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NFL news and notes, Week 8

Power rankings

1. Steelers

2. Jets

3. Patriots

4. Giants

5. Colts

6. Falcons

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said he can't remember a time when the NFL has been as unpredictable from week to week as it has been this season.

There have been overall surprises, such as the Bucs and Chiefs being 4-2, and predicted division winners, such as San Francisco (1-6), Cowboys (1-5) and Chargers (2-5), closer to the bottom.

Then you have the winless Bills nearly beating the Ravens last week and the Browns upsetting the defending Super Bowl champion Saints.

"It's so funny how things can change quickly in this league," Chiefs RB Thomas Jones said.

"What's funny this year is that it's Week 7, and everybody is already talking about playoffs and teams, and there's so much talk of that right now and so many teams that are so close together," Whisenhunt said. "I'm more used to those kind of discussions coming in December. …

"It has been from the standpoint going from teams one week playing well and looking good and then the next week not playing so well. It's really a different year."

Number of the week

23 Consecutive regular-season home wins at Gillette Stadium for Patriots QB Tom Brady.

Decision of the week

Surprise, surprise — Vikings QB Brett Favre is a major story line again. The question is whether he will be able to extend his streak of 291 straight starts despite having a stress fracture in his left ankle and a fracture in the same heel. Favre has said he intends to play, but the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that coach Brad Childress is leaning toward having QB Tarvaris Jackson start against the Patriots.

What they're saying

Former Steelers RB Jerome Bettis, a columnist for SI.com, posed the question: "Could the Saints have mailed it in after winning the Super Bowl?" New Orleans is 4-3, third in the NFC South. "The Saints have yet to shore up the basics through seven games, which tells me they didn't head to camp with the needed intensity, and it's spilled into the season for all to see." Interestingly enough, guess which team the Saints play tonight? The Steelers.

Not backing off

ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski created a stir last week when he said on a radio show that Colts QB Peyton Manning's skills might be diminishing. Manning, right, who is friends with Jaworski, playfully downplayed the comments. And though Jaworski said later that Manning "is my favorite quarterback in the history of the NFL," he didn't shy away from what he said. "You know Father Time could be catching up; he's 34 years old," Jaworski told the Indianapolis Star. "But it's something we all have to be realistic about, too. He's not going to play at this ridiculous level his whole career. There's going to come a time when his skill set's going to regress a little bit. I saw some signs where, ahhh, maybe after 13 years he may not be quite the Peyton Manning we've become accustomed to seeing."

Milestone watch

RB LaDainian Tomlinson has looked like his old, dual-threat self in his first season with the Jets, racking up 490 rushing yards and 19 receptions for 107 yards. In his career, he has 12,980 rushing yards and 4,062 receiving yards. With 20 or more rushing yards against the Packers today, Tomlinson will join Hall of Fame Bears RB Walter Payton (16,726 rushing yards, 4,538 receiving yards) as the only running backs in NFL history to record at least 13,000 rushing yards and 4,000 receiving yards.

Upset alert

Lions (1-5) over Redskins (4-3)

QB Matt Stafford makes a triumphant return for the Lions, who play better at home.

Passing fancy

Passing yardage around the league has been at an all-time high, with 33,452 net passing yards through five weeks the most ever at this point in a season. "It's a passing league," NFL Network and CBS analyst Solomon Wilcots said. "It's now a pass-first league. Coaches and offensive coordinators want to showcase their best playmaker. This is the deepest pool of quarterbacks in the history of the league."

Return of the week

Vikings WR Randy Moss will return to Foxborough to face the Patriots for the first time since getting traded this year. Moss played three full seasons with New England, including going to a Super Bowl.

"It's really another game to me, but people are not really looking at it that way because I just left there," Moss said. "You know me. I don't want to go in as an individual because it's a team sport, so hopefully the team is ready to step up to the challenge and hopefully go in there and get a victory."

Information from Times wires, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, SI.com, the Miami Herald and the NFL was used to this report.

Quote of the week

"I like the comment 'diva receivers.' That means you're very successful. I look at all the divas, whether it's Beyonce or Mariah Carey, those women are very successful. So, someone calls me a 'diva,' that means I'm successful. So, I'll take that and run with it."

Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall, above, to the Miami Herald, on being lumped with Bengals WRs Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens

Going global

The NFL's international series continues today when San Francisco plays Denver at London's Wembley Stadium, making the fourth straight year a regular-season game has been played in the United Kingdom. In doing so, the 49ers will become the first team to play in 10 games against NFL opponents outside the United States (including preseason).

NFL news and notes, Week 8 10/30/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 30, 2010 5:33pm]

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