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NFL news and notes, Week 7

Power rankings

1. Steelers

2. Ravens

3. Jets

4. Patriots

5. Giants

6. Colts

Tebow time

The Broncos finally broke former Florida QB Tim Tebow into the offense for real last week in a loss to the Jets. Tebow took eight wildcat snaps, handing off twice and running six times for 23 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown for his first career score. Don't be surprised if Tebow makes his first NFL pass today against the Raiders.

"We can't do the same thing with it week after week after week," coach Josh McDaniels said of using Tebow, right. "We'll probably continue to tinker with it, including his ability to throw the ball."

As for Tebow? "I'm just excited that I get a chance to be on the field."

The NFL season enters the seventh week today, long enough for teams to have established themselves and for the division races to take shape. Today, we rank the divisions from best to worst.

1. AFC South The emergence of the Texans (4-2) and the re-emergence of the Titans (4-2), to go along with the Colts (4-2), make this a cutthroat division. Especially so when you consider the last-place Jaguars are 3-3.
2. NFC East It's competitive with the Giants (4-2) and Eagles (4-2) just a game ahead of the Redskins (3-3). And the Cowboys have too much talent to be 1-4. Every team has question marks, but the Giants, Eagles and Redskins appear to be getting better every week.
3. AFC North The Steelers and Ravens might be the best two teams in football, but the Bengals continue to be schizophrenic, and the Browns are just awful. Still, this division is the most top heavy in football.
4. AFC East The Dolphins (3-2) are slightly better than expected, and the Jets and Patriots (both one loss) are among the class of the AFC. But the Bills, our pick for the worst team in football, drag down this division's grade-point average.
5. NFC South The Saints (4-2) appear to still be the best team in this division, and Atlanta (4-2) is respectable. We just don't think a lot of the other two teams — the Bucs and Panthers.
6. NFC North We thought this was going to be one of the NFL's best divisions. But the Packers and Vikings haven't played anywhere near expectations, and the Bears don't appear to be as good as their 4-2 record. And the Lions are still, well, the Lions.
7. AFC West One good team and three mediocre ones. Going into the season, we would've guessed that the Chargers, not the Chiefs, would be the good one. And we're still not completely sold on the first-place Chiefs.
8. NFC West Coming into the season, most thought this would be the NFL's weakest division, and it hasn't disappointed. The 49ers were supposed to be the team to beat, and that's exactly what they've been — the team to beat often. The rest look like .500 teams, which is why their records are hovering around .500.

Tweet of the week

"Worst case scenario you get hit up top=concussion. Worst case scenario you get hit down low=knee surgery or possible end of career."

Saints RB Reggie Bush, on, saying he doesn't care for the NFL's crackdown on head shots and that he would rather get hit high

Number of the week

119 Starts, after today, QB Brett Favre will have made at Green Bay's Lambeau Field, passing John Elway (118 at Mile High Stadium) for the most QB starts in one stadium.

Teams to watch

The Ravens host the winless Bills today, and don't expect any sort of letdown. Coach John Harbaugh's greatest strength might be getting his team ready to play no matter the opponent. Since Harbaugh became coach in 2008, the Ravens are 13-1 against teams with losing records. Starting today, the Ravens play four of their next six games at home, and one of the road games is against the winless Panthers. A strong stretch, including what could be a second victory against the Steelers on Dec. 5 at home, can put away the division.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs are better than anyone could have imagined. They have lost two in a row after winning their first three, but they were competitive in the losses to the Colts (19-9) and Texans (35-31). The Chiefs' next four opponents are a combined 7-16 now. Kansas City leads the AFC West, and a hot streak now could salt away the division.

This and that

The Raiders and Broncos meet for the 100th time in the regular season today. The Raiders lead the series 56-41-2. … The Cowboys will make their 72nd Monday Night Football appearance this week. Only the Dolphins (76) have made more appearances, but the Cowboys have the most MNF wins with 42.

Winning formula

If you can run the football and play defense, you can be competitive. Just look at the Titans, who are 4-2 after going 8-8 in 2009. The Titans lead the NFL with 24 sacks and are tied with the Bucs for second with 10 interceptions. RB Chris Johnson has 596 yards (second to Houston's Arian Foster) and has an NFL-leading seven touchdowns. But they are in a tough division. The Texans and Colts are 4-2 and the Jaguars are 3-3, although the Titans thumped Jacksonville 30-3 last week. Today will be a good barometer of where the Titans are as they host the 4-2 Eagles.

Upset alert

Patriots over Chargers. I'm not even sure why the Chargers are favorites, but they are, so I'll take the Pats.

NFL news and notes, Week 7 10/23/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 23, 2010 4:56pm]
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