Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Talbuc's Take - Week 3

Believe in Buffalo
The Bills are for real! I love it! They stood toe to toe with the Patriots and eventually knocked them out. After stomping the Chiefs, they beat an also surprisingly good Raiders team before improving to 3-0 by beating the Patriots. Next up they go to Cincinnati and should be 4-0 before starting a really tough stretch – v. Eagles, @ Giants, v. Redskins, v. Jets, @ Cowboys. Their bye in week 7 breaks that stretch up a bit, and if they can emerge 6-3 at that point, you’ve got to like their chances to go .500 the rest of the way and make a playoff push. Watch out Jets!
I’m not going to overreact to the Patriots’ loss, but Brady can’t throw another 4 INTs this week at Oakland and leave with a win. More on the Raiders in a minute.
Wake Me When It’s Over
The 49ers are 2-1, but they’ve beaten two really bad teams (Seattle week 1) and get to face a pissed off Eagles team in Philly this Sunday. Frank Gore is banged up and slow, and Alex Smith can’t consistently make plays vertically. I expect them to get whooped by the Eagles.
What a disappointment by the Bengals. They had a chance to get off to a 2-1 start against an unimpressive 49er team, and managed a meager 2 FGs and a gift safety. Bad day for Andy Dalton and the entire offense; unable to generate anything. Good chance Buffalo doubles San Fran’s 13 points this week, so the Bengals better have a solid week of practice.
What He Said
This is basically a copy of the game above. Miami should have won against the Browns but instead dropped to 0-3 by losing to an unimpressive Browns team playing without Peyton Hillis. You shouldn’t lose when the opposing QB completes less than half of his passes (McCoy was 19-39). Tony Sparano is sitting on one of the hottest hot seats in the league. See Todd Haley in KC. They’re not beating the Chargers Sunday, so does he survive the bye only to (likely) lose to the Jets on the road? They’re clearly the worst team in that division, so with their season likely over after this Sunday, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Dolphins make a change.
It’s Raining It’s Pouring!
What an ugly game. Cam Newton had his worst game so far by far, but more importantly, his team got their first win. Jonathan Stewart is clearly the better back through three games, making the re-signing of DeAngelo Williams as profitable as it was sensible.
Blaine Gabbert’s first start as a pro didn’t go as he’d hoped. He led a conservative offense in bad conditions to a FG and a freak TD to Mike Thomas at the end of the first half. The weather should be better this week at home, but the Saints will be a tougher foe than the Panthers.
Minnesota Meltdown
How ‘bout them Lions! After spotting the Vikings a 20-0 lead, they got two Calvin Johnson TDs and 4 (including OT) Jason Hanson FGs to move to 3-0. I love what they’re doing, and the next two weeks will tell me a lot about this team - @ Dallas and v. Chicago. Look for Titus Young to continue asserting himself offensively; love his potential.
Congratulations to the Vikings for losing a double digit second half lead for the third week in a row. How does a team with (arguably) the best back in the league lose sizeable leads like it’s their job? I’ll tell you. You only give Adrian Peterson five, yes five second half carries. Pure genius! McNabb is bad. Sure he went 22 for 36, but he barely broke 200 yards. Make some plays! They’ve got two winnable games coming up (@ KC and v. Arizona), and if they lose them, it’s Christian Ponder time. I’ve McSeen enough.
Don't Dream It's Over
I still think the Giants suck. Brandon Jacobs has no business running free for a 40 yard TD on a passing route, and Kurt Coleman and Nnamdi Asomugha lose man points for their weak tackle attempt on Victor Cruz’s long TD run. Cruz bested Nnamdi for another score later in the game, as the Eagles rolled over for the Giants. Hats off to New York for the division road win, but I think this game said more about the Eagles than the Giants. Love him or hate him, you’ve got to give Tom Coughlin credit. He does a fabulous job of preparing his team and actually managing a football game.
Damn Dream Team! What a sloppy showing by the Eagles. Michael Vick got beat up again and looked inexperienced and indecisive in the pocket. He bruised, not broke his right hand, so he should be on the field against San Fran Sunday in what has to be a must-win game for the Eagles. LeSean McCoy, not Vick is this team’s most dangerous weapon.
So Sorry, Sam
Baltimore got back on track by thrashing the Rams in St. Louis. Joe Flacco went off for 389 yards and 3 TDs, all to rookie Torrey Smith who was making his first pro start. He won’t do that again, but the threat of him getting free deep might open things up a bit more for Ray Rice and Ed Dickson, a guy I think claims a significant offensive role soon. The defense sacked Sam Bradford five times and got a Haloti Ngata TD to cap their scoring. They needed a good performance before hosting the Jets this Sunday night. I expect the Ravens to beat New York and move to 3-1.
There are worse teams, but the Rams might be the most disappointing so far this year. Sure they haven’t faced any softies yet, but they’ve been decisive losers in each of their three games. The defense is trying to match the offense in ineptitude, and that schedule doesn’t get any easier with the Redskins, Packers, Cowboys, and Saints on the horizon.
At Least They Didn’t Score 40!
The Chargers were lucky they played the Chiefs this week with as sloppy as they looked. Not having Antonio Gates doesn’t help, but Philip Rivers should have made more plays in the passing game. He let KC hang in a game that shouldn’t have been close. Ryan Mathews is getting more involved, so look for him to shine against the Dolphins this week.
As I mentioned earlier, Todd Haley’s on the proverbial hot seat thanks to an 0-3 start that saw them outscored 109-27 in those “contests”. If they lose to the Vikings and Colts these next two weeks, he could be gone before/during their week 6 bye. Again, what a waste of Dwayne Bowe’s talents.
Too Many Weapons
After Bills-Patriots, this was probably the next best game of the week. The Saints trailed 16-7 in the first half and 19-17 at halftime, but Drew Brees’ 3 second half TDs and a late score by Mark Ingram held off Houston. I like that when Lance Moore finally got back to full strength he produced big time – 9 catches for 88 yards and a TD. Jimmy Graham is a beast. The guy can get shut down for an entire half and still put up 100 yards. Imagine what he’ll be like when he figures out football. I picked the Saints to win the Super Bowl, and I’m definitely not disappointed with what I’ve seen so far. I really like they’re chances of being 4-1 when they head to Tampa in three weeks.
James Casey was Houston’s most impressive player; had a couple of really big plays. Houston’s reward? A pissed off Pittsburgh team followed by the Raiders, Ravens, and Titans. I still think they win this division, but don’t be a bit surprised if their week 7 game at Tennessee is highly significant.
Sleepwalking to a Win
How bad can you play and still win a football game? Just ask Pittsburgh. Rashard Mendenhall couldn’t run, and you know your OL is in bad shape when you can’t grind it out against the Colts. Aside from his long TD to Mike Wallace, Ben Roethlisberger didn’t make many big plays. Again, disappointing considering they were facing the Colts. Bright spots? Mike Wallace and Troy Polamalu are amazing talents. I hyped Wallace in my preseason predictions, and so far, his 377 receiving yards are second most in the league. Polamalu looks 150% healthy and was a beast getting after Kerry Collins. If they come out that flat again this week at Houston, they’ll get boat raced.
Speaking of Kerry Collins – WOW, that was bad. Sure he didn’t get a lot of time to prepare with the Colts this preseason, but the man is supposed to be a professional passer. Those guys don’t consistently miss wide open receivers with horrible timing. I’d start Curtis Painter and increase my scouting of Andrew Luck. What a difference two players make when the Colts play at home. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were on Roethlisberger’s heels throughout, and when those two get going, the crowd gets loud, and it’s a whole different kind of atmosphere in the dome. Pat Angerer is a monster. He was everywhere, totaling 21 tackles as the key reason for Mendenhall’s struggles.
Tough Win For Tennessee
What a huge loss for the Titans. Kenny Britt is done for the year after tearing both the ACL and MCL in his right knee. With 17 catches and 3 TDs in less than 3 games, he was well on his way to a monster year. Chris Johnson really needs to get things figured out. He’s run for a horribly disappointing 98 TOTAL yards in three games. Wow! Matt Hasselbeck has looked rejuvenated; solid in every game so far. Look for Nate Washington to take over as his primary target and for Johnson to be used more in the passing game to get him jump started. Where are you Jared Cook?
Like the Browns, I don’t have much of anything to say about the Broncos. Kyle Orton is average at best, and the Broncos (John Fox) are fighting giving Tim Tebow a shot. After they lose to the Packers and Chargers in their next two games and are sitting 1-4, do we need to see more Orton? Their fans will still be pissed because Fox will probably next go with Brady Quinn.
Different Year, Same Results
This game was close on the scoreboard for a half, but there wasn’t much doubt that the Packers were the better team and would leave with a win. Hello Jermichael Finley! He showed his red zone skills with two early TDs. Ryan Grant outperformed James Starks this week but suffered a bruised kidney. I’m interested to see how they divvy up the carries this week if Grant plays. If he doesn’t, this is the kind of matchup where Starks has a chance to stake a serious claim for the job. Either way, the Packers should roll the Broncos.
That’s two ugly showings in a row for the Bears. Can they beat the Panthers at home this week? I think it ends up being closer than Bears fans want it to be. Jay Cutler is visibly uncomfortable in this offense, and they can’t string together any consistency. I still don’t see them being a threat to the Packers or even the Lions this season.
Pretty Don’t Pay the Bills
I love it that the Bucs won an ugly game; shows character, especially against a division rival. Josh Freeman put up a 56.8 QB rating on the day, but most importantly, he got a W. His biggest play of the game was his last, a fourth and short where he drew the Falcons offsides to seal the victory. Defensively, the rookie and the old man were the standouts. Mason Foster is thriving in a three down role, totaling five tackles and a sack and leading the team in both categories on the season. This guy’s arrow is pointing directly skyward. Ronde Barber recovered a fumble, defended three passes, had a tackle for loss, and amassed four total tackles on the day. Adrian Clayborn registered his first sack as a pro. Let’s hope he doesn’t stick to this one-every-three-games trend. EJ Biggers was beaten early and often by Roddy White, displaying a boundary weakness. I’m not a big Cody Grimm fan, but losing a starting safety for the rest of the year won’t help. I still think Corey Lynch and Larry Asante will do just fine. Do the Bucs still want Tanard Jackson to be a part of the team?
If I’m the Falcons I’m a little worried. Last year’s division champs are 1-2 with their one victory coming in a late rally against the Vickless Eagles. They were awful in week one against the Bears and couldn’t establish a thing on the ground against the Bucs with Michael Turner. Their offensive line is extremely porous. Besides not opening running lanes for Turner, they got Matt Ryan sacked another 4 times, bringing their/his season total to 13. He won’t make it their week 8 bye at this rate.
Kicking Fit
Tony Romo’s not going to put this win on his resume, but he did enough to lead the Cowboys to a boring field goal filled MNF victory. Felix Jones was the key offensive player for the Cowboys, showing a couple of times that if he can get past the first layer of the defense, he’s going to run for a while. That was his first solid showing of the year, and if he ever misses time, I think there will be a noticeable drop off to Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray. Sean Lee has quietly become a defensive leader. The guy is everywhere every week.
Rex Grossman is the definition of an average, frustrating QB. He’s no threat to put together a six point drive with his arm and can’t make the right read AND put the ball where it needs to be twice in a row. The Rams defense will reach a new low this week if Grossman can move them up and down the field.
Seahawks / Cardinals
Seattle wins a boring NFC West game. Kevin Kolb isn’t a hero so far. I got nothing else.
Best and Worst
Best Teams (Previous Rank)
1 – Green Bay (1)
They’ll be here next week too after demolishing Denver.
2 – Baltimore (3)
That’s more like it. I still think they’ll prove to be the class of the conference.
3 – New Orleans (4)
They’re this year’s sneaky team who’ll be there in the end. Bank on it!
4 – New England (2)
The league’s worst pass defense is a serious sore spot; wouldn’t be shocked if the Raiders beat them this week.
5 – Detroit (NR)
A win this week at Dallas would be a big statement and give them even more confidence going into week 5 against the Bears.
6 – Pittsburgh (6)
Their OL is going to be what keeps them from winning the division. No run lanes, no time for Ben to get comfortable.
7 – Houston (7)
They’d jump Pittsburgh with a win this week, and they’d be really dangerous with a legit #2 receiver.
8 – Philadelphia (4)
No they’re not as good as the hype, but they’re not this bad either.
Worst Teams
1 – Kansas City (2)
They’ve got a better chance of winning this week than do the Colts, but I think KC loses when these two go head to head in week 5.
2 – Indianapolis (1)
How bad are things when you want Curtis Painter on the field?
3 – Seattle (3)
That win against Arizona doesn’t impress me. Beat the Falcons this week, and I’ll move you down this list.
4 – Jacksonville (4)
Four of the next five weeks are brutal (Saints, Steelers, Ravens, Texans). If they lose to the Bengals in week 5, the Chiefs and Colts might have some competition.
5 – Minnesota (5)
They’ve only lost their three games by a combined 14 points, but they’re such an uninspiring team. Not sure how they get any better with McNabb at QB.
6 – Miami (7)
Not sure how they get up for this week’s game after giving away last week’s.
7 – Denver (6)
Eager to see how they come out of their week 6 bye after losing to the Packers and Chargers the next two weeks.
8 – St. Louis (NR)
They got hosed with a brutal early schedule, and this week’s game against Washington is huge with the Packers on deck.
Best Performances
Joe Flacco (BAL) – 27/48, 389 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 103.6 QB rating
Matthew Stafford (DET) – 32/46, 378 yds, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 108.8 QB rating
Drew Brees (NO) – 31/44, 370 yds, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 99.6 QB rating
Ryan Fitzpatrick (BUF) – 27/40, 369 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 92.6 QB rating
Darren McFadden (OAK) – 19 carries, 171 yds, 2 TDs
LeSean McCoy (PHI) – 24 carries, 128 yds, 1 TD
Ryan Mathews (SD) – 21 carries, 98 yds, 2 TDs, 4 catches, 51 yds
Felix Jones (DAL) – 14 carries, 115 yds, 3 catches, 40 yds
Wes Welker (NE) – 16 catches, 217 yds, 2 TDs
Torrey Smith (BAL) – 5 catches, 152 yds, 3 TDs
Jermichael Finley (GB) – 7 catches, 85 yds, 3 TDs
Calvin Johnson (DET) – 7 catches, 108 yds, 2 TDs
Rob Gronkowski (NE) – 7 catches, 109 yds, 2 TDs
Pat Angerer (IND) – 21 total tackles (12 solo)
Jared Allen (MIN) – 6 total tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Calais Campbell (ARI) – 10 total tackles, 2.5 sacks
Ray Lewis (BAL) – 10 total tackles (all solo), 1 forced fumble
Dwight Freeney (IND) – 4 total tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Worst Performances
Andy Dalton (CIN) – 17/32, 157 yds, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 40.8 QB rating
Sam Bradford (STL) – 16/32, 166 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT, sacked 5 times, 1 fumble, 62.8 QB rating
Tarvaris Jackson (SEA) – 18/31, 171 yds, 0 TDs, 1 INT, sacked 4 times, 60.0 QB rating
Michael Vick (PHI) – 16/23, 176 yds, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 71.5 QB rating
Frank Gore (SF) – 17 carries, 42 yds, 1 fumble, 0 receptions
Chris Johnson (TEN) – 13 carries, 21 yds
Willis McGahee (DEN) – 22 carries, 52 yds (2.4 yards per carry)
Cedric Benson (CIN) – 17 carries, 64 yds
Shonn Greene (NYJ) – 15 carries, 59 yds
Santonio Holmes (NYJ) – 1 catch, 19 yds
Steve Smith (CAR) – 2 catches, 15 yds
DeSean Jackson (PHI) – 2 catches, 30 yds
Reggie Wayne (IND) – 3 catches, 24 yds
Hakeem Nicks (NYG) – 3 catches, 25 yds

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Talbuc's Take - Week 2

A Tale of Two Halves
Though they were outgained, out “first downed”, and possessed the ball for seven less minutes, the Bucs led in the only category that really matters – the final score. Tampa Bay broke into the win column Sunday by overcoming a 17-0 deficit to beat Minnesota 24-20. Josh Freeman was nearly flawless in the second half, going 15 for 20 with 191 yards and a pretty 25 yard TD toss to Arrelious Benn. Freeman’s lone blemish was a really ugly INT in the endzone on the drive following the onside kick, which was a nice ballsy move in my opinion. After the INT, Freeman went 12 for 15 the rest of the way, completing passes to six different receivers and leading the Bucs on three scoring drives.

Sucker Punch Blount had a nice game as well, doing most of his damage in the second half, including two touchdowns. Blount isn’t much of an explosive back and needs lanes to pick up big chunks, but he tallied totes of 27 (TD), 13, and 8 (twice) yards in the second half. Another offensive bright spot was Preston Parker who caught six passes for 98 yards and racked up another 97 on five returns. Parker saw an increase in action due to Sammie Stroughter’s injury, but I’d argue that he should be ahead of Stroughter with both at equal health. He’s not the answer to my explosive playmaker need, but he’s an asset.

I liked how they got Dezmon Briscoe involved, catching four passes, but I was surprised how ineffective Mike Williams was rendered on the afternoon. He made a beautiful catch on that TD that was brought back due to Arrelious Benn’s illegal shift penalty. Attention to details youngster! The Bucs were forced to settle for a FG on that drive instead.

One other guy stood out to me as having a good game. Mason Foster made much more of an impact this week, totaling seven solo tackles, forcing a fumble, and one sack. I was interested to see how Foster would do in a game where the Bucs go against a solid running back, thus keeping him on the field more. They didn’t shut down Adrian Peterson, but Foster and company did a solid job of keeping the Vikings out of the endzone for the entire second half. Sean Jones didn’t have a bad game, and his sack of Donovan McNabb on third and long near midfield stopped the Vikings and forced a punt.

There were three pretty ugly defensive performances as well. Quincy Black continues to lack consistency and display pretty poor play read and react skills. I’m still surprised the Bucs spent so much to keep him this offseason. I’m not a big Cody Grimm fan, but Grimm himself would be hard pressed to find much good in his play thus far this season. He’s slow and pretty non-existent most of the time. Adrian Clayborn failed to be a factor once again, and it’s not going to take many more performances like that before the grumblings start. Gerald McCoy didn’t do much either, but at least he put a semi-dent in the stat sheet.

The Vikings are going to be bad this year, and they need to funnel just about everything through Peterson and Percy Harvin. The latter was really underutilized Sunday, playing in less than half of Minnesota’s offensive snaps. That’s just inexcusable coaching and play calling. McNabb put up better numbers this week, but man does he look slow and lethargic. I don’t see how he makes it through another five games as their starter. He gets to host the Lions and Mr. Suh this week. Good luck.

The Bucs get a much bigger test this week when they return home to host the Falcons who will be coming into town with a boost in confidence. The first worry that jumps out to me is if the front four can’t put any pressure on Matt Ryan because Aqib Talib is the only guy on the back end capable of making plays. The Falcons will feed Michael Turner a ton, but you know they’re going to test the Bucs deep with Julio Jones and in middle with Tony Gonzalez. If the Bucs trying to trade punches by featuring a lot of Blount, I think it’s going to be a long afternoon for the home team. Tampa’s best chance for consistent scoring opportunities is going to be with a lot of play action passing, getting Freeman on the edge and having him attack the defense with a lot of short to mid range routes. It’s not the prettiest of approaches, but I don’t think the Bucs can go toe to toe with Atlanta’s offense.

Cutler Cut Down
It’s a thing of beauty to watch the elite passers go through their progressions and maximize each play’s potential. Drew Brees had no loyalties, spreading his 26 completions among 8 receivers with each of his three TDs going to a different pass catcher in an impressive 30-13 beating of the Bears. That bomb to Devery Henderson was passing perfection. Brees threw the ball from his own 13 and hit Henderson in stride on Chicago’s 32. That’s a 55 yard bullseye. Once again Darren Sproles proved his worth, turning 12 touches into 60 yards and a TD. Even though he really stepped out of bounds inside the 5, Sproles got to the edge on that swing pass before Chicago had any time to react. Look for more of the same this week against the Texans. Aside from Jay Cutler’s bad game throwing the ball (a horrid 19 of 45), the other thing that stood out most to me was that the Bears ran the ball just twice on seven second half drives. The game was within reach into the fourth, but they decided to ride the ragged arm of Cutler to a completion percentage of 42 even though he was getting knocked around constantly, suffering six sacks. Cutler’s prize? He gets to head home and host the champs this week.

Who’s Overhyped?
Early last week, Jason Hill (you know, the guy who shouldn’t be a starting receiver on any NFL team) made the comment that Darrelle Revis (the game’s best cover man) was overhyped. What makes that comment even funnier is that Hill didn’t have the “health” to suit up and partake in receiving a 32-3 beatdown from the Jets. I love this quote from the New York Post – "So sad, so sad. I'm in tears," Revis said. "When you do trash-talk, you've got to be able to back it up. He wasn't out there. I don't know. I guess he got the New York Jets flu or something." The Jags showed me I wasn’t completely crazy for predicting they’d be this year’s worst team, and they may already be switching to Blaine Gabbert in week 3. The rookie saw action late in the whooping, and Jack Del Rio was non-committal when asked about who will start this week in Carolina. The Jets may have won, but they can’t be pleased that Shonn Green gained only 49 yards on 16 carries (3.1 average) and that Mark Sanchez threw two interceptions and gained only 81 yards on the 11 completed passes that didn’t go to Dustin Keller. The Jets defense got back on track and nearly held the Jaguars to under 200 total yards. They’ll get to travel to Oakland this week, but they’ll be missing center Nick Mangold who is expected to miss the next 2-3 weeks with a high ankle sprain.

Bills A-gain Bring A-Game
My two surprise AFC teams faced off Sunday in one of the week’s most exciting contests in a game that started out as a potential laugher for the Raiders. After spotting Oakland a 21-3 halftime lead, the Bills fought back on the arm of Ryan Fitzpatrick and the legs of Fred Jackson, scoring a TD on all of their five second half possessions en route to a 38-35 comeback victory. The Raiders were literally defenseless, with Tyvon Branch letting the second fourth quarter TD slipping right through his hands and into Scott Chandler’s. I’ve stated my faith in Fitzpatrick a couple of times before, and he’s doing nothing to change my mind. He’s not going to be an elite guy, but he can win. David Nelson is proving to be a fairly reliable #2 receiver, and Jackson looks to finally be getting some warranted respect. After scoring 79 points in their first two games, the Bills will look to keep the offense churning this week against the Patriots. For Oakland, Darren McFadden looks to be in the best shape of his professional career. He ran for less than half of the 150 yards he put up against the Chiefs, but once again the offense ran through him and didn’t miss a beat. In addition to his 20 carries, McFadden had 7 receptions for 71 yards and two total TDs. The other offensive bright spot was rookie receiver Denarius Moore. I mentioned him in my preseason preview as a guy to watch, and if he keeps this up, you won’t be able to help but watch him. Moore totaled 146 yards on 5 catches, including a beautiful 50 yd TD that will likely be on many end of season highlight reels. The scoring strike had him outrunning, outjumping, and outplaying two Buffalo defenders for the ball. On an earlier play, Moore stole the ball in midair from Leodis McKelvin for a 20 yard gain. He also caught a 42 yard pass on a go route, leaving McKelvin in his wake and making it look easy. He’s an exciting talent.

Nashville No-Show
Tennessee did a nice job of keeping Ray Rice in check, although he did bust loose for a really pretty 31 yard screen pass TD, breaking four tackles in the process of getting to the endzone. There wasn’t enough of that though Sunday. Run lanes were few and far between as Tennessee did a really now job of executing their defensive game plan and confusing Joe Flacco throughout. Baltimore’s passer completed less than half of his 32 pass attempts, failed to reach 200 yards, and threw two costly interceptions. Unless Ed Dickson steps up a bit more, I really worry about a lack of a real receiving threat behind Anquan Boldin and Rice. Defensively, how in the world do you let Matt Hasselbeck go 30 of 42 for 358 yards? For one, you fail to come up with an answer for Kenny Britt. The receiver from Rutgers totaled 135 yards on 9 receptions and scored again, giving him three TDs through two games. I hope he can stay out of trouble because this guy has scary talent. Chris Johnson wasn’t much of a factor once again, rushing for less than 2.5 yards per carry and adding a measly 12 yards in the passing game. Yes, they won, but let’s not kid ourselves. That’s not going to continue with Johnson struggling to get back up to game speed. Baltimore better not go sleepwalking on the road again this week because they’re coming up against a frustrated 0-2 Rams team. Tennessee will look to move to 2-1 when they host Denver.

Steel City Shutout
I guess they’re not too old huh? Some folks overreacted a bit to last week’s thumping at the hands of the Ravens, saying the Steelers were too old. Ask Pete Carroll just how old those Seelers are. Tarvaris Jackson was accurate with his passes, but none of them went for much as he finished with 159 yards passing. Seattle’s running game was non-existent, gaining just 31 yards on 13 carries. The fact that Carroll isn’t anywhere near making a change under center tells you how much they think of Charlie Whitehurst. Rashard Mendenhall didn’t get loose for the second week in a row, although he did find the endzone once. Mike Wallace had a really big game, catching 8 passes for the second week in a row, racking up 126 yards and a score. He’s currently tied for fourth in football with 233 receiving yards. The Steelers got a bit of a scare when Ben Roethlisberger went down late in the first half with what looked like a decent knee injury, but he was able to stay in the game and be his usual productive self. Pittsburgh will look to be the next team to beat up on the Manning-less Colts. It could get ugly in Indy.

Huge Loss in Detroit
The Lions put a 48-3 whoopin’ on the Chiefs Sunday, highlighted by 294 yards and 4 TDs by Matthew Stafford. On the receiving end of Stafford’s scoring strikes were Calvin Johnson (2), Tony Scheffler, and Jahvid Best. Interestingly, Johnson caught only three passes on the day, and Scheffler’s TD was his only catch on the day. Nate Burleson and rookie Titus Young paced the way for Detroit. I’m a big Young fan and like his potential in this offense, especially if Burleson gets hurt again. What was worse for KC than dropping to 0-2 in ugly fashion was losing star RB Jamaal Charles for the year with a torn ACL. On a first quarter 3rd down carry with his team down just seven in Detroit territory, Charles stretched his left leg and slipped on the first down marker when going out of bounds. He rolled into the Lions mascot and grabbed his left knee. That effectively puts the fork in any chances the Chiefs had of being relevant this year. Dexter McCluster has some shake, but he’s no Charles. Expect them to go to the air more with Matt Cassel, but damn, that’s not terribly enticing. He’s awful. I wouldn’t be shocked if Tyler Palko is given a shot soon, but I would really consider their #3 Ricky Stanzi. He might be their best chance of getting something going in the passing game, specifically with Dwayne Bowe. What a waste of a talented receiver.

Missing Manning
Wow, Indy is bad. Can a player actually win the MVP without playing in a single game? I know they’re without Gary Brackett too, but it’s painfully obvious how important Peyton is to the Colts. I’m sure that, given more time, they could have come up with something better than Kerry Collins, but they’re going nowhere with him. The running game is more irrelevant than ever, and I don’t see how they’re going to win any games where the defense surrenders more than 24 points. Cleveland played better than in their home opener against the Bengals, but again, this was the Colts; not sure this really validates them yet. I like how efficient Colt McCoy was, completing 22 of 32 passes, and how he was able to spread it around to 8 different receivers. I still think it’s only a matter of time before Greg Little busts out as the primary guy there.

The champs nearly got more than they bargained for from the Panthers. Trailing at the half, the Packers got a 49 yard TD from Greg Jennings in the third quarter to take the lead for good and withstood a late Panther rally to move to 2-0. The huge bad news to come out of the game for the Packers was the season ending neck injury sustained by Nick Collins. The Packers are already giving up more passing yards than expected this season, and losing an All Pro safety certainly won’t help things. Keep a close eye on the progress of the Packer secondary. James Starks busted a nice 40 yard run and again was clearly the more dangerous back. No, I’m not a fan, but I’ve got to commend Cam Newton on a second straight impressive showing. The veteran Packer defense did force three INTs, but the rookie kept them on their heels all day, throwing for 432 yards and making 100 yard receivers out of Steve Smith and Jonathan Stewart. Look for a huge game from Newton this week against the Jaguars. The RB situation is ugly though, as neither Stewart nor DeAngelo Williams were able to eclipse the 20 yard mark. Newton throwing 46 passes will limit your carries, but that’s two of two games where the Panthers struggled to establish a semblance of a run game.

Don’t Forget About Us
The Eagles drew a ton of offseason buzz, and there are/were playoff expectations in New York and Dallas. But through the first two weeks of the season, the only remaining undefeated NFC East team is the Washington Redskins. In the weekend’s closest contest, the Redskins beat the Cardinals behind solid QBing by Rex Grossman and three short but important Graham Gano FGs. I’ll still be surprised if Grossman gets this team to the playoffs, but he looked like a winner Sunday, leading five scoring drives, including an 18 yard TD toss on 4th and 3 from Arizona’s 16 with just over 5 minutes to go. Tim Hightower was still the primary ball carrier, but Roy Helu added 74 yards on 10 carries. Look for him to get more work going forward. Fred Davis is standing out as a reliable target for Grossman, catching 6 passes for 86 yards. He’s been stuck behind Chris Cooley during his time in DC, but with Cooley slow in getting back to health, Davis is getting a chance to stake his claim on the starting job. Take away Kevin Kolb’s nice deep TD to Larry Fitzgerald, and he had a ho hum 16/29 for 178 yards. I’m still not sold that he’s going to take this team to new heights.

No Knowshon Needed
It’s hard to get excited about a Bengals-Broncos game, but oneguy to start getting excited about is Eric Decker. The receiver from Minnesota created a bit of buzz with a solid preseason and turned in a fine performance Sunday with 113 receiving yards and 2 TDs. I don’t see why he can’t be a reliable weekly target for Kyle Orton. Willis McGahee subbed in nicely for an injured Knowshon Moreno, running for 101 yards and a score. I’d like to think he can keep it up, but he’ll be facing a confident Titans defense this week. I was impressed with Andy Dalton’s ability to move the chains, throwing for 332 yards and two scores. AJ Green had his first bust out day, catching 10 passes for 124 yards and a score. Hopefully that’s the start of something good between Green and Dalton. Second year defensive end Michael Johnson had a nice game as well, registering seven tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.

Back to the Backup
Arian Foster isn’t completely healthy and will now take on a reduced role until he is. Ben Tate did just fine in his place, rushing for 103 yards on 23 carries against the Dolphins. Don’t be surprised if Tate earns a permanent piece of the action when Foster gets back all the way. This was pretty much Tate’s job a year ago before he tore up his ankle. Andre Johnson continues to be a weekly dominating force, scoring once and finishing just shy of 100 yards. Speaking of 100 yards, Daniel Thomas had his first triple digit game as a pro, rushing for 107 yarsd on just 18 carries. The Browns will probably be a little tougher to attack in the middle this week. Chad Henne didn’t exactly ride his MNF momentum into this matchup, completing only 12 of 30 passes and leading the Dolphins on only one TD drive on the day. I’m looking forward to a Brandon Marshall / Joe Haden matchup this week.

Opportunities Wasted
Tom Terrific did it again. Brady backed up his 517 yards against the Dolphins with 423 more in an impressive 35-21 win against the Chargers. He tossed another 3 TDs, but once again, none of them went to Deion Branch. Brady’s old reliable now has 15 catches and 222 yards without a score through two games. The TDs will come, maybe really soon since Aaron Hernandez is now sidelined a few weeks with an MCL sprain. Chad Ochocinco doubled his reception output from 1 to 2, so at this pace, he should be pretty dangerous come December. Philip Rivers had two huge miscues. The first came on the pass picked off by Vince Wolfork late in the second quarter. The Chargers were within field goal range but instead surrendered one of their own to go into the half down 20-7 instead of 17-10 or better. If the Chargers are able to score TDs on both of those drives instead of the interceptions, they’d be up 21-17 in the third quarter. In a case of polar opposited, Vincent Jackson racked up 10 catches, 172 yards, and 2 TDs while All Pro TE Antonio Gates caught as many passes as I did Sunday. Last time that happened? Never. Gates has caught at least one pass in every game he’s played until the Patriots shut him out.

It’s cool to make fun of Tony Romo, but whether you like the guy or not, you’ve got to love the heart he showed by playing through a cracked rib and a collapsed lung. The guy threw for 345 yards on the day, 248 of them coming after sustaining the blow that did the damage. I got a new appreciation for that guy. Miles Austin had a huge day – 9 catches, 143 yards, and 3 TDs. His reward? A hamstring injury that is expected to sideline him a month. Fortunately Dez Bryant looks likely to return this week. Felix Jones, again, wasn’t a factor, but he gets some recognition for playing through a dislocated shoulder. Frank Gore was neutralized, totaling only 64 yards on the day, although he did score once. Yeah, he was efficient, but Alex Smith is such an uninspiring QB. No one receiver gained more than 40 yards. I know they’re not Jerry Rice, John Taylor, and Brent Jones, but a winning QB has to put his team on his shoulders on occasion. Smith can’t. Can they lose enough to get Andrew Luck, or will Jim Harbaugh consider a free agent like Josh Johnson next offseason?

Homecoming Horror
Michael Vick’s return to Atlanta started getting ugly late in the first half.  The mistakes?  With the ball inside Atlanta’s 5 and a chance to go up 17-7 at the two minute warning of the first half and get the Falcons thinking that they’re about to repeat last week’s beatdown in Chicago, Michael Vick fumbled a handoff to LeSean McCoy that was picked up by Ray Edwards and returned 64 yards to Philly’s 24. Four plays later, Matt Ryan connected with Tony Gonzalez for the first of his two TDs. So instead, they’re in a 14-10 hole, and what happens next? With a little bit of time to get into range for a somewhat redeeming FG attempt, Vick fumbled on a blindside hit by John Abraham, squandering another opportunity. Vick went down late in the third after being forced into one of his offensive linemen, causing him to bit his tongue and, more importantly, suffer a concussion. His status for this week is uncertain. I would like to see more of Matt Kafka though. He stepped in because Vince Young was out with an injury, but knowing what I know about the two players, I’d roll with Kafka. Is it just me or does it look like Vince Young packed on a pound or 50? It was good to see Jeremy Maclin get involved in the offense. He exploded for 13 catches, 171 yards, and 2 TDs. He’d be better appreciated in most other offenses. Aside from Roddy White’s short score, the Eagles secondary effectively shut down both he and Julio Jones. They combined for 5 catches and 53 yards. I’m not a big Michael Turner fan, but I’m impressed with how well he ran against that aggressive defense; totaling 114 yards on 21 carries, including a 61 yard run. I’d still rather have LeSean McCoy. That dude makes something out of nothing every time he touches the football. He didn’t put up the yards that Turner did, but his two scores and 95 yards on the ground were even more impressive to me than Turner’s solid showing.

Monday Night Yawner
Is it just me, or is every Giants game a nerve-racking affair? They won by 12 and seemingly had the game in hand most of the way, but you always get the feeling that they’re a bad Eli Manning pass, running back fumble, or defensive miscue from letting the other team right back in it. Manning started and finished slowly. He threw an interception on his first drive and went three and out on his second. For the entire fourth quarter, Manning threw four passes on 3 non-kneel down drives. Mario Manningham was the top receiver totaling 56 yards, and Hakeem Nicks played through a knee injury managing only snagged three catches. Manning is struggling with them in the game, and it’s only going to get worse if one or both of them should miss time. I’m not a Michael Boley fan, but he had a really good game; showed a lot of hustle and good play recognition. His best play of the game was snatching up a lateral that Cadillac spaced on and running it back 65 yards for a TD. Sam Bradford can’t do it all, yet. He had no time to throw and wasn’t getting much help from his receivers either. Still, he put up 331 yards in a losing effort. Cadillac confirmed what most already knew – that he’s no longer primary ball carrier material (13 carries, 36 yards; 3 catches, 4 yards). Greg Salas need to carry around a football all week after fumbling twice.

NFL’s Best & Worst
With a little more to go on after two weeks, I’ve expanded my best and worst rankings:

Best Teams (previous rank)
1 – Green Bay (1)
2 – New England (3)
3 – Baltimore (2) – chalking last week up to hell freezing over
4 – New Orleans (5)
5 – Philadelphia (4)
6 – Pittsburgh (NR)
7 – Houston (NR)

Worst Teams
1- Indianapolis (3)
2 – Kansas City (2)
3 – Seattle (1)
4 – Jacksonville (5)
5 – Minnesota (4)
6 – Denver (NR)
7 – Miami (NR)

Best Performances
Tom Brady (NE) – 31/40, 423 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 135.7 QB rating
Matt Hasselbeck (TEN) – 20/33, 358 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT, 95.1 QB rating
Tony Romo (DAL) – 20/33, 345 yds, 2 TDs, 0 INT, 116.4 QB rating
Andy Dalton (CIN) – 27/41, 332 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT, 107 QB rating

Adrian Peterson (MIN) – 120 yds rushing, 2 TDs, 21 yds receiving
Fred Jackson (BUF) – 117 yds rushing, 2 TDs, 23 yds receiving
Michael Turner (ATL) – 114 yds rushing,1 TD, 32 yds receiving

Jeremy Maclin (PHI) – 13 receptions, 171 yds, 2 TDs
Vincent Jackson (SD) – 10 receptions, 172 yds, 2 TDs
Miles Austin (DAL) – 9 receptions, 143 yds, 3 TDs
Kenny Britt (TEN) – 9 receptions, 135 yds, 1 TD
Denarius Moore (OAK) – 5 receptions, 146 yds, 1 TD
AJ Green (CIN) – 10 receptions, 124 yds, 1 TD

Roman Harper (NO) – 7 solo tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Morgan Burnett (GB) – 7 solo tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 PD
Charles Woodson (GB) – 5 solo tackles, 2 INTs, 2 PD
Antonio Cromartie (NYJ) – 2 solo tackles, 2 INTs returned for 63 yds, 2 PD

Worst Performances
Luke McCown (JAX) – 6/19, 59 yds passing, 0 TDs, 4 INTs, 1.8 QB rating
Matt Cassel (KC) – 15/22, 133 yds passing, 0 TDs, 3 INTs, 44.5 QB rating
Joe Flacco (BAL) – 15/32, 197 yds passing, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 51.2 QB rating

Marshawn Lynch (SEA) – 6 carries, 11 yds rushing, 1 catch for 1 yd
DeAngelo Williams (CAR) – 5 carries, 13 yds rushing, 23 yds receiving
Cadillac Williams (STL) – 13 carries, 36 yds rushing, 3 catches for 4 yds
Reggie Bush (MIA) – 6 carries, 18 yds rushing, 1 catch for 3 yds

Antonio Gates (SD) – 1 target, 0 catches
Mike Thomas (JAX) – 10 targets, 3 catches, 29 yds
DeSean Jackson (PHI) – 3 targets, 2 catches, 21 yds
Vernon Davis (SF) – 2 targets, 2 catches, 18 yds
Donald Driver (GB) – 1 target, 1 catch, 10 yds
Plaxico Burress (NYJ) – 2 targets, 0 catches
Mike Williams (TB) – 1 catch, -4 yds

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Talbuc's Take - Week 1

Opening with a BANG!
Aaron Rodgers is in total control of the offense; knows where everyone is every play. His timing and placement are sensational; especially when throwing to Finley and Driver. Nelson doesn’t miss anything either. Receivers get the ball in stride to gain extra yardage or get down/out of the play without getting blown up.

James Starks is clearly the team's best back. Ryan Grant slows down and accepts contact while Starks runs through it.  Starks is noticeably bigger and stronger this year. If he doesn’t have the #1 job by week 4, it’s going to be because he’s hurt, or they’re overly loyal to Grant. I stand by what I said about Starks when he was coming out of Buffalo a couple years ago – he’s a lite version of Adrian Peterson. With his added size this offseason, he’s closer to the real thing. Scary potential for this guy.

Randall Cobb was a tremendous addition and may soon pass James Jones as their primary speed receiver threat.  He has extremely reliable hands and plus vision and made a great improvisation on his first receiving TD.  On his 108 yd KR TD he does a 360 horizontal spin on his own 30, rights himself, and takes it the distance. A huge game for a huge talent.

Darren Sproles is a noticeable upgrade over Reggie Bush. There’s not much of a comparison from a speed/explosiveness/gamebreaking ability standpoint. Sproles is exactly the type of spark this offense needed.

Pierre Thomas isn’t going to roll over for Mark Ingram. He broke about 50 tackles on his first run of the year. That’s a really strong 1-2 combo, and when you throw in Sproles, they’re loaded.

BJ Raji is an absolute anchor. Even Carl Nicks couldn’t move him out of the way.

The Packers are pretty unpredictable when they line up both James Starks and John Kuhn in goal line sets. You’ve got both backs as options – Starks on the edge or up the middle, Kuhn up the gut – and then there’s Rodgers and the mismatches that Jennings, Finley, and Nelson provide. They’re pretty much unstoppable inside the 10.

Dime corner Jarrett Bush has a good future ahead of him; love his instincts and play awareness. He showed his blitzing ability and did a great job stepping in when Tramon Williams went down late in the game. Look for him to be a contributor this year.

Ouch! Welcome to the NFL Mark Ingram. He got stuffed big time by Morgan Burnett on the last and biggest play of the game. I was shocked that they didn’t put Thomas in the game and give it to him. He was the stronger runner tonight, and if you’re going to try to get the biggest yard of the game, he’s the guy who should have been taking the carry. That one’s on Sean Payton.

Bad News Bears?
Are the Falcons overrated, or are the Bears better than I thought? Probably a bit of both. Brian Urlacher was involved in two huge plays (INT and fumble return TD), and Julius Peppers totaled two sacks, forced a fumble, and recovered another. Jay Cutler threw for over 300 yards and two scores, even though Matt Forte did all of the work on one of them. He was sacked another four times, so it will be interesting to see how he responds in a closer contest, like this week at New Orleans.

Indy…We Have a Problem
Wow, that was ugly. The Colts spotted the Texans a 34-0 lead before Kerry Collins hooked up with Reggie Wayne for a meaningless fourth quarter TD. Collins didn’t throw an interception, but he did lose two fumbles and struggled to complete half of his passes. How bad is Curtis Painter? Houston’s supposed to be good, but a 34-7 ass kicking is a sign of a team that hasn’t shown up and ain’t gonna.

The Browns aren’t ready for prime time. After falling behind 13-0 early and not mustering any offense until a short field drive in the second quarter. Their second TD of the first half put them ahead at the break, but sloppy defense and the inability to slow down a Bruce Gradkowski led offense led to a second half collapse and 0-1 start to the season. This week should tell us a lot about both the Browns and Colts. For those that are into that kind of thing, what does it say when Cleveland opens as a 2.5 favorite at Indy?

Roughed up at Ray Jay
The scoreboard was kinder to the Bucs than the Lions were. The main thing I took from this game is that the Bucs still lack the ability to make proper in-game adjustments, failing to do so on both sides of the ball against Detroit. Aqib Talib scored a TD, but he didn’t come close to shutting down Calvin Johnson (6 catches, 88 yards, 2 TDs). They had no answer for Jahvid Best either. He totaled 114 yards but could have done much more damage if Detroit felt like keeping their foot on the Bucs throat. Detroit dominated the game, accumulating 431 total yards (126 rushing), and the only proof Gerald McCoy played was his two neutral zone penalties. Adrian Clayborn didn’t even register one tackle, and Sean Jones still has horrible hands.
The Bucs shouldn’t struggle to make plays downfield with Freeman’s arm. Unfortunately, there’s not much downfield separation from this bunch of receivers, so Freeman is going to be prone to increased turnovers the more he airs it out. All the Bucs backs are slow. No one is a threat to break your ankles in the open field. The offensive line couldn’t open even the slightest of holes against Detroit’s front, which is doom for a Buc backfield lacking explosiveness.
I like Matthew Stafford, but he’s not nearly the best QB the Bucs will face this season – Brees (2), Ryan (2), Newton (2), Cutler, Schaub, Rodgers, and Romo. It’s only going to get uglier unless a lot of guys start stepping up.
What’s that Smell?
Matt Cassel sucks. How can you complete 22 passes and not throw for 120 yards? His 3.3 yard per attempt average was second to McNasty’s week’s worst 2.6. I’m not Dwayne Bowe’s biggest fan, but with his talent at receiver and a back of Jamaal Charles’ caliber, there’s no excuse for a QB being unable to put up even mediocre numbers.
That's Turrible Tennessee
The Titans and Jags are both bad football teams, but I expected more from Chris Johnson. Sure he held out this preseason, but the man is a professional athlete and supposedly remained in top shape this offseason. There’s no excuse for gaining only 49 total yards against this Jaguar defense. As awful as Tennessee played, not scoring until late in the third quarter, they still only lost by two and had a chance to get in range for a game winning field goal when Matt Hasselbeck threw up a pathetic deep ball that was intercepted by Dwight Lowery to end their last “threat”.
Nightmare in St. Louis
This game smelled like a bit of a trap to me. Not so. Instead, the Eagles came into town and smacked around the Rams, sending Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola, and Ron Bartell to this week’s injury list. Jackson is already unlikely to play according to his coach, and Amendola suffered a nasty dislocated elbow. The “Dream Team” heads to Hotlanta this week in Michael Vick’s first start against his former team.
Steeler Smackdown
My goodness did Joe Flacco get that Steeler monkey off his back! He finally beat Pittsburgh and sent Ben Roethlisberger to his first Baltimore defeat in the last eight matchups. As good as Flacco’s 224 yards and 3 TDs were, the two things that stand out are Ray Rice and that Ravens defense. Rice ran for over 100 yards and a score and added another TD as a receiver. Again, I think he’s going to be football’s most productive back this season, and he certainly did nothing Sunday to sway me off my stance. Oh, that defense? How’s as many turnovers forced as points allowed (7), holding Rashard Mendenhall to 45 yards, or Terrell Suggs sacking Roethlisberger three times? Man they look dominant.
Newton Not Enough
Cam Newton may have lost his first game as a pro, but it certainly wasn’t his fault. It’s no secret I’m no fan of this guy, but I’m not blind to impressive performances, of which this was certainly one. Newton’s 422 passing (not total) yards blew away the previous record of 346 held by Otto Graham. Bravo young man. Their defense is still bad, and if Kevin Kolb can light them up for 309 yards and two TDs, what’s going to happen with Aaron Rodgers comes to town this week? Nice start Patrick Peterson – a 98 yard game clinching punt return for a TD to go along with five defensive tackles.
McReally McNabb?
On the positive side, the Vikings didn’t trail until the fourth quarter, but they may have never trailed had Donovan McNabb thrown for, oh I don’t know, at least 50 yards. The McAcquisition went 7/15 for 39 yards, a TD, and a horrific INT that led to San Diego’s only first half score. If McNabb is able to break out against the Bucs, that’s going to signal a really rough, long year in Tampa.
Oops, he did it again!
I don’t like the Cowboys, but I almost feel bad for Tony Romo. How can a guy who is so good for three quarters have so many late game collapses? He torched the vaunted Jets defense for 342 yards and 2 TDs, but he was responsible for his team’s two biggest miscues as well. Three plays after completing a deep ball to Jason Witten (who should have scored), Romo fumbled on the Jets’ doorstep and kept New York in it. Then, when he has a chance to redeem himself in the game’s final minute, he threw an inexcusable interception to Darrelle Revis to get the Jets in range for the eventual game winner. How does Romo do it? Saying the Jets were extremely fortunate to win that game is an extreme understatement. They don’t win without Romo’s miscues and Joe McKnight’s punt block. If he can keep his head out of his ass, Dez Bryant is going to be a top 5 receiver this time next season. What an absolute mismatch he is.
Regular Season Regularity
The Patriots picked up where they left off last regular season in a 14 point beating of the Dolphins in Monday night’s opener. Tom Brady’s 517 yards and 4 TDs was the best statistical performance by a QB in 60 years, capped off by his 99 yard strike to Wes Welker to seal the game. Chad Ochocinco got a lot of headlines when he joined the Patriots this offseason, but he was clearly the 5th option behind Welker, Deion Branch, and the two second year TEs. Branch finished with 93 yards on 7 catches, and Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez caught 13 of their 17 combined targets for 189 yards and 2 scores. Deadly!
The rest...
- How bad is Seattle? They found a way to make Ted Ginn Jr. relevant again.
- The Redskins can run the football. They did it this preseason, and they did it in week one against albeit a banged up Giants defense.
- Sebastian Janikowski is the man! Congrats to the Polish Powderkeg on his record tying 63 yd FG.
Impact Injuries
Two teams were dealt significant blows in week one with both Jon Beason (Achilles) and Eric Berry (ACL) going out for the year with major injuries. The Panthers don’t figure to make the playoffs, and the Chiefs don’t either, especially without their best defensive playmaker.
NFL’s Best & Worst
Here are my best and bottom 5 teams after one week of action:
Best 5
1 – Green Bay
2 – Baltimore
3 – New England 
4 – Philadelphia
5 – New Orleans
Bottom 5
1 – Seattle
2 – Kansas City
3 – Indianapolis
4 – Minnesota
5 – Jacksonville (they still suck)
Best Performances
Tom Brady (NE) – 32/48, 517 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT, 121.6 QB rating
Cam Newton (CAR) – 24/37, 422 yds, 3 total TD, 1 INT, 110.4 QB rating
Drew Brees (NO) – 32/49, 419 yds, 3 TD, 0 INT, 112.5 QB rating
Ray Rice (BAL) – 107 yds rushing, 42 yds receiving, 2 total TDs
LeSean McCoy (PHI) – 122 yds rushing, 2 total TDs
Darren McFadden (OAK) – 150 yds rushing
Steve Smith (CAR) – 11 targets, 8 receptions, 178 yds, 2 TDs
Wes Welker (NE) – 12 targets, 8 receptions, 160 yds, 2 TDs
Kenny Britt (TEN) – 10 targets, 5 receptions, 136 yds, 2 TDs
D’Qwell Jackson (CLE) – 11 total tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Terrell Suggs (BAL) – 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 5 total tackles
Ed Reed (BAL) – 2 INTs, 4 passes defended, 6 total tackles
Julius Peppers (CHI) – 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovered, 3 total tackles
Worst Performances
Donovan McNabb (MIN) – 7/15, 39 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT, 47.9 QB rating
Matt Cassel (KC) – 22/36, 119 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT, 64.5 QB rating
Kerry Collins (IND) – 16/31, 197 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT, 2 lost fumbles, 82.3 QB rating
Chris Johnson (TEN) - 9 carries, 24 yds, 1 first down, 25 receiving yds
Shonn Greene (NYJ) - 10 carries, 26 yds
DeAngelo Williams (CAR) – 12 carries 30 yds, 8 yds longest run, 2 first downs
Marshawn Lynch (SEA) – 13 carries 33 yds, 12 yds longest run, 3 first downs
Rashard Mendenhall (PIT) – 12 carries 45 yds, 0 TD, 1 fumble, 3 first downs
Jamaal Charles (KC) – 10 carries 56 yds, 9 yds receiving, 1 TD, 1 fumble, 2 first downs
Dwayne Bowe (KC) – 8 targets, 2 receptions, 17 yds
Jeremy Maclin (PHI) – 3 targets, 1 reception, 20 yds
Vincent Jackson (SD) – 3 targets, 2 receptions, 31 yds

Thursday, September 8, 2011

2011 NFL Predictions - All Talbuc Team

Here’s my take as to who will be the league’s best this season:

First Team Offense
QB – Aaron Rodgers (GB)
FB – Vontae Leach (BAL)
RB – Ray Rice (BAL)
WR – Andre Johnson (HOU) and Calvin Johnson (DET)
TE – Jermichael Finley (GB)
T – Joe Thomas (CLE) and Jake Long (MIA)
G – Josh Sitton (GB) and Logan Mankins (NE)
C – Nick Mangold (NYJ)

Second Team Offense
QB – Drew Brees (NO)
FB – John Conner (NYJ)
RB – Adrian Peterson (MIN)
WR – Roddy White (ATL) and Larry Fitzgerald (ARI)
TE – Antonio Gates (SD)
T – D’Brickashaw Ferguson (NYJ) and Jordan Gross (CAR)
G – Jahri Evans (NO) and Carl Nicks (NO) yes, both Saints guards
C – Ryan Kalil (CAR)

First Team Defense
DE – Julius Peppers (CHI) and Dwight Freeney (IND)
DT – Ndamukong Suh (DET) and Haloti Ngata (BAL)
OLB – Clay Matthews (GB) and DeMarcus Ware (DAL)
ILB – Patrick Willis (SF) and Ray Lewis (BAL)
CB – Darrelle Revis (NYJ) and Nnamdi Asomugha (PHI)
S – Troy Polamalu (PIT) and Eric Berry (KC)

Second Team Defense
DE – Jared Allen (MIN) and Justin Tuck (NYJ)
DT – BJ Raji (GB) and Jay Ratliff (DAL)
OLB – James Harrison (PIT) and Mario Williams (HOU)
ILB – Jerod Mayo (NE) and Lawrence Timmons (PIT)
CB – Tramon Williams (GB) and Devin McCourty (NE)
S – Ed Reed (BAL) and Nick Collins (GB)


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

2011 NFL Predictions - Best of the Worst

“With the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft…. “

Worst records in 2011
1) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)
2) Cincinnati Bengals (3-13)
3) Seattle Seahawks (4-12)
4) Washington Redskins (4-12)
5) Miami Dolphins (5-11)
6) Carolina Panthers (5-11)
7) Denver Broncos (6-10)
8) Buffalo Bills (6-10)
9) Minnesota Vikings (6-10)
10) Tennessee Titans (6-10)

2011 NFL Predictions - Award Winners

MVP – Aaron Rodgers

Offensive POY – Ray Rice

Defensive POY – Darrelle Revis

Special Teams POY – Eric Weems

Offensive ROY – Julio Jones

Defensive ROY – Von Miller

Comeback POY – Matthew Stafford

Coach of the Year – John Harbaugh

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2011 NFL Predictions - Playoffs: Who Dat? Two Dat!

1) Baltimore (13-3)
2) New England (13-3)
3) San Diego (11-5)
4) Houston (10-6)
5) Pittsburgh (12-4)
6) New York Jets (10-6)

Baltimore powers their way to the conference’s top seed, and Pittsburgh is the playoffs’ most dangerous wild card. Every one of these potential matchups has a chance to be greatly entertaining.

Wild Card
NY Jets @ San Diego – San Diego
Pittsburgh @ Houston – Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore – Baltimore
San Diego @ New England – San Diego

Conference Championship
San Diego @ Baltimore – Baltimore

Make it four years in a row without a playoff win for the Patriots. The Ravens make it to the Super Bowl on the back of a nasty and opportunistic defense as well as the playmaking stylings of Ray Rice.

1) Green Bay (14-2)
2) Philadelphia (13-3)
3) New Orleans (12-4)
4) St. Louis (9-7)
5) Atlanta (11-5)
6) Detroit (9-7)

I went back and forth between Detroit and Dallas getting the 6th seed. I’ve got both of them finishing with 9 wins, so if one of them can get to 10, they’re likely to get that last spot.

Wild Card
Detroit @ New Orleans – New Orleans
Atlanta @ St. Louis – Atlanta

Atlanta @ Green Bay – Green Bay
New Orleans @ Philadelphia – New Orleans

Conference Championship
New Orleans @ Green Bay – New Orleans

In a shocker, the Saints derail the Packers seemingly unstoppable train of repeat destiny in what turns out to be the game of the year.

Super Bowl XLVI
New Orleans 31
Baltimore 27

Super Bowl MVP – Drew Brees

They fell in ugly fashion to the Seahawks in the wild card round of last year’s playoffs, but the Saints light up the scoreboard once again this year and ride Brees’ arm to their second title in three seasons. Who Dat? Two Dat!

First, let me say that I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Green Bay repeated. As near impossible as that is to do nowadays, these guys just started hitting their stride last year when they steamrolled their way to the title. Now they’re healthy and realize just how great they can be. I love watching them play.

If I had four teams to roll with it would be the Packers, Saints, Ravens, and Eagles in that order, but I’m going with the Saints as the surprise.

Again, I liked Philly this year, even before the massive run in free agency, and I think the attention paid to the Packers and Eagles will allow the Saints to sneak up on some people. Like Rodgers, Brees has the ability to dominate for long stretches. I like the Ravens best in the AFC and have a strong feeling Ray Rice is going to have an amazing year, finishing as the most productive back in football this season.