Here’s hoping your hatches have been battened down during Hurricane Sandy. Out here on the Left Coast, things are pretty mellow, but we wish our friends back East safety during and after the storm (and not the defensive back kind of safety, nor the 2-point version). For those who want to take their minds off the howling winds and rain, here’s this week’s NFL report.
The Giants (6-2) are now really pulling ahead of the pack in this division. It’s not that the defending champs are infallible as a team; defensively they’re in the bottom half of the league in both pass and run defense. But they do manage to keep winning, which is all that matters. They grabbed a close win on the road over Dallas (3-4) in Week 8, and should keep rolling in Week 9 when they host the Steelers. The Cowboys have two road games coming that they’re probably not really happy about; they face the Falcons next week and Philadelphia (3-4) the following week. Those Eagles, though, have lost three straight and once again don’t seem able to live up to the potential in their roster. I think it’s time for Andy Reid to move on. The Redskins (3-5) have also lost a couple, but might have a better time against the hapless Panthers next weekend.
It’s pretty obvious that the Bears (6-1) have this division for the taking if they can just be consistent. What’s more consistent than winning five straight? Well, they shouldn’t have to be relying on game-winning field goals to do the work, but an ugly win is still a win. Minnesota (5-3) had been coming on strong, but lost badly to Tampa Bay at home, and now go on the road to face Seattle. The Packers (5-3) seem back on track after three wins in a row, but haven’t been facing the league’s tougher teams, so the jury is still out on them. And while Detroit (3-4) may have had a good baseball team this year, the Lions are inconsistent at best. They should do well against Jacksonville this week, though.
Da Bears have good reason to be happy: five straight wins. Photo via AP.
For all intents and purposes, this is a one-team division. The Falcons (7-0) remain the only undefeated team in football, and for good reason. Their passing game and their pass defense are both among the league’s best. However, it remains to be seen if their flimsy run defense and inability to move the ball on the ground will allow them to keep up the perfect record. The Bucs (3-4) have been looking a bit better lately, and they go on the road next week to face Oakland in what seems like a good matchup. The Saints (2-5) lost at Denver in Week 8, and travel to Philadelphia for Week 9’s Monday Night game. Carolina (1-6) is... really bad.
No one wants to face Atlanta right now. They are the momentum kings of the NFL. Photo via AP.
We expect teams to win and lose games; we don’t expect them to clump all W’s and L’s together, but that’s exactly what the Cardinals (4-4) have done. Four straight wins, followed by four straight losses. That is harsh. What’s less harsh is San Francisco (6-2) rediscovering their dominance of this division. They have the #1 running game in the NFL, as well as the #1 pass defense. Despite Atlanta being undefeated and having a better QB, I’d still say that the Niners and Bears are the toughest teams in the NFC right now. Everyone else in the NFC West has been on losing streaks; the Seahawks (4-4) started out with a lot of potential upside that just hasn’t been realized, and the Rams (3-5) have also hit their apparent ceiling. St. Louis will take on the Niners next week, while Arizona will have a tough time at Green Bay. The Seattle/Minnesota game should be pretty good.
Strong offense? Check. Great defense? Check. Possible NFC champs? Could be. Photo via AP.
Meanwhile, in the American Football Conference Eastern Division, my vote for the best team is... Miami (4-3)! Yes, I said it. I like the Fins’ chances better than I do the Pats’ (5-3). Miami’s schedule -- which includes such luminaries as the Colts, Titans, and Jags -- is easier than New England’s. Furthermore, while the Pats’ offense is still as strong as ever, they are 28th in the league against the pass. Interestingly, they have yet to face each other; their division games are on December 2 and December 30. Many things could happen between now and then. Miami’s won three in a row, so keep your eye on them. Buffalo (3-4) is being its usual inconsistent self, and had their bye this week to regroup, but face the Texans in Week 9. Finally, something is highly amiss for the Jets (3-5), who are having terrible problems with their offense. I promise you, as bad as Sanchez seems to be playing, this is not the time to switch to Tebow. Actually, there’s never a good time to switch to Tebow. For anyone. Ever.
People are pretty quick to blame Sanchez for all of the Jets' woes, but when you have a hole this big for Reggie Bush to run through, there are deeper problems. Photo via Getty Images.
I was ready to just hand this division to the Ravens (5-2)... and then the injuries started. While I’m still doubtful that Pittsburgh (4-3) has what it takes to surpass Baltimore -- they’ve been looking better as of late but still playing inconsistently -- they have a big game against the Giants next week that will be telling for the remainder of their season. Meanwhile, the Ravens had a bye week to heal a bit, and then have two presumably easy games coming up against Cleveland (2-6) and Oakland. Cincinnati (3-4) had started out strong but not has lost three in a row and seems to be in a downward spiral. They also had a bye this week, and then face the Broncos in Week 9. Hats off to the Browns for hanging in there and beating San Diego in Week 8.
Until I’m proven otherwise, I still say that the Texans (6-1) are the best team in football. Week 8 was their bye, and this coming weekend they’ll host the Bills for an easy win. It’s week 10, when they travel to Chicago, which will be telling in regard to their tenacity. The Colts (4-3) have enjoyed two wins in a row with an exciting OT victory over Tennessee (3-5) in week 8. They’ll host Miami this weekend, while Jacksonville (1-6) will lose to the Lions.
Welcome to Craptasy Island! The AFC West is still smelling up the league, with Denver (4-3) still riding the top spot. They beat the Saints at home this week, but may have trouble on the road against the Bengals in Week 9. San Diego (3-4) and Oakland (3-4) are now tied, after the Bolts dropped one to the Browns and the Raiders put a smackdown on the Chiefs (1-6) in week 8. That’s six times in a row that the Raiders have kicked the Chiefs’ respective asses at home. The Thursday game this week features the Chargers and Chiefs, while Oakland will try and maintain their streak against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
What's that? The Raiders got a road win? In a division game? Amazing. Photo via Getty Images.
That's All, Folks!
Your best bets for Week 9 include San Diego over KC, Green Bay over Arizona, and Houston over Buffalo, but I’m having a terrible year in all my pools, so don’t listen to me. Do enjoy the games, though!