Monday, September 15, 2008

Week Two NFL Caravan

Broncos 39, Chargers 38
One brutal start to the 2008 season for San Diego. Opening week's last second loss to Carolina, this week's last minute jobbing by the refs in the form of a garbage call by Ed Hochuli. A blown call in Denver's favor in the first half after the replay mechanism malfunctioned was nothing compared to an apparent Jake Cutler fumble that wasn't. Postgame, a steaming Norv Turner said Hochuli admitted he blew the call, which Turner rightly called "unacceptable." Has the officiating improved at all since the black eye on the league that was the Seahawks-Steelers Super Bowl? I don't see how you make that case when one team clearly walked away with a win yesterday that was all but handed to them by the zebras. An old-fashioned AFL shootout, with over 900 yards total offense combined, ruined by a ref who didn't know the rules. At the least, I don't wanna see Ed Hochuli anywhere near a playoff assignment this year. Denver's Brandon Marshall caught 18 balls, 2 short of the record, against a Chargers secondary that embarrassed itself, with no one more guilty of covering no one than Antonio Cromartie, the NFL's new brand of "Toast." Usually when a QB goes 21-33 for 377 it's good enough for a W, but Chargers are wasting great play of Phil Rivers: his 594 yards and 6 TDs good enough for a stellar 122+ passer rating, but not enough to prevent 0-2 start.

Colts 18, Vikings 15

New York region got this exciting game, which thankfully offset having to watch the one-sided Giants thrashing of pitiful Rams. Colts spotted Vikes a 15-0 lead before Peyton Manning got hot in 2nd half, connecting with emerging Anthony Gonzalez 9 times for 163 yards. Amazing Adrian Peterson rushed for 160 in giving Minny astounding 180-25 edge in rushing yards. Despite legitimate upgrades in talent all over the roster, and with the world's best RB, Vikes will still go only as far as their unpolished QB Tarvaris Jackson will take them. So far it's been a journey to Oh-and-Twoville. Jackson is only 25, but I don't see him getting much better any time soon. That's as kindly as I can put it. Not a fan, is another way.

Redskins 29, Saints 24
Washington rebounded from putrid 16-7 loss to Giants in opener to knock off New Orleans. Reggie Bush, the NFL's most overrated player, had a 55-yard punt return TD in which he classlessly waved at opponents for about the last 20 yards. The TD put the Saints up 24-15 at the end of the 3rd quarter, but those were the last points NO would score, just like when Bush taunted the Bears on a TD in a playoff game two seasons ago and they shut the Saints out after that. Bush had 63 yards receiving but was only 10-28 rushing. Jason Campbell had best game as pro, 24-36 for 321 yards, including a game-winning 67-yarder to Santana Moss. Saints a solid candidate for most overrated team going into the season.

49ers 33, Seahawks 30
Changing of the guard in NFC West? With Cards' hot start and 49ers looking much improved at QB, Seattle is looking very vulnerable in Mike Holmgren's last year at the helm. More importantly they're 0-2. Luckily the perfect tonic is at hand in the form of the sacrificial Rams coming to town next week, then a bye. But the schedule is relentless after that, with games upcoming at Giants, home to Green Bay, at Tampa Bay and San Fran, before a home encounter with the Eagles. More importantly, Matt Hasselbeck looks lost, with a 45% completion percentage and 3 picks on the year. On the other hand, Julius Jones, with 127 yards against the 49ers, looks ready for a breakout year.

Cardinals 31, Dolphins 10
I kept seeing the numbers rolling in across the screen. Kurt Warner: 9-9 for 221 and 2 TDs, 12-14, finishing 19-24 for 361 yards -- a perfect QB rating. Cards start 2-0 for the first time in 17 years. Ironically, just when all the pigskin prognosticators stopped picking Arizona as their surprise team, they may be taking a step forward from last year's 7-9 team. I'm gonna assume the Dolphins will improve upon 2007's 1-15 debacle, but it's not gonna be by a whole bunch more wins. I see all the makings of a 3-13 team.

Patriots 19, Jets 10
NE wins ugly, Jets lose ugly. There's gonna be a lot of ugly if Matt Cassel doesn't look any better in coming weeks. Cassel was tentative, shaky and unsteady in going 16-23 for 165 yards. Let's just say he played worse than his numbers: severely underthrowing a streaking Randy Moss, who was 10 yards behind the nearest DB, for a sure TD on one play. I thought there was a reason Belichick kept this guy around for 4 years, but there are practice squad QBs scattered throughout the league that can outplay this guy. You gotta take the bad with the good when Brett Favre is your QB, and on this day there weren't enough good plays to offset the bad pick that turned the game decisively in favor of Pats.

Bills 20, Jaguars 16
Jacksonville is one of those teams everybody seems to overrate when it comes to preseason picks; everybody is anxious to put them on the next level, along with teams like the Saints and Vikings. Jags are a solid team with few weaknesses that looks to be there all year if David Garrard can repeat his efficient, almost flawless 2007 play (18 TDs, 3 INTs). Trouble is, very few QBs in the history of the game have gone an entire season and thrown only 3 picks. Law of averages may be catching up with Garrard, as he's already thrown 3 picks in the first 2 games, with only 1 TD. Jags find themselves 0-2 and staring up at Colts and Titans. They may have to get used to the view. Buffalo QB Trent Edwards, a comer in this league, had a very solid game, going 20-25 for 239, and his passer rating after 2 games stands at 107.7. With continued improvement from Edwards, it's the Bills, not the Jets, who will be challenging Pats for AFC East title till the very end. Bills among most disciplined, best-coached teams in football. Talent is now starting to catch up to the schemes, as the rest of the league will find out.

Titans 24, Bengals 7
No Vince Young, no problem, it's only the Cincinnati Bengals we're talking here. A methodical, read boring, win for Tennessee. Conservative game plan for Tennessee, only 118 yards for QB Kerry Collins more than enough to offset a quizzically subpar Carson Palmer, who through 2 games has yet to throw a TD. He's got 3 INTs and just 228 total passing yards. And the Bengals running game is almost nonexistent. They better find something in a hurry, because a road game against the Giants awaits, followed by games against the Browns and Cowboys. If Marvin Lewis lasts the year, it will be as coach of one of the league's least competitive teams. I wanted to say worst team, but then remembered the Chiefs, Rams and Dolphins are still technically NFL teams.

Raiders 23, Chiefs 8
Raiders will be in every game this season if they just let Darren McFadden tote the rock 20-25 times a game. Yesterday, in overwhelming Kansas City, McFadden had 21 carries for 164 and Michael Bush added another 90, part of an even 300 yards rushing for Oakland. Of course they will win a lot more close games if they get more than the 55 yards passing they had yesterday from JaMarcus Russell. Chiefs seem absolutely rudderless as a franchise now, and it's gonna be painful to watch this team on a weekly basis.

Panthers 20, Bears 17
Had Panthers down for my sleeper team. It wasn't the Jake Delhomme who almost stole that Super Bowl from New England a few years back with a magical second half (12-21 for 121 yards, 1 INT), but magic is what Carolina seems to have going, as evidenced by their two miraculous wins to open the 2008 season. Panthers were staring a loss in the face, trailing Chicago 17-3 midway through the 3rd. But they scored 17 unanswered to close it out. Bears' TE Greg Olsen lost 2 fumbles in a defensive struggle, with both teams COMBINING for 462 yards (Panthers 216, Bears 256). Can't blame Rex for this gross one.

Giants 41, Rams 13
Thankfully we were spared from having to take in this stinkeroo, with NFL generously beaming Colts-Vikes to NYC at 1pm. Semi-close game early, then Rams seemed to remember how much they're supposed to suck, and got down to it in the second half. If this was the last game of the year, people would be trotting the 'Q' word out -- quitting. But it's early in the season and so we just gotta assume they're this bad. Last week told me all I need to know about how the Rams care about winning: RB Steven Jackson yucking it up on the field with the Eagles after a 38-3 crushing of his team. Think they'd like Kurt Warner back at QB right about now? I do, because for whatever reason Marc Bulger is playing like a shell of his former self behind a porous offensive line, but maybe he's just proving that he wasn't that good in the first place. Playing Eagles and Giants first two games may be skewing the Rams' enormous degree of suckitude in getting outscored so far 79-16. Time will tell, as it always does.

Packers 48, Lions 25
Despite lopsided final score, Lions didn't pack it in down 21-3. In fact Detroit stormed back to take 25-24 . No ground game whatsoever for Lions; a game, battered Jon Kitna found Calvin Johnson for 2 scores. But the outstanding play of Aaron Rodgers (42-60 on the year with 4 TDs, good enough for a 117+ QB rating) figures to lead to some enterprising Packers fan making a mint selling "Brett Who?" t-shirts outside Lambeau Field.

Buccaneers 24, Falcons 9
Need a few more weeks to get a read on both these teams. Figures to be up and down year for both teams with uneven QB play week to week. Atlanta rook Matt Ryan came crashing back down to earth with his 13-33 for 158, 2 INTs and 4 sacks. Brian Griese efficient enough with no turnovers on 18-31 passing.

Steelers 10, Browns 6
For second week in a row, Romeo Crennel dubiously went for a FG late instead of the TD. Last week Cleveland went for 3 while trailing 28-7. This week with 3:21 left, trailing Pitt 10-3, he goes for the FG, which means the team still needs a TD to win. Bad message, playing not to lose instead of to playing to win. Steelers, on the other hand, never beat themselves and are hands down the most physical team in the game.

1 comment:

jimithegreek said...

enjoyable recap