Well it looks like it should after week one - the Steelers & Ravens 1-0, the Browns and Bungles 0-1. The week one matchups were half juicy... certainly Steelers v. Titans is a marquee type affair, but Ravens v. Chiefs (who are the chefs?) looked to be a one week extension of preseason ball for Baltimore. Cleveland gets overshadowed by Minnesota, while at the same time Brett Favre is overshadowed by his running back; and the Bungles wait until the 60th minute to score (what they thought was) the winning TD. And then lose.
Pittsburgh v. Tennessee: It's about time to retire the phrase "should've won that game." No, Tennessee, you shouldn't have won that game; or maybe i'll give you this -- Tennessee lost this game just like Pittsburgh lost last year. Mistakes, turnovers, blocked/missed field goals, penalties... footballs have pointy ends, so they bounce funny. Titans fans thought they deserved to win, but I was annoyed that it even went to overtime (I'll forgive you this time, Hines Ward). After Troy Polamalu went out, I thought Kerry Collins was just going to throw to that side every play. It worked for a while. Let's hope opposing offensive coordinators don't kill us with quick passes up the sidelines all year... or that we can eventually cover it. I'm not even gonna talk about the o-line.
Baltimore v. Kansas City: You know, about mid way through the 3rd quarter, Kansas City had a 14-10 lead in this one, despite being basically dominated in every category. And there's the take-away for the average Ravens fan: Baltimore dominated the Kansas City Chiefs. But here's the take-away for everyone else: Baltimore dominated the Chiefs and still needed a huge fourth quarter to pull off this win -- at home.
Cleveland v. Minnesota: So this was the big Favre hoo-ha. Well ho-hum. What I did see was Adrian Peterson make absolute jokes out of the Browns arm-tackling secondary on that 64 yard TD. We don't have a running back like that, unfortunately. But I still like our chances against the Browns this year. Seriously, the Cleveland defense had an interesting strategy against the best back in the league - let him run so much he actually gets winded and has to come out. No pressure for Favre on this day; the Browns aren't the team to force one of those infamous Brett Favre gaffes. But the Steelers might be... good thing we have Minnesota at home.
Cincinnati v. Denver: Yes, I hope I didn't waste any valuable mojo on that big play that won it for Denver. You see, I happen to be one that believes that every time the Bungles lose, a kitten is born, or a baby laughs a delightful little laugh, or someone falls in love for the first time. It's just a sign that something is right with the world, that's all. And what else can you say about a game where the Bungles were blanked for 59 minutes, Carson Palmer put up absolutely Kyle Orton-like numbers, and we get to watch Cincy's elation of victory die in its infancy?
Although we have a long season ahead of us, one disconcerting note is that as of today the Steelers are dead last in the AFC North in total defense (Bal-188yds, Cin-302, Cle-310, Pit-320), last in passing defense (Cle-85yds, Bal-159, Cin-227, Pit-234), and 3rd in rushing defense (Bal-29yds, Cin-75, Pit-86, Cle-225). It must be said that those numbers aren't actually too bad and are merely a reflection of this weeks' AFC North opponents. The good news is Pittsburgh does rank 1st in scoring defense (Pit-10, Cin-12, Bal-24, Cle-34). Something tells me if we lead in that one the rest of the year we'll do fine.
On the offensive side, there were a couple of categories which we aren't really accustomed to seeing, namely kick returning and passing offense, that the Steelers sat atop after the first week -- a welcome change that would be nice to continue. Ben Roethlisberger leads all AFC North QBs (and the entire league as of Sunday night) in yards, percentage, and completions. Now if we can only get some tiny shred of a run game going...
So there you have it, although I hate to pull that Denny Green quote, when it comes to the AFC North after week one, "they were who we thought they were." Steelers and Ravens up, Browns and Bungles down, 15 games to go.
Sneak peek @ next week:
Chicago v. Pittsburgh: Jay Cutler threw 4 INTs in week one. Maybe he'll feel more comfortable at home in Soldier Field. Or maybe he'll spend the day on his back. I'm going to hazard a guess it's the latter. Pittsburgh Favored
San Diego v. Baltimore: Tough early road game for the Ravens, and if they can dominate this one, they will have earned it. The Chargers will challenge them on both sides of the ball. Too Close to Call
Denver v. Cleveland: Don't think Cleveland has the conditioning or discipline to go into Denver and come out with a win. However, the Kyle Orton rule says if an opposing team can put up 20 points, they've got a shot. Leaning Denver
Green Bay v. Cincinnati: Not a promising outing for the Bungles, facing the Packers at home in Lambeau Field. Maybe Ochocinco gets a score, but the Bungles get loss numero dos. Green Bay Favored