Well, I guess I spoke one week too soon concerning the plight of the Bengals. After they lost their fifth game in a row last night to fall to 2-6 on the season, Robin (Chad Ochocinco) seems to have had enough of Batman (Terrell Owens) getting the vast majority of the team's receptions. So, there appears to be trouble in Gotham (Cincinnati). In fact, Owens has been the most targeted receiver in the NFL this year, so there is no mistaking the fact that Bengals QB, Carson Palmer, has been feeling pressure to get T.O. the ball. This was supposed to be the year the Bengals cemented their place atop the AFC North, but they appear to be on course for a disappointing season. Meanwhile, the Steelers and Ravens appear to be their formidable selves...both 6-2. Perhaps the most surprising team in the NFL after week 9 is the fourth team in that division, the Cleveland Browns, who were supposed to be an afterthought. Yet, the Browns, led by surprising rookie Colt McCoy, have defeated the defending Super Bowl champ, Saints and the Patriots, who were 6-1, in successive weekends to improve to 3-5. We'll see if the Browns can keep it up. Their recent history would seem to be working against them...and especially now with news that coach Eric Mangini appears to be tinkering again and may not start McCoy this weekend. Eric...if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
It is a tough time in Cowboyland. After falling to 1-7 following an embarassing Sunday night defeat to the Packers, 45-7, Jerry Jones has chosen to dismiss Wade Phillips as the team's coach. There is no doubt that the team has been underachieving since star QB Tony Romo went down with a broken collarbone. It is hard to discern just how much fault lies with Phillips for his lack of toughness and discipline, as there certainly is a significant group of players, primarily on the defense, that quit on him over the past couple of weeks. There is plenty of blame to go around. If we listen to the sportswriters, among many others, they believe that most of the fault should lie with owner/president (and pseudo-general manager) Jerry Jones. A strong case can certainly be made for this. Now, embattled offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, receives an eight game audition for the rest of the 2010 season to prove himself as to whether he should be the Cowboys' long term head coaching solution. There is nowhere to go but up, which should be to his advantage.
The aforementioned Steelers and Ravens, as well as the Saints, Gaints, Packers, Falcons and Chargers continue to roll on. The rejuvenated Michael Vick led the Philadelphia Eagles to an upset win over Peyton Manning's Colts. The Oakland Raiders continue to surprise, winning their third game in a row over the Chiefs to improve to 5-4. The Old Gunslinger (Brett Favre) led another amazing comeback for the Vikings, as Minnesota defeated Arizona 27-24 in OT. The Vikings were down 24-10 with five minutes to go, but Favre did what he has done so may times throughout his career...and passed for a career high 446 yards to boot. Somehow, one has to believe the 3-5 Vikings are going to make some noise this year, before all is said and done...even without Randy Moss. Speaking of Moss, he has signed with the Tennessee Titans. They hope that his ability to stretch the field (pull defenders off of the line of scrimmage) will help to open up the running game for star running back Chris Johnson. If their plans come together, the Titans could be a very dangerous team in the AFC.
The Seahawks have been blown out on consecutive weekends, which makes one wonder what is happening in Coach Carroll's world. Just when it seems the Lions might be turning the corner, they find a terrible way to lose a game to the Jets that they had in the bag, and on top of this, they appear to have lost fragile QB, Matt Stafford, for the year. Finally, I just have to mention the 0-8 Buffalo Bills at the mid-point of the season. Chan Gailey's bunch plays hard and and has been in most games, but just can't get over the hump. I am hoping that they can get a victory and avoid the winless season...and perhaps this will be the week, as they play the Lions. How ironic would that be? :-)