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NFL news and notes for Week 8

Upset special

Jaguars (3-3) at Titans (0-6): QB Vince Young takes advantage of a start with a big game, giving the Titans their first win.

Sack master

QB Brett Favre's return to Green Bay may be trumpeted most on TV, but it's Vikings DE Jared Allen whom the Packers should be worried about. Allen racked up 4½ sacks in the last meeting with Green Bay while forcing a fumble and a safety in Minnesota's 30-23 victory Oct. 5. "I'm not expecting them to let me tee off on (QB Aaron Rodgers) like that again," Allen said.

Fast start

No Terrell Owens? No problem. It hasn't been WR Roy Williams who has stepped up in Dallas but rather WR Miles Austin, who is having a huge coming-out party. Austin, undrafted in 2006 out of Monmouth, started with a 250-yard performance against the Chiefs in Week 5 and added 171 in Week 7 against the Falcons. His 421 receiving yards are the most for any player in their first two starts. He can become the second player since 1970 with 100 or more receiving yards in each of his first three starts. Falcons WR Stacey Bailey accomplished that in 1981.

Number of the day

12 Consecutive wins by the Chargers over the Raiders, the longest by either team in the series and tied for the longest active NFL streak by one team over another (Steelers over Browns, Patriots over Bills).

What they're saying

"It's basically been a year of struggles around here. We've struggled to score points, struggled to win football games. And it's very frustrating, week in and week out. It's like, 'Man, when will this nightmare end, in a sense, for us?' "

Redskins LB London Fletcher

Trash talk of the week

Think the 1-6 Browns have suffered enough this season? Well, former Browns GM Phil Savage recently added fuel to the fire by taking some shots at them in the Press-Register of Mobile, Ala.

"You don't take a lot of solace in watching a place you leave go downhill further," Savage said. "But they took what we did have going there and they just dismantled that even further. We left two quarterbacks (Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson) behind that both seem ruined right now. They traded a lot of players out of there. I feel for the guys we brought in because they're good players and good people and they're stuck in a situation and can't get out for at least the time being."

Savage was fired Dec. 28 with four years remaining on his contract.

Information from Times wires and SI.com was used in this report. Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Did you know?

You think Panthers QB Jake Delhomme, left, has been bad? He may have a league-high 13 interceptions, but according to STATS LLC, that ranks 20th for most picks through the first six games since 1960. Put it this way: Joe Namath, Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas and Dan Fouts have had worse stretches to begin a season. Fouts (1986), Namath (1975) and Jack Kemp (1964) tossed 16 in the first six games. Manning threw 14 in his rookie year (1998), the same Unitas had in 1961.

NFL WEEK 8

Power rankings

1. Saints

2. Colts

3. Vikings

4. Broncos

5. Patriots

As the NFL season nears the halfway point, we've learned plenty of things: QB Brett Favre still has it, rookie coaches can still turn heads (Josh McDaniels, Jim Caldwell), and there are some bad football teams out there (see today's Lions vs. Rams game). But we've seen some players — and coaches — stand out above the rest, and these three earn our midseason awards:

MVP QB Peyton Manning, Colts

Saints QB Drew Brees looked like the MVP leader after his eye-popping start this season and will be worthy of much consideration. A case could be made for QB Brett Favre, who has the Vikings looking like a Super Bowl contender (RB Adrian Peterson has done his part, too). But even though Manning could win every year, he's very deserving this time: He leads the NFL in passer rating (114.5) and completion percentage (72.6) in carrying a Colts team without coach Tony Dungy and WR Marvin Harrison to a 6-0 start.

Coach of the year Josh McDaniels, Broncos

The Saints' Sean Payton and Colts' Jim Caldwell have their teams undefeated. But so does McDaniels, who has overcome a rough start to his tenure (including spats with former franchise QB Jay Cutler and Pro Bowl WR Brandon Marshall) to help lead a balanced Broncos team into the upper echelon of the league. McDaniels already has a signature win, beating his mentor, Bill Belichick, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the two teams tangle in the playoffs. Just like Caldwell, McDaniels is taking over for a franchise's legendary coach, and he's living up to the hype.

Comeback player RB Cedric Benson, Bengals

Benson, the Bears' top pick in 2005, fell out of favor in the Windy City, then had some off-field problems that probably had many NFL fans forgetting about him. But the Bengals picked Benson off the scrap heap last year, and he has rewarded them kindly, leading the NFL with 720 yards rushing, including a career-high 189 last week against — who else? — the Bears.

NFL news and notes for Week 8 10/31/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 31, 2009 8:54pm]
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