Hello, and welcome to Week 1 of Decibel’s new NFL column, Encrotchment. A lot happened in Week 1, so let’s get started.
Hype! 2: The Seattle Seahawks
Well, the 2014 NFL season started with the Hawks going to a stadium filled with 12th men and women, getting rings, rolling Green Bay, and helping Soundgarden load their gear out of their parking lot afterward. But yeah, this team is insanely good. Every time their smooth, mistake-free offense goes to work, I hear Mother Love Bone’s “Stardog Champion.” When the defense is out there, I hear Black Breath’s “I Am Beyond.” There hasn’t been a team as likely to repeat as champs since the early 2000s Patriots, who actually did it.
Seattle will get there if they do two things this season: stay healthy and stay home. They are the team every other team is going to want to lay into, especially that one coached by that psycho. Protect Russell, reduce snaps for starters when you have decent leads, and take the extra week for injuries to heal when possible. As for home, I’m referring to home field. Any team that has to go to CenturyLink for a playoff game, good luck. Great start for the Champs and the Old Guy.
Did we see a preview of our AFC Championship game this past Sunday? I mean, for Cleveland to show off their high-powered offense and come back against Pittsburgh’s staunch defense like they did? Well, maybe not that epic AFC clash, but Broncos/Colts definitely could have been a late January preview. And if so, the NFL would cream. Yes, Manning/Brady for the millionth time would be a ratings grab. But everyone knows that Andrew Luck’s AFC QB throne is waiting once Manning retires. It’s always more fun to see thrones usurped than abdicated.
As for the game, both teams conveniently exposed their biggest weaknesses over 60 minutes of prime time. First off, this Denver team does not know how to put their foot on anyone’s throat for the life of them. This game looked very similar to last year’s Sunday Night debacle against New England (the one where they were up 24-0 at the half, only to lose). The Broncos should be disappointed that this game wasn’t over by the third quarter. As for Indy, this game reiterated the fact that Andrew Luck is surrounded by a few underachievers that he may not trust as much as he should.
Case in point, the goal line 4th and 1 in the third quarter where Luck hurried to the line of scrimmage and attempted a QB sneak, only to get stoned. Why isn’t Luck putting the ball in the hands of Trent Richardson? You know, the guy they gave up a first round pick for? Yes, Indy’s O-line is weak, so Richardson isn’t all to blame for his schizophrenic production since becoming a Colt. However, a pass-heavy offense like the one Indy will surely have this year should open up the run more for T-Rich. He has to make the most of that this year.
Oh yeah, then there’s Coby Fleener: the 6’6″ third-year, first-off-the-board tight end, in an explosive offense led by his college quarterback, who continues to be a non-factor. Luck passed 53 times on Sunday. Eight of those passes were to Fleener. He caught three of them for 21 yards (Luck threw for 370 total, by the way). Fleener has to be more productive than 2013, which was, all things considered, a bad season for him. His main competition for touches, Dwayne Allen, was injured the whole year. Yet Fleener still found a way to live in mediocrity with 52 receptions, 600 yards and, most importantly, only four TDs. Now with Allen back healthy, Fleener might fade into obscurity. He should be Luck’s security blanket and a red zone nightmare for defenses. He’s not even close to being either.
All that said, the Colts do have the luxury of some breathing room in the AFC this year, given the overall weakness of the conference compared to the NFC. They can make some mistakes, shoot themselves in the foot a little bit, lose some close games, learn on the job and still be poised for a run come playoff time.
He’s the Wiz, and Nobody Beats Him
Nice road win Week 1 against a decent team in a hostile environment for the Tennessee Titans, led by Jake Locker passing for more than his usual 150 yards and 1 TD (266 passing yards and 2 TD, thank you very much). Yes, Alex Smith and Kansas City played a sucky game. What’s important, though, is that Tennessee didn’t play a sucky game back, like they normally would. I think Ken Whisenhunt may be to thank for this. I see the Titans turning a corner this year behind their new coach. He’s the long-term answer to their Jeff Fisher question. The franchise is still hanging their hat on that Super Bowl they lost in the closing seconds (Whis can relate to that). They’re a match made in heaven. He’s my dark horse candidate for Coach of the Year.
Who is Cairo Santos?
The NFL’s answer to Keyser Soze is here. His name: Cairo Santos. Legend has it he once played one game and attempted two field goals. Both hit the post. One went in. One didn’t. And just like that, poof, he hits an extra point.
The Kelly Value
On opening Thursday, like an extra present on Christmas from Satan, it was announced that Jim Kelly is now cancer-free. He is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, a football legend, and his story is inspiring. Truly awesome news!
Thanks for reading, and I hope to have you back next week and hereafter. I know this was an unbelievably dark week for NFL fans, for obvious reasons. The NFL handled something extremely poorly, and now are attempting to handle it “properly” in a too little, too late fashion. No matter what good happens this season, this incident will be a black cloud over all of it, as it should be. All we could do is hope for proper reform, and that anyone who added to this nonsense face proper consequences.
Pick of the Week
Cincy -5 over Atlanta