NFL – General Observations and Some Expectations

This is really late. But I thought I had to put something up.

New England Patriots 

Bill Belichick has apparently been obsessed with finding the perfect mis-match tight ends since his first coaching opportunity with the Cleveland Browns. Now he has four very capable and proven tight ends on his roster. Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Visanthe Shiancoe, Kellen Winslow and the injured Jake Ballard are all on New England’s roster. Why did I bring this up? Well for one, Hernandez suffered a high ankle sprain during Week 2 (and it looked kinda bad). People have begun making odd assumptions and begun to freak out because the Patriots are 1-1. Sure, they haven’t been scoring as much as they normally do, but they’ll be back. As for WR Wes Welker, I’m sure he’ll come back to catching passes and scoring. Some people think that he is intentionally being passed up in the passing game (heh) because of the contract negotiations that took place this summer. This is definitely not the case. Has anybody ever heard of WR Julian Edelman? He’s essentially a younger version of Wes Welker. Maybe he isn’t as capable, but Bill Belichick believes that he merits more time on the field. He has been slowly working his way up the depth chart. Sure, maybe the Pats are thinking about trading Welker or maybe they’re thinking about letting him walk after his tag expires this year. We’ll never know. This week, the Pats get a rematch with the Baltimore Ravens. I expect it to be close and for the Ravens to take it all.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are looking for revenge. There isn’t much more to write here. After the bitter AFC Championship loss, I expect the Ravens to come out and for the stars to align. Even though they don’t have star OLB/DE Terrell Suggs, their front seven is still one to be feared. Alabama OLB Courtney Upshaw has been filling in decently. MLB Ray Lewis is still one of the most vicious defenders in the game. FS Ed Reed is still the ball hawk. And it also doesn’t hurt that the Ravens offense is finally better than decent. For once, the Ravens are not a team built around defense. They are now a team with a good defense and with an offense that can score. The only problem here is that WR Torrey Smith has suffered a personal loss today. His younger brother passed away in an automotive accident and is unsure of whether or not he will play today. My condolences go out to the Smith family. It’s never good to hear about anybody experiencing any loss of any sort. Hopefully the Ravens can go out there and win this one for Torrey (and if Torrey does play, I hope he can go out there and win it for his brother).

San Francisco 49ers

Okay, so the 49ers have definitely made the biggest turnaround in recent memory. This doesn’t mean that they’re out of the woods just yet though. They are – in the end – a team built to harass offenses and protect leads. Their identity is not that of an offensive juggernaut. You want an offensive juggernaut? Go look at the Patriots, Saints, Packers and (in theory) Eagles. This 49ers team is built around the defensive front seven. And who is responsible for this huge turnaround? None other than head coach Jim Harbaugh. He came from coaching Stanford University (and yes, he did coach Andrew Luck and Coby Fleener) and had been offered the 49ers head coaching job. Boy, has that paid off. Harbaugh doesn’t have any fancy schemes nor is he an offensive/defensive genius of any sort. What Harbaugh has brought is confidence. Some point to the development of Alex Smith, but I can’t frankly see any. Alex Smith has eerily similar stats to his head coach, Jim Harbaugh. For those of you that didn’t know, Harbaugh was the starting quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts during the mid-1990’s before Peyton Manning was drafted. What’s different? Smith doesn’t throw an interception on every play anymore, but he almost never throws deep balls. He does take an unusually high amount of sacks as well. In the end, the 49ers are not an offensive juggernaut, but they’re pretty good on that side of the ball.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings have been in a downward spiral since 2009. Brett Favre finally retired (after one more season that did not go well). The receiving corps is okay at best (Sidney Rice ran to Seattle…but he has never been the #1 receiver that everybody thought he could be). The defense needs some serious help. And the final nail in the coffin was Adrian Peterson tearing both his ACL and MCL towards the end of last season. Now he’s back. They are slowly giving him more and more carries. But as a Vikings fan, I get really nervous when I see him on the field and see him taking tackles. 2012 has been okay for the Vikings thus far. QB Christian Ponder is now a sophomore and is making better decisions. He also put on some muscle and he is taking hits without folding. Today, they will face the 49ers. They most likely won’t win the game, but you never really know what will happen in the NFL. The redeeming factors for the Vikings are the following: Ponder leads the league in completion percentage (that’s a sign of growth), the Vikings run defense is 7th in the league (sorry Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James) and finally, the Vikings defense AND offense is excellent in the red zone. Maybe they’ll keep the game close.

Atlanta Falcons

After two weeks and two serious beatdowns, the Falcons look like they’re for real this season. Then again, they look like they’re for real every regular season. I personally have somewhat stopped caring about how the Falcons fare in the regular season. They are solid and should make the playoffs barring any injuries or any major implosion (cause y’know, they almost always wind up in the playoffs). I’m interested in how they will fare in this years playoffs (if they make it). But I suppose I do have to make an observation anyway. What’s new with the Falcons? Their (new) offensive co-ordinator Dick Koetter has installed a scheme that involves deep shots towards the end zone. QB Matt Ryan is loving it and WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White are loving it too. They were formerly a power running team, but when you have two awesome pass-catching talents in White and Jones, you shouldn’t be using them just to throw crack blocks and play decoy. RB Michael Turner will still get his carries, but he has been more than accepting of the new identity of the team. Their defense is still solid and their secondary suffered a huge loss. CB Brent Grimes tore his Achilles tendon in Week 1. If you don’t know where that is, it is the soft muscle/tissue directly behind your ankle. It should feel like a tube. Imagine tearing that. You can’t walk after that. That, my friends, is a painful and very serious injury. That will definitely hurt the Falcons secondary, but they did trade for CB Asante Samuel during the off-season. Still, Asante isn’t the complete corner that Grimes is. We’ll see how it all plays out…because their secondary picked off QB Peyton Manning three times during Week 2. Maybe they’ll be okay after all.

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers look…re-charged. Heh. Anyway, QB Philip Rivers is making smarter decisions and not letting mistakes get to him. Though their passing game has suffered due to the loss of WR Vincent Jackson (left via free agency and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), they seem to be doing okay. TE Antonio Gates is seemingly healthy once again. Yes, we’re talking about the same Antonio Gates that is the prototype for the current wave of huge pass-catching and capable-blocking tight ends (yeah, sorry Pats fans. Gates was the first modern-era TE that could do both well, not Hernandez and not Gronk). He’s jumping and catching and his foot seems okay. Their defense seems to be doing okay as well. The only problem San Diego has is in the running game. Ryan Mathews is apparently coming back for Week 3. But after suffering a broken collarbone, you’d think that the coaching staff would bring him back slowly. I expect the Week 3 match-up with the Falcons to be a shoot-out.

Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning and the $95+ million contract kind of paid off. I definitely would not say it paid off just yet. I would definitely pay that kind of money for Peyton Manning though. But after a Week 2 performance that featured 4 turnovers in just the first quarter, there were many telling signs of Peyton’s slow decline. We could call the three interceptions by Peyton aberrations. We could even say that his receivers were to blame. But let’s be real here, two of those interceptions were just bad decisions on his part. His arm strength definitely is not the same (YouTube the clip of a deep seem route being run by WR Eric Decker and see how underthrown that ball is). Peyton’s arm strength might not be the same, but his intelligence is still intact. He is still the same quarterback mentally, but – in giving credit to the Atlanta Falcons defense – he was constantly under pressure during the Week 2 match-up. As a QB, the first few reads you have to make is to read the safety once you have received the snap. Watch the tape of the Week 2 game and you’ll see how many times he tried to force the ball into windows that hardly existed. But in the end, Peyton is Peyton. It has only been two weeks. He still needs to generate a better rapport with his receiving corps and his team as a whole. He’ll be back. Three picks? He’ll be back for Week 3…but he plays the tough Houston Texans defense next.

Houston Texans

Houston is rolling. Sure, they had two inferior opponents during Weeks 1 and 2, but they are still a very, very good team. Their offense has no problems with QB Matt Schaub at the helm, RB Arian Foster running through and around defenders, WR’s Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter and TE Owen Daniels catching passes. What’s more impressive is that the Texans have yet to commit a turnover. It’s not like the Denver Broncos defense has a penchant for making that happen anyway. Furthermore, the Texans defense is dirty. There’s no other way to describe them. When I say dirty, I don’t mean it in a negative connotation either. They just have so many ways to create pressure up front and up the middle. And yes, pressure up the middle is kryptonite to Peyton Manning. I fully expect DE’s J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith and LB’s Connor Barwin and Brian Cushing to force Manning into some bad decisions today. We’ll see how it unfolds, especially considering that this game will be played in Denver. That thin air is an advantage more than people know.

New York Jets

The Jets are 1-1. So, which team are we going to see during Week 3? The team that dropped 40+ points on the Bills or the team that could only muster one TD in Week 2? Well, we definitely won’t see the team from Week 1. That game was given to them by the uninspired Bills. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick seemed to try too hard and the Bills secondary just looked lazy. In Week 3, they have the Miami Dolphins. I do believe that they will win this game, to be honest. But when it comes to general observations, I will go ahead and say that their defense is not elite. Sure, they have CBs Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, but what else is there? I see them as a very middling defense due to their front seven. I’m not insulting them in any way, but I mean to point out that they have not improved since their 2009 season. The “Ground and Pound” game doesn’t exist, either. You want “Ground and Pound”? Put Tebow in at RB. He’d be 50 times better than Shonn Greene. And Tim Tebow as your PP on special teams? Come on, Jets. I know you can figure out a better use for Tebow.

Miami Dolphins

For some reason, the Dolphins are the #1 run defense in the league. Who would’ve guessed it? Anyway, the Dolphins offense is still raw. QB Ryan Tannehill is at the helm and it’s not like he has any legitimate receiving threats. The man needs help if Miami wants him to look good. I don’t have much to say about this team because they need help everywhere. I don’t expect them to sustain the #1 run defense. The only redeeming quality (or person, rather) is RB Reggie Bush. He seemingly is returning to his dominant college form. This is a good thing for the Dolphins, but I expect the Jets to win this game.

Washington Redskins

So, the ‘Skins are 1-1. They handled the Saints and they could’ve beaten the Rams. Robert Griffin III is showing why the Redskins were right for trading nearly everything (including the kitchen sink) to acquire the #2 overall pick in the 2012 Draft. He is, in my eyes, Cam Newton 2.0. The only difference is that Griffin III is smaller and seemingly makes smarter decisions in the passing game. The addition or WR Pierre Garcon during the off-season didn’t hurt either. The only problem I have with the Redskins is that they do not have a true #1 option at WR. Garcon is a good receiver, but nothing more than a #2 receiver to me unless he breaks out. Their defense is going to struggle a bit after losing LB Brian Orakpo to a torn pectoral muscle. And yes, that injury is a season-ending injury. But wait, that’s not all! They also lost DE Adam Carriker to a torn quadriceps muscle. Yeow. Try walking after tearing that (the quads are located within your thigh). And the only other observation I have is that RGIII seems like a tough guy, but he’s already complaining about dirty play. It’s true that Jeff Fisher is viewed as the coach that encourages dirty play, but this is the professional league. It’s bound to happen, but you should roll with the punches rather than complaining to the media right away. RGIII is still impressing me as a rookie and I feel like he can lead the Redskins past the Bengals today…but that feeling isn’t as strong as the Cincinnati defense. Something else of note: RGIII has scored quite a few rushing TDs. Aaaaand the forever revolving door of running backs continues to turn in Washington…RB Alfred Morris seems to be leading the depth chart in Washington. But if there’s anything that is guaranteed for running backs in Mike Shanahan’s system is that they will be replaced if they have a bad or ineffective game.

Cincinnati Bengals

With a few key losses on each side of the ball, the Bengals have been up and down at best. But I expect them to bounce back today against the Redskins. Their offense is in the capable hands of Andy Dalton and the #1 WR A.J. Green is still a serious threat to any defense. Without LB Brian Orakpo and DE Adam Carriker, the Redskins will have a tough time generating pressure. I have nothing more to say about the Bengals other than that they could use some help in the running game. Otherwise, they’re going to be okay. The secondary and defense as a whole is still a good one. Their offense is going to be better than decent. I expect them to win today.

New York Giants

For some reason, people thought that the Panthers would find a way to win in Week 3 VS the Giants. It didn’t happen. The Giants, led by Eli Manning, completed a very nice and well-executed comeback. Eli, just like his brother Peyton, threw three interceptions in Week 2. What’s the difference though? Eli threw for 500 yards after that and won the game. What really surprised me were the performances of 2009 draftees in Week 3. WR Ramses Barden and RB Andre Brown came up big time for their team. They both replaced Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw, respectively. WR Victor Cruz was solid, but the performance of Barden and Brown stole the show. Depth is important for every team in every sport and it seems like the Giants might be okay. Something else of note: Did anybody see the Buccaneers rush the G-Men’s kneeling formation at the end of their game in Week 2? I didn’t like it…Coughlin and the Giants were being sportsman-like by kneeling the clock out and opposing HC Greg Shiano decided that he would try for a fumble. But really? Take the loss for what it is, don’t place other people in harm’s way when they are trying to be good sports.

Carolina Panthers

Super Bowl, huh? When a team makes a guarantee for a Super Bowl, the team is usually one that is good. I can’t say this is the case for the Panthers. Confidence is one thing, but announcing that you’re Super Bowl bound after a 6-10 season is a bit odd. C Ryan Kalil was the man that predicted a Super Bowl for his team and to the credit of the whole organization, they are standing by him and wearing shirts that say “Back Ryan Up”. So I commend the team and organization for aiming for the ultimate prize in pro football, but the Panthers still need time to grow together. They also need more weapons on the offensive side of the ball. They also need help in their secondary. Has anybody noticed this is a theme of some sort? Goes to show you how important corners and safeties are nowadays. And here we are with everybody saying that safeties are an obsolete position. Anyway, the Panthers lost their Week 3 match-up with the Giants. And boy, it was never close. The Super Bowl champs showed the Super Bowl hopefuls what an elite team really looks like. Back to the drawing board for the Panthers…Something of note: I get that RB Jonathan Stewart is decent, but why hasn’t HC Ron Rivera used RB Mike Tolbert more often? They paid him during the off-season and yet they mostly use him as a FB. Make use of his abilities and let the man run the ball.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers lost (and lost badly) to the 49ers in Week 1. But they stung the Chicago Bears in Week 2. So, are the Packers still elite? Of course they are. The only knock I have on them is that maybe they have grown complacent and are satisfied with their success. QB Aaron Rodgers is still one of the best – if not the best QB – in the league. The Packers offense should find its rhythm again. The only problem they have is their defense…what happened to the defense that was so instrumental in their Super Bowl win? Something of note: The Green Bay running game is still trash. I don’t care if they have Cedric Benson, they can’t seem to run block for their life. Sure, they can protect their passer well, but you also need to be able to run block. Benson has never been one to rip off long runs on his own. Today they will face the Seattle Seahawks…and their defense is pretty solid. They should be able to stuff the run and keep the passing game under wraps. Then again, this is Green Bay we’re talking about. We’ll see how it unfolds. I expect the Seattle defense to keep the game somewhat close…it just depends on how their offense fares.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are doing well. Let’s be honest here: Nobody thought that they would be. When RB Marshawn Lynch got arrested this summer, everybody thought that he would be suspended. But he wasn’t. And that was good news for his team. The Seakhawks also seem to have found a good QB in the diminutive Russell Wilson. Even though I feel like Matt Flynn should be starting, you can’t say a bad thing about Wilson. He’s operating and running the offense well. The running game is solid with Marshawn Lynch leading the pack and with the muscle-with-legs Robert Turbin following close behind. Their defense is actually pretty good too. They face Green Bay today and I expect that the Seattle defense will muffle the passing game a little bit. We’ll see how the Seattle offense fares.

Tennessee Titans

Speaking of terrible running games, what happened to Chris Johnson? The man affectionately known as CJ2K has struggled to run (this is a complete understatement) not only this year, but last year as well. He has publicly come out and said that he is only as good as his offensive line. This is completely true, but the media is portraying that statement as a selfish one. CJ2K went on to say that he also needs to improve and that the relationship between his O-line and him must grow together in order to get back to running effectively. So Johnson isn’t selfish or stupid. He knows some of the blame falls on him. But the running game isn’t the only problem in Tennessee…the passing game doesn’t exist. Jake Locker is the starting QB and he is struggling hard. Last year, when CJ2K wasn’t running well, the Titans were still able to win games with Matt Hasselbeck as their starter. Today they have the Detroit Lions. I completely expect the Lions to win this one.

Detroit Lions

So, is the Madden Curse for real? Maybe. Maybe the whole league has just wisened up to the offensive scheme and weapon that is WR Calvin Johnson. Megatron – as he is known – has also struggled this season. But you know what? It’s only been two weeks. I shouldn’t even be dissecting each team right now. But if you have read this far, then I think you deserve a medal. Anyway, the Lions are finding their way back in terms of offense. Their only problem is their secondary. Their defensive line is definitely the deepest in the league (sorry, NYG). Their DB’s are a problem though. If Jake Locker could throw, I would say that the Titans would be okay today. But Jake Locker can’t throw. He will be dealing with lots of pressure today thanks to the DL of the Lions. Aside from that, I can’t really say I have any complaints about the Lions.

Kansas City Chiefs

Where do you even begin with the Chiefs? Their offense looks awesome on paper (aside from QB Matt Cassel). They’ve got a varied two-headed running game anchored by RB Jamal Charles and RB/FB hybrid Peyton Hillis. Their running game can be described as thunder and lightning because that’s exactly what it is. Hillis will rumble through the tackles while Charles is far too fast to be caught. Their passing game is anchored by WR’s Dwayne Bowe, Dexter McCluster and the ever-physical Steve Breaston. They even have a very capable of tight ends in Kevin Boss and Tony Moeaki. Their offense looks great on paper, but a QB is essential to making an offense run. Unfortunately, Matt Cassel just hasn’t been able to figure it out just yet. The Chiefs defense is still solid with LB’s Tamba Hali and Justin Houston holding it down. Their secondary is still great with FS Eric Berry and CB’s Stanford Routt and Brandon Flowers sticking to any receiving threats they see. I really hope that the Chiefs find a way to pull it all together because they can be an exciting team. Unfortunately, they play the Saints today. Drew Brees and his 0-2 Saints are looking to win a game and this is one of the easiest opportunities they will have at doing exactly that.

New Orleans Saints

I won’t write about the bounty scandal. Everybody’s heard far too much about it and it is over. The only thing I will mention is that the Saints seem like they are lost without HC Sean Payton. They are still capable of scoring in huge bunches and quickly. Aside from that, I can’t make any further observations because so many of their key players are missing due to suspension. I expect them to beat the Chiefs today.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are solid as always. The only problem they have is with their running game and the loss of David DeCastro. They also have two key injuries to their defense – LB James Harrison and SS Troy Polamalu. There isn’t anything more to say here. I expect them to take care of the Raiders today.

Oakland Raiders

They need help on the offensive side of the ball. Somebody needs to get QB Carson Palmer to gel with his receivers. Their running game is solid with RB Darren McFadden and FB Marcel Reese. Hell, even rookie RB Taiwan Jones is doing well. But their passing game needs help. They have many young talents such as WR’s Darius Heyward-Bey and Jacoby Ford. They could use some help at TE. Their defense could also use some help. It hurts to say that because I’ve been a Raiders fan for as long as I can remember. Well, they’re more my dad’s team than mine, but they were still one of my first loves in terms of sports. Couldn’t turn my eyes away from the silver and black…but nowadays, I find that I can’t bear to watch them. Pittsburgh should win the Week 3 match-up with them.

Buffalo Bills

C.J. Spiller leads the league in rushing. He has been waiting for this opportunity since he has been drafted. Unfortunately, his opportunity came at a serious loss for the Bills. Well, not that serious considering how Spiller has been performing. RB Fred Jackson is out with a strained LCL. That’s painful. Sure, you might have never heard of the LCL because you’ve probably only ever heard of the ACL and the MCL. I have personally torn my LCL (which happened during this past summer) and it is not fun. I’m sure Fred Jackson is proud of Spiller though. Jackson is described as the “big brother” of the team. But to be honest, the Bills offense is in shambles aside from their running game. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick needs to find his rhythm. Even though they suffered a loss in the passing game (WR David Nelson is out for the season with a torn ACL), Fitz still has very viable weapons in WR’s Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham and Donald Jones. Hell, you could even stick the enigmatic QB/RB/WR Brad Smith in there and he would be helpful to the offense, no matter what capacity they use him. Their defense is inconsistent. They should be at least pretty good because their defense features sack artist extraordinaire Mario Williams, pressure men/pass rushing duo of Marcell Darius and Chris Kelsay and the ever-solid DT Kyle Williams. Their secondary has enjoyed the pleasant surprise that is CB Stephon Gilmore, but let’s hope that his penchant for finding trouble off the field never decides to kick in. CB Leonis McKelvin and FS Jairus Byrd are both still solid players. They still have Nick Barnett at OLB. But the Bills need help. Consider their game against the Cleveland Browns today a wash. You can pick whomever you want and we’ll see if they win. I want the Bills to win it though.

Cleveland Browns

Help is needed everywhere. Well, that’s not entirely true. Their defense is pretty good and it features LB’s D’Qwell Jackson, Scott Fujita and physical CB Joe Haden. But the problem here is that Joe Haden is suspended. Scott Fujita had a whirlwind of a summer thanks for the bounty scandal that followed him from New Orleans. On the offensive side of the ball, QB Brandon Weeden is still getting used to the pro-level. RB Trent Richardson came from Alabama and was the most NFL-ready running back since Adrian Peterson. We have yet to see him truly display his ability. Aside from that, their receiving corps still needs some help. I feel like they might be able to win their game against the Bills today, but I haven’t a clue as to how they’ll fare today.

St. Louis Rams

I can’t say much. QB Sam Bradford has potential, but he was drafted in 2009. He should have at least shown some flashes of potential and greatness by now, but he hasn’t been surrounded by any solid contributors other than RB Steven Jackson. This isn’t his fault at all. The Rams organization needs to do something about that, but they certainly don’t seem interested. Go figure. They most likely won’t be able to keep the game close VS the Chicago Bears today.

Chicago Bears

QB Jay Cutler needs to learn how to be patient. He also needs to learn to throw to receivers that aren’t named Brandon Marshall. Sure, they’re great friends and enjoyed awesome success when they both played in Denver, but he has other options on this team. WR’s Devin Hester (touted as the greatest return man in NFL history) and Alshon Jeffrey are both highly capable. Throw them the ball. It’s okay to pass to other people. Their defense is still fairly good, but MLB Brian Urlacher looks like he’s on his way out. DE Julius Peppers is also getting up there in terms of age. OLB Lance Briggs is also getting a bit old. If the Bears need help anywhere, it’s on the defensive side of the ball. I expect them to beat the Rams today.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Whatever you do, Dallas, don’t kneel. The Bucs look solid on both sides of the ball, except for their linebacking corps. And their defensive line. Okay, so their offense is the only part of the team that looks totally solid. Their secondary looks great and has played great. But their front seven needs help. QB Josh Freeman has learned to be patient again and hopes to put last season behind him. WR Vincent Jackson is quite the player and TE Dallas Clark is a great security blanket to help bail Freeman out. The running game looks like it’s in good hands with RB Doug Martin starting and RB/FB LeGarrette Blount backing him up. I feel like the Bucs will keep today’s game close with the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are solid. If only they could get it done. There is nothing more to say here other than their offensive line needs to come back. They have suffered too many injuries on their O-line and that has limited the abilities of RB’s DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones. Their receiving corps is one of the best and WR Kevin Ogletree has been a pleasant surprise. Their defense is still pretty good. Let’s get it together, Tony Romo. If Jerry Jones says it’s time to win a title, it means it’s time to win a title. I see them winning today’s game VS the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Philadelphia Eagles

On paper, they are still one of the best teams out there. After a fairly bad season in 2011 (finished 8-8), the “Dream Team” looks to finally be putting it all together. The only beef I have with them is that QB Michael Vick gets nearly no protection. Plus, he never slides. Dude, slide. You don’t want to get injured again, do you? Last thing: Stop winning by 1 point. Being 2-0 is cool, but being 2-0 and winning BOTH games by 1 point is not.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals are 2-0. Yup. QB John Skelton is injured, but QB Kevin Kolb has been able to find ways to move the ball up the field. Arizona needs help on both sides of the ball, but the offense needs it far more than their defense does. At least their defense is capable. Their offense definitely isn’t (with the exception of WR Larry Fitzgerald). I expect the Eagles to take this game in today’s Bird Fight. Heh.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags look like they’ll be okay (offensively speaking). QB Blaine Gabbert seems more confident than he was last year. RB Maurice Jones-Drew is arguably the best back in the game right now and after a lengthy hold-out, he is back on the field. WR Justin Blackmon has made good on his promise to stay out of trouble off the field and has rewarded the Jaguars for taking him in the first round of this year’s draft. The defense definitely needs help. Today’s game VS the Indianapolis Colts is much like the Bills/Browns game. I’ll give the edge to the Jags today because the Colts are missing a few key defensive players due to injury.

Indianapolis Colts

QB Andrew Luck is learning the hard way. Just like QB Peyton Manning did. I’m not worried though. The only place the Colts need help is on the defensive side of the ball. Well, they need help at running back too. And wide receiver. TE Coby Fleener is a decent tight end, but they could use some depth too. With some key players missing on the defensive side of the ball (OLB’s/DE’s Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are both inactive today), I expect the Jags to be able to run their way to a win today.


3 thoughts on “NFL – General Observations and Some Expectations

  1. The Ravens/Pats game was a horrible let down for me. It felt like everytime the Patriots got rolling, there was a flag on the play, and the refs completely fucked up the game. I think it’s ridiculous that in this day and age, you can’t review field goals – that’s hands down one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. Supposedly the former VP of officiating tweeted that it was impossible to have a review because “you can’t tell when the ball is exactly over the pole.” Logically, that makes no bloody sense – if you can’t tell if it was over the pole from a camera angle, then how can you tell that from the view of a referee properly? I understand that it’s difficult to call contact fouls, like pushing off to catch the ball, which happened WAY too often in this game and either wasn’t called/called right, but even a replacement referee should be able to call a FG properly, and request a review if they’re not sure.

    That being said, this is just regular season, and one loss does not make a team necessarily better or worse, and while I figure the Pats are going to bounce right back after this, I don’t like the implications of what the next game will look like when the Ravens and Pats face each other. Considering the difficulties that they were having today with calling the game properly amidst all the roughness going on in the game, the next one is going to be even more angry than this one. Already, one blown FG resulted in all the aggression today – after a controversial game like that, with the game ending being even MORE controversial, it’s not likely that the next game is going to be anything even remotely civil.

    In defense of Alex Smith, I was watching an interview with him where he explained why he doesn’t make as many throws downfield anymore and force plays that lead to interceptions, and according to his view, it came down to the coaching staff sitting him down and telling him that if he doesn’t have anything downfield, don’t force the play, take what the defense gives you, just check down for the short throw, even if it’s third down, and trust the defense. Apparently since then, he’s felt the pressure ease off, and that’s why he hasn’t been throwing far downfield anymore, but I suppose that’s a double edged sword too.

    Apart from that, Matty looks strong, and as for Peyton…eh. I think those three interceptions are more indicative of him still getting back into the game, getting back into the swing of QB vision, etc. etc. No matter what anyone says, you go missing from the game for that long, it’s going to take a little while to stop forcing yourself to make throws and just take what the defense gives you.

    Apart from everything else, right now I feel more bad for Drew Brees than anyone else in the league. He’s struggling without Sean Payton, and it shows. He seems to have confidence in their ability to fight back, but whether or not they’re going to make playoffs still remains to be seen.

    • For one, you can’t review a field goal. The general rule of thumb is that if it flies over the uprights, it’s good. That rule has been employed in every level of football for as long as I can remember. And yeah, these replacement refs are pretty bad. But nobody was gonna call anything on Torrey Smith yesterday. His brother died, what were you really expecting?

      In regards to Alex Smith, it’s generally smart to never throw the ball when you can’t find anybody. Not throwing downfield at least a few times a game normally produces a field goal-oriented team and that was definitely clear against the Vikings yesterday.

      Peyton isn’t the same. I think the sooner people learn to accept that, they’ll be able to deal with what he is now. The Atlanta defense gave him what he thought he had. In other words, they fooled him over and over. A rotation from a fake Cover 3 to a Cover 2 is easy to execute.

      Drew Brees should be able to find a way back. But Sean Payton is definitely a huge factor in helping the Saints adjust during games. Their interim-interim coach isn’t doing a very good job, but that’s just the nature of first-time head coaches.

      • As far as I was aware, it’s only good if the entire ball stays within the outside limit of the post – if any part of the ball crosses outside that line defined by the outside of the post, it’s not counted,even if it does go over the uprights. It’s a small difference, but in this case, what many are suggesting is that at the point where it crosses the uprights, it’s not completely within the outside edge of the post. It’s still ridiculous that there aren’t reviews for FGs – if a ref can make that call from the ground, logically speaking, there has to be a way to install a camera or two to make a call in the case of a game winning FG. The NFL isn’t exactly broke, if we’ve done the scientific things that we’ve done, we really can’t figure out some sort of device to tell us whether the kick is good or not?

        My issue isn’t so much with the win or the loss, it’s pretty safe to say they’ll both be making the playoffs regardless…it does however have disturbing implications for the next match between these guys. As crazy as the match was, no one wants to see a player get severely hurt, and that’s the way that the game last night was going. That Ed Reed hit was brutal, and even though I don’t think he meant to do it, it’s still a marker of perhaps even more hard hits to come in the next game.

        As for Peyton, I’m not convinced he’s not the same…it’s still too early in the season to call though. Not that I think he’s going to explode or anything, I just want to see him play some more before I can admit he’s dropped off.

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