1. New Orleans (6-0). Thirty-six points in the second half on the road. Did you get that? Thirty-six. That's almost as many Viagra/Cialis commercials you see in an average Sunday. When FOX scanned the Miami bench with 40 seconds left, the players looked like 36 trucks had just run them over.
2. Indianapolis (6-0). The only remotely alarming thing I saw out of their 15th consecutive regular season victory was safety Bob Sanders leaving the field with 14 minutes to go, presumably to ice up for the 10-game schedule ahead. When that's the worst thing to happen, you're a very good team.
3. Denver (6-0). Take one young coach and one old safety. Add water, two eggs, three cups of flour, and you have yourself a championship cake.
4. Pittsburgh (5-2). Four wins in a row headed into the bye and then a showdown at Denver, with a defense that's finally showing up in the fourth quarter.
5. New England (5-2). Pats 94, TitanBucs 7 over the past two weeks, on two continents.
6. Minnesota (6-1). Chester Taylor's going to cringe when he watches the film from Sunday's game because he handed Keyaron Fox a touchdown. This game should have gone to OT after a Vikings field goal knotted it at 20, or the Vikings should have had a touchdown with less than a minute to go -- leading to a narrow victory. But that's football.
7. Cincinnati (5-2). The most enigmatic team of not only this season, but of the past few. A 45-3 lead over the Bears (not the Bucs, the Bears) after 46 minutes. Cincinnati's first seven series: TD, TD, TD, TD, field goal, TD, TD.
8. Green Bay (4-2). Nice little warmup for this weekend's Favre Bowl. Packers corners Al Harris and Charles Woodson made life miserable for Browns receivers all day. (Which, come to think of it, is like Harris and Woodson shutting down Ashwaubenon High.) Derek Anderson threw to Cleveland rookies Muhammad Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie 13 times. One was complete.
9. Arizona (4-2). With the Cardinals first three-game road winning streak since 1987, we can now say goodbye to this old saw: Cards can't win in Eastern Time. They're 3-0 in my time zone this calendar season (Carolina, Jacksonville, Giants).
10. San Diego (3-3). Norv Turner to me postgame: "Vincent Jackson's an incredible football player. You've called him an NBA-type player, and you're right. He's so gifted.''
11. Dallas (4-2). Finally a pass rush, the kind of pass rush the Cowboys have been lacking the entire season. Matt Ryan had been sacked twice in the first five games. Dallas got him four times.
12. Atlanta (4-2). Can't kill 'em for losing at New England and at Dallas ... but they'll need better pressure on the quarterback to win at New Orleans next Monday night.
13. New York Giants (5-2). What quality win does New York have? Week 2 over the Cowboys? That's it. And the Jints have allowed 72 points in the past eight quarters. They're in trouble.
14. Philadelphia (3-2). You know, maybe Michael Vick is just a lousy option quarterback. Maybe. But I still think the Eagles have to find a way to make Vick more of a factor, perhaps starting tonight against Washington. It's on Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg.
15. Houston (4-3). Past three weeks: Matt Schaub's completed 68 percent of his throws, with eight touchdowns and two picks. Pretty soon we'll have to put him in the top-10-quarterbacks discussion.
Quote of the Week I
"There was no doubt on our sidelines that we would come back and win.''
There was a lot of doubt elsewhere, buddy.
Quote of the Week II
"I'll be up to the challenge.''
Let's do the math here. Bradford's surgery is Oct. 28. The rehab for the injury is between four and six months. Let's halve that and say five months before he's back to semi-normal. That's March 28 -- precisely four weeks before the weekend of the 2010 NFL draft. That would leave 19 days for Bradford to work out for the teams that would be interested in him, and for every team to see what kind of shape his shoulder is in.
By my count, at least four teams drafting in the top half of the first round next April will want a quarterback -- Cleveland, Washington, St. Louis and San Francisco (which holds Carolina's first-round pick), along with possibly Tennessee and Oakland. Those teams will have a tough decision to make. Do you take a quarterback coming off significant shoulder surgery without being positive whether the injury will flare up again?
"This is going to be one of the diciest picks a team has ever had to make,'' one club official of a team that may have interest in Bradford told me Sunday evening. Another team executive told me this is a hairier decision than teams had to make with Michael Crabtree coming off the stress fracture in his foot last winter, when Crabtree was unable to work out. The investment in a quarterback is different, quite simply because when you've used a top pick on a passer, you forget it as a draft priority for the next three or four years; when you take a receiver high, there's no reason to not pick one high in the next draft because of the widespread use of multiple-receiver sets.
Said the executive: "The team that picks Bradford will be a very, very confident team, because it won't be an easy pick.''
Quote of the Week III
"Under the facts and circumstances of this case, it would be a miscarriage of justice to pursue criminal charges and we will not ask our citizens to give up their valuable time for jury duty, nor will we allow our criminal justice system to be compromised."
Oakland assistant coach Randy Hanson publicly accused Cable of punching him and breaking his jaw. Now Hanson will have to decide whether to pursue civil charges. Cable will have to decide whether to pursue civil changes against Hanson, and the league will have to decide whether to sanction Cable for whatever actually happened in the training-camp meeting room that August day.
Quote of the Week IV
"Actually I wasn't.''
If that performance isn't "out of sorts,'' kid, I'd like to see a performance that is. Russell was 6-of-11 with no touchdowns and two interceptions. After seven games, he's completing a league-low 46.3-percent of his throws.
NFL Truth & Rumors