MINNEAPOLIS -- With 28 of the 32 NFL teams finished with a quarter of their seasons, let's hand out some early hardware. Of course, things can change pretty quickly in this league.
While the Colts get used to a new coach, new defense and three important new offensive parts, Manning is playing as well as he ever has. In his illustrious 12-year career, he's never opened a season with four straight 300-yard games, as he has this year. The 4-0 Colts will go as far as he takes them.
This one doesn't seem very hard. I pick Childress to round out the top three because he made the gutsy move --
Lots of deserving candidates, and it's clear why Nolan and Williams are far and away the leaders on this list. Scarnecchia is here not because of long and meritorious service; this is his 26th season as a Patriots assistant. It's because New England had a major protection problem that Scarnecchia and the staff worked on, and the past two weeks, against one very good defense (Baltimore) and one middling one (Atlanta), the troops kept Brady mostly clean.
It's not hard to shine on an awful team, and Laurinaitis is going to have to weather a couple of years of stormy weather in St. Louis. But he's been the defensive playcaller since day three of camp, and he's on pace to be the kind of heart-of-the-defense player
Sharper told me Sunday that he seriously considered signing with the Steelers and old college teammate
Did you know
"Some sinus infection, I think,'' Allen said.
That really held Allen back. Taking advantage of the absence of Packer left tackle
Allen said he was watching the Green Bay injury report all week, wondering if he'd get the injured
Allen will be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year if he keeps this up, and he just might be able to. After just 21 Minnesota games, he's already the Vikings' career record-holder for safeties (three), and he's on a sack-a-game pace since his trade here 18 months ago. He came to the perfect place. With
"Because we have such a great middle rush,'' Allen said after the game, "the quarterback can't usually step up. Tonight, we kept him [Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers] running. We kept him guessing.''
That's a dominant line, made complete by the best all-around defensive end in football.
Now for your e-mail of the week:
Tough crowd. I'll agree with you that the Titans haven't been a good playoff team; one weak defense about last year's team is that if
My usual defense about Fisher -- that he most often gets the most out of his team -- is taking a beating this year. But after getting the Oilers/Titans on the right track and coaching them through the orphan stage of Houston and Memphis and into Nashville, Fisher's record in his past 10 years entering the year was 95-65. I don't think you fire a guy who's 23-9 over the previous two years, even with the two opening-game playoff losses. Now, if he'd lost the team, or if there was some indication the players have tuned him out, I could see firing him. But there's no evidence of that.
The game against Buffalo was a good example of how the Dolphins will play now, putting Henne in winning situations, not asking him to throw downfield too much early, and getting him used to the reins of an NFL team. I doubt the Dolphins can get back in the race, but who knows? Three of their next four games are against the Jets and Patriots, so we'll know by early November if they've got a pulse.
Players in every sport ask for calls, and after watching the Brady play four or five times on Monday, I think that one could have gone either way -- though I would not have called roughing the passer there. Keep in mind that Harrison told me he was just kidding when he called out Brady. His point, as it's always been, is that the league is over-protective of quarterbacks, and I think you agree with him.
Six wins, two losses. Don't ask me to predict which ones they'll win and which ones they'll lose. The Broncos are simply playing at a high enough level right now to go .500 through a very difficult stretch of the schedule.