What’s going on with the AFC North?  After 3 weeks, the experts were assuring everyone that Cincinnati was the only “real” team in the division and would waltz into the playoffs.

Fast forward three more weeks and the Bengals, once undefeated, are 3-1-1 and have blown their tiebreaker.  Cleveland just demolished Pittsburgh, they’re a resurgent 3-2.

And the Ravens, who looked quite moribund in the season opener against Cincinnati, now look anything but.  They’re 4-2 and a real challenger for the playoffs and the division.

The only team living down to expectations, below them in fact, is the Steelers.  They’ve been in a funk since the preseason.


This Week’s Sucked And Won

Patriots Running Backs (NE).  Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden, Shane Vereen and James Develin combined for 22 carries for 37 yards.  They also caught 3 passes for a combined 11 yards.  Considering how many plays they were in on, how did New England score 37 points?

This again?!  The front page of the New York Daily News apparently accused Philadelphia Eagles’ fans of “gloating” on a play where Giants WR Victor Cruz got injured.  Even USA Today was quick to come to the fans’ defense, pointing out that the entire story was a fabrication or, at best, a conflagration.  The thing is:  people will believe it.  People think Philadelphia sports fans are a cross between the worst kind of soccer hooligans from Europe and a collection of Batman villains.

In reality, they’re not appreciably better or worse than similarly situated fans in Boston or New York.

Go to a Jets game and tell me about the polite Jets fans.  Or a Celtics game and tell me how nice all the Celtics fans were.  Fans are fans.  Many are quite knowledgeable.  Most are, at least, respectful of the rules of civility.  A few are knuckleheads who think it’s OK to scream obscenities or throw things.  That’s not specific to Philadelphia and the NY Daily News is, candidly, guilty of very lazy reporting to try to this non-story into a story.


Shocking realization of the week

Through 6 weeks, the NFL’s leading receiver isn’t even the #1 receiver on his own team.  The Colts’ T.Y. Hilton is behind both Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks on the depth chart.

This was a tough week for kickers once again.  The Bengals’ Mike Nugent went wide right on a 36 yarder with 2 seconds left in overtime that would have given his team the win.  The Jaguars’ Josh Scobee, meanwhile, had a potential game winner blocked with 12 seconds left in the game.  That’s not entirely Scobee’s fault, as the Jags had enough time to run one more play to try to get inside 50 yards and give him a fighting chance to make that one.


This Week’s Great But Lost

Derek Carr, QB (OAK).  He wasn’t perfect, but give the kid some credit.  After a very pedestrian string of games, Carr went off, throwing for 282 yards and 4 touchdowns, while posting a passer rating of 107.  More good things to come?

Remember when I cautioned Washington fans to be careful what they wished for?  The Washington Post just declared the “Kirk Cousins era” dead.  To be fair, Cousins played exactly as you might expect if you were aware that he just a backup quarterback you took in the fourth round.  If you idiotically believed something else, then you’ve been treated to a league leading 8 interceptions and the 22nd ranked passer in the NFL.  Sounds pretty backup to me.


Thursday Pick:  NY Jets

(+10) @New England (MGM Mirage)

I know the Jets are a mess right now, but New England is hurting too.  They just lost Jerrod Mayo who is probably the single most important player on the roster other than Tom Brady.  Moreover, the last time the Patriots put up a double digit win against the Jets in their first meeting of the season was 2007.  Traditionally, the first time these teams play it’s a close game, no matter where they play it.  It all adds up to I’ll take New York and the points.

New England Patriots 28 New York Jets 21



“I’m the boss.  Their job is to please me, not the other way around.  I had to fine a lot more guys this week for whatever reason, missing meetings, late to a meeting, whatever. I’m not going to let them slide. [L]ike I told them, the fines are going to start going to the max now. I’m tired of it.” – Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, leading to the question “what the hell is going on in Minnesota anyway?”

“I didn’t know you could tie in the NFL.” – Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin.  How can it be that every time there’s a tie in the NFL, someone who played in the game said they didn’t know you could end in a tie?

“You know, playing at New England is probably not ideal.” – Jets coach Rex Ryan, on his efforts to get his team out of its 1-5 funk.

“It was very cool.  To beat those guys that way feels good. The last time the Browns beat the Steelers, I was the backup quarterback for the Steelers.” – Browns QB (and former Steelers QB) Brian Hoyer.

“A game wrecker, a game breaker, he came up big.” Colts coach Chuck Pagano, on WR T.Y. Hilton, who came within one yard of breaking the team’s single game record.

“That was Brett Favre, know what I’m saying?  I got to play with Brett a couple years. It was like the same type of quarterback. It gives you a big sense of hope.  You get the feeling that Aaron is going to do something special. He’s a special guy. That’s big-time football there at the end.” – Packers NT Letroy Guion, comparing his quarterback to some guy named Favre.

“27-nothing.” – Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin, asked if he had anything to add to his week-long trash talk feud with the Giants.

“This is probably Jason Garrett’s finest hour as a Cowboy.” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, on his head coach, after being Seattle in Seattle.