NFL week 8: Winners and Losers

We are now staring down at the half-way point of the season. I’d like to talk about a couple of teams that are going in the right direction and a couple that seem to be going in the opposite direction.

As a Dallas Cowboys fan, I’m genetically predisposed to hating the Pittsburgh Steelers. It is ingrained in me. It doesn’t take long for me to close my eyes and see Terry Bradshaw throwing a rainbow to Lynn Swann. I’m getting nauseated thinking about it. Yet, the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing fabulous football. Yes, Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t quite hit his stride. He seems to have problems with fumbles right now but I think that’s going to work out. He’s getting better. It is the defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers that is really showing up and playing well. Both their offensive and defensive lines are dominating. To me, they are the best team in the NFL right now. The New England Patriots and the New York Jets are probably in second and third place. (Maybe the Jets are playing a little the better on both sides of the ball than the Patriots.) Mark Sanchez has played very well. He’s taking care the football. The offensive line is opening holes and the surprise of the season is LaDainian Tomlinson. He is 92 carries for just under 500 yards, averaging 5.3 yards a carry. He looks like he did five years ago. He’s been a huge difference maker. The secondary for the New York Jets is somewhat suspect. They are the weak spot. Teams need to take advantage of it now because I believe they’ll improve as the season goes on. The New England Patriots somehow got better after trading Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings (ironically, the Minnesota Vikings did not get any better and may have gotten worse after getting Randy Moss). The Patriots’ defense just makes enough plays. Tom Brady has made enough plays on offense to keep things moving. In my opinion, these are the three best teams in the league. Honorable mention goes to the New York Giants and the Kansas City Chiefs. I just can’t give an honorable mention to the Baltimore Ravens after they gave up 1,000,000 yards last week.

At the bottom of the pile are the San Francisco 49ers, the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Carolina Panthers at least have a decent defense. They are stopping people. It is their offense that is abysmal. The San Francisco 49ers have to figure out what they’re doing. They seem to play almost well enough. They seemed almost to have great talent. I think the Buffalo Bills are getting better week by week. They made the right decision to put Fitzpatrick in the game. Hopefully, he’ll stay healthy and start the rest of the season. I have no idea what’s going on with Jacksonville. They’ve had problems, with and without David Garrard. Their offensive line cannot protect, which makes throwing the ball somewhat difficult. Three years ago, Jacksonville had a great defense. In the interim, they lost several veterans, both from their defensive line and their linebacker corps. Unfortunately, they have not replaced those veterans with quality players. The Jacksonville defense is giving up over 125 yards per game on the ground. You simply can’t win like that. Honorable mention for the league’s worst must go to: the St. Louis Rams, the Detroit Lions and possibly the Oakland Raiders.

So, who are your winners and losers?