What an eye opener this morning was. I crawled out of bed and sauntered over to my laptop to catch up on email and check out bloggers’ comments on riggosrag.com. Then, I made the mistake of checking out the post-week one power rankings by the NFL’s panel of experts on NFL.com. The panel includes: Gil Brandt, Bucky Brooks, Vic Carucci, Pat Kirwan, Jason LaCanfora, Steve Wyche, Michael Lombardi, and Joe Theismann.
In terms of football background, Brandt was the Cowboys’ VP of Player Personnel or Chief Talent Scout, Brooks is a former NFL kick returner, Pat Kirwan was a former scout and coach in the NFL, Lombardi is a former NFL executive/Chief Scout, and Mr. Theismann – well, we all know about his place in Redskins’ history. I came up with blanks for Carucci, Wyche, and LaCanfora in the football experience department, so think of them purely as professional journalists.
Gil Brandt rates the Redskins 22nd out of all 32 teams. Bucky Brooks rates them 24th behind the Houston Texans. Vic Carucci also rates them 24th, two positions below the Raiders. Pat Kirwin and Steve Wyche rank them 18th, LaCanfora ranks them 22nd, and both Lombardi and Theismann rate them 16th.
Ask yourself – what did the majority of experts see during the preseason and on opening day to cause most of them to give the Broncos and 49ers higher rankings than they gave the Skins, and to cause several of them to rank the Texans higher than the Skins? The Broncos barely beat the Browns. The 49ers looked good for one game against a hapless Cardinals team that was completely out of sync. The Texans looked pathetic against a rookie quarterback.
Week 1 is not a measuring stick. The first three games combined aren’t either, unless you’re talking about the top 3 or 4 teams in the league and the worst 3 or 4. As for the rest of the league, most of the teams will appear better or worse in September than they’ll ultimately prove to be. The NFC East is an interesting case study.
Last year the Redskins literally played two seasons, going 6 – 2 during season 1, and then going 2 – 6 during season 2. Early in the season, Jason Campbell was mentioned as a potential league MVP by one TV analyst. The Cowboys started out 3 – 0 last year, only to lose to the Skins at home in week 4. By week 9, their record was 5 – 4. They finished the season at 9 – 7. The Eagles didn’t know their own identity until week 12. Up to that point, they were alternately a winning team, a losing team, a winning team, and a .500 team. They ended up 9 – 6 – 1, and were the 6th seed in the NFC playoffs. The Giants were predictable from the start – they won consistently. That was, of course, until December when their record was 1 – 4. (Some say Eli doesn’t like the cold.)
If you’re a betting person, do yourself a favor and don’t bet on your favorite team in September unless it has won 10 to 11 games each year over the past couple seasons. If you’re an ‘expert’ in the print or TV media, you might want to revise your playoff predictions after week 8 of the season. If you’re a life-long fan of a team that isn’t normally in the very top or lower echelon of the league, ignore the pundits and don’t get too excited about your team’s performance before October. We’ll all know soon enough how good or bad our favorite teams will be this season. September ratings are for those of who have crystal balls. I’d like to think I have one, but I know better. I’m reserving judgment until after week 4, at the soonest. Go Skins!
Tags: Dallas Cowboys Denver+Broncos Gil+Brandt Houston+texans Jason+LaCanfora Joe+Theismann Michael+Lombardi New+York+Giants NFL.com Pat+Kirwan San+Francisco+49ers San+Francisco+Forty+Niners Steve+Wyche Vic+Carucci Washington+redskins