Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys continue to struggle, Tim Tebow completely disappoints against the Lions, the Cincinnati Bengals continue to fly under the radar, and more in this week's NFL Roundup.
Romo, Cowboys in Trouble?
Tony Romo and the Cowboys' inconsistent ways presented themselves again on Sunday night. The Cowboys have mostly disappointed fans this season, but most games are at least usually close. But on Sunday, the Cowboys received a complete and utter beat down by the Eagles, 34-7.
Romo didn't play horrible on Sunday -- he was 18 for 35 for 203 yards, one touchdown and an interception -- but it was clear that Vick was the better quarterback on the field. Romo was unable to get the offense moving and the Cowboys defense certainly didn't help matters. Demarcus Ware was the lone bright spot with four sacks on a defense that gave up 239 rushing yards.
The Cowboys still have a shot to win the NFC East, but now fall two games behind the division leading Giants (5-2) and are clearly a notch below the Eagles. The upcoming stretch for the Cowboys will ultimately decide their fate, as a particularly easy stretch is ahead. In their next five games, the Cowboys play the Seahawks, Bills, Redskins, Dolphins, and Cardinals -- all very winnable games.
The Cowboys need to go at least 4-1 during that stretch to try to keep up with the rest of the division before two critical games against the Giants and another against the Eagles. In order to keep up, Romo needs to start playing better and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan needs to be less about bravado and more about results.
Tebowing Mania Better than On-Field Results
The Tebowing craze began in earnest last week and quickly took the Internet by storm. But during the Lions-Broncos game on Sunday, it was Lions defensive linebacker Stephen Tulloch doing the Tebow after sacking the quarterback during a 45-10 blowout win. Tebow got disrupted all day, notably by defensive lineman Cliff Avril, who had a monster day for the Lions with two sacks and a forced fumble return for a touchdown.
Despite all of the hype stemming from a comeback victory over the hapless, winless Miami Dolphins last week, Tebow struggled mightily against the Lions' staunch defensive front. Tebow threw for only 172 yards, one touchdown and an interception, while also giving up a fumble for a Lions touchdown. Tebow proved his critics right that the likable former Heisman Trophy winner might never be a legitimate NFL starting quarterback.
No one expects Tebow to lead the Broncos to the playoffs this season, but there are certain expectations that don't include 45-10 blowouts. The next three game stretch for the Broncos - at Oakland, at Kansas City, and versus Jets - could go a long way in whether the Broncos deem Tebow the quarterback of the future. All three will likely be tough games and the Broncos will be underdogs in all, but the important thing to watch is whether Tebow can lead the offense down the field, or will again be stymied to the tune of a big blowout.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals might be the least talked about, least hyped 5-2 team in recent memory. The Bengals continue to fly far under the radar, yet keep racking up big wins. This Sunday the Bengals beat up on the Seattle Seahawks, 34-12, to remain in the running for the ultra-competitive AFC North. The biggest question mark for the Bengals is still whether they can take down any of the big-name AFC teams, though. The Bengals still have to play both the Ravens and Steelers twice, which will likely be the difference between going to the playoffs and sitting at home in late January.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers finally got the monkey of their back and took down the Patriots, 25-17. There was some fear that the Steelers might have gotten too old after they were blown out by the Ravens at the beginning of the season, but that game looks to be a complete aberration now. The Steelers are a clear team to beat in the AFC, but there are some serious injury concerns to watch out for. Hines Ward missed Sunday's game and defensive star LaMarr Woodley suffered a hamstring injury, though he claims it won't prevent him from playing next week.
Washington Redskins: All of the good feeling in Washington is now officially gone after being shutout by the Bills in Toronto on Sunday. The Redskins got off to a nice 3-1 start, including an opening week win over the Giants, leading some to believe that Rex Grossman might be a serviceable quarterback for the team. But the Redskins have now lost three in a row and switching from Grossman to John Beck hasn't fixed any of the major offensive woes. Expect the Redskins to look for another quarterback this off-season, possibly through the draft.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints continue to frustrate and confuse with their inconsistent play on the field. The Saints are still at the top of the NFC South division with a 5-3 record, but it's hard to explain losing to the previously winless St. Louis Rams, 31-21, after blowing out the Colts by more than 50 points the week before. Sure the Colts are horrible, but it's almost inconceivable to be that effective on offense and then struggle the way that they did against a bad Rams defense. The Saints should be a playoff team, but it's hard to see them going deep in the playoffs if they continue to put up duds like they did on Sunday.
Coaching Hot Seat Barometer
1) Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins
Give Sparano credit in that he is still trying to win, but there's never been a bigger lock than Sparano being fired. The Dolphins clearly have some talent on their roster, though quarterback remains a weakness, yet continue to blow games and remain winless. The Dolphins got off to a hot start against the Giants in the first half, but somehow managed to lose yet again. At this point Sparano is just coaching to finish the season.
2) Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts
Similar to Sparano, it's almost a foregone conclusion at this point that Caldwell will be let go at the end of the season. It's clear that Peyton Manning was the primary reason the Colts have been successful over the past decade, but few expected the Colts to be this bad without him. Barring a miraculous turnaround in the second half of the season, Caldwell will have likely coached his last season in Indianapolis.
3) Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars
Del Rio managed to get his Jaguars team motivated enough to shock the Ravens on Monday night, but still sits on a very hot seat in Jacksonville. Del Rio's been at the helm in Jacksonville for since 2003 and it's clear that time is running out for him. Jaguars' management might be a bit more understanding than usual with a rookie starting at quarterback, but it has to be disappointing to not capitalize on the wide open AFC South.
Talty's Top 10
1) Green Bay Packers (7-0) Last week's rank: No. 1
The Packers are still the clear best team in the NFL.
2) San Francisco 49ers (6-1) Last week's rank: No. 4
A virtual lock to win the NFC West this year.
3) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) Last week's rank: No. 6
Steelers finally found a way to shut down Tom Brady and the Patriots.
4) Baltimore Ravens (5-1) Last week's rank: No. 3
The Ravens looked ugly, but pulled off a great comeback win.
5) Detroit Lions (6-2) Last week's rank: No. 7
The Lions absolutely throttled Tim Tebow and the Broncos.
6) New England Patriots (5-2) Last week's rank: No. 2
Brady and the Patriots just couldn't get the offense going against the Steelers.
7) New York Giants (5-2) Last week's rank: No. 8
Brutal start to the game, but Eli Manning had a fantastic second half to beat the Dolphins.
8) Buffalo Bills (5-2) Last week's rank: NR
Impressive win over the Redskins.
9) New Orleans Saints (5-3) Last week's rank: No. 5
Sean Payton's crew continues to lack consistency.
10) New York Jets (4-3) Last week's rank: No. 9
Big game next week against the AFC East leading Bills.