Fennelly on Football: NFL Week 11
John Fennelly , Executive Editor
The Giants took the wrong week to take their bye. Not for them, they needed it, but for everyone else around here. When there is only one team playing in New York, local media outlets send more resources in that direction. That direction is Florham Park, the headquarters of Woody Johnson’s New York Jets.
That media crush will ease as the Jets travel to St.Louis this weekend, where they are 3 1/2 point underdogs to the Rams – a team that has not had a winning record since 2003 and are 18-71 since 2007. If that isn’t the worst record over that period, it’s close. You get the point. This is where the Jets are at these days. If the NFL Draft were held tomorrow, the Jets would draft either 7th or 8th overall.
The Jets are exposed this week with the Giants on a bye. Their many troubles have bubbled to the surface, and rather than me tell tell you about them, I’ll defer to the SNY experts (see left nav bar). They have it covered, ad nauseum.
The NFC East will effectively eliminate one team from contention this Sunday when the Eagles (3-6) head to Washington to play the 3-6 Redskins. The loser will have seven losses with six games to go. The consensus is that nine wins could win the division, meaning the winner will have to go 5-1 the rest of the way to have a chance. Judging by the way these two teams have played this season, that would be just short of miraculous.
The Cowboys (4-5) can get to within one game of the first-place Giants with a win at home over 2-7 Cleveland. The Browns are playing out the string with what is assumed a lame-duck coaching staff. Now that Mike Holmgren is gone after the ownership change, head coach Pat Shurmur is sure to be replaced. The team’s performance alone should take care of that.
With seven weeks remaining, the NFC has eight teams over .500 and the AFC has six. The NFC, naturally, has a more muddled picture. The AFC will probably hit the wire the same order they are coming down the stretch.
New England is running uncontested in the East; Baltimore can make a statement with a win in Pittsburgh this week; Houston only has to fend off Indy and does anyone see San Diego, Oakland or Kansas City catching Denver?
In the NFC East, the Cowboys begin a three-game home stand that – if they sweep – could draw them even or put them ahead of the Giants with three games to go. The Falcons have a three-game lead in the South that no one sees them blowing. The West, where the 49ers were heavily favored before the season, could suddenly be a horse race. The Seahawks are in it at 6-4 and the Niners are shaky at QB with Alex Smith going down with a concussion.
The North is where the real battle is. “Experts” love the Bears (7-2). I don’t, even with Jay Cutler. Too much football to be played. They go to San Fran this week and could lose their second in row. The rest of their schedule is not as easy as one might think: Green Bay, Minnesota twice, Seattle and the final two on road in Arizona and Detroit. Perhaps they will prove me wrong. If they can win four and get to 11 wins, they can win the division.
They could get lucky this week because the 6-3 Packers are in Detroit to face the underachieving Lions (4-5), who look ready to break out. Minnesota (6-4) is the dark horse here. They still have to play the Bears and Packers twice each and will have a say in who wins this division one way or another.