The rising of the week has to be inspired play of the New York Giants. The passing of beloved owner, Wellington Mara was not only a loss to the Giants, but to the league as well. He was one of the great owners that made the NFL what it is today and will be void that may never be filled. The Giants played in a manner representive of the way their departed owner lived….great. The Giants are showing the resiliency and competitiveness that make great teams. They have won games on defense. They have won games on the arm of Eli Manning. Now they have won a game from dominant running by Tiki Barber. With the struggles that persist in Philadelphia, they have become the team to beat in the NFC.
Looking ahead to this week we have a game that may represent the changing of the guards in the AFC when the undefeated Indianapolis Colts head to New England to face the Patriots in Foxboro were saying they have had little success in recent years is an understatement. This time it seems everything is on the Colts side. They have the dominant defense. They have the dominant run game. And all the questions about how good of a team they are; exist with New England. The Patriots left side of the line, which has to stop Dwight Freeney, is starting two rookies. The once dominant run defense in New England no longer is there. The stout secondary has given up more big plays than a Vegas sports book. All excuses are out the window for Peyton Manning. A win by Indy makes them the undisputed best team in football. A loss will put a 7-0 start against a weak schedule in question. The Colts should win, but you have to love the drama between these two teams. I love Monday nights.
1. Indianapolis Colts 7-0 (1): They have the best record in football, best defense in football and leading running back in football. Everything is on their side including a week off going into Foxboro.
2. Denver Broncos 6-2 (4): After building a 28-0 lead, they almost had another 2nd half melt down, but exploded in the 4th to put away the Eagles. The Broncos look like the real deal after knocking off both Super Bowl teams from a year ago.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers 5-2 (2): The Ravens game was more like we expected when this game was put on the schedule, a largely defensive battle. Roethlisberger and Bettis made the plays on the game winning drive to get the win.
4. NY Giants 5-2 (11): Whether the Giants got up for this game because of the passing of the passing of their beloved owner, Wellington Mara because they are just that good, it was impressive.
5. Atlanta Falcons 5-2 (3): The Falcons hopefully worked on their dreadful passing game over the bye week because they’ll need it to stay pace in the NFC that is more than just the Eagles now.
6. Cincinnati Bengals 5-2 (10): For a decade you couldn’t find a Bengals fan in a seat, now they are running on the field helping their team win games. Bengal fans should be excited; they look like a playoff team.
7. Carolina Panthers 5-2 (13): I thought the MVP should have gone to a certain WR in Philly last year. Steven Smith is assuring it goes to a WR this year. He is on pace for 114 receptions, 1822 yards and 18 TDs.
8. Seattle Seahawks 5-2 (7): A win at Arizona will give them a 2 game lead in the division with the 2nd place Rams coming to town the following week with a chance at putting the division away.
9. San Diego Chargers 4-4 (16): There are few must win games in October, this was one. Falling to 3-5 would have been a huge deficit to overcome playing in a tough AFC West and they came through.
10. Dallas Cowboys 5-3 (14): Parcells was cooling on injury prone Julius Jones already, Marion Barber III getting it done on the field certainly did help that.
11. Washington Redskins 4-3 (5): Ouch…….Skins fans can only hope that the Giants were on an emotional high after the loss of their owner. They’ll get a chance to stay in the NFC East race when the face an equally battered Eagles next week.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5-2 (6): I guess a 5-1 start was too good to be true for Tampa fans, but getting beat by a 49ers team that had it’s 4th string QB in is embarrassing. Could Brian Griese have meet this much despite not ever looking that great.
13. New England Patriots 4-3 (15): Teddy Bruschi came back after missing the first 7 weeks after an off season stroke and played in the majority of the snaps on defense and some special teams. That was inspiring, the Patriots play was not. But they found a way to win with big plays from the defense which has been sorely missing.
14. Philadelphia Eagles 4-3 (8): Andy Reid is a good coaching but he may be literally throwing away games. Donavan McNabb is hurt and Reid is doing nothing to ease his work load.
15. St. Louis Rams 4-4 (18): The Rams beat a good team with a backup QB by running the ball down the opponent’s throat. This would not have happened with Mike Martz making the play calls.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars 4-3 (9): A 4th quarter interception thrown by Leftwich gave the Rams a short field and a quick score for the lead. A missed field goal and a drive that came up short ruined a solid 3 quarters for the Jags.
17. Kansas City Chiefs 4-3 (12): The passing game finally got going, but to beat the Chargers you need to stop Antonio Gates. They’ll need the passing game as Holmes went down with a concussion and they have an important division game versus the Raiders this week.
18. Chicago Bears 4-3 (17): The battle for the NFC North lead was as ugly as we thought. The Bears prevailed after blowing a 10-3 lead with an interception return for a TD in overtime.
19. Oakland Raiders 3-4 (21): It was a good win for Raiders, but it seems that they are just a bit better than bad teams. They have the next 3 weeks to prove that wrong with games versus KC, Denver and Washington.
20. Miami Dolphins 3-4 (25): At 3-4 the Dolphins are still very much alive in the AFC East. The question will be if they can get the running game going every week.
21. Buffalo Bills 3-5 (19): Buffalo dominated the clock and the game behind Willis McGahee. They lost because they have a backup QB starting, and he made backup mistakes that cost them the game. They are still better off with Holcomb than with Losman
22. Baltimore Ravens 2-5 (29): Somehow the Ravens defense looked more like the Ravens defense without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. The running game still isn’t quit right, and Anthony Wright still made mistakes. But the lost a winnable game because of bad play calling in the final minute.
23. Detroit Lions 3-4 (20): Harrington wasn’t the answer and it doesn’t seem that Garcia is either. I feel bad for Lion fans because it looks like the rebuilding continues.
24. Cleveland Browns 2-4 (22): I believe that on the embarrassment scale, losing to the 2005 Texans is right below being picked last for kickball. That competitive 2-2 start seems a long way away.
25. Arizona Cardinals 2-5 (23): After a few inspiring weeks by Josh McCown, we now remember why the Cards went out and got Kurt Warner. They dodged a bullet with Anquan Boldin’s injury being just a bone bruise, but the Cards are again looking towards the future rather than the present.
26. New Orleans Saints 2-6 (26): The question isn’t whether the Saints will be in New Orleans in 2006, but if San Antonio will still want them? Aaron Brooks seems to keep getting worse.
27. Tennessee Titans 2-6 (27): To many mistakes, a young inexperienced defense and an offense that can’t put up enough points to overcome it.
28. NY Jets 2-5 (28): The good thing about a bye week for a bad team is that you can’t lose. They’ll get back on that skid with San Diego coming to town and road games against Denver and Carolina.
29. Green Bay Packers 1-6 (30): After 15 hall of fame seasons I though Brett Favre has done everything possible in the regular season. I was wrong; it was his first time throwing 5 picks in one game. But they still had a chance, and it was because of him
30. Minnesota Vikings 2-5 (24): One good thing came of this game, fantasy owners no longer have to contemplate playing Daunte Culpepper because he is gone for the year.
31. San Francisco 49ers 2-5 (31): After last week did anyone think they’d win again? But +3 in the turnover department will make even really bad teams win.
32. Houston Texans 1-6 (32): The Texans did something the Astros couldn’t do; win with the roof open in October. Relish it Houston fans and check the schedule because another could be a long time coming.