Deion Branch, New England Patriots. Branch proved Bill Belichick right and me wrong. Branch put up solid numbers and gave Tom Brady a versatile passing option. Randy Moss is certainly one of the all time greats, but he evolved (or aged) into a deep threat and not much more. Branch caught nine passes for 98 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against Baltimore. Typically, receivers are not able to jump into the lineup with such ease, but Branch’s rapport with Brady was obviously still there. New England held Ray Rice to 88 yards and no touchdowns. Not too shabby for a Pats D that ranks among the worst against. Deion Branch helped the Pats keep pace on offense to pull out the win in overtime.
The San Diego Chargers. Prior to the season almost everyone gave the AFC West to the Chargers. At 2-4, San Diego may still win the division but that speaks to how weak the division is and not how strong the Chargers are. San Diego lost Sunday to the St. Louis Rams. The Rams were coming off a drubbing at the hands of the Lions the week prior, game in which the team lost their top receiver, Michael Clayton, for the year. The Chargers submitted 7 sacks to the Rams. They also lost Antonia Gates and Malcolm Floyd to injury. If the Chargers lose either of those guys for an extended period, it will place even more pressure on QB Phillip Rivers and could place their playoff hopes in jeopardy.
The Dallas Cowboys. The team has as much talent as anyone else in the league. They’ve outplayed each one of their opponents with the possible exception of the Bears but Dallas cannot get out of their own way. Every time this team does something good, it’s nullified by a moronic penalty or a turnover. The problems start with Jerry Jones. His only successes as an owner have come when he relinquishes his hold on the team. The talent base of the current team was largely put together under the Parcell's regime. He went cheap before the season letting veterans who played large roles on special teams and doing the little things go for league minimum un-drafted rookies. Jones failed to address the lack of a Free Safety and opted to go with Alan Ball, an undersized converted corner at the position. Ball is an absolute abomination. Jones allows Phillips to continue as head coach because Phillips allows him to do all those Jerry things, show up in the locker room, take credit, and run the show. On the sideline, Phillips always looks clueless. Offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett fell in love with screen and swing passes against the Vikings. It wasn’t all the long ago Garrett was being courted by many NFL teams. The easy wins are over. Other than Jacksonville and Detroit, it’s hard to say who this team can beat. Colts, Giants (x2), Eagles (x2), and the Saints…America’s Team looks good on paper but does nothing a winning team needs to. I have a feeling that the Giants defensive front will have Romo running for his life come Monday night.