Tag:Philip Rivers
Posted on: September 17, 2008 2:36 am
 

Carnage's Long and Boring Week 2 Review


         For those of you who read my blog or are interested in starting to read it, I am posting it on the blog section of a free little fantasy/NFL site at http://www.probonofantasy.5u.com/.  I will continue to post it on here, but it's horribly difficult to deal with cutting and pasting out of word compared to just publishing to a blog.  For that reason, it's simply much easier to read. 

         It’s really hard nowadays to tell which teams will actually be “Good” teams.  At least three teams, the Chargers, the Jaguars, and The Vikings, (I’d say the Seahawks too, to a lesser degree.  They were certainly division favorites) who were someone’s chic pick to go to the Super Bowl, are now sitting at disappointing 0-2 records.   Teams expected to lag behind in their respective divisions like the Panthers, Broncos, Bills, Cardinals, Giants, and Titans either hold the division lead outright or are tied for it.  After two weeks it’s too early to determine how the season would unfold.  After all, The 2007 AFC Championship game losers the Chargers as well as the 2007 Super Bowl Champion Giants started out oh for two last season.

Titans over Bengals or “Perhaps this team wasn’t winning because of Vince Young After all…..”
   I will address the Vince Young issue later.  For the time being, I am going to focus on the players that were on the field today.  Frankly, I think the Titans need to stick with Kerry Collins for the remainder of the season unless he looks absolutely terrible in the next three games.  Collins has struggled at times during his career but he’s been on teams that were asking him to go out there and win games for them.  I think in the role of “Game Manager”, which is what the Titans need right now, he works out fine.  He made a few during the first half touchdown drives in less than favorable conditions for passing the ball.
   I know everyone is drooling over Chris Johnson right now, and he is a fantastic player, but some of the holes the line blew open for him so wide that he didn’t get touched until well downfield.  On the other hand, I don’t think LenDale White would get through those holes.  Johnson’s explosiveness was something that the Titans needed.   The Thunder and lightning approach is favorable for fantasy owners, as the Titans appear committed to the run and both backs could very well see 15-20 touches a week.   Johnson has 34 so far (Not counting his five receptions) and White has 33.
  The Titans are benefitting from superior play by the line on both sides of the ball.  Running yards are hard to come by (Their momentary lapse to let Chris Perry go 13 yards and score) as the longest rushing play they’ve given up in the first two weeks.
    Miraculously, the Bengals were down by only 13 points heading into the fourth quarter.  Unfortunately a 70 yard punt by Craig Hentrich left the Bengals at the two yard line.  Watching this sequence I thought “Just gain some yards.  You are still in this.  Don’t get pinned.  Miraculously enough, Chris Perry gained five yards to get some breathing room.  Next play…pass interference by Chad Johnson to push them back to the four.  It’s ok.  2nd and eight.  Run forward and get some of that room back.  Nope.  Carson Palmer to Chris Perry for -3 yards.  3rd and 11.  Run Forward and get some space to punt.  Nope.  Incomplete to Kenny Watson.  You don’t have to be a genius to figure out what happens when the Bengals try to punt from their own 1 yard line.
    The Bengals, a team usually heavily invested in by fantasy owners, is a wreck.  At this point, Chad Ocho Cinco would probably be willing to accept a trade to the Dolphins.  They can’t run, they can’t pass, they can’t keep from turning the ball over, they can’t play defense, and most of all they probably cannot win many games.   I don’t know how this team became such a mess, but I do know I would be planning on firing Marvin Lewis hopefully by mid season to start the house cleaning.  It’s time to rebuild.
     
Statistical Notes – At this point last year, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmanzedah had combined for 33 receptions, 424 yards and 6 TD’s.  This season?  11 catches for 129 yards and 0 scores.  The Titans have ran the ball 73 times at an average of 4.3 YPC.  8 of the Bengals 42 rushing plays this year have been for losses.   The Bengals have 8 more yards in two games than Kurt Warner passed for this week.  Kerry Collins threw more TD’s (1) than INT’s (0) this week.  Vince Young only did that twice in his last 13 regular season games.  Third Year CB Cortland Finnegan (Whose name sounds more like that of an accountant or something) leads the league with 3 INT’s.    He had one in the previous two seasons.

  Panthers over Bears or “Are you sick of the color yellow yet?”
     This was a sloppy game on the part of both teams.  22 total penalties were enforced.  A great amount of the flags were thrown on the annoying little things that can kill a team.  False start, off sides, illegal procedure, etc.    The Panthers and Bears offenses constantly were constantly in need of an extra five yards to move the chains. 
      The Bears defense played well again, bringing the pressure to get three sacks and a blocked punt for a touchdown.   A Panthers player, whose name I just did not catch, fell down without being touched to allow Darrell McClover an unimpeded path to the punter.   You simply cannot fall down on dry grass when protecting the edge in a punt situation.
       The Bears draft scouting team needs to do a little better with their #1 picks.  2008 #1 pick Chris Williams isn’t contributing as he had back surgery preseason.  They had no first round pick in 2006.  2005 #1 pick David Terrell is probably selling hot dogs on the streets of Chicago. Finally, 2007 #1 pick Greg Olson had 2 catches for 7 yards and fumbled them both this Sunday.  On the Bears first possession, they marched from their own 11 yard line to the Panthers 29, close enough to smell three points (The margin they lost by).  On both of his fumbles, the defender made a token punch at the ball while tackling him and Olson easily coughed up the ball.  The Bears offense is not really high octane and can’t afford to lose opportunities like this.
      Neither offense looked very good.  The Panthers had 0 yards of offense in the first quarter (Drives of -3, 3, and 1 yard).   The Panthers 2nd quarter encore of 20, -7, and 4 put them at 17 yards for the half….but they came away with three points anyway!   They had five negative yardage drives in total.  The Bears had -8 yards of offense in the second quarter on drives of -5, -2, and -1.  Their fourth quarter consisted of drives of 15, 3, -4, and 9.  Yup.  That is 12 yards in 30 minutes of football.
    The high point of the game offensively was Jonathon Stewart.  He scratched and clawed to manage 77 yards and two TD’s on 14 carries.    Seriously.  He put a lot of effort into gaining that yardage.   The Panthers get Steve Smith back next week.  He’s probably itching to get in there after his team won two tough games without him.  If he can open up the running game, Stewart may be huge this season.
Statistical Notes – Matt Forte’s opening game topped Cedric Benson’s best game from 2007.  Forte’s second game topped all but one of Benson’s performances from 2007.   He also doesn’t run straight out of bounds.  He also is averaging over 4 YPC.  The Bears once again have a back to be proud of.  Jonathon Stewart is averaging 5.4 YPC.  Perhaps he should get the ball more?   The Bears defense is directly responsible for 16 of their 46 points.
Bills over Jaguars or “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…..”
       The Jaguars are in some trouble.  With an 0-2 start and some important players injured, they have games at Indy, Houston, Steelers, and at Denver before the bye.  Looking at that schedule and knowing that splitting the four games puts them at 2-4 makes things look really ugly.  The Bills come out of the first two games, two games that probably looked a bit scary when looking in the preseason, at 2-0.  They have the Cheifs, 49ers, and two games against the Dolphins left on their schedule.  The Jets and Patriots looked….ok this week.  I’m starting to like this team.
          Trent Edwards seems to have grown up overnight.  He’s completing a high percentage of his passes and isn’t making mistakes.  It helps that with the exception of a handful of plays where the pocket collapsed quickly (one led to a turnover), the offensive line played very well.  Quite often, Edwards had plenty of time to sit back and wait for routes to develop.   His jump ball to James Hardy was thrown absolutely perfectly.  It seemed like Rashaen Mathis either blew his coverage bad or he was just daring Edwards to try making that throw.     Fred Jackson came out of nowhere to look like a good threat to catch the ball out of the backfield.
        With the Jaguars bread and butter, their running game looking so terrible (Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew barely over 3.0 YPC for the second straight week), I did admire the Jaguars taking a chance on that third quarter onside kick.  The Bills players didn’t even have that possibility in the back of their mind.  Trick plays to turn the momentum or make something happen are good on occasion, but the Jaguars lateral circus is probably best left for screwing off time on the practice field.  Obviously the end of game attempt was fine, but after Quentin Groves made a brilliant play stripping Edwards of the ball Reggie Hayward…a fine defensive end but not really a big time “hands” player tries a lateral to another defender, almost losing the ball in the process.  You already made something happen with the fumble!   Your team is up by one!  Let your offense back on with excellent field position. 
       The Jaguars really need to get Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson healthy and on the field.  I don’t actually know their prognosis but the Jaguars are terrible on third down.  After throwing 3 interceptions all of last season, David Garrard has turned the ball over three times and needs someone to throw to to move the chains. 
Statistical Notes – Trent Edwards has completed 71% of his passes in two games so far.  He completed 56% last season.  Marshawn Lynch has either 100 yards or a TD in 6 of 7 games dating back to last year.  The Jaguars are 7/26 in third down conversions and 2/7 in the red zone this season.  Ouch.  Lee Evans has 179 yards this season on only 8 catches.  20 yards per reception?  Not bad. 
 Run The Ball! – Every week I check on the percentage of running plays by the winners of the games compared to that of the losers.  Every week I get similar results.  Out of 14 games (Monday Night game not included) the team that ran the ball a higher percentage of the time won 12/14 games.   Only the 49ers and the Colts managed to overcome poor balance (Though the 49ers game falls under another steadfast rule of mine – more on that later) and win the game.  On average, game winners rushed the ball 49% of the time, and losers 40.5% of the time.            
Colts over Vikings or “Peterson didn’t get 6 yards on first down?  Might as well punt or try a field goal.”
   Adrian Peterson and the Vikings defense gave them every chance to win this game.  An anemic 2/13 on third downs on 0/2 in the red zone kept the score low enough to let Peyton Manning come up in the end.   It has got to be frustrating to be a Vikings fan to know that if Adrian Peterson fails to gain 10 yards every two carries, the drive is going to stall.  Out of the 11 stalled drives, 10 of them ended with passing plays.    18 of the 27 passing plays by the Vikings were attempted during these drive stalling series….and I didn’t include the two passes that Tarvaris Jackson completed at the end of the half to get the team into field goal range to get those numbers.
   Peyton Manning still managed to pass for over 300 yards, but like last week he did not have an easy time of it.   The Vikings defense only recorded two sacks but they closed the pocket quickly and Manning had to get rid of the ball fast.  The second half was pretty amazing.  Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzales can get down the field in a hurry.  Manning would have time to drop back and make a token play fake before having to unload the ball.  Wayne and Gonzales would already be 15-20 yards downfield. 
     Seeing the Colts line unable to muster any holes for the running game and barely able to keep Manning safe is new.  They definitely feel the loss of Jeff Saturday and could continue to struggle as the starting left tackle also went down with an injury on Sunday. 
Statistical Notes – Peyton Manning has two interceptions by week 2 for the first time since the 2003 season.  Joseph Addai has only 64 yards on 27 carries…a 3.3 YPC clip.   Adrian Peterson already has 53 touches, which puts him on pace for 424 on the season.  It’s hard to not give him the ball but that kind of workload can reduce his long term effectiveness.    Multi-Million dollar free agent Bernard Berrian has only 3 catches and 38 yards. 

49ers over Seahawks or “Is it bad when Billy McMullen and Michael Bumpkis are catching passes for you?”
    Yikes.  Just two years ago, the Seahawks were wondering how they could keep Darrell Jackson, Nate Burleson, Deion BranchBobby Engram, and D.J. Hackett all happy with the amount of playing time and balls targeted at them.  Backup QB Seneca Wallace was reportedly taking snaps as a WR but was injured before he could get in!  Now they are practically pulling guys off the street and throwing them in there at wideout. (No disrespect to Mcmullen or Bumpkis.  They did their best given the circumstances.  I just have no idea where The Hawks found them.)   Coming off a monster of a season, Matt Hasselbeck has to be bumming out.    The only good news for the Seahawks offense is that Julius Jones seems to have found himself, averaging five yards per carry.  Time to lean on the running game as much as possible.
    I only caught a few early shots of this game and then a lot of the end of it.  I’m absolutely amazed as how poised J.T. O’Sullivan looked, considering the beating he took.   Eight sacks and a lot of need for scrambling around.  Mike Martz!  This guy is looking good.  Find SOME way to protect him!  Trust me when I say you don’t want Alex Smith out there in the same types of situations.
      The Seahawks rushed more than the 49ers, which breaks one of my laws of victory.  However, the 49ers have a more absolute law, the law of Frank Gore getting 19+ Carries.  In the last 2 1/8 seasons, the 49ers are 0-20 when Gore gets 18 or fewer carries, and now 13-1 when he gets 19 or more. 
      Watching Isaac Bruce out there is unreal.   At 36 years old, he doesn’t have the speed he used to have but he knows how to sell and run a route.   Early on, Isaac Bruce ran a simple stop and go route that left Pro Bowl Cornerback Marcus Trufant standing around.  Trufant closed a five yard gap in about 20 yards to tackle Bruce, but if you are that much faster than him, how can’t you cover him?  Later in the game Isaac Bruce came across the middle for a big gain.  Who was in the picture giving him a five yard cushion?  Marcus Trufant. 
       This was another sloppy game, with 19 penalties called between the two teams.  The Seahawks turned the ball over three times and had a punt blocked (They RECOVERED the blocked punt for a first down.)  On one Hasselbeck interception,  Linebacker Patrick Willis took the ball 86 yards to pay dirt while most of the Seahawks players (Hasselbeck the exception) just jogged in his direction or simply stood there.  Seriously, is there nobody on that team that can run down a linebacker running the length of the field?  We’ll never know because they did not even try.
Statistical Notes – Julius Jones posted the Seahawks largest rushing total since December of 2006 and their first 100 yard game since week 3 of last season.  Matt Hasselbeck, with so many receivers gone, is completing only 45% of his passes and is on pace for an 8 TD/24 INT season.  J.T. O’Sullivan passed for over 300 yards.  The last time a 49ers QB did that was Tim Rattay in 2004!  Alex Smith’s highest total in 20 starts is 293 yards.  Isaac Bruce’s 153 yards put him within 672 yards of being the the all time number 2 in receiving yards.  That’s 48 yards per game the rest of the year.   It may be momentary with Marvin Harrison hanging 200 yards behind him and TO about 1500 behind him, but it’s a testament to how great Bruce’s career really has been.
Raiders over Cheifs or “Start the 0-16 watch up again!”
    I have not check the prognosis for Brodie Croyle or Damon Huard simply because I don’t think it matters much, but the Chiefs are currently down to using a practice squad QB Tyler Thigpen and backup Wide Receiver Marques Hagans.  Hagans is 1/1 for 5 yards with 0 TD’s, 0 INT’s.  Maybe they should stick with him!  The Chiefs were pretty bad offensively.  190 total yards, 5 sacks, 3.1 yards per offensive play, 48% completion rate, 2 INT’s…you get the picture.  Larry Johnson was ineffective again.  I’m not quite sure why they payed money to keep Larry Johnson.  He’s 29 years old, they knew they were entering a rebuilding phase, and the retirement of Will Shields and the other great offensive linemen from the Chiefs past have rendered the running game hapless.   Tony Gonzales made sense to keep.   He provides true veteran leadership.  Larry Johnson has always been more about LJ than about the team.
     Run-DMaC and Michael Bush put up huge rushing totals and everyone is bound to be singing their praises.  Not to downplay their performances, as they did need their speed, but the Raiders Offensive Line AND Wide Receivers were blasting holes in the KC Defense so large that Bush and Mccfadden were getting deep into the secondary before having to break/evade tackles.   Another thing to be nervous about with that pair is that they combined for 3 fumbles lost in 37 touches.   I’m thinking the Raiders coach, whomever that will be this week, will be working on some ball handling with them.   The rest of the team needs to focus on limiting penalties.  19 in two games is not good.  The AFC is pretty wide open as far as playoff spots.   While I don’t REALLY consider this team a contender yet, they do have some talent and could make a surprise run.
     Of course, with the high powered running game and good defense in favor, the passing game is a mark against.   They are in a situation similar to the Vikings.  JaMarcus Russell is an athletic QB with high upside, but you certainly cannot count on him to win games for you yet.  From what I’ve seen of him thus far, I may actually like Tarvaris Jackson a little bit more.
Statistical Notes – Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzales combined for 129 receiving yards.  The Chiefs had 135 Net yards passing.  Larry Johnson has 36 carries for 96 yards, 2.7 YPC.   At this pace, he could carry nearly 300 times and not break the 800 yard mark.  Zach Miller is the Raiders top receiver with 6 catches for 58 yards in two games.   The Raiders have 450 rushing yards in two games.  The now injured Justin Fargus had the worst per carry average of the top three runners….at 5.2. 
Patriots over Jets or “Matt Cassell has not lost a single game as a starter since he was in high school!”
      Ok, so this is the first game he started since high school and he didn’t exactly look like a world beater and some of the passes he threw I had no idea who they were supposed to be to, but he didn’t give the ball away.    In a low score, low yardage contest this was of utmost importance.  
      This game wasn’t thrilling, with neither team playing exceptionally well, but the Patriots special teams made all the difference.  They didn’t have huge plays but made sure that the team was always winning the field position battle.  Out of nine possessions the Jets started seven on their 20, one on their 23, and one on their own 25.  The Patriots nine possessions included five in Jets territory.  Brett Favre was responsible for one of the Pats great starts, but four punts with a net average of 27 yards probably was more costly. 
      Laurence Maroney and Sammy Morris were largely ineffective running the ball for the Pats.  Maroney gets hurt and in comes…..one of my fantasy sleepers that I was laughed at for selecting in the 17th round of a 14 team draft, LaMont Jordan!  He smashed his way through on several plays and almost doubled the other backs yardage total on 11 carries (vs. 21).  The often injured back with a strange career could really benefit the Patriots this year if he stays healthy.
      Brett Favre was kept mostly in check with solid coverage on his new favorite target, Jericho Cotchery.  Favre threw quite a few passes in Cotchery’s direction that I thought were pretty risky.  Of course, the Patriots pressured Favre quite a bit and a big 20 yard sack in the fourth quarter put the game away.   Even at 38, Favre is still pretty crafty at getting away from defenders though. 
Statistical Notes – Sammy Morris has 6 receptions last year.  He is third on the team with 7 this season.  Matt Cassel is completing 70% of his passes and has a 101.4 QB rating.  After having only 2 carries last week, Lamont Jordan still leads the team in rushing yards.   Leon Washington and Chancy Stuckey lead the Jets in receptions with 6 each.   Thomas Jones is averaging a full yard and a half more per carry than he was at this point last season.
Cardinals over Dolphins  or “Kurt Warner is partyin’ like it’s 1999.”
   Kurt Warner was impressive, throwing for 61 yards.  The Wide Receivers tacked on another 300 yards running the ball.   Ok, so that is a bit of an exaggeration.  Warner did benefit from Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin outrunning and outjumping opposing defensive backs, but give Warner credit for being spot on with his passes and standing tall and following through despite being hit a few times.  I find two things hard to believe.
1.  The Rams, Giants, and to some extent, the Cardinals did not want this guy to be their starting quarterback anymore.  Sure he’s 37 and has had his share of concussions and other injuries, but he can still play lights out football.  Kudos to the Cardinals coaching staff for realizing that Matt Lienert right now can’t play at Warner’s level and maybe will never be able to play at Warner’s level. 
2. Fantasy owners missed the boat on this one.  Both of my fantasy drafts were held after Kurt Warner was handed the starting job.  A Former MVP with two #1 wideouts gets the nod as starter in a pretty weak division and he’s falling past the 10th round?   A QB that had five 3 TD games and four 2 TD games down the stretch last season?  “Expert” cheat sheets don’t have him in their top ten?  Not even in their top 10?  Maybe I’m gloating a bit because my strategy was to wait on the QB position as long as I could and grab either Donovan McNabb (Another guy that stayed on the board too long) or Kurt Warner.  I ended up with Warner twice and Mcnabb once.  Now if they can stay healthy, I’m in business.

    I have to respect Anquan Boldin at this point.  There was the offseason dispute about his contract that he alleges the Cardinals promised him before last season would get reworked.  He said he was angry and had nothing more to say to Cardinals management and he would go out and play football anyway.  All he’s done so far is go out and outperform the much higher payed Larry Fitzgerald by 5 catches, 40 yards, and 2 TD’s.   That is no knock on Fitzgerald, either.  Many primma donna wideouts would have sat out, causing a scene and disrupting the locker room.  Boldin has done just the opposite.  Cardinals, it may be time to pay him.  He’s reasonable young as far as wide receivers go and he’s just plain good.

      What is there to say about the Dolphins?  Not much.  They can’t run, they can’t throw, and they can’t cover deep threats.   A big question in the preseason was “Who carries the load?  Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams?”  Who cares?  At 2.x yards per carry, I’m not thrilled with either one.  Back to the top five for the Dolphins whom many claimed would be “Much improved” this season.

Statistical Notes – Boldin and Fitzgerald have played something like 50 games with each other.  They have both broke the 100 yard mark 6 times.  Kurt Warner has 85 career starts and 43 300 yard passing games.  The Dolphins are 1-20 in their last 21 games.  Chad Pennington is a career 65.5% completion guy.  In his game and a half as a Dolphin he has completed 57% of his passes.

Packers over Lions  or “Hey Ted Thompson.  Why didn’t you just tell the Packers fans Aaron Rodgers is ridiculously awesome?”

      I’ll admit it, I thought it was a poor, illogical move to not take back your Hall of Fame quarterback when he came out of retirement after one of the best seasons of his career statistically.  You play to win, and I figured Brett Favre gave this team the best chance to win.  I’m trying to be realistic here and know it’s only two games…one against a horrible defense…but it’s not very often you see a young quarterback come in and play so well in his first two starts.   His arm is deceptively strong, he’s elusive, can throw on the run, and seems to have a good grasp on reading the defense and knowing when to audible (Although the Packers line doesn’t seem in sync with him as far as his cadence and calling plays at the line of scrimmage).  He also knows how to go through his progressions and finds different targets (Seven Packers caught passes this game). 
    
          After watching the NFC Championship game and Plaxico Burress absolutely dominate Al Harris, I thought we could see a big dropoff in Al Harris’ performance this season.  Not so.  Roy Williams seemed utterly frustrated in the first half by the cornerbacks physical play. 
 
         Even WITH good Cornerback play it seems that it is getting difficult to contain Calvin Johnson for an entire game.  He’s a big, fast guy that will go over the middle for you.   The first touchdown was a bit of a fluke but he showed pretty good concentration hanging onto that ball tipped by Charles Woodson.   A big problem with the Lions offense for the second week in a row is their apparent forgetting that the running game exists.  It is hard to want to run the ball when you get down early, but calling 50 pass plays to 12 rushes isn’t a good balance.  It always teams to tee off on the pass and has Jon Kitna eating dirt a lot.
 
          Many people last year cried bad sportsmanship on the part of the Patriots last season as they ran up the score.  Here we see a team go up by 21 and relax a little bit offensively for awhile.  The Patriots were a little over the top but too often teams will take their foot off the accelerator and try to coast to victory.  The Packers suddenly found themselves down by a point in the fourth quarter.  Keep pouring it on until victory is certain.  With two stud wideouts on the Lions, 18 points at halftime isn’t enough.

Statistical Notes – Greg Jennings, who has never had 1000 yards in a season, is leading the league with 258 receiving yards.   Aaron Rodgers is on pace for 4000 yards passing, 32 TD’s, and 0 INT’s.  Jon Kitna has been sacked 8 times already this season.  Calvin Johnson is on Pace for 100+ catches, 1700+ Receiving yards, and 16 TD’s.  The Lions have tried to pass 84 times and tried to run only 33 times. 

Broncos over Chargers or “Thank you Ed Hochuli!”

            The notorious Ed Hochuli “Empty Hand” call was very very bad and obviously allowed the Broncos to win a game they rightfully should have lost.  I’m usually pretty hard on referees because most of the time they seem to have no clue what they are doing.  Hochuli had the play reviewed, understood the ramifications, and confidently strode up to announce that he had botched the call on the field (And you could tell he knew how poor of a call it was.)  Everyone makes mistakes, but the way he completely owned up to it and knew the rules in such a situation is a credit to him.   That is no comfort to the Chargers and their fans but I have a lot more respect for him for the way he handled the situation.
  
            I don’t really know what to say other than if you missed this game, you missed some amazing performances.  I think one thing to understand is the Chargers were supposed to have one of the best defenses this season and the Broncos have one of the top Cornerback tandems with Champ Bailey and Dre Bly.  With that in mind, Cutler and Rivers combined for a 57/83 (69%), 727 yards, 7 TD’s, 2 INT’s stat line.   The end was insane.  I give a lot of credit to Mike Shanahan for his crazy call to go for two at the end of the game.  He essentially gave the ball to his players and said “I know you can win the game right here.  Go do it.”  Going into sudden death would have meant a coin flip very well may have determined their fate.  He urged his guys to take control instead.  What a confidence boost for a fairly young offensive unit.
 
            In 2006, a friend and I both were very high on the Denver Broncos and thought Jay Cutler would be a very good quarterback.   I thought that Brandon Marshall would have a big rookie season.  (Ok, so I knew someone going to school at Central Florida that gave me the scoop).  My friend on the other hand, had a strange fixation with Tony Scheffler.   It turns out we both might have been right.  Scheffler has 138 yards and 2 TD’s this season, and Brandon Marshall looked absolutely unstoppable.  If the Broncos can help this kid keep his head screwed on straight, he could have an unbelievable career. 
 
            Some may think I’m crazy for saying this, but I think the Chargers are becoming Philip Rivers’ team instead of LaDainian Tomlinson’s team.  Tomlinson has struggled and Rivers has been insane.  I was also impressed with Darren Sproles, playing special teams and stepping into the “Michael Turner” role.    Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson, and Antonio Gates are looking like a solid group of targets.

Statistical notes – Speaking of Targets, Vincent Jackson leads the Chargers in receptions with 13.  Jay Cutler is on pace for 5200 passing yards.   Even having played in only one game, Brandon Marshall leads the league in receptions with 18.  Ladainian Tomlinson has not scored a touchdown in two straight games.  In the last two years, he’s only gone on such a “Draught” twice, both times in 2006 (Weeks 4 & 5, 16 & 17).  Chris Chambers is averaging a bloated 25 yards per reception and has 3 TD’s.  He only had 8 in the last two seasons.

 Prognostications or “Carnage Guessing Game Winners”

I opened strong with a 12-4 start last week.  This week, I slipped a little to go 9-6.  That puts me at 21-10 on the year.  I only go straight up.  I rarely bet on games so spread numbers do not interest me all that much, as they are random numbers set by a “stock market” type function.  I only care about W’s and L’.

Bears over Panthers
Jaguars over Bills
Chiefs over Raiders
Vikings over Colts
Saints over Redskins
Giants over Rams
Packers over Lions
Titans over Bengals
49ers over Seahawks
Bucs over Falcons
Cardinals over Dolphins
Jets over Patriots
Broncos over Chargers
Steelers over Browns
Cowboys over Eagles

Redskins over Saints or “Note to Saints: You need to control the clock.”

     The Redskins offense looked inept for the season opener against the Giants.  I thought they were in for a long season.  It really makes me wonder….is the Giants defense just that good still? 
 
      Holding the ball for less than 26 minutes is not good.  Reggie Bush has been awesome in the open field but they desperately need someone to grind out some yards and some clock.  I thought Pierre Thomas had potential but his 6 carries for 8 yards performance doesn’t inspire much confidence.  Speaking of Bush, did he get to the sideline quick on that punt return or what?  It’s hard to go untouched on a play where all 11 guys are specifically coming to tackle you.  Bush did it and made it look effortless.

       The big difference on this team was going to be Jeremy Shockey.  With Marques Colston out for a decent period of time, the Saints need some playmakers to step up.  Shockey caught two balls and fumbled one.  That isn’t going to cut it.

        My favorite play of this game was the draw play for Clinton Portis’ second touchdown.  Jason Campbell pump faked and nobody on the Saints had the faintest idea what was coming next.  Portis took the ball and cut into the end zone untouched. 

      I am still not sure about Jason Campbell, but it looks like he is learning how to find his stud wideout.  Santana Moss had only one 100 yard game with Campbell at the helm last year.  He was huge this week.  Chris Cooley got involved in the offense, which was a big factor last week in the Redskins lack of success.
Statistical Notes – Reggie Bush leads the Saints with 15 receptions.  The next closest player is Shockey with 8.   Drew Brees has four touchdown passes this year.  He didn’t reach that number until the the sixth game of 2007 when the Saints had their nightmare 0-4 start.  The Redskins look dedicated to getting Clinton Portis carries.  He has back to back 20+ carry games.  He did not get that until weeks 9 & 10 last year.  Santana Moss has touchdowns in back to back games for only the second time since 2004 when he was a Jet.

Steelers over Browns or “Monsoon Season is here?  Let’s throw the ball 35 times!”

         The Browns came into this game thinking they were going to be able to throw the ball on the Steelers.  Despite the driving rain and swirling wind, they came out trying to take the ball downfield.   This earned them a total of 166 yards on 32 pass attempts.  Of course, the alternative was to try to run the ball on the Steelers defense, which isn’t really a game plan you want to work with either.
 
            Braylon Edwards is looking more like a rookie out there than a player in a season after his breakout year.    He seems a bit lost and of course, has had some problems hanging onto the ball.   He’s getting booed in Cleveland and is probably losing his quarterback’s faith in him.  Derek Anderson had a great season last year but don’t think he’s not on a short leash.  They (Thankfully) have the Ravens and Bengals next after a rough Cowboys/Steelers opening two games.  If they did manage to drop the next two, we could easily be seeing Brady Quinn coming in and the Browns moving forward.

The Steelers were brutally efficient again.  Run the ball.  Run the ball.  This sets up play action passes where Ben Roethisberger has tons and tons of time to find a target. 

     I actually wonder why the Browns didn’t go for it on 4th and 7 or try an onside kick.   With 3:24 left in the game, the Steelers being very able to run, and you not having moved the ball very well all day you want to….kick it back to them down by 4?   Best case scenario you get the ball back…probably on your 30-35 yard line meaning you have 65 yards to go in 2:30 with no timeouts.  

Statistical Notes -  Derek Anderson had one TD in week 1 and 0 in week 2.  He had at least 2 TD’s in any given 2 game stretch last year.  Ben Roethisberger has 10 touchdowns and 0 INT’s in his last five regular season games.   Hines Ward scored in back to back games for the first time since October of 2006.  Excluding the Rams game where he had 1 carry, Willie Parker has 5 straight 100+ total yard games.  I expected his workload to go down significantly with Rashard Mendenhall on the roster.  He’s had 53 touches in 2 games.

Cowboys over Eagles or “I can’t believe I missed this game.  I really can’t.”

    So I end up working too late Monday and I come home starving with a horrible headache.  I don’t have cable at home (I don’t watch very much TV outside of football and basketball.   I gather with several other people on Sunday’s at a NFL Season Ticket friendly home.  Monday there usually isn’t a gathering.  My wife, if allowed access to cable, ends up staring at that thing for hours and hours a day.   She gets sucked in to watching garbage and doesn’t stop.  We decided $60/month was too much to pay to turn her into a mindless zombie) so I would have had to rush out to one of the bars near my house.  My headache persisted through halftime so I just stayed in.  Looks like I missed a fantastic game; a matchup featuring my two favorite non-Packer running backs (Westbrook and Marion Barber III)

    It looks like the Eagles are legitimate contenders.  Although they lost, they went into the Cowboys’ house and pushed them to the end.  That’s not easy to do. 

    Note to self: Don’t be such a baby next time a high profile matchup is on ESPN
            
Statistical Notes – Terrell Owens has at least one touchdown in his last 10 regular season games, and 15 TD’s in that span.  Marion Barber has played in 47 regular season games and has scored at least 2 TD’s in 12 of them.  He scores multiple TD’s 25% of the time!  Brian Westbrook’s season high TD total is 12.  He already has five in two games.

Next Week’s Games Predictions.

Atlanta over Kansas City
Redskins over Cardinals
Tampa Bay over Chicago
Patriots over Dolphins
Giants over Bengals
Titans over Texans
Vikings over Panthers
Bills over Raiders
Lions over 49ers
Broncos over Saints
Rams over Seahawks
Ravens over Browns
Colts over Jaguars
Chargers over Jets
Cowboys over Packers
Steelers over Eagles

That’s it for this week!  Good luck to your real team and fantasy teams this week!
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com