An interesting Week 11 is almost in the books, outside of a Buffalo-Cleveland game tonight that Bills need to win to join a pack of five other teams with a 6-4 record in the tightly jammed AFC.
The Ravens had a chance to get their first impressive victory over a definite playoff-bound team but were exposed by the balanced performance of the Giants. The good news is that the Ravens are still the current #6 seed in the AFC, and the bad news is that Philadelphia is next. The Eagles are sore after tying the lowly Bengals yesterday and Philly will present another tough challenge, but the Ravens will have an advantage at home against a team John Harbaugh knows pretty well.
The other good news for Baltimore is that four of the final six games are at home. The Ravens have the Eagles, Redskins, Steelers and Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium down the stretch.
So, Donovan McNabb and some of the other veteran Eagles didn’t know that overtime is just one period? I guess they don’t listen to the referee during the OT coin toss when he says that “one period of 15 minutes is played, each team has two timeouts and all replay challenges come from the booth.” The tie put a crimp into the Eagles postseason hopes, as it counts for one-half win, one-half loss in the standings.
The Ravens were so close to getting help from San Diego in keeping pace with the Steelers, but the Chargers defense went soft at the wrong time late in Heinz Field. The Chargers are in deep trouble with a 4-6 mark, two games behind Denver in the AFC West. The Steelers breathed a sigh of relief after almost losing a game at home in decidedly non-San Diego conditions of snow showers and cold in Pittsburgh.
Speaking of the Broncos, I had the pleasure of working with their radio network on Sunday when they faced the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. It was a battle of two of the good young QBs in the league in Denver’s Jay Cutler and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. The Broncos defense held the Falcons to 114 yards on the ground and made several big pass defenses in the second half. Ryan would get my vote after Week 10 as the NFL’s Rookie of Year over Tennessee’s Chris Johnson and the Ravens’ Joe Flacco. Meanwhile, the Broncos are confusing. Denver is 3-4 in AFC games, but 3-0 against the NFC South — one of the toughest divisions in football right now.
The best race in the AFC is in the East, where the Jets lead at 7-3, and if the Bills win tonight, the rest of the division teams would be 6-4. The East might get just one AFC playoff slot.
Tennessee, despite sleepwalking through the first half at Jacksonville, turned on the jets in the final 30 minutes to beat the Jaguars. I keep saying it — Kerry Collins could very well be the league’s MVP. The Titans are not 10-0 if Vince Young is the QB, and the Colts would be right on their heels, instead of four games back with six to play. Collins threw for 230 yards and three touchdowns. He’s not managing games for the Titans, he’s winning them with his arm.
By the way, and we are a long way away from seeing this, there is a possibility that an AFC playoff game could feature a QB matchup between the 35-year old Collins and the Jets’ 39-year-old Brett Favre. If that happens, we’ll see a lot of Flomax, Viagra and Lipitor ads during the game.
Don’t look now but Indianapolis seems to have its act together after outlasting the Texans 33-27. Peyton Manning threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns, and Marvin Harrison had 77 yards and a score on nine catches. The Colts are one of the five 6-4 teams (four are not division leaders) in the AFC with Buffalo hoping to join the group tonight.
The NFC has 12 teams with .500 (5-5) or better records compared to nine in the AFC. It looks like only one team from the NFC North (Green Bay, Chicago and Minnesota — each at 5-5) will make the playoffs, unless somebody gets real hot over the final six games. One team from the putrid NFC West (Arizona) will go. That leaves us with the East and the South for the two wild cards outside of the division winners. Don’t be surprised if the South gets both of the slots because the East clubs trailing the Giants continue to pound on each other each week.
I know Tennessee is 10-0, but the 9-1 Giants are the best team in football. They are on a mission to prove that last season’s run to the world title was not a fluke as some suggested, even after the win over the Patriots to halt New England’s perfect season. New York is balanced on offense and tough as nails on defense. There is no Super Bowl hangover for Big Blue.