Age was served in Cleveland, with a LOT of help from Adrian Peterson

Age was served in Cleveland, with a LOT of help from Adrian Peterson

I am going to start this by saying that I am a little embarrassed for several reasons, the least of which being my 8-5 record heading into tonight’s Bears-Packers game, which based on Jay Cutler’s 2 INT’s will soon be 8-6.  The reasons that I’m embarrassed is because, I feel that after just one week that I already might have to re-examine my outlook on some teams in the league.  So let’s get right to the part where I very suddenly eat my words in humiliation.

Considering the teams that I saw either overacheive or underachieve today, I’m going to take this on one division at a time, starting in the AFC.

East
I feel like I might have the middle two teams in this division mixed up, as the Dolphins looked like dead fish in Atlanta while there were no problems in

The Dolphins offense was certainly not helped by Penningtons 3 picks

The Dolphins offense was certainly not helped by Pennington's 3 picks

Houston for the Jets.  Give credit to the Jets defense, which pitched a shutout against a very potent Texans offense.  In case you were wondering, no I didn’t forget I picked the Texans to win this game or that I said they would win by 10 points.  On the other hand, Chad Pennington did not look like the QB we saw last year and the Dolphins offense looked like the 2007 version that saw only one win.

Next Up: Bills at Patriots, Mon. Night ; Week 2: Pats at Jets, Bucs at Bills, and Colts at Dolphins (Monday Night)

North
I actually don’t think there were many surprises out of this division as the Steelers and Ravens both scratched out close wins, the Browns looked like the Browns we all know and love, and the Bengals lived up to their “Bungles” moniker with a bit of bad luck against the Broncos.  That being said, Baltimore’s defense was a bit disappointing, as was Cincy’s offense.  It will be interesting to see how these teams react next week, or if they are just not that good.

Next Up: Bengals at Packers, Ravens at Chargers, Steelers at Bears, Browns at Broncos

South
OK, I think I owe an early apology to the Titans.  Yes, I know they lost to the Steelers, but with the Colts barely escaping the Jags at home, and the injury to Anthony Gonzalez, combined with the Texans getting beaten at home by the Jets, the Titans might be the class of this South division, and a legitimate contender.  They are still a very good defensive team, and if the running game comes along the way it could, Tennessee could be very dangerous come playoff time.  On the flip side, Houston looks like they are not quite ready to play the first half of the season yet, which will once again make me and the rest of the bandwagon look very stupid.

Next Up: Texans at Titans, Cardinals at Jaguars, Colts at Dolphins (Mon. Night)

West
The two teams that have played in this division so far this week looked about the way I expected them to.  The Broncos caught a very lucky break and escaped with an ugly and undeserved 12-7 win over the Bungles, and the Matt Cassel-less Chiefs crumbled late under pressure just like last year’s Chiefs, falling 38-24 to Baltimore.  If this pattern continues, San Diego should beat Oakland by about 50 tomorrow night.

Next Up: Raiders at Chiefs, Ravens at Chargers, Browns at Broncos
NFC
Much like in the AFC, there were several surprises to me in the NFC.  I knew that the Eagles were a good team, but I had no idea how bad Jake Delhomme could be, as he turned the ball over 5 times in a 38-10 beatdown.  The other big news was Drew Brees exploding on the hapless Lions for 6 TDs in a 45-27 Saints victory.

East
I think the Eagles showed today just how versatile of a team they can be, scoring on offense, defense, and special teams…BUT Donovan McNabb’s

Donovan McNabb left Phillys rout with a cracked rib. Kevin Kolb may start against the Saints

Donovan McNabb left Philly's rout with a cracked rib. Kevin Kolb may start against the Saints

cracked ribs certainly raises the eyebrows of the Philly faithful.  Dallas did what it should be able to do against teams as offensively challenged as Tampa Bay, and the Giants, contrary to what the final score might say, pretty much controlled the game against the Redskins, 23-17.

Next Up: Saints at Eagles, Rams at Redskins, Giants at Cowboys (Sun. Night)

North
Well, it wasn’t pretty, but Brett Favre is pretty old after all and the Vikings got a 34-20 win in Cleveland behind Adrian Peterson’s 180 yard, 3 TD outburst.  Along the same lines, it’s never pretty for the Lions, who saw their defense get lit up by Drew Brees in a 45-27 loss.  Worse even for Detroit, Matt Stafford’s inability to find the endzone through the air while finding Saints defenders on 3 occasions.  Speaking of 3 INTs, Jay Cutler just threw another one!  It’s not looking so good for the Bears right now.

Next Up: Bengals at Packers, Vikings at Lions, Steelers at Bears

South
If today was any indication of how the NFC South is going to break down, then expect this to be a two team race between Atlanta and New Orleans,

Brees threw 6 TDs against Detroit.  Can he do this every week to hide the Saints D?

Brees threw 6 TDs against Detroit. Can he do this every week to hide the Saints' D?

both of which looked very good today against the Dolphins and Lions, respectively, although the Saints did surrender 27 points to Detroit.  Opposite this might be the pillow fight for last place that has begun between the Panthers and Buccaneers, both of which looked completely inept against their NFC East opponents.

Next Up: Saints at Eagles, Panthers at Falcons, Bucs at Bills

West
The NFC West took a bit of a turn for the unexpected as San Francisco went into University of Phoenix Stadium and beat the Cardinals 20-16. (On a side note, why does a school without a football team or even a real campus have a football stadium’s naming rights?) Anyway, I was very impressed by how the 49ers defense managed to contain Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, as well as how well Arizona contained Frank Gore on the ground.  But at the end of the day, the Cardinals are not built to play a defensive game and it showed.  In the other division showdown, Seattle showed that they won’t be fighting with the Rams for last place again this year in a 28-0 thrashing of St. Louis.  It really was a combination of Seattle’s improvement and St. Louis’ lack thereof.  The Rams might challenge the Lions for worst team in the league this year, and we’re even lucky enough to see them faceoff in Week 8.

Next Up: Rams at Redskins, Seahawks at 49ers, Cardinals at Jaguars

Check back tomorrow/Tuesday for reports on the Bears-Packers game as well as the Monday Night games…and now it looks like the Bears might pull this one out tonight, go figure.  Sorry, Jay Cutler. (EDIT: Greg Jennings just scored. I take back my apology.)

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    Wow, its been way too long since I’ve posted here and to make up for it, I am going to release my  NFL Preview over the next couple of days.  I know, ludicrous.  Let the insanity begin:

NFC Preview (teams are listed in predicted order of finish):

NFC East:  This is by far the toughest division in all of football with each of these teams capable of winning the Super Bowl or least getting there.  I see at three of these teams making the playoffs with all four of them finishing at or above .500

Dallas Cowboys (13-3):  The team with the most talent west of Foxboro got better in the offseason with the addition of Pacman Jones and Zach Thomas and the promotion of Marion Barber to starter.  Fantasy Pick:  While T.O. and Romo are givens, Jason Witten comes in as my top rated tight end because he is going to draw the double teams away from T.O. on the outside and destroy opponents down the middle of the field.  I expect a huge year.  Position of Concern: Wide Reciever, after releasing Terry Glenn, the Boys only have one reliable reciever and a bunch of unknowns.  Patrick Crayton was decent as a number 3 be does he have what it takes to be a number two?  After him you have even more questions.  Will the recievers lack of experience ground their vast air attack?  Final Outlook:  The Cowboys are obviosly the class of the NFC and have the talent and coaching to gather the number one seed.  However, Tony Romo’s history of choking in the playoffs will not be forgotten as the Cowboys lose another divisional playoff game.

New York Giants (11-5):  The defending Super Bowl Champs have seen a lot of players exit from their championship team.  With the addition of only rookies and role players, will this team take a step back?  Fantasy Pick: I really like Brandon Jacobs and always have.  If he stays healthy this year expect top-10 fantasy numbers from him (like 1800 total yards and 12 touchdowns).  He’s bigger than some defensive ends and will play to contact.  Gotta love that in a running back.  Impact Rookie:  First round pick Kenny Phillips has been flying around camp laying the smackdown.  Pencil him in as the Giants free safety for the next 5-10 years.  Final Outlook:  While they won’t win the division, I like them getting to the playoffs as the top wild card entry and fighting their way to the NFC Champsionship Game. 

Philadelphia Eagles (10-6):  The Eagles have the potential to win the Super Bowl this year or finish below .500.  It all depends on whether or not McNabb is healthy enough to lead this team.  Fantasy Pick:  Brian Westbrook led the league last year in yards and I see no reason he won’t do it again this year.  If i’m drafting in the 4 or 5 position in the first round, I’d think long and hard about grabbing him.  Free-Agent Bust?:  Asante Samuel came from a system that primarily used zone, which allowed Samuel to play an area and wait for the balls to come his way.  Now in Philly, hes going to be primarily a man corner and does he have the skills to justify that massive contract and locker room resentment that Lito Sheppard holds towards the organization?  I don’t think so.  Final Outlook:  This will be the final playoff team and will surprise a few teams when they get there.  I see them reaching the NFC Championship game and maybe something more.

Washington Redskins (8-8): New Coach Jim Zorn has a daunting task of replacing Redskins coaching icon Joe Gibbs.  However, this Quarterback Guru has been busy teaching his stable of quaterback to run his offense.  Fantasy Pick:  Chris Cooley is a guy that I would highly recommend.  He catches everything thrown to him and is always reliable for 800 yards and 6 touchdowns, which is easily attainable when your two best red zone options are rookie wide recievers.  He’s my 5 TE off the board so keep an eye on him.  Burning Question:  What will Jason Taylor’s impact be on the Defense?  The Taylor trade was important on two fronts: they found a great replacement for Philip Daniels and kept him away from the G-Men.  However, they are playing him out of his normal position of LE, but he will still have an impact, but not really add wins to this team.  Final Outlook:  This team just has too many questions and not enough answers to justify a finish better than 8-8.  Jason Campbell still hasn’t proven that he is a winner or can put up the numbers desired from a franchise QB.  Clinton Portis is hurt again and will he be ready for opening day?  Also, how will Zorn handle himself late in the season when his decisions are questioned by the media?  Give them one more year and then they’ll have something. 

NFC North:  The “Drama Division” as I like to refer to it now, has seen the Packers hog all of the media attention while the other teams lurk in the shadows, waiting for all the distractions to destroy the team.  Watch out for Minnesota, if Tavaris Jackson can figure out how to play quarterback, they could be good.

Green Bay Packers (9-7):  I hate Brett Favre.  There I said it, now I can get on with my life.  If I didn’t know any better, I would be led to believe that the Packers are the only team in the NFL.  Fantasy Pick: Greg Jennings, the third year wide reciever is going to explode into stardom this year.  I expect at least 1100 yards recieving and 6-10 touchdowns.  I’d pencil him in as an elite No. 2 reciever/borderline number one.  Burning Question:  How is Aaron Rodgers going to respond this media circus that Brett Favre has created?  Is he the player that fell in the draft or the player who showed enough flashes of brilliance during the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game to lead them to the promised land.  He’s sat enough and now is the time to let him prove it, no matter what number Four thinks.  Final Outlook:  This is still the best team in a week division and Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the division.  They also have a running game to complement Rodgers growth and a defense that features the best press corners in the NFL.  That alone guarantees them a spot in the playoffs. 

Minnesota Vikings (7-9):  While most experts are drooling over the Vikings because of Year Two of A-Pete and the addition of Jared Allen, I still see a team with a bad coach, bad recievers, and a bad quarterback.  Fantasy Pick:  There is nobody worth drafting on this team except Adrian Peterson and he is going to go a couple spots too high.  With all of the hype surrounding him, I see him as a sell high candidate who can give a pretty nice return in a two for one deal.  Free-Agent/Trade Bust:  While this trade was widely hailed throughout the the NFL, I feel like the Chiefs came out on top in the Jared Allen trade.  He is a player who went after his own stats (sacks) and sacrificed run stopping.  In a division that is short on QB prowess, will he live up to lofty standards…I don’t believe so.  Final Outlook:  This is the most overrated team in the league.  They have major holes at all of the offensive skill positions except for running back.  They have a coach that is overmatched and lost.  They will be a major dissapointment and will miss the playoffs.

Detroit Lions (7-9): The Lions dropped ego-maniac/offensive coordinator Mike Martz and his pass happy scheme in favor of something that suits bulldog coach Rod Marinelli.  Lets see if this is the answer to the prayers of Lions nation.  Fantasy Pick:  Roy Williams always has put of monster numbers and he will again this year.  He is the only thing certain on a roster full of questions.  Impact Rookie:  RB Kevin Smith was drafted with the idea that he would give the running game some stability.  Even though he led the nation in rushing last year and is coming into they same system that was run at UCF, he has a lot of wear and tear on him (450 carries last year, over 30 a game) and did not come out of a big time program.  I believe he wins the starting job but doesn’t set the world on fire.  Final Outlook:  The Lions will not be very good again, but they won’t be horrible.  There first priority is to find a franchise QB because Jon Kitna is just a stopgap option.  Two questions though: Will Rod Marinelli last the season and is this the year that Matt Millen finally loses his job?

Chicago Bears (5-11):  The Bears have all sorts of problems on offense, mainly a lack of playmakers.  The defense should rebound from a poor year but they can’t score for the team.  Fantasy Pick:  Chicago DEF/Brian Urlacher.  Urlacher should become a top-5 defense again now that (hopefully) everyone is healthy.  This is more a statement that I would stay away from everyone on this roster, even Devin Hester.  Quarterback Controversy:  Kyle Orton vs. Rex Grossman does not really inspire much confidence but I believe that Orton gives them a better chance to win right now.  He seems to better understand what needs to be done on offense in order to put his team in position to win the game.  Grossman has more talent but it just doesn’t translate on the field.  Final Outlook:  The Bears believe they will be back but I just don’t see it.  Too many holes on offense and top pick Chris Williams has not practiced with the first team offense yet and Matt Forte was a bit of a reach in the second round.  Will he be the answer at RB?  I don’t really think so.

Part Two of Four Coming Tomorrow