From the Desk of Eagles Outsider Barry Bowe
and then there were four . . .
In a battle of undefeated teams last Sunday Night, the Broncos and Peyton Manning surprisingly destroyed the Packers and Aaron Rodgers by a count of 29-10 in Denver. Myself, I’d picked Rodgers to outduel the previously struggling Peyton Manning.
But I was way off, and it wasn’t much of a game as the Packers landed on their collective – pardon my French – asses, and dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten. Now, just four undefeated teams remain:
- Patriots 7-0
- Bengals 7-0
- Broncos 7-0
- Panthers 7-0
Next up for the Broncos are the Colts in Indy. And if you think the NFC East is a woeful division, the Colts – with a record of 3-and-5 – are tied for first place in the AFC South with the Houston Texans.
Looming ahead is a November 29 meeting with the Patriots. If the both teams make it that far with unblemished records, one of them will definitely fall that day.
Meanwhile, the Bengals and Panthers barely escaped defeat:
GREAT ESCAPE ONE
In a low-scoring game in Pittsburgh, the Steelers led for the first three quarters. Going into the final stanza, the Bengals trailed 10-6 as Andy Dalton couldn’t come close to getting his team into the end zone.
Then with just 2:37 left to play, Dalton connected with A. J. Green on a 9-yard TD pass to put the Bengals on top for the first time. Mike Nugent’s PAT made it 13-10.
One play after the ensuing kickoff, Ben Roethlisberger was picked off by Reggie Nelson. The Bengals converted the turnover into a field goal and a 16-10 lead.
The Steelers had one more chance and Roethlisberger moved the team down the field and into the Red Zone. But needing a touchdown, the Steelers ran out of time and the Bengals remained undefeated.
Next up are the cross-state rival Browns on Thursday Night Football. Despite the rivalry, I don’t see the Browns pulling off an upset.
Looming on the Bengals schedule are three challenging matchups:
- November 22 on the road against the Cardinals.
- Novemeber 29 versus the Rams at home.
- December 13 versus the Steelers at home.
GREAT ESCAPE TWO
Much of the Colts-Panthers game was played in a constant rain on Monday Night Football in Carolina. The rain made for:
- shoddy play
- frequent fumbles
- trouble passing and catching the football
And the Panthers padded the lead to 23-6 early in the third quarter.
Up until that point, Andrew Luck – who ranks high on my list of over-rated quarterbacks – looked terrible. He was both indecisive and inaccurate on his throws. That combo led to three interceptions.
But then the rain slackened and Luck made a 180-degree about-face.
He then led three consecutive scoring drives:
- 86 yards in 8 plays capped with an 18-yard pass to Andre Johnson.
- 57 yards in 8 plays that led to 8-yard TD pass to Coby Fleener.
- 54 yards in 16 plays that led to a 24-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri that tied the game 23-23 on the last play as time ran out and sent the game into overtime.
In overtime, the Colts got the ball first and Vinatieri kicked a 23-yarder that gave them a 26-23 lead.
In a score-or-lose situation, Cam Newton moved his team into field-goal range and Graham Gano connected from 42 yards to tie the game 26-26.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Colts couldn’t move the ball.
Nor could the Panthers, but they did get close enough for Gano to try a 52-yarder for the win – and he hit it. The Panthers won 29-26 and remained undefeated for at least another week. Next up are the Packers at home – but I believe the Packers will be seekng atonement for their poor showing against the Broncos.
If the Panthers make it past the Packers this week, I see two additional hurdles for them:
- December 6 on the road against the resurgent Saints.
- December 13 against the Falcons at home.
The Patriots looked like the best team in the NFL as they took apart the Dolphins 36-7 last Thursday night. The Pats should have little trouble with the Redskins at home this Sunday. And I see just three games that could give them trouble:
- November 29 on the road against the Broncos.
- December 27 on the road against the Jets.
- January 3 on the road for a rematch with the Dolphins.
The Patriots look like my biggest threat to chugging champagne this season.
If you’re curious about my fascination with undefeated teams and the motivation for writing the Undefeated Week segments, just CLICK HERE.
In addition to being the official Eagles Outsider for BlameMyFather.com Barry Bowe is also the author of: