Random thoughts about NFL’s Week 2:
Just some quick, random thought about some other games going on in the NFL today:
1 ) DO OR DIE IN WEEK 2? There are quite a few teams, especially in the NFC, with playoff aspirations who are going to be facing tough opponents while trying to avoid an 0-2 start. The Saints host (our) Bears in New Orleans, the Falcons host the Eagles in Atlanta. Dallas travels to San Francisco, and you have two games where BOTH TEAMS are 0-1—the Buccaneers face the Vikings in Minnesota, and the Giants host the Rams. For the Saints, Falcons, Giants, Rams and Bucs, a loss would also mean falling to 0-2 in conference play, which always seems to come into play as a tiebreaker for wild-card berths or home field advantage later in the year. 0-2 is not a death sentence, but you have to consider that 10-6 teams have missed the playoffs the last couple seasons; so you are basically putting yourself in a situation where you HAVE to win 11 of 14 games the rest of the way, to be assured a spot in the postseason. Even more interestingly, if the Falcons and Bucs both lose, they will be facing each other in Week 3 in a game where one team potentially saves their season, and the other team ends theirs.
2 ) POTENTIAL WEEK 3 MATCHUPS OF UNBEATENS. Should the Packers beat the Panthers in Charlotte today, and the Bears beat the Saints in New Orleans—it sets up a Week 3 matchup of 2-0 teams that could go a long way in determining who wins the NFC North. Same with New England and Buffalo (no, seriously—Buffalo) in the AFC East. Winning that game would essentially put you up 2 games in the division.
3 ) 1,000 YARDS PASSING—IN ONE GAME? The Patriots will be facing the Chargers today, one week after Tom Brady torched the Dolphins for 500+ passing yards. The problem is that they allowed Chad Henne of the Dolphins to throw for over 400 yards in that game. The same Chad Henne who was almost benched if the Dolphins could have pulled off the preseason trade for Kyle Orton. The same Kyle Orton who couldn’t beat out Rex Grossman for a starting job in Chicago a few years back. So after giving up 400+ yards to a mediocre-AT-BEST quarterback on Monday night, who do the Patriots get? PHILIP RIVERS OF THE CHARGERS. (On a side note, there was an interesting read by Michael Wilbon about how dominating defenses are a thing of the past.) We might see the first 1,000 combined yards passing game in NFL history.
4 ) SLOW STARTS. The performance of the Titans’ RB Chris Johnson should be fair warning to the Bears in regards to the Matt Forte contract situation. Johnson held out for a majority of the preseason, and obviously has not worked himself into playing shape yet, as he was limited to 24 yards on 9 carries and 25 yards on 6 catches. The Bears have always been good at taking care of their own in a timely manner, and Forte is an integral part of the offense we run. We could not afford a slow start from him.
5 ) IF A KICKOFF RULE IS CHANGED, AND PLAYERS STILL RETURN THE KICKS, DOES IT MAKE THE GAME SAFER? We saw three kick returned for touchdowns on opening weekend. Returners are running kickoffs back that they catch 8 yards deep in the endzone. The main effect I think this rule will have is it will place a premium on kickoff specialists who can put air under the ball—thus allowing their coverage to get downfield; and coverage teams that resemble punt coverage teams, as opposed to your ‘normal’ kickoff coverage teams—with more receivers, cornerbacks, and safeties as opposed to linemen and linebackers—players who can get up to top speed faster, since coverage team members can no longer get an unlimited running start. One thing is for certain—it hasn’t discouraged any of the elite return men from trying to run one back.
6 ) DOES THE NFL SCHEDULE MAKER LIVE IN DETROIT? If you look at Detroit’s schedule, after playing the Buccaneers (who are a marginal NFC playoff contender at best) in Week One, they do not play a road game against a team with a winning record until Week 10, when they travel to Chicago to face the Bears. Which seems pretty difficult to imagine, since they have the NFC South on their schedule, along with Green Bay and the Bears. The schedule lines up for Detroit to be able to be 6-3 or so going into that game with us.
7 ) NO LOVE FOR THE BEARS. The Bears (vs the Saints), Jaguars (vs the Jets) and the Chargers (vs the Patriots) are the ONLY 1-0 teams who were picked UNANIMOUSLY to LOSE their Week 2 games.
8 ) WELCOME TO THE PASSING ERA. Of the 16 games in Week One, 14 of a possible 32 quarterbacks threw for at least 300 yards. 4 quarterbacks threw for 400 yards. On the contrast, only 7 of a possible 32 running backs ran for at least 100 yards. Furthermore, in 3 games, the running back on either team did not even reach 60 yards. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a trend that continues throughout the season.