Friday, September 18, 2009
NFC South: Final Word
By Pat Yasinskas ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas
Five nuggets of knowledge about this weekend’s games:
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Jake Delhomme needs to have a solid game against Atlanta in Week 2.
Carolina’s season truly is on the line in Week 2. That may seem like an over-the-top statement this early, but it fits. Teams that start 0-2 rarely make the playoffs and Carolina has tough games with Dallas and Washington following this one. If they lose to Atlanta, the Panthers could get out of control in a hurry. Jake Delhomme has had two horrendous games in a row and another one probably would leave the Panthers no choice but to pull the plug on the guy who’s been their quarterback since 2003. Delhomme doesn’t need Drew Brees-type numbers to keep his job. He just needs to come out and manage the game the way he used to. If he can do that, he can save Carolina’s season.
Kroy Biermann is the best NFC South player you’ve never heard of. The second-year defensive end already has two sacks. That’s two more than starter Jamaal Anderson. Biermann is undersized at 260 pounds, which is up about 15 pounds from last year. You’re going to hear a lot about Biermann before too long. He’s been underrated so far, mostly because of his size and the fact he didn’t exactly come from a football powerhouse at the University of Montana. Heck, Biermann’s high school wasn’t even a football powerhouse. Hardin High is known as a basketball school, so much so that legendary Crow Indian player Jonathan Takes Enemy was featured in a Sports Illustrated story by Gary Smith that, for my money, is the best sports story ever written.
Don’t sit Michael Turner in your fantasy league. Yeah, the Atlanta running back was bottled up a bit by Miami last week. But the Falcons aren’t going to stop handing him the ball, especially when they’re going up against a Carolina defensive line that doesn’t have a true run stuffer. Atlanta is going to be the kind of offense where you pick your poison. With Matt Ryan throwing to Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White and Michael Jenkins, defenses aren’t going to be able to put all the attention on Turner. His numbers will bounce back.
We’re going to find out Sunday if New Orleans’ defense is for real. Yeah, it’s looking like the Saints will face a quarterback making his first NFL start for the second straight week. It appears there’s a good possibility Philadelphia’s Kevin Kolb will start in place of the injured Donovan McNabb. But this still will be a much bigger challenge than Matthew Stafford and Detroit last week because the rest of Philadelphia’s offense is good. The Saints have shown some good things and created some turnovers. But the true test of a defense is if it can stop a good running game. Here comes Brian Westbrook.
Sammie Stroughter is going to make the most noise of Tampa Bay’s rookie class this year. He was a seventh-round draft pick and dealt with some personal issues in college. But this guy already put that behind him when he claimed the No. 3 receiver job in the preseason. With Antonio Bryant’s knee acting up, Stroughter might be the closest thing Tampa Bay has to a downfield threat and the one thing Byron Leftwich does best is throw the deep ball.