We are just about a quarter of the way through the NFL Season, and some teams have jumped out to a great start, while others have absolutely imploded early. There is still time to save any team's season, so this becomes a crucial week for some teams to show that they're not out of the race yet.
The Giants started out looking good in Week 1 and then forgot what they were doing after that. They absolutely imploded at home against Tennessee in a 29-10 loss. They committed more personal fouls than red-zone trips, and they look more like they're competing for a higher draft pick than a division title. In a prime-time game against the 3-0 Chicago Bears, the Giants have to hold their ground at home in the New Meadowlands to stay close to contending in the uncertain NFC East.
This game could not only keep them in the race for a playoff spot or division title, but it might also keep Tom Coughlin employed through the rest of this season. When you're in the largest media market in the country, you're under much more scrutiny than most other teams. Outside of Dallas, this team is under the eye of everyone in the Big Apple. Eli Manning and Company need to pull off a big win this Sunday night to keep them at least in the talk that they still are a team worth talking about in NY.
Some might say it's premature to think that they're starting to crumble, but over the past couple years, this team has been the best in the NFL for three-an-a-half quarters. When the Texans scored an impressive win over Indy and a comeback OT win against the Redskins on the road, this seemed like the year when they would finally get over the hump and crack into the playoffs.
Then Dallas came to town in Week 3 and the Texans' train got derailed early. The suspension of LT Duane Brown definitely was noticeable: DeMarcus Ware took over the game, getting three sacks on Schaub by himself in the 27-13 defeat. Houston will try to bounce back against a desperate Oakland team that can't seem to get out of its own way.
Houston can make the Dallas loss look like yesterday's news if they win their next few games; at Oakland, and home against the Giants and Chiefs. They need to keep this fight going in order to keep up the belief that this team is different from every other prior Houston team and to keep Kubiak there for another year.
This team was an early prediction to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, especially after adding Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the offseason to help make opposing defenses pay.
The Ravens looked good in Week 1 beating the Jets on the road, but then dropped one to division rival Cincinnati and barely beat the lowly Browns at home.
This week, they play the Pittsburgh Steelers on one of the hardest home fields in football.
This game will be an absolute slugfest and a great litmus test for both teams. Pittsburgh's defense has been very strong their defense, and some are even saying that this is the return of the 2008 team that won the Super Bowl.
Baltimore needs to pull out a road win in a very hostile environment to secure its position as one of the top AFC Teams and to stay competitive with the Bengals and Steelers for that division.
This team is a bit of a surprise, pulling off upset wins over division rival San Francisco and the San Diego Chargers. They have the chance to go two games up in their division this sunday with a road win at struggling St. Louis.
I wouldn't say this is a walk in the park, though.
The Rams just beat Donovan McNabb's Washington Redskins in a close one and are starting to finally believe in themselves after years of just god-awful football play. The 'Hawks are a questionable team, showing up one week and then getting run off the field the next week. Which team is getting on the plane on the way to Seattle?
With the opportunity to pull two games ahead in the division and actually have a chance at making the playoffs for the first time in a few years, Seattle needs to put everything they can into this week to remind everyone that they play good professional football in the Northwest.
No one had any idea how this team would be this year. New head coach, new QB, new defensive coordinator, new offensive coordinator. This team has undergone a complete leadership overhaul and was a giant question mark up until Week 1. With all of these off-the-field issues and the Albert Haynesworth drama surrounding them, most people figured this team was doomed to a top five draft spot.
Then they pull off a Week 1 upset of the Cowboys (with an assist to Alex Barron), take the Texans to the wire in a great OT game, and then just drop a total dud against the winless St Louis Rams.
So what do we make of this team? Are they really a competitive team that could be someone to worry about as the season goes on, or are they just a flash in the pan for the first couple weeks?
This week, they go into a very tough Lincoln Financial Field against the division-leading Eagles. Donovan McNabb's homecoming against the red hot Michael Vick will really prove whether the Redskins have what it takes.
Miami was on a lot of scouts' and writers' boards as a sleeper to make the playoffs this year. After bringing in monster receiver Brandon Marshall, the Dolphins are a team that many people think can make the playoffs, most likely as a Wild Card.
They pulled off the upset against a struggling Minnesota team and played the Jets down to the wire last Sunday night. This week, they have a real challenge: seeing if they can beat the visiting New England Patriots and show that they deserve to compete in their division. If they are going to make the playoffs, they need to overcome the Patriots and continue to fight, because I believe the other wild-card spot is coming out of the talent-laden AFC North.