These are telling times in the NFL.
By Week 8 the 2010 season has reached the half-way point and nearly every game is telling, for one reason or another.
The Jets, Steelers and Patriots all solidify their status as AFC frontrunners with a weekend win, while NFC favorites, the Falcons and Giants rest-up in a bye week.
Packers, Texans, Titans, Dolphins and Colts earn serious-contender status with a win over their valued opponent. Chiefs and Seahawks inch closer if they don’t look past Week 8. A loss exposes them as pretenders (Denver 2009), not quite ready for prime-time.
While some franchises seem to be on cruise-control (Raiders / Bills / Jags / 49ers / Cards / Panthers), others are re-building in earnest (Rams / Lions / Buccaneers / Broncos). For them, a win this weekend means there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The future looks brightest for the Rams who are situated well with Bradford under center. He’s looking like the real deal.
Though injuries have taken their toll on the Cowboys and Vikes, the other mystery teams (Saints / Bengals / Chargers) can jump-start their seasons with big-game wins on Sunday.
And it’s not just players who start showing their true colors this time of year. By late fall, the pre-season strategizing and roster moves made by top-brass and coaching staffs are either showing results or providing owners reason to show them the door come February.
Miami v. Cincinnati: Another road win over a talented opponent (Vikings / Packers) and these Dolphins can play with anyone, anywhere. But Carson Palmer is still the man. He and his teammates only need to tune-out the carping press. Bengals win by a touchdown.
Buffalo v. Kansas City: Bills showed chutzpah last week, almost pulling off the upset at Baltimore. Besting an 0-6 team at home won‘t exactly be a defining moment in the Chiefs’ season but then playoff teams are suppose to win these games.
Green Bay v. New York Jets: Packers are lucky to be 4-3. They’ll have to earn number five. Problem for GB: Sanchez is playing within his abilities and his coach’s system this season. Only Peyton Manning matriculates as well as Rodgers. If the Pack can rush for 100, protect their flash QB and rattle Sanchez, they might pull it off. Not bloody likely.
Tennessee v. San Diego: If Jon Kitna is the best back-up in the NFL (Trent Dilfer), Mr. Collins is runner-up. The skills are lesser but Kerry still has game. Titans need more from RB Chris Johnson who’s off his tremendous yardage pace of 2009. Chargers get a boost this weekend with a win at home, even if banged-up Vince Young takes the field.
Minnesota v. New England: Lots o’ storylines for this match-up: Brett Favre’s health and the streak; Randy Moss’ return; Roger Goodell’s looming decision; the new Patriots. Whether Brett Favre plays or sits this Sunday, two points are clear: 1) No. 4 has returned to his old habit of pressing, trying to make every play; 2) no hobbled QB can last the entire NFL season and lead his team to the Super Bowl. If the Vikings want back in the mix (the NFC is wide open) they’re gonna’ need a healthier Favre. He needs to sit this one out and trust in his talented teammates. Tarvaris Jackson knows the system and gives the Vikes their best chance to win at Gillette Stadium.
Pittsburgh v. New Orleans: If Reggie Bush had not made an early 2010 exit, this would’ve been a favored Super Bowl preview. But this Sunday Drew Brees and the Saints find synergy and send a message to an AFC elite: there’s still some life in the NFC.
Keys to Sport
About the Author
Written by Steven Keys
A native of the old Northwest Territory (IL), my wife and I have lived in four Midwestern states and Arizona. Today we live in Duluth, Georgia. I have a history / legal background.