Wednesday Apple Pie

Are you ready for some football? With the second part of this pre-season preview, I welcome you to Wednesday Apple Pie (WAP)! <p> The NFL Season Preview: Part 2

Each week WAP will bring you an analysis of The Six-Pack, a preview of my top six match-ups of the upcoming week, and a recap of The Six-Pack of the previous week. WAP also will include a weekly ranking of my top 12 teams, the return of the Missed Points Opportunity (MPO) score, and the "Thoughts Assisted By Yuengling."

Week 1 Preview:

Pittsburgh vs. New England: The top match-up of the week is also the rematch of the AFC Championship Game of last year. There has never been an opening match in recent memory with more subplots, twists, and hype than this Monday Night clash.

5 Keys To The Game:

  1. Pittsburgh's Special Teams: Have the problems been solved? Troy Brown will get his share of cracks at Pittsburgh's weak link.
  2. Control the crowd: New England opens its new stadium on national television. The fans will be downright nutty.
  3. Solve Belicheck: Cowher and his staff must be able to match Belicheck move for move.
  4. Physical Corners: Chad Scott and Dewayne Washington must be physical at the line of scrimmage. If Brady is allowed to get into a rhythm with the short passing game, it could be a long night.
  5. Control the Revenge Factor: The Steelers need to control their emotions and let the game dictate the revenge.

The Six-Pack

  1. St. Louis at Denver: Those wacky Mile High fans will be loud and proud early. Too bad St. Louis has way too much firepower for the Broncos. The Broncos should be able to keep up with the Rams for a quarter or two, but Brian Griese will blink first in his battle against Kurt Warner.
  2. Philadelphia at Tennessee: I really like this game, and of all the 1pm games, I'll probably be watching this one closest. The Eagles will have many problems playing in Adelphia Stadium. A win here would be a huge statement early.
  3. Seattle at Oakland: These former AFC West foes meet and it will probably take Raider Nation a good 2 quarters to stop looking at the JumboTron for the "Chuckie Moment." Also, it's the only other game featuring two "Power Core" teams (11 and 9 respectively).
  4. NY Jets at Buffalo: No love lost between these two teams. As usual, the NY Jets Rule applies here as Simms and Gumble go to Orchard Park to open the season. A running count of undeserved NY Jets exposure begins here with #1.
  5. Atlanta at Green Bay: The Falcons shocked the Pack last season at Lambeau and Michael Vick begins his first season as the consensus #1 in Atlanta. Regardless, the show on the "Tundra" still belongs to the ringmaster Bret Favre and the Cheeseheads. Get ready for an air show in Wisconsin.
  6. San Diego at Cincinnati: Last year, both teams opened 3 - 0 and met in San Diego. Soon though, Doug Flutie wished he was back in the CFL and Cincinnati reminded us that Paul Brown still thinks Ken Anderson is just a week away from coming out of retirement (Is there is a reason Cincinnati still doesn't have a legitimate quarterback?). A chance to see Drew Brees fire away is enough to allow this game to round out the Six-Pack.

Missed Prime Opportunity (MPO) Score

An MPO is when a team fails to score while in scoring range or doesn't take advantage of major swings in momentum (i.e. major penalties/turnovers/settling for field goals in successive series/inability to seal a game with first downs). These are killers because a team only gets so many Prime Opportunities. A great example is the Giants vs. Eagles on Monday night last year. Although thoroughly ass-whipping the Eagles in every category, the Giants' inability to capitalize on Prime Opportunities allowed the Eagles to take the lead with less than 2 minutes left. This gave the Giants at least 4 MPO's in the first half. Those MPO's came back to haunt the Giants as the Eagles forced Kerry Collins to fumble late in the 4th quarter, leading to an improbable Eagles victory in New York.
An MPO Score is like golf: It's best to score low. When a team scores low, it usually wins the game. It's remarkable how accurate it can be.

Pittsburgh's 2001 - 02 Regular Season MPO record: 12 - 4 (The only MPO loss that coincided with an actual win was over Minnesota.)

The Power Core Rankings: Week 1

  1. St. Louis
  2. Pittsburgh
  3. Philadelphia
  4. Green Bay
  5. Miami
  6. New England
  7. San Francisco
  8. Chicago
  9. Oakland
  10. Tampa Bay
  11. Seattle
  12. Indianapolis

Thoughts Assisted By Yuengling

No beer tonight. I'm saving my money for Sunday and Monday! Enjoy a fabulous NFL Season.

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