Again, some quick thoughts on the NFL. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not Ã¢â‚¬Å“the morning afterÃ¢â‚¬Â since I generally wake up after 1 p.m.
- IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been a fan of Chad Pennington dating back to his Jets days. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gutsy, smart and tough. I think my arm is stronger than his, but his guile and heady play have always set him apart in my opinion. He validated that last year by finishing runner-up for the MVP Award while leading an overachieving Dolphins team to 11 wins, a stunning turnaround and a division title. Pennington blended seamlessly with the Wildcat offense and was a joy to watch. But the problem with Chad has always been his inability to make it through two seasons in a row. And sadly, he was unable to prove the skeptics wrong in that regard. FootballÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a tough sport, and you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t blame someone for having his shoulder shredded. But with Pennington paying greater attention to fitness at this stage of his career, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just a bad break. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not sure weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll see him play again, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a real shame: Pennington is a gentleman and a fine player. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just too bad that he lived up to his reputation, in a negative sense.
- Though IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m annoyed by Brett Favre, I take nothing away from his abilities. His throw to Greg Lewis to beat the pesky 49ers was a great one. That said, I feel like Favre is like an aging pitcher. Sometimes heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to come through with a dominant performance Ã¢â‚¬â€œ like Pedro Martinez did for the Phillies a few times before getting hurt Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but it wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be consistent. That said, with such a strong defense and running game, they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need Favre to go hog-wild throwing the ball, so they may avoid a Jets-in-Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ08 fate.
- Speaking of the Jets, to follow up on last week, they bucked a trend and followed a big win over the Patriots with another big win over the Oilers Ã¢â‚¬â€œ excuse me, Titans, whose defense is clearly not the same without Big Albert Haynesworth. (I think thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s actually his full name) Mark Sanchez played the first quarter like a Pro Bowler, and then played the second quarter like a high schooler, but thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s to be expected Ã¢â‚¬â€œ heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still young. But the JetsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ defense is for real. And though the Patriots are not going to go away and will have something to say when they play in Foxboro, this is a two-team race right now and the Jets have the upper hand.
- Three flashy quarterbacks, three very different ways to win: The Patriots won despite a non-vintage Brady day, though he took care of the ball and fired one long touchdown (to a tight end). They may try to do that more, use Fred Taylor and short passes to control the clock and strike when they have to, though the return of Wes Welker would help out a great deal. (Sidebar: Matt Ryan was lousy, but thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what happens to a young QB against a Belichick defense. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be fine) The Bengals won despite a fairly ordinary day by Carson Palmer, but he led a great drive against the tough Steelers at the end. You forget how good he can be. And the Saints won despite no touchdown passes from Drew Brees, as Pierre Thomas returned from the ether to run wild over the Bills. Thomas is by no means a sure bet to stay healthy, nor is Reggie Bush, but this is a team with a lot of offensive options.
- Mike Vick returned for the Eagles. They didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let him do a whole lot. The real story there was Kevin Kolb, who proved a worthy fill-in for Donovan McNabb. Made it even more silly that McNabb railed against drafting him a couple years back. Why not back up a brittle quarterback and groom a new one?
- Dallas wins big over CarolinaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s shaky Ã¢â‚¬ËœDÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ tonight. Romo, like anyone else, should be entitled to a bad game once in a while.
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s my top 10:
1. Giants (3-0) (Last week: 1) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Manningham/Smith emerging as tonic to Plaxico hangover.
2. Ravens (3-0) (LW: 2) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ McGahee having surprising renaissance season.
3. Jets (3-0) (LW: 3) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Revis continues to completely take over games on Ã¢â‚¬ËœDÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
4. Vikings (3-0) (LW: 5) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Not to be ignored: the Percy Harvin factor.
5. Saints (3-0) (LW: 6) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Solid running game adds new dimension.
6. Colts (3-0) (LW: 10) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Manning still on top of his game, Wayne not far behind.
7. Patriots (2-1) (LW: 8 ) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Brady will likely continue to get more comfortable.
8. Eagles (2-1) (LW: 9) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Kolb, McCoy looking like the future; McNabb back soon.
9. Packers (2-1) (LW: NR) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ This week: the Favre Bowl hypefest.
10. Broncos (3-0) (LW: NR) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re great, but theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re 3-0 in a lousy division.