A few observations from week one of the NFL season.
Breakouts for 3rd year WR's aren't looking good. There were a lot of prominent wide receivers entering this season that had high potential of breaking out. The 3rd year is typically when wide receivers see their biggest increase in production but this year looks like the exception to the rule. Anthony Gonzalez was a huge sleeper in drafts this year as he slipped into the starting role opposite of Reggie Wayne with Marvin Harrison retiring. Add that to this being his 3rd season and having Peyton Manning throwing to him and it's hard not to expect big things. That was, until, he hurt his knee and is out 4-6 weeks. Dwayne Bowe of the Chiefs was also entering his 3rd year, had a new quarterback in Matt Cassel, and a new head coach in Todd Haley who has been known for developing wide receivers in the past. Now Matt Cassel is hurt and they fired their offensive coordinator shortly before the start of the season. He put up decent week one stats with 40 yards and a touchdown, but he's still not a sure thing by any means. Calvin Johnson was a beast already last season in his 2nd year, but now he has a rookie quarterback that threw for 205 yards, 0 TD's and 3 picks while trailing a below average Saints defense the whole game. Take away one 64 yard gain and he totaled 2 catches for 26 yards. Then there's Tedd Ginn who was barely even looked at and Steve Smith. Out of this whole group, Steve Smith of the Giants appears to be the most likely to increase his stats by the largest percentage as he was targeted 6 times, double the next best receiver.
Bad franchises are cursed. There's no other way to explain it. When you think of terrible franchises, three that stand out are Buffalo, Oakland, and Cincinnati...and look what happened. All three of these teams played well the whole game and should have won. Buffalo loses to New England on a fumbled kickoff return at the end of the game, Oakland completely dominates San Diego the entire game but the Chargers throw up a game winning touchdown with 18 seconds remaining, and the Bungals lose off a circus tip catch with 11 seconds left.
The Packers are completely different from last season. Last year, the Packers went 6-10 with a great offense and a terrible defense. This year, in comes Dom Capers, and he looks to have turned this defense around with his 3-4 scheme and aggressive style. You can credit some of their performance to how terrible Cutler performed, but you can also say the reason he played so poorly was because there was a Packer in his grill almost every play. Meanwhile, their offense looks to be declining this year. They still have enough star power with Rodgers, Jennings, Driver, and Grant to do well, but none of that matters if they don't fix their offensive line. Specifically they need help at center and right tackle. Jason Spitz just won the starting job in late August and right tackle Allen Barbre was consistently letting Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye through. The Packers have potential to do well this season, but that won't happen if they don't fix their offensive line.
The Bears season is over. You might think I'm crazy for saying anyone's season is over after one week, but it's true. It's bad enough to lose your first game against a division rival but when you lose the leader on your defense in Brian Urlacher for the season, that makes it much worse. Even more than his talent, his leadership will be missed on the field. Throw on top of that a quarterback who threw 4 interceptions and virtually no running game, and you're in trouble. If they were in almost any other division, they'd still be contenders for a playoff spot. However, in the tough NFC North, they're not going to do better than either the Vikings or the Packers this season.
The Madden Curse is real. Every year, a new Madden video game is released with a top NFL player on the cover. That player is then cursed with having a decline in production the following year, usually by an injury. If you want to read more on this, and how true it's been, check it out on Wikipedia. This years Madden has Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald on the cover. Polamalu went down with an injury that has him out 3-6 weeks. While Fitzgerald had a good outing with 71 yards and a touchdown, it's not unrealistic to see a dip in his overall production this year if Kurt Warner doesn't start looking better (or if Warner gets hurt).
Michael Turner is not a #1 fantasy running back. All off season I've been predicting Turner will bust this season. He crossed the 370 touch threshold last season and, as history suggests, he will have a sharp decline in production this year. In the last 20 years, there have been 17 running backs to cross this threshold including Turner. Of those 17 running backs, only one (Tomlinson) has come within 100 yards of their production the following year and 8 of those 17 running backs were injured. On top of that, the Falcons had one of the easiest schedules in the league last year. Most of Turner's production came from the bottom 5 defenses in the league. This year, the Falcons have one of the tougher schedules in the NFL and plan to throw more with Matt Ryan developing and Tony Gonzalez joining the team. Week one against Miami...65 yards and no touchdowns. Expect more of the same throughout the year (if he stays healthy) for Michael Turner.
Brett Favre will not end this season like he did last year. Favre had 522 passing attempts for the Jets last season. Put Favre's 21 passing attempts from week one over the course of a full season and that puts him at 336. While there will be games where he'll throw more than 21 attempts, it's obvious that Minnesota is still a run first team and will limit Favre's throws.
Jake Delhomme is the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. I don't think I need to explain myself for this one.
The Super Bowl Curse will haunt the Cardinals this year. The Super Bowl Curse says that if you make it to the Super Bowl and lose, you will miss the playoffs the next season. A lot of people considered the Cardinals making the Super Bowl in itself a fluke last year, but now they've lost their offensive coordinator, Todd Haley. It was apparent that this offense isn't nearly the same unit without him and we all know Arizona can't rely on their defense to win games.
Terrell Owens and Trent Edwards are not going to be friends. For the first time in his career, Owens is on a below average team with a below average quarterback. In week one, Owens only had 2 receptions for 46 yards and was already yelling at his teammates in the huddle at the end of the game. If Buffalo gets off to a bad start, expect Owens to pout and play only as hard as he wants to.
The Patriots defense is no longer a top unit. This is a completely different defense with Richard Seymour going to the Raiders and Teddy Bruschi retiring. They made people like Trent Edwards and Fred Jackson look like pro bowlers. While the Patriots offense is still going to be formidable, it's hard to consider them Super Bowl favorites anymore.
Tony Romo doesn't need T.O. That's for sure. Any questions about this guy's ability without Owens was put to rest this week as he went off for 353 yards and 3 touchdowns. He still has decent options in Roy Williams and Jason Witten to throw the ball to and an excellent running game, so don't be surprised if he ends up being a top 5 fantasy QB this year.
That's all for this week...more to come later.