The Fine Fifteen
1. New York Giants (4-0). This is not only a defensively intimidating team and offensively efficient team, but also a very deep team. Tom Coughlin suspends his best receiver for a game, and his plug-in guy, Domenik Hixon, probably the fifth receiver coming out of training camp, outgains Seattle 117-115 and out-touchdowns the Seahawks 1-0 in the first half.
2. Tennessee (5-0). Best game by a quarterback with a 52.0 passer rating in a long, long time. When's the last time a backup quarterback went into Baltimore and drove 80 yards to win the game in the fourth quarter? Notice I keep calling Kerry Collins a backup quarterback. He's not anymore.
3. Dallas (4-1). Jerry Jones Sunday afternoon: "We have no plans to trade for a receiver before the trading deadline.'' No plans? So it's not going to happen? "No,'' he said. "No trade for a receiver.'' The deadline is a week from tomorrow. Detroit, looks like you're going to have to swallow Roy Williams in this lost season, or find someone else from which to get a low first-rounder or high two.
4. Pittsburgh (4-1). No team in the history of NFL byes needs a bye like the Steelers right now.
5. Washington (4-1). And the Redskins have this incredible scheduling advantage: They've finished all road games in the NFC East. They'll host Dallas (Nov. 16), the Giants (Nov. 30) and Philadelphia (Dec. 21) at FedEx.
6. New England (3-1). The hounds have been released. Matt Cassel has been allowed to throw it way far downfield. See that smile on the sidelines from Randy Moss?
7. Carolina (4-1). This is exactly the type of football John Fox loves to play -- mash it running, and keep mashing it. The DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combo platter in this game: 39 carries, 195 yards, two touchdowns. By the way, Larry Johnson's stat line: seven carries, two yards.
8. Chicago (3-2). The Bears really missed Tommie Harris Sunday in Detroit. Yeah, right. Detroit's seven first-half possessions ended in a punt, punt, punt, fumble, punt, punt and punt -- and none lasted longer than 99 seconds.
9. Baltimore (2-2). Joe Flacco's quite a bright prospect. Joe Flacco worries the heck out of me.
10. Denver (4-1). Finally, the defense does not rest.
11. Buffalo (4-1). Bills surrendered five sacks. Bills turned it over four times. Bills got their terrific young quarterback concussed. Storm clouds form over Orchard Park. Bet they're glad to have the bye this week.
12. Philadelphia (2-3). Watching the first quarter of Philly-Washington -- and the Eagles' 119-23 edge in yards, and Jason Campbell being 0-for-5, and Donovan McNabb leading three solid drives and throwing as well as a quarterback can throw -- I wondered, "How does this team have two losses?'' Watching the rest of the game, I wondered, "How does this team have two wins?''
13. Jacksonville (2-3). The Jags' reward for losing such an emotional game Sunday night against Pittsburgh: a trip to Denver, to play Jay Cutler this week.
14. Indianapolis (2-2). "We played Colts football for five minutes today,'' coach Tony Dungy told his team in a raucous locker room at Houston. "Good thing it was the last five.''
15. (tie) Tampa Bay (3-2). I like the Bucs' defense, obviously. Who wouldn't? But at some point, this bizarre quarterback situation is going to rise up and bite them.
15. (tie) Atlanta (3-2). I cannot believe I am putting the Atlanta Falcons on this list of good teams. But they've earned it.
Quote of the Week I
"I've never seen something like that before in that situation, with the game on the line, guys pulling him to the ground and he throws it 20 yards downfield, on the money.''
Quote of the Week II
"I took Martz's chair and threw it away. We got a new one.''
Quote of the Week III
"I'm healthy. You're going to have to have me around for a while. I'm fine, really. I take all the tests four times a year. I get a checkup on everything, echo and all those things. All the blood work, I do that four times a year. My mother, you know, she lived a long time, 103. I hope nothing happens. Because disease is the one thing, boy, I tell you, it's tough to lick. It's tough to lick those diseases. I don't know why they can't. It bothers me they won't let us use -- and it doesn't mean that I'm Republican or Democrat -- the stem-cell. I think it could help.''
Quote of the Week IV
"I saw -- what do they call it? -- the circus of the NFL, you know. I actually sent Lane [Kiffin] a text message and told him, 'Thank you for letting me out of there like you said you would if things went down the way they did in the draft.' My mom always said, 'Don't just look at how pretty that girl is. You've got to find out how she is on the inside.' ''
Sign of the Week
"Just Stupid, Baby.''
What could that sign-poster mean? See "Stat of the Week.''