Bus Stops: Patriots turning it on; why Titans won't be down long
Patriots can't be stopped with Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker in sync
The NFL MVP and Defensive Player of the Year are on the same team
What's wrong with Matt Forte and my pick for the last unbeaten team
Throughout the 2009 season, SI.com's Adam Duerson will work with Jerome Bettis to get the six-time Pro Bowl running back's observations about the previous week's games. Bettis retired from the NFL in 2006 after a 13-year career.
Tom Brady. Man, oh man. Five touchdowns in a quarter? Yeah, that impressed me. But what I really liked is that he got the ball to Randy Moss, to the tune of three touchdowns. That had been an issue through five weeks. When Brady can get the ball to Moss and to Wes Welker (who had 10 catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns), this team is unstoppable.
So now you've got Brady comfortable with that knee, stepping into throws and connecting with his main guys. And that's trouble for the AFC. I don't think this team wins out because it's still vulnerable on defense. But this is once again the same old Patriots team that can turn it on when it needs to.
Much tougher situation on the opposite sideline of a 59-0 game. I've taken some tough beatings in my career, but I've never been involved in a game like the Titans had. Generally you shrug off losses, but I don't know how a player gets through a whipping like that.
I had some years where my Rams started out pretty terribly. (Well, we finished terribly, too.) Maybe the toughest one of those was the year we started 2-4 and we kind of knew our head coach, Chuck Knox, was going to get fired eventually. That really became an everyone-for-themselves situation for the second half of the year. There was no team mentality; guys were out there doing whatever they wanted. You can get lost as a player.
But that speaks to why I think Tennessee can dig itself out of this eventually: Jeff Fisher. He's not going anywhere. And if I learned anything from the times we played against him -- having seen all of those teams and how they represented themselves -- and from people I know who played for him, I know he'll retain some control of his players. Even when his teams have struggled, that's the one thing he kept that we didn't have in those bad years with the Rams.
Look for this team to start making some long-term changes and start building toward next year, beginning at quarterback. But don't count out Fisher long-term.
Somehow, a 4-0 record didn't have people convinced the Saints were the class of the NFL, but beating the Giants should do that, right? Could there have been a more convincing display of that fact?
Offensively, Drew Brees is my MVP, but let's consider this, too: Darren Sharper for Defensive Player of the Year. First, let me point out to anyone who missed the game that Sharper returned another interception for a touchdown. It was negated by a silly roughing the passer call, but it still happened. If it had stayed on the books it would have been his third pick-six and sixth interception in five games.
Think about how well he fits in New Orleans. The Saints offense is scoring boatloads of points, and their opponents are constantly in a hole -- which means they're passing desperately. That gives Sharper more opportunities to make plays in coverage. And when he does, he puts that quick-strike Saints offense right back in field position to score again. And so it repeats. Sharper for Defensive MVP.
Troy Polamalu was back for the Steelers and had an interception on Cleveland's third series. Welcome back, Troy. But I think people missed this: He left the game following that play, I'm pretty sure, re-aggravating that MCL injury. He came back later in the game, but he was kind of a non-factor after that. Why didn't he wait another week, perhaps skip Cleveland and wait for Minnesota next week?
I think he'll play against Minnesota; he won't let himself miss that game. But I think Troy learned what his limitations are. He didn't look anywhere close to 100 percent against Cleveland. I think he'll be effective to a certain degree next week, but I don't think he'll be the Troy Polamalu we're used to seeing for a while.
Minnesota at Pittsburgh. A Super Bowl preview? I won't say that yet, but you'll want to pay close attention to this one. Here's my quick analysis: It's in Pittsburgh. Plus, Minnesota has gotten away with a few lately and I think their luck will run out soon. (I certainly don't think this team will go 16-0.) So here's as good a game as any to pick them to lose.
A few quick thoughts on Matt Forte's two goal-line carries (he fumbled both) against Atlanta. With all 22 guys crammed into one small area and with those big linemen shooting to the ground, there's really no place to step. If you're not getting a great push on your line -- and Chicago didn't have that push -- then it becomes a matter of angles, and that's why I thought I was always so good in short yardage goal line situations. I created positive angles for myself.
The other thing some running backs don't seem to understand is that there will most definitely be contact, and you have to use it to your advantage. You have to use your momentum and the expectation of contact to propel yourself in the right direction. I just didn't see that in Forte's two carries. Two fumbles? He wasn't preparing for contact.
I've said this before and I'll say it again: Every quarterback needs to get yanked at some point. He needs to know he's not any greater than any other piece on his football team. You can't let a guy think, "I can play terribly and it will be OK." And for that reason I think Rex Ryan blew an opportunity to send a message to Mark Sanchez in his five-interception game. He should've sat.
At the same time, the USC boy blew an opportunity to show his team he could play well in some tough New Jersey weather. They've got five more games at the Meadowlands in November and on. He'd better get up to speed on playing in those conditions.
The biggest surprise Sunday was Raiders over Eagles, barely edging out Bills over Jets. But that's a wakeup call I think the Eagles will answer. If they play a home-and-away series, I think the Raiders would get crushed in Philadelphia.
Let me explain to people very simply what's happening in Baltimore. We're all under the assumption the Ravens finally have a good offense and, when coupled with their traditionally great defense -- well, who can beat that?
Here's the rub. This ain't the same Ravens defense we're used to seeing, and people just don't seem to get that yet. That's how you explain three losses in a row.
If the Ravens are the third-worst team in the AFC North, however, that's one tough division. I put that division right there with the NFC North among the toughest.
As a stand-alone team, however, I like the Colts to go undefeated the longest. I don't see a 16-0 team in the cards, but I figure they can make it until that stretch of Houston-New England-Baltimore in Weeks 9-11. They'll lose one of those and be the last to take an "L."
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