The highly anticipated first week of the NFL season has come and gone and frankly I'm a bit disappointed.
According to all the experts and plenty of the players that were willing to speak up, the NFC teams that are the "Superbowl Favorites" would include the following: Dallas, Green Bay, Minnesota and New Orleans. San Francisco is supposed to be a lock to win the mediocre NFC west. While the Jets are the darling pick from the AFC this year and it seems you can assume Peyton and the Colts will again make a run for the title. Wait a minute, whats that saying about assuming things?
So lets review how these "favorites" performed on Sunday.
Dallas really couldn't get out of its own way against a rejuvenated Redskins squad led by Donovan McNabb. Rarely are you able to witness a bigger blunder than the gimmick play gone wrong just before halftime. Besides the mind boggling play call, Tashard Choice's fumble that was returned for a TD as the first half ended was one of the most shocking developments I have ever had the pleasure of watching live. Dallas' high powered offense came up short on their way to seven points.
Briefly stated as it happened nearly a week ago, Brett Favre and the Vikings appeared rusty and should be concerned about their lack of WR depth. While the defending Superbowl champs came out smoking on their way to seven points in what seemed like barely enough time to find the right spot on the couch.
However, the highly anticipated "Blitz Favre / Revenge on New Orleans" game fizzled into essentially a defensive battle with few points scored and neither offense finding much rhythm.
Looking west, I was never sold the opener in Seattle would be a cake walk for the up and coming (supposedly) 49ers. With Kurt Warner's retirement, a healthy Matt Hasselbeck is the #1 QB out west until someone can prove otherwise. But I don't think anyone could have predicted such a lopsided score. The Niners may be similar to the 2009 Packers that believed the preseason headlines and stumbled to 4-4.
Speaking of those Packers, they had the best start of the NFC group in my opinion putting up 27 points on what was considered an "off" day for Aaron Rodgers by throwing two interceptions. The Packers did have some success on defense fending off Michael Vick and the Eagles. But were simply fortunate to escape with a win while their offense certainly did not provide the fireworks many were anticipating.
However the Packers suffered a blow to their offense losing RB Ryan Grant for the season to an ankle injury. It could be problematic to replace someone who has quietly been one of the more reliable backs in the NFL the past two seasons.
Over in the AFC it seemed there was a passing of the torch of sorts. Longtime nemesis and defending AFC champion Indianapolis went on the road to play Houston where they have dominated the Texans since their inception. The Texans withstood Peyton Manning's rally while they physically dominated the Colts in the run game on their way to what may have been the most impressive win of the weekend.
Lastly those Jets. Between Rex Ryan, Hard Knocks, and the Revis Island drama, there was no shortage of hype surrounding this 9-7 team from 2009. Almost as shocking as the Dallas fumble to end halftime, was the complete inability of the Jets offense to move the ball. Understandably it is the Ravens with their long time reputation for great defense. But, this is the 2010 Ravens without Ed Reed and a secondary that was considered vulnerable to the pass.
Sanchez had absolutely zero production throwing the ball down the field. And early returns indicate the departures of steady veterans Thomas Jones and Leon Washington left an unproven Shonn Greene and a high mileage LT in charge of a lack luster run game minus perennial pro-bowler Alan Faneca on the offensive line.
The Jets now face an invigorated Patriot team with plenty of experience scoring points where it seems likely they will be 0-2 after starting the season with two home games unless they can magically fix their offense in one week.
Ultimately we learned that preseason continues to provide absolutely zero indication of how the regular season will unfold. And defense seems clearly ahead of offense in Week 1. I shudder to picture the offensive (pun intended) display in week 1 should there be only two preseason games for players to get the speed of the game down.
Like they say, its not how you start, its how you finish. It'll be interesting to see which of the teams is able to get on track first.
PS. I cannot believe Chicago was let off the hook. Not so much regarding Calvin Johnson's controversial catch. I mean "incompletion". Because with a chance to take the lead with a field goal in the fourth quarter against a team with a backup QB struggling, they opted for the TD and were denied. That ranks just behind the Tashard Choice fumble for shock value as Chicago was able to go on to win the game anyway. Had they gone on to lose by one point, I could only imagine the fallout of that decision.