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NFL Week 1 Review

   by Al McMordie - 09/13/2005

The NFL’s opening week is in the books. So what have we learned? Well, the home teams went 10-6 against the spread, the favorites covered 9 of 16, and the 'unders cashed in 10 of 16. In a recent article I pointed out that the defenses are generally ahead of the offenses this time of year. The 'under' ruled in both National TV games, as just 3 points were scored in the first half of the Colts and Ravens game, and also in the 2nd half of the Falcons and Eagles contest. It takes an offense much longer in practice to learn plays, get down timing patterns between quarterbacks and receivers, and to adjust to the rhythm and timing of blocking schemes.

Notice that on the majority of games that were expected to be high scoring -- those with totals 44 or above -- went 'under' the total. The Lions/Packers game featured Detroit’s new-look offense with three young first-round wide receivers against QB Brett Favre and a banged up Green Bay defense. 'Over' bettors were licking their chops. Yet, no one could move the ball or find the end zone in a 17-3 yawner. Ditto for the Jets/Chiefs total of 47. Kansas City moved the ball easily, but the Jets didn’t do anything as the game sailed way 'under' in a 27-7 KC victory.

Home field also proved to be a powerful force. It started last week when the Patriots won and covered again at home over the Raiders. Home field even helped a couple of big underdogs get the win, as the Dolphins ran all over the Broncos in Nick Saban’s debut. The same was true on the West Coast where the 49ers (2-14 a year ago) are already 1-0 under new coach Mike Nolan. The only first-year coach not to win was in Cleveland, where Romeo Crennel doesn’t have much talent on the field to work with (although neither does Nolan or Saban).

There were several unusual box scores on Sunday’s card. Arizona had an edge in time of possession 35-25 and first downs 20-14; and the Giants had only 154 passing yards for the game and 2 turnovers (2 INTs by Eli Manning). Yet, the Giants went wild in a 42-19 rout, thanks to 35 second half points. Despite all the points, take note that the Giants' offense didn’t rack up a ton of yards against a suspect Arizona defense. And Manning completed only 10-of-23 passes (along with those two picks).

We all know defense is the main cog needed to contend for a title. If that’s the case, the Buffalo Bills are in fine shape for the regular season. Buffalo has had the No. 2 overall defense in the NFL in each of the last two seasons. The Bills were terrific in the preseason, too, and their defensive coordinator remarked that he was amazed at all the depth he has on defense. Then in the first game, Buffalo manhandled the Texans, holding them to 120 total yards, which is incredible in the NFL. Throw in three David Carr interceptions, and it’s clear this Buffalo defense is going to continue to be tough.

Finally, for the most ridiculous box score from Sunday, take a look at the 49ers/Rams game. St. Louishad an edge in first downs (26-12), total yards (405-217), and time of possession (almost 2-to-1). The Rams held San Fran to just 34 rush yards, which was 1.6 yards per attempt. Yet, San Francisco not only covered but won the game, 28-24. The 49ers were also 1-of-9 on third down attempts! I think 49er fans should savor this victory -- if they keep getting outplayed like that, they’re more likely to go 1-15 than to see many more wins! Good luck as always...Al McMordie.

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