September 17, 2012
Patriots, Ravens face 1-2 punch heading into Week 3
By JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency
FIVE STORIES TO WATCH FOR WEEK 3
1. High motivation for two perennial winners
The New England Patriots haven't had a losing regular-season record since 2003 (after the Buffalo Bills blew them out in the season opener). The previous time for the Ravens was 2008 (after the Indianapolis Colts dropped them to 2-3). Since then, the clubs have done little else but win. But one of these teams will be 1-2 after their showdown Sunday night in Baltimore.
2. Will the real Cowboys please stand up?
America's Team finally plays its first home game, against Mr. "We Play To The Last Whistle, Buster" and his team. That is, Greg Schiano and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys looked all-conquering in their across-the-board demolition of the New York Giants in Week 1. Then they let the Seattle Seahawks demolish them in Week 2. Which team shows Sunday?
3. Will the real Jets/Bills/Bears/Seahawks stand up, too?
Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets now is among the NFL's elite quarterbacks! Wait, no, he still sucks. Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick sucks! Wait, no, he's pretty good. Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears offence is a juggernaut, baby! Wait, no, he's the old baby. Russell Wilson isn't ready to play for Seattle! Wait, no, yes he is. In Week 3 we'll find out for sure. No doubt about it. Once and for all. Promise. Until Week 4.
4. The bad-news centre of the universe
Bad news cultivates this year in New Orleans like bacteria on raw chitlins left in the bayou sun: Bounty-gate ... Quarterback Drew Brees' endless, ugly contract holdout ... The unfounded report about eavesdropping on opposing coaches' headset conversations ... the replacement ref who's a huge fan of -- who else? -- the Saints ... and now the Saints have started out 0-2. Remedy? The Kansas City Chiefs.
5. The team with no excuses
The Chiefs. They've been blown out in both games, by the powerful Houston Texans (perhaps understandable) and by the Bills (befuddling). New head coach Romeo Crennel runs the talented defence, and the D has been downright terrible. And QB Matt Cassel still is awful. Where's the hope? Result: Kansas City sports radio Monday was smoldering the wires in my laptop's speaker.
Last year, the Dolphins running back couldn't convince anybody he would reignite his career in Miami. Yet he's doing exactly that. The speedy seventh-year man has 20 runs this year of four yards or more, tied for third in the NFL (per Pro-Football-Reference.com). And he's the only weapon on that offence.
All the up-and-coming Arizona Cardinals running back had to do to unseat Beanie Wells and become a star was to get healthy and stay healthy, it was said. Well, in two games a healthy Williams has rushed for 22 yards on 18 carries. And his fumble in New England nearly (and should have) lost Arizona the game.
ON THE HOT SEAT
Scott Pioli, Chiefs general manager
Two lead columnists for the Kansas City Star carved Pioli a new Belichick after the team's second blowout loss. Wrote one of them, Kent Babb: "Pioli has, for years now, learned from far too many mistakes. Haley. Sticking with Cassel. Thinking he can control every ounce of information. A growing number of unimpressive draft classes. The way front-office employees are treated and how bizarrely secretive everyone is expected to be." Ouch.
HYPE WE'RE BUYING
We thought Arizona's defence against Tom Brady would be among Sunday's three most intriguing matchups. We had no idea the Cards actually would hold the powerful Pats to 18 points (the average number of points the Cards have allowed since November) and improve to 2-0. Wow.
HYPE WE'RE NOT
The NFL says replacement refs are doing fine, and it has plans in place for them to work at least five games. Yeah, right. Parts are starting to fall off the Keystone Cops' car, left and right. The game is too fast for them, as James Lofton emphatically told the Detroit Lions-San Francisco 49ers radio audience.
We understand that Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey had the luxury of sheltering quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. But woulda been good to have him throw some deep shots to first-game rookie T.J. Graham, for both their sakes.
The New York Jets ran only three wildcat plays versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Wasn't the whole point of acquiring Tim Tebow to run his alt.offence whenever Mark Sanchez struggled, as he did? Shoulda done so a lot more.
The outplayed Lions coulda been in position to tie the 49ers had Kyle Williams (overtime goat of NFC title game) not barely got to Detroit's deepish onside kick before a Lion did. Lucky.
GOAT OF THE WEEK
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 42-yarder that would have kept the New England Patriots undefeated. Belichick hires kickers to make those. Every. Single. Time.
HERO OF THE WEEK
Bills running back C.J. Spiller is averaging 10 yards a carry, and 11 yards a touch. He leads the league in rushing, with 292 yards. "I'm pretty much just reading and trusting my speed, and trusting what I see out there," he told QMI Agency.
ZERO OF THE WEEK
Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali. In his second quarter of play after being suspended for the opener for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, Hali tried to wrench one Buffalo lineman's head off, then tried to twist another's arm off, according to two Bills linemen.