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JensK
09-08-2008, 07:34 AM
Brady's injury shifts balance of power in AFC
By Vic Carucci | NFL.com
Senior Columnist

JensK note: If you want to skip all the boring stuff, look at the bottom. It is a really nice article though.



One New England-sized injury may have given hope to teams like the Steelers, Bills and Jets in the AFC.




In only one day the NFL that we thought we knew at the end of the 2007 season suddenly seems a lot less recognizable.

All it took was an apparent season-ending injury to Tom Brady ... and some impressive performances by teams that consistently brought up the rear behind Brady's New England Patriots in the AFC East as well as the rest of the conference ... and some surprising losses by the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, and other presumptive challengers to the Pats' throne.

True, it was only Week 1. Season-opening surprises are nothing new and a whole lot could change by Week 2, let alone by Week 17. But there were so many developments on the first Sunday of the 2008 season worth noting.
Most notable was the injury to Brady's left knee. If the reigning MVP truly is out for the season (and given the Patriots' ultra-secrecy with injuries, the true nature of it might not be known for sure until sometime in the spring), the conversation about the Patriots returning to the Super Bowl comes to a screeching halt.
I don't care if the Pats won their opener against Kansas City with Matt Cassel playing quarterback most of the way. Without Brady, the Patriots no longer are the Patriots. They don't dominate. They don't intimidate. They don't score at will or do the things that demand comparisons to the greatest teams in league history.
The first glimpse of life without Brady came when New England barely was able to beat the much weaker Chiefs at home. Cassel is, at best, a solid offensive manager. But it wasn't a solid offensive manager that led the Patriots to an 18-1 record or won NFL and Super Bowl MVP honors.

And there is no reason to think the Patriots would make themselves appreciably better by coaxing Daunte Culpepper out of retirement; his bombs-away style is not a good fit for their scheme even if he would be reunited with former Minnesota Viking teammate Randy Moss. Nor would they improve all that much if they were to sign free agent Chris Simms, who has not been the same since suffering a serious injury to his spleen when he was with Tampa Bay.

If Brady is out for the rest of the season -- or even for most of the season -- the power of the AFC East and the AFC takes a dramatic shift.

Start with the division.

The Buffalo Bills promptly confirmed their preseason status as a playoff contender with a dominant performance against the Seattle Seahawks. And with the Pats presumably out of the way, Buffalo can be much more. The Bills' defensive upgrades, especially the addition of tackle Marcus Stroud, provided immediate benefits as the Seahawks' offense was stifled at every turn. Their special teams performed at their typically high level. Marshawn Lynch ran with every bit as much power and explosiveness as he demonstrated as a rookie last year. And although second-year quarterback Trent Edwards wasn't spectacular, he made significant strides over where he was at the end of last season and looks as if he will only get better as the season progresses.

Brett Favre wasted no time displaying the big-play capability he was expected to bring to the New York Jets. Favre still needs to get comfortable with the Jets' offense and his surrounding cast, but he still has the uncanny improvisational skills that have long defined his legendary career. With the Pats presumably stepping aside, the Jets could easily be in the hunt for the division crown. They probably struggled a bit too much against the Miami Dolphins, but there is reason to think they -- and especially Favre -- can play better.

The Jets' defense stepped up as it needed to in shutting down the Dolphins' presumed offensive strength in holding Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown to a combined 47 yards on 16 carries. They forced their former quarterback, Chad Pennington, to try and beat them with his arm, and he came up short, throwing two touchdowns for the team's only points.

What about the rest of the AFC?

You can talk about the fact Peyton Manning missed the entire preseason while recovering from knee surgery. You can talk about the fact his center, Jeff Saturday, was out of the lineup with a knee injury of his own. And you can talk about the injuries that tight end Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai suffered during the game.

The fact is the Colts did not look sharp or inspired in their loss to the Chicago Bears. Manning looked uncomfortable the entire game, and most of that was because of the Bears' defense. Indianapolis' defense was equally out of sorts. Not to discredit Kyle Orton ... but Kyle Orton? The Colts tackled poorly and seemed to go through the motions for much of the night.

Maybe it was a case of opening-night jitters. Maybe it was a case of something more. Either way, the Colts need to resolve it soon if they are to take advantage of what could very well be a wide-open conference.

Stephen Dunn / Getty Images
The Panthers' late-game heroics spoiled a pretty decent day by Philip Rivers.

NFL Network will re-air the Panthers-Chargers game on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. ET.



The San Diego Chargers are better than they showed against the Carolina Panthers. They suffered a heartbreaking loss, to be certain, but they still have the talent and explosiveness that should allow them to win the soft AFC West and still make a strong run to the Super Bowl.

How can the Chargers not be encouraged with the performance of Philip Rivers (17-of-27 for 217 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions) after he underwent offseason knee surgery? He looked as poised and as confident as ever, showing clear strides that he is emerging as a top quarterback. LaDainian Tomlinson remains the gold standard among NFL running backs and Antonio Gates, despite leaving the game in the first half with a bruised hip, still caught a touchdown pass as did San Diego's other big-play target, Vincent Jackson.

Losing in the final two seconds to a strong Panther team that can go places with a healthy Jake Delhomme under center is no disgrace.

The Jacksonville Jaguars might, however, have something to worry about after their loss to the Tennessee Titans. The Jags were widely seen as a strong challenger to the Colts' perch in the AFC South, first and foremost, because of the efficiency and effectiveness of their quarterback. David Garrard didn't show much of either trait in throwing a pair of interceptions, fumbling once and getting sacked seven times. Another reason to like the Jaguars is their running game. But the Titans didn't allow Fred Taylor or Maurice Jones-Drew to get anywhere on the ground. Jacksonville's defense managed to intercept Vince Young twice, but its run-stopping was a disappointment against a team that hardly has much of a running game.

Is it a shock that the Cleveland Browns lost to the Dallas Cowboys? No. The Cowboys are the presumptive Super Bowl pick from the NFC. They are loaded with talent. But the Browns should have been able to put up a better fight, especially playing at home. As outstanding a quarterback as Tony Romo might be, he should not have been able to move the offense as freely as he did against a listless Browns defense. Meanwhile, Cleveland's offense never came remotely close to showing the firepower that nearly got the Browns into the playoffs last year. And what was Romeo Crennel thinking when he had his team kick a field goal while trailing by 21 points in the fourth quarter?

Perhaps we'll have to rethink that fierce battle next Monday between the Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers for AFC North supremacy. The Steelers looked like the only team ready to win the division -- again -- with their pounding of the Houston Texans.

So much for the concern that the Steelers' running game was going to become too finesse-oriented by switching from power-oriented blocking to a zone-blocking scheme. Willie Parker trampled the Texans for 138 yards and three scores, providing that familiar ball-control power Ben Roethlisberger was able to complement by throwing for 137 yards and a couple of touchdowns, while compiling a near-perfect quarterback rating.

It wouldn't be crazy to project the Steelers as the team to beat in the AFC.

Then again, that might all change after Week 2.

really good pow here. If we beat browns next week, we will be the team to beat in the AFC, no doub about it!

LatrobePA
09-08-2008, 09:23 AM
Then again, that might all change after Week 2.


Lets not read too much into it. It did seem to be too easy yesterday, if we lay it to the brownies I say yes we are the team to beat....As much as I hate to say it, they aren't as bad as they showed yesterday. The key will be pressure on DA.....

JensK
09-08-2008, 09:34 AM
DA needs to lay on the grass alot next week, that is for sure. And then we'll need our secondaries to have the game of their life! Hopefully we'll try to keep troy back as much as possible to help out with covering their recievers, and then let our LB's do the sacking job.

TampaSteelGirl
09-08-2008, 09:34 AM
I don't like to make projections like that until we have a few games under our belts. It's way too early to decide, our game playing will speak volumes. We played outstanding sunday but need to keep playing like that. I don't want them getting cocky and letting their guard down. They have to play and fight hard with this schedule. If we can do that, then yes we will dominate the AFC. Until then it's way too early to say..Also I didn't think Cleveland played that bad, at least not inthe first quarter. So they may be more of a challenge next week.

BlitzburghRockCity
09-08-2008, 09:38 AM
I don't like the hype either, just let us go about our business and leave us alone..LOL. Right now it's too early to crown anyone as the team to beat in any division. It's only week 1 and a miriad of things could unfold in the coming weeks that throws any one of the divisions into a frazzle.

I hate these experts who start crowning people in Sept, get over yourself already.

BlacknGold Bleeder
09-08-2008, 10:11 AM
Last I checked there are still 15 more games to be played. To say that we are the team to beat in the AFC after one week , even though we did look good, is downright nuts. Let's enjoy this game today then forget about it and get back to business for next week and put the same kind of *** whooping on the brownies next week !!!

Dean Denton
09-08-2008, 11:23 AM
I wont say the Steelers are the team to beat, but they were the best looking team at the end of the day. They looked great on both sides of the ball. O-.line looked good against a stout D-line. Running game was sharp. Ben and the WR looked pretty good.
Our Defense looked about as scary as it could. Alomst like a LB university....lol a bunch of 250 lbs dudes flying around trying to kill someone. They looked great...The entire team looked ready, and I dont care what anyone thinks...If this team stays healthy, they win it all. I know it was only the Texans, but we beat them up on the strongest part of their team, the D-line. We looked good man, and I'm excited about what I saw yesterday, and I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful season.
BUT.....we always seem to start strong, and I think we have won like 6 or 7 season openers, so I try to keep that in mind before I start blowin myself...lol

Troyisabeast_43
09-08-2008, 02:23 PM
Right now I would say the Steelers but only for the moment seeing that everybody else has serious injury problems.

Colts Saturday is out for 6 weeks
Patriots Brady is done
Jags lost 3 starting o-linemen yesterday
Titans lost Young for at least 4 weeks
Chargers Have 2 starting o-linmen out and Merriman is probably coming to his mind about knee surgery
Those were the teams that made the playoffs with us last year.
Browns looked horrible yesterday.
We are the best after you look at that list. If we can skirt the injury bug we might find ourselves with an excellent chance to get home field advantage.

I was just watching Total Access on NFL network and they said that the Steelers are the team to beat for the AFC as of right now.

Colts, they was pretty bad last night, BUT this was Mannings first game since he didnt take no preseason snaps with his team so I think tonight was just a off night with them possibly but still getting smacked around by the Bears by 16 points in your new stadium is not a very good sign.

Chargers, I watch all their games since my buddy is a fan of theirs and they looked awful. He watched our game also and he said if the Chargers keep playing like they did tonight the Steelers are going to whip them. They just look different out there but the Chargers, I sure wouldnt count them out just yet either its just one game.

Pats, well we all know what happened with Brady yesterday tearing is ACL and being done for the year. I dont see them going anywhere this year to be honest they will be lucky to win their division now with Farve with the Jets. And buffalo looked pretty impressive also. So, IMO the Pats wont be a problem with playoffs this year

Overall, you have to feel very good about us right now, but you can't get carried away after one game. I think its safe to say the Patriots are out of the driver's seat for the AFC with the loss of Manning, and every other playoff team from the AFC except the Titans lost yesterday, but won at the cost of Vince Young for an extended period of time, and did not look very intimidating. Our schedule runs us through almost all of the top teams in the league, so time will tell.

SteelerSteve
09-08-2008, 03:09 PM
Yep, AFC East will probably go to the Bills this year. Since pre season they've looked really sharp and the way they kicked seattles *** was pretty awesome. I know its early, but you can see the teams that are taking things seriously so far. Steelers,Bills,Cowboys.....I'm liking the sound of a Steelers/Cowboys superbowl though. Its kinda funny how after one week the whole outlook in the NFL has changed.

Oh and on a side note. I think Buffalo would beat the Pats with or without Brady this year.

memphissteelergirl
09-08-2008, 03:13 PM
"Brady's injury shifts balance of power in AFC ..."

I'm sorry, but since when does the entire NFL season hinge on one QB, no matter how talented?? They give this guy WAY too much credit.

(Sorry had to get a little rant in there :cursin:...whew...feel better now :yellowthumb:)

Anyway...back to us...

There is still a lot of football to be played, so I hope the guys aren't buying into the media hype. With the kind of schedule the Steelers have this season, they just need to take care of the game at hand for that week and let the rest of all the hoopla take care of itself.

Stairwayto7
09-08-2008, 04:06 PM
I much rather play with no respect, our backs against the wall mentality, thats the way we finished the season and went though the playoffs and won XL

steelerschick1220
09-08-2008, 04:21 PM
While I do think that we looked pretty darn good yesterday, it is only week one. There is a lot of football left to play and (God forbid) we could have an injury that could seriously effect our team. But I do think the AFC is a bit topsy turvy right now and I feel that this is the year we see the power shift form Indy and New England to elsewhere. Will it be Pittsburgh? Only time will tell.

SteelerSteve
09-08-2008, 04:34 PM
It will be Pitt because we are the most consistent team in the NFL and have been for a long, long time. Now we have a franchise QB entering his prime, a loaded backfield, a loaded recieving corps, good o-line play so far, awesome smashmouth defense and good special teams. We are gonna own the AFC this year, MARK IT DOWN!

Dean Denton
09-08-2008, 04:59 PM
While I do think that we looked pretty darn good yesterday, it is only week one. There is a lot of football left to play and (God forbid) we could have an injury that could seriously effect our team. But I do think the AFC is a bit topsy turvy right now and I feel that this is the year we see the power shift form Indy and New England to elsewhere. Will it be Pittsburgh? Only time will tell.
The Steelers have always been there. but I know what your saying. The Colts and the Pats have been a little bit better through out the regular Season, but in the Playoffs we have been every bit as good as the Colts since 2001. The Pats have been the team that has given us fits, and last year was tough for many reason. I think the balance of power is shifting towards us as long as we stay healthy, there is no team to beat us. But I have felt that way since 2004. Also, no hidden camera's on the field stealing our play calling either. We are a great franchise that has always been a contender for the AFC over the 15 or 16 season. There were a couple bad years, but no team other than the Packers can make that same claim like we can. Not the Colts or the Pats. We have been the most consistant team in the AFC for 30+ years, and now we are getting ready to step out and shine. Better make room on the Trophy case at Steeler HQ because I think we have the best young QB in the game, and now this is a QB driven league, and Ben is going to kick ***. We have runnig game, a great Defence that is always in the top three.
Now, this only works if we dont get everyone killed...lol
Sorry, i just feel good about what this team can do...didn't mean to be so long winded....:yellowthumb:

Silverback 92
09-08-2008, 05:00 PM
brady going down will only truly effect afc east , and now that favre is there , THERE is a NEW Sheriff in town

ToothAche
09-08-2008, 05:08 PM
I agree Silverback, but with Brady and the Pats out of the way, the AFC east better check their watch, its Pennington time! :haha:

steelerschick1220
09-08-2008, 05:18 PM
I get what you are saying, Dean. We are always in contention it seems, but I just have this feeling that we are getting ready to take the next step and take our turn at the top of the AFC. I had this feeling at the beginning of the season that we would be really good this year and I think I am going to be right. We do have one of the best Qb's and everyone better start recognizing just how great he is. He will only get better and he is obviously always going to give us a chance to win. I love Ben.......I could just cry tears of happiness at times when I think about the fact that we got him instead of Philip Rivers.

ToothAche
09-08-2008, 05:43 PM
The AFC is tough, how do you feel we match up against the Chargers and Jags if they are firing on all cylinders?

Troyisabeast_43
09-08-2008, 05:55 PM
The AFC is tough, how do you feel we match up against the Chargers and Jags if they are firing on all cylinders?

I like our chances right now against both the Chargers and Jags, and the Colts and Pats as well. The Colts got smacked around by the Bears at home last night and their run defense looked absolutely horrific and Manning and the o line just didnot play well at all. The Chargers for the first time in awhile have to come and play here in Pittsburgh this year and we always seem to shut down LT whenever we play them and I am sorry I still am just not sold on Norv Turner as being a head coach that can win a Super Bowl and take a team to the next level.

The Jags as well have o line problems missing 2 starters who could be out for awhile, and are going to struggle with their run game it appears as it did yesterday when they faced a good defense in Tennessee and Garrard was sacked 5 times. The Steelers are way overdue to beat the Jags and were one 4th down and 2 play away from doing so in the playoff game last season despite playing terrible in that game and not having guys like Aaron Smith,Parker,Clark,and a healthy Troy and healthy offensive line. It's only one game but if the Steelers bring it every week like they did yesterday and I think they are capable of playing better they are going to be awfully tough to beat and will emerge as the best team in the AFC and the team to beat in due time.

Dean Denton
09-08-2008, 07:35 PM
I think we can beat any team in the league if were healthy. And Everyone else can be healthy too, it doesn't matter. I think we win. I think that this is a football team that got cocky after winning a Superbowl, and let their gaurd down a little. I think we beat the jags, and the charges this year. now I'm not stupid and I know we cant win every games this year. However I think we go 4-0 against the NFC, and still finish 14-2 or 13-3. Not sure who beats us, but its not gonna happen at home unless we lose key players. Then if that happens I dont know what happens if we lose everyone. The team that wins every year is the team that stays healthy through out the season. You got to be good too, but we are always good. I have no doubt that with Ben at QB we can win every time we take the field. I have not felt like that since.....well, before I could know that feeling....7 or 8....:cope:

Stairwayto7
09-08-2008, 07:48 PM
I think we can beat any team in the league if were healthy. And Everyone else can be healthy too, it doesn't matter. I think we win. I think that this is a football team that got cocky after winning a Superbowl, and let their gaurd down a little. I think we beat the jags, and the charges this year. now I'm not stupid and I know we cant win every games this year. However I think we go 4-0 against the NFC, and still finish 14-2 or 13-3. Not sure who beats us, but its not gonna happen at home unless we lose key players. Then if that happens I dont know what happens if we lose everyone. The team that wins every year is the team that stays healthy through out the season. You got to be good too, but we are always good. I have no doubt that with Ben at QB we can win every time we take the field. I have not felt like that since.....well, before I could know that feeling....7 or 8....:cope:

Although I admire your confidence, we`ve only played one game. For all we know, Houston may not win a game????? Some real positives in mind:

1. Its too early but Troy is looking good, solid. Not afraid to whack.

2. Woodley is a stud, and with Harrison on the other side, the sky is the limit.

3. Ben once again solid, but we didn`t need him much. looking forward to seeing him air some out this week, and its coming.

4. our O-line played well, especially on pulls and traps, thier run blocking was superb. BUT against who, the Texans? How good are they?

5. Willie and Ward are ready to.

Black@Gold Forever32
09-08-2008, 07:51 PM
Still a ton of football left....It was a very good start of the season for the Steelers....A blow out win....Colts, Browns, Jags, Chargers all lose.....Douche bag Marsha Brady gone for the year...

steelerschick1220
09-08-2008, 09:08 PM
I think if we are at full health we match up very well with the Chargers and Jags. We play the Chargers at home, so that is big for us. They have some injuries on both sides of the ball, so that may bode well for us. Plus, it is hard to say if Merriman will still be playing at full health at that time. They did lose to a Steve Smithless Panthers team yesterday, so they may not be as good as everyone was predicting them to be.

AS for the Jags, I would not be shocked to see them regress this year. They had SO many expectations and people saying this was the year they would unseat the Colts, I wondered if they would be able to pull it off. I thought they could, but now, I am beginning to wonder. And they lost what, two? three? linemen yesterday, so that could turn ugly for them.

Now, I know it is week one and things could change just like that. I am happy that we had a good game and it appears we can compete for the AFC, but I am trying to remember that we have a LONG way to go until we should even consider the playoffs. I just want us to make it there first!

BlitzburghRockCity
09-08-2008, 11:18 PM
Although I admire your confidence, we`ve only played one game. For all we know, Houston may not win a game????? Some real positives in mind:

1. Its too early but Troy is looking good, solid. Not afraid to whack.

2. Woodley is a stud, and with Harrison on the other side, the sky is the limit.

3. Ben once again solid, but we didn`t need him much. looking forward to seeing him air some out this week, and its coming.

4. our O-line played well, especially on pulls and traps, thier run blocking was superb. BUT against who, the Texans? How good are they?

5. Willie and Ward are ready to.

Indeed there are still question marks on this team that will get answered in the coming weeks:

The line did play well, and they blocked exactly the way you want, hat on a hat and take care of your own man. The Texan front 7 is pretty darn good and they got a real good test on sunday but there are harder tests to come so they need to be ready.

defense was able to stop the run but the Texans OL is not that great so it wasn't a real good test. none the less they did play stellar and deserve props for a great performance.

how will Mendenhall do with more work, does he continue to improve or start fumbling.

will nate take the next step and continue to improve or does his just go back to inconsistent play.

SteelfordWexler
09-11-2008, 11:29 AM
I just hope the Steelers don't read (or believe) all of this media hype.

We got a good win. We played pretty well - I don't think the Texans did. So we should be happy but there is a long long way to go. The first game counts, but it is how you finish that matters most.

Dean Denton
09-11-2008, 11:33 AM
Yeah, I dont want this team getting ahead of its self. We seem to always win our home opener. We need to stay sharp, and keep the foot on the gas. I hate the fact that Inside the NFL said that the Steelers were the best in the AFC and the Cowboys were the best in the NFL. BS. We are the best. We need to show everyone that we are and we will stay the best team all year.