I guess it was something of an underwhelming week in the NFL. There were some great games, to be sure, and I'm certain I saw most of them. There were also quite a few games that were not praiseworthy, I take it, because of the results. In any case, the bunching at the top and middle hasn't wholly ceased. If this season has taught us anything, it's that parity rules. Let's go!
1.) Atlanta (8-2) [no change]
The Falcons went out on the road and won a game. That can only bode well, even if their opponent was the seemingly lowly St. Louis Rams. Good enough to keep their spot at the top.
2.) NY Jets (8-2) [no change]
It looked like trouble for the Jets, down 27-23 with under a minute left in the game. But then Mark Sanchez went out, manned up (again), and saved the day. One long bomb and one flare (to Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes, respectively), and the Jets were up 30-27. Does that make Sanchez an MVP candidate? No, not quite. But he's a very solid QB who makes big plays when it counts most. Game-winning plays. Not everyone can say that.
3.) New England (8-2) [no change]
It can be amazing what separates two great teams. Or in this case, one great team and one other team that could be great, maybe, but aren't great right now. Something like that. Anyway, Tom Brady played just as expected. Peyton Manning, not so much. What might be more surprising is that New England's defense bailed them out. But the Pats' offense is practically unstoppable; either that, or they exposed the Colts' defense.
4.) Philadelphia (7-3) [no change]
Surprisingly, Michael Vick didn't play like Michael Vick. Yet he outplayed Eli Manning, who couldn't figure out how to slide. So now the Eagles are 7-3, hold the tiebreaker, and look like the favorites in the NFC, because NOBODY, not even the Giants vaunted "defense", can stop Michael Vick. Oh, to be sure, he didn't play like he did last Monday against Washington, but nobody could have done that two weeks in a row. With continued success, the Eagles could easily have 12 wins.
5.) Pittsburgh (7-3) [+1]
Ben Roethlisberger took a shot to the mouth, but his team knocked out the Raiders. Amazing how a team like the Steelers can come back from a loss and just pound the next team they face. There should be no doubt that the Steelers are very good. Are they Super Bowl-worthy? I'm not sure, but after that beatdown, I have to lean toward "yes". Wouldn't anybody?
6.) Green Bay (7-3) [+1]
Once again, Aaron Rodgers came out on top over Brett Favre. Oh, wait, that was only the second time that happened? Well, whatever. The Vikings are done, and the Packers are one step closer to winning the NFC North. At the moment they're in 2nd due to that abhorrent loss to the Bears (and Chicago's unexplainable and improbable success to this point), but I've got a strong belief that the Packers will eventually win their division. Even if it takes until the last day.
7.) Baltimore (7-3) [+1]
Closer than it should have been, but Baltimore pulled it out against Carolina. Most of that goes to Ed Reed, who is still an incredible safety, especially when it comes to picking off opposing QB's. I'm not sure who wins the AFC North. Baltimore has a great chance, though I'm sure they'll have to beat the Steelers again.
8.) New Orleans (7-3) [+1]
What do you know, the Saints might actually be a good team. OK, first off, this has nothing to do with Reggie Bush. Obviously, since he hasn't played since Week 2. It's all about Drew Brees, and he's getting it done despite throwing a boatload of INT's throughout. The defense has stepped up against tomato cans and non-tomato cans alike. Are they going to win the NFC South? Probably not, but a wild card is certainly within reach. Heck, the South might get three teams in, if everything rolls right.
9.) Tampa Bay (7-3) [-]
Two teams go on the road and shut out their opponents. One goes west, the other east. I picked the one that went west, because the other team is the Chicago Bears, and they've angered me so much through the season that I'm not letting them in again. Tampa Bay put up three TD's on the 49ers, and while they might not have been dominant...they went out west and got a shutout win. Well, maybe they were dominant. In any case, the Bucs are back in, and the Bears are still on the sidelines.
10.) Indianapolis (6-4) [-5]
Funnily enough, Peyton Manning looked a bit like Brett Favre on that last play. Throwing a pick is unusual for Manning, but throwing three has to be damn near unheard of (besides that disaster in San Diego a few years ago). Then again, since they were playing New England, maybe I shouldn't be TOO surprised. At any rate, the Colts are now 6-4 and on the short end of the tiebreaker (due to that terrible, awful, no good very bad loss to Jacksonville), and have a few division games coming up after they play the Chargers this weekend. I still believe in the Colts...but I'm starting to wonder if perhaps this isn't their year.
Thanks for reading. See you next week.