Despite the Buffalo Bills still failing to win a single game yet (though they came close this Sunday), the National Football League is full of teams this year that are competing from whistle to whistle and leaving it all on the field. There are no undefeated teams at the halfway point of the season and a sense of balance like no other season in recent memory. No typically troubled team can truly be counted out to win on any given Sunday this year.
For example, the Super Bowl champions from last year (The New Orleans Saints in case you forgot) went down hard against the Cleveland Browns in week 7 by a score of 30-17. Teams that have typically under-performed are starting to turn around their seasons in some respects. The Detroit Lions won their week 8 match-up with the Washington Redskins with Donovan McNabb riding the bench at the end of the game for the Skins. The Oakland Raiders took their upset to extremes, defeating the division-leading Seattle Seahawks by a score of 33-3 in week 8. The San Francisco 49ers made it a triple upset Sunday by smoking the Denver Broncos in London by a score of 24-16 in week 8.
Meanwhile teams many fans and experts expected to do much better this year are falling apart. The Dallas Cowboys are just 1-6, and so are the Carolina Panthers. Not many football analysts would have predicted the New Orleans Saints to be going into week 8 of this season trailing in their division behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons, but that's what's going on.
The league is getting stronger and the teams are becoming more evenly balanced. Even the best teams aren't immune to having real bad days at the office lately. This Sunday the Jets were one of the best teams in the league coming into their game with the Green Bay Packers. 60 minutes of playing time and three field goals later, the Packers celebrated a shutout win and the New England Patriots were given a chance to take over the AFC East with a win in their afternoon game against the Minnesota Vikings. The 28-18 victory over the Vikings sealed their spot as the NFL's team to beat.
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It's hard to believe the New England Patriots are now the ones who can say they have the best record in the NFL. This once near perfect squad has been shaky nearly all year, and few of their wins have been pretty. Their one loss is to the now second-place New York Jets, who currently also own the second best record in the league (5-2) along with the Ravens, Steelers, Chiefs, Giants, Falcons, and Buccaneers.
One of the most competitive divisions will be showcased on the Monday night game for week 8 as the Houston Texans take on the Indianapolis Colts with both teams coming in at 4-2. Whoever wins that match-up can also claim the second best record in the league and the top slot in the AFC south. There's no team without at least 4 wins in that division.
If the rest of this season continues to be so thrilling and full of close games and wild upsets, it could go down as one of the most competitive seasons in the history of the NFL.