The first week of the NFL season is now in the books and it did not disappoint. Teams like the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens proved they were worthy of all the off-season hype that surrounded their teams, while others like the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions stumbled, but won, in their opening games. With that being said, there were a few moments that stood out above all else in the opening week of the 2012 NFL Season:
Peyton Manning's stellar debut in Denver
When Peyton Manning decided to sign with Denver in the offseason, speculation began about whether or not Manning was fully recovered from his neck injury that cost him all of last season. Well, the future Hall-of-Famer silenced all of his doubters. Manning threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns, helping Denver to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19 on Sunday night. The Broncos now head to Atlanta to face the Falcons on Monday Night Football.
Happy Labor Day everybody! We celebrate the day by wrapping up our preview of the upcoming NFL season (which is now just two days away) by taking a look at the NFC West.
(To view previous NFL previews, click on any of the following division names: AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, NFC East, NFC South, NFC North)
Top Cardinals Games of 2012
The Arizona Cardinals are just a few years away from being in the Super Bowl, but since QB Kurt Warner retired, the team has struggled to find a competent replacement. The starting QB job this year will go to Kevin Kolb, who has struggled throughout his time in Arizona, with John Skelton waiting in the wings if Kolb trips up. If Arizona wants a successful 2012, they need one of the quarterbacks to be able to get the ball to arguably the best wide receiver in the game, Larry Fitzgerald.
Projection: Unless one of the team's quarterbacks exceeds expectations, the Cardinals are on their way to another mediocre season without a trip to the postseason.
So far we have previewed six of the eight divisions in our countdown to the 2012 NFL season, and today we move onto lucky number seven: the NFC North.
(To view previous NFL previews, click on any of the following division names: AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, NFC East, NFC South)
The Bears made a big splash this offseason, adding problematic wide receiver Brandon Marshall to an offense that had a serious lack of weapons for QB Jay Cutler. Now, the former Broncos teammates are back together again, and fans in the "Windy City" have high expectations for the two. The problem is, Cutler has had trouble staying away from injuries and Marshall has had trouble staying away from, well, trouble.
Projection: If Cutler can stay healthy, the Bears could be a real threat to dethrone the Packers at the top of the NFC North. Some experts view Chicago as a sleeper pick to go to the Super Bowl.
One week from today, the Giants and Cowboys kick off the 2012 NFL season. Seven days. Seven! Needless to say, I, along with millions of other NFL fans, cannot wait. We continue our countdown to the football season by continuing our preview of the NFL's eight divisions; today we take a look at the NFC South.
(To view previous NFL previews, click on any of the following division names: AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, NFC East)
Top Falcons Games of 2012
The 2011 season was marked by inconsistencies for the Falcons, but it was strong enough for the team to finish 10-6 and secure a spot in the playoffs. It was the team's second straight year in the postseason. Much of Atlanta's roster is identical to last year's, so the main core of talent, including QB Matt Ryan and RB Michael Turner, will need to step up if the Falcons hope to win the division.
Projection: With the Saints likely to take a step back in 2012, the Falcons are in prime position to capture the AFC South crown.
The NFL season is now less than ten days away and, speaking for myself, I could not be any more excited. Sitting around on Sundays eating way too much food and watching hours of football is now right around the corner. Over the past couple weeks we have been previewing the NFL divisions, and we wrapped up the AFC last Friday. Now we move to the NFC, starting with the NFC East.
(To view previous NFL previews, click on any of the following division names: AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West)
Top Cowboys Games of 2012
No team beat themselves more than the Dallas Cowboys did in 2011; always making a key mistake that cost them the game. QB Tony Romo will have to cut down on his miscues and become the elite quarterback everyone expects him to be. Dallas does have one thing going for them: they still have DE DeMarcus Ware on their team. Ware had 19.5 sacks last year and will likely be among the league leaders in the category in 2012 as well.
Projection: The Cowboys are deep in talent, but I don't think that's good enough in the tough NFC East. Finishing around 8-8 is a safe bet for Dallas, which is probably just outside of the postseason.