So, was anyone else surprised that the Chicago Bears actually managed to defeat the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field?
True, there was no way to foresee the injury to Aaron Rodgers. But still, the Bears have been an up and down, streaky team for a number of years now. They seem to get off to hot starts, and then cool down as the season progresses. Also, they tend not to do so great when they have to play at Lambeau. So, those two things combined led me to believe that they were heading for a loss.
But I was wrong. The Bears played an exceptional game. True, Rodgers got injured, but that is part of the game as well. Cutler himself has been injured numerous times during his career, and this has hurt Chicago's chances in the past. Now, it has happened to Green Bay, rather uncharacteristically. Usually, the only thing you hear from Rodgers would be good news. Not last night, though. The Packers will have to adjust.
And this was a very tough loss for them. They had suffered some early season losses against San Francisco and Cincinnati, but had since gotten things straight enough to muster up an impressive win streak, and place themselves alone atop the division. Now, with one loss, just like that, they are in currently in a three way tie for first place, along with the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears. Not long ago, the Packers would have buried the Bears by halftime in a game like this. Now, they got beat. This will force people to continue to question just how much the Packers have dropped off in recent seasons. More importantly, they just have to hope that Rodgers will be alright, and ready to play some football next week.
Week 10 Predictions:
First up, Washington will visit the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday.
Most likely, the correct way to see this would be that Washington is relevant, and Minnesota is not, and so the Vikings, despite having home field advantage, will go down again.
But Minnesota was actually quite competitive in their last couple of games, fighting hard against Green Bay at home, and very nearly pulling off a huge upset in Dallas. They have to win some time, and Washington, frankly, is not all that great themselves. Of course, Washington has huge incentive to win, in order to keep pace with Philadelphia, and especially Dallas, and not fall even further back then they are. Also, to stay safely ahead of the cellar dweller Giants.
That said, Minnesota has played well for a reason. They are one of the few teams (as well as the Steelers, Falcons, and Giants), who were expected to be relevant, and possibly a playoff contender this season, and instead find themselves struggling mightily, and unable to really show so far what they are capable of. So, my prediction right off the bat is an upset, with Minnesota finally pulling off this week what they have not in the last few weeks, despite playing well: a win.
On Sunday, there are a bunch of other intriguing match-ups. The Bears, fresh off their victory on the road at Green Bay, will return to the comfortable confines of home at Soldier Field, hosting their division rival Detroit Lions. These two teams are tied for first place, of course, so neither needs a reminder of just how big this game is going to be.
Now, I know picking against the Bears again would be a mistake, especially since Detroit has hardly been a great away team recently. But I'm going to do it again, and say that Detroit will do some things offensively to pull off a huge road win. I could be wrong, of course, but I'm still not convinced that Chicago is really that good just yet.
Two struggling, disappointed and disappointing teams take the field when the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Buffalo Bills. Pittsburgh has to be reeling, after getting torched for 55 points by the Patriots. The once vaunted Steel Curtain defense is now Swiss cheese. But Buffalo has suffered numerous tough defeats themselves this season. They have played well, but keep finding themselves just short of winning. Despite being on the road, I think the Bills straighten out enough to take this game, and get a win that keeps them, at least for now, relatively relevant.
The Giants host the Oakland Raiders. New York is aiming for a third win in a row, and they should feel well rested after a bye week. They also absolutely need this win to keep any flicker of hope for this season alive. As for the Raiders, they have been largely improved, and playing fairly well this season, and the defense was a large part of that. They were overshadowed for much of this season so far by the two elite teams in the division: namely, the Dnver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. But now, after a historical loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, where they got absolutely humiliated at home, the Raiders really want to respond in a positive fashion, making this a more intriguing match then expected. Still, I like the Giants in this one, and convincingly. Let's hope my Giants reward my faith in them!
One match up that suddenly looks very interesting is Cincinnati at Baltimore. The Bengals were seemingly on the verger of running away with the division, before losing in very disappointing fashion at Miami. In the meanwhile, Baltimore's title defense has not been all that great, and is bordering on being a fiasco if they keep losing. This is a must win for them now, and this is perhaps the most important game of their season. For the Bengals, they also need to bounce back from their loss, and get back on track to stay safely ahead of Cleveland and, yes, Baltimore. It should be a tough one, but I like the Bengals pulling it off, perhaps needing a strong fourth quarter to take it in the waning minutes.
In St. Louis, I like the Colts remaining on a roll, and collecting another notch in the "W" column. Jacksonville should lose once again at Tennessee. No real reason to see why the Jaguars would suddenly be able to win against a team that seems suddenly to be riding sky high. Seattle should win against the Falcons at Atlanta, as the woes in Georgia continue. The Seahawks received a wake-up call last weekend, and they now need to stay sharp to remain ahead of the 49ers in the division, and possibly ahead of them, as well as the Saints, in the race for home field advantage in the NFC. The Cardinals should be able to defeat Houston, although it should be very close, and come down to the waning moments in the game. Denver should be able to defeat a tough and feisty San Diego team, but they have to play their best in order to do so. No sleep walking through this one, or it will be a defeat.
Speaking of San Fran, they have a tough game coming up: hosting Carolina. I know, the Panthers have been under the radar. But thy have quietly put together an impressive four game winning streak, and with good reason. Their defense is on fire, and very intense. The 49ers have an elite squad themselves, of course. I see this one as being close, coming down to the wire in the fourth quarter. And maybe I am making a mistake again, but I like Carolina for the upset!
On Sunday Night Football, the Dallas Cowboys will visit the New Orleans Saints. The Cowboys managed to avoid a huge and costly upset art home against the Vikings, and remain atop the NFC East. In the meantime, New Orleans lost in disappointing fashion to the Jets, and want to rebound. I believe that they will, with a convincing victory against Dallas.
Finally, on Monday Night Football, I like Tampa Bay taking advantage of the turmoil going on presently with the Dolphins, and finally notching their first victory against their cross state rivals.
So, Nadal claims that being number one is not really his goal these days anymore. After being sidelined with an injury that kept him out of tournaments - and relevancy - he is just glad to be competitive again.
In a recent article from Martyn Herman of Reuters, Nadal says that, while he would obviously like to be number one, it is no longer the main point for him. He has already been there, having ended both 2008 and 2010 as the top ranked men's player in the world. It would be nice to do so again in 2013, but he is happy to be back out there competing on a high level, and does not feel that he needs that top spot to feel good about himself, or his career.
Here are some of his own words, taken from the article (link posted below):
"Yes, I would rather be number one than not," the 27-year-old told reporters at the ATP World Tour Finals in London on Monday. "(But) it's not the goal anymore."
"It was (a goal) to end the year as number one in 2008 because you want to have it so you can say you had a great career. It would be sad not to be," Nadal, wearing a white "Vamos Rafa" T-shirt, said at the giant Thames-side O2 Arena.
"Now the goal is to be competitive. It makes me more happy to go to a tournament and win it. Being number one doesn't make me feel more special when I'm playing a big tournament."
"I've already ended the year twice as number one and if it happens again, great, but it won't affect how I look back on my career.
"I know you like the history of the number one ranking but for me the history of the year is my history after seven months not having the chance to compete and in a very short period of time being competitive again.
"Sure I doubted it, even today I have doubts," he added. "The doubts are part of life. The person who doesn't have doubts is either stupid or arrogant and I don't consider myself like this."
"Being number one is not the goal anymore, says Nadal" Reuters By Martyn Herman, November 4, 2013:
French Ligue 1 Standings, taken from Yahoo! Sports: