After months of long waiting, we finally got to taste the sweetness that is Sundays with football. This has been one of the busiest off seasons in recent memory. Thanks, deflategate. I won’t mention the d-word anymore because I’m sure you’re just as tired of it as I am. Let’s move on the real action: games, fantasy and Super Bowl dreams.
This is going to be a weekly review of the NFL action where I will voice my thoughts and opinions about the ongoings in America’s favorite sport. I’m a little late with this post as Week 2 already began with Thursday’s epic game (wow) and Sunday action starts in 12 hours, but I will try to be more prompt with my post next week. It should go live by Tuesday night. So, enough with the jibber-jabber, let’s get to some real talk.
The first of the NFL schedule brought with it a number of upsets. The Bills welcomed the Colts with a 27-14 mouth-punch, Mariota out-rookied Winston in a 42-14 pouncing, and Manning looked old and over the hill (although he’s not) in Denver’s narrow victory over Baltimore. But it’s way too early to crown a winner and dismiss everyone else. Let’s talk about some key points that will play out throughout the rest of the NFL season.
The Bills are for real (think ’09-’10 Jets)
Andrew Luck looked lost and confused in Orchard Park this past weekend. Rex Ryan’s defense gave him headaches all day and thoroughly dominated the game from star to finish. Not what many expected from the trendy Super Bowl pick. Ryan is benefiting from his charisma and tough talk. He has instilled confidence and swagger into the Bills and their fans and it’s paying off big time. A huge test lies ahead with the hated Patriots coming to town. We’ll see just how good they are after they duke it out with the Super Bowl champs.
Peyton Manning is not done, and Denver’s D is scary good
Peyton Manning is not done. Period. He is older and doesn’t have the arm strength as he once did, but that doesn’t give anybody to disrespect one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. The bigger issue is Gary Kubiak’s offense, which has produced no running game and has hampered Peyton Manning’s greatest asset: his mind. He needs to be free to run the offense as he sees fit, not putting him under center. The Broncos haven’t put Peyton in a place to succeed. After 17 years, he deserves to let the defense carry them to the Super Bowl, not 39-year old Peyton who can’t carry a team all on his own. On the defensive side, man are they playing lights out. The Von Miller/DeMarcus Ware pass rush tandem is ferocious, the linebackers are playing aggressive and fast and the secondary is one of the best.
The Seahawks look bad, but they’ll get better
Man, do the Seahawks miss Kam Chancellor. The Legion of Boom looked lost against the not-too-potent St. Louis Rams offense. Not to disrespect Nick Foles, but he ain’t Tom Brady to make the Seahawks defense look that terrible. Poor Dion Bailey, he had to take over the heart and soul of the defense (in Chancellor) and essentially gave the game away by falling on a long touchdown to his side. But I must emphasize, we saw this from the Seahawks midway through last year, but they found a way to get it done and ended one yard short of a second Lombardi trophy. I trust them.
Mariota shines, Winston sinks
Marcus Mariota put on a show against the Jameis Winston-led Buccaneers. Although only attempting sixteen passes, he tossed a rookie-record four touchdown passes in his debut. Winston on the other hand threw a pick-six on his first passing attempt. Rough way to start your NFL career, but the rookie has to take his beatings. Many are quick to point out how much better Mariota looked, but lets at least let the season play out before we crown Mariota over Winston.
How ’bout them Cowboys
Tony Romo brought his Cowboys from D.O.A. to clutch maestros who refused to go down in horrible performance. They saved the best for last and what a conclusion it proved to be. Overcoming three turnovers – the Giants had zero – big D managed to stave off a hungry Giants team that beat itself with terrible clock management. How Eli doesn’t take at least a sack on that last throw away is truly perplexing. But it just shows how thin the line is that separates the winners and losers.
The Champs take advantage of sloppy Steelers
Yes, the Patriots allowed over 400 yards to the Steelers. Yes, they only won by seven measly points after rolling to a 21-3 lead. And yes, they sorely do miss they’re top three corners from a year ago. But a win is a win. Lacking an efficient pass rush and looking lackadaisical on the back-end of the defense, the still-developing defense showed some potential but also looked rusty. No worries though, Gronk took over the night, accounting for three of Tom Brady’s four touchdowns – including one where he was not even covered. The Patriots aren’t as good as they were a year ago, but at this point, many teams aren’t. They’ll be there at the end with the Steelers and the Broncos.