Two weeks into the season, and I continue to trash my Super Bowl picks. My new prediction: New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles. Next week, I might have somebody else for you.
Most Impressive in Victory
1. Eagles 37, Redskins 7 -- How bad was it? Andy Reid showed Steve Spurrier some mercy when he passed on a field goal that could have made it 40-7, prompting Spurrier to squish up his face in disgust. If you excuse the second-half lapse vs. the Titans, Eagles look like NFC's best.
2. Patriots 44, Jets 7 -- Super Bowl champs are deeper and hungrier. That's a little scary. When you consider that the Jets were at home and aiming to make a statement, this speaks volumes of Bill Belichick's defending Super Bowl champs.
|Things were looking up for Donovan McNabb and the Eagles on Monday night.|
3. Raiders 30, Steelers 17 -- Oakland coach Bill Callahan made a huge step forward in showing he can run the show for Jon Gruden. He duped everyone into believing the Raiders would never spread the field as the Patriots did the week before in beating the Steelers. Apparently, the Steelers believed him.
4. Broncos 24, 49ers 14 -- Maybe John Elway and Terrell Davis aren't driving the car, but this also bore some resemblance to Denver's Super Bowl titles under Mike Shanahan. The Broncos ran for 201 yards and the defense -- with an aggressive front seven -- stifled San Francisco.
5a. Giants 26, Rams 21 -- There were indicators behind the scenes that the Giants felt pretty confident that they could go toe-to-toe with the Rams. Kerry Collins outshone Kurt Warner and the G-men may have to be taken seriously -- for now.
5b. Saints 35, Packers 20 -- It's official now. The Saints, not the Bucs, are the team to beat in the NFC South. Decisions to feature Deuce McAllister and draft WR Donte Stallworth give them a dimension of speed that can quickly KO an opponent. Speaking of knockouts, Packers QB Brett Favre was sacked just once -- one of the most deceptive stats of the weekend. Favre was harassed and smacked all day.
1. Bills 45, Vikings 39 (OT) -- We might have to get used to Buffalo drama.
2. Giants 26, Rams 21 -- A game filled with big plays; Giants made most.
3. Dolphins 21, Colts 13 -- Manning fought his rear end off to give Colts a chance.
4. Raiders 30, Steelers 17 -- Sneaky Raiders throw it 64 times in pretty good battle.
5. Cowboys 21, Titans 13 -- Titans were in control, then Quincy Carter came alive.
Best Performances: Quarterback
1. Donovan McNabb, Eagles -- Many worthy candidates for this spot, but McNabb's mastery of a Marvin Lewis defense that is stacked with some stars (and some guys who think they're stars) was QB art at its finest.
2. Drew Bledsoe, Bills -- All I know is that there aren't five better QBs in the NFL than this guy. Just ask the Vikings.
3. Kerry Collins, Giants -- Not the Super Bowl, but Collins' 22-of-26 performance conjured up memories of Phil Simms.
4. Tom Brady, Patriots -- Neither rain, nor sleet nor snow. The guy delivers the goods.
5a. Rich Gannon, Raiders -- It's one thing to say you're going to spread it out and throw it 64 times; it's another thing to do it.
5b. Rodney Peete, Panthers -- Really, who had a better week? He throws for 300 yards and is named the starter for the rest of the season.
Worst Performances: Quarterback
1. Gus Frerotte, Bengals -- One more time, and he's a season honorary member.
2. Shane Matthews & Danny Wuerffel, Redskins -- As Steve Spurrier said of Wuerffel, "He did some funny things."
3. Kurt Warner, Rams -- Bad throws not the standard he has established.
4. Mike McMahon, Lions -- He has opened the door for Joey Harrington.
5a. David Carr, Texans -- Rookie + Expansion sometimes equals 6-for-25 and two picks (and 87 yards).
5b. Chris Redman, Ravens -- Shades of Scott Mitchell, Stoney Case, Tony Banks and Elvis Grbac ... but he is young.
Best Performances: Running Back
1. Ricky Williams, Dolphins -- Contrary to apparent Indianapolis impression, Edgerrin James did not outshine Williams, who is running harder than ever and catching it better than ever.
2. Thomas Jones, Cardinals -- Finally, a performance (173 yards, 24 carries vs. Seattle) that justified his No. 1 pick status.
3. Fred Taylor, Jaguars -- So it is true: As long as the Jags have Mark Brunell, Jimmy Smith and a healthy Taylor, they are still dangerous. Just ask the Chiefs.
4. Edgerrin James, Colts -- Pretty impressive (30-for-138 running and 8-for-82 receiving), but he missed on a couple of decent goal-line opportunities that gave Miami momentum.
5. Deuce McAllister, Saints -- Two games over 100 yards and a 4.5 average per carry -- they won't say a thing about Ricky if this keeps up.
Best Performances: Receiver
1. Peerless Price, Bills -- He certainly was peerless Sunday with 13 catches, 185 yards, two TDs, including the game-winner in sudden death.
2. Amani Toomer, Giants -- Not even 100 yards, but every one of his four catches (for 92) counted in a huge road win.
3. Marvin Harrison, Colts -- In a losing cause, 11 for 144 yards and a TD is a pretty good day against a Miami secondary loaded with good players.
4. Curtis Conway, Chargers -- His five catches went for 113 yards and a TD against a most respectable Houston defense.
5. Randy Moss, Vikings -- Bills have excellent cover corners, but Moss was still an ace (11-for-111) with a patented one-handed TD catch.
Best Performances: Defense (Team or Player)
1. Brian Urlacher, Bears MLB -- For the second straight year, he was Falcons QB Michael Vick's worse nightmare. This time, he had 12 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
2. Patriots vs. Jets -- Tebucky Jones and Victor Green provided the highlights. Two of many.
3. Patrick Surtain, Dolphins CB -- His over-the-shoulder grab in the end zone robbed Peyton Manning and the Colts of a touchdown at a critical moment.
4. Saints vs. Packers -- No way to treat the deep South's favorite son, Brett Favre, but it was an old-fashioned butt-whuppin'.
5a. Buccaneers -- Derrick Brooks went 97 yards with a Chris Redman intercepted pass; a domination that was reminiscent of the 2000 Ravens. Remember them?
5b. Eagles -- Anytime you can make Steve Spurrier do what he did with his lips, you've had a pretty good night on defense.
5c. Ray Lewis, Ravens -- In a losing effort, Lewis was a warrior with 15 tackles.
5d. Julius Peppers, Panthers -- Had three sacks vs. Lions and flashed his immense potential.
1. Drew Bledsoe's 48-yard TD pass to Peerless Price to end Bills' nail-biting overtime win vs. Vikings.
2. Tebucky Jones' strip of Jets QB Vinny Testaverde and ensuing 24-yard fumble return for a 17-0 Patriots lead.
3. Donte Stallworth's simple hitch reception from Aaron Brooks that, with center Jerry Fontenot hustling outside for a block, turned into a 34-yard TD.
4. Donovan McNabb's 39-yard pass to James Thrash that burned Redskins' blitz.
5. Terry Kirby's 96-yard kick return to start the fourth quarter for the Raiders, who had just seen their lead cut to 20-17 by the Steelers.
1. Doug Brien, Vikings PK -- Missed two PATs in 45-39 OT loss to Bills.
2. Gus Frerotte, Bengals QB -- A left-handed pass?
3. Drew Bledsoe, Bills QB -- Took a nine-yard sack in the Bills' "no-sack" zone early in overtime that forced a longer (missed) field goal.
4. Kurt Warner, Rams QB -- With fans waiting for that Marino-Elway-Favre two-minute moment, Warner threw a game-ending interception to Giants' Will Peterson.
5. Detroit Lions -- For getting on the bus.
Sorriest Performances: Team
1. Redskins -- Really, Washington's deficiencies on offense (interior line, QBs and WRs) were always there, but McNabb and Co. shred the vaunted Redskins' defense.
2. Lions -- Like Frerotte under QB category, Lions could get a season honorary pass on this list. The Panthers ... yes, the Panthers ... embarrassed them.
3. Jets -- J-E-T-S ... or was that S-T-I-N-K-O? Totally inept vs. Pats.
4. Ravens -- They had six first downs after three quarters.
5. Texans -- Really bad vs. the Chargers. I know, it's an expansion team. But they were an expansion team the week before when they beat the Cowboys, too.
Coaches on Hot Seat (Owner+Media+Fan index)
1. Marty Mornhinweg, Lions -- It's one thing to get blown out by the Dolphins, it's another deal when it's Carolina.
2. Mike Holmgren, Seattle -- He made this team, and Paul Allen can break it.
3. Mike Martz, Rams -- Well, he's not really in trouble, but he is catching a lot of heat.
4. Bill Cowher, Steelers -- Ownership has taken care of the coach and the players with the big bucks. That means they expect something good, not 0-2.
5a. Dick LeBeau, Bengals -- There must be some sort of grace because he is coaching the Bengals, after all.
5b. Dan Reeves, Falcons -- Sure, they're better than expected, but the 0-2 Birds should have won Sunday vs. the Bears.
Best Week 3 Games
1. Jets at Dolphins -- Dolphins hope they're fully loaded to end the Jets jinx.
2. Redskins at 49ers -- Back in Japan, after a Washington preseason rout, some words were spoken on the field from 49ers coach Steve Mariucci, like, "See ya in Week 3."
3. Rams at Bucs (Monday night) -- Somebody, Jon Gruden or Mike Martz, is going to have an interesting postgame press conference.
4. Saints at Bears -- Winner of this game goes in the early NFC Super Bowl pot (with Eagles, Rams, Packers and 49ers). Bears are hurting with injuries.
5. Cowboys at Eagles -- If Dallas has something to say about the NFC East, this is the time.
Bizarre Sideline Moments
1. A police officer inadvertently cleared the Eagles sidelines (temporarily) in a frightening moment during fourth quarter of the Redskins game. Maybe using pepper spray on an unruly crowd was effective enforcement, but in light of the times and the place, you wonder.
2. Bills QB Drew Bledsoe, his neck sliced by his helmet in the first quarter, got "sutured" by a staple gun, courtesy of Buffalo trainer Bud Carpenter, an old hockey guy.
3. Titans QB Steve McNair scrambled out of bounds at the Dallas sidelines and was conked by a Cowboys equipment trunk.
4. Browns coach Butch Davis went bonkers when defensive end Mark Word pulled off his helmet in a bit of showmanship just before he reached the sidelines late in the game Sunday. Once Davis slipped away, Word slapped that helmet back on. (But Word did have something to celebrate -- he finished the day with three sacks and two forced fumbles while subbing for injured Courtney Brown).
5. Patriots LB coach Pepper Johnson threw a little forearm shiver at a Jet running out of bounds. Once a player, always a player.
1. Gus Frerotte, Bengals QB: "I didn't want to take a sack" -- on his left-handed (he's a righty) pass that was intercepted by Browns DE Kenard Lang.
2. Kenard Lang, Browns DE: "At first, I felt like Carl Lewis ... then I felt like the Pillsbury Dough Boy" -- after the 285-pounder ran out of gas when Frerotte tackled him short of the goal line on the interception.
3. Dave Campo, Cowboys coach: "I think Quincy is a competitor and I'll go into war with a competitor any day" -- on Carter's solid performance in win over Tennessee. Now let's not get carried away.
4. Michael Vick, Falcons QB: "I don't know what he's reading, but he's fast" -- on Bears MLB Brian Urlacher. That's what you call speed-reading, Mr. Vick.
5. Steve Spurrier, Redskins coach: "I've had my butt kicked before ... sometimes, it helps" -- after the 37-7 whipping by the Eagles. What he wanted to add: "Sometimes, it doesn't."
Upon Further Review
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told ESPN's Ed Werder on Sunday NFL Countdown that there was nothing wrong with his presence in the bench area because "I've been doing it for 13 years." Wrong. During Jimmy Johnson's five-year reign as coach, Jones went to the sidelines once -- with Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar -- and was told to never return. He never did until Barry Switzer arrived.