Week One of the NFL season is in the books with more than a few surprises, blowouts, and good games. With that said, it is time to get a wrap on Week One and prepare for Sunday.
First and 10
10. Juuuuliooooo: It seems like all the preseason hype was deserved. Probably the most athletic wide receiver behind Calvin Johnson put on a show against the Chiefs. Brandon Flowers was out with an injury, 108 yards and two TDs are not numbers to scoff at. For those who took him irrationally high in your fantasy draft, congratulations.
9. A tale of two running backs: Two of the worst teams in the league combined to play one of the best games of the afternoon. A miraculous Blaine Gabbert touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts with 27 seconds left to play seemed to ice the game. Then, fellow second year quarterback Christian Ponder completed two quick passes setting up an improbable field goal for rookie out of Georgia, Blair Walsh. Walsh split the uprights forcing the only overtime of the week. This was the regular season debut of the former postseason OT rules. After another Walsh field goal in OT, Gabbert could not connect on a deep toss on fourth down which ended the game.
Other than Gabbert vs. Ponder, the big matchup was Adrian Peterson. Peterson came back in a superhuman performance, a mere nine months after tearing up his knee. The 2011 rushing king also had a strong game after a holdout that many said would affect his performance.
8. Joe Flacco’s offense: One of the biggest stories this preseason was the handing of the Raven’s offense to the man that called himself the best QB in football. Now all of us know that Flacco is no Tom Brady but certainly looked like more than his usual game-managerial self on Monday night.
It seems like Cam Cameron will finally open up the playbook for what can be a really explosive Ravens offense. Baltimore has a solid possession receiver (Anquan Boldin), an un-coverable deep threat (Torrey Smith), and maybe the best running back in the league (Ray Rice). As long as Rice gets the ball and Cameron allows Flacco to attack the deep sidelines (his biggest strength), the Ravens should be considered for the top team in the NFC.
7. Two Defenses Step Up, One Doesn’t: Last season, the three worst total defenses in the NFL were the Packers, Buccaneers, and Patriots. Two of those teams had explosive offenses and the other rode a ten game losing streak into this season. All of these teams used their top draft picks on defense.
On Sunday, New England and Tampa Bay held their opponents to 20 and 10 yards rushing, respectively. Its not like they were playing the Lions either. The Bucs allowed only 10 yards on the ground against one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, the Panthers. The Patriots also had the task of stopping Chris Johnson, which they did with ease. Up north however, it was a different story. The Green Bay defense on the other hand could not get the 49er offense of the field and this eventually lead to their doom.
6. Sanchez not Tebow: How about those New York Jets! According to Football Outsiders, Mark Sanchez was in the game for 60 offensive snaps as opposed to 10 for Tim Tebow. Tebow rushed five times for 11 yards and handed of or was in the slot for the other five snaps. Who are we kidding though; the big story was Mark Sanchez. The former Trojan threw for 266 yards and 3 TD, two of which went to Jets second round pick Stephen Hill. Hill has a chance to develop as Sanchez’s best weapon as a deep threat (sub-4.4 40) and red-zone target (6′ 4”, 215 lbs.).
5. 3+ Interceptions=Upset Alert: On Sunday two teams with far superior talent almost got beaten by two bottom five teams in the league. Common factor: the better teams’ quarterbacks each threw over three picks. Now one would think both of these teams would lose, but both sneaked out wins in the final minutes. The good news: shaking of awful QB play and getting the win. The bad news: the next opponents for the Lions and Eagles. San Francisco and Baltimore.
4. Peyton: It seems to me like Peyton Manning is back. When in the no huddle, he drove down the field with ease against a good Pittsburgh defense. What does this mean in the AFC West and for the Bronco’s overall Superbowl chances? Nothing. Not until Manning is hit hard or throws an across his body ball to the opposite hash do we really know. The Steeler’s defense was not up to par Sunday night and Manning will be tested more in the weeks to come. Will he get up or not? Whether that pass is thrown on a rope or floats into the hands of a defender. That is when we will more truly know what is in store for the most intriguing team in the NFL.
3. RGIII: What a fantastic start for the Redskins perceived franchise savior. A win over the Saints is huge and the stats that come with it are great. However, this is so much more than that. The Washington fan base suddenly has a guy to rally around. A bonafide franchise player whose jersey one can buy a know that he will be able to wear it with pride the next ten years.
A good Washington team makes the NFC East the most interesting division in football. With four potential playoff teams, every game for the teams in this division become must win. You never know what tiebreakers will be used and if the Eagles lose to the Saints at some point, that could be the thing punching the Skins’ ticket to the playoffs and leaving the Eagles at home.
2. Top 12: Buccaneers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Broncos, Giants, Bears, Falcons, Texans, Packers, Ravens, Patriots, 49ers.
1. The Picks
Game of the Week: Detroit @ San Francisco
The Handshake, part two live and in prime time. The Lions played San Francisco close last year and I do not think Jim Harbaugh will let that happen again. The 49ers looked absolutely monstrous defeating the Packers in a game a lot less competitive from what the score would indicate. The Lions on the other hand almost lost to the Rams, a team that went 2-14 last season. This game slightly reminds me of the Alabama vs. Michigan college football matchup a couple weeks ago. San Fran will abuse Detroit in the trenches on both sides of the ball, intercept Mathew Stafford multiple times, and run away to a 30-14 victory.
Matchup to Watch: Mike Iupati vs. Ndamukong Suh
Chiefs 23, Bills 14
This is going to be an ugly turnover filled battle, but in the end, KC is just more talented on both sides of the ball.
Matchup to Watch: Tamba Hali vs. Bills O-line
Bengals 17, Browns 6
The Bengals aren’t the best team in the world, but the only way the Browns are going to score is on defense or special teams.
Matchup to Watch: Joe Haden Some cornerback that will get blown by vs. A. J. Green
Colts 24, Vikings 17
Andrew Luck was dismantled by the Bears’ defense last week, but luckily for him, Minnesota’s D is the polar opposite of the Bears.
MTW (Matchup to Watch): Matt Kalil vs. Dwight Freeney
Saints 37, Panthers 28
This game is a must win for New Orleans and they will come out angry after an embarrassing loss to Washington.
MTW: Saints RBs vs. Carolina Run D
Texans 24, Jaguars 16
One would expect this to be an easy win for Houston, but do not be surprised if Jacksonville put up a fight.
MTW: Jags O-line vs. Connor Barwin, J. J. Watt etc.
Raiders 20, Dolphins 6
Yeah, somebody does have to win this repugnant matchup. I am predicting a big Darren McFadden game to get Oakland the win.
MTW: Jake Long vs. Richard Seymour
Patriots 42, Cardinals 13
Arizona has a strong front seven but Tom Brady should be able to cut up a week secondary. He will be aided by New England’s young defense facing a debacle of a Card’s offense.
MTW: Brandon Lloyd vs. Patrick Peterson
Ravens 34, Eagles 13
On paper this matchup may seem close, but I think a better coached and better prepared Baltimore team will easily win.
MTW: Ray Rice vs. Eagles run D
Redskins 27, Rams 17
Don’t underestimate Saint Louis in this one and I would not be surprised if they pulled an upset on the bandwagon Redskins.
MTW: Pierre Garçon vs. Cortland Finnegan
Cowboys 20, Seahawks14
This one will be a slugfest that goes down to the final whistle, but I’m taking experience over youth with the ‘Boys.
MTW: Seattle secondary vs. Cowboy’s receivers
Jets 23, Steelers 13
This will pit two of the top defenses in the league against to offenses that still have a lot of question marks.
MTW: Jets pass rush vs. Steelers O-line
Chargers 34, Titans 24
Philip Rivers should be able to air it out against a week Tennessee back four, but Jake Locker and the Titans should be able to exploit weaknesses in the Bolts defense.
MTW: Chris Johnson vs. Titans run D
Record 5-6 (Last Week 5-6)
Buccaneers 30, Giants 27
The New York defensive front was nothing to be blown away by last Wednesday. They left gaping holes against the run game and could not get much pressure on Tony Romo when they needed to. And that was against a weak Dallas offensive line. Now they are playing one of the best lines in the league with two able running backs and a QB that can make all the throws when he has time. I see the Giants continuing on their trend of starting of slow in a home loss to Tampa Bay.
MTW: Bucs O-line vs. Giants D-line
Start: Darren McFadden will be running wild against a weak Dolphins defense.
Sit: DeMarco Murray is going to be plugged at the line by an underrated Seattle front seven.
Start: Mike Williams is playing a banged up Giants secondary and do not forget the numbers this guy put up in 2010.
Sit: Kevin Ogletree. I am not buying it. At all.
Start: Stephen Hill is a physical specimen that might have Mark Sanchez’s trust after a great first week.
Sit: Alfred Morris is one of a myriad of Redskins running backs all of which will start and all of which will sit at some point. He is just too risky.
PPR Sleeper: Rod Streater was Oakland’s best receiver in the preseason and was pretty good against the Chargers last week.
Last week’s starts: DeAngelo Williams (bust), Jeremy Maclin (win), Alshon Jefferey (win)
Next Week: Looking at the coaches film.