Tag Archives: New Orleans Saints

2014 NFL season preview: NFC South


One of the more interesting divisions in the NFL. Last season, the Panthers were impossible to predict but rode their defense and improved coaching to an impressive record (12-4) along with their first division title in five years. But this is a new year and things might not be so fortunate for Carolina. We’ll get to them specifically in the next paragraph but compared to the standings from last season, the NFC South could very well look like a much different division. The Falcons (NFC title game just two seasons ago) are coming off a terrible season but with a healthy roster, they’re definitely a team that others won’t be able to just roll over. And what about Tampa Bay? Offseason moves are showing all the signs that point to a big improvement from last season.

Carolina Panthers: Much the like the Chiefs, the entire sports world is predicting that this team will regress. Their offense, questionable last season, will be even worse this season. The Panthers weren’t able to replace Steve Smith with another #1 option and the rest of the receiving core has not shown that they can pick up the slack. Not only is the offensive line in bad shape, but Cam Newton has suffered a rib injury that probably won’t be fully healed with all the pressure that will land on him throughout the season. But can their defense and improved coaching prevent things from getting so off-track? Ron Rivera will continue his improved ways from last season but don’t expect the defense to be as stout. Tough prediction but, I expect the Panthers to be under .500 this season.

New Orleans Saints: This team will score plenty of points this season. With Drew Brees and Sean Payton leading the way, there isn’t a doubt that New Orleans will be one of the best teams in the conference. Jimmy Graham, with his shiny new contract, will be the go-to receiver on offense as they try to take advantage of their robust home field advantage. Despite their obvious advantages inside of their dome, their road woes will continue to be a question. Their 3-5 on the road last season is something that must improve. Can the defense also continue to improve and ease some of the load from the offense? Brees is one of the elite quarterbacks in the league but even he can’t continue to shell out massive games for 17 straight weeks. Saints will top the division and compete for the best record in the NFC.

Atlanta Falcons: This one of the hardest teams to predict not only in this division, but the entire league. Plagued by injuries last season, the Falcons quickly fell into a disappointing spiral and finished tied for last place in the NFC South just one season after playing in the conference title game. So what’s changed this season? Well, for one, they’re fully healthy and it will help their offense immensely. Look for a nice bounce-back year from Matt Ryan with lots of weapons around him. Despite their improvements on offense, the question will continue to be on the defensive side. The complete lack of pass rush from their front line results in plenty of time for opposing quarterbacks to take their sweet time in making decisions. Atlanta won’t fight for the division but they could get a wild card berth.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Tampa Bay defensive line is pretty much the exact opposite of the Falcons and there isn’t a doubt that the Bucs WILL get pressure on other team’s quarterbacks. That will be the team’s strength and what people will know about them throughout the season. New head coach Lovie Smith makes this team better almost immediately and with their new look on offense, things could in a positive direction very quickly. It will take some time for the points to mount but I could very well see the Bucs giving any other team in the NFC a fight. Remember, this team was very close to beating the Seahawks in Seattle last season. Expect more of that team, rather than the one that finished 4-12 last season. I expect around .500 but they could very well surprise everyone and do much better.

NFL Playoffs preview: Divisional Round


We’re officially at the apex of the football season. I know the ratings will continue to climb until we finally get to the Super Bowl, but in terms of amount of quality football that we’re going to watch, the divisional round provides the best and the brightest. Just look at the QBs we’re going to be seeing this weekend. One could argue that if you assume Aaron Rodgers also belongs, the remaining eight quarterbacks are the best in the league right now. There’s a combination of veterans with postseason experience mixed with the young, up and coming future faces of the league. What more could a football fan as for? But as the games gets tighter, it gets more and more difficult to predict. From past experience, I’ve always realized two things about the second round. The first is to never overreact after a first round victory. The second is that there’s always a home team that gets upset in the divisional round.

The divisional festivities begin with the Saints in Seattle, a rematch from Week 13. In fact, all but one of this weekend’s games are rematches. Last time these two teams squared off, it was completely dominated by the Seahawks from start to finish. Do the Saints have a realistic shot to win in Seattle? Right now, Seattle (-8) is a heavy favorite and most people don’t give New Orleans a realistic shot at winning the game. I’m not in that camp. First of all, the Saints have clear advantages in two key positions: quarterback and head coach. Drew Brees didn’t need a heroic effort last week as the Saints had a solid running game. If that stays true, New Orleans has a shot to control the clock and minimize the crowd noise by getting constant first downs. Despite some of the advantage the Saints might have, i’m not going to pick them to win this game. Seattle’s pass defense is just too good and they’ve been nearly unstoppable at home. Saints give a good fight but the Seahawks move on the NFC title game.

Prime time Saturday features the most eye-catching quarterback match up. All-American hero and poster boy Tom Brady is looking to further improve his postseason resume when future great Andrew Luck visits the Patriots (-7) in Foxborough. The Colts are firing on all cylinders after their second half comeback over the Chiefs but is that enough to get them going in the first half of this game, given their season trend of slow starts? The Patriots aren’t the type of team that gives up big leads. In fact, Belichick and Brady are well known for running up the score, showing no mercy when it comes to putting their opponents away. If i’m a Colts fan, that’s what fears me the most. Aside from the QB battle, the Colts pass offense against the Patriots defense is the match up that intrigues me the most. Can Indianapolis take advantage of a porous New England secondary? Luck will most likely be great and continue to fight, no matter what the score is, but I feel the Patriots will get off to a fast start that they won’t give up.

Sunday begins with what I believe to be the most competitive game of the weekend. What baffles me about this game is that the 49ers (-1) are favorites on the road, against the Panthers, who beat them previously in SF exactly two months ago. I know, I know, the Niners were missing some key players but it feels slightly disrespectful to Cam Newton and co to be underdogs. These two teams play a very similar style. Both have excellent defenses and an excellent running game, led by their dual-threat QBs. It’ll be interesting to see how well Kaepernick’s connection with Michael Crabtree continues after a great performance last week. Not having Steve Smith at 100% will hurt the Panthers’ offense but I expect the Carolina defense to do well in limiting the 49ers attack. Even as I write this, i’m still not sure who is going to win this game. In all honesty, it will come down to who has the ball last in scoring position. Carolina’s only loss at home this season was to Seattle, in the first game of the season. Panthers edge out the Niners.

We’ll know three of the four teams left by the time the Chargers visit Denver (-9.5) to take on Peyton Manning and his arsenal of weapons. Last time around in Denver, Phil Rivers (Mr Bolo tie) and the Chargers surprised the Broncos on a Thursday night. How much do we take from that game? Thursday night games are always wonky but the Chargers presented some real problems for the Broncos. San Diego is showing all the signs of the Super Bowl champs of the past few years, catching breaks and gaining momentum at the games go on. This time around the Chargers defense won’t have Andy Dalton’s mistakes to take advantage of. Or will they? Manning’s “cold weather woes” will unlikely be in play but his “Chargers woes” will be. Yes, i’m going for it. The Chargers will control the clock with long drives, get enough pressure on Manning and upset the Broncos. Because of the way the league has been going all season long, i’m going with the possible over the probable in this game. Chargers upset the Broncos.

Looking back at the NFL’s Wild Card weekend

For a second, things seemed very bleak for me. After the Colts managed a ridiculous comeback to get my picks going in the right direction, things went south very quickly for me. Unconventional things started happening and all of a sudden I was fighting just to stay above .500 for the weekend. San Francisco made sure of that with their win but then I began to think. I have no rooting interest since the Cowboys aren’t participating but i’m still a fan of football and i’m still a fan of great games mixed with exciting finishes. And that’s what we got this weekend. Aside from San Diego’s semi-dominant victory over the Bengals, the other three games were decided by a total of six points. What more could a football fan ask for? Let’s start in chronological order:

There’s one obvious question to ask here: was it a Chiefs meltdown or a Colts comeback? It’s always going to be impossible to predict 100% whether it was one or the other but watching the game, it felt more like an Indianapolis comeback than it did a Kansas City meltdown. We’ve seen all season long that Andrew Luck and co are a second half team. Known for their notoriously slow starts, but somehow still managing to be at their best when it matters most. It’s all led by Luck, of course, who continues to be so impressive in his infant career. Sure, the Colts caught some breaks but despite Luck’s three interceptions, they managed to fight back from a 38-10 deficit in the 3rd quarter. Things bounced their way the entire second half, literally. And to be quite honest, I’m still not sure how the Chiefs were able to amount such a large lead. It seemed like every other play, starting with Jamal Charles, a different Chiefs player was going down injured. Play calling, time management and injuries were all deciding factors for the Chiefs.

Saturday night continued to have surprising results. The game had the Saints in Philadelphia and while it didn’t have the scoring barrage that the previous game did, it was still just as entertaining and captivating. More of a classic, grind-out playoff style game that included four lead changes. What’s more surprising: that the Saints won a playoff game on the road or that they used a potent running game mixed with solid defense to do so? Normally the Eagles don’t get out-played on the ground seeing that they have LeSean McCoy, the rushing title champion for this season. It felt like the Eagles start was just a little too slow. Even though they managed to take lead after being down 20-7 in the 3rd quarter, it seemed to take everything they had to do so. The Saints countered with a nice return and drive to set up a game winning field goal as time expired. The Saints win a playoff game on the road, without hero-ball from Drew Brees. What could be more surprising than that?

It’s certainly not Andy Dalton’s multiple interceptions in a playoff game. Dalton had plenty of yards against the Chargers but his three turnovers (all in the second half) haunted the Bengals as they were trying to rally for pretty much the entire second half. Just like the Saints, San Diego used a strong running game along with some strong pressure defense to anchor their road playoff win. Do people realize that Phillip Rivers only completed 12 passes for 128 yards during yesterday’s game? That’s not to say that Rivers wasn’t impressive. When he was needed, number 17 on the Chargers make some crisp passes to his multiple weapons. Quick shout out to Danny Woodhead (pictured above) who might be my favorite non-Cowboys player. For the Cincinnati, it’s another season without a win in the postseason and another bad performance by Andy Dalton. It’s scary to say but the Chargers are showing all the signs of three previous Super Bowl winners as they head into Denver this weekend.

The most anticipated game of the season lived up to the hype. Was yesterday’s game between the 49ers and Packers the coldest postseason game in recent memory? The only other one that comes to mind is the Giants-Packers game back in the 07 season. To sum up yesterday’s game: Aaron Rodgers won the battle but Colin Kaepernick won the war. Of course both QBs had a good team performance surrounding them but #12 and #7 were both part of the two most impressive plays that we’ve seen in the playoffs so far. Rodgers’ escape was mind-boggling but Kaepernick’s clutch run pretty much sealed the win for the Niners. In all honesty, I wish I could watch that game again. It was slow at times but freezing weather does that. It looked like the 49ers were going to dominate because their defense wasn’t letting Green Bay do anything but the Packers responded nicely. From there it was both teams trading punches with neither ever leading by more than one score. Great game to end a great weekend of NFL playoff football.

Previewing the NFL Playoffs Wild Card weekend


For most of the worldWild-card playoffs: Nick Foles, Aaron Rodgers, Jamaal Charles, Andy DaltonThe the holiday season has officially ended. The clock struck midnight at the respective time zone and just like that, New Year’s was over and back to the real world. Not so much for NFL fans because this weekend starts the biggest celebration of the season that culminates with Super Bowl XLVII. Even though the SB seems like an eternity away, for teams beginning their journey this weekend, it’s only three wins away. But will any of these teams be participating in the biggest game of the season? Recent history says so: the last three Super Bowl winners all begun their title runs in the wild card round. First we have to see who comes out on top this weekend. Jay Cutler contract jokes aside, of course.

Chiefs at Colts (Sat 4:15 ET): Normally the least interesting game of the four gets this spot. Sure, it might get the lowest ratings but that doesn’t mean the game won’t be good. These teams faced each other just two weeks ago in Kansas City and in all honesty, the Colts gave the Chiefs a good old fashioned  ass-kicking. There’s nothing to indicate that this time around, with the game in Indianapolis, that the result will be any different. The Colts are playing good football right now, winners of three straight led by some stellar play by Andrew Luck. The Chiefs have been surprisingly bad as of late, losing a couple in a row and overall since their by week, they’re only won two games out of seven. Oh yeah, those two wins came against Washington and Oakland. In fact the only playoff team the Chiefs beat this season were the Eagles back in mid-September. Do the Chiefs have the talent and coaching to win the game? Certainly but i’m going with the hotter team and the better QB. Colts edge out the Chiefs.

Saints at Eagles (Sat 8:10 ET): This was the toughest game for me to figure out. And in to be frank, i’m still hesitant to try and predict what’s going to happen. The Eagles and Saints have some of the most prolific and high-scoring offenses in the entire league. Which one will reign supreme? If you go by the way their last game was played, the edge goes to the Saints because they looked unbeatable. Then again, it was against the Buccaneers. The Eagles beat the Cowboys (better than TB) on the road but Dallas had Kyle Orton as their starting QB. My biggest problem with taking the Saints is how shaky they’ve looked on the road all season long. New Orleans’ last non-dome road win was against the Bears back in mid-October. The Eagles on the other hand, have won four straight at home and every win has been impressive. It’s probably going to come down to which offense gets going first and sets the tempo. The Eagles are just better at home than the Saints are on the road. Eagles advance to the next round.

Chargers at Bengals (Sun 1:05 ET): Sunday starts off with a match up between two of the hottest teams in the conference and the league in general. The Chargers were a bit hotter (or luckier, if you will) as they finished the season winning four straight while catching all sorts of breaks. Is it better to be good or lucky in the NFL? Well as much as the Chargers have had fortunes go their way, Cincinnati was no stranger to the football bouncing their way. The Bengals’ offense, despite some erratic play for Andy Dalton, has been on fire as of late. The Chargers offense on the other hand, changes from game to game and at times, can feel downright frustrating. San Diego has the talent and the better QB to win game. The Chargers also have all the momentum in their favor, a sign of success in recent years during the playoffs. One thing sticks out at me though: the Bengals did not lose a home game this season. Is this where the Bengals end their drought of playoff wins? I think so. Bengals get a close victory over the Chargers.

49ers at Packers (Sun 4:40 ET): It’s hard to see how this isn’t the biggest game of the weekend. These teams have faced each other three times in less than a year and while the Niners have come out on top all three times, it’s been very fun to watch. How much will the weather affect this game? Right now the weather is predicted as a high of ZERO degrees. Both teams have a strong running game that will likely be in full display because of the conditions. Aaron Rodgers is back but is he back to his championship-level form? His first half back was rusty but some of the plays that Rodgers made in the second half indicate that he’s nearly back to his 100% form. The Packers will need a big performance from their offensive weapons if they hope to change the recent trend of San Francisco victories. The 49ers are winners of six straight and Colin Kaepernick seems to be a good groove. Remember, Kaepernick has looked like the best football player of all time when facing the Packers. 49ers win a hard fought game in Green Bay.

Seahawks dominate the Saints and how it affects the NFC landscape


Going into last night’s game everyone knew one thing: the Seattle Seahawks are a good team but when they’re at home, they’re an elite team. Probably the best in the entire league. It’s impossible to tell because they don’t go up against the Patriots or Broncos this season but at least we know they’re on top of the NFC without a shred out doubt. While completely dominating the Saints last night, Seattle also clinched a spot in the postseason during their most impressive win of the season. The final score was 34-7 and that was very indicative of how the game played out. From start to finish the Seahawks were doing what they wanted on offense and defense. If Seattle’s secondary was supposed to be depleted, no one told them and the Saints weren’t able to take advantage of it. Drew Brees started the game with a 3 and out, followed by a fumble that was returned for a TD by the home team. The Saints managed to score in the 2nd quarter but it took a nearly perfect drive to do so. Things continued to favor Seattle when the ball was switched to them on offense, led by an MVP-like performance from Russell Wilson. Normally the tough Seahawks running game leads the way but it’s the only thing the Saints defense was able to control, limiting Marshawn Lynch to only 45 yards. No matter. Wilson was picking up the slack left and right, looking every bit like a veteran QB who just saw this as any other regular season game. Once Seattle scored another TD just before the second half was over, the game felt all but over from that point on. So where does this leave these two teams heading forward?

The Saints are still on top of their division due to tie breakers but now they’re really feeling the heat from Carolina, making their game this week that much bigger. New Orleans also goes up against the Panthers two weeks after that so that could very well decide not only the second seed in the NFC but also the 5th seed in the playoffs. Or could the 49ers even sneak in and take the 5th seed? San Francisco is beginning to look really solid once again, getting healthier as the weeks go by. But their next opponent is Seattle, a team that only needs one more win to clinch the NFC West and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. There’s very little chance of Seattle losing three of their last four to allow another team to slip into first so every other team in the NFC better get used to the idea that the road to the Super Bowl is going through Seattle. Could the Niners make things a little interesting with a win on Sunday? Yes but after that it’s out of their hands. Then there are the East and North divisions. Right now the Cowboys and Lions lead their respective divisions but the Eagles and Bears are right on their heels. Hey, what do you know, those teams play each other this weekend. The Lions are in Philadelphia on Sunday and the Cowboys are in Chicago on Monday. Both divisions could very well come down to the final game of the season but we’ll learn plenty from the results of those two games. It’s time for the homestretch people.

Saints down the Falcons; preparing for the rest of week 12 in the NFL

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints

Coming into this season, both the Falcons and the Saints were thought of as contenders for not only the conference but the Super Bowl as well. New Orleans was getting their head coach back, one of the best in the league. The Falcons added a few pieces to an already potent offense. No one could have predicted that going up against each other in week 12, the teams would be on the exact opposite ends of the spectrum. The Saints are trying to keep pace with Seattle for the best record in the NFC while the Falcons’ first round draft pick gets higher and higher as the weeks go bye. So because of that, one would assume that last night’s game would be an easy one for Drew Brees and co. Leading a Saints offense that has looked nearly unbeatable inside of a dome but didn’t have as much firepower as we’re used to seeing last night. When indoors, anything is possible for the Saints. But last night proved how erratic the season has been, nearly impossible to predict. Thursday night games have a knack for being extra weird because the players are on a minimal amount of rest. Yes, the Saints won the game and a win is always a win, but nothing was overly impressive. Brees was effective but only showed a couple of flashes of brilliance. Jimmy Graham had his inevitable big plays and the run game did just enough. At the same time, the Falcons had enough of opportunities to make the game interesting but failed to so because frankly, they’re just a bad team. Atlanta is now guaranteed a losing season and only have a couple more legitimate shots at getting another win. The Saints on the other hand have their toughest stretch of the season, beginning next week in Seattle. Could very well decide the top seed in the conference. But there are still games to play before that.

The slate of this week’s games aren’t stealing the spotlight like they did last week but they’re just as important. Only four teams on bye (Seahawks, Bills, Eagles, Bengals) so lots of early games. The Panthers in Miami is the most important on paper. Miami is in the middle of the dogfight that is the second wild card spot in the AFC while the Panthers are trying to keep the pressure on New Orleans for the division and at the same time, stay in prime position the first wild card spot in the NFC. The Chargers can still salvage their season but they’re going into Kansas City against a pretty pissed off Chiefs team; could be ugly for Phil Rivers. Will the Jets continue to be the “Jekyll and Hyde” team of the season? Is there any reason to watch Jaguars-Texans? I’m wondering why more attention isn’t being paid to Colts-Cardinals. I’m excited to see how Andrew Luck does on the road against a really good Cardinals defense. The Cowboys at the Giants always gets interesting but for this game, I just want the Cowboys to get back on track while stopping the Giants’ win streak. Just goes to show how bad the NFC East is when the previously 0-6 Giants are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. The day finishes with a bang. Denver at New England features two of the better teams in the AFC and the NFL. Will we see another classic Manning vs Brady game?

I was tempted to take the Dolphins because they keep it close at home but the Panthers are just too good. Or how about the Bucs (+9) in Detroit? Revis Island somewhat containing Megatron? Mike Glennon being a little better than most expected? The Lions have not had a blowout win since they were in Cleveland. Can’t see Tampa Bay actually winning but why not, they keep it close.

Saints race past Dolphins; ranking the undefeated teams


There wasn’t much doubt before the season began for the Saints: most people thought that they were going to be better than last season. Getting back their head coach and suspended players for a full season was the obvious reason but I also see a bit of an edge with this team. Add all that to one of the better home field advantages in the league and it’s certain to be a good season for New Orleans as we saw in last night’s game against the Dolphins. Drew Brees’ monster night (30-39, 413 yds, 4 TDs) led the way for New Orleans as they took down the Dolphins to stay undefeated. One of only five teams left but we’ll get to that later. Last night Brees looked about as sharp as he’s ever looked, picking apart the Dolphins defense with his main targets being Sproles and Graham. Let’s not forget that their opponent, the Dolphins, were also undefeated before last night’s game. At times the Dolphins looked like they could go toe-to-toe with the Saints but like most young teams with an inexperienced quarterback, it was the mistakes that haunted them the most. Ryan Tannehill had some good highlight plays but the more important highlights for him were his 3 interceptions, that always seemed to come when the team was getting a good drive going. Saints were able to take advantage of the turnovers and it was smooth sailing for them. The rest of the schedule looks pretty favorable for the Dolphins so we’ll see how this team moves forward as they try and secure a spot in the playoffs. As far as the Saints go, they’re among the NFL’s elite. But where exactly?

Let’s just assume that the five undefeated teams in the league are the top 5. It’s clear that the Broncos and the Seahawks are a step above the rest of the top 5, looking solid in every single one of their games. I’ll give the Broncos the edge because they have blown out every single opponent they have faced with no signs of slowing down. Do people realize the Broncos closest game was a 16 point victory over the Raiders? Incredible. So that leaves Seattle in second and what worries me about the Seahawks is their offense on the road. Struggling in the first week against the Panthers and then needing a bad game by Matt Schaub to edge out the Texans in Houston. This week’s game in Indianapolis will be a good test for both teams. I was tempted to put the Patriots ahead of the Saints but then I thought about how Tom Brady has no one to throw to AND that New England has just lost Vince Wilfork (their best player on defense) for the rest of the season. Saints have a couple of big wins already (Falcons and Dolphins) while the questions still remain for the Patriots. Luckily for us these two teams face each other in a couple of weeks in New England so that will give us a better perspective of where they rank. The Chiefs are a well coached team with a good defense but here’s my knock on them: they’ve only faced mediocre to bad teams. Wins over the Jaguars and three NFC East teams isn’t exactly a resume to hang your hat on. The Titans on the road this weekend should be a solid test for this team but their real test comes later this season after their bye week when they get a Broncos-Chargers-Broncos set. But as long as they take care of business until then, the Chiefs will have a spot among the best in the league.

It’s nice to rank the teams but let’s remember, the two best teams in week 4 of the season are most likely not going to be the two teams in the Super Bowl. Who knows, maybe this season is different but we’ll have to wait and see.

Most surprising moments and best performances in 3rd Sunday of the NFL season


Did everyone underestimate the AFC almost completely? Or are the NFC teams just not that good? I’ll be the first to admit that I thought the AFC would be a cakewalk for the Broncos, their only real competition being the Texans and maybe the Patriots depending on their health. As of yesterday, you can include the Colts and Bengals as contenders, with the Dolphins looming and somehow still being a dark horse candidate. For myself, the best performance award doesn’t go to a specific player, it clearly goes to the entire Indianapolis Colts team. Andrew Luck led the way on offense but it was the all around team performance that made their win in San Francisco so impressive. Before the game began I was wondering if Andrew Luck was going to be able to deal with the pressure (mental and physical) but it turns out the tables were turned. Kaepernick and the 49ers offense were the ones struggling to get things going on offense, sputtering along for most the game. While Miami’s win over the Falcons wasn’t as impressive overall (home game) as the Colts, it was still a statement win. Who would’ve thought that heading into week 4 the Dolphins and Saints would both be undefeated? So where does that leave the Falcons and the Niners among the rest of the NFC? Remember, these were the final teams standing last season and were supposed to be favorites to get back there this year. Right now it’s the Saints and Bears as the teams that will seriously battle Seattle for the shot at the big game. And dare I say my Dallas Cowboys? Too early for that but they did look very impressive against the Rams, who on the other hand were abysmal for most of the game.

Speaking of abysmal performances, how about those New York Giants? Before the game began I thought Panthers’ coach Ron Rivera was the clear favorite to be the first coach fired this season but as the afternoon went on, the Panthers just kept scoring and scoring and scoring. The Giants couldn’t stop Cam Newton (4 TDs) and their offense could not get anything going, only managing 150 yards of total offense. So aside from the Colts win, the Giants not even managing to score 1 point really surprised me the most. Did I like it? Yes, anytime all the other NFC East team lose and the Cowboys win is a good football weekend for me. Another impressive win was the Bengals over the Packers, in a wild and crazy game with many ups and down. Packers fans were disappointed and Bengals fans were proud but I think neutral fans around the league enjoyed every minute of that game. It was probably the most exciting game to watch all season. Not so exciting games to watch? The Seahawks freebie at home against the Jaguars, the Patriots victory over the disappearing Bucs and the Saints dismantling of the Cardinals. Wait, how did I forget Cleveland’s crazy win over the Vikings in Minnesota? That certainly came out of nowhere. Too early to say that Brandon Hoyer might actually be decent? Browns fans take a step back for a second, the Bengals are in town next Sunday. Overall a great weekend of football. Probably not as exciting as the first two weeks but it looks like the rust has been shaken off entirely and we’re going to see some quality football as the weather turns cooler. The fall NFL season is upon us.

Tonight it’s the Raiders in Denver to take on Manning and co. The Broncos look like the favorite in the AFC and the Raiders look mediocre at best so I don’t expect any surprises tonight. Broncos roll over Raiders.

More surprises and more close games in NFL’s second Sunday

As usual, the first Sunday had people jumping to conclusions left and right. Teams are too hyped up, losses feel like the end of the world and most notably, they affect how everyone predicts week 2 of the NFL season. It’s probably the hardest weekend to prepare for and that’s why the second week of the season brings so many surprising results. I have to say, I did see the Dolphins-Colts game going that way and I almost nailed the Titans pick as well. But aside from Arizona handling Detroit and the 49ers completely face-planting in Seattle, the game that surprised me the most was the Chargers and Eagles. Fresh off their Monday night meltdown, the Chargers basically turned the table on the Eagles. San Diego was able to control the ball and the clock, keeping the Eagles offense that dazzled everyone last week off the field. The Eagles offensive weapons (Vick, McCoy, Jackson) all had nice games but their defense wasn’t able to control Philip Rivers and the rest of the Chargers offense. Who knows, maybe the Chargers are a solid team and their meltdown was just a prime time anomaly. Along with the Chargers, I was most impressed by the Packers, Broncos, Bears and Seahawks.

So while I feel that Aaron Rodgers had the best performance of the day (34-42, 480 yds, 4 TDs) there were some teams that were not so impressive. We’ll begin with the team that Rodgers beat handily, the Washington Redskins. Not being able to score until 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter? That’s signs of a team that doesn’t know what they’re doing on offense and are not on the same page. Which is weird to say because offense shouldn’t be that big of a problem when you have a young star like RG3 at quarterback. Despite only loosing by 2 points, I thought the Bucs looked very underwhelming and as a matter of fact, that game was very boring to watch. It wasn’t on the level of Raiders-Jaguars (felt like every other play was a punt with them) but I figured it would be better. At least from the Saints on offense because Drew Brees with only 1 TD pass is very weird. I know the Jaguars are the clear favorite for worst team in the league but the Panthers are very frustrating to watch, especially when they’re trying to close out a game with the lead. Yes, I loved EJ Manuel leading a game winning drive. It was exciting to watch but the Panthers can’t let a rookie QB beat you like that.

Tonight’s edition of Monday Night Football has the Steelers in Cincinnati to take on the Bengals. The Steelers looked REALLY bad last week and we’ll have to see how much the injuries they suffered will affect them even further. Despite being 0-1, I’m expecting a big win from Cincy tonight as they play their first game on their home turf. I’m still on the Bengals wagon and believe they will win their division.

Falcons take down the Saints and what to look for in week 13

11-29After being in so many close games the Atlanta Falcons were finally able to come out and take an early lead against the New Orleans Saints last night. After taking an early 17-0 lead, the Falcons took advantage of 5 interceptions thrown by Drew Brees en route to a 23-13 victory. Are the Falcons the least respected 11-1 team of all time? Even before the teams played last night, the Saints were only a 3.5 point underdog on the road! There are a few angles to this. The first being that the Falcons have been squeaking out wins against teams that they should be beating by two scores or more. Another reason the Falcons are looked over is because they don’t seem to have this same type of success in the postseason, when it really matters. I’m hesitant to trust the Falcon completely but edging out wins is still winning and that has to count for something.

Here are a few things that i’m looking at this weekend: The best game of this weekend will be the Buccaneers visiting the Broncos on Sunday afternoon. Normally Ravens-Steelers takes that title when they’re playing each other but after Big Ben was ruled out of the game, it can’t live up to expectations. The Bucs offense has been so great and Manning is the leading MVP candidate, so expect tons of fireworks in that game. New twist, my worst game of the week (stay away at all times) is the Browns visiting the Raiders. Why is the Cowboys-Eagles game on during prime time? I’ve been a Cowboys fan since I was a child and a part of me doesn’t want to watch this game. Upset pick is the Jaguars keeping it close at Buffalo (-6).

Side note on the NBA: I’m completely against David Stern taking action against the Spurs for what Popovich did. The Spurs coach was looking out for his team, putting their health first. Stern’s job is to run the league, not a team’s locker room.