Monday Night Football
Well, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally got their first win of the season. They were the last remaining team in the NFL without a win so far this season.
They did not make it look easy, although they probably should have.
Tampa took a sizable lead at 15-0, which they held until just before the first half, when Ryan Tennehill found Rishard Matthews for a 6-yard touchdown, closing the margin to 15-7 just in time for halftime. It was the beginning of a swing in momentum, as Miami scored 19 straight points, which the Bucs did not respond to until the fourth quarter.
Miami then completely dominated the third quarter, getting two field goals, as well as another touchdown when Tennehill found Matthews again - this time for a 19-yard touchdown. The two point conversion attempt afterward failed.
Even when Tampa finally scored a touchdown well into the fourth quarter to take a lead, the outcome was in doubt. Tampa Bay had lost four of it's eight defeats prior to last night after having led in the fourth quarter - to the New York Jets, the New Orleans Saints, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Seattle Seahawks.
So, nobody was celebrating on the Tampa Bay sideline. Not yet.
But Tampa Bays defense was able to hold off Miami's offense, and secure the win.
It has obviously been a very frustrating season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year, as high expectations going into the season with a revamped defense turned sour as the losses piled up. Still, Tampa finally has reason to celebrate this season, as they finally get past one opponent, and can now breathe easier, as they prepare for next week.
The Colts will try to rebound from a shocking blowout loss to the Rams at home this past Sunday, as they travel to Tennessee. The Titans themselves will try to redeem themselves, after handing the Jacksonville Jaguars their first, and so far only, win of the season.
The Titans are also just trying to keep pace with the Colts and keep the division race alive for a little while longer.
But I don't think they will. The Colts are a very good team, while the Titans, while having shown signs of improvement, generally tend to fade away late in the season like this. Expect it again, beginning with a loss to the Colts on Thursday Night Football that would essentially pave the way for them to win this division running away.
The Houston Texans, a team that had figured to contend for the AFC South, will host the Raiders on Sunday. Not sure about this one, since the Raiders are tough, but the Texans have been showing signs of life. Unfortunately, I think that Lombardi was right, and losing is a habit. I expect a tight one, but the Raiders have more to fight for, and should pull off this win, after two straight tough losses to NFC East opponents.
Arizona visits Jacksonville. The Cardinals entered the season free of the pressure of very high expectations, but Chris Palmer seems to be playing well and, more importantly, the Cardinals are winning. Expect another win for them this Sunday, as the Jaguars return to losing.
In an important AFC North showdown, the Bengals will try to return to playoff form on Sunday, as they host the Cleveland Browns, who are coming off a bye week. This is a tough game, and I like the way Cleveland is playing. If they can pull this one off, they have a very real chance at a surprise division title. Unfortunately, playing in Cincinnati never seems to be good news for them, and I will predict that this tend will not change on Sunday.
The Pittsburgh Steelers won last week when the Buffalo Bills came to town. This weekend, it is the Detroit Lions, who have taken the lead in the NFC North race, and should roll right along with a nice road win here, as they prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving game.
Baltimore visits Chicago, and this should be a tough game. The Ravens have looked the part of a defending champion seldom this season, and mostly only at home. The Chicago Bears are hurting from a tough home loss to the Lions last weekend, and should have extra motivation to win this weekend. So, I see the Ravens road woes continuing, as Chicago puts together a strong game to try not to fall too far behind Detroit.
It felt good for the Vikings to finally win last week against Washington, but don't expect them to pull off a second win in a row, as they visit the red-hot Seahawks in the place where they play at their best: Seattle. I'm not sure Minnesota can even keep it close.
The Giants host the Green Bay Packers, who have a bunch of quarterbacks on the injured reserve list. The Giants have now won three games in a row, and I will predict that they make it four in a row, as they batter a weakened Green Bay franchise that seems to have lost all of their early momentum this season, following the injury to Aaron Rodgers a couple of weeks ago. it is hard to imagine that only ten days ago, the Packers were 5-2, and looking very good in the NFC North. Now, they are 5-4 after two home losses, without a proven quarterback at the helm, and finding themselves struggling not to fall even further behind in that division race.
Tampa Bay will try to win their second in a row, as they host Atlanta. Both of these teams entered the season with high expectations, particularly the Falcons. Atlanta got blown out at home against the Seahawks last week, while the Bucs should be riding high following their first win. I like Tampa Bay to win this one.
The New York Jets will need everything that they have to try and put together their first back-to-back wins this weekend at Buffalo. The Jets are the better team, but the Bills are usually pretty tough up in Buffalo. Still, New York is coming off a bye, and the Bills have to be dispirited after some really tough losses, one after the other, this season. Expect another one, as the Jets finally break the win one, lose one pattern.
The Chargers are clinging to slim hopes of making the playoffs, as they visit the Miami Dolphins, who obviously have their own problems at the moment. I think San Diego will put it all together, and the whole Incognito distraction forces this team to lose yet again. Remember, the Miami Dolphins started off 3-0, and their only win since then was a couple of weeks ago against Cincinnati. The season is unraveling, and I can't imagine them reversing that trend at this point.
Now, we get to the big showdowns. The 49ers visit the New Orleans Saints, who rebounded from a disappointing loss to the Jets to absolutely crush Dallas. I expect them to win, albeit in a tougher way, against San Francisco.
The biggest showdown this week will come on Sunday evening, when the Denver Broncos host the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, who are coming off a bye week. Peyton Manning was shaken up last week, but it was determined that he will definitely play in this one. Expect a relatively close game early, but the Broncos should gain momentum as the game wears on, and I see them winning relatively convincingly. Not blowing out the Chiefs, but winning with a solid statement game.
Finally, another good match-up on Monday Night Football, as the Carolina Panthers host the New England Patriots. People are finally beginning to take notice of the Carolina Panthers and their tough defense, and some people are even labeling them a Super Bowl contender. Maybe, indeed. They are indeed very tough defensively that has not allowed any opponents to score more than 24 points, and opponents have only managed 115 points against them - the second fewest allowed, after the Kansas City Chiefs. Plus, the Panthers are very tough at home, and they should get past the Patriots in this one.
Ingognito Situation in Miami
Stephen Ross, the owner of the Miami Dolphins, stepped up to the plate and finally addressed the situation that has been developing in Miami over the controversy between alleged bullying and harassment of Jonathan Martin by teammate Richie Incognito.
He mentioned that the Dolphins organization cares about Martin, and wants the best for him, mentioning him by name several times.
Also, he formed a makeshift committee of former NFL stars to come up with a "code of conducts that suits the 21st century". This committee consists of former Patriots and Jets running back Curtis Martin, Jason Taylor, Tony Dungy, Don Shula, and Dan Marino.
Here is the article that I got this information from, and which delves deeper into the matter:
"Dolphins hit rock bottom in loss to Bucs, but someone finally showed leadership" by Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports, November 12, 2013: