Posted 11/16/2010 at 02:23 PM
While the games on the field featured great drama last week there was no change in the BCS standings. Boise State closed the gap with TCU and most project that the Broncos could pass the Frogs in the final weeks. Wisconsin put up 83 points while Ohio State trailed early but the Buckeyes picked up some ground in what could be a critical Rose Bowl tiebreaker should the conference end with a three-team tie. LSU and Stanford maintained their status as the top one loss contenders but odds are one of those teams is left out of the BCS equation as LSU can’t play in the SEC title game and Stanford is not likely to catch Oregon.
As long as Oregon and Auburn stay clean in the loss column there will not be a lot to talk about but as both teams showed last week it will not be an easy task the rest of the way. The Cam Newton saga could make things very messy but getting by Alabama and South Carolina will be bigger hurdles for the Tigers. Oregon was a short field goal away from losing last week as well and after a bye week the Ducks will face two very difficult conference games.
Just when it looked like the Giants had taken charge in the NFC, the new look Cowboys scored a major upset to open up the pack. Atlanta’s big Thursday win likely gives the Falcons the top spot for the moment but it seems quite clear there are no dominant teams in the conference. In the AFC the East division features the top two squads with the Jets and Patriots getting big wins last week. They will meet in a few weeks but both teams have several tough games down the stretch so a top seed may not be on the line.
A big storyline the last few weeks has been the emergence of young Quarterbacks. Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford have not looked out of place as NFL starters and both are avoiding the rookie mistakes that often doom teams. Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman are also leading their teams to possible playoff runs in their second seasons in the league. Finally getting chances to play Ryan Fitzpatrick and Troy Smith have also been nice stories in recent weeks. On the other end of the spectrum has been the fall of Carson Palmer. A few years ago Palmer was of the more promising QBs in the league but he has been an interception magnet this season despite arguably throwing to one of the most talented groups of receivers in the league. The big addition of Terrell Owens has not paid off in Cincinnati and so far adding Randy Moss has not helped two teams this season.
How tough can the NFL be to handicap? Name off the top of your head the best defenses in the league that played last week, whether based on statistics or just your overall impression. Likely that group might include the Steelers, Ravens, and Jets, with a second tier group that might include teams like the Vikings, Chiefs, and Giants. All six of those teams allowed 20 or more points last week, with the Steelers allowing 39 points, the Giants allowing 33 points and the Chiefs allowing 49 points. The Jets are the only team in that group that won last week and while New York has won ugly in several games, winning those games can be the trademark of a true contender.