Here's some random NFL...
The Jets are totally fucked. There's no way around it. This is a team that still has to play the great Bills defense, Bellichick twice and Saban again. With that quarterback situation, those are five losses. Now tack on the Ravens, Bucs, Falcons and Chargers. Are the Jets going to be favored in ANY of those games? I can definitely see this team losing ten games. (And by the way, this is more a response to Fiedler's injury than Pennington's.)
Say what you want about Marvin Lewis, Nick Saban is the NFL's coach of the year to this point.
I wonder if Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith are thinking, "Maybe we should've taken Cadillac."
BANDWAGON WATCH: Anyone still have the Cardinals winning the NFC West?
The Dallas Cowboys have played three of the five most exciting games in football this season.
So the Patriots lose their two coordinators. Now they've lost their best defensive player and their best offensive lineman. How much of this can they deal with?
The Detroit Lions lost their last game 38-6 and have ascended into first place in the NFC North.
I've avoided it for years but I'd like to thank those of you for welcoming me onto the Jacksonville Jaguars bandwagon. If fat Byron stays on the field, they'll be joining the Bengals as the AFC Wildcards.
For some reason, people don't like talking about Shaun Alexander. 22 carries for 140 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Alright, Tom Coughlin. You're tough. We get it. Win something.
What's up with the Carolina Panthers? Lose to the Saints and Dolphins and beat the champs. This is a wacky league.
AMERICA IS AWESOME ALERT: Hey, Mexico! You guys want a professional football game? You do! Cool! Oh, oops. Well, we can't really get that together but we will send you the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals.
Takeo Spikes going down for the year is going to be a very interesting injury to watch in Buffalo. I'm a big fan of defensive coordinator Jerry Gray but the Bills rush defense looked burnable by the Bucs last week. If Deuce Macallister does a 24-150 to them this week, the season could get considerably longer.
On another Bills note, I'm shocked at the number of analysts writing that it should be Kelly Holmcomb's turn in Buffalo.
Shame on the Washington Redskins. You clearly hate Patrick Ramsey. He's been treated worse than any other player in the NFL. Now, he has an actual chance to go start for a pretty good football team and you won't even entertain offers from the New York Jets. They're not in your conference.
If Cleveland scored 14 points on Sunday, this entire week would be dedicated to Romeo owns Peyton stories.
BEARS FANS START CRYING ALERT: The biggest mistake in the modern history of this franchise will be not handing the reigns over to Nick Saban a year ago.
THE FIVE BEST TEAMS
5. Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals (tie) - I will never pick the Steelers to win a big game.
4. Philadelphia Eagles - They're starting to roll.
3. Tampa Bay Bucs - Starting to look like the best team in the conference.
2. New England Patriots - God, Adam Vinatieri is the best clutch player in the sport.
1. Indianapolis Colts - Alright, I'll roll with it. Dwight Freeney is the Defensive Player of the Year thus far.
THE FIVE WORST TEAMS
5. Detroit Lions - the only first place team that ever makes this list. They lost 38-6 TO THE BEARS!!!
4. San Francisco 49ers - they're playing hard, though.
3. Arizona Cardinals - shock.
2. Houston Texans - week off and they jump a slot.
1. Green Bay Packers - hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
(Note: The Pack have a Monday Night game this week. Producers have ordered one million wet rags to wipe the you-know-what of you-know-who off the chins of Al Michael and John Madden.)
The Bears are 1-0 when Kyle Orton doesn't throw an interception. 0-2 when he does. Not that complicated, kids.
I'm a firm believe in one play changing the course of an entire game. If Justin Gage makes the catch on the Bears first drive or Mike Brown makes the goalline interception, that's an entirely different football game.
THE RACE FOR MVP
5. Dwight Freeney - I love involving defensive players in this race.
4. Julius Jones - make no mistake about it...he's the reason Bledsoe is holding it together.
3. Donovan McNabb - banged up and playing the best quarterback of his career.
2. Carson Palmer - watch the first touchdown pass he threw Sunday between Tillman and Mike Brown. It was absolutely perfect.
1. Cadillac Williams - he's on pace for 2,315 yards. He won't do it but that'd be 200 yards over the all-time record and 500 yards over the rookie record.
Bill Bellichick told the Pittsburgh trainer to "get the fuck off the field" when the guy came out to help out with Matt Light, after noticing how serious he thought the injury was. Hey Bill, you're a a great football coach but you're also a really big idiot. You need to go out, get drunk and bang a fat chick.
People need to stop telling me about the Giants defense. They have one...one...one player. That's it. One.
Demarcus! Ware? Has 7 tackles and 1 sack in three games. Were the Lawrence Taylor comparisons a bit premature?
According to Yahoo Fantasy Sports, Drew Bledsoe currently has two and half times the fantasy points of Peyton Manning.
AND I'M THROWING THE PICKS ONTO TODAY'S FUN AS WELL BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE TIME TOMORROW ALERT:
7-7 last week, putting me at 23-22-1 on the season. The hump is mine.
SAN FRANCISCO +2.5 OVER ARIZONA (in Mexico)
Mike Nolan's teams have never lost a game in Mexico.
ATLANTA -6 OVER MINNESOTA
I'm not taking the Vikings on the road just yet.
NEW YORK JETS +7.5 OVER BALTIMORE
Brooks Bollinger vs. Anthony Wright. (Think about that) 7.5 should be the Over/Under.
BUFFALO pk OVER NEW ORLEANS
J.P. keeps the job another week.
HOUSTON +9.5 OVER CINCINNATI
I think the Texans are going to surprise some people and make this a game.
INDIANAPOLIS -7 OVER TENNESSEE
Can this team go 16-0?
DENVER +4 OVER JACKSONVILLE
This might end up being a pretty damn good football game and if Champ Bailey doesn't play, I want the pick back.
PHILADELPHIA +2 OVER KANSAS CITY
No. The Eagles should almost never be underdogs this season.
SAN DIEGO +5.5 OVER NEW ENGLAND
Take the over (46.5)
ST. LOUIS +3 OVER NEW YORK GIANTS
Oh, I don't know. I've started making picks for no reason.
OAKLAND -3 OVER DALLAS
The Raiders deserve to win a game. I think they've been better than 0-3.
TAMPA BAY -6.5 OVER DETROIT
Nothing matches up well for the Lions in this game. So they'll probably win but I'm not being that crazy.
SEATTLE +2 OVER WASHINGTON
I think Seattle is a better football team.
GREEN BAY +7.5 OVER CAROLINA
Very very rarely do I pick the Packers but Brett will keep this close as he always does on Monday night. I do think the Carolina Panthers are going to continue this good-one-week-suck-the-next-week thing.
Will I ever get nine?
I walked to work this morning, as I tend to do the day after most Bears games. It gives me a chance to really think about the football game, keep my emotions somewhat in check. My brother calls me, "Pennington blah, Pennington blah, trade for Philip Rivers..."
The Bears are very good at doing what they did yesterday. Disappointing. The experienced Bears fan knows it's coming. The inexperienced takes it very hard. Hell, we all do. The experienced ones just have a formula.
I watched the Patriots heroically beat the Steelers yesterday and thought, "We're not even on the same continent as these teams." But that's okay...we're the youngest team in football.
So I'm going to logically break down yesterday's game without jumping to any massive conclusions. This team has played three football games with a rookie fourth round draft pick under center. And let us not forget that we can play, if not beat, the other three teams in this division. Winning a division, I don't care how many wins it takes to do it, will give this team a springobard into the 2006 season.
Thomas Jones looks like a top flight NFL running back. He's electric. Unfortunately Ron Turner coached the game as if we were down 30 instead of 10. Everyone continues to compare the Bears formula to the Steelers and Ravens. Put it away. You have to commit to the run and that means 50 times a game. Jones can handle it and he deserves nothing less than to be the starter in Cleveland two weeks from now.
The Offensive Line did another very nice job this week. They made holes for Jones and for the most part kept defenders off Kyle Orton. Olin Kreutz is back in Pro Bowl form and it appears so is Ruben Brown, who was just crushing people up front.
The Defense. I know the Reverend, and most like his family, will disagree with me but I'm incredibly proud of this entire unit with one or two exceptions. They allowed the best offense in the NFL right now to gain 250 total yards. That ain't bad. The first touchdown pass was very well covered and the third was a missed bump-and-run. Peanut got burnt once. The Bengals had nothing on the ground until the fourth quarter when this defense was just worn down.
I'll say this: Orton had four interceptions and they were still in this game.
NOT SO GOOD
To: Ron Turner
cc: Kyle Orton
Re: Inability to Manage a Successful Offensive Drive
Hey Guys -
Please run the ball. A lot more. Thanks.
Oh, and if you're not going to run the ball...there are other pass patterns besides "really really deep."
OKAY, I'M WORRIED
Doug Brien might just be awful. And with our style of play he's going to need to kick well.
In two weeks, the Bears play a football game to be .500. They have two weeks to forget this offensive stinkfest. The bye week is perfectly placed for this team. If they lay another egg, we'll pack it in. If they come out and grind out a win, we'll be in it...for the rest of the way.
8-7-1 last week.
16-15-1 on the season thus far.
Kiddies, I'm over the hump. Now I have to stay there.
JACKSONVILLE + 2.5 OVER NEW YORK JETS
Okay, here's my logic. The Jags shut down the Colts. How can they lose this game?
TENNESSEE + 6.5 OVER ST. LOUIS
I just don't think Mike Martz should be giving this many points to anyone.
PHILADELPHIA -7.5 OVER OAKLAND
Kerry Collins line prediction: 15-31, 195 yards, 1 TD, 4 INT
CHICAGO +3 OVER CINCINNATI
Always stick with a team that consistently covers the spread. This game is coming down to a late field goal.
NEW ORLEANS +4 OVER MINNESOTA
This is like a battle of two completely disfunctional families. Over/Under on total interceptions thrown: 81.
CAROLINA -3.5 OVER MIAMI
I have a ton of money on this game. Too much. I've just got one of those feelings that we're looking at a 35-10 game.
INDIANAPOLIS -13.5 OVER CLEVELAND
Peyton Manning line prediction: 21-25, 385 yards, 4 TD
ATLANTA +2.5 OVER BUFFALO
This is the hardest game to predict all week. I'm just sitting with the points and hoping someone wins by a point.
TAMPA BAY -3.5 OVER GREEN BAY
Until the Packers stop someone defensively, I'll stick with Tampa.
SEATTLE -6.5 OVER ARIZONA
I think I'd like less points at stake here, but I'm just not a fan of this Cardinals team.
NEW ENGLAND +3 OVER PITTSBURGH
You know why? Because they're the champs and I don't think they'll lose two straight.
DALLAS -6.5 OVER SAN FRANCISCO
Julian, shut up.
SAN DIEGO -6 OVER NEW YORK GIANTS
I'm in the Giants-aren't-as-good-as-they-think-they-are camp.
KANSAS CITY +2.5 OVER DENVER
I hate Denver.
I'd like 9 this week. Will I get it? Stay tuned.
This one is strange...
The Bears have started climbing in the power rankings and analysts are starting to throw around the "s" word...sleeper.
If the Bears win this week, they receive national attention and a great momentum heading into the bye, with the Browns on the other end.
Last week was "playing into the season." This week is playing into contention.
0 - Packer's wins this season.
.500 - Bears winning percentage, good enough to put them at the top of the NFC North.
1 - Victories as a head coach for Romeo Crennel. Incidentally, the last coach to get his first win against the Packers at Lambeau Field was none other than Lovie Smith.
8 - Interceptions Nathan Vasher has in his career, now in its second year. (Must be all that ballhawk.)
11 - Yards Jeff Blake threw for after Kyle Orton was benched in the fourth quarter for playing so well.
18 - Number of season's since the Bears wore their white road jerseys for their home opener.
20 - Years since the Bears last scored 31 points in the first half. (They did it in a 45-10 victory over the Redskins on September, 29, 1985.)
40 - Extra pounds Marcus Pollard has on Mike Brown, which proved meaningless when Brown nearly ended his life.
43 - Regular-season 100-yard receiving games for Randy Moss.
57 - Seconds it took for Terrell Owens to score a TD on Sunday against the 49ers. Making him the first player to score a TD within the first minute of the first game against his first professional team.
103.3 - Kyle Orton's QB rating.
112 - Games since the Bears beat the Lions by more than 32 points. (In 1946 the Bears won 42-6.)
209 - Number of consecutive games Lion's kicker Jason Hanson had played in before missing Sunday's loss to the Bears.
600 - Dollars (in millions) that Zygmunt Wilf (I shit you not) paid for the Minnesota Vikings who are now 0-2 and without an offensive TD.
Thoughts on Week Two:
1. Is Thomas Jones the Drew Brees of this season? The fourth pick of the draft holds out and find himself out of work...
2. Mushin Muhammad may have 1,000 yards and 8 touchdowns. For a Bears receiver, that's pretty damn good.
3. Kyle Orton can play. Well.
4. If the Indianapolis Colts are going to win tough, physical football games like they did on Sunday with Peyton Manning looking like Patrick Ramsey, how are they going to lose?
5. If your answer was New England in Week 8, you are a smart, smart man.
6. Do you get the sense that the Colts and Steelers are going to be in the arms race for home field advantage and the Patriots will have to beat them both on the road to get back to the Super Bowl.
7. I'm not buying the Jets. That was an entirely unimpressive victory.
8. Remember when Lambeau Field was a home field advantage?
9. (I loved writing #8)
10. Just want to reiterate that the Vikings are not better without Randy Moss.
11. Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals had the worst final drive I've seen in a long time. If you don't know what happened, read the NFL.com play-by-play. It involved a failed attempt at spiking the ball and two false starts to run out the clock.
12. Carolina's front seven dominated New England even without Kris Jenkins.
13. J.P. Losman, welcome back to earth.
14. Even still, here's my favorite stat of the 2005 season. Trent Dilfer, Kyle Orton, Gus Freotte, Joey Harrington and Patrick Ramsey/Mark Brunell each have more wins than Brett Favre.
15. If the Chargers don't win Sunday at home versus the Giants, they'll finish last in the AFC West. After Sunday, they go to New England, home Pittsburgh, at Oakland, at Philly, home Kansas City, at Jets. A loss Sunday and there's no way they're better than 2-7.
16. Jacksonville had a very impressive loss this week. They may make the playoffs.
Ah, who am I kidding? BRING ON THE BENGALS!
In some ways, my love of the Bears is like a dysfunctional relationship. It's like I'm in love with a woman whose never going to be quite what I want or need her to be, but I love her too much to ever let go of her. Sure, she seemed nice and pretty when I married her, but now she's become a hard core alcoholic with bouts of bi-polar disease, schizophrenia, and rampant dimensia. Yet a sense of loyalty and hope for the future just won't let me let her go.
Worth a read if for nothing more than the perfect match in tone.
I'm not there yet, but I can understand it. I can taste it. Last year's feeling of pure letdown when Rex got injured was about as low as my Bears fandom has been in its four years.
I still believe, though, haven't given in yet.
Preach on, Jeff: In Kyle we trust.
I love Vegas. I mean, I've never been there, but I love what the whole debauchery thing. I also think that Week 2 is perenially the week that Vegas capitalizes off football fans over-reacting to Week 1. But ALAS, I shan't be fooled.
ST. LOUIS -1 OVER ARIZONA
You can't allow the Giants to score 42 points. That's silly.
BALTIMORE - 3.5 OVER TENNESSEE
I'm pretty sure the Titans are the worst team in football not called the Houston Texans.
CINCINNATI -3 OVER MINNESOTA
Okay, this is a heart pick. I just want to see the Vikings totally fall apart.
SAN DIEGO +3 OVER DENVER
The Chargers are a much, much, much better team. MUCH! Denver sucks.
DA BEARS + 1.5 OVER DETROIT
This game seems to always come down to a field goal. The Lions are going to be without Jason Hanson this week. That's my logic.
CLEVELAND + 6.5 OVER GREEN BAY
I'm simply playing the points here. I wouldn't watch this game if they announced Jesus was coming back at halftime.
INDIANAPOLIS -9 OVER JACKSONVILLE
Everything is telling me to go the other way on this one...but no. I think the Colts are just going to steamroll teams this year.
NEW ENGLAND -3 OVER CAROLINA
The Panthers are going to open 0-2. Is there a Jeff Hughes Super Bowl selection curse?
OAKLAND + 1.5 OVER KANSAS CITY
I'm chalking up last week to Jets ineptitude and not to the invigorated Chiefs defense. Billy Bell had three months to prepare for the Raiders and they scored 20. I expect 30 Sunday night in what should be a really fun game.
NEW YORK JETS -6 OVER MIAMI
Did you hear that a rookie d-lineman punched Jonathan Vilma in the face and he got on the team bus with a fat lip and swollen jaw? That's awesome.
PITTSBURGH -6 OVER HOUSTON
I make jokes but Houston isn't as bad as they played last week. The Bills defense IS that good. Still, I'm hedging my bets and not picking them.
ATLANTA +1 OVER SEATTLE
Okay, Vegas. What am I missing? How is this spread even possible? I should just pick Seattle because clearly Vegas has information that the sports watching public does not possess. But no fucking way.
BUFFALO +2.5 OVER TAMPA BAY
Tampa had a nice first week. Final score: 13-10 Bills.
WASHINGTON +6 OVER DALLAS
Cowboys win. Redskins massacre Mssr. Bledsoe.
NEW ORLEANS +3 OVER NEW YORK GIANTS
I don't wanna succumb, but I have. Go Saints.
There is no line for the EAGLES/49ERS game until McNabb's status is clear. If he plays and the spread is less than 14, I'll take the Birds.
.500 last week. The kid needs 9 wins this weekend.
Monday I walk down the street, sit in my shower and argue with myself, "We shoulda...we coulda..."
Tuesday I read every analyst, scan every Power Rankings to see how far we've dropped...
Wednesday it returns.
We've written to death about what the Bears did right and wrong against the Redskins. Forget it. It's over. The Lions are coming into our house Sunday, riding the wave of a big win over the Green Bay Packers, smelling blood. A win for them puts them in the pole position for the NFC North. A Bears win opens the division. A Bears win makes the NFC North a dogfight.
But more than that.
A Bears win gives us a reason to believe for Week 3.
A Bears win gives us a reason to relax on the bye week.
Don't think for a second that the Minnesota Vikings are going to run away with this division. And don't believe for a minute that the Bears are going to roll over the Packers twice because they're struggling. This division is going to beat itself up.
I've loved this team for longer than I've loved anything else on the earth. This Sunday feels like a Play-In Game. We're not playing to get into the playoffs. We're playing to get into the season.
In Kyle, We Trust.
Went 8-8 with the picks this week. A bit disappointing but it's cool. I'll rebound. Here's some more thoughts on the NFL.
LET'S FIRE SOME COACHES RIGHT NOW
Mike Shanahan - Can we at least stop him from making personnel decisions? He knows how to effectively run the football but he's nothing without one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time behind center. All Shanahan did this weekend was lose to the Dolphins...by a lot. Hey Mike, you mean Maurice Clarett and the Brown defensive line didn't help you win this game?
Mike Martz - First, you can't lose to the Niners in Week One. It's not allowed. Second, why won't you just run the ball? You are the most singluarly criticized coach in professional sports. Little children watch Rams games and say, "Daddy, why the fat coach no run the ball on 3rd and inches?" Get rid of this load.
Mike Tice - Name a head coach as bad as Tice.........besides Martz.
THE FIVE BEST TEAMS IN FOOTBALL
1. New England Patriots - they stay here until they lose.
2. Indianapolis Colts - don't go gaga over the defense until a non-Ravens offense is on the other side.
3. Atlanta Falcons - Vick aside, that was the most impressive defensive effort of Week One.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers - Bill Cowher's handling of Big Ben has been downright brilliant
5. Buffalo Bills - defense can be scary good.
THE RACE FOR MATT LEINART
The Tennessee Titans.
GAMES I CARE ABOUT THIS WEEKEND
1. Detroit at Chicago. We need this one, boys.
2. New England at Carolina. Carolina is looking at another bad start.
3. Buffalo at Tampa Bay. 10-9. Whichever way you want.
4. Kansas City at Oakland. Over/under is 458 points.
INJURIES I HATE
Kris Jenkins, Carolina
INJURIES I DON'T
Javon Walker, Green Bay
NEW SUPERBOWL PREDICTION
Indianapolis vs. Atlanta (I need Vick in a Super Bowl)
BEST PLAY OF THE WEEKEND
Lance Briggs' Holk Hogan-ing of Patrick Ramsey, spawning a new Josie Woods' chant: "We Killed Ramsey"
Wow, the Arizona Cardinals bandwagon is a bit lighter today, isn't it?
YOU COULDN'T PAY ME ENOUGH TO WATCH
Cleveland at Green Bay
CHANT I'M LEARNING
"We Killed Joey"
I'll see ya'll on Friday with this week's picks, as I attempt to improve on my .500 record.
I know ill sound like a hack Jeff Hughes but a couple thoughts on MNF:
1. Right as the show opens and the falcons run onto the field Michaels and Madden tell us that there was a fight and players have been sent off but dont tell us who. They then spend 2-3 minutes discussing the McNabb/TO feud and then go to commercial. ALL BEFORE TELLING US WHO WAS FIGHTING. One of the worst failures of sports reporting ive ever seen.
2. I really think Madden looks like one of those animatronic bears in the Ol' Country Bear Jug Band that you see in old, run-down Chuck-E-Cheeses.
3. When the Eagles offense introduced themselves did anyone else think it was obnoxious that instead of being in their jerseys they were thugged out and instead of saying name and school they said random shit like "Im Mr. Jones, School of Hard Knocks". Its like the camera crew interrupted them partying with Randy Moss.
4. The only thing worse than 60 Seconds with Jimmy Kimmel, was his show's guests that night. If you are on broadcast tv and your biggest guest is LL Cool J then there is a problem.
5. Instead of Howard Cosell we get Tim McGraw? And they show 20 shots of fans during this "highlight show" but dont include Briggs laying out Ramsey?
6. "That was McNabbulous" Overtakes the crappy ABC anagram signs as dumbest sign ever.
Bears drive: 11 Plays, 7:43 seconds, 13 net yards, 0 points
Im sorry, I love the Bears, I just felt I had to point that out.
0 - Packers wins this season.
1 - Regular season regulation wins for the 49ers since December 7, 2003 (that includes yesterday's 28-25 win over the Rams).
3 - Opening-day games in NFL history where the losing team scored a touchdown and the winning team did not (the Bears were involved in two of the three, the other was in 1956 when they beat the Browns 9-7). (via Elias says ...)
6 - Teams that reached the playoffs last year that were defeated by sub-.500 teams on Sunday. (via Elias says ...)
8:26 - Minutes before Kris Jenkins was lost for the season (he returned briefly in the third quarter and had to be helped off the field again).
12 - Touchdowns Javon Walker scored last season (and will be missing from the Packers in 2005).
13 - Games in a row LaDanian Tomlinson has scored a rushing touchdown.
27 - Quarterbacks that have started for the Bears in the last 92 games. That's one QB for every 3.4 games.
31 - Rushing yards for J.P. Losman in Sunday's win over the Texans or roughly 1/4 Drew Bledsoe's total with the Bills in 48 games.
36 - Jimmy Smith's age.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m worried. I went into the season thinking 8-8 was a completely realistic expectation, and that 10-6 could happen if things gelled and we got some breaks. Now IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not so sure if 6-10 isnt a much more realistic expectation and 7-9 a mere dream. I am a cynic, so I am prone to gloomy outlooks, and there certainly were some bright spots and signs of potential. But forgive me if I no longer think that games like the Bengals, Bucs, etc are ones we can win.
Ã‚Â· PENALTIES: We were abysmal with penalties last year and we look to be just as bad this year. We negated a huge defensive interception and 55yrd return with a penalty, we had our only real drive and a real tangible chance to score the game winning TD or field goal destroyed by THREE CONSECUTIVE FALSE STARTS and then a sack to go from 1st and 10 on their 34 to 3rd and 38. AFTER TWO FALSE STARTS CALL A DAMN TIME OUT AND REGROUP. We deserved to lose the game purely because of those four plays.
Ã‚Â· Kyle Orton. He played well. Up against one of the best DÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in the league who brought incredible pressure he stepped up. His play improved as the game went on, he was composed, generally played solid football. He occasionally made bad decisions (notably the attempt to Bradley in double coverage and the interception when we were on the 22) but thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s to be expected of a rookie in his first game, much less on the road against that D in a stadium that loud. I like him, I think give him a few more games and he can win games for the bears not just Ã¢â‚¬Å“not loseÃ¢â‚¬?.
Ã‚Â· Mushin: Played better than a Bears receiver has played in years but that said he had some costly drops that a player of his caliber, and of his salary, shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t drop. One of those cost us a first down on 3rd and 10. Overall though I was happy with what I say of him and if Bradley/Gage/Berrian/Wade develop and he can draw some man to man then we have a serious weapon on our hands.
Ã‚Â· Brad Maynard: his performance yesterday after missing most of the preseason with a strained hamstring was inspiring. Bears MVP and every win the Bears have will be due in large measure to his unbelieavable punting ability. All-Pro this year without question. Bears wont be playing glamorous football, but with Maynard punting, we wont have to.
Ã‚Â· Our ability to get first downs and put together drives is better than we showed yesterday. A rookie QB and the redskinsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ D made us look more anemic then we are but our complete lack of a running game means that our offense will still struggle in most games. TJ was averaging 2.1 yards a carry but it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t all him, he had absolutely no where to go, there were no gaps created for him. Benson, when hes ready, might be able to plow through for a few more yards, but for a supposedly run oriented and run dependent offense yesterdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s display was alarming.
Ã‚Â· Why have Bradley do all returns. What happened to Rashead?
Ã‚Â· Our much touted (by Bears fans) defense was the single most worrisome part of SundayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s loss. I know they only gave up 9 points, no touchdowns (for something like the 11th or 12th consecutive quarter played by our first string defense since the preseason began), had 3 sacks, 2 turnovers and nearly decapitated a quarterback but all that belies the fact that Ã¢â‚¬Å“on no possession other than those at the end of both halves did they stop Washington without at least one first down, and they allowed the Redskins drives of 12, nine and eight plays in the first half and one of 15 in the second.Ã¢â‚¬? We allowed one of the leagues worst offenses to convert on 41 percent of third and fourth downs and 323 yards. Portis and Betts ran all over us, Ramsey/Brunell quarterbacks worse in my opinion that Orton were given plenty of targets, including Santana Moss who had 96yrds on 4 catches. We would have big plays only to let up on coverage so that Redskin receivers could drive our backs beyond first-down markers and break back to the ball for first-down catches.
Ã‚Â· If the Bears D is going to dominate enough to win games, as Lovie says it needs to be better not only than our opponents offense but better than their D too. It needs to be big and scary. And big scary DÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to adopt a bend-donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t-break defense against the REDSKINS. A scary D not only decapitates their opponents quarterback it stops an offense that bad cold with three-and-outs on most possessions.
Ã‚Â· Replacing Mike Green with Todd McMillon in order to stop the run was a mistake. One that should have been corrected after it became obvious that he was playing to far back and only stopping the run after they had gotten another first down. Lovie says they are experimenting with different configurations. This was a failure. Keep Mike Green on the field, even if he brings back a 55yard interception play. That brings me to my next point.
Ã‚Â· Nathan Vasher is a ballhawk. He hawks balls like nobodies business.
Ã‚Â· There were some other bright spots on the D. Urlacher played really well. He made some big plays, and when he does that consistently (something he was unable to do last year because of injuries) we are going to win more than we lose.
Ã‚Â· Azumah was rusty and missing a step. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s understandable. He will shake that off. And when he returns to form shortly thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to make a big difference.
Ã‚Â· Lance BriggÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hit on Patrick Ramsey is worth every cent of the huge fine he is going to get. That was exactly the kind of nasty hit that will make opponents scared to line up opposite our defense. It was the highlight of the game, and made even better with slow mo replays and the amazing montages of Ramsey getting various massages for his sprained neck.
As always though, its always darkest on a Monday, and Sunday still offers redemption. And no matter what, solace can be taken in the fact that no matter how bad we are, this year we will still be better than the Packers.
1. We'll start with a basic wrap-up for the Bears game yesterday. (a) Don't blame the defense for anything, I don't care how many rushing yards they allow. The 'skins still only put 9 points on the board and that should win a football game. (b) It was two mistakes: Orton's INT and the False Start Backward March that cost them this game. (c) Orton is going to be good. (d) The defense is going to be great, if it isn't already. (e) The Bears can still win this division and it starts Sunday with Detroit. But they HAVE TO RUN THE BALL WELL and that means Benson has to be on the field.
2. Larry Johnson is going to be very happy that Dick Vermeil was so hard on him early on. He's a star.
3. Did someone tell the Jets they had to play a football game yesterday?
4. Kyle Orton looked more poised than David Carr and Kyle Boller...combined.
5. I told you that addition-by-subtraction thing in Viking land was total bullshit. Randy Moss WAS that offense and without him, they're not scary. Also, the improved defense only allowed 27 points. Good work. (I hate the Vikings.)
6. I hate that Hurrican Katrina is now an excuse for Brett Favre's rapidly declining skills.
7. I'll say it: Peyton Manning is the most enjoyable player to watch in professional sports. He dismantled the Ravens.
8. Willie Parker had how many yards on the ground? The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to be damn good all year long.
9. So are the Buffalo Bills...
10. How 'bout them Cowboys?
Please, lose the bands next year and start the game at 8:00. I don't need to listen to Mick Jagger's ragged bones singing START ME UP to get me bumped for the football season. I've been waiting eight months.
Was John Madden brutal last night or what? Did he have any idea what teams were playing? He did three minutes on Derrick Burgess before realizing Burgess wasn't on the field for the play.
Enough with the wristbands.
Are they seriously planning to do that Tim McGraw thing every week? Other than the one cute chick behind the bar who mouths I LIKE IT and gives me a serious hard-on...it sucked.
Tom Brady is just getting better and better. This might be the year he has the numbers to go with the ring.
Did you see how old the coordinators are for the Patriots now? They're a combined 29 years. Is Bellichick growing these guys in a little green house in his backyard?
Saying Kerry Collins has had "a little problem" with fumbling is like saying Hitler had "a little problem" with Jews.
I think Paul Tagliabue has three numbers on his speed-dial. (1) God (2) The President (3) Rodney Harrison's accountant.
I have to say it. Now that he's not on the Vikings, I found myself seriously rooting for Randy Moss.
FOOTBALL NOTE: The Raiders switching to a 4-3 was a terrific move. Go Ravens and put the two big bodies, Washington and Sapp, right up the gut. Unfortunately this team doesn't have the linebackers to really capitalize.
Tim Dwight catching touchdown passes makes me smile.
It is the most impossible hours to cover on a weekly basis for those of us who are "early risers." But these six hours are now not a problem anymore because I have a foolproof plan to conquer pre-NFL Sunday.
7 AM - Wake up
7:08 AM - Eat a good, healthy grain cereal (or oatmeal if you like). Drink a glass of water and a glass of juice with a lot of Vitamin C (orange will do). Take an extra Vitamin C pill and a B-complex.
7:30 AM - Take a hot shower and be generous with yourself (read: masturbate)
8:00 AM - Disc 2 of the DVD History of the Chicago Bears. Watch the highlights of each game of the 1985 Bears Super Bowl Season
9:30 AM - Masturbate again, without letting your mind think about Gary "Hitman" Fencik
9:32 AM - Turn on WFAN 660 AM radio to Mike Francesca's NFL TODAY for the latest injury reports, to adjust your Fantasy roster for the day.
10:00 AM - Run wind sprints in your apartment (or if size is not applicable, the nearest stretch of land)
Part II coming tomorrow
I suck at picking game, especially when the pesky point spread gets involved. Steve Spurrier and I have the same goal for this season: win more than we lose.
Without further adieu, the first week of the National Football League season.
PATS -7.5 OVER RAIDERS
The line is too big but I think betting the Pats at home is probably always a good idea. Oakland might set a new NFL record and only make 11 tackles in the game.
BEARS +6 OVER REDSKINS
It's a homer pick but it's also a ridiculous line. 6 should be the over/under in this game.
BRONCOS -5.5 OVER DOLPHINS
Fearless Broncos prediction: they win 9 games and lose by 75 to the Colts in the playoffs.
BENGALS -4 OVER BROWNS
This has "upset" tattoo'd on its balls. But I'm not putting any eggs in Trent Dilfer's old man basket right now.
TEXANS +6 OVER BILLS
I think the Bills will probably win this game, though.
TITANS +7 OVER STEELERS
I don't like the Steelers and I have no reason for it. The Titans have a couple things: my favorite coach in the NFL, a terrific offensive coordinator and some real talent on that side of the ball.
PANTHERS -7 OVER SAINTS
Of all the team's that the country has to do the obligatory post-tragedy root for, why the damn Saints? They've underachieved more than Michael Bay's THE ISLAND. Whap!
BUCS +6 OVER VIKINGS
I just flipped the hourglass. When the sand is gone, so is Mike Tice.
SEAHAWKS +3 OVER JAGUARS
I'm refusing to buy into the "Jag Hype"
CHIEFS -3 OVER JETS
I have the Jets going deep into the playoffs. It starts in Week Two.
GIANTS -3 OVER CARDINALS
Yeah, the Cardinals. They still stink.
RAMS -6 OVER 49ERS
This line could be 60 and I'd still take the Rams.
PACKERS +3 OVER LIONS
Can they both lose?
COWBOYS + 5 OVER CHARGERS
No Gates. Drew Brees is the second-best Purder quarterback in Week One.
COLTS -3 OVER RAVENS
Kyle Boller throws three touchdown passes a week...next season...in the CFL.
EAGLES -1.5 OVER FALCONS
Michael Vick throws three touchdown passes a week...never.
I suck at predictions. I'm really shit. But before the season starts in two days (TWO DAYS!!!) I wanted to throw my thoughts on the coming year out there for the fodder of all...I'll go Peter King style and list each division in the order I think they'll finish.
Philadelphia, Dallas, New York Giants, Washington
Division MVP: Terrell Owens
Breakout star: Demarcus Ware
Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay
Division MVP: Daunte Culpepper
Breakout star: Tommie Harris
Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, New Orleans
Division MVP: Kris Jenkins
Breakout star: Michael Jenkins
St. Louis, Arizona, Seattle, San Francisco
Division MVP: Steven Jackson
Breakout star: Steven Jackson
NFC Wildcards: Dallas, Atlanta
(Though clearly I think the Bears are going to the playoffs)
New England, New York Jets, Buffalo, Miami
Division MVP: Willis McGahee
Breakout star: J.P. Losman
Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Cleveland
Division MVP: Ed Reed
Breakout star: David Pollock
Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Houston, Tennessee
Division MVP: Peyton Manning
Breakout star: Matt Jones
AFC WEST (the hardest division to predict in football)
Kansas City, San Diego, Denver, Oakland
Division MVP: Priest Holmes
Breakout star: Derrick Johnson
AFC Wildcards: New York Jets, San Diego
NFC Championship Game: Carolina over Philadelphia
AFC Championship Game: Indianapolis over New York Jets
Super Bowl XL: Indianapolis over Carolina
10. Scott Pioli (Director of Personnel, New England Patriots) Pioli doesn't get the credit Billy B does for making the talent decisions but everyone in the NFL knows his impact. He's even rumored to be the front-runner to be Ernier Accorsi's successor as GM of the Giants. Pioli convinced Bellichick to sit with Corey Dillon and was instrumental in the acquisition of Rodney Harrison (see below). He'll be a great GM in this league for a long, long time.
9. Jerry Gray (Defensive Coordinator, Buffalo Bills) He arrived in 2001 and the defense has just gotten better and better since that time. Now, they are one of the handful of elite defensive units in the league. Gray is going to start finding himself in head coaching conversations very soon, especially after his Bills make a playoff run on the shoulders of his defense this season.
8. Kevin Mawae (Center, New York Jets) You ask how Curtis Martin keeps going? My answer is Mawae, the Hawaiian-born center and anchor of one of the better offensive lines around the past five years. When Mawae isn't in the lineup, it crumbles like a week-old Entenmans cookie. If I was starting an offensive line from scratch right now, I'd start with this big pineapple.
7. Joe Horn (Wide Receiver, New Orleans Saints) Over the last five years, Horn has averaged 86 catches, 1257.8 yards and 9 touchdowns. Over that same span, Randy Moss - in a much pass-heavier offense - averaged 85 catches, 1283 yards and and 12.4 touchdowns. Horn is an elite NFL star who just never seems to be in the conversation.
6. Rodney Harrison (Safety, New England Patriots) His carrer was over. Dead. Buried. 94 tackles and a Super Bowl later, Harrison was the most feared defender in the game last year. He crushed people and held together a patchwork secondary down the strecth. He doesn't get the picks or the touchdowns that Ed Reed gets but Harrison was my Defensive Player of the Year in 2004.
5. Hunter Smith (Punter, Indianapolis Colts) No, he's not exactly an integral part of the Colts gameplan but with a somewhat shaky defense, it helps to have someone as good as Smith punting the ball. Hunter was third in the league, averaging 45.2 yards per punt with 21 inside the 20 yard-line and 0 blocks. When you're offense is as good as Peyton's Colts, a punter like this can be the nail in many a team's coffin.
4. Jamal Williams (Nose Tackle, San Diego Chargers). He has four sackles on one of the best run-stuffing defenses in football last year. More than that, he cleared space for Donnie Edwards to make a million tackles on route to becoming one of the best linebackers in the game. Jamal is just as good as Pat Williams and only a step down from Kris Jenkins, the best defensive tackle in the game.
3. Matt Hasselbeck (Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks) He's very. very good. Unfortunately none of his receivers liked to catch the ball the last few seasons. If half the balls dropped were caught, Hasselbeck would have absolutely mind-blowing numbers.
2. Warrick Dunn (Running Back, Atlanta Falcons) Here's an amazing stat about Dunn. In his seven-ear career, he has NEVER has less than a thousand yards from scrimmage. Never. He has the best year of his career in 2004, running for 1106 and receiving 294, while tacking on 9 touchdowns. The running backs keep the Falcons winning while Vick keeps the fans in the seats. Dunn was one of the best players in football last year.
1. Brad Childress (Offensive Coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles) He doesn't call the plays so Andy Reid gets most of the credit. I've never really been impressed with Reid screen pass-as-running play style. But Childress' schemes allowed for Detmer and Feeley to step in two seasons back and looks like fully-functional professional quarterbacks. Like Bellichick before him, Childress is a coordinator who is going to need to escape a dominant personality head coach to establish for the NFL just how good he is at what he does.