The Andrew Preview: NFL Week Eleven

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The Colts and the Patriots square off in the latest round of what has become the rivalry of the decade.

1. In what seems to be the season for drunk driving, yet another NFL Player is facing a DUI charge. Tampa Bay rookie wide receiver Michael Williams is being charged with driving under the influence after police in Florida observed his black escalade weaving in and out of traffic. Williams’ blood alcohol level was 0.065, which is below the legal limit in Florida of 0.08. Nevertheless, sheriff’s deputies in Hillsborough County said that Williams’ eyes were glassy and that he smelled like alcohol when they pulled him over at two-thirty in the morning. Williams also submitted to a urine test, though the results will not come back for four-to-six weeks. Williams currently leads all rookies in receiving yards, and it’s presently unclear whether this charge will affect his playing status.

2.  Cleveland Browns’ linebacker Marcus Bernard blamed stress as the cause of his fainting spell in the Browns’ locker room last Thursday. Bernard passed out in front of his locker prior to practice and was briefly hospitalized. Bernard made a full recovery, saying that “I’ve got a lot going on personally. I’ve just got to take care of my body better with the things that are going on.”  After numerous tests by doctors ruling out heart problems or other major medical conditions, Bernard was cleared to play in Cleveland’s overtime loss to the New York Jets. Bernard was missing from the locker room after the loss, though this time he left for the hospital to witness the birth of his son. Bernard said the stress of the impending birth contributed to his anxiety, but said, “that’s life.”

3. Mum’s the word from Indianapolis Colts’ receiver Austin Collie after the controversial hit he received in Indy’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Collie was quoted as saying, “I understand everyone’s concern, but I prefer not to discuss the specifics of the play in Philadelphia. I hope that can be respected.” After receiving a pass in the middle of the field, Collie turned around and was immediately sandwiched between two Eagles tacklers. Kurt Coleman delivered an inadvertent helmet-to-helmet hit that sent Collie out of the game on a stretcher. Collie is just now returning to practice, and has declined to discuss the incident, saying that he just wants to work to get back onto the field.

2008 Detroit Lions Memorial Winless Teams

Nobody

It took ten weeks, but the lowly Buffalo Bills managed their first win over fellow perennial cellar dwellers, the Detroit Lions. The Bills managed to stave off a fourth quarter comeback from the Lions to get their first victory of the season, beating Detroit by a score of 14-12. For those of you keeping score at home, last season’s final winless team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, got their first win in Week Nine, one week earlier than the Bills. Here’s to the ’08 Lions popping the champagne.

Head of the Pack

Your statistical leaders in:

Passing

1. Phillip Rivers (San Diego) –2944 yards.
2. Kyle Orton (Denver) –2806 yards.
3. Peyton Manning (Indianapolis) – 2663 yards

With Drew Brees falling out of the top three.

Rushing

1. Arian Foster (Houston) – 920 yards
2. Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) – 908 yards
3. Chris Johnson (Tennessee) –838 yards

With Ahmad Bradshaw falling out of the top three.
Receiving

1. Brandon Lloyd (Denver) – 968 yards
2. Roddy White (Atlanta) – 934 yards
3. Terrell Owens (Cincinnati) – 834 yards

With no one falling out of the top three.

Sacks

1. Clay Matthews (Green Bay) – 11.0
2. Cameron Wake (Miami) – 10.0
3. Osi Umenyiora (NY Giants) – 9.0

With Umenyiora breaking last week’s four-way tie for third place.

Three Big Match Ups

1. Oakland at Pittsburgh, 1 P.M. EST on CBS – If you had told me last year that it would happen, I wouldn’t have believed it. We’re nearly two thirds of the way through the season, and the Oakland Raiders are in first place in their division. Between an impressive running game featuring Darren McFadden and a punishing defense, the Raiders have climbed atop the AFC West and look to be as competitive as they have been since the halcyon days of Rich Gannon. Oakland has won three straight, four of their last five, and this streak included routs of Denver and Seattle plus a victory over Kansas City that gave the Raiders the tiebreaker edge in the division. Now, Oakland will go up against what may the best team they’ve faced all season. That said the Pittsburgh Steelers did not look like one of the best teams in the NFL last week. They were whooped by the New England Patriots, 39-26, in a game that was not even as close as the score indicated. The Steelers looked beat as they labored to keep up with the Pats in a game that was supposed to be a showcase of the best of the AFC. Though the Steelers are still at a very respectable 6-3, tied for first in the division with the Baltimore Ravens, the team has struggled a bit over the last month, with losses to both the Patriots and the Saints, and a close win over the Dolphins that required a little help from the replay booth. Both squads will look to stake out some territory in the AFC and gain some breathing room in tight divisional races. With Oakland seeming to have found its footing right when Pittsburgh seems to be stumbling, could this game be a story of two teams moving in opposite directions?

2. Indianapolis at New England, 4:15 P.M. EST on CBS – Despite not playing in the same division, we inevitably see the Colts take on the Pats, year after year, and the game rarely disappoints. Still, both teams will have to pull out all the stops to outshine “The Call” from last season that resulted in the narrowest of comeback victories for Indianapolis. The Patriots will be out for revenge, and they look like world-beaters after their decisive victory over the Steelers. At 7-2, New England is tied for the best record in the NFL, and they have won six of their last seven games. However, the solid victories over other great teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore only make their Week Nine trouncing by the Cleveland Browns all the more puzzling. Which Patriots team will show up in Foxboro – the one that made the Steelers look like the Bills, or the one that made the Browns look like the Jets, who hold a tiebreaker win over the Patriots. That tiebreaker win is just enough to keep New England out of first place in the AFC East. The Colts, for their part, are in a tough divisional fight of their own. Their win over division rival Houston and Tennessee’s loss to Miami did make things a little easier for Indianapolis, but both the Titans and the Jaguars are only a game out of first, and the Texans still have the talent to make a run for the division crown as well. What’s more, this is a Colts team missing many of its most talented players. The team has seen injuries to big time contributors like Austin Collie, Dallas Clark, Bob Sanders, Joseph Addai, and Anthony Gonzales, among many more less-heralded players. Indy has made the best of it though, winning four of the last five games despite missing a few stars from their usual cast. Expect both teams to bring their best into what has become one of the biggest rivalries in NFL history.

3. NY Giants at Philadelphia, 8:20 P.M. EST on NBC – A look at the Giants and the Eagles, both taking on division rivals in Week Ten, is a study in contrasts. The Giants, having decimated the Seahawks to the tune of 41-7 in Seattle, came back to the Meadowlands and promptly laid an egg at home. The Giants soundly lost to the woeful Dallas Cowboys, at team that appeared to have all but quit in recent weeks and hadn’t managed a win since Week Three . The New York O-line looked old, the defense looked porous, and the G-men put in one of their worst performances of the season. The Eagles, meanwhile, put on a clinic, setting a record for first-half points as they destroyed the Washington Redskins on Monday Night. When all was said and done, Philly won by a score of 59-28 against a much tougher Washington team that seemed wholly unprepared for the Eagles’ offensive assault. Michael Vick scored six touchdowns, further fueling the talk that this man who was in jail just two years ago may very well become the league’s next MVP. The Eagles looked like one of the best teams in the NFC, while the Giants looked like one of the worst. Despite this, both teams are tied atop the NFC East at the moment, and this game will not only decide which team can claim sole possession of first place, but may establish the pecking order for the rest of the season. With a win, the Eagles could cement their position as the best team in the division, if not the conference. On the other hand, a big victory over Philly would allow New York to show that Week Ten was just a hiccup, and the Giants are still the top team in the division. Both teams will pull out all the stops in this big divisional rivalry game.

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