Does anyone remember the lockout? You know that thing the owners and players went through in the offseason? They discussed stuff like splitting revenues, player pensions, safety, and…well oh right you don’t remember. OK Carry on then.
Yes football is back and better than ever! All the stress and fear the lockout created has magically disappeared and the NFL is running full steam ahead. Which means time for a review of what’ happened in this wild and wooly league.
Can you believe the Buffalo Bills are 3-0? Yes the Buffalo Bills. I mean the BUFFALO BILLS! You heard me correctly the BUFFALO FREAKING BILLS!!!!!!! I didn’t expect it. I think most people in Buffalo didn’t expect it either. But here they are. On top of that their quarterback is from Harvard! Maybe this is a sign of the apocalypse or something. I don’t get it. But give them credit. The Bills have been the most exciting team to watch and one of the best. 2 stirring comebacks over Oakland and New England have given the good people of Western New York hope. The comeback against the Patriots was something out of a Hollywood movie. I don’t know how long this will last but enjoy the ride Buffalo. You deserve it.
New England Patriots.
The Patriots were my pick to win the Super Bowl. It looked real good for the first two and a half games. Then shockingly they imploded. The Patriots aren’t supposed to implode. Especially against Buffalo. But they imploded. Before the Buffalo game, Tom Brady threw an interception once every Halley’s Comet sighting. (Yes an 80s reference. I’m old get used to it) Then came the second half, where Brady channelled his inner Brett Favre and threw interceptions like he was giving away Halloween candy to trick-or-treaters. The Patriots are a little bit of a mystery now. They aren’t a sure thing anymore and one wonders if the window is closing. Stay tuned.
New York Jets.
I don’t know about you but personally I think the New York Jets are overrated. Yet they’re a good team but a championship team? They haven’t shown it to me yet. They barely beat the Cowboys, defeated a struggling Jacksonville side but got beat up by Oakland last week. The run defence looked shaky and the offence couldn’t finish off drives. The Jets are brash, cocky and full of vim and vigour. However at some point you’ve got to take care of business and the Jets sometimes forget that. They still have to show me more.
It’s official. The Dolphins are in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Miami are a mess right now. 0-3, a struggling quarterback, a coach on the hot seat, and now fans are staying away from Dolphins Stadium/Landshark Stadium/Pro Player Field/Joe Robbie Stadium/oh forget it just rebuild the Orange Bowl already! I don’t see any hope for this team right now. Maybe getting Reggie Bush wasn’t such a good idea after all.
Another team that is bold, brash and full of themselves. The Ravens did look good in pounding St Louis but were exposed the week before by Tennessee. I’m not sold on the Ravens going to the Super Bowl quite yet. Yes the defence is still menacing but can be inconsistent. The pass defence is a sore spot and I wonder about the Ravens cornerbacks. Ray Lewis is getting older and while he’s still an inspirational leader, he’s starting to show some signs of aging. The biggest question though is can Joe Flacco be the man when it counts? We’ll find out in the coming weeks and months ahead.
After a horrible week 1 loss to Baltimore, the Steelers have bounced back with 2 wins but haven’t looked quite Steeler like. Pittsburgh were extremely fortunate to escape Indianapolis with a victory but concerns are rising in the Steel City. The defence has only forced one turnover in three games and the offence has yet to find its groove. The Steelers do have time right now, but will have to pick up the pace if they want a return trip to the Super Bowl in February.
You could make an argument the Browns should be 3-0. But an opening week loss to Cincinnati because the defence literally fell asleep on the winning touchdown has prevented a perfect mark for the Browns. Still 2-1 is pretty good for this crew and there is optimism along the shores of Lake Erie. Colt McCoy is establishing himself as the quarterback the Browns have been looking for since the franchise returned to the NFL fold in 1999. (At least he’s better than Tim Couch but that’s not saying much.) Still the Browns do need work and I still have them behind the Ravens and Steelers. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not another train.
The good news for the Bengals is that they’ve been competitive in every game. They’ve even won a game. Now the bad news. They’ve lost the other two and Paul Brown Stadium was not even close to being sold out for the home opener last week. Suffice to say the Bengals are a mess. Too many criminals (I’m talking to you Cedric Benson) and not enough good football players. I can see why Carson Palmer “retired.” I get the feeling the wheels are about to come off this Edsel and they’re headed for a crash and it won’t be pretty. Until Mike Brown sells the team or dies, the Bengals will continue to be a joke.
I have to confess something here. I really like this Raiders team. They have heart, skill and just a touch of old school nastiness that is making Jack Tatum smile. (RIP Assassin. You are sadly missed.) Remember the Raiders swept the division last season and with the AFC West not the strongest division, the Raiders could reign supreme. They opened many eyes with last week’s win over the Jets and if they beat New England this week, the sky’s the limit for the Silver and Black.
San Diego Chargers.
Yes the Chargers are 2-1 but an unconvincing 2-1. The Bolts squeaked by the lowly Vikings and Chiefs while getting spanked by New England. Granted the Chargers are notorious slow starters but they do have competition from Oakland in the division this year. The Chargers are strong statistically but something’s missing in Southern California.
Where oh where is Tim Tebow? For that matter, where is John Elway? The quarterback controversy is dominating headline in the Mile High City. Let’s set the record straight, Kyle Orton hasn’t been awful, but he hasn’t been great either. Orton won’t lead the Broncos to the promised land but Tebow won’t this year either. The Broncos have to make a decision on what direction the franchise will take. The loyal fan base deserves that.
Kansas City Chiefs.
Another team in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. The Chiefs have been dreadful so far going 0-3 and being outscored 109-27 in those games. With Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry gone for the season, the Chiefs are already in next year mode. Coach Todd Haley is on the hot seat and quarterback Matt Cassel may have seen his best days. These are rough times in Kansas City.
Just when you think they’re dead and buried, America’s Team comes back to life. While I’m not a Cowboys fan by any stretch, I have to give the devil their due by not giving up and finding ways to win. Yes Tony Romo is a big part of it but he’s done this before only to fade late in the season. The only goal the Cowboys have is the Super Bowl. While early season comeback victories are nice, its December and January where we’ll find out what the Cowboys are really made of.
The Redskins were oh so close to being 3-0. But to the shock of absolutely no one, Rex Grossman became…well Rex Grossman. The not so mighty Rex fumbled late against the Cowboys which sealed the Redskins fate. To be fair it’s not all Grossman’s fault. The defence gave up a first down conversion on a 3rd and 21 and the special teams fumbled a snap which cost them a field goal. So the Redskins need work in all areas but fair or not, Grossman will have to shed his reputation of being Rex Grossman in order for the Redskins to succeed.
New York Giants.
Despite all the injuries, contract holdouts, and general chaos, the Giants are 2-1 and are in contention in the NFC East. The question is how long can this last? 6 defensive starters are out for the season and receiver Domenik Hixon is on IR as well. The Giants depth will come into question if they lose a couple in a row and the New York media doesn’t accept excuses very well. But the Giants are known for a surprise or two so I won’t count them out yet.
The “Dream Team” is not a total nightmare yet, but if the injuries and losses continue to pile up then it will be Andy Reid’s worst nightmare. The Eagles are 1-2 and have yet to make their mark on the season. While it sounds like Michael Vick will play despite a bruised hand, he’s been taking a beating so far. The offensive line must be better for the Eagles. That being said I don’t trust Andy Reid. He will find a way to screw this up.
Green Bay Packers.
They are the champions and are playing like champions. The Packers continue to be the team to beat and right now I don’t see anyone dethroning them. Aaron Rodgers has picked up where he left off last season and the defence is solid. Right now, no one is better than Green Bay.
The last time the Detroit Lions were 3-0, The Empire Strikes Back was the number 1 movie, Jimmy Carter was president, and Pink Floyd were topping the Billboard charts. Yes the year was 1980. A long time ago. Billy Sims was the running back for Detroit. Nine years before Barry Sanders! The Lions have a lot going for them A stud quarterback in Matthew Stafford, a game breaking receiver in Calvin Johnson, a ferocious front four led by the beast known as Ndamukong Suh, and for the first time in many years, hope! The big question in the Motor City is can the O-Line keep Stafford upright and healthy for the entire season? If yes the Lions could finally make the playoffs.
The Bears are another mystery. Actually one thing is certain. If the O-Line doesn’t step up their game, Jay Cutler will end up in a hospital room. Da Bears need the hogs up front to batten down the hatches and fast. Cutler can make plays and he has playmakers to go to. However Cutler is getting sacked by more NFL players than Kim Kardashian and he won’t make it through the season at this rate. The defence is slowing down a bit and can’t carry this team anymore. It’s up to the offence especially the O-Line to step up their game.
If the Vikings held on to their double-digit halftime leads, they’d be 3-0 and everyone would be singing the praises of a Donovan McNabb comeback. Instead the Purple People Eaters have blown more leads than the Boston Red Sox bullpen and are winless and confused. The Vikings have been their own worst enemies with poor play calling and a lack of discipline. The question being asked in the Twin Cities is should first round pick Christian Ponder get a look at quarterback? My question to the Vikings is when will you let Adrian Peterson carry the offence? Only time will tell.
New Orleans Saints.
When the Saints play, the scoreboard operator is the busiest person in the stadium. The Saints score a ton of points and give up a ton of points. They’re fun to watch but murder on Sean Payton’s heart rate. The offence led by Drew Brees has been sensational and show no signs of slowing down. The defence though couldn’t stop high school team and the Saints must address this.I like this team and they are very entertaining. But no defence means no Super Bowl for the Crescent City.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A young team with no quit in them. The Bucs are on the rise and are going in the right direction. Josh Freeman is firmly establishing himself as the quarterback of the franchise. The defence is improving every week. Still questions linger about the O-Line and running game. But those will improve with time. Probably not ready to make a Super Bowl run, but the playoffs are definitely a possibility.
So far an early disappointment. However there is time to right the ship in Dixie. Matt Ryan hasn’t lived up to last year’s form as of yet. The defence has struggled and there seems to be a hangover from last year’s playoff loss to Green Bay that the Falcons haven’t shaken off yet. Fortunately for Atlanta, no one has run away with the division so they still have a shot. But they have to be better in all facets in order for the Falcons to duplicate last year’s success.
Even though Cam Newton struggled last week, the Panthers did win their first game of the season and the future looks bright in Carolina. I’m not expecting a playoff run from these young Panthers but if Newton can continue to progress and veterans like Steve Smith can return to form, the Panthers will be a formidable opponent. Not a team I want to face down the road.
San Francisco 49ers.
Despite all the hand wringing that only Alex Smith can provide, the Niners sit alone in first place in the weak NFC West. The defence and special teams should take most of the credit though. Patrick Willis remains a stud linebacker while Ted Ginn Jr is a threat to return any kick for a touchdown. Still Mr Smith will need to avoid the mistakes that have plagued his career. Or else the Niners could tumble in the standings.
I still think the Seahawks are in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes even though they won last week. Yes Seattle is still a tough place to play as Century Link Field was as raucous as always during last week’s victory over Arizona. However Tavaris Jackson is not the answer at quarterback and the defence is still in rebuilding mode. Home field can only do so much as a lack of depth and talent will sink this Seahawks team very soon.
Will Kevin Kolb be the answer? I don’t know and neither do Cardinals fans. So far Kolb has been very ordinary for Arizona and that is a major concern for Ken Whisenhunt’s crew. Larry Fitzgerald continues to be an all world receiver and the defence has improved every week. Still Kolb needs to find his rhythm and master the offence or this will be a very disappointing season in the desert.
St. Louis Rams.
I like Sam Bradford. Problem is he has no one to throw too. And sorry Rams fans, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt aren’t coming out of retirement to help out young Mr. Bradford. The Rams looked hideous in their loss to Baltimore last week which led many to question are the Rams taking a step backwards after a decent season last year? I do know this. If I’m the Rams, my first round draft choice would be Justin Blackmon out of Oklahoma State who has all the tools of being a superstar receiver. Bradford needs someone to throw to and Blackmon would be a great fit. But that’s next year. This year well I still think the Rams will play better but I don’t see a division title in 2011.