One of the more intriguing aspects of this NFL season is just how parity has clearly taken hold early in the season. In the AFC there were only two teams with winning records going into Week 7, the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens. And after Houston was trounced by Green Bay talk of Houston being the best team in the NFL waned a bit. Houston really bounced back by running over the Ravens, a team that has looked vulnerable in most of their wins and now of lost MLB Ray Lewis and CB Ladarius Webb for the season.
Meanwhile the darlings of the NFC at the start of the season, the San Francisco 49’ers and Green Bay Packers have both had slow starts, especially the Packers who sported a 2-3 record after five games. And the only undefeated team, the Atlanta Falcons have really pulled a few games out at the last moment. Meanwhile the Giants at 5-2 might look beatable but they seem to always come on strong late in the season.
It is still a wide open race in both conferences.
GAMES I WATCHED
New England Patriots over New York Jets, 29-26 OT
Immediately after this game was over, one that the Patriots nearly gave away, I felt it was a demoralizing win. This game just proved the Patritots are an average team, right down in the pack with all the rest. And they are. Instead of making the one or two plays that win close games they make the two mistakes that give them away. This is nearly what happened in this game when the Jets tied the game at 23-23, the Devon McCourtny fumbled the kickoff that gave the Jets a chip shot field goal for the go ahead score. At least the defense kept them out of the end zone. Then Brady did what he does best – drive the field for a tying score with less than two minutes to play, then did it again in overtime.
Granted I keep hearing that had Stephen Hunter caught a few balls the Jets would have won. But Brandon Lloyd, who frankly has been a big disappotment so far, dropped at least three long balls he should have had. For some reason he insists on making even easy catches acrobatic and as a result drops the ones that he should catch. We have no receivers that can really steatch the field. In fact, we really have no true number one receiver outside the slot with Wes Welker. This is a big problem with both tigh ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski ailing.
I have to give the MVP of this game to lineback Rob Ninkovich who made the play that sealed the deal at the end with his forced fumble on Mark Sanchez.
MVP: Rob Ninkovich, LB
San Franciso 49’ers over Seattle Seahawks, 13-6
This game was a slugfest between the two most rugged, physical defenses in the league. If defense and a little luck on offense leads to championships, then either of these teams have a decent shot at it. The 49’ers have a better overall quarterback (despite Russell Wilson’s recent late game heroics) and Frank Gore played a fantastic game.
Frankly coming into this season I thought we’d see a Frank Gore on the decline. Instead, he is playing as well as I have ever seen him play. If he can keep this up then the 49’ers have a shot. They, however, lack a good outside receiver which will hurt them down the road (as do the Seahawks).
MVP: Frank Gore, RB
Houston Texans over Baltimore Ravens, 43-13
Wow, the Texans really bounced back from the embarrassment at Seattle and dished out their own punishment on the Baltimore Ravens. With the Ravens depleted on defense and Haloti Ngata a bit dinged up they just couldn’t stop the Texans offense. And the Ravens offense is just wildly inconsistent. I can’t quite put my finger on the problem with the Ravens offense as the certainly have the talent. They don’t use Ray Rice enough though, and Flacco just doesn’t seem to be able to get the job done when it counts.
While I think the Ravens are still likely a playoff team come the end of the season, they certainly do look inconsistent and out of sync. And with their defense missing two key players, it’s going to put even more pressure on the offense to perform.
MVP: Connor Barwin, LB
Pittsburgh Steelers over Cincinnati Bengals, 24-17
I really, really, really expected more out of the Bengals this year. But as with so many teams in the AFC, they define the word “average.” Pittsburgh had a nice, solid running game with third stringer Jonathan Dwyer and held the ball 15 more minutes than the Bengals and that really was the story of the game. Shaun Suisham’s three 40 plus yard field goals sealed the deal.
MVP: Shaun Suisham, K
Chicago Bears over Detroit Lions, 13-7
Charles Tillman shut down Charles “Megatron” Johnson and the defense harassed Lions QB Matthew Stafford into some bad throws (Stafford just is way overrated frankly). And Urlacher might be hurt but he is a smart football player who really made some fine plays in the middle of the field, along with fellow linebacker Lance Briggs. The Bears defense lives.
And Bears QB Jay Cutler barely survived the body slam takedown by Ndamukong Suh. I do think Dirty Suh is a dirty player but this was a legal hit. Cutler showed a lot of moxie getting back in the game after have his ribs practically shattered.
MVP: Charles Tillman, CB
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive Player: Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
Defensive Player: Charles Tillman, CB, Chicago Bears
Offensive Lineman: Mike Iupati, G, San Francisco 49’ers
Special Teams: Dan Bailey, K, Dallas Cowboys
Rookie of the Week: Dont’a Hightower, LB, New England Patriots