Friday, September 12, 2008
Week 1: 3-0
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks
Seattle swept the season series from the Niners last year by a combined score of 47-3, but that was last year. Despite losing quarterback Alex Smith for the season with a torn rotator cuff, the news is even worse for the Seahawks. Down to one healthy, experienced wide receiver heading into week one, the Hawks lost Nate Burleson on the opening drive against Buffalo with a torn ACL in his left knee. The receiving situation is so desperate, the Hawks are considering starting backup quarterback Seneca Wallace at split end. With two second year WR in line to start, and a rookie tight end as well, QB Matt Hasselbeck will need to be on his game for the Hawks to prevail.
On the other side of the ball, Niners RB Frank Gore averages more than six yards per carry during his career against Seattle, with QB J.T. O'Sullivan again being asked to manage the clock and to avoid turnovers if at all possible.
Prediction: The Hawks injuries on offense are just too much to overcome, and Hasselbeck can't do it all himself, especially considering he isn't at 100% himself. If O'Sullivan can manage to avoid multiple turnovers, and if Gore can match his career averages against Seattle, I can't see them winning.
Prediction: 49ers, 17-13.
New York Giants @ St. Louis Rams
The Rams suffered a big loss on offense last week, WR Drew Bennett will miss at least a month with a broken foot. RB Steven Jackson should be in better shape than last week, although he is still not 100% after missing training camp and the pre-season following a hold-out. The Rams offensive line is its weakest link, the Giants should have little trouble pressuring QB Marc Bulger, putting even more pressure on Jackson.
The Giants offensive line, on the other hand, is a strength, they should have no trouble driving the Rams DLine off the ball, opening large holes for the Giants backs. QB Eli Manning should be aware of a potential mismatch between 6'6" Plaxico Burress and 5'9" Rams cornerback Tye Hill.
Prediction: Giants big, 38-13.
Miami @ Arizona
Here's a stat for you, in the third quarter of last week's opener at San Francisco, the Cardinals time of possession in the third quarter was 13:17. After a shaky first half which ended in a 10 all tie, QB Kurt Warner settled in and executed Coach Ken Whisenhunt 's short pass offense to perfection. In the first half, Anquan Boldin had zero catches, Larry Fitzgerald had seven. In the second half, after a 49ers adjustment, Boldin caught eight balls, with Fitzgerald grabbing three. Expect more of the same against Miami, as their secondary lacks a dominant, shutdown cover guy, which should result in Boldin and Fitzgerald once again approaching double digit catches apiece.
Falling behind early is what the Dolphins would like to avoid, as they are a run dominant team, led by Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. Last week against the Jets, they combined for 23 carries, the Dolphs would like to see them approach forty combined carries.
Prediction: The Cardinals, behind the ever-confident Kurt Warner and the unstoppable duo of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald win comfortably, 27-10.
"NFL rivalries come and go. Today, none is more heated than Patriots-Jets. Why? Two men: Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini"
If that isn't one of the more ridiculous things you've read in a while, then you're either a jaded AFC East fan or a total newbie to the NFL. Rivalries aren't simply born out of competitive banter, like that of Belichick spurning the Jets or Mangini spurning New England (for the Jets) or even things like Spygate. They need competition. The Colts and Patriots have become a rivalry of some proportion (I'd compare it to the rivalries of the mid-90s between the Cowboys, 49ers and Packers) because of not just some type of anomosity (though mostly press-driven) but also because every friggin' game was competitive and meant a whole lot (namely either home field/playoff seeding and/or a playoff game itself).
Since the Belichick era in New England exactly 4 of the 17 games (1 playoff game) have been settle by 6 points or less (with the best being a 1 point loss in 2000, when Drew Bledsoe was the New England QB) and more than half have been total spankings (10 points or more). Hardly a rivalry and while the heated exchange after Bill Parcells's departure in 1996 resulted in some animosity the Patriots were such a lowly team (even with a Super Bowl Birth) that no one really cared (Tuna Bowl was merely a ESPN Invention to drive ratings). Even after the Belichick spurned year in 2000, the two teams (one a playoff regular, the other a fortunate AFC Champion just once in its post-merger history) simply were not that entertaining. Boston was a baseball town and New York had...well...The Subway Series and the Giants (eventual NFC Champions in 2000).
All inter-division matchups are rivals, even more so when the two teams are competitive, but the posterchild for this is the NFC East and its been proven game in and game out to result in not only close matchups, but excellent football. So until both teams decide to be competitive or the Jets can beat the Pats (They've beaten the Patriots just twice since 2002), then don't call it a rivalry.
- Hey Rutgers, at least you still have Grease Wagons and multiple Planned Parenthood clinics.
- The least interesting MLB record breaking ever
- PFT brings up some valid issues regarding the rescheduling of the Ravens-Texans matchup now on Monday. I have to concur that its total horseshit that ESPN won't allow it on Direct TV's Sunday ticket. Overall, I think the NFL Broadcast rights and rules are a bucnh of B.S. but this is really over-the-top and PFT's Mike Florio brings up some really good points.
- Sam I Am Ain't leavin
- Skip to my Lou should keep skipping, not driving...while drunk
- I always thought firesales were held during the season...
- And finally, A.J. Daulerio, Editor of Deadspin, finally gets his big date...with Linda Cohn. Actually, props to Philly Native Daulerio who I think really came into his own as the head honcho at Deadspin (I always found Will Lietch to be a bit to pretentious...and he sorta sounded like Bill Simmons on the radio). Its actually a good read...and kinda funny. On another note, an old buddy of mine once met Linda Cohn; says she's a lot hotter in person: You decide