(Philadelphia, Pa) —- The Patriots (8-0) and Colts (7-0) remained unblemished as their week 9 battle of the “Unbeatens” (Super Bowl XLI ½) in Indianapolis is a reality. After week 8, there are 17 teams with a .500 or better record and 15 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 credit as both teams have still have some fight 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).
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 North, and NFC East with three teams at .500 or better.
Byes: Bears, Dolphins, Giants, Rams
1. Colts (7-0) – Started slowly against the Panthers, but rallied in the second quarter and never looked back. The champs now get their chance to prove they are the best team versus the mighty Patriots in Indy.
2. Patriots (8-0) – Made it look too easy versus the Redskins, but I think they could have let up a bit in the end. Will face the champion Colts in Super Bowl XLI ½ at Indy to see who is the best in the NFL.
3. Cowboys (6-1) –The NFC’s best got a week off to try and find a way to compete with the AFC powers. Will be facing their bitter NFC East rival the Eagles in Philadelphia.
4. Giants (6-2) – They had to go all the way to Merry Ole’ England to get a sloppy win over the hapless Dolphins. After the long trip they will have a week off as the Cowboys have a tough game.
5. Steelers (5-2) – Showed that the gap between themselves and the Benglas has grown into a canyon. Will have a tough AFC North Black and Blue game at home versus the Ravens on Monday Night Football.
6. Packers (6-1) – Pulled out a thrilling overtime victory over the Broncos on Monday Night Football. Have a tough test in Kansas City against the rejuvenated Chiefs.
7. Chargers (4-3) – Came home just in time to energize their beleaguered area with a big win over the Texans. Will travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings and their star running back Adrian Peterson.
8. Jaguars (5-2) – Showed that they are the “true” champion of the sunshine state by squeaking one out over the Bucs. Will travel to New Orleans to face the upcoming Saints in the battle of former “LA Running backs” Drew (UCLA) vs. Bush (USC).
9. Titans (5-2) – It was not pretty, but they did just enough behind their defense and running game to beat the Raiders. Will host the injured, but dangerous Panthers in an interconference battle for the South.
10. Seahawks (4-3) – Had a bye week to heal up and get ready for a stretch run in the 2nd half of the season. Start the second half of their season against the surprisingly tough Browns in Cleveland.
11. Lions (5-2) – Continued to surprise me and the entire league by handling the reeling Bears in probably the biggest win of the Millen era. Must continue to show me something by playing host to the tougher than their record Broncos.
12. Chiefs (4-3) – Had a bye week to figure out how to stay on top in the AFC West. Host the Packers in a battle of Super Bowl I teams.
13. Browns (4-3) – Continued their “Save Romeo” campaign by taking care of business versus the winless Rams. Host the Seahawks in a game of two winning teams with something to prove.
14. Saints (3-4) – Continued the NFL’s greatest reclaimation story by winning again this time over the Niners. Host the run happy Jags in a battle of two teams who are definitely in the playoff hunt.
15. Redskins (4-3) – Were humiliated by the no mercy Patriots in a game they will never forget. Should get better real quick as they travel to the Meadowlands to face the rebuilding Jets.
16. Panthers (4-3) – Lost Vinny as the Colts came roaring back to post an easy victory. Will be facing the host Titans in a battle of two teams that love to pound the rock and play defense.
17. Ravens (4-3) – Hopefully the bye week helped them to heal physically and quiet their noisy lockerroom. Travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in a game that could make or break their season.
18. Buccaneers (4-4) – Had too many turnovers in a tough loss to the Jags. Will host the beat up Cardinals in a game that could give us an idea if they are an early season comet.
19. Broncos (3-4) – Denver had a tough week getting swept in the World Series and losing a heartbreaker in overtime to the Packers. The Lions will be hosting them in a battle of two teams that seem to be “pretenders” to me.
20. Eagles (3-4) – Took care of business in Minnesota, stopping the run and passing their way to a victory. It will be T.O time in Philly this Sunday Night as the team’s hated rival.
21. Bills (3-4) – Beat the Jets for the second time this year as they showed they maybe a “contender”. Host the Bengals in a game that will show if they have enough defense to be taken seriously.
22. Cardinals (3-4) – After a bye week to heal their injuries, the desert Birds will travel to Tampa to face the efficient Bucs.
23. Bears (3-5) – Fell out of the NFC North divisional race by turning the ball over in a bad loss to the Lions. Have a bye week to try and get some “asprin” for their Super Bowl hangover.
24. Texans (3-5) – Were no match for the community driven Chargers. Travel to Oakland to face the tougher than their record Raiders.
25. Raiders (2-5) – Almost beat the Titans, but a key drop showed they still have work to do. Host the Texans in a battle of lower level teams that want to show they can improve.
26. Vikings (2-5) – Will need to piece together their season after a tough home loss to the Eagles. Have a tough assignment in hosting the rising Chargers.
27. 49ers (2-5) – Were no match for the rejuvenated Saints. Will host the Falcons in an old NFC West battle.
28. Bengals (2-5) – Showed that they have much work to do to get close to their heated rival the Pittsburgh Steelers. Travel to Buffalo to face the upstart Bills who are getting back in the race for playoff spots.
29. Jets (1-7) – Continued on their downward spiral as they lost to the Bills for the second time. Host the angry Redskins, which could be a recipe for disaster.
30. Falcons (1-6) – Had a bye week to think about where their season went wrong and to stopp their in-fighting. Will travel to the Bay to face the Niners in a battle of two teams trying to get “just” a win.
31. Rams (0-8) – Hung tough versus the improving Browns, but they have too many holes. Have a bye week to either try and plan how to get a win or figure out who they will be picking in April.
32. Dolphins (0-8) – Unfortunately for England they had to endure watching a sloppy game and a bad Dolphins team lose. Just like the Rams, they have a bye week to either try and plan how to get a win or figure out who they will be picking in April.