1. I think this is what I liked about Week 10:
a. Aaron Curry looks reborn rushing the passer in Oakland. He's playing much faster and freer than he did in Seattle.
b. Carson Palmer. Great touch on the ball in San Diego. He will make Hue Jackson look like a genius if he plays that way every week.
c. The Raiders overall. They'd lost 13 straight to San Diego before last season. Now they've beaten the cool guys down south three straight. There's good depth on the offensive line with Stephon Heyer playing well at guard after Wisniewski had to move over to center to replace the injured Samson Satele.
d. Stat of the TV Weekend, from the NFL Matchup show: In the two Patriots-Jets games before Sunday, the Jets played seven defensive backs on 38 percent of the New England offensive snaps. Think about that. There are teams that don't play seven defensive backs on any snaps. Jets did it on almost four of 10 over eight quarters.
e. Might not go down as a catch of the day, but Heath Miller's reception, with Cincinnati safety Reggie Nelson taking a flying shot at him half-a-second after the catch, and the ball never budging in Miller's grasp.
f. Nice job on James Harrison, Andrew Whitworth.
g. Mister Alexander's in the game!
h. Rashard Mendenhall, for the best effort run of the day Sunday, capping an 11-play drive to give the Steelers a 24-17 lead late in the third quarter.
i. FOX had a good stat about Drew Brees in the second half: He's completed at least 20 passes in 30 straight games. All I could think when I saw that is that Tim Tebow has a long way to go.
j. Brilliant play call by Cam Cameron, the pitch to Ray Rice, and lefty touchdown pass by Rice to Ed Dickson.
k. Players ending in "kowski'' for the Patriots. Rob Gronkowski and Steven Gostkowski combined for 23 points, enough to outscore the Jets Sunday night.
l. The Bears, who back down from no one.
m. Marshawn Lynch, Sunday's definition of workhorse. Thirty-two carries, 109 hard yards in the win over Baltimore.
n. Good find, Niners, in Carlos Rogers.
o. I don't remember ever seeing Karlos Dansby not playing hard. Ten tackles, a sack and an interception in the game against Washington.
2. I think this is what I didn't like about week 10:
a. San Diego's depth. Both lines got abused by the Raiders.
b. Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark: How do you not break up that touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green? I mean. Polamalu seemed to just watch it happen. Weirdly irresponsible.
c. Two drops in the first 16 minutes by Jimmy Graham. Rare.
d. It will go down as a Roethlisberger pick, but it should go down as Heath Miller handing a simple catch, bobbled, to a Bengal.
e. I don't like struggling all through the half, being down 16-0, having fourth-and-goal at the five ... and going for the touchdown. If you miss, you're demoralized. You kick the field goal, and you're on the board, two possessions away from the lead. Raheem Morris did it just before halftime -- and failed -- and went into halftime down 16-0.
f. Oct. 9, road: Bucs lost to Niners 48-3. Nov. 13, home: Bucs lost to Texans, 37-9. Has any team ever lost two games by 28 or more and won a playoff game that same season?
g. Thomas DeCoud gets beat for a touchdown and a couple of minutes later makes an easy tackle and celebrates like he just won the Super Bowl. Emote, fine. Be professional, better.
h. Why passer rating is overrated (and maybe this should be the final straw for me to stop using it so much): When Tebow threw his fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Eric Decker, he was 2 of 8 for 69 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. His rating: 102.6. Brady's rating for the season: 102.0.
i. Dumb rule of the week: Giving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to a coach (as in Gary Kubiak at Tampa) for throwing the challenge flag on a questionable play ruled a touchdown. Come on. That's not a 15-yard penalty. It's just not.
j. Bad loss for the Bears: Left guard Chris Williams gone, likely for the year, with a dislocated wrist. He had surgery Sunday.
k. The Ravens. Don't give me any excuse about a cross-country trip. Stupid. That is a ridiculous loss.
l. Pats cornerback Devin McCourty. Looked like he hurt his shoulder in a collision late in the game, and before that, he was awful. Mark Sanchez picked on McCourty early and often, and the Patriots really have to be wondering when he's going back to shutdown corner mode, which is what he was most often as a rookie last year.
3. I think, 10 minutes into the Cards-Eagles game, you could just feel the bright Philadelphia season slipping away. DeSean Jackson was banned from the team Sunday, benched for missing a Saturday meeting. (And as Mike Florio reported on Sunday night on NBC, Jackson is starting to be seen by his teammates as a self-preservationist, perhaps saving himself for his next contract after his rancorous summer demands to get a new deal.) Jeremy Maclin went off with a hamstring injury early and never returned.
The other thing that's wrong with the Eagles, I sense, is that not enough guys in that locker room are bleeding with these losses. There's no Brian Dawkins, no Jeremiah Trotter, just a bunch of new guys playing together for the first time.
4. I think the best you can say about the Bills right now is: Fun while it lasted.
5. I think, as I said Sunday night on TV, you'll see John Skelton start his third straight game for Arizona next Sunday against the Niners. No one's saying Skelton's a good quarterback, but Kevin Kolb was 1-6, he's hobbled with a turf toe, and now Skelton, though he hasn't played much better than average, is 2-0. I don't see any way coach Ken Whisenhunt benches the guy with the hot hand.
6. I think the injury that hurt the Jets Sunday night was one some of you probably didn't see because you'd have been in bed. This one might really hurt. Late in the fourth quarter, trying to score three touchdowns in the last few minutes, the Jets sent LaDainian Tomlinson running left. The Patriots had an unlikely guy, wideout/return man Julian Edelman, covering the slot receiver late in the game, and he upended Tomlinson with a hard shot to the thigh. Tomlinson limped off. Since there's a Thursday night game nearly 2,000 miles away in Denver, the Jets are going to wake up this morning praying their best back can go in this very short week.
7. I think you probably shouldn't ask the coaches in these Thursday night games how they like them. Imagine you're the Jets. The NFL schedules you to play Sunday night at home and then Thursday night, two-thirds of the way across the country. You don't even leave the stadium until 1 a.m. Monday. And you practice Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, cramming a week's worth of prep time -- for the defense, prepping for the strangest offense in the NFL, the Denver veer (hey, let's call it the "Denveer'') -- into three days, then you fly 1,617 miles and get into the hotel in Denver Wednesday night. And Thursday, it's showtime.
8. I think I found it interesting in the wake of the Penn State scandal to note that lots of NFL scouts and personnel people do not like Penn State and hate going there. I was told by more than one front-office official of a team how hard it was to scout Penn State players. As one said to me, whereas a school like Iowa will allow scouts on campus every Monday through Thursday during the football season to watch tape, talk to coaches, watch practice and talk with players, Penn State normally has one week in the fall, maybe two or three days, when scouts are allowed on campus. Sometimes it's the team's off week, so when scouts come in, they don't see the players or their practice if the coaches have given the players a day or two off.
I wondered whether that might have made any difference on draft day. It's impossible to draw any significant conclusions, but it's interesting. In the last eight years, Penn State has won eight more games than Iowa, but Iowa has had three more players drafted (29-26) by NFL teams.
9. I think these are my Penn State thoughts. If you've read or listened to me expressing an outsider's view on Paterno over the years (I don't know him at all), you know I thought it absurd that an 84-year-old man, particularly one who has had health problems, was coaching a major-college football team. Hanging on the way Paterno did was not gallant; it was selfish. I admire his giving and his devotion to the university, and I believe he deserved better than to be fired on the phone Wednesday night, particularly because there's so much we don't know about the case that caused him (justifiably) to be terminated. But he'd hung on way too long. The New York Times had a telling photo the other day of Paterno at practice last week, sitting on his golf cart -- and appearing to be asleep. My thoughts on the week:
a. There will never be any doubt in my mind that this whole story could have, and should have, been exposed in 1998, when the district attorney of Centre County, Pa., where the university is located, failed to take solid evidence of Jerry Sandusky's relationship with a young boy to a grand jury. That DA, Ray Gricar, never said why -- even though Sandusky was confronted by the mother and tacitly admitted something had happened and said, "I wish I were dead,'' which was overheard by two eavesdropping officers. (Gricar disappeared in 2005 and hasn't been heard from since.) Even if Sandusky had been tried and found innocent, the trial would have cast a spotlight on Sandusky . Who knows how much of the other alleged abuses could have been prevented if Sandusky knew after 1998 the world was watching him?
b. There is a weight of supposition that Paterno should have done something more than he did when his grad assistant, Mike McQueary, told him he witnessed Sandusky with a young boy in a shower at Penn State in 2002. McQueary told Paterno about it the next day -- though what precisely he told Paterno is not crystal clear. McQueary told the grand jury he witnessed Sandusky raping the boy. Paterno told the grand jury that McQueary told him of Sandusky "fondling or doing something of a sexual nature.''
Paterno waited until the day after that to notify his superiors of McQueary's report. Paterno said the other day, "I wish I had done more.'' The weight of evidence is piling up that Paterno should have done more, and he's going to have to bring some compelling reasons why he should not be found exceedingly morally negligent in the case, at the least.
The reason I refuse to bury him yet is there is no need to. There's a need to know more first. What precisely did McQueary tell Paterno? I mean, precisely. That's unclear. I've had football people tell me in the last few days just what Barry Switzer said the other day: Paterno had to know what was going on with Sandusky over the years, and the same with members of the staff. They had to know. I think there's a good chance that is true. But do we know Paterno knew? No.
And what of the evidence that Paterno and Penn State buried the truth about Sandusky after the 2002 incident, enabling more years of the alleged abuse to happen? Certainly the university's sanction of Sandusky -- reporting him to his children's charity and taking away his keys to the locker room and telling him not to bring children on campus -- is laughably light if they believed what McQueary told them. But does this fall on Paterno? There will be time to sift through everything at trial, and to see what blame lies with Paterno.
c. I don't think this should be a country of guilty until proven innocent, and I'm having a little problem with the angry national supposition that Sandusky is suspect 1 and Paterno 1a.
d. I do think Paterno should have been fired, as I said, because the university had to draw a line in the sand and (though it hasn't done so yet) say a new football program will have to be built from scratch.
e. Should Sandusky be found guilty of these horrific crimes, there will be scores of people with scarred reputations for eternity, including one presumed-dead prosecuting attorney.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. St. John's starts a JuCo transfer named God's gift Achiuwa. He is from Nigeria. His father is a minister, and God's gift was named for the family's devotion to God.
b. I worry about the NHL. Last week, on the same night, all starting at 7 p.m., three teams within 35 miles -- the Islanders, Rangers and Devils -- all dropped the puck. And 97 miles south of the Devils' rink in Newark, the Flyers played. Also at 7.
c. And Quebec City can't get a team?
d. I Rick-Perried on Friday night on our NBC SportsTalk NFL preview show on Versus, stammering until I remembered Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik's name. Thing is, I remembered.
e. Had fun Friday night at the Rawlings Gold Glove awards in Manhattan. Three observations: Mark Buehrle looks like a bowler from the Midwest, which he is ... The guy who got the loudest ovation of the night would surprise you. Yadier Molina ... I could not stop howling at Jerry Seinfeld's 50-minute set. Never saw him do standup live. Big mistake. "One thing I got out of the 2011 season as a Mets fan: Found out there are three Gatorades,'' he said, and revved into how, for years, the "green bilge water'' (his words) sufficed, and now we have to drink something before, during and after our workouts to survive. You had to be there.
f. Weirder casting job: Philip Seymour Hoffman as Art Howe? Or Leonardo (I Was Just The Kid in Titanic) DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover?
g. Coffeenerdness: Too many baristas in Manhattan get Starbucks drinks wrong. Some of these stores are so overrun with customers that the assembly-line-ness of it all must get to them. They hurry, they err, and all you want to do is get out of there so you don't make a big deal that the barista has screwed up the drink.
h. Beernerdness: Not a big beer week for me. Don't you just hate when work intrudes on life? But any bar/restaurant that has Allegash White from Portland, Maine (the best white beer I've tasted) is OK with me ... and there are two of them within 10 blocks of me on the east side of Manhattan. Lucky me.
i. Saw The Mountaintop, the Broadway play about the last night of Martin Luther King's life, featuring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett. Acting was brilliant. The story? Not memorable. I knew how good Jackson was before this, but I hadn't seen Bassett often, and she was really good.
j. Long live Wilson Ramos. Glad you're still alive.
k. Jonathan Papelbon? I'll miss him. But at some point, I'm glad to see some slight fiscal responsibility for a guy who was pretty adventurous a quarter of the time, maybe more.
Green Bay 37, Minnesota 19. In games like this one, which I don't expect to be competitive for four quarters, I like watching matchups. Jared Allen chasing Rodgers is one, and it will be an excellent one. But it's going to be interesting to see how much the Vikings get from Antoine Winfield, the small but physical and clinging cover man who has missed six weeks with a neck injury and returns at a vital time. But the Packers will romp, because Winfield cannot clone himself.