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Cowboys, Bengals and Broncos got to the proving grounds

Sam Farmer looks at Week 9 story lines, with Tampa Bay still looking for its first victory.

November 04, 2009|SAM FARMER | ON THE NFL

Are the Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos as good as they've seemed at various points this season?

This week, they all get a chance to prove it.

The Cowboys play at Philadelphia, where they were dismantled, 44-6, last December.

The Bengals play host to Baltimore. The last time the teams met in Cincinnati, the Ravens strolled away with a 34-3 victory.

The Broncos, who charged to the top of the AFC West by winning their first six games, were destroyed in Baltimore last Sunday, 30-7. On Monday night, they play the Pittsburgh Steelers, fresh off their open date, having won four in a row.

Back of the pack

An appropriate question for the 0-7 Buccaneers: Where'd everybody go? There were three winless teams when Tampa Bay headed into its open date -- the Rams, Titans and Buccaneers -- but now there's only one. After last Sunday, St. Louis and Tennessee finally have something to show in the win column.

Now it's Tampa Bay's turn, although it won't be easy. The Buccaneers play host to Green Bay, and the Packers -- who are favored by 10 -- are eager to show there's still a reason to go on in the wake of a loss to Brett Favre, er, Minnesota.

Tables turned

A few weeks ago, Chargers at Giants looked like a Meadowlands mauling in the making. Things have changed. The Chargers, who lost three of their first five, are riding a two-game winning streak -- albeit wins over the weak Chiefs and Raiders -- and the Giants have lost three in a row after a 5-0 start.

They play on opposite coasts in different conferences, but these teams do have a recent history. The Chargers made Eli Manning the No. 1 pick in 2004 -- remember how he wouldn't put on their cap? -- before trading him to the Giants for Philip Rivers.

Time for a change?

The Raiders say they are investigating the latest accusations against Coach Tom Cable, two ex-wives and an ex-girlfriend alleging abuse, according to an ESPN report.

Already this season, a Raiders assistant accused Cable of breaking his jaw, although the district attorney in Napa decided those allegations didn't merit pressing charges.

The Raiders have a week off, and if they were going to make a midseason coaching change, the open date is a logical time to make one. Don't be surprised if the team sticks with the status quo, however, even though the team is 2-6. Owner Al Davis is typically slow to push the button on coach firings.

Ginn again?

New England never saw the sneak attack coming in Week 3 last season when Miami's direct-snap offense was a wild-catastrophe for the Patriots. That 38-13 Dolphins victory was the last time the teams played at Gillette Stadium.

Sunday, they'll meet again there, and Miami's secret weapon isn't so secret. Speedy Ted Ginn Jr., benched as a starting receiver, became the first player in 42 years to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same quarter, running kicks back 100 and 101 yards in a victory over the Jets.

Think the Patriots are going to be fine-tuning their coverage units this week?

Bet your sweet Bill Belichick they will be.


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