Some games are already taking on a playoff atmosphere. The Week 8 Falcons-Saints game on Monday night was one such game. The one thing that is painfully clear to me (and probably to the Atlanta Falcons general manager) is that the Falcons really miss Harry Douglas. If you don’t live in Atlanta or didn’t go to Louisville, you’ve probably never heard of him. Douglas is a speedy wideout who was injured and lost for the season during pre-season. He had two of his best games in 2008 vs. Chicago (5 catches, 96 yards) and Carolina (4 catches, 92 yards). Douglas is a young guy, but he can stretch the field and create space for Roddy White. That’s what’s been missing as teams exploit the absence of Jerrious Norwood and the presence of Michael Jenkins.
Next week, we’re going to see who gets off the mat…and who rolls over.
A month ago, if you told someone that the Chargers had the remotest chance of beating the Giants in New York, you’d have been run out of town. Yet, after overpowering losses at New Orleans, home vs. the Cardinals and down in Philadelphia, the Giants may have shrunk the betting line to 2 or 3 points. The Chargers are still a shell of their former selves, but anything is possible — especially in a game where Philip Rivers and Eli Manning will be playing for bragging rights.
Around Christmas time, when the Arizona Cardinals get the final confirmation that their 9-7 record is not good enough to get into the playoffs, they’re going to be kicking themselves for losing at home to Carolina. They’re going on the road to Chicago. The Cardinals have the perfect personnel to throttle the Bears all up and down Lake Shore Drive. But, if Kurt Warner has his mind on other things, they can lose just like Cleveland did last week. And if they do that, they’ll be watching the 49ers in the post-season.
Dallas travels to Philadelphia for what should be a classic confrontation of high-powered offenses. The Cowboys have proven to have a stronger preference for running than the Eagles. Too often Andy Reid get enamored with the beauty and grace of their passing game. If that happens again this week, Dallas will leave town in first place.
The Miami Dolphins have had an interesting few weeks. They lost a tough, tough game to the New Orleans Saints. The offense could only muster 3 points vs. the Jets for much of the game, but the special teams unit exploded behind Ted Ginn, Jr. The New England Patriots are coming off a bye and this could be the end of the ride.
The Baltimore Ravens play at the Cinncinati Bengals. This is a game of the week candidate. The Bengals have a one game lead over the Ravens and have already won in Baltimore. A win here forces the Ravens to turn their attention to beating the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers twice…and they haven’t played this season. If Baltimore loses, the chances of them making the playoffs, to me, drop considerably.
Don’t the Texans have something to prove? When are they going to prove it? They get to play the Colts in Indy this week and prove they can run and pass and stop the run and slow down the pass. If they can’t do it, Indy gets to 8-0 and holds all the cards. If Houston can find a way, a much deserved bye week is just around the corner.
NOTE: It had occurred to me that very little was probably said with respect to “race” last week as Mike Singletary’s 49ers faced off against Jim Caldwell’s Colts. The NFL still has a long way to go, but it is worth noting that 5 of the last 6 teams to compete in the Super Bowl have had either a Black head coach or general manager. The lone exception to this new trend is the New England Patriots.
The Raiders, Rams, Bills and Browns are all on a bye week. Television programmers have never been so happy!
Monday night — Steelers vs. Broncos. That’s a big one, even though the Ravens subjected Denver to an old-fashioned AFC North chin checking. Denver will show up to play the Steelers and their fans will be juiced. This game will get all the hype that probably should go to two teams who’ve already outdueled these two (Baltimore and Cincinnati).