Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Even though it was a dog-heavy week in the NFL, as 2014 launched in exciting fashion. You can’t say that there were a lot of really big surprises. Sure, Jacksonville jumped ahead of Philadelphia 17-0. If they could have held that lead, we would have had a true shocker. The Jags couldn’t even cover +10 and had their normal lousy stats. There just weren’t any “Oh my GOD!” kind of upsets.
Here’s a full listing of upsets in schedule order…
*Atlanta (+3) beat New Orleans, but in a nailbiter at +3
*Minnesota (+3) crushed St. Louis, but they faced the Rams #2 and #3 quarterbacks
*Cincinnati (+1) beat Baltimore in a nailbiter
*Buffalo (+7) beat Chicago in overtime
*Tennessee (+3) beat Kansas City 26-10
*Miami (+3) beat New England 33-20
*Carolina (+4) beat Tampa Bay 20-14
Is it really a shocker when Jay Cutler’s interceptions cause the Bears to lose?! New England played a few really bad road games last year, so people barely batted an eye when they fell to Miami. Carolina’s “upset” was just a misread on Tampa Bay mixed with an overreaction to Cam Newton’s absence. Carolina went 12-4 last year, while Tampa Bay went 4-12.
Maybe Kansas City looking THAT inept qualifies. But, so many pundits have been expecting Alex Smith to turn back into a pumpkin that his poor outing wasn’t visceral.
What was the biggest surprise? In our view, it wasn’t so much on the scoreboard as it was in the boxscore. And, if there hadn’t been TEN EARLY GAMES dividing everyone’s attention on the early Sunday schedule, this true stunner would have been much more heavily publicized.
TOM BRADY AND NEW ENGLAND MANAGED ONLY 3.9 YARDS-PER-PLAY IN A GAME WHERE THEY THREW 56 PASSES!
This is astonishing. This is a high octane motor car blowing its engine and crawling to a halt. If Miami/New England wasn’t your local TV game, you didn’t notice. If you watched the Red Zone Channel…well, that channel doesn’t show when offense “doesn’t” happen. But, Miami’s 33-20 loss wasn’t just about the Pats struggling on the road again. It was about the Pats…
Struggling on the road…despite having the ball often and long enough for Tom Brady to throw 56 passes. Miami didn’t play “ball control” to keep the ball out of Brady’s hands. THE BALL WAS IN BRADY’S HANDS!
Miami has a nice defense…but they’re not the Seattle Seahawks by any means. The most surprising development of the day…which is also the development most likely to have a meaningful impact on a divisional and conference championship race…is that the New England Patriots may be falling further back away from elite-level football. They were clearly outclassed by Denver in last year’s AFC championship game…on the heels of season of awkward mortality on the road. They began 2014 by showing more signs of mortality rather than any sort of bounce back.
WORST YARDS-PER-PLAY OFFENSE IN WEEK ONE
Oakland 3.2 (rookie quarterback on a horrible team)
NY Giants 3.5 (offense trying to learn new schematic)
New England 3.9
Jacksonville 4.3 (one of the worst teams in the league)
Kansas City 4.4
In the AFC East…Miami, Buffalo, and the NY Jets all won. That puts New England a game behind the field out of the gate. They still have plenty of time to rise up and move past what should again be a mediocre division. You can’t think AFC championship until you see the Pats play a good offensive game against a good defense.
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NFL talk continues tomorrow in the NOTEBOOK with our weekly Thursday Night preview. Here’s this week’s schedule…
Thursday: NFL Thursday Night TV Preview…Pittsburgh at Baltimore
Friday: College Football Early Look…Georgia at South Carolina
Saturday: College Football TV Preview…Tennessee at Oklahoma
Sunday: NFL Sunday Night TV Preview…Chicago at San Francisco
Monday: NFL Monday Night TV Preview…Philadelphia at Indianapolis
Generally speaking, we’ll do big game previews Thursdays-through-Mondays all season long. Tuesdays and Wednesdays will feature special topics through September, but will then emphasize the Major League Baseball playoffs in October. We haven’t forgotten about baseball!
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