JC's Take: NFL Week 9 Review
Hello all! Welcome back for my review of this weeks action in the NFL!
Team of the Week: Cleveland Browns
-So how about them Browns? I'm sure when everyone looked at their 3 game slate of Pittsburgh, New Orleans, New England we all thought they'd go 2-1 right? Not only that, but they handled the Saints and Patriots quite easily. I thought the Browns would give the Patriots a tough game, but I didn't think they would pull off such a victory. You have to give credit to Eric Mangini and his staff for getting their guys to play like this the last 3 weeks. They're not making Colt McCoy win them football games, they're making him do just enough to keep them in it. And enough can't be said about the way the Browns defense has been playing. Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan, brother of Jets coach Rex Ryan, has more than likely catapulted himself to the top of the list for head coaching vacancies in the off-season. After the names like Cowher, Gruden, and Schottenheimer, Rob Ryan is probably right up there. I wouldn't expect the Browns to be a playoff team this year, but they could be competitive next year.
Game of the Week: Oakland 23 Kansas City 20 OT
-There were lots of good games this past week, including 3 that went to overtime. I'll give the nod to this one. The Raiders were down 10-0 at the half, but fought their way back, starting with returning the opening kickioff of the 2nd half back for a touchdown. The teams traded scores back and forth in the second half. Sebastian Janikowski hit a 41 yard field goal to tie the game and send it to OT, then Janikowski hit a 33 yarder to win it in overtime. The Raiders are for real folks, at least in the AFC West. If I were them, I'd consider sticking with Jason Campbell at QB. The team is winning with him at QB. The Raiders go into their bye week at 5-4 and finding their groove. They could very well win this division. But you can't count out the Chargers either after their two straight victories. But you have to give credit to Raiders coach Tom Cable for getting his guys to play this hard.
Dog of the Week: The Dallas Cowboys
-This just isn't for the team for getting whooped by the Packers Sunday night. This is for the entire organization. Now don't get me wrong, I hate the Cowboys as much as the next guy not from Dallas, and I'm loving every bit of their demise. But a team with this much talent shouldn't be 1-7. Sure Wade Phillips is the fall guy, but the blame can't be placed entirely on him. The blame has to start with Owner/GM Jerry Jones. He's too involved with the operations of his team. There is no way a Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden will coach for him unless he gives up his GM and personnel power to them. Then you have to look at the players. I think it's quite obvious that other than WR Dez Bryant and a few others, this team has already phoned in the season. Interim coach Jason Garrett's first task? Going to New York and facing a red-hot Giants team. Yep, that's 1-8 you hear knocking at your door Cowboys.
Other Notes from Week 9:
-As I said there were quite a few good games from this past week. The Tampa Bay/Atlanta game was filled with all kinds of great drama, including a great goal line stand by the Falcons defense to seal the game late. Tampa Bay showed they can hang with good teams, at least this week. Looking ahead, Tampa could easily finish with 9 or 10 wins and be right in it at the end in terms of getting into the playoffs. They'll have 3 tough games down the stretch to prove if they belong: Week 12 @Baltimore, Week 13 vs Atlanta, and Week 17 @New Orleans, which could be a huge late season game.
-I thought I nailed my upset pick of the week, the Lions over the Jets. Then Detroit went and blew a 10 point 4th quarter lead and lost in OT. It's a game the Lions should have won. They had a great fake that fooled EVERYBODY with Jahvid Best's dive, but Matt Stafford was the one that had the ball and went in for the score. I don't know what they were thinking throwing after the 2 minute warning in the 4th, instead of running the ball and giving it back to the Jets with probably only 1:10 left (the Jets had no timeouts left). And now Matt Stafford injured his right shoulder again, and is more than likely out for the season. You have to wonder if all of these health problems will eventually catch up to Stafford. He's shown he can be the Franchise QB, but can't stay healthy long enough.
-The Vikings could have easily folded late in the 4th quarter, and let their coach Brad Childress get fired. But instead they rallied and won against the Cardinals in OT, saving their coaches job for another week. I still think Childress is fired after the next loss, but for now he lives to fight another day. The Vikings demise has also been fun to watch this season.
-Don't look now, but the San Diego Chargers are right back into the playoff discussion in the AFC. After beating the Titans at home, the Chargers went on the road and beat the Texans. As much as I hate him, I have to give credit to Phillip Rivers. He's playing some great football, MVP level football. He's throwing TD passes to Randy McMichael and Scott Ajirotutu. At 4-5, they're only 1 1/2 games back of the Chiefs, and have home games left against Kansas City and Oakland. The AFC West may actually be one of the best races to watch the rest of the season.
-The Colts/Eagles game was fun to watch, but it turned scary after seeing Colts WR Austin Collie go down the way he did. I had no problem with the hit, I don't think it was illegal and it didn't warrant a penalty. The ref was just reacting to what he saw. It was just scary watching Collie go down, and seeing him lie motionless on the field. As for the game, I'm surprised at how well the Eagles played against Manning. Maybe missing all of these weapons will finally catch up to Peyton. But I still wouldn't bet against the guy. All he does is win.
1. NY Giants (6-2, #3 last week)- Right now, they're the best team in the NFC. The defense is playing lights out, and Eli is finding his WRs. They've looked the best they have since the Super Bowl year.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2, #4)- They almost gave up the lead late to Cincinnati but survived. They have problems on the offensive line that need to be addressed quickly.
3. Baltimore Ravens (6-2, #5)- They shut down the Dolphins offense. The defense rebounded nicely after getting ripped apart by the Bills. Joe Flacco continues to play solid at home.
4. Atlanta Falcons (6-2, #6)- Huge goal line stand late to stay on top in the AFC South. Now they get a solid Ravens team at home on Thursday night. Should be a fun game.
5. New England Patriots (6-2, #1)- They got shut down by a defense playing well as of late. Now they get a just as hot Steelers defense Sunday night. The offense better get it together quickly.
6. Green Bay Packers (6-3, #7)- They just steam-rolled a hapless Cowboys team. They get the bye week to rest up and get healthy for the home stretch.
7. NY Jets (6-2, #8)- They got lucky. They had no business winning that game until the Lions handed it to them. They better get their act together quickly, or they won't have home-field come playoff time.
8. New Orleans Saints (6-3, #10)- They didn't have another hiccup against the Panthers. They should get Reggie Bush back after the bye week, which makes them that much more dangerous.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (5-3, #12)- Vick's return, and a big effort by their defense helped them beat the Colts. Now they need to maintain it to keep pace with the Giants down the stretch.
10. Indianapolis Colts (5-3, #2)- They drop this much because I believe the injuries may have finally caught up to them. Peyton can make some magic happen, but he'll need to do it quickly.
11. Tennessee Titans (5-3, #11)- Which Randy Moss will they get is the question. If they get the one that cares they'll be dangerous down the stretch.
12. Oakland Raiders (5-4, #16)- They're for real folks. They can't let the bye week stop their momentum. They'll be in it ti the end in the AFC West.
13. Kansas City Chiefs (5-3, #9)- They're struggles finally caught up to them against Oakland. How they rebound will be key. They're still the team to beat in the AFC West.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-3, #13)- They showed they could hang against Atlanta. But they should have converted late against Atlanta. Good teams find ways to score.
15. Chicago Bears (5-3, #18)- It wasn't pretty, but they found a way to win against Buffalo. They need to re-establish the run though if they want to be playing in January.
16. Miami Dolphins (4-4, #14)- The offense disappeared against Baltimore. They need better play from Chad Henne to stay in the AFC playoff race.
17. St. Louis Rams (4-4, #17)- They didn't do anything during the bye, but they're tied for first in the NFC West. Sam Bradford needs to continue to play well, and they'll be the cinderella story of the playoffs.
18. Houston Texans (4-4, #15)- That fire Gary Kubiak is feeling is the hot seat. They were suppose to be a playoff team this year, but instead they're fading and fast.
19. Washington Redskins (4-4, #19)- Hopefully any issues between Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan have been settled so it doesn't disrupt them late in the season.
20. San Diego Chargers (4-5, #22)- Just when you thought they were dead, they come back to life. They don't have that tough of a schedule late either. They could easily fight their way back in the AFC West.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4, #21)- They're actually back in it in the AFC South. But they need to win and hope the good David Garrard shows up.
22. Cleveland Browns (3-5, #23)- They probably deserve a bigger jump, but they only move up one spot for now. They could play spoiler down the stretch.
23. Minnesota Vikings (3-5, #28)- That comeback win may have saved not only their coach's job, but also their season. We'll see if they can keep it up.
24. Seattle Seahawks (4-4, #20)- They got man-handled at home by the Giants, but they need to remember they're still in it in the NFC West. They can't dwell on this loss/
25. Detroit Lions (2-6, #24)- They had the game against the Jets and handed it back to them. Losing Stafford again unfortunately sets them back.
26. Arizona Cardinals (3-5, #25)- That blown lead may be the game that comes back to haunt them. They could be in a 3 way tie for first in the NFC West had they won.
27. Cincinnati Bengals (2-6, #26)- How long until T.O. and Ochocinco explode? Cincinnati may need to call the National Guard when they do.
28. San Francisco 49ers (2-6, #27)- They could be a different team under Troy Smith. But they need to win right away to remain in it in the NFC West.
29. Denver Broncos (2-6, #29)- The Tim Tebow era may be coming sooner, especially if the losses keep mounting.
30. Carolina Panthers (1-7, #30)- John Fox essentially called out ownership for not giving him the talent to win this year. Fox won't have to worry about that next year once he's unemployed.
31. Dallas Cowboys (1-7, #31)- The entire organization is a mess. This could be the lowpoint for the Cowboys as a franchise.
32. Buffalo Bills (0-8, #32)- They're playing better than the Cowboys and Panthers, and I have a feeling they won't be here after next week's game against Detroit.
Coaches on the Hot Seat Power Rankings!!!
1. Brad Childress, Minnesota: I still think he's gone after the next loss. Nobody (fans, players) wants him there.
2. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati: He should be winning with that offense, but instead they're in last place in the AFC North, below state rival Cleveland.
3. John Fox, Carolna: There's no question he's gone at the end of the year, but he has less of a chance getting fired during the season.
4. Gary Kubiak, Houston: Fans will only tolerate 8-8 and 9-7 for so long. The Texans are suppose to be a playoff team with that offense.
5. Josh McDaniels: The owner has said he'll stay, but if they continue to struggle badly after the bye, that may change.
Mid-Season Review: Playoff Predictions
These were my playoff predictions in the beginning of the season. I never posted by NFC preview, but these were my predictions.
1. Indianapolis 1. Green Bay
2. Baltimore 2. New Orleans
3. NY Jets 3. Dallas
4. San Diego 4. San Francisco
5. Houston 5. Atlanta
6. Cinncinati 6. NY Giants
Revised Playoff Predictions:
1. Baltimore- They're still my AFC Super Bowl pick. I think they'll put it together late.
2. New England- They're playing better than the Jets right now, which gives them the edge.
3. Tennessee- I think Moss will help, and they have an easier schedule than Indy late.
4. Kansas City- Their schedule isn't as bad as Oakland's. I think they'll just barely win the AFC West
5. Pittsburgh- They're playing too well not to make it. They could easily still make the Super Bowl.
6. Indianapolis- I trust Peyton more than I do Rex Ryan.
-I just think something isn't clicking for the Jets, which is why I left them out. San Diego I think is coming on too late. Oakland has a brutal schedule down the stretch, and Miami just doesn't have the weapons offensively, and the Texans don't have the defense to compete.
1. NY Giants- They're playing the best football in the league right now, and I can't see it stopping.
2. Atlanta- They're legit, and could be dangerous in the dome come January.
3. Green Bay- They could flip flop with Atlanta, they play each other in a few weeks.
4. St. Louis- They'll be the darlings of the playoffs, but I don't know if they can win in January.
5. New Orleans- The defending champs won't get the home field advantage this year.
6. Philadelphia- With Vick at QB, they'll be dangerous and a tough out.
-I don't see anyone else competing. I think Tampa fades late, even with an easy schedule. There's problems in Washington and Minnesota with the coach and QB, and Chicago's offense has too many problems to fix.
Three Games I'd Like to See Next Week:
Baltimore vs Atlanta: Game is on Thursday night. This could very well be a Super Bowl preview.
New England vs Pittsburgh: Could have implications on home field in the AFC.
Tennessee vs Miami: The debut of Randy Moss as a Titan. Miami needs this one to keep up in the AFC.
That's all for today. If I have the time, I may do a quick wrestling column today or tomorrow.
Until next time,