Monday, September 13, 2010

Week One, 2010

I have been slow in finalizing my picks for this season due to the fact that Pre-Season didn't furnish me with much certainty about what would happen this year. It was kind of a blah pre-season as pre-seasons go.

Cheating though it may be, I will post my pre-season predictions after the double-header tonight. I will publish my final predictions sometime Tuesday evening. It is a good think I waited. Week one was full of surprises that shed light on the upcoming season.

The Bengals go pop

The Bengals v. Patriots game was the first bit of light shed on the new season. The Bengals are a team know for their booms and busts. They rarely follow one playoff campaign with another. This has been true throughout their history. Although it would appear that the Bengals increased their ammo supply during the off season, they sure played like pooh-poo dooh-doo yesterday morning.

Don't compare this season's Week-One loss to that of last season. The Bengals had a fast-starting Denver team beaten, on the last week one, when suddenly the Immaculate Deflection struck. The Bengals played very well in that game; more than well enough to win. They were just robbed by fate.

Let's make no mistake about this: The Bengals got blown out by the Patriots. This was never a competitive game. The Patriots knocked them out and stomped on them. The logical inference is not that the Patriots are strong in 2010. The logical inference is that the Bengals are going flat after a good season, just as they have in so many years prior to this one.

My conclusion is that the Bengals got stomped by a suspect and vulnerable Patriot crew primarily because Carson Palmer did not perform well at all at the QB position. Make no mistake, Carson has never quite lived up to his billing as an elite QB. Now he is looking more and more like Jim Everett 2.0; but not quite that good.

Going into this season, we all know that Palmer is on the hot seat. Right now Palmer is 0-1 when it comes to making his case in 2010.

The Bengals also suffered something of a defensive failure, but I think that was triggered by the inability of the offense to stay on the field and eat the clock, as they did so well last season.

The lesson I take from this is clear: The Bengals will not contend in 2010, and the Ravens have an even stronger position to launch a Super Bowl run.

What the hell happened to the 49ers?

How did the Seahawks crush the 49ers? Chris Berman said it best: "This, above all results today, has us scratching our heads." The 49ers are not a great team, just a good one. However, the Seahawks do not look anything like a playoff team to my eye. How the hell did the Seahawks destroy the 49ers?

What we saw was a full-blown system failure for the 49ers. They failed offensively, and Alex Smith did not look at all like a franchise QB. Unfortunately, they also failed defensively, allowing the Seahawks 38 points. How did that happen to this potentially-elite Mike Singltary defense? This I find shocking.

Don't read too much into this. As a famous New Orleans bluesman once sang: Even the Sun shines on a dogs ass some days. I have a hunch this may just turn out to be a fluke game. Last season, the Seahawks opened by crushing my Rams 28-0. They went 4-11 in the next 15 games and finished as the 6th worst team in the league.

The Jinx

The Colts are suffering the Super Bowl loser's jinx. What did I tell you about that thing? It is real and powerful and effective. During the deep off season, I shocked some people by making the Texans my favorite to win the South.

Right now, I think it is a two horse race: Titans vs. Texans. The Colts are bringing up the rear. I think the Titans have a distinct advantage.

The Giant defense seems much-improved.

Perry Fewell seems like the man of the our in New York. The Giant defense looked good yesterday, drastically better than last year. They victimized the Panthers as we would expect them to. If things continue to improve, expect the Giants to the lead the East for the duration of 2010.

Based on limited data, the Giants could be the best team in the East.

The Vick controversy

Let's just say that the Kobb era didn't get up and fly yesterday. I'll give you the two key reasons. First, Kobb looks like the second coming of Shaun Hill. Second, Andy Reid was calling a classic West-Coast game, and the WCO is an outmoded, outdated, obsolete offense that just doesn't work anymore.

You saw how easily the Packers were nailing the Eagles in the early going. I assure you, that was not because of the struggles of a young QB. That was because of the ease with which you can counter-measure the WCO system.

The second Kobb goes down with a concussion, and Vick goes in, the WCO playbook gets tossed out, and the Eagles begin to surge. Reid is a true believer in the WCO. He is not going to give up his religion without a fight. However, he would be best served to just let Vick play.

I am not a fan of the crazy gunslinger and the sandlot QB type, but that style of offense works better than the WCO does. It will produce more yards and more points and more gray hair for NFC DCs than the WCO will

The curse of Alex Barron

I hope you were watching the Sunday night game. It all came down to the final seconds. Tony Romo throws a game winning touchdown pass to Roy Williams in the right corner of the end zone. The Cowboys win! Nope! Guess again. There is yellow laundry on the green grass. Alex Barron, 6th year man from Florida State held mr. Brian Orakpo of the Texas Longhorns. Oh shit! Is that the ball game? Yep, holding #71 offense. That's the end of the game folks. Redskins win. Good night, and good luck.

The penalty was absolutely decisive. Without the penalty, the Cowboys win. With the penalty the Redskins win. The whole game turned on just one penalty. Jeezzzeee... I would hate to be Alex Barron right now.

You should have seen the Play Maker Michael Irvin on the NFL wrap-up show. The frustration! The exasperation! The anger! To quote Irvin: "I told him in training camp 'YOU SIT YOUR FAT BUTT DOWN AND BLOCK FOR 3 SECONDS'".

Michael was killing me. I was laughing my ass off. Play Maker, you do not know how many Sundays over the course of the past 5 years I have screamed at my HDTV "YOU SIT YOUR SCRAWNY ASS DOWN AND BLOCK FOR 3 SECONDS!" At 6-7 and 325 pounds, I think Alex is actually pretty scrawny. He has less than 10 pounds of fat on his body. You have to give him credit for that much. Nevertheless, I said essentially the same thing as the Play maker, about 875 million times.

I feel your pain, Mike. Furthermore, you are feeling the pain I (and all Ram fans) experienced for the past 5 years. I don't understand Alex Barron. He's got every gift God ever gave an offensive lineman, except intelligence, and he wrecks it savagely by committing all these stupid penalties. Herm Edwards claims that the offensive linemen are usually the smartest guys on the team. Not Alex. You cannot get this guy to eliminate mistakes.

Back in the deep off-season, when I made Dallas my mild-favorite to win the NFC, I worried about whether my Rams had injected the poison pill into the Cowboys' fuel mixture. This worry already seems like a serious concern.

I am sure Billy Devaney was sweating a bit after dealing Barron for Carpenter and then subsequently releasing Carpenter. Essentially, he gave away Barron of nothing. Then, when you see Barron in the starting lineup for the Cowboys... It doesn't look so good for Devaney. When you hear that former Ram coach Jim Hasslet, a guy you fired, is targeting Barron because he is sure Barron will screw up... Well... it's cold comfort.

Then comes vindication. Barron makes the decisive penalty play that costs the Cowboys a win in his first week as a starter. Awe crap... The Ram fans who didn't want to flush Barron--and there were not many of them--all looked at each other and said: "Maybe Devaney was right... this time."

The Rape of Detroit

Now for the truly egregious moment of the week! The Lions get a game winning touchdown pass without franchise QB Matt Stafford, and the Zebras take it away upon further review. Let's make no mistake: the Refs sodomized the Lions like a Jailhouse rapist going to work on new meat in the shower.

I am wearing my Calvin Johnson jersey and a black arm-band all day long. I am protesting this injustice.

I know you are going to quote the fucking rule book. That ain't nothing but good 'ole fashion communism. I know a touchdown when I see one, and that was a touchdown. He lost control of the football as he was standing up to go celebrate. That was a catch with full control in the endzone.

The refs are lucky they were in Chicago. In Detroit, they might have come down with a bad case of Columbian Neck-Ties.

What did I chastise Lion Management about?

Folks, when I was setting team goals for the Rams, pass protection and sack-reduction were of paramount importance. I sited Detroit as the perfect example of how not to do things. Matt Stafford finished his rookie campaign needing not one but two surgeries. Still, the Lions got him no viable pass protection in the 2010 draft, or in free agency.

I stated that this was incredibly stupid, and now look what has happened. I accused the Detroit management of digging the kid an early grave. Guess what? Detroit will not be getting up off the carpet in 2010, and they will not make a run. Why? Matt Stafford is out for the next 4-6 weeks with an injured passing shoulder. Don't expect him to perform perfectly when he returns. Expect another off-season surgery.

You see, this is what comes of Buttism. You cannot draft players based on how many seats they will fill. As much as I love Jahvid Best, it would have been better to take a Left Tackle.

Is Sam Bradford next?

So the Left Tackle the Lions didn't take (Rodger Saffold) is now a Ram. I have profoundly mixed observations about the Rams line, and mixed feelings about what I am about to say about them. The Rams line looked considerably better than last year in week 1. They still did not look like a high quality line. Usually, it takes 5-6 weeks for an OL unit to jell, and show signs of a little team work.

There are several questions. Will this line jell? If they jell in 5 to 6 weeks, will that be soon enough to keep Bradford healthy. Is this unit talented enough to protect Bradford?

You did notice that the Cardinals were opening some mighty big running holes yesterday, right? They kinda looked like the New York Jets last season. Awe shit! Look at the guy wearing #66! Is that Alan Faneca? Gheeze... isn't he that washed up dude the Jets released? Booouuuyyy! Look at dem holes in the defensive line. The HD video is pretty clear.

Man, wouldn't Steven Jackson benefit from holes like that? How are the Jets doing at the Left Guard position? Did I hear somebody say that Hard-Knocks exposed shitty performance for the Jets at the Left Guard position?

I categorically rejected all the absolute bullshit floating around about Faneca in the immediate aftermath of his release from the Jets. I knew it was a salary dump. I knew the Jets' management was spin doctoring with heaping helpings of disinformation.