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What We Learned: NFL Week Three

By Ryan of The Sportmeisters

Week Three had some major upsets, and a few tricks thrown in as well. Let’s take a look back at some of the big stories.

 

That Old Favre Magic

Two weeks into the NFL season, and Brett Favre has done little more than manage a game, a task either of his backups could do, and still make them 2-0. They do have one of the top NFL running backs in Adrian Peterson. However, Favre was finally called on in the fourth quarter against San Francisco, and boy, did he deliver. With 89 seconds to go, the Vikings were down 24-20, starting on their own 20 yard line. Favre drove them, completing all five of his passes, leading them to the 32 yard line of San Francisco’s with 12 seconds left. On the next play, Favre found little-used WR Greg Lewis in the back of the end zone to complete his 40th career game-winning drive. This one play just summed up why Minnesota took such a chance to get Favre back one last time.

 

An Unimpressive Beginning

It’s been two years and three games since Michael Vick played in an NFL game. Finally, on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009, Vick came back and did…absolutely nothing. Well, that’s not all true. Vick, who has only practiced with the Philadelphia Eagles for a short amount of time, played his responsibility as a decoy well. Overall, Vick was on the field for 11 snaps, and had a total of seven yards on one rush. Ironically, it was the other Eagle backups, QB Kevin Kolb and RB LeSean McCoy who had a big day for the Iggles, who won 34-14 over Kansas City. As the season progresses, look for Vick to get some more action while he adjusts to his new team.

 

The First One Is Always The Sweetest

Dec. 23, 2007 was the last positive day for Lions fans. That day has since been replaced with Sept. 27, 2009 as the Detroit Lions won their first game in their last 20, beating the Washington Redskins 19-14. Coach Jim Schwartz and rookie QB Matt Stafford also celebrated their first career victories. While their 19-game losing streak will go down in history as the second longest in NFL history, for the Lions and their fans, all they’re concerned with is a new streak. This one has a more winning attitude to it.

Kudos must also go to Schwartz, who sent his team back out to celebrate the victory with the 40,000 plus fans who have been supporting the Lions through thick and thin.

 

All-Star Injury Squad

The NFL talks of adding an extra game or two, but at the rate of the injuries occurring, they’re won’t be anyone left to play that extra game. In fact, an all-pro team could be designed with the injured players. Key injuries include RBs LaDanian Tomlinson, Frank Gore, Jamal Lewis, Marion Barber, LB Brian Urlacher, DE Dwight Freeney, QBs Donovan McNabb and Chad Pennington, WR Wes Welker, CB Aaron Ross, S Troy Polamalu, and others. It’s a long season, and for some teams, a key injury to a franchise guy can really affect the team’s psyche and performance.

 

Way Too Early MVP Predictions

1. Peyton Manning: 983 yards and seven touchdowns in just three games, he is the reason the Colts have once again taken first place in the AFC South, and the team shows no signs of turnover issues with a new coaching staff in place.

2. Adrian Peterson: Even after his non-breakout game against San Francisco, the Minnesota Vikings RB is still a huge reason for their 3-0 start, with 357 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in 2009.

3. Drew Brees: The Greatest Show In The Air is led by Brees, with his 841 yards and 9 touchdowns already. He had a non-descript game against Buffalo, but still has the talent and the tools to put points up and lead New Orleans to victory in the coming weeks.

 

Contenders and Pretenders

It’s early in the season, but who’s getting off on the right foot?

Are the Jets for real? Raise your hand if you saw them 3-0 after games against New England and Tennessee. Well, it’s true, behind rookie QB Mark Sanchez and the suffocating defense, the Jets are 3-0 heading into a showdown against New Orleans this weekend.

The New York Giants recommitted themselves to the rushing game this past week, and it showed as that and a combined defense effort led them in shutting out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-0. It was the first road shutout for the G-Men since 1983. The Giants are 3-0 for the second straight season.

The Baltimore Ravens are using their offense to put points on the board, and it has given them a 3-0 start in coach John Harbaugh’s sophomore season.

As always, there are teams struggling to live up to the hype early on this season as well.

Three losses last year, three losses this year. It’s the same old for the Tennessee Titans, except they’ve lost all three games in a row this season. Who would have thought Albert Haynesworth made that much of a difference.

An inept win over St. Louis and a pathetic loss to Detroit makes the Washington Redskins a huge pretender. Combine that with the NFC East division, and coach Jim Zorn might not make it out of Week Two.

The Miami Dolphins are stuck with one of the hardest schedules this season, and it is clearly affecting last year’s AFC East champs, as they are 0-3 already this season.

Read more Minnesota Vikings news on BleacherReport.com

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The Sportmeisters NFL Season Preview: NFC North

By Derek and Ryan of The Sportmeisters

With the NFL season fast approaching, Sportmeisters Derek and Ryan break out the crystal ball and forsee the future of all 32 NFL teams. Today, Derek and Ryan look at the NFC North, and discuss how they got to their respective decisions. What follows is a transcript of that discussion.

Ryan:

  • Chicago Bears: 13-3
  • Green Bay Packers: 9-7
  • Minnesota Vikings: 7-9
  • Detroit Lions: 5-11

Derek:

  • Minnesota Vikings: 11-5
  • Green Bay Packers: 10-6
  • Chicago Bears: 10-6
  • Detroit Lions: 2-14

Ryan: Derek, we definitely have some big discrepancies here in the NFC North.

Derek: Ryan, the NFC North will be extra competitive this year, as all four teams have made major upgrades. Even though Detroit is in the league, there is a strong chance for three of the four teams to be over .500.

Ryan: I don’t think its going to shape out that way, and the Brett Favre experiment will backfire, while the Jay Cutler era starts shining in Chicago.

Derek: Chicago went out and traded for their first real ‘Franchise Quarterback’ in over 20 years. Jay Cutler and a revitalized Brian Urlacher will lead the Bears, and Greg Olsen, Matt Forte, and Devin Hester will have MONSTER years.

Ryan: Absolutely, I am completely sold on the Bears in 2009, making strides reminiscent of their 2006 team, with the most complete team since 1985.

Derek: I’m going to disagree. I think they will lose key divisional games to Green Bay and Minnesota, as well as games vs. Pittsburgh, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Arizona that may hold them out of the playoffs for a third straight season.

Ryan: I’ll agree on Pittsburgh taking down Chicago, but I expect victories over the rest except for Atlanta and Minnesota.

Derek: Speaking of Minnesota, they have now gone out and signed Brett Favre to run the offense and with him at the helm, RB Adrian Peterson may see a few less eight-man fronts, or it could be the other way around and because Peterson is so good, Favre may have his receivers one on one and be able to torch the defense.

Ryan: No way Derek! Favre is going to bust completely for the Vikings. He’s still hurt, he’s missed all of the preseason, he has no respect from his team right now, how can people call this team a Super Bowl contender?

Derek: Even the great Favre won’t be able to win them all, and losses to Pittsburgh, Arizona, Carolina, Green Bay, and Chicago will make this a close race at the end of the year.

Ryan: I feel an under-performing team falls to 7-9, punctuated by losses to Green Bay, Chicago, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and the New York Giants. Then, finally, the Brett Favre era will be over.

Derek: Let’s move on to Brett Favre’s old team, the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay went out and hired a new Defensive Coordinator and will go with the 3-4 this year, moving DE Aaron Kampman to OLB. They have looked sharp so far this preseason, but not as sharp as their offense has looked.

Ryan: I LOVE the 3-4 defense Derek, and Green Bay is adjusting amazingly to it, and I think that will be a huge factor in their 2009 season, helping load some of the work off of the offense.

Derek: Being led by QB Aaron Rodgers should lead them to wins over Chicago, Minnesota, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Detroit, Cleveland, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore.

Ryan: I see one of those games as a loss, but they will still finish second in the division, fighting for the wild card.

Derek: Finally, Detroit will be at the very bottom again, but they won’t repeat their 0-16 season.

Ryan: The Lions have gone to great pains to remove the stench of last year, and behind a new Coach in Jim Schwartz, and a team filled with a lot of new blood, I think five victories is a realistic stretch.

Derek: At best, they get two wins, against St. Louis and San Francisco, as neither team has the secondary to stop Megatron, WR Calvin Johnson, and that’s better than 0-16.

Ryan: I have a little more confidence than you in Detroit, and possibly better success in picking the NFC North.

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