So, let’s be real here for a moment. We’re talking about week one of the preseason. I know that we’re all excited to see NFL Football, but let’s not crown a new Super Bowl Champion just yet. The best teams are showing very little of their real potential this early, using the games as extra practices, while the worst teams are getting as many reps as possible for their top talent. It’s a weird time of year. That doesn’t mean we can’t watch the tape and learn some things around the league.
1 Oakland is a mess
Are you excited by the one-hundred-million-dollar man dropping f-bombs on HBO’s Hard Knocks? Then skip to number two. Because I’m here to tell you, seriously, that the Raiders will NOT be good this season. Antonio Brown LITERALLY has no feet at the moment, and he threatened retirement over an equipment rule BEFORE THE PRESEASON EVEN STARTED. This is all going to end badly before they close down the Coliseum for good. HBO looks for maximum dram when they shoot Hard Knocks, and they sure found it in Oakland. It won’t get better during the season.
2 The Colts are holding their breath
The Colts have Luck…or not so much. At press time, the Colts are officially calling his lower leg issue a high ankle sprain. That’s bad. Want to know why? Because that’s team doctor-speak for “uhmmmmm…we’re not really sure…” Reports are that multiple MRIs have failed to give the team any real idea of what’s happening in their star quarterback’s foot-ankle-shin-calf region. Where does that leave Indy? We don’t know, at least for the foreseeable future. This week they trotted out the trio of Chad Kelly, Phillip Walker and Jacoby Brissett. These three combined for 227 yards on 23/42 passing and an interception in the 24-16 loss to Buffalo, whose heavy rotation QB on the day was…Matt Barkley. Yes. That Matt Barkley. The Colts are a trendy dark horse Super Bowl pick, but all that can change in an instant.
3 Kyler looks…good…against the Bengals
Full disclosure. It’s a small sample size. But Kyler Murray looked good last week against Cincinnati. He went 6/7 for 44 yards in his one drive. It was precise and clean. It also ended with a punt, but hey. It’s a start. But again, this was against guys who haven’t even made the Bengals 53-man roster yet, and the Bengals allowed more yards per game (413.6) than any team in the league last year. So…maybe we didn’t learn anything, yet.
4. Baltimore takes the preseason VERY seriously
I know that I’ve said, many times, that no one takes the preseason seriously. Apparently, I was incorrect. Baltimore does. No, for reals. The Ravens just won their fourteenth-consecutive preseason game. That’s a hell of a run. It also ties them with the 57-59 Bears for second-longest preseason winning streak. The longest? The 59-63 Packers, who won an insane twenty-three consecutive preseason matchups. The Ravens also had a three-season stretch in the early 2000’s when they won twelve-straight. What does this mean for the regular season? Not a damned thing. But I did pick them to win the AFC North again…
5. The Cowboys are about to feel the pinch
I can’t remember a single preseason where one team was feeling contract pressure from it’s top three offensive producers, but that’s where we’re at in Dallas. Dak Prescott just refused $30 million per year, and Ezekiel Elliot and Amari Cooper are looking for new deals as well. Jerry Jones legendarily refuses to play chicken with players but ask him how that worked out when Emmitt Smith held out in 1993. The Super Bowl champs started the season 0-2 without the league’s leading rusher and …spoiler alert, Jones paid up, making Smith the highest paid running back of all time (at the moment) How does this effect the current scenario? I’m not sure, but he’s got three key players that need to get paid, and its highly unlikely that any are going to look for team-friendly deals. I still think these cats will suit up, and that the Cowboys will win the NFC East, but if this goes sideways, it could shake up the power structure in the entire NFC.
Image Source: AP Images/Ross D. Franklin