By Tony McClean
Updated: November 2, 2006
NEW HAVEN, Ct.
— Some observations following another week of sellouts (entering this weekend, all NFL games have been sold out 72 hours before game time), and close games in the NFL.
– No matter what the Indianapolis Colts do for the rest of the regular season, the bottom line for Tony Dungy’s bunch is that nothing they do between September and December is really going to matter. It may not be fair, but even with all they’ve shown this season, it’s all about the postseason for this club. Until they either reach and or win a Super Bowl, as far as I’m concerned they’re just a glorified version of Dan Fouts’ Chargers of the 1980′s.
– While Tony Romo got all the media hype, Seattle’s Seneca Wallace didn’t do a bad job in his first career start as well this past weekend. Despite the 35-28 loss at Arrowhead, the former Iowa State was finally given the opportunity to show his stuff (15 for 30 for 198 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions) for the Seahawks. The rest of the nation will get a chance to see him Monday night against the suddenly “hot” Oakland Raiders.
– While it won’t get all the hype that it received back in 1985, Sunday’s Dolphins at Bears match up is somewhat similar to that much ballyhooed battle over two decades ago. While no is trying to call Joey Harrington a “Dan Marino-type”, Da Bears’ defense is maintaining the tradition of their “Super Bowl Shuffle” brethren. The match up is a good prelude to their showdown with the Giants next weekend.
– Note to Jets fans: Stop whining about how Gang Green got “screwed” in Cleveland and ask your defenders why they allowed Ruben “American Idol” Droughns to do his best Jim Brown/Leroy Kelly impersonation. You don’t allow yourself to play down to the level of the competition, especially a team that had just “fired” its offensive coordinator. You may 4-4 and right behind the Pats, but after watching you on Sunday and New England on Monday night, that gap is larger than you think.
FACTOID OF THE WEEK At the 2006 midpoint, there are 19 clubs with a .500-or-above record, tying 1978 and 1987 for the second most since the 16-game season began in 1978. There were 20 such teams in 1989 after eight weeks.
TRIVIA QUESTION Which player was the fastest to reach 9,000 rushing yards and 5,000 receiving yards in a career?
A. Tiki Barber B. Roger Craig C. Marcus Allen D. Marshall Faulk
(The answer comes at the end of the column).
LAST WEEK: 7-7 (67-43 overall)
Another one of those weeks where we hit on some upsets and got burned by a few. Have the Eagles packed it in since the Dallas win or are they snake bit? I’ll chalk up the Tuna Helpers win under the Clint Longley factor. Steeler fans, we warned you about Oakland, but I thought that at least the defense would show up. However, we did have the Falcons winning Cincy and the Pats winning at the Metrodome.
The battle for the top spot in the AFC North will be up for grabs in this one. Both teams come into this one in different directions. Baltimore put the clamps on tyhe Saints while the Bengals were outgunned at home by Michael Vick and the Falcons. The difference in this one will likely be the defenses. To no ones surprise, Baltimore comes with a defense that leads the league in interceptions (15) and ties Chicago for total takeaways (22). That’s why we’ll lean with the home team in this one.
CHIEFS at RAMS
Two teams who are still entertaining on offense and a bit of a nightmare on defense meet up at the Edward Jones Dome. K.C. got a four-touchdown performance from Larry Johnson (pictured) in last week’s win against Seattle. The Rams were on the short end of a shootout with the Chargers at Qualcomm. St. Louis has been a gaudy 44-15 at home since 1999, but they still have an inconsistent overall defense. Damon Huard has been doing the job (4-2 in his starts) while Reverend Herm’s squad awaits the return of Trent Green. We may have ourselves a new QB controversy swirling in K.C., especially if Chiefs win this one.
COWBOYS at REDSKINS
Well you can’t deny that Romo-Cop looked awfully good against the Panthers last week. But now he must face Dallas’ long standing rival on the road in a game in which the loser probably will be on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. Back in September, the Tuna Helpers defeated Washington rather handily 27-10. Dallas is looking to sweep the Skins for the first time since 2004. While this may go against my better judgment, I’ll go with the “most desperate team” angle and give this one to the Skins.
COLTS at PATRIOTS
We’ve already told you about what we feel about the Colts in our opening shot. As for the Pats, going into the season I felt that they were a bit vulnerable. Shame on me and everyone else who semi wrote this team off. They’re still not the most talented or most exciting team to watch, but they just “do the damn thing”. Most importantly, they still win. This is just the kind of game that a Bill Belichick-coached team wins, even with the short week.
MONDAY RAIDERS at SEAHAWKS
Much like last week, the Seahawks get ready to face one of their former long time foes in the AFC West. This time, they’ll get a Raiders squad that has rallied to win two straight. In fact, Oakland becomes the ninth team since 1990 to face the previous season’s Super Bowl participants in back-to-back weeks. By the way, neither of those teams have ever won both games. While I think Art’s boys will try to keep it close, I get the feeling that the streak will continue.
Saints over Bucs: Look for the Bayou’s favorite sons to bounce back.
Falcons over Lions: The scary thing about No. 7 is that he can get even better than he is now.
Giants over Texans: Just a formality before the Monsters of the Midway show up next week.
Bears over Dolphins: I don’t think the ’72 Dolphins will show up on the sidelines of Chicago like they did in 1985. It’s gonna be way too cold for those old guys.
Chargers over Browns: Sorry, Romeo. It’s back to reality this week.
Jaguars over Titans: Tennessee will keep it close, but not enough to win it.
Packers over Bills: Just for laughs (and to keep the six fans at this game warm) they should play this in Jamaica. That’s the only way to keep this one interesting.
Broncos over Steelers: Denver gets its revenge…..about 10 months too late!!!!
Vikings over 49ers: Look for the Minnesota offense to take out its frustrations on the Frisco defense.
BYES: Cardinals, Panthers, Jets, Eagles.
TRIVIA ANSWER: It took Marshall Faulk just 119 games to reach the 9,000 rushing and 5,000 receiving yards barrier. Currently, Faulk has 12,279 career rushing yards and 6,875 career receiving yards.