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NFL Week 7: AFC exerts its dominance

AFC goes 6-2 vs. NFC to show it's the best conference; a kicker's small butt and someone's rubbing their balls.

By Jim Buzinski
Outsports.com

How I saw Week 7 of the NFL:

The AFC has won seven of the nine Super Bowls played this decade and has clearly been the dominant conference. This was shown again Sunday when the AFC won six of the eight interconference games. The two NFC unbeatens played AFC teams and wound up with a split,

The Minnesota Vikings (6-1) fell apart offensively in their 27-17 loss at Pittsburgh, with a Brett Favre fumble and interception in the fourth quarter each being returned for a touchdown. This was not a big surprise since the Vikings had won two games (vs. the 49ers and Ravens) on the final play they easily could have lost. Against the Steelers, their luck ran out.

Up next for the Vikings is the grudge match rematch at Green Bay (4-2), Favre's first game against the Packers at Lambeau Field. The Packers (4-2) beat the JV Browns, 31-3, so it's hard to tell how good they are.

The Saints (6-0), meanwhile, made an amazing comeback at Miami, rallying from a 24-3 deficit to win 46-34. The Dolphins were killed by a fumble that led to one Saints score and two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Drew Brees was sacked five times and threw three picks, but New Orleans still gained 414 total yards, a scary thought for opposing defensive coordinators. I'm still not sold on the Saints but in the wide-open NFC, they clearly have a Super Bowl shot.

Ball boys: Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder had this to say prior to the game against the unbeaten Saints: "They're undefeated, they're probably smelling themselves, rubbing each other's balls." We need video!

Blowout Sunday: There were very few close games in Week 7, with these being the margins of victory: 38, 36, 35, 30, 28, 28, 16, 12, 11, 10, 7 and 3. So much for parity.

Back under center: Alex Smith was the overall No. 1 pick in 2005 but has been largely forgotten, playing in only eight games since the start of the 2007 season. But after his three-touchdown performance nearly rallied the San Francisco 49ers from a 21-0 deficit at the Houston Texans he almost certainly will be the starter.

Smith was 15 for 21 for 206 yards and three TDs (all to tight end Vernon Davis), but his last-gasp interception on fourth down left the 49ers (3-3) on the short end of a 24-21 game. Smith is a better thrower than Shaun Hill and he really gave the 49ers a spark. He is also one of the best-looking QBs in the league, but he needs to shave his hideous goatee; nobody's perfect.

The Texans, meanwhile, are a quiet 4-3 and have a legitimate playoff shot.

Streaky: A little noticed streak is that of the Indianapolis Colts, who have won 15 straight regular season games. The reason it doesn't get much notice is that it's over two seasons and in the middle was a playoff loss to San Diego. The Colts (6-0) toyed with the St. Louis Rams, who have a streak of their own going - 17 losses in a row.

Little butt: The Indianapolis Colts signed 41-year-old Matt Stover as their replacement kicker for the injured Adam Vinatieri. But they didn't have a uniform that fit him properly and had to place a special order. Wrote the Indianapolis Star:

In a business teeming with large bodies, Stover is an exception. He's 5-11 and 178 pounds, and fitting him with uniform pants required some scrambling.

"My butt's so small,'' Stover said with a smile. "They had (waist size) 34s, but I needed 32s, a pair of 32 regulars.''
With none available, the Colts had to order a pair. The team also provided Stover a special helmet. He jokingly described it as a "Toys R Us'' model.


Bust?: Cyd posted this week about what a bust Cleveland Browns QB Brady Quinn is, but that's just Cyd being a hater. Quinn has started only six games on a bad team, so it's way premature to declare his career done. He was also the 22nd overall pick in the 2007 draft, not a very high pick to label someone a bust.

The Browns' decision to keep Derek Anderson as the starter makes no sense from a football standpoint. Anderson has completed only 44% of his passes with two TDs and seven interceptions for a terrible 40.6 rating. Quinn has completed 61% of his passes with one TD and three picks for a 62.9 rating, not impressive but still better than Anderson.

Money is the reason Quinn is on the bench. Pro Football Talk explains:

Well, if he takes 70 percent of the snaps for the season, Quinn will unlock $10.9 million in escalators for 2010 and 2011. Even if the Browns don't plan to keep him, those bumps to his future pay will make it harder for the Browns to trade Quinn, since his contract would go with him.

So it'll be interesting to see if the Browns go back to Quinn after it becomes statistically impossible for Quinn to reach the 70-percent threshold, which is a couple of games away.

We still don't know if Quinn is a big-league QB but we won't until he plays elsewhere.

Perceptions: In Dallas, they have been talking about firing Coach Wade Phillips and the uncertain future of Tony Romo. In New York, meanwhile, the Giants were 5-0 and being called by some the league's best teams. What a difference two games make. After walloping a hot Atlanta team, 37-21, the Cowboys are 4-2 and only a game behind the Giants, who are now 5-2 after losing at home to Arizona. The perceptions may still hold long-term, but for now it's a dogfight in the NFC East.

Rarity: By beating the Giants, 24-17, the Arizona Cardinals have won three consecutive road games for the first time since 1987.

Bonehead coaching: The Carolina Panthers played the Buffalo Bills, which came into the game with the league's worst run defense. The Panthers have two dynamic running backs, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, and a QB in Jake Delhomme who has been awful this season and came into the game with four TDs and 10 interceptions. So, obviously, the Panthers would run and run and run? Wrong, wrong, wrong. The Panthers ran the ball 25 times and threw it 44, with predictable results -- Delhomme threw three more picks and the Panthers lost, 20-9. I didn't know Wade Phillips was coaching the Panthers.

Ages ago: In 1999, the Rams beat the Titans in the Super Bowl. In 2009, the teams are a combined 0-13.