1. Detroit Lions
Current Record: 2-0 (#2 Last Week)
In Week 1, the Lions break a 24-game road slide in Soldier Field. Then in Week 2, they force three turnovers; collect five sacks and their second special teams TD of the season in a victory over the slumping Texans. Now they stand in first at 2-0 for the first time in 4 years. The key has been their opportunistic defense (3 INTs, 4 fumble recoveries, 8 sacks) and knack for big plays down the stretch (5 second half TD's) including a 92-yard blocked-field goal return against the Bears and a 99-yard kick return versus the Texans.
Defensive End James Hall is playing the best football of his career; DT Shaun Rogers is simply unstoppable and free-agent CB Fernando Bryant has already proven his worth with two solid performances. If the defense can continue at their current level while CB Dre' Bly and SLB Boss Bailey mend and the youngsters on offense continue to gel, this team could be poised to make some noise in the second-half of the season.
Just how good is Detroit? With games coming up against the 2-0 Eagles, the 2-0 Falcons and the rival Packers in the next month, it won't be long until we all find out.
2. Minnesota Vikings
Current Record: 1-1 (#1 Last Week)
Remember after Keyshawn Johnson's rookie season, when he wrote his book "Just Give Me the Damn Ball!"? Well, Randy Moss should buy the rights to the sequel, and call it "Just Give Me the Damn Ball Too!"
Moss did have 8 catches Monday night versus the Eagles, but for only 69 yards (8.6 avg.) and 1 TD. His longest catch of the day was a 22-yarder on the opening drive. That turned out to be QB Daunte Culpepper's longest pass completion of the day as well. When you throw for 343 yards, but only average 7.29 yards-per-attempt (47 attempts) you're not exactly drumming up images of Air Coryell. By the middle of the 3rd quarter, I was ready to punch-out a meter maid as I watched the Vikings complete one dump-off pass after another. Please could someone throw the ball down the field! Has anybody ever heard of a ye' ole' football play called "The Bomb?"
Sid Gillman must have been rolling over in his grave watching this dink-and-dunk garbage.
By the way, could the NFL make an adjustment to their instant replay system so that EVERY scoring play is automatically reviewed? The Vikings got jobbed on that Terrell Owens touchdown in the 4th quarter. Why didn't the Vikings challenge the TD? According to Mike Tice, the TV monitors in the Minnesota coaching booth went blank immediately after Owens bobbled the ball while sliding out of bounds in the end zone. . . . Hmmmm, interesting . . . very interesting.
3. Chicago Bears
Current Record: 1-1 (#4 Last Week)
Holy Old Style Batman! The Bears smacked the Packers in the mouth on the un-frozen tundra, rolling up 182 yards on the ground and breaking a 7-game losing streak against the Green Bay, 21-10. The Bears only attempted 18 passes (completing 10), as opposed to 35 runs. For Chicago the game plan was simple, effective, and costly, as the Bears' best big-play defender, S Mike Brown, was lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon and CB Charles Tillman will be gone for 7-to-10 weeks with a hairline fracture of the soft tissue around his right knee.
It was a huge win for Chicago and first-year head coach Lovie Smith, especially coming off a poor performance against Detroit in Week 1. However, the injuries in the secondary are piling up and that's bad news seeing that the Bears are traveling up to the Metrodome to square-off against the Vikings, who will be looking to lay waste to their Monday night frustrations at the expense of Chicago's depleted pass defense.
4. Green Bay Packers
1-1 (#3 Last Week)
Let's begin with a simple question styled in the immortal tone of Vince Lombardi, "WHAT IN THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?" Bear HB Thomas Jones looked like the second-coming of Rick Casares Sunday, slicing through the Cheesehead defense for 152 yards on 23 carries. Meanwhile, the Bears defense forced three Packer turnovers. The biggest of which came late in the 2nd quarter when a fumble by Packer HB Ahman Green at the Bear 2-yard line was scooped up by Chicago's Mike Brown and returned 95-yards for a TD. The return gave Chicago a 14-3 lead, instead of a potential 10-7 halftime deficit.
While the Pack looked Lombardi-esque in the Monday night opener against the Panthers, they looked Infante-esque Sunday. Does anyone else have the feeling that these first two weeks are going to prove to be a microcosm for Green Bay's entire season?
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