Hump-day after week 1 of the 2011 NFL. The overreactions are settling down. Everyone is pontificating about what may come. I, too wonder many things. Here are a few things that I am interested to find out in this weekend's upcoming battles throughout the league.
Our guys had a dominant performance against the lowly Seahawks, but the 'Boys are coming to town. The Cowboys offensive line allowed 4 sacks last week against the Jets blitzing defense. Will we see the 49ers come into their glory as a creative blitzing unit similar to what GB runs with Dom Capers? Against the Seahawks, we recorded 5 sacks. Only 2 of them came on blitzes, so a majority were created by pressure from the d-line. I would argue that we need more blitzing this week against Dallas, but if we blitz the db's better be ready to play some smart football or we will get torched over the top. I'm nervously optimistic about this matchup.
How will Sam Bradford perform with a bruised finger in his throwing hand?
Mike Sando is reporting as of this afternoon that Bradford participated in full practice today and that he said it feels "10 times better" http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcwest/post/_/id/45405/bradfords-prognosis-should-boost-rams. Still, this could be an issue if he gets banged up at all. His upcoming opponent is the NY Giants who are having some injury problems of their own. Perhaps his biggest hurdle to having a good game will be the injury to his favorite target, Danny Amendola as well as the injury to Stephen Jackson. Bradford has a tall task in front of him, and I am curious to see what happens.
Brian Urlacher's mother passed away this week: will he come to play this weekend, and will the team rally around their leader?
First off, my condolences to Brian Urlacher and his entire circle of friends and family.
What a warrior Urlacher has been over the course of his career. I can't see him not coming back this weekend to be with his other family; his football family. Football players are tight in a way that most of us could never fathom. They are brothers. In my humble opinion, the team will rally around their unquestioned leader. Their opponent, the New Orleans Saints, are coming off a tough loss to an unstoppable force in Green Bay, and I think Chicago will need everyone playing at a high level to come away with the win.
Will Cam Newton be able to see straight against the Green Bay Packers?
Cam Newton was brilliant last Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals, however, were fielding a secondary whose leader in Adrian Wilson is playing hurt, and they started a rookie in Patrick Peterson. Peterson is supremely talented, but he is a rookie nonetheless and, as such, made some rookie mistakes against the Panthers. The Packers, on the other side of the universe, field a very savvy and experienced group of db's headed by an all-time great by the time he retires, Charles Woodson. In addition, Dom Capers is one of the most aggressive defensive co-ordinators in the league. Their defense is known for getting big hits and big picks on a regular basis...against pro-bowl quarterbacks. Cam Newton may get a taste of humble pie by the time this game is over.
Will the Atlanta Falcons start off the 2011 NFL season 0-2?
After being humiliated last weekend by the Chicago Bears, the Falcons face another stern test on Sunday against the dangerous Philadelphia Eagles. It is a home game for the Falcons, but they need to win (not really, but starting out the season 0-2 in their division would be very dangerous). This game could turn into a shootout, especially because it is played inside a dome and both teams have good, fast receivers and qb's that throw nice deep balls. The Falcons might do well to pound away at the inside of Philly's D, too, because the Eagles are suspect against the run. This could also open up the top later on. The thing is, I think Philly will win this game, and I think the Falcons could be sweating their decision to trade away 5 picks for Julio Jones. We'll see.
Will McNabb bounce back or will Ponder see action?
Donavan McNabb's performance was utterly heinous against the Chargers on Sunday. I mean, I couldn't believe that he used to be good. He was that bad. His stat line was 7-15 for 39 yards and 1 td. And we have people complaining about Alex Smith's stats? C'mon! So, will he revive from near-death or will he simply shrivel up and die? I think he still has a gallon or so left in the tank, and I think that he'll play better this week against the Buccaneers. Oh, they will still lose, though, without a doubt.
How badly will the Pittsburg Steelers abuse the Seattle Seahawks?
After getting their booties handed to them by the Baltimore Ravens last weekend, the Steelers will be looking for a bitch to slap. Meet the Seattle Seahawks. This game could get ugly very early, and I think that we can be sure that Seattle will still be at least one game behind us after this week.
Might we see an epic offensive duel on Sunday afternoon with San Diego playing in Boston against the Patriots?
It would not surprise me to see over 1,000 total yards of offense between these two dynamic powerhouses. Tom Brady is a field surgeon out there, able to make cold decisions in the blink of an eye (even though he has all day to throw sometimes), and Phillip Rivers is a gun slinger who has the utmost confidence that his guy will always end up with the ball (and he's right most of the time). This will be a game worthy of recording and enjoying after watching our Niners hopefully smash the hated Cowboys.
So, what questions are you looking forward to getting answered this weekend?