The Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints are still unbeaten and both teams have perfectly executed their mission so far this season, as their playoff hopes are all but locked for the year. Both teams are sitting at 8-0 heading into week 10 with completely different teams threatening their perfect seasons. For the Saints they face a St. Louis Rams team that on paper doesn't look to put their record in any real danger. However, the Colts aren't as lucky as they face off with their AFC rival the New England Patriots, that can not only hand them their first loss but is a team who is also clearing a path of their own this season. For the rest however, it will be another week of November football and some interesting matchups.
Who's Number 1: Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)
Last week the Bengals swept the Baltimore Ravens in the division series, which not many people saw coming. Then again, the Ravens haven't really looked like the Ravens team that started out 3-0 on the year. This week the Bengals will be tested once again when they face the Steelers who are riding a five game win streak in a battle for number one in the AFC North. Both the Steelers and Bengals are playing great run defense holding the number one (Steelers) and two (Bengals) spots in the league.
So the spotlight in this game will be placed on the quarterbacks. Ben Roethlisberger, has been great in the last four games with nine touchdowns and only three interceptions with a QB rating of 111.2. Carson Palmer is putting together some impressive wins as well, but he'll need to have a better day against the Steelers defense than he did in week 3 despite their win. Palmer was 20 of 37 for 187 yards a touchdown.
Identity Crisis: Philadelphia Eagles (5-3) @ San Diego Chargers (5-3)
With the win against the New York Giants in week 9 in the final seconds of the game, the Chargers are once again setting themselves up for their yearly mid-season push for the division title. With the Denver Broncos having lost two consecutive games to AFC north opponents, and may have very well reached their plateau on the year, the Chargers are poised to overtake them for the lead. For the Chargers it's much of the same from a team that shouldn't be in danger of coming in second in the AFC west they'll look to orchestrate back to back wins against NFC east teams on Sunday.
The Eagles are in a similar position with the win-lose streak they're on this season. Since losing to the Raiders in week 7, they've beaten the Giants in week 8, only to lose last week to the Cowboys falling to second in the division. Still in the drivers seat of their season however, they'll need to establish some consistency if they want to be a serious contender in the wild card push. And one still has to wonder just when, if ever they'll utilize Michael Vick impatiently waiting in the wings, ready to restore order for the Eagles if needed.
Role Reversal: New England Patriots (6-2) @ Indianapolis Colts (8-0)
The NFL is a funny place as things can swing from big success for a team to disappointing failure one season to the next. The Patriots are used to big success, but last season they had a disappointing blow, losing quarterback Tom Brady to a season ending knee injury. This season the Patriots look to resume their dominance of the AFC over the past decade with another successful season. Standing in their way is an overachieving Indianapolis Colts team, who are also used to greatness, but this season seem to have the edge over New England in AFC supremacy. At 8-0 it'll be New England's turn to play spoiler and bring down the AFC's new "Goliath", the Indianapolis Colts.
In the last three games the Patriots have outscored their opponents 121-24, which started with a rout against the Titans 59-0 in week 7. The Colts have taken blows to their defense losing safety Bob Sanders and cornerback Marlin Jackson for the season to injuries. But Manning is still Manning so it'll be another classic matchup of Tom vs. Peyton.
Creating Separation: Dallas Cowboys (6-2) @ Green Bay Packers (4-4)
The Cowboys are in position to create separation in the NFC east this week with a win over the Packers. Currently, they sit atop the division and a win over a hapless Green Bay team would prove beneficial to them on their quest for their first division title since the 2007 season. Quarterback Tony Romo and the Cowboys defense are playing as good as it gets and another win would make it their fifth in a row.
On the other hand the Packers are coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road, capping an up and down season where at times they've looked legitimate and others completely inept. Quarterback Aaron Rogers needs to find better chemistry with his receiving corp. and the defense needs more consistency.
Games of Interest
There's nothing compelling at first glance at either of these matchups, but looking deeper there is something to be said for the teams involved so let's take a look.
Redemption: Denver Broncos (6-2) vs. Washington Redskins (2-6)
The Redskins have lost four consecutive games and are averaging 14 points a game. So far this season they haven't scored 20 or more points in a single game and have a total of 113 points on the season. What's perplexing about the Skins however, is their ability to be better but their failure to do so. With players like running backs Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts and wide receiver Santana Moss all capable of turning things around at any moment, I'm looking for the Redskins to return from their bye week with something to prove.
They'll face a Denver Broncos' team that has lost two straight games and are looking to get back to their winning ways. On Monday night I witnessed the complete collapse of a team in the second half that had all but dominated the Steelers during the first half. The Broncos were completely incapable of readjusting to the Steelers approach for the second half. If the Broncos are unable to get back on track, the questions will begin of how legitimate they were in the first place when they leaped out to their 6-0 record.
Vince Young is Perfect: Tennessee Titans (2-6) vs. Buffalo Bills (3-5)
Two games after debuting as the starter for the Titans "the sequel", Vince Young is 2-0 and has this team rallying around its new leader. The Titans started the year off at 0-6 after going 13-3 a season ago, which created the sudden urgency to replace Collins with Young from ownership. So what happened? We know Vince Young isn't that good, but he does seem to be the spark the team needed and has helped right the shit for the time being. But what everyone wants to know is how long will it last? And can Young continue with his successful campaign for saving the Titans. For now it's exciting seeing the franchise back in action willing his team back from the dead.
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