The Bills won on Sunday by my absolute favorite score, 21-12. This was only the 8th time in league history that a game finished with that exact result. The last time it happened was in the AFC Championship game played in January 2008. That was the season New England went to the Super Bowl with an undefeated record.
Why do I love 21-12? Because it is the title of Rush’s 1976 release. The Canadian power trio wrote music steeped in sci-fi fantasy in the mid ‘70s and this album was about an episode from the future year 2112.
With all his bombast and rhetoric, I would have thought Rex Ryan would have been an interesting color commentator. But the opposite was true. He failed to provide any insight. Even worse, whenever a play came to its end, he would blab out something glaringly obvious.
What makes people like John Madden, Cris Collinsworth and Jon Gruden good at what they do is they aren’t just talking, they are teaching. They explain the intricacies of the game and sometimes they even do it in an entertaining manner. Ryan was neither educational nor enjoyable. It kind of reminds me of how he was as a coach for the Bills.
Ryan had the privilege to call a compelling game between the Broncos and Chargers. This game summed up the last five years of these franchises. Denver did just enough to squeak bye and “Los Angeles” did just enough to not win. I envisioned the Chargers would be the better team this season because of their star-studded roster. This still could happen. But, after week one, it is the same old song.
What are the chances Denver’s home opener would end the same exact way their home opener ended last season? In last year’s game, Gary Kubiak called timeout just before the Panthers’ Graham Gano booted home a 50-yard winner. When he kicked again, he hooked it.
Last night, Vance Joseph last-moment “time-outted” Chargers’ rookie Younghoe Koo. This time, Derek Wolfe conceived a strategy to help Shelby Harris get through for the block. It worked and as usual, the Broncos beat the Chargers.
Veterans Sam Bradford and Alex Smith were excellent this week. But, before we go crazy over this, I propose much of this had to do with facing off against inferior defenses. New Orleans has a young, rebuilding defense. The Saints have been poor the last several years on “D” so they blew up most of the gang and started over this year. It showed as Bradford ripped them to shreds. Bradford was accurate and hit long balls, but I do not see that trend continuing.
As for Smith, he has always been a smart and steady QB. But, the overrated New England defense was absent when it counted. They could not stop KC on third down, in the red zone and the deep ball. When Dont’a Hightower went down with an injury, the Patriots could not stop the run either. Kansas City will not duplicate that performance on offense again this season. New England, I’m afraid, will.
On the other end of the spectrum, Tom Savage and Andy Dalton were completely shut out. Mercifully, Bill O’ Brien has put an end to the Savage era and inserted Clemson superstar Deshaun Watson. O’Brien rightfully is not going to go through the same mess as last year when they were one Osweiler away from beating New England in the playoffs.
Dalton was beyond bad. What does this mean? That Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator Dean Pees is a genius. Look, Dalton is not the second coming of Joe Montana, but he is not Tom Savage either. He is a good football player with good football talent around him. While teams like the Bills and the Browns always miss the playoffs, Cincinnati almost always makes the playoffs. Dalton will improve and I think it starts tomorrow night against Houston.
Meanwhile, Baltimore’s defense is for real and expect a lot of quarterbacks this season to have a dismal time trying to beat Baltimore while Suggs, Carr, Mosley, Weddle, Webb and Jimmy Smith are all healthy. After further review, Baltimore can give Pittsburgh a run in the central.
Ronald Darby, Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins played for the first time on their new teams this past Sunday and the results were mixed. Unluckily, Darby dislocated his ankle and will be out for over a month. The Eagles’ performance was noticeably weaker when backup Rasul Douglas was inserted into the lineup.
Contrarily, Watkins and Woods did well for the Rams combining for 8 catches and 111 yards. I would be shocked if the Rams can score 30 points on offense regularly. But, they are off to a fast start so I’ll give it up for them.
Just one other note: At the time of this writing, the Cleveland Indians have won 20 straight baseball games. That is phenomenal and whether you like the Tribe or not, you have to stand back and respect that achievement!
Brandon Fazzolari (aka Dr. Super Bowl) writes about the Buffalo Bills for Pro Football Spot. @spot_bills