Have you ever made a poor first impression? Of course you have, it happens to the best of us. But unless you pants someone at a business meeting or commit some sort of crime, most bad first impressions can be overcome.
And you better believe that there are a few football teams out there right now that want to believe it, having left a pretty poor first (and second, and third...) impression on fans.
But the season is young, and there is still time to right the ship. Let's take a look at a few teams that will do just that this week.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
One of these teams needs to win, right?
The amount of points that could be scored in this game is humbling, it really is, because neither team comes close to playing anything resembling a professional level of pass defense. The Eagles allow 325 passing yards per game, 31st in the NFL. The Giants are better in that regard, giving up 261.8 (19th), but they've also given up 10 passing touchdowns, tied for the most in the NFL.
The difference in this game will likely come down to which team can better protect the ball. In that regard, the Giants are in trouble, with an NFC-worst turnover differential of minus-9. Look for the Eagles to establish the running game, wear down the New York defense and capitalize on turnovers.
Prediction: The Eagles win, 35-31.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
Raise your hand if you don't live in Detroit and you expected the Lions to start 3-1 and the Packers to start 1-2. Put your hands down, people who live in Detroit!
Losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals are hardly shameful, but giving up 34 points in each one is. Now, the Lions come to town, having just scorched the talented Chicago Bears defense for 40 points. Can you say shootout?
Of course, when the guns start blazing, it's best to side with the posse that includes Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Jermichael Finley. Add in the fact that the Packers are at home and are coming off the bye week, and it's hard to see them dropping to 1-3.
Prediction: The Packers win, 38-34.
Atlanta Falcons at New York Jets
Shockingly, the Atlanta Falcons have started the season 1-3, with close losses to the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.
What is so amazing is that in all three losses, the Falcons either had a chance to win the game or blew a lead in the final minute.
For Atlanta, the formula is pretty simple: Figure out a way to close out games, and improve in the red zone. Because the Falcons have been pretty poor inside the 20. From Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated:
Coming into this game, the Falcons ranked 19th in Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted team efficiency rankings in the red zone, and 21st in goal-to-go situations. It’s a liability that their head coach understands implicitly.
“The responsibility goes to me,” Mike Smith said after the Falcons’ 27-23 loss to the Miami Dolphins last Sunday. “It doesn’t go to the quarterback. It doesn’t go the offensive line. It doesn’t go to the offensive coordinator. It’s my responsibility as head coach to make sure we are more efficient in the red zone, and I can assure you that’s something that will be addressed.”
Unfortunately, the Falcons didn't really fix the issue against the Patriots, namely late in the game, when they were into the red zone twice, down 10, and only came away with three points.
The Jets play solid defense, but rookie quarterback Geno Smith has a case of turnover-itis (11 on the season). If Atlanta can fix some of its red-zone issues, expect it to roll.
Prediction: The Falcons win, 28-10.
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