Another week in the NFL season is down. Two of the top four teams in the league lost last weekend, a winless team beat the same team that put up 62 points last weekend and a rookie has more passing yards than Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
Just another week in the NFL, right? Here's what you missed on Sunday, Week 8 of the 2011 NFL season:
Shakeup in our power rankings is coming. Last week our power rankings had the Packers ranked No. 1 and the Steelers ranked No. 5. After a loss by No. 2 (Patriots) and No. 3 (Saints), we might be looking at a scenario where the top two teams in the league are last year's Super Bowl teams -- Packers and Steelers. Pittsburgh had a major victory over New England last week moving to 6-2 on the season and showing just how dominant that defense can be. The Packers are clearly the best team in the NFC but the AFC doesn't have a clear front-runner. Pittsburgh made the case that they should be that team.
Two winless teams remain (a/k/a The Suck For Luck Race). The Colts and Dolphins are the two lucky (or not) teams remaining. The Rams somehow, someway beat the Saints over the weekend putting their first W on the board. The Colts have a shot at getting on the board in Week 9 and 10 when they host the Jaguars and Panthers. If they don't get a win there, you have to start seriously considering whether they win a game this year. The Dolphins, meanwhile, don't really have any easy games remaining. Even the Redskins are a solid team at 3-4 so Miami has to be at least concerned of repeating their 1-15 season from a few years back.
Easy winner for upset of the week. Rams over Saints, easily the biggest upset of the week. The Rams looked putrid last week against the Cowboys, winless in six tries and yet comes out and drops 31 points on the team that scored 62 the week before. This is exactly why the NFL is great -- you truly don't know what will happen from week to week.
The Tim Tebow era started...is it close to ending? Last week Tebow looked horrible for 55 minutes and fantastic for five minutes leading the Broncos to an improbable 15-point comeback in Miami. This week Tebow started out horrible again -- and continued playing horrible. The Broncos were stomped 45-10 and, to make matters worse, someone did the Tebow after sacking Tebow. Broncos coach John Fox didn't commit to a starter after the game which makes you wonder if we'll go from the Orton era to the Tebow era to the...Brady Quinn era.
Ravens escape disastrous start. Last week the Ravens didn't look like the Ravens in losing to the Jaguars on Monday Night Football. They started the same way in Arizona getting down 24-6 in the first half -- at home. They were booed off the field at halftime and things started unraveling, or so it seemed. Baltimore came back and scored 24 second half points, holding the Cardinals to just three, and won the game, 30-27. Anquan Boldin looked terrific catching seven balls for 145 yards while Ray Rice had 25 touches. With the Steelers starting to play like the Steelers, Baltimore couldn't afford another miscue.
It's time to start taking the Bills seriously. I admit it. I was one of those folks that thought the Bills had a nice start but there's no way it lasts. Seven games into the season, they have five wins and sit atop the AFC East. It's time to start taking Buffalo seriously at 5-2. Chan Gailey is one of the most creative offensive minds in the game and he has the Bills beating legitimate teams like the Raiders, Chiefs, Patriots and Eagles. The Bills are for real. Speaking of teams that are for real...
We also need to start taking the Bengals seriously. They're 5-2 and have one of the best defenses in the game. I don't care that Andy Dalton isn't as superstar right now. He's doing enough for Cincy to win. I'm not saying they're playoff bound but I am saying that this is a team that will certainly be a factor down the stretch. Suddenly, games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore in Week 10 and 11 mean something.
Rob Ryan looks silly now. Jets coach Rex Ryan has put his foot in his mouth a few times and now his brother has done the same. Prior to the Cowboys-Eagles Sunday Night Football game, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan made some comments in the press about the Eagles being the "All-hype team" instead of the dream team. That didn't sit well in Philly as the Eagles embarrassed the Cowboys, 34-7, on Sunday night. Michael Vick looked like the 2010 version of Michael Vick and torched the Cowboys defense. He says the Eagles were "out-coached, out-everything" against the 'Boys. Speaking of the NFC East...
The Giants are pulling away in the NFC East. At 5-2, they hold a two-game lead over everyone at the halfway point with three teams -- Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins -- holding down second place at 3-4. Other than the 49ers in the NFC West, no other team is leading their division by two-plus games. That said, I'm not even sure they're the best team in the division. The entire NFC East is so average this year.
The 49ers can start the NFC West title celebration. San Francisco, 6-1, holds an incredible four-game lead in the division just eight weeks into the season. This is the most drama-free division race I remember seeing in a long, long time.
Cam Newton is second in the NFL in passing yards. Yes, really. His team's not winning, but they will. It's ironic that the first year we see the rookie wage scale comes in a year when the top pick might've been worth $50 million guaranteed.
Calvin Johnson just off pace to beat Randy Moss's touchdown record. Moss set an NFL record with 23 touchdown receptions in one season and Johnson, with 11 through eight games, is just off that pace. Speaking of breaking NFL records...
Two guys are on pace to top the sack record this season. DeMarcus Ware has 12 sacks and Jared Allen has 12.5 as we near the halfway point. The regular season record is 22.5 by Michael Strahan, so receiving touchdowns won't be the only single-season record that we track this year.
The biggest news off the field this weekend is Bill Cowher. He announced on CBS on Sunday that no one from the Dolphins had contacted him (as it had been reported) and that he doesn't plan on coaching next year. It's worth noting that he said "plan" and not something more definitive but it sure sounds like the Chin will be in the booth next year at CBS and not on the sidelines.
Chris Johnson continues being average. The Titans beat the Colts but Johnson once again had such an average day -- 14 attempts for 34 yards. On the season, he has 107 attempts for 302 yards, which is about 2.8 yards per carry. Rashard Mendenhall has 119 more yards on the same number of carries (and he's not even at four yards per carry). Johnson had a huge payday before the season. Mistake?
Schedule watching. Looking at the Week 9 schedule, we have some pretty big games coming up. The Bills host the Jets in the AFC East, Tampa heads to New Orleans and the Steelers host the Ravens. Those games will go a long way to determining how the NFL playoff pictures looks.
A word about Monday Night Football. My Chiefs are hosting the Chargers tonight for what is now a huge AFC West matchup. The Chiefs, losers of their first three games including a 89-10 margin of loss in the first two, are four point 'dogs at Arrowhead on Monday Night. If KC wins this game, there will be a three-way tie in the division between 4-3 teams for the first time since 1989. If it's anything like last year's season opener on Monday night at Arrowhead, it'll be a game worth watching.