September 15, 2012
The three big NFL matchups
By John Kryk, QMI Agency
JIM SCHWARTZ'S RIGHT HAND vs JIM HARBAUGH'S RIGHT HAND
The last time they met, palm-to-palm, was at midfield at Ford Field last October, after the Niners beat the Lions 25-19. Problem was, 49ers head coach Harbaugh apparently got lost in the euphoria and applied a hard, swinging handshake to Lions head coach Schwartz, who took immediate offence, and chased Harbaugh toward the tunnel. They exchanged harsh words before players from both sides and officials separated them. The rematch figures to be the most photographed handshake since Churchill and Stalin at Yalta.
TOM BRADY vs CARDINALS DEFENCE
Don't laugh. Since Week 9 of last year, guess which team is tied with San Francisco and Baltimore for the fourth best regular-season record in the NFL? Right-er-oo, Arizona (7-2). And the Cardinals have done it almost entirely with their defence. In those nine games, the Cards have allowed opponents to score TDs on only 9-of-33 trips to the red zone, and have posted multiple sacks in every game, per Cards website revengeofthebirds.com. And since November the 'zona D has allowed fewer than 18 points per game, and never more than 23. This is no cakewalk for Brady and the Pats.
MIKE SHANAHAN vs JEFF FISHER
These two longtime friends respect the hell out of each other. No doubt both head coaches are relishing this chance to match wits — Shanahan the offensive expert of the Redskins, Fisher the defensive wizard of the Rams. Most intriguing is what Fisher might implement to slow down, or stop, sensational rookie Skins QB Robert Griffin III. Fisher's Rams last week rather quietly gave Matthew Stafford and the Lions fits, and nearly won in Detroit. But expect Shanny to have held back some wrinkles from the opener, and he'll spring them on Fisher this week.
Quick-hit breakfast items to whet your Week 2 appetite:
Excitement is running so high in Indianapolis for the homefield regular-season debut of their No. 1 overall draft pick, Andrew Luck, that you could still buy tickets on Saturday morning.
The last time a Colts home game did not sell out was Sept. 21, 2003 vs. Jacksonville, according to the Indy Star. Yes, the good folks in Indiana are still mourning Peyton Manning's departure.
• Quarterback Tony Romo, who was so sharp in the season-opening win over the Giants (129.5 passer rating), has been almost as proficient in his past three games against the Seahawks — 62-of-101, for 866 yards, 8 TDs and 1 pick (111.2 passer rating).
• Darren McFadden might be an RB, but he had 13 catches for 86 yards in Oakland's opener late Monday against San Diego. Had had two more touches as a runner (15) but gained far fewer yards (32).
• The Steelers haven't lost a home opener in a decade.
• Either the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees, or the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton, will start the year 0-2. The game is in Charlotte. Expect a shootout.
• The Chargers have a good chance to start 2-0, against the Titans and their banged-up QB, Jake Locker. San Diego better do so, because the next four games are vs. Atlanta, at KC, at New Orleans and vs Denver.
THE BIG NUMBER
Broncos QB Peyton Manning's career record on Monday Night Football (.786).