The midway point for many teams (depending on their bye week) has come and gone and several teams are already on the outside, looking in. Four teams already have six losses (Cleveland, KC, Jacksonville and Carolina) and another five have five losses. Those are all long shots for a Playoff bid, but one might still slip in as a wild card. The AFC has been putrid, except at the very top. Only seven of their sixteen teams have winning records. Those loveable losers will soon be taking on the spoiler role, but not quite yet.
The week gets off to a weak start on Thursday, but we do have a handful of good contests on deck this weekend.
Game of the week:
Pittsburgh at NY Giants: Both teams are in good position at the half-way point. Pittsburgh is a game back on Baltimore, but the Ravens have been ravaged by the injury bug. Baltimore plays Cleveland, however, so a win here is huge for Baltimore to keep pace. The Giants are generally better on the road and they are coming off of a huge game last week when the narrowly fended off the Cowboys. They have a commanding lead in their division, so there is a chance that they let their guard down a bit. This is a game of two storied franchises that could set the tone for each in the back half of the year.
Worth the watch:
Philly at New Orleans: The Saints finally have their interim coach, but that did little for them against Denver. The Eagles have a ton of talent, but they are a turnover machine and there is turmoil in the locker room and front office. Will the Saints defense be the medicine that they need or will the home crowd finally give the lift that they need?
Dallas at Atlanta: The Falcons are undefeated, but they have had some close calls against some substandard teams. Dallas was a fingertip away from upsetting the Giants and they are in dire need of a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Dallas matches up well with Arizona, but The Falcons are undefeated for a reason.
Minnesota at Seattle: Both squad’s looked a lot more potent a couple of weeks back, but they are both still in good positions for division crowns or playoff berths. Seattle is a different team at home, but Minnesota has a strong running game and a ferocious pass rush, both which tend to travel well. This should be a good test for both teams. A home loss for Seattle could send them into a tail spin.
Arizona at Green Bay: Arizona might decide to man-up after the thumping they took on Monday, but a trip to Green Bay on a short week for them seems to spell doom. They can’t run the ball, they can’t block and they tend to travel poorly. A loss by Green Bay would be an embarrassment of epic proportions and they already did that against Indy.
Buffalo at Houston: Houston is everything that Buffalo wants to be. They can run the ball, the defense gets after the QB and doesn’t let up. Buffalo will wake up to find they are living the nightmare of getting walloped by their role model. That contract for Mario Williams is not looking too good right now.
Baltimore at Cleveland: Las Vegas sees a close game, but really? Baltimore is beat up, but they are still a far cry from the landfill known as the Cleveland Browns. Who will they fire this week?
Tampa Bay at Oakland: With the Halloween spirit in mind, Zombie Al Davis might rise from his grave to laugh at his former team. Says Al, “I told you it wasn’t all my fault and I now curse you to a decade of incompetence for pinning the blame on me.” He might not really rise from the grave, but the curse still stands. Tampa Bay sucks too.