A few quick thoughts as the best week ever at NFL.com/Shek gives way to the blessed first Sunday of NFL football …
• No team needs a win in Week One more than Rex’s Jets against division foe/possible wildcard rival Buffalo. Considering the last six months of Us Weekly-worthy attention paid to Tebow vs. Sanchez, Sanchez vs. Santonio & Santonio vs. Sanity, a season-opening loss at home to the Bills could send this team/circus into (excuse the pun) a fast tailspin … especially considering they’ve got a trip to Pittsburgh looming in Week 2.
• Whatever you think of the late Art Modell — who should be in the Hall of Fame, if only because he came up “Monday Night Football” — he deserves a slight tip of the hat from Cleveland football fans for leaving the Browns name behind when he moved the team to Baltimore. Bad as the Browns have been since ’99, they’d be downright unwatchable if they were a teal-and-purple team called the Cleveland Xplosion (or some other such newfangled nonsense).
• The Rams will exceed almost every prognosticator’s expectations … with the noteworthy exceptions of Around the League scribe/emerging star of “The Dave Dameshek Football Program” @DanHanzus and me. 52 ½ weeks ago, everyone was picking the 2010 Rookie of the Year Sam Bradford & the Rams to win the NFC West (again, with the noteworthy exception of me, who picked the Niners). I told you then that they’d start the 2011 season 0-6 (which they did) and I’m now telling you they’ll go 8-8. A couple insiders told me Steve Spanuolo, while a respected defensive tactician, simply wasn’t cut out for head coaching. Fortunately for the Rams, Jeff Fisher was.
• As @AdamRank brought up on the podcast this week, this might well be the last season for the Rams in St. Louis. But what if I’m right about things looking up for them in 2012? Might it create a groundswell of fan support, which in turn could rejuvenate talks of a new stadium? Hmm … L.A. football fans, now 18 years removed from having a pro team, better root hard for another stinker of a season in St. Louis.
• I’m often accused of being “biased,” a “homer” or “ugly” (that last one has nothing to do with my point … but it does hurt my feelings). Let me set the record straight: Yes, I am a football fan. As such, I continue to root for the team for which I’ve always rooted. However, as an adult with an (almost) fully formed brain, I’m also able to distinguish between what I’d like to see happen versus what I think will happen. To wit: I believe Joe Flacco is about to break out. The Ravens’ D will be down this season. The offense will have to pick up the slack … and Flacco, with a significant assist from sophomore receiver Torrey Smith, will lead the way.
• As for the team I happen to root for in the AFC North, the Steelers will not be overwhelmed by the gaga atmosphere in Mile High this Sunday night. You surely recall the way Tim Tebow shamed them last January — a loss Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu and the rest have had a long time to think about. Win or lose to Peyton & Co. (and it’ll be a tight one), Dick LeBeau’s unit will reclaim its pride on national TV.
• The Gold Star of David Upset of the Week: Titans over Patriots
• Another emerging star of the podcast, Handsome Hank (@NFLUKHank) brought up an interesting campaign idea: Just as 2011 had ‘Suck for (Andrew) Luck’, the industrious Hank is looking to develop this year’s slogan for sucktatious suitors of USC QB Matt Barkley. How say you, Shek Republic? Please leave responses in the comments section. As always, this blog page is for the people, by the people. I’ll get the ball rolling with this: ‘Roll Out The Welcome, Matt’
• As you can read lower on the blog page, I just updated my “Things I Never Need To Hear Again” list. Please contribute your ideas in the comments section below. The best suggestion will receive a Shek Republic t-shirt from our pals at BackpagePress.com.
Much obliged, everybody. Remember, whether your team wins or loses on Sunday/Monday, football is back. That makes all of us winners. Enjoy Week 1!