Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thoughts on Week 2 NFL Action

Kansas City at Detroit
The Ivan Drago of the NFL
Remember the scene in Rocky IV after the Apollo Creed/Ivan Drago fight when Drago calmly said "If he dies, he dies" while Apollo was inexplicably receiving no medical attention at all? There is a very good chance we could see the football equivalent of this the first time Ndamukong Suh gets ahold of Matt Cassel.

I got to watch the Lions on Sunday because living 2 hours south of Tampa, basically every Bucs game will be televised with the exception of the occasional blacked out games, which I was praying for so that way the Falcons v. Bears game would’ve be on. Anyways, after watching the Lions play not that great and still dominate a ten win team from last year, I feel foolish for picking them to win only eight games. If (and that’s a big if) Matthew Stafford can stay healthy for 16 games, this is a ten win team without any doubt in my mind.

Kansas City on the other hand got blown out by Buffalo at home, 41-7… I guess there really isn’t much more I have to say.
Winner: Detroit

Tampa Bay at Minnesota
This one is basically a toss-up game. Neither team looked great last week. Any sort of playoff aspirations could be ended with a loss in week two, so this game means a lot to both teams early. I’ll go with Tampa Bay just based on the play of Donovan McNabb last week, who we might soon find out is beyond washed up. There is a reason why Andy Reid and the Eagles let McNabb go to a division rival. There is a reason why Mike Shanahan and the Redskins went with Rex Grossman over McNabb last year. If we see Christian Ponder or Joe Webb any time soon I think we could officially write of Donovan McNabb, just like his last two teams have.
Winner: Tampa Bay

Oakland at Buffalo
I know that Bills fans are probably already looking online for Super Bowl tickets, calling Ryan Fitzpatrick the best quarterback in the NFL and that’s all fine and good. Hey, more power to you for being an optimist. Do some Bills fans go a little over the top? Yeah, but there are certainly a select group in every teams fan base that fall into that category. I on the other hand am more of a realist. I try not to get overexcited about anything involving my favorite sports teams because it’s easy for reality and hopefulness to get blend together. The reality of this situation is that Bills fans do this every time Buffalo wins an opening game… well, just any game really. And if they have a winning record after a few weeks, look out, this is the year the Bills get back to the Super Bowl! Story time:

Back in 2008, my Dad and I went to a week 7 game in Buffalo where the Bills hosted and defeated the Chargers. This brought the Bills record to 5-1, an impressive start for any team. After we made our way through the masses of drunk Bills fans singing the chorus of Shout! (The Buffalo Bills version), we sat in ridiculous traffic for an hour or so. Luckily, we found a comedy routine on the radio that had us pretty amused for the duration of our wait. The stars of the show were the local radio host taking the calls, and the Bills fans who had just left the game calling in and preaching that the Bills were going to the Super Bowl and Trent Edwards was the next Joe Montana, surely a Hall of Fame lock. Obviously any time you combine alcohol, an excited fan base and a quarterback who just went 25 for 30 for 261 yards, emotions are going to run high. It got a little goofy when the radio host agreed that Trent Edwards was a Hall of Famer in the making, and the Bills were without question a Super Bowl favorite.

The moral of the story: The Bills are capable of tricking anyone, even professionals. Yes, the radio host is a Bills fan and works for a Buffalo radio station, but are you telling me I’m supposed to trust the word of a biased radio host who is trying to tell me that a second year quarterback is a Hall of Famer. In the words of Chad Ochocinco, Child Please! Bills fans, for your sake, don’t get sucked in. Even if the Bills win this week, they are going to get a prison pounding next week against New England. Do yourself a favor, come back to reality early so you don’t end up disappointing yourselves yet again.

One Raiders note: Sebastian Janikowski’s 63 yard field goal was one of my eight favorite moments of the first week of NFL. Here is the rest of the list in no particular order:
-Chicago’s dominant win over Atlanta.
-NBC’s two games of the week (New Orleans at Green Bay and Dallas at New York Jets)
-Going undefeated with my four fantasy football teams in week 1.
-Ron Jaworski swearing during Monday Night Football
-Getting closer to finding out the true value of Peyton Manning and then remembering I have a card with his signature on it that he sent back to me about ten years ago.
-3 Hour NFL Countdown.
-Eating six pieces of my Mom’s homemade stuffed bread for dinner on Sunday.
Winner: Oakland

Chicago at New Orleans
What a pleasant surprise it was to be tracking my Chicago Bears on the internet last weekend and not have to worry at all during the game. Am I ecstatic with a 30-12 victory over the top team in the NFC playoffs last year? I’ll let Marv Albert take this one: YES! And it counts! If you would’ve asked me before the season, I would’ve told you that I expected it to be week four when the Bears got their first win of the season. Atlanta, at New Orleans, Green Bay to start the season? My goodness, somebody who works on the schedule has a major problem with Chicago. Despite the tough first three weeks, a visit to Philadelphia and San Diego at home, I still picked the Bears to go a modest 8-8 this season. One more win that I expected does count Marv Albert. The offense was efficient. Jay Cutler only made one “Come on Man!” throw. Matt Forte is giving a reasonable Marshall Faulk impression for Mike Martz’s offense. Plus, what isn’t to like about holding an elite offense to 12 points in week one where there was a lot of offense on display throughout the league. Great news!

As much as I would love to turn into a Bills level fan with Chicago, I’m not going to allow myself. Have I talked myself into believing the Bears are going to be better than I anticipated before the season started? Yes, but that’s reasonable. Are they going to go into the Superdome and get a win against the Saints who gave Green Bay all they could handle considering the circumstances of opening night? Probably not. Maybe I’m in for another pleasant surprise.
Winner: New Orleans

Baltimore at Tennessee
I can’t help but think if Baltimore can walk all over Pittsburgh, they can and probably will walk all over
Tennessee this week.
Winner: Baltimore

Cleveland at Indianapolis
I’ve been trying to think of an appropriate way of expressing how much Peyton Manning means to Indianapolis. With the lack of time they had to find a replacement for Manning, they were lucky to find and be able to start the year with veteran Kerry Collins rather than Curtis Painter (gulp), Nate Davis (who?) or the immortal Dan Orlovsky. Still, Manning’s value to the Colts is hard to explain. I guess the beat-down Houston put on them on Sunday is a good start. Still, I wasn’t satisfied. So these were the best explanations that I came up with:
-Imagine it was Kathy Bates (Kerry Collins) starring alongside Richard Gere in Pretty Woman rather than Julia Roberts (Peyton Manning).
-The 2001-02 Los Angeles Lakers if instead of Shaquille O’Neal (Peyton Manning) starting at center, it was Nets center Todd MacCulloch (Kerry Collins) starting for the Lakers, whom Shaq steam-rolled in the NBA Finals, averaging 36 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Seriously, they picked
Hogan over him?
-If Hillbilly Jim (Kerry Collins) was given a push in the mid 1980’s instead of Hulk Hogan (Peyton Manning).

The bottom line is Indianapolis could be historically bad this year, and that would be much better for the Colts than mediocrity would be. The only prize greater than getting Andrew Luck in the 2012 Draft would be the Lombardi Trophy, and I think it’s safe to assume that the Kerry Collins led Colts won’t be close to the Super Bowl. My advice: Tank, fire Jim Caldwell and the puppeteer that operates his body, hire Jon Gruden and draft Andrew Luck. You have either, A. Peyton Manning returns and Andrew Luck studies behind him for a couple of years or B. Manning not being able to return to typical Peyton Manning form, and Andrew Luck is now your starter. Suddenly the Colts are set for the next decade or so.

I should mention that last week I picked Cleveland as my Eliminator Challenge pick (pick one team per week, can’t pick the same team twice). I guess that was the Sports God’s way of telling me that I can’t turn my back on Cleveland in basketball and expect their football team to get me the one win I needed in the first week.
Winner: Cleveland

Jacksonville at New York Jets
Seattle at Pittsburgh
If someone can make a rational argument as to why I should pick Luke McCown or Tarvaris Jackson on the road against two quality defensive teams and then actually convince me to pick Jacksonville or Seattle, I will give you one million dollars. Well, actually I only have like 100 dollars in my wallet right now, so that’s what I’m offering. Seriously, try me.
Winners: New York and Pittsburgh

Arizona at Washington
Here’s a fun fact: The last time Rex Grossman won back to back games as a starter was during the 2006-07 playoffs, when the Chicago Bears defeated the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints before losing the Super Bowl. You could make the argument that since the 06-07 season Grossman has only started 13 games, so it’s not totally Grossman’s fault that he hasn’t won back to back games. My counter argument: There are three reasons why a quarterback who made the Super Bowl has not played a season’s worth of games in the following four seasons since that Super Bowl:
1: He retired after the season or made the Super Bowl in the twilight of his career.
2: He suffered a career altering/ending injury.
3: He absolutely, undoubtedly, without question stinks.

Reason number 1 doesn’t apply; Grossman was only 26 when the Bears made the Super Bowl. Reason 2 doesn’t work unless you want to make the argument that there were times when Grossman suffered from lapses in brain activity (I totally support this argument by the way). Then there is reason number 3, which suits Grossman perfectly. Grossman is the star on the Mount Rushmore of Bad Super Bowl Quarterbacks, along with Tony Eason, Stan Humphries and Trent Dilfer. As a lifelong Bears fan, no one can convince me that Rex Grossman was a good quarterback in his Bears tenure. Shit, he wasn’t even a good game manager. He was the loose wheel on an otherwise sturdy wagon. And with all of that said, I’m taking the Rex and the Redskins to get their second straight win this season. Good lord, the NFL is goofy.
Winner: Washington

Green Bay at Carolina Cam Newton, meet Clay Matthews. Clay, this is Cam. Yes Clay, you can give Cam and all of his believers their rude awakening now. Yeah Clay I know, Arizona’s defense does stink, he certainly won’t be able to do that to your defense. Hey Cam, you should probably run away.
Winner: Green Bay

Dallas at San Francisco
Tony Romo played just about as well as he could’ve last week in the Meadowlands. 23-36, 342 yards, 2 touchdowns. Superb. He still found a way to help Dallas choke away a 14 point 4th quarter lead. Obviously, you can’t blame him for the blocked punt return for a touchdown, which happens in key moments only in the movies. But the fumble on the goal line while he was diving for the end zone with a seven point lead and a defense that had relatively controlled the game thus far… Not his best option. The horrible throw to the gimpy Dez Bryant that he wouldn’t have been able to get to even if he was healthy because it was so underthrown… Not too good either. Yet, I still feel pretty comfortable with my NFC Super Bowl pick. I’m still on the bandwagon. Dez Bryant pre-cramping looked like one the best most impressive physical specimens alive. It looked like he was going to devour the Jets secondary like it was an order of chicken nuggets you get at McDonald’s on a late night food run. Defensively, they were much improved from last year, and again, Romo played exceptionally well. I’m not off the Cowboys bandwagon yet. For those of you who haven’t jumped on a bandwagon yet, the 49ers bandwagon is current empty. If you join now you can get a front row seat… No takers? Okay, we’ll move on.
Winner: Dallas

San Diego at New England
Whoever wins this game is going to be getting a lot of the early media praise as the favorite in the AFC. Warranted? Maybe. True? Possibly. Do both teams have their flaws? Yes and those flaws will most likely be very evident after the game because I expect that there will be a lot of points in this one. Come on, New England gave up 400 plus yards to Chad Henne… Chad Henne? Really? Phillip “Paul Clark Calls Me Phil” Rivers might surpass Henne’s yardage from last week in the first half of this game. With that being said, I’m not totally sure San Diego will be making too many defensive plays in this one either. To paraphrase Wes from his Fresh Meat 2 season, “The Patriots offense is a well-oiled machine! They’re a well-oiled machine Danny! Oh shit, I just smashed my head!” I don’t really see any team besides maybe an elite defense being able to slow down the Pats. Plus, it’s a sure thing San Diego will give up a special team’s touchdown. It’s like my Dad dozing off during the Sunday Night Football game. You know it’s going to happen at some point. It might be right at the start of the game or it might happen near the end. But it’s going to happen.
Winner: New England

Houston at Miami
Matt Schaub had to be watching Monday Night Football with a big goofy smile on his face. His biggest division rival is without their all-time great quarterback, Luke McCown is starting in his division, and he gets to conduct target practice in South Beach this weekend against the Dolphins defense that gave up 519 yards passing in week one. Plus Schaub has a fancy toy that Tom Brady doesn’t have… his name is Andre Johnson. Miami should put up some points too, but not enough to beat Houston.
Winner: Houston

Cincinnati at Denver
Dalton!!! Orton!!! It’s the NFL on CBS!!
Winner: Cincinnati

Philadelphia at Atlanta
Sarah McLachlan may be
the X-Factor on Sunday Night
5 ways Atlanta can get in Michael Vick’s head on Sunday Night:
1: Play “Who Let The Dogs Out” every time the Eagles take the field
2: Invite the President of PETA to be an honorary captain for the Falcons
3: Falcons fans dress up as the Cleveland Browns Dawg Pound
4: Run those sad ASPCA commercials on the Jumbo Tron during breaks in action
5: Have a trained dog run out and get the tee after every kickoff
Winner: Atlanta

St. Louis at New York Giants
The Rams 3 best offensive weapons are injured and the Giants secondary consists of the 4 fastest guys they could find in New York City. I’ll take the Giants in this game just because their at home, Tom Coughlin is creeping towards hot seat status and I’m still not sure that any team in the NFC West can compete against anyone outside of their division.
Winner: New York

Come all this way and wrap up with St. Louis at New York... No way! At this time I’ll make my WWE Night of Champions predictions. By now I should just be able to tell exactly what is going to happen in the WWE. I’ve been watching since I was 3 years old, so there are some tendencies I should have picked up along the way. However, like I told Pauley in our weekly NFL picks podcast (which can be found at the bottom of the page), this is the most confused I’ve ever been with the WWE, in particular the CM Punk/ Triple H storyline. About two months ago I wrote about how the WWE was on the verge of something huge with the CM Punk storyline. As much as I’m enjoying the CM Punk/Triple H storyline, which seems legitimately personal by the way (despite the fact that wrestling is scripted, I still think they actually dislike each other. Like I said, I’m confused) I can’t help but feel like they dropped the ball on this one. Even though the non-title match is the main event of the Night of Champions pay per view, I don’t feel Punk got enough time in the championship spot light. My hopes are a win for Punk will keep him at the top because he’s the best thing going in the WWE right now. So here are the picks:

Beth Phoenix over Kelly Kelly (Divas Title)- Beth Phoenix gets the victory in her home town, then Kelly Kelly comes to my house so I can give her a massage.

Ted Dibiase over Cody Rhodes (Intercontinental Title)- It surprises me that Ted Dibiase didn’t receive the push that Cody Rhodes did. I always thought Dibiase was a lot better in the ring and more villainous than Cody Rhodes. Maybe it’s because I can’t take someone seriously who talks with a lisp, wears a clear mask in the ring and used to sport ridiculous yellow tights.

Jack Swagger over Dolph Ziggler, John Morrison and Alex Riley (United States Title)- Unfortunately, I’m breaking the rule I just made about not being able to take a wrestler seriously when he has a lisp as bad as Cindy Brady.

The Miz and R Truth over Air Boom (Tag Team Titles)- The promos cut by Miz and R Truth over the last few weeks have been the highlight of Raw other than anything CM Punk related. They get the belts and keep being funny.

Mark Henry over Randy Orton (World Heavyweight Championship)- I love it how every few years Mark Henry turns into a completely unbeatable physical force, then he suddenly falls back into mediocrity as soon as the storyline comes to an end. High comedy. 15 years in the business without a championship reign… I think it’s his time.

Alberto Del Rio over John Cena (WWE Championship)- It’s not a question of if John Cena will regain the title, it’s when. I don’t think it’s at Night of Champions.

CM Punk over Triple H- Punk wins, Triple H resigns as COO, somebody else becomes COO, more controversy ensues, and I get more confused. I’ll have to sort all of this mess out with a running diary.

Last week: 10-6
Season: 10-6