The Giants are playing well and could be headed back to the NFC Championship. Will the tragedy distract them this week or solidify them?
Denver at Cincinnati - The Boncos and Peyton Manning have things rolling now on both sides of the ball. Don't forget that the Broncos played great defense and special teams last season and they were able to run the ball. You add Peyton Manning to that mix and it's no surprise they are rolling right now. I'm not ready to say they're headed to the Super Bowl for the AFC yet, but it won't take too many more wins for me to change my mind.
The Bengals are a young team that gets a lot of attention from their QB and WR combo. But, it you look at their schedule this season, they haven't beat a good team this season. I think they have too many holes to beat the Broncos, even at home.
Baltimore at Cleveland - Other than their week 1 win over Cincinnati, none of the Ravens games have been that impressive. They were hammered by Houston two weeks ago. I still do not buy Flacco as an elite QB and I don't know how far they can go with him at QB. Their defense is still good, but their reputation is better than their play this season.
The Browns won 7-6 last week. Based on the comments I received for picking against them you would have thought they won the Super Bowl. The bottom line is that this is not a good team. They may win 3, 4, 5 or even 6 games. Whatever the results, they do not have the talent on either side of the ball to go anywhere anytime soon. Weeden is not an NFL QB, period.
Arizona at Green Bay - Arizona started fast but have been exposed in recent weeks because of their weak QB play. The Cardinals schedule gets a lot harder the rest of the season and I don't expect them to end with a winning record. They need to spend time this offseason getting their QB situation straight and figure out what to do with Wells at RB.
The Packers struggled early in the season but have looked a little better the last few weeks. After blowing away Houston on the road, they played down to their competition this week. The Packers didn't look great on offense but I don't put too much into it. I had a hard time even watching Jacksonville in Lambeau field, just didn't look right.
Chicago at Tennessee - The Bears are the perfect example of real football clashing with fantasy football. The Bears and Cutler are 6-1 and looking like one of the best teams in the league. The problem is, Cutler is not putting up great numbers and is not doing anything to help out his fantasy owners. Those that don't play fantasy will use this as a reason they don't like it.
The Titans are a team stuck between building for the future and playing to try and win now. Chris Johnson still isn't lighting things up like he has in past seasons. Matt Hasselbeck isn't a long term option at QB. I'm not sure where this team goes after this season but I do know that I don't buy Locker as a long term option.
Miami at Indianapolis - This is actually an interesting match-up. Both teams are surprisingly over .500 on the season. The Dolphins are playing better than average defense and getting just enough out of their offense. Reggie Bush can still make plays and I actually like Matt Moore a lot and I am not a fan of Tannehill.
The Colts are a surprising 4-3 with rookie QB Luck running things. Not surprising is the fact that they've had an up and down season and lost to some bad teams. The combination of Luck and Reggie Wayne is turning out to be a solid connection. The AFC is weak and the Colts have an outside chance of making the playoffs. Their competition for the last spot is Miami and probably San Diego.
I'll go with Miami on the road, but if Indy wins I wouldn't be surprised.
Carolina at Washington - The Panthers have been one of the biggest disappointments of the season. I expected Cam to have a huge second year and really lead Carolina somewhere. Instead, the Panthers are struggled on both sides of the ball. I know Cam is getting a lot of the blame but I don't put it all on him. I also don't think he's handled the press conference as bad as everyone has said. Yes he has bad body language but, I don't disagree with what he's saying. If you were to read the transcripts of what he's saying, he wouldn't get such a hard time.
RG3 is the most electrifying QB since, well Cam Newton last season. The Redskins are exciting to watch but they're not really winning game yet. I do like that they've finally settled on one RB and are committed to running the ball. A running game will help RG3 develop. One thing he needs to improve on it sliding or he'll end up like Vick and never finish a season.
Detroit at Jacksonville - The Lions won last week but it's not because they played well from start to finish. They continue to fall behind early and then scramble to catch-up the entire game. They can't run the ball and when they fall behind they don't even get a chance to try. The defense is decimated in an already horrendously weak secondary and will continue to get exposed until the front office gets serious about upgrading the position. Stafford and CJ need to get on the same page if the Lions want to go anywhere this year.
The Jaguars are struggling with injuries and just traded Mike Thomas to Detroit. I'm not sure where this team is headed or what strength they are building on.
Lions better win or, as a fan, I may lose my mind.
Buffalo at Houston - The Bills have struggled this season and without an explosive running game, Fitzpatrick is not able to carry things. This team was supposed to have a good defense and solid offense, neither has happened. They are going to have to go back to the drawing board this offseason.
The Texans are the best team in the NFL right now. They play great defense and very solid offense. I like where they are going and they just need to stay healthy.
Tampa Bay at Oakland - I'll be honest, this game isn't on my list of must see this weekend. The Bucs played a solid game last week and beat the Vikings on the road. They have talent and are building on a young team that was supposed to take a step forward last year. They're not going to make the playoffs this season but they should compete next year.
The Raiders are alway interesting. They have some explosive players but I don't expect them to go anywhere anytime soon.
Minnesota at Seattle - These are two surprise teams this season. The Vikings started off fast and seemed to have staying power. They can run the ball with the bionic AP, play good defense and had a QB that wasn't turning the ball over. I never bought into Ponder as a QB and I think he's being exposed now. The Vikings schedule is very difficult in the second half of the season and I think they come back to earth the rest of the season. They have some building blocks, I'm just still not sold on Ponder.
The Seahawks are building something in Seattle, I'm just still trying to get a handle on it. I like their defense and Lynch. They need help at WR and I still don't know why they paid Flynn to hold a clip board. It seems to be working and if they keep hanging around they might make the playoffs.
Pittsburgh at NY Giants - The Steelers are dealing with a lot of injuries this season and they have not beat any quality teams. They're getting old on defense and need to address that this offseason.
The Giants are one of the best teams in the NFC yet again. They have an elite QB, elite WR and above average RB on offense. Add that to their defensive line and they're a dominate team. They have a weakness at CB and need to keep that covered up with the D-Line and by putting up points on offense.
Dallas at Atlanta - The Cowboys are hugely disappointing this season. Their offense is a disaster but I don't blame Romo. I blame Jerry and Garrett. How are the Cowboys not averaging 28 points a game with Romo, Bryant, Austin, Witten and Murray on offense. That is a lineup that half the teams in the league would love to have. I think it's a combination of bad play calling and just plain bad chemistry.
The Falcons are the last undefeated team in the league. They're doing it with balance on offense and good defense. I like the talent they have on offense, the big question is if Ryan can win in the postseason. This was the same question about Eli before he won his first of two Super Bowl MVPs. Is Ryan headed in that direction?
Philadelphia at New Orleans - The Eagles are falling apart this season. I picked them to play in the NFC Championship game. Now, they won't even make the playoffs. I think Andy Reid is a good coach but why aren't they running the ball 30 times a game with McCoy. They can take pressure off of Vick and open up the offense. Don't forget, when Marty was head coach of the Lions, he took the wind over the ball in OT.
The Saints are also falling apart this season. They have the excuse that they don't have their head coach and it's taking a bigger toll than even they thought. This is a lost season but it exposed their needs on defense. They need to address that this offseason.
The Saints win.
That's where we stand as of week 9. The season is starting to come into focus. Will this season be the first time, in a while, when the favorite team wins the Super Bowl?