NFL Week 3 breakdown
Monday, September 22, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
I'm very happy with this year's NFL season thus far. The wild and unpredictable nature of the league this year makes every game a potential thriller or upset (though it also completely ruins my ability to pick winners, as evidenced by my 9-4 record this week).

Good call, coach. The Bucs and the Vikings made the unexpected choice of benching their starting QB for their backup QB this week. The Titans also sort of qualify, since they declared that the injured Vince Young would need to win his starting job back once he's healthy, which I see as a strong rebuke of Young's play and a strong indicator of what they think Kerry Collins can do for them. Normally, this would be a sign of a team in major trouble, but so far it seems to be working out pretty good for all three teams, as they all pulled out important victories under the guidance of Brian Griese (who put up a stunning 400+ yards on the Bears), Kerry Collins, and Gus Ferrotte (so THAT'S what a Vikings passing game looks like). Meanwhile, Mike Nolan's decision to pull last year's starter Alex Smith in place of J.T. O'Sullivan is looking like a great decision that just might save his job in San Francisco.

You have to wonder how long it's going to take teams like the Texans, Browns and Lions to start wondering what the guy standing on the sidelines holding the clipboard might be able to do for them. Don't be shocked to see Brady Quinn get his shot this year if the Browns continue to stink it up.

Teams that have improved this year. Without a doubt, the Miami Dolphins and the Atlanta Falcons have made massive improvements on the personnel front that will have impacts in future seasons. I'm not going to declare either team a winner just yet, but they should each win about 6 games, if everything goes well for them. And more importantly, you can see players on both teams starting to believe they can pull out a victory. I have been impressed with Matt Ryan from the Falcons so far. He's not putting up gaudy numbers, but he's been making some pretty throws, including a gorgeous pass that went at least 55 yards in the air to Roddy White for a TD, and I get a sense that the other 10 guys in the huddle believe in his leadership.

To be fair to the Dolphins, they were not as bad as their record last year suggested, losing several heartbreakers at the last minute. This year, the Dolphins should be able to play spoiler for several teams. Pennington gives them some leadership at the QB position (again, he won't put up gaudy numbers, but he is capable of handing in a decent performance), and with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams sharing the RB load, they have a pretty good run game. And the management team of Sparano, Parcells and Ireland seem to have instilled a new attitude in the 'Fins, which is great.

Teams that are terrible this year. Yes, last year the Falcons and Dolphins were embarassing. But as I said, the Dolphins at least made a game of it, and were competitive in many of their losses, and the Falcons had suffered an unbelievable crisis at QB and coach that wasn't their fault. The same cannot be said for the Chiefs or Rams. I cannot describe just how BAD these two teams are. Oh wait, I can.... the Rams got into the red zone in the second quarter of this week's game for the first time this entire season. Meanwhile, they have given up an average of 456.7 yards per game and 38.7 points per game. This means they are unable to take advantage of their talented (and VERY well paid) RB Stephen Jackson, because they are so far behind and are forced to throw the ball all the time to try and close the gap.

Attention Herm Edwards: I am available to play QB for you. I am only 5'5", incapable of throwing more than 20 yards and am burdened with lady parts, and yet I still feel I may be an upgrade for you at that position. I cannot be worse than Tyler Thigpen, who only completed 38% of his passes, for a measley 128 yards and 3 INT.

Lastly, if you want to see the face of a team that feels like losers, look no further than the struggling Lions.

Studs of the week. Hands down, Ronnie Brown, who single-handedly destroyed the faltering Patriots for 4 rushing TD and 1 passing TD. Seriously, that was one of the great all-time individual performances by a player at any position. Fantasy football coaching stud of the week? Me, for picking up and starting Ronnie Brown this week. Michael Turner performed as expected and ran for over 100 yards and 3 TD (for those who heeded my advice and started him this week, you're welcome). Granted, he won't have the benefit of playing the lowly Lions and Chiefs every week, but the guy is for real. Drew Brees completed 39 of 48 passes, for 421 yards and a TD. Brandon Marshall had 155 yards and 1 TD - how scary is this guy? Reggie Bush looked Westbrook-like with 73 yards rushing, 75 yards receiving, and 2 TDs. Now if only Reggie could get his attitude under control (I'm still irritated at his ridiculous taunting penalty last week)

Teams I like this week. Hate to say it, but the Cowboys look great. Special kudos to their amazing O line, which makes Tony Romo and Marion Barber look so good. Seriously, most quarterbacks have to deal with a pocket that is a lot like a Yugo - cramped and likely to fall apart at any moment. Meanwhile, Romo gets to work with a Cadillac of a pocket, with up to 6 seconds to make a throw (that's an eternity in football time). It's easy to make 50 yard passes when you've got all day to stand around. This week I also like the Dolphins, for getting creative on offense and making the Patriots defense look like chumps. Congrats to Coach Sparano for his first win as an NFL head coach. Lastly, the Ravens DEF looks great and the team is looking a lot like the squad that went on to win the Super Bowl on the back of a vicious DEF and a game managing QB. Joe Flacco still needs to develop some more (and they could always use more weapons in the passing game), but the Ravens are getting it done this year.

Teams I don't like this week. Until further notice, assume that the Chiefs and Rams are ALWAYS at the top of my list (edited to add: Michael Lombardi agrees with me). Tom Brady doesn't play defense, so what's New England's excuse for this week's debacle? They look bad in all aspects of the game, and it's clear that Cassel is already losing the team's confidence. Randy Moss is already showing signs of dogging it on the field. Also exposed are the Indianapolis Colts, who lost to the Jags this week. I used to joke that Peyton Manning had Hall of Fame numbers largely because he almost never got pressured in his career. There were games where you thought he wouldn't even need to bother washing his jersey, so pristine and sweat-free it was. Now we're starting to see what Manning looks like when his O line isn't that good, and that should really worry Colts fans. I'm not sure why Oakland paid JaMarcus Russell all the guaranteed money, if they're only going to let him throw 10-13 times a game. They should have saved money, and gone with the Dolphins' snap-it-straight-to-the-RB scheme, bypassing the QB position entirely. New Orleans and Denver, get your defenses in order, stat. Lastly, I love you Buffalo, but you can't play like that every week and expect to make it past round 1 of the playoffs.
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