Marc's Mailbag - Week 9

Marc Sessler is a writer for's Around the League blog and each Friday he will answer your NFL questions, right up until the Super Bowl.

I heard coach Steve Spurrier say the best college football team could beat the worst NFL team. Possible? - Michael in Bath

South Carolina's Spurrior -- one of the more famous college coaches around -- caused a stir with those comments. He said Alabama, an NCAA powerhouse, could knock off more than a few NFL squads.

It's an insult to every team in the league. Spurrier has logged decades watching game film. He's seen it all, which renders his commentary even more absurd. College and pro football don't exist on the same physical or mental plane. Only a minor percentage of college players adapt to the NFL.

It's easy to jab at suffering teams like the Chiefs and Browns -- suggesting they'd struggle to score points on a college stronghold -- but even the most grisly NFL roster would flatten a college all-star team. Maybe that wasn't the case in 1950, but there's no competition today.

We're midway through the season. Which teams do you think will make the playoffs? – Julie G., Brighton

There's so much mediocrity in both conferences. A glut of three- and four-win teams. Here's my invite list for the big party:


East: Patriots

North: Steelers

South: Texans

West: Broncos

Wildcard 1: Ravens

Wildcard 2: Dolphins

NOTES: This weekend's Dolphins-Colts game is fascinating because it has playoff implications when nobody believed it would mean a thing. … I'm not in love with where the Ravens are headed. Houston destroyed this team, and Baltimore's banged up defense wasn't very good to begin with. … The Broncos are scary. Improving every week. … The Patriots also are just getting started and acquiring cornerback Aqib Talib from the Bucs on Thursday addresses their deepest weakness.


East: Giants

North: Bears

South: Falcons

West: 49ers

Wildcard 1: Packers

Wildcard 2: Seahawks

NOTES: I'm sticking with the Seahawks because I picked them as a wildcard before the season, but we need to see more from that offense for Seattle to win a spot. … In the NFC North, the Bears feel like an incomplete team to me, but if they win the Packers rematch, I think they'll take that division. … The Falcons aren't getting enough respect for how dominating that offense has been through seven games.

Any truth to the rumors the Rams might trade running back Steven Jackson? – Mike in Birmingham

The trade deadline has come and gone and Jackson is still in St. Louis. In fact, none of the running backs involved in trade whispers were moved. DeAngelo Williams, Chris Ivory, Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount are all where they were at sunrise this morning.

The Rams verbally backed Jackson, saying how important he is to the team, but don't be surprised to see St. Louis cut ties in the offseason. Jackson is making $7 million this year but becomes a free agent in 2013. He turns 30 years old next season and St. Louis is giving plenty of playing time to Daryl Richardson. The semi-tragic aspect to all of this: Jackson has loyally done his job since 2004, suffering through one losing season after the next.

This team will turn the corner under coach Jeff Fisher, but Jackson won't be along for the ride.

Even after a rough offseason with the "bounty" scandal, I still expected my favorite team -- the New Orleans Saints -- to be competitive this year. Do you think the absence of coach Sean Payton is to blame for their 2-5 record? - Paddy, Newcastle

Payton wore so many hats with this team and his relationship with Drew Brees can't be duplicated. The two complete each other's thoughts during games. So, yes, losing your head coach is devastating.

At the same time, the problem here is on defense. The Saints have allowed 400-plus yards in every game this season. That is unprecedented. It's almost shocking. New Orleans lost to Kansas City in overtime, allowing 27 points -- think about that.

There's been some improvement, but the players on this roster were built for ex-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to aggressively rush the passer. Steve Spagnuolo likes to rush the quarterback, too, but when your depleted secondary can't shut down the pass, you're in hot water. It's hard to imagine a second-half turnaround when the Saints are so imbalanced.

The Eagles entered last season as the "Dream Team" and came away bitterly disappointed after failing to make the playoffs. This season they're only 3-4 and struggling behind quarterback Michael Vick. A lot of money has been invested in this team with few results. Could this be Andy Reid's last year as head coach? - Jack, London

The Eagles actually have more salary cap room than any team in football right now. The "few results" aspect is up for debate. The Eagles have talent, but can't seem to get out of their own way.

There's obviously genuine concern inside the organization about Vick. They toyed with benching him this week for rookie Nick Foles, but coach Andy Reid is giving his quarterback one more shot (against the defensively challenged Saints on Monday night). Vick signed a long-term, $100 million deal before last season, but Philly can get out of the contract without much damage after 2012.

I don't expect Vick to be back with the Eagles. Same goes for Reid. We have a bet going in this newsroom. One of our editors, Justin Hathaway, will be forced to grow a massive Andy Reid mustache and wear it all next season if (a) the coach leaves (or is asked to leave) Philly, and (b) winds up as the next coach of the Cleveland Browns.

It might not be Cleveland -- especially with the San Diego job likely to open up -- but Reid's long tenure with the Eagles is likely nearing its end.

Enjoy the games!

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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