Here we go!
My second edition of this series, once again this is still in the trial-and error phase - if you have criticism or can think of some features added, let me know in the comments! Thanks for the great feedback last week to you all. I've tried to incorporate some of your ideas into this post. New features include:
- a 'wild-card game': looking outside of our division to the team that surprised me the most
- What to look for: highlighting one aspect that will be a topic during the next game
- German word of the week: how about this one? Every week, you get treated to learning one word of my native language, hopefully connected to my post in some way
So once again, enough of my babbling, let's get to the post. Enjoy!
The Name: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Game: 20-7 at home at the Carolina Panthers
The Standout: Kellen Winslow- 4 catches, 83 yards, 20.8 avg., 0 TD
Promising: Josh Freeman - 12/24, 178 yards, 2 TD; 4 rushes, 43 yards, 10.8 avg.
Look the other way: Redzone efficiency: 1 for 3, 33%
What happened: I tried to find a way for inserting the Tampa Bay defense in my above ratings, but I will just have to mention them here. Anybody that holds DeAngelo Williams to 54 yards and a 3.2 y/c while at the same time forcing a QB controversy to the opposing team (The Steelers D says hi, they know how that feels) deserves praise. Matt Moore, highly praised after an explosive 5 games to end last season, was held to 6 completions before he was benched for the rookie Jimmie Clausen late in the game. Freeman impressed with his ability to extend plays much like Ben Roethlisberger, and seems to be growing into his own; but when it came to the Redzone, his inexperience still seemed to show. To make it quick, this underdog is undefeated after two games - hardly anybody would have expected that. Let's hope it won't be an issue a week from now.
Team Temperature: Luke Warm, which is pretty good for polar bears
Highlight Reel: Buccaneers vs. Panthers
Next Week's opponent: Hosting the Steel Curtain in the Swamp.
What to look for: The Big Ben wannabe against the Big Ben-less Steelers. Will this defense continue wreaking havoc, who will stay undefeated? While the Steelers streak of not allowing a 100 yard rusher seems to not be in jeopardy, another interesting trend has emerged: Will Troy continue to have one pick in every game he plays in this season? I sure do hope so.
The Name: Cincinnati Bengals
The Game: 15-10 at home against the Baltimore Ravens
The Standout: Kicker Mike Nugent - 5/5 FGs, long of 46, accounted for all of Cincinnati's points
Promising: Jordan Shipley for the second game in a row - 5 receptions (led team), 42 yards, 8.4 avg.
Look the other way: It's a tie: Carson Palmer (16/35, 45%, 167 yards) and 3rd Down Conversion (3/18, 16%)
What happened: What was meant to be a battle for first place in the division turned out to be a battle between two incompetent offenses. Yes, the D is getting all the praise, but I don't buy it entirely. Carson Palmer with his supposed huge arsenal on offense played without big mistakes, but also had a terrible completion percentage that can't be overlooked. The Defense did prove to be very opportunistic against a Ravens offense that either needs to find its pace real fast or is simply incapable. 4 Interceptions are a nice stat, but 3 of those seemed to me like simple bad throws. Nevertheless, the Bengals managed to beat the Ravens, and that is impressive in its own right.
Team Temperature: Slowly warming up
Highlight Reel: Bengals vs. Ravens
Next Week: At the Carolina Panthers
What to look for: So far, it has been polar opposites for the Bengals in their first two games. Especially the defense has completely turned around its performance, and should continue to do so against an abysmal Panthers team that doesn't even know which Quarterback will start. If the Bengals don't dominate defensively in this game, I am hopeful they will not have a great season.
The Name: Baltimore Ravens
The Game:10-15 at the Cincinnati Bengals
The Standout: Ray Rice - 16 rushes, 87 yards, 5.4 y/c
Promising: Ray Lewis - 10 tackles, one sack, one questionable tripping call
Look the other way: Joe Unibrow - 17/39 (43%), 1 TD, 4 INT
What happened: Good question, what happened to this high-powered offense? You know, the one that was supposed to pair with an impeccable defense to form the number one super bowl favorite? The lone bright spot, Ray Rice, was blatantly ignored for most of the game, despite being his usual dominant self. Instead, OC Cam Cameron preferred to rely on Joe Cool, who apparently has so much ice water flowing through his veins that his arm is too slow to find windows to his WRs. It doesn't even matter that the defense has not allowed a TD for the first 2 games, and made Cincinnati's offense seem pretty ineffective; if you cannot produce more than 10 points, you will most likely lose. The Ravens better hope that their offense starts clicking against a muss less intimidating opponent in the Browns, but you bet your behind that I don't. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed the offseason hype slowly dripping off the Ratbirds.
Team Temperature: Getting chilly here
Highlight Reel: Bengals vs. Ravens
Next Week: At home against the Cleveland Browns
What to look for: I would not like to be the Browns right now. A defense that is pissed because of questionable penalties, paired with an offense that might not be as good as advertised but certainly has some dangerous weapons. There is no way this isn't a slugfest, and if the Ravens don't win in a landslide, I will be seriously surprised. Look for Flacco to target Boldin a lot, and for Rice to run wild on the defenseless Browns.
The Name: Cleveland Browns
The Standout: Joshua Cribbs - hooray, the Browns use their best player on offense! It only took years. 3 receptions, 74 yards, 1 TD
Promising: Seneca Wallace - Yes, I know, his interception was bad. But he did better than Delhomme out there in my opinion, which might still not say much. 16/31 (52%), 229 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Look the other way: Jerome Harrison - the hope of Cleveland fans rushed 16 times for just 33 yards (2 y/c), with one fumble. Not good if you play your second string quarterback.
What happened: What is it with these Browns coming out for a nice start, and then faltering? Considering these were maybe the easiest teams on their schedule, such a letdown is inexcusable. Anybody that had hope for our dirty neighbors to have a coming out party probably sits in a corner and cries right now. As for the bright spots, T.J. Ward had his second consecutive good game in a row, and looks like he might be a keeper. Josh Cribbs is Josh Cribbs, and Seneca Wallace might be better than Jake Delhomme. Aside from that? The Browns played their second game to forget in a row, with another against the Ravens looming on the horizon. Time for the sky to start falling.
Temperature: Build your igloos Browns fans. This cold front is here to stay
Highlight Reel: Browns vs. Chiefs
Next Week: At the Baltimore Ravens
What to look for: If you are a Browns fan, look away. Get a puppy, and get some enjoyment out of watching it play with your toes, because this game won't do. The Ravens have won 4 consecutive against the Brown, and have their first home game after a disappointing loss. Not a good predicament. Add to that the skill level of both teams, and you can spell doom with your left hand, eyes closed. Ravens in a blow out.
The Upset: Miami Dolphins
The Game: 14-10 at the Minnesota Vikings
The Standout: Jason Allen, CB - 11 tackles, 2 Interceptions
Promising: Brandon Marshall - looks like he is becoming acquainted with the Dolphins. 4 Catches, 71 yards (accounting for 62% of the Dolphins' pass yards)
Look the other way: Time of Possession - the Dolphins held the ball for just 24 Minutes, but if it's enough for the win, who cares?
What happened: So is it the Vikings' inability on offense or the Dolphins silently creating one of the more dangerous defenses in the NFL? With the lack of depth at WR for the Vikings probably a bit of both, but the performance was impressive nonetheless. Pappy Favre had 4 turnovers (3 INT and a Fumble), and while the Vikings put up almost 150 more yards offensively than the Dolphins, the latter swam away with the win. Peterson had his usual monster game, but this time it wasn't enough. The Dolphins led 14-0 until the end of the 3rd, and despite a comeback attempt, Favre blew it with consistent interceptions. I bet Jared Allen and company second guess themselves about begging him to come back... Add that to an impressive fourht-and-goal stop at the one and the Dolphins, with an impressive defensive upset, are amongst the unbeatens in this league. Who would have thought.
Temperature: Getting closer to their native Florida
Next Week: At home against the New York Jets
What to look for: So are these Dolphins for real? No team better to test them than the Jets, who after a bad start showed why they got the hype with an impressive offensive and defensive performance against the Patriots. Look for Brandon Marshall, elite receiver with 100+ receptions in each of the last 3 seasons, to take advantage of a Jets Defense that will be without the injured Darrelle Revis. If the Jets can contain him, they are looking at a W.
German Word of the Day: aufheizen (say: oufhi-tsen) - to heat up