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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Four Quick NFL Thoughts

One: So the Broncos won over an already dinged-up KC Chiefs. Nothing against the Chiefs and their performance, but consider me unimpressed. The Chargers are the class of the AFC West until someone can prove otherwise.

Two: On second thought, maybe the Raiders should have kept Jeff George on the roster. I can’t imagine him doing worse than Aaron Brooks and Andrew Walter (aka, “Whatsisname"). And the serious deficit of skill at quarterback promises a really fun Randy Moss breakdown later this year. Barring divine intervention, the Raiders look to be the worst team in the league this year.

Three: Poor Favre. The decision to come back for one more season must be tasting pretty bad about now.

Four: To all the people who kept telling me that TO would have been a good fit in Denver, I just have two words: ha ha.

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I can’t agree with you, man.  You should have read my wrap-up at Chiefscoalition.com a few days ago.  I wasn’t 100% correct (no one ever is), but I made some not-obvious calls that turned out to be right.

Which gives me the guts to say:
San Diego will win lots of games because Marty has his team assembled now.  They may win the division with Martyball, but LT is losing steam fast (he had 2 yds/carry for most of the game against Raiders, and 16 runs of 2 or less yards), and Marty’s offenses are never good enough in the playoffs.

Both KC and Denver have good offenses that struggled in the first game.  Both offenses are better than they looked.  But a funny thing happened in week 2.  Two good offenses ran into 2 of the best defenses in the NFL.  Both defenses have shut-down corners; speedy, playmaking DBs; decent D-lineman that can get pressure at times; and a good coordinator that makes great adjustments.  A good defense with a good gameplan can shut down any offense.  So both offenses looked worse than they are.
KC’s problem is Green is out, but the defense will likely get better as Hali gets experience, as Page gets more playing time (he’s already made good plays, amazing for a rookie drafted in the 7th round), and as Pollard (aka “bonecrusher") developes consistency to get on the field.
I had KC for 10-6 after the first week; despite losing to Denver, the *Way* they lost has now caused me to revise the prediction upward to 11-5.  If KC’s defense can do this well against Denver in Denver...who else is going to present much of a challenge.

Denver’s problem is that Jake is trying to not make mistakes so that Cutler stays on the bench...and trying to not make mistakes is the best way to end up making them.  Shanahan isn’t that patient.  He may be missing Kubiak more than anyone admits, too.  Then again, anyone saying Denver is a bad team this year just hasn’t noticed that Denver hasn’t given up a single touchdown this season.  That’s amazing, folks.
So if Shanahan leaves Jake in and Jake straightens out and Rod Smith keeps playing, the Broncos will win 11 or more.  I think Rod Smith’s age, Jake’s INTs/worries about Cutler, and Kubiak’s absense will keep Denver from going 13-3 again this year...but there’s nothing to keep them from following in last year’s footsteps: doing just enough to win every game and improving every week until they are one of the top NFL teams.

So current predictions:
San Diego: 12-4
Denver: 11-5
KC: 11-5
Raiders: 4-12

on Sep 17 2006 @ 10:44 PM

One thing to remember about the Chargers’ schedule is that they have the benefit of a third-place schedule. Thanks in part to that home-turf meltdown in Week 17 versus the Broncos (You know, the one that made me want to call for Marty’s head to be paraded through the Gaslamp district. Remainder of corpse not required.) they have a mostly easy non-division schedule this year. Look for Martyball to be sorely tested after the bye week with the Ravens at Baltimore for Week 4 and Steelers at home on Week 5.

Neither of those games will be Charger cakewalks like the Raiders and Titans were. I’m under the impression that Da Schot used Weeks 1 and 2 almost as an extended pre-season in order to get Philip Rivers completely comfortable in his starting role. Against the Raiders, it looked almost as if the playbook was specifically avoiding the might-as-well-be rookie QB. Against the Titans, it looked almost as if they were throwing the book directly into his lap to see what the kid could really do.

Any bets that this bye week is going to be full of soul-searching for the Bolts? I know where my money’s going. Baltimore will be tough to beat, but definitely in the realm of the possible. This will be the first real test for both teams, and I’m damn sure wishing I would be able to watch it. Unfortunately, “the hell-time thing that makes the money for the rent and the cat food” must take priority. Even over football.

I know. How sad.

on Sep 18 2006 @ 02:32 AM

I think the Chargers have a rough road ahead of them, but I really think they take the division.

Nathan, I won’t speak for your team, but I really think the Broncos are about as bad as I said. Here’s why: the Broncos lost to the Rams; the Rams went on to lose to the 49ers. Plummer has already thrown half as many interceptions as he did last year--and a lot of them were ugly. He looks bad back there; and I’ve been a pretty consistent supporter.

On top of that, the running game isn’t horrible, but it isn’t having the same impact that it’s had in the last few seasons. The Denver offense just might be as bad as it’s looked the last two games.

The Broncos defense has risen to the challenge so far, but if the offense keeps failing on its end of the bargain, the Broncos will fail, too.

on Sep 18 2006 @ 12:59 PM

Owens broke his finger, so he’s not a good fit for the Broncos? Huhwhat? I didn’t realize that the Broncos are now only signing the invincible, those who might suffer injury need not apply.

on Sep 18 2006 @ 01:47 PM

Do you really think that was just about the injury? Maybe it had something to do with watching him and Parcells become a media circus during the pre-season because TO was dead-set on being the same kind of guy that TO has always been. The fact that he hasn’t been much of a difference maker in the first two games--admittedly, the second game was shortened by that injury--just makes me happier that the man isn’t in a Broncos uniform.

Two games, nine catches, and 99 yards isn’t what you might call impressive. So far, Javon Walker looks like he was a much better pick-up.

on Sep 18 2006 @ 02:03 PM

David,
Sure, but you are always more pessimistic than me.

Repeat after me: Denver hasn’t allowed a TD in 2006.

Don’t forget, you were predicting 7-9 for Denver last year, right?  Or something equally way underestimating.

Shanahan’s teams have a personality: they take a while to gel.  Remember what I said early last season?  Something along the lines of, “Denver keeps doing just enough to win.  They’ll probably keep doing that all the way to a the playoffs and a Division title.” Sure enough…

Jake is struggling.  He has a new O-coordinator, he has new WRs.  The running game isn’t working as well because Jake is struggling.  With the defense as tough as it is, if Shanahan figures out how to calm Jake down, there’s no reason Denver couldn’t reel off 8 straight wins.  Or go 14-2 the rest of the season with two bad losses when Jake plays Santa Claus with turnovers, and a few close wins won by the defense. 

You can’t judge teams with logic chains: “Rams beat Denver, and the 49ers beat the Rams, so the 49ers are better than Denver” doesn’t make sense.  That would mean that last year, Detroit should have won the Super Bowl.  After all, they beat the Ravens by 18 points...and the Ravens beat the Steelers…

Denver only lost a field position battle with one of the more explosive offenses in the NFL...against a kicker who had a career day.  Even with as bad as Jake did, you guys were still in it until the end.

Denver and KC are both going to end up Top 5 in the NFL for defense...if that seems a little excessive, I’d put money on them both being top-10 on defense...and top half on offense, when all is said and done.

San Diego will win games...and yes, the schedule helps ‘em alot.  But they aren’t the best team in the AFC West, I don’t think.  Not at this point.  San Diego will lose in Invesco and Arrowhead, and either the Chiefs or the Broncos can beat them in San Diego, maybe both.  The Chargers have one strength: their LBs.  But KC’s and Denver’s LB corps is almost as good...but with better DBs, better running game, better receivers...better QBs assuming Jake rights himself and Trent comes back soon from his concussion.  Gates is probably the best TE...but can Rivers get him the ball when LaDanian is stuffed for -1 to 2-yd gains more than half the time?  I don’t think so.

on Sep 18 2006 @ 02:08 PM

99 yards and a touchdown is worse than 120 yards and zero points?  Also, the media circus in the preseason was just that, a media circus, with no relation to reality. Two games (and a broken finger) in is way too early to start gloating.

on Sep 18 2006 @ 02:09 PM

For the money, the expectations, and the fit, I’m still happier that Javon Walker is here instead of TO. Too early to gloat? Probably. I still think I’ll have some good gloating opportunities in the future, though.

I also think that the media circus was a little more than you’re giving it credit for. Parcels and Owens are no match made in heaven. Walker, on the other hand, looks a lot more like the kind of reciever that could have a good relationship with a coach like Shanahan.

Nathan, you might well be right. We’ll see. I try like hell not to be a typical “homer”, but sometimes I might push a little too far in the other direction.

on Sep 18 2006 @ 02:17 PM

It’s odd to me that Walker gets praised by the same people that hate Owens. Don’t forget that Walker tried to hold out for more money, too, and that his agent is also Drew Rosenhaus. All that’s probably behind him, he’s getting paid a lot more now, but don’t be surprised if he gets unhappy and demands a trade somewhere down the road.

on Sep 18 2006 @ 02:33 PM

You could be right.

Tell you what, we’ll have a gloating contest at the end of the year. With beer.

on Sep 18 2006 @ 02:34 PM

Yes, gloating (and everything else) goes better with beer. But I’m afraid we’ll probably have to wait at least a couple seasons before either situation blows all to hell.

on Sep 18 2006 @ 07:36 PM
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