Through the course of an NFL season I go through different phases of thinking what matters for contenders. One week I think you need a great QB. The next week I think you need a solid pass defense. Then I’ll get lured in by some stud running back. But, one of the great things about the NFL is that it is always in such a state of flux from week to week. I’m watching Monday Night Football right now and Gruden and Tirico are talking about how good a job Asante Samuel is doing tackling. What? Is down now up? State of flux.
About all you can say for certain is that the teams that have started 2-0 are in slightly better shape than everyone else, because they only have 14 more chances to turn in an epic stink bomb ala Dallas or New England in week two. With that in mind, here’s a look at all the 2-0 teams, in increasing order of legitimacy….
6. Arizona. A road win in New England is nothing to roll your eyes at, unless the team with the win is Arizona. The Cardinals create problems with their defense and are better than expected, but among the undefeated teams–they stick out as a squad that doesn’t belong. Reasons 1-10? Kevin Kolb. Hosting Philly next week in a tussle between unbeaten teams.
5. San Diego. The Titans and Raiders don’t exactly look like the class of the AFC, so strength of schedule keeps the Chargers from creeping any higher on this list. Am I surprised that Rivers didn’t give away one of these first two games? Shocked. But, in terms of talent, this San Diego team can’t match up with some of their previous contenders. Huge game next week hosting Atlanta.
4. Philadelphia. The Eagles could pretty easily be 0-2. They’ve turned the ball over at alarming rates. A lot of the same problems still exist, but the defense appears to be improved. They did a nice job containing Baltimore’s weapons and their rookies are making an impact. The team also believes in Michael Vick’s ability to bring them back–something that can’t be ignored. Super Bowl favorites? Not quite. Better chance than SD and ‘Zona? Damn skip.
3. Atlanta. The Falcons cooled off Peyton Manning on Monday Night. Their offense should terrify you. So, what’s the biggest concern? Why don’t I rate them higher when I picked them to make the Super Bowl? For now, it looks a little too easy to score points on them. The 4th quarter leads should feel a little more comfortable. Speaking of which…
2. San Francisco. The 49ers have two quality wins over NFC North teams. You could even say they haven’t really been challenged. When the 49ers take a lead it feels like something definitive. The 49ers aren’t a see-saw team. They hold teams to FGs and get important stops. Those stops will become more critical as we get deeper into the season.
1. Houston. I feel pretty good about my Super Bowl pick. The Texans already have a +40 point differential. Pretty good, right? And, you can say they’ve played two cream puffs, but how many contenders have already looked like trash against, or lost to a 2nd division club? The Texans haven’t been challenged, and haven’t had a letdown. A rarity in the modern NFL.
The striking thing about this list is the teams who aren’t 2-0. Dallas. Green Bay. New England. Pittsburgh. Denver. New Orleans. Baltimore. At best we’ll have four undefeated teams after week three. Sounds uncommonly low. It’s parity season.
So, getting to the business, I’ve got to join my little gif above in giving ourselves a huge round of applause. I don’t keep track of such things, but I doubt we’ve had many 19-9-2 weeks as a unit. We even hit our big consensus game–the Falcons. Weird. Surely, we’re doing a better job than the NFL replacement referees. Hey guys, learn the rules at your own pace. No rush.
NFL Pick ‘Em Standings:
- Grossy, 6-3-1
- Kraft, 6-4
- DC, 6-4
- JCK, 6-4
- Big Dub, 5-4-1
- Nichols, 4-6
The “Great Sleeping Weather,” Pick of the Week: Big Dub, Miami (+2.5) over Oakland
Obviously plenty of winners to choose from here. We had several underdog outright calls. Carolina. I was irrationally cocky after picking Seattle, but the great thing about Big Dub is–he markets his picks. He doesn’t just send them in and wait for the results. He reminds me of the games he wins. Can you believe I had Miami? This is the kind of thing I’m talking about. I’m nothing if not prone to a good bit of advertising. So, if you want to win this award, pick a week where we go 9-19-2 and then remind me how great you are. That said, of the underdogs picked, the Dolphins were clearly the worst team. Great use of the short-week travel theory.
The “Be A Better Homer,” Awful Pick of the Week: Nichols, NYJ (+5.5) over Pittsburgh.
Was I an idiot for taking the Lions on the road? Sure. But, I made it clear that was a spite pick. Anyone who bets with regularity should know that this type of qualifier makes a pick about as reliable as single ply TP. So, instead of raining on my own parade (I’ve got enough problems in D.A. Football), I’m going to zero in on Nichols. Struggling out of the gate at 4-6, Nichols took the Jets over the Steelers. Now, for those of you who don’t know–Nichols is a Giants fan. I assume this includes a requisite amount of disdain for the 2nd class Jets. Why put your name next to them and the Sanchize? Wouldn’t it be easier to enjoy the Jets loss?
3-PT D.A. of the Week: Peyton Manning.
Read about last week’s D.A. games, Pey-Pey’s sweet 1st quarter and all other D.A. news by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.