5:26AM. That is the time the Sunday night game finished this week and we didn't even go into overtime. Yet while my sleep pattern isn't something most people care about, the fact the Cardinals went to Seattle and dropped 39 on that vaunted D is something worth noting. Carson Palmer is the #2 contender to the MVP honours (Tom Brady kinda has that race locked up) and the variety of options he has to throw to is drool-worthy. Larry Fitzgerald looks like the Larry Fitz who was catching balls from Kurt Warner in 2008 and 2009. Lots to like about the Cardinals and they are back on Sunday night this week for a match against the undefeated Bengals. Another one well worth staying up late for. I will say this, I think that Arizona are the best team in the NFC.
Next up: home v Cincinnati
The Vikings are 7-2. They are the proud owners of a five-game winning streak. For my money they have the best RB in the game in Adrian Peterson and they have a defense that can shut down Oakland's pretty good passing attack. These Vikings are one of those teams you want your team to face on paper but they don't seemingly do anything below average. I might be late to the party on Minnesota and I'm not completely sold, but there is no doubt whatsoever that they are trending in the right direction.
Next up: home v Green Bay
The Packers @ Vikings is a live game in the late window on Sunday so I will be here with a full preview later in the week.
My Jacksonville Jaguars. I can finally write with absolute fairness that my Jags are trending upwards. The win in Baltimore on Sunday was in large part to one of the top five dumbest plays I've ever seen in the NFL but at 3-6, they are only a game back from the division leading Colts. I'm still not sold on the Jags D but I think Blake Bortles is improving and in Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson, they have two wide receivers who are a real threat. I am not aboard the Jags post-season bandwagon just yet but I have made discreet enquiries as to bandwagon hire costs...
Next up: home v Tennessee
So here we are. The section that several people on twitter are keenly awaiting. My mea culpa on Peyton Manning. Well guess what? I've never been one to make people happy. I don't know if Peyton was hurt or not on Sunday. What I will say is he was not the same QB as in the previous two weeks, where he had made significant strides forward in his throwing motion. He was abject, atrocious, a sad sight for sore eyes. Yet I will stay here on my little island looking over at the growing number of talking heads who believe that he is done and still believe he has one run left in him. Some call it denial, some say I know nothing, I like to call it belief in my own two eyes over fantasy numbers. One final thing on this, why are so many people gleeful that Manning had an absolute stinker on Sunday? All he has been is consistently great and classy. An undoubted first-round Hall of Famer, yet people seem overjoyed that he is having a tough time. Human nature, folks...
Still, Denver are dropping like a stone, but they win the AFC West with or without Peyton. If they are going to go deep in January though, Peyton has to be fit, healthy and at least league average.
Next up: @ Chicago
The Broncos @ Bears is a live game in the early window on Sunday so I will be here with a full preview later in the week.
Green Bay Packers
DON'T PANIC, MR MAINWARING. DON'T PANIC! Actually, if Lance-Corporal Jones was telling his commanding officer about what Green Bay Packer fans will have been feeling this week then panic is very much the correct emotion. Losing at Denver is understandable. Losing at Carolina is understandable. Losing at home to the Detroit Lions, less so. The visitors even desperately tried to give the Packers every chance to win but they couldn't take it. The Packers hadn't been beaten at Lambeau Field by the Lions since 1991. The Packers are now in a real battle to win the NFC North. The offense can't get going and I'm starting to think they might be one and done in the play-offs.
Next up: @ Minnesota
No team has appeared in the trending down column more than the Seattle Seahawks this season. The reason is simple, I had very high hopes and this team keeps disappointing. On Sunday night they changed momentum, two strip sacks led to touchdowns and they went from out of the game to leading in two minutes. The decibel level was high and everything was going one way. Yet they lost - and deserved to lose. The Seahawks' lock down corners were attacked and beaten all night. They aren't winning the NFC West but get this - they might not even make the tournament.
Next up: home v San Francisco
2pt back Jacksonville to win the AFC South at 6/1 on the Sportsbook