The Broncos had the benefit of playing with what Dick Enberg referred to as “house money” to send jolts of lightning through the spine of Charger nation and the Cowboys survived an old school shootout in soon-to-be retired Texas Stadium to remain, in my mind, the best team in football. The Niners turned a corner, the Patriots silenced a lot of people and the Panthers showed an enormous amount of potential in winning their second straight heart-thumper. DeSean Jackson gaffed.
NFL seasons tend to give the illusion that the most current version of itself is the craziest to ever grace the sport of Football. Year after year, we roll our eyes and wipe our foreheads free of the sweat and exclaim tat we have never seen a season quite like this one. Brimming with controversy, suspense and surprise, week 2 delivered validation to week 1’s promises of an intense and unpredictable year to come.
I’ve long abandoned freaking out about fantasy implications when watching the games. The stress is something inhuman altogether and I would never subject myself to it, again. The chaos that ensued throughout the fantasy world over DeSean Jackson’s premature endzone celebration was something comical to behold for me (though I started Donovan McNabb instead of Philip Rivers and was already downtrodden over that, as it is) as I had near to nothing invested in the situation. For others, the foible was hardly forgivable.
In the end, there is one thing I’ve learned about football. Always expect what is completely unexpected. You’ll save yourself a few grey hairs and maybe even a heart.
- Dallas Cowboys: Still the best team in football. They overcame an extremely good Eagles team in spite of a handful of mistakes. Monday night’s barn burner was the most watched game in cable TV history; and the Cowboys won it.
- Green Bay Packers: Still the 2nd best. Clearly this week’s match up with the Cowboys will settle the matter of number 1 but there should be a little concern in Green Bay with how easily the Pack let the Lions back into the game before wrenching it away. The Cowboys will not be anywhere near as forgiving as the Lions.
- Denver Broncos: Ok. The Broncos are for real. Their win, albeit controversial and lucky, was further proof that diabetes had a much more significant effect on Jay Cutler than we ever could have imagined.
- Buffalo Bills: I see a lot of other teams placed higher than the Bills on other rankings and I really don’t understand it. They have now beaten two good football teams in a row. In one particular stretch while trailing by less than a score late against an imposing Jags defense, they converted a 3rd and 5 with a deep pass, followed shortly with the winning touchdown strike. Scary.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: They squeaked out of Cleveland but the Browns aren’t a bad team and Big Ben was playing with a separated/sprained/maimed/whatever shoulder. They have a tough match up next week against the Eagles that will certainly tell us a lot about them but so far they are in control of the AFC North.
- Tennessee Titans: With Houston, Minnesota and Baltimore coming up before their bye, the Titans look to be in the driver’s seat in the AFC South. Best part is that VY can take his time thinking his life through while Kerry Collins rekindles his game and the Titans won’t miss a beat.
- New York Giants: No, I’m sorry but I’m still not convinced. Torching the Rams doesn’t tell me anything given how awful Eli looked against the Redskins a week before. They get another easy match up against the hapless Bungles and we might not know what this team is really about until they play Cleveland in week 6.
- Carolina Panthers: The Panthers are JUST getting Steve Smith back? This team has shown an unusual amount of tenacity so far this season with two gutsy comebacks both without their star player and premier go-to guy. Their schedule from here on out is pretty manageable so, before we know it, they might start running away with the NFC South.
- New England Patriots: I think it’s incredibly telling that Matt Cassel can lead this team to victory over an improved division rival in their house with very little trouble. The Patriot system is ridiculous.
- Arizona Cardinals: It certainly wouldn’t be fair to leave an undefeated division leader out of the top ten. The Cardinals have some tough games leading up to their week 7 bye with games against the Bills and Cowboys but Kurt Warner has made this team a much better one and possibly even a playoff one.
- Philadelphia Eagles: They lost a tough one in Dallas but this is still one of the better teams in the NFL and it showed Monday night. McNabb is an entirely different QB when healthy and while the defense gave up a lot of points to the Cowboys, they are capable of shutting down most other offenses. DeSean Jackson needs to run an extra half dozen laps at every practice from here till Sunday.
- New Orleans Saints: They’re gone again. This defense is going to be their Achilles Heel for the rest of the season unless they can shore it up a bit… especially in the secondary where they can’t cover anybody. The Redskins are getting better and all but the Saints should have been able to handle the game and didn’t because they have no way of stopping the big play.
- San Diego Chargers: The blown call and the “equipment malfunction” ultimately decided the Chargers-Broncos tilt but the San Diego defense remains to be the big question for this team having given up more points than every team in football but the Lions, Rams and Seahawks. However, I rank them here because they also have scored more points than anybody in the AFC not named the Broncos.
- Indianapolis Colts: Peyton looked much better down the stretch. Maybe it takes him a game and a half to find his groove but now that he has, the Colts are going to have to fix that running game and their horrendous run D to be serious contenders. If it weren’t for the Vikings’ impotent passing game, we’d be lookin’ at an 0-2 Colts team.
- Chicago Bears: They’ve been tough and have run the football hard and were it not for a very surprising Panthers team, would probably be undefeated right now. They have a couple of tough ones coming up against Tampa and Philly but both are in the windy city and can prove to be a good measuring stick of how far along they and their sensational rookie Matt Forte have really come.
- New York Jets: Brett Favre simply cannot do it by himself. I’m convinced that the Jets are still the Jets of old because they seem completely clueless as to what to do with Favre under center. I guess they’re not accustomed to having someone there who can do the things he can.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: That defense still comes after quarterbacks as though they’re covered in powdered sugar and Warren Sapp is still roaming between the seams. They absolutely terrorized Matt Ryan but their real test will be the Chicago Bears this Sunday who have a great O line and can run the ball very well to take some of that pressure off QB Kyle Orton. The QB situation in Tampa is a mess of egos.
- Washington Redskins: I’m not entirely sold on this Redskins team, yet. Jason Campbell shows moments of brilliance but they took advantage of an extremely porous Saints team and I’m not sure the same Skins team that reared its head (and lost) against an abysmal Giants performance isn’t about to pop up again against tough Arizona, Dallas and Philly.
- Oakland Raiders: I have no problem placing them this high contrary to what just about every other sports writer in the country is doing. Quite frankly, the MNF game against the Broncos is starting to look more and more like a statement of how good the Broncos are than anything else. Russell still looks a bit lost at this level but McFadden is ridiculous, Bush is solid and that defense can be as imposing as any in the NFL. How they perform against a very tough Bills team will tell us a lot about their week 1 meltdown and whether or not Kiffin will have a job.
- San Francisco 49ers: How peculiar: I’m not sure how I forgot that I knew JT O’Sullivan from our time back at my Alma Mater, UC Davis, but it might have something to do with how unfair I have been to him and the Niners this season (and the fact that I lost track of him when, out of college, he ended up in the abyss that was the QB depth chart in Green Bay). He’s turning into a monster in Mike Martz’ offense and I think I’m going to order a jersey.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: No, I’m not placing them too low. They’re winless and have scored a paltry 26 points behind what has looked like a lackluster offense. Garrard has already matched his interception total from last year. They’ve lost a couple of heartbreakers, to be sure, but with Indy, Denver and Pittsburgh in 3 of their next 4, this team is headed for trouble.
- Baltimore Ravens: They only played one game so it is hard to really change their ranking. They have a couple of tough ones ahead so I think we’ll find out real soon whether their D is back or not.
- Seattle Seahawks: They’re decimated offensively. I’ve never seen a team more singly unfortunate in their receiving corps than this Seahawks team. Their defense also hasn’t done much to stop opponents from scoring. This squad is slipping and slipping fast.
- Atlanta Falcons: They came back down to earth against the Bucs who were too tough on Michael Turner and Matt Ryan. This Falcons team will have its growing pains but I like where they’re headed.
- Minnesota Vikings: I’m dropping them this low until they show any kind of semblance of a passing game. I have Bernard Berrian in one of my fantasy leagues and it has been torture. Tarvaris Jackson cannot manage the offense and until something changes under center, the Vikings are not going to be able to run their way to a postseason berth.
- Cleveland Browns: They didn’t look much better against the Steelers but at least they kept them from scoring much. But really, did these guys even have a pre-season? They look incredibly out of sync.
- Houston Texans: I’m still convinced that they’re not all that bad. They haven’t had a chance to rebound from week 1’s drubbing by what is starting to look like a very solid Steelers team but we need to see more to bring them up.
- Detroit Lions: So at least they can score. Kitna seems to have lost the Nostrodamus outfit and a good thing, too. The Lions are absolutely atrocious defensively and aren’t explosive enough offensively to keep up with anyone.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Not sure what is going on in KC. The way that Coach Edwards trotted out his three quarterbacks randomly almost seemed a little conceding. And why is LJ not getting his carries?
- Miami Dolphins: Well, nobody said the overhaul would occur overnight and a very talented Cardinals team was enough to demoralize the team after a solid week 1 showing. The Fish still have a long way to go.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Not sure who is truly worse between these guys and the Rams but they were absolutely terrible against the Titans wind or no wind. There is really no explanation to where all the firepower of that once high octane offense went. Their defense is worse than ever.
- St Louis Rams: Scott Linehan’s job might be even less safe than Lane Kiffin’s and that is pretty, pretty bad.
Stay tuned as Week 3’s predictions will be coming as furiously as the Raiders’ rushing attack.