Standings tighten up in the NFL

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:02 PM ET

The more I gaze at the NFL standings and try to make sense of it all the more I feel like Elaine Benes’ old boss Mr. Pitt, who in one Seinfeld episode stood transfixed starring diligently into one of those Magic Eye 3-D posters waiting for the 3-D image to pop out.

Mr. Pitt didn’t get it and these days, neither do I.

Just when you think that things are rounding into shape, that there’s some separation between the good teams and the mediocre, you get thrown a curve while looking for the fastball.

This week was no different from the nine that preceded it as a variety of upsets occurred tossing the overall playoff picture into a murky mess.

The goofy part about it all is that two of the teams that didn’t play — Oakland and San Diego — benefitted the most in the wacky AFC West.

Ditto for the Atlanta Falcons, who won on Thursday to go 7-2 and watched with glee on Sunday as the Cowboys came off the mat for their new coach and tore apart the Giants in Gotham. That makes the Falcons top dog in the Conference.

Heading into the weekend, the AFC West was ruled by the pragmatic, plodding Kansas City Chiefs, a team of emerging talent who seemed to be arriving ahead of schedule.

Their opponent on Sunday was that dog of a team the Denver Colts, a team which was on a four-game losing streak had been outscored 73-30 in their past two outings.

But this being the NFL, the reverse pulled true as the Chiefs got whacked 49-29, which dropped them to 5-4 and lifted the resting Raiders into a first-place tie. The Raiders are actually the team in front as they beat the Chiefs the week before and are a perfect 3-0 in their division.

The Chiefs loss also means that the 4-5 Chargers now sit just a game back of first and appear to be geared up for their annual second-half charge.

Looking down the road the Raiders have the toughest schedule to overcome. They face the Steelers, the Dolphins and the Jaguars in their three remaining non-divisional games while Kansas City gets Seattle, St. Louis and Tennessee and San Diego has the Colts, San Francisco and the Bengals.

This division will go down to the wire.

JETS SOARING

Yeah, yeah, the New York Jets needed more than their share of luck, if you overlook their field goal kicker had three makeable misses, to turn back the Browns in overtime in Cleveland.

You easily could make the same case for their overtime win the week before in Detroit.

Overlooked and under-valued is the fact that in every season enjoyed by successful teams, the luck bounces their way. It’s a sign that the football gods have taped a particular team on the shoulder.

The Jets needed an overtime fumble plus poor clock management by the Browns to come up with their win. But when they needed the clutch plays, they got them a sure sign that a team believes in itself.

So the Jets remain tied with the New England Patriots atop the AFC East, the two teams battling for overall supremacy in the Conference.

The Patriots will be out for revenge against Rex Ryan’s team when they play host to the Jets Dec. 6. In their first meeting, the Jets prevailed 28-14.

If the Jets win that one, they’ll be stamped as the team to beat and be the top seed in the AFC.

SLIP AND SLIDING

No team has gone from heights that the Houston Texans enjoyed when they raced to a 3-1 start, one that included a romp over the Indianapolis Colts, to a team that now sits at the bottom having lost four of its past five with a 4-5 record.

They lost in spectacular fashion on a last second desperation, Hail Mary pass into the end zone that the Houston secondary screwed up as cornerback Glover Quin batted the ball directly into the arms of Jacksonville’s Mike Thomas for the winning TD.

It is fitting that the Texans season would for all intent end on that note as their secondary has been an abysmal embarrassment throughout the campaign.

The Texans were a media darling to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history but instead, the curtain could be quickly closing on the coaching career of Gary Kubiak, who has apparently failed to deliver once again.

It was a game they simply had to win and didn’t.

mike.rutsey@sunmedia.ca


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