Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Talbuc's Take - Week 12


In what turned out to be a third straight convincing win for the Patriots, Tom Brady threw for 361 yards and 3 TDs against the Eagles. Brady has a 8-0 TD-INT ratio over the stretch, and the Patriots own a fairly comfortable two game lead (and 2-0 season record) over the second place Jets. With the Colts on tap this week, look for a fourth straight shellacking as the Patriots inch towards the playoffs. The aforementioned Jets halted a two game skid by beating the floundering Bills on a Santonio Holmes TD in the 59th minute. They earned the win, but the Jets trailed longer than they led at home against a team that was on the wrong side of a combined 79-15 point total against Dallas and Miami the last two weeks. Mark Sanchez found the endzone 4 times, but he managed only 180 yards and was a disappointing 50% passer against the league’s third worst opposing passer completion percentage defense. Good chance their season road record moves to 1-5 this week against the Redskins. The Bills now sit under .500 for the first time this year, and are effectively out of the playoff chase. Stevie Johnson belongs in the NBA where individualism is celebrated and encouraged. His “humor” was certainly a factor in the loss. The Dolphins put forth a valiant Thanksgiving Day effort at Dallas but were unable to win their fourth straight game of the year. In a pretty exciting back and forth contest, Dan Bailey won the game for the Cowboys on a game ending chip shot FG. I like their chances of getting that fourth win this week at home against Oakland.

In possibly the week’s most physical contest, the Ravens won the battle of the Harbaughs, at least temporarily halting the 49ers’ great run. With their toughest remaining regular season game out of the way, the Ravens are in the driver’s seat the rest of the way as long as they don’t lay another egg coming off an emotional win as they’ve done thrice already this year. I’m guessing they show up in Cleveland this week. Pittsburgh survived a scare against the outmanned Chiefs, but in that game, the Steelers’ flaws were on display yet again. If a team has a passable pass rush and can play pretty decent coverage, the Steelers are going to have a hard time putting together scoring drives. Kansas City owned them for most of the night and was a late INT away from giving the Steelers an inexcusable loss. I smell another tough contest this week when they host the Bengals who survived a scare of their own last week against the Browns. Trailing most of the game, the Bengals again got a key big play from AJ Green. The rookie made a highlight worthy 51 yard catch that set up the game winning kick in a game that saw Cleveland, again, fail to close out a potential win. They figure to be playing for draft position the rest of the way with four of their remaining five games coming against the Ravens and Steelers. Enjoy!

Ok, I guess the Texans just aren’t meant to make a serious run. Fresh of the season ending Schaub injury, replacement Matt Leinart suffered a broken collarbone and will also be sidelined for the remainder of the year. Their game against the Jaguars could have ended even uglier if Marcedes Lewis could have hung onto a potential TD pass that I’m fairly confident Mrs. Talbuc could have caught at least 8 out of 10 times. Enter TJ Yates, a rookie from North Carolina. Jake Delhomme was signed to be his backup, so Yates figures to have a decent leash. Expect the run game to remain THE key on offense, but they’ll get quite the test this week as Falcons bring the league’s second ranked run defense to Houston with them. For Jacksonville, Blaine Gabbert continued to look overwhelmed and was eventually replaced by Luke McCown. Jack Del Rio has been fired, the team is being sold, but the GM has been retained and continues to back the rookie. Look for more of the same ineptitude the rest of the way, starting this week against San Diego in what should be quite the Monday Night yawner. As expected, Tennessee got a win against the Bucs, continuing their yo-yo season of alternating wins and losses. Chris Johnson destroyed the Bucs in his biggest game of the year, rushing for 190 yards, although he was unable to reach the endzone for an amazing 9th time this season. Wrapping up the South, it’s another week later, and the Colts still suck.

This one looks like it’s coming down to two teams – Oakland and Denver. Surprising, considering the Chiefs and Chargers finished 1-2 last year. Oakland rode what seemed like 15 Sebastian Janikowski field goals to victory over the Cutler-less Bears. Oakland’s defense held Matt Forte well in check and forced three turnovers from Caleb Hanie. Making another start for the injured Darren McFadden, Bush ran for only 69 yards, but he did find the endzone for the third straight week. While they’ve yet to win by more than 7 since week three, a win is a win. This week’s trip to Miami has the potential to be one of the week’s best games. It only took until there were 4 minutes left in the first half for Tim Tebow to complete his first pass of the game last week. Way to go Timmy! The Broncos have now won 4 straight with Tebow at the helm and have to be taken serious as a potential playoff team. Amazing accomplishment for a team starting the league’s worst passing QB, and that’s saying a lot in a league where Mark Sanchez has a job. The carnival heads to Minnesota this week. San Diego officially sucks having lost their 6th straight game and unfortunately get to occupy my television Monday night. The Chiefs stomached four Tyler Palko turnovers Sunday night and are no doubt trying to accelerate recently acquired Kyle Orton’s readiness for game action. They’re going nowhere with either QB, but Orton should be able to make defenses play a little more honestly on the back end.


The tale of the two team race carries over to the NFC as well where the Cowboys and Giants are the only two teams still playing competitively in the East. I hesitate to use that term with the Giants after witnessing Monday night’s but kicking which saw them fall for the third straight time. They had no answer for Drew Brees, permitting 363 passing yards and 4 TDs in what looked like a practice game for the Saints. They allowed another 205 yards on the ground and aren’t exactly heading into this week’s matchup against the lossless Packers with the best momentum. Dallas, on the other hand, has now won four straight and will look to avoid a road letdown in Arizona before hosting the staggering Giants. Miles Austin is likely to finally return this week, and it will be interesting to see how this impacts Laurent Robinson’s snap count. Robinson’s two scores against Miami gave him 7 TDs in his last 5 games, making him nearly impossible to bench. The Patriots were the most recent team to embarrass the Dream Team in a one sided whopping that saw the style-over-substance DeSean Jackson benched for dropping routine NFL passes and Philly fans chant for Andy Reid’s firing. Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were torched for 361 yards, 3 passing TDs, and didn’t defend a single pass, let alone intercept one. Huzzah! The irrelevant Redskins won out west in a game that saw Roy Helu tally his first 100 yard game as a pro.

The week’s first game saw the undefeated Packers roll into Detroit and roll over the Lions. Green Bay was up 24-0 before Detroit finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. Aaron Rodgers threw only two TDs, but he spread the ball around to 9 different receivers. James Starks reinjured himself early in the game and was limited to only 4 snaps. His status for the Giants game is currently up in the air. In addition to keeping Detroit off the scoreboard for most of the game, they picked Matthew Stafford three times and held Calvin Johnson to a meager 4 catches for 49 yards. From what I’m reading, some folks think this is the week the Packers lose. Not me. New York is in a bad place right now, and this isn’t the spot for Green Bay to slip up. A big reason for Detroit’s lack of success in the Thanksgiving game was losing the resurgent Kevin Smith early in the game with an ankle injury. His status for this week is uncertain, but they need a healthy Smith if they’re going to continue this run. I can’t not mention Ndamukong Suh’s ejection. That was a pretty horseshit move by a guy who is, unfortunately, becoming known more for his dirty than dominating play. I love the guy’s talents but have no tolerance for undisciplined, immature/thuggish acts. Get it together dude. Ok, so there’s an obvious gap from Jay Cutler to Caleb Hanie. Oakland’s offense wasn’t exactly torching the Bears defense, but Chicago couldn’t get anything going on the other side of the ball. As bad as he played, they still only lost by 5 on the road to a division leader. I think the Chiefs defense was a bit of a mirage Sunday night and that they won’t shut Chicago down on the road. The Vikings dropped to 2-9 but kept the game a lot closer than it should have been for not having Adrian Peterson. Christian Ponder found Percy Harvin for a beautiful deep TD on 4th and 13 to cut the deficit to 3 early in the 4th. Can the game’s best 2-9 football team beat Tebow’s Broncos?

Now that was a lopsided performance. Drew Brees and the Saints did pretty much whatever they wanted against the Giants, throwing for 363 yards and 4 TDs. Talk about a season to remember. Brees is up to 3,689 yards and has a 27-11 TD-INT ratio through 12 games. If Rodgers doesn’t win the MVP, I think it will be Brees. Jimmy Graham was his usual mismatch self, turning 2 of his 5 receptions into TDs. They spread it around in the backfield again, as Ingram, Thomas, and Sproles each rushed for over 54 yards as part of an impressive 205 total on the ground for the game. As with Green Bay, I don’t see this week as a letdown spot for the Saints. I think the Suh-less Lions will fall to the Saints. The Falcons are only a game behind the Saints in the standings, but it seems like there’s a mile-wide gap between the two when it comes to play on the field. Atlanta seems slower this year, unable to put anyone but Indy away. They don’t matchup well with teams who don’t have to run the ball to be successful, so lucky for them that Houston’s working with their 3rd QB this week. Atlanta needs to win a game like this if they want to be a serious contender in the playoffs. This is becoming quite the theme – another week, another Bucs loss. This time, they stumbled and fumbled their way to a defeat that saw them go the entire second half without an offensive score. The four fumble affair was fittingly finished when Freeman bumbled the snap on a 4th and 1 deep in Titans territory. Can they snap the streak against Carolina? Hell, I’d hope so. Carolina got their 3rd win last week against the Colts, but that one was a contest throughout. As a Bucs fan, I don’t like how they match up with Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, and Steve Smith. Could be another long, disappointing afternoon.

For the first time in over two months, the 49ers increased the number in their loss column. In a game that played as well as it was advertised, San Francisco was, unsurprisingly, unable to keep up with Baltimore offensively. Alex Smith was held to under 150 yards, and the Niners, a true ground and pound team, managed just 74 total rushing yards. They held Ray Rice in check, which usually results in a win, but they were unable to turn Joe Flacco over at all and couldn’t flip the field on the Ravens. They’ll look to take out their frustrations on the Rams this week, a team who fell to a miserable 2-9 on the season. They put up a fight against the Cardinals, coming back from three unanswered third quarter scores to tie it up late. But yet again, they were unable to close the deal. Barring a huge letdown by Harbaugh’s Niners, this one’s going to get ugly Sunday. Arizona has won three of four, but they’re still a nonthreatening 4-7 on the year. John Skelton isn’t Kurt Warner, but three of their four wins have come with him under center. Patrick Peterson did it again, returning another long punt for a highlight worthy TD. If Von Miller isn’t the defensive ROY, Peterson will be. Seattle had a letdown against the Redskins, losing a 10 point fourth quarter lead to a middling Redskins team. Also lost in that contest was Sidney Rice for the season with an obviously serious concussion. Marshawn Lynch rushed for over 100 yards for the third time in four games, and doing so behind a beat up offensive line. Well done. Will they be the latest disgrace to Philly’s season? I say chances are damn good.

Best and Worst

Best Teams (Previous Rank)
1 – Green Bay (1)
Detroit didn’t even make them blink.

2 – New Orleans (2)
Destroying the Giants secured this spot for them.

3 – Baltimore (3)
A slightly more consistent offense is needed to get to #2 on this list.

Feeling pretty good about my top three; a trifecta I’ve had together all year. This next threesome could be sorted any possible way.

4 – San Francisco (5)
Despite the loss, they’re clearly a tough tough team.

5 – New England (6)
I’m still not a believer in that defense, but Brady is in one of his typical zones at the moment.

6 – Pittsburgh (4)
An offensive offensive line is causing this offense to stay stuck in neutral.

7 – Dallas (8)
You didn’t lose a possible letdown game against the Dolphins, now lather rinse repeat at Arizona.

8 – Oakland (NR)
I’ve got to get the Raiders on this list. Palmer is flinging it better than expected, and they’re winning without their best offensive player.

OUT – Detroit (7)

Worst Teams (Previous Rank)
1 – Indianapolis (1)
If you look up “suck” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of a hooker wearing a Colts jersey.

2 – St. Louis (2)
No excuses – bad team.

3 – Jacksonville (3)
New owner. New coach. Same shitty offense. Blaine Gabbert’s lack of cajones is the biggest story on that team in my opinion.

4 – Cleveland (4)
A near upset is still a loss.

5 – Carolina (5)
Might Tampa Bay be the cure for Cam’s ails?

6 – Minnesota (8)
A team that can run the ball and stop the run as well as they do has no business owning a 2-9 record.

7 – Kansas City (6)
Bah humbug, I’m calling that a fluke.

8 – San Diego (NR)
Your suckage finally bought you a well deserved spot on the shit list.

OUT – Washington (7)

This Week’s Predictions

Strongest wins (by more than 14)
Saints v. Lions
49ers v. Rams
Patriots v. Colts

Double digit dominance (at least 10)
Packers @ Giants

Just win baby
Bills v. Titans
Bears v. Chiefs
Jets @ Redskins
Falcons @ Texans
Vikings v. Broncos
Cowboys @ Cardinals

Upsetville – Getting Crowded
Seahawks v. Eagles
Raiders @ Dolphins
Bengals @ Steelers
Panthers @ Bucs
Jaguars v. Chargers

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Talbuc's Take - Week 11


It didn’t start like a game that was going to end up a 34-3 victory, but the Patriots left Kansas City with their second straight win and their 6th 30+ point game of the year. Rob Gronkowski has taken over as their unstoppable offensive weapon, catching his 19th and 20th career TDs and establishing himself as the quickest tight end to reach the 20 career TD mark. I love they way Belichick is recreating the Troy Brown WR/DB thing with Julian Edelman. That guy makes better tackles than a lot of full time NFL corners.  Nice egg. The overrated Jets fell to 5-5 on the year and an unmacho 1-4 on the road with their loss at Denver. That’s two ugly performances in a row. Fortunately for the Jets, they get the fading Bills, Redskins, and Chiefs in the next three weeks. No excuse for not going 3-0 there. They won’t though, and reason #1 might be the play of one of the worst QBs in the league. Mark Sanchez is awful. He cannot lead an NFL offense and has trouble simply managing a winning situation. The Jets have no excuse for not pursuing an upgrade this offseason. Looking good Miami! They won their third in a row against the trifecta of teams due up on the Jets’ schedule. Again, no excuse for New York not going 3-0 there. Pretty encouraging that the Dolphins can win a game 35-8 and have Brandon Marshall register just 5 yards on 1 reception. The Dolphin defense surrendered just 41 yards on the ground to Buffalo, a week after holding Washington to 61. Their Thanksgiving matchup at Dallas should be a good one. If Buffalo is careful, they might not win another one the rest of the way. They’ve been outscored 83-15 the last two weeks and face a Jets team they’re unlikely to score a lot against.

It wasn’t the prettiest or most dominant performance, but the Ravens reclaimed first place in the division with a win over the depleted Bengals. Ray Rice was appropriately made the centerpiece of the offensive gameplan, garnering 25 total touches and gaining nearly 150 total yards. Huge contest coming up this Thursday night when John Harbaugh hosts his brother’s 49ers. This is the biggest game left on their regular season schedule in my opinion. After this one they have Cleveland twice bookending games against the Colts and Chargers. They cannot afford another slip up the rest of the way. Cincinnati did a great job of hanging in there despite not having possibly their two best players on both sides of the ball – AJ Green and Leon Hall. Andy Dalton had a chance to tie the game up inside the red zone, but the Ravens defense held up and snuffed out the rally. The Bengals get a breather against the Browns this week before facing the Steelers again for the second time in a month. They’ll need Green back for that one. Cleveland got their 4th win of the season, but #1 it was a against the Jags; and #2 they haven’t scored more than 17 points in their last 8 games. Awful. They get to take on the division over the next three weeks in what should be quite the gauntlet.

Of the division’s teams, Houston looked the best this week, and they didn’t even play. They’ll get to see what Matt Leinart has to offer as he takes over for Matt Schaub this week against the Jaguars. Speaking of the Jaguars, things are bad when the Texas duo of McCoy and Ogbonnaya beat you. The Jags allowed the latter to run for 115 yards and a score and will get absolutely owned by Arian Foster and Ben Tate if they bring that shoddy run defense with them Sunday. I saw Blaine Gabbert kind of wuss into a throw with pressure in his face. Jamie Mitchell was about lit him up, but Gabbert pulled back on the throw and missed an open receiver Jason Hill. It’s an isolated play but not one that shows a lot of growth. As expected, the terrible Titans showed up in Atlanta and got slapped around until Jake Locker came on for an injured Matt Hasselbeck and got a couple late, rallying scores. After a good week, Chris Johnson reverted back to what he’s been all year – a non-factor – with a pathetic 13 yards on 12 carries. Count that money CJ.

The Raiders got their second road win in a row with balanced victory against the Vikings. Carson Palmer threw 7 less passes than Michael Bush had carries in a gameplan the Raiders would like to repeat as often as possible. Bush continues to shine in McFadden’s absence and is earning himself more money when he hits the market with every passing week. The Raiders were a preseason surprise team of mine, and they look like the safest pick to win this division in my opinion the way things stand currently. They’ll get to host the Cutler-less Bears this week. Things are getting brutal in San Diego. They tasted defeat for the fifth straight game and now get to face Denver and Baby Jesus this week. Only Tebow can look like complete shit for three quarters and then run around the field sandlot style in the fourth to pull out a win and get people thinking he’s amazing. Congratulations, you’re a running mismatch. Now learn how to throw a football, and I’ll start considering him something other than a gimmick with a short shelf life. The Chiefs looked good for a half at New England, but the reality set in as they got a second half spanking. Tyler Palko started out solid but ended the day with three interceptions and no scores. That four game win streak is a distant memory now.


This division continues to be the most schizophrenic in the league. The Giants looked like a team on a mission the last month, but they were tossed around all night long by the Eagles in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the 17-10 score indicates. They couldn’t run the ball, couldn’t pass the ball, and could only muster one TD in a game that saw backup QB Vince Young throw 3 INTs. Ahmad Bradshaw is no sure thing to return this week in their matchup with the Saints, and if Vince Young looked capable against this defense, imagine what Drew Brees is going to do to them, especially that young group of linebackers. Philly hosts New England this week in a game that should feature a lot of points. Dallas was the latest team to beat up on the Redskins, but they needed OT to get the win. Laurent Robinson did it again, scoring his 5th TD in the last 4 weeks. They still have yet to play the Giants this year, so there’s a lot left to be decided here. I can’t project a winner of this mess, but Dallas has the easier schedule of the two the rest of the way. The Grossman-Gaffney Gator duo led the way for the Redskins, but you’re not going to win many games running for only 60 yards. They’ll try to snap that six game skid in Seattle Sunday.

Jordy Nelson is perfect for the Packers. The guy doesn’t drop anything and is always in sync with Aaron Rodgers. He led the team in receiving and has 16 receptions and 5 TDs over his last three games. If it’s possible, the pass game is likely to be even more of a focus with James Starks possibly out with an ankle injury suffered in the game against the Bucs. After a solid game against the Vikings, the Packers pass defense allowed a struggling Josh Freeman to throw for 342 yards and make the contest closer than it should have been. If they give Matthew Stafford and the Lions the same cushion, loss #1 might come Thanksgiving Thursday. After trailing by 17 in the 2nd quarter, the Lions ripped off five 2nd half TDs to take a convincing win. On the heels of a 1 TD, 4 INT game against the Bears, Stafford rebounded for 5 scores and 2 INTs against the Panthers. Kevin Smith exploded for 201 total yards, including 140 of them and 2 scores on the ground. Worth noting – Of Stafford’s 5 TDs, none of them went to Calvin Johnson. What a huge huge loss for the Bears. Yes, they became the most recent winner of the “who’s better than San Diego” challenge, but they may have lost Jay Cutler for the year with a broken right thumb. That’s a tremendous shot to the gut and one I believe will keep them from making the playoffs and from possibly being the team with the best chance of knocking off the Packers. This weeks’ game against the playoff-hopeful Raiders will show us what Caleb Hanie’s Bears are capable of. The Vikings experienced a loss of their own with their best player leaving the game against Oakland early with an ankle injury. Adrian Peterson is likely to miss this week’s matchup against the Falcons, but it doesn’t appear that this is anything that will sideline him for a lengthy period of time.

The Falcons got a much needed win against the Titans to get them within a game of the idle Saints, but they’ve got to be discouraged that they nearly let Jake Locker bring the Titans back from a 20 point 3rd quarter deficit. On a positive note, their 2nd ranked run defense absolutely shut down the opposition’s ground game again. The get a bit of an assist this week against the Vikings with Peterson likely out, but next week’s matchup at Houston will be a huge test of strength v. strength. What an amazing run by LeGarrette Blount; truly one of the best individual plays I’ve ever seen by a running back. That’s exactly what he’s capable of and another reason why the Bucs should have paired him with an explosive pass catching option. You pound a team with Blount and then throw a Kendall Hunter at them, and you’re looking at a great chance of another big play. Then you bring back Blount and the damage just builds upon itself. This preseason I stressed how this team will be hurt by a lack of speed, and I can’t say I’ve been proven wrong. They’ll try to avoid a fifth straight loss this week at the Titans. The key to this one will be how well the Bucs’ poor rush defense does against the team that was held to 41 yards on the ground last week by the Falcons. Cam and the Panthers are headed in the wrong direction. His 4 INTs capped a second straight poor performance, but fortunately the Colts step up to provide a remedy.

That’s eight in a row for this year’s surprise team. Is anyone surprised anymore at this point? They run the ball well (6th in the league) and stop the opposition from doing so even better (1st). Throw in Alex Smith playing the best ball of his career and not losing games for them, and this is a team that has brought it on a weekly basis this year. They’re obviously going to win the division, and with four more division games to go, they look to be dueling with the Saints for the conference’s #2 seed. Thursday night’s contest against the Ravens has potential game of the year written all over it. John Skelton was absolutely awful for Arizona, completing only 3 more passes to his receivers than he did to 49er defenders. Seattle won a second straight game and has a good chance at a third this week at home against Rex’s Redskins. These wins just mess up their draft position. Speaking of draft position, the Rams should have a really good one. They got spanked by Seattle at home and aren’t likely to win more than one of their last six (ARI, SF, SEA, CIN, PIT, SF).

Best and Worst

Best Teams (Previous Rank)
1 – Green Bay (1)

2 – New Orleans (2)
I think they’re next two games are their toughest remaining two; expect them to hit the playoffs on a high note.

3 – Baltimore (3)
Haven’t lost to a team with a winning record this year, and have a chance to go on a huge run after this one (CLE, IND, SD, CLE, CIN).

4 – Pittsburgh (4)
They’ll pound Palko this week.

5 – San Francisco (5)
I like what this team is, but I can see each of the four teams above them having too much offense for them to handle in a playoff situation.

6 – New England (8)
They have the easiest remaining schedule but will have to get past the Eagles in Philly to stay on this list. 

7 – Detroit (NR)
They get back in the rankings due to their impressive second half against Carolina and Cutler’s injury.

8 – Dallas (NR)
I think they’re the best team in the East at this point.

OUT – Chicago (6, no Cutler = shot), NY Giants (7)

Worst Teams (Previous Rank)
1 – Indianapolis (1)

2 – St. Louis (3)
What a disappointing season this has been for a team that entered with high expectations.

3 – Jacksonville (4)
Losing to the Browns isn’t a way to get off this list.

4 – Cleveland (2)
That said, beating Jacksonville isn’t much of an accomplishment either.

5 – Carolina (6)
They’ll give the Rams some competition for the #2 spot if they ruin Indy’s perfect season.

6 – Kansas City (NR)
Matt Cassel isn’t Joe Montana, and Tyler Palko isn’t Matt Cassel. Bad things the rest of the way for this team.

7 – Washington (5)
Aside from Indy, Washington’s 6 straight losses is the worst current streak in the league.

8 – Minnesota (8)
A 2-8 team should probably be higher on this list, but they’ve only lost 2 games by more than 7 points.

OUT – Miami (7)

This Week’s Predictions

Strongest wins (by more than 14)
Steelers @ Chiefs

Double digit dominance (at least 10)
Bengals v. Browns
Panthers @ Colts
Seahawks v. Redskins

Just win baby
Ravens v. 49ers
Titans v. Bucs
Raiders v. Bears
Texans @ Jaguars
Packers @ Lions
Saints v. Giants
Falcons v. Vikings
Jets v. Bills
Rams v. Cardinals

Upsetville – Population 3
Dolphins @ Cowboys
Broncos @ Chargers
Eagles v. Patriots

Updated Playoff Predictions

1 – Green Bay
2 – San Francisco
3 – New Orleans
4 – Dallas
5 – Detroit
6 – Atlanta

Atlanta @ New Orleans – New Orleans
Detroit @ Dallas – Detroit

Detroit @ Green Bay – Green Bay
New Orleans @ San Francisco – New Orleans

New Orleans @ Green Bay – New Orleans

1 – Baltimore
2 – New England
3 – Oakland
4 – Houston
5 – Pittsburgh
6 – Cincinnati

Cincinnati @ Oakland – Cincinnati
Pittsburgh @ Houston – Pittsburgh

Cincinnati @ Baltimore – Baltimore
Pittsburgh @ New England – Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore – Baltimore

Super Bowl
Saints beat Ravens

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Talbuc's Take - Week 10

AFC East
Ok, so maybe the Patriots do have some life in them. Everything that Tom Brady did wrong in recent weeks, he corrected in a dominant outing against the Jets. He adjusted to pressure, scanned the field, and found the open man. Rob Gronkowski looks like an absolute beast in the secondary against overmatched defenders. Mark Sanchez on the other hand looked like the real Mark Sanchez – overmatched. The Jets are in trouble any time they get behind by multiple scores; virtually no chance to ride Sanchez’s arm for a meaningful stretch of action. Did the Bills lay an egg or what? In, by far, their worst showing of the year they got manhandled by the Cowboys. They’re fading at the wrong time and travel to Miami this week to face the upstart Dolphins, winners of two straight. Granted those two wins were against the Chiefs and Redskins, but this team, specifically Karlos Dansby and the defense, hasn’t quit on Tony Sparano. I don’t think Matt Moore is going to get much better than what we see from him now, but he’s doing the right thing by continuing to feed Brandon Marshall (20 targets in the last two games).

Up – Patriots, Dolphins
Down – Jets, Bills

AFC North
Yep, they did it again. The Ravens no-showed against a shitty team. I don’t know any way to explain it other than they can’t get back up after a big, emotional game. For the second time this year they lost the week following a win against the Steelers to teams they have no business losing to. Their shitshow against the Jags on MNF was a week after a significant victory against the Texans. David Reed fumbling two kickoffs and giving it to the Seahawks on his team’s doorstep obviously doesn’t help, but the way the Ravens fail to bounce back is troubling to say the least. The Steelers know how to bounce back. They won a much tougher game against the Bengals, scoring a late go-ahead TD and turning over the rookie Andy Dalton in typical championship team fashion. Antonio Brown now has 26 receptions in his last 4 games and is battling Mike Wallace to be Pittsburgh’s most consistent wideout. Cincinnati can’t afford to let this loss linger as they have the Ravens on deck this week. Rookie AJ Green left the game with a hyperextended knee which he suffered after making his one catch (at TD) in the game. He’s expected to play this week, and they’ll definitely need him against Baltimore. One guy they won’t have is Leon Hall who suffered an Achilles injury last week. Huge huge loss. Cleveland lost at home to the 1-7 Rams in a game that I would not call an upset.

Up – Steelers
Down – Browns

AFC South
Wowwie wow wow! Talk about some bad luck. As if losing Andre Johnson and Mario Williams for a significant stretch wasn’t enough, they’re now likely to be without QB Matt Schaub the rest of the year due to a reported Lisfranc injury suffered in their domination of the Bucs. Where do they go from here? Matt Leinart will get the ball when they come out of their bye, and you know the Jags defense (a unit I’ve underestimated this year) has to be licking their chops. Expect a ton of Arian Foster, Ben Tate, and Derrick Ward going forward. In what I thought was a pretty decent surprise, the Titans went to Carolina and spanked the Panthers 30-3 where there was a rare Chris Johnson showing. Johnson totaled 144 yards from scrimmage (130 on the ground) and a TD. No one has surrendered more rushing TDs than the Panthers this year, so maybe we shouldn’t get excited just yet. They’re 5-4 which means they’ll lose next week. The Jaguars beat the Colts in a pretty ugly display of football. Blaine Gabbert threw for 4 more yards than MJD rushed, but a win is a win right? Curtis Painter was mercifully benched for Dan Orlovsky and might have seen his last snap in the league.

Down – Colts

AFC West
This just in – The Chargers are not a good football team. I’m also becoming increasingly disappointed in Philip Rivers. Great QBs find a way to win football games regardless of the health of their teammates or, quite frankly, their own at times. The Chargers just lost for the fourth straight time and don’t resemble a playoff team in any phase of the game. A fifth straight loss looks inevitable as they take on the red hot Bears this week. I’ve mentioned before how Michael Bush might be the best backup back in the league, and he showed why in this one. He was flat out dominant, running over and through Charger defenders even though they knew he was getting the ball. Carson Palmer developing some chemistry with the explosive Denarius Moore, so keep an eye on him in the coming weeks. Congratulations Chiefs. You just lost to a team whose QB completed two, yes dos, passes in an entire four quarter NFL game. Matt Cassel suffered a hand injury that might end his season, so Tyler Palko gets the honor of running the offense for the time being and losing to the Patriots on the road next Monday. Timmy Timmy Timmy. Tebow didn’t complete his first pass of the game until there were less than 4 minutes to go in the third quarter. How is that even possible? If I’m a Bronco fan I’m not sure if I laugh or cry over what’s going on under center. I guess a win is a win, but really? 2 for 8 as a professional QB in a game that you start and finish? Thursday night’s game against the Jets should be a treat. 

Up – Raiders
Down – Chargers, Chiefs

NFC East
In one of the week’s more exciting games, the first place Giants lost on a 4th and 2 at the Niners 10 yard line. Mario Manningham couldn’t hold onto a deep pass that would have been good for the go ahead score earlier in that drive. Otherwise, we might be talking about the 7-2 Giants as one of the league’s elite teams. I’m buying in. The Cowboys are the other NFC East team showing signs of giving a damn. Tony Romo was nearly flawless against the Bills missing on only 3 of his 26 pass attempts and throwing for three scores without a turnover. Dez Bryant led the way with 6 targets and scored once, but Laurent Robinson again had a fine showing, catching all 3 of his targets and turning two of them into TDs. They’ll need more of that with Miles Austin sidelined. Terrence Newman led the way defensively with two INTs including one returned for a score. Their schedule sets up nicely the next three weeks before what should be a huge home Sunday night matchup against the Giants. Damn Philly is bad, and Andy Reid is (or at least should be) in trouble. Their week started with DeSean Jackson being suspended for missing a team meeting and ended with yet another new season low in an inexcusable home loss to the Cardinals. Michael Vick reportedly injured/broke a couple of ribs in the game’s first series, but he still looks clueless out there. Their secondary is baffling. They continue to come up short in big situations and allowed 3 TDs to the unheralded John Skelton. That’s two home losses in a row with a daunting road game at the Giants on this week’s slate. Good luck. The Redskins went back to Rex Grossman at QB, but the results were the same – a fifth straight loss. Like everyone else of late, the Cowboys will likely have their way with them Sunday.

Up – Giants (yes, even with the L), Cowboys
Down – Eagles, Redskins

NFC North
Another week. Another victim. Again, Green Bay was able to do as it pleased offensively, eclipsing the 40 point mark for the fourth time this year. What was more impressive was that their defense finally showed up, holding Minnesota to only 7 points. Aaron Rodgers added 4 TDs to his stat sheet, two of them going to Jordy Nelson. That guy catches everything. Even Matt Flynn found the endzone in mop up duty as the Packers scored 45 points for the second week in a row. You’d have to go back to week 4 of the season against the Colts to add up the Bucs’ last 90 points. Why bring up the Bucs? They’re the next in line to lose to the Packers. Don’t look now, but here come the Chicago Bears. In a contest that was never contested, the Bears flat out dominated the Lions. They picked off Matthew Stafford four times including two pick sixes which happened on back to back possessions. Devin Hester added to his Canton resume with another punt return for a TD and nearly took a second one back as well. These guys are clicking in all phases of the game right now and should wipe the floor with an underperforming, uninspired Chargers team this week. Detroit hosts Carolina this week in a game that should allow them to get back on track while the Vikings have another tough test against the Raiders.

Up – Packers, Bears
Down – Lions

NFC South
In one of the week’s best games, the Saints beat the Falcons in the Georgia Dome following a controversial call in overtime. With the ball on their own 29, Mike Smith decided to go for it on 4th and 1, but Michael Turner got absolutely stuffed by the Saints. Four plays later John Kasay’s kicking the 26 yard game winner. That decision could come back to haunt Smith and the Falcons as they now sit at 5-4 and are unlikely to control their own destiny at any point the rest of the way. Fortunately, they have what looks like a fairly soft schedule (TEN, MIN, HOU-Schaub, CAR, JAX) before facing New Orleans again. The Saints on the other hand head into their bye on an upswing before hosting the Giants in what is likely to be their toughest game the rest of the regular season. They got Mark Ingram back this week, so he should be fairly fresh for the stretch run. Roman Harper is a beast on defense. He totaled 13 tackles and sacked Matt Ryan once, but he had a chance to end the game in regulation if he could have held onto a potential interception. Granted, I’m a cynical son of a bitch, but I’m done with this year’s Bucs after they were flat out embarrassed at home 37-9 by the Texans in a game that saw Jacoby Jones sprint 80 for a TD before most fans found their seats. They’ve been obviously overmatched in their last three contests, and it’s about to get really ugly in Wisconsin. Josh Freeman is a worse player this year, they don’t run the ball well, have no wide receiver that is capable of standing out as a consistent #1, and they’re among the league’s worst in nearly every defensive category. This team isn’t going anywhere with this staff as Raheem Morris can no longer continue laughing and talking his way through letdown after letdown. All that won’t matter if the Glazers don’t start giving a damn about fielding a serious product. If they want to continue taking the uncompetitive route, Morris and crew will be back again next year. Moving on. Once the Titans were able to take Steve Smith out of the game, Cam Newton and the Panthers offense really struggled. Newton failed to find the endzone for the first time this year, and he might make it a second if the Lions play with some heart after getting manhandled by the Bears.

Up – Saints
Down – Falcons, Bucs

NFC West
That’s seven in a row. Seven straight victories for an Alex Smith-led offense. I don’t know how he’s doing it, but Jim Harbaugh has got these 49ers playing at such a high level; sure to be higher after that huge win against the Giants. They haven’t overlooked an opponent yet this year, so I expect them to put a pretty good beating on the Cardinals this year before traveling to Baltimore in what might end up being the most hyped regular season game of the year. Brother vs. brother in a potential Super Bowl matchup. Speaking of the Cardinals, they were the latest team to expose Philly for the fraud they really are. John Skelton has won two straight starts, and Ken Whisenhunt isn’t guaranteeing that Kevin Kolb will get his job back as soon as he’s healthy. Larry Fitzgerald had his best game of the year (7-146-2) as the Cardinals torched the Eagles for 370 total yards. Again, I expect the 49ers to beat them this week,b ut if they can finish strong in games against the Rams, Cowboys, Browns, Bengals, and Seattle, this won’t be an entirely lost season. The Rams didn’t look any better this week, but they did get their second win of the season. They need to use the rest of this season to see what receivers are worth keeping. Brandon Lloyd isn’t going anywhere, but this is an opportunity for Austin Pettis to really carve out a steady role for himself. Seattle was the latest team to benefit from a Ravens flop. They did a great job defensively of taking away the vertical game, limiting Joe Flacco to the short and intermediate zones which really hurt the Ravens when they had to start pressing for points. Good news – Marshawn Lynch had his first back to back 100 yard rushing performance as a pro. Bad News – Sidney Rice had his head slammed pretty hard to the turf and may miss this week’s game against the Rams.

Up – 49ers

Best and Worst

Best Teams (Previous Rank)
1 – Green Bay (1)
The Bucs aren’t knocking them off this spot.

2 – New Orleans (3)
Look to be starting another mini-run here.

3 – Baltimore (2)
They way they flop to slop amazes me.

4 – Pittsburgh (4)
Speaking of runs, I think the Steelers are set to go on one (@KC, v.CIN, v.CLE).

5 – San Francisco (5)
They’re closer to #4 than #6. They’re becoming a very interesting team to follow.

6 – Chicago (NR)
Maybe I’m overdoing this one, but I get a really strong feeling that they’re about to put together a seriously strong stretch and move up this list.

7 – NY Giants (8)
Even with the loss they move up. Eli Manning has become a consistent offensive operator, and they’re a team that no longer relies on their defense to win games for them. 

8 – New England (NR)
Maybe last week’s beatdown of the Jets was a tease, but with the defense making a few stops, their offense suddenly looked a lot better. Coincidence? Not!

OUT – Houston (6, no Schaub = no chance), Detroit (7)

Worst Teams (Previous Rank)
1 – Indianapolis (1)
Dan Orlovsky, come on down!

2 – Cleveland (5)
Becoming more and more unimpressed with every part of this team except its secondary. Tremendous chance they don’t win another game. I’d put money on it if I could.

3 – St. Louis (4)
They’re really not going to get any better (or healthier) this year.

4 – Jacksonville (3)
They’ll likely win this week, but losing Rashean Mathis for the year is a huge defensive subtraction.

5 – Washington (NR)
Their defense isn’t bad, but I’m not sure the Ravens or Steelers could win with that offense. They’re only going to get worse too. 

6 – Carolina (NR)
Another new entry this week, Carolina quit scoring points last week but continued to surrender them at a near league-high rate.

7 – Miami (2)
That’s two in a row, and I wouldn’t put it past them beating the bumbling Bills to make it a third.

8 – Minnesota (NR)
A ton of talent, but that 2-7 record is hard to ignore.

OUT – Arizona (6), Denver (7), Seattle (8)

This Week’s Predictions

Strongest wins (by more than 14)
Packers over Bucs
Patriots over Chiefs
Bears over Chargers
Giants over Eagles

Double digit dominance (at least 10)
49ers over Cardinals
Cowboys over Redskins
Ravens over Bengals

Just win baby
Jets win at Broncos
Falcons beat Titans
Lions beat Panthers
Rams beat Seahawks

Upsetville – Population 3
Dolphins beat Bills
Raiders win at Vikings
Jaguars win at Browns

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Talbuc's Take - Week 9

Switching things up, I’m going to try doing this by conference rather than by game.

AFC East
Ok, it’s definitely time to worry about the Patriots. They lose what was basically a reenactment of their Super Bowl loss to the Giants with a deflating defeat to put them in a three way tie for first with the Bills and Jets. On defense they can’t get to the passer, and they don’t cover anyone for a significant amount of time. On offense Tom Brady isn’t getting any time to throw, he has no viable downfield threats, and no one is stepping up in the run game. They look like a fringe playoff team at this point. Their schedule isn’t terribly tough the rest of the way, but I think they drop to 5-4 with a loss to the Jets this Sunday night.

Streaky team the Jets are. Two wins – three losses – three wins. I’m still not terribly high on this team, and that’s mostly due to Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene. Santonio Holmes is completely wasted in this offense, and it’s hard to watch. Greene has put together a few decent games, but ground-and-pound’s lead rusher has only two TDs on the year.

Buffalo disappointed me losing to the Jets in a type of game – playoff caliber division opponent – they need to win. The offense couldn’t get anything together, and now they think they’re going to be without NT Kyle Williams the rest of the year. Not good. Can they maintain at least a tie for first with a win at Dallas this week?

They finally got their win, but the Dolphins are still the surefire 4th place team in this division. I think they get 1 maybe 2 (Redskins, Bills, Raiders) wins the rest of the way and are looking at a draft pick in the top 5 behind Indy. Matt Barkley? Landry Jones?

AFC North
Wow! What a showing by the Ravens in Pittsburgh this past Sunday. They were the better team for three quarters and looked to be giving it away in the fourth when Joe Flacco hooked up with Torrey Smith for the game winner. Listening for Flacco after the game, you could tell this one meant a hell of lot to him. I think I heard that the Ravens converted a ridiculous 14 third downs against the Steeler defense. Great job of playing through adversity and winning a huge road game.

I didn’t lose anything for the Steelers with that loss; just think that Baltimore is the better team this year. Pittsburgh could let this loss get to them and cause them to lose focus in a big division game against the Bengals Sunday. If they stay focused, this team could go on quite a run the rest of the way as San Francisco and Cincinnati are their only remaining opponents with (currently) winning records.

Way to go Cincinnati. I struggle to give this team a ton of credit, but I really love what I’m seeing on offense with Andy Dalton and AJ Green. Dalton had done a great job taking over the offense, and Green is already a legit NFL playmaker. They’ve won five straight, against mostly subpar competition, but five straight is five straight. I don’t think they make the playoffs (five remaining against Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Houston), but Marvin Lewis (another coach I’ve been down on) deserves a lot of credit for getting these guys ready to play every week. Let’s see if he/they can keep it up the rest of the way as the schedule gets a lot tougher.

The biggest story in Cleveland right now is about a player who hasn’t done much of anything on the field this year. Peyton Hillis re-aggravated a hamstring injury and isn’t getting back out there any time soon. The schedule is kind the next two weeks (Rams and Jags), but five of their last six games are against the division.

AFC South
The cheese stands alone. Houston is clearly the class of this division and should clinch the title any week now. Arian Foster is rolling offensively, racking up this third straight game of 112 or more rushing yards. He also has 5 TDs in those games. Tampa Bay is next up for Foster, and they’ll be without Gerald McCoy in a game where any and all defensive line talent is needed.

Like I said last week, these Titans look destined for 8-8 or worse. They were bad against the Bengals at home, surrendering a 10 point halftime lead by being shutout in the second half. Chris Johnson finally had a decent game, and he’ll get to face a porous Panthers defense that gave up 162 all purpose yards to Adrian Peterson two weeks ago.

Jacksonville and Indy get to share this last spot. Indy’s awfulness is the only thing keeping the Jags from the basement of this division and possibly the entire AFC. The Jags were on a bye, so things didn’t get any worse for them last week. The same can’t be said for Indy who lost Dallas Clark for what looks like a long time with a knee injury. With the Dolphins winning and the Colts looking like they won’t do that until next year, Andrew Luck will probably be a Colt if he comes out after this season.

AFC West
If the South is the football equivalent of a Pinto, the West is a Chevette. Sure they’ve go the Colts and Jags, but at least the South has a team with a winning record. The Chiefs, Chargers, and Raiders are all tied for first at 4-4, but they all have plenty of warts.

The Chargers lost to the defending champs in a game that saw Philip Rivers throw two pick sixes and nearly a third. They had a nice comeback against a shaky Packers pass defense but ended up with their third straight loss. If I’m projecting a winner I still think it’s the Chargers, but that’s more a knock against the other teams than a shot of confidence in San Diego.

The Chiefs respond to a thrilling MNF win with an absolute dud against the previously winless Dolphins. How do you win 4 straight and then get smoked 31-3 at home by an 0-7 team? Who knows what to expect this week against the Broncos.

The Raiders spent a hell of a lot to acquire a QB who has thrown 6 INTs in less than 6 quarters of football so far. Carson Palmer did throw for 332 yards and 3 scores, but the turnovers can’t continue. Another concern is that they allowed the Broncos to run for 199 yards, including a 60 yard score by Willis McGahee. They get a short turnaround this week against the Chargers in the year’s first Thursday night game. It looks like Darren McFadden will miss yet another contest, but Michael Bush, possibly the best backup in the business, has run for just under 100 yards in back-to-back weeks on just 36 total carries. I’ve got to think Palmer gets better, but maintaining a solid ground game is crucial.

The Broncos pulled out off a huge comeback against the Raiders, spearheaded by two second half Willis McGahee TDs. The old man ran for 163 yards (8.2 avg) or 39 more than Tebow accrued with his arm. They get the Chiefs next, but I’m extremely anxious to see Tebow against the Jets next Thursday.

NFC East
I admit I probably slight the Giants more than I should. They’re sitting at a pretty comfortable 6-2 in first place and are fresh off an impressive win at New England. I think this week’s trip to San Francisco is a tougher test and will prove to be an enjoyable game to watch. The one worry I have is Ahmad Bradshaw’s foot issue. They’re a much better team with him on the field. They’re probably the best team in the division, but their schedule is flat out brutal the rest of the way (@SF, v.PHI, @NO, v.GB, @DAL, v.WAS, @NYJ, v.DAL).

Dallas continued their seesaw season with a win over the nonthreatening Seahawks. I’ve got to think DeMarco Murray has assumed ownership of the starting tailback job with another 100+ yard game. He’s obviously their best running threat. They’re losing Miles Austin for at least a couple of weeks due to another hamstring injury, but I like how Laurent Robinson has stepped up the last two weeks. They’ll be counting on him even more now, especially if Dez Bryant keeps dropping footballs on his way to the endzone.

So much for that. After routing Dallas the previous week, the Eagles go out and get owned at home by Jay Cutler and the Bears. Their “dominant” defense gave up too many third down conversions, blew coverages, and committed stupid penalties. At the end of the night, they’re 3-5 and tied for last in the division. Michael Vick doesn’t look capable of winning games at this point. Think Philly regrets that contract yet? He’s erratic just doesn’t seem to have the confidence he showed last year. His 9 INTs already exceed his 6 from last year, and his QB rating is his lowest since Atlanta. Finishing .500 looks like a stretch at this point.

The Redskins continue their slide with a fourth straight loss, and I’m not convinced they keep Miami from getting their second win of the year this week. John Beck might not be a downgrade from Rex Grossman, but that doesn’t mean he should be starting in the NFL. This offense isn’t going very far with him at the helm, but Roy Helu’s 14 catches for 105 yards are worth noting.

NFC North
They just keep on keeping on. I don’t like how they let San Diego get right back into a game that should have been well in hand, but scoring 45 points on the road against the 4th ranked pass defense in the game is nothing to sneeze at. Green Bay’s pass defense on the other hand is second worst in the league to New England’s. If they lose a regular season game this year I think it’s going to be either at Detroit (week 12) or at home against the Bears (week 16).

Speaking of the Bears, that was quite the complete performance. The defense was on its game, especially Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and safeties Major Wright and Chris Conte. Matt Forte ran for over 5 yards a carry once again and is one of the game’s top offensive threats. He’s probably one of the three most truly valuable players in the league. The other bright spots were the play of Jay Cutler and the stellar blocking from his offensive line. Cutler has become the poster boy for sacks, but on MNF, the Eagles didn’t get to him once. Bravo Bears blockers. Cutler was comfortable in the pocket, consistently scanned the field, and kept the chains moving. That win should go a long way in helping their playoff chances.

Fresh off their bye, Detroit travels to Chicago where they’ll try to halt the Bears’ three game win streak. The last time the Bears lost was a month ago at Detroit. I think you’ll see a lot of Matt Forte running against this Lions defense and Matthew Stafford working the ball deep to Calvin Johnson. Detroit can separate themselves from Chicago quite a bit with a road win Sunday. They’d be two games up in the standings with a 2-0 record against the Bears this year.

Minnesota sat out last week as well, but they’ve got to be pleased with the direction they’re headed with Christian Ponder at QB. They’re facing the Packers for the second time in three games, so while this will likely end in defeat, I think they’re going to be a bit of a spoiler (Oakland, Atlanta, Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago) the rest of the way.

NFC South
New Orleans got back on track last week at home against the Bucs avenging that road loss from last month. The Saints were in control of this one throughout despite not getting a signature statistical ‘splosion from Drew Brees. Mark Ingram sat out another game, but Chris Ivory ran very well in his place. Pierre Thomas continues to produce when called upon, and Darren Sproles simply makes plays.

The Falcons became the latest team to victimize the Colts with a 31-7 snoozer of a win. Julio Jones caught only three passes, but he turned two of them into scores and totaled 131 yards receiving. I wouldn’t call him a disappointment, but Roddy White isn’t putting up near the numbers from last year. Aside from Jones, Tony Gonzalez is getting a lot of action as well, which is taking away from White’s targets. They host the first place Saints Sunday where a victory gets them a share of the top spot in the division.

The Bucs sit third in the South, and that’s likely where they’ll finish. Their brand of sloppy, inconsistent football isn’t a recipe for success, as has been well exhibited in their last two contests. They host the Texans this week in a game that I expect the Texans to control. As I mentioned earlier, Arian Foster is on a roll, and the Bucs are getting thin in the middle of that defensive line. The outside linebackers aren’t contributing, and the secondary play outside of Tanard Jackson and an occasional Ronde Barber spark is atrocious. After Houston it’s on the road to Green Bay. The Bucs could very well be riding a four game losing streak and a 4-6 record to Tennessee Thanksgiving Sunday.

Carolina’s 2-6, but only one of their losses was by more than 7 points. They’re losing, but they’re competitive. Reason #1 is Cam Newton who’s playing the QB position a hell of a lot better and a doing so a hell of a lot quicker than I thought he would. Steve Smith has to be the happiest player in the league with Newton revitalizing his career. And Smith was supposedly finished and on his way out of town. They’ll be Tennessee this week.

NFC West
This one’s about wrapped up already. The Niners are now 7-1 and are an overtime loss to Dallas from being a stunning 8-0. They’ve got the Giants coming to town this week, and while I’m a converted believer, they could really say something by beating another division leader. This one has game of the week potential. After this one, the only two tough games remaining on their schedule are the Ravens and Steelers. Way to go Jim Harbaugh!

The rest of this division gets lumped together. As surprised as I am in the 49ers impressive season, I might be more surprised that the Rams are 1-7. This has become a wasted season for Sam Bradford, and the Rams have to just hope he gets through this without any further injuries. The Seahawks have looked bad three weeks in a row and now have Baltimore coming into town. Make that four weeks in a row. Arizona won their second game of the year and did so with John Skelton at QB. How’s that Kolb trade look now? Hell of a game winning return by Patrick Peterson! Love that dude.

Best and Worst

Best Teams (Previous Rank)
1 – Green Bay (1)
Gotta love how they continue to roll through everyone even with the target on their backs.

2 – Baltimore (2)
HUGE win at Pittsburgh. Their two road flops from being an unbeaten 8-0.

3 – New Orleans (3)
Got a redemption win against the Bucs last week and have a tougher task this week in Atlanta.

4 – Pittsburgh (4)
Won’t penalize them for losing a tough game to a great team. I think they rebound against the Bengals.

5 – San Francisco (5)
Show me more!

6 – Houston (NR)
I think they’re good, but something is keeping me from going all in with them.

7 – Detroit (8)
The luster is wearing off a bit, but a win at Chicago could get me back on the bandwagon.

8 – NY Giants (NR)
Like the Niners, I’ve got to list these guys until they prove they don’t belong.

OUT – New England (6), Buffalo (7)

Worst Teams (Previous Rank)
1 – Indianapolis (1)
Luck Fever! Can you smell it Indianapolis?!

2 – Miami (2)
Dare to dream that they win two in a row?

3 – Jacksonville (4)
I think the Jags suck, and I still expect them to outclass Indy Sunday.

4 – St. Louis (6)
An awful season hits a new low if they lose to the Browns.

5 – Cleveland (8)
If not for having two more wins, I’d list them above the Rams. I’ll give it time. They’re a worse team.

6 – Arizona (3)
If only they had a few more Patrick Petersons.

7 – Denver (5)
I don’t think magic makes the trip this week. They’ll lose at KC. 

8 – Seattle (7)
Things aren’t turning around for the Seahawks as quickly as Pete Carroll or anyone else in Seattle would like.