Just a couple weeks ago there were a bunch of NFL teams that remained undefeated. But the herd has been culled, and will likely be culled even more in the next few weeks.
Green Bay seemed to be on cruise control -- until they went to Denver. The Broncos were also undefeated. It is interesting to note that Denver could keep winning games with Peyton Manning as the weakest link. But they smoked the Cheesers.
Then the Packers went into Carolina, another undefeated team, and got beat again. Don't look now, but the Minnesota Vikings are tied with Green Bay atop the NFC central division. Chicago and Detroit both stink, so this is a two team divisional race.
But the undefeated Denver Broncos are no more. Ironically, they just got beat at Indy, by the floundering Colts -- also the same city where Peyton laid his claim to fame for so many years.
To no one's great surprise, the New England Patriots remain unbeaten. But their next game is against the NY Giants. Though up and down from week to week and year to year -- the Giants seem to have had the Patriots number in recent times. Just when you think there's NO WAY the Giants have a chance against the Pats, they'll pull an upset. Then the next week they'll stink it up again against a much lesser team. Go figure.
The Cincinnati Bengals have yet to suffer a loss, but we all know what chokers they are when the playoffs start.
And the above-mentioned Carolina Panthers still have a zero in the loss column after dispatching Green Bay. It's amazing what Carolina and especially QB Cam Newton have done so far this season. Newton is definitely the real deal, arguably the most all-around talented QB in the whole league. But how far can these guys go with a one man show leading a team of no-names? They don't have a star running back, notable receivers, or a smothering defense. They just keep finding ways to win. Further, of their 8 remaining games, they only have two against a quality opponent. Home and home versus Atlanta in December, two weeks apart.
Thing is, while likely few would project Carolina to be Super Bowl caliber, if they can go, say, 13-3, 14-2, or heaven forbid 15-1 -- they'd likely lock up home field advantage during the NFC playoffs. The Panthers could be a very tough out playing on their own turf in the postseason. But the Super Bowl? Somehow that just doesn't sound right.
But now that Denver has tasted defeat, and Green Bay twice, the undefeated herd has been whittled down to only 3. The Pats, Panthers, and Bengals. And it's probably a very good bet that by the time Santa Claus is just beginning to think about packing up his sleigh to make his yearly rounds, at least a couple of those will bite the dust as well.
Regardless, in the AFC, somebody's going to have to go into Foxborough and knock off the Pats. Good luck with that. Who is capable? Cinci? Denver? Not likely as long as Tom Brady stays healthy. But a potential wild card team like the Steelers, if Big Ben ever gets fully healthy again, could pull off a shocker. Bill Belichick might be a football genius, but never count out Mike Tomlin's team. They'll fight for the full 60 minutes, and if there's a way to win, they might just find it. Ya never know.
The NFC is tougher to figure. The Packers have certainly shown themselves to be vulnerable the last two weeks. True, they got beat by two (then) undefeated teams, both road games. No shame in that. Next week they host the hapless Detroit Lions. It should be a blow-out to right the good ship Cheeser. But if, OMG, the Lions were to win that game, the Packers could go into a tailspin. Broncos and Panthers are one thing but -- getting beat by the Lions at home? Whoa. Have the masses ever rioted in Green Bay before? That could get ugly.
The Vikings are coming on. Who knows what the wacky NY Giants might do in an otherwise mostly weak division and, as mentioned above, Carolina's going to be in the mix. Nobody seems to know what the hell Chip Kelly is up to in Philly, and the once under the radar but high flying Atlanta Falcons just got beat by the lowly 49ers. That wasn't supposed to happen. A seven point spread said so.
Team to watch out for. The Arizona Cardinals. Though they had a bye week this week, after the first half of the season Carson Palmer and Co. had put up the most points in the league. More than the offensive juggernaut Patriots.
Idle thought: The Monday night game features the Chicago Bears taking on the San Diego Chargers? 2-5 against 2-6? What nitwit network executives came up with this idea? Even several months ago, when the TV folks were planning their schedule, it was obvious neither one of these teams would remotely resemble contenders this year. Then again, maybe it's a test to see just how addicted and dumb rabid NFL fans really are. If they can score high Nielsen ratings featuring that pitiful match-up, this country's in more trouble than I thought. Forget the Donald, Hill, Ben, and Bernie. Maybe Roger Goodell should run for President. Scary thing is -- he just might get elected.
God help us.....