Another moment of silence before last night's game to honor the victims of the Paris attacks and show a sign of solidarity.
As for the game, however, I admittedly did not expect the Bengals to lose the game last night to the Texans. They had been playing so well, racing off to a franchise best 8-0 start. They had an unusually long rest period heading into it. Not a bye, no, but their last game had been 11 days before, on a Thursday evening. That is ten days off entirely from playing a game, which is quite long. And they even had some measure of a revenge factor against this franchise in particular, since the Texans had knocked the Bengals out of the playoffs not once, but twice in fairly recent years.
None of that mattered yesterday, as the Texans defense just stymied the Bengals offense, choking the life out of them and making them tap out, essentially.
The final score was 10-6, and Cincinnati had some opportunities late in the game to strong together a solid drive and put themselves in position to win it. However, the Houston defense was able to hold the Bengals off consistently, and made a 4-point lead feel like a 14-point lead, as they handed Cincinnati their first, and so far only, loss of the season.
And now, there are only two undefeated teams remaining, - the Carolina Panthers and the New England Patriots. The last three weeks have been unusual in the sense that in each week, one of the undefeated teams has dropped their first game. Two weekends ago, the Packers lost the big showdown at Denver. Then last weekend, the Broncos were beaten at Indianapolis. Incidentally, neither the Packers nor the Broncos have managed to win a game since suffering their first losses of the season. Both teams seem to be facing some serious problems, with the Packers suddenly unable to score at will, nor stop their opponents from scoring, the way that they were doing earlier this season. As for the Broncos, their defense, which looked like one of the all-time great units just a few weeks ago, is now showing a lot more vulnerabilities, and Peyton Manning is seriously hurting, and even having trouble simply walking.
Now this weekend, the Bengals are the latest of the formerly unbeaten teams to fall. Let's see if they manage to avoid slipping into some massive slide, like the other two teams did.
So, let us begin the preview of next week with the Thursday Night Football predictions and see if, among other things, one of the unbeaten teams will be knocked off for a third straight week:
(Thursday Night Football) Tennessee at Jacksonville - Tennessee has been playing well lately, but then again, so has Jacksonville. With home field advantage, the Jaguars should be able to pull this one off.
Washington at Carolina - It would be hard not to pick Carolina to win this one. After all, they are playing at home against a weaker team. They are 9-0, a best in franchise history. Barring a letdown, they should beat Washington, and keep their perfect record intact.
NY Jets at Houston - The Jets are struggling, having lost three of their last four games, while the Texans are rocking after knocking off the Bengals and ending their perfect season at 8-0. With home field advantage, the Texans pull off the win, as they see an opportunity to possibly steal the division title from the struggling Colts.
St. Louis at Baltimore - The Ravens are really not that good this season, while the Rams are trying to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive. I like the Rams in this one.
Dallas at Miami - Sorry, Cowboys fans. But your team is going to suffer an eighth loss in a row. I'm beginning to wonder if they are going to win another contest in the 2015 season. They should, but when? And is it time to start thinking about acquiring the first pick in the draft, which the Cowboys, owners of the longest active losing streak in the league, are seriously in the running for. But Tony Romo is back. This should be a tough game, but the Dolphins should be able to take it.
Tampa Bay at Philadelphia - The Bucs are hot, and dangerous. But the Eagles are still tough, and fighting for first in the NFC East. I like Philly.
Oakland at Detroit - The Lions just got a huge victory, winning their first game at Lambeau Field in nearly a quarter century. But they will likely lose to the Raiders, who are a very improved team, and are making a run for the playoffs.
Denver at Chicago - Two teams heading in opposite directions right now. Denver has the talent to win this game and, really, should win this game. But the Bears are hot right now, playing extremely well the last couple of weekends, and I would not be surprised at all should Chicago find a way to win this one. In fact, it would be so unsurprising, that I will go ahead and predict a Chicago victory over Denver this weekend.
Indianapolis at Atlanta - The Colts are going through a tough season, but then again, so are the Falcons. Usually, Atlanta is a tough place to play, and the Falcons desperately need a win, although so do the Colts, who suddenly have an apparently serious challenger in the Texans within their division. A tough one to call, but I'll pick Atlanta at home.
Green Bay at Minnesota - This game came just in the nick of time, right when this rivalry is at the hottest that it has been since the days when Favre and Rodgers dueled. Traditionally, the Packers usually struggle in Minnesota. But I suspect that the Packers are sharp and refocused after three consecutive disappointments, and that they will be focused like we have not seen them since their undefeated, 6-0 start. An upset win on the road for the Packers, I think.
San Francisco at Seattle - The Seahawks are tough at home, despite their loss against the Arizona Cardinals last weekend. They should bounce back with a solid enough victory over the 49ers in this contest.
Kansas City at San Diego - The Chiefs are hot. Really hot. And San Diego's not. Really not. That adds up to a road win for the Chiefs, who have somehow gotten themselves back into the playoff picture after a miserable start to the season.
(Sunday Night Football) Cincinnati at Arizona - The Cardinals are red hot, while Cincy will be stinging from that first defeat. With home field advantage, the Cardinals should take this one.
Monday Night Football - Buffalo at New England - New England should win this one, and move their record to 10-0. You have to figure that the Patriots are going to lose sooner or later. Still, it is difficult to pick against them. I have to go with New England.