The NFL: September 16th

We are off and running on another NFL season, and with the start of the season comes the start of more NFL posts. We will go over last week’s action, take a look at a few interesting points and preview the upcoming week all in one awesome post. Hold on to your hats.

Week 1 in Review

There are very few conclusions that can be reached after one week in the NFL. Generally speaking, you can throw out the first 2 weeks of action as far as appraising a team, but there were a few teams that showed their true colors in week 1.

The Indianapolis Colts are abjectly horrible. I changed my NFL Preview to reflect that, but just watching that game left no doubt that the Colts are going to suck this year. Like, one of the worst teams in football bad. I thought this before week 1, but there is now little doubt.

True story

Now that I have that out of the way, I am going to go through the league team-by-team. We do not know much for sure out of the first week, but it is nice to at least take another look at the squads that greatly diverged from expectations, as well as seeing which teams appeared to follow their predicted paths. Let’s do this by division

The AFC East had a pretty good showing this week with the Patriots romping, Jets finding a lucky horseshoe named Tony Romo lodged in their anus, the Bills putting a hurting on the Chiefs and the Dolphins looking respectable despite getting torn apart by the Pats. The Pats and the Jets are who we thought they were so I don’t think we need too much commentary there. However, the Bills looked damn impressive against t Chiefs team that may actually exceed (in the negative way) my 5-11 prediction for them this year. I wouldn’t read too much into it, but the Bills are probably what we expected as well: a team with a couple pieces that could be respectable, though not good, in plenty of other divisions. The biggest rethinking needs to be done on the Dolphins, who actually got some passable QB play from Chad Henne and will probably not get their respectable secondary ripped apart like that most weeks. I am going to hold off on raising my expectations for them, but it was at least a performance with a spine.

The AFC North was full of surprises this week with the Steelers getting hammered by the Ravens and the Browns choking in magnificent fashion against the Bengals.  I am going to go ahead and write off the Ravens-Steelers game for now but I have had my doubts about the Steelers so I cannot just ignore it completely. If the Steelers come out and destroy the Seahawks like we all expect, I will just ignore the game but if they come out and look that soft on defense again I will be tempted to drop them. As for the Ravens, I just don’t know. Vonta Leach was impressive, as was a Ravens offense I had pegged for a bad year. That all may still happen but they looked pretty good for this week at least. The Browns and Bengals game caused me more thought than any Browns and Bengals game should. Take a look at this series of tweets for a second. Read it from bottom to top.

Note that those tweets are from August 8th and 9th. I ended up backing off after watching them play and watching Dalton getting absolutely mauled behind zero protection. But a lot of the reasoning there looked pretty sound on Sunday. That soft schedule remains, I still like Gresham and Green, though Benson is in jail, and while 10 or 11 wins sounds insane, it could happen. I am going to chalk this game up to the Browns not being able to test Cincinnati’s O-Line for now, but if the Bengals show me they can protect the passer for another couple of weeks, I might be tempted. On the Browns side, they did not look much like a team ready to leap to 8-8. They were stymied by the Cincinnati defense for long stretches and choked the game away late in a way completely unbecoming of a team that could make a jump. I mean how many teams have you watched not break the huddle in time on the play that put the game out of reach and thought to yourself “that team could win half its games”? Again still not jumping ship but a very unimpressive showing. If they don’t beat the Colts comfortably next week, I am done with them.

The 2nd most impressive team of Week 1

The AFC West looked pretty dismal and it wasn’t just the Chiefs. The Raiders and Broncos both looked like 6-10 teams at best and the Chargers let Minnesota hang in the game despite only giving up 39 yards passing. I am going to cut the Chargers a break here because they usually stink early and I think the Vikings can be decent, but the Chiefs, Broncos and Raiders all looked dreadful. No offense, fairly average defense, turnovers galore, and because two of them played each other, one of them was forced to win. Things change after the first two weeks and all, so the Broncos may end up looking decent or the Raiders may figure it out, but that was a pretty ugly week for the division.

The AFC South didn’t look like much either. The Texans clobbered the Colts but it remains unclear if they are any good or the Colts are just that bad. I am leaning toward the second. In the other game, Jacksonville played keep away from the Titans and was ultimately rewarded for it. I still am high on the Titans this year but that was an extremely ugly first half. Despite the result those are two teams headed in very different directions. The Colts are the only team I really learned/confirmed anything about last week.

Jumping over the NFC East, we got more or less what we expected. The Eagles were pretty good and the Cowboys were good but had some issues but both will be at the top of the division when all is said or done. Nothing to worry about there. However, I am now ready to drop the Giants deep into the loss column and maybe bump the Redskins to 7-9 or 8-8. Rex Grossman isn’t good, but he might be good enough to make it work with that schedule and the Giants moved laterally in the offseason instead of vertically and then sustained 40-50 injuries on defense to the point that I do not see them coming close to the 9-7 projection I set for them. Over-reacting after one game is one thing, but if the problem is with injuries, those are going to stick around and be an issue weeks from now. The Giants are one of my teams to bet against going forward though we will see how Vegas adjusts to them.

The NFC North had perhaps the best showing of any division. Though I am still picking the Bears to flop, they looked good against the Falcons. The Packers beat a Saints team that is going to win its division. The Lions beat a tough Tampa Bay team and managed to get away with only a Matthew Stafford cramp as supposed to a shattered shoulder. The Vikings looked decent against an extremely talented Chargers tea. Everyone played well. Very little bad I can say here and I think all of them played at a level representative of their abilities. Sticking with the Bears flop, but I cannot hate on them after their performance.

The NFC West still sucks. The Rams didn’t look too bad against the Eagles but now they are facing another slew of injuries that may set them back too much to deal with a torturous early schedule. The Seahawks suck, the 49ers suck less than the Seahawks and the Cardinals secondary sucks too. So. Much. Suck. Liking the Cardinals to win the division now but more by default than anything else. I am going to make it a goal to talk about this division as little as possible barring some unforeseen improvements.

The NFC South had somewhat mixed showing though you wouldn’t guess it looking at their 0-4 record. The Saints are still the best team in the division and will get to prove it against the Bears this week. The Falcons and Bucs will likely bounce back as well, though each has its work cut out for them in Philadelphia and Minnesota respectively. The Panthers will likely lose too against Green Bay but I think there is an outside shot they are better than the Bucs this year. Not betting on it but it wouldn’t shock me. The division may go 1-3 again, making it an aggregate 1-7, but hold out hope, this is still a top division that is just undergoing a few early bumps.

Week 2 Preview

The picks will be at the bottom of the previews, so if you’d like to just read about your team and skip down, that is an option.

Chicago vs New Orleans (-6.5)

The Saints are better than the Falcons and get the Bears at home. The non-stop blitzing of Greg Williams will destroy the offensive line and Jay Cutler and I don’t think the

0-2 is not an option for the Saints.

game will be especially close, though Chicago may grab a consolation TD late to make it look close.

KC vs Detroit (-8)

KC was awful last week and Detroit was pretty good. Since Matthew Stafford’s shoulder is still in tact give me the Lions to cover in a game that will probably put an end to any doubts about KC’s drop off this year.

Jacksonville vs New York (A) (-9)

Jacksonville will not be able to bully the Jets like they bullied the Titans. That will pretty much be the story of the game and the Jets will cover with relative ease.

Oakland vs Buffalo (-3)

Buffalo is alright this year, but there is a completely different aspect to pay attention to while picking this game. It is the dreaded “west coast team on the east coast playing an early game” geographical conundrum. Buffalo officially gets to grab the premature “This is OUR year!” title and then relinquish it the second the schedule isn’t so easy.

Arizona vs Washington (-3.5)

Did you just read the game above about a west coast team playing an early game on the east coast? Patrick Peterson and company will make Rex Grossman look way too good and the Redskins roll. This may get the award for “game I want to watch least even though neither team is horrible”.

Baltimore (-6) vs Tennessee

I smell an upset here, but there is a problem. If Jacksonville rolled over the Titans on the ground, what is going to happen when the Ravens come in, fresh off running over the Steelers? Tennessee keeps it close but can’t get it done. It sure makes their climb to a wild card spot tough but I still think they can do it. Taking the Titans to cover here.

Seattle vs Pittsburgh (-14)

I think we are in agreement that picking this game is entirely about the -14 and not the actual game in which the Steelers will kill the Seahawks? Good. Anyway, another early game on the east coast so I am going to take Pittsburgh to cover even though that seems a bit high.

Green Bay (-10) vs Carolina

Cam Newton is pretty good but struggles with the Green Bay defense. Packers cover with ease and waltz to 2-0.

TB vs Minnesota (-3)

I am going to stick with my Vikings love here. Donovan McNabb was less than sterling against the Chargers but the Vikings seem like a pretty safe pick at home. Could easily go either way but give me the Vikings. Definitely a game worth watching.

Running like a man possessed

Cleveland (-2) vs Indianapolis

A part of me thinks Indy will win this. The other part of me is being a Colts nihilist. The Browns were kind of bad last week and the Colts defense actually might stand a legitimate shot of stopping them and then letting Kerry Collins and the running game do their thing. I am going to have a really hard time picking Colts games this year but I will take Indy to cover.

Dallas (-3) vs San Francisco

This is among the easier games this week. Dallas might struggle a little on the road but they are much better than the 49ers and it will show. This line should be 5 or 6.

Houston (-3) vs Miami

Not sure if Houston is any good and not sure how bad Miami is since the Patriots were just extremely good. I am definitely going to try to watch this one. Houston to cover unconvincingly.

San Diego vs New England (-6.5)

Very tempted to take San Diego to roll in and surprise the Patriots on Sunday night but not this early in the season where the Chargers are always the glue-eating kid at school for the first few weeks. I think New England wins comfortably but lets San Diego in the back door to cover. Game of the week without a doubt.

Cincinnati vs Denver (-3.5)

Avoid this game like the plague. I will take the Bengals and try to not talk about this game any more.

Philadelphia (-2.5) vs Atlanta

I will take Philly to cover this easily but more because I am down on the Falcons than high on the Eagles. Falcons hit Vick in his return to Atlanta but the Eagles are just better. At least 2 picks for Matt Ryan.

St. Louis vs New York (N) (-6)

No idea here. The Giants are bad, the Rams are injured and not much better. Do I have to pick this game?  If this was in St. Louis I would be much more tempted to pick the Rams, but given the circumstances, I just have no idea. Fine, Giants to cover.

New Orleans -6.5 vs Chicago
KC vs Detroit -8
Jacksonville vs NYJ -9
Oakland vs Buffalo -3
Arizona vs Washington -3.5
Baltimore vs Tennessee +6
Seattle vs Pittsburgh -14
GB -10 vs Carolina
TB vs Minnesota -3
Cleveland vs Indy +2
Dallas -3 vs SF
Houston -3 vs Miami
SD +6.5 vs NE
Cincinnati +3.5 vs Denver
Philadelphia -2.5 vs Atlanta
St. Louis vs NYG -6

Last week: 9-6-1
Season: 9-6-1

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