I think Thursday’s opening night shootout between the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints affirmed three things for us:
- Because of the lockout, veteran teams that didn’t change head coaches and didn’t have a lot of player turnover are going to do very well this season.
- The Packers don’t have a Super Bowl hangover and could have one of the best offensive years in recent memory.
- Red zone offense is where it’s at. The Packers were 4-4 in red zone opportunities while the Saints were 1-5. That was the difference in the game.
I was so impressed with the Packers that I made a random, “in the football moment comment” to a co-worker that because of all the bad teams who had a lot of player (and maybe coach too) turnover, I wouldn’t be surprised if one team went undefeated this year. Could the Green Bay Packers be that team?
Other than a game against the Falcons in week five and one against the (Super) Chargers in week eight, their non-divisional schedule is light on killers. Check for yourself.
If you read my preview, you know how much I love the (Super) Chargers. But Green Bay looked outright scary with the football.
And 10 other thoughts…
1. How about my 49ers? Before I get ahead of myself, I know it’s just one game, but hey, we’re 1-0. In 49ers’ land, we have to savor small victories. Their offense looked horrific and Jim Harbaugh kept the training wheels on Alex Smith all game long, but with the exception of one breakdown in the secondary, the defense played stellar ball and the special teams (Teddy Ginn!) were outstanding. So Tavaris Jackson was the starting QB of the Seahawks you say? Fine.
2. Tony Romo broke Carrie Underwood’s heart. Then he broke Jessica Simpson’s heart. On Sunday night in prime time, he broke Cowboys’ fans hearts. The Cowboys were in charge of the game going into the 4th quarter. After a Romo to Jason Witten connection (that was a near backbreaker for the Jets) put the ball at the Jets 3, Romo dropped back and wanted to throw a fade to Dez Bryant. A score would put the Cowboys up by two touchdowns. Bryant was on Revas Island so Romo tried to run for the end zone. He dove and was stripped of the ball and the Jets recovered. Later, with just 50 seconds left and the game now tied, Romo threw an interception, which set up the game winning field goal for the Jets. For three quarters, Romo looked All-Pro. For the last quarter, he looked like Nick Lachey.
(He broke Carrie Underwood’s heart so badly, she wrote a song called Cowboy Casanova. Check out these lyrics:
Looks like a cool drink of water
But he’s candy-coated misery
He’s the devil in disguise
A snake with blue eyes
3. Big Ben Roethlisberger became married over the summer. It was a grown up move for the big guy. He’s usually in the news for not-so-grown up moves. The Pittsburgh Steelers may want their immature Ben back. The Baltimore Ravens put a hurting on the defending AFC champs, to the tone of 35-7. Baltimore forced 7 turnovers and proved yet again that playing badly in preseason means nothing.
4. The St. Louis Rams were the sleeper pick for many football prognosticators. And it makes a little bit of sense. They have a second year quarterback in Ryan Reynolds look-a-like Sam Bradford who seems ready to make the leap. They are well coached and have young stars on the rise on defense. But they hosted the new NFL dream team, the Philadelphia Eagles in week one. Michael Vick and company didn’t look good early on and Vick’s passing numbers look atrocious, but the numbers didn’t tell the story. Vick threw for two touchdowns and LeSean McCoy scored twice in the easy victory. The Rams took a bit of a beating on the injury list too. Wideout Danny Amendola dislocated his elbow and could be gone for a long time. Steven Jackson hurt his quad. And even Bradford hurt his finger, though he said he’d be back on Monday night when they play the New York Giants.
5. Cam Newton! In that same preview column, I mentioned that Cam Newton wasn’t as hyped as number one picks who are also QBs and who also won the Heisman in the previous year are. Part of that was because of the shortened offseason, all the noise was simply about getting the season going. But Cam will get that buzz going now. He threw for a rookie first game record of 422 yards in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals. He dove over the top for a rushing touchdown and also revitalized Steve Smith on two TD hookups. Arizona won the game, but Cam was the story.
4. How valuable is Peyton Manning? Very much so. The Indianapolis Colts missed Peyton Manning like a mama’s boy misses his mama on a sleepover. The Houston Texans were up 34-0 on the hapless Colts before halftime and cruised to a 34-7 victory. Colts’ QB Kerry Collins threw for a very mama’s boy-like 194 yards and just one TD and also lost two fumbles.
3. Many people saw the Atlanta Falcons as a possible team to make the jump into the NFL’s elite, especially after having the best record in the NFC last year. They traded a lot of their draft for the rights to Julio Jones. On the flipside, many thought the Chicago Bears would be a team on the decline. Somebody done told you wrong. Chicago got up early on Atlanta and never looked back. Matt Forte made Atlanta defenders look silly on a 56-yard pass from Jay Cutler to make it 10-3 and Atlanta never got closer than that for the rest of the game.
2. Other tidbits: the Bills surprisingly destroyed the Chiefs in Kansas City, Matt Stafford stayed healthy, Mike Tolbert owned the Vikings while Donovan McNabb owned no one, Rex Grossman threw for 300 yards in a win, and even though many kickoffs went deep into the end zone, players were still bringing them out (and taking them back).
1. Tonight’s games aren’t necessarily Monday Night Football worthy and the New England Patriots should be workmanlike in taking out Miami. But the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos don’t like each other and if both teams can play some decent football, the emotion could be high for the game. Both teams have really good young running backs. Whoever plays best between Knowshon Moreno and Darren McFadden may decide the game.
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