Adam Best and the rabid football fans at Fan-Sided Blogs will weigh in with the perspective from the bleachers, couches and sports bars after each week's games.
The Tennessee Titans rocked their Smurf unis Monday night, but they also finally rocked their archrival Gargamel -- the Indianapolis Colts. The biggest reason? Papa Smurf, aka Jeff Fisher. For the first time, his Titans, not the Colts, were the favorites. The nation tuned in to see if his 6-0 team was for real, or rather simply a byproduct of a schedule softer than the hefty human race of "Wall-E." It was a statement game, and Fisher made sure his team delivered. In one fell swoop, the Fisher King's squad re-corked the premature bubbly of the '72 Phins and became the new bully of the AFC South.
NFL Week 8
Week 8 action
Cowboys 13, Bucs 9 -- Recap | Box
Panthers 27, Cardinals 23 -- Recap | Box
Eagles 27, Falcons 14 -- Recap | Box
Patriots 23, Rams 16 -- Recap | Box
Redskins 25, Lions 17 -- Recap | Box
Saints 37, Chargers 32 -- Recap | Box
Ravens 29, Raiders 10 -- Recap | Box
Dolphins 25, Bills 16 -- Recap | Box
Jets 28, Chiefs 24 -- Recap | Box
Texans 35, Bengals 6 -- Recap | Box
Browns 23, Jaguars 17 -- Recap | Box
Giants 21, Steelers 14 -- Recap | Box
Seahawks 34, 49ers 13 -- Recap | Box
Titans 31, Colts 21 -- Recap | Box
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Coming into the game, I think every sofa signal caller in the country wondered how good these Titans truly were. If football was art, I might have called the Titans a rip-off. Upon first glance, the painting was impressive and appeared to be authentic, but upon further examination I wondered if it was nothing more than a cheap fake. It wasn't. I now see a masterpiece; a work of art that might not have you at hello, but impresses you more and more over time. Eventually, you see a brilliant, funky concoction that adds up to be more than the sum of its parts.
Actually, the Titans more closely resembled the rip-off than the masterpiece for much of Monday night's big game. Sorry, LenDale White, but early on the only Thunder came from the home crowd. All the offense could muster early was field goals, and even the always trusty Rob Bironas missed one of those. On the other side of the ball, the Titans' defense had no answer for the Peyton Manning-to-Dallas Clark connection. On one play, Jeff Saturday made Albert Haynesworth look like he was back playing on Saturdays. Dominic Rhodes even did a pretty damn good Joseph Addai impersonation there for a while in the third quarter.
The Titans were down and the Colts were looking pretty good. I had serious doubts as to whether a Titans team accustomed to pounding patsies could manage a comeback against a playoff-caliber NFL team. Boy, they told me and all the other doubters out there exactly where to stick our doubts. By the end, we all saw the masterpiece.
Over the course of the game, there were several moments that exemplified the qualities that make the Titans so formidable. After a clear Chris Johnson fumble early in the game, the zebras ruled Johnson down. Coach Fish and Kerry Collins rushed their team up to the line before the Colts could challenge. Later on in the game, the Colts got aggressive and ran on fourth-and-short in the middle of the field. The Colts found out that their strictly finesse offense was no match for the Titans' strictly business defense.
The Titans also didn't have any huge, backbreaking plays either. Well, that was true, until Johnson broke off a sizeable diving touchdown run late in the game. That happened because Fisher stayed poised and refused to panic and abandon his gameplan. He also displayed his confidence in his team when he went for a two-point conversion down 14-12 with plenty of time left. In turn, his team responded with confidence and poise of its own and grinded out a victory.
The Titans are a team without any superstars. Before the big win, when people thought of the Titans, they thought of Haynesworth's infamous face-stomp, Pacman Jones' pillaging and Vince Young's 24-hour suicide watch. After Monday night's breakthrough victory, we'll all now think of the 7-0 Titans as the best-coached team in the NFL and the odds-on favorite to rep the AFC in the Super Bowl. They might not have any stars, but unlike the Grand Ole Opry the Titans don't need stars to be the best show in Nashville. I suggest you buy tickets and check out Coach Fish's masterpiece.
Around the LeagueAFC East: BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Sounds like a British archaeologist. Either that or a disease. "Breaking... there's been another outbreak of the deadly BenJarvus Virus..." actually, I think Bill Belichick and his New England Patriots almost got bit by that one. Going for it on fourth with your 15th-string running back? Wow.
-- Full AFC East breakdown
AFC North: Who was James Harrison snapping to -- Yao Ming on stilts? Man, was he really the second-best longsnapper on the entire Pittsburgh Steelers roster? Between that and Ben Roethlisberger taking way too much time to try and do way too much, it's no big surprise that they ended up with a loss.
-- Full AFC North breakdown
AFC South: Chad Johnson had to hate being the second-best receiver on the field named Johnson last Sunday. While everyone knows Ocho Cinco, Andre Johnson is Daniel Craig in "Layer Cake" -- nobody knows his name. Nonetheless, the Houston Texans' Outkast is on pace to become Andre 1,500 (yards).
-- Full AFC South breakdown
AFC West: Norv Turner said "the bye is going to help us" before flying back from London. Hopefully, during that 13-hour flight he figured out that the only bye that could help the San Diego Chargers is a goodbye -- his. Nice to see LaDainian Tomlinson finally showing up for his fantasy owners, though.
-- Full AFC West breakdown
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NFC East: I caught a load of flak over my scathing critique of Clinton Portis' leadership abilities, or lack thereof, earlier this month. Riddle me this, Washington Redskins fans: Would you ever see Andy Reid and Brian Westbrook get in a silly sideline tiff during a game in which the Philadelphia Eagles were barely beating the lowly Detroit Lions? Just saying.
-- Full NFC East breakdown
NFC North: The Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings were off last week, so that means I have to write about the Lions here. Do I really have to? Fine. The Lions -- not any team from Missouri or Ohio -- are the worst team in professional football. Yes, that includes the Arena Football League and whatever they play nowadays up in Canada.
-- Full NFC North breakdown
NFC South: Just who does Drew Brees think he is? Even though his Saints come back marching in from across the pond with a pedestrian record of 4-4, he's still my NFL MVP. Without Brees-y, the Saints could be 0-8 easy. If he can lead the Saints to the playoffs, he has MVP sewn up. Or should, anyway.
-- Full NFC South breakdown
NFC West: Torry who? Isaac what? Drew huh? Donnie Avery is now the man in the STL. That guy has blazing speed and makes some of the best ball adjustments I've seen a young receiver make. The best home-run hitter in the Lou might not be Pujols any longer.
-- Full NFC West breakdown
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