Musings, observations and the occasional insight from Week 9 as we await a Patriots-Colts showdown that features much more "down'' than we're used to in recent years.....
• Last year, the unheralded
That's the reality that should be dawning on Browns head coach
The collapse against the Ravens was hardly Anderson's fault alone, but he certainly can't be absolved of blame. Anderson finished 17 of 33 for 219 yards passing, with a pair of touchdowns. But when Cleveland needed him most, he was at his absolute worst.
After taking a 27-13 lead on a 7-yard Anderson touchdown pass to
On those five Browns drives, when the Ravens were grabbing what for Cleveland was a must-win game by the throat, Anderson navigated the Browns offense for all of a combined 22 yards. And sadly for Browns fans, that's nothing new. This season, Anderson has completed less than 50 percent of his passes (121 of 243, or 49.8 percent), with just nine touchdowns, seven interceptions, and a quarterback rating in the high 60s.
Quinn at this point deserves a chance to see if he can inject some life into a Browns passing game that entered Sunday's Week 9 ranked 26th among the NFL's 32 teams, averaging just 167.9 yards per game. Cleveland has been more than patient with Anderson, but his inability to take advantage of a Baltimore secondary that was ravaged by injuries in Week 9 should be the final straw.
Cleveland just slipped to 1-3 in the AFC North, and now has lost twice by double digits to a Ravens team that won just five games last season and hired a rookie head coach in
The Browns should start Brady Quinn next week at home against the Broncos, a team that can definitely be thrown against. Maybe Cleveland can still salvage some of 2008, and find out if its future lies in Quinn's hands. Anderson's Cinderella story looks over in Cleveland, and the page is waiting to be turned.
• Rookie running back
In a season in which there are plentiful Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates -- at quarterback, receiver and running back -- Johnson is rapidly becoming the overwhelming favorite to take home the hardware. He touched the ball 30 times against Green Bay, and produced 161 yards and a touchdown.
• Put this Buffalo loss -- the most troubling of the season -- squarely on quarterback
At the moment, the best quarterback in the AFC East is either New England's
The Raiders were also the first team since the 1992 Colts to go an entire half with minus-yardage offensively. They finished the first half with minus-2 yards of offense, compared to Atlanta's 309. That vertical passing game that Raiders owner
• The Raiders offensive ineptitude wasn't the only quirky stat(s) coming out of the AFC West on Sunday. The Broncos, whose running game was once the NFL's gold standard, totaled all of 14 yards rushing on 12 carries in their loss to Miami. Denver did manage 306 yards through the air. So much for balance.
• If you happen to think that a healthy
• I still can't get over how well
• Not counting New England's Sunday-nighter at Indy, the AFC East has to be the most improved division in football this season. Last year, the three teams that weren't the 16-0 Patriots combined to go just 12-36, with Buffalo at 7-9, the Jets at 4-12 and the Dolphins at 1-15.
But this season, those three teams are a combined 14-10, with the Bills and Jets both at 5-3, and the Dolphins 4-4. The AFC East is an impressive 5-2 against NFC teams.
• Speaking of the NFC East, the entire division is 23-10, with Washington's home game against Pittsburgh still to come in Week 9. Every team in the division has at least five wins. No other division in the NFL has all of its teams owning five or more wins.
• Even a remarkable 23-point second quarter wasn't enough for Detroit this week. If you're keeping score, the Lions are now 1-15 since starting last season with that mirage of a 6-2 getaway. When will it be time for
• No wonder Minnesota tried to trade for Texans backup quarterback
But you think maybe Houston will ever win a road game? The Texans, who just won three in a row at home, dropped to 0-4 away from Reliant Stadium this season.
• After back to back losses to AFC North also-rans Cleveland and Cincinnati, the 3-5 Jaguars look destined not to rise above mediocrity this season. What has happened to Jacksonville's defense? The Bengals entered Sunday ranked dead last in total yardage (229.0 yards per game), and the proceeded to hang up 312 yards and three touchdowns on the Jags.
• How ridiculously deep is Kansas City at running back? Who needs
That's positively Bronco-esque. At least back in the day when Denver was a running back factory.
• Ah, when
• I know
• Now that they've drubbed the resurgent Rams on the road, the Cardinals should have a cakewalk to their first division title since 1975, when they were still in St. Louis. Arizona is 5-3, 2-0 in the NFC West, and faces just three teams that currently have winning records in the season's second half -- Giants at home, at Philadelphia, at New England.
Even better, the Cardinals still have four division games left in the NFL's weakest division. They have San Francisco at home next week, followed by a trip to Seattle. St. Louis and Seattle must also still make the journey to Arizona.
• Anyone else happen to think