Take a look at the AFC standings.
We are just about midway point in the season no one is dominating the league. The Pittsburgh Steelers hold the AFC’s best record at 6-2, but they’ve been far from dominant. In fact in Week 1 they were the team that was dominated as the Baltimore Ravens crushed and exposed them 35-7. Pittsburgh has beaten the hapless Seattle Seahawks, narrowly escaped Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 3 with a 23-20 victory over the Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts, lost to the Houston Texans 17-10 in Week 4, beaten the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals and defenseless New England Patriots. All in all, the combined record of the teams they have beaten so far this year is 14-31, a winning percentage of .311, and that includes the first place Texans and Patriots.
Looking at the AFC South, the Colts are 0-8 in a Costanza type season where everything is backwards. It’s backwards because more often than not in recent years at this time of the year Indianapolis was 8-0. Remember when people used to suggest that without Peyton Manning the Colts wouldn’t be a playoff team? I’ve even heard pundits in the past suggest that Indy would be only a four or five win team without Manning, but I never heard anyone suggest that they might go winless.
The effect of Manning not playing this season has sent reverberations throughout the entire AFC landscape, not just the AFC South. There are now two playoff spots open to other teams that had the Colts name written on it year in and year out. Someone else will win the AFC South and neither if the two AFC Wild Card slots will have Indy’s name on it either.
Perhaps never before has a single player missing because of injury had such an effect on the entire league. For those who love parody, you now have it as there are no less than 11 AFC teams who have an opportunity to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. For those of you who feel that it’s best for a league to have a dominant team for everyone to shoot for, I suggest you start following the NFC as Aaron Rodgers (yes he’s a better QB than Brett Favre ever was) and the Green Bay Packers appear well positioned to defend their Championship Title.
Around the league in Week 8
- If the Philadelphia Eagles don’t turn the ball over, they are capable of a dominating type of performance like Sunday night every week. Their defense is coming together and If Michael Vick can remain healthy along with LeSean McCoy who has become one only a Fantasy stud but one of the best all around backs in the league, they are the only real threat to Green Bay in the NFC. As for the the Dallas Cowboys, they have to be the most talented 3-3 team in the NFL, and when it’s all said and done, they’ll probably be the most talented 8-8 team.
- For a game between two teams without playoff aspirations, the Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers certainly was worth the price of admission. Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s leading rusher, had 162-total yards scoring on a 9-yard run to tie the game at 21 late in the third quarter. He ran for 86 yards and had five catches for 76 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. Jared Allen, who entered the game leading the NFL in sacks, had a big game for the Vikings with five tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Cam Newton threw for a season high three TD passes but had two costly fumbles on blindside hits that led to a pair of Minnesota TDs in the first half. Christian Ponder was decent 18 for 28, 236-yards and 1 TD. After just half a season, Cam Newton has already proved that he is one of the league’s most exciting players. Kudos to the Panthers for going out on a limb and taking him with the #1 pick as they took a lot of heat at the time but it certainly looks like they did the right thing now.
- The Miami Dolphins actually had a chance to beat the NY Giants Sunday, but they just couldn’t deal with the Giants pass rush late in the game. I don’t know how to view the Giants at this point. My guy tells me that 5-2 is smoke and mirrors against poor competition and losing to Seattle at home is still prevalent in my mind, but then again, with a pass rush like they can generate with their down lineman, they have a shot against anyone. The fact that the Giants were outrushed 145-yards to only 58-yards of their own however can’t be a comforting thoughto Giants fans.
- The St. Louis Rams didn’t need Andrew Luck anyway right? They have a franchise guy in Sam Bradford….. Or A.J. Feeley. Wow, what the hell happened here? You don’t suppose there were a few people that lost a wager on this one. This one wasn’t as close as the score indicates as just about all of the Saints’ production came in mop-up time. This was a great sign for Spagnola and the Rams and they clearly showed that they are not conceding the season and are going to fight. As for the New Orleans Saints, a pretty disturbing performance for a team that was ranked here on our site as the second best team in the NFC coming into week 8.
- Two Curtis Painter INT’s and a blocked punt recovered in the endzone for a TD was more than enough for the Titans to beat the Colts and Indy never really threatened to win in this one. Peyton Manning did sign autographs for fans in the endzone during warm-ups though, so that’s good. The Titans took care of business winning a game they were supposed to win but on the offensive side they weren’t all that impressive. The Titans were actually outgained 399-yards to 311-yards on the day, that won’t cut it against a quality opponent.
- The Washington Redskins just had too many injuries on the offensive side of the ball to compete with Buffalo. John Beck isn’t any good, but Sammy Baugh wouldn’t be able to do anything with this surrounding cast. The Redskins have now lost three straight on the North American Continent (this one was played as the Buffalo Bills home game in Toronto) and Mike Shanahan was shutout for the first time as a Washington coach. A nice day for the newly minted Ryan Fitzpatrick (21 for 27 / 262-yards and 2 TDs). And after Scott Chandler’s two TD catches, everyone will be rushing to add him to their Fantasy rosters.
- Tim Tebow wasn’t able to will his way to a win this weekend. The Detroit Lions sacked him seven times and turned his two turnovers into TD’s snapping their two game losing streak. So far Tebow has both pleased and pissed off supporters and detractors. While he clearly seems to be overwhelmed and overmatched during the majority of games, when the games are on the line he seems to be able to find a way to get the job done. I have an idea, why don’t they let Kyle Orton play most of the game, and then if the games ar eon the line in the 4th quarter let Tebow play. I wonder what goes through Brady Quinn’s head when he watch’s all of this transpire. For the Lions it was nice to get back into the win column as a third loss would have had people questioning (perhaps Lions players too) whether or not they were for real. Both Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson did their thing and had impressive statistical days.
- The NFL is a copy cat league and when one team exposes a weakness, other teams will try to capitalize on it. That being said you can expect teams to use their tight ends in the middle of the field with short safe passes against the Patriots to not only move the ball, but to keep the ball away from Tom Brady and company. The Steelers held the ball for 39 minutes and Heath Miller was open early and often catching 7 balls for 85 yards as Big Ben completed 36 of 50 passes on a series of clock consuming drives giving Pittsburgh its fourth straight win on their way to the best record in the AFC. Brady, Welker, Hernandez, Gronkowski and the rest of the offense may be the best in the league but the Patriots pass defense continues to be among the league’s worst. The offense is dominant enough to overshadow their defensive problems more often than not, but when they play the elite teams they are going to run into problems. Look for the Pats to run more no-huddle in an effort to maximize the number of opportunities they have the ball.
- Frank Gore’s 134-yards on 31 carries and a stout San Francisco 49ers defense was all they needed as the first place 49ers took care of business at home against the Cleveland Browns. At 6-1 the Niners all but have the NFC West locked up as the next closest team is Seattle at 2-5. Alex Smith was 15-24 for 177-yards and continued to limit his mistakes, a trait that has been integral to San Francisco’s success this season. Chris Ogbonnaya got most of the work with Peyton Hillis out rushing for 37-yards on 11 carries. So much for all of you starting Montario Hardesty in your Fantasy leagues this week as he ran two carries for six yards.
- Sunday was the the fourth straight victory for the Cincinnati Bengals. Andy Daulton’s 43-yard TD pass to fellow rookie A.J. Green was a thing of beauty. Together with the two draft picks they received from fleecing the Oakland Raiders in the Carson Palmer trade, things are certainly looking up in Cincinnati. As for Seattle, they just aren’t very good. Last week’s win against the Giants was more of an anomaly then a trend. Tarvaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, it really doesn’t matter. Even in a poor division they aren’t expected to make much noise.
The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at TheXLog.com. You may email Mike @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.