AFC East NFC East
1.Miami (2-0) 1.Dallas (2-0)
2.Buffalo(1-1) 2.Washington (1-1)
3.NY Jets (1-1) 3.Philadelphia (1-1)
4. New England (0-2) 4.NY Giants (1-1)
AFC South NFC South
1.Tennessee (1-1) 1. Tampa Bay (1-1)
2.Jacksonville (1-1) 2. Carolina (1-1)
3. Houston (1-1) 3. Atlanta (1-1)
4. Indianapolis (0-2) 4. New Orleans (1-2)
AFC North NFC North
1.Pittsburgh (2-1) 1.Chicago (2-0)
2.Cleveland (1-1) 2.Detroit (2-0)
3.Baltimore (1-1) 3.Green Bay (2-0)
4.Cincinnati (0-2) 4.Minnesota (1-1)
AFC West NFC West
1.Oakland (1-1) 1. St Louis (1-1)
2.Denver (1-1) 2. Seattle (1-1)
3. San Diego (1-1) 3. San Fran (1-1)
4. Kansas City (0-2) 4. Arizona (0-2)
MVP of the Week: Lot of different ways you could go this week. There were a lot of veteran and young players that really stepped up. The veterans that have to feel the best are Daunte Culpepper and Donovan McNabb. Culpepper went 6-8 for 75 yards and 2 touchdowns, against 0 interceptions, showing that his knee may be ready to lead the Silver and Black. Russell has to be feeling even better about his continued holdout. McNabb went 6-9 with 138 yards, easing the minds of Philadelphia fans and fantasy owners who were concerned about his knee. My vote would go to Brady Quinn. He went 13-20 for 155 yards, with 2 touchdowns and no picks. While the Lions 3rd string defense is not exactly the 85 Bears; the rookie showed that he has some good things going for him. While Cleveland management has said that he is not going to be the starter to begin the season, it has to give them some confidence that the holdout has not made him useless this season. Honorable mentions to Marion Barber III of the Cowboys and James Jones, the young rookie for the Packers, both of whom scored 2 touchdowns in their team's victories.
Game of the Week: I am not going with a Detroit game two weeks in a row. I would look out to the Bay where the 49ers and Raiders gave us an exciting contest. With the Raiders leading 21-20, the 49ers launched a 70-yard drive that ended with a 1 yard run by Thomas Clayton with under a minute to play. The Raiders launched a comeback that proved to be unsuccessful, as a potential winning touchdown bounced off the hands of Alvis Whitted's hands with 5 seconds left in the game. The Final was 26-21. I can't wait until people recognize the players are that I'm talking about.
Loser of the Weak: I would go with a tie between 4 starting QBs from last season. First, the Madden Coverboy, who went 5 for 17 for 102 yards, no touchdowns, no picks, and 4 sacks. He had 4 carries for 9 yards. Vince Young looked bewildered by the Patriots blitz package. While he is not in danger of losing his job, a suspension and a dud are no way to begin the preseason. Chad Pennington looked even worse, as Darren Sharper and Chad Greenway both returned interceptions for touchdowns. He was 7 for 10 and 40 yards. The Greenway pick was inexcusable for a rookie, much less a seasoned veteran. Clements did go 6 for 9 for 61 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 pick. Pennington would be well advised not to look this bad again. The Man Genius is not going to tolerate play like that for very long. He inherited Pennington. I can't see where he would feel the need to stay with him if the struggles caused the Jets to have a slow start. Jake Delhomme went 9 for 18 for 78 yards, no touchdowns to his own team, and a pick that was returned by Shepherd for a TD. Not exactly the performance one would want with David Carr breathing down your neck. The pressure will continue to mount in the Patriot game next week. Finally, Rex Grossman eased the minds of nervous Bear fans that last season’s turnovers were a thing of the past. While he had a good completion percentage and did rush for a touchdown, he had three fumbles, losing one, and a bad pick by his own endzone. When asked what the problem was with handling the ball, he blamed his hands being sweaty, which gave the Chicago radio stations plenty of Tuesday Morning material. Just another sign this guy is ready to lead the Bears to the Promised Land.
The Bay of Pigs: There were quite a few candidates this week. I would go with the nationally televised gem that the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens presented to the nation. The Giants won the game by a whopping 13-12 score. The teams combined for 23 accepted penalties, totaling 177 yards. That's practically as much offense as the Dolphins and Chiefs offenses have combined for this entire preseason. Furthermore, both teams lost their entire rosters to injury, so they will not have to worry about fielding a team in 2007. Better luck next season. Honorable mention to the other nationally televised gem last Thursday between Miami and Kansas City. These two combined to go scoreless in the first and third quarters. After a 7-3 halftime score, these offenses surged in the 4th Quarter to give us an 11-10 final. The Chiefs averaged 2.3 yards per carry, while the Dolphins averaged 3.7 yards per carry. There were 3 turnovers for the two teams. The Dolphins have now scored 29 points this preseason, and the Chiefs 22. Those 51 points in 16 quarters of work are just 3 more points that the Packers scored in 4 quarters against the Seahawks on Saturday night. Another honorable mention to the 12-10 thriller the Steelers and Redskins showed us on Saturday as well. The Redskins are now averaging 12 points in two contests and the Steelers are averaging 13.6 in 3 contests.
The Mike Martz Award (Excellence in Coaching): I wasn't going to give one out in the preseason, but Tom Coughlin changed my mind. What was he doing on the challenge of the fumble by Mike Anderson in the first half? I understand that is it just preseason. However, you are practicing for the regular season. The replay was pretty clear that the knee was down. Did anyone in the booth call down to Tom and tell him to hold onto his red flag? Most teams have a guy in the booth whose job is to let the coach know whether a challenge has a reasonable chance for success. It wasn't as if Baltimore raced to the line to get a play off. He better get that miscommunication fixed, otherwise Tom Coughlin will be in a great position to be named in a lot of my newsletters this season.
Hospital Visit: Travis Henry scared some people with a knee sprain. He should be fine, as tests showed no structural damage to the knee. Ebenezar Ekuban's 78 tackles and 7 sacks last season will not be repeated in Denver. He is lost for the season. The Bills lost DE Ryan Denney indefinitely with a broken foot. Although not a starter, he helps the Bills run defense. The Redskins escaped a potential disaster when Jason Campbell bruised his knee. Although it appeared to be a potentially serious situation, it is not believed to be anything more than a bruise at this time. As I stated above, the entire Giants and Ravens teams are now on IR. Michael Jennings has a ruptured Achilles, Steve Smith left with a concussion, Will Demps dislocated his elbow, and Sam Madison pulled a hamstring. The Ravens did not escape unscathed either, as Samari Rolle and Mark Clayton sprained ankles.
Overall Impressions of the Week that Was: A few things that have come to fruition in the first couple weeks of the preseason. 1) Miami and KC look lost on offense. I understand that teams are going to struggle in the preseason. Furthermore, Larry Johnson is not in Kansas City. However, even if he were in camp, he would be carrying the ball about 2 times a game. These teams look to be getting no push on the offensive line and have looked offensively challenged for the better part of two games. Both of these teams need to go out and put 30 points on the board to build confidence heading into the season. This is a prime example of what people mean by saying that record not mattering in the preseason. Miami is 2-0 and KC is 0-2. Yet both teams should be horrified about their offensive prospects entering the regular season. 2) Dallas looks very sharp. They have outscored their opponents 54-30. They have outscored the opposition 30-9 in the first half. That is usually when starters will play. They beat the Colts and the Broncos, two teams with high hopes this season. Their running game looks good, the defense is making plays, and they are getting solid play in the passing game. Now all they need is a TO implosion, and everything should be right in the Big D. 3) Scoring started to pick up this week. Unlike last week, where there were 19 teams that scored 17 points or less, this week we only had 11. Helping that total were the Vikings and Packers defenses. The Vikings scored 3 defensive touchdowns in their victory over the Jets, while the Packers defense scored 2 defensive touchdowns. The NFC North is now 7-1 in preseason, perhaps indicating a changing of the guard in the NFC. Probably not, as it is just preseason.
A Look Ahead Week 3 is usually the game where teams will play their starters for at least a half. This will be our first real taste of football, as we may be lucky enough to see some starters for a half of football. A few games I will be watching with interest are the Chiefs and the Saints, Dolphins and the Buccaneers, Packers and Jaguars, New England and Carolina, Falcons and Bengals, and Eagles at Steelers. In the Chiefs and Saints game, I will be looking to see if the Chiefs can get their offense on track. For the Saints I will be looking to see if their first string team can dismantle a team that they should clearly be better than. In the Dolphins and Bucs matchup, I am going to be looking to see if Trent Green can finally do more than lead a field goal drive. The Bucs offense should be adequately tested against a very good Dolphins D. It will be interesting to see how Jeff Garcia leads the Bucs offense. Packers and Jags are two teams that were on the outside looking in last season. I want to see how the Packer offensive line and Brandon Jackson handle the pressure that the Jags will put on them. I want to see how the Packer run D handles a great rushing attack like Jacksonville. I want to see how Leftwich and the Jacksonville passing game handle a defense that has looked very impressive in their two preseason games this season. New England isn't worried about two preseason losses. However, if Randy Moss plays it will be interesting to see what kind of chemistry this new offense has against a perennially tough defense in Carolina. It will also be interesting to see how Delhomme handles a defense that is very good at disguising coverage and forcing turnovers. The result of this game could silence or fuel the David Carr speculation. In the Falcons and Bengals game, I want to see if Joey Harrington can score some points against a suspect D, or whether he can turn the ball over a lot. This could be a good game for Cincy to build some confidence in. Finally, with the Eagles and Steelers, I want to see how McNabb's second start treats him and how the Steelers can get their woeful preseason offense into regular season condition. It should be a great week, with a great slate of games.