bill-swift - September 25, 2012
There is one thing that became abundantly clear as the slate of NFL games played out on Sunday: any team truly can win on any given Sunday. On a day where it appeared as if there were going to be a lot of easy wins by the favored teams the underdogs showed how much bite they have.
While some of the favorites in the end still won weaknesses were exploited and some teams proved they are not nearly as bad as initially thought. By time the Ravens beat the Patriots in a wild and sometimes out of control Sunday night game there were more than a few lessons that could be taken from the day:
The Colts are Still the Colts
The Indianapolis Colts may look a lot different with a number of new faces on the squad this year including a new head coach and offensive coordinator, but the team is still essentially the same. Defensively it can't stop the run as Maurice Jones-Drew proved when he gutted the team for 177 yards on 28 carries.
Jacksonville made it no secret what they were going to do in the second half passing it only four times the last two quarters. It was enough to keep the game close till Blaine Gabbert and Cecil Shorts connected for the 80-yard game winner.
The Super Bowl Host Curse is Real
For the Saints to overcome the Super Bowl Curse now will require a Herculean effort. With the Big Game in the Big Easy this year the Saints had hopes of becoming the first to play in a Super Bowl they were hosting, but after a 0-3 start they will need to rewrite history in order to do so.
Interim to the interim head coach Aaron Kromer could have written his ticket to the head coaching ranks next season with a good showing in the first six weeks (until Joe Vitt takes over), but instead he has just shown how much the team misses Sean Payton.
San Francisco's Defense is Not Rock Solid
The Minnesota Vikings surprised the league when they basically dominated the game against the 49ers en route to a 24-13 win. What they did in the process was highlight the fact that the 49ers defense is not as impenetrable as it appeared to be last season when they allowed 14.3 points a game, five points less than the second best unit.
With the 24 that the Vikings hung on the 49ers the team has now allowed more points than nine of 16 NFC teams. Their offense has only performed marginally better than the rest of the NFC West making another division championship far from the lock that it was expected to be.
The End of an Era is Near in New England
Losing records are not something that the New England Patriots are accustomed to. After Sunday night's 30-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens they are now 1-2 for the first time in years.
Sunday night's loss shows that the defense is still not very good and that the team is in dire need of a running game. They may have been able to get away with passing it like crazy last season, but this year defenses are ready for them. A loss to the Ravens would not have raised too many flags, but since it followed one to the Arizona Cardinals, it's reason for worry in Foxboro.
Peyton Manning is Fine
There was a lot of talk after last week's three interception performance there was a lot of talk that Peyton Manning couldn't handle much more than short to mid-range passes; his arm was not strong enough to throw it deep anymore. He put that to rest against the Houston Texans by pretty much throwing it anywhere and everywhere he wanted.
If only the receivers had caught a few more than they did...
Dallas Will Only Be as Good as their Defense
The Cowboys offense gets most of the attention with Tony Romo at the helm, but without much of a running game to speak of the team will only be as good as their defense. Against Tampa Bay the Demarco Murray could only muster 38 yards on 18 carries. Against the Seahawks he only had 44 yards making his 131 effort against New York appear to be the exception.
Had the defense not been able to hold Josh Freeman to 110 yards and the tandem of Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount to 72 yards, the 'Boys might not have squeaked out a 16-10 win.
Beware the Birds
Prior to the beginning of the season you would think this meant the Philadelphia Eagles, but three games into the season and its the Arizona Cardinals that are kicking behind and taking names. Statistically the team is not doing anything fantastic, but whether its John Skelton or Kevin Kolb at the helm they seem to be finding ways to win with the help of solid defensive play.
After a dominant win over the Eagles as a follow-up to a surprising win over the Patriots it appears as if these guys might be for real.
The Replacement Refs Need to Go--Now!
Does this one really need any explaining. The number of missed calls and phantom calls is starting to get out of hand. I can appreciate that these guys are trying, but when they give a coach two extra reviews like they did with 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh we are bordering dangerously close to one of these guys affecting the outcome of a game that will be important down the line.
Maybe the NFL is letting them stay until the league collects enough fines from the players till they can cover the referees salary and pension demands.