Our experts offer insight on Derek Anderson's play, the Lions' playoffs hopes and the Patriots' scoring machine.
Is Derek Anderson the real deal?
Sean Salisbury: Yes, he's one of the main reasons why the Browns have become one of the most exciting teams in the league after years of being extremely boring to watch. He shows great poise in the pocket and has good footwork and a very good deep ball. In addition, he has football moxie that can't be taught. It's amazing that this kid was close to being cut by the Browns in the preseason. He's going to keep Brady Quinn on the bench for a while.
Eric Allen: It certainly seems that way. Anderson has helped reinvigorate this franchise with his strong play after a weird start to the season for the Browns. This is a franchise that seemed to have a curse on it the past few seasons and now the Browns are consistently winning. Anderson is the reason for that. He's been fantastic throughout the season and has helped revive the fortunes of the franchise, and of Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards.
Will the Lions make the playoffs?
Salisbury: Yes, they already have five wins, and I truly believe that 9-7 will make the playoffs in the NFC. That means this team could play barely below-.500 football the rest of the way and make the playoffs. With the way this team has been performing offensively and defensively, there is no doubt in my mind the Lions will keep this run going and shock a lot of people by earning a playoff berth.
Allen: This Detroit team will make the playoffs and not because the NFC is weak, but because it is a legitimately good team. Outside of the blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, this team has played solid defense to go along with the outstanding offense. Matt Millen's stubbornness finally paid off as his choice of WR Calvin Johnson in the draft gave the Lions another great receiving threat for offensive coordinator Mike Martz to utilize.
Are the Patriots running up the score?
Salisbury:I don't think the Patriots are running up the score, they are playing football. Everyone on this team wants to score and wants some of that glory whether it's Tom Brady or Matt Cassel. Yes, this team is enjoying putting points on the board, but the Patriots are putting them on the board because they are not only playing smarter, but also playing harder than the opposition. Every player on this team is playing with a chip on his shoulder, and that's why we're seeing these high scores. These players are playing at one of the highest levels I've ever seen in this league.
If teams don't want them to put 40-plus points on the board, they need to play better defense. I scoff at people who say the Patriots are disrespecting the game. They aren't out there doing somersaults and complicated dance routines when they score. They are simply going out there and getting the job done.
Allen: There's no doubt this coach is running up the score, and he is doing it with absolutely no concern for what the rest of the league thinks of his actions. Bill Belichick is not a tight member of the coaching fraternity. He isn't a guy who is getting "Happy Holiday" phone calls like a lot of the coaches in this league get from their colleagues, and I don't think he cares. All he cares about is winning the game and playing as close to perfect as possible.
This season he may be saying to the rest of the league: "You know what, not only do I have a quarterback who has three Super Bowl rings and counting, but he's also going to have the best offensive year of any quarterback in NFL history and there's not a thing you can do to stop me from getting him there."