Big Red’s rise to top casts blinding glare
Mark Bell Spectator’s Eye
And then there was one. As in undefeated team. As in the Kansas City Chiefs. Yeah, we all saw that coming!
No wonder my prediction record is a seriously pedestrian .560 (60-47). Next thing you know, NFL teams will start filling up the third column with ties and it will become even more obvious that no one knows what’s going to happen next.
We’ll keep trying anyway.
Panthers at Buccaneers - This week’s Thursday night NFL Network opener features what everyone hoped would be a divisional rivalry game for developing teams, but winless Tampa Bay turned out to be more immature than everyone thought. So far the only thing that Carolina has shown with any consistency is an ability to beat bad teams.
Cowboys at Lions - Detroit racks up a lot of yards and points. Dallas gives up a lot of both but winning their first road game in Philadelphia while doing neither gives you some cause to believe the Cowboys are pulling their many strings and things together. Provided the Lions keep their quarterback in the game (something the Eagles could not manage), it’s hard to see Dallas shutting this bunch down.
The Dallas schedule eases up in November with the Vikings, Giants and Raiders wrapped around what looks to be a tough road trip to New Orleans, so a loss does not really hurt their prospects given the weak records in the NFC East division. This could be another pinball offense type of game, but Detroit’s defensive front seven seems more likely to cause trouble than their Cowboy counterpart this week.
49ers at Jaguars - The home team gets blessed with a loss in London’s Wembley Stadium where there are bound to be more Jaguar fans than there would have been in Jacksonville. I guess that’s sort of a win. At any rate it’s as close as they’ll get.
Browns at Chiefs - When Peyton Hillis showed up Monday night in that New York Giants uniform to bash in a short yardage touchdown, it reminded me of all those previous times we thought such good things were going to happen for Cleveland, only to see them cruelly dashed by reality.
Looking at things like the raw stats, one sees that Cleveland produces more yards on offense and gives up fewer yards on defense than Kansas City. That should give one hope for an outcome we know is unlikely given all the other circumstances involved that don’t show up on a stat sheet.
Other than wins and losses, the most important stats are those that measure a team’s mistakes, and the Browns are far less able now to overcome theirs.
Dolphins at Patriots - Here’s a favorite for early Game of the Day honors, except that New England really doesn’t accept losses very well, especially after just having to swallow one the hard way. Tom Brady will work overtime this week to make sure his stone-handed receivers at least run accurate routes.
Bills at Saints - New Orleans is another team that doesn’t handle losing well at all, especially at home. With a bye week to prepare since their loss in Foxboro, Drew Brees should come out hot and ready. If the opportunity falls to the offense again at the end of the game, they will not fail to get a first down this time. Most likely it will never come to that.
Giants at Eagles - The Eagles’ most consistent offensive weapon is LeSean McCoy. After the Big Blue defense completely shut down Adrian Peterson Monday night, it’s likely they will try the same approach to dealing with Philadelphia and force their gimpy quarterback (Vick or Foles) to carry the load.
If that happens, they should not give up on the run so soon. Keep plugging it because the Giants have found a way to break all season long, especially after Eli Manning gets enough pressure in his face to throw the game away. The Eagles’ defense just has to make sure the Giants never get a comfortable lead.
That’s when they get desperate and fly apart. Philadelphia just loves it when New York disintegrates. When it happens right in front of them their fans just go dancing in the streets. Beating the Giants at home is like an early Christmas present.
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