Our buddy NFL Gimpy is off this week so you don’t get MAQB, but you do get an ATL column.
The Niners went 13-3 last year. One loss came in OT. Another by just 2 points. That means the team either won or lost by 3 or less in 15 of 16 games. Pretty amazing. The lone “blowout” was a 10-point loss.
The problem with all of this is that I’m not sure SF can duplicate it. The Eagles missed 2 chip shot FGs in a 24-23 game. The Rams were dreadful. They should be better this year. SF got Cincy when Andy Dalton was just making his 3rd start ever. The Steelers played a gimpy (no relation) QB in their meeting. And so on.
I’m not saying the Niners were a fluke. That was one heck of a good football team last year. Still, the point is that a lot of things went right for them. They met teams at the right time. The Niners stayed pretty healthy. Expectations were low so the team was able to catch people off guard.
This year the hunter becomes the hunted. Teams will be gunning for the Niners from Day One. Is there any chance the team goes into December not having given up a rushing TD this year? No way. That was an all time crazy accomplishment. Teams don’t do things like that. And they sure don’t do them 2 years in a row.
I’m really curious to see how good the Niners can be. Will Randy Moss be an impact player or a distraction? The 2011 Niners had great chemistry. That was a real team effort. We’ve already seen Alex Smith saying odd things to the media (the Cam Newton deal). Jim Harbaugh keeps denying that he went after Peyton Manning. Now he says Moss is the team’s best WR.
I don’t think the spotlight hit SF last year until the postgame handshake debacle in Detroit. This year the spotlight will be on the Niners from the beginning. Can they handle that? Can they win 11 or 12 games again? While it is definitely possible, I could easily see this being a team that will decline this year. Lots of odd variables.
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I keep reading good things about RGIII and what he’ll do for the Skins this year. I admit that I’m excited to see him play. He was great at Baylor. I am concerned that too many people are expecting him to be Cam, Pt. 2. Newton and RGIII are different players. Newton carried Auburn to a national title and lit up the SEC. RGIII lit up the Big 12 (or what was left of it) and helped Baylor to beat Washington in the Alamo Bowl. That’s nothing like winning the national title.
Cam Newton is a freak that could change the game of football.
RGIII is a very good QB prospect.
See the difference? If things go perfectly for RGIII, he’s a better version of Mike Vick. If things go perfectly for Cam…I have no idea what that means. It would be like combining Ben Roethlisberger, Jerome Bettis, and Antwaan Randle-El into one player.
RGIII can be an impact QB and should do some great things for the Skins offense, but he’s only mortal. Don’t expect him to step in and be an elite player right off the bat.
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I got into an odd argument the other day with someone. He said that the Colts had better skill players than the Skins. I think that is crazy…for now. If Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, and T.Y. Hilton turn out to be studs, maybe that changes.
While I’m hardly in love with Santana Moss, Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, Anthony Armstrong, Fred Davis, Chris Cooley, and Roy Helu, but that is the better group of the two teams.
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We know there will be a breakthrough team somewhere this year. One place to look is the AFC West. I think the Chargers are declining. That leaves the door open for Oakland, KC, and Denver. I realize the Broncos won the division last year, but the team was 8-8 and that was about as ugly a division title as you’ll see (aside from Seattle’s embarrassing 2010 crown).
Oakland is headed in the right direction. I just don’t know if 2012 is too soon to expect results.
KC and Denver are mystery teams. Is Romeo Crennel really a good coach? Is Peyton anywhere close to old Peyton? I’m going with KC as the team to watch. Eric Berry will rise from the ashes of the ACL to ascend to the throne at the top of the AFC West. He will then cure cancer, end world hunger, and force Katy Perry to quit singing so that we can all live in a world worth having.
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* Could the Vikings be the worst team in the NFC?
* The Packers defense was terrible last year. I cannot see a repeat of that. They have too much talent. Big problem last year was too many guys having off years and the lack of an inside pass rush. DL Jerel Worthy should help with inside pressure.
* Watching the Dolphins on Hard Knocks will be weird. None of us knows Joe Philbin. The QBs aren’t household names. There is no famous GM. I love the show and can’t wait to see it, but this will be an odd group. Someone will emerge as a personality and star of the show.
* One rookie I’m real curious about is Rams WR Brian Quick. I just didn’t see him going off the board before Stephen Hill, as well as a couple of other guys. The Rams must really believe in him. That offense needs help. Is he too raw to offer immediate impact or will Quick show that he’s a natural and play right away? Can’t wait to find out.