Ten Things I Learned From The NFL This Weekend

1. I still have long term concerns about how good the Favre experiment will look in December, but one thing seems certain now – this team is only undefeated because they signed him. Or at least that seems reasonable. It’s hard to imagine that Rosenfels or Jackson would have been able to lead that comeback in the same way, or could have thrown that pass to win as time expired. I don’t see this team doing any real damage in the playoffs. I don’t even now for sure what the Vikings really have to offer, and likely won’t know until they play Baltimore in week six.

2. Speaking of that game, my Niners got their heart ripped out with that loss. They deserved better. The injury to Frank Gore is a real concern if it lingers, but the story has to be that the team kept on fighting when they could have used the loss of their best offensive player as an excuse to quit. I also have to note that Vernon Davis was, finally, the player he was drafted to be. He caught two TD passes, and he was all over the place all day. It was the best game I have seen him play as a pro.

3. Kudos to the Lions for finally getting a win. The story seems to be so far that the win came from the incompetence of the Redskins. Washington is a disaster, but I think that the bigger story here is that Detroit’s offense is looking more competent than it has in years. It wasn’t a tour de force or anything, but they avoided injuries, moved the ball effectively, and created a parcel of plays that allowed a rookie QB to get comfortable. The Lions are a well coached team. When could we last say that?

4. The Patriots still don’t look like the Patriots, but there was a lot to like about that game. First, Fred Taylor proved that he has a lot left in the tank, and he provided the best run option that team has had in a long while. Very positive, and very necessary. More significantly, the defense was impressive. They managed to minimize the impact of both Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez, and Matt Ryan looked the least comfortable that he has in a long, long time.

5. I think the Jets have been an impressive story. That being said, that win yesterday was a mirage. The Titans would have won that game if they could have fielded a punt. Two awful turnovers led to 14 points from New York. The Jets won by seven. I don’t want to suggest that the Jets are a bad team or anything. I just think that the talk abut the quality of this team is already getting completely out of control, and that’s going to lead to people making bad betting decisions when there is no value.

6. Two stories come out of the Philly game, and they are both QB stories. First, for the first time I actually believe that Kevin Kolb can be an NFL QB. He looked good. Some of that is dimmed by the fact that he was playing against a terrible defense, but he still showed a lot. That won’t make Donovan McNabb a happy camper. No team has more potential QB drama than the Eagles do. The second story is Matt Cassel. His yardage wasn’t impressive, but he was accurate, he scored twice, and he didn’t make mistakes. He was under fire coming into the game, so it was a solid performance given that. He still has a long, long way to go, but it was a good flicker of hope.

7. Speaking of the Eagles, their schedule creates an interesting situation. Their next three games following a bye next week are against Tampa Bay, Oakland, and Washington. In other words, this team will be 5-1 in a month and we still won’t have a real sense of who they are or what they are capable of.

8. There are two things I talk about every week, but I have to talk about both of them again. First, JaMarcus Russell is remarkably terrible. The only thing he can theoretically do well is throw a deep pass, but in this game he was picked off twice in his first three drives while throwing long passes. He is terrible, and I have little doubt that he always will be. The second is that Eric Mangini is a disaster. The Browns look as bad as a team can look, his quarterback situation is an epic disaster – largely because he has robbed them of any confidence they had, and at least five of his players are filing grievances with the league against him. He’s the worst possible joke. It would be funny if it weren’t so easily predictable.

9. Will the real Texans please stand up. Are you the terrible team we saw in the first week? Or the dynamic, explosive one we saw in week two? Or maybe the underwhelming,less than average team that week three brought? I don’t see a team in the league that is harder to figure right now, and I have no interest in even thinking about betting one of their games until they get things figured out.

10. I wish I had confidence in Raheem Morris. I thought that maybe I was starting to after week one, but that’s all gone now. The most recent of many concerns coming out of Tampa in the last couple of weeks is the decision to bench ByronLeftwich in favor of Josh Johnson. The Bucs have all sorts of big problems right now, and you can’t convince me that ditching a veteran, proven QB for a young and raw guy is going to solve those problems.Leftwich hasn’t been great, but the problems the team has haven’t been because of Leftwich. All you are going to do with this move is trash the confidence of a young QB with a lot of potential. This team is a mess.

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