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News » Giants, Steelers are among NFL's elite teams


Giants, Steelers are among NFL's elite teams


Giants, Steelers are among NFL's elite teams
The intensity level we saw Sunday in Pittsburgh was that of a playoff game. These weren't any pretend teams, but two really good teams and two very physical teams. Without question, the Giants and the Steelers are two of the top teams in the league right now.


Let's start with the defenses because this game featured so many big-time hits. Steve Spagnuolo, New York's defensive coordinator, will be a head coach next season. The only way he's not is if he doesn't want to leave or he doesn't want the jobs that will be offered to him. He is a very good coach. Dick LeBeau is also very good, but the Steelers go about it a lot differently than the Giants. They are a 3-4 defense that gives opponents a myriad of complex blitzes, using their safeties and linebackers. They lost something when safety Ryan Clark went out.

NFL Week 8

Week 8 action

    Cowboys 13, Bucs 9 -- Recap | Box
    Panthers 27, Cardinals 23 -- Recap | Box
    Eagles 27, Falcons 14 -- Recap | Box
    Patriots 23, Rams 16 -- Recap | Box
    Redskins 25, Lions 17 -- Recap | Box
    Saints 37, Chargers 32 -- Recap | Box
    Ravens 29, Raiders 10 -- Recap | Box
    Dolphins 25, Bills 16 -- Recap | Box
    Jets 28, Chiefs 24 -- Recap | Box
    Texans 35, Bengals 6 -- Recap | Box
    Browns 23, Jaguars 17 -- Recap | Box
    Giants 21, Steelers 14 -- Recap | Box
    Seahawks 34, 49ers 13 -- Recap | Box
    Colts at Titans -- Preview | Notes

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New York is more straight forward, though they do bring a rusher off the slot occasionally and do some zone blitzes. But mainly they like to get it done with their defensive front.

Although they started a little slow on defense, the Giants really came on in the second half. What impresses me about the Giants is what a tough team mentally they are. They are battle-tested and everything you would expect from the top team in the NFC East.

The Giants are getting great play out of their defensive tackles right now, and Justin Tuck is such a versatile player. Yes, they would really be something if Michael Strahan hadn't retired and joined our show and if Osi Umenyiora hadn't gotten hurt. I mean, Umenyiora is a game-changer. If they needed a pass rush, he always delivered. But they also got great play out of Mathias Kiwanuka.

Which teams out there right now are complete football teams? These two teams are. Not Dallas right now.

Now, Washington has shown flashes. Clinton Portis continues to show that he's the heart and soul of that team. I'm so impressed with Jason Campbell; he hasn't thrown an interception yet. Santana Moss, after being dinged for a couple of years, is having a great year. He was a monster for them Sunday as a receiver and with that big punt return for a touchdown. The Redskins have had to grind out a couple wins the past few weeks. Good teams when they are off a bit still find a way, and Washington has done exactly that.

Tennessee has a great formula for success. I know a lot of people knock Kerry Collins, saying he's strictly a game manager. But you know what? Maybe that's what the Titans needed. That team didn't need someone who might turn the ball over and give the opponent a short field. Their two-back system, like what's working in Carolina, is pretty exceptional right now. They have a pounder in LenDale White and a swift Ferrari in rookie Chris Johnson.

Tennessee has a good offensive line, and its defensive front is dominant. There are not too many defenses that you can say can get to the quarterback with their front four. They don't need to bring extra pressure.

Right now, what separates the Giants from teams like Pittsburgh is that they have a good offensive line and three quality running backs. Eli Manning has more weapons to work with than most quarterbacks. Remember that throw he made to Amani Toomer late in the second half? Eli had time to step up and had a clear throwing lane in which to throw. He really measured his throw and was so accurate.

Ben Roethlisberger looked like the wilder beast on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. He was under siege most of the second half. Ben doesn't have the offensive line or the receivers that Manning has. And don't forget he doesn't have Willie Parker right now, either. He's trying to do so much on his own. He is such a competitive player; he kept the Steelers in the game as long as he could.

Brandon Jacobs may not have scored there in the first half, but his style of running was like a series of body blows to the Steelers — he softened them up a little. Looking ahead to Cowboys-Giants next Sunday, I thing Dallas' win over Tampa Bay was huge. Because I really think it is going to be tough for them to win in New York. The Cowboys are trying to get to their bye week when they can get Tony Romo back.

Right now with Brad Johnson at quarterback, the Cowboys aren't a great catch-up team on offense. But if they can pound you and control the line of scrimmage, they have a chance to win. You can see that teams are defending an abbreviated field with Johnson. Defenses know that. And Jeff Garcia looked like he was running for his life all the time; it was a scramble.

The Cowboys played exceptionally well on defense. Now, how much was Wade Phillips calling the defense or how much was the new sense of urgency based on the last couple of weeks? I don't know. But they really needed that win and definitely showed a lot more intensity and emotion.

Just some quick thoughts around the NFL...

  • The Chargers look tired and in trouble to me. They got down early to the Saints and struggled to mount a comeback. They have to be one of the big disappointments of the year.

  • Brian Westbrook continues to amaze me. We all know he's not 100 percent, and he touches the ball 28 times for 209 yards from scrimmage against a tough Atlanta team. He is one of the league's best all-around players. The Eagles did this without their best offensive lineman in Shawn Andrews. And for the Falcons, Roddy White is really benefiting from rookie quarterback Matt Ryan.

  • Carolina hasn't had its offensive line healthy for the past month or so, but they won again and took over first place in the South. They've been getting by with multiple combinations. The Panthers' secondary continues to play well, although they dodged a bullet against the Cardinals, who are loaded at the skill positions. Steve Smith came up with a back-breaking touchdown catch and run.

  • If you would have told me before the game that Tampa Bay would limit Dallas to 172 yards of offense, I'd say Tampa Bay wins. I mean, the Bucs limited Dallas to only three conversions on 15 third-down plays. Someone had to blink in this game, and it was Tampa Bay in the end.

  • Jason Campbell continues to impress, and he has responded so well to new coach Jim Zorn and his system. The Redskins dominated the Lions in every category, although Detroit made the score a close one.



  • Author:Fox Sports
    Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
    Added: October 27, 2008

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