Published: September 30th, 2009 | Tags: Brett Favre, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Jim Zorn, Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins
METAIRIE, La. — Who Dey, Who Deys?
I’m in Cajun country today but I’m not asking “Who Dat?” I’m talking about those Bengal Tigers from well north of Baton Rouge.
With the upset of the Steelers and the realization that the Bengals could be 3-0 if not for the Hail Orton loss to Denver in the season opener, Cincinnati faces its biggest game of the season this Sunday. Not because it’s an AFC North game against in-state foe Cleveland. Those teams have been too bad to trumpet up much hoopla for a rivalry.
This is about consistency. Beating Green Bay at Lambeau was huge. Making a late drive to beat Pittsburgh was even bigger. Doing what they should do to Cleveland is difficult. Teams on the uptick tend to start feeling they’ve accomplished something by winning a few games that could be considered upsets. The assumption that they’ve arrived could be steered straight by a desperate team in disarray, like Cleveland, that needs a win in the worst way.
If Cincinnati plays like it has been playing — tough, very physical and poised — it should head into a Week 5 clash with Baltimore 3-1. The Browns are a mess and they’re switching quarterbacks in hopes of starting to register offensive numbers in Fahrenheit instead of Celsius. But if there is a game when they’re going to come out swinging, this is it.
Pick: Cincy, but not in a rout.
In another game where there’s a quarterback change, Washington plays Tampa Bay. As tough as things have been for the winless Buccaneers, who will start Josh Johnson at quarterback, this could be the game that either levels out the mayhem in D.C. or pulls back the trap door on their season — Dr. Evil style.
This was supposed to be the cushy part of the Redskins’ schedule — St. Louis, Detroit and Tampa Bay — yet, it’s been a dizzying labyrinth that doesn’t forecast well for when the ‘Skins get into the teeth of their NFC East grind. Should Washington — which barely defeated the Rams and became “the team the Lions beat” — win against Tampa Bay, which is hardly a given, it could regain the confidence it needs to play up to its potential.
If not, oh my … Jim Zorn might wish he gets fired rather than to deal with all the heat that will engulf him.
Pick: Bad news for the ‘Skins. Bucs get their first win and pull to 1-3, the same record as Washington.
There is no way to down-play Brett Favre’s heroics in Sunday’s victory over San Francisco. He showed why Minnesota invested in him. How ‘bout this little nugget, though: His 188.7 yards passing per game rank him 25th in the NFL, where he’s keeping company with Shaun Hill and the recently demoted Byron Leftwich.
Nobody with the unbeaten Vikes is complaining, for sure. Something tells me that Monday night, when No. 4 faces the Packers at home, Favre is going to produce great theater, which could be good or bad.
Pick: Vikings at home, where DE Jared Allen has a big game.
With the great starts in Denver and San Francisco, might Mike Nolan deserve a few props? The former 49ers coach, who was fired in the middle of last season, is now coordinating a Broncos defense that has yielded a league-low 16 points. Denver will be pushed more than it has all season this week against Dallas, but so far, this unheralded group has shown a lot more than what anyone expected — especially since it is transitioning to a 3-4 defense from a four-man front.
Nolan didn’t leave good friend Mike Singletary with a bare cupboard, either. Singletary is doing more with it in San Francisco than Nolan did, but when you look at what previous regimes did to Detroit, St. Louis and Cleveland, what’s going on with San Francisco isn’t exactly the reclamation projects that are going on in those locales.
Wyche’s Winners: Bears, Bengals, Colts, Titans (finally), Ravens, Bucs, Bills, Saints (home-field serves them well against Mark Sanchez), Giants, Cowboys (sorry Nolan after just showing the love), 49ers, Steelers, Vikings.
Upset of the Week: Raiders over Texans. Defense makes enough plays to offset offensive issues.