Ten quick-hit thoughts on the NFL:
1. The Packers have an NFL-best plus-13 turnover differential. They must be disappointed to be 5-4, but they are a team I think can make a move in the second half of the season.
2. JaMarcus Russell has been benched in Oakland and it comes as little surprise as he doesn’t seem to have the desire to be great. His NFL career got off to the wrong start when the Raiders inexcusably didn’t sign him before draft (teams can sign the No. 1 pick beforehand) and shifted the leverage to Russell, who held out.
3. At this point, Vikings receiver Percy Harvin would be my pick for offensive rookie of the year.
4. Seems like teams have caught up to Broncos linebacker Elvis Dumervil. He had eight sacks in the first four games of the season, but has just 3.5 over the last five contests.
5. The Dolphins earned respect for what they did earlier this week – losing top rusher Ronnie Brown for the season, traveling to Carolina for a Thursday night game, and posting a grind-it-out win to even their record at 5-5.
6. Dolphins fullback Lousaka Polite, a five-year veteran who played in college at Pitt, is an impressive chain-mover. He is 7 of 7 this season on third-and-1 rushing attempts.
7. In Week 2, I picked the Jets to beat the Patriots. This time around, I think the Patriots will better handle the Jets’ pressure and win a low-scoring contest.
8. Quietly, the Jaguars have hung around in the AFC playoff race (5-4). New personnel chief Gene Smith gets a tip of the cap for clearing out some of the problems in the locker room and building a new foundation, although one concern for the Jaguars is their lack of pass rush (just 8 sacks).
9. It seemed clear that Dick Jauron wasn’t going to take the Bills where they wanted to go, but firing a head coach during the season seldom leads to an in-season turnaround or a galvanized fan base. I would have let Jauron finish out the season.
10. My thoughts were with Chris Spielman this morning as I read about his wife, Stefanie, losing her 12-year battle with breast cancer.