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Week Two Friday 10-pack

It’s already Week Two.  Soon, we’ll be saying, “I can’t believe it’s Week Eight.” 

Then, we’ll be saying, “I can’t believe I ate the whole tub of ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.'”

For now, we’ll enjoy the games each week.  To aid in your enjoyment, here are 10 story lines to follow as the 16 games in Week Two unfold.


1.  Texans could be this year’s “pick your poison” opponent.

Every year or so, a team emerges with a strong passing game and a strong
running game.  The combination forces a defense to, as the cliche’
goes, pick its poison.

Now that the Texans have discovered a running game, thanks to the
emergence of Arian Foster and the presence behind him of Steve Slaton
and Derrick Ward, the Texans could be on their way to becoming the most
dynamically balanced offense in the league.

Unless, of course, quarterback Matt Schaub gets hurt and Matt Leinart takes over.

Until then, the Texans could be laying the foundation for a first-ever
playoff berth.  The journey continues with a game against coach Gary
Kubiak’s mentor, Mike Shanahan, and Kubiak’s protege, Kyle Shanahan, who
jumped from Houston to D.C. after the 2009 season.

The question on Sunday will be whether Redskins defensive coordinator
Jim Haslett, armed with inside info from the Shanahans, can find a way
to stop both aspects of the Houston offense.  If Haslett can’t, that
Washington winning streak will end at one.  

2.  Titans try to reverse Terrible Towel curse.

As legend has it, the Titans derailed their strong 2008 season — and
doomed themselves in 2009 — when former Tennessee running back LenDale
White and linebacker Keith Bulluck stomped on a Terrible Towel during a late-season,
home-field-clinching win in Nashville over the Steelers.

Though we’re not much for the concept of curses, the reality is that,
after the 31-14 win over the Steelers on December 21, the Titans lost
the following week to the Colts.  Then, after a bye, they lost at home
to the Ravens in the divisional round.

The Steelers responded by winning their sixth Super Bowl title. 

Then, to start the 2009 season, the Titans lost to the Steelers in Week One and ultimately dropped six in a row, culminating with a 59-0 humiliation in New England.

After that pasting at the hands of the Patriots, Nashville radio host
Thom Abraham tried to reverse the curse, by sending a Terrible Towel
signed by White and Bulluck to the Allegheny Valley
School, which receives a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the
late Myron Cope’s creation. 

The Titans finished the year 8-2.

But the real test comes on Sunday, when the Steelers come back to town since the curse attached. 
White and Bulluck are gone, which arguably should further persuade Cope
to ix-nay the heavenly “hmm-haws” that he may be sprinkling over the
Titans franchise.

Then again, the Titans shouldn’t count on that happening against Cope’s Steelers.       

3.  Peyton in an unfamiliar place.

Colt quarterback Peyton Manning entered the league in 1998.  He lost the
first four games of his career before beating the Chargers in Week
Five.  

Since then, Manning hasn’t started 0-2.  Only twice before has his team started 0-1, in 2004 and in 2008.  

After taking a whupping in Houston on Sunday to fall to 0-1 for only the
fourth time in 13 NFL seasons, Peyton welcomes his kid brother to town
for the first time.

With the Colts losing four of their last six games that count (even
though they didn’t try to win two of those games), another loss wouldn’t
surprise us.  But if Peyton can’t will himself and his team to victory
in order to avoid the indignity of an 0-2 start and a first-ever loss to
little Eli, then there’s something seriously wrong in Indianapolis.

Then again, Peyton can always exact revenge over a pack of Oreo cookies.

4.  Vick controls his destiny.

In 1998, Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson broke a leg during a Week Two
game against the Rams.  The injury threw a bucket of ice water on what
looked to be a promising season for Minnesota.  But backup Randall
Cunningham helped the team pull out a win against the Rams (the entire game apparently is on YouTube in 10-minute chunks), and he then
began to author one of the most overlooked performances in NFL history.  

Coach Dennis Green dealt with the situation by explaining that Johnson
would get his job back when he returns to “100 percent.”  Given
Cunningham’s play, Johnson never did.

Fast forward to 2010 and the team for which Cunningham initially became a
star.  Mike Vick got a chance to show what he can do after starter
Kevin Kolb exited with a concussion, and even though the Eagles didn’t
win, Vick looked pretty, pretty good.

This week, Vick has a chance to give coach Andy Reid a reason to break
out the “100 percent rule,” riding the hot hand until the hot hand is no
longer hot — at which time Kolb will suddenly be “100 percent” again.

Said Cunningham this week regarding Vick, per PhillySportsDaily.com,
The door has been opened, and that is all Vick needs — for a door to
open.”

The key will be for Vick to play extremely well and for the Eagles to win. 
If one or both doesn’t happen, Kolb likely will be back to “100 percent”
by Week Three.   

5.  Pioli, Mangini renew acquaintances.

In the early 1990s, Chiefs G.M. Scott Pioli and Browns coach Eric
Mangini worked together in Cleveland as low-level “Ph.D”s — poor,
hungry, and driven.  They became friends and at one point roommates. 
When the Browns moved to Baltimore, this Italian version of Batman and
Robin went out for an evening, meeting up with the sister of Indians
G.M. Mark Shapiro, a good friend of Pioli’s. 

Pioli warned Mangini not
to hit on Shapiro’s sister.  And so Mangini married her instead.

They later worked together in New England, thriving under Bill Belichick
and winning three Super Bowl rings.  The relationship was tested when
Mangini jumped to the Jets after the 2005 season.  The relationship was
destroyed, by all appearances, when Mangini helped blow the whistle on
Spygate, a practice from which Mangini’s career arguably benefited.  

Today, they’re both with different teams.  But the animosity surely
remains.  Like most feuds between a pair of hard-headed Sons of Italy,
it will continue until one of them is dead or both of them forget what
they were mad about in the first place.

The problem is that no one will soon forget about Spygate, and for that
reason there will be an extra layer of intensity when the Chiefs and
Browns get together in the city where Pioli and Mangini first
collaborated.

6.  Sanchez by the numbers.

Last year, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez generated a woeful passer
rating of 63.0, thanks to 12 touchdown passes against 20 interceptions
and a per-attempt average of 6.7 yards.  When Sanchez dramatically
improved in the postseason, some thought that Sanchez would carry it
over to 2010.

So far, he hasn’t.  Sanchez posted a dreadful rating of 56.4 on Monday
night, thanks to 10 completions on 21 attempts for 74 yards, an average
of 3.5 yards per attempt.

The numbers aren’t surprising, since he routinely locked onto the short
option.  But if the Jets offense ever hopes to open it up, Sanchez will
need to air it out.  If he doesn’t, there’s no way the Jets ever will
come close to honoring the checks written with a flourish by Rex.

7.  Ravens can start taking care of their backyard business.

In 2008, the Steelers won the AFC North by, among other things, sweeping
the Ravens.  (The Steelers beat Baltimore for a third time in the AFC title
game.)

In 2009, the Bengals won the AFC North by, among other things, sweeping the Ravens.

In 2010, the Ravens realize that the best way to get to the Super Bowl
is to win the dvision, and the best way to win the division is to sweep
the Steelers and the Ravens.

It all starts on Sunday, when the Ravens go to Cincinnati, with a chance
to build an early two-game lead over the Bengals.  Given what the
Ravens did to the Patriots in Foxborough in January and what the
Patriots did to the Bengals there on Sunday, there’s a chance this one
could get ugly.

8.  Return to Revis Island.

Earlier this week, Jets coach Rex Ryan boasted that cornerback Darrelle
Revis will cover Patriots receiver Randy Moss without safety help.  If
Revis can pull that off with a tight hamstring and an overall
conditioning level that kept him from blanketing Baltimore’s Anquan
Boldin on Monday night, it’ll be impressive.

Especially since last year, when Revis was healthy and hadn’t held out, Revis didn’t handle Moss by himself.

Revis, as a scout who reviewed the tape at our request from last year’s
Week Two game between the two teams told us, received plenty of help
So he’ll need even more of it this year.  And with Moss chasing a new
contract and undoubtedly seething at Revis’ suggestion that Moss is a
slouch,” look for Revis to be stranded on his own island.

9.  An early must-win for Minnesota.

With the Packers poised to move to 2-0, thanks to an early-season
schedule that could have them entering an October 24 matchup with the
Vikings at 6-0, the Vikings desperately need to keep pace.

That task begins on Sunday, when the Dolphins come to town.

The cautious pessimism from the preseason morphed into panic when the
Vikings managed only nine points at New Orleans.  A loss at home to
Miami would drop the Vikings to 0-2, with a game against the Lions and a
bye the only respites before a four-week nightmare stretch featuring
games against the Jets, Cowboys, Packers, and Patriots.

So, yes, this season will be much more challenging in Minnesota.  And
they could lose control of things quickly if they can’t get to 1-1.

10.  Niners need to get their house in order.

Several years ago, after Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary
returned to the NFL following a lengthy absence from the game, folks quickly got the
impression that he’d soon be a head coach.  But when he finally was
elevated to the position after the Niners fired Mike Nolan during the
2008 season, whispers emerged that Singletary wasn’t ready for the job.

Though he dishes out memorable quotes and he still can — and will –
use those eyes to communicate a message harsher than the rantings of a hemorrhoided drill instructor, the near-implosion of the 49ers after only
one game makes us wonder whether Singletary has the ability or the
experience to guide a ship through a storm.  For the first time in
years, the 49ers enter the season with high expectations.  And they’ve
been forced to face the possibility that they’re simply not good enough
to fulfill them.

Singletary needs to get his team to forget about Week One, to learn
whatever can be learned from it, and to focus on Week Two, a challenging
Monday night encounter with the defending Super Bowl champions.

Five days after that 25-point spanking San Fran took in Seattle, there’s
no evidence that the 49ers have managed to find a way to put that
surprising and embarrassing loss in the rear-view mirror, where it
belongs.

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34 Responses to “Week Two Friday 10-pack”
  1. paintman34 says: Sep 17, 2010 12:06 PM

    phins win 28-24 henne 285tds 2tds no pics brown 112ds 18 car 1td marshall 7 136 2tds
    favre 232 2tds 2pics adrian 24carries 96yds TD

  2. Ravens2926 says: Sep 17, 2010 12:07 PM

    “In 2010, the Ravens realize that the best way to get to the Super Bowl is to win the dvision, and the best way to win the division is to sweep the Steelers and the Ravens.”
    How can the Ravens sweep the Ravens?

  3. technoboy says: Sep 17, 2010 12:08 PM

    #7 (Editor Check)
    “In 2010, the Ravens realize that the best way to get to the Super Bowl is to win the dvision, and the best way to win the division is to sweep the Steelers and the Ravens.”
    So if the Ravens can beat themself, they have a chance?

  4. Poo Flinging Monkey says: Sep 17, 2010 12:09 PM

    “In 2010, the Ravens realize that the best way to get to the Super Bowl is to win the dvision, and the best way to win the division is to sweep the Steelers and the Ravens.”
    So the Ravens need to sweep themselves? How exactly do they do that?

  5. Christmas Ape says: Sep 17, 2010 12:14 PM

    “In 2010, the Ravens realize that the best way to get to the Super Bowl is to win the dvision, and the best way to win the division is to sweep the Steelers and the Ravens.”
    I’m assuming this should be changed to say “…sweep the Steelers and the Bengals.”

  6. Simon12345 says: Sep 17, 2010 12:14 PM

    Why do I believe that Reid will get Kolb back in there even if Vick wins the game? He was pretty loyal to McNabb despite a lot of outside howling and criticism there until the very end. I see Reid as more “constant” than what folks are painting him out to be…
    He’s not going to “lose Vick” if he goes back to the original starter. But I think if you bench Kolb after one half of play and an injury, that’s going to lose Kolb to them. It would be different if Kolb struggled for half the season…
    Reid will stay with Kolb for now, and that is the right thing to do…

  7. Floriohatescincy says: Sep 17, 2010 12:16 PM

    You suck at writing. And predicting, and speculating. “I straight pure hate you MIke Florio, but god damn it I respect you.” Not really, but I don’t hate you either. Bengals win 24-23 in a great freaking game.

  8. PFTiswhatitis says: Sep 17, 2010 12:20 PM

    “In 2010, the Ravens realize that the best way to get to the Super Bowl is to win the dvision, and the best way to win the division is to sweep the Steelers and the Ravens.”
    Oops typo, think you meant Bengals not Ravens!

  9. WhoDeySood5 says: Sep 17, 2010 12:20 PM

    We’ll see what the Raven’s secondary is worth this week, oh and BTW watch our for Mr. Benson, I can’t wait to watch him steam roll Roid Lewis

  10. DonTerrelli says: Sep 17, 2010 12:22 PM

    Wasn’t it Duante Culpepper who took over for Brad Johnson in Minnesota?

  11. Goetta-Head says: Sep 17, 2010 12:41 PM

    Judging by how the Ravens have played inter division foes the ‘typo’ is actually not a typo at all, it is the wonderful truth. Welcome to the Jungle

  12. namhob says: Sep 17, 2010 12:44 PM

    -Christmas Ape
    You know, when you assume, Florio makes an ass out of himself.

  13. JSpicoli says: Sep 17, 2010 12:51 PM

    Why is anyone surprised Singletary can’t coach? What evidence was there to support that he had a clue or a chance? No experience, no people skills, no intelligence. No chance. Any coaching savvy attributed to him is a media white washing and hype that is getting exposed by the obvious meltdown going on in SF.
    I don’t blame Sing really, it is the Yorks and their version of owning and “managing” a team that are at fault.
    Other than Patrick Willis, name one good decision to come out of SF since the Yorks took over. Firing Nolan, Erickson or Donahue does not count since those were to repair stupid decisions in the first place.

  14. ACS2 says: Sep 17, 2010 12:53 PM

    “Unless, of course, quarterback Matt Schaub gets hurt and Matt Leinart takes over.”
    ————
    No worries.. They don’t play the Vikings this year. But I’d advise Matt Schaub to take out a supplemental insurance policy on his knees prior to the next Vikings game.
    AFLAC!

  15. philbirds says: Sep 17, 2010 12:54 PM

    Don ^^ It was Randall in the record breaking year. Culpepper was the 99 draft pick in the same class as McNabb and a bunch of busts.

  16. rk says: Sep 17, 2010 12:54 PM

    Another day..yawn…and another article from Florio that takes shots at the Jets. Out of a 10 pack, still managing to trash the Jets in 2 of them. Bravo Florio

  17. SOMD Dave says: Sep 17, 2010 12:55 PM

    “the Ravens realize that the best way to get to the Super Bowl is to win the dvision, and the best way to win the division is to sweep the Steelers and the Ravens”
    So Florio, are you saying they need to beat themselves to win the division?

  18. ACS2 says: Sep 17, 2010 12:59 PM

    DonTerrelli says:
    September 17, 2010 12:22 PM
    Wasn’t it Duante Culpepper who took over for Brad Johnson in Minnesota?
    ———–
    Culpepper didn’t become the starter until 2000.

  19. davefoley0 says: Sep 17, 2010 1:04 PM

    No, in 1998 it was Cunningham.

  20. muteant says: Sep 17, 2010 1:20 PM

    If you’re going to jump to conclusions based on one week everywhere else in this piece, why bother categorizing the Jets and Cowboys as part of a “nightmare stretch” for the Vikings? Trust me, the Ed Reed-less Ravens defense isn’t nearly as good as Sanchez and Friends made them out to look. That team is going to struggle all year to score points.
    I think the Vikings need to aim for 4-4 (do-able) and pray Sidney Rice comes back by Week 9. Then they can go on a run at the right time.
    The Vikings will win this week, by the way. 9-0 at home last year: they’re tough to beat there. I like the Dolphins but I don’t think they match up well with the Vikings. They’ll probably deliberately keep it as close as possible, but I think a score around 24-13 is likely.

  21. Beastie Bills says: Sep 17, 2010 1:25 PM

    “Vick looked pretty, pretty good.”
    Was that a Curb reference, Florio? I’m impressed!

  22. PackerFanforDecades says: Sep 17, 2010 2:02 PM

    The low-scoring game between the Vikings and Saints may not have been because of exceptionally strong defensive efforts. For example, I recall seeing Minnesota’s defensive line pushed over like bowling pins lots of times.
    .
    For me, strong defensive efforts are characterized by forced fumbles and multiple interceptions run back for points and sacks and passes batted down at the line and running plays disrupted in the backfield. I sure don’t remember seeing much of that in the Vikings/Saints game.
    .
    So, until proven otherwise, this Packer fan is going to interpret the low scoring game down in New Orleans as a poor offensive effort by BOTH teams. There’s a really good chance that interpretation shall be unraveled soon … but until then, my private interpretation has me cheered up about Green Bay’s prospects this season in the NFC.

  23. moltobuttstomp says: Sep 17, 2010 2:09 PM

    I bet Houston is really feeling the love from the media this week, all of whom seem to be in the tank for the Texans.
    Kind of like the last team from Texas that came to FedEx. Weren’t they supposed to host the Super Bowl or something?
    Seems like a good time for a stumble to me…

  24. somesome says: Sep 17, 2010 2:16 PM

    aintman34 says:
    September 17, 2010 12:06 PM
    phins win 28-24 henne 285tds 2tds no pics brown 112ds 18 car 1td marshall 7 136 2tds
    favre 232 2tds 2pics adrian 24carries 96yds TD
    ———————————
    I am not a Vikes fan but have D. Brees on my FF team. The Vikes last week clearly defended against D. Brees carving them up and not against P. Thomas rushing. I would seriously not expect any Dolphin to rush for a buck. I am sure the Vikes will show 8 in the box with Allen coming off the edge all day and force the Dolphins to beat them with Henne …

  25. sand0 says: Sep 17, 2010 2:18 PM

    Vikes were undefeated at home last season with an average margin of victory of 20 points. Actually on the road they were mediocre overall, though they did have some pretty tough road opponents when you look at it.
    So hopefully they can roll over Miami this week. The passing game is not yet settled in with injuries and whatnot but it should come around. Miami has a relatively weak run defense so maybe AP can help out.

  26. Bob Sacamano says: Sep 17, 2010 2:31 PM

    Romeo Crennel going back to Cleveland is more of a story than a Pioli/Mangini spygate rehash. The Browns and Chiefs just played at the end of last season. Crennel is the only new wrinkle here.

  27. gizzep13 says: Sep 17, 2010 2:37 PM

    And whatnot?

  28. havsolo says: Sep 17, 2010 2:43 PM

    From #4: “Coach Dennis Green dealt with the situation by explaining that Johnson would get his job back when he returns to “100 percent.” Given Cunningham’s play, Johnson never did.” This isn’t quite true. Johnson returned later in the year as starter (against the Jags I think) and got hurt again. After that he recovered but was not given his job back as it was late in the year.

  29. philcommander says: Sep 17, 2010 2:45 PM

    You OBVIOUSLY dont know how stubborn andy reid is…Vick can play the best game of his life…but Kolb will be in ASAP.
    Reid cant admit he is wrong in anything he does.

  30. shaggytoodle says: Sep 17, 2010 3:06 PM

    Actually on the road they were mediocre overall, though they did have some pretty tough road opponents when you look at it.
    ______________________________
    I strongly disagree
    If I am correct, and I if i am not PFT planet will be more than happy to correct me, you only played 2 playoff teams on the road.
    Otherwords its
    @Cle, StL, Pitt, Car, Zona, plus Division. I would say that the majority of those 3 of those picked in the top 7 in the draft. I do realize this isn’t college and you don’t pick the teams you play though. They did have a good year, win all the home games and half the road ones and you’ll be fine. Its a new season and the NFC North has a tougher schedule going to the AFC and NFC east though. So it will be interesting to see how this season pans out.

  31. Matt says: Sep 17, 2010 3:55 PM

    If you’re going to quote Myron Cope to make it look like you know what you’re talking about, jackasses, it’s not “hmm-haw.”

  32. foofeiter says: Sep 17, 2010 4:31 PM

    PackerFanforDecades says:
    September 17, 2010 2:02 PM
    The low-scoring game between the Vikings and Saints may not have been because of exceptionally strong defensive efforts. For example, I recall seeing Minnesota’s defensive line pushed over like bowling pins lots of times.
    .
    For me, strong defensive efforts are characterized by forced fumbles and multiple interceptions run back for points and sacks and passes batted down at the line and running plays disrupted in the backfield. I sure don’t remember seeing much of that in the Vikings/Saints game.
    .
    So, until proven otherwise, this Packer fan is going to interpret the low scoring game down in New Orleans as a poor offensive effort by BOTH teams. There’s a really good chance that interpretation shall be unraveled soon … but until then, my private interpretation has me cheered up about Green Bay’s prospects this season in the NFC.
    ==================================
    Yeah, I can see a reason for your optimism. The Pack was so impressive in beating a team that barely limped into the playoffs last year, put its money on a 2nd string QB that was hurt early and a defense that averaged giving up 28 pts a game its last 3 games.
    The Vikes on the other hand lost on the road to the SB champs holding them to under 20 pts for the first time in 2 years.
    The Vikes offense started out slow last year too, I’d give them more than one game to improve, just as I expect the Pack to improve during the year, or their in trouble as well.

  33. PackerFanforDecades says: Sep 17, 2010 5:02 PM

    Dear “foofeiter” …
    .
    To be fair about the Minnesota offense, I must concede that the Vikings have apparently solved that worrisome “dozen-guys-in-the-huddle-after-a-time-out” issue.
    .
    Also, if the Vikings can continue to cause opposing field goal kickers to come down with some sort of foot freeze, Minnesota’s defense has a shot to keep even more teams under 20 points. :)
    .
    Peace to you.

  34. VikingsPrincess says: Sep 18, 2010 9:24 AM

    So let me get this straight…. this article is really about 10 teams, but you have to use a sensationalistic Vikings-related title with a picture of Favre to get people to care enough to click on it? Interesting.
    The Vikings are far from imploding. They’ve had numerous injuries to overcome during the preseason – like pretty much every other team out there. With all of the season-ending injuries and concussions that occurred in Week One, the Vikings (with a Percy Harvin “hip contusion”) apparently got out pretty lightly by comparison.
    Tomorrow, you can expect to see a more cohesive offense as Favre & Co have had one game together now and 3 practices this week to get their timing a bit refined. Favre had instant chemistry with Camarillo – but the prevailing wisdom is that Camarillo didn’t play much versus the Saints as he was still learning the more intricate plays that are deployed during regular season games. Obviously, Favre & Shiancoe picked up right where they left off in January, so no concerns there. Percy missing practice this week is a bit disappointing – especially since he cut off 2 routes during the Saints game, causing incompletions. The unknown for the offense is really whether or not Berrian is able to step up and try to give Favre an option for stretching the field. Personally, I think that dude is overrated & overpaid, and I haven’t been impressed with him since he joined the Vikings – but Favre did seem to rely on him in the NFCCG – so they just have to get that back. That timing/chemistry won’t solve the issue of Berrian’s blocking: he just can’t. Sidney is a great blocker for other receivers & for Peterson when he breaks off a long run. He’s going to miss Sidney on those plays.
    Looks like we’ll potentially have 4 healthy CBs tomorrow, which would be great. Chris Cook looked impressive in the preseason games. And we could actually put together a dime package – although that will likely not be necessary against the Dolphins.
    Moral of the story: non-implosion, nothing to see here that you can’t see on any other team in the NFL: challenges arise and it’s how a team responds to them that will determine success.

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