Weird Week in Football

From Daunte Culpepper to Peyton Manning week two in the NFL was full of disappointments. The top two quarterbacks last season combined for zero touchdowns and six interceptions. The running game continued to be hit or miss for many teams as backs like Shaun Alexander went for 144 yards and one touchdown while Ahman Green could only manage 54 yards. The oddities weren’t limited to the offensive side of the ball. Baltimore’s vaunted defense was completely overmatched, while Indy’s revamped defense only allowed three points to Jacksonville’s young emerging offense.

When Randy Moss was traded to Oakland in the off-season many thought that the Vikings offense would be able to survive with Culpepper as their unquestioned leader. However after just two games it is very obvious that this Minnesota offense is nothing like it has been in the past. Whether it is due to the absence of Moss or the lack of running game due to the suspension of Ontarrio “The Whiz” Smith, it is clear that Culpepper is just not the same quarterback. It could be easy to blame last week’s 3 interceptions on the tough Tampa defense, but this week’s five interceptions to Cincinnati? The only reason for that is Culpepper just has way to much pressure on his shoulders being Minnesota’s only scoring threat. He won’t be this bad all season and he can still be counted on to go off for a huge game on any week, but he is no longer one of the premiere fantasy players.

It is definitely too early to be concerned about Peyton Manning but this week was just weird. For starters it was only the fifth time in one hundred plus starts that he did not complete at least 50% of his passes. I know Jacksonville’s defense is good, but Manning passing for 122 yards with no touchdowns and 1 interception has got to be one of the biggest surprises of this young season. Look for Manning to get back on track next week as Indy goes to Cleveland to take on the Browns suspect passing defense.

Running backs either went big this week or they couldn’t manage much. Shaun Alexander rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown, Cadillac Williams had another great game with 128 and 1 TD. On the other side were Ahman Green, 54 yards, and Corey Dillon, 36 yards. I’m not sure why established backs are having such difficulties getting on track this year. LaDainian Tomlinson was the consensus number one fantasy player, but has only managed 108 yards and two touchdowns this season. Dillon, Green, and Stephen Jackson have not gotten on track yet and have looked pretty rusty so far. They are all good backs with good quarterbacks and should be able to turn it around soon.

As surprising as Culpepper has been this year Baltimore’s defense might be as big a surprise. They played a solid first half against Indy but then allowed 24 points in the second half. Against a young inexperienced Tennessee they allowed 25 points, although 7 were on an interception return, and only managed 1 sack and no takeaways. In their two games this year they have given up 49 points and have only managed one sack and no takeaways. Baltimore’s defense was supposed to offset their anemic offense and lead them back to the playoffs. They have the same core of quality players but they are just not able to prevent big plays. If they keep playing like this their team is in big trouble and any fantasy team that has them for a defense is in trouble also.

While Baltimore has had trouble with their defense it looks like Indy’s defense has taken that next step towards putting them in the Super Bowl. In two games they have allowed 10 points while registering 9 sacks and three interceptions. Their defense has been incredible for fantasy players who were willing to take a chance on them. With Dwight Freeny on the end applying constant pressure they don’t need to blitz their linebackers so they are able to defend the pass also. With this defense and the way Manning can throw the ball it looks like Indy has a great chance to beat New England and finally make it to the big game.

The second week is too soon to make rash decisions on whether star players will not be able to perform like they have in the past. In a few weeks things we should have a better idea as to who will perform this year and who won’t. Until then just stay patient and hope you can stay competitive until the stars get back on track. On a final note, Jake “The Snake” Plummer looked much better this week. He had that interception but was much more accurate and led that final game winning drive.



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