November 20, 2006


Out of nowhere: Romo, Gore, Rivers ... hard to believe this year's stars (Peter King, November 20, 2006, Sports Illustrated)

Weird stuff happens every year in the NFL. I'm not saying this year has any more than normal, but consider these unlikely happenings on Sunday, and where we are at the 10-game mark of the 2006 season:

• With a first-year quarterback playing, the Chargers have come back from 21- and 17-point deficits on the road to beat playoff teams in successive weeks. With Philip Rivers under center, San Diego has put up 49 points on Cincinnati and 35 on Denver and taken the mantel from Indianapolis as the game's most exhilarating offense.

• Speaking of the Colts, they lost. The sun rose this morning. Almost predictable after nine season-opening wins, especially against a physical 3-4 defensive front, which always vexes Peyton Manning. The odd thing here: Someone named Tony Romo outplayed Manning down the stretch and beat him. [...]

The Fine Fifteen

1. San Diego (8-2). This team is something special. Without Shawne Merriman and Luis Castillo (arguably their two most important defensive players) for the second straight week, the Chargers won the toughest road game on their schedule.

2. Indianapolis (9-1). Not a horrible loss. Not at all. The only thing that should bug coach Tony Dungy is that this was a physical foe, very physical, and the Colts didn't pass the test.

3. Chicago (9-1). I'm impressed with the Bears. After losing to the Dolphins in an alarm-clock kind of game, Chicago went on the road to face playoff contenders in back-to-back weeks at the Meadowlands and won both games by double digits.

4. Denver (7-3). I'll tell you what's unfair: Having the Broncos play Sunday night, then Denver having a very short week coming back to play on the road Thursday night.

5. Baltimore (8-2). Ray Lewis had blood drained from his back Thursday and wanted to play so bad against Atlanta that he urged defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to persuade coach Brian Billick to let him play. No chance, Billick said. Good news for Ravenites: Lewis has no structural damage to his back from the kneeing by Ed Reed two weeks ago, and he should be fine for the final six games.

6. Dallas (6-4). Any game that TonyRomo's in, Dallas has a chance.

7. New England (7-3). This week's sign that the Patriots are zoned in: On the two-hour flight from Green Bay to Providence Sunday evening, Tom Brady watched footage of the Bears' defense.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 20, 2006 7:24 AM
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