‘They are who we thought they were’

Published 8:49 pm Saturday, September 19, 2009

There were a couple surprises in the NFL’s opening week. Mark Sanchez looked outstanding and all of the sudden the Jets are a playoff team. San Francisco’s defense learning quickly from Mike Singletary and making everything tough on Arizona (the defending NFC champs, remember?) was weird.

Overall though, the more things change, the more the Patriots, Steelers and Giants are who they are and the more the Raiders, Bengals and Bills are who they are.

The Pats, Steelers and Giants were mostly ugly, but won. For the Raiders, Cincy and Buffalo, most of week one looked like an optimistic new beginning, only for the last box to have Charlie Brown whiff on the field goal, well, that’s not a literal connection.

Tom Brady remembered who he was for the last five minutes and that was good enough for the Patriots to find a way to win. One Buffalo mistake was all it took.

As a Browns fan, I speak from too much experience. As soon as Leodis McKelvin started, stopped, thought for a half-second, then started again to bring that kick out of the end zone, it was way too easy to say, “No! No! No!”. Then it looked as though McKelvin was down and the play was safely over. The Bills had survived, but, then there was a pile-up and three or four Patriots pointing the other way, and yes, “No! No! No!” was in fact right.

Pittsburgh was nothing like Pittsburgh. The Steelers ran for 19 yards and Ben Roethlisberger had to throw 43 passes. Then Hines Ward, going in for the winning touchdown, as any Cleveland fan knew he would, fumbled for the first time in years. The stats and fumble didn’t matter in the end, the Steelers still won.

The Giants weren’t pretty. Eli Manning fumbled and threw an interception. The Redskins held the Giants to only one offensive touchdown. Nonetheless, because it was the Redskins vs. the Giants, the Giants won an ugly game with little concern.

Everyone saw and laughed at Cincinnati’s collapse. Even more comedic was that Denver’s miracle was more lucky/unlucky. The pass wasn’t meant for Stokely, although with Kyle Orton throwing it, the world will never know, but a Bengal player tipped it perfectly to Stokely in stride.

And on Monday night, Oakland dominated the game. LaDainian Tomlinson fumbled for the first time since even before Ward had fumbled. The Raiders were running and passing the ball up and down the field. Yet, since it was Oakland, San Diego was down only three when it got the ball for the last time.

Finally, and it’s none of my concern for anyone who wants to put money on sporting events. Heck, it’s clearly a better bet than say, playing the lottery, and that’s state-sanctioned gambling, but if anyone cares about my opinion, look no further than my record from last week’s 16 NFL games.

On one hand, 11 of 16 winners in an NFL week is tough to do. On the other hand, I would’ve been way in the hole thanks to stuff like Washington’s garbage-time touchdown and New England looking right at home in their 1980s jerseys.

Carolina (0-1) at Atlanta (1-0) – 1 p.m.

Line – Atlanta by 6

My pick – Atlanta 27-13

Minnesota (1-0) at Detroit (0-1) – 1 p.m.

Line – Vikings by 9.5

My pick – Vikings 21-17

Cincinnati (0-1) at Green Bay (1-0) – 1 p.m.

Line – Packers by 9

My pick – Packers 31-10

Arizona (0-1) at Jacksonville (0-1) – 1 p.m.

Line – Jaguars by 3

My pick – Arizona 28-21

Oakland (0-1) at Kansas City (0-1) – 1 p.m.

Line – K.C. by 3

My pick – Chiefs 17-12

New England (1-0) at N.Y. Jets (1-0) – 1 p.m.

Line – Patriots by 3.5

My pick – Patriots 33-27

New Orleans (1-0) at Philadelphia (1-0) – 1 p.m.

Line – Saints by 1

My pick – Saints 28-13

Houston (0-1) at Tennessee (0-1) – 1 p.m.

Line – Titans by 6.5

My pick – Texans 20-17

St. Louis (0-1) at Washington (0-1) – 1 p.m.

Line – Redskins by 9.5

My pick – Redskins 24-7

Seattle (1-0) at San Francisco (1-0) – 4 p.m.

Line – 49ers by 1.5

My pick – S.F. 21-16

Tampa Bay (0-1) at Buffalo (0-1) – 4 p.m.

Line – Bills by 5

My pick – Bills 31-14

Pittsburgh (1-0) at Chicago (0-1) – 4 p.m.

Line – Steelers by 3

My pick – Steelers 22-14

Cleveland (0-1) at Denver (1-0) – 4 p.m.

Line – Denver by 3

My pick – Browns 31-21

Baltimore (1-0) at San Diego (1-0) – 4 p.m.

Line – S.D. by 3

My pick – Ravens 17-14

N.Y. Giants (1-0) at Dallas (1-0) – 8:15 p.m.

Line – Dallas by 2.5

My pick – Dallas 30-28

Indianapolis (1-0) at Miami (0-1) – 8:30 p.m., Monday

Line – Colts by 3

My pick – Miami 24-21

Last week

Straight-up – 11-5

Vs. the spread – 6-10