Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we watch a Week 8 unfold that looks like it's going to be very, very accommodating to home teams ...
• Doomsday Defense, indeed. Were it not for a show of Cowboys defensive muscle Sunday against Tampa Bay, doomsday might have been descending upon Dallas for real by nightfall. That's how big the Cowboys' inartistic 13-9 win over the Bucs was in the grand scheme of things. Another Dallas loss would have just about set off Armageddon -- at least the deep-in-the-heart-of-Texas version of it.
But the Cowboys defense, after getting humbled by the Cardinals and Rams the past two weeks -- a combined six touchdowns and 64 total points allowed -- finally stepped up against the Bucs and earned Dallas a victory it desperately needed. At 5-3, with the Cowboys facing road trips just ahead to the two teams they trail in the NFC East, the Giants and Redskins, Dallas bought itself a little breathing room by playing suffocating defense against a 5-2 Bucs team that averaged 23 points per game coming into Week 8. Tampa Bay went touchdown-less for the first time since Week 1 of 2006.
I don't know if head coach
And no, we're not overstating things a bit. After the dizzying events of the past four weeks, Dallas was desperate for any kind of victory. Beating the Bucs qualifies as doomsday avoided.
Favre also had two more touchdown passes, including the game-winning 15-yarder to
But we've seen this Favre before, and it's a primary reason the Packers felt driven to part ways with their living legend this summer in favor of
Though Favre's team won, he was actually outplayed Sunday by Kansas City third-string quarterback
The Jets must know by now that this is the deal they bargained for in August. New York's up one week and down the next, and its rollercoaster ride has pretty much mirrored Favre's uneven performances. It all looks like it's going to add up to a perfectly mediocre 8-8 to me.
• I absolutely loved
The 49ers new interim head coach sent Davis to the locker room in the fourth quarter, and later, in the post-game setting, said he would rather play with 10 players than accept players who aren't willing to sell out for the team. That's exactly the kind of verbal butt-kicking that San Francisco's losing locker room needs. Message sent, message received. Loud and clear.
• It didn't take Singletary long to get the hang of making changes in San Francisco. He benched his turnover-machine of a quarterback,
• Loved that 43-yard
With the Ravens' easy win over the Raiders, and the Falcons loss at Philly, both teams that rolled the dice and started their rookie first-round quarterback this season are a very respectable 4-3. It's good to see players like Flacco and Atlanta's
• Don't know what else London's NFL fans could have hoped for in addition to the 69 points, 860 yards of total offense, 680 yards of passing, 55 completions and 50 first downs that the Saints and Chargers combined for in New Orleans' down-to-the-wire 37-32 win at Wembley.
It would seem to me that such an offensive extravaganza would sell the NFL game quite nicely, but undoubtedly some of the folks in the crowd of 80,000-plus are absolutely thrilled with a 1-nil soccer game at times. To each his own.
• Given that first-place Carolina improved to 6-2 in the NFC South, that was a must-win for the Saints in getting to 4-4 heading into their bye week. The Chargers can't be happy to be 3-5 at midseason, but in the AFC West, with first-place Denver slumping at 4-3, they're still very much alive. The Saints needed this one more than the Chargers, and with the London game counting as a Saints "home" game, they'll go from Week 6 to Week 12 between games at the Superdome.
• Don't look now, but as badly as they played in the midst of that 0-3 start, the Browns (3-4) are just two games out of first place in the AFC North with nine games remaining. And Cleveland now plays four of its next five games at home, meaning it should at least be in position to make December meaningful. Until the Browns upset win at Jacksonville on Sunday, I didn't think that kind of late-season scenario was likely in the least.
• With the success this year of rookie head coaches who didn't have previous coordinating experience in the NFL -- Baltimore's
Reid became the 37th head coach in NFL history with 100 wins, and he's the 22nd coach to earn those 100 victories with one team. Not bad for a guy who elicited questions of "Andy who?'' when Eagles owner
• Something's just missing from this Steelers team, and even though Pittsburgh might wind up winning the AFC North once again, my sense is that it won't be a deep run into January for
• Let's start the hype right now: It's Dallas at the Giants next Sunday at the Meadowlands. And New York at Philadelphia the following week might be every bit as highly anticipated. With all four NFC East teams winning Sunday, and everybody playing above-.500 ball, you get the feeling that the race has now been joined.
• You know what the irony of all ironies is? I can't imagine anyone who would want a
• Break up the Texans. Houston just put together its first-ever three-game winning streak, and it would have had a four-game, all of them at home, winning streak if it had been able to avoid that fourth-quarter, Week 5 meltdown against the Colts.
• That was another great effort by the resurgent Rams, albeit in a 23-16 loss at New England. It occurs to me that if
• Those comeback-minded Carolina Panthers are never out of a game at home, but don't go giving
Carolina still must face tough second-half trips to Atlanta, Green Bay, the Giants and New Orleans -- all in the season's final six weeks.
• If I had to rank Washington's
• Now I know why the Rams'
The Cowboys and Patriots have their problems in the secondary at the moment, but I haven't seen anyone really cover Avery in the past two weeks.
• Speaking of Rams rookies, defensive end
• There might be a different head coach named Mike in charge in San Francisco, but that was definitely the same old underachieving 49ers who showed up for their home game against struggling Seattle. Going from
• I know we've all beaten this West Coast to East Coast travel thing to death this season, but we're almost halfway through the season and no team from the Pacific or Mountain time zones has won a game in the Eastern time zone.
Arizona held form, losing at Carolina on Sunday. Ditto for the Raiders at Baltimore. And just for fun, let's throw in the Chargers going way, way east, only to lose to the Saints in London.
• Good news has been a bit sparse in 2008, but Detroit did at least manage to score in the first quarter for the first time all season, taking a 7-3 lead over visiting Washington after 15 minutes. But alas, it was the rest of the game that gave the 0-7 Lions trouble this time. Washington outscored Detroit 22-10 from the second quarter on.
• We're clearly seeing some signs of progress for Patriots quarterback
Maybe he was worth the money after all.
• For the first time all season really,
Having failed in their first division game of the season, the 5-2 Bills won't have to wait long for a chance at redemption. They host the Jets next week, and travel to New England the following week for what could be a first-place showdown.
• Break it to him gently, but somebody needs to tell former Dolphins head coach
• Good to know
If you're Culpepper, it has to be tough to be sitting home these days watching the likes of lightly experienced quarterbacks such as Thigpen,
• It's that time of year when it just doesn't pay to be an NFL running back. Week 8 featured no
• What a bountiful week it was for NFL news, and none of it particularly good: Brett Favre's phone call to the Lions.
Sheesh. It's good to have the games to distract us for at least one day a week.
• I keep wondering who