Gibberman: Week 8 thoughts and observations
After the Redbirds defeated the New York Giants all that we heard in the Valley last week was how the Arizona Cardinals wanted to be respected nationally. Maybe the Cards should worry a little bit less about whether their highlights are getting shown on ESPN and more about not turning the ball over and tackling on defense. The Carolina Panthers stormed into Glendale on Sunday and physically beat up the Arizona Cardinals in their 34-21 victory. The NFL’s #1 run defense surrendered 245 yards to Panthers running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Cornerback Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie was embarrassed by Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith on a 50-yard touchdown reception. The Cardinals wanted elite status and on Sunday they proved why they are not in that class.
Now it’s time for the Week 8 12-Pack:
1. Speaking of bad tackling the Jacksonville Jaguars-Tennessee Titans had a lot of it. Running backs Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew both had a huge days because neither teams defense wanted to wrap up and bring a ball carrier to the ground. Growing up my friends and I tackled better when we played kill the carrier. A pathetic performance by two defenses that in recent history have both been considered top notch.
2. Staying on the Titans-Jaguars game, welcome back to the NFL Vince Young. Young was very efficient in the Titans 30-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Young only had three incomplete passes and as expected made an impact with his legs. People forget that as a rookie Young led the Titans to six straight wins after a 2-7 start and led Tennessee to the playoffs in his second year. Vince Young has always been a winner; I’m interested to see if he can pull it off again.
3. The New York Jets ran their mouths again leading up to the second meeting between them and the Miami Dolphins. For the second time they did not back up the big talk. The Jets held the Miami Dolphins to 104 total yards on offense yet they managed to lose the game 30-25. Miami Dolphins kickoff specialist (he needs to gain back the right to be called a WR) Ted Ginn Jr. returned back to back off kickoffs for touchdowns to spark the Fins victory. The Jets have fallen flat on their faces after a 3-0 start and are now in a battle for their playoff lives.
4. The biggest game of the week lived up to the hype as the Minnesota Vikings squeaked out a 38-26 victory at Lambeau Field. A great job by the fans in Green Bay booing Favre; I don’t care what he says publicly that had to hurt. Eventually Favre will realize what a mistake he made and I wonder whether he will be a big enough man to apologize for being a selfish, self-centered fool. Favre threw four touchdown passes, but I was impressed by his former understudy Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is one tough SOB. He got beat to a bloody pulp again by Jared Allen and the rest of the Vikings defense, but he stood in their strong and helped the Packers make this game interesting.
5. We are now halfway through the season and it is time to update my MVP list. Peyton Manning is #1 far and away, what he is doing this year is incredible. I have Carson Palmer at #2, being able to lead the Bengals to a 5-2 record with victories over the Ravens, Steelers, and Bears is impressive stuff. Third and it kills me to do this is Vikings QB Brett Favre, as much as I don’t like him he is playing great football. #4 Dallas Cowboys WR Miles Austin, he has single handedly transformed the ‘Boys offense. To finish up my top five I go with Drew Brees. #9’s numbers are incredible, but nine of his 14 touchdowns came in the first two weeks of the season which drops him in my book.
6. There were two wins that really caught my eye in Week 8. It was close, but to me the most impressive victory was the Baltimore Ravens pounding the Denver Broncos 30-7. It was the first loss of the season for the Broncos and a win the Ravens desperately needed to keep pace with the Steelers and Bengals. Baltimore’s defense finally showed up after a very disappointing beginning to the season. Ravens running back Ray Rice continues to show why I consider him the most complete running back in all of the NFL.
7. The win that fell just behind that Broncos-Ravens game was the Philadelphia Eagles putting a whooping on the New York Giants. After a 5-0 start the G-Men are no longer in first place, they are a half game back of the Eagles and Cowboys. What made this win even more amazing is that Philly was without its top running back Brian Westbrook. Donovan McNabb did a great job of spreading the ball around to all of his weapons and I give credit to Eagles head coach Andy Reid to not falling for the temptation to ignore the running game without Westbrook. Rookie LeSean McCoy and fullback Leonard Weaver combined for just over 150 yards.
8. The San Francisco 49ers were able to do something that not one other team has accomplished this season, the 49ers defense did not allow Peyton Manning to throw for a touchdown pass. Manning had thrown a TD pass in 10 straight games. The Colts still found a way to win, which is a sign of a great team. What makes a good team great is when they find way to win when you’re not playing at the highest level. Indy was not clicking and they still took care of a solid San Francisco team.
9. I don’t know if this was a permanent move by the NFL Network, but they added Michael Irving to their Sunday Night highlight show. Unnecessary move, Sanders, Eisen, and Mariucci were great together, they didn’t need another voice. The only way it makes sense is if the NFLN is preparing for Sanders to get taken off the show because he is going to get in trouble with the NFL with the Dez Bryant stuff.
10. The New York Giants are happy that the New York Yankees are about to win the World Series because their three-game losing streak is under the radar. It doesn’t get any easier for NYG the rest of the season. They only play two teams with a losing record and their next five games are home against San Diego and Atlanta, travel to Denver, then home verses the Eagles and Cowboys. That might be the toughest five game stretch for any team this season.
11. Taking a quick look at the standings in the NFC and AFC, I believe that it will take nine wins to get the final wild card in the NFC and 10 in the AFC. Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston, and San Diego battling it out for the two Wild Card spots in the AFC. Dallas, Philly, New York, San Francisco, Green Bay, Chicago, Atlanta still in contention in the NFC. That is a good amount of teams that still have meaningful games at this point in the season.
12. With St. Louis beating the Detroit Lions that leaves us with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the only winless team left. The schedule is not pretty. The only three games I see as winnable is @ Carolina, home against the Jets, and @ Seattle.
Jairus Byrd, the Buffalo Bills second round pick out of Oregon is having a monster season. He has two interceptions or more in three straight games.
Week 9 Look Ahead
Arizona Cardinals @ Chicago Bears…Can the Cardinals continue to have more success on the road than they do at home?
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals…Will the Ravens be able to gain a game on their AFC North rival?
Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts…Take the over, the Texans try and hand the Colts their first loss of the season.
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots…Will the Patriots be able to slow down the Wildcat?
San Diego Chargers @ New York Giants…Huge game for both teams. The Chargers try and move two games above .500; the Giants try and snap a three-game losing streak.
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles…The winner of this game becomes the favorite to win the NFC East.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos…This is going to be one of the most physical football games we will see all season.
The best part of Week 9 is that Buffalo, Oakland, Cleveland, and St. Louis all have bye weeks sparing us from terrible football for at least one week.