It’s the first Monday Night Football of the 2019 season, it will be a doozy of a doubleheader, and not just because of the play on the field.
One team starts their quest to revenge what they see as a stolen NFC Championship, and two teams that had some offseason drama. And then there are the Broncos, who are just trying to right the ship. Add to this what will hopefully be great games on the field, and we should have a fantastic kick-off to Monday Night Football.
Houston Texans vs New Orleans Saints 7:10p ET
I’m sure when the powers that be scheduled this matchup, they saw a team that felt cheated out of a possible Super Bowl, the Saints, and a team with a young, talented quarterback and a stout defense going head to head. And we could still get that game, but a few things have changed.
The NFC West is known as one of the best divisions in football, but, on occasion, can have a slow start to a season. While some of the teams seem to have gotten a good draw for week 1 of 2019, you can never count out an underdog.
I asked the fans who they thought would win each of the NFC West games this week, and the results aren’t really a surprise.
LA Rams vs Carolina Panthers Sunday, 1p ET
The injury report for the Los Angeles Rams is exactly how head coach Sean McVey drew it up during the preseason. No Injuries Listed. By sitting his starters all preseason, McVey made it clear he wasn’t taking any chances for week 1, and it worked. Carolina, on the other hand, has 2 on their injury report, defensive end Bruce Irvin and tackle Greg Little, both listed as out.
Fans don’t seem to think the Rams will have the same “shaking off the rust” issues that the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers did in Thursday night’s opener.
Its been often said that week 3 of the NFL preseason is the dress rehearsal for the season. As I mentioned in my NFC West injury report, Rams head coach Sean McVay has turned that theory on its head but sitting his starters, and a few other teams are following suit. This gives some unknowns extra time to shine, and increase their chances of making the team.
In the AFC West, we all know the major superstars that are starters, but who are the new guys? Who is making a strong case for themselves?
One of the nice things about covering both the AFC and NFC West teams is in the preseason is they usually play each other. It makes it easy to do a weekly preseason round up, but it also makes for a very long article. Stick with me, people.
Week 2 of the preseason gave most fans a good look at their backups. And yes there were lots of mistakes, but…its preseason. Let’s take a look at the games played so far.
Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon has been reinstated to the NFL on a conditional basis. Many thought his last suspension would be permanent, but Commisioner Roger Goodell released the following statement today, stating they were giving him another chance to turn his troubled career around.
“Commissioner ROGER GOODELL notified JOSH GORDON of the New England Patriots that he will be reinstated to the NFL on a conditional basis.
Effective Sunday, Gordon may rejoin the Patriots to attend meetings and engage in conditioning work and individual workouts.
Subject to appropriate progress on clinical care and other arrangements, he will be permitted to participate in team activities including practice. Because he will not have had sufficient conditioning and practice time, however, he may attend but may not play in the Patriots’ Thursday, August 22 game.
“We are all rooting for Josh to succeed, both personally and professionally,” said Goodell. “Everyone shares in that hope and will continue to support him to every extent possible. But as Josh acknowledged, ultimately his success is up to him.”
Gordon had been suspended indefinitely since December of 2018 for violations of the NFL-NFLPA Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. “
We all understand that preseason games are rarely an indicator for a season’s success or failure. For half of the AFC West, they really hope that statement holds true. While Kansas City looked as dominant as many expected, no one expected the Raiders to roll over the Rams.
Of course, most teams were without their starters, and it was obvious that coaches were holding back as they should, but let’s not let that stop us from going over a few talking points about those first games.
While we all look forward to the Pro Football Hall of Fame game as the official start to the preseason, in the back of our minds, we all know that it is those first preseason games the week after that really kick things off. Let’s take a peek at the NFC West and what we should be looking for during week one.
The 2018 season for the NFC West had some fantastic matchups, a Super Bowl contender, and a team in turmoil. The Los Angeles Rams won the division at 13-3, with the Seattle Seahawks (10-6), San Francisco 49’ers (4-2), and the Arizona Cardinals (3-13) rounding it out. The Rams ran through the playoffs but were defeated in the Super Bowl by the New England Patriots.
This season is expected to be more competitive between the teams in the division. Seattle has signed their two most important players, quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner, to long term contracts, stabilizing the team. San Francisco is hoping to avoid the dreaded injury bug that plagued their team last year so they can finally be able to see what they have in their QB Jimmy Garoppolo.
“If you don’t have good scouts, you’re not going to make much use of the computer.” – Gil Brandt
The Godfather. No, not the movie, the man. Gil Brandt is one of the most revered men in football history, and this week, the Godfather finally is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Brandt was the Vice President of Personnel for the Dallas Cowboys (1960-1988), turning the Cowboys into the most dominant and famous team in the NFL. During his career, Brandt was an innovator in scouting processes for football.
He developed ways to evaluate players that hadn’t been seen before, including the use computers. He also began using psychological testing for players to see how they could perform under pressure.
When we were dividing up the articles for the 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, I jumped on the chance to write about Champ Bailey. Most of you know I am a lover of defense, and Champ was in a class by himself.
Cornerback Champ Bailey was drafted in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft. It almost seems impossible that it was that long ago simply because it feels like he just left the game yesterday. Champ spent his first five seasons with Washington, then moving on to Denver in 2004.
His stats are staggering. Impressive from the start, Champ had five interceptions in his rookie year, including three against the Arizona Cardinals on Oct 17, 1999. In Denver, he had three division titles, started in two AFC Championship games, and one Super Bowl. 52 career interceptions, returned for 464 yards and 4 touchdowns. First Team All-Pro 4 times, Second Team All-Pro 4 times, voted to 12 Pro Bowls and named in the All-Decade Team for the 2000s. He holds the NFL record for most consecutive games with an interception (5).
The 2018 season was an odd one for the Buffalo Bills, to say the least. Finishing the season 6 -10, they failed to return to the playoffs, and the first round draft pick, quarterback Josh Allen, had a rough season.
However, analysts and fans are quite optimistic about the upcoming season. I sat down (virturally) to chat with Bills Mafia editor, Robyn Mundy, to see how she felt about the off season and the upcoming year.
Dayna O’Gorman: “Lets start with your Quarterback, Josh Allen. Many believe he will make a huge jump this season, maybe even being the most improved player from the 2018 draft class. What are your thoughts on Josh? What makes him special? And do you believe he can be a leader in 2019?”