Posted on: October 7, 2009 10:34 pm

NFL Week 4 Observations

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for the Rams... Kyle Boller reminds us that he's, well...Kyle Boller. He barely topped 100 yards passing on the day, threw zero touchdowns and one interception. This is while playing from behind the whole game. Ouch.

Speaking of bad teams... The Toilet Bowl between Tampa Bay and Washington sure lived up to the hype. How does Tampa pick off Jason Campbell 3 times, force a fumble and only put up 13 points? They're making a strong case for the worst team in the league right now.

Willis McGahee is this year's DeAngelo Williams. McGahee was drafted relatively late in drafts this year, a lot like Williams was last year. They're both in a major time share. The main difference is that, well...McGahee is doing better than Williams did last year. After only four games, McGahee already has seven touchdowns. I don't expect him to keep this up, but right now he's on track to score 28 touchdowns on the year...or eight more than league leading DeAngelo Williams last year.

Matt Cassel was the worst free agent pickup of the off season. Remember that glimmer of hope the Chiefs had in the preseason because of Cassel's arrival and a new head coach? Hard to believe there was ever any hope to begin with, at this point. Cassel was almost held to under 100 yards passing for the second straight week. Don't be surprised to see Brodie Croyle in the starting lineup in the near future. It just goes to show how important a quarterback's system and supporting cast is to his production.

The Tennessee Titans season is officially over. Every week so far this year, I gave the Titans the benefit of the doubt and picked them to win. I thought there was no way Jeff Fischer would let this team slip to 0-4 against the Jaguars. Well, I was wrong. Even if they only lose one more game the whole rest of the season, they wouldn't be a lock to make the playoffs (see Patriots last year). Only 2% of NFL teams that start out 0-4 have ever made the playoffs in the history of the NFL. Did Albert Haynesworth really mean THAT much to this team?

The Indianapolis Colts have done well...against bad teams. Before everyone starts picking the Colts to win the Super Bowl this year, remember that none of the teams they've played against so far this year have a winning record. In fact, the best team they've played so far is the 2-2 Jacksonville Jaguars that they almost lost to. Their next three weeks they play the Titans, have a bye, then play the Rams. In other words...we won't get a good idea of how good this team really is until November 1st when they play the 49ers.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders. Note to anybody looking to start an expansion team...stay away from pirate names.

Brandon Marshall is your typical wide receiver diva. Did you see him run up and hug Josh McDaniels after the game? What an amazing turn around for their relationship as it seems like only a month ago he was suspended by the team for his behavior. Could it be because the team is off to a 4-0 start? Naw...

Mark Sanchez actually is a rookie quarterback! The prodigy quarterback finally showed that he's a rookie and can make rookie mistakes. In one of the biggest games this week, he threw for only 138 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions...including one for a 99 yard return for a touchdown. Don't worry, Mark...facing the Dolphins 24th ranked pass defense this week should help get you back on track.

Drew Brees is not going to break Dan Marino's yardage record this year... and that's a good thing for the Saints. If he put up that many yards it would only show how one dimensional this team is. The last two games, the Saints haven't relied on Brees at all to score points. He's been more of a distraction to help their run game than anything else. If their running game keeps up and their defense keeps playing like it is, this will be a very tough team to beat.

Darrelle Revis is the second coming of Deion Sanders. This guy is the definition of a shut down corner. Through four weeks he's been matched up against Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Justin Gage, and Marques Colston. The four of them COMBINED have put up 129 yards and no touchdowns. Mohamed Massaquoi put up 148 yards by himself this week! It's getting to the point where if ANYONE scores a touchdown on him this year, I'll be surprised.

Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch are now worthless fantasy players. Instead of giving one of these two players the majority of the carries, the Bills decided to split it right now the middle. Fred Jackson ended the game with 9 carries while Marshawn Lynch received 8. Mix that in with their terrible offensive line and inability to get a passing game going and it's not looking good for either one of these backs.

Tony Romo is more like Tony Oh-No without Owens. After a hot start in week one, Romo has been awful. He's averaged only 212 yards in the past three games and has thrown four interceptions to only one touchdown. Don't Cowboy fans miss the good old days when Romo was only bad in big games?

The Steelers play more like the Penguins... champions for three periods. The Steelers keep forgetting that there's four quarters in a football game. If they could only finish games like they start them, they'd be one of the top teams in the league right now. In week two against the Bears, the Steelers held a 7 point lead in the 4th quarter. They ended up losing that game 17-14. In week three against the Bengals, they were winning 20-9 at the start of the 4th quarter. They ended up losing that game 23-20. Now this week against the Chargers, they held an incredible 28 point lead towards the end of the 3rd quarter. They then allowed San Diego to go on a 28-7 run which put the game at 35-28. Although the Steelers pulled it out with a 38-28 victory, they can't hope for 28 point leads going into the 4th quarter every game just to have a chance anymore. This is a team that desperately misses Troy Polamalu.

Brett Favre knows the Green Bay Packers better than they know him. Every since Favre joined the Vikings, Packer fans have been talking about how well they'll do against the Vikings because of how well they know Brett Favre. At the same time, Vikings fans were talking about how well their offense was going to do because of how well Favre knew the Packers. We can't have both...so which side was right? Well, Favre went out and threw for 271 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. He was also never sacked throughout the entire game. I guess that answers that question.

Braylon Edwards is the luckiest man in football. Anyone getting out of Cleveland is a lucky person, but Edwards hit the jackpot when he got sent to the Jets. Although he's had trouble hanging onto the ball and has had some off the field issues, you can't deny his talent and potential. If Mark Sanchez can develop a good rapport with Edwards by the playoffs, the Jets will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

That's all for this week. Check back for more observations every Wednesday.
Posted on: September 30, 2009 11:53 pm

NFL Week 3 Observations

A few observations from week three of the NFL season.


Brett Favre still has plenty of magic left. Anyone who questioned why the Vikings brought Favre back should now have their answer. If Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson were leading that final drive, do you really think the Vikings would have come out on top? While he topped 300 yards on the day, his overall stat line wasn't extremely impressive based off his 46 passing attempts. The stat lines aren't why he's here, though. His ability to lead the 2 minute drill without looking to the sideline for help will tack on at least another win or two throughout the season. The Vikings also proved they can pass the ball when they need to and don't need to lean on Adrian Peterson to win (85 yards on 19 carries). Now if only their offensive line would come together...


Vernon Davis is finally starting to live up to expectations. When Vernon Davis was drafted, he was seen as being the next truly elite NFL tight end. He's a physical freak that has an unbelievable blend of size and speed. It just goes to show that you can't get by on talent alone in the NFL. With Mike Singletary having a team first approach, he seems to be ready to make the turn. Frank Gore is out the next few weeks which means this team will need to find a new superstar to rely on...Davis could be that guy.


The Philadelphia Eagles have the best stable of quarterbacks in the league. Now I'm not saying they have the best overall quarterback in the league, but it's hard to argue with three ex-pro bowl quarterbacks and a guy named Kolb who throws for over 300 yards every game. Maybe they should stop hogging all the good quarterbacks while poor teams like Cleveland can't even make up their mind on which quarterback they have is worse.


Steve Smith will have a better season than Steve Smith. Hmm...maybe I should clarify. Steve Smith of the Giants will have a better season than Steve Smith of the Panthers . While the Panthers Steve Smith will still have his huge weeks, the Giants Steve Smith will be a consistent week in and week out performer. With Jake Delhomme having the worst season of his career, it's hard to imagine Smith putting up consistent numbers this year...which might upset him. Thank God he's not the kind of player who would punch someone in the face, huh?


The Tennessee Titans are similar to my fantasy team. The team with the best record during the regular season last year has fallen to 0-3. Out of those three games, they've lost by a combined total of 13 points....or about 4 points per game. My fantasy team is 1-2 with my two losses being by two points each. At least I've won a game.


The Baltimore Ravens are scary this year. Who would have guessed that after three weeks the Ravens would have the 2 nd most points scored in the league with a 34.3 ppg average? Joe Flacco is making me think he's a better quarterback than Matt Ryan every week I watch him. While their defense isn't nearly as good as it once was, you can't argue with 17.7 ppg when your team is an offensive juggernaut. I'm looking forward to their game this week against the Patriots as both teams seem like they still have a lot to prove.


I thought I knew what ugly was... and then I saw the Seattle Seahawks glow in the dark jerseys.


Matt Forte is looking more like Cedric Benson . While he was a Bear, that is. Everyone thought this was going to be the week Forte broke out of his slump against a Seahawks team that just gave up over 200 yards rushing to Frank Gore. He still had his best game of the season with 66 yards rushing and 40 yards receiving, but these are still no where near the statistics a top 5 running back should be putting up. The good news? Forte's next five opponents are Detroit, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Arizona. If he doesn't produce during that span, there's no hope left.


Fred Jackson is Buffalo's biggest offensive threat. With both Terrell Owens and Lee Evans falling out of fantasy relevance, there's only one player on that team worth starting on a regular basis: Fred Jackson. Marshawn Lynch is scheduled to return this week, but it'd be a mistake for the Bills to start him over Jackson. He is for them what Matt Forte was for the Bears last season. It seems their entire offense revolves around him. It will be nice having Lynch back to give Jackson a breather here and there, but until he slows down, there's no reason to have him out of the game.


Detroit is no longer the worst team in the league. In fact, they're not even in the bottom five of the league anymore. They have a solid young quarterback in Matthew Stafford , one of the leagues best receivers in Calvin Johnson , and a great young running back in Kevin Smith . They still have a long ways to go, but at least they finally seem to be headed in the right direction.


The Houston Texans will disappoint again this season. The Texans are one of those teams that seems to have high expectations coming into every season no matter how terrible their previous season was. It's hard to win games when you rank 30 th in rush yards and 32 nd in rush yards allowed per game. With the Colts playing their usual dominant football, the best they could hope for is a wild card spot...which the 11-5 Patriots missed out on last season.


The Bengals are the most improved team of 2009. Being a Vikings fan, all I wanted to do was laugh at Packer fans for their team losing to the embarrassing Cincinnati Bengals. Then they had to go out and beat the defending world champions. Well...there goes that idea. The Bengals are a circus catch away from being 3-0 and are suddenly a team that's worth paying attention to. It'll still be hard for them to make the playoffs because of their tough division and being in the AFC, but it's at least attainable this year.


Don't get too excited, Broncos fans. Last season the Broncos started out 3-0 as well and ended the season 8-8. Now they have Kyle Orton instead of Jay Cutler , have beaten teams with a combined record of 3-6, and have pushover Josh McDaniels instead of Mike Shanahan. At least they're still in the AFC West.


That's all for this week. Look for more observations next week.

Posted on: September 22, 2009 10:07 pm

NFL Week 2 Observations

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A few observations from week two of the NFL season.


Brett Favre will have the highest completion percentage of his career. Mistake free football is the name of the game in Minnesota and the record holder for career interceptions has done exactly that. Through two games, Favre has a 77% completion percentage and zero turnovers. Once Favre plays some tougher opponents that will likely change, but the Vikings game plan will stay the same: short, high percentage passes with the (very) occasional deep ball. Favre will never be a fantasy stud again, but he will win a lot of football games.


The Minnesota Vikings are halfway to being a Superbowl team. Through two games, the Vikings have been outscored 23-17 in the first half by the awful Browns and Lions. In the second half, however, they have outscored their opponents by an incredible 44-10. If coach Brad Childress can start giving his halftime speech at the beginning of their games, this will be a very scary team.


The two biggest wide receiver sleepers this year are both Giants. Throughout the whole off season, one of the biggest questions around the NFL was, “Who is going to replace Plaxico Burress?” Turns out, there were two people up to the task. After two weeks, the number one fantasy wide receiver in the league isn't Larry Fitzgerald...it isn't Randy Moss, Andre or Calvin Johnson. Instead, it's that guy who's available on waivers in most leagues named Mario Manningham. Then there's Steve Smith, who also went undrafted in a lot of leagues, who is 6 <sup>th </sup> overall in points and ahead of the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings, and Randy Moss...to name a few.


The Packers offensive line is worse than we thought. We knew their offensive line was bad after seeing what Ogunleye did to them in week one, but this was awful. Antwan Odom had 5 sacks this week....FIVE. In 12 games last season, he had a total of 3 sacks. It's to the point where Packer fans not only have to worry about making the playoffs this season, but they have to be concerned with the health of their franchise quarterback. Isn't Chad Clifton supposed to be the anchor of that squad?


Norv Turner will be fired this off season. Every year there are lofty expectations for the Chargers...and why not? They have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. You know where they don't have talent? The sidelines. The Chargers will limp into the playoffs this year due to a terrible division and get the boot in the first round. Turner has already been in hot water in the past and this season certainly won't help his case.


LaDainian Tomlinson isn't immune to red flags. Tomlinson had tons of red flags coming into this season...30 years old, over 8 seasons in the NFL, over 2,500 carries...yet people (including myself) were still drafting Tomlinson in the top 10 of drafts with hopes he could regain a glimpse of his former self. Well, in the one game that he played in, he was a non-factor. This is against a Raiders team that he has historically played extremely well against. Granted, he did look quicker than he did a year ago while he was battling injuries all year. Unfortunately, it looks like he'll be battling injuries again this year as he missed week 2 with an ankle injury.


The New York Jets have the best defense in the NFL. At this point, there's really no contest. Through two weeks they are yet to give up a touchdown...and this is against the Texans and Patriots. Let's take a look at some stats...Tom Brady threw for 378 yards and two touchdowns in week one against the Bills. In week two against the Jets, he threw for 216 yards with no touchdowns. In week two against the Titans, Matt Schaub threw for 357 yards and 4 touchdowns. In week one against the Jets, he threw for 166 yards and no touchdowns. Are we starting to see a trend here?


That's all for this week. Look for more observations next week.

Posted on: September 17, 2009 12:02 am

Week 1 Observations

A few observations from week one of the NFL season.

Breakouts for 3rd year WR's aren't looking good. There were a lot of prominent wide receivers entering this season that had high potential of breaking out. The 3rd year is typically when wide receivers see their biggest increase in production but this year looks like the exception to the rule. Anthony Gonzalez was a huge sleeper in drafts this year as he slipped into the starting role opposite of Reggie Wayne with Marvin Harrison retiring. Add that to this being his 3rd season and having Peyton Manning throwing to him and it's hard not to expect big things. That was, until, he hurt his knee and is out 4-6 weeks. Dwayne Bowe of the Chiefs was also entering his 3rd year, had a new quarterback in Matt Cassel, and a new head coach in Todd Haley who has been known for developing wide receivers in the past. Now Matt Cassel is hurt and they fired their offensive coordinator shortly before the start of the season. He put up decent week one stats with 40 yards and a touchdown, but he's still not a sure thing by any means. Calvin Johnson was a beast already last season in his 2nd year, but now he has a rookie quarterback that threw for 205 yards, 0 TD's and 3 picks while trailing a below average Saints defense the whole game. Take away one 64 yard gain and he totaled 2 catches for 26 yards. Then there's Tedd Ginn who was barely even looked at and Steve Smith. Out of this whole group, Steve Smith of the Giants appears to be the most likely to increase his stats by the largest percentage as he was targeted 6 times, double the next best receiver.

Bad franchises are cursed. There's no other way to explain it. When you think of terrible franchises, three that stand out are Buffalo, Oakland, and Cincinnati...and look what happened. All three of these teams played well the whole game and should have won. Buffalo loses to New England on a fumbled kickoff return at the end of the game, Oakland completely dominates San Diego the entire game but the Chargers throw up a game winning touchdown with 18 seconds remaining, and the Bungals lose off a circus tip catch with 11 seconds left.

The Packers are completely different from last season. Last year, the Packers went 6-10 with a great offense and a terrible defense. This year, in comes Dom Capers, and he looks to have turned this defense around with his 3-4 scheme and aggressive style. You can credit some of their performance to how terrible Cutler performed, but you can also say the reason he played so poorly was because there was a Packer in his grill almost every play. Meanwhile, their offense looks to be declining this year. They still have enough star power with Rodgers, Jennings, Driver, and Grant to do well, but none of that matters if they don't fix their offensive line. Specifically they need help at center and right tackle. Jason Spitz just won the starting job in late August and right tackle Allen Barbre was consistently letting Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye through. The Packers have potential to do well this season, but that won't happen if they don't fix their offensive line.

The Bears season is over. You might think I'm crazy for saying anyone's season is over after one week, but it's true. It's bad enough to lose your first game against a division rival but when you lose the leader on your defense in Brian Urlacher for the season, that makes it much worse. Even more than his talent, his leadership will be missed on the field. Throw on top of that a quarterback who threw 4 interceptions and virtually no running game, and you're in trouble. If they were in almost any other division, they'd still be contenders for a playoff spot. However, in the tough NFC North, they're not going to do better than either the Vikings or the Packers this season.

The Madden Curse is real. Every year, a new Madden video game is released with a top NFL player on the cover. That player is then cursed with having a decline in production the following year, usually by an injury. If you want to read more on this, and how true it's been, check it out on Wikipedia. This years Madden has Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald on the cover. Polamalu went down with an injury that has him out 3-6 weeks. While Fitzgerald had a good outing with 71 yards and a touchdown, it's not unrealistic to see a dip in his overall production this year if Kurt Warner doesn't start looking better (or if Warner gets hurt).

Michael Turner is not a #1 fantasy running back. All off season I've been predicting Turner will bust this season. He crossed the 370 touch threshold last season and, as history suggests, he will have a sharp decline in production this year. In the last 20 years, there have been 17 running backs to cross this threshold including Turner. Of those 17 running backs, only one (Tomlinson) has come within 100 yards of their production the following year and 8 of those 17 running backs were injured. On top of that, the Falcons had one of the easiest schedules in the league last year. Most of Turner's production came from the bottom 5 defenses in the league. This year, the Falcons have one of the tougher schedules in the NFL and plan to throw more with Matt Ryan developing and Tony Gonzalez joining the team. Week one against Miami...65 yards and no touchdowns. Expect more of the same throughout the year (if he stays healthy) for Michael Turner.

Brett Favre will not end this season like he did last year. Favre had 522 passing attempts for the Jets last season. Put Favre's 21 passing attempts from week one over the course of a full season and that puts him at 336. While there will be games where he'll throw more than 21 attempts, it's obvious that Minnesota is still a run first team and will limit Favre's throws.

Jake Delhomme is the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. I don't think I need to explain myself for this one.

The Super Bowl Curse will haunt the Cardinals this year. The Super Bowl Curse says that if you make it to the Super Bowl and lose, you will miss the playoffs the next season. A lot of people considered the Cardinals making the Super Bowl in itself a fluke last year, but now they've lost their offensive coordinator, Todd Haley. It was apparent that this offense isn't nearly the same unit without him and we all know Arizona can't rely on their defense to win games.

Terrell Owens and Trent Edwards are not going to be friends. For the first time in his career, Owens is on a below average team with a below average quarterback. In week one, Owens only had 2 receptions for 46 yards and was already yelling at his teammates in the huddle at the end of the game. If Buffalo gets off to a bad start, expect Owens to pout and play only as hard as he wants to.

The Patriots defense is no longer a top unit. This is a completely different defense with Richard Seymour going to the Raiders and Teddy Bruschi retiring. They made people like Trent Edwards and Fred Jackson look like pro bowlers. While the Patriots offense is still going to be formidable, it's hard to consider them Super Bowl favorites anymore.

Tony Romo doesn't need T.O. That's for sure. Any questions about this guy's ability without Owens was put to rest this week as he went off for 353 yards and 3 touchdowns. He still has decent options in Roy Williams and Jason Witten to throw the ball to and an excellent running game, so don't be surprised if he ends up being a top 5 fantasy QB this year.

That's all for this week...more to come later.

-Scott Neuenfeldt
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com