We have reached the time of year when teams start playing differently: Some teams play better than they have been, while others start playing worse. How else do you explain the Colts losing to the Titans?
RAVENS: Splitting the series with the Bengals is more of a positive sign for the Bengals than a negative sign for the Ravens. However, the Colts loss leaves the Ravens as the best team in the NFL by default. Their victory over the Chargers earlier this year looms large.
CHARGERS: A test of character for a good team is to win close games against bad teams like Buffalo. On the road. In December.
COWBOYS: I'm a believer. With Tony Romo as their starting QB, the Boys are 5-1. I won't call them "elite", but they are clearly the best team in the NFC.
COLTS: I don't think anyone really believes the Titans are better than the Colts. However, I think the Colts' loss shows they have some glaring weaknesses.
PATRIOTS: This week Detroit. Next week Joey Harrington. Somewhere, the scheduling gods are having a chuckle.
BENGALS: Splitting games with the Ravens is a positive sign that the Bengals are coming around. Of course, they face their toughest test this weekend against the Raiders. I have heard the NFL is arranging special security for this game: They will need to protect the fans from all the prisoners on the field.
BEARS: I get a laugh from all the pundits who think the Bears should start Brian Griese instead of Rex Grossman. As a longtime Raider fan, Griese was my favorite Denver quarterback. No matter how close the game was, Griese always found a way to choke against the Raiders. I am not saying Grossman is great, but I am saying Griese will break your heart (unless you are rooting for the Bears' opponent).
SEAHAWKS: It is a bad sign when your defense gives up two touchdown passes to a rookie quarterback in his first NFL game. Seattle won, but I wouldn't smoke a cigar over it.
BRONCOS: Jay Cutler looked like a rookie. But have faith Denver fans. He showed some potential. Next year is looking better. You didn't honestly think Shanahan switched to Cutler because he thought Cutler gave them a "better chance to win this year"?
SAINTS: Got...to...resist...urge...to...rib...Texans. ARGH! I can't do it! Reggie Bush against the 49ers, 168 total yards and 4 touchdowns. Mario Williams against the hapless Raiders' offensive line, 2 tackles and no sacks. I bet the Texans are hoping Bush blows out a knee soon.
CHIEFS: Will the real Kansas City team please stand up? Was it the "Chiefs" team that beat the Broncos last week, or the "Chefs" team that lost to the Brownies this week? It doesn't get any easier for them in the next two weeks, as they have the two best teams in football coming up, with the Ravens followed by the Chargers.
PANTHERS: The Panthers are now 0-3 against the NFC East, with the Giants coming up this weekend. I am beginning to wonder if I didn't give Jake Delhomme too much credit in my recent "Best of the Worst Quarterbacks" post.
TITANS: To all the so-called football geniuses who thought, and still think, Vince Young would/will never be a great NFL quarterback, I say: Eat his dust. I predict by his fifth season, if not sooner, he will be considered among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Ask the Eagles, Giants, and Colts what they think of Young.
GIANTS: It looked like the Giants got a major dose of Pepto Romo. Even though the final score was close, the Giants did not deserve to win.
49ERS: The 49ers game was sort of like the 2000 Presidential Election. Although the final score of 34-10 didn't leave room for (Frank) Gore to ask for a recount against (Reggie) Bush.
STEELERS: These guys are still playing? I thought they had already conceded the rest of the season. Although the Buccaneers are just bad enough to have told Pittsburgh, "no thanks, YOU take the win."
BROWNS: Just when I am about to write this team off, they pull off a huge win over the Chiefs. Romeo Crennel, you da man! This team looked ready to implode after being shut out by the Bengals last week, but Crennel pulled them together this week.
JETS: Against teams that begin with a "C", the Jets are 0-2 (Chicago and Cleveland). Against the rest of the NFL, the Jets are 7-3. Fortunately, they are not scheduled to play Cincinnati this year.
FALCONS: Don't feel so good about the win over the Skins. Over the last five weeks, the Dirty Birds are 1-4.
BUCCANEERS: Tampa Bay has won three games this year, by a combined total of 6 points. Oakland has won two games by a combined total of 20 points. How did these two teams make it to the Super Bowl a couple of years ago?
REDSKINS: The 2007 NFL Preseason has come early to Washington.
JAGUARS: I liked what I saw from quarterback David Gerrard. If the Jags could surround him with some talent, especially at wide receiver, he could be very good, although I don't see him becoming great.
EAGLES: Maybe Jeff Garcia isn't so bad after all?
DOLPHINS: On the losing side of the Jags-Dolphins game, Joey Harrington looked ok, but the Dolphins definitely missed Ronnie Brown.
VIKINGS: With one win in the last six games (against Arizona), "YO HO!" is becoming "yoohoo".
RAMS: Speaking of teams mailing it in...I know the Cardinals are not respectable, but you would think the Rams would actually make an appearance. Losing 34-20 means they sent St. Louis University.
BILLS: On the bright side...oh heck, there is no bright side. Just because the Bills played a close game with the Chargers doesn't make them suck any less.
PACKERS: In the post-game press conference, after getting plastered by the Jets 38-10, Brett Favre said he didn't know what happened. Brett, I will tell you what happened: You got old and the Packers got too young.
TEXANS: In a game otherwise know as "The Reggie Bush Consolation Prize", the Texans beat the Raiders.
RAIDERS: In the Brady Quinn Sweepstakes, the Raiders are running neck-and-neck with Detroit at 2-10. Thank you Houston!
CARDINALS: If someone lays down on the road in front of you, and you floor it as you drive over them, does that really mean your car is running well? After the Cards beat the Rams, QB Matt Leinart said the Cards were getting better. Riiiiight...
LIONS: Ask the average fan who handles personnel decisions for the Lions, and everyone will say Matt Millen. Now ask them who does it for the Patriots, and you will most likely get a collective shrug. Yet who is better at it? If you said Scott Pioli, you are either a football lunatic like me, or a Patriots fan. Regardless, let us give praise where it is due, since the Pats beat the Lions. Mr. Pioli, you are doing a darned fine job.
UPDATED: With the results from the Monday Night game.