The JZ Weekly Word finally returns...and it only took about four years.
Every week (hopefully), this is the place to find opinions on hot topics in the NFL, power rankings, predictions, draft profiles, and fantasy advice. Maybe even a little something extra every now and then.
Rather than bore you with the stereotypical introduction ("We're really in the thick of things now", "We're starting to figure out who is for real", etc.), let's just get right into it.
The Week Eight preview...
One of the many things that has made NFL football so great over the years is that familiar phrase: "any given Sunday."
I'm not talking about the movie, either. People enjoy watching football because there has always been the feeling that any team can win any given Sunday, particularly during the Salary Cap era.
Someone tell that to all of the teams that got blown-out by halftime in Week Seven.
A quick look at the standings shows that there are quite a few teams with one win or less. The Browns, Titans, Lions, Bucs, and Rams are all playing for pride at this point. There is no way any of them will make the playoffs.
Consider that the Redskins, Raiders, Panthers, and Seahawks are terrible teams with more than one win and it's a shame that one of the teams in this bunched group won't pick until the ninth selection in the first round of next year's draft.
One common theme among most of these teams is first-year head coaches.
Whether they need time to bring in players that can play in their own systems or they just aren't ready to be head coaches, this year can already be chalked up as a failure for all of these franchises. Time to start preparing for the draft.
Also, most of these teams are lucky to have one superstar player. It's hard to lead your team to victory if you are Calvin Johnson, Steven Jackson, or Chris Johnson, if the rest of your team can't help out.
There are also three teams that are still undefeated at this point. Usually we only have one team at this point looking at 16-0. This also doesn't include the Vikings, Patriots, and Steelers.
Look at what the Saints did. It looked like they were going to be embarrassed by the Dolphins last week until they decided to try a little harder. The top teams look like they are far and above the rest of the league.
And who gets the top-billing on these teams? The head coaches and the superstars.
The elite teams make it hard to evaluate teams like the preseason-favorite Giants when they lose to teams like the Saints. Are the Giants that bad or are the Saints that much better than everyone else?
While we feel it is a little disappointing watching some of these blowouts, the postseason should be that much better.
Would you rather watch an 8-8 team in the playoffs or two 13-3 teams playing each other? The best of the best squaring off in the playoffs will create an entertaining January.
Games down the stretch will be exciting as well. The "flex" scheduling means that you are bound to hear Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels calling some great games in December.
In the end, the NFL probably won't be any different than in years past. A couple of the current bottom-feeders will win another three or four games the rest of the season and a couple teams will fall off from the top.
Remember when people were predicting a Jets-Giants Super Bowl last month?
The NFL is still far from predictable.
John's Power Rankings
1. Saints (6-0)
2. Colts (6-0)
3. Broncos (6-0)
4. Patriots (5-2)
5. Vikings (6-1)
Zack's Power Rankings
1. Saints (6-0)
2. Colts (6-0)
3. Broncos (6-0)
4. Vikings (6-1)
5. Steelers (5-2)
Week Eight Predictions
Denver at Baltimore
Minnesota at Green Bay
John and Zack: Minnesota
N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia
John and Zack: Philadelphia
Atlanta at New Orleans
John and Zack: New Orleans
John: Tennessee over Jacksonville
Zack: Oakland over San Diego
Dez Bryant-Oklahoma State WR (Junior)
Weight: 220 lbs.
Bryant is the only sure first rounder in a deep class of WR this year.
At the beginning of the year Bryant was a sure top-10 pick. However, after being suspended for the remainer of the year for lying to the NCAA about an encounter with Deion Sanders, Bryant's stock will slip. Missing the rest of the year will hurt him, but as the top prospect at his position he is still a lock to go early.
Bryant still has a few things about his game to work on and will surely have the time to do so. Participating fully in the combine can only help as it will give coaches and personnel a chance to see what he can't show them this year on the field.
Great sideline awareness
Good overall ball skills
Hard to bring down
Good field vision
Dominant return skills
Lacks ideal deep speed
Rounds off some routes
Doesn't read zone defense well
Bryant has the skills to be a dominate No. 2 at the next level. Look for him to showcase his ability next Feb. at the combine and be taken somewhere between 15th-25th overall.
First, my bros for Week Eight. Put them in your lineup if you need the help.
QB Marc Bulger-STL
They're playing the Lions and will still probably be playing from behind. That should lead to more than just garbage time stats for the Bulge. Two touchdowns and over 250 yards is possible.
RB Matt Forte-CHI
Welcome to the party Matt Forte! Cleveland can't stop the run; Cutler ought to finally stop trying to be Brett Favre' and if Chicago jumps out to a lead, it will be all Forte. Expect a big day (finally).
WR Sidney Rice-MIN
Rice is quickly becoming a top fantasy WR. Bernard Berrian had a nice game against Green Bay in their last game. Since Berrian is dealing with a hamstring, expect Rice to get the extra looks. You don't really think they'll go to Greg Lewis, do you?
WR Miles Austin-DAL
This doesn't mean I'm a fan, nor do I think he will keep up what he's been doing. But Seattle isn't very good and I expect Tony Romo to keep going to what's hot. He could seriously go over 150 yards again. After that, I can't guarantee anything going forward.
TE Kevin Boss-NYG
As an Eagles fan, I hate to pick like this. But Philly cannot, will not, and chooses not to cover tight ends. Assuming Boss is healthy on Sunday, expect close to 100 yards and at least one touchdown.
Week Eight Lame-o's: Think twice before putting these guys in your starting lineup. You've been warned.
QB Joe Flacco-BAL
If he goes over 200 yards in this game, I'll be surprised. I expect a defensive struggle. Speaking of...
RB Knowshon Moreno-DEN
I'm still not sold on him, and I also don't like his chances in what should be a low-scoring game against Baltimore.
WR Michael Crabtree-SF
Let's just hold on before we give Crabtree the Rookie of the Year award and Alex Smith the Comeback Player of the Year award (don't you have to be something first before you win that too?).
I want to see him do it for more than one half now that people are going to be looking at him more carefully.
WR DeSean Jackson-PHI
He's usually my bro. This is more of a nod against Donovan McNabb than Jackson. I don't know how many of those big plays he can get this Sunday.
He's very capable every time he touches the ball, but I'd say he's more likely to catch four balls for 50 yards this week. Love to see him prove me wrong though.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe-MIN
If it wasn't for a one-yard TD last time he played the Packers, he would have had a bust day. I'd give Adrian Peterson better odds to get those type of touchdowns this time around.