Who will make it through to the AFC playoffs? The contenders up to this point include New England and the New York Jets in the AFC East; Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the North; Houston and Jacksonville from the South and San Diego from the West. All have a group of tough games that will determine their destiny.
Here is a list of key upcoming games for AFC teams that will help shape the playoff picture:
- Baltimore at Cincinnati, Nov. 8. The Ravens can tighten things up with a win.
- New England at Indianapolis, Nov. 15. The teams are 3-3 against each other in the regular season since 2003, and this could help determine home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
- Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, Nov. 15. Steelers want to exact revenge for loss at Cincinnati, and it could be for first place in the division.
- Jacksonville at New York Jets, Nov. 15. Might be key for both in contending for a wild-card berth.
- New York Jets at New England, Nov. 22. Could be for first place in the division.
- San Diego at Denver, Nov. 22. Chargers can make things more interesting in the West while bettering their playoff chances.
- Pittsburgh at Baltimore, Nov. 29. Another AFC North matchup that could be for the division lead.
- Indianapolis at Houston, Nov. 29. The Texans will need this one to help their wild-card chances.
- Most Opportunistic Defense: Pittsburgh Steelers. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley ran back a Brett Favre fumble 77 yards for a touchdown, followed by Keyaron Fox’s 82-yard deflected interception return for another score in the Steelers 27-17 win over the Vikings in Week 7.
- Getting Crushed At Home: The St. Louis Rams are 0-3 at home this season, losing to Green Bay, Minnesota and Indianapolis by a combined score of 116-33. And it doesn’t get any better with the Saints and Cardinals up next on their home schedule.
- Best Comeback: New Orleans trailed Miami 24-3 in the second quarter in Week 7 but rallied for a 46-34 win, racking up 302 yards and 36 points in the second half.
- Dynamic Duo: In the New York Jets 38-0 whitewash over Oakland on Oct. 25, Shonn Greene ran for 144 yards while Thomas Jones rushed for 121. They are the first pair of Jets to rush for over 120 yards each since John Riggins and Carl Garrett in 1975.
- Welcome to the NFL: Michael Crabtree caught five passes for 56 yards in his first game with the 49ers since ending his 71-day holdout.
Did You Know?
Four teams started 6-0 this season—Denver, Indianapolis, Minnesota and New Orleans—the most such teams in a single season in NFL history.
Torching His Former Team
The relationship between Cedric Benson and Chicago never worked out but Cincinnati loves the former Bear. Benson, the Bears top draft pick in 2005, ran for a career-high 189 yards and a touchdown in the Bengals 45-10 blowout over Chicago in Week 7.
In 18 games with Cincinnati, Benson has rushed for more than 100 yards six times. When he played for the Bears, Benson had just two such games out of 35.
Here is the list of the most common injuries reported by NFL teams last week:
- Knee, 31
- Ankle, 19
- Hamstring, 18
- Shoulder, 16
- Foot, 15
- Groin, 6
- Calf, 5
- Hip, 4
- Quadricep, 4
“I didn’t eat much before the game (upset stomach) and, on the sideline, I asked someone for a hot dog. I’m going to get in trouble for that.”
–Jets QB Mark Sanchez, on getting caught by cameras eating a hot dog on the bench during a game at Oakland
Indianapolis Colts’ Jim Caldwell and Denver’s Josh McDaniels are the first pair of rookie head coaches to each start 6-0 since the 1970 merger. The three rookie coaches who went solo with 6-0 starts were Chuck Knox in 1973 with the Rams, Red Miller with the Broncos in 1977 and Mike Martz in 2000 with the Rams… Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had his 19th 300-yard passing game in Week 7, six more than former Dallas QB Troy Aikman.
Copyright © 2009 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.