And...we're back! It's been a long offseason, what with the lockout and such, but there were no games missed (except the first preseason game, but who cares about that), so all seems to be well. It was a confusing week for me, and a bit of a disappointing one as my team (Cowboys) gave one away late and a lot of the results just seemed wrong. A lot of bad performances around the league in Week 1, with a couple that were praiseworthy in defeat. The winners for the most part looked pretty spectacular. That said, it's one game, and I'm not officially counting anyone out just yet.
Introducing a new feature for 2011, a look at the picks I made for this week's games. As you may know, Pete Prisco here at CBS and Peter King of Sports Illustrated & NBC's pregame show make their picks and predict the score too. I've been doing this since 2007 or so, but now I'm going to keep track of my picks here in the Rankings and note where I screwed up. Here are the Week 1 standings:
Obviously, King has a decided advantage after the first week. All three of us had in common Atlanta, Cleveland, and Kansas City. I also messed up on Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, NY Giants, and Dallas. The explanation for this is not terribly involved, but I'll go through them anyway.
Atlanta, Cleveland, and Kansas City all had winnable games, despite Atlanta being on the road. I'm not a believer in the Bears (is anybody outside of Chicago?) so it's no surprise I didn't pick them. I don't trust them, honestly. And I dislike Jay Cutler. Speaking of Cutler, in spite of what Bob Costas claims, any criticism that he took from players and the media over that injury flap last season seemed entirely justified to me. Fans tend to blow up about stuff like that and lose objectivity, but the players who are out there every week and can spot a guy who's not putting in the effort to get back out there are qualified to make their opinion known. I for one applaud them for calling out Cutler for being what he is/was.
I sure as hell didn't expect Buffalo to be any good, either.
As for the rest, I took a chance on Tennessee and Indy. Tennessee was essentially a toss-up, or so it seemed. Indianapolis has a great history against the Texans, and Houston has a tendency to yack in the big games. They didn't this week, so I took one on the chin. And who could have foreseen what happened to Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers? They're usually ready to play, last I checked. Not this time.
The Giants had injuries on defense, but with Rex Grossman the opposing QB...well, do I need to say more?
And the Cowboys. Yeesh. I could probably write an entire post on that game, but I'll just say that while I didn't expect that result, I wasn't necessarily surprised either.
OK, with all that said, here are my Rankings for Week 1. Remember, these reflect the results of the games, and are not meant to be predictive in any form or fashion. Generally, since each winning team is 1-0, I tried to take into account the impressiveness of their victory. I then add that into a pot with my own gut feeling and my particular bias. Hey, at least I admit I'm biased, right?
1.) Green Bay (1-0)
Give the champs credit; they came out swinging and discovered another weapon in Randall Cobb. Some may call the defense a concern, I say that they'll round into form in due time. Nothing to see there.
2.) Baltimore (1-0)
Well, that was a demolition. It's hard to tell what to make of that game, to be honest, because I can't even remember the last time the Steelers played that badly. I'm guessing Neil O'Donnell or Kordell Stewart was starting at QB. But hey, I've been wrong before. I figured the Ravens would be a strong team, not to mention a Super Bowl contender. But to have this kind of result after the first game? Wow.
3.) New England (1-0)
I was impressed. But I kind of expected something like this, and when Prisco picked the Dolphins, I just chuckled. Tom Brady comes out and throws for over 500 yards, just to remind everyone who thinks that other QB's are better than he is that he's still the best. And without Peyton Manning to contend with, another MVP season for Brady could be in the cards. Is it likely? I'd say so, but I'm doing my best to not overreact here.
4.) NY Jets (1-0)
It's always nice to be a beneficiary of someone else's stupidity. In this case, the Jets took advantage of stupid plays by Tony Romo, not to mention that huge punt block. Mark Sanchez wasn't exactly at his best (whatever that is), but he played well enough and didn't make a soul-crushing mistake like Romo did. The defense might be a concern as well, but as long as the opponent's receivers can't stop cramping, I'm not sure it's a big deal, just like in Green Bay.
5.) Philadelphia (1-0)
Oh, snap, the Dream Team won! Yeah, I'm not buying that garbage about Philly being the "Dream Team". They won and looked pretty good, so whatever. Supposedly the stats were not good for Vick; let's be honest, though, stats don't mean everything.
6.) Detroit (1-0)
Matt Stafford goes down to Tampa and cramps up, but still gets the win. I gotta admit, seeing him limp around late in the game made me cringe a little. The guy is always (almost always?) injured, and seeing something like that doesn't really inspire confidence. But the temperature was over 100 and it was Week 1...and they play their home games in a dome. So it's probably not a concern. Like most things that went on in Week 1, really. Solid win, and a good start to a season where people expect things to happen.
7.) San Diego (1-0)
It got ugly, especially on special teams, but they ended up winning. Of course, any team should win big when holding the opposing QB to 39 yards. That's really bad, and one has to wonder how many of those McNabb can have before getting replaced. With Denver and KC going down, the Chargers have a chance to get out to an early lead, depending on how Oakland plays moving forward. But they do have to beat Oakland at some point.
8.) San Francisco (1-0)
If Ted Ginn, Jr. had a better day as a pro before Sunday, I obviously missed it. He was the difference against Seattle. Supposedly, Seattle is a contender for the worst team in the league (and good on Carroll for being at the helm for it, he deserves it). So maybe there's a concern that the 49ers should have had more of a beatdown going on before Ginn went off.
9.) Buffalo (1-0)
Biggest surprise of the week? I'll cast my vote. I thought Kansas City would show up at some point. Obviously, I was wrong. And I didn't see Buffalo coming out and putting 41 on ANYBODY.
10.) Houston (1-0)
A solid win for the Texans over a division rival. I'll just pass on this one caveat: they didn't score a single point in the second half. That fact has been glossed over by just about everyone of note, but I saw it. I'm not saying that means anything, but if they're playing better teams (let's face it, Indy without Peyton was just awful), they need to keep their foot on the gas pedal for 60 minutes, not 30.
That's all for this week. See you next week!