Chiefs 31, 49ers 10
CHRIS PUMMER: A friend and 49ers fan recently shared with me his opinion that Mike Singletary’s strength as a coach is his ability to raise the emotional level of his players, but that a team could maybe get burned out from doing that week after week.
You shouldn’t have to get up for the Chiefs (3-0). You should just be able to beat them.
Lets step away from the Xs and Os, which only indicate that Kansas City kicked the 49ers (0-3) and their inept offense in the ass. There are problems with the decision-making process in San Francisco. Ok, Singletary fired Mike Martz two years ago because he didn’t want his offensive coordinator stepping on his toes — and perhaps being a ready-to-roll replacement should the ax swing in his direction. But Jimmy Raye was perhaps hired with the idea that it would be alright to fire him if the seats started getting hot, which they did this weekend, and like Raye was Monday.
Folks, that sounds like the way you’d go about planning to fail. Mission accomplished.
ALEX PREWITT: San Francisco-laced ineptitude aside, let’s take a look at Kansas City and see if this undefeated start is for real and, more importantly, if it can last. So far, the Chiefs have beaten San Diego at home in the season-opener, the Browns on the road by two (not exactly an impressive feat) and recently waxed the 49ers, perhaps the NFL’s biggest disappointment. Don’t expect this to last.
Coming up in the next two weeks is a two-game death trip to Indianapolis and then Houston, the two biggest tests of a season still in its infancy stages. The Chiefs could very well end up above .500, what with Buffalo, Oakland (x2) and St. Louis still left on the slate. A scary thought.
Vikings 24, Lions 10
CHRIS PUMMER: Brett Favre was awful again. But that’s apparently good enough to beat the Lions (0-3), who are acting like Calvin Johnson’s non-catch was the play that let all of the air out of their season.The Vikings (1-2) desperately need Favre to find his groove. Adrian Peterson might carry them to a split with the Bears, but I’ve still got them being swept by the Packers. This division probably won’t get a wild card.
ALEX PREWITT: The non-catch may have been the play that deflated the Lions, but there wasn’t much in the balloon to begin with.
Patriots 38, Bills 30
CHRIS PUMMER: Trent Edwards hits the unemployment line after another dismal performance. The Bills (0-3) are probably right to move on. Some other team might see that 2008 season and the decent 60-percent career completion rate and think they can make something of him. And maybe they can. But Edwards just isn’t in a state to help these Bills.
The Patriots (2-1) took care of business, but maybe we start to worry about their defense. Just a little.
ALEX PREWITT: At least the Bills can take solace in the fact that C.J. Spiller has game-changing potential, both on the ground and in the return game. If only their defense wasn’t so abysmal.
Falcons 27, Saints 24 (OT)
CHRIS PUMMER: This was a nice one for the Falcons (2-1) to steal. It could be a nice early springboard to a division title if Matt Ryan and Michael Turner can stay healthy and productive.
You can’t be too unhappy with this if you’re the Saints (2-1). A tough division rival caught a break in a game they maybe should have won. That happens, and there’s most of the year yet to make up for it.
ALEX PREWITT: In the long run, it probably won’t affect the Saints’ chances of making the playoffs; this team is too deep and too experienced to allow that to happen. But for now, this has to sting. Drew Brees has to be kicking himself for those two first-half interceptions, and playoff hero Garrett Hartley was a few yards away of winning the game. For all intents and purposes, New Orleans should have won this one, especially at home. Now the Saints have to visit Atlanta in Week 16, a game that could very well decide the division title.
Titans 29, Giants 10
CHRIS PUMMER: Even if the turnovers were taken out of the equation, the Titans (2-1) look like a better team than the Giants (1-2). Tennessee did, after all, have nearly as much penalty yardage taken from its hide. And despite being outgained by 200 yard, didn’t trail by all that much in time of possession. Sure, running the ball well does that. But it also prevents turnovers. That’s going to ultimately be how Tennessee protects Vince Young, though I wonder how well the Titans will do in games where they need Young to go out and win it.
The Giants were sloppy. Maybe Tom Coughlin is running his course in New York.
ALEX PREWITT: Tom Coughlin, and the rest of the Giants for that matter. Everything about this game was disgusting from a Giants standpoint: Three turnovers, five personal fouls, two missed field goals and a load of embarrassment. On the other side of the football, Chris Johnson keeps reaffirming the now-obvious: He’s the best running back in football.
JASON CLINKSCALES: Bad Eli showed up. There’s no question about this. That left-handed toss to Kevin Boss in the end zone in the first quarter was just a terrible idea; further evidence that ‘trickeration’ isn’t in the Giants’ DNA. He also threw far more screen and other near-line-of-scrimmage passes in this game than any in recent memory, maybe in his career, in hopes of compensating for what has been a lackluster running game so far. Good Eli did see the gaps, especially in the vicinity of a patchwork linebacker corps, showing that save for the two picks, he played rather well (completing 17 of 20 at the half). After the game, Manning couldn’t come up with an answer for the unusual amount of tipped passes (most off the fingertips of Hakeem Nicks and several leading to interceptions), but in all, he was solid most of the game.
Honestly love Tennessee’s defense, even without the big names of the past. Keith Bullock, gone. Kyle Vander Bosch, gone. Albert Haynesworth, gone and impressively ticking people off. Yet, this group is still aggressive, still sure tacklers and still making offensive lines miserable. This was a good test for the league’s top passing defense as the Giants are more of an aerial team these days. It was also good to see Chris Johnson return to form. New York corralled him in the first and third quarters, but this is a guy that shows up when the game is on the line… so long as he’s given the ball. That wasn’t the case against Pittsburgh and it was good to see the Titans remember the winning formula.
Steelers 38, Buccaneers 13
CHRIS PUMMER: After wins against Carolina and Cleveland, Tampa Bay (2-1) was put in its place. Outside of a couple miscues from its fourth-string QB to start the season, Pittsburgh did whatever the hell it wanted to do.
The silver lining for the Bucs is that Josh Freeman, despite not having a great game, wasn’t a complete disaster out there. In fact, it could have gotten ugly against a terrific Steelers defense. That it wasn’t might not seem like a consolation, but is maybe a good reason to think Freeman is growing into that franchise quarterback role.
Bengals 20, Panthers 7
CHRIS PUMMER: Bet the under in every remaining Panthers game. Carolina (0-3) just might make you rich that way.
Ravens 24, Browns 17
CHRIS PUMMER: Nobody wanted to see Jake Delhomme in the first place. Now that Seneca Wallace is playing ok for the Browns (0-3), Cleveland fans are going to be doubly unhappy when he returns.
Baltimore’s thin running attack probably means the team will always go as QB Joe Flacco goes. I don’t know that any Ravens fan is entirely happy about that right now.
Cowboys 27, Texans 13
CHRIS PUMMER: Gone for the Cowboys (1-2) were the sloppy turnovers that marred the previous week’s effort. The Texans (2-1) should be able to regroup.
Colts 27, Brocnos 13
CHRIS PUMMER: Denver (1-2) is second in the league in total yardage by barely in the top half in points scored. That’s because they just can’t run the ball. Kyle Orton is maybe a good fit for a West Coast-style offense that’s going to use shore passes as the de facto ground game. But teams that do that usually aren’t very good. Especially when they’re plagued by defensive problems.
Eagles 28, Jaguars 3
CHRIS PUMMER: The Jaguars (1-2) can start looking into those moving fans.
Cardinals 24, Raiders 21
CHRIS PUMMER: Ugly. Just ugly.
Seahawks 27, Chargers 20
CHRIS PUMMER: I don’t know what is more surprising. That the Seahawks are now 2-1, or that the Chargers are 1-2 after getting run over by Kansas City and Seattle. Those teams are a combined 5-1, but… well… it’s still pretty early.
Jets 31, Dolphins 23
CHRIS PUMMER: At times it looked like the Jets (2-1) were going to blow it. But they never did, and holding on is what good teams do.
After ripping on Chad Henne last week, it’s worth pointing out that late interception aside, he played pretty well against this Jets defense. Though it goes without saying that Miami (2-1) would have liked to be in a position to run the ball more often.
JASON CLINKSCALES: Instead of the smack-you-in-the-mouf (not mouth) game predicted last week, both defenses were just a step or two behind on Sunday night. However, it was an impressive showing for both Mark Sanchez and Chad Henne.
Dustin Keller can easily become a top-five tight end in the NFL as long as his blocking technique improves. He’s probably the fastest in the league and you saw how good the hands are in the first half with his two scores. For as much talk as there was about all the offseason moves made by the Jets, the most important offensive player to this team’s Super Bowl hopes besides Sanchez is Keller. Except for the New England Patriots of the early part of the Aughts and the Washington Redskins of the 80s & 90s, no team has won the title without dynamic tight end play leading to or playing in the Super Bowl in the last 30 years.
Bears 20, Packers 17
JASON CLINKSCALES: The Chicago Bears are the lone NFC unbeaten. Which may not bode well for the NFC.
3-0 looks mighty pretty on in the standings, especially with how Minnesota has stumbled out of the gates. Yet, it took a game-winning field goal to beat a team that had SEVENTEEN penalties. The win may feel great, but the Bears certainly can’t hang their helmets on that kind of victory. It’ll make next Sunday’s matchup at home against the Giants all the more interesting because the Bears’ secondary may struggle with the diverse passing attack New York boasts. Two vastly-flawed teams under the lights? It could be great football or purely miserable. Pick one.