NFL Week 8: Who's Hot, Who's Not in the League
The first seven weeks of the 2011 NFL regular season have been filled with plenty of excitement, as well as disappointment. Teams, players and coaches have all had their highs and lows, but it's a matter of how well each has built off the momentum and learned from their mistakes.
The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl last year, but they barely made it into the postseason after beating the Chicago Bears in Week 17 to earn a Wild Card spot. The Packers got hot at the right time, and continued to ride that streak.
Other teams, however, may be hot at one point, but then lose that fire and never seem to gain it back. At that point, their season may end sooner than hoped for.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers' play on the field speaks for itself. The reigning Super Bowl MVP has thrown 20 TD passes while only throwing three interceptions in the Packers first seven games of the '11 season.
Rodgers and the Packers have won their last 13 games dating back to last year's regular season, including their four postseason wins resulting in being crowned Super Bowl champions.
Rodgers is, without a doubt, the reason why the Packers are 7-0 heading into the team's bye week.
Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte is having an MVP-like season for the 4-3 Bears. Forte has rushed for a total of 672 yards on the ground, thus far, and only Adrian Peterson has rushed for more yards this season.
Not only is Forte among the leading rushers in the league, but he's also the Bears leader in receptions (38) and receiving yards (419).
According to NationalFootballPost.com, Forte wanted a new contract prior to the start of training camp, but GM Jerry Angelo failed to get a deal finalized. Forte didn't let the negotiations prevent him from playing, so he's playing with a chip on his shoulder every week.
Don't expect Forte to cool off either; he wants to get paid, and if Angelo doesn't, then someone else will.
New York Jets
After three straight losses to the Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, the New York Jets have bounced back with two consecutive wins over the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers.
The Jets routed the Dolphins on Monday Night Football a week ago, and then proceeded to fight for four quarters against the Chargers to earn a victory this past Sunday to improve their record to 4-3.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan loves to hype up his team to the media, and for now, his team is walking the walk while he talks the talk. The Jets are hot, but the Week 8 bye may cool them off prior to two straight divisional games against the Patriots and Buffalo Bills.
The Carolina Panthers may be the NFC South's last place team with a record of 2-5, but rookie QB Cam Newton is providing Carolina with something to smile about.
Cam has already thrown for more than 2,100 yards in his first seven career NFL games. He's also rushed for 266 yards. Newton has only thrown for eight TD passes while throwing nine interceptions, but every rookie has some learning to do. In addition to his eight passing touchdowns, he's also ran for an additional seven touchdowns.
The 22-year-old rookie sensation is a human highlight reel week after week, and his NFL career is very young.
I can't leave Tim Tebow off this list. Even though he's only started one game this season, he's as hot as any player in the league right now.
Tebow got his first start of the 2011 season after Denver Broncos head coach John Fox decided to start Tebow over Kyle Orton after Denver's Week 5 loss to the Chargers.
Tebow led the Broncos to two fourth-quarter touchdowns to erase a 15-0 deficit against the Miami Dolphins this past Sunday. Tebow and the Broncos proceeded to beat the Dolphins in OT improving Denver's record to 2-5.
It looks like Tebow will be Denver's starting QB for the near future, and he'll have to stay hot if he wants to prove all of his doubters wrong.
Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz is probably the farthest thing from hot at this moment in time.
After the Lions loss to the San Fransisco 49ers in Week 6, Jim Schwartz and 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh got into a little postgame scuffle. Schwartz and the Lions came into Week 7 with a new slate, but lost another game at home.
It looks like Jim Schwartz's postgame confrontation with Harbaugh has led to a bit of a cold streak for the Detroit Lions. Things better change in Detroit, otherwise the Lions playoffs aspirations turn into a pipe dream.
Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts & St. Louis Rams
The Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams are all in the running for first. And I don't mean first place. These three teams are all candidates for the first overall draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
These three teams have combined for a total of zero wins. Yes, zero, zilch, nada, none. Zero.
Being winless speaks for itself. These teams are anything but hot. They're as cold as you can get.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Running Backs
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost a starting running back in two of the last three weeks due to injury. According to rotowire.com, second-year RB LeGarrette Blount injured his knee in Week 5 against the 49ers. This past Sunday, according to cbssports.com, veteran RB Earnest Graham tore his Achilles and is out for the season.
It's not good to be a Buccaneer RB these days.