Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:43 am

In The Trenches: Week 5 Thoughts

In The Trenches: Week 5 Thoughts

Posted on October 10, 2011 by David S. London <!-- .entry-meta -->

R.I.P. Al Davis (1929-2011), you always said it best; Just Win Baby!

Raiders Win With Heavy Hearts-The NFL lost a longtime member in Al Davis on Saturday, leaving Raider Nation with heavy hearts along with many other who appreciated all of Davis’ efforts.  Head Coach Hue Jackson was very emotional after the 25-20 victory over the Houston Texans, as Oakland fought down to the wire, as Michael Huff’s interception in the end zone as time expired sealed the win.  The Chargers may be the favorite to win the division, but their sloppy play remains a weekly trend, and with the Raiders providing a legitimate foe, the AFC West may not be won till December.

Eagles Solidifying Bust Label-Head Coach Andy Reid doesn’t want to talk about this alleged Dream Team, much less the playoffs.  Much like Jim Mora, Reid might just hope the Eagles can win a game, another game as Philadelphia has lost four straight. Michael Vick had another performance which left many with mixed feelings.  On one hand, Vick threw for 315 yards and ran for 90.  On the other hand, Vick threw four interceptions, giving him seven on the year.  Vick had six all of last season. The dream has become a nightmare.  

A Giant Fall-New York had blown out Seattle the last two times they met in the regular season and this one looked to be the same, at least on paper.  Then they played the game, which didn’t quite turn out as expected.  The Seahawks stunned the Giants as double-digit underdogs with a 36-25 victory.  Seattle’s offense showed some life, consistently sustaining long drives on a typically reliable Giants defense.  It didn’t help that Eli broke his turnover-free streak at three, clinching the game for Seattle with a pick six in the red zone.

Saints Slip Past Cam-With each passing game, all the Cam Newton doubters look more and more foolish.  Carolina continues to sneak up on teams and give them a run for their money.  New Orleans saw themselves trailing 27-23 in the fourth quarter.  The Saints also have a pretty solid quarterback in Drew Brees, while the Panthers defense, not so much.  30-27 win for New Orleans.

Colts Remain Winless-It looked like Peyton Manning was under center during the first half with Indianapolis leading 17-0.  Ok maybe not that great, but the Colts looked primed for their first win of the season.  In a season that has seen little offense support the defense, it was the defense who let down, allowing Kansas City’s normally non-existent offense to put up 28 points on the board.  Two positives for the Colts, there’s always next week and reports say Peyton Manning’s return to the field this week remains questionable.

Cardinals Look Awful-This is usually where we come to terms with the fact that Donovan McNabb is a shell of his former self, but the Cardinals looked so bad, he gets a reprieve for a week.  Transitions are difficult for anyone coming to a new team, especially when it’s a quarterback.  That being said, Kevin Kolb has not quite lived up to expectations as Arizona has started 1-4.  Him and Larry Fitzgerald have not been connecting as much as one would hope, namely fantasy football owners (most importantly).  The Cardinals slow start would’ve been no big deal, except for the fact that the 49ers have plans of a record over .500 in what many figured was a division race for 8 wins.

Patriot Vindication-Rewind to last January, and Bart Scott was feeling pretty good after taking down the Patriots in the Divisional Round, reminding everyone that New England’s defense can’t stop a nosebleed and the win was poetic justice (just go with it).  This time around it was the Patriots who bent the Jets over and gave Rex Ryan and Co. a good ol’ spanking, 30-21.  The score misrepresents a game which New England controlled throughout.  The Jets have lost 3 in a row and are doing themselves no favors with a slow start.  On the bright side, the running game had its best showing and the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football may be the pick-me-up the Jets need.

49ers Raid Bucs-Apparently San Francisco had other plans when the NFC West was deemed a .500 record at best.  The 49ers opened plenty of eyes after walloping Tampa Bay 48-3.  Presumed a bust by all, Alex Smith has looked like, well, not Alex Smith, with a 7:1 TD:INT ratio, providing San Francisco with stable play under center.  A few more wins, and the 49ers may have locked up the NFC West.

An Iffy 4-1- (San Diego)-A win is a win is a win, but San Diego’s 4-1 record feels nothing like it should.  The Chargers have allowed teams like the Broncos and Chiefs to compete down to the wire when they should be blowing them out.  The Chargers can’t afford to slack off with the Raiders in their division as previously discussed.

New Sheriff In Green Bay-It pains me to give this man any attention, but much like a car accident, you can’t help but look and discuss.  Brett Favre is many words, alleged sextor, diva, sourpuss, wrangler jeans model, etc.  For those of you who didn’t hear Favre’s radio appearance, he does his best to take a passive-agressive shot at Rodgers, saying that Rodgers is alright, but fell into a good situation and should’ve won a Super Bowl sooner.  Right, because winning a Super Bowl is as easy said as it is done, and you won a bunch yourself.  Just kidding, it was only one, the same amount as Rodgers.  All the while, Rodgers isn’t throwing an interception while one leaves to go to the bathroom, or simply closes their eyes for just a second.  Looks like Favre sees people marveling at the stud that is Rodgers and he just can’t handle the lack of attention.  As far as the game, Rodgers and the Packers fell behind early, 14-0, then climbed out behind Rodgers’ reliable arm to win 25-14.  Rodgers was lights out, again, throwing for 396 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Soon this will become merely a blip as Rodgers has made these jaw-dropping performances routine dating back to last January.

<span style="color: #6e8dcf;">Primetime Thoughts

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 4:25 pm

In The Trenches: Week 4 Thoughts

Time to hit the panic button?!?

Eagles Not Soaring-Nobody was expecting a 1-3 start from the Philadelphia Eagles after the first month of the season.  A loss to the San Francisco 49ers is troubling enough, but blowing a 23-3 second-half lead is even more eye-opening.  Alex Henery missing two field goals inside 40 yards didn’t help matters, but the game shouldn’t have even come to that.  This alleged Dream Team has proven unable to battle in the trenches, a must for any team to be considered a contender, let alone a Dream Team.  This team can score in bunches, and those in defense of Philadelphia will find excuses, namely Ronnie Brown turning the clock back to his Wildcat days in Miami, but let’s be real.  A 20-point lead against San Francisco in the third quarter should be in no danger.  If it’s not clear, I’m not quite sold on the 3-1 49ers.

Romo Solidifies Role For Two-Face-There may not be a better man to play the role in the Batman series.  One week, Tony Romo shows flashes, reminding everyone that he is a Pro-Bowl caliber quarterback.  Romo lead two late-game comebacks against the Redskins and 49ers.  Then there was the opening game against the Jets where Romo flipped the switch in the fourth quarter.  Sunday against the Lions was a tale of two halfs to say the least.  Romo’s Cowboys lead 27-3 early in the third quarter, only to lose 34-30 with Romo’s three interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, playing a pivotal role in Detroit’s charge.  It probably didn’t help either that Rob Ryan claimed that Calvin Johnson would be the Cowboy’s third-best receiver.  Maybe stick to assessing talent on the defensive end Rob.

Bills Stumble-After flexing their muscles and taking down Tom Brady a week ago, Andy Dalton and the Cincinatti Bengals didn’t seem like much of a challenge.  Too bad Buffalo felt that way as well, falling apart in the fourth quarter, losing 23-20.  The fireworks that Ryan Fitzpatrick had been lighting all season fizzled out against an unlikely opponent. Up 20-13 midway through the fourth, it’s a game they likely should’ve held on to win, but inexperienced teams will let games get away as we saw here. 

The Early MVP Favorite-Aaron Rodgers hasn’t missed a beat and the Broncos will vie to that after he threw for over 400 yards to go with 6 total touchdowns, two rushing.  Rodgers has more toys to play with than he needs, from Greg Jennings to Donald Driver to Jordy Nelson to Jermichael Finley.  The two-headed monster in the backfield in Ryan Grant and James Starks gives Green Bay the perfect compliment, allowing Rodgers to torch defenses time and time again.  As for the Broncos, well, Tim Tebow made an appearance, rushing once for -1 yards.  Good times for Denver these days.

G-Men Escape-The Giants are breathing a sigh of relief after Victor Cruz nearly gave the game away, literally.  The officiating ruled that Cruz gave himself up, rendering the play over.  However replays show him simply getting up, dropping the ball in the process before anyone touched him.  It’s certainly not a black and white ruling, but one that the Giants were fortunate to have.  Victor Cruz will likely never let go of the ball again.

Dirty Sanchez Needs A Cleaning-Or at least a few more seconds in the pocket.  I know what you’re thinking, “a few more seconds to allow a different defender to make a play on him.”  While Mark Sanchez has been downright awful, inducing projectile vomit from Jet fans amany, this does not fall entirely on him.  Once a very efficient ground and pound, New York has not brought its running game out on to the field, only amassing 284 yards in 4 games. It’s very difficult to be a one-dimensional offense when you’re an elite quarterback like Tom Brady, but expecting Sanchez to lead an aerial assault may be asking too much.  There are receivers to work with, but when the defense is sitting back, expecting a throw since the ground game is disregarded, turnovers become not if, but when.  It also doesn’t help that Sanchez’s offensive line too has been missing with the running game.  I don’t care who you are, Brady couldn’t do much either with only a few seconds to throw the ball.

Patriots Back On Track-All is right in the world, Brady shows off his brilliance, Wes Welker racks up a bunch of yards, Chad Ochocinco remains irrelevant, and the defense is still not reliable.  But wait, spotted at the Patriots 31-19 victory over the Raiders was, in fact, a running game.  Rookie Steven Ridley led the ground game with 97 yards as New England totaled 183 for the game.  Brady had to only throw 30 passes, after games of 48, 40, and 45 attempts. 

Falcons Experience Turbulance-This game looked to be over when the Falcons were leading 27-7 in the third quarter, but nearly collapsed like the others  as Steven Hauschka missed a 61-yard field goal as time expired.  Atlanta showed flashes of brilliance in building that lead, but it’s not a comforting win if you’re Head Coach Mike Smith.  The defense was the downfall last season, and despite the offseason improvements, you can’t handle the Seattle Seahawks?  If Tarvaris Jackson was giving them trouble, I can only imagine what Aaron Rodgers will do to them next Sunday night. 

Texans Roll, Johnson Trips-If not for Andre Johnson’s injury, the Houston Texans would be Chevy Riding High right now at 3-1 after a 17-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers; albeit a victory over the Steelers doesn’t seem to hold as much weight as it used to.  With the division in shambles as previously discussed (Indianapolis Mannings sans Manning, Jaguars are the Jaguars, and we are not ready to take the Titans seriously yet), Houston has to be feeling good about its prospects.  The only concern is the severity of Johnson’s injury. 

Vikings Remain Winless-Technically the season is not over, but sitting at 0-4 after a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs is as close to a nail in the coffin as one can get after four weeks.  Donovan McNabb has not worked out as hoped, and one has to wonder when the rookie first-round pick Christian Ponder will be thrown into the fire.
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Primetime Thoughts

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Posted on: September 26, 2011 1:04 pm

In The Trenches: Week 3 Thoughts

They are who we thought they were?

Buffalo Soldiers-Who would’ve thought that Tom Brady would match his interception total from last season, four, in one game, much less against the Bills?  Neither did Bill Belichick.  Any doubts about the Bills being for real can now be put to bed as Ryan Fitzpatrick is no slouch nor is that offense.  Fred Jackson gives the Bills a balanced attack as Jackson is one of the few workhorse backs left in the league.  Stevie Johnson and David Nelson give Fitzpatrick reliable deep threats as Buffalo has scored 41, 38, and 34 points this season.  Not all four interceptions were Brady’s fault, but when your offense is one-dimensional and you attempt 45 passes, odds are a few will take an unfavorable bounce.  It would probably help if Chad Ochocinco didn’t drop a 41-yard-touchdown pass here and there.

Lions’ Roar Getting Louder-So the Minnesota Vikings for a third-consecutive week were up big at halftime, this time 20-0.  But as the script goes, they crumbled, and Detroit was the latest to benefit from Minnesota’s overall incompetence.  Credit them for being consistent though.  For the first time this season, Matthew Stafford was backed up against the wall, but he led the Lions to a 23-20 overtime victory and their first 3-0 start since 1980.  Don’t talk about playoffs?  Shush up Jim Mora, this team looks for real.

Packers Look Scary-The 3-0 team people expected, Green Bay looks like the most complete team in the NFL.  With an offense anchored by Aaron Rodgers, there is little pressure on the defense to clamp down on teams, which they are fully capable of doing.  Tight end Jermichael Finley adds another dimension to an already stacked offense.  Definitely looking forward to seeing them match up with the Lions.

Down Goes Vick-In what is starting to become a troubling trend for Eagles fans, Michael Vick left the game again, this time with what appears to be a broken hand.  How long this will sideline Vick nobody knows, but the Dream Team has several glaring problems.  For starters, the defense looks average, which must be infuriating for Andy Reid when you have 3 pro-bowl cornerbacks only to be beaten by no-namers like Victor Cruz.  The offense seems to tighten up in short-yardage situations as Philadelphia got stopped numerous times in big moments in the second half.  Luckily they face the 49ers next week, who managed an impressive 13 points against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Jets Kept Grounded-A promising 17-7 lead in the first half for the New York Jets turned into a 31-17 deficit by the beginning of the fourth quarter.  The usually-reliable defense allowed the most rushing yards ever in Rex Ryan’s tenure as Darren McFadden steamrolled New York.  It’s probably a bad time to mention that nosebleed talk to Bart Scott.  On the other side, the offense looks to be stuck in a rut.  The running game has been underwhelming while Mark Sanchez continues to look lost at times.  Entering his third season, it’s time for Sanchez to take the next step if the Jets want to go far in January.

Ravens Bounce Back-One week they trample the Steelers, the next they get crushed by the Titans.  This week?  More of week one, as they blew out the Rams 37-7 in a game that was over by halftime.  Baltimore recorded 553 yards of total offense while holding St. Louis to 244.  Take it with a grain of salt as the Ravens are the far superior team, let’s see how the Ravens fare when they see former defensive coordinator Ryan and the Jets next week.

Saints, Texans Light Up Scoreboard-73 combined points in New Orleans, or as many as the 49ers-Bengals (21), Cardinals-Seahawks (23), and Steelers-Colts (29) combined, the Texans and Saints checked their defenses at the stadium and gate and decided to treat fantasy football teams across the nation.  Houston was looking to solidify itself as a contender with a big win over a top NFC team.  While they failed to do so, there are plenty of positives to take from this game.  Most teams fail to slow down the Saints, so that’s nothing worth sweating.  But the offense matched New Orleans most of the way.  The only discouraging note is that in 12 red-zone trips, Houston has 2 TD’s and 8 FG’s.  For an offense so potent, that has to change.

Falcons Get Clipped-This trendy Super Bowl pick, which I may have made as well, is looking worse and worse each week.  This offense seems to be undergoing an identity crisis, wanting to become more dynamic, but struggling in the process of converting.  At one time a ground and pound, Matt Ryan has seen more of the ground than he would like early on, as the Falcons for the second time in three games were lacking on offense, losing 16-13 to Tampa Bay.  Atlanta better get its act together soon, as division foes in New Orleans and the Buccaneers show no signs of slowing down.

Cardinals-Kevin Kolb will take his lumps with the Cardinals, but is there really any excuse to manage only 10 points against the Seahawks?  I’m struggling to come up with any.  Now it didn’t help that Jay Feely missed two field goals, but Kolb still had his opportunities, including late in the fourth quarter when he threw his second interception with less than 2 minutes remaining.

Steelers, Chargers Take It Easy-Right?  I mean both were expected to absolutely demolish their opponents.  Pittsburgh was playing the Indianapolis Mannings, sans Peyton Manning, while San Diego was playing the <del>Toronto Argonauts</del>, ehh, Kansas City Chiefs, who have probably as many recognizable faces left on the roster as the Argonauts.  Despite the apparent mismatches, the Chargers needed an Eric Weddle interception with under a minute to go to seal the 3-point victory while the Steelers needed Ben Roethlisberger to drive them down the field for a game-winning field goal.  So much for those anticipated blowouts.

<span style="color: #6e8dcf;">Primetime Thoughts

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Posted on: September 20, 2011 10:34 pm

In The Trenches: Week 2 Thoughts

The top two scoring teams in the NFL after two weeks: Buffalo and Detroit.

Say What?

Lions, Bills, & 4 Wins, Oh My-Granted, two of them are against the injury-ravaged Chiefs, but Detroit and Buffalo are looking to cement themselves as legitimate playoff contenders.  It comes as no surprise that quarterback play has sparked the good starts as Matthew Stafford has shown us why the Lions hitched their wagon to him while Ryan Fitzpatrick has instilled life into a once lifeless Bills offense.  Detroit has to feel good considering the rest of the NFC.  The NFC West as previously concluded is a race to 8 wins, and the Cowboys and Giants have both caught the plague as players continue to drop like Obama’s approval rating.  I don’t think they’re ready to take down the Packers, but the path to a Wild Card spot looks to be within reach.  The Bills are in a much deeper AFC, including the Jets and Patriots as division opponents, but look like they will be playing meaningful football come December.

Vick’s Return to Old Nest Sour-The Eagles looked like they had taken control of the game late in the third quarter with a 31-21 lead.  Vick had been effective, but had also taken a beating throughout the game as the Falcons defense constantly got to the former Atlanta quarterback.  The hits piled up, and Vick was eventually forced to leave the game with a concussion.  However, nobody thought it would be his own offensive linemen to do the trick.

That Tom Brady’s So Hot Right Now-Zoolander’s Hansel would be proud to see what Tom Brady has been up to these days.  With what seemed to be all day to read the defense, Tom Terrific looked just about unstoppable as San Diego was his latest victim.  An early frontrunner to repeat as MVP, Brady will have to keep it going against the, dare I say it, offensive juggernaut that is the Buffalo Bills next week.

Redemption for Romo-Roasted across media outlets after his forgettable fourth quarter against the Jets, things were not looking great against the 49ers.  Two fractured ribs and a punctured lung are painful enough, much less dealing with that while reading coverage, avoiding massive linemen, and throwing the ball.  But Romo would go on, leading the fourth quarter comeback and overtime win to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start.  Romo definitely won over many who doubted him, but things don’t look up with wide receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin both dealing with nagging injuries.  Oh, and a few broken ribs.

Steel Curtain Clamps Down-All is well for Pittsburgh as the Steelers were left for dead by many after the Ravens blew them out.  Nothing like a matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback, to lift their spirits.

Ravens Get Clipped-Remember how great Baltimore was last week?  Me neither.  After filling up the bandwagon with a blowout win against the Steelers, Joe Flacco and Co. struggled mightily against the Tennessee Titans. #discouraging.

Smile for the Cam-era-The game against the Cardinals was taken with a grain of salt, shaky secondary play and all.  Green Bay’s defense is an elite one, and Cam Newton throws for another 400+ yards.  The three interceptions keep everyone in check as a reminder that Newton will have his lumps during his rookie season.  But this man looks like a star in the making, possessing the size, strength, and athleticism to be a force to be reckoned with.

Vikings Can’t Keep It Up-A second straight week the Vikings had a double-digit lead at halftime.  A second straight week the Vikings lose late in the fourth quarter.  Donovan McNabb, where art thou?

Jets Bounce Back-Having realized that they won’t face Romo again, New York decided that wins may not be gift wrapped as nicely as last Sunday’s.  The Jets stomped the Jaguars 32-3 behind four interceptions while holding Jacksonville to 203 total yards.  The offense didn’t face its biggest test, but Sanchez showed signs of improvement, going 17-24 for 182 yards.  The two interceptions are still a concern.

G-Men Win, But It Ain’t Pretty-A win is a win, but that was not an inspiring performance for the Giants as whole.  Eli Manning finished 18-29 with 200 yards, but started the game going 2-11.  The offense was helped by four first downs via Rams penalties along with St. Louis settling for three field goals in three red-zone trips.  It also didn’t hurt when Cadillac Williams watches a lateral instead of going after it, allowing Michael Boley to return the fumble for a touchdown. 

<span style="color: #6e8dcf;">Primetime Thoughts

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Posted on: September 12, 2011 12:51 pm

In The Trenches: Week 1 Thoughts

I sure do miss that lockout talk.


Packers On Cue-If you had any doubts about the Packers contending this season, those should now be gone.  Aaron Rodgers looked sharp as did the rest of the Packer offense, putting up 42 points on the scoreboard and almost 400 total yards.  They allowed nearly 500 yards to the Saints, but let’s not forget about the fireworks Drew Brees and Co. regularly put up as well.  The Packers were able to slow New Orleans down on several occasions, including a goal-line stand to end the game.

Ravens Pummel Steelers-Games between these two tend to be hard-fought, down-to-the-wire, and low-scoring.

Sunday’s was none of the above.

In what may be his coming-out party, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco torched a tough Steeler defense for 224 yards and 3 touchdowns.  The stats may not be too eye-popping, but you saw Flacco dissect a Pittsburgh unit with ease, threading one pass after another.  Combine that with Ray Rice cruising to 107 yards rushing and an elite defense, folks we may have a runaway in the AFC North.

Falcons Get Clipped-All this offseason hype about a revamped offense, I was among many who jumped on the Falcons bandwagon.  The acquisition of Julio Jones was the last piece of the puzzle for Matt Ryan.  The offense would become an aerial assault and fade away from the run-heavy approach.

Maybe next week?

Ryan left much to be desired, with two turnovers and unable to get the Falcons in the end zone.  Perhaps credit is due to the Chicago Bears; I still am not sold and likely will not be for a while.  Things don’t get easier with a matchup against former Falcon Michael Vick next Sunday.

Life Sans Peyton-Talk about an eyesore.  Could it be any more clear which quarterback is most valuable to their team after Indianapolis looked like a shell of their former selves?  Kerry Collins is trying to fill some of the biggest shoes around in Peyton Manning, who is out indefinitely and it wasn’t pretty.  The Colts trailed 34-0 at halftime, the largest ever in their franchise history.  On the bright side, if Peyton doesn’t return, that put the Colts at the front of the line for the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.

Not the worst thing in the world, considering we can’t actually expect Manning to lead the Colts forever.  At least not with these recurring neck issues.

Dream Team Off To Good Start-Michael Vick took way too many hits and was 14-for-32, but the offense picked up where it left off last season in a 31-13 victory.  A bit sloppy for the Eagles, but the flashes of brilliance were demonstrated throughout the game.  Not the biggest test for the revamped defense, but a solid showing nonetheless.

Lions Pounce Tampa Bay-So far so good for the Lions bandwagon.  Matthew Stafford performed as expected, throwing for 305 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Tampa is not quite in the elite category, but they are no slouch either, and Detroit simply manhandled them on all fronts.  The Lions’ defense limited Tampa Bay to 1 touchdown and 56 yards rushing. 

Cam Newton Impresses-The pass coverage played by Arizona yesterday left much to be desired, but Cam Newton definitely showed people he is more than capable of leading an NFL offense.  A rookie-record 422 yards speaks for itself.  The Panthers are far from the playoffs, but they will be somewhat competitive and Newton will learn on the fly.  You can only learn so much while holding a clipboard. 

G-Men Replaced By Little Giants-The injuries that piled up during the preseason were absolutely inexplicable.  If the Giants had no bad luck, they’d have no luck at all.  Eli Manning also lost two reliable options on offense in Steve Smith (Eagles) and Kevin Boss (Raiders).  That being said, the last Manning standing looked atrocious.  A veteran quarterback by now, Manning looked lost at times in the second half.  The Redskins offense looked better than it has in recent memory, Rex Grossman, Sexy Rexy, proved capable.  Again, give credit where it’s due.  But if you’re a Giant fan, it doesn’t look too promising going forward.

Chargers Get Around Slow Start-They all said that this season would be different, that they’d get off to a quick start.  Last season’s special teams’ issues are a thing of the past.

Only to allow a kickoff-return touchdown on the very first play.

San Diego trailed 17-7 at halftime and looked headed for yet another season with early letdown.  Philip Rivers was not the sharpest, throwing 2 interceptions, and the Vikings offense in the first half showed some signs of life.

Much like that time Huff and Doback put liquid paper on a bee, the Vikings offense, died.

Donovan McNabb’s debut as a Viking, well, not the best.  It’s hard to find positives when your final stat line looks like this: 7-for-15 with 39 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.  That’s an average of under 6 yards per completion.


San Diego was fortunate that their slow start was outweighed by Minnesota’s quarterback’s ineptitude.  The victory was bittersweet, as they lost their Pro Bowl Kicker Nate Kaeding to a torn ACL and Nose Tackle Luis Castillo to a broken leg.

Romo Hands Win To Jets-For the most part, Mark Sanchez was Dirty Sanchez, leaving the Jets offense nowhere to be found.  Tony Romo had been cruising all day against one of the top defenses in the NFL.  I’m not blind to the fact that other plays were crucial in this fourth-quarter meltdown, such as the blocked punt for a touchdown, or Jim Leonhard not giving up on the play and stopping Witten at the Jets’s 3-yard line, but Romo’s two turnovers in the fourth quarter cost at least a field goal and set up the Jets in field goal range with under a minute remaining.  The Jets better hope Mark Sanchez picks up his play, because they don’t play Tony Romo again this season.

<span style="color: #6e8dcf;">Primetime Thoughts

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Posted on: September 8, 2011 12:45 am

In The Trenches: NFL Season Preview

The lockout is old news and the Saints and Packers square off Thursday.  The only thing missing from this anticipation of the NFL season is Brett Favre overkill…for now.

Packers Set To Defend Title-The Green Bay Packers begin their title defense against New Orleans with the dreaded Super Bowl hangover tossed around.  Unlike the many winners before them, Green Bay looks equipped to dominate for the immediate future and make a run at a dynasty.  Aaron Rodgers has made all Cheeseheads forget bout his predecessor/alleged sextor, letting his play speak for itself.  With a loaded receiving core, a healthy Ryan Grant in the backfield, and a defense which remains intact, look for more of the same from the Packers. 

Eagles Do Their Best Heat Impression-There was no championship-esque celebration in the offseason or guarantees of 5, 6, 7 titles, but the Philadelphia Eagles were reeling in big names much like the Miami Heat.  Nnamdi Asomugha, Domingue Rodgers-Cromartie, and Asante Samuel give the Eagles the best cornerback trio in football.  Jason Babin shores up the defensive line.  The linebacker group is weak in comparison, but with the Eagles likely leading most of their games, teams will be forced to pass against the aforementioned three-headed monster with a solid defensive line.  The offense got deeper as well with Ronnie Brown backing up LeSean McCoy.

New Cardinal Set To Spread Wings-It was discussed before the lockout began, and it happened once the lockout ended.  Traded for Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2012 2nd-round pick, Arizona is banking on Kevin Kolb to be more Kurt Warner and less like Derek Anderson.  The Cardinals locked up Kolb for 6 years, $65 million, with $22 million guaranteed.  Now Kolb has impressed when he’s played, but the guy’s only made 7 starts in his career.  Whether Kolb ends up working out for the Cardinals only time will tell, but they’re probably relieved that Anderson is no longer starting.  The numbers may be easy to top, but will he be as <span style="color: #743399;">serious about the game?

Who Wants the NFC West?-In all seriousness, a 7-9 team made the playoffs for the first time in NFL history.  You could’ve discovered that all four teams were doing their due diligence in hopes of a high draft pick.  All these teams seem to be undergoing makeovers.  The Cardinals have a new quarterback, St. Louis looks to build off Sam Bradford’s solid rookie season, Rookie Head Coach Jim Harbaugh throws Alex Smith one last bone to provide pedestrian results under center (though he could be secretly plotting for Andrew Luck, hmm), and Pete Carroll’s balance-of-power-changing move was, Tarvaris Jackson?Not so sure about that one Petey, but Sidney Rice is a nice addition to the receiving core.

All in all, let’s hope this isn’t another race to 8 wins.

AFC South Up For Grabs-A division which Peyton Manning has routinely put in his back pocket now looks to be up for grabs.  The Colts quarterback’s streak of 227 consecutive games comes to an end due to a slow recovery from neck surgery.  Somewhere Favre is basking in the glory of his streak remaining intact while sporting his wrangler jeans on a tractor in the heart of Mississippi. 

Manning’s return remains a question mark, leaving the Houston Texans in the driver’s seat.  With last year’s 9-7 season being their first ever above .500, Houston looks primed to make a postseason appearance.  The offense remains intact with Matt Schaub at the helm, with Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, and Arian Foster at his disposal.  Although if Foster gets a hold of his teammates future scans, it may put them at a disadvantage (I hear he posts them on twitter).  The offense is the same, but the defense looks to be viable with the addition of Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips.  Prized acquisition Jonathan Joseph should help the secondary, but it will be up to Phillips to turn this defense around. 

Lions Ready to Roar?-The laughingstock of the NFL for the last several years, non-sextors aside, the Detroit Lions bandwagon looks to be filling up rapidly.  Franchise Quarterback Matthew Stafford has shown flashes in his two seasons.  Only thing is, he’s only played 13 of 32 games due to injury.  If Stafford can prove to be healthy, watch out for the Lions offense to be a top-10 unit this season.  That with arguably the nastiest defensive line in football has people thinking relevant December football for these guys, and dare I say it, playoffs?  The rest of the defense may be shaky, but when you put pressure on the quarterback, it makes the job a lot easier on everyone else.   

 Hey Everybody, It’s the New Kid-Two rookie quarterbacks will be thrown into the fire from the get go.  Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals and Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers will have even less to work off than most rookie quarterbacks because of the lack of offseason workouts with teammates.  Neither one is ready to take the reins, but Carolina needs to sell tickets, and frankly, if you’ve seen Jimmy Claussen play, you know Carolina is no better.  So Newton might as well take his lumps and earn the experience.  Dalton was supposed to sit and learn the ropes, but then Carson Palmer decided he didn’t want to play for a halfway house, err, the Bengals anymore.    Palmer will play for anyone else, but Owner Mike Brown won’t budge, feeling that Palmer should, “honor his contract.” Funny coming from an owner who will never hesitate to rid themselves of a bad deal. 

State of AFC West Address-The Chargers, perennial favorites, say this year’s different, that they won’t struggle out of the gate.  If they can live up to their promise, this division is theirs for the taking.  Kansas City was a nice story, but they seem more like a bubble team.  Don’t be fooled by Denver starting Kyle Orton, the playoffs take a backseat as the Broncos try to decide what exactly should Tim Tebow be doing.  Among options such as tight end and full back also include team pastor.  And nobody really ever knows what Al Davis is doing with the Raiders.

Big Names, New Places-Donovan McNabb is a Viking, Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth are both Patriots, and Reggie Bush is a Dolphin.  Aging Pro Bowl players, expect all to make impacts with their new teams, showing to all that a fresh start was in order, especially McNabb.

Coaching Debuts-6 teams will be with new coaches, only 1 (John Fox, Denver) is not coaching their first-ever NFL game.  None of these teams are expected to do much in the standings, but Raiders Head Coach Hue Jackson has to be aware of the looney bin that also serves as his boss.  Talk about job security.

My regular season picks <span style="color: #743399;">last season left much to be desired, only nailing 7 out of 12 playoff teams, but I did pencil Green Bay for the Super Bowl, thus credibility is restored. 

NFC East
New York

NFC West
St. Louis
San Francisco

NFC North
Green Bay

NFC South
New Orleans
Tampa Bay

Wild Card: Dallas, New Orleans

AFC East
New York
New England

AFC West
San Diego
Kansas City

AFC North

AFC South

Wild Card: New England, Pittsburgh

Super Bowl XLVI- Atlanta vs. New York

<span style="color: #6e8dcf;">Primetime Thoughts

Follow <span style="color: #3b5998;">David S. London on Twitter

Posted on: August 31, 2011 5:11 pm

Eagles Go Against Their Grain, Open Wallet

Older people, much less old people, don’t generally fare well with the Philadelphia Eagles.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done.

Whether you’re the face of the franchise for many years, as well as Campbells Chunky Soup, with 5 NFC Championship appearances and 6 Pro-Bowl selections such as Donovan McNabb.  Or if you’re the heart and soul of the defense for over a decade like Brian Dawkins.  30 may be the new 20, but as far as the Eagles are concerned, you might as well relocate to the nearest senior center once you wave goodbye to your 20′s.

Not that I blame them.  Like any other business, the Eagles have decisions to make, and throwing around max contracts to players who are up there in age, less likely to finish their contract, much less play up to it, are not necessarily the best investment.

Which leads me to scratching my head with Michael Vick.

Vick had a renaissance year, winning comeback player of the year award, showing everyone the visions many had for so many years when first drafted by the Atlanta Falcons.  A combination of speed and arm strength from a quarterback which has never been seen in the NFL.  Vick had finally put both to use, and was not simply a QB on the run.  Vick threw for over 3,000 yards for the first time ever, had a TD:INT ratio of 21-6, and had a career-high in completion percentage at 62.6%.

Is a career year enough to throw $100 million, with $40 million guaranteed, for a 31-year-old injury-prone quarterback?

I’m not sure, but what I am sure of is, why are the Eagles all of a sudden willing to take a chance where they would generally steer clear of.

Vick’s style of play is based on his explosiveness and ability to improv on any given play.  That comes with a more hits than your standard savvy pocket quarterback like Peyton Manning.  Vick missed 3 games last season due to injury. 

Then there’s the expectation that Vick’s previous season is a sign of things to come, and not in fact lightning in a bottle.  Once again, I bring up his age because, well, performance-enhancing drugs aside, athletes’ athleticism tends to fade over time, which Vick heavily relys on.

Whether or not you agree with the Eagles decision to throw bags of money to Vick is irrelevant.  It’s simply the fact that Philadelphia went away from their typical ways of management and signed an older player to a long-term deal.  They must have the utmost confidence in Vick as they traded Kevin Kolb to Arizona for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2nd round pick in 2012 (Although a young Pro-Bowl corner and a top-50 selection may be more valuable if they feel Kolb was simply ordinary and replaceable, but a discussion for another time).  

All factors considered, it’s odd to see the Eagles do what they did.  Let’s just see if Vick can live up to his contract and can fly like an eagle.  To a Super Bowl win that is.

Primetime Thoughts

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Posted on: June 13, 2011 2:13 am
Edited on: June 13, 2011 2:35 am

Dirk, Mavs Remind Miami There’s No “I” In Team

If you are not sure what to leave with from the NBA Finals, let me make it very clear:

It takes a team, not a group of individuals, to be a champion.

Public Enemy #1 since last July, Miami was the perfect punching bag, err, team, for the Mavericks to face in route to their first-ever title.  LeBron James and Chris Bosh viewed Dwayne Wade and his Miami Heat as an advance-to-go monopoly card; the best and quickest way to a championship. 

While we watched one of the better NBA Finals in recent history, we saw a group unified stand tall against a threesome with little to no supporting cast.  Wade put on the Superman cape and did his best, but couldn’t do it alone as even sporting a Robin costume was too much for Baby Bron Bron, who scored an impressive 18 points in six fourth quarters this series (That attack mode James spoke of, glad he teased us and kept it in the cage). 

This isn’t about Miami anyways, even if Bron Bron gives us plenty to mock and ridicule (mocking Dirk with the flu, another time for that discussion).  The moment belongs to Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks.

Nowitzki had been receiving ample criticism for having yet won a championship coming into his 13<sup>th</sup> season.  A free agent as well last summer (Bron Bron in fact, wasn’t the only one), Nowitzki resigned with Dallas, remaining confident that the right pieces were in place to win a championship.  You know what they say, if you build it, the title will come.  Nowitzki and James were both without a title coming into this series, and now who is the one still waiting?

It’s not the guy who kept his talents in Dallas.

Dallas may have been out-starred in this series, with only one all star compared to three, but we saw a team that is eight, nine deep run down a team that is a bit top-heavy.

Nowitzki led the way and without him a championship is not in the discussion.  However, he had two defensive stoppers around the hoop in Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood.  He had a veteran leader in Jason Kidd, whose skills may have declined, but the man can shoot with the best of them and can make the smart play.  Jason Terry is instant offense off the bench while Shawn Marion was admirable in being a pest in James’ side while providing offense as well, averaging 13.7 points per game.  DeShawn Stevenson and Brian Cardinal too were valuable in spurts.

And there lies the anatomy of a championship team; players with particular skills, making contributions within their respective roles.  Take a look at the team Dallas took down.

Might you say a smidge different?

Three all-star players can certainly make up for many shortcomings.  That is, if they are all playing out of their minds.  Wade was, Bosh served his purpose, and James’ contributions are debatable.  His numbers may seem solid, but it seemed clear that the guy hid behind Wade once the fourth quarter came around, which is what he wanted when he left Cleveland, but everyone will still be expecting greatness.  Heck, I’m not sure if you can say James was good in these Finals post-third quarter.

But that’s it.

Mario Chalmers provided some space on the floor with his outside shooting, averaging 10 points a game.  The other five Heat players who saw the floor averaged a combined 17.1 points per game. 

That supporting cast will not win any awards under any circumstances.

These NBA Finals gave us more than we could’ve asked for.  We saw Nowitzki, the greatest international player in NBA history, lock up his legacy with a championship, the only thing left to accomplish along with another future Hall of Famer in Kidd win his first title.  We saw a series which was epic for almost its entirety with the exception of Game 1.  Dallas’ championship prevented the Heat from validating the circus act that was last summer, a victory for all outside of South Beach.  Lastly, and most importantly, we were reminded what it takes to win a championship.

A team, not a group of individuals.

Primetime Thoughts

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or