Perfect, or perfectly bad?

insider

November 16, 2008|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,ken.murray@baltsun.com

Halfway through November, the Tennessee Titans are 9-0 and still tracking toward perfection. At 0-9, the Detroit Lions are still spiraling toward infamy. Will either team embrace history?

No team has gone 0-16, but last season the New England Patriots accomplished a 16-0 regular season. Here is what each team faces down the stretch.

Titans

Home: : Jets, Browns, Steelers.

Road: : Jaguars, Lions, Texans, Colts.

Potential ambush: : They probably can survive the depleted Jaguars today, but the Titans catch the Jets coming off a nine-day break in Week 12. That could be interesting. So could games against the Steelers (Week 16) and Colts (Week 17). Indianapolis almost certainly will need to win to get in as a wild card. Titans coach Jeff Fisher will already have locked up the No. 1 seed in the AFC - and a bye - but will he rest his starters with history at stake?

Look for: : The Titans to lose at Indianapolis, if not to the Jets.

Lions

Home: : Buccaneers, Titans, Vikings, Saints.

Road: : Panthers, Colts, Packers.

Potential reprieve: : It's hard to imagine Detroit winning any of the next three games. But the Lions have two NFC North games (Vikings, Packers) in December, along with a home game against the fading Saints. That represents their best chance to avoid ignominy.

Look for: : The Lions to lose out and make history.

Around the league

Under passing guru/coach Andy Reid, the Eagles are having trouble with the run on both sides of the ball. Their offense averages just 98.3 rushing yards per game and 4.0 per carry, and the defense has been gashed for 422 rushing yards in the past two NFC East games, against the Giants and Redskins. The Ravens, who have a power running game similar to the Giants' and Redskins', have to like the matchup next week.

The Wildcat offense has spread to Arizona. The Cardinals have given dangerous WR Anquan Boldin a direct snap with designs for more. "I think we're just scratching the surface of what we can do," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. Boldin is difficult to bring down, and he's an excellent blocker.

The Steelers' offense is struggling under the weight of injuries. QB Ben Roethlisberger (separated shoulder) has thrown eight interceptions and one touchdown pass in his past three games; the passing game ranks 24th. Two-time Pro Bowl RB Willie Parker has suffered three significant injuries in his past five games, starting with a broken fibula last year. Pittsburgh ranks 24th running the ball. That's why the Ravens have a shot at the AFC North title.

With four running backs already on injured reserve, the Broncos have been reduced to drastic measures. That includes giving rookie FB Peyton Hill some snaps at tailback and re-signing Tatum Bell, a 1,000-yard rusher for Denver in 2006 who was traded to Detroit last season.

Like the Ravens, the Falcons realize the best way to help groom a rookie quarterback is to keep the pass rush off him. QB Matt Ryan went unsacked last week against the Saints for the fourth time this season. Atlanta gave up 47 sacks last year but is on pace to allow 21 this year with only 12 so far.

Compiled from Sun news services and NFL beat writers.

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