Let’s get to it.
1) New York Jets 24, Tennessee Titans 17. The Jets are 3-0 and looking good. The Titans are 0-3 and looking like they have no answers. I wrote last week that Kerry Collins was on the verge of getting exposed. He was. Collins finished this close game with 13 consecutive incompletions. Totals for the game: 15 of 37, 170 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions and a passer rating of 41.5. It is not unfair to say that Kerry Collins cost the Titans this victory. Mark Sanchez is playing beyond his years. He is due for a comeuppance, but by the time it happens, the Jets may have locked up a playoff bid. Undefeated with wins over the Patriots and Titans – this is a 2009 playoff team. Book it.
2) New York Giants 24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0. The Buccaneers are in trouble. I remember telling my wife that Raheem Morris doesn’t have that steely glare of Mike Tomlin. He’s still looking like a deer in the headlights. That’s to be expected at this stage. Still, if the Bucs are going to compete this year, they need to actually attack their opponents. They need to take shots down the field. They need to run pass routes beyond the marker. They need to play through the loss of Jeff Faine. The Giants, meanwhile, are a well-oiled machine and they’re gearing up for the Super Bowl. This is the best team, on both sides of the ball, in the league — and they have plenty of room for improvement.
3) Cincinnati Bengals 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 20. It pains me to write this — but I saw it coming. Last week, I was concerned about the ability of the Steelers to score in the red zone, and their ability to get stops on defense late. On Sunday, they were stopped on their first drive of the game at the 1 yard line and settled for 3. In the first quarter, the Steel Curtain defense gave up two length of the field drives for touchdowns. Statistically, the Steelers were vastly superior to the Bengals. That means very little. What matters is that the Bengals, for 2 consecutive weeks, have done what it takes to win. The Bengals are better because Carson Palmer is healthy. They’ve held serve against the Steelers. The next task is to get some wins in the conference.
4) Minnesota Vikings 27, San Francisco 49ers 24. Wow. What a finish. Memo to Mike Singletary: I know you believe in conservative offense, sound defense and ball security. That’s all well and good, but when you have the ball with less than 2 minutes left, you have to figure out a way to get a first down. The Niners battled mightily without Frank Gore. The Vikings, though, showed why they’re going to be a tough out. I hope that the 49ers show some mental toughness and bounce back from this tough loss. I hope the Vikings don’t let it go to their heads. After all, if Greg Lewis caught like that all the time, Philadelphia would have beaten Arizona in the NFC Championship game last season. “If Brett Favre was our quarterback, we’d be undefeated.” – T.O.
5) New England Patriots 26, Atlanta Falcons 10. I said last week that the biggest injury you might not hear about was the Falcons loss of DT Peria Jerry. Yesterday, Fred Taylor ( On Friday, I thought it might be Faulk) ran for over 100 yards and scored a TD for the Pats. (On Sunday morning, I thought it would be Taylor. I picked up Fred off waivers yesterday morning. 20 points later, I’m still undefeated.) New England didn’t throw 47 times for only the second time in its last five games. Two things: 1) Don’t let the Patriots rushing attack vs. Atlanta fool you. Atlanta surrendered 144 yards to the Panthers in Week 2. The Patriots are who the Bills and Jets think they are – not who the Falcons think they are. 2) Matt Ryan is not the second coming of Tom Brady. He’s the first coming of Matt Ryan. The Falcons will be fine after they make a few adjustments. The Patriots will continue to have to prove their mettle against teams like Baltimore where there will be no rushing yards for Freddie T or Sammie or Laurence or BenJarvis or anyone else.
6) Baltimore Ravens 34, Cleveland Browns 3. I guess Mangini can’t prove himself until the Patriots come to town. They’re not on the ’09 schedule. Too bad. Baltimore is rolling and Derrick Mason is still magical. The Ravens had better get their defense together because the Patriots are on their schedule.
7) Philadelphia Eagles 34, Kansas City Chiefs 14. Am I the only person not in a rush to see Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick get reps at QB? Probably. I picked up Kevin Kolb during the week (with Hasselbeck out and Leftwich facing the Giants), and he’s paid off nicely. I like what he brings to the table. 300 yards, 3 td’s, and no turnovers. I can’t complain. Based on what I’ve read about the Chiefs and the scope of their rebuilding project, I wouldn’t expect them to be competitive until very late in the season. If Haley knows what he’s doing, they’ll come out on fire next year – but this year is going to be painful. Nothing to prove here for Philly.
8) Jacksonville Jaguars 31, Houston Texans 24. The Jags won the Schizophrenia Bowl. Most people expected the score of this game to be reversed, but the Jags found a way. Just when you think its safe to throw Jack Del Rio under the bus and consider re-vamping this team, they pull one of these. Next week, they’ll probably lose handily and be inept on both sides of the ball. The Texans will probably beat the ’85 Bears next week. Fumbling in the end zone is seldom a good thing. If you didn’t know, Matt Schaub has some serious receiving options after Andre Johnson: Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones and Owen Daniels are all solid. Each scored a touchdown yesterday as Johnson was locked in a pitched duel with my favorite NFL corner, Rashean Mathis.
9) Denver Broncos 23, Oakland Raiders 3. 12 of 21 for 61 yards. That doesn’t work anywhere: not in college, high school or Pop Warner. The Raiders and JaMarcus Russell have to do better. I can’t wait until the Raiders sign Michael Crabtree. “What?” “Never mind. Who the hell is Darrius Heyward-Bey?”
10) Green Bay Packers 36, St. Louis Rams 17. Are the Rams showing signs of life? Does it matter? Not really. You can’t take much from a game like this. Maybe Aaron Rodgers has worked some things out; maybe he still needs to work on them. To quote Rasheed Wallace: “Both teams played hard. Both teams played hard.” Ready or not, here come the Minnesota Vikings. Places everyone.
11) Chicago Bears 25, Seattle Seahawks 19. I wonder if Seattle pulls this out with Hasselbeck. I like Seneca Wallace, but he is the number 2. I don’t like Julius Jones and probably never will, but he deserves credit for that splendid touchdown catch and run. Chicago looks like a contender. Cutler and Johnny Knox have a thing going on.
12) New Orleans Saints 27, Buffalo Bills 7. Last week, I wrote that I’d be watching this game to see how Moose Johnson’s insight into the Bills was standing up. Looks like the Moose was right on. He thinks the Bills are less than enthusiastic in their play. I was concerned that they would get embarrassed. They showed up, certainly, but they did get smoked. While the defense get Brees under wraps, they made concessions to the run game and paid dearly. Still, they were close enough that some support from the offense would have been big. Terrell Owens watched a brilliant streak of 185 games with a catch go down in flames. With only 5 games separating him from former Colt WR Marvin Harrison, it’s safe to say that T.O. is pissed about this one. Buffalo is not going to win games in which Terrell Owens is shut out by mediocre defenses.
13) San Diego Chargers 23, Miami Dolphins 13. If Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown played on a team with a strong-armed QB, it would be a wrap. The Dolphins runners are simply bruising. In the end, though, it won’t matter much. The Dolphins are locked in a classic case of over-reach. In 2008, they played a 4th place schedule and rode the wave of rejuvenation (and an easier schedule) to first place. In 2009, it’s time to pay the piper. First place schedule, first class limitations. I think we’ll know a lot more about San Diego after next week’s game in Pittsburgh. Both teams are struggling in the red zone. Early take: Pitt 18, San Diego 12 (all field goals).
14) Detroit Lions 19, Washington Redskins 14. I have to see this game before I say too much. All I know is that Detroit expected to win and Washington probably wanted to lose. I wrote last week that this team had pride issues. The barely beat the Rams and now have lost to the Lions. Antwaan Randle-El is thinking, “I cannot believe I left Pittsburgh for this. Then again, I cannot believe they paid me like this to come here. This is great.” The Redskins have scored 23 total points vs. the Rams and Lions. If your head coach is an offensive genius, something has to give. I recognize that the Rams and Lions have hired defensive genius’ of their own, but Zorn’s gotta step it up.
Note: For my money, Zorn is the guy who has to get this going. He’s the one that was in Seattle when they were haltingly mediocre (even during much of Holmgren’s tenure). Campbell’s never been a star in the NFL, but I’ve seen him dominate elite competition — at Auburn. I’ve never seen Zorn do that in the NFL as a player, assistant or head coach.
15) Indianapolis Colts 31, Arizona Cardinals 10. The Colts flat out whooped and embarrassed the Arizona Cardinals last night. Arizona has some problems. Ken Whisenhunt cannot trust “Beanie” Wells with the ball. He doesn’t really trust Tim Hightower with the ball. The Cardinals cannot run with confidence because everyone is waiting for the next fumble. On defense, Dominique Rogers-Cromartie was driven to school by the Peyton Manning Bus Service of Greater Phoenix. DRC better stop reading the papers (about himself) and peeking in the backfield and biting on pump fakes, or some other QBs are going to get the idea that he’s no more than a glorified Rod Hood. Did you see Pierre Garcon run right by DRC? Whooosh!! The Cardinals don’t look too tough right now. They bulk of their problems, though, are on offense.
More on these games after watching the video.