Picks coming in just a sec, but a few things real quick ...
- In a weekend headlined by Brady v. Peyton and Ravens v. Steelers, Week 8 perhaps looms most critical for NFC East teams old and new: Peyton's brother needs a win at home against Indy to keep the banged-up Giants from sliding into 2014 irrelevancy; the Eagles must right the ship against human tidal waves J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney; speaking of the sea, D.C. faces nothing less than a franchise sea change if their would-be saviorRGIII can't prove the ability to stay healthy and effective against the Vikes; and the Cowboys host the NFC West leader/former NFC East foe Cardinals in Big D.
- By Sunday night, it's realistic for the mercurial 'Skins to be just two games out of first place in the NFC East. Jay Gruden -- about whom I've expressed serious doubt in this space -- would then have two weeks to prepare for Tampa before a tough two-game road trip to S.F. and Indy. Not saying it's likely, but -- with the season's last two games against Philly and Dallas in our nation's capital -- it's at least possible Snyder's gang could steal the division.
Harrison: Week 9 predictions
- Yes, Jints loyalists, I know Coughlin & Co. could also fully enter the divisional chase with a win on Monday night. I just can't see how their injury-decimated roster takes down the Colts on MNF.
- Related: The NFC South stinks.
- 2014 fourth-round pick Martavis (There's No "U" in His Name) Bryant has three touchdowns in the last two games. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert made some specious decisions this off-season (read: those massive contracts for the woeful Marcus Gilbert and woefuler Cortez Allen), but once again showed he's got a knack for drafting productive WRs in the latter rounds. Maybe if Bryant had suited up in that embarrassing Week 4 loss against the lowly Bucs, this Steelers team would be 6-2 and in first place in the AFC North.
- On the subject of WRs drafted by Pittsburgh in the late rounds, one-time sixth-rounder Antonio Brown just might be the best pass-catcher in football. The numbers -- and weekly highlight-reel catches -- are tough to refute.
- Whatever your feelings about the Ravens organization's handling of the Ray Rice ordeal may be, the team deserves credit for performing so well between the lines since the stuff really hit the fan in the week leading up their Week 2 TNF matchup with the Steelers. Including that victory, Baltimore has won five times against just two narrow road losses to division leaders Indy and Cincy.
- Back to uniforms for a second: The sartorial state of the state of Ohio will be scary ugly on Sunday. In Cleveland, the digital alarm clock-numbered Bucs will be a clashing eyesore against the brown and orange of the home team -- while the apocalyptically awful teal-and-gold Jags against the silly orange Bengals' getups will be more nauseating than eating a rotten roast beef sandwich while watching The Knick.
- On the cusp of another round of Peyton v. Brady, we consider what might've happened had there a CFB playoff back in 1997, when Manning was a Tennessee senior and Tom was a backup at Michigan. Shades of Michigan State's Magic v. Indiana State's Bird? Take a look:
WARNING: Do NOT continue reading if you don't want to know the final scores for Week 9. (1-0 this week, 9-6 last week, 76-46-1 on the season)
A. Ellington: 22-110 yds, TD
D. Murray: 22-88 yds, TD
A. Robinson: 5 rec, 85 yds
J. Hill: 24-125 yds, TD
M. Evans: 70-yd TD rec
CLE D: 8 SACKS
R. Cooper: 3 rec, 80 yds, 2 TDs
D. Hopkins: 6 rec, 95 yds, TD
D. Jackson: 65-yd TD rec
T. Bridgewater: 23-33, 300 yds, 2 TDs
N. Folk: 42-yd GW OT FG
T. Kelce: 7 rec, 90 yds, TD
P. Rivers: 25-30, 340 yds, 3 TDs
R. Tannehill: 20-36, 280 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
A. Donald: 3 sacks
M. Crabtree: 5 rec, 115 yds, TD
R. Hillman: 16-100 yds, TD
R. Gronkowski: 7 rec, 90 yds, TD
M. Rivera: 19-yd TD rec
SEA D: 4 forced TOs
T. Smith: 2 rec, 45 yds, TD
A. Brown: 5 rec, 105 yds, TD
T. Hilton: 6 rec, 110 yds, 2 TDs
O. Beckham: 8 rec, 130 yds, TD
Enjoy Week 9! I hope your team wins (unless they're playing my team).