1. I think this is what I liked about Week 8:
a. Interesting story in the Los Angeles Times about Jim Harbaugh by NFL maven Sam Farmer. It's got this good quote from Harbaugh about how to handle success: "We're definitely worried about it. Dangers lurk, no question about it. The thing we just stress is keep climbing; we don't want to hang on. Like a rock climber, it takes more energy to hang on than to keep climbing.''
b. Good nuggets by Jay Glazer (Ndamukong Suh requested a meeting with the NFL to find out why he's getting fined) and Charlie Casserly (Shawne Merriman will be called before a Congressional panel if it convenes a hearing on human growth hormone use in the NFL) and Adam Schefter (that Bengal boss Mike Brown had to be talked out of drafting Ryan Mallett on draft day) on the pregame shows.
c. Matt Hasselbeck's back-shoulder throw is beautiful.
d. Kevin Kolb threw a textbook back-shoulder job, too, to Early Doucet. Fantastic.
e. You are one party animal, Ron Winter. Doesn't he look like a barrel of fun?
f. Quite a savior you are, Steven Jackson, recovering a fumble near the goal line and then running it in on the next snap, giving your desperate Rams a 10-0 halftime lead.
g. Best player on a losing team, early games: Miami linebacker Kevin Burnett. Ten tackles, two in the backfield, a pass deflected.
h. Andre Carter is one of the biggest bargains in recent free agency history. Two sacks for the Patriots on Sunday.
i. Hard to give DeMarcus Ware much notice after his team got demolished. But four sacks of the elusive Michael Vick is absolutely amazing.
j. Ware (12 sacks in seven games) and Allen (12.5 in eight games) are both on pace to break Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22.5.
k. Another strong game in the middle of the Houston offensive line for center Chris Myers, the most unknown very good offensive lineman in football. The Jacksonville defensive front had been recently very difficult to gash, and the Texans rushed 39 times for 156 yards.
l. Speaking of Texan difference-makers: How about Jonathan Joseph? The Houston secondary has gone from a sieve to foreboding, holding teams to a league-best 50.8 percent completions.
m. Eli Manning, who threw some beautiful balls Sunday, would have had a 400-yard day had his receivers caught all the ones in their hands. He threw for 345.
n. Frank Gore. Just keep feeding the man.
2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 8:
a. That's just the way I like to go into a very big game against a pass-happy Steeler team -- cutting one corner (Leigh Bodden) and IR-ing another (Ras-I Dowling) in the 48 hours before the game.
b. Not your fault, Aaron Rodgers. But I nominate that State Farm commercial for least-funny-commercial-trying-to-be-funny of the 2011 season.
c. That's being charitable.
d. Speaking of embarrassing TV moments, I think we all know the reason Kris Jenkins did the Halloween sketch on the CBS pregame show. Shannon Sharpe said, "Please! I beg you! Don't let me mar my TV career again with the Halloween sketch!"
e. Is there a soul in America who thought that moment had more than one uncomfortable chuckle in it?
f. Linval Joseph: Can you think of one good reason in the middle of a play-ending scrum to dive in and spear the ball carrier? I mean, unless you want to get a flag for unnecessary roughness?
g. So you want more playing time, Brandon Jacobs? You want the ball more? Sure have a funny way of showing it.
h. Wrap up, Malcolm Jenkins. That's going to be an embarrassing non-tackle against the Rams when you look at it in the team meeting room this week.
i. Blaine Gabbert, 10 of 30. The man played hurt with bruised ribs, which is noble. But it's a production game.
j. Chris Johnson. Only man in the top 50 NFL rushers to average less than three yards per rush. And it's way less -- 2.82. Which leads me to ...
3. I think I am amazed to say this, but Chris Johnson is just another guy. I've watched enough of him through eight weeks now to say that with confidence. He's making no one miss. He's not fighting for a single extra yard. If his name were John Doe, and the Titans coaches were comparing him to all the other backs on the roster, I'd be stunned if they played him over Javon Ringer. Just watch Johnson, the 34th-leading rusher in the NFL. Tell me he's either totally lost his drive, or he's saving himself so he can play out his full, and very rich, contract.
4. I think most of you probably missed this. I missed it, and I was right there. Dan Patrick noted on NBC's Football Night in America Sunday that Tom Brady threw a BB to Rob Gronkowski. A BB. Think about it ... One other back-patting note from Sunday night -- Al Michaels saying that Mike Vick told him and Cris Collinsworth that of his 45 rushes entering Sunday's games, zero were called runs.
5. I think there's a pretty good chance Tebowing won't be trending much on the internet today.
6. I think it's a cruel world, but the Broncos won't give the Tebow experiment much longer, maybe two or three weeks, unless he ratchets up his completion percentage (46.1). Can't help but think four things:
If Denver's going to give him a chance, the plug cannot be pulled now, because it's just not enough time; three or four more weeks is fair for the investment the franchise made in the 2010 first-round pick -- even though it was a previous coach who drafted him ... Josh McDaniels would have been more invested in making him succeed, and would have a package of plays (dumpoffs to the backs, curls to the tight end) to get him going ...
John Elway and John Fox, neither of whom would have drafted Tebow in the first round, are going to give him enough time under center to show the citizenry they can't move ahead with him as the every-down quarterback ... And I still believe he can be a winning, hybrid player for a good team. Maybe not quite like Brad Smith, because he lacks quickness. But a player who, when the offense is stalled, can contribute with a package of plays that would be hard to defend as a changeup. Maybe an option quarterback.
7. I think, to sum up my knowledge of the what's going to happen in the top of the 2012 draft, it's this: Bill and Chris Polian will show great respect for Peyton Manning, and I expect he'll be the Colts' quarterback in 2012. But I do not think they'll pass on Andrew Luck if they have the chance to pick him at No. 1. In fact, it would stun me if the man who went out on a limb to bring Jim Kelly, Kerry Collins and Peyton Manning into the NFL (that's Bill Polian) would pass on the quarterback some scouts believe is the best quarterback prospect in the last quarter-century. How do you sleep at night knowing you let that player get away?
8. I think the question Colts fans have to ask themselves about passing on Luck in favor of, oh, say, three No. 1 draft choices from some team, is this: How long do we think a quarterback who will be 36 on opening day, with three necks surgeries in the previous two years, will last?
9. I think the Eagles had the look of a deep-into-January team Sunday night.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Heard an ad for "5 Hour Energy Decaf'' this week. I mean, tell me: What's the point? Isn't that like a salty milk shake?
b. Lane Kiffin complains way too much.
c. I was stuck without a TV, moving in, on Thursday, and so I didn't see one of the best baseball games of our lives. But I did hear Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine on ESPN Radio, and they did a terrific job. Shulman is absolutely outstanding -- and not just on the big calls. He does a fine job on the rhythm of the game and bringing the analysts in. His questioning of some of the Rangers' moves in the last couple of innings was on point.
d. And my question for Ron Washington is: What is this obsession with intentional walks? You had too much respect for the St. Louis hitters. And to not bring Neftali Feliz back for the 10th inning of Game 6, with a two-run lead? To throw Darren Oliver instead? That's inviting offense.
e. If you'd have told me two months ago David Freese would be a post-World Series guest on Jay Leno, I'd first have said, "Wait. Who does he play for?'' That's what 21 postseason RBIs will do for you -- as well as one of the biggest home runs in recent baseball history.
f. Wasn't this Game 6 far more dramatic than the 1986 Game 6? That one had one incredible moment -- the Buckner error. This one had three or four of them. Two were the Cardinals springing to life when they were down to their last strike of their last out of the season, rebounding from two-run deficits in the bottom of the ninth and 10th. And then the Freese home run. Just a fantastic sports moment.
g. What I loved best was his teammates were so excited about the winning hit that they ripped the jersey off his back. They did. The jersey the Hall of Fame will be getting from Freese from that hit? A shredded and torn one.
h. I asked Bob Costas where Game 6 lands in his pantheon of ballgames: "No worse than a tie for first. There's the Buckner game in '86, and the Kirk Gibson game in '88, but that's really only one at-bat. And there are others. But this thing had everything. The fact that it was poorly played early on adds to it. The fact that there were debatable decisions early on adds texture to it. The team on the brink twice, on their last at-bat with two strikes and two outs, twice. The home team won, which adds to it. Sometimes in baseball, it comes down to the 10th guy on the pitching staff, or the last guy on the bench. And that's what happened. And that's one of the things that makes it so thrilling.''
i. Coffeenerdness: Try as I might, I couldn't break my 10-espresso-shot record Sunday and into this morning, writing this column. I stalled on eight. Caffeine weakling -- that's what I am.
j. Beernerdness: I must be the most interesting man in the world, because I have recently given Dos Equis a shot. More flavor than I remembered. Best with a lime, I think.
k. Still haven't seen Moneyball, Ides of March or one episode of The Office. You'd think it's been a busy fall or something.
San Diego 33, Kansas City 20. Never in September did I think I'd write this sentence this season: The Chiefs haven't lost in 36 days. I probably won't be able to write it again this year, but it was fun while it lasted, wasn't it? I am picking this game on blind faith, because after watching the Chargers cough up that game last week in New Jersey, you've got to figure that Philip Rivers starts being Philip Rivers again soon. Like, tonight. But part of Rivers having a shot against the resurgent Chiefs is Ryan Mathews carrying his load, because San Diego's going to need to take a voracious crowd out of the game, and the way you do that is with some long drives early. Mathews is the key to those.
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