This has been intriguing me since I figured it out when looking at game stats on the NFL Network this past Sunday. I believe it was the first time in NFL history in the Bears-Lions game when both starting QB's last names started with an "O" (Orton, Orlovsky). Pretty sharp of me, eh?
The Titans are now 8-0, and if you didn't think they were for real a few weeks ago, you'd better wake up. They're looking like a purple team about eight years ago that played great defense, ran the ball real good and passed good enough. They might not be flashy, but neither were we. The even better news is that this year's Ravens is beginning to give me the same feeling. Remember, offense wins highlights, defense wins championships!
As I said in comments on one of the FanShots, the Redskins found out what good, hard hitting defense actually feels like. The NFC East may be highly overrated. Yeah, Dallas may be America's Team, but lately they've been their opponents' bitches! Teams that have to face the AFC North's top two teams (Pittsburgh, Baltimore) are finding out what a huge difference it is to have to go up against the top two defenses in the league. Both teams are worlds above the others in how hard we hit and how solid our defenses are, especially against the run. They can't practice for it, and their other games are no comparison for the pain we bring.
The Raiders may have to take the mantle as the NFL's worst team from the Lions, even though they've actually won a couple of games. Detroit may be winless, but they stay in some of their games lately, while the Raiders have sunk to new lows with their shutout loss at home to the Falcons. Atlanta is greatly improved and most likely, due to his higher profile and draft status, Matt Ryan is on his way to the NFL Rookie-of-the-Year. The Ravens Joe Flacco is giving him a run for his money, but our defense will overshadow Flacco and if the Falcons continue to do well, Ryan will certainly have the edge.
The Miami Dolphins continue to confuse me. They go out and take down the Bills and Broncos in successive weeks after laying an egg to the Ravens. Perhaps our defense is actually as good as they say. I was in Miami and the media, fans and players all said how overwhelming our "D" was. Speaking of the Broncos, wow, the winner of that division may actually take the crown with a 8-8 record. Take a look at the standings and see Denver on top, playing .500 ball and horrible defense. The Chargers haven't shown me any indication that they are going to get significantly better, and the Chiefs and Raiders, well, nevermind.
Personally, I still can't imagine a playoff scenerio without the Indianapolis Colts in the mix. Yeah, they're just 4-4, but something tells me they'll get healthy and find a way to make it in. However, it will have to be as a Wild Card, as they are just a speck in the Titans rear view mirror. Surprisingly, Jacksonville may be one of the NFL's biggest disappointments with their 3-5 record. The Ravens go to Houston next week and while they are tied for the division basement, they play much better at home (3-1) than they do on the road (0-4) and even with QB Matt Schaub IR'd, I'm still concerned about Sage Rosenfels throwing to Andre Johnson, who may be the best receiver in the league right now.
I still see the NY Giants as the top team in the league, and, please don't slam me, the Steelers are next on my list of power rankings. The league has more parity this season than any I can remember. There are so many good teams, but few great teams. In the past we always had the Pats and Colts way up there, followed by the other better teams. But now, each Sunday there are more upsets and beat downs than ever before. That's what's so good about the salary cap (or bad, if you don't like this parity thing).
Over in the NFC South, there are four decent teams, with Carolina looking the best. However, Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Atlanta will all beat up on each other as they all might finish at .500 or better. On the other hand the NFC West will struggle to have a team that finishes above .500 this season. What is it with the league's west coast teams that makes it so hard to come east and win on a regular basis? Both the AFC West and NFC West are their respective conferences sorriest from top to bottom.
The Bear, Vikings and Packers will continue to beat up on each other, and on the Detroit Lions as well. Sooner than later, the Lions will pull one out and screw up a perfect season. Perhaps they'll even take another receiver with the first pick in the NFL draft next April (Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree?)! The Bears are back to Rex Grossman at QB and while Kyle Orton was doing pretty decent, their defense is not anywhere close to the Monsters of Midway of the past. If you ask me, Brian Uhrlacher never could have carried Ray Lewis' jock, even during his better days. Aaron Rodgers was rewarded with a contract extension in Green Bay and will finish the season looking like an upgrade over Brett Favre, who looks to be returning more to 2006's form than 2007's.
That's my take on what's hot topics around the NFL. Post your comments on my opinions and add yours below. Thanks!