Two games into the season, and the field is starting to firm up for Andrew Luck, the first pick in next year's draft. Kansas City and Indianapolis appear to be the real deals, and it's not a stretch to imagine their Oct. 9 date in Indianapolis as the Andrew Luck Bowl, with the Lucky Loser taking a giant step toward the Stanford quarterback. But that's three weeks away. In the meantime, let's take a look at the early frontrunners:
5. Miami. Bad news, Miami fans. Your team goes on the road where, yes, it can win. Miami needs Andrew Luck like Texas needs rain, so a win complicates the future. Honestly, there's no way the Dolphins stay here long, but losing 11 of your last 12 home games qualifies for some list, and, congratulations, Tony Sparano, you just made it here. The Dolphins were supposed to have so many answers on defense they could overcome the shortcomings of the other half of the football team. Not so fast. In two games they rank dead last in overall defense and 30th against the pass. Granted, they had to defend Tom Brady and Matt Schaub, but didn't someone tell us this was the best tandem of cornerbacks in the business? Yeah, sure, and Darrelle Revis is overhyped.
Next loss: at Cleveland. This one's iffy. Cleveland hasn't won a home opener since 2004, and the Dolphins last year won their first four road games. In fact, they won six of eight there. Uh-oh.
4. Minnesota. I'll tell you why Christian Ponder looks so good to Minnesota fans: Because he hasn't thrown a pass. OK, so he's not Donovan McNabb, either. McNabb has taken a raft of grief for the Vikings' problems, but cut the guy slack. He's not the one who couldn't protect second-half leads. He just couldn't pad them. So fans want a change, and patience, people. Give the guy time, and I'm talking about McNabb AND Ponder. One's not ready to leave, and the other's not ready to stay. In the meantime, keep featuring Adrian Peterson, and you have a chance ... a chance ... to check out of the Lucky Hotel.
Next loss: Detroit. The Lions have Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. The Vikings have the 23rd-ranked pass defense. What do you think happens?
3. Seattle. People keep telling me the Seahawks aren't as bad as they seem and that they'll steady themselves once they get home to the 12th Man, which is this weekend. But then I look at who's taking the snaps, and, I'm sorry, but the Seahawks could play with 12, 13 or 14 men and it wouldn't matter. Not when Tarvaris Jackson is your quarterback, and Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett carry the football. The result's going to be the same, and that's not good. Seattle ranks last in offense, can't run, can't pass, can't block and has Sidney Rice and Robert Gallery -- two of its biggest offseason acquisitions -- sidelined indefinitely. You want to know the straightest road south? You just found it.
Next loss: Arizona. The Cardinals fixed the quarterback position. Seattle did not. Seeing is believing, and here's where you can tell.
2. Indianapolis. The more I watch the Colts the more I think Peyton Manning is the NFL's most underpaid quarterback. He makes all the difference in Indianapolis, and when he's gone so is hope for this football team. I don't fault Kerry Collins for the Colts' bellyflop. The poor guy was thrown into an impossible situation. These aren't the 2008 Tennessee Titans. The Colts are built around the quarterback, and that quarterback is Peyton Manning, not Collins. One local columnist already is calling for the team to hire Brett Favre, to which I say, "Huh?" Bad enough to stink. But now you want the circus to come to town? Brett Favre isn't going to fix this. Nobody but Peyton Manning is going to fix this, and my suggestion is that once the ship starts to list, don't wait on Favre or Manning. Give the ball instead to ... you guessed it ... Curtis Painter. If you're going down, sink to the bottom with young players, not old ones.
Next loss: Pittsburgh. You saw what happened to Seattle. Get ready for more of the same, Warren Sapp. Let's see ... Ben Roethlisberger or Kerry Collins? Check, please.
1. Kansas City. The Chiefs lost tight end Tony Moeaki for the season. They lost safety Eric Berry for the season. They lost star running back Jamaal Charles for the season. You know it's grim when you lose more starters than ballgames. But give these guys time. They're going to lose a lot of ballgames, too. In two games they've been outscored 99-10, and, yes, that's a sign of how bad it is at Arrowhead. So what happened? Well, look beyond the injuries to turnovers. The Chiefs have a zillion of them. In fact, through two games they have nine. Nobody has more. In 2010, they had 14. Only one club (New England) had fewer. At the rate they're going they'll set an NFL record with 72, and we all know that won't happen. But neither will winning. These guys soared to the top of the AFC West last year with an error-free quarterback, the league's best rushing attack and an efficient and effective offense. Now, Matt Cassel has as many interceptions (4) through two games as he had through 12 a year ago, the top running back is gone and nobody can hold on to the football. Paint it black.
Next loss: at San Diego. The last time the Chiefs went there they lost 31-0. Of course, that was without Cassel. Now they're without Charles ... and Berry ... and Moeaki ... and hope.
Lucky Losers: Take Two
Posted on: September 20, 2011 11:10 am
Edited on: September 20, 2011 3:16 pm