Three almost upsets, two coaches in scary health situations and one of the league's sexiest records tied by a glorified backup ... another routine week in the NFL.
Yes, we almost saw three major upsets happen, except they didn't. The Texans couldn't hold the fort amid trying circumstances, the Vikings failed to deliver in Texas and the Bucs faltered in the late stages versus the 12th Man.
Hey @Harrison_NFL - please don't be too harsh on Seattle in next weeks power rankings. Please?â Phil Weatherstone (@SirWeatherstone) November 4, 2013
@Harrison_NFL where are all the "Romo isn't clutch" ppl today? Biggest game of the year for Dallas, he delivered with NO run game.â Marco (@thetrooper72) November 4, 2013
You'll find we didn't punish Seattle too harshly in this week's rankings, Phil. We went easy, up until this sentence I'm typing now, in which I clearly state that Guns N' Roses, in the early days, was better than any of the Seattle bands. As for Marco's comment, I can tell you that Vikings-Cowboys wasn't the lead highlight on the football shows Sunday, either. Hmmm, wonder why ...
There were so many other fun games over this football weekend, be it Nick Foles going off or Chris Johnson going off or the Chiefs being off all day, then playing offensive defense to steal a win in Buffalo. Meanwhile, we're finding that teams are starting to show who they really are, reducing the amount of wild movement up and down the Power Rankings ladder. So take a look and, of course, feel free to provide your thoughts on the matter ... @Harrison_NFL is the place.
Let the dissension commence ...
(Note: Arrows reflect change in standings from last week's Power Rankings.)
Making defensive coordinator
Jack Del Rio
the interim head coach in
John Fox's absence makes sense. Forget Del Rio's experience in this area. Fact is, the offense is this club's bread and butter, and there's no reason to mess with the machine.
Then you throw in the fact that the Jags have been utterly terrible since Del Rio left, and you're left with the reasonable conclusion that
the former NFL linebacker is the right choice in Denver.
One more thing: While it's easy to attribute all of the Broncos' success to Peyton Manning, remember that players play for their head coach as much as, if not more than, they do for their quarterback, who is generally the highest-paid member of the team. Let us also not forget that Fox's presence was a huge reason behind Manning's decision to sign with Denver in the first place.
Remember when you were a junior in high school and didn't have a date to the prom, and all your buddies wanted you to ask the girl in trig class who wore Mister Rogers sweaters and a crusty retainer ... you know, just so you could go (and, of course, pitch in for the limo)? That trig classmate is the
Chiefs. Nobody wants to take them -- that is, accept them as
Super Bowl contenders. Yet, at some point, we'll have to recognize that we're running out of options.
At the end of the day, the Chiefs belong because of their defense, which has done a great job holding opponents' scoring down. On Sunday, the unit did what championship defenses do: score points. #9-0
Guessing we're going to be hearing a lot about "Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton" over the next few years. Hilton's three touchdown grabs -- particularly the 58-yard pitch-and-catch from Luck to pull the Colts to within five points of the Texans on Sunday -- were the huge plays of the night for Indy's offense. Don't forget Hilton's 34-yard punt return in the second quarter to set up an Adam Vinatieri field goal -- remember, the Colts won by three points ... What a resilient performance. #PaganoBall
Team effort all the way around. Julian Edelman's 43-yard punt return in the third quarter and 39-yard return in the fourth were both big, as was the clutch play of the secondary late in the game -- and that was without Aqib Talib. Throw in the fact that the Pats don't have to throw -- Stevan Ridley played like an All-Pro and LeGarrette Blount ran hard late -- and New England looks like it's still a postseason threat. Right when you thought the Patriots would play clock ball on Sunday, Tom Brady went deep to Aaron Dobson. These guys are far from done.
Seahawks fans are going to blow up Twitter demanding respect. But what, might I ask, was impressive about Seattle's wins
over the Titans,
Pete Carroll's team is resilient. The inconvenient truth, though, is that the
Seahawks haven't played well for over a month, and Tampa Bay is downright lousy. And that near-miss came in a
For the record, the Seahawks were my pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl all offseason, and I'm sticking with them.
The bye week in San Francisco brought us ever closer to Michael Crabtree's return. In fact, the 49ers announced Tuesday that their leading receiver from last season has been cleared to practice. Barring a setback, coach Jim Harbaugh said Crabtree could be back in game action as early as mid-to-late November. Whenever that happens, what an addition he'll make in joining Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis.
Another tough loss in the Northeast for the 6-2 Saints. The story here was a 4-for-14 conversion rate on third and fourth downs -- and another paltry day on the ground (41 rushing yards). Remember, when the Saints won it all in 2009, running the football was something they were able to do, to the tune of 131.6 yards per game. New Orleans is 50 yards below that average now.
We'd been getting a lot of comments from Bengals fans dinging the credibility of the Power Rankings because Cincinnati wasn't in the top five last week. Oddly, that talk died down after Thursday. Sure got some Andy Dalton-related tweets, though. Agree with the Who Dey fans: That was a bad red-zone ball thrown by Dalton in Miami. Brent Grimes' pick-six might have been the play of the game.
Week 9 was an off week for the 5-3 Lions, who have a real shot to be 8-3 when the Packers come to town on Thanksgiving. Detroit next faces a Bears team that likely will be without Lance Briggs and Jay Cutler (though the latter reportedly has other plans), then visits the struggling Steelers before hosting the winless Bucs. Thus, 8-3.
Maybe, just maybe, people will start to value the quality of their backup quarterbacks. The position never seems to be a salary-cap consideration, or enough of one anyway. Name five backup quarterbacks you'd rather have than Josh McCown at this point.
All eyes are on
Aaron Rodgers' fractured collarbone right now. Even if
it's a small break, a break is still a break, and the
Packers' veteran leader surely will be out for an extended amount of time.
Going forward, it would behoove head coach Mike McCarthy to get Seneca Wallace out of the pocket. Not to run, mind you, but to move the launch point, taking advantage of Wallace's legs while getting him out of the melee. Designed rollouts might alleviate the risks of playing behind that mediocre Green Bay offensive line. Otherwise, teams will continue to stack the box to stop Eddie Lacy, at least until Wallace proves he can beat them downfield.
Boy, everything came down to that Danny Woodhead play in Washington. Philip Rivers probably had his worst day of the season against the Redskins. Still, it would have helped if offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt had mixed a few more runs in there. Calling 47 pass plays versus 16 running plays? Come on. It's not like the Bolts were down by three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Looking at the Cardinals' upcoming schedule, it's clear this team has a chance to do something. Check out Arizona's next six games: vs. Texans, at Jaguars, vs. Colts, at Eagles, vs. Rams, at Titans. The Cardinals realistically could be 8-6 -- and still in the NFC wild-card race -- when they visit the Seahawks and the 12th Man in Week 16.
Said it on Twitter and I'll say it again to anyone who will listen:
Andy Reid aside, how can
not be a top candidate for the coach of the year award? The
Jets have come up big on several occasions this season -- and let's not forget that they're starting a rookie quarterback.
Hate to say it, but this Jets team feels like the 2009 version, which went 9-7 and made it to the AFC title match behind a solid run game, a stout defense and a rookie signal-caller ... named Mark Sanchez.
Ravens got what they needed when
Cameron Wake plowed Andy Dalton into the Sun Life grass last Thursday night -- and then they
came out flat in Cleveland.
What now? First, Sunday's home date with the Bengals becomes an absolute and certifiable must-win. Then, Baltimore must capitalize on what should be a manageable stretch of the schedule, with a trip to Chicago followed by a three-game homestand consisting of matchups with the Jets, Steelers and Vikings.
Dolphins finally got
the defensive performance they needed Thursday night, as
Cameron Wake sealed the deal with a rare safety walk-off. That said, can you imagine how good this unit would be if
Dion Jordan ever were to come around? The rookie out of Oregon has only one sack through eight games and, frankly, hasn't progressed much. If the light bulb comes on for Jordan down the stretch, well, with Wake on the other side, look out ...
Wait, were you expecting us to address something else going on with this team? Yes, Charles Clay's lack of targets Thursday was a concern.
Sunday's home loss to the
Titans had to be difficult for
Jeff Fisher. Forget, for a moment, that it was his former club delivering the blow, and remember that it came six days after the
another game at home -- a game they felt they should have won.
At 3-6 and without Sam Bradford, St. Louis has little chance to match -- much less improve on -- last season's 7-8-1 record. The Rams' run defense, which continues to be up and down, has to become a point of emphasis after the Titans racked up nearly 200 yards on the ground.
the Redskins throwback uniforms we saw on Sunday. What's better: those or
the 1971 version with the yellow helmet? (My editor prefers the yellow helmets. Thoughts?
On another note, consider this stat from the win over the Chargers: the Redskins converted 12 of 17 third downs. That's a testament to good offensive line play right there ... kind of like what we saw on Darrel Young's winning touchdown run in overtime. Heckuva job. #HTTR
That was scary Sunday night in Houston. There's no getting around the stresses of being an NFL head coach, and while
we don't know the exact cause of
Gary Kubiak's collapse, we do know the pressure he's been under during the
Texans' bad start, especially as he's always one to answer questions from the media and be the front man for the organization.
This is consistent with Kubiak's character throughout his career. He was a sounding board for Steve Young's frustrations during his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers, and he was a team player while serving as the Denver Broncos' offensive coordinator. There's a reason Kubiak has not one but three Super Bowl rings as an assistant coach, and there's a reason he was able to pull the Texans out of the doldrums they'd been left in by the previous regime. Hopefully Sunday's incident was a hiccup in his health and not anything to worry about in the long term.
It's become chic to point out that the
Giants are still in the NFC East race, but this club still ranks last in giveaways,
Eli Manning's passer rating still ranks 31st in the league and the defense still gets fewer sacks than
Kelly Ripa eats hamburgers. That's saying something.
By the way, Michael Strahan makes the Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2014. Count on it.
You knew the assignment Sunday in Carolina was going to be a tough one for the injury-depleted Falcons, especially given the way the Panthers' defense has been playing. Quarterback Matt Ryan obviously is pressing; entering 2013, he had yet to throw more than 14 interceptions in any one season, but he's already at 10 for the year. At least Steven Jackson is back, for what it's worth.
It might not be noticeable to the general masses, but the way
Ben Roethlisberger is competing out there without any help is admirable.
That said, it would be nice to see the Steelers run Le'Veon Bell 25 times, or maybe try some tight-end screens ... anything to make life a bit easier for their franchise quarterback. Otherwise, Roethlisberger is eventually going to go down and not get up.
Vikings probably would like to re-do the opening moments of
the second half of Sunday's game in Dallas. First, they let the
Cowboys march right down the field for a touchdown.
Cordarrelle Patterson let the ensuing kickoff bounce off his chest at the 5-yard line -- endearing of him, after we put ourselves out there by selecting him as a
Christian Ponder promptly was sacked, with his fumble being recovered by Dallas in Minnesota's end zone. Two
Cowboys touchdowns in less than 20 seconds of game time turned the
Vikings' 10-6 lead into a 20-10 Dallas advantage.
The Vikings -- specifically Adrian Peterson on this spectacular scoring effort -- did show some fight. Still, they get in their own way as much as any team in the NFL. And who knows who their quarterback is?
Everyone picks on Greg Schiano -- even us in this very space -- but his guys certainly played for him up in Seattle on Sunday. Michael Koenen's 30-yard punt in the fourth quarter, though, was no bueno -- and neither was a three-and-out on the opening drive of overtime that resulted in Russell Wilson getting the ball at his own 40. Back to the drawing board for Tampa.
Imagine the angst and consternation felt by the various networks with the Jags being off in Week 9.
What are we gonna do?
Gus Bradley's club is going to surprise somebody at some point.
Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @Harrison_NFL.