Previewing NFL Week 9

Not a great weekend for national TV attractions.

The Thursday night game was a rout with the Packers clobbering an injury-riddled San Francisco team, 34-17.

The Monday night game is the winless Jets against the struggling Patriots.

And the Sunday doubleheader game is rich in tradition – Pittsburgh vs. Dallas – because they’ve played each other three times in the Super Bowl. But with the Steelers unbeaten and the Cowboys struggling, it doesn’t look like a good matchup.

Fortunately, the Sunday night game –New Orleans at Tampa Bay – should be a good one featuring two aging quarterbacks – Tom Brady and Drew Brees – although Brees probably won’t be 100 percent.

—One of the better games — 6-1 Seattle at 6-2 Buffalo — will be a 1 p.m. Sunday game. The Seahawks probably have the edge with Russell Wilson having an MVP season. The Seahawks are the only NFC team with fewer than two losses so they have the inside track on the top seed.

Another good 1 p.m. game features the 5-3 Bears at the 5-2 Titans. The key to this game is which Nick Foles will show up. He’s been very inconsistent since getting the Bears starting job. He shows flashes of being the Super Bowl Foles at times but also reverts to his journeyman status at times.

The third good 1 p.m. games features two 5-2 teams – Ravens and Colts. The Ravens are already two games behind the Steelers in the loss column in their division and can’t afford another loss while the Colts are tied with the Titans for first place in the AFC South. There’s a lot at stake in this game.

—The 7-1 Chiefs, still trying to beat out unbeaten Pittsburgh for the top seed in the AFC, figures to beat an NFC foe – the 3-5 Panthers.

—The 5-2 Cardinals are a game behind Seattle in the NFC West and can’t afford to stumble against 4-3 Miami. Tua Tagovailoa made his first start last week for Miami against the Rams and looked shaky but the Dolphins pulled it out with big plays on defense and special teams. Tagovailoa has to play better if the Dolphins have a chance to upset the Cardinals.

—And then there’s the 3-4 Broncos vs. the 2-6 Falcons, the 3-4 Lions at the 2-5 Vikings, the 1-6 Texans vs. the 1-6 Jaguars, the 1-7 Giants vs. the 2-5 Redskins, and the 2-5 Patriots at the 0-8 Jets. Enough said about those games. A lot of bad games this weekend.

NFL Week 8 in review

The Pittsburgh Steelers have emerged as the team the Kansas City Chiefs are going to have to beat if they’re going to become the first team since the 2003-2004 Patriots to repeat.

The Steelers, the league’s only unbeaten team, tied their best start ever by boosting their record to 7-0 with a 28-24 shootout win over the Ravens.

The last time they started out 7-0 was in 1978, when they were on their way to their third Super Bowl victory in five years.

The Chiefs, meanwhile boosted their record to 7-1 with their rout of the winless Jets.

Nobody will be surprised if the Chiefs and Steelers wind up meeting in the AFC title game.

—Lamar Jackson was in position to throw the game-winning pass on the final play but it went incomplete. Still, even though he almost pulled it out, the Ravens have to be worried about the fact his stats have declined from his MVP season last year and he was guilty of four turnovers. At 5-2 and facing the rematch against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, they will probably wind up being a wild-card team.

—Only one team in the NFC – the 6-1 Seahawks – has fewer than two losses. They cruised to a 37-27 victory over the 49ers. Russell Wilson threw for four touchdowns to boost his total to 26 in just seven games. He is on track to win MVP honors.

—The 49ers lost both quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end George Kittle and with a 4-4 record at the halfway point the odds are against them making a playoff run in the second half of the season.

—The Rams fell to 5-3 with a stunning 28-17 loss to the Dolphins, who won with Tua Tagavailoa making his first start and having little impact. He threw for only 93 yards but Jared Goff threw two picks and fumbled twice. The Dolphins have to wonder if they benched Ryan Fitzpatrick too soon and the Rams have to wonder about Goff’s future.

—Joe Burrow showed he is for real as the rookie threw for two fourth period touchdown passes to lead the Bengals to a 31-20 victory over the Titans, who dropped to 5-2 and may not be headed to the AFC title game again.

—And last but not least, the Patriots’ two-decade, six Super Bowl dynasty appeared to end with a 24-21 loss to the Bills as Cam Newton ended their bid to pull it out with a fourth period fumble in the red zone. The Patriots are 2-5, obviously miss Tom Brady and have been hurt by poor personnel decisions by Bill Belichick, who made two questionable coaching decisions, kicking a field goal on third down at the end of the first half and trying an onside kick with the score tied 14-14 in the second half. Belichick is now blaming the salary cap for the team’s demise when he said the team sold out to win their last three two-decade Super Bowls. But the Patriots have never been big spenders in the salary cap era. Strange to hear Belichick making excuses. Belichick should look in the mirror. His mantra is Do Your Job. Belichick hasn’t done his very well as GM and coach the last couple of years.

Previewing NFL Week 8

The feature attraction this weekend is 6-0 Pittsburgh vs. 5-1 Baltimore — one of the best rivalries in the NFL.

And there is a lot at stake with Pittsburgh the league’s last unbeaten team and Baltimore trying to tie them for first place in the AFC North. A loss would drop the Ravens two games back.

The only thing surprising about this game is that it isn’t in prime time or even the doubleheader game. It is one of the CBS five 1 p.m. games so a lot of fans won’t see it.

Still, it could be showcase game for Yann Ngakoue, who wouldn’t have played in high stakes games like this if he had stayed in Jacksonville.

Walterfootball.com predicted he will be “enormous” against the Steelers because their right tackle is injured.

—The end of a dynasty apparently isn’t good TV. The New England-Buffalo game will be shown only in New England and New York. A Buffalo win will all but end the Patriots’ dynasty and their domination of the AFC East. A loss would drop the Pats to 2-5 and leave them three games behind the Bills, who come in 5-2 in the loss column. It will also indicate that GM Bill Belichick hasn’t done a good personnel job in recent years to give coach Belichick a competitive team. Brady held it all together the last few years but with him gone, the Patriots are being exposed as a team that not only won’t win the Super Bowl, it may not even make the playoffs.

—It is hard to believe that the Sunday night game is Dallas at Philadelphia. NBC is showing clips from the days when it used to be a great rivalry to try to hype the game. Now the Eagles are actually leading the division at 2-4-1, with the Cowboys at 2-5. With Andy Dalton out and rookie Ben DiNucci, a seventh-round draft pick from James Madison starting, the Cowboys have virtually no chance of winning. Admit it. How many readers ever heard of DiNucci?

—The Monday night game isn’t much better with Tampa Bay going to the 1-6 Giants. This should be an easy one for Tom Brady as he attempts to boost the Bucs to 6-2 at the halfway mark. Playing with a better team around him than he had in New England in recent years, Brady is looking as if he found the fountain of youth.

—The Seahawks, coming off their first loss of the season, will be favored to beat the 49ers, who boosted their record to 4-3 with the easy victory over the Patriots last week. A loss would drop the 49ers three games behind the Seahawks in the NFC West and probably doom their chances of winning the division. Look for Russell Wilson to have a big game coming off a loss.

—The game pitting the 5-2 Bears vs. the 4-2 Saints looks like a good one on paper, but might not be on the field if Nick Foles and the Bears offense doesn’t rebound from their Monday loss to the Rams. It is always difficult to figure which Foles will show up each week.

—The 5-1 Titans get the 1-6 Bengals this week while the 6-1 Chiefs get the winless Jets. Enough said about those two games.

—Tua Tagovailoa makes his debut at quarterback for the 3-3 Dolphins at the 5-2 Rams. If Tua struggles, the Dolphins may be second guessed for benching Ryan Fitzpatrick, who probably would have given the Dolphins a better chance to win.

NFL Week 7 in review

As the season nears the halfway mark, there is one unbeaten team (Pittsburgh) and one winless team (the Jets).

The Steelers remained unbeaten by handing Tennessee its first loss while the Jets fell to the Bills, who ended a two-game losing streak.

The odds are better that the Jets will go winless than the Steelers will go unbeaten.

–Seattle fell from the unbeaten ranks when Kyler Murray beat them in a comeback in the same stadium where the Seahawks lost the Super Bowl to the Patriots. The loss means there is a three-team race in the NFC West with the Seahawks at 5-1 and the Cardinals and Rams a game back at 5-2. It was a costly loss three-team for the Seahawks, who would have had a two-game edge over the Rams and a three game margin over the Cardinals in the loss column with a win.

–Speaking of the Patriots, they’re 2-4 without Tom Brady after being routed by the 49ers. Meanwhile, Brady is 5-2 with the Bucs after the easy win over the Raiders.

–The Lions may have a shot at saving Matt Patricia’s job after evening their record to 3-3 with the victory over the Falcons, who probably would have won if Todd Gurley hadn’t gone into the end zone while trying to stop at the one to take time off the clock. That gave Matthew Stafford time to put together a game-winning drive.

–How Nick Foles beat Brady in a Super Bowl remains one of the most inexplicable results in NFL history. He’s back struggling with the Bears and threw two picks against the Rams. Mitch Trubisky had better stats and he was benched Foles.

–Who needs third down? The Chiefs went 0-for-8 on third down and still crushed the Broncos to boost their record to 6-1. The Broncos are 2-4. That Elway guy was a better QB than he is a GM.

–It’s a two-team race in the AFC South. The Titans are 5-1 and the Colts are 4-2 while the Jaguars and Texans are 1-6.

–The Steelers are the only unbeaten team at 6-0 but the Ravens are nipping at their heels at 5-1. The Browns are 5-2 after the victory over the Bengals but don’t have the look of a contender because they were crushed by the Steelers a week ago, 38-7.

–Jerry Jones is good at making money. Running a football team? Not so much. The Cowboys fell to 2-5 after being routed by the Washington football club. Yes, the Cowboys have been hit hard by injuries but they look like a team that was overrated coming into the season. Hard to believe the Cowboys are still in the division race, tied with Washington and a half game back of the 2-4-1 Eagles.

Previewing NFL Week 7

The highlight game this week features a pair of 5-0 teams – Titans vs. Steelers. The only surprising thing about this game is that it is not only not in prime time, it’s now even a doubleheader game. It has a 1 p.m. start. But since CBS has only two other 1 p.m. games it will be like a national game with most of the country seeing it.

—The 5-0 Seahawks will aim to join the Steeler-Titan winner at 6-0. The face a test against the 4-2 Cardinals, who need a victory to avoid falling three games behind the Seahawks in the loss column so they have more at stake.

—The 5-1 Chiefs figure to go to 6-1 against the 2-3 Broncos, who need a victory to avoid falling three games behind the Chiefs in the loss column.

—The New England Patriots are learning that life without Tom Brady can be challenging. They’re 2-3 and need a victory over the 2-3 49ers with both teams trying to avoid a 2-4 start.

—Meanwhile, Brady has the Bucs at 3-2 and faces a 3-2 Raider team coached by the same Jon Gruden, who was coaching the Raiders when they lost the Brady Tuck Rule game in the snow that started the Patriot dynasty. The Raiders have been hit by a Covid outbreak so it is uncertain how prepared they will be for the game.

—After losing two in a row, Buffalo has a get-well game against the winless Jets, who have the inside track in the Trevor Lawrence Derby.–The Panthers and Saints face a critical in the NFC South with both teams at 3-2.–Nick Foles has come off the bench to lead the Bears to a 5-1 start and now he faces a challenging game against the 4-2 Rams.