Rising out of the abyss – After falling below .500 in picking games after week 6, a two-week run of 21-7 has me back on the right track at 66-53. I even correctly picked the score of the Eagles 49ers game (33-10) and came within 2 points of the Falcons-Jets (25-20 vs. my pick of 27-20). So yeah, I’m feeling myself a little bit.
The herd is thinning. In the NFC, we have a clear divide. Philly, Dallas, Minnesota, New Orleans, Carolina, Atlanta, LA and Seattle are the contenders – 8 teams for 6 spots. Washington, NY, Green Bay, Detroit, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Arizona and San Francisco aren’t going anywhere. The top of the AFC is becoming clear as well, With New England, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Kansas City easily the best 4 teams. Cleveland and Indy are the clear bottom 2. The other 10 teams are all one big gigantic mush slogging their way to 2 available playoff spots. With Deshaun Watson going off since becoming Houston’s QB, odds are that they rise out of the muck that is the AFC South. Who gets the other bid is anyone’s guess.
Tragedy brings more questions. Bears TE Zach Miller nearly lost his leg catching a TD pass in New Orleans. He leaped, caught the ball, and as he was landing with both feet in bounds, his leg bent the wrong way in a very gruesome injury. He rolled over and out of bounds, still holding the ball, with his leg flopping in the air. He rolled over a second time and put the ball down. The idiots in NY ruled the pass incomplete. Miller had to be taken to the hospital and had surgery to repair an artery just to save his leg. Meanwhile, the rest of us were left with the same question we have had for about 8 years now – exactly what the hell is a catch? All this “through the process” crap is just that. Guy controls the ball, lands with both feet in bounds, it’s a catch. Why is that so hard, and for the NFL suits, so inadequate????????

Strange brew – The Panthers traded Kelvin Benjamin, their best (albeit least motivated) wide receiver for a sack of potatoes. Actually, it was a second- and seventh-round draft pick. Interim GM Marty Hurney has one of the worst track records ever for draft picks other than first-rounders. Most of us believe he made this move because he believes he can talk owner Jerry Richardson into giving him the gig permanently. If that happens, there is a real risk we just traded Benjamin for clones of Armanti Edwards and Stefan LaFors. God help us all.
Power Rankings

1.   Philadelphia – Dallas is the only team left to slow them down. Probably looking at 13 wins.
2.    New England – Buffalo is the only team left to slow them down. Ship has been righted.
3.    Kansas City – Should cruise to division title, then it’s trying to solve the Steelers mystery.
4.    Pittsburgh – Should cruise to division title, then it’s trying to solve the Patriots mystery.
5.    Minnesota – Only question with this team is, can they score enough points?
6.    LA Rams – The coach easily wins Millennial of the Year. How will he handle the playoff pressure?
7.    New Orleans – OK, so they can play defense. I was wrong. I admit it.
8.   Seattle – Trading for Duane Brown is a big boost to the OL, and makes this a scary opponent.
9.    Buffalo – I TOLD Y’ALL these guys were going to be good! McDermott is a great coach.
10. Dallas – The Zeke Suspension is back on. Dallas is Super Bowl contender with him, .500 without him.
11. Carolina – This week is a must-win. So is the remaining game against the Saints.
12.  Atlanta – You have to think all this talent is going to gel. After this week, please.
13. Houston – The dumbest SOB on Earth benched Watson for Phillip Rivers in fantasy. That would be me.
14.  Jacksonville – Can the defense overcome average offensive play?
15.  Green Bay – They’re not going anywhere without Rodgers at QB.
16.  Detroit – If only the pass catchers could actually catch passes…
17.  Miami – Much inconsistency has them around the middle of the rankings.
18. Cincinnati – True poetic justice would be seeing Bufect in an all-orange uniform. In a cage.
19. Tampa Bay – Jam-eese Winston has taken a step back. So have the receivers. Defense still pretty good.
20.  Washington – They’re not going to be able to overcome all the injuries.
21. Chicago – Prayers to Zach Miller, and curses upon the officials who ruled the catch incomplete.
22.  Tennessee – I wonder if Mariotta is really healthy….
23.  NY Jets – Some say Bowles will be gone. If the Jets win 5 games, he should be Coach of the Year.
24.  LA Clippers/Chargers – Travis Benjamin, C’MON MAN!!!!!
25.  Baltimore – I’m calling that game the exception rather than the rule.
26.  Denver – Severe QB issues make losing more attractive.
27.  Oakland – Becoming unwatchable.
28.  Arizona – Unwatchable.
29.  NY Giants – Unwatchable.
30.  Indianapolis – If Neck Beard really did go back to Stanford in 2011 just to avoid going to Carolina, I have to ask, “HOW’S THAT WORKIN’ FOR YA?”
31.  San Francisco – They will get a real QB next year, which should start them going up.
32.  Cleveland – Regime #147 is going to get summarily dismissed. At least they’ll have a good crop of QBs to start over with (again).