Week 1: Suprising/Not Surprising

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I did not find it surprising that…the Chiefs got beat by the Bills. Going back as far as their playoff loss last year, the Chiefs have looked horrible. Their performance in the preseason was pathetic and the fight between team leader Thomas Jones and rookie Jonathan Baldwin didn’t help. Every year, a team seems to come out of nowhere to win 9 or 10 games and surprise everyone and then fall by the wayside the following year (2007 Browns, 2008 Panthers, 2009 Bengals). It looks like the Chiefs are that team this year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them fall all the way to 4 or 5 wins.

I found it surprising that…Cam Newton did so well in his first game. Admittedly, I’ve not been the biggest Newton supporter. Though he did some great things at Auburn, I thought he was overrated as a QB prospect and #1 overall draft pick. Plus, some of his off the field issues raised red flags. But wow, what a performance. He made Steve Smith relevant again while spreading the ball around and throwing for over 400 yards. Its just one game and the Panthers will need to establish more of a running game going forward to take some pressure off of him, but Carolina’s management and fans have to be thrilled with week one of the Cam Newton era.

I did not find it surprising that…Donovan McNabb did so poorly in his first game as Vikings quarterback. McNabb was a great quarterback for a long time for the Eagles, but he was always surrounded by talent and played for a coach that absolutely maximized his strengths and helped hide his weaknesses. But last year in Washington and this game for the Vikings show me that he’s just not good enough to elevate a team on his own and in fact, may bring them down. I think that the Vikings would be better playing Christian Ponder and let him gain experience; chances are that the Vikings are not going anywhere this year anyway so they might as well let the rookie learn.

I found it surprising that…Tampa Bay abandoned the run and LeGarrette Blount so quickly in their loss to Detroit. Yes, the Lions are known for their strong defensive line play but that has been mostly against the pass. Last year and even in the preseason this year, teams have run on them. And in the Tampa Bay heat, Blount would seem to be the perfect weapon to wear down an opposing team. Instead, he got a grand total of five carries, only one after halftime. Though the Lions had a lead for most of the second half, the game was far from out of reach when the Bucs stopped running. I expect this to be Blount’s least productive game of the season, if Tampa Bay holds out any hope of making the playoffs they need to rely on him on a weekly basis.

I did not find it surprising that… Chad Ochocinco was not involved in New England’s game plan. Bill Belechick and Tom Brady are the masters at exploiting a defense’s weakness and taking what is given. They rotate their stable of running backs, receivers and tight ends based on that week’s game plan to create the matchups that they want. So on a week-to-week basis, I’m not sure that any one player other than Brady is guaranteed to be involved. Coupled with Ochocinco’s age and transition to more of a possession-type receiver, I think that his impact on games will be up and down all season.