Sunday’s biggest losers
Week 1 in the NFL is a lock to produce its share of over-the-top, knee-jerk reactions. Half the league’s fan base wakes up Monday morning feeling great about themselves — and life. The other half are looking around the house for sharp objects. The meaningless preseason has given way to real games, and losses can’t be shrugged off — for some teams, Sunday was a reality check. Here’s a look at yesterday’s biggest losers:
5t. Cleveland (27-17 to Cincinnati): Extremely disappointing for the Browns. Cleveland has won only ONE opener since 1999, despite hosting every one of those games. With their new pass-oriented attack run by Colt McCoy, the Browns looked poised to take a step up in the AFC North — instead, they’re 0-1 after dropping a stinker to Cincy, who many considered worst team in football.
5t. New York Giants (28-14 to Washington): Every other team in this division gets massive media hype, but Washington could end up surprising. They’re immediately dismissed because Rex Grossman‘s at quarterback, but the Shanahans love this kid, and he performed yesterday. For the (heavily banged-up) Giants, a loss that raises more questions about Eli Manning, but not earth-shattering. They played even in the first half and, more importantly, this is a team that does not give up.
4. Kansas City (41-7 to Buffalo): A nightmare opener for the Chiefs, who were as lifeless as they appeared during a tumultuous preseason. Last year’s 10-6 team looked hundreds of miles away.
3. Dallas (27-24 to New York Jets): The Cowboys ended this one in embarrassing fashion, but it was the loss of their starting three corners for most of the second half that allowed Mark Sanchez to find his receivers (including the tedious Plaxico Burress) and climb back in. It’s a bitter defeat for Dallas, but they looked fantastic defensively early on, and there’s reason for hope here. Jason Garrett is putting together a team that could (or should, at least) defeat anyone else on this list.
2. Pittsburgh (35-7 to Baltimore): Are the Steelers in trouble? Not yet. The team has climbed out of bigger holes than this. The team is aging, yes, but they are among the best-coached squads in the game. The Ravens wanted this one more — and it showed.
1. Indianapolis (34-7 to Houston): Nobody picked Indy to go anywhere without Peyton Manning, but Sunday’s trainwreck was clear confirmation that the Colts are in jeopardy without their all-everything quarterback. Granted, it’s going to take Kerry Collins time to learn the offense, but there was very little, if anything, to be hopeful about in this one.