September 23, 2010

NFL Week 2 - Three Open Questions

Not surprisingly, it's extremely hard to figure out who's good and who's bad in the NFL after week 2.  For most teams, there just isn't enough evidence to prove whether they are a contender or pretender.  Three of the most burning unanswered questions are in New York, Philadelphia and Houston.

1.  Are the Giants an 11-5 or 5-11 team?

Of all the 1-1 teams in the league, the Giants have had the most inconsistent performance thus far, beating up on an awful Panthers team in the home opener and getting blown out by an A+ effort from Peyton Manning, Dwight Freeney and the Colts on the road.  On paper, you'd expect New York to be .500 after these two matchups, so the record isn't the problem.  What's perplexing is the gargantuan disparity in the quality of play from game to game.  Are they the team that looked like they're back to Super Bowl form in battering Matt Moore into turnover after turnover or the team that looked old on the offensive line, weak in the defensive front seven and painfully slow to adjust the game plan (never helping the tackles block Freeney and Mathis) against the Colts?  It's impossible to say right now, which is personally worrisome to me as a lifelong Giants fan.  Fortunately, we'll get our answer by the end of week 5 after tough but winnable matchups with playoff contenders Tennessee, Chicago and Houston.

2.  Is Michael Vick for real?

Vick has been electric, and he's certain to swing the balance of power in countless fantasy leagues, but what do 6 quarters of football tell us about his ability to win games for the Philadelphia Eagles?  On the one hand, 52 points, 459 passing yards, a 63% completion rate, 3 passing touchdowns and no interceptions show the kind of real growth as a pocket passer Vick needed to achieve to make the leap from human highlight reel to game changing weapon.  However, on the other hand, he's put up those stats against a Green Bay team that game planned for Kevin Kolb and didn't adjust and a Lions defense that's on the rise but is still a year away from being legitimately good.  Plus, 8 sacks and a pair of fumbles suggest that he still has more to learn.  Odds are, we'll be asking this question all season long without ever being sure of the answer.

3.  Can Houston finally topple the Colts?

They did it once already head to head, but can they do it over the course of an entire season?  History is certainly against them but a pair of impressive early victories suggest that the tide may be turning.  What we know is that the Texans have an explosive offense led by all-world Andre Johnson and maybe All-Pro Matt Schaub, the offensive line has become a genuine asset and the defense has disruptive stars in Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans.  What we don't know is if Arian Foster is for real, if the oft-injured Schaub can stay healthy or if the other 9 starters on defense are good enough to keep Houston out of constant shootouts. 

Of course, there's always the chance that it might not matter.  Despite being a game up on their rivals they're still the underdog to the Colts, who are always a threat to run away with the division with a 14-2 season.

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