There is no great team.
Because there is no great team there is no telling what will happen from week to week.
A good team plays bad, a bad team plays good. Up becomes down, black becomes white and through it all Tom Brady remains irrepressible.
In the AFC West, three teams are within a game of first place, and the team that seemed headed toward a special season (Kansas City) got blown out on Sunday by the last-place team (Denver).
Minnesota celebrates getting back into the fringes of contention with a miracle win one week when Brett Favre throws for 446 yards, then goes to Chicago and plays awful in losing. And Favre gets 170.
The Giants look great one week, then get blown out by Dallas the next, a game that gives Dallas its second win of the season. Washington has all sorts of turmoil with the "benching" of Donovan McNabb, yet the Redskins are only 1 1/2 games out of first place (heading into Monday night).
New England walks into Cleveland 6-1, loses, then goes to Pittsburgh and makes the Steelers look silly.
New Orleans loses to Cleveland and then beats Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh loses to New Orleans, beats Cincinnati and then plays poorly against New England.
The Bears somehow are 6-3 and tied for first in the NFC North. The Bears.
Kansas City started well, then went to Oakland and lost and then was blown out by Denver.
There's no figuring this league. The Jets were a three-point favorite and all those who took the Browns figured they had, at worst, a push. Then Santonio Holmes broke free on a short pass and the Jets won by six and all those who took the Browns were gnashing their teeth.
Want to find a great team in the NFL this season? It might have a losing record. Few teams are playing as well offensively as San Diego, yet the Chargers are 4-5. They may well finish as the hottest team in the AFC. Miami is one game ahead of the Chargers, and Sunday they used four (count 'em) quarterbacks.
Pittsburgh doesn't look great and has injury issues. New England lost to Cleveland. The Jets are eking out wins. The Colts should be guests on "Grey's Anatomy." Baltimore has chances, but it has lost three times. Every winning team has a blemish, a bad loss or a question. Atlanta is 7-2, but the Falcons have the Saints and Bucs only one game back.
A great team may emerge in the stretch run, but the playoff chase and the playoffs figure to be as unpredictable as they have been in many a year.
Watch highlights of the Patriots' victory over the Steelers:
Tom Brady told NBC in an interview that losing to the Browns made him feel like the worst quarterback in the world. Yes, it was a shot at the stature of the Browns, but more than that it was measure of the pride that Brady has in his craft.
All the questions about Brady and the Pats coming out of that loss were being asked loudly. Is this an indication of the Patriots' offense without Randy Moss? Was everyone fooled by the presence of Bill Belichick? What do the Patriots do now because they are going to Pittsburgh where the Steelers would hit them with large steel beams?
What they do is win. And they win by confounding all the conventional thinking. They win by keeping Brady so free of disturbance that he can pass at will. They win by doing to Hines Ward what he has been doing to so many others: Hit him so hard he's knocked out of the game. They win by recognizing the Steelers blitzes and throwing into the vacated areas. They win with a plan.
A few years back, a veteran defensive coordinator said that New England's Belichick is the best in the league at breaking down the opposing defense and then applying that knowledge to what his offense can do. Instead of forming a game-plan saying the offense will do what it does, he forms a game-plan specifically designed to take advantage of another team's weaknesses. It works because Belichick is so smart.
Then there is Brady, who makes it go. Belichick could be a a genius and his offense would not work the way it does without Brady, who is right there with Peyton Manning as the best of our generation. He is that smart, that savvy and that dedicated.
Sunday night, Brady scored on a quarterback sneak from three yards. He recognized a stunt and sneaked into the end zone through the gap created by the stunt.
That TD made the score 23-3, and led to a vehement spike of the ball. If ever a spike was a statement, that was one. Brady's statement: Yes we have flaws, but don't count us out. Ever.
Cleveland cornerback Sheldon Brown was knocked out of the game in the first quarter of the Jets' overtime win on Braylon Edwards' first reception. Edwards had mouthed off during the week about the kind of game he was going to have in Cleveland and how happy he was to be playing in New York instead of Cleveland (Let's see ... Manhattan ... Cleveland ... Broadway ... Cleveland ... OK ... though Edwards said nothing of the driving while intoxicated laws in New York City).
So because he had mouthed off Edwards had to back up his words. See, he could not be seen as anything less than a physical player. So on his first catch, he turned and lowered his head and drove his helmet directly into Brown's left shoulder.
Edwards proved he was tough, and Brown, a guy who was not even in Cleveland when Edwards was making enemies, took the shot. While Edwards proved his manhood, Brown went down in a heap, injured. Edwards called it helmet-to-helmet, but it seemed more helmet-to-shoulder. Still ... why is it OK for an offensive guy to lead with his helmet and not a defensive guy?
"Football is football, but sometimes you can't lead, can't lunge, that kind of stuff," Brown said. "So you go in and try to make a perfect tackle."
Brown tried to take on Edwards while stationary. He wound up taking the shot.
"If you know me," he said, "I would never go tackle like that. I normally just go and launch. If I had to do it over again, I would go and tackle a different way."
Brown did not accuse Edwards of anything dirty. But a defensive guy who led with his helmet the way Edwards did would be fined, perhaps suspended, according to the league's newest edicts.
Evidently it's OK for an offensive guy, though.
Mark Sanchez was taken fifth in the draft by the New York Jets two years ago. Colt McCoy lasted to the third round this year.
Sunday the two played and the only difference between them was Sanchez had more talented wide receivers, one of whom came up with a game-winning play with 16 seconds left in overtime.
McCoy threw for 205 yards and had a rating of 88.8. Sanchez threw for 299 and had a rating of 87.2. Sanchez has had nothing but hype since he entered the NFL.
McCoy earned a ton of respect.
"Quote me on this," said Jets defensive lineman Trevor Pryce. "They have a quarterback now. I'm glad I'm not in the AFC North so I don't have to see him get better. They've had a quarterback problem for a long time. They now have a legit quarterback."
McCoy shows poise and smarts beyond his years. He may miss a throw, but rarely misses wildly. His overthrows almost seem by design, so that either his guy will catch it or nobody will. McCoy can dissect each call, with great detail.
He also does not try to be what he is not. Asked about a play call, he shrugged and said: "(Offensive coordinator Brian) Daboll asked me what I like, what I don't like. I said, 'Look, you tell me what you like and I'll go do it. I don't want to get into making play calls yet."
"I've never seen anything like it for a rookie to come in and play the way he plays," said Sheldon Brown, a nine-year veteran.
McCoy showed his poise most late in the game. The Browns trailed 20-13 and had done absolutely nothing in the second half. But McCoy took over at the Browns 41-yard-line with 2:42 to go and completed five passes for 58 yards, the last a three-yard score. To set up the score, McCoy threw to Evan Moore, who was covered by Darrelle Revis.
Brash? No. Just confidence in the call, the receiver and his arm.
"If you have any common sense," Brown said. "That's special for a rookie to be doing that."
At this point, it would seem logical for the Browns to simply state that McCoy will play. Not because they need to see if he can play; they know he can play. Not because they need to find out about next season; they know. McCoy should play simply because he gives the Browns the best chance to win.
Unless you feel Seneca Wallace or Jake Delhomme is better.
More from NFL.com:
BAD BLOOD IN AFC WEST
Kansas City coach Todd Haley apparently did not appreciate getting blown out by the Broncos. Instead of shaking hands with Josh McDaniels after the Broncos' 49-29 win, Haley pointed his finger at McDaniels and turned his back.
Haley evidently was not pleased that McDaniels kept throwing and blitzing with a comfortable lead.
Nobody likes getting blown out, but Haley should understand that McDaniels learned under Bill Belichick, and as Belichick showed Sunday night in beating Pittsburgh he will never let up. Ever. So nobody should expect McDaniels to let up.
As far as running up the score ... there are different theories. Bobby Bowden always said when people accused him of running up the score that it was not his problem but the problem of the defense not stopping him. That's college, where kids are on scholarship. In the pros guys are getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars at a minimum to play. It does not seem like running up the score should even be a consideration in the pros.
If a team does not like the other team scoring they have the right to do something about it.
Monday, to his credit, Haley apologized, saying he had let the emotions of the situation get to him. "I do believe in doing what's right and that was not right," Haley said before apologizing to Denver, the fans and to McDaniels. Again ... to Haley's credit.
HAIL, HAIL JAGUARS
The old rule on Hail Mary passes was simple: Don't try to catch the ball. Knock it down.
Now, after Houston safety Glover Quinn knocked the ball down right into the hands of Jaguars receiver Mike Thomas for a game-winning score, everyone is saying to catch the ball.
Clearly the rule should be this: Knock it down unless, while you are in the air, you can see an opposing receiver running your way toward where you intend to knock it down. Then change your mind in midair and try to catch it.
Jacksonville became the first team to win a game on a last-play Hail Mary since Cleveland did it in 2002 when the immortal Tim Couch threw to the more immortal Quincy Morgan. The losing team that day? Jacksonville.
Speaking of Jacksonville, has anyone noticed that David Garrard has been quite the quarterback this season? He has led the Jaguars to last-play wins twice, and in the four games he started that Jacksonville won, his passer rating is 143.
Garrard has completed 69.4 percent of his throws, has 15 touchdowns against seven interceptions and has a rating of 104.9.
Which isn't bad at all.
Holmes' overtime touchdown for the Jets was the third-latest, regular-season TD in overtime. San Diego beat Kansas City with no time left in 1978, and Baltimore beat St. Louis with 10 seconds left in 1996. ... The Jets are the first team in NFL history to win road games in overtime in consecutive weeks. ... They did it in Detroit and Cleveland. ... The Great Lakes trifecta would be complete only if they win next week in Buffalo. ... Alas, they are home against Houston. ... Buffalo, incidentally, won for the first time. The Bills beat Detroit in a game when the Lions were penalized 11 times and punted eight times. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick won with 146 yards passing. ... That's six fewer than Trent Edwards had last season when Buffalo lost, 6-3, to the Browns. ... ... Not that there's anything wrong with that. ... Troy Smith, on the other coast, threw for 356 yards and a TD in San Francisco's overtime win. ... Perhaps the 49ers were playing the wrong Smith all along. ... As Rex Ryan was leaving his news conference, Sanchez was walking in. Said Ryan: "Way to go Sanchez. A yard short of 300." ... The scene in the tunnel in Cleveland this week had twins Rex and Rob Ryan posing for pictures with their father Buddy as a family reunion of Ryans took place around them ...The Jets' resourcefulness and ability to just win on the road (baby) should not overshadow a more-than-solid Browns effort. With a rookie quarterback and no wide receivers of any great impact, Cleveland came within 16 seconds of going 2-0-1 against three of the better teams in the league. ... Pittsburgh is playing without three offensive line starters. That may be too much for even the Steelers to overcome .