Thursday, October 1, 2009

NFL Visions, Part 1

We're now three weeks into the NFL season, and we've already seen our share of surprises.

Denver (Denver!) has allowed 16 points all year. Houston is 0-2 at home, but won their only road game. Cincinnati beat the Steelers at home for the first time since 2001.

As we look around the league, here's what some other teams are seeing:


Detroit Lions, 1-2
Sure, they've only won one game. Sure, they've looked very, uh, Detroit-like in piling up the second-most penalty yards in the league. Sure, their one victory came against an atrocious Redskins team with one of the worst owners in sports, a team that looked so bad in its home opener that they got booed even though they won the game.

But the Lions can party like it's 2007. It doesn't even matter if they win another game this year--they're no longer that team that hasn't won in forever. All that matter are wins and losses, which means they are officially better than seven teams right now. Titans? Laughably bad, from the Lions' perspective. Panthers? "Why are they even letting them play games?" the Lions must be wondering.

Yeah, they went 19 games and 21 months without posting a victory; the Dow Jones was over 13,000 the last time they left a field feeling good about themselves. But all that's over now! Way to go, Lions, things are looking up!

Baltimore Ravens, 3-0
It's hard to say the Ravens are a team on the rise, given that they went to the AFC Championship game last year. But the team known for its stifling defense, the same organization that won the Super Bowl in 2001 with Trent Dilfer playing quarterback, is now putting up points like nobody's business. Only the New Orleans Drew Breeses have put up more points in the first three weeks than the suddenly balanced Ravens.

New York Jets, 3-0
Even if they hadn't beaten the Titans, things are definitely looking up when you can call out Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, and then back it up. I didn't think the Pats were going to beat the Jets after all that smack-talking ... I thought they were going to embarrass them and we'd see a scene at the Meadowlands akin to something out of "Clockwork Orange." But the Jets held Brady's Pats touchdownless, then went out and beat the Titans, a team that needed a win perhaps more than any other team in the league. And all this with a rookie quarterback. No doubt things are looking up in New York.


2008 division champions Carolina, Tennessee, Miami, Arizona, and Pittsburgh; combined 2-13

It's not a good year to be coming off a good year. Carolina looks done, given that New Orleans and Atlanta are playing well in the NFC South and Jake Delhomme must not have health insurance, because he's still got a big ol' case of Interceptionitis--after his five INT performance in last year's playoffs, he has has seven interceptions and just two touchdowns this season.

I don't think Tennessee's done yet, though they're close. They lost in OT to Pittsburgh, then to Houston, then in a close game to the Jets. It's no surprise that Kerry Collins isn't having near the season he had last year, but with a talented core and Jeff Fisher at the helm, they still have a shot.

Miami has as good a shot at the playoffs as I do. Did you know that if Chad Pennington's career ended right now (his season is over due to injury), he would finish with the highest completion percentage in NFL history and the eighth best QB rating?

Arizona was a fluke last year, anyways. They were 9-7 for God's sake! They've still got some talent, but Kurt Warner had to get old eventually. Plus, the Niners look good under Mike Singletary (hey, things are looking up there, too) and the Seahawks would be decent if they weren't missing half their roster with injuries.

Pittsburgh should be fine. They're 1-2 because they've been outscored 24-0 in the fourth quarter this year. They miss Troy Polamalu and they've failed to win the turnover battle, but he'll be back and so will they.

Jacksonville Jaguars, 1-2
What happened to this team? Before beating the Texans this past Sunday, they were 2-10 in their last 12 games going back to last year. Maurice Jones-Drew was making all the fantasy owners who took him in the top five look silly until he scored three touchdowns against Houston, and David Garrard's 75.4 QB rating isn't getting it done. They just don't seem to be real great at anything right now; things have gone downhill ever since they went 11-5 and went to the second round of the playoffs in 2007.

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