Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NFL Week 2 Review: Upsets Galore!!

I usually try put in the previous week's review along with the next week's picks. But this past weekend had too many stories, sub plots and upsets that it warrants a separate post. I still maintain that we need possibly 2 more weeks of football before we can distinguish the pretenders (waddup Broncos??) from the contenders (ahem....wake up Belichik!!).

The Usual Suspects

Some games went down as expected. The New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees took care of the McNaab-less Eagles on the road. Brees already has 9 TD passes in his first 2 weeks. Eagles starter at QB, Kevin Kolb had a ton of yards, but not good enough to append the Saints' explosive offense. After a slow start, Minnesota took care of business at Detroit. You have got to love watching that guy, Adrian "all day" Peterson. His typical day has a sequence of carries like this: 1 Yd run, 3 yd run, 1 yd run and then ....bam..... a 40 yd run..... then back to 1 and 2 yd runs before he breaks open again. He doesn't have too many mid range yardages (5 to 8 yd runs). Brett Favre has not had to go down field or throw into coverage because of Peterson's effectiveness. But once the Vikings end their stretch of cupcake opponents (they played the Browns and the Lions so far), Favre may have to use that 40 yr old arm more often, which is bound to make things interesting for both sides. The Bills took care of business at home against the Bucs. Trent Edwards, the Bills QB (Stanford alum) seems to be well poised and is definitely one of the young arms to watch out for in coming years. He also managed to feed TO a TD towards the end to keep him happy (for the time being). The Bills should also be happy with that RB Fred Jackson. Should be exciting to watch him along with Marshawn Lynch in the Bills backfield, when Lynch eventually returns from his suspension. Frank Gore ran all over the Seahawks, well literally, his two big runs, he was hardly touched, but you get the point. Makes you think if the Niners could be for real? Their swarming hard hitting defense sure seems to be. The "bad" Jake Delhomme did not turn up against the Falcons. Still the Panthers did not have enough the beat out the Falcons. Watch out for the Matt Ryan and Tony Gonazalez connection to be a regular in highlight reels week after week. Kurt Warner had a near perfect outing (92%+ completion percentage- setting an NFL record) against the Jaguars, and the Cardinals, for a change play to potential in the East Coast to carry home a win. Tony Romo was in his end of season form throwing reckless pick after pick to help the Giants win the first game at the new Dallas Stadium.

Side note: The new stadium (above)..... what a spectacle?? Too bad none of the kickers managed to hit the video screen. It would be a fun prop bet to see who hits the video screen first. Now come on, don't we all relish controversies??

The Ravens are probably now the scariest team in the NFL. They have been a dreaded defense for the most part of the last decade, and seem to have carried it over even after the departure of Rex Ryan. The signature defensive play was Ray Lewis' hit on Sproles in the back field to seal the win over the Chargers. The new scary part of the Ravens is their offense. Now that they are capable of participating in offensive shoot outs, it gives more leeway for their defense to be aggressive. The Monday Night Colts - Dolphins matchup was a game of contrasting styles. Peyton Manning and the Colts with their no huddle fast paced offense against the very deliberate run-based play calling of the Dolphins. No wonder the Dolphins had almost 3 times the time of possession on Monday. Yet the Colts win came down to the fact that Peyton and his receivers made plays they needed to, while Ted Ginn Jr. and the Fins were dropping balls all over the field on their final drive. The Colts offense looks real good, but can their no-name new receivers hold their own week after week?

"Ugly" Betty...

"Ugly" would be an understatement to describe the slug fest between the Raiders and the Chiefs. Chiefs fan's must be kicking themselves for paying Matt Cassel so much, at least till (and if) he proves himself in the next few weeks. And then there is this guy in Silver and Black, Jamarcus Russell. The only thing I can possibly say positive about him is, his throws are way off, that it even misses the opposite colored Jerseys (except in the stands) and that keeps his INT chances low. But the Raiders may be a team you do not want to play with their defense and down hill running style getting things done. I am glad I did not catch any part of that Redskins - Rams game. Must have been a snoozer looking at the end of game stats, but the Redskins managed to scrape through with a W. Who would have thought after 2 weeks the Broncos would be 2-0? They managed to beat out the Browns, who do not look all that different under Mangini than under Romeo Crennel.

We can't all be Rocky Balboa....or can we??

What a week for upsets? ....at least according to the Vegas spreads. The Packers, whose offense seemed unstoppable during pre-season, had a tough time keeping Aaron Rodgers standing. The Titans could not hold off Matt Schaub and the Texans in their own house. The Steelers can't seem to get their running game work, and to make things worse, Jeff Reed can't seem to make FGs from reasonable distances.

But the biggest upset of all was the Jets getting to the Patriots. The magnitude of this upset is huge not only because the Patriots have won 8 straight against the Jets in New Jersey, but because Rex Ryan and some of the Jets' players (hello Kerry Rhodes!!) called it with some spicy bulletin board material. Rex Ryan has clearly transformed the Jets D into a dominant force to reckon with. And rookie Mark Sanchez doesn't seem to be playing like a rookie. Still, Ryan had the stones to call out Tom Brady and Bill Belichick before a game which usually is plain old suicidal. Must be a great feeling for the Jets to walk the walk after all that talk. I am sure the Patriots will come back to winning ways in the upcoming weeks. But it definitely is a call for concern that Brady and Belichik evidently did not have that "me against the world" drive that they usually have when openly challenged.

The Packers have problems of their own. Their Offensive line is AWOL and their new 3-4 defense can't seem to stop the run. What more proof do you need when Antwan Odom (heard of him before?.... me neither) has 5 sacks in a game all by himself and the ex-Bear cast-away Cedric Benson burns you for 140+ yards on the ground? To make things worse, they lost Chad Clifton (OT) and Nick Collins (safety) during the game (both doubtful for next game), making their depth on O line and secondary very thin. So thin that they are trying to sign new players for those positions this week. The fact that they were within a snap of taking a shot at the endzone to tie the game is a miracle based on the way they played against the Bengals. And they had to witness Chad Ocho Cinco do a lambeu leap (below), as promised, after a TD catch.

Suffice to say, if things go on the same way on O line, it will soon be panic time in Green Bay.

In other upsets, Jay Cutler has given hope to Bears fan again, that he is their savior, leading Chicago to a game winning Field Goal drive to beat the Steelers. And the Titans lost to the Texans at home, starting 0-2 for the season.

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