of those games, I’d be wondering if these guys are worth their salaries. But beating the tar out of Orlando was a real statement in my eyes. I see the Magic as one of the three teams that are capable of beating the Heat in a seven-game series next spring, but I didn’t like what I saw out of them on Friday night.
Chris Bosh hasn’t looked like an All-Star, LeBron James doesn’t seem to be grasping the whole team concept and Dwyane Wade isn’t back at full strength after missing the whole preseason. If not for their first game being on the road against the best defensive team in the game, the Heat could very well be 4-0. But in basketball, where there is an 82-game regular season plus two months worth of playoffs, it doesn’t matter how you start, but how you finish. ESPN and every media outlet would beg to differ, and I’m sure they’ll follow the Heat around like they’re a traveling circus.
Colin: Aside from the loss to the Celtics, the Heat has been playing very well. I’d even be willing to give them a pass in that first game because it was against one of the best teams in the league and it was Dwyane Wade’s first game back after missing the entire preseason. It was going to take them some time to jell on the court. Since that opening-game loss, the Heat has been embarrassing its opponents. Ten-point, 26-point and 23-point wins over Philadelphia, Orlando and New Jersey were all big wins. Andrew makes the argument that Phili and the Dirty aren’t exactly top-notch teams, but Miami didn’t exactly let those games get close. And against their toughest opponent in that three-game stretch, the Magic, they turn in their best performance with the 26-point win. To me, that’s the most convincing sign that this team is on the right track. Many NBA analysts have said the Magic match up best against the Heat and will cause them the most problems down the stretch. While it is early, the Heat showed they can handle them pretty well and like a fine wine, time will only make this team better.