By Tony McClean
Updated: September 15, 2005
NEW HAVEN, Ct — Well, not a bad opening act for the NFL this past weekend, huh? It’s always funny to read the out-of-town newspapers on the day after Week One. Reading such writer quotes like “They didn’t play or look like this at all in the preseason” always make me laugh.
Hey, geniuses! That’s why it’s called PRESEASON. Even though the teams charge regular season prices for what amounts to controlled scrimmages, you really can’t take a whole lot from them.
Let’s face it, half of the guys you see in your favorite teams jerseys will either be sitting next to you on the bus or in line with you at Wall-Mart at the end of camp. No disrespect, but it’s just a fact. The only people that get into preseason are the out of control fantasy league guys and habitual bettors who can’t help themselves.
But enough on that, let’s move on to Week Two. Among the highlights this week will be a Super Bowl rematch between the Patriots and Panthers in Charlotte, two early AFC divisional battles in Oakland and Indianapolis, and an interesting interconference battle between Buffalo and Tampa Bay at Raymond James.
FACTOID OF THE WEEK
The Patriots have won nine straight and 12 of their last 13 meetings against NFC opponents, this includes their last two Super Bowl victories. In fact, the last NFC team to defeat New England was the Redskins, who nipped them 20-17 on September 28, 2003 at FedEx Field.
New England’s Tom Brady has the highest regular-season winning percentage (49-14, .778) among active QBs with at least 16 starts. Who is second?
A. Brett Favre
B. Marc Bulger
C. Michael Vick
D. Donovan McNabb
LAST WEEK’S ANSWER
On December 12, 1970, John “Frenchy” Fuqua set the Steelers’ record for most rushing yards in a regular-season game with a 218-yard performance in a 30-20 loss at Philadelphia.
LAST WEEK NUMBERS: 9-7 (9-7 overall)
Considering all the upsets, we’ll take it. We warned you about the Dolphins, Lions, and Chiefs coming up big. However, we all got blindsided by the 49ers and the Bucs. I also should have taken the Saints just on GP. Shame on me for doubting the inspired fellas from the Bayou.
49ERS at EAGLES
Raise your hand if you thought San Fran would come into this game as the team with the winning record. Now that you’ve told that fib, lets move on. QB Tim Rattay gets to the keep his job for at least the end of the month after the Niners spanked up on the Rams. With Donovan McNabb listed as questionable for Sunday, can San Fran really pull off this upset? Sorry, I’m not buying it. However, keep this in mind: The Niners upset Philly in their last meeting back in December of 2003 at the Linc.
PATRIOTS at PANTHERS
Was it me or was Tom Brady posing for his bubble gum card picture on every pass last week against Da Raiders? Despite a late TD, New England pretty much had their way with the Silver and Black. Carolina not only lost to the Saints, but has now lost DT Kris Jenkins for the rest of the year. Boy, that SI cover jinx can really be a bi….. Seriously though, if the Panthers had kept the penalties down, they may have gotten a win. I know you saw the above stat about New England and the NFC, but that streak gotta end some day. Why not Sunday?
JAGUARS at COLTS
A early AFC South battle at the RCA Dome. Both teams looked impressive last week as Jacksonville defeated Seattle and Indy dismissed Baltimore. The last time they met, the Jags handed the Colts their only home loss of the season in a 27-24 last October. While much was made of Indy’s near shutout at Baltimore, Jacksonville was also on their game defensively Sunday as they held Seattle scoreless in the second half. While the Horseshoes have something to prove, so do the Jags.
CHIEFS at RAIDERS
K.C.’s improved defense passed it’s first test with flying colors on Sunday. Now they’ll get a even bigger test against a division opponent on the road. Offensively, the Chiefs looked to be in mid-season form dismissing Gang Green. Despite a change of defensive philosophy, the Silver and Black looked Black and Blue after their loss at Foxboro. Even after a fast start, the Oakland offense sputtered as well. Even if Larry Johnson’s recent arrest keeps him off the field Sunday, K.C. should have enough to win at the Black Hole.
GIANTS at SAINTS (At The Meadowlands)
This psuedo-home game for the Saints was changed because of the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. The team used the inspiration of their loyal fans, many displaced throughout the country, to pull out an emotional win at Carolina. Earlier this week, the league announced a deal for the Saints to play four home games in Baton Rouge and three more in San Antonio, Texas. While the Giants are coming off a huge win in their own right, you get the feeling that New Orleans is playing for something a little bit more right now.
Lions over Bears: Whaaaat? A road win for the Boys from Motown? Yep, it’s gonna happen.
Bucs over Bills: Could Chucky be quietly getting Tampa back into the playoff frey?
Ravens over Titans: Anthony Wright might turn “Pacman” Jones into Donkey Kong.
Bengals over Vikings: My colleague, Mr. Wells just may be right about Mike Tice.
Cowboys over Redskins: At the rate Washington is going, Jason Campbell will be in at halftime.
Steelers over Texans: This week, it’s Houston turn to say “Who the hell is Willie Parker and why is he killing us”?
Falcons over Seahawks: Three words for all the Michael Vick haters: JUST SHUT UP!!!!
Cardinals over Rams: The Kurt Warner Summer of Love Tour contunues, but this time with a win.
Dolphins over Jets: Reverend Herm will be a real cussing mood come Monday morning.
Packers over Browns: This will be closer than you think.
Chargers over Broncos: So much for the another edition of the new and improved Jake Plummer.