NFL Week 1 – Some Closing Thoughts

Dark Star has spouted off about the Ravens.  That’s a great place to start.  I picked them to beat the Bucs on Sunday.  I didn’t think it would be that easy, but I did feel like Tampa wouldn’t be able to stop the run or the pass – and I also thought Chris Simms would have his hands full.  As a Steeler fan, it hurt me to see Steve McNair sign with the Ravens.  McNair has had many, many big games against the Steelers.  He isn’t intimidated by their defense and he has the respect of everyone in Pittsburgh.  He’s a tough competitor and a play maker who makes things happen.   He doesn’t get fazed by blitzing defenses or break downs in his pass protection (Hello Peyton!).  I’m not saying he’s better than Manning, but Steve has played in a Super Bowl – and I definitely believe a healthy Raven team puts the hurt (for real) on a healthy Colt team.  I told a friend of mine to begin reading the injury reports for teams the week after they play the Ravens.  The defense has serious chops, but the addition of Denver’s powerhouse running back/fullback Mike Anderson will pay big dividends as the weather gets worse and fatigue becomes a factor for other teams.  There are no defenses in the league that want to defend the run against Jamal Lewis and Mike Anderson in the 4th quarter – especially if their team is trailing.  If fatigue makes cowards of us all, the Ravens will be able to introduce many teams to their inner coward this year. Some other thoughts:

  • The Carolina Panthers essentially lost two games yesterday.  By losing to the Atlanta Falcons at home, the Panthers dropped a division game to a team that will be there at the end.  The Panthers are a damned good team, but can’t “expect” to win in Atlanta.  They’ll probably need to finish a game ahead of the Falcons to make the playoffs. 
  • Panthers II.  The Panthers were healthy last year on the offensive line.  Trevelle Wharton is done for the year.  They’ll need to get an able bodied substitute in there.  Who knows how long DeShaun Foster will stay off of IR.  Who knows how long Steve Smith’s hamstring will hold up.  If the Panthers are not healthy, they are not going to the Super Bowl.
  • Seattle escaped with a 9-6 win in Detroit and picked up Deion Branch.  Branch is one of the best receivers in the league.  He catches just about everything.  Hasselbeck throws a catchable ball.  Branch runs great routes and is a tremendous deep ball receiver.  He’ll open up the vertical passing game for Seattle the way Donte Stallworth has opened up the field for Donovan McNabb.  8-in-the-box against Seattle is a recipe for disaster…and 7-in-the-box is all that Shawn Alexander needs to repeat his MVP performance of last year.  It’s on in the Northwest.
  • The Giants had several chances to beat the Colts, but they were sharp.  Also, Kevin Gilbride is with the Giants and I smelled his stinky influence on a 3rd and 2 call late in the game.  Tiki Barber had 100+ yards on only 18 carries, but on this influential play, the Giants lined up in the shotgun and proceeded to drop a pass.  The drop isn’t Gilbride’s fault – far from it.  What may be attributable to him, however, is the reticence to muscle up and knock the Colts off the ball.  The Giants will not win the NFC East by passing on 3rd and short.  Gilbride’s track record with finesse football is unimpressive.  It’s probably why finesse guys like him and June Jones are always getting the sideline wrath from guys like Buddy Ryan and Jeff George (ok, I don’t like him as much as Jason Whitlock).
  • The Chiefs are in trouble.  Sunday’s game turned on the Bengals decision to go no huddle in the second quarter after the Chiefs defense had been on the field for most of the half.  The Chiefs offense misses Al Saunders more than they will miss Trent Green.  Green will miss the next two games and be replaced by Damon Huard (or some other Huard).  Larry Johnson will be looking at 8 or 9 in the box.  The Chiefs should continue to throw the ball to LJ (5 catches for 80) in addition to getting it to Tony G.  Still, it may not be enough if they’re unable to control the Time of Possession.
  • The Bengals are good – but so are the Ravens and Steelers.  I don’t believe all three of these teams can make the playoffs, but when it comes down to Week 16 and Week 17, remember the Steelers have beaten the Dolphins and the Bengals have beaten the Chiefs.  Kansas City and Miami could be on the outside looking in.
  • Last year, the Steelers were a 6th seed in part because they lost to the Jaguars after Tommy Maddox fumbled away the ball following a 76-yard kickoff return by Qunicy Morgan.  The fumble took the Steelers out of field goal range in regulation.  In overtime, Maddox threw a pick-6 to Rashean Mathis.  That game sealed his fate in Pittsburgh.
  • The Raiders and Packers are the worst teams in the league.
  • The Patriots are overrated.  Management is cutting costs and looking to make a run in a year or two.  When players are comparing the loss of Deion Branch to a funeral, you can wrap it.  I’ve already said Miami will have their number this year.  Tick-tock.  Count down to next year’s draft.
  • Steelers-Jaguars will be a classic defensive battle.  Not too much running…not too many 3rd down conversions…lots of pain.  Should be epic.  Steelers 20, Jaguars 19.
  • Chad Pennington still has some skillz.
  • I hope Frank Gore can stay healthy.  Gore used to be the BEST back at Miami when Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee were there.  Gore was frequently injured.  He’s has two knee surgeries and two shoulder surgeries. 
  • Vernon Davis is a big-ass dude.  You better be about it if you want to tackle him – or else you’ll be going straight to the 2006 highlight film for the 49ers.  Best advice for staying off video: stay low.
  • The Bears are a for-rilla gorilla.  I know the Packers stink, but Grossman is a strong-armed QB who will continue to hit Bernard Berrian deep – and Devin Hester adds another dimension that gives the Bears those “invisible yards” on special teams.
  • I already like what Rod Marinelli has done in Detroit.

One comment

  1. I wasn’t sure the Ravens would do it because I have questions about the line. I _still_ have questions about the line. McNair took some nasty shots.

    I didn’t see enough games to get a good take on who is who in the league. “DS 2.0” needs attention and football doesn’t hold his interest past 20 seconds. 🙂

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