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Winners, Losers & Wannabes – NFL Week 2

Richard Sherman and the Seahawks staked their claim to the NFC crown with a beat down of the defending champion 49ers. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Winners

Bears/Texans
Right now, neither team looks poised for a deep playoff run. Both could easily be 0-2. The Texans needed last second field goals to knock off the Chargers and Titans. The Bears lucked into a win over the Bengals and barely squeaked out a last second touchdown to take down the Vikings. Despite their struggles, both teams sit alone atop their divisions at 2-0. Winning ugly is still winning. More importantly, escaping tough games with a 2-0 record goes a long way when playoff seeding comes around.

Packers
If I were asked to rank the NFC right now, I’d go Seattle, San Francisco, Green Bay. But you know what? I’d still pick the Packers against either team. Aaron Rodgers is on a new level this year. I think that’s been made pretty clear. (I didn’t think another level existed.) Green Bay doesn’t have a defense on par with Seattle or San Francisco, nor do they own a punishing back like Marshawn Lynch, but there’s a different vibe to the Packers this season. After sleep-walking through the 2011 and 2012 seasons with a Super Bowl hangover, Green Bay is playing as if they’re embarrassed by recent playoff failures. If they can continue to protect Rodgers and remain relatively healthy, I like their chances, even against the powerhouses in the NFC West.

Seahawks
Seattle is the best team in the NFL. That is all.

Troy Aikman
I like it when broadcasters speak more like human beings than robots. Aikman made no effort to hide his disdain for Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather’s propensity to viciously attack the heads of opponents. Aikman’s disgust was refreshing.

Philip Rivers
Rivers has been outstanding for seven of eight quarters in this young NFL season. The Eagles defense is absolutely awful and deserves credit for Rivers’ stellar play in Week 2, but Rivers also looks better than he has in years. Remember when Rivers was one of the league’s toughest quarterbacks? Rivers was the one that led the Chargers to a playoff victory with a blown ACL. He also waltzed into Indianapolis during Peyton Manning’s prime and walked away with a ticket punched for the AFC title game. His inexplicable collapse over the past five years has all but erased his early career success but perhaps he’s found his groove again?

Aaron Rodgers fantasy owners
I enjoyed three glorious seasons with Aaron Rodgers. I won hundreds of dollars. Sadly, due to questionable keeper rules, I was forced to throw Rodgers back into the player pool. I hope all you Rodgers owners out there enjoy the fruits of his 2013 MVP campaign while my team drowns in the stink of mediocrity without him.

Joe Flacco
Birthing experiences can be stressful, challenging, and worst of all, messy. Maybe Flacco knew what he was doing when he missed his kid’s birth.

Losers

Joe Flacco
Dude, you missed your kid’s birth. Good luck with the wifey for the next 50 years. You’ll never live that one down.

Steelers
Aside from the Jaguars and Browns, there isn’t a team harder to watch than the Pittsburgh Steelers. At least the Raiders have Terrelle Pryor. Let’s be honest, is Ben Roethlisberger even good anymore? His offensive line has been atrocious in recent years, and he hasn’t had a reliable running game since Rashard Mendenhall blew out his knee, but there’s more to it than that. His ability to prolong plays is now more of a liability than an asset. Instead of a big play, I expect a turnover. Worse, his accuracy and touch – at least in the first two weeks – have been missing completely. The Steelers are bad, undisciplined, and a sloppy mess. Maybe it’s time Mike Tomlin takes a hike.

Giants
If turnovers were touchdowns, the Giants would be kings. At 10 turnovers through two games the Giants double any other team’s turnovers with the exception of the Minnesota Vikings (who have 7). If you’re new here, it’s impossible to win in the NFL with that many turnovers in four games, let alone two. Speaking of four games, New York’s upcoming slate reads @Carolina, @Kansas City, home for Philadelphia, and @Chicago. The Giants could celebrate Columbus Day with a 1-5 record. It’s in play.

Jaguars
This isn’t even funny anymore. I understand drafting isn’t an exact science, but goodness gracious… the Jaguars have drafted in the top ten for six consecutive seasons. Of those six picks, the most recognizable is probably 2012’s Justin Blackmon, and that’s only because the NFL suspended him.

Panthers
Members of the Panthers football team aren’t losers. Though they’re also responsible for the franchise’s struggles of late, I don’t put too much blame on them. The clowns in the Panthers executive branch are the big losers. Ron Rivera has no pulse and is probably afraid of his own shadow. Year after year the Panthers field an offense with some of the NFL’s most talented players and year after year the offense is horribly anemic. Mr. Rivera, you’re getting fired soon. Why not take a deep breath, loosen up, and let your best player (Cam Newton) use his God-given talents to terrorize opponents? Punting on 4th and 1 with a 6’5, 250 lbs. quarterback when the game is on the line is never an option unless you’re pinned deep inside your own end of the field. I thought you learned this last year in Atlanta? Grow a pair and stay employed, or maintain status quo and file unemployment soon. It’s your call.

Chip Kelly
This isn’t college, Chip. You can’t mount a game-winning drive in the closing seconds with first downs helping you stop the clock. You need timeouts. It also wouldn’t hurt to run out some clock while you have possession, especially given how bad your defense has proven itself over the last 90 minutes of play. Rookie mistake. I get it. But you can’t be considered a genius when your defense gives up more than you groundbreaking offense takes. At that point, regardless of the flashy numbers, you’re still a loser.

Wannabes

49ers
I’m selling San Francisco as a true Super Bowl contender, at least for now. I’ve been skeptical of Colin Kaepernick since Day 1. I caved after last week’s near perfect outing against Green Bay. Sure enough, Kaepernick was awful in Seattle. The 49ers are a really good team. They’re also stupid and have significant flaws; no running game, injuries at receiver, questionable defensive backfield. I’ll reconsider the 49ers later in the season once they clean up their act, but Sunday night’s dismantling at the hands of the Seahawks was eye opening.

Jason Garrett
I told my cousin after last season how excited I was to have Jason Garrett back in Dallas. Considering I’m an Eagles fan, that’s bad news for Cowboy nation. Garrett’s a lousy coach. Despite fielding one of the more talented rosters in the NFL, Garrett has mustered more hype than wins. I’m thrilled Jerry Jones is too oblivious to see his golden boy is a glorified coordinator. Wait, he’s not even that anymore after relinquishing play-calling duties.

NFC East
This one hits close to home. I won’t lie, it hurts. The NFC East isn’t the worst division in the league. It is, however, the only division without a great, or even really good, team. Put simply, the NFC East is a bunch of frauds. The Giants are a mess with a lackluster defense and turnover problems. The Redskins don’t even look competent until the opponent gets complacent with a multi-score lead. The Eagles field an explosive offense but are scuttled by a truly horrific defense. The Cowboys? They epitomize frauds. All talent. No backbone. Is there a softer team in the league? 9-7 wins this division.

Todd Haley
After watching Pittsburgh’s offensive display Monday night I wondered what pictures Todd Haley has of Mike Tomlin. Shouldn’t Haley have been fired in the spring? Has there ever been more of a wannabe NFL coach than Haley? He rode Kurt Warner to a Super Bowl and parlayed that into a head coaching gig in Kansas City. The Chiefs eventually imploded because they all hated Haley. Under Haley, the Steelers offense has never been worse and again, his players hate him. This seems simple to me. Am I missing something?

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