Melissa’s Monday Musings: AFC West Showcases Early Dominance

Hey you, person who thought the Patriots were doomed. Tom Brady has 447 yards, 3 TDs, and five really shiny rings he’d like to show you. Until Brady turns 72 and Bill Belichick’s brain cells disintegrate, the Patriots will always be in the conversation.

The Pats return to form was just one of many pillars that marked a return to normalcy. The worst teams in the league are (in particular order) the Jets, Bears, 49ers and Bengals; Denver’s stout defense showcased its dominating ways; and Alex Smith put in a Smithian performance (21-for-28, 1 TD, 251 passing yards, a win).

The NFL’s one constant, of course, is there is always much to dissect. This week we do so in the form of questions, some you might expect like on the quarterbacking quandary in Chicago and others you will not.

What division is the NFL’s best?

Had Chargers rookie kicker Younghoo Koe’s game-tying kick last week not been blocked, and Sunday’s game-winning 44-yarder not been missed, the Chargers would be 2-0 and the entire AFC West would be undefeated. The Chiefs, Raiders and Broncos are all 2-0, which is made all the more impressive when you consider how they’ve won. All three beat top-flight opponents – the Chiefs over the Pats (on the road) and Philly, the Raiders topped the Titans and the Broncos demolished Dallas. The one commonality among all four AFC West teams is that they have no questions at quarterback. (Only the NFC East and NFC South can make the same claim). It’s early but barring major injury there is no reason any of the teams in this division won’t be duking it out for a bye week like last season.

Is Tony Romo already the best analyst in the NFL?

At this point it’s hard to argue with the notion that the two best analysts in terms of insight are Romo and Collinsworth. Romo’s knowledge and ability to read the mind of offensive coordinators is stunning. Late in the second quarter, as the Saints lined up on the Patriots’ 5, Romo said “fade inside to 16. The ball snapped and Drew Brees faded inside and, yes, hit Brandon Coleman (#16).

The most appealing part of Romo may be that he is so incredibly engaging. He’s like some phantom dude at a sports bar who is way hipper than everyone, knows more than everyone but instead of playing too cool for school genuinely wants to sure his love of football with you. Romo has a technical way of describing some plays but he frames it all in personality and thirst for the game. Bonus points for trying to have comedic banter with Jim Nantz.

For now I still give the edge to Collinsworth simply because of precedent but I already consider any game Romo is calling must see tv.

Where’s Mitch?

Chicago sure loves its turnover prone quarterbacks that are either lazy or lacking in talent. Mike Glennon falls comfortably on that spectrum, a reality that was on full display Sunday. Glennon had the chance to avenge his time in Tampa Bay but instead threw another pick six, along with a second interception and a lost fumble. It was baffling that rookie preseason star Mitchell Trubisky was not brought into action when the second half was garbage time for Chicago. More perplexing is John Fox instantly stating that Glennon would continue to start for the 0-2 Bears. Name one reason this makes sense. I’ll wait.


Will Pittsburgh become a powerhouse?

The Steelers are 2-0 which is all that really matters. Still, they narrowly edged the Browns last week and hardly blew out the Case Keenum-led Minnesota Vikings. Pittsburgh’s defense has been stout – they held Minnesota to 237 total yards – but their line has had trouble containing powerful defensive fronts.

Le’Veon Bell was far more involved Sunday, (He had 27 carries vs. 10 last week) and the benefits to a heavy Bell usage are clear. But the Steelers’ hopes may rest on whether or not their defense can continue its dominance. The 2-0 Ravens also have a powerhouse defense and the first test of whose defense is best is coming in Week 4. At that point we should know which of these teams is the early frontrunner in the AFC North.

Are three running backs necessary in New Orleans?

No. Adrian Peterson is a fascinating cat with a storied career. But we’re half a decade past Peterson’s 2,000 yard season and nothing he has shown in the first two games is reminiscent of the “All Day” who made us marvel. He’s a 32-year old running back. These things happen. As Romo said on the broadcast, he needs to do something wildly explosive to warrant being a featured back once again. Peterson was a little harder to tackle this week against New England but still averaged just 3.2 yards per carry on 8 attempts.

Mark Ingram has already proven his ability to be explosive (and would probably work as an every down back). Alvin Kamara is shifty and a threat in the passing game. So while Peterson still has some oomph left, the Saints backfield seems like too many cooks in the kitchen at this point.

Why does Fox need to have two rules analysts?

Mike Pereira is king of this space, both in on camera delivery and analysis. Dean Blandino is fine but he hardly adds anything Pereira can’t tell you. If we’re hiring niche analysts, how about injury experts?

The most attractive waiver wire options is…?

Understanding the Seahawks running game has been more complex that dissecting the math theorem in Good Will Hunting. But Chris Carson, a rookie drafted in the seventh round may have provided clarity. Carson ran for 93 yards on 20 carries and was clearly given the reins as the lead back. Peter Carroll gushed over Carspn’s jack-of-all-trade skill set and genuinely seems thrilled about his usage. My running backs are Joe Mixon and Jordan Howard so I’m all in on Carson. 

What was Week 2’s best tweet?