This year the race to the Super Bowl is wide open. There are no dominant teams. Last year at this time one would likely have said the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts were the best teams in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings peeking in. At the end of the season, despite some slippage, one would have said the same thing. And the Saints, of course, beat the Colts in the Super Bowl.
This year that is not the case, so far. The best teams right now are those with stout defenses and are solid in the running and passing game. Those teams in my opinion are the New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers, with the Atlanta Falcons at this date, looking like the best team in the NFC.
This weeks games, at least the ones I watched, were was mostly about turnovers and penalties.
GAMES I WATCHED
Baltimore Ravens over Denver Broncos, 31-17
Despite a sore knee Ray Rice rushed for 133 yards while the Denver Broncos could not protect Kyle Orton. The Ravens jumped out to a 17 point lead, with one drive greatly aided by pass interference calls, and never looked back. While the Broncos made a decent attempt to make the game interesting in the second half, the Ravens pretty much closed the show on the late in the game.
Ray Rice looks like he is back from his knee injury. Flacco looked great in parts of the game and after a shaky start of the season it will be interesting to see if he can keep it up.
MVP: Ray Rice, RB
Arizona Cardinals over New Orleans Saints, 30-20
This game was utter shocker to me. The Cardinals play an undrafted rookie free agent at quarterback and have been struggling on defense. To think they could come out of this game with a win, even with the Saints’ depleted running game was hard to fathom.
But turnovers kill and the Saints turned the ball over four times, and that was the story of the game. Well, not quite the entire story. Rookie quarterback Max Hall out of BYU played a tough, gritty game. He took some monster shots from the Saints defense but came back in to play reasonably well. I was rather impressed by the rookie. While he did look like a rookie, he showed potential. It will be interesting to see what transpires with this young, tough kid and where he goes from here.
But my MVP is cornerback Greg Toler who snagged one of Drew Brees’ three interceptions and played a solid game against the danger Saints’ receiving corp.
MVP: Greg Toler, CB
Philadelphia over San Francisco, 27-24
Turnovers drove the knife into the 49’ers and the worst was when quarterback Alex Smith rolled out and didn’t protect the ball, got hit, and gave up a fumble return for a touchdown to the Eagles. Afterwards Smith and coach Mike Singletary had a heated exchange on the sideline. Singletary decided to put Smith back in and he drove them for a touchdown to bring the game barely back within reach. That showed a lot of moxie and guts on the part of Alex Smith to stand up to the coach and go back into the game perform at a high level. He backed up his words on the sideline.
Unfortunately for the 49’ers the Eagles answered with a field goal putting the game just out of reach. Smith’s ill advised fumble and two interceptions killed the 49’ers.
I really thought the 49’ers would be a decent team this year but they have continually shot themselves in the foot. Smith shows flashes that he can be an above average and even excellent quarterback in the NFL but then he has gaffes and interceptions that kill his team. This is another quarterback who will interesting to watch as the season unfolds. He clearly has been labeled a bust of a first round draft pick, but he has a chance at redemption. Only time will tell if he takes that chance to house.
Meanwhile Kevin Kolb played reasonably well for Vick and is my MVP.
MVP: Kevin Kolb
New York Jets over Minnesota Vikings, 29-20
All the hoopla over Brett Favre’s alleged shenanigans sending lewd text messages to a Jets’ sideline report a few years ago clearly had an impact in this game. Favre looked awful most of the game. He simply seemed a bit out of it. His body language and facial expression were rather telling.
It appears to me this was one year too many for Favre. He certainly picked it up in the second half and hit his new target, Randy Moss, for a beautiful touchdown pass. But in Favre like fashion, he threw a pick six to end the game.
The Jets thoroughly outplayed the Vikings throughout the game but weren’t scoring many points. They settled for field goals in the first half and almost let the Vikings back in it. But they pulled it out in the end.
Antonio Cromartie had an excellent game yet again covering Randy Moss. He had great coverage on the touchdown pass but that was on impossible to defend.
MVP: Antonio Cromartie, CB
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive Player: Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
Defensive Player: Antonio Cromartie, CB, New York Jets
Offensive Lineman: Ben Grubbs, G, Baltimore Ravens
Special Teams: Josh Scobee, K, Jacksonville Jaguars
Rookie of the Week: Max Hall, QB, Arizona Cardinals