NFL Week 1 Notes: 2010
September 15, 2010 10:18 PM
Week 1 notes on the National Football League
1) After one week, I feel pretty good about my pre-season predictions with the exception of picking the Jets to win the AFC East. The Jets offense is just not good enough. Their defense is still great, but if I were to change one of my picks, I would make the Patriots the AFC East champs. I forgot how the Jets made the playoffs last year, by the Colts sitting their starters. The Jets had a good playoff run, and I'm guilty of buying in to the hype.
Not so sure the 49ers can win their division either, because they are about to start the season 0-2 after losing to the Saints this coming Monday.
I feel pretty smart about picking the Texans to win their division; Houston is a good team.
I'm not a believer in the Cincinnati Bengals, which is why they don't make the playoffs in my predictions, and why I picked the Patriots in my survivor pool.
2) Cheerleader of the week: Kristen of the New Orleans Saintsations. Kristen is a real cutie who is on her way to an LSU nursing degree. And she cheers for the Saints, so she's got great football taste.
3) The New Orleans Saints killed the Minnesota Vikings. The final score (14-9) didn't show it, but the Saints dominated that game at the line of scrimmage on offense, and all over the field on defense. Minnesota scored 0 points in the second half.
4) Everybody has talked this play to death, but it's so wrong I need to mention it too. The Calvin Johnson touchdown that was ruled not a touchdown. It just seems so obvious that the play was over and he was trying to get up off the ground when he lost the ball. I understand the refs made the right call by the letter of the rule, but the rule is ridiculous.
5) My current Top 5: New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots. Pats/Jets is probably the biggest game this week. If the Jets start out 0-2, the playoffs look a lot less likely.
6) Oakland Raiders looked like the same old Raiders. New quarterback, same disastrous offense.
7) It's easy to pile on the Cowboys after their unproductive pre-season and pathetic opening game against the Redskins. But just because it's easy doesn't mean I won't do it.
I blame the Cowboys coaching staff for what happened in that game. Alex Barron is the most penalized man in the NFL, so it should be no surprise when yellow flags are thrown at his feet. Cowboys coaches should know this. They should also know that he needs help to hold down his side in protection. Where was the chip block from a running back or tight end? They should know that they need to coach him up or find his replacement. That is what training camp and pre-season are for.
When there is 5 seconds before halftime and your hail mary turns into a busted play, the QB should know to take the sack, but if he throws a check down pass, the RB should know to fall down after catching it. Even better, don't call that play in the first place, take a knee and go work on your 2nd-half plan. All of these are coaching mistakes. When you have players doing dumb things, making mental mistakes, it's because the coaching staff sucks. Either they're not coaching them the right way, or they're not getting rid of the dead weight on the roster. Either way, it's the coaches fault.
8) It's a pass-happy league, but don't sleep on the importance of a strong running game. After a couple years of throwing the ball all over the field, the Saints got balanced last year and went 13-0 before winning the Super Bowl. After 3 years of losses to the Colts, the Texans finally won by running the ball effectively. Teams need balance on offense, and a strong rushing attack to be able to close out games. I know that sounds obvious, but if it's so obvious, why do so few teams do it?
9) Fantasy tip: Don't drop a good quality backup running back in order to pick up Brandon Jackson this week. You'll end up regretting it later this season. Drop a scrub receiver instead.
10) I think NFL Films is underrated in the role it played to get the NFL to the top of the sports landscape. The whole men-as-heroes vibe, with the glorified hits, the storylines of champions and gladiators, the music, and the production values. It goes a long way in setting the tone for what the NFL is about. They can impose a narrative on any team from any season; they have taught us to form our own narratives as we watch a season unfold. These films create legends as much as the actual on-field play.
The low camera angles make players look like giants. The slow motion close-ups of footballs flying through the air makes every pass seem epic. The narration has more gravitas than a Kiefer Sutherland line reading. It's a winning formula and has really defined the way we think about football.
Other leagues don't have anything like this. I don't think I've ever seen a baseball, basketball, hockey, or soccer documentary-style film that captures the pulse-racing action of the game, and pulls heartstrings, and tells a story the way your basic NFL Films production does.
Fearless Prediction: Stone-cold lock!
Saints 31, 49ers 20
Bonus! New Orleans Saints notes!
1) Holy crap! The Saints played a nice clean game! Zero turnovers and only 3 penalties for 20 yards. Other than the 2 missed field goals, the Saints played a nice game against a tough opponent.
2) Saints stat of the week: 12. Number of undefeated games the Saints have played when both Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer start. Saints are 12-0 with Porter and Greer on the field.
3) The Saints most important drive of the game did not end in points, but it did end the game. They used their rushing attack to play keepaway from the Vikings for the final 5 1/2 minutes, and Brees took a knee for the final 3 plays of the game.