Necessary Roughness, Week 8: Prognostications by Division
I can’t believe we are already nearing the midpoint of the NFL season! This year seems to have flown by faster than a bird fart in a windstorm. And what’s even more interesting is that 8 weeks in, most of the divisions are totally up for grabs. There are very few noticeably dominant teams, and as these divisional races heat up, we may be gearing up for a wild finish to the regular season.
Week 8 started with a Thursday night trouncing of the San Diego Chargers at the hands of the best team in the league right now, the Denver Broncos. With Peyton Manning showing no signs of skill depreciation and a much improved defense over last year, Denver has been the one team that has decisively separated itself from the pack in their respective division. But for the most part, the rest of the divisions are shaping up to be really balanced. The second half of the season is going to be a doozy and I can’t wait to see how the playoff picture unfolds. I thought that this week I would take a look at each division and prognosticate a little bit on what might be in store for the next nine weeks.
New England has turned things around after a rough start to the year, and they put straight-up Tecmo Bowl style numbers on the Bears yesterday. They are easily my favorites to win this division, and as many of you might recall, my pick to win the Super Bowl this year. But damn, the Buffalo Bills just keep winning football games! They were helped out immensely by the Jets yesterday who are just an awful team right now, particularly on offense. Six turnovers?? Sheesh. At any rate, this is a two-team race at the moment, although Miami might squeak into the equation if they can pull off wins against the Chargers and the Lions the next two weeks. Next week may really show where the Patriots stand in the big picture, as they square off against Denver. Perhaps a dress rehearsal for the AFC championship game?
I love this division. All four teams have a shot! I thought Pittsburgh was dead in the water but they came out yesterday in those hideous throwback jerseys and put a beating on the Colts. And with the Ravens taking a tough loss to the Bengals, this division is really a toss-up. Even Cleveland is sitting at 4-3, and they might have something to say as well. Next week may tip the scales a little bit, as the Ravens and Steelers face off.
Indy is the best team in this division, but giving up 51 points to the Steelers yesterday is a concern. I don’t know what the hell to think about the Texans; some weeks they look good, other weeks they look pretty bad. They looked good yesterday, but they were playing the Titans who aren’t exactly a pillar of excellence. This is really a two-team race, with Indy being my clear-cut favorites, but they need to tighten the screws defensively if they want to have a chance to beat any of the other AFC powerhouses come playoff time.
First of all, are the Oakland Raiders even going to win a game this year? Man, what a rough ride for Raiders’ fans. Anyway, the Denver Broncos are playing the best football in the NFL right now, and with that shellacking of the Chargers they are obviously the favorites to win this division. But keep in mind that the Chargers historically like to make a run in November. And Kansas City is playing much better now. They are at home against the Jets next week, while the Chargers have to go down to Miami. So after Week 9 we could easily have a flip-flop in the standings at the 2nd and 3rd place spots. For me, this is the Broncos’ division and the Chargers and Chiefs are battling for a wild card.
This is a fun division. For a few weeks, it looked like that Giants were making a push, but then they got goose-egged by the Eagles and throttled by the Cowboys. So it’s clear to me that they, along with the Redskins, are not a factor in this division. This is another two team race, and a really good one. The Eagles are 5-2 after losing a close game in Arizona yesterday, and the Cowboys will try to go 7-1 tonight as they take on Washington. Looking ahead, both teams have winnable games on the docket before meeting one another on November 27th, or “Thanksgiving” as many people like to call it.
Not sure what happened to Green Bay last night, but that was a big loss. And with Detroit pulling off an impressive comeback in London against the Falcons, this division has been shaken up a little at least for the time being. But I still like the Packers to win this division. The Lions are sitting at 6-2, but they have to face the Dolphins, Cardinals, and Patriots over the next three weeks. Chicago has just looked awful lately and they are obviously experiencing some dissent in the locker room, so I don’t see them or the Vikings as viable contenders.
What a terrible division. It’s a mathematical possibility that the winner of the NFC South may end up with a 6-9-1 record. Embarrassing. I was actually in attendance for the Panthers/Seahawks game and man, I feel sorry for the video editor at ESPN who had to put together a highlight reel for that game. Neither team was impressive on either side of the ball. Elsewhere, the Falcons managed to squander a 21 point halftime lead, ultimately losing by a point to the Lions. And the Bucs lost at home to the Vikings. New Orleans was a ray of hope for this division as they got their shit together long enough to earn a decisive win over the Packers. This division is totally up for grabs though. It’s kind of a shame, because someone in this terrible division will make the playoffs, and a far more deserving team in another division will not. But that’s the way it goes.
This is another fun division to watch play out. Before the season, everyone seemed to want to crown the Seahawks as repeat champs but Arizona has had something to say about that. I can’t believe they are 6-1 right now! The Cardinals are easily the best story in the NFL this year and I gotta say, I’m rooting for them to win this division. The Seahawks and Niners are both 4-3, and neither team has looked Super Bowl caliber to me. Next week he Niners and Seahawks have the Rams and Raiders, respectively, so this division could get more interesting if those two teams start tallying up some wins. And the Cardinals have to go down to Dallas. So by no means is this division in the books. The Cards have been the best team thus far, but all that could change quickly.
Tonight we have a divisional rivalry on tap for MNF. The game is in Dallas and honestly, I don’t expect much of a contest. The Redskins are a mess and the Cowboys are rolling. Washington’s only hope is if Tony Romo decides to have one of those games where he throws like 4 picks and has 3 fumbles. I don’t see that happening though, and I think the Cowboys are going to end up with a 7-1 record by night’s end. Final score: Dallas 31, Washington 17.