In the Box: NFL Week 1

It started with a romp in Indianapolis and ended with a double-dip of final-second Monday Night madness. There was Tom Brady standing cool and collected and Charlie Frye scrambling for his professional life. There was the birth of at least two rookie stars in Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and San Francisco's Patrick Willis. There was the re-birth of the Packers' defense.

And, unfortunately, there was tragedy in the form of Buffalo tight end Kevin Everett's severe spinal cord injury.

This is In the Box, where I'll take a tour of the box scores from each game of the past weekend with lessons learned and potential fantasy impacts.

Indianapolis 41, New Orleans 10: For all the talk of who the Colts lost, Thursday night showed once again why Bill Polian and the Indy personnel department are the best in the NFL. Out go Jason David (New Orleans) and Nick Harper (Tennessee), in come Marlin Jackson (first round, 2005, 12 tackles, and a forced fumble) and Kelvin Hayden (second round, 2005, 9 tackles). Out goes Cato June (Tampa Bay), in comes Freddie Keiaho (undrafted out of San Diego State, 6 tackles, and an interception).

Fantasy impact: Every single Joseph Addai owner about swallowed their tongues when he went down within the first 15 seconds of the game. Kenton Keith might not be a household name, but he's one awkward tackle from having a potentially monster season. If you've got the roster space to store him, do so (especially if you have Addai).

Denver 15, Buffalo 14: Considering the yardage disparity (470 for Denver, 184 for Buffalo), this game was a lot closer than it should have been. Bills QB J.P. Losman finished with just seven more yards passing than rookie Marshawn Lynch had running (97 to 90). That's not good.

Fantasy impact: Crazy stat from the ESPN fantasy department: Denver rookie running back Selvin Young is owned in 7.3 percent of all ESPN leagues. New Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley is at 3.5 percent. Here's betting Stokley is up over 90 by their Week 6 bye. Jump on him now.

Pittsburgh 34, Cleveland 7: I know there's no shot of this happening, especially after the Browns jettisoned Charlie Frye to Seattle today, but I would sit Brady Quinn until Week 12 and let him play a final six of Houston, at Arizona, at the Jets, Buffalo, at Cincinnati, San Francisco. The Browns have no hope of winning in 2007, Quinn or no Quinn. There's no point in getting the kid killed.

With that said, public pressure is a bitch. Whether he starts or not is irrelevant. Quinn makes his debut this Sunday against the Bengals.

Fantasy impact: If you rolled the dice with Jamal Lewis, don't drop him just yet. The Steelers' defense is one of the best in the AFC, so a bad first week was to be expected. I wouldn't start him in Week 2, but I wouldn't cut him yet, either.

Green Bay 16, Philadelphia 13: Two really good defenses collided, and the Eagles made the critical mistakes that cost them the game. Green Bay's first points and only touchdown was off a muffed punt. Their next three came after a Donovan McNabb pick. Down 10-0, the Eagles had first and goal at the six, only to settle for a field goal. With the score tied at 13 with five minutes in the fourth, the Eagles defense forced a turnover and gave the ball to the offense at the Packers' 38. They lost 12 yards and kicked a 22-yard punt. The Eagles D holds. Green Bay punts. Eagles muff. Packers recover and kick the winning field goal.

Poor Philly fans. Watching your team give away road wins with sloppy football is a terrible way to go through life.

Fantasy impact: The Mason Crosby era has begun. The rookie from Colorado looked fantastic, hitting on all three attempts, including a 53-yarder and the game winner.

Carolina 27, St. Louis 13: Excuse me while I channel my inner Barack Obama: I told you! I tried telling everybody the Rams secondary was crap, but nobody wanted to listen. They just wanted to talk about Steven Jackson and Torry Holt and Marc Bulger. But you can't win with meat for a secondary, and that's exactly what the Rams are throwing out there.

The scary part for Rams fans is the offense looked as bad as the defense. Jackson looks like he spent all offseason reading his press clippings (18 rushes for 58 yards and two critical lost fumbles). And now that All-Pro LT Orlando Pace is out for the year, things are only going to get tougher.

Fantasy impact: After staying on the sidelines in Week 1, there's a good shot you'll be seeing new Rams receiver Drew Bennett cut loose by panicking owners. Pick him up. As the season develops, you could very well see the Rams going to a shorter passing game to minimize a pass rush against a weakened offensive line. With Torry Holt's knee still a concern, Bennett could develop into the go-to guy across the middle.

Minnesota 24, Atlanta 3: The final score got out of hand, but lost in the highlights is the fact the Vikings offense was generally ineffective against the Falcons defense. Sixty-yard screen passes for touchdowns are nice and all, but you'll lose more than you win if that and interceptions for touchdowns are your primary mode of scoring. Bottom line from this game: the Vikings aren't this good and the Falcons aren't this bad.

Fantasy impact: For those of us who took a flier on Chester Taylor, cut bait now. You can take up a roster spot hoping his abdominal/hip injury isn't that bad and he'll come back, but Peterson is officially the man for Minnesota. Save yourself the heartache of watching Taylor languish on your bench and move on.

New England 38, New York Jets 14: Leave it to Jets fans to boo their starting quarterback when he gets hurt. I disagree, though, when Chris Berman said, "you're better than that." Actually, you're not. That's exactly who you are.

Fantasy impact: This was chapter one in the development of the Patriots' offense. First, establish Randy Moss as the dominant, must-double number 1 receiver. As teams realize they can't single Moss, they are going to have to leave room for Donte Stallworth on the other side. My bet is we see a big game out him next, though it might not be against the Chargers in Week 2. Then it'll be Ben Watson and Wes Welker over the middle. Then it'll be the running game up the gut.

There's no question the Pats and Colts have the two best offenses in the NFL. Only a huge rash of injuries stops this from being the AFC Championship Game once again. The question is where.

Washington 16, Miami 13: The most shocking stat of this game was the Redskins' ability to run on the Dolphins' D to the tune of 191 yards on 41 carries (4.66 average). Combined with the Washington run defense, holding Miami to just 66 yards on 20 carries, and the 'Skins seem positioned for success. With that said, Jason Campbell is going to have to play a lot better than 12-of-21 with 2 picks if he expects to come out of Philly with a "W" next Monday.

Fantasy impact: This may be a good time to pick up Ronnie Brown on the cheap. His numbers against Washington were horrible (11 carries for 32 yards), but supposed option 1A Jesse Chatman was even less effective on the ground (7 carries for 15 yards), had a fumble in the second quarter, and looked to be limping toward the end of the game. Here's betting Brown goes back to being more of a true No. 1 and rebounds in Week 2 against a Dallas team that allowed 5.6 yards per rush against the Giants in Week 1.

Tennessee 13, Jacksonville 10: That tie around Jack Del Rio's throat has to be feeling more and more like a noose as his defense got smoked for 282 yards rushing at home. Chris Brown, who had to settle for a job-sharing role with the Titans after a lukewarm reception in free agency, rushed for 175 yards on only 19 carries. That's a 9.2-yard-per-rush average against what was supposed to be one of the best defenses in the league. Truly shocking.

Fantasy impact: Matt Jones didn't catch a single ball and Del Rio didn't even dress Reggie Williams. Coupled with the ultimate demise of the Byron Lefwich era, and you have to ask: which is more at fault, the Jaguars' drafting philosophy or their inability to get the best out of their players? Either way, it doesn't matter for Jones or Williams. They are non-factors from a fantasy perspective.

Houston 20, Kansas City 3: It is going to be a loooooong year for Kansas City. Houston looked good, but I'm not completely sold. Their offense only scored 1 touchdown and twice they had to settle for field goals after having first downs in the red zone. That needs to improve.

Fantasy impact: Ahman Green owners had to be upset seeing Ron Dayne get nearly as many carries (13 to Green's 16) as the guy who just got a $30 million contract. If I'm a Green owner (which, thankfully, I'm not), I'd unload on another owner faster than you can say "platoon."

Detroit 36, Oakland 21: Lane Kiffin should immediately turn the team over to Daunte Culpepper and leave him in there for as much of the rest of the year as possible. If the team tanks, maybe you give the finally-signed JaMarcus Russell a shot toward the end of the season. But they need better than what Josh McCown gave them (2 picks, 3 fumbles, though none lost) against a vulnerable defense.

Fantasy impact: With the return of Roy Williams and Mike Furrey, plus the addition of Calvin Johnson, the Lions' Shaun McDonald has been somewhat of an afterthought. But it was McDonald who led the Lions with 6 catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. And he's available in a lot of leagues (99.8 percent of ESPN leagues, to be exact).

San Diego 14, Chicago 3: Some games are low scoring because of bad offense. This was a classic showdown of great defense. And it was also a showcase of how the Bears need to do something to get more out of their offense. They'll be able to win 10 or 11 games with that defense (though the loss of Mike Brown really hurts). But you need to score to win a Super Bowl. They need to start Brian Griese. That's all there is to it.

Fantasy impact: If you were to make up a Week 1 All-Panic Team, made up entirely of guys whose owners want to drop them out of pure spite, the starting running back would be Cedric Benson. 19 carries for 42 yards and a lost fumble is no way to endear yourself to a fan-base who never really liked you in the first place.

Seattle 20, Tampa Bay 6: Seattle still has some work to do on offense, but their defense looked far better with the addition of Patrick Kerney. He and last year's big free-agent signing, Julian Peterson, combined for 3.5 of the Seahawks 5 sacks. Right now, Seattle is the class of the NFC West, and there really isn't a close second.

Fantasy impact: If you have Deion Branch, who was shutout by the Tampa D, don't panic. He's still in for a great year. If you don't have him, see if whoever does will let him go cheap.

Dallas 45, New York Giants 35: For at least one week, my Tony Romo-for-MVP campaign is in good standing. He looked great against a Giants defense that has so many holes, it could pass for the occupation strategy for Iraq. Maybe they can use a surge and play with 16 guys on defense instead of just 11.

Fantasy impact: If Brandon Jacobs is out for any length of time, it should be Reuben Droughns, not Derrick Ward, who becomes the feature back. He's done it before and he can do it again. Ward hasn't. You can expect Droughns to hit the waiver wire in most leagues. If you're looking for a potential payoff down the line, pick him up and wait for logic to set in.

Cincinnati 27, Baltimore 20: First thing's first: the Hall of Fame jacket "celebration" by Chad Johnson was bunk. It looked like it was made by his middle-school girlfriend.

As for the game itself, injuries to Jonathan Ogden and Steve McNair are ultimately going to kill the season and result in Brian Billick's final demise. Add in the fact that Ray Lewis has, according to reports, a torn triceps, and a bunch of other guys had to receive treatment during the game, and this could get ugly fast.

Fantasy impact: The Bengals' D looked very capable of finally pulling its weight. They forced six turnovers and allowed Baltimore to convert on just 2-of-13 third-down attempts. Consider them a valuable pickup to start against Cleveland in Week 2.

San Francisco 20, Arizona 17: This was just ugly. Both defenses can play, and the 49ers' Willis is a stud in the making, but this game was bad offense all around. Alex Smith seems to be running backwards every other pass attempt, Darrell Jackson still has hands of stone, the Cards' offensive line still has holes (especially with new starting center Al Johnson out), and Vernon Davis (2 catches for 4 yards) was a complete non-factor.

Also, Mike Ditka should never be allowed to call another game ever. I feel terrible for Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic that Ditka's inane ramblish (rambling rubbish) ruined their one shot at a Monday night game.

Fantasy impact: Arnaz Battle is a quality receiver with good hands. Contrasted with D-Jax's continuing troubles with drops, and you could see a 75-80 catch season ahead for the former Notre Dame quarterback.

Seth Doria is a freelance writer based out of St. Louis. For the only daily column that mixes sports, politics, and entertainment news in one, visit The Left Calf.

Comments and Conversation

September 12, 2007

Richard Stone:

Interesting to read the comments on week 1 NFL from Seth Doria.
I live in Wales U.K. but have been a fan of American football since around 1982 and grew up watching the likes of Joe Theisman (Redskins) and William Perry (The Fridge).

Obviously being so far from the action, I have had to rely on U.K tv channels to catch the games, initially through channel 4 presented by Mick Luckhurst (remember him…..Atlanta Falcons?)

Anyway, for the last few years the coverage in the U.K has improved tremendously and I can now watch 5 live games per week through Sky Sports, who take the live feeds from the various American networks.

On the whole the commentary teams are superb especially Joe Buck/ Troy Aikman/Pam Oliver on Fox and Steve Simms on CBS.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the current Monday night football team on ESPN/ABC.
Too much rambling, misplaced comments etc…..I was starting to wonder if the three commentators were watching the same game as the rest of us.
One other annoying thing was that sometimes the commentry was lost in the sound effects of the game and you could only pick up the odd phrase here and there.


Having said all that, I really enjoyed the actual game and was sorry that the Cardinals lost it with only a few seconds remaining.

Bye the way, I am a life long Denver/ John Elway fan and hope that Jay Cutler can live up to expectations this season.

Thanks for taking the time to read my comments.

Richard Stone - U.K.

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