With just a handful of undefeated teams left, we are finally beginning to figure out which teams are going to be playing for something when the weather changes. On the other end of the spectrum, I think it is safe to say that the Rams are the worst team in the league and may already be on the clock.
I also want to commend the NFL, its players, coaches, and referees for raising awareness for breast cancer. I thought it was a very nice demonstration and I hope the NFL continues it, much like MLB has done over the past few years.
Chicago (3-1) def. Detroit (1-3), 48-24: This score was is very unusual for an NFC North game, but it will probably become a little bit of the norm over the next few years with the new batch of quarterbacks in the division. Detroit kept this fairly close in the first half, but could not keep pace in the second half. On another note, Matthew Stafford dislocated his knee, which is potentially horrible news for him with the Steelers coming to Ford Field on Sunday.
Cincinnati (3-1) def. Cleveland (0-4), 23-20 (OT): The Bengals came very close to falling into the trap of winning a huge game, then coming back to lose to a bad team. Nevertheless, Cincy escaped Cleveland with a win. Cleveland played better with Derek Anderson under center, as opposed to Brady Quinn, but they are still a bad team. In the future, Cincy has to win these types of games more convincingly to even be in the conversation of elite teams.
Indianapolis (4-0) def. Seattle (1-3), 34-17: This game was nowhere near as close as the final score indicates. This was a blowout in every sense of the word. Seattle was never in this game at all. Peyton Manning continued on his absolute tear through the league as he is putting up ridiculous numbers right now and making guys like Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon look like stars. Indy is rolling right now.
New York Giants (4-0) def. Kansas City (0-4), 27-16: Here is another game that wasn't as close as the final score shows. As usual, the Chiefs were subpar, while the Giants were pretty good. The biggest story out of this game is Eli Manning's heel injury, which has been diagnosed as plantar fasciitis.
I don't know much about the injury, but I do know that Tim Duncan had the injury a few years ago and it lingered with him all year and he clearly wasn't the same player. Obviously the two play completely different positions, but it's something to watch out for throughout the remainder of the year.
New England (3-1) def. Baltimore (3-1), 27-21: All of the bad calls aside, this was a pretty good game. New England seems to be inching closer and closer to where they want to be in terms of how they are playing on the field. Baltimore played well in a loss, although it was probably their worst offensive game on the season that obviously wasn't helped by Mark Clayton's drop that essentially ended the game.
Washington (2-2) def. Tampa Bay (0-4), 16-13: This was a pretty sloppy game on plenty of levels that ended in a pretty uninspiring win for Washington. For a while, it was looking like the 'Skins were in for a very rough week because Tampa had the lead for a lot of the first half and Jason Campbell threw two early picks. Washington eventually cleaned that up (somewhat) and got a much-needed victory.
Jacksonville (2-2) def. Tennessee (0-4), 37-17: After this game all I could think was what happened to the Titans? Fact is that the loss of Albert Haynesworth has hurt this defense a lot more than most thought it would because they have looked horrible recently. Jacksonville looked like they were done after two weeks, but they have stepped every aspect of their collective game up.
Houston (2-2) def. Oakland (1-3), 29-6: I don't know what to say about JaMarcus Russell anymore and we're only four weeks into the season. Every part of Oakland's offense is ugly. Considering Darren McFadden's injury, they won't get any better. Houston simply took care of business here.
Miami (1-3) def. Buffalo (1-3), 38-10: Well, I didn't expect this at all. Miami ran all over Buffalo and for some reason, Buffalo's offense continues to struggle. Trent Edwards is looking more and more like J.P. Losman with all of the bad decisions he is making. Chad Henne played pretty well, but the big question is whether or not he can keep the team moving in a positive direction.
New Orleans (4-0) def. New York Jets (3-1), 24-10: Mark Sanchez finally looked like a rook and the Saints' defense really impressed me. New Orleans has now proven that they can win on either side of the ball. However, even in a loss, the Jets have nothing to hang their heads about. They held an extremely explosive offense in check for the most part and they were still in the game for a while in a very hostile environment.
Denver (4-0) def. Dallas (2-2), 17-10: The Denver Broncos are for real. I'm not in love with their offense, but whenever you play defense the way they do, you will be in every single game you play in. For the Cowboys, this loss does not fall on Tony Romo. He played well for the most part, but for some odd reason, they felt the need to constantly challenge Champ Bailey. To me, this one falls on Jason Garrett again. They just abandoned their great rushing game in the second half and it may have cost them.
San Francisco (3-1) def. St. Louis (0-4), 35-0: The Rams are an awful football team. They have now lost fourteen straight games dating back to last October. Just think about that for a second. This was a beatdown in every sense of the word, even without Frank Gore.
Pittsburgh (2-2) def. San Diego (2-2), 38-28: Pittsburgh completely outmanned and outmatched San Diego in every way in the first half and much of the third quarter. After the odd, but very intelligent touchdown by San Diego's special teams, things got much too close for Pittsburgh's liking. I don't blame it as much on the defense as I did the past two weeks, but it needs to be rectified. The Chargers defense, on the other hand, was horrible. The Steelers were just moving the ball at will all night.
Minnesota (4-0) def. Green Bay (2-2), 30-23: About halfway through the fourth quarter, this game looked like it was all but over. Brett Favre was playing brilliantly. Jared Allen and the rest of the Vikes D-line were all over Aaron Rodgers all night. However, the Pack came pretty close to coming all the way back when it looked like absolutely nothing was going right for them in the second half. Rodgers was once again under pressure all game long as the Vikes piled up eight sacks. It will be very interesting when these teams meet again in November in Green Bay.
Top 12 Teams (last week's ranking in parenthesis)
- New York Giants (1): They won't have a real test until they head to the Superdome in two weeks, but they haven't done anything to lose the top spot. Next week: vs. Oakland (1-3)
- Indianapolis Colts (4): I completely underrated this team coming into the season. They are really, really good. Next week: @ Tennessee (0-4)
- New Orleans Saints (5): They've won games on offense and defense now. This is a dangerous team. Next week: BYE
- Baltimore Ravens (2): Yes, I'm ranking them above the Pats still because I didn't think the game warranted them dropping very far. Next week: vs. Cincinnati (3-1)
- Minnesota Vikings (6): Picked up a good win in an emotional game. Next week: @ St. Louis (0-4)
- New England Patriots (8): For the second week in a row, they get a nice victory over a pretty good team. Next week: @ Denver (4-0)
- Philadelphia Eagles (7): They had a bye week, got healthier, and now get ready for the Bucs. Next week: vs. Tampa Bay (0-4)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (9): Bounced back from two tough losses and got the running game going, but they need to shut the door on teams. Next week: @ Detroit (1-3)
- New York Jets (3): It's a big drop, but I think I had them ranked a little too high in the first place. Next week: @ Miami (1-3)
- Atlanta Falcons (NR): I completely forgot to include them last week, but they are a very good team. Next week: @ San Francisco (3-1)
- San Francisco 49ers (NR): They are now 3-0 in their division and don't have another divisional game until Week Thirteen. It's too early, but they can already smell the playoffs. Next week: vs. Atlanta (2-1)
- Denver Broncos (NR): They would be ranked higher if I thought more of their offense. However, their defense has been great so far. Next week: vs. New England (3-1)
Teams to Drop Out of the Top 12
San Diego Chargers: Their defense was so bad and they were lucky to be in the game toward the end. And has anyone seen Shawne Merriman? He seems to have completely disappeared.
Green Bay Packers: A victory probably would have kept them in, but they have to give Rodgers more time. I know they are banged up, but he has to have time to be successful.
Cincinnati Bengals: I just didn't like how they played coming off of their big victory from last week. Marvin Lewis needs to preach consistency to his players.
That's it for this week. If there is a glaring omission from the rankings like Atlanta last week, let me know. Picks will be in on Friday. Until then, have a great week.