Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What A Week One...For Some

Week one in the NFL brought on a lot of surprises, and depending on who you talk to some were good some were bad.  Ten teams stood out to me, five surprised the hell out of me while five other made me look again to make sure i wasn't watching the Arena Football League with their atrocious play.  Today, as I will do every week, i will discuss my five biggest surprises as well as my five biggest disappointments.


5. Chicago Bears- Hold on, Jay Cutler can be a serviceable NFL quarterback?  Where was I when this memo was sent?  The Bears defense really did win this game, but how many of you didn't think that Cutler would hand this game to them on a silver platter?  Instead he threw for over three hundred yards and two touchdowns.  Although he did throw an interception, he was more than proficient with a 107.8 qb rating.  The defense will in the end carry this team throughout the season.  They caused three turnovers in this game, Brian Urlacher bringing one back for a touchdown.  Maybe the Bears are a team to be reckoned with?  Or maybe they just had a really lucky first week against a team most had as one of the NFC's best.  Time will tell, but for now Chicago looked more than stellar.

4. Buffalo Bills- Now the Bills may have had a shot against a Kansas City team that we all know wasn't going to match what they did in 2010, but a 34 point blowout?  I do not think anyone saw this one coming.  Andrew who?  Ryan Fitzpatrick was more than efficient, he was excellent.  He threw for 208 yards and four touchdowns.  The only sad part about this game for Bills fans is the play of CJ Spiller, but everything else is basically a cause for celebration.  Will the Bills challenge the big bad wolves of the AFC East?  Probably not, but this is definitely a drive in the right direction.  The Patriots and the Jets may not be the best in this division forever, and it's been awhile since Buffalo was the one who was the team nipping at their heels.  They may not make the playoffs, but look to them to end that fifteen game losing streak to New England.

3.  Baltimore Ravens- This one was harder for me to decipher whether this was a showing of how good the Ravens can be or how much we have overrated the Steelers.  The Ravens completely dominated Ben Roethlisberger in all aspects of his game.  Five turnovers for Ben Rothlisberger?  Maybe the Ravens new strategy was to get hotter cheerleaders to distract Big Ben and cause him to stop thinking about winning football games.  Shouldn't every other team try this new strategy?  Don't get me wrong, the Ravens came into this with one of the best defenses of the league.  They also had the fact that for some reason Pittsburgh seemed to be in their heads.  After this game there will be a much different look to one of the best rivalries in football.  Flacco looked great against much preseason criticism.  It is starting to look like he finally has some good chemistry with Anquan Boldin.  The running game looks to not miss a beat replacing Willis McGahee with Ricky Williams.  Ray Rice just looks like he is ready to go up against AD for the tops in the running back glory.  He is running much lower to the ground which now gives him the ability to run around you as well as run through you.  Watch out, the Ravens will be among the NFL's best this season.

2. Washington Redskins- Rex Grossman is yet another "what the heck? why are you even in the NFL?" that went on to take his team to a Week 1 win.  Everyone already had John Beck written in as the starter for the Redskins, and when Mike Shanahan picked Rex everyone was up in arms.  Well, when you have the lesser Manning on the other side, then its not hard to look like the better quarterback.  Grossman, however, would look great against most of the qbs in the league on this night.  He threw for over 300 yards with two touchdowns and a 110.5 quarterback rating.  The defense also stepped up in this one.  They were all over Manning all night long.  It just seemed like the Washington defense would not let the Giants offense get going.  Everyone pinned the Redskins as the cellar dwellers of the NFC East, but maybe they aren't who we thought they were.

1. Cincinnati Bengals-I am not going to lie, it is surprising to me that the Bengals won any game this season, let alone the first one against an upstart Browns team.  They have a rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton, a rookie receiver in AJ Green, an overall inexperienced team all together, another season of turmoil with the Cedric Benson and Carson Palmer situations respectively, and a coach who's seat could not be hotter.  In the face of all these things Cincinnati pulled out an impressive 27-17 win.  Think about it, Carson Palmer refused to play and Andy Dalton got hurt.  They were basically winning a football game with their third option in Bruce Gradkowski.  No more Ochocinco making crazy touchdown celebrations, no more Carson Palmer to make a fourth quarter comeback, no playoff wins in over twenty years, nothing to celebrate for a long time.  For right now, the 2011 Cincinnati Bengals are undefeated.

5. St Louis Rams- The supposed game of the week was anything but with the Eagles going against the Rams.  Philadelphia came out with their "Dream Team" motto, well the Rams made them look exactly like that.  Don't get me wrong, Philly is a really good team this year, but the Rams were supposed to be the cream of the NFC West crop.  The Rams have literally showed that they have so much more work to do than we thought.  Even worse was the fact that their two biggest stars, Steven Jackson and Sam Bradford, went down with injuries that would not let them return to the game.  We will have to see if they can bounce back against Giants, because if they can't maybe the Rams aren't who we thought they were.

4. Atlanta Falcons- The NFC South didn't fair to well against the NFC North this first weekend.  The Falcons maybe in a worse position than New Orleans since the Saints lost on the 1 yard line to the defending champion Packers.  The Falcons literally looked like garbage against the "I really hope our quarterback doesn't fold under all this coward hoopla" Bears.  Atlanta looked like the lockout hit them harder than any other team in the league.  There was no unity within this offense or defense.  They looked like they needed someone to throw them a lifeline desperately.  Three turnovers killed the offense even though yards wise the stats look good.  Michael Turner had a ten yard per carry average, maybe the Falcons would have given him the ball more than ten times the whole game.  If the Falcons think they are going to have any chance to make the playoffs in maybe the most difficult division in the whole league they really need to step up their game and quick.

3. Kansas City Chiefs- The surprise playoff team of 2010 got off to a worse case scenario start.  Not only did they lose their first game, they lost 41 to seven, to the haven't been good in ten years Buffalo Bills.  Oh and they also lost their starting safety Eric Berry in the process.  There are so many things you can point to as to why the Chiefs lost by the largest margin in week one.  Three turnovers doesn't usually win games, but 41 points against?  There is much more to this story.  Part of it is the fact that out of thirteen red zone attempts the Chiefs converted three times. THREE.  Also they averaged under three yards per pass attempt.  In comparison the Patriots averaged 11 yards per attempt, hell even the Chad Henne Dolphins averaged eight.  This is looking to be a long mostly unproductive season from the boys from Kansas City.  My advice to you is that if you are in an eliminator challenge anywhere, pick whoever is playing the Chiefs that week, you'll be in pretty good position to win.  Trust me.

2. Indianapolis Colts- So this is life without Peyton.  Giving up thirty-four unanswered points to a team that the Colts have dominated since the Texans inception.  Are the Colts really that bad?  Was it really all Peyton Manning all these years?  If so, what do they do next?  There really is nowhere to go from here.  Kerry Collins looked like he had no idea of the playbook, which is understandable being that he had seventeen days to learn it.  What worries me is that the offensive line did a horrible job in this game.  They got to Collins ten times in this game, three of which being sacks.  Is Peyton going to want to come back if he sees an eighty year old Collins getting massacred when there will be no point in them trying to save the season anyway?  The Colts have far more questions then they do answers and its looking like the longest active playoff streak is coming to a screeching halt post-lockout.  Everyone in Indiana is hoping and praying that this whole neck business is a short term thing and its not at the severity that it may be.  Let's hope that the former is true, because even though I am not a Colts fan, the league is a better place when they are good.  On Sunday they were far from that.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers- What in God's name happened here?  This is the oldest a team has looked coming of a Super Bowl appearance.  The Steelers cannot lose this bad to the Ravens.  The Ravens had the Steelers in their head all last season.  That was the kryptonite for Baltimore.  They could not get over that hump and it ended up ending their season earlier than they hoped.  Now that is all out the window.  The Ravens in one fell swoop took the upper hand.  Even worse is now there will be much talk of the Super Bowl hangover curse.  Ben Roethlisberger made the quarterback situation in Seattle look like a championship situation.  Coach Mike Tomlin has to go back to the drawing board after this stinker.  It is very early, but if I'm a Steelers fan I'm looking forward to the Penguins.

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