Week 8 of the 2012 NFL Season is upon us. Half way through the season and it looks as though we can already eliminate a few teams from playoff contention (Carolina, Cleveland, Jacksonville, K.C., Detroit, Tampa) unless they can somehow pull off a miracle mid-season. There are a number of teams that I would classify as “middle of the pack” teams (Philly, Washington, Dallas, St. Louis, Miami, NY Jets, Pitt, Cincy, San Diego, Indy, Tenn., Buffalo), that with a few adjustments at this point in the season could result in a huge push towards the post season. Many of these teams had a chance to win two or more of the games that they ultimately lost in the final minute of those contest. And now we get to the 11 teams with winning records at this point, 8 of which are from the much more competetive NFC (NY Giants, Chicago, Minnesota, Green Bay, Atlanta, San Francisco, Arizona, Seattle). The AFC (Baltimore, Houston, New England) has produced far less elite teams, although there seems to be more parody amongst teams.
This past weeks games produced a number of close games that were decided with the final play. A few outstanding indivudal performances, and more meltdowns by the usaul suspects. Another thing that was confirmed was the return of Adrian Peterson. AD racked up 153 yards and a TD on the ground while helping the Vikings improve to 5-2 in their win over the Cardinals and their better than average defense. He showed no signs of weakness and ran strong through out the game.
The Green Bay Packers continue to shake off the rust and let Aaron Rodgers air it out and lead them as he always has. And it looks as though he has found another young target to go with an already stellar group of wide receivers in Reggie Cobb. Over the last 4 games, Rodgers has thrown 16 touchdowns to bring him to a total of 19 in the first 7 games of the season. The Packer defense is still a liability and now they are even more vulnirable with the loss of Charles Woodson due to a broken collarbone.
The Steelers and Patriots both escaped the weekend with narrow victories against their division rivals, the Bengals and Jets respectively. Both Pitt and NE have struggled with their identites this season. Neither team looks like the dominant teams that we are used to seeing year in and year out. Pitt is still hurting from several team injuries on defense and the offensive line. Sunday night they displayed an aggresive rushing attack led by Jonathan Dwyer. With Rashard Mendehall finally healthy, the Steelers should look to become more balanced on the offensive side of the ball and allow Big Ben to throw the ball deep to speedy receivers Wallace, Brown and company. The Patriots on the other hand continue to struggle closing games against teams that they cleary should be considered superior against. The Jets nearly pulled off the upset by coming back and taking the lead late and required NE to make a FG at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime.
The Chicago Bears are another team that is performing at a high level and improved to 5-1 with a win Monday night against the Detroit Lions. The Bears defense has been playing lights out the entire season allowing only 13 points per game and 21 takeaways so far. The Lions have not lived up to the hype and expectations placed on the team from their success of a season ago. Megatron has only 1 touchdown after 6 games and they are nowhere near close to having anything resembling a running game. The Lions are as good as dead in the playoff race playing in a division that is so competetive.
Now to swicth gears for a second and talk about the constant scrutany and criticism of Cam Newton. Some of which are valid, but for the most part are unwarranted jabs. Yes he was the #1 overall pick in the 2011 Draft. Yes, he celebrates nearly every positive play with his Superman pose. And yes, he was a Heisman Trophy winner and National Champion in College. But what he also is, is a 22 year old second year Quarterback in the NFL. He’s a young man that has gone through 5 Offensive Coordinators in 5 years. He is kid that before last year only knew success when he stepped on to a football field. But if one is to criticise Cam the way they do, why not do the same for the likes of Matt Stafford. Both players were #1 picks, both players had great seasons last year, and both have teams with losing records this year. Cam has a backfield that includes Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams yet he is the teams leading rusher. Whose fault is that? The person calling the plays. Stafford has a 8 foot receiver and hasn’t found him in the end zone. Cam’s numbers 1,387 yrd, 5 TD’s, 6 INT’s, 79.3 QB Rating. Stafford’s 1,759 yrds, 5 TD’s, 6 INT’s, 78.4 QB Rating.
To end on a brighter note, RGIII displayed another fantastic performance against the Defending Champs, throwing for 258 and 2 TD’s while running for another 82 yards. Despite turning the ball over in the second half, the Redskins were not out of the game thanks to 3 late fourth down conversions, but none better than the 4th and 10 conversion that came on the Skins final scoring drive in which RGIII scrambled to the left, stopped on a dime, made a move and completed the pass to Logan Paulsen. Later in the drive he made a read before the snap and exploited the matchup against Santana Moss and completed a 36 yard bomb for the touchdown with a little over 1:40 left on the clock. It’s over, right? Nah. That’s when it’s Eli Manning time. I’ve truly become a beleiver in Eli over the past few seasons, and this game stamped it for me. With a pocket full of time outs, Eli trick bagged the Skins into beleiving that they would just settle for quick plays to get small chunks of yards to move into field goal possesion. Nope. Second play of the drive, he goes up top to Victor Salsa for the go ahead score to torch the Skins pedestrian secondary. Game. Oh yeah, CHRIS COOLEY BACK!!!
Before I give my predictions for this week, I just need to remind you that I went 12-0 with my picks last week. Don’t expect those results all the time though. But yeah:
Bucs over Vikings
Bears over Panthers
Chargers over Browns
Lions over Seahawks
Packers over Jaguars
Titans over Colts
Patriots over Rams
Dolphins over Jets
Falcons over Eagles
Redskins over Steelers
Raiders over Cheifs
Giants over Cowboys
Broncos over Saints
49ers over Cardinals
Til next week,