For those who dropped by looking for Steelers coverage this weekend, my bad on the disappearing act. Hey, I needed a BYE week too! But just because the Steelers did not play this Sunday doesn't mean I didn't take in some football.
I caught significant chunks of a bunch of games. Here's what I saw and thought during and after the games:
* I keep telling anybody who will listen, don't count out San Diego yet. Their defense against the run seems to be back in top-notch form, Vincet Jackson is actually holding onto the football, and LT seems to have found his rythym in the running game. The Chargers 28-14 victory over Oakland today was more lopsided than the score suggests. Coaching matters, but talent matters more. This is a final-4 team in the AFC playoffs if you ask me. From there, it's anybody's game.
* It must be frustrating to be a Washington Redskins fan this weekend. Jeez, where to start on their blown opportunities to knock off a quality Green Bay team on the road?
Let's start with Santana Moss, who dropped a number of passes, and fumbled on a reverse that was recovered by Charles Woodson and returned for a TD. Chris Cooley, who had a monster game, also dropped a critical long ball; ditto for Brandon Lloyd. Very, very tough loss to swallow for the Redskins.
* Wow, the Miami Dolphins are a sad, sad defensive football team. Gooooooood job Mr. Porter. You've really brought a lot to the table for this defense other than an expensive knock on your team's salary cap. Ronnie Brown continues to rack up yards, but Miami's defense is so bad, it matters not. And this has nothing to do with Trent Green being out by the way. They may be better off with Cleo Lemmon behind center. This has everything to do with this defense. Miami better beat Buffalo at home on Nov. 11th, or they risk falling to 0-11 before they have another conceivable 'winnable' game.
* Baltimore, can you please play a real football team so we can evaluate where you stand. Victories over a Trent Dilfer-led SF team and a Gus Frerotte-led St. Louis team count not in my book. I guess you have to give them credit for taking care of business where they should, but they still have a number of questions on the offensive end. They're moving the ball decently, but they're going to have to do a much, much better job finishing off drives when they play something other than a junior-varsity offense in the future.
* Have the Texans done enough..or should I say, not done enough...to convince people this team is still not close to being ready to compete for a playoff spot. Yes they're a much better team with Matt Schaub playing, and their defensive and offensive lines have improved some, but the last two weeks have still convinced me that this team is still in the bottom half of the AFC. Squeaking out a victory at home against Miami is nothing to write home about, and they got manhandled today by a Jaguars team that is on a roll.
* I hate talking about Jacksonville, but it's worth mentioning that David Garrard has still not thrown an INT this year. Guess Jack del Rio and upper management were right when they decided Garrard would give JAX the best chance to stay in, and hopefully win, a lot of ball games.
* New Orleans was impressive tonight, especially on defense. They had recorded only one sack heading into this week's contest against the suddenly pathetic Seahawks. One sack in 4 games isn't going to cut it in this league. Tonight they got after Hasselback; Drew Brees was his old, precise self with the football, and his WRs did a better job holding onto the ball. Don't count New Orleans out just yet. With their schedule and Carolina's schedule, they both could be 4-4 in early November. Tampa Bay is the X-factor in the division. Their schedule sets up better, but they're going to have to find some bodies offensively if they're going to sustain their current pace throughout the season. Anyway, the odds are horrendously stacked against New Orleans, but their schedule isn't all that tough for the next month (minus a home contest against JAX in 3 weeks). Even getting to 4-5 would keep them in the race most likely into December.
* There's been plenty of hype surrounding the Dallas-NE game. I'm sure many of you caught the game, so no need to say anything more than these two things: 1) New England is unbelievably impressive on offense and 2) I can't wait for our shot against them later this year.
* I'll finish with Cincinnati and their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Kiss their season goodbye. This team is done. In many instances, it's not smart to write off a team as talented as the Bengals, but this team simply can not play well enough on defense to go on any sort of prolonged winning streak. They are what they are: a bad-to-begin with defense that is now even worse due to injuries. This game against the Chiefs wasn't as close as the score suggested either. KC dominated up front all day and harassed Carson Palmer on defense. My gut feeling is Denver is going to have the same type of problems Cincy is having: they just can't stop the run, and when you can't stop the run, you're basically done for in this league. My instincts are Denver won't be able to correct this problem by next Sunday when we face them. And although I can't be for sure yet in the case of Denver, I can be with Cincy.
*More to come on individual performances tomorrow before we get ready to look ahead to Denver next Sunday night.