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Old 09-18-2012, 12:09 AM    (permalink
Eazy Picks
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Default Week 2 Power Ten + Storylines of the Week + Game Balls

Power Ten - Week 2

1. San Francisco 49ers, 2-0 (1) - The 49ers simply play great in every phase of the game and wear teams down over the course of the 60 minutes they spend on the field together. Jim Harbaugh makes sure his guys do all the little things right, and it clearly makes a difference. Facing the Packers and Lions in the first two weeks may have seemed like a daunting task, but the 49ers went to work on both teams and won with ease.

2. Green Bay Packers, 1-1 (4) - The Packer defense woke up this week, and that should scare people. Clay Mathews, with 6 sacks in 2 games, has already equaled his 2011 sack total and looks like he is back in 2010 form. The offense hasn’t fully hit its stride yet, but they had to open the season against the 49ers and Bears, so you have to cut them some slack.

3. Baltimore Ravens, 1-1 (3) - The Ravens have to be disappointed with the way they lost to the Eagles, but the greater concern has to be the team’s overall road play. Last year, they were a dominant 8-0 at home, but only 4-4 on the road, and it seems that the trend is continuing. The good news is they will be at home this week in a battle against the Patriots for AFC supremacy.

4. Atlanta Falcons, 2-0 (7) - No team has started the season hotter than the Falcons. If anyone wasn’t convinced after they blew out the Chiefs, they should be after their wire-to-wire victory against the Broncos on Monday Night Football. This team has been good for a while, but they seem ready to turn the corner and join the league’s elite. The Saints are off to a bad start, and the NFC South is now Atlanta’s division to lose.

5. New York Giants, 1-1 (5) - The Giants 4th quarter comeback reminded us of the greatness this team is capable of. The first 3 quarters also reminded us of the many problems this team has. The team clearly has some issues in the secondary and from the looks of things, they will be involved in plenty more shoot-outs.

6. New England Patriots, 1-1 (2) - It would be foolish to make too much of the Patriots loss to the Cardinals. Still, they have to take a fall after losing a game they were a two-touchdown favorite in. The Pats will surely rebound, but their poor protection of Brady this week does give cause for concern. TE Aaron Hernandez’ injury doesn’t look too serious and the Patriots are deep at the position, but it hurts to be without his services for their week 3 showdown with the Ravens.

7. Philadelphia Eagles, 2-0 (8) - Huge win for the Eagles against one of the league’s top contenders. The Eagles’ pass defense is one of the best in the league, and it showed in their ability to slow down Joe Flacco. The offense still has some kinks to work out, but you have to admire the heart Michael Vick is playing with.

8. Houston Texans, 2-0 (6) - The Texans look great, but they haven’t played a real team yet. We should know a lot more about this team after their showdown with the Broncos next week. Still, you have to give the Texans credit for leaving no doubt in their wins against the Jaguars and Dolphins. Take no meaning in their drop in the rankings, it is simply a result of other teams winning big games and jumping up.

9. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1-1 (UR)
The Steelers can’t wait to get HB Rashard Mendenhall back from injury, as Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer are just not giving them much pop in the run game. In the meantime, they’ll just keep relying on Ben Roethlisberger to dice teams up with his arm. Roethlisberger was surgical against the Jets’ defense with CB Darrelle Revis out, and the defense completely shut down the Jets’ offensive attack.

10. Arizona Cardinals, 2-0 (UR)
At this point, the Cardinals are the surprise team of the year. Nobody could have expected them to go to New England and pick up a W, but the whole league has to be taking note of their defense right now. Guys like ILB Daryl Washington, DE Calais Campbell, and OLB Sam Acho are quickly gaining recognition, and CB Patrick Peterson is living up to the hype and more. Dating back to last year, the Cardinals have won 9 of their last 11.

Week 2 Storylines

1. The Eagles have a new attitude
The Eagles came out last year thinking they would just run everyone off the field. When things didn’t work out that way, they weren’t able to keep their composure. This year, they understand it’s not going to be easy and are willing to fight for a tough win. They’ve mounted two excellent fourth quarter comebacks and have won both their games by a single point thanks to TD runs in the last 2 minutes of the game by Michael Vick.

2. Panic mode for the Saints
The notion that the Saints would be okay without head coach Sean Payton because they have plenty of veteran leadership has been blown up. The defense looks terrible and has been lit up by the Redskins and Panthers. The offense is still moving the ball, but they don’t have the same flow they used to and clearly miss Payton’s game-planning and play-calling. They will be playing a Chief team that has looked dreaful thus far at home this week and need to get back on track.

3. Same Old Raiders
The Raiders cleaned house this year, but the results haven’t changed. Their play has been extremely sloppy the past two weeks, they continue to struggle on east coast road trips, and simply are finding ways to lose games. Darren McFadden has not been finding any openings in their new zone-blocking scheme, and Carson Palmer is not a great fit for the west coast offense they are trying to install. One has to wonder if the Raiders did the right thing firing Hue Jacskon, who at least had the Raiders playing .500 ball. They look like they could be the worst team in the league at this point.

4. Is Jay Cutler a leader?
Jay Cutler may have gotten a little full of himself after his week 1 success. He publicly challenged the Packers’ defensive backs to cover his receivers before the game, but then threw four interceptions to them. He took very little personal responsibility for his own mistakes, but yelled at and bumped into his left tackle during the game for not blocking well enough for him. His teammate, CB DJ Moore, commented afterwards that he was "wrong" and that he "is who he is". Jay Cutler is a very talented QB, but his character has come into question before and for good reason.

5. Overreactions in Dallas
The Cowboys’ opening day win against the Giants was a big one for the team, but they forgot it was only week 1. After Tony Romo’s big game, there were suddenly talks of the organization giving him a big extension, as if he had just won them a Super Bowl. Romo probably deserved the extension a long time ago, but after a poor outing against the Seahawks, Cowboy fans will probably be calling for his head again. People in Dallas need to take a deep breath and realize it is a long season, and championships aren’t won in September.

6. The NFC West is no cakewalk
Last year, the 49ers pretty much had the division clinched halfway through the season. The 49ers look every bit as good this year, but the division crown won‘t come so easy this year. The NFC West went 4-0 this week, and the Seahawks, Cardinals and Rams all look like they are greatly improved from 2011. Jeff Fisher has the Rams playing hard, and Sam Bradford looks the guy who won the 2010 OROY. The Cardinals just finished pulling a huge upset against the Patriots and have a very underrated defense, and the Seahawks blew out the same Cowboy team that beat the Super Bowl champs a week ago.

7. The Giants are going to lean heavily on Manning, Cruz, and Nicks
The Giants are a flawed team. Their running game, which ranked 32nd last year, doesn’t look like it’s going to be much better this year. Their coverage units are from impressive. They are extremely thin at receiver. However, the combination of Eli Manning and WRs Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz is too much for many defenses to handle. Tom Coughlin will try to get these issues resolved, but until then he will lean on his offensive stars and his pass-rushers.

8. Trent Richardson is going to be dynamic
After a ho-hum rookie debut, HB Trent Richardson exploded onto the scene with a big game against the Bengals. It wasn’t enough to get his team the win, but anyone watching the game can see his running style will translate to the NFL. The main concern about him at this point has to be his durability. If he can stay healthy, he seems destined for greatness.

9. Never doubt the Steelers
You could hear all the whispers after their back-to-back losses to the Broncos (last year in the playoffs and this year week 1). Their defense is getting old, their receivers are too small, their offensive line is a liability, their run game isn’t what it used to be. People forgot that all the Steelers do year after year is win games. They got Ryan Clark and James Harrison back this week, and their defense shut down the Jets. The Steelers do have things like injuries to OG David DeCastro and HB Rashard Mendenhall working against them, but Ben Roethlisberger will make plays on offense and this team is too well-coached to fall apart.

10. Mike Nolan has the Falcon defense playing at a high level
The Falcon defense looks downright swarming early in the season, and it seems they are ready to take the next step. They have been a solid unit for years, but have struggled against elite passers. The additions of Assante Samuel and Dunta Robinson have given the Falcons the necessary cover corners to get past this. Losing CB Brent Grimes for the season was a blow, but you wouldn’t know it while watching Peyton Manning struggle against their secondary. LB Sean Weatherspoon is a rising star, and safeties William Moore and Thomas DeCoud have emerged as quality starters.


Week 2 Game Balls

1. DE Calais Campbell, Arizona
The Cardinals knew they needed to get some pressure on Brady to slow down the Patriot offense, and Calais Campbell answered the call. He sacked Brady twice and harassed him all night in a game where he collected 10 tackles. The Cardinals held the Patriots to just 18 points and came up with the biggest upset of the year.

2. MLB Karlos Dansby, Miami
Dansby didn’t exactly fill up the stat sheet, but he had a big impact on the game. Of course, Reggie Bush’s explosive runs were what closed the game out for the Dolphins, but Dansby’s defensive presence stopped the Raiders from moving the ball with any consistency all game. The Raiders were trying all game to work the ball across the middle of the field, but Dansby was always in position to disrupt the pass.

3. WR Danny Amendola, St. Louis
Sam Bradford threw the ball Amendola’s way 16 times last week. The result? 15 catches, 160 yards, 1 TD, and a comeback win. Amendola got some press a few years back when he was featured on Hard Knocks with the Cowboys, but they clearly didn’t think he was going to become a go-to receiver when they subsequently cut him. Bradford, one of the league’s most accurate quarterbacks, has great chemistry with Amendola, and doesn’t seem to mind his lack of size and top-end speed.

4. QB Cam Newton, Carolina
Newton took no time rebounding from an ugly week 1 loss, putting the team on his shoulders in a big divisional win against the Saints. He not only posted a QB rating of nearly 130, but ran for over 70 yards, and simply gave the Saints’ defense fits.

5. HB Andre Brown, New York Giants
The heroes of this game are obviously Eli Manning, who threw for over 500 yards, and wideouts Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, who combined for nearly 400 receiving yards. However, Andre Brown’s contribution cannot be understated. When Ahmad Bradshaw went down with injury, it was unclear what the Giants would do at the running back position, considering Coughlin’s lack of faith in HB David Wilson. Brown came in and ran the ball 13 times for 71 yards, including the game-winning score, and did just enough to keep the Buccaneer defense honest.

6. WR Michael Crabtree, San Francisco
Crabtree didn’t have a great game, but he closed this game out for the 49ers. Up by a touchdown with 10 minutes left to go, the 49ers started a drive at their own 20. Three times, the 49ers faced third and long. Each time, Alex Smith found Crabtree, who did a great job getting open and fighting for first down yardage after the catch. The end result was a 6-minute touchdown drive that essentially iced the game.

7. OLB Clay Matthews, Green Bay
Mathews smelled fresh meat in LT J’Marcus Webb, and played like a man possessed as he sacked Jay Cutler 3.5 times in the Packers’ win. Cutler was feeling the pressure, and ended up throwing 4 picks as he rushed his throws. The Packers knew a loss to the Bears would have put them in a big hole to start the season, and Matthews led the charge defensively.

8. MLB DeMeco Ryans, Philadelphia
A game ball should go to the entire Philadelphia secondary for holding Joe Flacco to 5.5 yards per attempt and limited Ed Dickson, Anquan Boldin, and Torrey Smith to a combined 5 catches for 81 yards. But if you want to credit one guy for the Eagles overall defensive effort, it has to be Ryans, who has quickly emerged as a defensive leader for the Eagles. He collected 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack and an interception, and played every defensive snap. The Ravens scored just six points in the second half, and the young Eagle DBs credited Ryan for letting them know what was coming.

9. TE Dante Rosario, San Diego
With future hall-of-fame TE Antonio Gates out, someone was going to have to step for the Chargers on offense. Rosario responded with a career performance, catching every ball thrown his way, including the first 3 touchdowns of the game. His red-zone presence allowed the Chargers to get touchdowns instead of field goals and jump out to a big lead en route to a blowout win.

10. SS William Moore, Atlanta
William Moore set the tone early for the Falcons, intercepting Manning on the third play of the game and returning it to the one yard-line to set up a Michael Turner TD run. He was around the ball all night, racking up 8 tackles, a sack, and 2 passes defended.

Last edited by Eazy Picks : 09-18-2012 at 12:12 AM.
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