CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason  made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan and recapped Week 9 in the NFL, touching on the Colts, the Falcons, the Buccaneers , Peyton Manning  and more news from around the NFL. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page .
The Patriots traded for suspended Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib  last week, and Esiason said it’s up to the team to convince him to heed the Patriot Way.
‘If he stays out of trouble, he will [be successful],” Esiason said. “I know what they’re banking on here. They’re banking on the locker room, they’re banking on the organization. ‘¦ This Aqib Talib kid is definitely a very different sort, very, very different. Hopefully up in Foxboro, he’s not going to get himself in trouble. This is what you call rolling the dice.’
The Colts posted a 23-20 victory over the Dolphins on Sunday behind Andrew Luck ‘s rookie-record 433-yard game. Esiason said the way ailing coach Chuck Pagano addressed the team following the game in the locker room was very impressive.
‘The Andrew Luck-Chuck Pagano show was something special,’ Esiason said. ‘I picked Miami to win the game yesterday. ‘¦ Andrew Luck doing what he did, throwing for as many yards as he did, setting a rookie record in a single game and then tying Peyton Manning for most 300-yard games in a season at the number four. How lucky are the Indianapolis Colts  fans to be able to go from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck. Hopefully a career of greatness that we’ll see there.
“The Chuck Pagano thing, for anybody who knows anybody whose ever dealt with cancer, to see him in the locker room after that game to talk about his daughter’s weddings and things of that nature, just gave me chills. So I would say that was really impressive.’
‘I thought the Pittsburgh Steelers  were going to beat the New York Giants , because the Steelers now, whether you love them or hate them, these are the Steelers that we know and love or hate,’ Esiason said. ‘They’re coming back defensively. Big Ben [Roethlisberger] is doing exactly what he does in games in which they win — he extends plays and makes throws and stands in there in the face of the pass rush. He’s as brave as any quarterback in football and he showed that yesterday.
“And the Giants, Eli Manning hasn’t played that well the last couple weeks. They won a game in Dallas, they won a game at home against [Robert Griffin III], but when you take a look at the stats and you see the yards that opposing offenses are putting up against that defense, it wasn’t shocking to me that the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Giants yesterday.’
The Falcons are out to an 8-0 start after narrowly beating the Cowboys Sunday night, 19-13.
‘I don’t think they have the best defense,’ Esiason said. ‘I think that either belongs to San Francisco or Chicago. I’m not so sure that their offense is very good. There are some more dynamic offenses out there, I think the Patriots come to mind and certainly the Green Bay Packers  come to mind. But I think there is a confidence and a swagger they have. ‘¦ When I watch the Atlanta Falcons  and I see Matt Ryan , I see a guy that is supremely confident that he can get it done when the game is on the line, and they can beat anybody. From the standpoint of confidence and expectations, yeah, I’d say they’re the No. 1 team in the NFL.’
Esiason looked forward to how things will shake out in the second half of the season leading up to the playoffs.
‘It’s great to be 8-0 right now, but it isn’t about now, it’s going to be about December and January. So a team that is wallowing around .500, maybe Detroit, maybe if Philadelphia wins tonight, is going to make a second-half run here and somebody is going to insert themselves into the playoffs that is going to be a hell of a team to beat. I think any one of these quarterbacks, whether it be Matt Stafford or Tom Brady  or Peyton Manning or Ben Roethlisberger , are going to have to go on the road, into Atlanta if you’re in the NFC and into Houston if you’re in the AFC if you want to make it to the Super Bowl .’
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On Sean Payton  possibly heading to the Cowboys: ‘I can’t imagine Sean Payton wanting to leave New Orleans and wanting to leave Drew Brees , but if Jerry Jones  makes a big enough play for him, I would think it would be hard for him to turn down.’
On which Manning he would choose for one game: ‘Peyton right now. Peyton is off the charts. First time yesterday that he’s thrown a second-half interception, he threw two of them, but like Peyton normally does, just overcomes it and just goes right down the football field. ‘¦ By far, the smartest quarterback that’s ever played the position. And probably is the one quarterback whose been asked to do more than any other one. ‘¦ But more impressive than anything else I think is he is a shining example for young guys like Andy Dalton , [Ryan] Tannehill and Andrew Luck to try to live up to and be more like. He’s a guy that does take it very seriously. ‘¦ You’ve got to be all in, and everybody has to know that you’re all in, that’s why you hope young quarterbacks heed that advice and see that and want to try to be just like him.’
On the Buccaneers: ‘What nobody is talking about ‘¦ is what Greg Schiano is doing down in Tampa. Josh Freeman  the last four weeks has all of a sudden become the quarterback that he was two years ago. All of a sudden, under a significant structural change in that organization with Greg Schiano taking over for Raheem Morris , he’s become the player that he was two years ago, even better than he was two years ago. The only thing I say about him is if you want to be an elite quarterback ‘¦ you have to make the commitment mentally and you have to make the commitment physically. Your teammates have to believe that you do really care about what you’re doing on the field, and hopefully he’s turned that corner and he’s going to be serious about it.’