by Ryan Meehan
Week one was interesting to say the very least, and spanned five days. Which is good for football fans, because the season started one day earlier than usual (due to President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention) but a nightmare for me as there were also two Monday Night games. That said, it feels great to have some games that actually mean something going on. Maybe it was just all of the hype surrounding the officials, the constant coverage of Tim Tebow’s every move, or the abnormally high number of rookies starting at quarterback. Whatever it was, the preseason felt like a goddamn eternity this year but now it’s over. This is my analysis of what happened in the first week in the 2012-2013 season where the games that really mattered.
Cowboys 24, Giants 17
The season opener was a difficult thing to suffer through as a Giants fan, so I’ll just keep this one short and sweet: The Giants were running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off on the defensive side of the football. Let’s get one thing straight here: Dallas is not as god as New York made them look in this game. Not at all. Yes, Romo did have a great night and won a huge division game on the road. Will he probably be able to trick other defenses into doing the same thing? Sure…they play the Seahawks next week and I’m sure they will be able to draw up something that will instigate confusion. The Giants are starting to suffer from the hero complex where they believe that no matter what they do in the first three quarters, Eli will come back and save their ass. He’s done so in his two Super Bowl victories, but it would be hard to argue that being down 14 points on what would end up being your last drive is ever an effective gameplan. On that drive the Giants eventually got the job done, but their clock management was poor to say the very least. Lot of stuff to fix during what could be a very long year for them.
Bonus game note: A lot of Cowboys fans were upset because the Giants were hardly flagged at all in this game, while the Cowboys were called for 13 penalties. This is an easy bitch because of the situation going on with the replacement referees. It’s also total horseshit, because those penalties were a huge reason that Dallas won this game. It was the fact that they kept commiting stupid offensive violations that kept New York on the field and gassed. Those drives also inflated Romo’s stats a lot, and chewed a ton of clock. Since the G-Men can’t stop dick squat on third down, it’s no surprise to read that they only had the ball for 25 minutes.
Bears 41, Colts 21
Cutler deserves a lot of credit for not only being able to rack up a win and a substantial amount of passing yards, but for being able to spread the ball around very well as six different players had receptions. This team is in his hands now, and Lovie is trusting his gun to fire off some big plays in order to get the Bears to the playoffs this year. It’s hard for me to trash Chicago (as much as I want to) because even though Indy is a very weak team, they kept this game close until the Bears were able to pull away. That and the fact that they forced Luck to fumble the ball twice, which shows that they are intimidating up front. Just remember this is a very short week for them as they play the Packers Thursday night, but they looked very athletic not only making a few interceptions but turning them into positive yardage on Sunday.
Patriots 34, Titans 13
For some reason the line on this game dropped from 7.5 down to 4.5 and I’m not entirely sure why. I read some pickers websites that asssured me this was going to be a trap, but I knew all along that as long as the Pats were favored by single digits they would easily cover the spread. Every year the oddsmakers in Vegas usually give one carefully wrapped present to dangle in front of your face so that you’ll actually find a bookie and make it happen, and this was it. Don’t expect any more handouts like this one. Tom Brady didn’t put up enormous numbers, but he was only sacked once. Nothing shocking to see here…
Falcons 40, Chiefs 24
Matt Ryan was only three feet short of 300 yards and proved that he is not a dome-only QB, and the Chiefs allowed the Falcons to score forty points? Wow. It will be interesting to see if the Falcons can maintain the consistency they had in this game throughout the year, especially when facing divisional opponents. Julio Jones also looked very impressive today. So what’s wrong with these Chiefs that everyone (including myself) picked to play in January? 3rd down efficiency? Hardly…they went 11 for 16. Penalties? Nope…that’s not it either, most games this week have not been flagful to say the very least. Perhaps it was what I mentioned with the Bears earlier, only too much. Cassel threw to seven different Chiefs, yet none of them had over a hundred yards. Oh, and two picks – I’m sure that didn’t help.
Redskins 40, Saints 32
It would be pretty hard for me to believe anyone had this nailed down. Here were the Saints coming back from an offseason in which they clearly felt that the NFL had wronged them with the suspensions handed down because of the bounties, opening up at home against the Redskins who have struggled in recent years and were starting a greenhorn in a red jersey. As it turns out, there were several things wrong with thinking that this would be an easy victory for the Saints. First off, nobody banked on Robert Griffin III being this good in the first game of his career. Second, one of the main reasons that he looked so good was because the Saints’ defense looked so bad. You combined those two things with the fact that the Saints made no effort to run the ball before it was too late and they had fallen too far behind, and it was a recipe for disaster if you’re a New Orleans fan. What’s humorous here is the fact that the Skins used the Saints typical gameplan to win: Get up early with a lit passing attack, and then manage the game well enough to sneak out with a victory. That’s been the regular season MO for New Orleans since the day they became a playoff team with Drew Brees at the helm. You are now on RG3 watch from this point forward.
Lions 27, Rams 23
If this game is any indication of how the Lions’ season is going to go, they’re in some serious trouble. There are some games that are supposed to be must wins if you’re in that middle pool of teams that can make the playoffs but just easily miss the postseason as well. Don’t let Stafford’s last minute heroics fool you, there was no excuse for this game to be as close as it ended up being. The Rams showed some impressive guts on the other side of the ball, unfortunately they lost and that’s the only thing anyone will remember about this game because that’s all that will show up in the standings. A clear case of a team “getting away with one”. Detroit has San Francisco next, and we’ll discuss that at the end of Thursday’s column.
Eagles 17, Browns 16
Speaking of getting away with one, what the hell happened here? I can’t even wrap my head around this. OK, so Vick threw four interceptions, but McCoy rushed for 110 yards and they only won by one point? Sometimes statistics can’t accurately explain things, sometimes you just need to see it for yourself. Since I didn’t see it for myself, I have no idea why in the world this was even near this close. Brandon Wheedon was 12 for 35 and also threw four picks. Go figure. I did sort of have this weird feeling that this game was going to be a bit of a disappointment, and there is always the possibility that the Eagles weren’t showing all of their cards. However, they’re going to need to do a lot better than this if they have any plans to sniff the postseason.
Jets 48, Bills 28
Great. Now we have to listen to the amplified screaming of Jets fans (bandwagon or otherwise) who all think they’re Fireman Ed and that Sanchez is the real deal again, even though we all know that’s impossible because he was never the real deal to begin with. I do realize that Fred Jackson was inactive for this game, but missing one running back doesn’t explain the point differential. Fitzpatrick isn’t usually this colorblind, and although it was just one game, I don’t really foresee Buffalo being ready to take the next step. They only had the ball for three minutes in the second quarter, and I don’t care how good your defense is very rarely can that be sustained so that you can squeeze a victory out of it. Don’t let the score of this game fool you, it was 41-7 at one point and the Jets started subbing their second team in rather quickly. Simply put: If you’re as tired of the Jets as I am, keep your TV and/or radio off for a couple of days.
Vikings 26, Jaguars 23
Reading the box score for this game was just depressing. No wonder anybody wants to go see either of these teams. I couldn’t have possibly gauged this one any closer unless I had picked the score to the point…both teams slowly inching towards the glory of mediocrity out of the throes of failuredom. I know what you’re thinking – “Meehan, ‘failuredom’ isn’t a word”. Well it should be, and for the sake of everyone who enjoys laughing at the Vikings, “failuredome” should also be a word. There’s this misconception that the word “overtime” is synonymous with “thriller”, and that’s not always the case. I have to give a little bit of credit to Christian Ponder here for not only winning the game, but also having a 105.5 passer rating with virtually nothing to work with. So good for him, but I still don’t care.
Texans 30, Dolphins 10
This went pretty much as scheduled. Speaking of getting games almost exactly right, I had the Texans winning this one 40-10, after changing it from 32 at the last minute. Matt Schaub still isn’t back in high quality form just yet, but it’s going to take a little bit of time for him to get back into the swing of things. Arian Foster carried the ball 26 times for 79 yards, and that stood out to me as something that could potentially become a concern as he has been known for breaking big runs in the past. The Dolphins continue to struggle to compete in a league where let’s face it, the management of other franchises are just smarter. Not to sound insensitive, but that’s the nicest way that I can word what’s going on down there in Miami.
49ers 30, Packers 22
The Packers-Niners game is a weird thing to analyze because when I am not surrounded by Bears fans, Packers fans are viewing me through a laser scope. It was my guess that Green Bay was going to win this game but lose the matchup if these two met in the postseason. The San Francisco 49ers are hands down the best team in the NFL. They went into Lambeau field where Packer fans had been chomping at the bit to try and get rid of the awful taste in their mouth from that loss against the Giants in the divisional round last year, and stuck it to them. Not going to listen to Packers fans complain about the refs on this one either, San Francisco was the better team of the two. Plus you have to realize that regardless of who feels victimized by the way the game is called, the same crew is calling the game for both teams, so what good does it do to complain?
Buccaneers 16, Buccaneers 10
Well, that was a disappointment. It certainly wasn’t what America wanted to see, as Cam Newton had a less than exciting day and there is rarely an excuse for losing to Tampa Bay. Neither quarterback looked good, both defenses looked OK, but with most of the country watching what was transpiring in Wisconsin no one was really paying attention.
Cardinals 20, Seahawks 16
The only glaring error in the officiating was at the end of this game when the referees awarded the Seachickens an extra timeout by accident. Thankfully, you won’t hear about it because they also lost. So it was a close one, but still the team that played better won and there was no serious dispute about a game deciding call. This didn’t really tell us anything about Seattle at all – They still have a huge question mark as far as Russell Wilson goes, he could be great next week or he could be terrible again. It didn’t really tell us much about Arizona either, other than they had to eventually go with Kevin Kolb, whom they avoided until this game in which John Skelton got hurt. If that hurts your fantasy team because you were starting Skelton, you probably shouldn’t walk across the street anymore without somebody holding your hand. (But if you had Skelton starting in your fantasy league, you should probably get into a new FF league because the other guys you play against are laughing at you and likely won’t hesitate to push you into oncoming traffic.)
Broncos 31, Steelers 19
I’m not going to talk a whole lot of trash about the Steelers because they looked great during a large portion of this game. Mike Tomlin is and will always be one of my favorite coaches and I’m not afraid to admit that at all. But on this night, Manning proved that he was the better QB. In a game where it appeared as if stops were going to mean the world, both signal callers got hot at the end of the first half and never looked back. That was until Ben Roethlisberger threw an errant pass to a recent Super Bowl hero of sorts. Even though he will never admit it, I’m sure there was a moment where Peyton Manning was laughing his ass off when Tracy Porter intercepted that pass and returned it for a touchdown, in a way paying Manning back for what he did to him in Super Bowl XLIV. Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller showed us that the Broncos are going to punish any offense that comes into that building, and combined with the altitude that could spell trouble for not just the AFC West but the whole conference in general.
Ravens 44, Bengals 13
When you’re wrong, you’re wrong, and HOLY shit was I wrong about this one. I wanted to believe that the Cincinnati Bengals were solid and could stop the hype machine that is Joe Flacco, but unfortunately that belief was crushed by the reality that Joe Flacco is for real and the Ravens are still very much young at heart. That said, it still doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but I guess we’ll see what they’re made of when they play Philadelphia next week. All I have to say is, it’s a good thing that these columns are online, otherwise I’d be eating a lot of paper with this pick as I was WAY off the mark. Notice how I haven’t even mentioned Andy Dalton. Sometimes, it what you don’t say. The Ravens have won nine straight games within their division.
Chargers 22, Raiders 14
It looks like overall Monday wasn’t a good night for me – I had this one wrong too. Oakland should have been a lot more prepared for their home opener, which the NFL is apparently going to give them primetime in week one from here on out. The league needs to cut a deal with these two teams – I say they give them one more shot at this again next year, and if both teams look this tired and put such little effort into the game, they’re going to have to settle for Sunday like everybody else does. You know it’s bad when the long snapper dribbles one through the infield…I could deal without watching a matchup between the Raiders and the Chargers for the rest of my life and wouldn’t miss it one bit. The late rally didn’t impress me either, the Black and Silver were awful for 59 minutes.
This is of course the part where I feel the need to reiterate that there is no way that after one week we can judge who is a lock to make the playoffs. Although we did learn a little bit, nothing is certain just yet. I have to say in my overall perusal of the statistics from Sunday, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were not a lot of flags thrown in a majority of the games. This is very good news due to all of the speculations surrounding how the replacement referees would perform. Look at it this way: You’d much rather have a significant amount of no-calls in a league where you can be flagged for holding on virtually every snap than have a bunch of calls for the officiating committee to go over and determine which ones were necessary and which ones weren’t. The one complaint that I tend to hear in the bar experiences that I’ve had to suffer through in order to view games that are out of my market is “I wish they’d just let ’em play!”. Well, in a roundabout way that’s what we ended up getting with replacement officials. Now in no way does that mean that they are doing a better job, and I’m sure they missed several calls throughout week one, but at the same time I don’t really see that they fell out of the expected margin of error compared to the refs who were watching at home. Like the rest of what I’ve documented here, only time will tell.
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