The AFC has become just as complicated as the NFC has been for years when attempting to shape the playoff picture. The Denver Broncos jumped out early with a six game win streak, but in the past three weeks they've been a shell of their former selves, dropping three consecutive games and are now in danger of losing their lead in the AFC West. The Baltimore Ravens have also fallen to a dismal 5-4 start after a promising early start in the month of September going 3-1. Even more surprising are the Tennessee Titans who after starting the season 0-6 have gone on to winning three games since starting quarterback Vince Young and running back Chris Johnson's stellar season. Heading into week 11 there will be division lead changes and some interesting matchups.
Stover's Revenge: Indianapolis Colts (9-0) @ Baltimore Ravens (5-4)
There's so much you can pull from this game and I know reducing it to a kicker's revenge might be cheap to some, but this isn't just any kicker controversy. You'd be hard pressed denying the glaring deficiency the Ravens kicking game has suffered since moving forward without former Ravens kicked Matt Stover. As an Indianapolis Colt Stover, has been nearly perfect playing in place of the injured Adam Vinetari. We all know this game will come down to the whether or not the Ravens can in any way threaten the Colts perfect record. Considering the defense they've been fielding lately, it may however prove highly unlikely. This is one of those games that go one of two ways. (1) The Colts completely dominate and embarrass the Ravens or (2) the Ravens actually give Manning and company a game with a punishing defense and some trumped up swagger, challenging that vaunted offense run.
With new kicker Billy Cindiff replacing Hauschka and Terrell Suggs sidelined with a knee sprain this game could prove disastrous for the Ravens.
Playing for Position: Atlanta Falcons (5-4) @ New York Giants (5-4)
I'm not going to mince words here. The New York Giants either win on Sunday or their season is OVER. It's just that simple. They're coming off of their bye week, where in week 10 both the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles lost balancing out the division and making things a little easier for them to overcome their four game skid. The Giants currently are on the outside looking in, behind the Eagles and Packers if the playoffs began today. But since they do not, they still control their own destiny and it begins with a win against the Falcons.
For Atlanta they've had an up and down season with Matt Ryan dealing with a similar second year let down as Flacco is in Baltimore, leaving the team to rely heavily on Michael Turner and the running game. They however, are still a good offensive team that poses a huge mismatch for the Giants' struggling secondary, and if Ryan can get the ball to Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, the Gmen may be staring at their fifth straight loss.
The Wild Wild "AFC" West: San Diego Chargers (6-3) @ Denver Broncos (6-3)
In the blink of an eye the Denver Broncos have all but erased their impressive start to the season. With three losses in consecutive weeks this game will determine who walks away with the lead in the AFC West, and if the Broncos' recent play is any indication I'd say they have an uphill battle.
This division always comes down to the Chargers finally waking up and playing to their potential and week 9 against the Giants marked their yearly wake up call as they haven't looked back since, beating the Eagles in week 10 in impressive fashion. What this game will come down to is the play from both quarterbacks where Philip Rivers has the clear edge. But the Broncos can win games and if they play with the same fire as their head coach they could shock the Chargers and pull one out and catch their season from slipping away from them.
The Stuper Bowl: Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) @ Chicago Bears (4-5)
In Chicago, Bears' fans are stunned. Actually I think many football fans are pretty shocked. Through eleven weeks of football, quarterback Jay Cutler has been absolutely horrendous. Cutler has thrown 17 interceptions and only 14 touchdowns. For the Bears he has all but put the nail in the coffin for head coach Lovie Smith, unless he can figure out a way to salvage this season and get this team back on track. Cutler has three games in when he's thrown three or more picks.
In Philadelphia, it seems the Eagles just can't seem to get things right. Quarterback Donovan McNabb has been back for a solid month after injuring his rib and they're 2-2 as a result. Running back Brian Westbrook is having his worst season of injuries, already having missed four games and is in danger of missing more as a result of a concussion he suffered in week 9. The burning question in Philadelphia seems to be, after having lost two in a row when they'll start to seriously look at how to incorporate Michael Vick into this offense and possibly give it a spark to help win some games.
Remember the Titans: Tennessee Titans (3-6) @ Houston Texans (5-4)
In case you haven't been paying attention, quarterback Vince Young is 3-0 as the starter in Tennessee. Running back Chris Johnson already has over 1,000 yards rushing and doesn't look to be slowing down. Young has 507 yards two touchdowns and two interceptions in three games. Numbers that aren't overly impressive and could stand to improve but he's winning and this team looks like the team everyone expected them to be before the season began. While Young hasn't done anything special yet, he should be applauded for returning and finding success after a rocky 2008 season, where he lost his starting job and faced questions about his mental strength. This Monday night match up with them against the Texans will put two teams together with something to prove.
For the Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and his receiver Andre Johnson couldn't be playing better football. Johnson is well on his way to a 1,000 yard season with 4 touchdowns and Schaub is having a career year with over 2,500 passing yards, seventeen touchdowns and seven interceptions. With numbers like this you wonder how they're in third place in the AFC South, but I believe other teams are aware of what the Texans are capable of doing on the field with their QB/WR tandem. The Titans defense will have to find a solution to slow these down and the Texans defense has to stop Chris Johnson.
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