Hello, America welcome to the second installment of my NFL column. This is going to be a weekly article, not about any particular games, but rather the intricacies, ongoing storylines and humorous anecdotes that are just as big a part of the NFL experience as any game, fantasy league or stat. I hope you enjoy it.
What’s Wrong with the NFC South?
Everyone, and I mean everyone, had the Carolina Panthers going to the Super Bowl. At this point, I actually think that ESPN’s Sean Salisbury just picks Carolina ever year without even thinking about it. I realize the Panthers played in the Super Bowl a few years ago and they made it to the NFC Championship Game last season, but give me a break. Analysts shouldn’t have to make Super Bowl picks until Week 7, it’s embarrassing. (NOTE: If any 0-2 could make it to the Super Bowl, though, it is Carolina.) And how about the Tampa Bay Bucs? On the 20th Anniversary of their 0-14 season, Tampa Bay seems to be doing a spot-on reenactment job. They’re 0-2 and have scored only three points, thanks in part to Chris Simms’ 6 interceptions. Oh yeah, and I’m glad I took Cadillac Williams in the second round of my fantasy draft. He’s rushed for maybe 41 yards. Horrible. Anyway, the Falcons/Saints showdown (both 2-0) on MNF next week should be quite the game: The return to the Super Dome in New Orleans, a definite must watch.
Eli Manning the Great
Being a hardcore Giants fan, I didn’t want to spend too much time on New York’s classic comeback against the hated Eagles, but it’s worth mentioning. I won’t and I can’t even give the G-Men the credit they deserve. The Eagles lost that game more than the Giants won it. Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb seemed to have simultaneous mental breakdowns. Hey, I’ll take it. After getting screwed with bad calls and untimely turnovers in Week 1, it was nice to see New York get a couple of big breaks. Namely: Tim Carter’s fumble recovery for a TD and the personal foul against the Eagles with 10 seconds left. Any great team gets breaks like these over the course of a season. And you can look that up.
So, Who’s the Real Deal?
There are eleven 2-0 teams in the NFL and I’m going to tell you who’s a pretender and who’s a contender (not clichÃ?Â© right?).
Chicago Bears – This is my controversial choice. I realize the Bears have outscored their opponents like 139-7, but you have to look at it this way: They played the lowly Packers and Lions, and they have NOT run the ball well. I fear or, I should say, I hope that all the fools who picked up Grossman in their fantasy leagues are in for a rude awakening. I think they’ll win the horrible NFC North but they won’t go far in the post-season.
New Orleans Saints – I’m really pulling for the Saints, but the hard truth is that they don’t have the defense to make a run this year. Their offense looks great and they have a strong nucleus for the future, but this is not their season.
Minnesota Vikings – Hey, how can you put two NFC North teams on the ‘Pretenders’ list? Because it’s my column, that’s why. No, seriously, I am genuinely interested in this weekend’s matchup with the Bears because I honestly don’t know who’s got the better team but, regardless, neither one is a true contender. Put it this way: If not for a bonehead coaching move by John Fox, they lose their home opener to the Panthers and people aren’t talking about how good the Vikings are.
New England Patriots – I don’t think New England has it this year. Like a lot of people, I was high on Miami before the year and so far they’ve looked horrible, leaving the AFC East totally up for grabs (watch out for the Bills). The Pats are the most unimpressive 2-0 team out there, but 2-0 and sole position of first place is what it is.
Indianapolis Colts – I hate the Colts. Dungy, Manning and co. are setting themselves up for yet another amazing regular season to be followed immediately by another early exit from the playoffs. It happens every year. Death. Taxes. Peyton Manning sucking in the playoffs.
Jacksonville Jaguars – How can you not love the Jags after Monday Night? They manhandled the vaunted Steelers’ running game and made Big Ben look like a guy who just had his appendix removed. Wait a secÃ¢Â?Â¦
Seattle Seahawks – I don’t like putting the Seahawks here but in that divisionÃ¢Â?Â¦how can’t you? They are so much better than the Rams, 49ers and Cardinals, it’s almost like they’re guaranteed a 12-win season and some home playoff games.
Cincinnati Bengals – I like the Bengals a lot. If I had to bet right now, I’d take either Cincinnati or the Jaguars as the AFC representative in the Super Bowl. We’ll know so much more this weekend though when they go face the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
Baltimore Ravens – As much as I want to, I can’t ignore what the Ravens are doing. They look really balanced, almost like Jacksonville Light. In a tough, underrated AFC North, they will make things even more interesting.
Atlanta Falcons – 937,002 rushing yards. No touchdowns allowed. Need I say more?
San Diego Chargers – Oakland and Tennessee aren’t exactly tough competition, but the Chargers have still looked about as good as you can. Except for a garbage time touchdown, they would have had back-to-back shutouts to start the year and, unlike the Bears who have had a similar start, San Diego has had no trouble running the ball. Also, I told everyone that Patrick Rivers would suck (and it’s still to early to call), but it looks like I might be eating my words.