Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, October 29, 2012 at 9:41 AM
Now, here we are nearly halfway through this 2012 NFL season and there sits one undefeated team - the 7-0 Atlanta Falcons - and yet it appears the national media and the NFL fans have all but ignored the Falcs.
In Sunday's 30-17 thrashing of the 3-point home favorite Philadelphia Eagles, there were the Falcons ignoring that 13-0 mark by Philly head coach Andy Reid in his post-bye games - ooops! - and notching one more important win on the way to what very well will be a historical season.
If head coach Mike Smith and Company feel a bit slighted, maybe it's better that way.
You know, come into each/every game with that proverbial chip on their shoulder while everyone out there tosses bouquets at the pro teams that play in Houston and in San Francisco and now even in Denver.
Hey, what does an unbeaten NFL team have to do to get some respect midway through the year? Just askin'
The Falcons - who host Dallas this Sunday Night in the NBC prime-time game - merely swatted down old friend Michael Vick and the Eagles in Week 8 action as Atlanta galloped out to a heady 24-7 halftime lead and put it into cruise control the rest of the way as hometown boy QB Matt Ryan threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns (while completing 22-of-29 passing attempts) while the Falcons defense silenced RB LeSean "Shady" McCoy (16 carries for 45 yards) and never did allow Vick to do much damage with either his legs or his arm.
Atlanta has never - ever - started off a season 7-0 in the team's 47-year history and here's the Falcons stone-cold perfect with wins against Kansas City, Denver, San Diego, Carolina, Washington, Oakland and now Philadelphia and barely anyone's taking notice:
Maybe this club has to win at playoff time to garner some respect. We can understand that mind-set considering the Falcons are 0-3 in playoff games dating back to the 2008 season but when you examine this squad you better know it has a high-class quarterback, a potent passing attack and a better-than-you-think defense that's held its last three foes to just 18 ppg.
Maybe NBC's Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth even will let the Falcons get some of the spotlight this Sunday Night with "America's Team" in town ... now that would be nice of'em!
Meanwhile, NFL Week 8 featured plenty of other high-profile wins and here's a couple of teams under our Jim Sez microscope:
NEW YORK GIANTS 29, DALLAS 24 - There but for a couple of Dez Bryant fingers, the G-men would have been losers in this key NFC East game but the troubled Cowboys wide receiver didn't "know enough" land backside first in the end zone when he hauled down that QB Tony Romo aerial in the waning seconds of this wild affair.
On a day when Bryant dropped a few Romo strikes that could have changed the complexion of this game earlier and - on a day when the Giants blew a 23-0 lead - Tom Coughlin's gang did get its revenge from that Week One loss at MetLife Stadium.
Naturally, the daggers were out for Romo after this four-INT showing but the truth of the matter is the Giants' defense stuck the Cowboys ground game early and rendered that aspect ineffective while one of the NFL's best kickers - that's Mr. Clutch Lawrence Tynes - drilled all five of his field-goal tries on a day when not everything was clickin' with the G-men's offense.
DENVER 34, NEW ORLEANS 14 - Maybe the aforementioned Collinsworth has a point there when he says nobody in the AFC will be glad to draw the Broncos if/when they play'em in this year's playoffs but ask us and we'll tell you the perfect storm (and we don't mean Sandy!) is forming in the Rockies with QB Manning 22-of-30 for 305 yards passing and 3 TDs in the Week 8 victory) really getting back into his MVP form plus the defense is stingy/well-coached and the whole team is just way more physical than it's been in recent years.
Did you see how dominant the Broncos' offensive linemen were in taking out Saints defenders? There were lots of Saints flat on their backs after the left side of Denver's O-line got through with'em.
Next up for the Broncos are back-to-back road games in Cincinnati and in Carolina and - don't look now - but this John Fox-coached club is way more physical at the line of scrimmage than either one of middling teams and so might it be time to start thinking about an AFC West crown and maybe some home-field playoff action to go with it?
Tonight, it's ...SAN FRANCISCO (5-2) at ARIZONA (4-3) - 8:35 p.m. ET, ESPN
It's been a while since we've seen the Niners - see that 13-6 Thursday Night triumph back on Oct. 18th - but no doubt the NFC West front-runners had plenty to work on after that tilt as TE Vernon Davis didn't have a single catch than while the rock-ribbed defense surrendered 103 yards rushing to RB Marshawn Lynch.
The fact is the Niners have won 10 of their last 12 divisional games - although one of the two losses came last year in a 21-19 setback at Arizona - and gotta believe SF's defense will send the kitchen sink here at QB John Skelton who has thrown 17 INTs since early last November ... ugh!
Spread Notes - San Francisco is 4-3 ATS (against the spread) so far this season but did you know the Niners are 11-7 spreadwise as betting favorites since the start of the Jim Harbaugh Era last year? Arizona, meanwhile, is 3-3-1 against the odds this season and the Cardinals are a solid 9-5 vig-wise at home while dating back to late 2010.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have the Side/Totals of the NFL Week 8 Monday Nighter between the 49ers at the Cardinals plus get all the NCAA Football and NBA/NCAA Basketball Winners every day - just climb aboard right now with America's #1 Handicapper. Check in with us on Game Days either right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winners.
THE WORLD SERIES REPORT
Go ahead and tell us you had a premonition back in April that this 2012 MLB season would end with San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey leaping into the arms of closer Sergio Romo to conclude the Fall Classic!
There were the SF Giants - who won six elimination games in this post-season - bringing out the brooms to beat a Detroit Tigers team that was listed as a - 175-to-$100 betting favorite prior to the start of this World Series and thus shocking the baseball world for a second time in three years.
Okay, so crafty GM Brian Sabean had a point when he said Detroit "didn't know what it was in for" in this series and Sabean was quick to point out his team did win 94 regular-season games this year but let's just say you know it's your year when you're up three games-to-none in the World Series and your All-Star Game starting pitcher has not even taken his turn on the mound!
Okay, so RHP Matt Cain did surrender that two-run, opposite-field wind-aided blast by Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera in Sunday night's 4-3 win in 10 innings but how about the fact the Giants won a world's championship while getting major contributions from the likes of Gregor Blanco and Ryan Theriot and Marco Scutaro and a long-lost two-time Cy Young winner named Tim Lincecum who retired all 16 batters he faced in this year's World Series.
Tip of the cap to you, Giants manager Bruce Bochy. You did it again - and with lost of spare-parts type players!
Finally, a memo to Tigers 1B Prince Fielder: Try showing up the next time you're in a World Series!
NOTE: Catch our NFL and NCAA Football Mid-Week Update in the next edition of Jim Sez.