The first fourth of the season is finished for most teams and finding a foothold has been folly for some, fun for others. The number of undefeated teams has dwindled to 3, and they are Buffalo, Tennessee and the New York Giants. As opposed to last year, it looks as though parity will rule in the league, although this year there are plenty of good teams that will battle it out for the last playoff spots 1 through 6. This may well be a battle of attrition where the teams that weather the storm are left standing at the end. Continue on for a look at what was seen this week in the NFL.
A man must admit when he was wrong (NYJ 56, ARI 35)
In my picks for week 4, I proclaimed that Favre was looking old and that the Cardinals secondary would be able to make some plays. This should provide sufficient evidence as to why I do not gamble on sports. Favre had a career day and the Kurt Warner from the evil dimension appeared and turned the ball over 5 times.
Steve Smith has a very special present for Ken Lucas (CAR 24, ATL 9)
No, it wasn’t a right cross it was a football after Smith scored his first TD of the year. I don’t know how Lucas felt about the gift, but I think he may just want to forget about the incident and move on, but the most important thing is that the Panthers played well. Muhsin Muhammed and Smith combined for over 230 yards in the win and the team did not turn the ball over. The bad news for the Panthers was that both of their tackles, Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah were taken off the field. The Falcons are still at 2-2 though and Matt Ryan has delivered so far, mostly because he has had no great expectations to live up to.
Titans are playing Jeff Fisher football (TEN 30, MIN 17)
There is no denying that the coach, offense, and team overall feel more comfortable with Kerry Collins at quarterback. Vince Young will be best served at studying the games and getting himself rehabilitated and ready to step-in should anything happen to Collins. Fisher has the defense in Nashville back to dominating, and Collins is spreading the ball around along with the thunder and lightning (obligatory) of LenDale White and Chris Johnson. Fisher rarely gets the recognition he deserves but year after year he makes it work with the Titans. This year he has the talent to take the team into the playoffs and get a home game this year and possibly a first-round bye.
The Bills are 4-0, do not adjust your corneas (BUF 31, STL 14)
Against our trusty NFL barometer the Bills struggled until late when they returned an INT and made some late scores. Scott Linehan got the axe at 2 a.m. and Jim Haslett will take over the duties in Saint Louis after a week in which there was mutiny afoot in the locker room from Marc Bulger and others. Buffalo has now become one of the top teams in the AFC, but the heads better stay on straight because although they are good, they are not dominating and must play focused in each week to keep up the momentum.
The honeymoon is over (TB 30, GB 21)
Rodgers got picked three times and hurt his shoulder late in the game. Tampa has yet to be spectacular but the NFC South will not be a beauty contest by any stretch. Griese has established himself as the starter after some less than stellar starts. If Rodgers misses Green Bay’s game this week against the Falcons, the Favre-lovers will be all over the fact that he didn’t last 4 games in the consecutive starts streak. The good news for the Packers is that they are still tied for the division lead at 2-2.
If you’re surprised by T.O.’s whining, you may also be shocked to learn the country is in a financial crisis (WSH 26, DAL 24)
Jim Zorn has every right to tell the media and fans to shove it after going into Texas Stadium and beating the Cowboys. The Redskins are now 3-1 and Jason Campbell looks every bit the pro quarterback. The Dallas play calling was a bit heavy on the passing, not heavy enough for Owens who was shedding no tears for Romo like he was after the last Cowboys’ loss. It’s one thing if the defense takes Marion Barber and Felix Jones out of the game, but simply not putting the ball in their hands is another. This game exposes where Dallas is vulnerable; when a talented team comes in with a solid game plan combined the Cowboys making bad decisions.
15 seconds of dumb play cost Ravens the game (PIT 23, BAL 20 OT)
In a hard hitting game, the Ravens executed their game plan perfectly until they played bad on defense for one drive, committed a dumb personal foul, and gave up a big play. They then fumbled the ball to Pittsburgh for a TD. That’s the danger when you play that style, if you have a few lapses in focus, the cost is magnified. Can Big Ben really take this kind of punishment all year?