Miami at Pittsburgh
Ok, I think everyone north of Florida picked this one.
Even without the one of the worst decision-making QBs in the league (if you are subscribed to the ESPN Insider, see his article here), the Steelers were coming off a high: No more Fat Boy Jerome Bettis hogging the spotlight, Coach Cowher the Chin one year closer to retirement, and the second-most overrated free agent loss (next to Adam Vinatieri leaving New England) Anwan Randall-El gone as well. The Steelers were the model that the Patriots follow as well: set a value on every position; do not overpay that value; let players go who do not fall into their value unless they are a top 5 talent at that position; and draft the best available player every time. Hey, someone tell the other 30 teams that the model works!
Simply put, as much as I admire coach Nick Saban, Miami will not win without an NFL caliber QB. Daunte Culpepper was horrible BEFORE he tore up his knee. Minnesota got a second round pick for him and should consider the trade a steal. I would say to expect to see a QB change in Miami, but the back-up is Joey Harrington. Joey the Duck plays a mean Chopin on the piano, but there is a reason the Dolphins got him for nothing: he stinks.
Baltimore at Tampa Bay
WINNER: Tampa Bay
I, along with two-thirds of the football population, was wrong on this game.
No, I do not buy into the BALTIMORE IS BACK! hype. Here are three reasons: Steve McNair will be very lucky to stay healthy the entire season, Jamal Lewis is not a premier back by any stretch of the imagination these days. Finally, the defense peaked during the first game of the season. They are not as good as they think that they are, and that can create problems down the road.
Of course, I cannot believe how bad Tampa Bay was in all facets of the game. Jon Gruden is a good coach with a team that is still young. They played well down the stretch last season and had one of those games where they just tossed their helmets on the field and expected to win. Tampa will still win 8 or 9 games this year, but they will look back on this one as a gimme that got away.
Atlanta at Carolina
I was dead wrong on this game.
Michael Vick looked better than I expected. Warrick Dunn, who for some strange reason I did not draft for my fantasy team, played huge yet again. I am sure that my pal (Erik Love over at Falcons Daily Double Blog) who finally back from his summer break and posting pictures of hot booty and blogging about the Falcons again, is all a-twitter with super bowl aspirations (I hate to tell him what will happen when Lawyer Milloy has to drag his creaky bones back into pass coverage against a spread offense this season), but I think the Falcolns have as much chance as anyone in the NFC to be playing in January. Of course, I still believe Vick is more problem than asset. Last year, the only reason the Falcons stayed close to the Pats during the regular season was that Vick was out and they had Matt Schaub at QB (I was going to say a real QB, but then I remembered it was Matt Schaub).
Carolina was the media darling all preseason. Sadly, I bought into the hype with this pick. Keyshawn Johnson will have as much impact on the Carolina offense as Warren Sapp has had on the defense in Oakland (translated as: umm, no impact whatsoever). The defense underachieves and cannot stay consistent and the offense scores in bits and bursts. Now I know: never pick Carolina without Steve Smith playing.
Denver at St. Louis:
Wrong again, but I am not complaining.
I must admit, I was impressed by the St. Louis defense. Sure, they picked off Jake Plummer three times. Sure, they gave up a bunch of yards on the ground. But, they kept an explosive offense off the board. Hard to believe that after watching their six field goal, no touchdown performance, that this was once the greatest show on turf.
Denver has no excuses. This game hurt. Of course, they dropped the opener to Miami in similar fashion last year, and look where that got them: one game away from the Super Bowl.
Buffalo at New England
WINNER: New England
Since I have never picked against New England, even in the Rod Rust/Victor Kiam days this was a no-brainer. More analysis is sitting in a word file and I promise I will post it soon.
Philadelphia at Houston
Yeah, I picked the easy winner.
Houston, I feel for you fans. Having to live with not drafting Reggie Bush and instead taking the second best defensive end in the ACC (Matthias Kiwanuka, formerly of Boston College, now with the New York Football Giants was the best DE in the ACC last year) has to be painful. No running game AGAIN. No offense to speak of AGAIN. Sad, sad times for the Texans fans.
Donovan McNabb, freed of those hideous Chunky Soup ads, looked like the All-Pro he was back when Philly was a force. Brian Westbrook (on my fantasy team, yah!) was fantastic, as he always is early in the season before his body breaks down. Of course, I temper these comments by noting they took play against the Texans.
New Orleans at Cleveland
In my defense, Cleveland SHOULD have won this game.
I feel for Romeo Crennel, trying to build a winner with Charlie Frye at QB. Of course, I felt the pain last week since I had Braylon Edwards (my sleeper fantasy pick) doing a whole lot of nothing but making the big drop last week.
New Orleans was not that bad a team last year. They could possibly sneak in as a wild card this year. Drew Brees is such an amazing improvement over Aaron Brooks at QB that it is not even funny. Brees could be the difference between 6-10 and 10-6.
Seattle at Detroit:
Another win, barely.
I did not see this game (thank God!), but I will say these four things:
1. I thought the 6-6 score in the fourth was an error;
2. Nice to see the Lions drive up the price for Deion Branch and get the Patriots the first round pick they wanted;
3. Maybe Seattle should have ponied up the cash for LG Steve Hutchinson; and
4. Seattle was doomed once Brigs stole Shawn Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck from me this fantasy season. IT IS OVER BRIGS. THOSE TWO ARE CURSED!
NY Jets at Tennessee
OK, I was wrong. But cut me some slack, the two of them will be lucky to combine for double-digit wins this season.
Jets coach Eric Mangini (who I am just waiting for some announcer to have a Freudian slip and call him Eric Mangina) should be a very good coach. Unfortunately, this being the Jets, they will never let him get to a point where he can turn the team around. The interesting news is the gossip about his not-so-nice break-up with the Patriots. While Belichick and Mangina (whoops) have been civil this week, I would love to see Bill give him the silent treatment, or better yet, clothesline Mangina (dang, I mean Mangini) on the field during warm-ups
Tennessee sucks. I know the pressure is there to let Vince Young out there and freelance without knowing the playbook, but Kerry Collins is not the answer. Give Billy Volek a shot. The danger of playing Young too much too soon is having an Antoine Walker as a rookie redux where he gets in bad habits he can never get out of and instead of being a star, he becomes a decent complementary player. (Oh yeah, the anonymous commenter about Antoine laughing it up in Miami: I doubt he laughs much when he thinks of all the money he is not making because he could not keep his fat rear to the basket and rebound in his second tour of duty in Boston. $5 per season lost is no laughing matter.)
Cincinnati at Kansas City
This seemed so logical, but I kept doubting not because of the KC talent, but because of the Arrowhead effect. But logic prevailed. A victory for Mr. Spock.
Carson Palmer, while not overly impressive, did very well to keep Cincy at a high level this game.
Yup, that was my fantasy QB, Trent Green, lying practically unconscious on the turf last Sunday. Let me see, my back-up QB is: David Carr? MY SEASON IS OVER! I SURRENDER!
Chicago at Green Bay
No brainer. Best team in the division against the worst team in the division.
Dallas at Jacksonville
Do I dare pick against Parcells. With TO and Bledshmoe there, you bet!
Typical Bledsoe meltdown. Need I say more? Where are all those bozos who wanted to trade Tom Brady and keep Drew Bledsoe? All media members who wrote about the inequities of Bledsoe losing his job due to injury in 2001 need to have their press passes revoked.
Jacksonville is spear-headed by Fred Taylor. I have Fred Taylor on my team. Expect the season ending injury anytime soon. Oog. Oh yeah, someone needs to get through to Jack DelRio that David Garrard should be starting at QB. Like, right now.
San Francisco at Arizona
This was another doozy. The game was closer than I expected, but despite the fantastic finish, it should have been a blow-out for Zona.
Indianapolis at NY Giants
An easy one to pick.
The Manning Bowl was never as exciting as the hype. Peyton, as expected without Edgerrin James in the backfield, just cannot consistently put up gaudy numbers. Dominick Rhodes and Joseph Addai are far from the Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney two-headed monster in New England.
Eli, as usual, had the yips in a big game. It is hard to not get down on him, but he is still young and learning. I think he will never put up numbers like his brother, but he can win a super bowl before his brother.
Minnesota at Washington
How did I ever pick a team QBed by Mark Brunell to win?
Washington is so bad for a team with so much money thrown into it, it is scary. The offense was off. The defense was off. Big plays were few and far between. Maybe when Clinton Portis is fully healthy the offense will move a bit more and the defense really should be playing better, but what an egg they laid on opening night on national TV.
Minnesota won, and I hope they enjoyed it. Wins will be hard to come by for the purple this season. Oh yeah, Jermaine Wiggins looked soooooooooooo slow! How do we get Jiggy with Wiggy if he cannot run after he catches the ball?
San Diego at Oakland
WINNER: San Diego
As a note, I have LaDainian Tomlinson on my fantasy team. SOMEHOW, he was available with the third pick. I know, it seems insane, but Alexander and Larry Johnson went before him. I know. It seems crazy, but I refuse to complain.
Oakland sucks. How often does Rob Ryan think that if he had only stayed with Bill Belichick in New England he would be the defensive coordinator of the best defense in the league as compared to heading up the worst. Heck, he would be coaching the Jets instead of Mangina (I mean Mangini). Only one phrase can bring the denizens of the black hole to tears: Now playing quarterback for your Oakland Raiders: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaron Brooooooooooooooks!
So my first week: 10-6
I think I need to sum it up in a very Bill Belichick way: Not good, not a disaster, but definitely room for improvement.
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