Joe-Pinions: Sports

9 Sept 2010 – Are You Ready For Some Football?

Posted in Football (NFL) by txtmstrjoe on 09/09/2010

The 2010-2011 NFL season opens tonight in New Orleans, home of the defending Super Bowl champions Saints.  The Saints are doing battle against the Minnesota Vikings in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship game.

For some teams and their fans, this is the best time of year, right before the first kickoff.  Why?  At this point, everyone is undefeated.  For most of the teams and their fans, this is the only time when they can enjoy such a status.  There’s a certain prestige from being able to claim you’re undefeated which seems better than enumerating the actual number of wins the team has.

Of course, as ex-head coach Herman Edwards famously exhorted, “You play to win the game.”  The bottom line is, everyone plays so that they can hopefully be the team to win the final game of the season.  Only two teams out of thirty two will have a chance to be in that final game, and only one can win.

So, as we are on the threshold of the brand new season, what are your thoughts?

Here are mine:

  • Brett Favre is still the league’s biggest and most shameful prima donna.  His antics during this year’s preseason – basically reprising his pathetic “I’m retired/I’m not retired” shenanigans from the last few years – has only served to further lower my esteem for the man, if that were actually possible.  If I had to assign a numerical figure for my enthusiasm and respect for Favre, it would be somewhere close to -9 million.
  • In my opinion, the teams that have a window of opportunity (to win the Super Bowl) starting to truly open up include (these are teams that are poised to join the elite level whose performance should be trending upwards):  Baltimore Ravens; Green Bay Packers; Houston Texans; Atlanta Falcons.
  • Here are teams with the window of opportunity fully opened (elite or near-elite teams whose performance can only stay level or dip):  Indianapolis Colts; New England Patriots; Cincinnati Bengals; New Orleans Saints; Minnesota Vikings; Dallas Cowboys.
  • Now, the teams whose window of opportunity had been wide open but is definitely and inexorably closing:  San Diego Chargers; Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • Teams that can be a surprise contender if more things go right than go wrong for them:  San Francisco 49ers; Kansas City Chiefs; Seattle Seahawks.
  • Absolutely no-hopers this year:   St. Louis Rams; Jacksonville Jaguars; Cleveland Browns; Buffalo Bills; Denver Broncos; Chicago Bears; Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

As a 49ers fan, I’m filled with excitement and hope for this year.  For the first time since both Jeff Garcia and Steve Mariucci were on the team as the starting quarterback and head coach, respectively, I feel quite good about the upcoming season.  Based on what I’ve seen of Alex Smith during the preseason as well as the sheer aura and charisma of head coach Mike Singletary, it looks like the 49ers finally have an offense that can complement the team’s very good defense.  Smith seems to have really improved his fundamentals, his physical mechanics; in particular, I’m quite impressed with his much more precise footwork.  In his younger years, he looked like he was always stepping on ice, never sure about how or where to step, even on the most basic dropbacks.  Perhaps as a consequence of the clear hard work he’s put in, his teammates all have rallied around him and sung his praises.  To a man, the 49ers all appear to be firmly behind Alex Smith.

My secret fear, of course, is that all I’ve seen of Alex Smith and the 49ers (what little of it, I must admit; I don’t live in the Bay Area and don’t get to watch my beloved 49ers as much as I’d prefer) is an illusion, maybe even a form of wish-fulfillment on my part.  I hope my fears are misplaced.  

I would be very happy if the 49ers win the NFC West division, and quite disappointed if they don’t.  The NFC West is pathetically weak this year; if the Niners fail to win the division this year, I fear they may never win it ever under the current regime.  That would be a shame, since I’m finally back to a good comfort level and trust level with Mike Singletary and Jed York at the controls, the way I never was with the horrid Dennis Erickson and the even worse Mike Nolan as the head coach.

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