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Michael Vick has surprisingly become the feel good story of the NFL.
With talented players like Vernon Davis (85), running back Frank Gore and linebacker Patrick Willis, it is surprising that the San Francisco 49ers are playing so bad.
Photos by Jeff Lewis
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
Steelers win the early season Super Bowl award
Every year a team fires out the blocks and just wows everybody, and then they are crowned. This year it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are sitting at 3-0 and just smashing their opponents in the mouth.
Down to their fourth quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger is serving a four game suspension, Dennis Dixon and Byron Leftwhich both went down with injuries, so Charlie Batch is starting), the Steelers came up with an old school formula. Run the ball down their opponent’s throats and stop their opponents running game cold.
The Steelers are third in rushing offense and third in run defense, and they are only giving up 11 points per game, which is No. 1 in the league.
The only problem area for the Steelers is the passing game, which is not surprising. They are last in the league in passing, but when they can keep the score low and grind the opposition into the ground, they do not need to air it out.
Those passing numbers will greatly improve when Roethlisberger returns after the bye week. The Steelers are doing much better than expected without their two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback. At worst they will finish 3-1 without him, and if they can beat the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday, they’ll pretty much have it made for the rest of the season.
Anybody that loves a great defensive match up will love the Steelers/Ravens game. That’s going to be a slugfest all game long.
McNabb vs. Vick
The meeting between the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles was supposed to be a battle between quarterbacks Donavan McNabb and Kevin Kolb. The Eagles pushed McNabb out the door to give Kolb the starter’s job, but Vick looks like he has that job locked down for the long term.
After another great performance, Vick has become the surprise of the NFL, and possibly the best player through three weeks. He can still run, but the part of his game that has silenced the critics is his play from the pocket.
Vick has all of a sudden become an accurate passer who puts the right amount of touch on the ball, and he’s making the correct reads. He struggled in all of those areas when he played for the Atlanta Falcons.
Vick is playing like McNabb has played for his entire career. Like Steve Young and John Elway played. Those quarterbacks would kill teams from the pocket, but when they needed to get out of the pocket and make a play happen, they were mobile enough to avoid defenders.
Vick has finally put his game together and he looks like a complete quarterback.
But it isn’t time to crown him just yet. He has not played against a legit defense yet, and he is taking a lot of hits. He is getting knocked down as much as a running back does. So the question is whether he can take the punishment for the entire season or not.
However this plays out, Vick has turned into a great story, and if he continues to impress, he will get a big contract somewhere next year, and then his financial problems should be solved.
McNabb, on the other hand, is not in such a great situation. The Redskins pretty much stink. They do not have any playmakers at wide receiver, running back Clinton Portis is old, and their defense is not very good. Even with those issues McNabb is still making the best of a tough situation.
The Eagles will most likely win this game, because they simply have a better team.
Chiefs and 49ers early season surprises
There are always surprise teams early in the season, and through three weeks that would be the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.
The Chiefs, who have been one of the worst teams in the league over the past few seasons, are sitting pretty at 3-0. Unfortunately for the 49ers, they are the exact opposite. They were hyped as a team that would take the next step towards the playoffs, but they are greatly underachieving at 0-3.
The Chiefs have pretty much become the New England Patriots west. They hired Scott Pioli, who helped build the Patriots into 3-time Super Bowl champions, as general manager. Pioli brought in Romeo Crennel as defensive coordinator and Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator, which were positions that they held with the Patriots.
The Chiefs, like the Steelers, play a ball control offense and stuff the run on defense. They are No. 1 in the league in rushing offense and No. 6 in rushing defense, and they do not turn over the ball.
It’s only three games into the season, so it is too soon to put the Chiefs in the playoffs. Remember, the Denver Broncos started last season 6-0 and missed the playoffs. But the AFC West is not looking very good, so the Chiefs may be able to hold onto their lead.
The Broncos look like they are just competitive enough to win some and then lose some. They have 8-8 written all over them.
The San Diego Chargers are off to another slow start, which is typical for them. Without wide receiver Vincent Jackson, tight end Antonio Gates is double teamed often, and the Chargers seem like they have no interest in working on their special teams. Opponents are getting easy touchdowns off of kick off returns against the Chargers.
The Oakland Raiders are the Oakland Raiders. Once again they found a way to lose this past Sunday, missing a chip shot field goal on the final play of the game.
If the Chargers don’t get it together, the Chiefs may be the class of the AFC West.
As for the 49ers, after their embarrassing 31-10 loss against the Chiefs, it is obvious that a fork has been stuck in them, because they are done.
Even playing in the horrible NFC West, the 49ers do not have much of a chance. The Arizona Cardinals stink, and the St. Louis Rams are one of the worst teams in the league. The only half way decent team is the Seattle Seahawks, who will most likely win the division because by league rules, somebody has to.