Clark Judge, The Sports Xchange, Published October 28 2013
Week 8 recap: Stop discussing unbeaten Chiefs' scheduleKansas City hasn't beaten anyone with a winning record. Big deal.
The Chiefs are a league-best 8-0, and last time I checked style points don't matter. Plus, they have a defense that hasn't allowed more than 17 points in any game, and good defense will always take you far. The Chiefs are so good on that side of the ball that the last time anyone ... anyone ... went eight straight without allowing more than 17 points was 1977. Get used to it, people: Kansas City is going to the playoffs will push Denver at the top of the AFC.
2. Oh, and by the way, for those critics complaining about Kansas City's schedule ... tell me how many winning teams Denver has beaten. I'll spare you the trouble: Zero.
3. San Francisco and Seattle are two of the three best teams in the NFC, but they're not at the top. Not now. New Orleans is. The Saints would be 7-0 were it not for that last-minute Tom Brady miracle in New England.
4. Until Jets' quarterback Geno Smith strings together two decent performances in consecutive games you cannot buy into the guy. He not only hasn't won two straight; in games following victories, he has one touchdown pass and nine interceptions. NBC analyst Rodney Harrison said the Jets' performance was "really disappointing," but it was more than that. It was predictable.
5. For those who insist that Smith is the answer to the Jets' woes, this just in: He's no better than Mark Sanchez. Not yet, he's not. You think I'm kidding? Go to the scoreboard. In Sanchez's first eight games, he had eight touchdown passes, 10 interceptions and a passer rating of 67.56. Smith has 8 touchdown passes, 13 interceptions and a passer rating of 69.74. Sanchez was 4-4, and so is Smith. One difference: Sanchez went to the AFC championship game. These Jets won't.
6. Just when you want to believe in Dez Bryant, you see something like that sideline meltdown and a spat with Jason Witten late in the game. Guaranteed, it had something to do with the play-calling and, more specifically, with Tony Romo getting him the football. Somebody tell this guy to grow up. Maybe Witten did.
7. Sorry, but Tony Romo flunks the polygraph test when he says Bryant isn't a distraction, that he's just "competitive" and a "rah-rah" guy. One problem, Tony: You don't have to restrain "rah-rah' guys from going after teammates.
8. I'll say it again: 8-8 wins the NFC East.
9. Let's get something straight: The New York Giants aren't on a two-week tear because they've gotten better; they're there because the quarterbacks they faced stunk. Josh Freeman, Michael Vick and Matt Barkley were a combined 43 for 88, with no touchdown passes, three interceptions and a passer rating of 46.49.
10. Yep, that was Dallas owner/GM Jerry Jones who last week said he feared Reggie Bush more than Calvin Johnson. Now you understand why Dallas has one playoff win the past 16 years.
11. Say goodnight to Brandon Weeden, Cleveland. Nope, the Browns didn't win with Jason Campbell, but they looked a lot better with him. Weeden says he wants another chance and doesn't want to leave Cleveland. Yeah, well, Tampa Bay fans want a team they can be proud of, too. Some things just aren't meant to be.
12. Now the bad news, London. Jacksonville will be back. Again. Again. And again. If the NFL is so dead-set on putting a team in England why does it export its worst team? Not only can't the Jags score; their cheer team can't spell. Honest. It spelled out "JAGURAS" Sunday. Somebody tell Roger Goodell to send a letter of apology to 10 Downing Street.
13. You can tell Peyton Manning's ankles are killing him. He only had four touchdown passes.
14. There's no way to sugar-coat it. The Atlanta Falcons are toast.
15. That was Carson Palmer's eighth straight game with an interception, but who cares? The Cards found a formula that works. They didn't rely on Palmer, who had only 18 pass attempts; they relied on a rushing attack that produced 201 yards and a defense that forced four Matt Ryan interceptions. Memo to Rashard Mendenhall: Don't hurry back. Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor have you covered.
16. On an afternoon when Calvin Johnson was seven yards short of the NFL record for receiving yards in a game, it wasn't Megatron who produced the best catch of the day. It was Washington's Pierre Garcon with a leaping, one-handed sideline stab. Dez Bryant's first TD catch was a close runner-up.
17. Just a hunch, but the honeymoon is over for Chip Kelly in Philadelphia. Scoring 10 points in two weeks will do that.
18. If Miami ever is to become a factor in the AFC East, quarterback Ryan Tannehill has to stop taking so many bad sacks. Yeah, OK, so his offensive line stinks. The guy's got to have some pocket awareness, too.
19. Don't tell me Tom Brady's not hurting. He threw 22 times Sunday in a game where New England had to come from behind to win. More important, he has two touchdown passes in the past month, with two shutouts. Prior to that, he'd gone 52 consecutive games with a scoring pass. Connect the dots, Sherlock.
20. Minnesota doesn't have a quarterback controversy; it has a quarterback problem. A smart man once said that when you can't decide among three quarterbacks, it can mean only one thing: You have no quarterbacks.
FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED
1. Miami is not a serious division contender. So the Dolphins aren't even halfway through the season. It doesn't matter. They absolutely, positively had to win in New England Sunday ... and they didn't. Oh, sure, they threw a scare into New England. But they blew a 17-3 lead, and make that four straight losses, folks, with the only relief in sight a Nov. 11 date at Tampa Bay.
2. Running back Steven Jackson is no factor. The Falcons hoped to squeeze another year out of the veteran running back, but you can time the poor guy with an hour glass now. Jackson can't help the Falcons. At this point, nobody can.
3. Chicago is not the threat to Green Bay in the NFC North. It's Detroit, and you just saw why. Look for the Lions to make a second-half run. Five of their upcoming opponents are Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, the New York Giants and Minnesota, teams with a combined record of 8-29.
4. Never challenge Calvin Johnson. It doesn't matter if Dez Bryant's comments were taken out of context ... which they weren't (the guy said what he said). Johnson paid attention when Dez said he could do anything Johnson can. Except he can't. Nobody can. And Johnson just reminded us why.
5. The AFC West is better -- much better -- than anyone expected. In fact, you can put the AFC West up against the NFC West, mostly because San Diego is stronger than Arizona.
JUST ASKING BUT ...
--Who's the bigger disappointment -- Houston or Atlanta?
--Forget London. How about scheduling games for Los Angeles?
--Who had Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones in this week's pool?
--When does RG3 become RG3 again? Or does he ever?
--Can we just give Andy Reid the Coach of the Year Award now?
FIVE GUYS WHO HAVE SOME EXPLAINING TO DO
1. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He had to burn one of the Steelers' three timeouts with 1:43 left and Pittsburgh at the Oakland 12. Are you kidding me? You can't possibly make that move. Not then. Not there. It wound up costing Pittsburgh big time.
2. Dallas tackle Tyron Smith. Talk about stupid. There's just over one minute left, the Cowboys are up by three and Detroit has no timeouts. So on third down there's one mistake you cannot possibly commit: Taking a penalty. Yet that's just what Smith did, and it stopped the clock with 1:07 left. Result: It gave the Lions too much time to work the clock and the field, and you know what happened.
3. Cleveland's Davone Bess. Nobody touched him, but he fumbled a punt return anyway. Yeah, I know it happens, but it can't happen there. The Chiefs were doing nothing, and Cleveland would've had the ball in great field position. P.S. -- He dropped a last-ditch pass that would've kept the Browns' drive alive, too. No, it wasn't an easy one to make, but it was a chance for a make-good.
4. Jacksonville quarterback Chad Henne. When it's fourth-and-goal, you don't throw the ball to a covered Maurice Jones-Drew at the 3. You throw to the end zone. Just thought I'd point it out.
5. Denver cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Sorry, but the ol' 12-men-in-the-huddle trick doesn't work anymore. It not only cost the Broncos yards; it cost them a touchdown.
NUMBERS THAT MAY MEAN SOMETHING
1 -- Yards gained in the first quarter by the New York Jets
1 -- Oakland victory in the last 11 years immediately following byes
2-6 -- Record of former Denver head coaches vs. the Broncos
4 -- Calvin Johnson career games with at least 284 yards receiving
4 -- Straight games with a Terrance Williams touchdown catch
5 -- Consecutive New Orleans victories following byes
8 -- Plays of 20 or more yards for Detroit
8 -- Career games for Drew Brees with five or more TD passes
9 -- Matt Ryan interceptions in his last two games vs. Arizona
22-1 -- New England's record at home in October since 2003
201 -- Arizona Cardinals' yards rushing
623 -- Detroit's total yardage
NEXT WEEKEND'S THREE BEST GAMES
New Orleans @ N.Y. Jets
Pittsburgh @ New England
Chicago @ Green Bay
Clark Judge, a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange, has covered pro football since 1982 and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.