What a weekend in the NFL. Upsets, close games, final second TDs. It had everything. Except predictability. So what did we learn?
1. We learned (and we hope Chan Gailey learned) that you don't hand the ball off five yards deep in the backfield on fourth and inches against a defense like the Jets. What were the Bills thinking? Key moment in the game. Inside NY territory. Struggling to move the ball and score points. Just inches to go. And you have Ryan Fitzpatrick forego the dive over the pile and try a traditional handoff. Crazy. Game over.
2. We learned that Baltimore's offense is recovering nicely, thank you. The Blackbirds duked it out with a committed, streaking Pittsburgh squad and then pushed the Steelers' defense down the field for the game-winning touchdown. Just one of the surprises I had to deal with this weekend.
3. Maybe Carson Palmer isn't the answer in Oakland. After the Raiders gave up their future to obtain Palmer from the Bengals, the expectation (and I'll be honest, I bought into it myself) was that Palmer would recover his old form and lead Oakland to the promised land. Well, Palmer was shaky in the Raiders' loss to Denver and, worse still, the rest of the Oakland team seems to have lost some of its early season intensity, believing perhaps that Palmer could carry the load by himself.
4. Is it possible it's too early to close the book on Tim Tebow? Not a spectacular passing performance but Tebow got the job done against Oakland and actually outshone Palmer in the showdown.
5. The Chiefs need to figure out who they are. How do you explain yesterday's loss (and a bad one to boot) to a previously winless Dolphin team after putting together an impressive streak? Kansas City can't seem to deal with success.
6. The Patriots' have lost their mojo. New England used to intimidate teams just by showing up but no more. The Giants played them straight up all day and came away with a surprising victory, thanks to the Pats porous defensive secondary and Eli Manning's late-game heroics. Anybody else see similarities between the way the Patriots and the Steelers lost more than just their games yesterday? They also lost their intimidation factor.
7. If Green Bay does manage to go undefeated this season, it won't have its defense to thank. What an up-and-down performance by a Packer dee that scored 14 points of its own early, then let Phillip Rivers and his receivers run up and down the field against it. The startling contrast between the Packers and the Chargers: Green Bay's offense can overcome its defense's shortcomings; San Diego doesn't have enough on offense to make up for a poor defensive club.