The Fine Fifteen
1. New England (0-0). I don't care if Tom Brady has to take a bunch of Aleve tonight for that shoulder, I bet he's never looked forward to a game more than tonight's against Buffalo.
2. Pittsburgh (1-0). Men of Steel must play better to repeat, of course. But that was a survival game Thursday night, and they survived.
3. New York Giants (1-0). How good and brutish did that Giants' offensive line look in mauling Washington?
4. Green Bay (1-0). I loved what I saw out of the debut of Dom Capers' 3-4, even with the long scoring drive on Chicago's second-to-last drive of the night. Most impressive defenders: Johnny Jolly, Brandon Chillar, Cullen Jenkins.
5. Minnesota (1-0). Meaningless Stat of the Week: Brett Favre is the first quarterback in history to win opening games three straight years for three different teams. I'll volunteer to start the 2010 pool. Which team will Favre win a fourth with in 2010?
6. Chicago (0-1). Two things worry me: the Brian Urlacher wrist injury and the way Jay Cutler threw carelessly. Remember a couple of weeks ago, at Denver, when Ron Turner, the offensive coordinator, told me what impressed him was Cutler basically taking what the defense was giving and not being greedy? That was not Cutler Sunday night.
7. New Orleans (1-0). We all have to see how New Orleans plays in a game with a competent offense on the other side of the field, and we should get to see that Sunday in Philadelphia. But the Saints, offensively at least, are scary good.
8. Philadelphia (1-0). Bet you a grande hazelnut latte that Donovan McNabb plays Sunday against the Saints.
9. San Diego (0-0). I'll be glad when we stop asking LaDainian Tomlinson if he's still The Man, and actually let him go out and show us if he is.
10. Dallas (1-0). Tony Romo and his offense put 34 points up at Tampa Bay, which is probably about par for the course against a struggling team. But this is the kind of game the Cowboys have traditionally struggled to win in the Romo Era.
11. Baltimore (1-0). I have a Raven on my list of the top five MVP candidates after Sunday's 38-point outburst against the Chiefs. We always knew Baltimore could play defense. Look out if the offense becomes consistently just as potent.
12. Tennessee (0-1). When the Titans got outbid for Torry Holt and didn't sign Matt Jones, they counted on rookie wide receiver Kenny Britt to carry a major load, starting opening day. And Britt (four catches, 85 yards in Pittsburgh) didn't disappoint, giving Tennessee the deep threat GM Mike Reinfeldt was sure he drafted five months ago.
13. (tie) Atlanta (1-0). I thought the Atlanta defense was supposed to have training wheels on, but the Falcons gave the Dolphins a four-turnover pummeling.
13. (tie) Indianapolis (1-0). Bill Polian told me after the game that the Colts, even if Anthony Gonzalez's knee injury is more than a one-month deal, wouldn't consider bringing Marvin Harrison out of retirement. Tony Dungy said something interesting on our NBC set: That Polian's comment says to him that Peyton Manning is comfortable with rookie Austin Collie in the slot and Pierre Garcon as the outside bookend for Reggie Wayne.
15. (tie) San Francisco (1-0). Valiant game for the Singletaries, winning at Arizona. They harassed Kurt Warner for four quarters.
15. (tie) New York Jets (1-0). The action this week will be focused on Rex Ryan and the funny, flippant stuff he says about the Patriots. Bill Belichick, once he gets through tonight's game against Buffalo, will be smart to ignore what Ryan says (which he will) and see if he can figure a way to protect Brady from the band of lunatics rushing the passer for the Jets.
Quote of the Week I
"I watched Brett Favre today. Very impressive. Went the whole game without retiring.
-- Jay Leno, interviewed by Bob Costas at halftime of NBC's Sunday night game.
Quote of the Week II
"I kind of laugh when I hear the board isn't going to be a big factor. When we walked into the stadium and looked at it, we said, 'That is so hittable.' I hit it on my third punt, and I wasn't even warmed up. Then, in warmups, we probably hit it 25 to 30 times. It's going to get peppered all season.''
-- Punter A.J. Trapasso to me Friday, on the Dallas video board that is 90 feet above midfield, stretching from the 20-yard-line to the 20-yard-line at the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
Quote of the Week III
"The thing is, now Cincinnati's got to get the Stanford band on the field.''
-- CBS analyst Dan Fouts, with five seconds left in the bizarro-world Denver victory over the Bengals, after a tipped pass turned into an 87-yard touchdown catch by Bronco Brandon Stokley.
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