INDIANAPOLIS -- A few quick musings, observations and the occasional insight as we struggle to remember there was more unfolding in Week 9 than a certain well-chronicled clash of AFC superpowers ...
The standings in the NFC South still say the Saints are in a second-place tie with Carolina (both 4-4), a half-game behind first-place Tampa Bay (5-4). But don't believe it. A month later than expected, New Orleans has found its 2006 offense, and a bit of last year's mojo to boot.
In their four-game season-opening losing streak, the Saints averaged 12.8 points per game. In their four wins since then, they are scoring 30.5 points per game, including Sunday's 41-24 rout of the visiting Jaguars (5-3). New Orleans put up 538 yards of offense against the Jaguars' usually stout defense, including 435 yards of net passing. True, the Saints defense gave up 432 yards of offense to Jacksonville, but that's like last year's winning formula.
Even better news for Saints fans, the schedule is about to turn softer for the duration of November. New Orleans finishes this month home against St. Louis (0-8), at Houston (3-5) and at Carolina (4-4, with two consecutive ugly losses). In fact, New Orleans' Dec. 2 home date against Tampa Bay is its only remaining game against a team that currently has a winning record.
Nothing has gone as planned for the Saints this season, but they've survived in the weak NFC. They now have an excellent opportunity to become just the second team to overcome an 0-4 start and make the playoffs, joining the 1992 San Diego Chargers. In New Orleans, the football season is just starting.
• What could
Oh, I know. Maybe crack the Vikings starting lineup for good.
It's time everyone admits that Minnesota got the steal of the 2007 draft's first round when it took the hard-running Oklahoma star at No. 7. But it's still important to point out that there are those -- even within the Vikings organization -- who fear that Peterson's fearless and upright running style will preclude a long NFL career.
Let's enjoy it though while it lasts, because Peterson is the most explosive offensive talent to enter the league since
Have you noticed there aren't many
• Washington out-lasted the Jets 23-20 in overtime to improve to 5-3, but remarkably, Redskins quarterback
• They didn't jump-start their season with a win, but the Jets have to be happy with the showing
• It has to almost be
• What happened to the popular premise that Denver hiring
Only Oakland is standing between the Broncos and being the AFC West's worst team.
• On the flip side, the Lions, one must admit, are for real. At 6-2, Detroit will be hard-pressed to miss the playoffs, its first postseason berth since 1999. The Lions can go 4-4 in the season's second half and still fulfill quarterback
Any chance the Lions players carry
• As much as I liked the signing this offseason, Carr is giving Carolina no chance to win. The Panthers backup-turned-starting quarterback looks shell-shocked from all those sacks he absorbed in Houston the past five years and I'm sure his sore back isn't helping matters. If
Moore, who relieved an injured Carr with three minutes remaining against Tennessee, can't possibly do worse than the beleaguered former No. 1 overall pick. Carr was sacked seven times by the Titans, including three by Pro Bowl-bound Titans defensive tackle
Time to park this Carr and hide the keys.
• Have you noticed that the Jets'
• Funny the way some quarterbacks have a great feel for one particular receiver, and can't seem to find anyone else on a consistent basis. Kind of the way
• So it has come to a TV blackout in Atlanta for the first time in the six-year
• I'm not exactly sure how they're doing it, but the Bills being .500 (4-4) at midseason ranks among the most amazing accomplishments of the NFL's 2007 season. And to think if Buffalo had taken care of business at home against Dallas in that Monday Night Football instant classic,
Going into Week 9, Buffalo hadn't scored 20 points in any game this season. Then again, the Bills hadn't played against Cincinnati's defense yet. Buffalo trounced the bumbling Bengals, 33-21.
• Here's a handy and topical way to measure just how long it had been since Navy last beat Notre Dame, which happened Saturday in South Bend, Ind., with the Midshipmen prevailing 46-44 in triple overtime. The last time Navy had triumphed over the Golden Domers was Nov. 2, 1963, nine days before the ancient Vinny Testaverde was born.
That's how long.
• Another week, another 49ers loss, and that 2008 first-round pick of San Francisco's that New England owns is looking better all the time. Entering Sunday, the 49ers 2-5 record was tied for fifth worst in the league with Minnesota, Oakland and Cincinnati. At 2-6, San Francisco is in strong contention for a top-five pick.
• For the record, I thought Kitna's naked-man Halloween costume -- which poked fun at Lions' defensive line coach
• Upon leaving Miami,
No wonder the Dolphins thought he was finished.
• Here's a interesting debate that's sure to intensify in the coming weeks: The league changed its rules last year to disallow a player like
Is there an appreciable difference in the two situations?