At least there were some pretty good games on Sunday. Of course, not where I live. Both the Raiders and 49ers were blown out, which is why I went to a sports bar. Because I like to watch real football. Also, that guy on the Steelers, his prediction work out so well. But that was blown out of proportion. The sentence after he predicted the win he said, "If we do X, Y, and Z, then we'll win." Nothing like the media blowing stuff out of proportion.
On to what we learned.
1. As good as the Pats are this year, they could be ridiculously better next year. The fact of the matter is that the Pats have the 49ers 1st round pick for next year. If the 49ers wind up being the second worst team in the NFL, which seems pretty good considering they have someone playing quarterback that I think I repeatedly beat up in high school, then the Pats will have the second pick in the draft. Considering Miami desperately needs a QB, guess who could fall into the Pats lap. Darren McFadden, which would pretty much solve their running game problem. That's scary.
2. Looks like we're going to have 16-0 and 0-16 season this year. The Pats have the Jets, Dolphins and Giants left. We know they're going to beat the Jets and Dolphins. And while some people say they might lay an egg against the Giants because they'll have nothing to play for, I disagree. When you're 15-0, you want to win that last one to make it perfect. The Dolphins, meanwhile, have Baltimore, New England, and Cincinnatti. For some reason, people think they can beat the Bengals. Why? The Bengals still have a pretty good offense that's healthy while the Dolphins have no defense and no offense. Regardless of how bad the Bengals defense is, it doesn't really matter if you're playing a team that can't find any way to score. 16-0 and 0-16 look inevitable at this point.
3. It appears that the Packers definitely have a running game that isn't going away. I kept thinking Ryan Grant was going to crap out at some point, but he hasn't. In fact, he's gotten better. Yesterday he was a one-man wrecking crew carrying 29 times for 156 yards and a score. And who the hell is he? Well, he went to Notre Dame, but I don't remember him at all. He was also undrafted, yet he's running like a first rounder right now. I don't know what to say, except that the Pack desperately needed a running game this year and they found it in Grant, who is the definition of a diamond in the rough.
4. The Vikings are the most dangerous 7-6 team I've ever seen. They also were the most dangerous 6-6 team I had ever seen coming into Sunday. With Tarvaris Jackson playing well, combined with that devastating running attack, this team scares the crap out of me. Right now, Minnesota is sitting 6th in the NFC. But I think they can beat anyone in the NFC, including Dallas. I would not want to run into this team in the playoffs. They also proved on Sunday that even if you can stop Purple Jesus, you've got to stop Chester Taylor as well. The 49ers did a hell of a job on Peterson, and with the exception of one run by Taylor, they did a good job stopping him as well. But that one 84-yeard run by Taylor was a killer. The odds of shutting down both Purple Jesus and Taylor is basically impossible, and when you combine that with Jackson playing well, you've got one dangerous team.
5. The Chargers' win over the Titans should be the kind of victory that gives this team a ton of confidence to win the remainder of their games and make a serious playoff run. Of course, to make a serious playoff run, they have to avoid the Pats, but that's certainly possible given that there are three games remaining and the playoff seeding isn't finalized yet. But the problem with this Chargers team is that they're too unpredictable. I thought their win over Indy would spur them on, but then they lost to Jacksonville the following week. Still, a good win over the Titans.
6. Speaking of the Titans, Vince Young seems to be doing his best Eli Manning impression of late. Last week he was great against Houston, then this week he throws two picks. Is it possible that Mario Williams was actually the right choice as the #1 pick of the 2006 draft? Well, Reggie Bush has been terrible this year while VY has been a pick machine who's killed his team at times. Meanwhile, Mario's had a pretty good year for the Texans. This debate isn't anywhere near over, but right now, the Texans appear to be smarter than most people would probably give them credit for.
7. I can't be the only one that thinks the Giants are winning DESPITE Eli Manning, right? Even though he didn't throw a pick yesterday, he missed a ridiculously wide open Shockey in the end zone. He's got to complete that pass. Plus his QB rating is still below 80 for the season, which is not good. Even funnier is how on a weekly basis we hear announcers talk about how Eli keeps improving and how he's making progress. He's in his FOURTH YEAR! You're talking about him like he's a rookie. He isn't one. If the Giants are smart, they'll draft a QB in next year's draft to either light a fire under Manning's ass or to replace him. Hopefully replace him. Because with a good QB, this team would have the ability to seriously contend every season in the NFC.
8. I love them Cleveland Browns. They've given us quite an exciting season. We've gotten to see Braylon Edwards turn into one of the best receivers in the game, K2 similarly become one of the best tight ends in the game, and we've gotten to see Derek Anderson create a permanent bench seat for Brady Quinn. Not only that, but this season saved Romeo Crennel's job. Which is a good thing. Crennel is a good coach who got stuck with a lousy team when he first arrived in Cleveland. If he hadn't produced this year, I'm convinced he was going to get fired. Now, I think he could have a very long career as a head coach. Anyway, Cleveland's season has basically already been a huge success. And sure, if they make the playoffs they won't go far. But just getting there would be a huge accomplishment.
9. The Colts are the second best team in the AFC, and maybe all of football, but their special teams stink. I know there are arguments out there about how Vinatieri isn't a great kicker. That's debatable. What isn't debatable is that Vinatieri is one of the worst kickoff guys in football. He doesn't get the ball deep, never gets touchbacks, and teams consistently start well past the 20-yard line when he kicks. Combine that with crappy coverage and we start to see a huge weakness in the Colts. Hunter Smith is a bit different. He isn't a bad punter, his coverage team just isn't very good. What this all adds up to is that the Colts have given up 7 kickoffs or punts for touchdowns in the last two seasons, which is the most in football, and that doesn't include Hester's opening kickoff return in the Super Bowl. This is a glaring deficiency for the Colts, and I wouldn't be surprised if it killed them at some point in the playoffs. Remember, special teams was a huge part of what killed them in that horrible loss to the Chargers - a team they could face again in the playoffs.
10. Judging by how Baltimore played last night, I'd say they pretty much spent all their energy in the Patriots game last week.
11. I thought the Lions could potentially revive their season if they had beaten the Cowboys yesterday. And they should have beaten the Cowboys. But like the Lions pretty much always do, they blew it. It's kind of sad to see this team, at one point 6-2, drop 5 straight. But, in retrospect, even if they don't win another game this year, 6 wins will be a pretty good season in Detroit. I think Millen deserves another extension.