Here are some notes from Sunday.
The Seahawks were incredibly over-valued- Analysts seem to have lost their minds when it comes to the Seahawks after Russell Wilson’s monster 3rd preseason game. All the sudden they were world beaters who were going to push the 49ers(who we will discuss later) to the brink in the fight for the division title. I even saw one annalist (I’m looking at you ESPN) that predicted a 34 point win for the Seahawks week one. Obviously none of that happened and the Hawks fell to a Cardinals team that people seem to forget is still a decent team no matter who their QB is. None of this is the Seahawks fault. They were simply an overvalued commodity. This isn’t Russell Wilsons fault, he may have had the best week one opener from any 5th round rookie ever. They just simply weren’t that great of a team. The Defense is near elite, but the offense still is mediocre and Russell Wilson is still a rookie.
The 49ers might be the best team in football- At least they looked like they were today. The 8 point margin doesn’t do justice to the beating they laid on the Green Bay Packers today. The defense looked at least as good as it was last year and the offense looks greatly improved. On the flip side of that, the Packers defense is atrociously bad and they might even be worse than last year when they at least turned the ball over a lot and got good pass rush pressure. The Packers D was useless and at one point the 49ers scored on 6 consecutive drives spanning nearly 3 full quarters. Charles Woodson was out of position a ton and is clearly not used to playing safety full time yet. Clay Matthews had a good game, but the other defenders need a ton of work.
The Packers have no resolve- I thoroughly believe that had Randall Cobb not gotten that punt return TD in the third quarter, the Packers would have been beaten by at least 23 points. They just looked like a team ready to give up. That got me thinking, when was the last time the Packers have had a big time rally to win a game. I had to go back to a Brett Farve led Packers team to find one where they were down more than 14 in the second half and won. I’m not saying that i expect any team to consistently come back from down by that amount, but with the offensive firepower the Packers have, i should have at least found one. So next I went and looked at their losses. In each one over the past 2 seasons, they have had terrible body language when they get down and that has been a big part of why they have lost these games. Think back to the NFC championship game, that Packers group was checked out half way through the 4th quarter(some of them didn’t make it that long. same situation in their loss to the chiefs. So the plan to beat the Packers is(on paper) simple, push around those WRs, they don’t respond well to physicality, and don’t let the Packers pull away. If you can take the fight to them, you have an excellent shot to get them rattled in the 4th quarter.
What in the world are the Jets?- Does anyone remember when this happened last year? the Jets were terrible in the preseason, Mark Sanchez was being thrown under a bus with fans calling for his head and then they put up a huge win week 1. The 27-24 win last year against the Cowboys might not have been as dominant as their 48-28 over the Bills was today, but the similarity is striking. Either way, I’m still not buying the Jets, they beat a mediocre team with a below average QB and an over-rated defense. prove next week against the Steelers and I might start to listen.
Is The Browns D that good, or is Vick that bad?- Mike Vick threw 4 INTs today. He also was a pretty poor 29-56 on his throws. the 317 yards look good until you consider that he achieved lower than 6 yards per pass in an offense more loaded than almost any other in the league. I went back and got a closer look at all four INTs, and only one of them could be considered forgivable, the other three were just awful reads. Give credit to the Browns D because they had a great gameplan and executed it well, but Vick might have had one of the worst games in his time with the Eagles, if he plays that poorly next week the Ravens might get an easy win.
Luck struggles but shows flashes of greatness- Andrew Luck threw 2 terrible picks and one forgivable one giving him 3 total against an average secondary. the good news for the Colts(and Luck) is that he still looked like a future stud and threw for over 300 yards. He had several throws that were perfect reads and passes to match and it showed why he was the top pick in the draft. don’t jump off the wagon yet Colts fans, Luck is still awesome.
RGIII is dominant- The Saints were overwhelming favorites coming into the day and Drew Brees was expected to steamroll the good but not great Redskins. As it turned out, the script was flipped and the Saints, not the Redskins, left looking like a .500 team searching for answers. Griffin threw for 320 yards completing nearly 75% of his passes and throwing no picks. granted, the Saints D isn’t all that good, especially with the loss of Tracy Porter to the Broncos, but even so, this was an excellent performance. I do wonder, however, if RGIII will hit a late season wall much like Cam Newton did once teams figured out his tendencies in the run game. Newtons running threat opened up huge passing lanes early in the season, but once defenses figured out how to put him in situations he didn’t like, he struggled greatly. It will be interesting to see if RGIII can avoid a similar drop in performance. As a side note, please understand that I am not comparing Newton to RGIII, just noting similarities in their debut and the way they threaten defenses.
The Saints miss Payton- Piggybacking on my last note, The Saints looked completely lost without the masterful play calling of Sean Payton. Payton has now been out 2 games in the past 2 years and the Saints have lost both games to lesser teams than themselves. Drew Brees and Sean Payton have maybe the best Coach/QB relationship in the league and it helps them to dissect defenses together as games wear on. Without Payton Brees has to largely do the work by himself and it has lead to a delay in the Saints offense hitting their groove. They seemed to have figured out the Redskins D in the 4th quarter, but by then it was to-little to-late.
The Rams are going to be a pesky little team.- Jeff Fisher has assembled a nice little group of scrapper to fill up the Rams roster. They didn’t get the win today, falling 27-23 to the Lions, but they certainly showed that they weren’t going to be a doormat. They got up in the Lions face and didn’t back down until the final wistle. They may not be a good team this year, but they are going to cause problems for everyone they play. mark my words, at some point this season the Rams are going to steal a win from a good team and it will cost them a playoff spot. I guarantee it.
Adrian Peterson doesn’t need an ACL to be a beast- Peterson is about 8 months removed from a major ACL team and he only netted 84 yards and 2 TDs as the Vikings beat The Jags today. Most players wouldn’t have even been on the field until at least november, but Peterson isn’t most players and he further proved why he is an Elite back and a special player today.
Greg Schiano belongs in the NFL- many people expressed some concerns about the Bucs hiring of Rutgers HC Greg Schiano as their new coach, but he went a long way towards proving his detractors wrong with a hard nosed game against the Panthers. The Bucs D held the Panthers offense to 10 rushing yards. seriously….10 yards. Last season there was only one game when Cam Newton didn’t rush for at least 27 yards by himself(and zero games under 18). for those at home that is 2.7x more yards than the Panthers entire team rushed for today. Mark Barron looked like a stud with 3 tackles and was around the ball all day, his hit on Steve Smith early in the game hurt me to watch. The guy is a classic enforcer. Rhonde Barber looked like he was 26 again with 5 total tackles 1 sack and a pick. The Bucs offense wasn’t setting the league on fire, but they limited their mistakes and made the plays that counted to get the win. Rookie Doug Martin was pretty good netting about 120 scrimmage yards, he continues to look like a poor mans Ray Rice(which is not an insult). His catch over Luke Keuchly was about as good as it gets for RBs.
The NFL continues to be the most evenly balanced League in sports- In College football in any given season most knowledgeable fans could give you about 5 teams that are the only legitimate title contenders and for the most part be right. MLB is maybe 6-7 teams and the NBA is only about 3 teams right now, but then there is the NFL. who saw the Saints 0-1? how about the Jets beating the pulp out of the Bills? the Packers falling so easily to the Niners? The Browns only losing by 1? pretty much nobody. Coming in to an NFL season you might think 10 teams that have a solid title shot and there is a good chance that none of them win it.
The winner of Mondays Bengals/Ravens Game will have an early lead on the rest of the AFC North- With both the Browns and Steelers going down week one, the winner of tomorrows game will be the only team that isn’t 0-1 giving them an early 1 game lead on the division and 1 head to head win against a team who has a shot to be fighting for the division crown, not to mention the ever important 1-0 in division record as a tie-breaker. Both teams now know how huge this win could potentially be, expect this to be a brutally physical game. A big opportunity awaits the Ravens tomorrow night, win and the path to the playoffs and a second straight division crown gets just a little bit easier.