Daunte Culpeper Returns with a Vengence

Daunte Culpepper made Dolphins Stadium his personal “inferno”, getting the best of his former team in a 35-17 victory on Sunday.

(Philadelphia, Pa) —- This Sunday’s action featured one the bigger “revenge” in-your-face stories as Raiders QB Daunte Culpepper returned to Miami leading his new team to a 35-17 victory.  In the game, Culpepper was not perfect but he made Dolphins stadium “Daunte’s Inferno”.  He only threw 5-of-12 for 75 yards but two of the completions were for two touchdowns to Jerry Porter and he added seven carries for 28 yards and three touchdowns. Culpepper got his big chance when Raider’s starter Josh McCown got injured (big toe) and ironically he got the call to start against the Dolphins, who acrimoniously released him this summer amidst whispers of Culpepper’s non-health (knee).

Culpepper was signed by the Raiders as a Plan B by after a prolonged holdout by draft pick JaMarcus Russell and he delivered big time!!  Unfortunately for first-year Dolphins coach Cam Cameron, the Dolphins looked lost falling to 0-4.  Cameron’s personal pick for quarterback over Culpepper, Trent Green threw two interceptions in the defeat.

After the game Culpepper was all smiles and said about the win, “Obviously, when I first looked at the schedule, I noticed that we were playing Miami”. “I don’t think that I had any extra emphasis on it. Like I said, I’m just glad that I had the opportunity to play here today and to play healthy and come out with a win.”

Culpepper was my pick at the beginning of the year as the NFL’s Comeback Player of the year and he maybe on his way to the award.  First he will have to battle McCown, led the Raiders their first win this year for the starting job (Can you say Quarterback Controversy).  Somehow I don’t believe that will be a problem for the former Pro Bowl player.

2007 NFL Week 4 Preview

(Philadelphia, Pa) —- It is hard to believe, but the first quarter marker of the marathon like 17 week NFL season is upon us. Entering Week 4, the NFL sports five teams who are striving to do the impossible of going undefeated (Steelers, Colts, Patriots, Cowboys, and the surprising Packers). What these teams have in common is their ability to score points. NFL scoring is up as shown by the sixth-most points (751) scored for a weekend last week. And through the first three games of the season, the Dallas Cowboys (116 points) and New England Patriots (114) have scored the second- and fifth-most points in that time span since 1970, respectively (the 2000 St. Louis Rams, with 119 points, hold the top spot in the three-week category).This weekend’s games will feature some interesting “non-hugging” reunions — Raiders starting QB Daunte Culpepper and the Dolphins (Released Culpepper acrimoniously this summer), the Steelers and Cardinals Coaches Ken Whisenhunt/Russ Grimm (Both Coaches are former Steelers assistants that were passed over for the head job), Browns RB Jamal Lewis and the Ravens (Lewis was unceremonious dumped by his original team when they thought he was too old), Texans QB Matt Schaub and the Atlanta Falcons (Schaub was traded before the season and now I think the Falcons wish they had him considering the play of Joey Harrington and the Vick fiasco), and Giants Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and the Eagles (Spagnuolo was Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson’s right hand man before flying away to the Giants). The weekend will also feature eight divisional match-ups, which I like because familiarity breeds rivalries.

It seems it wouldn’t be an official NFL weekend if we didn’t talk about Packers QB Brett Favre breaking a record and this weekend is no different. Favre will attempting to break the all-time passing TD record (420) that he currently shares with Dan Marino and #4 with 11 pass attempts (now with 8,348) will break the all-time mark by Marino (8,358) as well. Favre seems unimpressed by the records and said of them, “there’s no better feeling than winning. All those touchdowns are great because they give you the opportunity to win”. Another possible milestone that may happen is Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander’s quest to join the 100 rushing touchdowns club. He currently has 98 rushing touchdowns in 109 career games and he would accomplish the feat in the third-fewest games (LaDainian Tomlinson reached 100 in a NFL record 93 games).

I also will be interested to see which of the dubious “no wins” club (Saints – Bye, Falcons, Bills, Rams, and Dolphins) will make the leap back into the race this weekend or continue toward the first pick of the upcoming 2008 NFL Draft. Either way the road for any of the (0-3) teams will be very long with only five teams (1981 New York Jets; 1982 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (strike season; finished 5-4); 1992 San Diego Chargers (started 0-4 and finished 11-5); 1995 Detroit Lions; 1998 Buffalo Bills) having come back to make the playoffs. Don’t forget week four starts the bye weeks as Jacksonville, New Orleans, Tennessee, Washington are off this week.

Games and NotesGoing forward I will be previewing one feature game a week and listing the rest of the NFL weekly schedule.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (2-1) at CAROLINA PANTHERS (2-1) 4:05 PM FOXThis game really intrigues me, because with the NFC South favorite the Saints and the Vick-less Falcons lingering at (0-3) most likely these are the two teams that will be fighting for the division. The Panthers have won seven of the past eight meetings between these NFC South foes. Expect to see a lot of defense in this battle as both teams feature Pro Bowl type players on the defensive side of the ball.

Everyone knows about the Panthers attacking defense led by CB Richard Marshall and DE Julius Peppers, but the Buccaneers defense with five new starters has allowed the fifth-fewest points (37) in the NFL this year with new players DE Kevin Carter, LB Cato June, LB Jeremiah Trotters, and others leading the way. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said of the group, “It’s a whole new group of guys out there playing,” and “We’ve gone back to what this defense is about, and that’s getting to the football”. The Bucs’ defense limited St. Louis to 4.0 yards per offensive play in Week 3, but they will confront a personal litmus test in the Panthers WR Steve Smith. Smith has had 100-yard receiving games in his last four meetings with Tampa Bay.

With QB Jake Delhomme hurt and newcomer David Carr starting at quarterback, expect the Panthers to pound the ball with RB’s DeAngelo Williams and DeShaun Foster, who rushed for 122 yards with 1 TD rushing and receiving last week. Conversely the Panthers defense will need to control Bucs’ savvy veterans WR Joey Galloway and QB Jeff Garcia (No interceptions this season).

Byes: Jacksonville, New Orleans, Tennessee, Washington

Sunday, September 31

HOU @ ATL 1:00 PM CBS

BAL @ CLE 1:00 PM CBS

OAK @ MIA 1:00 PM CBS

GB @ MIN 1:00 PM FOX

NYJ @ BUF 1:00 PM CBS

STL @ DAL 1:00 PM FOX

CHI @ DET 1:00 PM FOX

SEA @ SF 4:05 PM FOX

KC @ SD 4:15 PM CBS

PIT @ ARI 4:15 PM CBS

DEN @ IND 4:15 PM CBS

PHI @ NYG 8:15 PM NBC

Monday, October 01NE @ CIN 8:30 PM ESPN

Week 4 NFL Rankings

(Philadelphia, Pa) —- As we head towards the first quarter marker of the NFL season in Week 4, we are now seeing the Steelers, Colts, Patriots, Cowboys, and the surprising Packers cementing themselves as early playoff favorites by remaining undefeated at (3-0). The unbeaten ranks did get a little smaller with the Redskins, Lions, 49ers, and Broncos leaving the group. We may also be seeing the re-birth of four playoff teams from 2006 (Eagles, Giants, Jets, and Chiefs) as they won last week after starting the season (0-2. The surprise of the season has to be that last year’s darling franchise the New Orleans Saints are (0-3). The Saints are joined by the Falcons, Bills, Rams, and Dolphins in the dubious “no wins” club, which may signal the beginning of a long frustrating season as only 3 teams since 1990 have come back from (0-3) to make the playoffs.

Also don’t forget week four starts the bye weeks as Jacksonville, New Orleans, Tennessee, Washington are off this week.

  1. Colts (3-0) – They went on the road and won against tough divisional foe the surprising Texans. In a marquee match-up they now face the Broncos who are trying to prove they are a contender.
  2. Patriots (3-0) – Unfortunately for the Bills they were this week’s 38-point victim. A road MNF match-up awaits with the up and down Bengals.
  3. Steelers (3-0) – Mike Tomlin’s team showed the Niners what a “real” contender looks like. A grudge match awaits on the road against the Cardinals and former coaches Whisenhunt and Grimm.
  4. Cowboys (3-0) – The kings of the second half scored big against the defensive Bears on their way to a dominating win. They better not fall asleep at home versus the hapless (0-3) Rams.
  5. Ravens (2-1) – McNair returned to the lineup, but it was defense and special teams that carried them over the Cardinals. Will need to lean on the defense as they travel back to Cleveland to face the Browns.
  6. Packers (3-0) – #4 showed the Chargers how to produce on the field while tying another record and getting his team to 3-0 for the first time since 1991. The Pack travels to the Metrodome to face the Vikings, but Cheeseheads don’t worry as Favre has won three of his last four visits there.
  7. Titans (2-1) – The Vince Young led Titans outworked the reeling Saints capitalizing on five turnovers. They will now have a week to sit back and enjoy the win, but I know Coach Fisher will be working.
  8. Jaguars (2-1) – They showed the Broncos a former unbeaten team how to play a tough physical game. Their D-Line and the rest of the team will get some rest during a bye week.
  9. Broncos (2-1) – Failed a home test against the physical Jags. We will see if they are a legitimate contender as they travel to Indy to play the champs.
  10. Panthers (2-1) – Tried everything to lose against the Falcons, but they squeaked out a victory. This week they host the surprising Bucs in a NFC South battle.
  11. Seahawks (2-1) – Took care of business against the inconsistent Bengals. Will be facing a motivated 49ers team in SF that wants to prove they are the best NFC West team.
  12. Buccaneers (2-1) – For the 2nd week in a row the surprising Bucs took care of business and they now look like NFC South contenders. Will face a tough road battle against divisional rival the Panthers.
  13. Eagles (1-2) – In probably the ugliest uniforms around, the Eagles showed the Lions what a real contender looks like. The Birds will need to have their “A” game as they travel to the Meadowlands to face divisional rival the Giants on Sunday Night Football.
  14. Chargers (1-2) – After all the “talk” of a Super Bowl run this team is fighting to regain their swagger. A big divisional home battle with the LJ led Chiefs is next.
  15. Bears (1-2) – Finally after losing a home test badly to the Cowboys, Brian Griese will be the QB instead of turnover machine Rex Grossman. Will travel to Detroit to face the Lions who looked ordinary last week losing by 35 pts.
  16. Redskins (2-1) – Let one slip away at home versus the Giants as they were stopped at the goal line. They will have the week off to get QB Jason Campbell and the young team back on track.
  17. Texans (2-1) – Without star receiver Andre Johnson they hung around against the Colts, but they are not ready for that step just yet. QB Matt Schaub will want to show the Falcons what they are missing this week in Atlanta.
  18. Lions (2-1) – Looked like pretenders while being torched by the Eagles for 56 pts (I can still see Eagles WR Kevin Curtis running). Face a black and blue divisional game at home against the angry Bears.
  19. 49ers (2-1) – This young team showed that they are not ready for the upper echelon after losing to the Steelers. The Niners will now have to protect their home turf in a key NFC West match-up against the Seahawks.
  20. Jets (1-2) – They were not great, but they were much better than the hapless Dolphins. The J-E-T-S should reach .500 as they take on the beleaguered Bills this week in Buffalo.
  21. Bengals (1-2) – Had a chance to beat the Seahawks, but their undisciplined ways returned (10 Penalties) in a loss. This week’s MNF match-up at home versus the Patriots will show who the Bengals are.
  22. Cardinals (1-2) – They hung around but they didn’t have the stamina to beat the Ravens in Baltimore. Whisenhunt will test his odd QB rotation at home versus the Steelers, who just happened to pass him over.
  23. Chiefs (1-2) – It wasn’t pretty, but the Chiefs spurred by their home crowd beat the Vikings for their first win. They will now face a motivated Chargers team led by an unhappy LT.
  24. Vikings (1-2) – Looked very average in losing at the Kansas City. Will need to lean on top R.O.Y candidate RB Adrian Peterson at home versus the upstart Packers and a rejuvenated Brett Favre.
  25. Giants (1-2) – It took almost the entire 60 minutes for the Giants to hold on to beat the Redskins. They return home to face the Eagles in an interesting divisional Sunday Night Football battle.
  26. Raiders (1-2) – A blocked FG finally elevated this better than their record team to their first win. Look for QB Daunte Culpepper to start in a return game to his former team the Dolphins.
  27. Browns (1-2) – Surprisingly last week versus the Raiders this team was a blocked FG away from a winning record. They play hard, but a tough home battle versus the defensive Ravens awaits.
  28. Rams (0-3) – This team looks old and beat up after a dismantling by the Bucs. They now will have to face one of the NFL’s pinball machines the Cowboys in Texas.
  29. Dolphins (0-3) – Despite a good game from Ronnie Brown, the rest of the team was dreadful in a loss to the Jets. They return home to face the Raiders and it maybe Daunte’s inferno for them.
  30. Saints (0-3) – 2006 NFC South Champs looked like chumps again losing to the Titans at home on MNF. Maybe a week off will QB Drew Brees with his turnover situation.
  31. Bills (0-3) – You have to feel for this team as they had no chance against the Pats and they lost their QB and MLB to injury. Will try to pick up the pieces at home versus the rebounding Jets.
  32. Falcons (0-3) – This time it wasn’t Joey Harrington that helped the other team, however enigmatic CB DeAngelo Hall was a key factor to a Panthers win. Matt Schaub returns to Atlanta with the upstart Texans this week.

2007 NFL Week 3 Review

(Philadelphia, Pa) —- As we head towards the first quarter marker of the NFL season in Week 4, let’s take a look back at week three of the best league in the world.  Week Three’s games featured more offensive fireworks as 18 teams scored 24 points or more including the Philadelphia Eagles putting up a whopping 56 points.  Four playoff teams from 2006 (Eagles, Giants, Jets, and Chiefs) that started the season (0-2) made the transition towards respectability by winning must-win games.  But the NFL is a tough league where last year doesn’t matt and every year is different, which last year’s darling franchise the New Orleans Saints are learning that quickly after falling to (0-3).  The Saints were joined by the Falcons, Bills, Rams, and Dolphins in the dubious “no wins” club, which may signal the beginning of a long frustrating season as only 2 teams since 1990 have come back from (0-3) to make the playoffs.   On the other end of the spectrum, the Steelers, Colts, Patriots, Cowboys, and the surprising Packers cemented themselves as early playoff favorites by remaining undefeated at (3-0).  Dropping from the ranks of the unbeaten were the Redskins, Lions, 49ers, and Broncos causing some to question whether they are legitimate contenders or pretenders, especially with the 49ers and Lions being blown out. This week did teach us a few things about the NFL: Brett Favre is not too old at 37 (Packers are 3-0, he threw for over 300 yards w/ 3 TD’s and he tied another record —Marino’s touchdown record of 420), the Raiders will never quit (For the second week in a row it came down to a field goal, but this time they “iced” the game with a block), Watch out for the Steelers (Mike Tomlin has this team clicking and they won again in dismantling fashion), The Eagles “Throwback” Uniforms were ugly, but they may brought a different mentality to the team (The Eagles seemed revitalized in their yellow and powder blue 75th anniversary uniforms crushing the Lions), and Turnovers and Penalties will cause any team to look like a bunch of sandlot kids in losses (Saints – 5 turnovers, Bengals – 10 Penalties, and Bears – 3 INTs including one returned for a touchdown). 

Games Balls

 Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb – After enduring a tough home loss to the Redskins on MNF and receiving arrows from everywhere regarding his interview with HBO’s Real Sports — McNabb maintains that African-American quarterbacks are criticized more harshly than white counterparts — Big 5 took off his knee brace and dismantled the Lions.  He was at first greeted by more than a smattering of boos from fans, but they quickly turned to cheers as McNabb led the way in a 56-21 rout.  He was pinpoint and had a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3, finishing 21-26 passing for 381 yards and four touchdowns.  I don’t know if it was the throwback uniforms, the chip on his shoulder or his new repoirre with wide receiver Kevin Curtis, but it was evident McNabb came to play and to silence his critics. He said after the game about his comments, “What’s been said has been said” and “Sometimes reality hurts. Some people don’t want to accept it. Some people feel they aren’t a part of it. But I don’t take it back. I don’t regret it.” Honorable Mention:  New England Patriots WR Randy Moss (Was dominant again, posting his third consecutive 100-yard receiving game, making him the first player in NFL history to do so in his first three games with a team), Dallas Cowboys WR Terrell Owens (Caught eight passes for 145 yards, moving past Michael Irvin into 14th place on the NFL’s career list with 12,044 yards), Brett Favre (See Overview), Eagles DT Broderick Bunkley (The Hulking DT was dominant and looked like a first rounder with 4 TKLS and 2 Sacks), Eagles WR Kevin Curtis (The next Steve Largent ???, finished with an amazing 11 catches for 221 yards w/ 3 TDs), Houston Texans KR Jerome Mathis (Returned the opening kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown), Baltimore Ravens Kicker Matt Stover (Kicked four field goals including his 12th game-winning one) and Eagles DE Trent Cole (He was everywhere for the Birds Defense w/ 5 TKLs, 3 Sacks, and 1 FF). 

Lloyd’s Lackey

 Atlanta Falcons CB DeAngelo Hall – The two-time Pro Bowl player had a crucial role in a loss to the Panthers including receiving two key penalties during the other teams game-winning drive and mouthing off to Falcons Head Coach Bobby Petrino and assistant coach Joe Whitt Jr.  Hall’s woes came from him being taken out of his game by Carolina WR Steve Smith.  Petrino promised disciplinary actions against Hall, who at one point had to be restrained by three players.  There is even talk of Petrino sitting him for next week’s game against Houston. Dishonorable Mention:  The Eagles Throwback Jerseys (Every fan I talked at the game did not like the bright yellow uniforms – We know it was all about merchandising, but they were not appealing to anyone but the team that played possessed in them), Chicago Bears QB Rex Grossman (3 more INTS including one returned for a TD and now his teammates are looking for backup Griese and Lovie is on board too), Eagles DE Jevon Kearse (Was rightfully benched for Jaqua Thomas and it looks like the explosiveness is gone), and New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (Looked terrible in another loss, going 29-45 for 225 yards, 0 TDs, 1  Lost Fumble, and 4 INTs). 

Sunday, September 23, 2007

 FedEx FieldGiants (0-2-0)    3    0   7   14      24   Redskins (2-1-0)  7   10   0   0       17    This game came down to a final goal line stand by the Giants. The Giants stuffed Redskins running back Ladell Betts on third-and fourth down in the final minute to secure a 24-17 road victory.  Two standouts were New York receiver Plaxico Burress (scored the game-winning touchdown with numbers of five catches for 86 yards) and Redskins Middle linebacker London Fletcher (10 TKLs, 1 INT, 1 Fumble Recovery) Georgia DomePanthers (1-1-0)   0   10   14   3      27   Falcons (0-3-0)    0   10    7   3      20    Despite a good day passing from Atlanta quarterback Joey Harrington (31-44, 361 w/ 1 TD), the Falcons fell to 0-3 for 2007 by losing to the Panthers 27-20.  The Panthers were led by DeShaun Foster, who on the final drive helped Carolina burn the final four and a half minutes with a series of runs.  For the game Foster finished with 122 yards rushing with a one receiving touchdown.   Steve Smith left the game with an undisclosed injury and only had one catch.  The Falcons had 10 penalties for 135 yards, which led to their downfall. Invesco FieldJaguars (1-1-0)   0   17   3   3      23   Broncos (2-1-0)   0    7   0   7      14    There was no miracle win this week for the Broncos as their magic ran out losing to the Jaguars 23-14 in Denver.   In the loss, the Broncos will be haunted by a questionable fourth-and-5 from their own 9-yard line with just over four minutes remaining that they didn’t convert. On the play, David Graham dropped a nice pass from Jay Cutler.  The Jaguars played ball control holding the ball for 38:42 and their defense held Broncos RB Travis Henry and WR Javon Walker to 45 total yards. McAfee ColiseumBrowns (1-1-0)   0   10   7   7      24   Raiders (1-2-0)  3   13   7   3      26    The Raiders blocked Phil Dawson’s 40-yard field goal attempt with three seconds remaining to preserve a 26-24 victory, giving them their first win of the season.The Raiders were powered by RB LaMont Jordan, who ran for 121 yards and one touchdown on 29 carries. Jordan also had a critical 27 yard catch and run late in the game on a third down.  The win gave Raiders Head Coach Lane Kiffin, the youngest head coach in the NFL (32), his first career win. The win snapped Oakland’s franchise-record 11-game losing streak. Look for Oakland backup QB Daunte Culpepper (8-14, 118) to replace Josh McCown who left with an injured foot.  Qwest FieldBengals (1-1-0)     7   3   2   9      21   Seahawks (2-1-0)  7   7   0   10      24    In an entertaining battle, the Seahawks held off Bengals 24-21 in a game that went down to the final minutes.  The game turned in the Seahawks favor for good when QB Matt Hasselbeck threw a 22-yard strike to Nate Burleson with 1:06 to play.  After the touchdown, the Seahawks special teams sealed the win by forcing and recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff.  The Bengals again put up some big offensive numbers with QB Carson Palmer throwing for 342 yards and receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh (12 catches for 141 w/ 1 TD) and Chad Johnson (9 catches for 138 yards), but they gave up four turnovers and committed 10 penalties for 72 yards. M&T Bank StadiumCardinals (1-2-0)   0   3   3   17      23   Ravens (2-1-0)      3   17  3   3       26    In a game that came down to the last minute, the Ravens showed that good defense and special teams are keys to winning the NFL taking down the Cardinals 26-23 in Baltimore.  The Ravens only had one offensive touchdown, as KR Yamon Figur’s 75-yard punt return and Kicker Matt Stover accounted for the other 20 points.The win was not decided until the end until veteran Ravens kicker Stover connected on a game-winning field goal as time expired.  An odd point of the game was Cardinals Head Coach rotating quarterbacks Kurt Warne and Matt Leinart throughout the game.  I believe that the Cardinals will turn to Warner, who led the Cardinals to two and finished with 258 yards on 15-of-20 passing.   Giants StadiumDolphins (0-3-0)   0   13   0   15      28  

Jets (1-2-0)           7   14   3    7      31  

 The Jets decided that they didn’t want their season to be basically over (0-3) by beating the win-less and faltering Dolphins 31-28 in New York.  The Jets were led by returning to the lineup quarterback Chad Pennington (15-22, 124 yards w/ 2 TDs) and Thomas Jones (25 rushes for 110 yards).  New York should have known things were going to be good when KR Leon Washington returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for a score.  The loss spoiled a great effort by Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown, who had 112 yards rushing with two touchdowns and added six catches for 99 yards with a spectacular 22-yard TD. Gillette StadiumBills (0-3-0)        7   0     0   0      7  

Patriots (3-0-0)  3   14   14   7     38  

 Should the NFL just hand the Lombardi trophy to the Patriots ???  They should wait, but the team does look tremendous and Sunday was no different as they destroyed the Bills 38-7 in Foxboro.  Led by quarterback Tom Brady (23-29, 311 yards with four touchdowns) and receiver Randy Moss (5 catches 115 yards w/ 2 TDs), the Patriots turned a 17-7 halftime led into a rout. The Patriots dominated in every aspect of the game including time of posession (34:19 to 25:41). The Bills never had a chance as they lost QB J.P. Losman on the first play of the game, when Patriots DT Vince Wilfork rolled into his left knee. They also lost rookie sensation LB Paul Posluszny with a broken left forearm. In the win the Patriots totaled 38 points for the third consecutive time this season.  Lambeau FieldChargers (1-2-0)   7   7    7   3       24   Packers (3-0-0)    3   14   0   14      31    The Packers showed that they are for real by shutting down the stagnant Chargers 31-24 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The game was all about Packers QB Brett Favre, who was very strong leading the Packer to a 3-0 start (first time since 1991) finishing with 369 yards and three touchdowns including a record tying one (420 TDs shares with Dan Marino) in the win. Credit also needs to be given to the Packers’ offensive line (only 2 sacks). The Packers were also strong on defense holding Chargers RB LaDanian Tomlinson to 62 rushing yards. Reliant StadiumColts (3-0-0)   7   7   13   3      30   Texans (2-1-0)  7   3   0   14    24    Led by quarterback Peyton Manning (20-29, 273), Houston native RB Joseph Addai (22 rushes for 72 yards w/ 1TD), and LB Gary Brackett (9 TKLs, 1 FR, and 1 INT in the endzone) the defending Super Bowl champion Colts had too much for the previously unbeaten Texans 30-24 in Houston.  The win was the Colts second straight over an AFC South opponent.  The Colts were professional in the win and what impresses me is their defense, which held the Texans to 40 yards rushing and intercepted Texans QB Matt Schaub twice. Lincoln Financial FieldLions (2-1-0)    7   14   0   0      21   Eagles (1-2-0)  21   21   7   7      56    Playing without Pro Bowl players Brian Dawkins and Lito Sheppard on defense, the Eagles offensive put on a hellacious offensive performance producing 21 points in the 1st and 2nd quarters on their way to destroying the Lions 56-21 in Philadelphia.  The game was a shootout that contained 968 total yards, but it was the Eagles offense that dominated.  Maybe it was their 75th anniversary uniforms or that the team was tired of hearing whispers of their demise, but either way led by Donovan McNabb (See Gameballs), RB Brian Westbrook (110 rushing w/ 2 TDs, 111 receiving yards w/ 1 TD), and WR Kevin Curtis (11 catches for 221 yards w/ 3 TDs).  A side note is that for the first time in NFL history that two receivers tallied 200 yards in the same game (Curtis and Detroit’s Roy Williams – 9 catches for 204 yards w/ 1 TD).  The Eagles defense also deserves some props for shutting the Lions out in the 2nd half and producing nine sacks and three turnovers. Heinz Field49ers (2-1-0)     6   0   3    7      16   Steelers (3-0-0)  7   7   3   20     37    The Steelers improved to 3-0 in a dominating rout of the previously unbeaten Niners 37-16 in Pittsburgh.  The game featured another strong running performance by Steelers RB Willie Parker (24 rushes for 133 yards) and the blitzing Steelers defense.  The defense was stifling as the unit constantly harassed Niners QB Alex Smith all day. The defensive highlight for the Steelers came when cornerback Bryant McFadden intercepted a Smith pass and ran the ball back 50 yards for his first career touchdown.  With the win Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin joined former Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher in starting their careers at 3-0. Raymond James StadiumRams (0-3-0)        0   0   0    3       3   Buccaneers (2-1-0)  0   3   7   14      24    Led by quarterback Jeff Garcia (14-22, 151 yards w/ 2 TDs), the Buccaneers dominated the falling Rams (0-3) 24-3 in Tampa Bay.  The Rams, who have been battling injuries especially on their O-Line were never in the game as their Pro Bowl quarterback Marc Bulger threw three interceptions, including one in the end zone. Arrowhead StadiumVikings (1-2-0)   7   3   0   0      10   Chiefs (1-2-0)    0   3   3   7      13    In a rather boring slugfest, the Chiefs defended their home turf by winning 13-10.  The Chiefs were led by quarterback Damon Huard (20-29, 206), who is now 7-0 as a starter at home.  For the Vikings, rookie running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown, but it was not enough.  In his return from a two-game suspension Kansas City DE Jared Allen had his seventh multi-sack game finishing with 8 TKLs, 2 Sacks, and a fumble recovery. Soldier FieldCowboys (2-0-0)   0   3   14   17      34   Bears (1-1-0)        3   0    7    0       10    The Dallas Cowboys and their quarterback Tony Romo (22-35, 329 yards w/ 2 TDs) shoed that they are ready to compete for NFC dominance by flying past the Bears 34-10 on NBC Sunday Night football.  The Cowboys broken open a close game in the first half by turning three interceptions by Bears Rex Grossman into points.  The victory gives Dallas its first 3-0 start since 1999, while the defending NFC champions fell to 1-2.  Wide receiver Terrell Owens caught eight passes for 145 yards, moving past Michael Irvin into 14th place on the NFL’s career list with 12,044 yards.  

Monday, September 24, 2007

 SuperdomeTitans (2-1-0)   3   7   7   14      31   Saints (0-3-0)   0   7   7    0      14    On Monday Nigh Football, the Titans led by quarterback Vince Young (14-22, 164 yards w/ 2 TDs and 23 yards rushing) and LB Keith Bulluck (3 INTs) defeated the win-less Saints in New Orleans.  The game was supposed to be a rematch of the 2005 Heisman and 2006 Rose Bowl, but Vince Young got the best of Reggie Bush again.  The Titans were fueled by a running game led by running backs LenDale White and Chris Brown.  The player with the most to prove now for the Saints seems to be QB Drew Brees, who had another miserable game finishing with five turnovers (4 INTs and 1 Fumble lost).

2007 NFL Week 2 Review

(Philadelphia, Pa) —- This weekend’s games were supposed to be highlighted by the “Revenge Grudge Match” from last year’s divisional playoffs with the Chargers traveling to New England to take on the NFL’s version of Darth Vader the Patriots. The game did not live up to the hype as the Patriots and their Head Coach Bill Belichick showed that not even the NFL (Belichick and Team disciplined in “videogate”) or its MVP (L.T) could affect their play as they dominated the Chargers 38-14 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The only revenge happened in Tennessee where the Colts returned to beat the Titans 22-20 in their stadium avenging an impromptu December 2006 loss to the Titans (Rob Bironas 60-yard field goal as time expired).The weekend did feature some history with Brett Favre breaking the record for most victories (149) that he had shared with Hall of Famer John Elway and an unpredictable pinball machine (96 points and 1,085 yards of offense) victory by the Cleveland Browns over the Cincinnati Bengals by the whopping score of 51-45. Overall we are now seeing the parody and separation aspects of the NFL as ten teams are off to a (2-0) start and another ten are in a hole at (0-2) including 2006 playoff teams: Eagles, Jets, Saints, Giants, and Chiefs. The teams that are (0-2) need to buckle down because only 17 teams since 1990 have qualified for the playoff after starting in the deep hole and only 2 teams have come back from the even deeper hole of (0-3).

Games BallsGreen Bay Packers QB Brett Favre – The tales of the future Hall of Famer’s demise were greatly exaggerated. With his line protecting him, Favre has led the Packers to six straight regular season victories. In that streak, #4 has gotten the Packers off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2001. Favre in his record setting 149th career victory over the Giants 35-13, threw for 29-of-38 for 286 yards with 3 TD’s and one interception. Though many of his teammates were in grade school during his heyday in the ‘90’s, the “old gray beard” has found a way to relate to the young players and revitalize a team that no one expected to be a contender.

Honorable Mention: Bears KR Devin Hester (73-yard punt return for a TD in win over Chiefs, also had a 95-yard kickoff return for a TD nullified by a penalty), Bengals QB Carson Palmer (Bengals Record 6 TD passes in loss to Browns), 49ers RB Frank Gore (Played tough fro his Mother in a win over the Rams), Browns RB Jamal Lewis (216 yards rushing with 1 TD), Patriots WR Randy Moss (eight catches for 105 yards w/ 2 TDs) and Surprise 2-0 Teams (Packers, Redskins, Lions, Texans, and 49ers)

Lloyd’s Lackey of the WeekCinncinati Bengals Defense – After beating the Ravens on Monday Night, the Bengals defense was nowhere to be found in a 51-45 loss to the Browns, who only punted twice in the game. Marvin Lewis should be ashamed of himself as his defense allowed the Browns to racked up 554 yards of total offense including Derek Anderson throwing five touchdown passes and Jamal Lewis rushing for 216 yards. The Bengals “Swiss cheese” defense allowed beleaguered Browns Head Coach Romeo Crennell to get his second divisional win ever (2-14) and the Browns for the first time since joining the NFL in 1950 had a 300-yard passer, a 200-yard rusher and two 100-yard receivers (Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow).

Dishonorable Mention: Rams (Lost for a second straight week at home to a NFC foe), Bears QB Rex Grossman (It seems he is always listed: 20-34, 160 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs as the Bears won in spite of him), Vikings QB Tavaris Jackson (17-33 for 166 yards and tied a team record w/ 4 INTs in a loss to the Lions), Falcons QB Joey Harrington (Sacked 7 times while going 12-of-20 for 200 yards w/ 0 TDs in a loss to the Jags), “Little” Giants players TE Jeremy Shockey (Called for a delay of game penalty (spiking the ball) after a first-down catch and dropped a potential first-down pass) and WR Amani Toomer (Taunting Penalty deep in Packers Territory), The Philadelphia Eagles (Listless in home loss to Redskins, while scoring a touchdown) and Chiefs Head Coach Herman Edwards (For the second week in a row his team was listless in a bad loss).

Game News and Notes Sunday, September 16, 2007LP Field

Colts (2-0-0) 22

Titans (1-1-0) 20

The Colts had a 16-6 edge at the half and never looked back as Peyton Manning threw for 312 yards and a touchdown. The Titans tried to close the gap, but there would be no miracle 60 yard winning field goal this time. The game could have been a letdown for the Colts, but they found a way to stay focused after a opening 41-10 rout of New Orleans. The Colts were playing without starting linebackers Freddy Keiaho (right elbow) and Rob Morris (ribs), which was probably a factor in allowing the Titans 313 yards of offense, including 141 yards rushing. In the game Colts WR Marvin Harrison passed Cris Carter for fourth on the career yards receiving list.

Giants Stadium

Packers (2-0-0) 35

Giants (0-2-0) 13

Brett Favre was efficient (See Game Balls) in leading the Packers to an easy 35-13 win over the reeling Giants. The loss was the second straight for the undisciplined and self-defeating Giants. The loss marked the Giants first (0-2) start since 1996 and it appears daily that Tom Coughlin is under the gun. Bright spots for the Giants included: Eli Manning playing well despite having a sprained shoulder (16-of-29 for 211 yards with a touchdown and an interception). After the game beleaguered Head Coach Coughlin said “We have no excuses,” and “There is no explanation for it. We gave ourselves some opportunities and then took them away, so we became our own worst enemy.”

Edward Jones Dome

49ers (2-0-0) 17

Rams (0-2-0) 16

In a game that may have marked the changing of the guard in the NFC West, the Niners beat the Rams 17-16. The game came down to the final seconds, but a costly Dante Hall fumble doomed the Rams. Marcus Hudson recovered for San Francisco, setting up the winning 53-yard field goal Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins, who had missed a 56-yard field goal try with 59 seconds to play. The 49ers (2-0) wanted to win the game for the grieving Frank Gore, who lost his mother the wednesday before the game. Gore responded scoring two touchdowns and gaining 81 yards on 20 carries. St. Louis lost despite outgaining San Francisco 392 yards to 186. Rams Pro Bowlers QB Marc Bulger (24-for-41 for 368 yards and one touchdown) and RB Steven Jackson (60 yards on 21 carries) pretty much held in check. The Rams still lead the all-time series 59-55-2. The series dates to 1950.

Ford Field

Vikings (1-1-0) 17

Lions (2-0-0) 20

In a surprise win by the usually basement dwelling Detroit Lions, Jason Hanson kicked a 37-yard field goal in overtime for a 20-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The Lions win ended Minnesota’s 10 straight victories over Detroit. The game-winning drive was orchestrated by Lions veteran quarterback John Kitna (22-33, 245 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT) who had been knocked out of the game with a concussion earlier in the first half. Minnesota and Detroit took turns blowing chances throughout the game including: A combined ten turnovers including a Vikings QB Brooks Bollinger’s fumbled snap that setup the game-winning field goal and two missed field goal attempts in the final 45 seconds. Lions rookie WR Calvin Johnson had four receptions for 61 yards and scored for the second straight week.

Heinz Field

Bills (0-2-0) 3

Steelers (2-0-0) 26

For the second week in a row the Pittsburgh Steelers came out and dominated their foe under Mike Tomlin. The Steelers were led by RB Willie Parker (126 yards rushing and 1 TD) and QB Ben Roethlisberger (21-34, 242 yards w/ 1 TD) as they controlled the clock and the tempo coasting to a 26-3 victory over the Bills. The Bills wearing #85 T-shirts under their jerseys, were trying to win one for injured teammate Kevin Everett, but it was not to be. Bills quarterback J.P. Losman struggled throwing for 15-25, 154 yards as Buffalo was outgained 421-223 and Pittsburgh held the ball nearly 70 percent of the time. Mike Tomlin won his home opener as the Steelers’ coach, just as Bill Cowher (1992) and Chuck Noll (1969) did. The Steelers wore throwback uniforms modeled after those worn in the 1950s and 1960s, with gold helmets and white pants.

Dolphin Stadium

Cowboys (2-0-0) 37

Dolphins (0-2-0) 20

After a low scoring 10-6 lead in the first half, the Cowboys (2-0) exploded for 27 second half points on their way to beating the Dolphins 37-20. The game was highlighted by the explosive play of Cowboys WR Terrell Owens (5 receptions for 97 yards w/ 2 TDs). A Tony Romo (14-for-29 for 186 yards w/ 2 TDs and 36 yards on four runs) to Owens connection on fourth-sealed the Dallas win with four minutes. The Dallas defense also came to play intercepting Miami QB Trent Green four times and recovering two of his fumbles. On the other hand, the Cowboys protected the ball on offense committing no turnovers. New Dallas haed coach Wade Phillips was pleased saying ”How about the defense?” and ”Five turnovers – how about that? That’s the kind of defense we have.” The Cowboys have won their first two games for the first time since 1999. Dallas rookie kicker Nick Folk was perfect, making field goals of 26, 28 and 47 yards.

Jacksonville Municipal Stadium

Falcons (0-2-0) 7

Jaguars (1-1-0) 13

In a boring battle that featured no scoring in the first and third quarters, the Jaguars dominated the Falcons 13-7 in Jacksonville. The Jags’ defense was stifling sacking Falcons QB Joey Harrington 7 times and holding the Falcons (0-2) to 82 yards on the ground. Jaguars quarterback David Garrard continued to show that he can be a capable starter finishing with numbers of 17-25 for 272 yards with a touchdown. He was most impressive in the fourth quarter going for 7-of-8 for 122 yards on the two scoring drives. With temperatures near 90 degrees, Jags coach Jack Del Rio opted for pants and a polo shirt instead of the suit he wore in last week’s loss.

Bank of America Stadium

Texans (2-0-0) 7 10 14 3 34

Panthers (1-1-0) 14 0 0 7 21

In a win that signaled that a new era has begin in Houston, the Texans went on the road and dominated the Panthers 34-21 as they got to their first 2-0 start. The win made the team holler ”We’re a different team, baby!”. The Texans were led by their offseason prize quarterback Matt Schaub who threw for 227 yards passing and two touchdowns. The team’s record is now 24-56 in five seasons, but this they seem reborn under new GM Rick Smith. The Texans defense held the Panthers to 7 second half points as they forced three second-half turnovers and three sacks. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak didn’t get too high saying ‘We’re doing some things better, and we’ve still doing a lot of things that we’ve got to improve on to be a good football team”. He added ”It’s just one of 16, and I’m proud of our football team to come here on the road and win. And we get to play the world champs next week.”

The big test comes in week three as the Texans play against the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis in an early season showdown in the AFC South division.

Invesco Field at Mile High

Raiders (0-2-0) 20

Broncos (2-0-0) 23

The Broncos got away with another close victory for the second week in a row as Denver kicker Jason Elam’s 23-yard field goal with 5:48 left in overtime beat the Raiders 23-20. The win was not without a controvsey because Denver head coach Mike Shanahan had called a timeout just before Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski made an apparent game-winning 52-yard field goal at 11:13 of overtime. No one but referee Walt Anderson had heard Shanahan’s call and on the re-kick of course, Janikowski’s kick hit the left upright. The Raiders (0-2) whole team claims that they never heard the timeout whistle and Raiders rookie head coach Lane Kiffin said ‘Nobody was aware they called timeout”. Shanahan is now 20-5 against his former team.

University of Phoenix Stadium

Seahawks (1-1-0) 20

Cardinals (1-1-0) 23

After taking a 17-7 halftime lead, the Cardinals held on to beat the Seahawks 23-20 on a last second 42-yard field goal by Neil Rackers. The game winner was setup by a Darnell Dockett fumble recovery of a Matt Hasselbeck fumble. The game was a roller coaster with Rackers needing a 52-yard field goal to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. Cardinals RB Edgerrin James was spectacular rushing for 123 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.

Gillette Stadium

Chargers (1-1-0) 14

Patriots (2-0-0) 38

In what was billed as the weekend’s grudge match, it never materialized as the Patriots led took a 24-0 halftime lead and coasted to a dominating 38-14 victory over the Chargers in Foxboro. The Patriots were led by QB Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick and I believe they wanted to show last year’s regular season champ and the entire NFL that they didn’t need to cheat in winning their 3 Super Bowls. The players wanted to backup their coach after the NFL fined Belichick $500,000 and the team another $250,000 and they will probably have to forfeit a first-round draft pick in ’08 for “spygate”. Brady (25-31, 279 yards w/ 3 TDs) said, “After everything that went on this week, we wanted to do our best for him”. Patriots WR Randy Moss had second straight 100-yard receiving game including two touchdowns and big time free agent signee LB Adalius Thomas returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown.

2006 NFL MVP Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson could not back up his boasts that he wanted the Pats by running for only 43 yards on 18 carries.

Cleveland Browns Stadium

Bengals (1-1-0) 45

Browns (1-1-0) 51

In the weekend’s most bizarre game, the Browns beat the Bengals 51-45. The game featured offensive records everywhere including: Browns QB Derek Anderson (20-33, 328) throwing 5 TDs, Browns RB Jamal Lewis rushing for 216 yards (7.7 ypc including a 66-yard TD run), Bengals QB Carson Palmer (33-of-50 for 401 yards) throwing for 6 TDs, and Bengals WR Chad Johnson catching 11 balls for 209 yards. The Browns had a 300-yard passer, a 200-yard rusher and two 100-yard receivers (Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow) for the first time since joining the NFL in 1950. Cleveland racked up 554 yards of total offense and scored their most points since returning to the league in 1999. The win was only the second divisional win for beleaguered Browns head coach Romeo Crennel, who improved to 11-23 in his third season. It was just the third time in NFL history that two QBs threw five TD passes in the same game (Oakland’s Tom Flores (6) and Houston’s George Blanda (5) both did it on Dec. 22, 1963, and Billy Kilmer of New Orleans (6) and Charley Johnson of St. Louis (6) also did it Nov, 5, 1969).

Soldier Field

Chiefs (0-2-0) 10

Bears (1-1-0) 20

Despite the bad efforts of quarterback Rex Grossman (20-34, 160 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs), the NFC Champion Bears led by KR Devin Hester’ beat the Chiefs 20-10. Hester was electric scoring on a 73-yard punt return in the second quarter and setting up a field goal in the third with another long return s touchdown return. Also for the Bears, RB Cedric Benson ran for 101 yards. The Bears stifled Chiefs star RB Larry Johnson (55 yards on 16 attempts).

Cheifs Damon Huard didn’t play well either going 19-for-28 with 175 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception. He was also sacked four times before leaving late in the game for Brodie Croyle. The Bears defense was tough as Bears LB Lance Briggs forced a fumble and sacked Huard plus LB Brian Urlacher got his first sack since 2005.

M&T Bank Stadium

Jets (0-2-0) 13

Ravens (1-1-0) 20

In a battle of backups, Ravens QB Kyle Boller outplayed Jets QB Kellen Clemens as the Ravens beat the Jets 20-13. The victory looked easy in the first half as the Ravens led 17-3 at the half. Kellens almost led the Jets back in the second half cutting a 20-3 deficit to seven points in the fourth quarter. The young quarterback from the University of Oregon took the Jets to the Baltimore 7 before Ray Lewis intercepted a deflected pass in the end zone with 1:04 left to preserve the win. Before the interception, Jets WR Justin McCareins dropped a potential touchdown pass at the 5 with 1:55 left.

Raymond James Stadium

Saints (0-2-0) 14

Buccaneers (1-1-0) 31

In a game that showed “what a difference a year makes”, the defending NFC South Champion Saints fell to (0-2) losing to the Tampa Buccanneers 31-14. The game was all about Bucs veterans QB Jeff Garcia (10 of 16 passes for 243 yards w/ 2 TDs and no interceptions) and WR Joey Galloway (four catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns including a 69-yard bomb). The Saints (0-2) were embarrassed for the second consecutive week and have been outscored 72-24 after reaching the NFC championship game last season. Reggie Bush was contained for the second week with only 27 yards on 10 rushes and 43 yards on six receptions. Saints coach Sean Payton said ”I’m disappointed. I’m not surprised,” and ”We didn’t play well enough. ”

Monday, September 17, 2007Lincoln Financial Field

Redskins (1-0-0) 20

Eagles (0-1-0) 12

The Redskins surprisingly beat a listless Eagles team at home on Monday Night Football. The Eagles trailed throughout most of the game and they were unable to get in the end zone settling for four David Akers field goals (Read more in the Eagles game report).

Lloyd’s LeftoversTitans Extend Jeff Fisher’s Contract – The Tennessee Titans and coach Jeff Fisher have agreed on a contract extension that will keep Fisher though 2011. Titans’ owner Bud Adams picked up a one-year option after last season, when the Titans rallied from an 0-5 start to complete an 8-8 season. Associated Press reported the agreement will add four years to Fisher’s contract. The deal is thought to be worth $5.5 million to $6 million per year. Fisher is the longest-tenured coach with his team in the NFL and is in his 13th full season. He coached his 200th regular-season game Sunday in a 22-20 loss to Indianapolis.

The Hurricanes lead the way – For the second consecutive season, the University of Miami has the most players on NFL Kickoff rosters. This year, Miami has 46 players on NFL rosters, up from last season’s total of 42. A total of 252 colleges are represented on 2007 NFL rosters. Here is a breakdown of the Top 10 Schools: Miami (46), Ohio State (44), Florida State (41), Georgia (37), Michigan (36), Texas (32), Florida (31), Notre Dame (30), and Auburn (30)

Falcons may be turning to QB Byron Leftwich – With Joey Harrington looking frazzled (Sacked 13 times in two losses), the Falcons maybe turning to free agent quarterback Byron Leftwich to save their season. After taking a pass on Lefwich after he had been released in final cuts by Jacksonville, the Falcons finally called Leftwich. The big quarterback was signed by the Falcons on Tuesday to a two-year, $7 million deal. Until the Falcons called, Leftwich did not have many nibbles on the open market after the Ravens signed Kyle Boller to an extension. He had been the seventh overall pick in the 2003 draft, but his Jags’ career was injury plagued with ankle and leg injuries. Leftwich will compete with Harrington in Wednesday’s practice and he finished his Jaguars career with a 24-20 record as a starter, completing 789 of 1,344 passes for 9,042 yards, 51 touchdowns and 36 interceptions for a passer rating of 80.5.

Cowboys sign Tank Johnson to two-year deal – Suspended defensive tackle Tank Johnson signed a two-year contract Tuesday with the Dallas Cowboys. The big, but troubled DT from the University of Washington had played the last three seasons for the Chicago Bears until recent legal problems caused him to be released after his suspension. Johnson can’t play for the Cowboys until he completes his eight-game NFL suspension for conduct detrimental to the league. He has served the first two games of that suspension and he will still have to apply for reinstatement in November. Johnson will make about $255,000 this season, the prorated portion of a minimum contract.

2007 NFL Week 3 Preview

PHILADELPHIA — Week three will feature a variety of quality match-ups (three 2-0 vs. 2-0 games) from the league that knows parody. Ten NFL teams are off to a (2-0) start including Detroit (won three games last year), Washington (five), Houston (six), San Francisco (seven) and Green Bay and Pittsburgh (eight). There are also twelve teams that are even at (1-1) entering the weekend and another ten that are in a hole at (0-2) including 2006 playoff teams: Eagles, Jets, Saints, Giants, and Chiefs.

The teams that are (0-2) need to buckle down because only 18 teams since 1990 have qualified for the playoffs, but they still should have hope from the following teams that turned it around from a (0-2) start: Dallas Cowboys in 1993 (won Super Bowl XXVIII), the New England Patriots of 1996 (played in Super Bowl XXXI), the 2003 Eagles (Played in NFC Championship) and the 2001 Patriots (won Super Bowl XXXVI). If a team doesn’t make the leap to (1-2) and loses making their record (0-3), they can almost assuredly kiss their season good bye as only 2 teams have ever come back from that deep of a hole to make the playoffs.

Whether you are (0-2, 1-1, or 2-0) as future hall of famer Brett Favre recently said “You’ve got to play like you’re 0-2”. Also this weekend’s games kick off the NFL’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15). A Sunday night halftime show (Gloria Estefan) in Chicago will be featured when the Bears host the Dallas Cowboys on NBC.

So I say “Viva NFL” and enjoy the games.

Sunday, September 23

MIA (0-2) at NYJ (0-2) 1:00 PM CBS

This game of someone’s “0” has to go features to longtime AFC rivals trying to get their first win. Both teams are struggling to find a rhythm on offense and defense. Dolphins coach Cam Cameron is finding out that the NFL is where the “big boys” play and Jets coach Man-genius Eric Mangini is finding out how hard it is to play with a difficult schedule. The Jets expect to have quarterback Chad Pennington back from an ankle injury. Look for Miami quarterback Trent Green to continue to run for his life behind the porous Dolphins O-Line.

DET (2-0) at PHI (0-2) 1:00 PM FOX

This game could possibly be the beginning of something big for the Lions and the ending of an era for the Eagles. The Lions come in flying high after Jon Kitna returned from a concussion to to lead them over the Vikings. The Lions also have several quality weapons on offense that will be facing an Eagles team that is good defensively (need to pressure Kitna), but beat up. The game will also feature Donovan McNabb’s first game since his controversial comments on HBO regarding the scrutiny of black quarterbacks. The melodrama unfortunately is applying more pressure to McNabb, who doesn’t seem right coming off knee surgery (ACL). Make sure to watch the Eagles run pass ratio, which currently stands at the pass-happy mark of 63% (pass) to 37% (run).

SF (2-0) at PIT (2-0) 1:00 PM FOX

After hanging on to get two close wins, the Niners will have to prove they are for real traveling to Pittsburgh to take on the blitzing Steelers. The Steelers have been workman like in dominating two inferior AFC foes and I know Mike Tomlin will have them ready. Look for the Niners to try and pressure Big Ben, but the loss of OLB Manny Lawson for the season will hurt.

BUF (0-2) at NE (2-0) 1:00 PM CBS

This should be a tough AFC East divisional contest, but you have to favor the Patriots who are clicking on all cylinders. The Pats have dominated their first two games and they now face the beat up Bills led by erractic quarterback JP Losman. With the spy games totally behind them look for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to go downtown to Randy Moss as the Bills are missing several key defensive players.

MIN (1-1) at KC (0-2) 1:00 PM FOX

After losing a heartbreaker to the Niners, the Vikings will want to wipe the bad taste of defeat from their mouth. The Chiefs, on the other hand are just trying to find consistency and a when after averaging just 6.5 points per game in their first two games. The Chiefs will need Larry Johnson to bring his lunch pale against the Vikings tough defense that has only allowed 11.5 points per game so far. The Chiefs should have one of the NFL’s best 12th men behind as they need assistance.

CLE (1-1) at OAK (0-2) 4:05 PM CBS

This is a match-up of two teams who we don’t know who they fully are. The Browns looked horrible in week one, but rebounded with a high scoring win over the Bengals in week two. The Raiders are the NFL’s scrappiest teams, fighting to the end including their heartbreaking loss to the Broncos last week, but they are inconsistent on offense (turnovers) and defense (not stopping teams). Raiders coach Lane Kiffin should desperately want this win as his team could be staring at 0-4 if they don’t watch out.

STL (0-2) at TB (1-1) 1:00 PM FOX

ARI (1-1) at BAL (1-1) 1:00 PM FOX

IND (2-0) at HOU (2-0) 1:00 PM CBS

SD (1-1) at GB (2-0) 1:00 PM CBS

JAC (1-1) at DEN (2-0) 4:05 PM CBS

CIN (1-1) at SEA (1-1) 4:05 PM CBS

NYG (0-2) at WAS (2-0) 4:15 PM FOX

CAR at ATL 4:15 PM FOX

DAL (2-0) at CHI (1-1) 8:15 PM NBC

MONDAY SEPTEMBER 24, 2007

Tennessee (1-1) at New Orleans (0-2) 8:30 PM ESPN

Week 3 NFL Rankings

Week 2 of the NFL season is in the book and we are now seeing the parody and separation aspects of the NFL as ten teams are off to a (2-0) start, twelve teams are even at (1-1), and another ten are in a hole at (0-2) including 2006 playoff teams: Eagles, Jets, Saints, Giants, and Chiefs. The teams that are (0-2) need to buckle down because only 17 teams since 1990 have qualified for the playoff after starting in the deep hole and only 2 teams have ever come back from the even deeper hole of (0-3).

  1.  
    1. Colts (2-0) – Showed their mettle, winning at Tennessee versus the Titans. Another road divisional battle this week versus the surprising Texans.
    2. Patriots (2-0) – Belichik and the Pats showed that they have more than espionage by shutting down the Chargers. Home battle vs. the Bills is next.
    3. Steelers (2-0) – The Steelers looked very professional dismantling the reeling Bills. After two AFC wins they now have a NFC match-up on the road in SF.
    4. Cowboys (2-0) – The Cowboys are scoring machine, putting up 82 pts in the first two weeks. They have a big road test against the defensive Bears.
    5. Bears (1-1) – Despite Rex Grossman’s best efforts, they dominated the Bears. In the weekend’s biggest battle they will have a stern home test vs. Dallas.
    6. Chargers (1-1) – After all the “talk”, we now know they are not in the Pats league. They will need to pass a road test versus the surprising Packers.
    7. Ravens (1-1) – Came home to beat the Jets in the battle of the backup qb’s. McNair returns for the team’s home battle versus the Cardinals.
    8. Broncos (2-0) – They have squeaked there way to two wins, but they need to improve to be a true contender. Will have a home test against the Jags.
    9. Redskins (2-0) – They passed a big MNF test in Philly. We will have to see if they won’t suffer a letdown in a divisional game at home versus the Giants.
    10. Texans (2-0) – Led by Schaub and Andre Johnson they throttled the Panthers. We will see if they are the real deal taking on Colts this week at home.
    11. Packers (2-0) – #4 headed into the record books as they beat the Giants. Let’s see if they have really turned it around by beating the Chargers.
    12. Lions (2-0) – They showed that they maybe revitalized by disposing of the Vikings. A tough road test awaits versus the desperate Eagles.
    13. Panthers (1-1) – Big plays hurt them versus the Texans. Should get a mulligan playing against the hapless Falcons, who are waiting for Leftwich.
    14. 49ers (2-0) – Hung on to beat the Rams in St Louis. They have a huge test traveling to Pittsburgh to take on the blitzing Steelers.
    15. Seahawks (1-1) – Made furious comeback, but lost to division rival Cardinals. We will see if this team still has character at home versus the Bengals.
    16. Titans (1-1) – They played the Colts tough, but came up short. Will play on MNF at New Orleans in the 2005 Heisman Bowl – Young vs. Bush.
    17. Vikings (1-1) –They were surprised losing in OT to the Lions. They have problems at QB, which will need to be addressed in this week’s game at KC.
    18. Bengals (1-1) – Took a serious step back by showing their inconsistency losing to the Browns in a shootout. Show me something at the Seahawks.
    19. Jaguars (1-1) – Took care of business versus the Falcons. Will travel to Mile High to see who is for real, them or the 2-0 questionable Broncos.
    20. Cardinals (1-1) – Almost gave it away in a win versus the Seahawks. The true test will come this week as they travel to Baltimore to face Ray and the boyz.
    21. Saints (0-2) – 2006 NFC South Champs looked like chumps losing to the Bucs. In order to save their season they will need to beat the Titans on MNF.
    22. Jets (0-2) – The Ravens out “toughed” the Jets last week. They now need to save their season at home against the 0-2 Dolphins. Someone’s “0” has to go.
    23. Eagles (0-2) – The Eagles have been at 0-2 before in 2003 and survived, but this is not the same team. A big character test at home vs. the (2-0) Lions.
    24. Buccaneers (1-1) – This team is looking more and more like a train wreck. They look listless versus the Seahawks.
    25. Rams (0-2) – Fumbled a win away to the 49ers last week. They will now have to save their season on the road against the improving Bucs.
    26. Browns (1-1) – Crennel finally got his 2nd divisional win in a surprise shootout over the Bengals. A stern test this week as they travel to the better than their record Raiders (0-2).
    27. Dolphins (0-2) – Were dominated in the 2nd half against the Cowboys. Cameron will need to pick up the pieces and get a win at the Jets.
    28. Giants (0-2) – Were dominated versus the Packers and Eli looks hurt. Will need to play better against the upstart Redskins.
    29. Raiders (0-2) – Too bad the Broncos timeout’ed their way to a victory. Will need to pick up the pieces against the surprising Browns.
    30. Bills (0-2) – Not even Kevin Everett’s good news could help them against the Steelers. Have a mission impossible traveling to New England.
    31. Chiefs (0-2) – They looked terrible again in a bad 20-10 loss to the Bears. We will see if Herm can save his season at home against the young Vikings.
    32. Falcons (0-2) – The Jags showed again that Joey Harrington is done as a NFL quarterback. With Leftwich warming up in the bullpen, they will take on the Panthers at home.