The first week of the season is in the books. Kind of a disappointing Week 1, I have to say. On paper there were some great matchups, and I don’t think we could have asked for a better first game than Vikings-Saints, but it didn’t shape up to be the high scoring affair that it was built up to be. There were some upsets as three division favorites lost this weekend: Indy, San Francisco, and San Diego, but it was a sloppy week overall. There were a lot of penalties, a lot key injuries, and a lot of turnovers, capped off by the ugliest game of them all: my Jets losing at home to the Ravens. Here’s the rundown of things I noticed—you can read them in order or jump around Tarantino-style. My Week 2 picks are at the bottom. Enjoy.
Favre looked awful. Seeing Favre on the field reminds me of the 40-year-old guy on the train that sits there playing BrickBreaker on his Blackberry. He thinks that he’s blending in and doing a good job, but we just laugh he hits “Flip” and lose on the 11th level. That’s what Favre looked like—a slow, flustered old man desperately trying to keep up. He had no confidence in his throws with Sidney Rice out, so all he did was force it in to Schiancoe and Harvin. Not to be missed was a CLASSIC Favre interception to Jonathan Vilma. Brett, what goes through your mind when you make these throws? Anyway, it’s pretty clear that last seasons offensive dominance will not be repeated. I said last week that Vikings fans would be disappointed, and trust me, they will.
Calvin Johnson made that catch. Okay, by rule he didn’t, but it’s the Lions. Bad luck continues to follow this team; Matthew Stafford got hurt again (does this team have a hologram at left tackle?), could be out for up to eight weeks, and their defense is as bad as ever, shown on this play. I liked Detroit coming into this season, but it looks like it may take another year for them to be playoff contenders.
The Falcons-Steelers game would have gone over really well if it were played in London. Unfortunately it was played in America, and it sucked. Until the Mendenhall touchdown in OT, the only scoring in this game was on 6 field goals (apparently when the NFL plays games in London, the fans only cheer for the kickers, raising the question, why do we play games there? When we watch soccer we don’t cheer for the throw-ins. We cheer when the World Cup ends so we don’t have to watch soccer for the next four years.) This game was absolutely brutal, and there couldn’t have been a more anti-climatic way to introduce the new overtime rules. As good as Pittsburgh’s defense looked, Matt Ryan made them look better. He hasn’t done anything since his rookie year to show me that he’s ready to lead this team to an NFC South title, though it would help if they found him a second receiver.
There was a miscommunication in Houston—apparently the Colts thought they were playing flag football, but Arian Foster went full contact. It’s one of the only explanations I can think of for Foster’s ABSURD day (33 rushes for 231 yards and three TDs by Arian Foster!). He is a solid back, and has done well in his short time in the league, but come on, nobody should rush for 231 yards, especially not against the defending AFC Champions. It’s not as though the Colts can dismiss it as being just Foster either—just look at the highlight of his 3rd TD. Their defensive line got completely dominated. This is a serious concern for the Colts. They’ve had bad rush defenses in the past and Peyton has been able to bail them out, but that may not be the case this year.
The NFC West still belongs to San Francisco. Don’t get me wrong, the 49ers looked BAD. They looked really bad. They looked like shit, and it was by far the most baffling game of the week from a gambling standpoint. This is one of those days to forget about and move on because they’re a better team than that. As coach Mike Singletary said, “I want very much to tell Pete Carroll, ‘Thank you very much for kicking our tails. It was good medicine and we’re going to take it. We’ll go from there” (Singletary is the man). Still, Alex Smith, what the hell? I thought this guy finally turned the page last year. And Frank Gore? Dude shredded Seattle for 207 rushing yards in Week 2 last season, on Sunday: 17 attempts for 38 yards. I think they’ll be fine in the long run for the sole reason that they’re in the NFC West (USC could win the NFC West), but it may not come as easily as they had hoped.
The Jets, ughhh, the Jets. Monday night was like a nightmare, and it left me seriously questioning my fandom. I’ve never seen a more pathetic display of offense in my entire life. The Jets need to do one of two things: bench Mark Sanchez, or fire offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. It’s really both of their faults. Schotty calls it conservatively, with primarily running plays. But when he does give Sanchez the opportunity to pass, he never looks downfield and always dumps it off to the short routes. Baltimore has a beat-up secondary. The Jets have good receivers. It doesn’t make any sense why they didn’t even attempt to throw the ball downfield. The time has come to stop babying Mark Sanchez. He’s in his second year, he helped the team make it to the AFC Championship last year, and he has shown he can make the deep throw. This team needs to make a change, or else an otherwise great football team will go to waste. (I’m not even going to mention the penalties. Wait, I just did. Hey Kyle Wilson, what the hell happened on Monday?)
Recommended Week 2 Bets (3-0-0 on the season)
PHI (-5.5) over DET
Both teams will be without their starting quarterbacks, but I’m giving this game to the Eagles. Philly harassed Aaron Rodgers last week, sacking him three times and picking him off twice. That doesn’t bode well for Shaun Hill. There isn’t enough speed on Detroit’s defense to contain Michael Vick, and he’s going to be extra motivated in an effort to prove that he, not Kevin Kolb, should be the Eagles’ starting quarterback.
STL (+3.5) over OAK
I just didn’t like what I saw out of the Raiders last week. Jason Campbell looked like a thinner version of JaMarcus Russell, and they allowed over 200 yards on the ground. Steven Jackson should have a big game, and Sam Bradford looks like the real deal. This game will be decided by less than three points.
WAS (+2.5) over HOU
I’m buying into the Redskins. They’re a rejuvenated team with Donovan McNabb, and they’ll be pumped up coming off Sunday’s win over the Cowboys. Washington’s strong secondary should challenge Matt Schaub, and they won’t let Arian Foster run all over them.
NE (-1) over NYJ
Prove me wrong Jets, but I can’t see them keeping up with the Patriots’ tight ends. It will be a low scoring game, but unless Sanchez attempts a few forward passes, it’s hard to see the Jets winning this one.