Because I live in California, we didn't have the Pats/Cowboys game on TV here. So I had to go out to a sports bar. It was jam packed. I had to watch this thing from outside the bar standing up for 3 and 1/2 hours. And I'd do it again. Everyone and their cousin watched that game. Yet I think the Pats/Colts matchup might be even more ridiculous.
All right, on to what we learned.
1. The Patriots are beatable, when they're 14-0 and are resting all their starters. The Pats are just ridiculous right now. Balance everywhere, Brady is locked in, and the defense is playing pretty well. Barring some kind of epic meltdown in a game, there's really only 3 teams in the entire league that can even compete with the Pats. And that's the Cowboys, the Colts, and maybe the Steelers when fully healthy and playing their bruising style. And all of those teams need help to beat New England. That said, the Pats are bound to have letdowns over the course of this season. With the exception of the Brady fumble, they played almost perfectly in Dallas. They won't play perfectly every week. Or at least I hope not. And remember, if Dallas hadn't gotten that holding call on 4th and 2 at the beginning of the 4th quarter, this game may have been a lot closer. I think the only way to beat the Pats, at least right now, is to force them into turnovers. Dallas showed that you can hang around with them when you have a good offense and capitalize on turnovers. But you better keep forcing those turnovers and turning them into points - and not commit killer penalties at crucial times - or you're going to be left in the dust.
2. Good God does the NFC West suck. Plus how about Sunday Night Football? Seattle is down by 11, with a little under 2 minutes left at the Saints 15 or something. And it's 4th and 6 or whatever. So naturally you go for the field goal and then the onside kick. Makes total sense, right? Well, I guess not. Because Holmgren went for it and didn't get the first down, which essentially ended the game. Madden and Michaels were dumbfounded and so was I and everyone I was watching the game with. How does a pro coach make that decision?! Where is Holmgren's brain?! Just horrible. Also, with Seattle basically taking the last 2 weeks off, Holmgren coaching like a cross between Andy Reid and a braindead chimp, Warner getting injured, the 49ers offense being nonexistent, and the Rams being 0-6, I'd like to change my prediction for how many wins the NFC West division champ gets. I'll say 8 wins (down from 9). And it'll be Seattle.
3. Joe Gibbs may have already cost the Redskins two wins. I can't believe this team isn't 5-0 or 4-1. As everyone knows, Gibbs really screwed up huge in Week 3 against the Giants. 1st and goal at the 1, no TD. Now this week, the team burned through timeouts in the second half and had none left when they really needed them. Sure, you can always blame players for that, but you have to blame the coach as well. Of course had Santana Moss decided to bring his hands today then the Skins would have won. But I still couldn't help but feel that another game slipped through the Skins' hands. This team is better than 3-2.
4. Vinny Testaverde is better than David Carr. Which is bad news for the Panthers. I guess it's also bad news to have a potential QB controversy brewing that involves a 43-year-old and David Carr. This may have been a great story this week, but there's no way this thing is going to end well.
5. The Bengals are done and Marvin Lewis probably is too. This team is just an absolute dysfunctional mess right now. Which is too bad, because this team sure looked like it had a ton of promise. But it was pretty clear after Ocho Cinco and Lewis started jawing at each other on the sideline that this thing is done. Lewis has lost all control of this team. I don't know what the Bengals will do in the offseason, but they probably need to do something drastic. Their defense is terrible and for whatever reason their offense has regressed. And they haven't won since Week 1. Ugh. Just writing about the Bengals makes me depressed.
6. The Bears are in a lot of trouble. They got a huge win over Green Bay last week and looked ready to rebound back into contention.....and then they got beat single-handedly by Adrian Peterson on Sunday. Just a crushing loss. It's a good thing the Bears are in the NFC, because they have a chance to get in via the Wild Card, but that's it. And I'm not even sure they'll get the Wild Card. Remember, the Packers - who have no running game - ran roughshod over the Bears in the first half of their matchup. So the Bears better find a way to stop the run, or they're going to join the long list of Super Bowl losers that failed to make the playoffs the next year. And just for the hell of it, I'd really like to see more of Hester in the offense. He's the only reason to watch the Bears play. And is it still too early to label Benson a bust? I've been waiting eagerly to make that claim for 2 years.
7. Vince Young has become yet another casualty of the Madden Curse. For some reason I thought if anyone could avoid the Madden Curse, it'd be him. Of course he's only listed as day to day right now, but that muscle pull better heal up fast. Young is the QB that he is because he's mobile. If he loses his mobility, Tennessee is going to go into the tank real fast. Young is no pocket passer.
8. The Jets should really go to Kellen Clemens at this point. I mean, you just lost to the Eagles. What the hell are playing for now? Your season is over, let your future get some reps.
9. Jacksonville continues to impress. I said this last week and I'll say it again. Jack Del Rio is a genius for getting rid of Leftwich and keeping Garrard. You realize Garrard hasn't thrown a pick yet this year?! And he's got a 66% completetion rate. That Indy/Jax game next week is going to be a must watch.
10. San Diego may be back, sort of. It was good to see LT ripping it up again. And it was good to see offensive genius Norv Turner finally realize he has the best back in the NFL. This was the way San Diego won 14 games last year. Have LT rush 20-30 times and have Rivers throw 20-25 times. I'm sure Norv will find a way to mess this up though. He always does.
11. Brett Favre, welcome to the career interception record. It only seems fitting that you have both the career TD record and INT record.