NFL Positives, Negatives, and Undecideds from Week One

Eric Galko@OptimumScoutingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2009

HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 13:  Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets leaves the field with the game ball after defeating the Houston Texans 24-7 at Reliant Stadium on September 13, 2009 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

It seems after week one, fans and analysts everywhere already know how the season will shake out. And while getting a chance to see a team actually play is a better indicator than the offseason workouts or the draft, there is a reason they play 16 games.

So, we’ll take a look at what week one really meant, and what it could mean for the overall season.

The Positives We Learned

Sanchez, Jets Defense Look Poised to be Playoff Contenders

Most people, especially me, thought it would take the rookie quarterback more than an offseason program to become a reasonable starter, but Sanchez looks every bit the part of a starter.

Some may argue that judging by the stats, Sanchez (18-for-31, 272 yards, one touchdown, one interception) had a better game than last year’s rookie darling Matt Ryan, who in his first game finished 9-for-13, for 169 yards and a score.

But what really stood out for me for Sanchez was his great movement in the pocket, his poise when making throws, and his uncanny, Pro Bowl-type third-down conversion ability.

Also, that Jets defense, with an immense amount of blitz packages really looks like they will dominate all season long.

Bart Scott flies all around the field, David Harris lays huge hit after huge hit, and Kris Jenkins was a mauler all game, and could be the best nose tackle in the league.

These Jets really have a chance to end the season 10-6, 11-5 and reach the playoffs.

Peterson and Vikings Defense Will Get Favre to Playoffs

I always felt that, even in the preseason, the Vikings were a lock to make the playoffs and possibly go deep (I picked them to play NE in the Super Bowl).

However, judging by the AP show of 186 yards and three scores as well as a pummeling defense that forced two turnovers, five sacks, and allowed only 268 yards of offense, these Vikings should start to become the favorites in the NFC from most people now.

Favre obviously doesn’t have to do much as he only went 14-for-21 for 110 yards and still won. 

Brees, Brady Already on Record Setting Pace

In the fantasy debate on who is the best quarterback, the question of Brees and Brady still is undecided. Brees finished his game against the Lions with 358 yards and six scores.

Not to be entirely outdone, Brady managed 378 yards on 39 completions (a Monday Night Football record) and two scores.

So far, Brees is out on top, but both players could be chasing Dan Marino (and Tom Brady’s) passing records.

The Negatives We Learned

Cutler and His Offense Worse Than Expected

The erratic Cutler was in for serious trouble when he went to Chicago. Cutler relies on his magnificent arm strength and gutsiness to both win games and make his receivers some money.

Guys like Brandon Marshall and Brandon Stokley were rather sure handed, and allowed Cutler to be a little off on his throws, while Eddie Royal is very hard to over-throw.

Now in Chicago, unproven receivers like Earl Bennet, Juaquin Iglesias, and Devin Hester aren’t sure handed, athletic guys who can bail Cutler out.

After a four-interception loss on Sunday Night, look for the Bears offense to give the ball even more to Matt Forte, and look for this Bears passing offense not to improve much throughout the year.

Jake Delhomme Has Become the Best Player for Opposing Defenses

Eleven. That’s how many giveaways Jake Delhomme has in his last two games. That's nine interceptions and two lost fumbles—eleven reasons why defenses love to play against him.

For a guy who used to have the best quarterback rating in playoff history, the conservative, veteran quarterback has fallen off the deep end. And with Matt Moore and A.J. Feely the next best options, I don’t see the Delhomme era ending anytime soon—as long as he strays away from his five-and-a-half turnover per game average.

I’ll take the under against the Falcons next week, but not by much.

Cincy, Denver have Offenses Just as Bad as Their Defenses

Coming into the season, Denver had the worst team on paper, especially on defense, and the Bengals were still going to rely on their offense to win them games in shootout fashion.

So, with the Broncos likely not to average more than 14-16 points a game, Palmer, Ochocinco, and company could easily muster up 20 points, right? Wrong.

The Bengals managed to score one touchdown the whole game and ended up losing after the Broncos had a terrible pass bounce into the open and moving arms of Brandon Stokley, as he ran it in for the go ahead score.

With playmakers such as Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Chad Ochocinco, Lavernues Coles, and many others, the combined score of 19 points means that these offenses are even bad against the worst of the worst in defenses.

Still Undecided

The Eagles Haven’t Shown They're Super Bowl Favorites

After being touted way too much in the preseason about being NFC title favorites, I’m not sold by week one.

I do like the Eagles to at least get to the NFC title game, but the Eagles didn’t over impress me with a week one romping. The defense look very good, abusing Delhomme into five turnovers.

However, the offense didn’t get a chance to show its deep play ability (outside of DeSean Jackson’s punt return), and McNabb is down yet again with an injury.

I was more impressed with the Vikings balanced attack, the Saints tremendous numbers, the Giants complete defense and offense, and the Falcons domination of the Dolphins. I still like the Eagles to go far this year, but pump the breaks on being Super Bowl participants for now.

Houston Can Still Be a 9-7 Team

I know the Texans looked awful against the Jets in week one. I watched that game in its entirety, and maybe I took a different message away from it than most.

The Jets defense was perfectly built to reek havoc on the Texans offense. The Jets have the best blitzing inside linebacker in the league, a load and talent of a nose tackle, and an experienced secondary.

Also, the Jets offense really was balanced and really exceeded expectations in consistency.

The Cowboys Still Have Questions on Defense

For a defense with arguably the best player in the league in DeMarcus Ware, I’m not sold on the Cowboys defense to be enough to get them to a Super Bowl—or even the playoffs for that matter.

Playing one of the worst offenses in the league in the Tampa Bay Bucs, they allowed over 150 yards rushing, allowed Byron Leftwich to get over 250 yards passing, and had ZERO sacks going against a very marginal offensive line.

The secondary didn’t look good at all, which was expected, but if the front seven can’t bring pressure, the Cowboys could see far too many shootouts than their offense can manage.


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