Surprises Abound in First Week of NFL Action

Mike Nanna

One probably shouldn’t be too surprised when the unexpected happens in the first week of the NFL season. There is a reason why the people who make the best predictions about the NFL are usually the ones who know absolutely nothing about the league or its teams. The fact of the matter is, the NFL can be quite unpredictable. Instead of wasting my time trying to make predictions for Week Two, let’s try to gain some insight into Week One’s biggest surprises. In the meantime, I’ve decided to let my girlfriend make the rest of my picks for me this year. Hold on while I attempt to iron my own chest hair. Anyway, onto the surprises:

Carolina Panthers Defense: This defense was supposed to be a juggernaut. They were literally stacked with Pro-Bowl caliber players at nearly every position. They would surely dominate an average offensive team like Atlanta, right? Not so much. The supposed impenetrable run defense gave up an ugly 252 yards rushing to the Falcons, reminiscent of a game that most of us “experts” seemed to have forgotten from the end of last year, where the Panthers got torched by an ordinary Cowboys running game for 214 yards. Clearly this Panthers team can be vulnerable to the run at times, but something tells me that this problem isn’t anything a creative head coach like John Fox can’t fix in a hurry.

Seattle Seahawks: Speaking of juggernauts, have you looked at the Seahawks roster recently? Lets just put it this way: The Seahawks are like the Jessica Alba of the NFL; they look absolutely perfect. However, like Alba when she attempts to act, the Seahawks performed poorly in their 9-6 victory against the lowly Detroit Lions. While they still pulled out a narrow victory, they just didn’t look comfortable at all during the game. Shaun Alexander never got things going and Matt Hasselbeck was only above average. Luckily for Seattle, the defense managed to hold the pathetic Lions offense to two field goals, giving the ‘Hawks the win. So what’s going on with that offense? Chances are it was probably just a little case of week one jitters, but if there really was something wrong, it just got fixed. With this week’s acquisition of Deion Branch for a first round pick, look for the offense to pick things up and recover from their slow start.

Alex Smith: Terrible. Pathetic. Bust. These were all words used to describe the San Francisco 49rs QB after last season. He had a putrid 1:11 touchdown to interception ratio with an embarrassing 40.8 quarterback rating for the season. I admit it: I wrote him off. I completely ignored the fact that he was a rookie QB playing with absolutely no talent around him and little protection. I forgot that he was the No. 1 OVERALL pick in the entire draft just a year earlier. I conveniently skipped over the fact that he had all the tools and intelligence to be a success. Well he made me eat my words in week one, throwing for 288 yards and a touchdown while keeping his team in the game against a very solid Arizona Cardinals team. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who gave up on him a little early because I didn’t read one positive article about him all summer. I guess patience really can be a virtue.

Chad Pennington’s Right Arm: When I would tell people last year that Chad Pennington had a weak arm, I meant WEAK. We’re talking Nicole Richie weak. Chad could probably spit farther than he could throw before he had surgery last year. It was actually sad to watch. Well now he’s back and his arm actually looked stronger than it ever did before he had surgery. Throwing for 319 yards and two touchdowns, Pennington proved a lot of his doubters wrong in the Jets’ 23-16 win. This is especially important for the Jets, as it seems that their quarterback of the future is actually the same quarterback they’ve had all along. As a Jets fan I would like to predict that Chad’s success will only continue but I’ll hold my tongue. I don’t want to subject myself to anymore surprises.

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