Simply no givens this season
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Musings, observations and the occasional Week 7 insight as we await the second annual
• By now, I'm seriously starting to wonder who we can trust in this year's NFL? Did anyone inspire confidence in what was a wild Week 7? And is there anything or anyone solid enough to truly believe in as Halloween approaches and we near the season's midway point?
Clearly not the defending champion Saints (4-3), who lost by 13 points to a 1-5 Browns team that was a 13-point underdog entering the Superdome on Sunday.
And not the Baltimore Ravens (5-2), who were supposed to feast on the winless Bills, but instead wound up escaping 37-34 at home in overtime against Buffalo, another 13-point road underdog. Safety
Same goes for the Philadelphia Eagles (4-3), who had started to capture our attention with those impressive wins against the 49ers and Falcons the past two weeks. At 4-2, with a pair of quality quarterbacks at their disposal, the Eagles had us starting to think they were approaching elite status. But then came Sunday, and a 37-19 loss at Tennessee, whose backup quarterback,
Perhaps clarity is an antiquated relic of NFL seasons gone by. The league simply has no givens this year, and I'm beginning to think we'll just have to get used to it. The NFL doesn't have a caste system in 2010. It just has winners and losers, and some weeks, like this one, you can barely tell them apart.
• The Steelers may be 5-1 and in first place in the AFC North, but how they can feel all that great about their 23-22 win at Miami when referee
Because a replay review couldn't determine who recovered the Big Ben fumble in the end zone -- once the officials initially ruled Roethlisberger had scored and blew the whistle, they kind of lost interest in the play, apparently -- the Steelers got a do-over of sorts, at the half-yard line.
So the Dolphins "won'' the replay review, but lost the ball and then the game. And maybe there's really no way to correct an error of that sort, as
• As for Roethlisberger, what's with all the sloppy ball security issues in his first two games back? He threw a horrible pick last week at home against Cleveland, and fumbled three times against the Dolphins. He officially lost just one of the fumbles, but again, the total could have been two if Steratore and crew had been a bit sharper. Roethlisberger needs to get that problem fixed post haste.
• And speaking of superstar quarterbacks who had disappointing days, raise your hand if you foresaw
Brees threw four interceptions and was sacked three times, with two of the picks (from 64 and 30 yards) being returned for touchdowns by 12th-year linebacker
• Maybe Titans receiver
At times it looked as if all Collins had to do was toss it up deep, and Britt would came down with it. Henceforth, I'm guessing teams won't be leaving him in one-on-one coverage quite as often as the Eagles did.
• All things considered, the breaks of the game continue to make it rather easy on Reid in his quarterback shuffle in Philly. With a sloppy
• I think it can now be safely said that the Bears are who we thought they were. Maybe even worse than we thought they were.
If there's one team I can't take my eyes off this season, it's Chicago, a loser of three out of four after its 3-0 start. What a trip into bizarro world watching the Bears play this season. Quarterback
In truth, I don't know how Cutler tops the 17-14 home loss to Washington. He threw four interceptions, all to
The Bears have dropped consecutive home games to .500 teams (Seattle was 2-2 and Washington entered 3-3), and I don't know how you begin to fix Chicago's offensive line. Shorter drops and shorter throws worked for a while on Sunday, but then Cutler started making Hall his favorite receiver and things got almost comically bad for the Bears. On Chicago's seven possessions in the second half, it had six turnovers and a punt.
• If I'm the Bears, I focus like a laser on signing one key player this week: A guy by the name of Max Protection. Until Chicago starts giving Cutler at least a modicum of time, mostly bad things are going to continue to happen when Martz calls a pass play.
• Maybe you don't notice what doesn't happen -- if you know what I mean -- but I didn't recognize any sea change in how NFL defenders went about their business Sunday, the first game day since the league stiffened up its enforcement of dangerous hits.
Perhaps it was too small of a sampling to notice any trend, but couldn't you say roughly the same thing about last week's violent collisions? There were apparently some examples noticed of defenders holding up a bit or going for a leg tackle instead of a higher hit, but I didn't see instances where any contact was obviously shied away from.
• Let's see, Denver goes down 24 points in the first quarter at home against Oakland and winds up falling by an astounding 45 points. San Francisco drops to 1-6 by losing 23-20 at previously winless Carolina.
And all I could think of was: Next week's 49ers-Broncos game must be driving 'em wild with anticipation in London.
• And the Chargers lose yet another one thanks to their special teams play. How many times have we already said that this season? New Chargers kicker
Brown missed a 50-yard field goal attempt with :23 left as San Diego fell to 2-5 with a 23-20 loss to New England. In fairness, Brown wasn't the biggest culprit on the Chargers special teams. He was lining up for a 45-yard attempt to force overtime, but guard
• It wasn't exactly Favre returning to Lambeau, but no one enjoyed the Browns upset at New Orleans more than Cleveland linebacker
• The Jets and
The Browns really harassed Brees into multiple mistakes, and made him look flustered for much of the game. It was the first time in a long time that I can remember thinking that Brees' lack of prototypical NFL quarterback height really hurt him in a game.
• Maybe they won't put him out of his misery during the season no matter what, but that's about curtains for
• It's time we start looking at the first-place Seahawks (4-2) as a serious threat to win the division and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. With Seattle's 22-10 win over Arizona (3-3), the Seahawks now have what amounts to at a two-game lead on the rest of the division And first-year Seahawks head coach
• A week after I wrote that Atlanta's lack of explosive playmakers kept it from being as dangerous as the likes of Philadelphia and other top contenders in the NFC, Falcons receiver
• I wonder what ex-Broncos head coach
• Well, it was a good run for
And with that, Arizona head coach
• The man has certainly taken his share of grief this season, but that was a superb individual effort turned in by Redskins defensive lineman
That's the kind of disruptive force Haynesworth can be when he's on his game and motivated.
• How old am I? I actually covered
Bouman, 38, hadn't started a game since 2005 in New Orleans (the Saints' San Antonio/vagabond season), and he still hasn't won a game as a starter since 2001 in Minnesota. Now that's a losing streak, when you're up to nine years and counting.