The Houston Texans managed to leave Chicago with a 13-6 victory over the now 7-2 Bears.
The Texans walked into Soldier Field and shut down the Chicago Bears. The game was low scoring and gritty, but was exactly the type of performance that wins Super Bowls. Houston plays a grind out style of football that not many teams in the AFC can compete with, and with their huge win over the Bears answered many questions that critics may have had. The Texans’ next big challenge will be the Patriots in week 14.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
The Buccaneers have played fantastic over the last five weeks and with a 5-4 record they would still be in contention to win their division if they played anywhere other than the NFC South. But unfortunately for them, the 8-1 Falcons are running away with the division. Tampa Bay still has a shot at the wild card and only trail the Seahawks and Vikings by half a game, so there is hope.
The Broncos quietly went out and put a 36-14 beating on Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Denver has four straight wins and has morphed into a legitimate Super Bowl contender after lukewarm 3-3 start. Peyton Manning is back to his MVP forum and the team is clicking as unit-- both offensively and defensively. The Broncos have five winnable games over the next seven weeks (Chargers, Chiefs twice, Raiders, and Browns) and could wind up an 11-5 or 12-4 record by the end of the season.
The Giants regained their 'nobody believes in us mojo' with a loss to the Bengals.
New York Giants:
The Giants got pounded by the Bengals, and never really bothered to show up to the game. New York does this every year—they lose games they have no business losing, and win games they have no business winning—at this point, their season is completely predictable. They’ll probably lose a few more games, just to get their ‘nobody believes in us’ mojo back, and then storm into the playoffs, upset a top seeded team and make a deep run. The Giants simply thrive on their role as an underdog.
San Francisco 49ers:
A tie; did this game really end in a tie? San Francisco is still sitting on a 6-2 record but they are going to have to put up better performances going forward if they want to win the division. The Seahawks are still lurking and are only a game behind them in the standings. Sure, Alex Smith missed the majority of the game as a result of a brutal hit, but not being able to beat the 3-5 Rams at home is unacceptable for a supposed Super Bowl contender.
It’s hard to fault the Bears for losing a low scoring and hard hitting game to the 8-1 Texans-- especially with Jay Cutler being side lined for the entire second half with a concussion. Once again the Bears defense looked solid, as they were able to hold the Houston to 13 total points for the game. Chicago will be facing a particularly brutal schedule over the next five weeks with games against the 49ers, Seahawks, Packers and Vikings. If the team doesn’t start to play better during big games, they might limp into the playoffs with a 10-6 record.
The Falcons may have lost a close game to the Saints, but, again, it’s hard to place too much blame at their door step-- they were not going undefeated. Atlanta had a shot to actually win the game with two late fourth quarter drives, but poor play calling and execution ultimately led their downfall. The Falcons have a few tough games on their schedule, so expect a couple of more losses before the playoffs begin.