2007 NFL Midseason Report

(Philadelphia, Pa) —- Sad, but true we are halfway through the 88th NFL season titled: “Who Wants It More” as it continues toward its inevitable February 2008 ending.  As we reach the midpoint there is one thing abundantly clear, it is the Patriots and Colts (two unbeatens) and the rest of the league behind them.  Forget “spygate”, the Patriots especially seem to be on a whole another level as they lead the NFL in crucial categories of points scored (331), points allowed (127), and touchdowns (43).  They are on pace to break the 1998 Minnesota Vikings scoring record (556 points), but they remind me more of the balanced 1989 San Francisco 49ers team that was ranked #1 offensively and #3 defensively on their to a Super Bowl XXIV win of 55-10 over the Broncos.  The Pats seem to be very close to the holy grail of an unbeaten season (1972 Miami Dolphins), but it is still too early to crown them even after a 52-7 shellacking of the Redskins in week 8.  The week 9, “Clash of the Super Powers” in Indianapolis will tell everyone how close either unbeaten is too perfection and if the other 31 NFL teams should even try to compete with the winner. But remember every team wants to knock off the “town bully” each week bringing everything they have in their shot for immortality –-1985 Bears and 1998 Vikings, both finished 15-1 with lower level teams rising to knock them off for their only regular season losses. 

I don’t know if it is parity or a dearth of talent, but there are 18 teams with a .500 or better record at the halfway point.  There are also 13 teams with losing records including the surprising Super Bowl XLI runners-up the Chicago Bears (3-5), who have continued the Super Bowl loser “hangover” problem –since the ’93 Bills lost Super Bowl XXVIII, the big game loser has met with little success as 7 of the 13 teams since that team have missed the playoffs and only three won a playoff game in the subsequent season— that the Eagles and Seahawks ran into recently.  Unfortunately for the job security of Scott Linehan and Cam Cameron, there continues to be two winless teams with the Rams and Dolphins (both 0-8).  However give their coaching staffs should be given credit as both teams have some fight still in them and they have competed in almost all of their games with several “heartbreakers” (look for both of them to win one by week 12 as the 1976 Buccaneers 0-14 team should be safe).

Divisionally all but the AFC East are competitive, as the Patriots have seemingly wrapped up that division with a 5 game edge.  The other divisions have brewing battles coming in the crucial November and December stretch drive months.o AFC South – This is possibly the NFL’s best division sporting the three well over .500 teams.  The defending champion Colts are unbeaten, the dangerous 5-2 Titans (V.Y and defense), the also 5-2 Jaguars (Even without a QB there running game is shining), and the scrappy Texans (3-5) bringing up the rear.o AFC East – As mentioned earlier, the Patriots should this thing wrapped up by Thanksgiving.  After the Patriots there are the scrappy Bills (fighting through injuries) and the hapless Jets (1-7) and Dolphins (0-8).

o AFC West – This maybe the NFL’s worst division with the Chiefs and Chargers tied at the top with 4-3 records.  Both teams have turned it around from slow starts, but now we will see if they are “contenders”.  The Broncos are still in the mix at 3-3, but they went through a stretch of three straight losses and the Raiders have already equaled their 2006 victory total coming in at 2-5.

o AFC North – Coming into the season I thought this would be one of the better races in the NFL, but I am shocked to say the Browns (4-3) are the third team in the mix with the Steelers (5-2) and Ravens (4-3).  On the outside looking in are the Bengals at 2-5, which may cost Marvin Lewis his job.

o NFC North – The rejuvenated Packers sit tentatively at the top with a 5-1 record, but they are shaky on offense with no running game (leading rusher has less than 300 yards at the midpoint). Behind the Pack, the unanticipated Lions are 5-2 with big question marks defensively, followed by the underachieving Bears (picked wrong running back) and young but very inconsistent Vikings.

o NFC South – This is the NFC’s answer to the AFC West.  At this time the Panthers are in the top spot with an inconsistent 4-3 record and on their third quarterback.  After the Panthers, there is the equally inconsistent Bucs (4-4), the hard charging Saints (3-4) with three straight wins, and the Vickless/hapless Falcons (1-6).

o NFC East – This division could very well be sending three teams into the playoffs.  The Cowboys look to the NFC’s best at 6-1 followed closely by the Giants (6-2) who have rattled off six straight wins, the up and down Redskins (4-3) and the underachieving Eagles (3-4).

o NFC West – In my opinion this is the NFL’s worst division.  The division leading Seahawks don’t look like their perennial divisional winning self at 4-3 and they are followed by losing record teams the Cardinals (3-4), Niners (2-5), and the injured but reeling Rams (0-8).
 
Midseason Awards
AFC Coach of the Year: Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans – Fisher came into the season in the last year of his contract, but he proved in the first half of the season (5-2) that he deserved an extension.  The Tennessee Titans obliged signing Fisher through 2011.  The deal is thought to be worth $5.5 million to $6 million per year. Fisher is the longest-tenured coach with his team in the NFL (13 seasons) and a record of 110 wins, 95 losses in 205 games w/ 5-4 record in the Post Season.  This year’s team might be his most amazing work to date as the Titans have relied on a tough running game and defense.  Fisher has had to find ways to keep his team moving forward despite horrible passing games from quarterback Vince Young (42 yards passing in a win versus the Raiders in week 8).
 
Honorable Mention to
Cleveland Browns Head Coach Romeo Crennel.  The “Dawgs’” have become the “Scrappy Doos” as the Browns (4-3) have become a scoring machine on their “Save Romeo” trek.  Surprise breakout player QB Derek Anderson, stud WR Braylon Edwards, and maturing TE Kellen Winslow have led the Browns who have averaged 30 points a game.  Crennel is now 14-25 for his overall record.

NFC Coach of the Year: Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers – Following an off-season where everyone including veteran quarterback Brett Favre was questioning McCarthy and the Packer ability to win, the former Saints assistant responded.  He continued his hot streak from 2006 (won last 4) as the Packers had an 8 game winning streak to start the season.  At 6-1 the Packers are contenders and it should be a good battle with the Lions (5-2) for the Divisional title. McCarthy’s overall record is now 13-9 record.

AFC Offensive MVP: Quarterback Tom Brady, New England Patriots (Layup) – Every week of the first half of the 2007 season, Brady has been given a game ball or honorable mention as he has continued his assault on the record books.  Brady may have Hollywood good looks, but he never puts himself ahead of his teammates and prefers to talk “team first” and what a team it is, maybe the NFL’s best at 8-0.  He has set a NFL record for throwing at least three TD pass at the start of a season (8) and through 8 games, the three time Pro Bowler has throwing numbers of 198 completions on 267 attempts, an amazing 74.2%, 2431 yards, 9.1 ypp, 30 TDs, 2 INTs, w/ 25 yards rushing and 2 TDs.  At his current pace he is on track to break Peyton Manning’s 2004 touchdown record (49) and Dan Marino’s 1984 yardage record (5084 yards).  And we already know all of the talk of a perfect season for the Patriots.

NFC Offensive MVP: Quarterback Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys – The question everyone asked me coming into the 2007 was “Is Tony Romo for real??”  My answer is so far in 2007 after 7 games is “yes”.  This season America’s new sweetheart quarterback has led the ‘Boys to a 6-1 record and has throwing numbers of 150 completions on 239 attempts, 62.8%, 1984 yards, 8.3 ypp, 16 TDs, 9 INTs w/ 81 yards rushing and 2 TDs. He even got a victory in his worst performance as the Cowboys snatched victory from the jaws of defeat versus the Bills 25-24 despite Romo turning the ball over 6 times (5 INTs with two returned for TDs and 1 fumble lost).  He is even got the “girl” by snagging American Idol’s Carrie Underwood.  He also got a new contract on 10/29/2007 with the following details a six-year, $67 million deal that includes $30 million in guaranteed money.

AFC Defensive MVP: Defensive End Jared Allen, Kansas City Chiefs – Many players could lay claim to this award, but it is the high-motor sometimes wacky Chiefs defensive end that gets my vote.  After serving a two game suspension for alcohol related events, Allen produced 26 tackles, 8 sacks, and 2 Forced Fumbles.  He has cleaned up his act and has led the Chiefs to a 4-3 record for the first half.  The stat that sticks with me most is that the Chiefs were 0-2 with out him and 4-1 with him.  Dominated the Bengals in week 7 contributing 8 TKLs, 2 sacks (ninth career multi-sack game), and 2 FF while chasing Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer all day.

NFC Defensive MVP: Defensive End Osi Umenyiora, New York Giants – He did it all in the first half spearheading the Giants resurgence as they won six straight games.  The stout Giants sack man has 24 tackles, 8 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.   I am sure he is also haunting Winston Justice as he had a game for the ages collecting six sacks and setting franchise record against the Eagles, coming within an eyelash of tying Derrick Thomas’ NFL sack record (7).  Had another highlight reel play against the Niners as he recorded another sack and got the “hat trick” on the play by stripping the quarterback, recovering the fumble and racing 75 yards for a touchdown (third longest in Giants history).

AFC Co-Offensive Rookies of the Year: Center Samson Satele, Miami Dolphins – I know everyone will be saying an O-lineman, C’mon on, but this kid is a cornerstone player.  Satele is the first rookie ever to start on Opening Day at center for the Dolphins. Following in the footsteps of 2006 Center extraordinaire the Jets Nick Mangold, Satele has started from Day 1 in the pivot and has been a leader and a force.  The rookie from the University of Hawaii started NCAA-record 53 games in college and then followed it up with 8 straight games in the pros.  With the help of the stout center the Dolphins are better than their record averaging 20.8 points per game (13th in the NFL), 323.2 yards (18th), 115.2 yards (15th), and only 13 sacks in 8 games

Offensive Tackle Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns – The third player taken in the draft has been amazing from Day 1 starting at the crucial left tackle position.  Thomas is the blindside protector for upstart QB Derek Anderson and the unquestioned leader of the Browns young improving line. He has excellent technique and he should be a starter for the next 10 years.  The Browns have had a resurgence going 4-3 and Thomas is a big part as the offensive line as quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Charlie Frye have only been sacked 11 times in 7 games including 0 sacks vs. Rams.  The surprising Browns are averaging 27.7 points a game (4th in NFL) and 356.4 yards (7th).

NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year: RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (I got this one right, woo hoo!!!) – This pick was almost as easy as the Tom Brady MVP pick earlier.  Peterson has come into the NFL dominating and I guess all of the naysayers that said he was too injury prone before the draft want their vote back.  His numbers (7 games, 128 rushes for 740 yards w/ 5TDs plus 11 catches for 187 yards and 1 TD) are unbelievable for a rookie and now he is even the unquestioned starter ahead of veteran Chester Taylor.  Peterson greatest game in the first half was against the Bears as he was a man amongst boys rushing 20 times for 224 yards (fifth most by a rookie in NFL history) and three touchdowns in 34-31 win in Chicago. In that game, the University of Oklahoma rookie had touchdown runs of 67, 73, and 35 yards plus he had one catch for nine yards and 128 yards on returns, giving him 361 all-purpose yards (third-highest total in NFL history). NFL Network Analyst Deion Sanders said of Peterson, “He has the vision of a Marshall Faulk, the power of a Terrell Davis, and the speed of an Eric Dickerson. Let’s pray he has the endurance of an Emmitt Smith.”

AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year: DT Amobi Okoye, Houston Texans – Okoye may have been the youngest draft pick in modern history at 19, but he has come in the league and made a difference.  Working with fellow first rounders Mario Williams, Travis Johnson, and Anthony Weaver (Ravens), the youngster has been active and looks to have a long future in the NFL.  Has 19 tackles, 4 sacks, and a forced fumble in the first 7 games of the season.

NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year: Inside LB Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers – Tutored by the legendary Mike Singletary (LB’s and Assistant Head Coach), Willis has been a tackling machine from his inside linebacker position.  The University of Mississippi linebacker has room to grow, but he already is one of the better players “digging through the trash” and finding the ball carrier.  Willis has 63 tackles and 1 forced fumble in the first 7 games and look for him to make some game changing plays in the second half.Honorable Mention to New York Giants DB Aaron Ross – The 2006 Thorpe award winner has quickly adapted to NFL posting numbers of 21 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 3 interceptions.  Had his best game versus the Jets in a 35-24 win.  In the game, he sat out the first half for disciplinary reasons and then recorded two solo tackles, two interceptions and one touchdown. 

NFL Comeback Player of the Year: WR Randy Moss, New England Patriots – Going into the season no one knew which Moss was showing up in New England.  He answered the questions quickly in week one after missing most of training camp, exploding on the New York Jets secondary for nine catches for 183 yards (20.3 ypc) including a 51-yard bomb touchdown in a shellacking 38-14 over the Jets.  The 10 year veteran receiver has looked nothing like the malcontent that shuffled through the 2006 for the Oakland Raiders (42 catches, 553 yards, 13.2 ypc, and 3 TDs) and he is on a pace for some record setting numbers.  Tom Brady’s must trusted receiving mate for his ability to catch jump balls (did you see the one against the Dolphins – one handed against three DB’s) has “sick” numbers of 47 catches, 779 yards, 16.6 ypc, 11 TDs . 

Breakout Player(s): Tampa Bay RB Earnest Graham – The University of Florida running back came out of nowhere to become the Bucs lead back due to injuries to first team back Carnell Williams and second team back Michael Pittman.  As the Bucs are 4-4 at the halfway point, Graham’s numbers are impressive at 8 games, 82 rushes, 330 yards, 4.0 ypc, 3 TDs and 24 receptions, 163 yards.

New York Giants DE Justin Tuck – This tall rangy defensive end from Notre Dame has played in the shadow of higher profile ends Strahan and Umenyiora, but he has emerged as a great two-way player.  He is effective against the pass and the run plus he has versatility shown by his ability to move inside to defensive tackle in certain formations.  He has already posted career highs in sacks (7) and has 33 tackles and 1 forced fumble.

First Pick of the 2008 NFL Draft: Quarterback Andre Woodson, Kentucky – Has lead his team to a good first half including a big upset of LSU 43-37 on 10/13/2007 throwing 3 TD’s in the game.  Is a dual threat player who can move away from the rush and make all of the throws long/short/inside/outside.  Has current numbers of 215-337, 2431 yards, 63.8%, 7.21 ypp, 28 TDs, and 7 INTs.
(Arkansas RB Darren McFadden is a close second as the best prospect)
 
Lloyd’s Leftovers

Head Coaches on the Hot Seat
 
• Marvin Lewis – The Cincinnati Bengals head coach must be feeling the “hottest” seat in the NFL as his team fell to 2-5 after week 8. The Bengals had a bad stretch where they lost four consecutive games and they have gone 2-8 since starting 8-5 last year (didn’t make the playoffs).  The “Bungles” routinely have had problems protecting Carson Palmer, not converted third downs, taken penalties, and turned the ball over in the first half. For Lewis the 2005 division title that he won seems miles away and the Bengals have become the NFL’s poster franchise for boorish behavior on and off the field.

• Scott Linehan – I know the winless Rams (0-8) have had several injuries on the offensive line and other areas, but the second year coach just doesn’t seem to have it to me.  His team seems to have running problems and an inability to stop the big play.  At the halfway point, it looks like Linehan (8-16) might be a better coordinator than head guy.  Will probably be given a third year to get to the playoffs or else, but a winless or one win season might force the Rams hand.

• Cam Cameron – With the Dolphins 0-8 and appearing to wave the white flag with the trade of WR Chris Chambers to the Chargers, Cameron may not make it out of year one.  The former University of Indiana coach might have made the wrong decision by cutting quarterback Daunte Culpepper and acquiring 37-year old Trent Green (lost for the year with a season ending concussion).  I have heard Cameron’s rah-rah style has rubbed some veterans the wrong way especially veterans LB Joey Porter and DE Jason Taylor.

Trends

Calling a timeouts just as a kicker is swinging for a game-winning kick – I am appealing to the NFL Competition Committee and Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher a prominent member of the committee to change the rules around coaches calling timeouts as a kicker is swinging his leg.  To me it is not “gamesmanship” or being tactical, it is just a plain abuse of rules.  The timeout on the Cowboys kicker against the Bills didn’t work, but just ask the Raiders and Bills how they like the rule as they both suffered misses/blocks on second kicks in losses after their original field goal was good, but didn’t count due to a bogus timeout.

The Commish is on the job – Whether it is being over in London for the NFL’s first international game/ talking at a seminar about the international growth potential of the NFL, keeping discipline problem players (Michael Vick, Adam “Pacman” Jones, Ricky Williams Tank Johnson, Odell Thurman, and others) in order, working on NFL retirees pension issues, talking directly with Koren Robinson (re-instated), or meeting with the player advisory council, you know that Roger Goodell is on the job.  Year one for Goodell has been tough, but the “Commish” has shown he was a great choice to lead the NFL.
 
AFC is better than NFC – As if the Patriots week six 48-27 drubbing of the previously unbeaten Cowboys wasn’t enough, the AFC has two unbeatens (Colts and Patriots), Nine teams over .500 to the NFC’s seven, the game’s best quarterbacks — Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning and New England’s Tom Brady, and you know I can go on and on. The AFC has won the past four Super Bowls, and six of the past seven, which should not change with the Patriots or Colts representing the major conference. It has become almost as lopsided as the stretch from 1985-1997, when the NFC won 13 straight Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers dominating.

Watch out for games against former coaches – Inside information is at a premium in the NFL and former coaches associated with teams have capitalized on their former employers.  We saw Cardinals coaches Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm (both passed over for the vacant Steelers head coaching job) get the last laugh on the Steelers in helping to issue their first loss in a 21-14 victory.  Plus in one of the NFL’s “no mercy” games, Giants Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, a former Eagles coach, showed that he knew the entire Eagles game plan and weaknesses as his unit held the Birds to three little points in a home win.  By the way did I mention the franchise and NFL record 12 sacks the Giants registered.

Survival of the fittest – The NFL season truly is “survival of the fittest” as injuries have decimated teams (Rams) and units (Redskins O-Line, Bears D-Line, Bengals LB’s) all over the league.  It seems every team has to deal with losing two to three key players each week – some for the year — and that is why quality depth on your 53 man roster is paramount.  No position has felt the sting of the injury bug more than the quarterback position.  Teams know from past history (see Rams 1999) that they better have a good bullpen of throwers (2 or 3 QB’s in reserve) to succeed in the NFL, because fast defensive players and schemes are always coming after the “golden boys”.  The quarterback injury problem has gotten so bad that 43-year old quarterback Vinny Testaverde was called by the Carolina Panthers from his couch to play and he actually won a game in week six – becoming the oldest player to win as a starting quarterback in NFL history.  Here is a list of some teams with quarterbacks that have missed playing time due to injury and I am sure the list will be growing weekly:

• Arizona Cardinals – Kurt Warner (elbow), Matt Leinhart (shoulder – Season)
• Atlanta Falcons – Joey Harrington (knee), Byron Leftwich (ankle)
• 
Baltimore Ravens – Steve McNair (groin)
• Carolina Panthers – Jake Delhomme (shoulder – Season)
• Miami Dolphins – Trent Green (concussion – Season)
• Minnesota Vikings – Tavaris
Jackson (groin, broken finger)
• 
St. Louis Rams – Marc Bulger (broken ribs)
• Tennessee Titans – Vince Young (quad)
 

NFL Week 8 Preview

(Philadelphia, Pa) —- I will say “Cheerio” to open as it will be fish ’n chips for everyone as the G-Men and English homeboy Osi Umenyiora – born in London – will travel to Merry Ole’ England to face the winless Dolphins at Wembley Stadium in the NFL’s first regular-season game played overseas.  The NFL’s historic game will be played in front of an 86,000-fan sellout crowd and it will be broadcast to all corners of the world (216 countries) by total of 39 broadcast partners and in 21 languages. History will be made and everyone seems more excited about the event than the game.  But the game is just as important as typified by Giants MLB Antonio Pierce who said  “Of course, we want to see a little bit of London, but we are going over there to play a game and win”.  A win would place the Giants in elite company as they would become the fifth team in history and only the second since 1947 to start the season 0-2 and go on to win six consecutive games.

As a historian, the NFL’s growth into the global entity that it is today is just amazing to me.  We already knew that “America’s Game” is the United States’ national passion, but now a new set of fans around the world will celebrate the greatness of the NFL. The league has truly “come a long way baby” from the renegade sport of the 1920’s — loosely organized league around factories and industrial towns (ex. Canton, Ohio; Hammond, Indiana; Pottsville, Pa and many others) that was considered ‘barbaric’ by many who preferred college football and baseball -– to the billion dollar league that it is today.  The television dollars and viewers are astronomical — Since the NFL season kicked off on Sept. 6, NFL games account for three of the four most-watched programs on television including the 29.1 Million viewers for the October 14th Cowboys-Patriots game -– that not even the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars (21.3 Million) could compete.  The NFL is stronger than ever and as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said this week in London at the Sport 2020 – The Changing Face of the Global Sports Industry Meeting, “Success did not come overnight. It took us in the NFL 45 years – from 1920 to 1965 — to become the most popular sport in America” .  He added “We do not take our position for granted.  The challenges going forward will be significant.  Our success is not guaranteed,” and “We have to make sure the game remains exciting and competitive.  We have to have a solid league structure with strong franchises across the board; and we have to continue to be innovative, always looking for ways to improve everything we do”.

Some fans and media maybe looking past this weekend’s games as they anticipate the week 9 “Clash of the Super Powers” Indianapolis Colts versus the New England Patriots battle in Foxboro.  However this week’s games will still go on and it would be foolhardy to not pay attention, as there is parity everywhere.  After week 7, there are 18 teams with a .500 or better record and 14 teams with losing records including six teams at 2-4 (these teams can point to the Super XL Champion Steelers for inspiration as their record was the same at this point) and same winless teams (Rams and Dolphins both 0-7).  The AFC East seems all but wrapped up with the Patriots sporting a 5 game edge, but all of the other divisions have brewing battles coming with teams currently 1 to 2 games within the lead with the AFC South, AFC West, AFC North, and NFC East with three teams at .500 or better.

Every week brings a new set of storylines and this week is not different. 

• The Steelers and Bengals renewing their “friendly” divisional rivalry – These two teams don’t like each other especially since the Steelers knocked the Bengals (35-17) out of the 2005 playoffs in the wild card round.  The sticking point of the “We Dey” Steelers win was that Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer suffered a devastating season-ending knee injury in the contest (some Bengals fans thought it was dirty – It wasn’t though).

• The Philadelphia Eagles taking on Eagles Midwest (Minnesota Vikings) – These two teams are extremely intertwined due to several past inter-team relationships and former players including Vikings head coach Brad Childress serving as Eagles offensive coordinator under Andy Reid.  Both teams are 2-4, so this should be a desperate affair as the loser’s season maybe over.

• The Redskins traveling to New England  – After a close win last week over the Cardinals, the upstart Washington Redskins (4-2) will try to prove they are a real ‘contender’ as they face America’s new team.  Even for a hall of fame head coach like Joe Gibbs this may be a mission impossible as the undefeated Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady seem to be breaking several new records each week. New England leads the league with 279 points while allowing 120.  That 159-point difference is the highest for a team’s first seven games in 41 years, since the 1966 Dallas Cowboys had a 160-point differential (266-106). If quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning win this week, the NFL says they will become the first quarterbacks in league history to defeat 31 teams.

• The “quiet” defending champion Colts traveling to the Carolina Panthers – Ironically this was my Super Bowl pick from 2006 that never came to be as the Panthers stumbled to an 8-8 record.  This match-up may not have the glamour of  next week’s Colts-Patriots game, but these are two tough teams looking to continue on their trek toward the playoffs. I will be real interest in seeing the match-up between premier defensive ends the Colts Dwight Freeney (3 ½ sacks) and the Panthers Julius Peppers (1 ½ sacks). The Colts led by their stoic head coach Tony Dungy have quietly been putting together an impressive resume including being the third team in history to begin 6-0-or-better for three consecutive years and they can join the 1929-31 Green Bay Packers as the only teams in history to start three consecutive seasons with at least 7-0 records.  Also Peyton Manning (286) will be chasing Johnny Unitas’ all-time Colts touchdown passes record (287).

Lloyd’s 2007 NFL Halfway Awards 

At the season’s midpoint, it is time to give my “Halfway Awards” and I can only sit back and laugh at some of my earlier predictions.  I will have more in-depth article on them in the coming week.

AFC Coach of the Year:  Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans (Honorable Mention to Cleveland Browns Head Coach Romeo Crennel).

NFC Coach of the Year: Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers

AFC Offensive MVP:  Quarterback Tom Brady, New England Patriots (Layup)

NFC Offensive MVP: Quarterback Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

AFC Defensive MVP: Defensive End Jared Allen, Kansas City Chiefs

NFC Defensive MVP: Defensive End Osi Umenyiora, New York Giants

AFC Co-Offensive Rookies of the Year: Center Samson Satele, Miami Dolphins and Offensive Tackle Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns

NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year: RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (I got this one right, wooo hooo !!!)

AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year: DT Amobi Okoye, Houston Texans

NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year: LB Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers w/ honorable mention to New York Giants DB Aaron Ross.

NFL Comeback Player of the Year: WR Randy Moss, New England Patriots

First Pick of the 2008 NFL Draft: Quarterback Andre Woodson, Kentucky (I still think he is the best prospect followed closely by Arkansas RB Darren McFadden)

Breakout Player(s): Tampa Bay RB Earnest Graham and New York Giants DE Justin Tuck

Before we get to the games, I would like to send out my thoughts and prays to the people in the San Diego area.  For the second time in four years, there are wildfires all over the region and several people have been displaced and lost everything.  The NFL game between the Chargers and Texans was scheduled for Sunday in San Diego, but as of this writing no one is sure where the game is going to be played or what time (My guess is Monday Night in Arizona – Sun Devil Stadium).

Games and Notes

Monday October 29th @8:30 PM
Green Bay Packers (5-1) at Denver Broncos (3-3) – Invesco Field
ESPN: Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Tony Kornheiser, Suzy Kolber, and Michele Tafoya

I usually try and preview another game than the “big” Monday Night Football battle, but this game really jumped off the page at me.  This rematch of  Super Bowl XXXII  features one of the NFL’s better passing offenses (Packers) against one the better pass defenses (Broncos).  Both teams have fallen on hard times recently, but they are trying to regain their championship form as shown by them either being tied or leading their respective divisions.  The Broncos lead the all-time series 5-4-1 including a win in the aforementioned Super Bowl XXXII, but the Packers have won 3 out of the last 4 including the last time they played in December 2003.

The game will also serve as a litmus test for is “football more popular than baseball” as the Monday night battle will probably be played at the same time as World Series game #5 (Red Sox vs. the Rockies) in Colorado.  I love that it will be cold, windy, and nighttime when one of the most storied players in the game, Green Bay QB Brett Favre comes to town with his Packers.  The Packers have been one the surprise teams of the 2007 season as they have stormed out the gates going 5-1 (won 9 of their last 10 going back to 2006), sporting the NFL’s No. 2 (tie) pass offense, and finding ways to win games when they have not been at their best.  The Pack should be well rested as they had a bye last week and they don’t play until Monday night.  The offensively the key for the Packers will be the play of the rejuvenated Favre (160-247, 1,715 yards (2nd in NFC), 9 TDs, and 6 INTs) getting the ball downfield to WRs Donald Driver and Gregg Jennings and finding a way to improve on their lackluster running (De Shawn Wynne only 200 yards).  On defense the Packers will funnel everything through their Pro Bowl D-lineman Aaron Kampman (5 Sacks) and their secondary led by CB’s Charles Woodson and Al Harris (Opponent’s only have a 34.5% third-down conversion rate, fifth best in the league.).

Offensive the Broncos will lean heavily on RB Travis Henry (119 rushes for 549 yards, 4.6 ypc and 1 TD) first and then they will look to get production from QB Jay Cutler (set career-high with 3 TD passes last week) and their passing game.  The passing game will have big holes to fill as star receiver Javon Walker will be sidelined after knee surgery.  Defensively the Broncos are better than the 358.3 yards per game that they are allowing.  They have several playmakers in DB Champ Bailey, DB John Lynch, DE Elvis Dummervil (6 sacks – 2nd in AFC) and several others, so look for them to improve upon their No. 2 NFL pass defense ranking.  Despite the Packers struggles running the ball, Denver must be cognizant that teams have had success running against them this year.

A key player to watch is Denver kicker Jason Elam (10/13 FG)as he has won all three of the Bronco’s games this year on game winning kicks including last week over the Steelers. Elam was the first player to do that feat since the Packers kicker Ryan Longwell in 2004.
 

Week 8
Byes: Cardinals, Falcons, Ravens, Cowboys, Chiefs, Seahawks 

Sunday, October 28

IND @ CAR  1:00 PM CBS
DET @ CHI  1:00 PM FOX
PIT @ CIN  1:00 PM CBS
NYG @ MIA  1:00 PM FOX (Off to Merry Ole’ England)
PHI @ MIN  1:00 PM FOX
CLE @ STL  1:00 PM CBS
OAK @ TEN  1:00 PM CBS
BUF @ NYJ  4:05 PM CBS
HOU @ SD  4:05 PM  CBS
JAC @ TB  4:05 PM  CBS
WAS @ NE  4:15 PM  FOX
NO @ SF  4:15 PM   FOX

Monday, October 29
GB @ DEN  8:30 PM  ESPN

Week 8 NFL Rankings

(Philadelphia, Pa) —- The Patriots (7-0) and Colts (6-0) remained unblemished as their week 9 battle of the “Unbeatens” in New England is almost a reality.  After week 7, there are 18 teams with a .500 or better record and 14 teams with losing records including six teams at 2-4 (these teams can point to the Super XL Champion Steelers for inspiration as their record was the same at this point) and same winless teams (Rams and Dolphins both 0-7).  The AFC East seems all but wrapped up with the Patriots sporting a 5 game edge, but all of the other divisions have brewing battles coming with teams currently 1 to 2 games within the lead with the AFC South, AFC West, AFC North, and NFC East with three teams at .500 or better.

 

Byes: Cardinals, Falcons, Ravens, Cowboys, Chiefs, Seahawks 

Colts (6-0) – Showed no mercy in shutting down the Jags running game on Monday Night Football.  The Champs with a chip on their shoulder travel to Carolina to face Vinny and the Panthers.

2.  Patriots (7-0) – Did what was expected in smearing the winless Dolphins. Have one last hurdle to clear at home against the young but tough Redskins before facing the Champs in week 9.

3.  Cowboys (6-1) – Made the Vikings beat them with pass which never happened.  The NFC’s best now get a week off to try and not wake up from their dream season.

 4.  Packers (5-1) – After a bye week they travel to Denver to face the rejuvenated Broncos on Monday Night Football.

5.  Giants (5-2) – Looked like a defensive juggernaut in hammering the Niners for their fifth straight win.  It will be fish and chips for the G-Men as they travel to Merry Ole’ England to face the winless Dolphins.

6.  Steelers (4-2) – Disappointed on Sunday Night Football not putting away the Broncos.  Travel to Cincy to face the Bengals who want revenge for the Steelers knocking them out of the ’06 playoff hunt.

7.  Titans (4-2) – Without V.Y they still won their way (ugly and field goals) over the Texans.  The Raiders come to town and they will be looking to run the ball.

8.  Chargers (3-3) – Will unveil new WR Chris Chambers after a bye week of learning.  Football is secondary to them right now as their community is fighting wildfires (thoughts and prayers to that region).  As of this writing they are in Arizona preparing to play the Texans, but where will the game be played is the key question.

9.  Redskins (4-2) – Sneeked out of FedEx field with a win over the scrappy Cardinals.  We will see if they are a real ‘contender’ as they travel to New England to face America’s new team.

10.  Jaguars (4-2) – Didn’t put much of a fight against the champion Colts on MNF.  Will try to get healthy quick as they travel to Tampa Bay in the battle for the sunshine state.

11.  Panthers (4-2) – They probably used the bye week to get veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde ready. Have a tough home battle this week as Peyton and the boys come to town.

12.  Seahawks (4-3) – Dismantled the winless Rams as DE Darryl Tapp had a sack party.  Will have the bye week to heal up and get ready for a stretch run in the 2nd half of the season.

13.  Lions (4-2) – Showed me something by doing just enough to beat the Bucs in Detroit.  Still have something to prove as they have a tough divisional battle against the Bears in Chicago.

14.  Chiefs (4-3) – Behind MVP candidate DE Jared Allen they continued their re-birth with a tough win over the pesky Raiders.  Will have a bye week to figure out how to stay on top in the AFC West.

15.  Bears (3-4) – Came from behind to beat the Eagles in a “back against the wall” game.  Will now host the Lions in a game that will have NFC North divisional implications.

16.  Ravens (4-3) – Looked horrible shooting themselves in the foot in a bad loss to the Bills.  Will have the bye week to settle down and quiet their noisy lockerroom.

17.  Buccaneers (4-3) – Another team that dug a self made hole and lost to a team (Lions) they should have beaten.  Have a tough home battle against the beatup Jags.

18.  Broncos (3-3) – Held off the hard charging Steelers on NBC Sunday Night Football.  Host the Packers on MNF, but the whole town maybe watching the World Series.

19.  Browns (3-3) – After a bye they will resume their “Save Romeo” campaign on the road against the winless Rams.

20.  Saints (2-4) – Did just enough to get by the beleaguered Falcons.  With Bush and Brees feeling better they travel to San Francisco to take on the Niners.

21.  Texans (3-4) – A furios comeback against the Titans came up short, but they showed character behind backup QB Sage Rosenfelds.  Will be playing the host Chargers, but they don’t know where yet.

22.  Cardinals (3-4) – Lost a heartbreaker to the Redskins as their kicker was wide left.  They will now have the bye week to think about how they almost beat the ‘Skins.

23.  Bengals (2-4) – Finally got back in the win column as they outscored the hapless Jets.  Have a tough divisional home battle against their heated rival the Pittsburgh Steelers.

24.  Bills (2-4) – Surprised the Ravens and the country with a tough home win.  Go on the road to face the underachieving Jets in a divisional battle.

25.  Raiders (2-4) – Played the Chiefs tough until the final gun, but they had too many drops and key turnovers to win.  Travel to Tennessee to face the quietly good Titans.

26.  Eagles (2-4) – May have lost their season in a gut-wrenching home loss to the Bears in the final seconds.  Will try and pickup the pieces and get a home him versus Eagles Midwest (The Vikings).

27.  Vikings (2-4) – Went away from Peterson after a fumble and had a long day in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys.  Will face the Eagles in a battle of two desperate 2-4 teams.

28.  49ers (2-4) – Were demolished by the Giants vaunted defensive front.  Will host Reggie Bush and the Saints in an old NFC West battle.

29.  Jets (1-6) – The Bengals let them hang around, but they finally sealed their fate by not producing in key situations.  Will try to get a win at home versus the surprising Bills.

30.  Falcons (1-6) – They looked good against the rejuvenated Saints for one half until QB Byron Leftwich got hurt.  Will have a bye week to help their in-fighting and injuries.

31.  Rams (0-7) – The Seahawks bludgeoned them with unrelenting pressure as the lambs remained winless in ’07.  Will be a surprising underdog host to the improving Browns.

32.  Dolphins (0-7) – Had no chance against the high scoring Patriots and their dynamic duo of Brady and Moss.  Will try to get their first win versus the G-Men in London, England of all places.

2007 NFL Week 7 Review

(Philadelphia, Pa) —- The Patriots (7-0) and Colts (6-0) remained unblemished as their week 9 battle of the “Unbeatens” in New England is almost a reality.  Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said it all by saying “Any time you win, you’re doing just fine”.  The Patriots 49-21 demolition win over the hapless Miami Dolphins set a franchise record for most victories to start a season breaking the 2004 squad’s mark of 6-0.  BTW: I have no problem with Patriots head coach Bill Belichik re-inserting starting quarterback Tom Brady after a backup QB Matt Cassell threw pick that was returned for a touchdown, good for them since not even a 21 point lead is safe today.  The Colts with their 29-7 victory over the Jaguars joined only the St Louis Rams (1999-2001) and the Green Bay Packers (1929-1931) as the only three teams in history to begin three consecutive seasons with 6-0-or-better records.    Deion Sanders comparing the 2007 Patriots to his San Francisco 49ers team which won Super Bowl XXIX said, “This team reminds me of the 1994 San Francisco 49ers.  We had the number one offense, [a top] defense and in the off-season we loaded up [with new players]. We built up to overtake the Dallas Cowboys just like this team built up [to overtake the Colts]”.  We know Prime Time rambles sometimes, but we will see he is on to something. Both unbeatens can not make the mistake of looking too far ahead to their “epic” battle as week 8 of the NFL season will present some challenges for both teams.  The Patriots have a good test at home versus the Redskins and the Colts have another tough road game against the rested Panthers (4-2).

Some key tidbits that came out of Week 7 include: 

·         Parity Still Rules – There are 18 teams with a .500 or better record and 14 teams with losing records including six teams at 2-4 (these can point to the Super XL Champion Steelers as this was their record at this point) and winless teams the Rams and Dolphins (both 0-7).  The AFC East seems all but wrapped up with the Patriots sporting a 5 game edge, but all of the other divisions have brewing battles coming with teams currently 1 to 2 games within the lead with the AFC South, AFC West, AFC North, and NFC East with three teams at .500 or better. 

·         The Patriots are a scary bunch – The NFL has not seen a dominating offensive team on this level since the 1999 Rams.  Led by quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots seem to only be concerned with taking care of business each week as their team leaders and the coaching staff have preached that there is no room for complacency in their locker room and that nothing has been accomplished yet.  All phases of the team have been amazing this year — Offensive Line (only 8 sacks all year), Offense (432.9 yards per game, #1 ranked), Defense (269 yards per game, ranked #3), running the ball (133 yards per game, ranked #7), and Special Teams (Opponents only averaging 5.5 yards on punt returns and 9 of 10 on FGs) — and it is hard to find a weakness on this team (maybe age on defense).  They are focused totally on winning the Super Bowl and even past malcontent receivers Donte Stallworth (great run after the catch touchdowns in the last 2 games) and Randy Moss (10 TDs this season) have stepped in line and reaped the benefits of playing on this early season juggernaut.  A scary stat is that the Patriots’ 279 points through seven games is 52 points better than the 2nd ranked Cowboys and the point total is more than six teams scored during the entire 2006 season. 

·         Play to the end of games – This weekend’s games typified the NFL’s “Play to the Final Gun” image.  There were three games decided in the last ten seconds including the Bears marching 97 yards with no timeouts to beat the Eagles 19-16 on a game-winning touchdown pass, the Titans finally slaying the scrappy Texans on a Rob Bironas 29 yard field goal (one of an NFL record 8 FG’s) with no time left after the Texans put up 29 points in the fourth quarter, the Broncos winning 31-28 over the Steelers on the last play of the game on a Jason Elam field goal of 49-yards as time expired, and the Redskins dodging a huge bullet when the Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers missed a 54-yard field goal with 2 seconds left after the Cardinals recovered an improbable on-side kick.  

·         You better have a good kicker – I had an epiphany regarding kickers in the Lincoln Financial field pressbox this past Sunday.  First I watched the miss of a potential game-winning kick by the Cardinals Rackers on television and then I witnessed the Eagles-Bears field goal fest (7 field goals made on 8 attempts) as neither team could punch it in when needed.  The whole scene made even me realize kickers make a huge difference to teams (that is very begrudgingly since I am not a “kicker” guy).  With several NFL offenses struggling in the red-zone and teams playing a run first and lean on your defense style (Ravens, Titans, Jaguars, Raiders, Redskins, and others), points are precious enough that putting “three” on the board instead of coming up empty keeps coaches happy.  Kickers seem to be more accurate than ever and from greater distances (2006 showed this as kickers overall made an NFL record 81.4 percent of their regular-season field-goal attempts and two kicks were made from over 60 yards including an NFL record tying 63 yard game winner by Matt Bryant over the Eagles). 

·         The Giants’ Defense is back – Led by their defense, the Giants are back in the NFC race at 5-2.  The group seemed all but dead after starting 0-2 and allowing 80 points, but they have rattled off five straight wins keyed by new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and a rejuvenated Michael Strahan (2 ½ sacks this week).  The Giants have allowed just 69 points during their game-winning streak and they have an NFL-high 27 sacks led by DE Osi Umenyiora (leads NFL with 8 sacks). 

Before we say “Cheerio” as the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants head off to Merry Ole’ England for their October 28th battle in Wembley Stadium, lets take a look back at some news and notes from week 7. 

Games Balls 

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady – It seems you can pencil in Brady every week for a game ball, but he was even better than his usual amazing self this week in a 49-21 rout of the Dolphins.  The Patriots signal caller showed why he is the leader so far in the MVP race throwing for 354 yards and a career-high six TDs (27 for the season), including 281 yards and five TDs in the first half.  Brady may have Hollywood good looks, but he never puts himself ahead of his teammates and prefers to talk “team first” and what a team it is, maybe the NFL’s best at 7-0.  He also extended his NFL record for throwing at least three TD pass at the start of a season (7). The star quarterback even left the game in the second half, but returned after backup Matt Cassell threw a bad interception.  Through 7 games, the three time Pro Bowler has throwing numbers of 169-229 (73.8 %),  2125 yards,  9.3 yards per pass,  27 TDs, and 2 INTs and at his current pace he is on track to break Peyton Manning’s 2004 touchdown record (49) and Dan Marino’s 1984 yardage record (5084 yards). 

Honorable Mention

 Chicago Bears QB Brian Griese – The journeyman quarterback looked a lot like his hall of fame father Bob.  The younger Griese may have saved the Bears season as he led his team on an improbable 97-yard game-winning drive with no timeouts while calling his own plays due to electronic communication problems.  For the game he threw for 27-41, 322 yards, 1 TD, and 0 INTs. 

Cincinnati Bengals RB Kenny Watson – The former Penn State back showed that injured running back Rudi Johnson was not the only downhill runner on the Bengals as he ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries.  Watson led the way as Cincinnati shifted its focus to the ground game, rushing 41 times in a 38-31 victory over the Jets.   

Washington Redskins MLB London Fletcher – The scrappy linebacker showed why the Redskins made the wise move of bringing him in as a free agent.  Fletcher had a game-high 13 tackles and a game-changing interception that he returned 27 yards in a thrilling 21-19 victory over the Cardinals.  

Tennessee Titans Kicker Rob Bironas – As I admitted earlier “kickers are important” and none was bigger this weekend than Bironas.  He sent an NFL-record eight field goals through the uprights in a crazy 38-36 victory over the Texans on the road.  Bironas’ kicks included a game winning 29-yarder as time expired and others of 52, 25, 21, 30, 28, 43, and 29. 

Lloyd’s Lackey

 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offense – They outgained the Detroit Lions (422-278) and held the ball for 35:50 of possession, but they could only put up 16 points on the board and were shutout in the first and third quarters.  They tried to mount a furious 4th quarter comeback, but overall they wasted a great effort by RB Earnest Graham (19 carries for 92 rushing yards plus 13 rec for 99 yards) in the 23-19 loss to the Lions. Quarterback Jeff Garcia threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, however he had two bad lost fumbles including one in the red-zone. Tampa Bay also had a punt blocked and were penalized seven times for 60 yards

Dishonorable Mention

 Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson – Where was the pressure on Griese on the 97-yard game-winning drive?? (I didn’t see one blitz).  The Eagles stayed in a “soft” zone, were too worried about Devin Hester beating them deep and their best pass-rusher Trent Cole was on the sideline for a good portion of the Bears drive. 

Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress – It amazed me that after the week that rookie running back Adrian Peterson had against the Bears (224 rushing yards), that Childress went away from the running game.  Peterson only carried 12 times with one touchdown (averaged 5 ypc) in a homecoming 24-14 loss to the Cowboys (Only 196 total team yards). Peterson never touched the ball again after an early 4th quarter fumble as Childress instead chose to put the ball in the hands of inexperienced quarterback Tavaris Jackson, who threw for only 6-of-19 for 72 yards. 

Baltimore Ravens – How do you go to Buffalo and lose to the reeling Bills 19-14.  The loss showed the Ravens inability to win on the road.  The Ravens had 11 penalties for 98 yards, were 2-for-4 on fourth-down plays, and lost despite outgaining the Bills 308 to 242.  After the game the finger pointing started as Ray Lewis questioned some of Brian Billick’s coaching decisions.  They now have a bye week to continue their in-fighting.

Scoreboard and Game Notes

 Teams with Byes: San Diego Chargers, Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns  

Sunday, October 21, 2007

 Texas Stadium

Vikings (2-4)   7   7   0   0  14  

Cowboys (6-1)   7   0  14   3  24    

In a game that did not feature a lot of turnovers (3) or penalties (8), the Cowboys improved to 6-1 by downing the Vikings 24-14.  The biggest play of the game was when Cowboys safety Patrick Watkins returned a blocked field goal attempt 67 yards for a touchdown (Dallas’ first TD off a blocked field goal since 1983).  Offensively, Dallas QB Tony Romo completed 31 of 39 passes for 277 yards and one touchdown, and RB Marion Barber finished with 96 yards and one touchdown. The Vikings defense continued to be one of the better ones in the NFL as they caused two fumbles, one that was run back for a touchdown by Cedric Griffin.  

Qwest Field

Rams (0-7)         3   0   3       0      6  

Seahawks(4-3)  7   3   13   10      33    

This game was over before it started as the Seahawks thumped the hapless Rams 33-6.  The Rams had 5 turnovers, 8 penalties, and returning starting quarterback Marc Bulger was sacked 7 times and intercepted three times. The Seahawks defense held St. Louis to just 53 yards rushing, and 221 yards overall, and kept the Rams out of the end zone.  The player of the game for the NFC West leading Seahawks was sacked DE Darryl Tapp (5 TKLS, 4 sacks, 1 FF). 

Lincoln Financial Field

Bears (3-4)   0   3   3  13    19  

Eagles (2-4)  3   6   0    7    16    

Led by QB Brian Griese (See Honorable Mention) the Bears did just enough to come back and win 19-16 in Philadelphia.  The Eagles dominated in time of possession 30:31 to 29:29, but they kept settling for field goals (1 for 4 in the red-zone) and had 5 penalties, which helped the Bears comeback.  Throughout the game the Eagles surrendered field position due to worrying about Bears return man Devin Hester, who had zero return yards. There were no turnovers in the game. 

McAfee Coliseum

Chiefs (4-3)    3   3   0   6      12  

Raiders (2-4)  0   0   7   3      10    

Two of the NFL’s best rushing teams were matched up in this divisional battle that was won by the Chiefs 12-10.  The Chiefs notched their ninth consecutive victory over the Raiders, who extended their NFL record of consecutive divisional defeats to 17. The Chiefs held the Raiders to only 55 yards on the ground. Oakland entered the game averaging 164.0 rushing yards per game, third best in the league.  As their running back Larry Johnson was a sledgehammer running 24 times for 112 yards with 1 TD and an uncharacteristic 54-yard run.  Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen (eight tackles and two sacks) dominated and contributed his ninth career multi-sack game. The game also marked the return of running back Priest Holmes who rushed four times for 9 yards and had one catch for negative six yards.  Chiefs safety Jarrad Page cemented the game by intercepting a Daunte Culpepper pass with under a minute left and the Raiders moving in for a potential game-winning field goal attempt. 

Paul Brown Stadium

Jets (1-6-0)        7   13   3    8   31  

Bengals (2-4-0)  3    7    7   21  38    

In a match-up of two of the NFL’s lower teams, the Bengals led by RB Kenny Watson (See Honorable Mention) halted a four game losing streak by rallying to beat Jets 38-31.  There was a lot of offense as both teams combined for 69 points and almost 800 yards of offense in the game.  The Bengals tried everything to give the game away committing 9 penalties and blowing a 21-point 4th qtr lead.  The game was not over until Bengals CB Jonathan Joseph intercepted a Chad Pennington pass with less than a minute left and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. 

FedEx Field

Cardinals (3-4) 0   6   0   13  19  

Redskins (4-2)  7   7   7   0   21    

In the wildest game of the day, the Redskins survived a Cardinals rally to win 21-19.  The game was not over until Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers missed a 54-yard field goal wide left with 2 seconds remaining. The attempt came after a outrageous series of events, where the Cardinals scored a touchdown with 20 seconds left to draw within 21-19, but failed on a two-point conversion attempt in which Anquan Boldin lined up at quarterback and threw an incomplete pass. The Cardinals recovered an onside kick and Kurt Warner completed two passes to get the Cardinals in field goal range, setting up Rackers’ miss. Cardinals had 364 yards to the Redskins 160 yards, but the ‘Skins defense led by MLB London Fletcher (See Honorable Mention) led the way causing three turnovers.  

Superdome

Falcons (1-6) 3 10  0   3  16  

Saints (2-4)   7  0  7   8  22    

Led by DE Charles Grant (5 TKLS, 1 sack, 1 FF), the Saints avoided a letdown by holding off the Falcons 22-16 in New Orleans.  The play of the game was Saints RB Reggie Bush catching a swing pass and bulling his way through three Falcons defenders into the end zone to give New Orleans a 20-16 lead with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The tough little back then added a two-point conversion on the next play for good measure.  Atlanta QB Byron Leftwich got his first start of the season, but he left in the second half with an ankle injury. In the postgame press conference, a teary-eyed Leftwich walked off saying “It’s just frustrating, man.” 

Ralph Wilson Stadium

Ravens (4-3-0)   0   0   7   7      14  

Bills (2-4-0)  3   6   10   0      19            

The surprise of the day came in Buffalo as the Bills showed the Ravens (See Dishonorable Mention) that they came to play in a 19-14 win. Bills kicker Rian Lindell kicked four field goals and the Bills kept taking advantage of Ravens mistakes. Ravens outgained the Bills 308 to 242, but they were their worst enemy.  Buffalo’s favorite former running back, Willis McGahee celebrated his b-day with 114 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown. 

Giants Stadium

49ers (2-4)   0   7    2   6      15  

Giants (5-2)  6   13  7   7      33    

Spearheaded by their defense, the Giants won their fifth straight game as they smothered the Niners 33-15 in the Meadowlands.  The G-men caused four turnovers and the Niners also helped them by committing a whopping 13 penalties for 82 yardsGiants DE Osi Umenyiora continued his march to the Pro Bowl by recording another sack and getting the “hat trick” on the play by stripping the quarterback, recovering the fumble and racing 75 yards for a touchdown (third longest in Giants history). The sack gave Umenyiora his NFL-leading eighth of the season and DE’s Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck posted 2½ and 1½ sacks, respectively. Giants running back Brandon Jacobs rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown. 

Dolphin Stadium

Patriots (7-0)   14   28   0   7      49  

Dolphins (0-7)    0    7   0  21      28    

The Patriots improved to 7-0 for the first time in franchise history, while the Dolphins fell to 0-7 for the first time in their franchise history. America’s New Team (New England Patriots) put another day in at the office as they trounced the hapless and injured Dolphins 49-28 in Miami.  Patriots only had 84 yards rushing (31 yards by Maroney) and only held the ball for 24:55 versus the 35:05 for the Dolphins but it was their quick strike ability that broke this game wide open.  QB Tom Brady was magnificent (See Game balls) and he was helped by WR Randy Moss who grabbed two jump balls out of the air while being double-teamed in the end zone.  New England now leads the league with 279 points while allowing 120.  That 159-point difference is the highest for a team’s first seven games in 41 years, since the 1966 Dallas Cowboys had a 160-point differential (266-106).  Maybe the Dolphins can get a win on another continent as despondent DE Jason Taylor said after the game. 

Reliant Stadium

Titans (4-2) 6   16  10   6  38  

Texans (3-4) 7    0   0  29  36    

The second V.Y homecoming was a win without him playing as Titans kicker Ron Bironas (See Game balls) was the hero in the wild 38-36 win.  Bironas scored 26 points as the Titans improved to 4-2.  The Texans had 6 turnovers, but they almost came back behind backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels (22-35, 290 yds, 4 TDs – franchise record tying, 3 INTs).   2006 first player taken Texans DE Mario Williams had 4 TKLS and the question still remains “Should they have taken V.Y?? 

Ford Field

Buccaneers (4-3)   0   7   0   9      16  

Lions (4-2)          10    3   3   7      23    

Lions capitalize on errors by the Buccaneers (See Lloyd’s Lackey) to win 23-16 at home.  The Bucs dominated on the stat sheet, but they had two bad fumbles by QB Jeff Garcia (No Interceptions, but the fumbles hurt), 1 missed FG, and 7 penalties in the loss.  The game was sealed when rookie sensation WR Calvin Johnson took a reverse for a 32 yard touchdown.  The Bucs wasted a good effort by RB Earnest Graham, who finished with 92 yards on 19 carries and was also Tampa Bay’s leading receiver, hauling in 13 passes for 99 yards.  The game also marked the return of Lions running back Kevin Jones (15 carries for 76 yds and 1 TD). 

Invesco Field at Mile High

Steelers (4-2) 7  0  7  14  28  

Broncos (3-3)  7 14  7   3  31    

This entertaining Sunday Night Football battle ended with a Jason Elam 49-yard field goal as time expired.  The winning kick was Elam’s 3rd game winner this year. The win got the Broncos back on track after three straight losses and it was their five consecutive win following a bye week. The Broncos were 2-6 in their previous eight home games before beating the Steelers. 

Monday, October 22, 2007  

Jacksonville Municipal Stadium

Colts (6-0)      7   10   2   10    29  

Jaguars (4-2)  0   0    7      0      7  

Peyton Manning and the Colts made their case for who they believe is No. 1 in the NFL. This game was over early as the Colts (6-0) had a 17-0 halftime lead and cruised in for a 29-7 victory over the host Jaguars on Monday Night Football.  The Jags never really had a chance as they lost starting quarterback David Garrard in the 2nd quarter to a bad ankle sprain.  The Jaguars rushed for 375 yards in their win against the Colts last season, but managed only 235 total yards on Monday night.

Game Report: Eagles vs. Bears

The BIGPLAY RADIO NFL PODCAST: HOME TEAM EDITION will feature game day blogs and podcasts. In this series, the PHILADELPHIA EAGLES are featured throughout their 2007 season from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. 

CHICAGO BEARS (2-4) AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (2-3), 4:15 PM EST, Lincoln Financial Field 

(Philadelphia, Pa) — Welcome to the inaugural entry of the Philadelphia Eagles Home Edition blog.  This area will provide the “inside” information needed from BIGPLAY Football NFL Writer and Correspondent Lloyd Vance from the Lincoln Financial Field pressbox.  Lloyd was joined at the game by 67, 806 rabid Eagles fans. 

Pregame Notes:  I am calling this game “The Backs Against the Wall” game as both the Eagles and Bears have struggled after both being division winners that went far in the playoffs in 2006.  But each season brings new challenges as both teams have had a rash of injuries (Bears: DB Mike Brown, DT Dusty Dvoracek, and others —  Eagles: DB Lito Sheppard, DB Brian Dawkins, and TE LJ Smith) and improbable losses.  Entering the Week 7, the teams are coming into the game from opposite ends as the Eagles won over the Jets 16-9 showing that they are still perfect (9-0) after a bye week, while the Bears despite a scintillating effort from KR/WR Devin Hester (Punt Return and Receiving Touchdown) lost at home to the Vikings 34-31 on a last second field goal as they couldn’t stop Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.  The Bears lead the all-time series 24-8-1, but the Eagles have won 5 of the last six meetings and Eagles QB Donovan McNabb is 4-0 versus his home town team including a 19-9 victory in October of 2004 in Chicago.  Statistically the two teams seem to be evenly matched as both try to lean on an attacking defense (Bears: 361.3 ypg – was a lot better before Adrian Peterson, Eagles – 292.6 ypg – second in the conference) and a pass happy offense (Griese: 75-122, 881 yards, 7 TDs, and 6 INTs, McNabb: 101-171, 1,221 yards, 6 TDs, and 2 INTs).  There are always players to watch in each game and this one is no different.  The Bears marquee players are MLB Brian Urlacher (42 TKLS, 3 Sacks) on defense and on offense and special teams returner extraordinaire Devin Hester (Leads NFL with 387 PR yards & 19.4 avg).  The Eagles will counter with RB Brian Westbrook on offense (2nd in NFC with 670 scrimmage yards (411 rush, 259 rec.) and on defense they welcome back Pro Bowl corner back Lito Sheppard, plus watch for high energy sack man Trent Cole (23 TKLS, 6 Sacks). 

First Quarter: Eagles 3 – Bears 0, In a pretty much uneventful first quarter, the Eagles dominated in yards (114 to 22) and time of possession (12:05 to 2:55), but they only had 3 point on a David Akers 24 yard field goal. The drive that produced the field goal was 9:13 minutes featured a great diving 23 yard catch by Reggie Brown on a 3rd and three.   Brown however had a bad drop at the goalline when it appeared that he heard footsteps.  The Eagles seemed to own third downs going 3 of 5 for the quarter and they appeared to have a game plan to run the ball at the Bears attacking defense.  Eagles RB Brian Westbrook had 9 carries for 36 yards.  Donovan McNabb was a quiet 6 of 9 for 64 yards and he seemed to want to quiet the Reggie Brown naysayer throwing three passes to him.  As for the long awaited question “Did they kick to Devin Hester??”, the answer is no as Sav Rocca kicked the first ball 21 yards out of bounds and on the Eagles kickoff Akers kicked it high and short to Adrian Peterson.  The biggest special teams play was a bad unnecessary roughness penalty by Eagles KR Reno Mahe, who called for a fair catch and then illegally hit a player. 

Second Quarter:  Eagles 9 – Bears 3, The Eagles continued to dominate everywhere except on the scoreboard as they kicked two more field goals to the Bears one.  The team seemed to settle for a 9 to 3 lead at the half, but you could sense that they needed more points.  For the half, Devin Hester had 0 return yards as the Eagles chose to kick out of bounds sometimes giving the ball at or near mid field.  At this point the Eagles led in first downs (13 to 6), 3rd down efficiency (56% to 43%), offensive yards (224 to 142), and rushing yards (94 to 41), but they were 0-3 in the redzone at this point.  The biggest play of the quarter was a Griese to TE Greg Olsen completion where Olsen appeared to fumble, with the Eagles Chris Gcong recovering, but the play was overturned by replay as Olsen’s knee was down. 

Third Quarter: Eagles 9 – Bears 6, This was the most uneventful quarter of the game as the Eagles did not score and the Bears only added a field goal to make the score 9 to 6 in favor of the Eagles.  There was the aforementioned field goal, a punt by the Eagles, and the Bears having the ball to end the quarter.  The Bears were helped by a holding penalty by William James and a 12 man on the field penalty.   

Fourth Quarter: This was the quarter that showed why NFL fans love the league that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the end.  The Bears started the quarter with the ball at the Eagles 24 yard line.  From there the Bears stalled settling for a 41 yard Robbie Gould field goal to tie the score at 9-9.  The drive totaled 10 plays and took 5 minutes off the clock, but it left a foreshadowing feeling that the Bears started to believe they could stick around and win this one.  On the Eagles next possession McNabb was sacked twice by his off-season buddy Tommie Harris and they punt again out of bounds this time a 27 yarder by Sav Rocca that went out at the 50 yard line.  From there the Bears stalled and were helped by the strangest play of maybe the year occurred when Bears Center Olin Kreutz snapped the ball under Brian Griese for an apparent fumble that Sean Considine gobbled up and ran inside the Bears redzone, unfortunately after the play referee Ed Hockuley stepped in.  Hockuley  explained that by rule a snap that goes under the quarterback is a “false start” on the offense.  Everyone was left scratching their heads.  The Bears proceeded to stall after the play, but they got enough yardage for Robbie Gould to boot a 45 yarder off the upright to take the lead at 12-9.  The score seemed to revitalize the dormant Eagles as they went on a 8 play, 74 yard, 4:00 minute plus drive that culminated with a McNabb to Schoebel touchdown pass on a post pattern that made the score 16-12.  In the drive McNabb looked like his old self moving around the pocket and hitting Kevin Curtis including a big 23 yard play. David Akers employed another short high kick that was return by Rasheed Davies to the Bears 40 yard line, but a long drive of 4:24 minutes produced a Brad Maynard 42 yard punt.  The Eagles then went into conservation mode with 4:02 left on the clock.      They looked good at first running Brian Westbrook, but they had a very head scratching series of plays afterward where McNabb had an incompletion to Brown and a bad holding penalty by Todd Herramins on a Westbrook run.  They Eagles did seem to make a dent by forcing the Bears to burn their two last timeouts.  Finally Rocca got his punt where he wanted it, angling the ball out of bounds at the Bears 3 yard line with 1:52 on the clock.  After this it was “Brian Griese” time as the veteran quarterback led the Bears on an 11 play, 97 yard, 1:43 yard drive with no timeouts ending with a Mushin Muhammad 15 yard touchdown with 9 seconds left on the clock.  On the drive the Eagles just could not get off the field as they concentrated on stopping Devin Hester  by having their best corner Lito Sheppard shadow him leaving the middle of the field wide open.  The biggest play was a 25 yard pass to speedy wideout Bernard Berrian to the Eagles 36 yard line.  After the score you could have heard a pin drop as the 67,000 plus throng left the game stunned and with their mouths wide open as they were utterly speechless. 

Final Analysis:  Bears 19 – Eagles 16 — After the game, I have never been around a more despondent lockerroom as the entire team was either dressing quickly, showering, or not talking much (I was able to coax young Offensive Tackle Winston Justice into talking for the Eagles Home Team Edition Podcast).  Head Coach Andy Reid had several one word “Yeah” answers to questions and even threw in a Drew Rosenhaus-esque “Next question”.  No matter what anyone was saying the game was a huge disappointment for the Eagles and they now seem to be on their way to re-evaluating their season as they stand at 2-4 looking up at the entire division, who all just happened to win today.  The final stats for the Eagles were 123 yards rushing, 226 yards passing, 0 turnovers, 1 touchdown, and several long faces.  The Bears gleefully took the win moving them to 3-4 for the season as they picked up some ground on the Packers who were on a bye.  The Eagles next travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings and the Bears host the Lions in a “must win” divisional game. 

2007 NFL Week 7 Preview

(Philadelphia, Pa) —- This week’s games should be called the “Divisional Divide” as there will be 7 in-division battles including the week’s marquee match-up on Monday Night Football between the AFC South’s Colts and Jaguars in Jacksonville.  I know one thing, all of these in-division games should help in the separation between  “frauds” and “contenders”.  Most of the divisions, except for the AFC East (Patriots sporting a 5 game edge), are up for grabs with teams currently 1 to 2 games within the lead. 

As we approach the halfway point in the NFL season, it is abundantly clear that the NFL is truly the “survival of the fittest”.  This fact has caused weekly adjustments to constantly be made by coaches trying to gain an edge on their opposition while positioning their teams toward the playoffs.  Injuries are a major reason for the adjustments that coaches have to make in their weekly game planning as it seems each week every team has to deal with losing two to three key players, some for the year.  So far this season we have seen injuries decimate teams (Rams and Bills) and entire units (Redskins O-Line, Bears D-Line, Bengals LB’s, Eagles DB’s, Cardinals QB’s, Bucs RB’s, and many others) all over the league.   Injuries have also caused personnel administrators to also make keen decisions on their 53-man roster, in the draft, and on their practice squads, because quality depth is paramount where every player (even the 2’s and 3’s on your depth chart) must be able to make a contribution. 

A new wrinkle that has come forward the past couple of years, is specific game planning and adjustments around the return game.  The return game can win a game or lose a game (just Andy Reid as the Eagles returners fumbled away a win in week one versus the Packers) and it is extremely important to find big plays on returns. So far this season there has been 49 return scores (nine on kickoffs, seven punts, 16 interceptions and 17 fumble recoveries), which is the second-most return touchdowns scored in a season’s first six weeks since 1970 (50 returns for TD’s after 6 weeks). If the NFL keeps up this pace, they would end with 140 return touchdowns, which would break the single-season record of 125 set in 1999. One of the main driving forces around the emergence and emphasis on the return game is Bears returner extraordinaire Devin Hester (franchise record nine TD returns including five punts, three kickoffs, one missed FG).  NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders, who played 14 seasons in the NFL and is the all-time leader in return touchdowns with 19, emphasized the importance of the return game on opposing coaches’ adjustments by saying, “You look at a guy like Devin Hester, he impacts the entire game”.  Prime Time added  “He’s so dangerous with his ability to change field position.  He changes the way you game plan.  The whole complexion of the game is different, so his impact is far greater than the six points on the board”.  The second year player’s presence –Only needs five punt/kick touchdown returns to tie the mark held by 14 year veteran Brian Mitchell– is so great that teams are not only looking for their version of him, but they are also thinking of the “crazy” option of kicking out of bounds on kickoffs and punts rather than letting the electric player get his hands on the ball. 

Another young player to keep an eye on this week is Minnesota Vikings rookie running back Adrian Peterson.  Peterson currently leads the NFL with 607 rushing yards, including a franchise-record 224 last week at Chicago.  The first-round draft pick out of Oklahoma is averaging 121.4 yards per game and is on pace for 1,942 yards, which would be the most by a rookie in history (Eric Dickerson holds the record at 1,808 in 1983 for the LA Rams).  Peterson also is attempting to become only the seventh rookie since 1950 to lead the league in rushing yards.

MOST RUSHING YARDS BY ROOKIE – Eric Dickerson L.A. Rams 1983 (1,808 yards), George Rogers New Orleans 1981 (1,674 yards), Ottis Anderson St. Louis Cardinals 1979 (1,605 yards), Edgerrin James Indianapolis Colts 1999 (1,553 yards), Clinton Portis Denver Broncos 2002 (1,508 yards)

 Some personnel moves that have come forward this week are:

  • PUP List Players – By league rule, this is the first week that PUP players can practice. Teams have until Nov. 6 to have players on the physically unable to perform list begin practicing. Once a player does practice, his team then has three weeks to determine whether to elevate him to the active roster or keep him on PUP for the rest of the season (ex. Patriots WR Chad Jackson and DB Eddie Jackson – both practiced this week).
  • Suspended Players Getting a Second Chance – Troubled receiver Koren Robinson was reinstated from his one-year suspension by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell this week. He returned to practice this week for the Green Bay Packers (On a bye this week) and he should back on the field in the upcoming weeks as a kick returner first and then as a 3rd or 4th receiver. Also Goodell notified suspended defensive tackle Tank Johnson on Thursday that he can begin practicing with the Dallas Cowboys, but his eight-game suspension was not reduced. Johnson will be eligible to play November 11th against the New York Giants. Can ‘chronic’ loving but talented Miami Dolphins running back Rickey Williams, who is currently suspended, be next (he applied for reinstatement a couple of weeks ago)?
  • NFL Trade Deadline – To the surprise of many (usually there are no trades due to cap ramifications) the NFL trading deadline at 4 PM EST on October 16th brought two trades that I believe will upgrade their trading partners. Sorry to all the fans out there that thought Jets QB Chad Pennington, Lions RB Tatum Bell, or Falcons TE Alge Crumpler would be traded as the deadline passed with these players still on their rosters.
  • The Chargers brain trust of GM AJ Smith and Head Coach Norv Turner decided that receivers Vincent Jackson and first round pick Craig “Buster” Davis were not enough to replace injured receiver Eric Parker (toe), so they grabbed former Pro Bowl WR Chris Chambers (31 receptions for 415 yards with 0 TDs in 2007) from the Dolphins for a 2nd Rd pick. The move I believe will be good for both teams since the Dolphins are obviously going nowhere this year (currently 0-6) and our planning for the future. The Chargers on the other hand have brought in a legitimate receiver who should benefit from having so many weapons around him.
  • The Chiefs sent former Pro Bowl RB Michael Bennett (best season in 2002 running for 1,296 yards for the Vikings) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 2008 and 2009 late round draft picks. Bennett had been buried on the Chiefs’ bench behind workhorse Larry Johnson and he will provide a much needed boost to the injured Bucs running back stable (Lost Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman for significant amount of time). Bennett is a fast cutback runner who should benefit from Jon Gruden’s love for screens and pounding the rock.

A fun game note to pass along is that this Sunday will be Baltimore Ravens running back Willis McGahee’s 26th birthday and he will be celebrating it in Buffalo of all places.  McGahee was less than complimentary about his time in Buffalo saying “It was a relief to be traded” and criticizing the city’s night life and suggesting the Bills would be better off in Toronto. Now he will be facing the music of the 80,000 Bills’ faithful that will have much more to say to him than “Happy Birthday”, there is even a website called “WILLISisTrash.com”.  Having gone through a similar situation in Philly last year with the return of mouthy receiver Terrell Owens and the shenanigans around the event, (ex. Jersey Burnings, a Casket in the Parking Lot, etc) I can only caution Bills fans to have fun within reason, but remember it is just a game. 

Now onto the games.

Games and Notes

Kansas City Chiefs (3-3) AT Oakland Raiders (2-3) 4:05 PM EST McAfee Coliseum – CBS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

This week’s feature game is a divisional battle that was picked for a couple of reasons.  I love old-time rivalries (Chiefs lead all-time series 49-42-2 with them winning the last 8) and this one goes back to the AFL heydays of the 1960’s when the Chiefs led by jovial Head Coach Hank Stramm (I can still see him in the red Chiefs vest and blazer) had many classic battles for AFL supremacy against  “Just Win Baby” Al Davis and his band of renegades.  Both teams came into the NFL and proved that they were worthy by competing in Super Bowls and later winning them. 

I also love teams that “pound the rock” as these two are at the top of the NFL in rushing.  The Raiders under O-line coach Tom Cable and his new zone-blocking scheme  are currently ranked third in the league in rushing offense (164 yards per game).  Raiders young head coach Lane Kiffin has turned his stable of backs Lamott Jordan (466 yards with a 4.6 ypc and 2 TDs), Justin Fargas (Career high 179 yards in a week 4 win over the Dolphins), and Domminic Rhodes (former Colts Superbowl RB, who just was reinstated) loose on the NFL, because he knows the best way to help new quarterback Daunte Culpepper get acclimated to his new team and playbook is to control the clock and grind out yards on the ground.  The scheme has worked so far putting the Raiders into the thick of the AFC West race at 2-3 after finishing 2006 with only two wins and picking first in the NFL Draft this past April. The Raiders also have a playmaker in their linebacking core in Thomas Howard, who has an AFC leading four interceptions.

After being written off after an 0-2 start, the Chiefs have climbed back into the AFC West race and they are now trying to get over the .500 mark.   They will be seeking their 3rd consecutive AFC West road win dating back to ’06 and expect them to be led by RB Larry Johnson, the No. 2 rusher in the league last year.  The big back looks to be back in his old form pounding his way to 152 yards on 31 carries last week in a win over the Bengals.  LJ regaining his form is not good news for the Raiders, because Johnson has 634 rushing yards in six games against the Raiders and nine TDs, his highest totals against any opponent. The last time these two teams met in December of 2006, Johnson rushed for 135 yards and 1 TD as Chiefs stayed alive in Wild Card playoff hunt.  With the trade of RB Michael Bennett to the Bucs, the Chiefs may also feature the return of veteran RB Priest Holmes, who has not played since 2005.  Also look for TE Tony Gonzalez (38 catches, 440 yards and 3 TDs – New all-time leader for TE touchdowns) to get his catches in the redzone and first-round draft choice WR Dwayne Bowe, who leads all rookies in catches (26), receiving yards (415) and receiving TDs (3) to get his touches.  On defense for the Chiefs sackman Jarred Allen will look to continue to get pressure (6 sacks – leads AFC).

Byes: Panthers, Browns, Packers, Chargers

Sunday, October 21, 2007

1:00 PM  Ford Field

Buccaneers (4-2)                    

Lions (3-2)                    

TB: J.Garcia (96-144,1188) , C.Williams (54-208)

DET: J.Kitna (114-167,1333) , T.Bell (44-182)

TV: FOX

1:00 PM Reliant Stadium

Titans (3-2)                    

Texans (3-3)                    

TEN: V.Young (73-114,703) , C.Brown (57-300)

HOU: M.Schaub (130-188,1558) , A.Green (51-193)

TV: CBS

1:00 PM Dolphin Stadium

Patriots (6-0)                    

Dolphins (0-6)                     

NE: T.Brady (148-204,1771) , S.Morris (85-384)

MIA: T.Green (85-141,987) , R.Brown (102-526)

TV: CBS

1:00 PM Giants Stadium

49ers (2-3)                    

Giants (4-2-0)                    

SF: A.Smith (43-84,461) , F.Gore (84-306)

NYG: E.Manning (92-157,1076) , D.Ward (86-409)

TV: FOX

1:00 PM Ralph Wilson Stadium

Ravens (4-2-0)                    

Bills (1-4-0)                    

BAL: S.McNair (103-157,922) , W.McGahee (127-525)

BUF: T.Edwards (55-79,507) , M.Lynch (100-373)

TV: CBS

1:00 PM Superdome

Falcons (1-5)                    

Saints (1-4-0)                    

ATL: J.Harrington (105-156,1070) , W.Dunn (74-249)

NO: D.Brees (137-213,1175) , R.Bush (69-244)

TV: FOX

1:00 PM FedEx Field

Cardinals (3-3)                    

Redskins (3-2)                    

ARI: M.Leinart (60-112,647) , E.James (129-522)

WAS: J.Campbell (88-150,1086) , C.Portis (86-363)

TV: FOX

4:05 PM Paul Brown Stadium

Jets (1-5)                    

Bengals (1-4)                    

NYJ: C.Pennington (95-139,939) , T.Jones (112-420)

CIN: C.Palmer (127-203,1491) , R.Johnson (62-185)

TV: CBS

4:15 PM Lincoln Financial Field

Bears (2-4-0)                    

Eagles (2-3-0)                    

CHI: B.Griese (75-122,881) , C.Benson (119-370)

PHI: D.McNabb (101-171,1221) , B.Westbrook (71-411)

TV: FOX

4:15 PM Qwest Field

Rams (0-6)                    

Seahawks (3-3)                    

STL: M.Bulger (74-133,765) , S.Jackson (69-233)

SEA: M.Hasselbeck (125-198,1510) , S.Alexander (116-413)

TV: FOX

4:15 PM Texas Stadium

Vikings (2-3)                    

Cowboys (5-1)                    

MIN: T.Jackson (39-79,465) , A.Peterson (96-607

DAL: T.Romo (119-200,1707) , M.Barber (64-381)

TV: FOX

8:15 PM Invesco Field at Mile High

Steelers (4-1)                    

Broncos (2-3)                    

PIT: B.Roethlisberger (81-131,1013) , W.Parker (121-507)

DEN: J.Cutler (98-152,1158) , T.Henry (102-498)

TV: NBC

Monday, October 22, 2007 8:30 PM

Jacksonville Municipal Stadium

Colts (5-0)                    

Jaguars (4-1)                    

IND: P.Manning (115-165,1319) , J.Addai (84-407)

JAC: D.Garrard (90-136,1069) , M.Jones-Drew (54-307)

TV: ESPN

2007 NFL Week 7 Rankings

(Philadelphia, Pa) —- With the NFL season inching closer each week toward the midway point we are starting to see the separation gap and parity that I always like to talk about.  After week 6, there are 19 teams with a .500 or better record and 13 teams with losing records including winless teams the Rams and Dolphins (both 0-6).  The AFC East seems all but wrapped up with the Patriots sporting a 5 game edge, but all of the other divisions have brewing battles coming with teams currently 1 to 2 games within the lead. This past week the highly touted “Shootout in Dallas” pitting formerly 5-0 teams the Patriots and Cowboys has gone by the way side with 29.1 million fans tuning in – ranking the game the most-watched regular season game on an NFL Sunday since Dallas-San Francisco on Nov. 10, 1996 (29.7 million viewers on FOX).  The game looked more like Holmes vs. Cooney (definitive mismatch) than the anticipated “Thrilla in Manila” with the Patriots (6-0) moving on with a hearty 48-27 victory joining the Colts (5-0 with a bye this past week) as the two unbeatens.  With everyone talking about the Patriots going undefeated for the season -– BTW: I still think that it is impossible for any team to not lose as every team is looking to make their mark each week by knocking off the town bully — the NFL hype machine and the league’s fans will be hoping that both unbeatens can make it to their Week 9 meeting in New England without a blemish. Byes: Panthers, Browns, Packers, Chargers 

  1. Colts (5-0) – They remain at the top due to being the champs, but the Patriots are scary. After a bye they travel to Jacksonville to face the better than you think Jags on Monday Night Football.
  2. Patriots (6-0) – Dominated the Cowboys to prove that the AFC is the dominating conference.  The road show continues in sunny Miami as they face the winless Dolphins.
  3. Steelers (4-1) – Coming off a bye week hopefully their many injured players had time to heal.  On Sunday Night Football they travel to Denver to face the Broncos who want to prove they are better than their record.
  4. Cowboys (5-1) – Hung around with the Patriots for one half, but they have work to do in the secondary. Will need to get back on track versus the Vikings and native Texan monster running back Adrian Peterson.
  5. Packers (5-1) – Did just enough to beat the Redskins in a sloppy game. Will have a bye week to help Brett Favre forget that he is the all-time interception leader.
  6. Jaguars (4-1) – They are not pretty, but they find ways (defense and running the ball) to win like they did against the Texans. We will see if they are truly a contender as they host the champion Colts on MNF.
  7. Ravens (4-2) – Did the job versus the injury plagued hapless Rams. Will continue the cupcake portion of their schedule traveling to the Bills.
  8. Buccaneers (4-2) – They really showed me something beating V.Y and the Titans in a black and blue game. Armed with new RB Michael Bennett they will have a difficult game traveling to Detroit to face the Lions who have something to prove.
  9. Titans (3-2) – After they lost V.Y, it was all over against the upstart Bucs. Look for V.Y to possibly return in a homecoming game versus the Texans.
  10. Chargers (3-3) – Reached the .500 mark by steamrolling the Raiders behind LT. Will have a bye week to get recently traded player WR Chris Chambers aclimated to his new team/system.
  11. Giants (4-2) – Did all of the right things in a MNF domination over the tough luck Falcons. Will need to guard against a letdown at home versus the better than their record Niners who are coming off a bye.
  12. Panthers (4-2) – Proved that they can win ugly by beating the Cardinals behind veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde. Will work during the bye week with Vinny and Matt Moore to keep this team moving forward.
  13. Redskins (3-2) – Fumbled the game away to the Packers as they lost more O-linemen in the process.  The beat up but dangerous Cardinals come to Washington this week.
  14. Cardinals (3-3) – Lost the game, lost QB Kurt Warner, and had too many mistakes in a winnable game versus the Panthers.  Travel to the Redskins in a game that could have future wild card implications.
  15. Seahawks (3-3) – Seem to be struggling to return to their old form as they looked tentative in a SNF loss to the Saints. Should fatten up on the reeling Rams, but they better watch out for the return of QB Marc Bulger.
  16. Texans (3-3) – Got out-muscled by the Jags in a physical divisional battle. Will face homeboy Vince Young in his second return against the Texans, who may still be kicking themseleves for not taking him in ’06.
  17. Chiefs (3-3) – Climbed back to .500 against the hapless Bengals in a game where LJ was back.  Will be dusting off veteran RB Priest Holmes when they travel to the Raiders.
  18. Eagles (2-3) – Remained unbeaten after the bye under Andy Reid by defeating a reeling Jets squad. Have a tough home battle versus the Bears in a “step up” game where both teams need a victory.
  19. Bears (2-4) – Failed to get back in the NFC North race as they couldn’t stop Vikings RB Adrian Peterson in a heartbreaking loss.  Travel to Philadelphia to face the Eagles in a “back against the wall” game.
  20. Browns (3-3) – The NFL’s feel good story continued for another week as the Dawgs took care of the Dolphins by hanging 41 pts on them. Will use the bye week to get healthy and continue on their “Save Romeo” campaign.
  21. Vikings (2-3) – Rode super charged rookie running back Adrian Peterson into the win column versus the Bears.  In a must win game, they will be facing the cream of the NFC the Dallas Cowboys in Texas Stadium.
  22. Saints (1-4) – They showed me something by going to Seattle and winning a tough game on the road.  May have a chance to get back in the NFC South race and their trek continues this week at home against the beleaguered Falcons.
  23. Lions (3-2) – Hopefully the bye week helped them to fix their protection of QB Jon Kitna and their problems in defensive coverage. Will be facing the Buccaneers in a game where both teams need to show they are in or close to the upper echelon of the NFC.
  24. Raiders (2-3) – Were sloppy and had no answer for LT and the Chargers in a divisional loss.  Face the Chiefs in Oakland for a second straight week of an old-time AFL rivalry game.
  25. 49ers (2-3) – Had a bye week to get back to the successful things they did in the first two weeks of the season. Will be traveling to the Meadowlands to face the surprising up and coming Giants.
  26. Broncos (2-3) – Had the bye week to try and fix whatever caused them to lose three straight. Have a tough home battle against the run happy Steelers on NBC Sunday Night Football.
  27. Jets (1-5) – Their season appears to be slipping away as they did not score a touchdown in a bad home loss to the Eagles.  Pennington will need to impress on the road versus the Bengals, but it may be Kellen Clemens time.
  28. Bengals (1-4) – Lost the “Desperation Bowl” to the Chiefs and they now look like their season is in jeopardy.  Will be looking for a win to get them back on track at home versus the equally disappointing Jets.
  29. Bills (1-4) – Had a bye week to lick their wounds from their Dallas heartbreaker. Will be hosting the charging Ravens in a pride game.
  30. Falcons (1-5) – The Michael Vick hangover continued on Monday Night Football in a home loss to the Giants.  The Falcons will continue on their “season of tears” in New Orleans versus the rejuvenated Saints.
  31. Rams (0-6) – With their patchwork O-line, they had no chance against the Ravens attacking defense.  They will get Marc Bulger back, but they have a daunting task on the road against the angry Seahawks.
  32. Dolphins (0-6) – After a shootout loss to the Browns, they seem to be waving the white flag with the trade of wide receiver Chambers. Things will only get worse as the Patriots high scoring offense comes to Miami.