So, being that we've only got two NFC East teams left to go here in Week 7 of the 2010 NFL season, let's go ahead and review the week's action. I haven't weighed in with my league-wide musings in several weeks, so let's get to it.
* After Week 3, here were my BTSC Top 5 teams:
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Baltimore Ravens
After Week 7, here my are BTSC Top 5 teams:
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- New York Jets
- New England Patriots
- Baltimore Ravens
- Tennessee Titans
Nope, not a whole lot of change from me. I'd put the Indianapolis Colts and the Atlanta Falcons at 6 and 7 respectively. After Week 3, my friend Mark Joel, a man who knows a thing or two about the game no doubt it, wondered what I was smoking with my rankings. I stupidly forgot to finalize my friendly wager with him for barbeque - a bet that the Ravens, Titans and Jets were extremely likely to send at least two of the three teams to the playoffs. Four weeks later, I'd say I'm looking pretty good. Lots of football left though.
* Since a number of you do AFC North round ups each week, I'll limit my commentary on the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. But a few thoughts. First of all, I just got an email from the Bengals blogger asking what the heck was up with a number of you guys going to act like jerks over there. Not that I can stop you, but come on. Sheesh. Let them be. Of course, there's quite a few asinine dunces in their fanbase, but there's also many, many more decent guys and gals that just like the game and happen to be loyal fans of a losing franchise. Don't make it any less fun than it already is for them. The Begnals held a 1 point 4th quarter lead, only to see them fall apart down the stretch for the third time in as many games. At 2-4, the Bengals season is now on the brink heading into the next three games of the year. They face the Dolphins and Steelers at home, followed by the Colts at Indy in Week 10. If they don't sweep these next three, or at least win two of three, they can kiss their playoff chances goodbye. Even if they have dug themselves too big a hole to climb out of, I'm still not at all going to perceive our Week 9 game with them as a gimme by any stretch of the imagination.
The Browns meanwhile stunned the defending Super Bowl champs behind four interceptions of Drew Brees, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Just five days after naming his second child Bowen, Brees saw Cleveland defensive lineman David Bowens take two picks back to the house for scores. Cute, huh? Very nice win for the Browns, the type of win that might give Eric Mangini some breathing room if his team can build on this moving forward. Rookie Colt McCoy gets his first win as an NFL starter despite completing just 9 passes. McCoy did show some versatility and toughness though by catching a reception. Cleveland may just be a spoiler for a team or two down the stretch. I also think it's safe to say that McCoy will get the nod for at least another week or two coming out of their Bye.
How about the Ravens? Wow, wow, wow. What an entertaining, crazy game between the Ratbids and the winless Buffalo Bills. Baltimore stormed back from a two touchdown deficit in the first half to take a ten point lead in the fourth quarter. The Bills then rallied furiously to send it to overtime only to hand the game away with a fumble around midfield on a play where a Bills' player was trying to fight for extra yardage after the catch. Like I said, I'll save my commentary, but basically I commend Buffalo for really airing it out and testing the Ravens' secondary, a unit that had question marks surrounding it heading into the year. Even though Ed Reed returned to pick off two important passes from Harvard alum Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bills still amassed close to 400 yards through the air, and generally had their way throughout all of the first half and much of the fourth quarter. With his two pick-game, Reed passed Darren Sharper for the most games in NFL history with at least two interceptions (9). Despite the Ravens' shortcomings on defense, their offense sure looked dangerous. The Ravens were able to gobble up yardage and put points on the board in a hurry to erase deficits, and I still consider them a major obstacle and matchup problem for this Steelers' squad. I still believe that Pittsburgh would beat the Ravens at least 6 out of 10 times on a neutral field, but the Ravens do deserve credit for finding ways to win games in a multitude of ways. More on our AFC brethren later.
* Um, is the Max Hall experiment in Arizona now over? He looked pathetic today in the rain in Seattle. Expect Derek Anderson, who was inserted after Hall continued to look like he was still in the Mountain West Conference, to start again next week for Ken Whisenhunt's bunch. Not that any of you really care about that.By the way, can you believe that the Cardinals are starting Clark Hagans and Joey Porter at outside linebacker? Both are playing solid football, but man, it's nice to be a Steelers fan.
* Weird season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They win in the final seconds over the St. Louis Rams to improve to 4-3 and pass the New Orleans Saints to assume second place in the NFC South. The Rams meanwhile have to be sick to their stomach, throwing away a precious road win after controlling the tempo for the better part of four quarters.
* Oh. My. God. 59 points by the Oakland Raiders. The most in franchise history. How depressed are you if you're a Denver Broncos fan? That's so comically pathetic I don't even know what to say. Last year when the Broncos started 5-0, I felt comfortable declaring they would fall apart and not make the playoffs. It's performances like this that reaffirm that they just don't have the horses on defense to be taken seriously.
* The Carolina Panthers get in the win column, and by doing so, bring Mike Singletary one day closer to his inevitable pink slip. Note to NFL coaches - stop panicking when things go wrong. John Fox, widely regarded as an above average coach, yanked Matt Moore early in the year to go to rookie Jimmy Claussen. Just dumb, as Claussen gave the Panthers very little opportunity at winning in the games he started. After being reinserted back into the lineup, Moore was not perfect, but he did throw for over 300 yards and lead his team to a W against the 49ers today. Again though, if you're going to hitch your wagon to Moore in March like Fox did, why in God's name do you not stick with him through at least the first 8 games of the season. By panicking, the Panthers probably dug themselves too big a hole to dig out of.
* I am awful at fantasy football, but I will pat myself on the back for picking up the Washington Redskins' defense late last night in one of my two leagues. Liked what they might do against the crumbling, fraudulent Chicano Bears. Four interceptions later - all by D'Angelo Hall - and I'm loving the pick, even if it doesn't look like I'll win the weekly matchup :)
* Eight wins is going to be more than enough to capture one of the two NFC Wild Card berths this year. Count on that. I honestly wouldn't be too shocked if both Wild Cards sneak in with 8. We'll see, but think about it. Who in this crop of teams is a sure bet to get to 9 or 10 wins: Tampa Cay, Arizona, Chicago, Philly, Washington, NYG. MAYBE two of those teams gets to 9, but of course, one would be the winner of the NFC East most likely and not a WC berth. We'll revisit this later.
* As for the AFC? Well, if you look at my Top 5 from the beginning of the post, you have an idea of what I think about the balance of power between the two conferences. It's going to be a dog fight for a number of quality teams just to get to the playoffs, perhaps the Steelers included. It's nice we have an early tie-breaker over the Titans, but even at 5-1, the Stelers have created very little separation in the conference. Two other teams, both of which we play, are also 5-1. The Ravens, which defeated us a few weeks ago, are not far behind at 5-2. Interesting and exciting stuff.
* Much more on the Steelers' fortunate Week 7 win over the Dolphins on Monday and throughout the week.