Greetings, readers! Well, that was a little more exciting, wasn't it? If you like your Sunday (and Monday) with a few beatdowns, you were probably pleased with Week 8. Not every game was great, but there was enough excitement to go around to wash the bad taste of a couple of the bad games out of our mouths (or eyes, I suppose). Let's get to the stories from this past week.
We start in Minnesota, where the Vikings just failed to show up. I think this is the point where analysts start to question whether or not the Vikings have been "exposed". And maybe the word "fradulent" gets thrown out there. I'm not sayin', just sayin'. Anyway, the Vikings didn't show up and they got beat by the Buccaneers. Doug Martin held a party and made the Vikings look like chumps on defense. A solid effort, but Tampa Bay still has work to do before they can be considered a threat for the NFC Wild Card.
Chicago took on Carolina in Soldier Field and Tim Jennings made what is arguably the play of the game, if you discount the game-winning field goal. Jennings took advantage of a receiver falling down on the route and took the ball to the house. Jay Cutler played alright, but he's being held hostage by his mostly terrible offensive line. If he gets time to throw, he looks like less of a whining malcontent and more like a winning QB. Maybe that's the secret? I think he'd still look like a whining malcontent after every loss, but whatever. I'm obviously biased, since I've never liked Cutler, even when he was in Denver.
The Atlanta Falcons remain the league's only undefeated team at 7-0. Funnily enough, they looked better coming off the bye than they had in the last three or four weeks. It helped that they were playing a weak Philly defense and that they were able to get out to an early lead. In fact, Atlanta didn't really do much after halftime, but since they were up 24-7, they didn't exactly need to.
New England headed to London and it was business as usual. Even without Aaron Hernandez, they had no problems on offense, putting up 45 on the Rams with impunity. There isn't much else to say about the game besides, "beatdown"! Oh, and Rob Gronkowski played huge with 2 TD's.
Not to be outdone, Denver went out on Sunday night and delivered a multi-faceted beatdown on the Saints. Not only did Peyton Manning put up a bunch of points, again, but the defense stepped up and held the Saints down until the very end, when they gave up a garbage time TD. It looks like Manning is rounding into form. I'm not going to commit to anything further than that, because I've been burned before. And despite an easy schedule, Denver has been prone to inconsistent play in the last few years.
San Francisco does things a bit differently. I'm fond of saying that they run a 1960 offense, because they only seem to care about running the ball and don't particularly care for throwing it down the field. Again I was proven right. However, a lot of people appear to be getting on the Alex Smith bandwagon because he went 18/19 with 3 TD's. Let's just slow down on him, alright? Most of those completions were short passes. Not all of them were for positive yardage, either. Until he proves that he can throw it down the field, he can't be considered anything more than a slightly advanced game manager.
Here are the Rankings for Week 8:
1.) Atlanta (7-0) [no change]
They just keep rolling. Actually looked better than they have, and now get the hapless Cowboys at home.
2.) Houston (6-1) [no change]
The bye helped them stay near the top; now they get the defensively offensive Bills at home.
3.) Chicago (6-1) [no change]
Heading to Tennessee after a tough win; will Jay Cutler stay upright and get another win?
4.) NY Giants (6-2) [no change]
After a bit of a lucky break against the Cowboys, the Steelers come to town. Could be a good one.
5.) San Francisco (6-2) [no change]
One of two teams in the Rankings on a bye. Not sold on Alex Smith, no matter what his coach says.
6.) Baltimore (5-2) [+1]
Did the bye help them regain some mojo? They have a potentially easy win on the slate.
7.) Green Bay (5-3) [+1]
Funny that Arizona now stinks without Kevin Kolb. Green Bay can take advantage, if Rodgers plays well.
8.) New England (5-3) [-]
The second team in the Rankings on a bye, New England gets to rest on their laurels after a nice beatdown.
9.) Minnesota (5-3) [-3]
I'm not sure what to make of the Vikings now. And they're heading to Seattle, which can't help.
10.) Denver (4-3) [-]
Manning might not be all the way back, but it's gotta be close. It sure looks that way when they win.
That's all for this week. See you next week.
Three Games to Watch (Week 9):
Arizona @ Green Bay (Sunday, FOX)
Pittsburgh @ NY Giants (Sunday, CBS)
Dallas @ Atlanta (Sunday, NBC)