1. Has Detroit turned the corner?
RICHARD BOADU: The Lions have been around the corner for a while, they just have been stalled out since they got past it in 2011. The talent has always been there. Chicago was due for a big loss too, so it was easy to see this one coming, especially against a division opponent.
BRANDON SCOTT: The Lions finally have a respectable running game with the addition of Reggie Bush. Not only does he add a new element to the offense in terms of weaponry, but the threat he presents makes the Lions passing game all the more dangerous. And if this group can keep other teams honest like that, they could be scary.
KHALID SALAAM: I’m still not 100% sold on the Lions. Detroit is one of those “Madden teams” that look great on a video game roster, but video games don’t take into account common sense. Frankly speaking, that’s been the Lions biggest issue over the last couple of seasons. They have plenty of talent, but don’t always play smart. On the bright side, it’s cool to see Reggie Bush taking it back to his USC days.
2. Denver looks like the best team in the NFL, but every squad has a weakness. Identify the Bronco’s soft spot.
BOADU: Let's be honest. The Broncos haven't played anybody. Ravens, depleted. Giants, 0-4. Raiders, THE RAIDERS, Eagles, turnover titans. The Broncos are a good team, but paltry competition has them looking like a great team. Their weakness is a butter soft schedule, because it will come to haunt them when the playoffs come around.
SCOTT: That’s the incredible part about this team. They play well in all three facets of the game –– offense, defense and special teams. If there’s a weakness at all, they haven’t shown it. But we still don’t know how Manning is going to perform when it’s playoff time. We’ve got more examples of him not rising to the occasion than that lone Super Bowl the Colts won almost seven years ago. The Broncos are going to live and die by the #BookofManning.
SALAAM: This is the most talented team Peyton Manning has ever played on. Top to bottom it’s not even close and he played with a couple of HOF dudes in Indy. They’ll have Von Miller back soon and then the sky is the limit, unless, Peyton falls prey to his ego. I’ve always been a Manning fan, but sometimes he tries to control everything. Tony Dungy and John Fox come from defensive backgrounds, so he’s never had an offensive mind on his level that he’s had to respect. He thinks he can outsmart everyone, but we’ve seen him fail in the postseason on several occasions. The Bronco’s are good to go, as long as Manning doesn’t try to micromanage every detail.
3. Did Seattle win that game on Sunday or did Houston lose it?
BOADU: Houston lost that game. They clearly had the Seahawks right where they wanted them in the fourth quarter. Championship teams make big plays when they're needed. The Texans weren't able to do so. Watching today's Texans is like watching the 2001 Bucs. Tony Dungy was a great head coach, but they needed someone new to get over the top. Might be the same case with Gary Kubiak.
SCOTT: The Texans might as well have gift wrapped that win for Seattle. Playing at home, Houston took a 20-3 lead into halftime and led 20-6 to start the fourth quarter. The critical moments that indicated the Texans were willing to give this one away were Ben Tate’s fumble in the third quarter and Matt Schaub’s inexcusable pick-6 to Richard Sherman. It’s not a replacement ref-type gift, but a gift to the Seahawks, nonetheless.
SALAAM: The Texans sometimes seem destined to be one of those “almost but not quite” teams. In our NFL preview, it was mentioned that QB Matt Schaub didn’t have to be great, just good enough in crucial moments. Yesterday, he was not and that caused Houston to lose a very winnable game against Seattle. This is still a team on the rise, but they have a habit of underachieving against top-notch competition. They’re too talented to keep letting that happen, but until they show it, they’ll always be doubted.