* Week 1 of the 2010 NFL season isn't quite in the books. As per recent tradition, there's two Monday Night Football games still to be played week (BAL @ NYJ; SD @ KC), but let's take a look at some of the other action around the league played last Thursday and on Sunday before turning our attention back to the 15-6 overtime victory by the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Atlanta Falcons.
It's since been bumped down the main page quite a bit, but I threw some AFC specific predictions and thoughts out there on Sunday morning. Naturally, some look prescient while others...not so much.
Let's get to it.
* Congratulations to the Houston Texans for accomplishing something they've yet to do in their largely futile young history: defeat the Indianapolis Colts. They did so behind a monster day from running back Adrian Foster. It's not the first time the Colts have allowed an opposing back to run wild on them, but Colts fans are already up in arms about just how bad their defense was slowing down Foster, who by game's end had set an opening week record with his 231 yards. Three of his 33 carries went for touchdowns.
* I always found it funny when people argued that safety Bob Sanders belongs in the same class as Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed. Really? How's that? He's played a grand total of 8 games the previous two seasons, and just 47 in his first five professional seasons. That's barely more than half of the Colts' games, and that doesn't include all the playoff games he's been shelved for. Sanders has only appeared in three postseason games despite his team being in the mix every year since he was drafted back in '05.
Should it be shocking then that Sanders injured himself again (ankle) yesterday during the embarrassing loss? It shouldn't be, and just like in recent years, the injury seems serious. In fact, it's rumored that he could be shut down for the year. Dear Colts fans: please don't ever compare Bob Sanders to Troy Polamalu again, if for no other reason than one of them plays football games in the NFL while the other occasionally makes a cameo when his fragile body allows.
* Nice performance by Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard. 16-of-21 for 170 yards and three TDs in the Jags' 24-17 defeat of the visiting Denver Broncos. Most importantly, Garrard was safe and smart with the football. He threw 0 interceptions and was smart in knowing when to leave the pocket. After receiving a mega-extension two seasons ago that was more or less in line with the game's best quarterbacks, Garrard disappointed fans and his organization. Looks like he's taken it upon himself to earn that money and get his career back on track. We'll see though. Going up against Denver has a way of making you look better than you perhaps are.
* Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers is one tough cookie. A broken arm this summer had some concerned about his status to start the year. Smith not only recovered in time to play in yesterday's 34-16 loss to the New York Giants, but was productive as well, catching 5 balls for 75 yards and 1 TD. Some guys are just gamers, and he's one of them.
* Speaking of the Giants. I only caught but a few minutes of their win over the Panthers, but from what little I saw, their defense looked to have their explosiveness back. 4 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 fumble recoveries and only 237 yards allowed. Who knows though just how much of the blame belongs to inexperienced Panthers' QB Matt Moore though. We'll get a better sense of how tough Perry Fewell's revamped unit is when the G-Men travel to Indianapolis next Sunday.
* Bad loss yesterday for the Cleveland Browns. They let an early-season road win slip away yesterday, losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-14 on a wet day in south Florida. The Browns were in control late in the first half, up 14-3 and with the ball near midfield. Jake Delhomme then gift-wrapped an opportunity to get back in the game when he threw an ill-advised, off-balance ball that Ronde Barber returned all the way to the CLE 3. The Bucs would punch it in and make a game of it before intermission. Not a bad debut for Delhomme, but that mistake was particularly costly, and exactly the type of play that cost him his job in Carolina. The Browns probably shouldn't be throwing the ball 37 times though in wet conditions with the score as close as it was all afternoon. Jerome Harrison and Peyton Hills had just 9 carries a piece. Bad.
* Don't underestimate Vince Young and the Tennessee Titans. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone takes awhile to grow up, but only a handful of people on the planet are as athletically gifted and as naturally competitive as he is. That last tidbit is what's really important to remember when trying to assess how VY's career may unfold. I wouldn't put him quite in the same class as guys like MJ, Kobe or say, Hines Ward, in terms of just having to win at all costs. But he's up there. And after getting battered and bruised emotionally early in his career, it's clear to me that he's not going to accept being a meddling talent that can't get his shit together on or off the field. More time in the film room, more time immersed in the playbook equals a scary, scary prospect for opposing defenses in this next few years. Last point about Young and the Titans - even though their roster needs some work, they may be downright deadly on offense, particularly in '11 and '12. Johnson will still be in his prime, while Young should have an even greater command of the intricacies of his position while still possessing enough athleticism to make plays out of the pocket.
There's still plenty of room for improvement and growth though for him and the Titans offense. Plenty in fact, so we'll see how he and the Titans look against what potentially will be an outstanding Steelers' defense when they play next week in Nashville.
* Drew Brees continues to justify my man-crush. There was no doubt in my mind that Brees could be a top-tier QB in this league when he was with the Chargers. Now it looks like he's in position to make a run at Canton if he and the Saints continue to play the way they have since he joined them. I was also impressed by the play of New Orleans' defense against the Minnesota Vikings last Thursday night. I wondered how they would be able to replicate the high volume of turnovers on defense again in '10, but they may not need to if their defense can surrender fewer yards than they have in years past.
* Here's a perfect example of why I just can't get fully behind fantasy football: Tony Romo is my quarterback in a pay league. Nothing satisfies me quite like watching Romo flail out there. No surprise to me that the Washington Redskins won last night against the Cowboys despite being outplayed for much, if not all of the evening. In fact, some sportsbook gave me free money before the start of the season, and it all went on the 'Skins moneyline (+185, which is crazy).
* I'm going to save my thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals for a later date. Needless to say, not a good start for them, but I don't think it's quite time to dismiss them as a fraud this year. Maybe soon, but they showed enough resolve and competency digging themselves out of a huge hole to convince me they can get things back on track. Whether or not they will is a different story - the Bengals have a way of self-combusting.
* Can all the hype surrounding the San Francisco 49ers please dissipate? That my friends is a pathetic and humiliating ass-whooping they took from the Seattle Seahawks in Pete Carroll's debut. I was asked by several folks if they would take Ray Rice or Frank Gore early on in their fantasy drafts. Simple - Rice, any day of the week and twice on Sunday. That's more really a testament to how good I think Rice is than a huge knock on Gore, but it also stems from how little faith I have in the 49ers offense to keep teams legitimately off-balance. Arizona, despite looking less than impressive in their win over the St. Louis Rams, is still the team to beat in that division.
* Can someone tell me what happened exactly at the end of the Detroit Lions game against the Chicago Bears? How pissed of must Calvin Johnson be?
* Very much looking forward to tonight's Ravens/Jets matchup. I think I like Baltimore here, but it's going to be an awfully rowdy and hostile environment at the Meadowlands. We'll see how Joe Flacco handles the moment. Who you got and what are some of your observations about the first Sunday of action?
With that out of the way, I turn my attention back to the Steelers win over the Falcons. More soon.