Panthers (-7) over BUCCANEERS (CORRECT = 1-0)
Jaguars (+15.5) over 49ers (WRONG = 1-1)
CHIEFS (-7.5) over Browns (WRONG = 1-2)
SAINTS (-11.5) over Bills (CORRECT = 2-2)
PATRIOTS (-7) over Dolphins (CORRECT = 3-2)
Giants (+6) over EAGLES (CORRECT = 4-2)
LIONS (-3) over Cowboys (WRONG = 4-3)
Steelers (-2.5) over RAIDERS (WRONG = 4-4)
BENGALS (-6) over Jets (CORRECT = 5-4)
CARDINALS (-2) over Falcons (CORRECT = 6-4)
BRONCOS (-12.5) over Redskins (CORRECT = 7-4)
VIKINGS (+9.5) over Packers (WRONG = 7-5)
Seahawks (+12.5) over RAMS (WRONG = 7-6)
Week 8: 7-6
32.) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8 = 86-264)
The Jaguars are on pace to score 172 points and allow 528. That would set a record for worst point differential ever. They'll probably end up a little better than those numbers because their hardest games are over, but let's just move on.
31.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7 = 100-163)
And now the Buccaneers have entered the period where they stop caring too much. Even bad teams will give a damn until some point wherein after they'll just stop trying. They still might show up once or twice, and the Buccaneers are too talented to go 0-16 (unlike Jacksonville), but this is going to get really, really ugly. Also, for all the shit Jacksonville gets, why isn't Tampa Bay a candidate for Los Angeles relocation.
30.) Minnesota Vikings (1-6 = 163-225)
The Vikings tried in that game. They tried. Christian Ponder played OK for Christian Ponder. The problem is the Vikings are just bereft of talent. They squeaked out a 10-6 record last year off the back of an easy schedule, an other-worldly season by Peterson and a defense that was one year away from being washed up. Well, it is one year later and that defense is washed up. Tough times ahead for the Vikings, who have three QBs, none of them good.
29.) Philadelphia Eagles (3-5 = 176-211)
So bad. So, so bad. Yes, this might be an overreaction, but this supposedly unstoppable offense, an offense who's speed was going to revolutionize football has scored 3 points on offense total in the last two games, both at home against marginal to bad defenses. There probably won't be a lower low in the Chip Kelly era. I doubt it gets too much better either, with Matt Barkley likely starting next game. That is scarier than anything. I'm glad one of my NFC East predictions might turn out right.
28.) Washington Redskins (2-5 = 173-229)
On one hand, the Redskins had a 21-7 lead, playing good defense in the first half. On the other hand, they were then outscored 38-0 in about 25 minutes, despite picking off Manning two more times (it should be noted both picks hit the hands of Broncos receivers before being intercepted). Yes, they fell victim to one of the scariest 25-minute periods of football by Denver, but they were a team over its head. That offense just isn't working, and I think it is more teams getting a handle on the read-option than just RGIII being nervous about his knee.
27.) St. Louis Rams (3-5 = 165-198)
The Rams played about as well as they could defensively, but their lack of offense was shown in full force in their inability to score in the red zone. Three times they had 1st and Goal, and came away with two field goals and a turnover on downs. Kellen Clemens isn't terrible, but the offense is quite bad. My issue is they probably got really up for that game, outplayed Seattle, but couldn't win. That could psychologically kill them the rest of the way.
26.) Atlanta Falcons (2-5 = 166-184)
I won't dock them too much for playing badly in Arizona, since Carolina, who is way further up this list, did the same thing in Arizona four weeks ago. The Falcons offense has no hope right now against any good defense with few legitimate players on the O-Line, and no receiving options right now. Matt Ryan is giving a game effort, but even he can't overcome this.
25.) Houston Texans (2-5 = 122-194)
Let's see if the Texans can build back some momentum after their bye, but this might be the worst time to play a primetime game at home. The Texans are sticking with Case Keenum, which is probably the right move. When he inevitably fails, turning back to Matt Schaub might not be met with such horrible criticism as it would be today. The Texans are in a bad place. They really had one of the shortest Super Bowl windows ever.
24.) Oakland Raiders (3-4 = 126-150)
The Raiders were supposed to be one of the least talented teams in the NFL. They probably are, but I'm stunned about how well their defense has played given their personnel. They basically hired a bunch of marginal players to one or two-year deals, patched them together and let them play. Kind of like the way the other team in Oakland built their club. Yes, this is a Moneyball defense. It isn't great, but it will keep them in most games. Shocking, truly shocking.
23.) Cleveland Browns (3-5 = 148-179)
Jason Campbell continues to be highly underrated as a player. He's been decidedly average in every stop of his career (and probably above average in his Oakland tenure), and he played well against Kansas City. He showed better elusiveness than he ever did in Oakland or Washington. I'm glad they didn't trade Josh Gordon. Surprising, given how much the Lombardi regime has tried to distance itself from anything Holmgren did, but Gordon is good enough to stay.
22.) New York Giants (2-6 = 141-223)
Yup, they're only two games back. We may look back at that Tyron Smith holding penalty which allowed Detroit to come back and win as the catalyst for the Giants somehow winning the NFC East and making a run to the Super Bowl. Before you laugh this off, last year, through eight games, the Redskins were further behind the first place Giants than the Giants are now behind Dallas (3-5 vs. 6-2 last year against 2-6 vs. 4-4 now). It could happen, people.
21.) Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5 = 125-153)
That was a crushing loss, but if Shaun Suisham hit his two field goals, they probably win the game. The Steelers don't really have a realistic shot at the playoffs at this point, but I can't see them throwing away the season yet. I still can't wait for Todd Haley to be unceremoniously fired later this season (or offseason, at the latest). That should be fun, to see that arrogant POS kicked to the curb.
20.) Miami Dolphins (3-4 = 152-167)
Four straight losses have really killed what was such a nice start for Miami. They really blew that game. Just blew everything about it. I don't know if Sturgis hits that field goal if they win the game, but the Dolphins made every mistake, and got no breaks from the refs. That 'batting the football' call was bullshit. Either way, the Dolphins can't block anyone, and Ryan Tannehill cannot hit a deep throw. Two huge glaring areas for that offense to work on.
19.) Buffalo Bills (3-5 = 176-213)
The Bills, much like Miami, had a game on the road with one key turning point. Here, the Bills were up 10-7, with New Orleans backed up facing 3rd and 10, and then gave up an 80-yard TD to Kenny Stills, and it was a wrap. They played New Orleans decently well, all in all. The AFC East teams aren't terrible, but I see some striking similarities in the Marrone Bills to the Gailey Bills, including good offenses that are more scheme dependent than personnel dependent, and a defense that gets injured as sin.
18.) New York Jets (4-4 = 143-211)
Well, the 'Jets are making the playoffs!!' bandwagon lasted one week. That was every bit as bad as the 45-3 loss to the Patriots in 2010. 49-9 to the Bengals, a team that hadn't been able to put anyone away all year long. Geno Smith really does alternate good games with terrible ones. Still, he's better than Mark Sanchez already, and I think he can still be a long term QB in New York.
17.) Tennessee Titans (3-4 = 145-146)
I still don't know what to expect with Jake Locker going forward. That team had such a nice formula and game style before his injury, and while they tried all of those things with Fitzpatrick, and actually played well against both KC and Seattle, in total it never worked. They lost to all good teams (vs.KC, @SEA, vs.SF), and their schedule is noticeably easier going forward. Honestly, they are a great darkhorse #6 seed competitor, with head-to-head wins over both the Jets and Chargers.
16.) Chicago Bears (4-3 = 213-206)
Jay Cutler may be back earlier than anticipated, which should be a nice surprise for a Bears team that might just be able to start winning games before they get too far behind Carolina and Detroit. In the end, I think the defense has just lost too much at this point. They are so thin up the middle, and with Briggs still out, their second level is soft as well. It's odd to think of the Bears as being an offense-first team, but that is what they are.
15.) Dallas Cowboys (4-4 = 230-186)
The Cowboys might just allow the worst thing for America to happen, they might just throw away enough games to allow a team that used to be 0-6 a division winner. I have no problems with what Dez Bryant did. I have a bigger problem with their injuries on defense and the loss of Brian Waters. The O-Line was awful on Sunday and will continue to be so without the services of Waters and with the services of Mackenzie Bernadeu.
14.) Baltimore Ravens (3-4 = 150-148)
The #6 seed is not running away from the Ravens, but I hope they made some changes to that offense over the bye. Another week back for Jacoby Jones might get him a little closer to game shape. The big problem is that they've lost all ability to run the ball with any consistency. They have to depend on Flacco, who is languishing without dependable targets or blockers. Not really a good situation.
13.) Arizona Cardinals (4-4 = 160-174)
The bad news is the Cardinals end the season @SEA, vs.SF. The good news is that they could be 9-5, and maybe even 10-4, coming into that. Look at this schedule after their bye this week: vs.HOU, @JAX, vs.IND, @PHI, vs.STL, @TEN. Look at that. The toughest game is either Indy at home (where the Cardinals defense turns it up to 11, or at Tennessee). Chances are they won't go 6-0, or even 5-1 in that stretch, but this is the most likeliest third team in the #6 seed race after Detroit and Carolina. By the way, they beat both of those teams.
12.) San Diego Chargers (4-3 = 168-144)
They didn't play last week and are now the #6 seed if the playoffs ended today. Their season will totally depend on how they play the two Denver and KC games. One potential gift could be getting KC at home in Week 17, a game that may or may not mean anything to KC (and either way will likely mean a lot more to San Diego). Philip Rivers is playing out of his mind, so it would be a shame for that to go totally unnoticed, which it will if they miss the playoffs.
11.) New England Patriots (6-2 = 179-144)
Low? Maybe. Some of it is anti-Patriots bias, but more of it is a total belief that the Patriots 6-2 record is built totally on smoke and mirrors. They've lost two of their most important players on defense in Mayo and Wilfork. They're offense has gotten everyone but Shane Vereen back at this point and still struggles to score 20 points. Tom Brady is playing outright bad right now. Somehow they're 6-2 due to an easy schedule, three attempts at comebacks and Geno Smith throwing pick after pick. Their schedule gets tougher. Sure, they could somehow smoke and mirror their way to the #2 seed, but I wouldn't pick them to beat any of the following 10 teams on a neutral field.
10.) Detroit Lions (5-3 = 217-197)
Huge win for the Lions. This keeps them in striking distance of Green Bay (with the return leg in Detroit), and slightly ahead of Carolina. Of course, pulling out a ridiculous win doesn't make the problems they showed go away. They turn the ball over too much. Their secondary gives up too many big plays. Brian Broiles injury removes another non-Calvin weapon, and he won't have 329 yards every week. A huge win, but one that exposed some problems.
9.) Carolina Panthers (4-3 = 170-96)
Sure, they've played no one in their three game winning streak, but they've dominated each of those teams (and the Giants, way back when), and their first two losses could easily have been wins. It would just be so much more comfortable for them if they didn't blow the Buffalo game. Not only would the division still be in play, but they would have a more comfortable position for a Wild Card. It will be interesting to watch them next week, playing a divisional rival that has given them challenges in the past in Atlanta. Can they kick them when they're down?
8.) Green Bay Packers (5-2 = 212-158)
This might be low, but I think teams #8-3 are all pretty close. The Packers were definitely impressive, scoring on every possession despite missing a ton of offensive weapons. Their defense wasn't great (against a terrible Minnesota offense), but even the defense could get better when they get guys back. The Packers schedule is soft. 13-3 is not out of the question. Especially if Rodgers can score that many with Boykin is a major contributor.
7.) Indianapolis Colts (5-2 = 187-131)
That may have been a bad time to have a bye, coming off of their biggest win of the year. The Colts have a very good team, but it will be really interesting to see what happens with Reggie Wayne not out there. Reggie Wayne hasn't missed a game since 2002. Andrew Luck's never played an NFL game without Wayne. Their schedule is really easy, so I think they're close to a lock to win that division, but getting a bye is important for a team that is so good at home, but that challenge got a lot harder.
6.) Kansas City Chiefs (8-0 = 192-98)
The Chiefs have flirted with disaster too many times for me to take them seriously. They've gotten ridiculous QB luck so far, getting what will be a third straight 3rd QB next week (Keenum, Campbell, Lewis). Of course, I wouldn't be shocked at all if the Chiefs lose next week to Buffalo on the road. The Chiefs are 8-0, and had an easy schedule, and will have an easy schedule. This could be a repeat of 1997, where the Chiefs won the AFC West over a better Broncos team (13-3 vs. 12-4), but lost to them in the playoffs.
5.) San Francisco 49ers (6-2 = 218-145)
Just like everyone wanted to crucify the 49ers after their 1-2 start, which included losses of 3-26 and 7-27, everyone wants to crown them as totally back off the back of five straight wins. Of course, the only team they beat at .500 is Arizona (who they looked sluggish against, in a win that was closer than the 32-20 score), and outside that were big wins against some of the league's dregs (Rams, Texans, Jaguars). The 49ers schedule isn't really ever tough (we really could have two 13-3 Wild Card teams), but they'll need to play better to win the division.
4.) Seattle Seahawks (7-1 = 205-125)
The Seahawks better hope Russell Okung comes back quickly, because that O-Line performance was dreadful. The run defense had major problems as well. Still, it is scary how good that secondary is, and scarier how good Golden Tate is. This could be totally wrong, but I feel like had the Golden Tate Fail Mary been ruled an interception, Golden Tate never becomes nearly this good. Again, this could be wrong. It probably is. But I like to think certain season-altering plays effect careers like that.
3.) New Orleans Saints (6-1 = 196-120)
The Saints looked sluggish, missed two field goals, and still scored 35 points and won by 17 with Drew Brees throwing 5 TDs. They are just so good at home - and so average on the road. I actually think getting the #1 seed is bigger for them than it is for Seattle. I don't think New Orleans can win in Seattle or Green Bay, but I can't see anyone hanging within 10 of them in the Dome.
2.) Cincinnati Bengals (6-2 = 197-144)
That was impressive. This might be an overreaction, but I really like what I see from that offense. The O-Line is playing a lot better in recent weeks, and Marvin Jones seems to be a legitimate #2 receiver at this point. The defense is still dominant, and they can cover for no Leon Hall pretty well with a stable of good corners. The Bengals are really well built, play great at home, and luckily for them they've already beaten the Patriots and get the Colts later in the season at home.
1.) Denver Broncos (7-1 = 343-218)
What the Broncos did in those last 25 minutes was absolutely terrifying. Their defense had played a good game up to that point (holding Washington to 14 points, and the Redskins needed numerous penalties and 4th Down plays to get there), but after that it was downright dominant. Von Miller was a beast. He's making Wolfe/Philips/Jackson better. The secondary played well. The Broncos were so good Manning could throw two interceptions after falling down 21-7, and they still outscored Washington 45-21. If the defense can play like that every week, this team might be a juggernaut. Just have to win that division, though.
1.) Denver Broncos = 14-2
2.) Cincinnati Bengals = 12-4
3.) Indianapolis Colts = 12-4
4.) New England Patriots = 11-5
5.) Kansas City Chiefs = 12-4
6.) San Diego Chargers = 9-7
1.) Seattle Seahawks = 13-3
2.) New Orleans Saints = 13-3
3.) Green Bay Packers = 12-4
4.) Dallas Cowboys = 9-7
5.) San Francisco 49ers = 12-4
6.) Carolina Panthers = 10-6
Looking Ahead to Next Week's Games
Byes: Broncos (7-1), Giants (2-6), Lions (5-3), Cardinals (4-4), 49ers (6-2), Jaguars (0-8)
13.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7) @ Seattle Seahawks (7-1) (4:00 - FOX)
12.) Chicago Bears (4-3) @ Green Bay Packers (5-2) (MNF-ESPN)
11.) Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) @ Oakland Raiders (3-4) (4:00 - FOX)
10.) Baltimore Ravens (3-4) @ Cleveland Browns (3-5) (4:25 - CBS)
9.) Minnesota Vikings (1-6) @ Dallas Cowboys (4-4) (1:00 - FOX)
8.) Tennessee Titans (3-4) @ St. Louis Rams (3-5) (1:00 - CBS)
7.) Atlanta Falcons (2-5) @ Carolina Panthers (4-3) (1:00 - FOX)
6.) San Diego Chargers (4-3) @ Washington Redskins (2-5) (1:00 - CBS)
5.) Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) @ New England Patriots (6-2) (4:25 - CBS)
4.) Indianapolis Colts (5-2) @ Houston Texans (2-5) (SNF-NBC)
3.) Kansas City Chiefs (8-0) @ Buffalo Bills (3-5) (1:00 - CBS)
2.) Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) @ Miami Dolphins (3-4) (TNF-NFLN)
1.) New Orleans Saints (6-1) @ New York Jets (4-4) (1:00 - FOX)
I call it "Maybe there's more to life in the Fall than Football" Weekend. So, this might be the worst collection of games ever. Not even one seems like it would be must watch TV. The Saints @ Jets game gets my #1, but that's more blind hope of what could be a good game. It could also be 41-14. The Colts @ Texans game should have been a fun game to help decide 1st place, now it is the Colts pushing the Texans back even further towards their old 2006-era irrelevancy. The NFL can't get it every week. They certainly haven't this week. This will make next weekend, with Carolina @ San Francisco, and Dallas @ New Orleans, and Cincinnati @ Baltimore all the more exciting.