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The Good, Bad and Ugly: Week #2
NORTH CAROLINA (BASN) — Week Two is in the books in the NFL as is weekend three for the colleges. We saw some amazing football on both fronts.
The Bears make our NFL top 15 for the first time while the Broncos are the only undefeated team not to make the list. On the college level, the No. 1 Gators gets a scare from Tennessee, BYU and USC both get beat and fall out of the top 10 and Utah’s winning streak gets snapped by Oregon.
In HBCU football, Bowie State and Elizabeth City State look impressive in shutting out their opponents while Alabama A&M loses it’s first game of the season.
With all that said, let’s look at some of the results and standings in “The Good, Bad and Ugly” for this week.
Bears: What can you say about Jay Cutler and Chicago. They did just enough on offense and defense and defeated the defending Super Bowl Champion Steelers 17-14. After an initial punch in the mouth by Pittsburgh, the Bears calmed themselves down and played a fundamentally sound game and punched the Steelers in the mouth the rest of the game. Cutler didn’t’ throw any picks and was smarter with the football as Chicago used a lot of bubble screens and quick passes to keep the Steelers’ attacking defense off-balance. Yes, Jeff Reed missed two field goals for Pittsburgh, but I don’t think it would have made a difference. Chicago had the perfect game plan for the Black and Gold. If Cutler can play that way all season, Lovie Smith may not be out of a job after all.
Jets:New York “talked the talk” and “walked the walk” in their 16-9 win against the Brady-led Patriots. Despite the referees attempt to hand New England the game, the Jets defense was determine to stop Brady and their arsenal attack and they did. “Gang Green” held New England to only three field goals, under 100 yards rushing, and made “Tom Terrific” look like a mere mortal (23 of 47 for 216 yards) in the game. So much for him and the Pats being back, huh?
Saints: New Orleans continues to light up the scoreboard this time at the expense of the Eagles 48-22. Drew Brees continues to put up big numbers with over 300 yards and three more touchdowns and Mike Bell had a solid 86 yards on 17 carries. Kevin Kolb had an o.k. day with 391 yards 2 touchdowns but most of those yards were after the Saints build a big lead in the game and he also threw three interceptions. Knowing some Philly fans the way I do, they will want to stay with Kolb even after McNabb returns from injury.
Falcons: Atlanta has opened the season 2-0 largely because of a well balanced offense and a opportunistic defense. Matt Ryan threw for three touchdowns, Michael Turner ran for over 100 yards and Atlanta’s defense forced two more turnovers in beating the reeling Panthers 28-20. The Falcons allowed All-Pro wide receiver Steve Smith to catch eight passes for 131 yards but came up with a huge interception late in the game against the much maligned Jake Delhomme.
Vikings: So far so good for Minnesota and their experiment with Brett Favre. He was a serviceable 23 of 27 for 155 yards and two touchdowns as the Vikings started slow against the hopeless Lions but eventually won 27-13. The reason Minnesota started slowly was the solid performance by Detroit’s defense on Adrian “Superman” Peterson in the game. The Lions held the best player in football to 92 yards on 15 carries, which is an average game for him (although that is a six-yard per carry average). Unfortunately, the Lions continue to start rookie Matthew Stafford who had another miserable game field with mistakes. He went 18 of 30 for 152 yards and two interceptions. The difference in the two Viking wins: Peterson ran for over 150 yards and Minny easily beat the Browns In Week One. Against Detroit, Peterson had less than 100 yards and they had to comeback to win. “All Day” makes this team go with or without Favre and the contrast in both wins for the Vikings should clearly prove that. Sorry Favre fans.
Texans: Houston finally put together a complete offensive game in beating the Titans on the road 34-31. Matt Schaub had a surprisingly huge game against Tennessee’s defense going 25 of 39 for 357 yards and four touchdowns in what was an impressive offensive show. Chris Johnson did his part on the ground for the Titans rushing for 197 yards and two touchdowns. But the Titans’ defense just couldn’t't stop Houston’s offense despite shutting down Steve Slaton and their rushing game. Head coach Gary Kubiak finally pushed the right buttons and his offense put up big numbers but let’s see if they can keep it up all year and make the playoffs to save his job.
Bengals: Cincinnati finally put up some offensive numbers they can be proud of in their big 31-24 upset of the Packers at Lambeau Field.
Ravens: Baltimore improved to 2-0 to start the season thanks to a opportunistic defense. Phillip Rivers threw for a career high 436 yards but he threw two huge interceptions in the Ravens 31-26 road victory over the Chargers. Ravens QB Joe Flacco came back down to earth with a 190 yards and two touchdowns and “Father Time” Ray Lewis made a key stop on 4th down for the Ravens to seal the deal late in the game. Baltimore continues to use the ingredients of mistake free football on offense and big plays on defense to win football games and find themselves alone right now atop the AFC North.
49ers: Don’t look now, but San Francisco is alone atop the NFC West thanks to an impressive 23-10 home victory over the Seahawks. Frank Gore was a beast on the ground rushing for 207 yards and two touchdowns and the Niners’ defense shut down another offense and knocked out Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck from the game in the process. Coach Mike Singletary has his team believing they can play with anyone and it shows in their two victories against the last two NFC West champs. They’re are not flashy, but they are winning football games and will be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC all season.
Colts: It wasn’t pretty once again, but once again, Indy gets a victory. Despite the Dolphins controlling the ball for over 45 minutes, Peyton Manning and the Colts offense managed to do enough offensively to get a hard fought 27-23 win in the heat of Miami. The Colts offense had only 35 plays compared to 84 for the Dolphins but Indy made the most of the few opportunities they had. If that doesn’t’ make this win for the Colts incredible, consider these stats: Indy’s defense allowed 239 yards rushing, over 45 minutes of possession to Miami’s offense including allowing them to convert on 15 of 21 plays on third down, yet they pulled a rabbit out of hat and got a victory in the sunshine state. Credit Manning, a “bend but don’t break” defense and a great coaching staff in winning this game. But also understand they can’t continue to play this way throughout the season and especially against better teams. Congradulations also goes out to Manning for becoming the winningest QB in franchise history.
Lions: Detroit has been competitive in two games so far but with a subpar defense and a rookie quarterback, they’ll continue tostay out of the win column as evident in their 27-13 loss to the rival Vikings. The Lions started out the game playing well getting out to a 10-0 lead largely because of their defense against Adrian Peterson. But they couldn’t'manage any offense largely because of the play of rookie Matthew Stafford. He threw two more interceptions and looked confused against Minnesota. If the Lions continue to stop the run and play better on defense and do the right thing and bench Stafford for Dante Culpepper, they may have a legitimate shot at winning some games but the key is to change quarterbacks. Knowing how much they invested in Stafford, they won’t do it so look for Detroit to continue to lose.
Titans: It’s clear the way you attack Tenessee’s defense is to pass the ball as evident in their 34-31 loss at home to the Texans. Matt Schaub threw four touchdowns and really didn’t get much pressure and like the Pittsburgh game the previous week, the Titans’ inability to stop an offense on third down was critical. As much as I would like to blame a loss on Kerry Collins, it certainly wasn’t his fault. He was 21 of 33 for 216 yards and two touchdowns and Chris Johnson did his part in running for nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns in the game but it wasn’t't enough. If Tennessee doesn’t sure up their secondary fast, they could find themselves in a lot of trouble fast in the AFC South.
Panthers: Carolina < and Jake Delhomme played better in their 28-20 loss to the Falcons. He did throw a crucial pick late in the game but it wasn’t't all on him in this game as the defense continues to allow to many big plays especially on third down. Like Philly did in Week One, Atlanta was able to run the ball at will which opened up Matt Ryan and the offense in the passing game. The Panthers have put themselves in a big hole with the Falcons and Saints sitting at 2-0 which doesn’t look good for John Fox and his job.
Steelers: Two missed field goals, and inconsistent running game and no big plays on offense were the main reasons why the defending champs lost on the road to the Bears 17-14. Pittsburgh continues to struggle running the football although they showed some signs of life in the second half of this game. The Steelers need to decide who they want to be on offense and need to pray their All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu gets back sooner rather than later.
Buccaneers: If you lose to Buffalo, even on the road, you’re just a bad team.
Packers: Green Bay continues to score points and play well offensively but they still have a long way to go on defense as evident in their surprising loss at home to the Bengals 31-24. The Packers, who are implementing a new 3-4 look on defense under defensive coordinator Tom Capers, did pick off Carson Palmer twice but allowed “retread running back” Cedric Benson to rush for 141 yards in the game. I know they expected some growing pains defensively but they better get their act together soon with the 2-0 Vikings looming.
Eagles: Well it turned out Philly didn’t miss Donovan McNabb, they missed their defense. The D allowed the Saints to put up 48 points and over 400 yards of total offense in their 48-22 beat down at home. Drew Brees had plenty of time to throw and the Saints did enough on the ground to keep Philly’s attacking defense honest at the line of scrimmage. To add insult to injury, running back Bryant Westbrook suffered a ankle injury and may not play next week . Fortunately, they can give him a seat on the bench along with McNabb as their opponent next week is the Kansas City Chiefs.
Chargers: Quarterback Phillip Rivers put up 400 yards and two touchdowns but it still wasn’t't enough to beat the Ravens at home. But the running game was non existent as Darren Sproles rushed for only 26 yards on 10 carries. For those ready to get rid of LaDanian Tomlinson, think twice. Sproles is a good running back, but not an every down running back Plus, LT can run and catch the ball much more effectively than Sproles. I think it’s also time to say San Diego’s defense, though talented, is vastly overrated.
Seahawks: After posting a shutout defensively last week, Seattle probably felt they were shutout themselves in their 23-10 loss to the Niners. Quarterback Matt Hasselback was hurt in the second quarter and did not return. Apparently the defense never made the trip from Seattle in allowing Frank Gore to rush for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. An unhealthy Hasselbeck is not the way to start the season for the Seahawks especially since he missed nine games last season and Seattle only won two of those games with backup Seneca Wallace.
Dolphins: Miami, like Chicago, had the perfect game plan against Indy. Unlike the Bears, the Dolphins didn’t finish the job in their 27-23 loss on Monday Night. This game will be looked at for the obvious stats but one puzzling play sticks in my mind. With the score tied at 20 and Miami having great success on third down against a tired Indy defense (they were 15 of 21 in third down efficiency), they called a conservative run play on third and 6 to seemingly set up a field goal kick to take the lead. It surprised me because they converted two previous third downs easily by passing. In settling for a field goal, they left the Colts and Peyton Manning too much time to drive for the winning score. Indy went down the field with the mentality of scoring a touchdown, not a field goal. Miami is a good football team despite their record but they will need to open up the offense if they want to compete and repeat at AFC East Champs.
Patriots: 215 yards passing, less than 70 yards rushing and a no show from Randy Moss. All of these were components in New England’s 16-9 loss to the Jets at the Meadowlands. Tom Brady has thrown over 100 passes in two games due to their lack of a running game and because of a “average at best” offensive line. He continues to look like an average quarterback because of constant pressure on him in the pocket. Look for more teams to stop the run and pressure the “so called” best quarterback in football every time they have the opportunity.
Washington: Leave it to D.C to win a game and still make our “ugly” category. They are just bad and boring even when they win.
Bills: Like D.C., Buffalo won but I feel for those who have to watch them play on television. Trent Edwards is a dud, their defense is mediocre at best and they have a coach who doesn’t have a clue of what he’s doing. The only bright spot is Fred Jackson who continues to play well in the absence of Marshawn Lynch.
A former NFL Europe standout and Division III product, Jackson went over 140 total yards for the second consecutive game. He ran for a career-high 163 yards on 28 carries and added six catches for 25 yards.
Browns: Do I even have to say anything?
Chiefs: Last week, K.C.’s offense scored 24 points but their defense can’t stop Baltimore. This week, the defense only allows 13 points but their offense could only manage 10 points. The Chiefs will battle the Rams for the worst record in football this season.
Rams: They played better offensively, but still could only manage seven points in the game against Washington in the their 9-7 loss. Could the Rams be the next 0-16 team in the league?
Jaguars: Jacksonville didn’t play badly in the game against Arizona offensively but the defense could not stop the Cardinals offense in their 31-17 loss Sunday. They are just a bad team and it starts with their head coach “control freak” Jack Del Rio. He has single handily destroyed this franchise and if the losses continue, he will be receiving a pink slip very soon.
Cowboys: Let’s see, you have a running game that compiles over 250 yards, you shutdown a potent running attack, score 31 points and still lose 33-31 in your home opener against your hated rivals? How? The answer: three interceptions from who? Tony Romo. Enough said.
Raiders: Like D.C., Oakland did win, but they are boring. Sorry Raider Nation.
Top 15 teams in the NFL :
Top 25 Division 1 College football teams:
3. Penn State
9. Ole’ Miss
10. Virginia Tech
12. Ohio State
14. Oklahoma State
15. Georgia Tech
19. North Carolina
21. Florida State
National Championship game:
Florida vs. Texas
Top 10 HBCU Division 1 College football teams:
1. South Carolina State
3. Prairie View A&M
4. Alabama State
5. Grambling State
7. Alabama A&M
9. North Carolina A&T
10. Norfolk State
Top 10 HBCU Division 2 College football teams:
2. Albany State
3. Elizabeth City State
4. Fayetteville State
6. Benedict College
7. Bowie State
9. Virginia Union
DIVISION 1 HBCU PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Grambling State DL Christian Anthony: Anthony compiled 7.5 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a interception for a touchdown in Grambling State’s 27-17 win over Jackson State Saturday.
DIVISION 2 HBCU PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
The Bowie State offense: Bowie State set a new single record, rushing for an all-time high 456 yards and amassed a school record 594 total offensive yards in their 51-0 blasting of Livingstone College.
Well that’s it for this week. Enjoy the games and we will talk next week!