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News » Looking into the second-half crystal ball

Looking into the second-half crystal ball

Looking into the second-half crystal ball
When trying to predict the second half of the NFL season, the crystal ball looks like a shaken snow globe.

The first nine weeks were marked by close games and much more parity than in 2007. Tennessee (8-0), the New York Giants (7-1), Pittsburgh (6-2) and Carolina (6-2) are the only franchises with two or fewer losses. There were eight such squads at this time last season, with all but Detroit reaching the postseason.

2. Will the Tennessee Titans go undefeated?

The 1972 Miami Dolphins shouldn't be sweating — yet.

Tennessee (8-0) isn't nearly as dominant as the 2007 New England Patriots, which outscored their regular-season opponents by an average of 20 points a game en route to a 16-0 record. But the Titans don't have a brutal remaining schedule — five opponents are .500 or below — and catch a break Sunday in Chicago with Bears quarterback Kyle Orton (ankle) sidelined.

The season's final two weeks could be especially interesting with Tennessee hosting Pittsburgh (6-2) and finishing at Indianapolis (4-4). The Steelers are one of the few remaining foes that can stymie Tennessee's dominating ground game, while the Colts should give a better defensive effort with strong safety Bob Sanders healthy again.

3. Will the Detroit Lions win a game?

No team has ever gone winless in a 16-game season, but the Lions (0-8) have a legitimate shot at entering the record books for all the wrong reasons.

The problems start at quarterback where Dan Orlovsky is out for several weeks with a sprained thumb. That leaves either the unproven Drew Stanton or recently signed retread Daunte Culpepper under center.

After Sunday's home game against Jacksonville — which just lost to the previously winless Bengals — Detroit doesn't play a sub-.500 team the rest of the season. Unless the Lions can catch an opponent sleeping, Detroit's best shot at winning may come Dec. 7 against visiting Minnesota (4-4). The Lions will be coming off a long rest following a Thanksgiving Day game against Tennessee (eesh) and fell just short on the road against the Vikings in last month's 12-10 loss.

4. Which rookie quarterback will make the playoffs — Atlanta's Matt Ryan or Baltimore's Joe Flacco?

Not even the Cardinals can mess this one up. Arizona (5-3) already has a three-game lead in the NFL's worst division and is on track to play its first home playoff game since — get this — 1947.

The big question now is whether Arizona can secure a first-round bye, which would be huge for a team that melts outside the desert. The Cardinals have lost all three of their games in the Eastern Time Zone and may ultimately have to return in the postseason to face the Giants. At least one victory in upcoming games at Philadelphia (Nov. 27) and New England (Dec. 21) would go a long way toward boosting Arizona's confidence heading into the playoffs.

9. What team is best poised for a second-half surge?

Dare I say the aptly-named San Diego Chargers? Yes, this is the AFC's most disappointing franchise. San Diego, though, has lost four games by a combined total of 14 points and is only one game out of the AFC West lead. Just like last season, the Chargers can get on a second-half roll with four of their next five games at home. Winning the division also would secure a first-round playoff game even though the conference's two wild-card teams would probably finish with a better record.

10. Will Adam "Pacman" Jones play in the NFL again this season?

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is still holding out hope, but I just can't see NFL commissioner Roger Goodell letting Adam Jones on the field in 2008. Pacman knew he was on a short leash when initially reinstated by Goodell and still couldn't keep from getting into trouble. Is Jones really going to reinvent himself after just four weeks in an alcohol rehabilitation program? Don't expect Goodell — whose league gets embarrassed every time Jones screws up — to try and find out.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 5, 2008

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