The month of September was full of incorrect promises, untruths and misplaced sports insider knowledge and expertise.
Leave it to Richie Incognito to speak the truth.
Among the buffet-sized portions of falsehoods uttered on sports talk radio, nightly sports TV, the Twitterverse and interwebs:
- The Yankees will make the playoffs after being inspired because Ryan Dempster hit Alex Rodriguez.
- The Tampa Bay Rays have a deeper pitching staff than the Boston Red Sox.
- Tom Brady has lost his game, along with his temper and ability to lead.
- Colin Kaepernick is the quarterback of the future.
- The Miami Dolphins will challenge the New England Patriots in the AFC East.
We know how the Yankees and Rays fared. By now, you should be fully-loaded up on Red Sox 2013 World Series champion swag.
Let's start with Incognito.
The 4-5 Dolphins began their implosion long before Incognito and Jonathan Martin began swapping profane and quasi-racist text messages. It was the disintegration of Miami's offensive line when both Martin and Incognito were both playing that let to Ryan "He's better than Brady, Really" Tannehill being sacked a total of 18 times in the Dolphins' first four games.
Tannehill was sacked four times in a 38-17 loss to New Orleans in Week 4, which left him on pace for a 72-sack season.
"If we give up 72 sacks, I mean, everybody should be fired," Incognito said after the loss to the Saints on Sept. 30. "I think the whole offensive line. That's atrocious."
His wish is now in the process of being granted.
The "BullyGate Scandal" that has exploded in Miami Gardens and has since permeated American culture was way too much for a franchise like the Dolphins to handle. This is the same team that let Drew Brees walk in favor of Daunte Culpepper and has had seven different coaches during the same span that Bill Belichick has been video-taping his opponents, cheating, and using the "Tuck Rule" to win Super Bowls for the Patriots.
The Patriots went though an off-season in 2013 that saw Aaron Hernandez arrested for murder and the team, through innuendo and the select compilation of facts, somehow implicated as an accomplice by default.
Amid that, they dealt with the mini-circus involving Tim Tebow's presence in camp and navigated the arrest on July 11 of Alfonzo Dennard, after which Dennard admitted that he violated terms of his probation from a previous arrest that occurred in April of 2012.
Heading into this season, Brady's top five targets from 2012 were absent after they had either been lost via free-agency, cut, exiled into retirement, injured or arrested for murder.
After Danny Amendola's injury in Week 1 of the season, Brady, tantums and all, went 3-0 with a receiving corps that consisted of Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, James Develin and Josh Boyce. His tight ends during that stretch: Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan.
There isn't another QB not named Peyton Manning who could have won three games with only those future Hall of Famers on his radar screen.
Now, Brady has Rob Gronkowski and Amendola, in addition to a burgeoning running game anchored by Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount, along with Dobson and Thompkins catching the ball with regularity. Both, when healthy, are slowly developing into reliable targets.
Brady's performance against Pittsburgh was easily his best of 2013 and one of the best in his career. It wasn't just the numbers he hung on the
Steel Shower Curtain [23 for 33, 432 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs and a 151.8 passer rating] that were so gaudy. It was Brady's accuracy and confidence he showed in all of his options, connecting with six different receivers.
The old Brady, that being the Brady from 2012 until the AFC title game, was back.
Gone are the temper tantrums, at least until the Patriots lose again in the AFC title game, that punctuated the early part of the season and triggered an avalanche of idiocy from the football intelligentsia.
Winning the greatest cure-all for any illness in the NFL. Just check out the 9-0 Kansas City Chiefs [sorry if you're offended], who less than a year ago had a dead player laying in their stadium parking lot after he killed the mother of his child and committed suicide.
Brady being Brady is the best medicine the Patriots could ask for heading into the second half of the season. If the victory over Pittsburgh is any omen, the next seven weeks could resemble 2007 as much as 2003 or 2004.
After nine weeks and a bye, the Patriots are in control of their playoff fate in the AFC. Win out, and they'll get at the very least a first-round bye and a home-field against anyone but the Chiefs [sorry if you're offended].
Thankfully, the Broncos [likely a wildcard] and Chiefs [sorry if you're offended] will bash heads in the AFC West [they play twice in the next three weeks], and if all the pieces fall into place, the Patriots could slip through the remaining seven weeks of the season as the top seed in the AFC.
Then again, if the Patriots lose at Carolina Monday night and again the following Sunday night at home against Manning, Wes Welker and the Broncos, they could be stuck in a first-place tie in the AFC East with the Jets.
Such is the precariousness of the NFL.
A quick peek at New England's schedule shows a marked decline in the degree of difficulty after the Patriots play the Broncos.
And by the time the dreaded late-season trip to Miami [on Dec. 15] takes place, the Dolphins should be in complete shambles.
Unless they emerge to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East.
Here are this week's rankings. Teams are listed with their records.
1. Chiefs [sorry if you're offended] [9-0]: Facing the Broncos twice in three weeks is like the NFL's version of the ALDS.
2. Seahawks [9-1]: Marshawn Lynch gained 145 yards in last week's beatdown of the Falcons. The "Coach of the Year" race between Pete Carroll and Andy Reid will be the NFL's version of John Farrell vs Terry Francona.
3. Broncos [8-1]: Like the Chiefs [sorry if you're offended], the Broncos have fattened up on teams currently at or below .500. They get the Patriots to break up their pair against the Chiefs.
4. Patriots [7-2]: Monday night's game at Carolina will be New England's toughest test on the road until the AFC title game or Super Bowl, whichever comes first.
6. Panthers [6-3]: The 10-9 victory over 49ers last week, which featured six sacks of Colin "Boy Do We Miss Alex Smith" Kaepernick put this team on the map. All that talk in Foxborough about this week's opponent being "tough on offense, tough on defense and well-coached" might actually ring true.
7. Colts [7-3]: Andrew Luck is a younger, larger, more athletic, uglier version of Brady minus the Super Bowl rings and super model wife. He will be the best QB in the NFL the day after Brady and [Peyton] Manning retire. Luck did go a bit higher in the draft, however.
8. Lions [6-3]: Reggie Bush should surpass the 1,000-yard rushing and passing combined threshold this week. He's got 623 yards rushing [4.7 yards per carry] and 343 yards on 34 catches. You can do the math on that one.
9. 49ers [6-3]: Colin Kaepernick is sooooo 2012.
10. Bengals [6-4]: Ravens tried to literally give them a win last week [or tip it toward them] but the Bengals didn't want it and lost in OT.
11. Bears [5-4] Here's another reason to love Brandon Marshall. Check out his take on the Lions, which were swept by the Bears this season for the first time since 2007, including a 21-19 win last week at Soldier Field. "They're the little brother who grew a little bit, may be a little taller than the bigger brother. He's not stronger," Marshall said Monday on WMVP-AM. "He's not better than the big brother at anything. But it's just that one day, he says, 'I'm fed up. I'm done. I'm going to punch my brother in the face.'"
13. Jets [5-4]: Talk about kicking someone when he's down. Darrelle Revis, who left the Jets for the now 1-8 Bucs, said he still gets ripped by "bitter" Jets fans via Twitter on a regular basis. "I get harassed every day on Twitter, and I barely even tweet. And you just get tired of it," Revis told the New York Post. "They're still not over the fact that I'm not there no more, and they give me crap all the time on Twitter."
14. Eagles [5-5]: Someday, someone will win the NFC East.
15. Cardinals [5-4]: Facing the Jaguars isn't what it used to be.
16. Cowboys [5-5]: After giving up 40 first downs and 625 yards of offense to the Saints, this team needs a bye.
17. Chargers [4-5]: This:
18. Browns [4-5]: The Browns, who have used three quarterbacks this season, face Cincinnati this week. A victory would leave the Browns a half-game out [and even in the loss column] from the AFC North lead.
19: Ravens [4-5]: Joe Flacco couldn't complete a pass longer than 15 yards against the Bengals, James Ihedigbo tipped Andy Dalton's Hail Mary pass to help the Bengals force OT, but Baltimore still managed to win last week.
20. Rams [4-6]: Bye week. Stunning victory over the Colts behind Kellen Clemens probably do much to help erase the memories of Big Papi.
21. Titans [4-6]: The Jaguars? Really?
22. Dolphins [4-5]: The Bucs? Really?
23, Giants [3-6]: Still in the playoff picture thanks to the rest of the NFC East.
24. Redskins [3-6] [sorry if you're offended]: Robert Griffin III is sooo 2012.
25. Steelers [3-6]: Bills were the perfect bounce-back after facing vintage Brady and the Patriots.
26. Raiders [3-6]: RIP Todd Christensen.
28. Falcons [2-7]: A year ago, this team was 8-1 and considered to be the heir apparent to the Giants in the NFC. So much for those experts.
29. Texans [2-7]: A year ago, this team was 8-1 and considered to be the heir apparent to the Patriots in the AFC. So much for those experts.
30 Vikings [2-7]: Christian Ponder dislocated his shoulder in last week's win over Washington. His status for Sunday remains uncertain.
31. Buccaneers [1-8] - The Bucs held the Dolphins to 72 inches on the ground Monday night.
32. Jaguars [1-8]: Just 346 wins for Gus Bradley to tie Don Shula.
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