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Week 8 Observations

The Patriots seem like a smoke and mirrors team - good enough to outsmart most opponents, especially in the regular season, but not good enough to face top defenses or go deep into the postseason.

Some number crunching systems graded the Rams as far and away the worst team in the NFL prior to Week 8, while the Saints were among the elite. Those systems were not wrong - the Rams performance through six games was that bad. But it does show how sometimes past performance is not always a great indication of future results. If it were, teams would rarely get a lot better or worse during the season - something we observe all the time.

The Ravens came back to win against the Cardinals, but after losing in Jacksonville and being life and death against Arizona at home, it's hard to take them seriously as a threat to win the Super Bowl. Joe Flacco bounced back for 336 yards, but it took him 51 attempts to get there against an abysmal Arizona defense.

Chris Johnson and DeAngelo Williams are going to cost running backs like Fred Jackson and Peyton Hillis (assuming he ever returns to last year's form) a lot of money. The Frank Gore extension (which looked awful through four weeks) is a relative bargain.

Now that Adrian Peterson once again has a role in the passing game, he's the No. 1 overall back and probably the No. 1 overall player. Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy and Calvin Johnson deserve some consideration, too.

Eli Manning's averaging 303 yards per game this year, and he would have had about 450 on Sunday had his receivers not dropped a few perfectly thrown balls. The Giants schedule gets brutal - @NE, @SF, vs. PHI, @NO, vs. GB, @DAL, vs. WAS, @NYJ and vs. DAL - the rest of the way, but NE, GB and WAS are in the bottom third in YPA allowed, and only NO is in the top third. In other words, those are good teams, but if anything, most of them (other than the 49ers and Jets) are likely to score points and force Manning to throw in the second half.

Assuming the Packers are the class of the NFL, what team would you give the best chance of beating them? I'd have to say the Eagles, who were a Desmond Bishop ankle tackle of DeSean Jackson away from knocking them out of the playoffs last year. Incidentally, Andy Reid is now 13-0 coming off the bye week. I wonder whether that'll be priced into the line next year. It certainly wasn't this year. And every team except the Pats won after the week off, so the notion that the new bye-week rules made a difference is probably false.

The Tim Tebow experiment might not last a whole lot longer - 4.4 YPA not including seven sacks for another 55 yards lost is far below the baseline above which intangibles like leadership and inspiration could possibly make a difference. From a fantasy perspective, it's nice that he tries so hard in garbage time, but it seems like Broncos management knows the season is lost and is simply allowing Tebow to prove he's in over his head, so that they won't have to deal with fans clamoring for him while they try to develop a real quarterback. I hope he proves me wrong because I have him in two important leagues, but my faith is waning.

I have to admit Ryan Mathews simply can't stay healthy. I'll give a mulligan to players who simply have had bad luck, but he seems to leave almost every week with one injury or another and doesn't play through it.

The Geico caveman commercials were *never* funny. At this point, they're embarrassing.

The Browns are incapable of producing any player with fantasy value.

I had the Titans in survivor this week, and while they were up 20-0 early, I had a slight scare early in the third quarter when the Colts drove down the field and had a 4th and goal from the Titans four. When Jim Caldwell settled for a field goal to make it 20-3. I pumped my fist, called my brother and said: "That's why we backed the Titans this week!" I almost admire the unique and fathomless cowardice it takes to do that when you're 0-7 and down 20 on the road in the second half. From a different perspective the decision could be looked at as art.

How unsurprised are you that the Chargers fumbled away a sure regulation win, incidentally?

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