The Cleveland Browns might have been on the bye in Week 8, but that didn't prevent them from gaining ground on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North. Sure, being three games behind as opposed to three and a half games behind isn't something to get overly giddy about, but seeing the rest of the AFC North teams fall in defeat was the best thing the Browns could have hoped for during their time off.
After beating the Cincinnati Bengals earlier in the season too, check out where the Browns now rank in the AFC North (pictured right). The Browns have been a better football team this year than the Bengals, so it's good to see it pay off in the standings.
Since there isn't a Browns game to review this week, here are some notes and nuggets I have from Week 8 around the NFL:
- Overall, I thought the quality of many of the NFL games on Sunday was pretty low. Maybe it was just due to the games shown on local television here in Cleveland; every time I flipped the channel, receivers were dropping wide open passes, teams couldn't convert third-and-short rushing situations, timeouts were being burned unnecessarily, etc. I was particularly disappointed in the Jets' receivers dropping so many passes, and it wasn't even Braylon Edwards' fault.
- I started Jon Kitna over Tom Brady in my fantasy league this week because I felt the Cowboys would be in a shootout with the Jaguars. I didn't get to see the Cowboys game live, so when I kept seeing the interceptions pile up for Kitna after seemingly being able to move the ball well enough, I was surprised -- Kitna isn't "great," but I don't think of him as being careless with the football. Upon seeing the highlights of the game, I saw the receivers hang him out to dry with dropped passes that then deflected into the arms of a defender. Kitna's poor statistical day didn't hurt me out too bad fantasy wise -- he only had one less point that Brady would've gotten me.
- Speaking of fantasy football, I need Neil Rackers to score more than four points this week. If he does, I'll end my losing streak and pick up a much-needed win. I'll be kicking myself if he gets shutout or something, because I dropped Garrett Hartley heading into this week, and he would've already secured the win for me.
- I don't remember the last time I've seen (or rather heard about) sheer dominance in the NFL like I have the past two weeks with the Oakland Raiders. They destroyed the Denver Broncos two weeks ago 59-14. They did the same thing to the Seattle Seahawks 33-3 on Sunday. Neither of those opponents are great football teams, but in a league that is full of upsets these days, you don't see any football teams just dominate games the way they have. Is this a sign of things to come for Oakland? If I'm CBS, I'd put Oakland vs. Kansas City as my featured game next week. I bet they won't though.
- I still like seeing Derek Anderson play, but Cardinals fans are 100% starting to experience what Cleveland fans had to deal with. He had the Cardinals in position to at least tie the game against Tampa Bay on Sunday, and then fired a pass into triple coverage that got picked off. After the interception, he threw his hands on top of his head like he did so often here.
- Holy crap. As I'm writing this article, it says that the Minnesota Vikings just waived Randy Moss.
- When Mike Shanahan pulled Donovan McNabb for Rex Grossman, I think it was a terrible decision because Grossman is a turnover machine and not the type of guy who is going to spark that team suddenly. Now, when McNabb was in Philadelphia, I did always notice that the Eagles always did a horrible job in the two minute offense in terms of managing the clock. I never knew whether to blame that on Andy Reid or McNabb. Nonetheless, you can't pull McNabb in that situation -- this is a veteran quarterback who is trying to lead a decent Washington team to the playoffs.
- The Saints struggled in the first half much like they did to the Browns, but they seemed to get things together in the second half, much to the delight of Cleveland fans. The bigger key was the fact that their defense, which has been playing well, finally started forcing turnovers.
- I'm going to have a hard time dissecting the New England Patriots this week. Much like the past, they don't have a flashy or "dominant" looking team on paper, but the guys they have always combine together for a well-executed gameplan. Right now, they have the best record in the AFC. Tom Brady is getting more time to throw the football, and they are finding a little bit more success on the ground. I think their defense can be broken down with a physical running back. I think this is a really compelling matchup this week, even when you don't figure in the whole Mangini vs. Belichick storyline.
- Buffalo keeps playing hard and Ryan Fitzpatrick is much better than Trent Edwards ever was. I hope they pick up a victory before they face Cleveland though -- I'm always weary of facing desperate teams who fight hard.
- Don't you hate inconsistent football teams? That's what defines teams like the Jaguars and the Seahawks, particularly the Jaguars. How can you have such drastic hot and cold performances? I can't explain it.
- Is it going to be a recurring trend each week that Vince Young plays, gets hurt, and then has to be replaced by Kerry Collins?
- I know the Browns' fake punt run by Reggie Hodges went for 68 yards last week, but it's pretty odd for the Jets to fake a punt in a 4th-and-18 situation, backed up as far as they were, when you have a defense that is excellent. It backfired, as they didn't convert and Green Bay managed a field goal.
- I'm happy to hear that Troy Smith picked up the win in London for the 49ers and played fairly well, even if he did connect on a lucky Hail Mary heave at one point. Despite the 49ers' poor record and how the Rams have played better than expected, Mike Singletary is right -- his team still has a great shot at winning the NFC West. As it stands right now, his team should have the best chance at getting back on track and seizing the division.
Brett Favre remains tough as nails. Was there really ever any doubt that his streak would end? I thought he managed the game pretty well in the first half with shorter throws that were along the types he made last year.
- How about the Saints and the Patriots coming up with goal line stands? Those stands are the difference between those teams winning this weekend.
- Tonight, I like the Colts to beat the Texans, even without Dallas Clark and Austin Collie. Why? Because they still have Peyton Manning. It's almost like you could plug in a guy off the street in that offense at receiver and have them look great with Manning.