My weekly ritual of shallow, half-baked thoughts from Sunday's NFL results:
Panthers: NFL's 2nd-Best Team? In the ever-changing search for the next nominee for "Who's No. 2?" in the NFL (behind the Bears, of course), might I nominate the hard-charging Panthers?
After an 0-2 start to the season, Carolina notched its 4th win in a row -- and its biggest yet -- over the 4-1 Ravens, which included a career day from Jake Delhomme (365 yards, 2 TDs), 189 yards from star Steve Smith and 3 FGs from John Kasay, all while the D held the Ravens to 80 yards rushing, the fourth straight game they've held an opponent to under 100 yards on the ground. Classic Panthers. Sure looks like a team with No. 2 Mo to me.
(Meawhile, who had "Week 7" in the office pool for "When will an injury to Steve McNair ruin his surprisingly good start for the Ravens?")
Ugh: I can't believe T.O. caught 3 TDs.
That would be the most depressing result of the day if it wasn't for the fact that Torry Holt beat out T.O. for best (read: Fantasy) WR of the day (even if the Rams lost to the Seahawks).
How can you NOT feel good for the Saints, losing a 17-3 lead to the Eagles to fall behind early in the 4th, then rallying with a TD, holding the Eagles offense off and giving themselves a chance to win in the final seconds on a John Carney FG? What a story this team is.
(And they did it all without a big game from Reggie Bush, who isn't even the best rookie in his own division, let alone NFL Rookie of the Year.)
Wait, are you
Wait, are youlooking for the REAL Rookie of the Year? Here you go:
Bruce Gradkowski is the new Ben Roethlisberger, the MAC alumni QB making a huge splash as a rookie, the latest a 2-TD effort today that included a last-minute, game-winning TD pass.
But, after just two games, I'd say what Gradkowski has done is even more impressive than what Big Ben did after two games as a starter.
(In fact, I'm calling it now: "Big Bruce" as a nickname, though I've read "Bruce Almighty" being thrown around. Now THAT's bold.)
I even looked up the numbers to back up my argument (shocking, I know): In Big Ben's first two games starting for the Steelers as a rookie, he was 24-42 for 339 yards, with 3 TDs and 3 INTs. The Steelers went 1-1. In Big Bruce's first two games starting for the Bucs as a rookie, he was 45-75 for 409 yards, with 4 TDs and 0 INTs. The Bucs went 1-1.
(I suck, but I'm humbled by the collective abilities of the Commenters. I leave up my sorry-ass analysis up here as penance. You all rule. See? THIS is why I never deal in numbers.)
But it comes down to this: Gradkowski is doing it with one of the worst five teams in the NFL; R'berger did it with one of the best top five teams. Who's job is easier -- thus, whose success is more impressive?
Speaking of Big Ben, it looks like he's back. At the very least, the Chiefs were the perfect antidote for what up until now has been a completely forgettable season for R'berger.
Joining the Bucs in the "Winless No More" column are the Titans, who shocked the suddenly reeling Redskins behind rookie Vince Young's first NFL win. (The Lions did it, too, leaving only the sorry Raiders.)
It's hard to proclaim the Falcons the NFL's top running team when they're out-gained on the ground by the Giants in a loss. (Tiki Barber had one of those frustrating days for a fantasy owner where you wonder how he could rush for 185 yards and still not score any TDs.)
Chargers blow out 49ers: Philip Rivers is looking like so much more than a mere Big Ben-style "game manager": He looks like an aggressive, accurate star-in-the-making.
I can't believe Joey Harrington almost led the Dolphins to a 17-point 4th-quarter comeback on the Jets. How are the Jets 3-3?
There's "Winless No More" and then there's the Raiders:
MNF: Tonight is going to be ugly, but it's the chance for the Bears to prove to the whole country that they deserve to be considered the overwhelming Super Bowl favorite at this point.-- D.S.