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New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and the rest of the NFL stories from Sunday

You have to just love the knee-jerk reactions by NFL fans and television personalities. In September, the New England Patriots and Tom Brady were considered done by many analyst and fans. Some Pittsburgh Steelers fans were trying to fire head coach Mike Tomlin and the San Diego Chargers were considered the second best team in the AFC. As we enter November, the Patriots are the best team in the AFC, Steelers are 4-1 in their last five games and the Chargers have lost three straight games.

 

Someone forgot to tell the Patriots That They Are No Longer Good 

Ever since September 29 when ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer proclaimed that quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots “are not good anymore,” they have made the former quarterback eat his words. After the Patriots Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the team has won five straight games and Brady has been the best quarterback in the NFL.

In his last five games, Brady has thrown 18 touchdowns and only one interceptions. In the Patriots’ 43-21 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the 15th-year veteran passed for 333 yards and four touchdowns.

New England is 7-2 overall and the team is in excellent position to clinch the number one seed in AFC. When fans and analyst were saying Brady and the Patriots were done, I thought it was premature considering they were only 2-2 at the time. So much for the Patriots not being good anymore.

Remember When the Steelers Were Being Criticized?  

After the Steelers’ 31-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Oct.12, former Steeler coach Bill Cowher and former player Hines Ward both described the team as “soft.” Since then, the Steelers have been one of the better teams in the entire NFL.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is having an MVP type season. He has thrown for 2,720 yards, 22 touchdowns and only has three interceptions. 12 of Roethlisberger’s 22 touchdowns have come in the Steelers’ last two games. Not only are the Steelers getting contributions on offense, they are also starting to play more aggressively on defense.

Veteran James Harrison has turned back the clock during the Steelers’ last two games. The linebacker has four sacks in his past two games and now leads the Steelers in that category. Harrison is looking more like the player who was once the most feared defensive player in the NFL for five seasons in Pittsburgh than the one who was an afterthought with the Cincinnati Bengals last season.

While the Steelers defense isn’t playing like their Steel-Curtain days, the team is still finding ways to win by attacking defenses in the air. The AFC North is up for grabs, but the Steelers are playing better than anyone in that division.

What Happened to the Chargers?

On Sunday, the San Diego Chargers (5-4) lost their third straight game (37-0) to the Miami Dolphins and were shut out for the first time since 1999. Quarterback Philip Rivers finished the game 8-of-16 for 96 yards and three interceptions and he had a passer rating of 31.0, which is his lowest he has posted since becoming a starter in 2006.

The defense hasn’t played well during the Chargers’ three-game losing streak. San Diego has allowed over 100 yards rushing each of the last four weeks and hasn’t recorded a quarterback sack in three weeks.

Dwight Freeney, who was supposed to help the Chargers’ pass rush this season, hasn’t recorded a sack since September. Defensive end Corey Luiget has only one sack in the last six games.

San Diego will have a bye week in Week 10 before playing the Oakland Raiders at home on November 16. After playing the Raiders, the Chargers will still have games against the Patriots, Ravens, Broncos, Chiefs and 49ers on their schedule. At 5-4, the road to the playoffs is going to be a difficult one for the Chargers.

Other quick takeaways from Sunday:The Oakland Raiders (0-8) lost to the Seahawks 30-24 on Sunday. You have to feel bad for the Raiders since they are a team that plays hard every Sunday. I have watched the team since I was five-years-old and I have never seen them at a lower point. Hopefully they can get at least one victory before the end of the season.

I don’t know how the Arizona Cardinals (7-1) keeps winning, but they keep doing it. Their offense is 16th in passing yards, 28th in rushing and they are dead last in passing yards given up on defense. Arizona (7-1), has sole possession of the best record in the NFC this late in the season for the first time since 1974.

If the Miami Dolphins continue to play like they have the past three weeks, they’re a shoe-in for the playoffs. Not only is quarterback Ryan Tannehill playing some of the best football of his career, the Dolphins’ defense has been outstanding. The team currently ranks third in the league in total defense.

Non-NFL Related Topics

I don’t know if Will Muschamp’s saved his job with the Florida Gators’ 38-20 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday, but it will quiet his naysayers for a week. Muschamp probably needs to win out in order to save his job. I doubt the Gators will beat Florida State, but stranger things have happened.

Congratulations to the East Carolina Pirates as they pissed away 17 million dollars by losing to the Temple Owls 20-10 on Saturday. Had ECU won out, they would have been in a major bowl game for the first time since the 1992 Peach Bowl. The last three weeks, the team was playing like they could just show up and defeat their opponents and they got snake bitten on Saturday. It is going to be hard for head coach Ruffin McNeil to motivate ECU to play for a spot in Miami Beach Bowl.

 

 

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