Looking back at one of the most topsy-turvy weekends in the NFL that I can remember, it's hard to pick out the flukes and the temporary impairments from the performances of teams genuinely on the descent. Much as I wish I could say it was more skill than luck, the Bears won by exploiting Manning's rustiness (not to mention by knocking out Joseph Addai and Dallas Clark). Congrats to my Bears for seeing that weakness and ruthlessly exploiting it, but I doubt any other teams will have that opportunity. Manning is slated to be at practice this week.
And temporary as it is (and as much as an entire season can be called "temporary"), I think we saw a playoff spot open in the AFC East last night. The Patriots winning by 7 against the club one of the CBS crew said was "the worst team in the NFL?" Yowzah. I should probably be happy about that, but I'm not. Much as I and just about everyone else in America loathes the Patriots, you just can't help but develop a grudging respect for Tom Brady after seeing what he's done with generally good-but-not-great weapons. I'd love to watch the Pats in decline, but I'd rather see it with Brady healthy (if such a thing is possible).
I think we also got a pretty big clue as to who will be filling in for the Patriots this year. That Seattle squad they smoked went to the playoffs last season.
And then there were all the expected realignments to occur this season that fail to manifest in week 1. The Browns, who everyone is expecting to challenge Pittsburgh for AFC North dominance this season, got torched by the Cowboys 28-10. Then again, perhaps this game did show us the first manifestations of the new NFL: our first glimpse at the Dallas Cowboys' first Superbowl team in, what, 12 years? That may sound a little breathless for week 1, but remember folks, this was supposed to be a damn good Browns team.
Can you imagine if, after all this time and after all those coaches and quarterbacks, the Cowboys wade through the expansion teams and all the new stars to face... the Buffalo Bills?
Ladies and gentlemen, the "new" NFL.
And alas, as of this writing, no new jersey for the freshly minted Chad Ocho Cinco. The NFL cites "administrative issues," presumably that the Administration has "issues" with