Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Rest of the NFL Begins Play Today

Fresh on the heels of Thursday night's blockbuster NFL season opener between the Super Bowl Champion Steelers and the Nashville Titans -- which happened to be the highest-rated televised event since the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 -- the rest of the NFL teams kick off their season today. Should be fun.

Actually, the slate really isn't all that compelling. Sure, there may be some good game, along with some match-ups and rookie debuts that will be interesting to watch, but really ... Lions-Saints? Chiefs-Ravens? Vikings-Browns? Rams-Seahawks? Bills-Patriots? Come onnn-n-n.

Those games are likely to be one-sided or just plain drab.

Granted, all eyes will be Brett Favre-Favre-Favre. Brady Quinn? Maybe. And rookie QB sensation Mark Sanchez, sure, as the Jets take on the Texans in Houston. But, still ... puh-lee-e-ease.

Two games, in any case, should draw the attention of Steelers fans.

One is the Broncos-Bengals clash in Cincinnati. The Broncos are of interest because the Steelers play at Denver on Nov. 9, and the Broncos have had arguably the most turbulent off-season of any NFL team, although you could add Tampa Bay, Oakland and Minnesota to that conversation.

Denver's new boy-wonder head coach, Josh McDaniels, is a Bill Bellicheat protege. McDaniels promptly set about to make his mark in the Mile High City by trading the whining, so-called franchise quarterback Jay Cutler to Chicago for a bundle of future draft choices and chronic underachieving drunk QB Kyle Orton. That should go well. Yeah. Oh, and Denver, of course, also has been prominently in the news because of the summer-long antics of petulant prima donna wideout Brandon Marshall, who demanded a re-worked contract and then a trade, and who pouted, sulked and acted out like a pouty enfant terrible all summer. The Broncos finally suspended him, only to lift the suspension last Friday and supposedly offer a lucrative contract
extension to reward, uh, what? We're not really sure. Maybe just to show who's in charge, which of course begs the question, Who is in charge there, anyway? Again, we're not sure.

For all that, the Broncos do have some potent offensive weapons (except at the crucial quarterback position). For all we know, too, McDaniels may be a good Xs-and-Os game manager. And Denver is always tough at home, which is where the Steelers will play them.

As for Cincinnati, the Bengals will be interesting to watch today simply because they are a divisional rival, and we play at Cincinnati in only two weeks.

Every year, Joey Porter's Pit Bulls keep expecting the Bengals to improve significantly. And, every year, the Bungles suck. This year, we expect to see improvements on a defense that ranked No. 12 overall in the NFL last season, believe it or not. And quarterback Carson Palmer, as over-rated as we believe he is, does return (presumably healthy). So, yes, the Bungles once again concern us, and they bear watching, for as long as you can stomach it.

Speaking of bears, of particular interest to Steelers' fans will be tonight's Bears-Packers game, since the Steelers play at Chicago next Sunday. We shall see if the much-ballyhooed arrival of wunderkind Jay Cutler will pan out as hoped in Chicagoland. Yeah, we know: Cutler has a big arm. The punk, however, has never won anything. His career record at Vanderbilt and in Denver is well below .500. And Chicago still doesn't have any wide receivers who are accomplished, polished or much of a threat. We shall see.

Should be fun.

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