What I think they are thinking (or should be) in the headquarters of the four teams of the AFC South this afternoon ...
We’re the No. 1 seed in the AFC today, and no one knows who our new quarterback, rookie T.J. Yates is. That’s not our concern. They probably don’t know who Connor Barwin is either, but he had four sacks in our win in Jacksonville. Having people who are known is not a worry, winning is. We’re in position to go win this division and be in the playoff field. We have enough to do it with if we just plan smart, play smart and call a smart game without over-thinking things. Atlanta is the best team we will face in a while, but if the Falcons provide a bump in the road, it won’t mark the start of some unraveling, it’ll just be a bump in the road.
Did Jim Caldwell really hit the Curtis Painter-improved theme again on Monday? Seriously? Boy, if that’s improvement, my play must have graded out at near perfect. I mean, what sort of increments is Coach looking at exactly? His ability to continue to say the same things as if all is OK or if we’re close to something with any meaning besides Andrew Luck is upsetting and has spoiled him for me. In a season of embarrassments, we’re about to hit the road for what will the two biggest embarrassments of the season with trips to New England and Baltimore. But we won’t panic. Why would we with Painter getting better and all? We should get a Peyton Manning update this week, maybe there’ll be some good news there.
We slowed down the Texans' run game Sunday and Maurice Jones-Drew averaged 5.5 yards a carry. Those are about the only good developments ESPN can talk about as it discusses us heading into a "Monday Night Football" game in Jacksonville against the Chargers. Our coach is on his way out; their coach is on his way out. Maybe that’ll be the production theme for the game: Jack Del Rio versus Norv Turner. This rebuild is slow and the quarterback at the center of it, Blaine Gabbert, is not showing improvement. That’s the most disheartening thing. His surroundings are bad -- coaching, protection, weapons -- but even so he’s not showed enough to assure us he’s the long-term cornerstone.
Hey, it was an ugly game. That’s fine. The Buccaneers were a little uglier than we were, and at 6-5 we’re still one of the nine-best teams in the AFC vying for six playoff spots. It could be better but it certainly could be worse. And that was the closest thing we’ve seen to the old Chris Johnson all year. Maybe he and the blockers woke up and now we’ll be able to be a more balanced offense in our five remaining games. Maybe we can clean up the giveaways and keep it up with the takeaways. We need to stop the win one, lose one pattern. The Bills sure look ripe for the taking and we could pull to 7-5 Sunday in Buffalo.