(Philadelphia, Pa) — Now that the first week of the 89th NFL Season titled “Believe In Now” is over, some people are spouting off on a number of too quick assertations. Some of the comments/feedback that I have received from fans – we know how they tend to go overboard in nature — after only one week of play that I consider premature or in some cases laughable include:
1) The Patriots are a one man show and now that quarterback Tom Brady is out, their season is over.
2) The Patriots can never win with Matt Cassel, who has not started a game since 1999 in High School
3) The Falcons, Panthers, Ravens, Bears, Bills, and Cardinals are all playoff contenders after surprising week one wins.
4) The Jets are the team to beat in the AFC East after taking apart the “mighty” Miami Dolphins.
5) The Jaguars, Colts, Browns, Seahawks, and Vikings are playoff pretenders after week one losses.
C’mon some of these conclusions may prove to be true, but one week doesn’t show enough to paint such a broad picture. Just look at last year’s Giants team, who lost badly at Dallas in week one and everyone wrote them off with questions of “Where’s Tiki?” Well the Giants quickly turned their team around rattling off an NFL record 11 straight road wins on their way to a Super Bowl XLII victory. And I won’t even bring up the 1994 Philadelphia Eagles (okay I will) under “mastermind” Rich Kotite who started out 7-2 and led the league while crowing about how great their season was before it was finished. The Birds subsequently went on to lose their last 7 games finishing with a miserable 7-9 record. What I am trying to say is let the season play out, because the NFL season is a 16-game marathon.
I will tell some things that we do know after one week.
- Injuries are everywhere, but teams have to press on. Some major injuries included: Patriots QB Tom Brady (knee), Seattle WR Nate Burelson (knee), Jaguars guards Vince Manuwai (knee) and Maurice Williams (triceps), Colts RB Joseph Addai (head), Cowboys RB Marion Barber (ribs), Baltimore DB Corey Ivy (leg injury), Chiefs QB Brodie Croyle (shoulder), Seahawks RB Maurice Morris (knee), Colts TE Dallas Clark (knee), Bucs LB Derrick Brooks (hamstring) and Titans QB Vince Young (sprained knee).
- Head Coaches Marvin Lewis (Bengals), Scott Linehan (Rams), Mike Nolan (49ers), and Lane Kiffin (Raiders) better have their resumes ready, because their teams are pretty bad. I hate to pile on them but when your team has problems stopping the vertical game (Rams), receives too many penalties (Raiders), can’t throw (Bengals), or turns the ball over too much (49ers) then your coach is on the hot seat.
- Playing stout defense and running the ball effectively are essential keys to winning in the NFL. The Falcons behind rookie quarterback Matt Ryan and first year head coach Mike Smith showed this in week one as they rolled over the Lions. The Falcons piled up an amazing 313 rushing yards including a franchise 220 yards by RB Michael Turner, while limiting the Lions to only 62 yards rushing. The Falcons also got 3 sacks by John Abraham.
- The Cowboys are very good, but I am not totally drinking America’s Team koolaid just yet. The ‘Boys week two battle with the Eagles should give us a better picture of Wade Wilson’s team. But no can deny they looked good producing 487 yards of offense and holding the ball for 37:29 minutes on the road against a Cleveland Browns team everyone picked to be a contender.
Now on to the rankings for this week
1. Giants (1-0) – The G-Men kept pace with the Eagles and Cowboys in the tough NFC East as they bulldozed over the Redskins in the NFL Opener. Tom Coughlin’s team should get another win as they go on the road to face a Rams team that looked like number one contenders for the ’09 Draft first overall pick. They hold the top spot, because they are still the champs.
2. Cowboys (1-0) – The Hard Knocks poster boys showed against the overmatched Browns why people are riding their bandwagon despite no playoff wins since 1996. “Are You Ready For Some Football”, as an old-school NFC East Monday Night Football battle with bitter rival the Philadelphia Eagles awaits them week two.
3. Patriots (1-0) – Produced a tough home win against a plucky Chiefs team while losing America’s quarterback Tom Brady, but everything is now uphill without their leader. Can you say “Spygate” as the Pats come back to the scene of the crime with Belichick and Cassel (1st start) enduring endless chants for “Cheaters”.
4. Colts (0-1) – Showed some bad rust particulary by quarterback Peyton Manning and receiver Marvin Harrision (fumble for a touchdown) in the Lucas Oil Stadium debut loss to Super Bowl XLI rival Chicago. Have a tough interconference battle as they face the disgruntled Vikings in clash of two teams that have high expectations, but stumbled in week one.
5. Steelers (1-0) – It was back to P-Burgh style football in week one win as the Steelers ran all over the Texans on offense and pressured young quarterback Matt Schaub into looking very tentative. The battle for the AFC North begins this week as the Men of Steel travel to Cleveland to face their bitter rival on NBC Sunday Night Football.
6. Chargers (0-1) – Week one’s biggest surprise to me occurred in San Diego as the Panthers won on the last play of the game showing how teams play to the whistle when they are facing the bully. The Chargers without LB Shawne Merriman will look to rebound on the road as they face the improving Broncos.
7. Saints (1-0) – My pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl did not disappoint as they out-physicaled the Bucs behind a rejuvenated Reggie Bush and a stinging defense. Travel to the Nation’s Capital to face a Redskins team that looked befuddled in the NFL Season Opener.
8. Eagles (1-0) – Some people are saying the Birds didn’t play anyone as they dismantled the hapless Rams in week one. But it was the way the Birds took apart the Rams via the air (QB Donovan McNabb had 397 passing yards and 3 receivers over 100 yards) and shutdown the Lambs on defense that should make Romo and the ‘Boys nervous. There will be an electric playoff atmosphere as the rivalry I grew-up on returns as the Eagles face the Cowboys on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
9. Jaguars (0-1) – The Jags usually are the physical running and efficient team, but the Titans won a typical AFC South battle by limiting them to 33 rushing yards and making quarterback David Garrard throw an uncharacteristic 2 INTs. Host the upstart Bills in the game that may have a “must-win” label for the Jaguars.
10. Packers (1-0) – Aaron Rodgers era began on MNF with a bang as the Packers were efficient in a crucial division win over the Vikings. The Packers let Adrian Peterson get his yards, but they harrassed Vikes quarterback Tarvaris Jackson into mistakes. ready to lead despite being in Favre’s immense shadow. Need to watch for a letdown as they travel Detroit to face an offensive-minded Lions team.
11. Panthers (1-0) – Started the “Save John Fox” campaign with an impressive late second win over the Chargers in San Diego. Quarterback Jake Delhomme was efficient and running attack powered by a rejuventated DeAngelo Williams. Still will not have receiver Steve Smith, but the Panthers will look to keep a good thing going as they host the improving Bears.
12. Broncos (1-0) – Head Coach Mike Shannahan was in his world as he stuck to his old employer Al Davis again in a dominating MNF win over Oakland. The Broncos may have found a star in WR Eddie Royal. Host an angry Chargers sans Merriman in an old-time AFL battle of two teams fighting it out for AFC West dominance.
13. Titans (1-0) – In typical Titans fashion they beat the Jaguars ugly by playing tough defense and running the football. Unfortunately in the process of gaining the win the Titans lost V.Y for at least a week. Young may need the time off to figure out whether he asked to be removed from the Jags game and work on not listening to “Boos”. Veteran Kerry Collins leads the Titans into Cincinnati for an old-school AFC Central battle.
14. Jets (1-0) – Brett “the legend” Favre had a good debut as he led the J-E-T-S to a road win, which was not confirmed until Darrell Revis’ game-ending interception. But don’t get to high on their week one win as the Dolphins were still a one-win team in ’07. Favre gets his first taste of “Spygate” as the Jets host the hated Patriots in a game that will have major AFC East implications.
15. Bills (1-0) – I had a buddy tell me “Don’t Sleep” on the Bills and he sure was confirmed as this roster full of young talent dominated the road apprehensive Seahawks. In a potential future playoff match-up quarterback Trent Edwards leads the Bills into J-Ville to face a testy Jaguars team after a bad loss in week 1.
16. Bears (1-0) – They clearly were one of the NFL’s biggest surprises of week one as they went into Lucas Oil stadium with no fear and handed the Colts a loss in a rematch of Super Bowl XLI. In a possible playoff preview they take on another surging team as they are on the road again this time against the Panthers.
17. Cardinals (1-0) – What else can I say, they won in week one. However their win was against the hapless Niners and the road will only get tougher for Warner and Whisenhunt. A tougher than expected Dolphins squad comes into town and expect Tony Sparano to blitz a stationary Kurt Warner.
18. Vikings (0-1) – On MNF, the Vikes hung around against the Rodger’s led Packers, but I still do not see a consistent enough passing game for this team to be a legitimate contender. In a statement game, they host the dangerous Colts who are also coming off a disappoining opening week loss.
19. Browns (0-1) – The team that everyone picked as the darling of the AFC North stumbled badly in their opener as the Cowboys controlled them in their own stadium. It will “Put up or Shut-up” time as they host the Steelers in a rivalry game that will go far in divisional standings.
20. Seahawks (0-1) – The way the Bills beat them up, one has to ask is the Hawks run as the big dog in the NFC West over. The Seahawks and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck should get real healthy this week as they host the punchless Niners.
21. Buccaneers (0-1) – Came out on the wrong end of a tough divisional loss to the Saints. The Bucs did have their chances, but Garcia turned the ball over to end the game. Gruden’s boys have another tough divisional battle as the Falcons and upstart quarterback Matt Ryan come to town.
22. Texans (0-1) – Had no answer as the Steelers took them to the woodshed in week one. Host the young Ravens led by their nasty defense in a game that they need to show more.
23. Ravens (1-0) – Led by rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens surprised the Bengals in Cincinnati. Travel to Houston to face a hungry Texans team looking for their first win.
24. Falcons (1-0) – Another week one winner that needs show that they can follow up an impressive week one win. I am sure that running back Michael “The Burner” Turner will be ready to roll as the Falcons head to Tampa for a key NFC South battle.
25. Lions (0-1) – I guess John Kitna’s predictions have gone array again as the Lions couldn’t stop the Falcons steamrolling offense (over 300 yards rushing). Host the Packers in a game that the Lions need to step-up in or it maybe another season of the same old story in Detroit.
26. Dolphins (0-1) – As expected the Tuna’s boys were much more competitive, but they just couldn’t finish the job against Brett and the Jets. In a very intersting battle the ‘Phins travel to the desert to face a confident Cardinals team.
27. Chiefs (0-1) – Herm’s team hung tough as the Patriots had to claw their way to a tough home win. Without starting quarterback Brodie Croyle, the Chiefs and their Red storm crowd host the hated Oakland Raiders in a Hank Stramm special.
28 Bengals (0-1) – Looks like another tough season ahead for Marvin Lewis’ team as they looked disinterested against a hungry Ravens team in week one. Host the Titans in a game that may give a glimpse of two teams that appear headed in different directions.
29. Redskins (0-1) – In the NFL opener, the ‘Skins definitely looked like a JV team as new head coach Jim Zorn wasted timeouts and quarterback Jason Campbell looked very tentative in the west coast offense. Host the upstart Saints in a game where the Redskins will need all 90,000 plus fans on their side.
30. Raiders (0-1) – The NFL’s version of bizarre-o world just gets crazier by the day as the Silver and Black was undisciplined and lackadastical on Monday Football as the Broncos dominated them. Will need to answer the bell as they face old-time AFL rival the Kansas City Chiefs.
31. 49ers (0-1) – Hung around for a while against the Cardinals, but turnovers spelled this team’s doom. Their uphill battle continues as they travel up North to face NFC division rival Seattle.
32. Rams (0-1) – I wasn’t sure if Scott Linehan’s team was the worst in the NFL, but my fears were confirmed as the Eagles ran a track meet to the tune of 522 total yards on them. You can only hope things will get better for the Lambs as they host the G-Men.
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)