September 27, 2009
Setting aside winless teams like the Rams and Lions because they were expected to be this bad, which teams most need to pull out a victory in Week 3?
Carolina Panthers/Tennessee Titans (0-2): Greg Cosell of NFL Films had a very interesting theory about Carolina's offense when he did a spot on SIRIUS NFL Radio two weeks ago - one of the problems with the offense is the defense. Specifically, Cosell believes that the "bend-but-don't-break" philosophy espoused by new defensive coordinator Ron Meeks puts too much pressure on the Panthers' offense to go away from the run-heavy game that's worked for them before and rely too much on big plays they don't have. The Titans have big plays with running back Chris Johnson, but the defense really misses coordinator Jim Schwartz and tackle Albert Haynesworth(notes).
DESPERATION INDEX: 10.0. Nobody expected either team to start with a faceplant like this. The Titans, and their failing pass defense, have a major test in the Jets. When the Panthers head to Jerry Jones' Den of Iniquity for a date with Monday Night Football, they'd do well to abandon a reliance on the pass and go smashmouth all day. This is fixable in both cases, but it needs to be fixed very soon.
Washington Redskins (1-1): Apparently, it doesn't count when you beat the Rams. The Seahawks and Redskins have done so this season, and both fanbases are treating their teams like 0-2 schlubs. Washington head coach Jim Zorn has been criticized for his playcalling, and some question how much of a handle he's got on the team.
DESPERATION INDEX: 9.5. With mercurial owner Dan Snyder always ready to pull the chair out, the Zorn era could be over before it begins ... especially if the 'Skins manage to end Detroit's looooooong losing streak.
Green Bay Packers (1-1): They were a chic Super Bowl pick based on their preseason (guilty as charged...), but injuries to their offensive line have set Aaron Rodgers(notes) on his butt 10 times in two games, worst in the NFL. The new Dom Capers defense looked astonishing against the Bears, but fell to earth against the Bengals.
DESPERATION INDEX: 8.5. They have what should be a bye against the Rams, but the Packer faithful will be inconsolable if the upset happens in the Edward Jones Dome.
Cleveland Browns (0-2): Maybe when we were all basting the Broncos for their offseason moves, we were going after the wrong team, led by an ex-Belichick coach, with a new quarterback. Denver stands at 2-0 (albeit a lightly shaky 2-0), while the Browns are in total freefall. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that five different Browns players have filed grievances against the league having to do with Eric Mangini's New World Order. Cleveland ranks last in total offense (234.0 Yards per Game), and their -35 point differential is the worst in the league. Brady Quinn's(notes) "reverse forward pass" procedure will face a very stern test in (gulp) Baltimore.
DESPERATION INDEX: 7.0. Much more was expected here, but maybe there shouldn't have been. Mangini's running into the same problems he's seen before, and the Jets he used to coach look like Super Bowl contenders out of the gate.
New England Patriots (1-1): Huh? Yeah. Brady's off-kilter, there's no running game, the defense is a major question mark, and the aforementioned Jets pushed this team all over the field last Sunday. They'll be playing Receiverapalooza against Atlanta's iffy pass defense, which takes away their one big advantage. They have no equivalent answer for Atlanta's upgraded offense, with Matt Ryan(notes) and Tony Gonzalez(notes) hooking up for yards and touchdowns in the NFL's best new bromance,
DESPERATION INDEX: 6.0. People assume that no matter what he has against him, Bill Belichick will find a way to win. He's earned every bit of that reputation, but the Pats are in trouble right now.
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