Steelers may be ready for latest Super run
Now that you've slept on the scores and digested the stats, here's an indepth look at Week 9 of the NFL season, with observations and analysis by the USA TODAY Sports team.
Take your time reading it while Sean Payton looks over the possible head coach openings in the NFL next season and contacts real estate agents in Philadelphia, San Diego, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Nashville and Dallas. Oh,replica christian louboutin, wait, he already has a home in the Dallas area .
1. Doug Martin can turn on the burners at the line of scrimmage. That's where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie running back's burst seems to kick in. If he's not slowed down by opposing defensive linemen, look out. That's what the Oakland Raiders learned Sunday as Martin galloped 45, 67 and 70 yards for touchdowns. Sure, in the NFL, running backs are available up and down the draft. But a burst like Martin's is difficult to find. The Bucs found it, and that's why they traded back into the first round last April to select Martin.
2. The Chicago Bears are winning big, which is not easy to do in the NFL. The Bears' 5120 drubbing of the Tennessee Titans, keyed by Charles Tillman's whopping four forced fumbles, was their fifth victory by a margin of at least 16 points. The win, which marked the first time the Bears had scored that many points since 1980, gave Chicago an average margin of victory of 18.4 points. That's second to the New England Patriots' margin of 19.2 points in wins. But that's only in victories. Factoring in losses,http://houdeblog.com/cheapjerseys/, the Bears have outscored their opponents by 116 points (the Houston Texans' 100point season differential places them second), an indication of their dominance to this point. And not just on defense.
3. Speaking of the Texans,louboutin shoes uk, they win easily when Matt Schaub doesn't throw interceptions. He has only four this season,christian louboutin shoes, and two came in Houston's lone loss. One came in a sixpoint victory over the New York Jets,christian louboutin shoes uk, and the other was in a sixpoint win over the Denver Broncos. When Schaub hasn't been picked off,christian louboutin replica, Houston has won by 20, 20, 24, 30 and 12. That last figure was the difference in Sunday's win over the Buffalo Bills, who badly needed that turnover from Schaub. They didn't get it and flew home losers.
4. The Atlanta Falcons are practically high stepping their way to homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Yes, we just talked about the scorching Bears. But the Falcons are undefeated and, while we don't think they'll go 160,michael kors outlet online, they have only one winning team left on their schedule the New York Giants and don't face them until Week 15. In the meantime, the 71 Bears will have to deal with the Texans, San Francisco 49ers and four games against NFC North rivals. Barring a run of injuries, the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC appears to run through Atlanta. Not that it guarantees anything for the Falcons, who have to prove they can win in January after failing to do so with Matt Ryan and Mike Smith.
5. Andy Dalton should be proud of his 299 yards passing Sunday. The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback is now the closest thing to a 300yard passer the Denver Broncos have seen this season. There are only two other teams who haven't allowed a quarterback to reach the 300yard plateau against them so far this year: the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets. The Broncos, as they're wont to do, forced a key turnover against Dalton on Sunday courtesy of an interception by Champ Bailey. Green near the right sideline. Peyton Manning turned it into touchdown and an 11point lead. Ball game.
6. Something is wrong with the Giants offense. Quarterback Eli Manning and receiver Victor Cruz looked like they'd never played a game together in Sunday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Manning kept firing just wide of Cruz, which has been a somewhat common sight the past few weeks with those two. And Cruz's fellow wide receiver, Hakeem Nicks, looks nothing like his normal self, even though he vowed to USA TODAY Sports last week he'd soon "emerge." The Giants face the Bengals' 19thranked pass defense Sunday and then have their bye. Here's guessing they'll soon figure things out.
7. The Dallas Cowboys must learn how to close out games. This goes back to last season when their lastsecond losses to the Giants and Arizona Cardinals factored into their seasonending fold. This year, Dallas couldn't complete a comeback against the Baltimore Ravens, lost by the length of Dez Bryant's fingertips to the Giants and then couldn't make a stop on third down in Sunday's loss to the Falcons to get the ball back. They're playing inferior teams at home for much of the second half of the season. But if they don't start putting games away, owner Jerry Jones will be beating down Jason Garrett's door the way he was pounding on the locker room entrance after being locked out Sunday night following his team's loss in the Georgia Dome.
8. Well, well,http://centrical.co.uk, well. So the Detroit Lions know how to start quickly after all. OK,cheap jerseys free shipping, so they didn't score in the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday, but they did put up three touchdowns before halftime on their way to a 3114 victory. This coming Sunday, Detroit will face the Minnesota Vikings,michael kors outlet, who have had a penchant for playing from behind lately. Start quickly again,michael kors outlet store, and the Lions could finally move above .500 after their 13 start to the season.
9. The Miami Dolphins aren't getting Reggie Bush the ball enough. Sure, he had been bothered by the knee injury suffered earlier this season against the New York Jets. But that stickintheground cutback he had on his 18yard touchdown run in the second quarter of Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts showed he's back in top form. So there's no reason for Bush to have received only 12 touches yesterday,uggs, especially with a rookie quarterback under center, no matter how impressive Ryan Tannehill has been at times.
10. While the rookie quarterbacks are flashing positive signs, the sophomore slump is in full effect. Dalton (63.9% completion rate, pace for 4,260 yards) is doing just fine, but Cam Newton (six TD passes,cheap nfl jerseys, just four on the ground, 77.7 passer rating), Christian Ponder (eight interceptions in his last five games), Blaine Gabbert (78.4 passer rating) and injured Jake Locker have struggled. We saw some panic about Ponder on Sunday. Relax,http://cheap-accommodation.co.uk, Vikings fans. The guy completed 68.6% of his passes through the first six games. In fact, let's chill on every one of these guys for now. Give them time.
Here's a glimpse at the NFL market and whether we're getting in or getting out.
BUY: The resurgence of the Green Bay Packers running game. They'll have to do it by committee, like they did Sunday against the Cardinals, but 176 yards rushing proves it's doable.
SELL: The Bengals' inability or unwillingness to trade for a running back last week. BenJarvus GreenEllis has averaged better than 4 yards per carry in just one game this season.
BUY: The Pittsburgh Steelers' mental toughness. They overcame a lot of issues dayofgame travel, bad calls in the first half and coach Mike Tomlin's bad decision to fake a chipshot field goal to beat the defending champion Giants.
SELL: The wasting of Larry Fitzgerald's prime years,cheap-accommodation.co.uk. The Cardinals are headed to their third straight season without a playoff berth. It's just not right how little we've been able to see of Fitzgerald in January games over his career.
BUY: Mikel Leshoure as the Lions' back of the future (and present) after he scored three touchdowns yesterday in the win over the Jaguars. Time to increase his workload to 20 carries or more per week.
SELL: The Cowboys scoring offense. After putting 24 on the board against the Giants last week, they were back under 20 points on Sunday for the fifth time this season.
BUY: The Ravens' resilience,louboutin replica. We warned you in not to quit on these guys despite the losses of Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb,replica louboutin. They won't quit,centrical.co.uk.
SELL: The Cleveland Browns' decision to go deep on a fourthand2 from their own 28yard line in Sunday's loss to those Ravens. Predictably, the pass from Brandon Weeden to Greg Little did not result in a completion.
BUY: Mike Shanahan a clue. The Washington Redskins coach is already talking about next season? Why is he assuming he should automatically get a next season? He's now 1427 in twoplus seasons with the 'Skins and hasn't had a winning season since 2006. When will Dan Snyder's trigger finger get itchy again?
SELL: The winner of tonight's game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints doing anything the rest of the way. You'll wonder if the victor can use it as a springboard. Don't wonder very long, though.
Week 9 awards
Comeback player of the week: No need for a downtrodden press conference this week from Cam Newton. His numbers were average,http://houdeblog.com/clreplica/, but last year's first overall pick needed a win in the worst way after a string of crushing defeats. Newton went 13for23 for 201 yards, throwing for one TD and running for another (he rushed for 37 yards). And this time, he avoided the big mistake.
Surprise performance: We knew Andrew Luck was good. But at the halfway point, he has the Colts at 53 after an NFL rookie record 433 passing yards against Miami. Most impressive is how Luck is winning he's pulling out the close games. All of Indianapolis' wins are by a touchdown or less.
Biggest disappointment: Shanahan called Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers a "mustwin." Washington responded with a 2113 loss. And now, at 36, this Robert Griffin IIIled team,uggs uk, which displayed so much promise earlier this season, is struggling in the NFC. Of course, RGIII gives the Redskins more hope than they ever had with Rex Grossman or Donovan McNabb. But the results haven't been there consistently yet.：