CHICAGO -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we take in the NFL's latest sequel: "The Return of Rex,'' a Windy City-based movie that makes us all feel as if we've seen it before and know how it ends...
After 10 weeks of the NFL's 2008 regular season, we hold these truths to be self-evident:
• We all know by now the New England Patriots are going back to the playoffs. Let's just book it. As much as the Week 1 loss of
New England is 6-3 and remains tied for first place in the AFC East after exposing the Bills as playoff pretenders on Sunday, 20-10. Next up is a showdown with the Jets, the co-leader in the East, on Thursday night at Gillette, and then a trip 10 days later to Miami. The Pats will do no worse than a split, and emerge from Week 12 at 7-4 or better.
And don't forget, they've still got games against Seattle and Oakland, who won't even be able to stay on the field with them. New England is a winning machine because losing streaks are not allowed under
Nobody seems to think Ryan's too mechanical these days. And nobody questions if a quarterback who played at the smallish University of Delaware can be ready for the big-time. The Ravens have won four in a row, and the Falcons are 4-1 in their past five.
• I know it made for a juicy pre-game sub-plot last week, but
As I watched him lead the Chicago offense against the Titans, Grossman was, well, Grossman. There was an impressive touchdown drive on the Bears first possession, and then the next nine times Chicago had the ball, it resulted in an interception and eight straight punts. That's not going to get it done, and the sooner the Bears get Orton healthy -- and re-signed to a long-term deal -- the better things are going to be in Chicago.
• The Dolphins aren't just a nice little story anymore. They're a threat to make the playoffs out of the AFC East. With their 21-19 win over Seattle, the Dolphins have won three games in a row and, at 5-4, are over .500 for the first time since
Miami trails the Patriots and Jets by just a game, and the Dolphins schedule has some cupcakes left on it. Miami has Oakland at home next week, and still gets to play at St. Louis, home against San Francisco and at Kansas City. That's nine wins right there if the Dolphins take care of business. This may be
• The 0-9 Lions are really going for this thing, folks. If they can get past Thanksgiving without pulling one of their patented homefield holiday upsets -- and they face the Titans, so it would take a doozey -- they've got a great shot at 0-16. Don't snicker. I'm not kidding. Just look at their schedule.
• We may never see
• Nothing is ailing the Jacksonville Jaguars that a trip to Detroit couldn't cure. It's the NFL's miracle elixir: A game against the Lions. Jags head coach
• The Saints, my NFC Super Bowl pick, aren't going anywhere this season. They just don't have it. New Orleans' defense remains a problem, and the improvements that I thought the Saints made on that side of the ball continue to be insufficient. You are what your record says you are in the NFL, and the Saints are a 4-5, last-place team. And even that 521 yards of offense at Atlanta on Sunday rings hollow.
• If Vikings head coach
• The Jets love playing at home in the first half against a team that either calls St. Louis home, or once did. In Week 4, the Jets ran up a 34-0 halftime bulge against the Arizona (nee St. Louis) Cardinals en route to a 56-35 win. On Sunday, New York was back at it, jumping out to a 40-0 halftime advantage on its way to a 47-3 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
• The Jets now know what they must do on offense: Limit
Brett Favre, game manager? Sounds funny, but it might just do the trick.
• Though it has to hurt Browns fans to even think it, it's not the worst-case scenario for quarterback
When it comes to finding the next Oakland coach, Al, you're going to reap what you have so destructively sewn.
• The Ravens know they got quite lucky with Flacco. Talking to a Baltimore official last week, he reminded me how fortunate Baltimore feels about the role fate played in the rookie quarterback's season. In the plans that the Ravens braintrust had hashed out, Flacco was really only supposed to be inserted into their starting lineup now, in time to play the season's second half. But because of
• They only gave
• What a sad, sorry season the Seahawks are enduring. Not only has Seattle lost five out of six to fall to 2-7 and completely out of the NFC wild-card chase, but also the Seahawks have had to go a long way to do it. For the second time in four weeks, Seattle played in Florida. When it comes to NFL road trips, it doesn't any worse than Seattle to Miami. (Unless it would be Miami to Seattle, into a stiff west-to-east headwind).
• Patriots rookie running back
• Baltimore's secret weapon is
He's the Ravens' rookie kickoff specialist and was given a shot at a long field goal attempt that's well beyond