Several bitter division battles are shaping up through four weeks of play in the NFL.
Four weeks into the season, the NFL standings are still packed tightly at the top of several divisions. Only two teams remain undefeated. Four teams continue looking for their first win, including the Colts who play the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football tonight. Here's how things stand in the NFL.
The Buffalo Bills failed to give themselves a one-game lead in the AFC East race yesterday. Buffalo lost on the road to Cincinnati in one of the smallest crowds ever seen at Paul Brown Stadium. At the same time, New England won in Oakland to tie the Bills at the top the division. The Jets, who have now lost two in a row, are one game behind, and have a big game against New England next week. Miami is a sad looking 0-4, with no hope in sight.
Baltimore leads the AFC North at 3-1, coming off a defensively fueled win over the Jets last night. With Pittsburgh (2-2) ailing, the Ravens might have a strangle hold on the division title. The Ravens have a bye next week.
The AFC South belongs to the Colts and Peyton Manning in any normal year, but with Manning sidelined and the Colts winless, this is hardly a normal year. Houston got tough with the visiting Steelers yesterday and came up with a big win. Now at 3-1, Gary Kubiak's team is tied with the Tennessee Titans for the division lead. Tennessee beat Cleveland yesterday, and travels to Pittsburgh next week. Houston host the Oakland Raiders.
Philip Rivers threw for more than 300 yards yesterday as the Chargers had little trouble with the Dolphins. San Diego - or is it Los Angeles? - owns a one-game lead over the Raiders for the AFC West. Kansas City picked up their first win over the winless Vikings this week, while Denver gave up 49 points to the Packers.
In the NFC there are the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers with unblemished records and offenses that can explode for 30 or more points any week of the year. Detroit played the game of the week yesterday, beating Dallas with a fourth quarter comeback. Can the Packers and the Lions stay undefeated until their Thanksgiving showdown? Chicago started to put things back together yesterday with a win over the Panthers. Minnesota is all about rebuilding this season.
Neither win was a pretty one, but the Washington Redskins and New York Giants both beat NFC West opponents yesterday to stay tied at 3-1 on top of the NFC East. Tony Romo went back to being a lightening rod, throwing two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns in the Cowboys' loss to the Lions this week. The biggest story in this division is the nightmare that was supposed to be the "Dream Team" in Philadelphia. The Eagles lost at home to the 49ers, and they travel to Buffalo next week. New York continues their tour of the NFC West, hosting the Seahawks, and getting the chance to get a lead on Washington who has a bye.
New Orleans handled the Jaguars on the road for a 3-1 record and the NFC South lead. Tampa Bay will try to continue what looks like a surprise season tonight as they host the Colts. After beating Atlanta last week, the Buccaneers could tie with the Saints for the division lead with a win tonight. Atlanta is hardly out of it with a win in Seattle yesterday. Cam Newton is keep things entertaining for the Panthers, but they just don't look like contenders. The division picture could look the same next week with New Orleans at Carolina, Tampa at San Francisco and Atlanta hosting the Packers in prime time.
Bet you didn't know that the NFC has a fourth division? They do, called the NFC West. The team that was supposed to walk away with this division, the St. Louis Rams, might be the worst team in the NFL. The Rams are winless, and scoring an average of 11.5 points per game. San Francisco leads the division with a 3-1 record. Arizona and Seattle are sandwiched between with one win each.