Opinion: NFL’s surprise five

Michael Moses

Michael Moses

Michael Moses is the sports columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

I called my dad Saturday night and told him to do one thing the following morning: bet on the Cincinnati Bengals. It wasn’t that I thought the Cleveland Browns would lose, it was based solely on the fact that it was week one and the Bengals were supposed to be “terrible” this season. They say on any given Sunday that any team can win, and given the fact that it was week number one, it’s even less of a cliché.

The Bengals had everything against them: a rookie quarterback, a rookie receiver, a fresh out of jail running back and the list goes on. But they had two things going for them: they were playing the Cleveland Browns and the spread was in their favor. Did I bet? No way (it’s against the law, duh). Did pops? No — he does not take part in such illegal activity either. Did the Bengals win? Of course.

Looking back, the weekend was filled with surprises, one that we won’t discuss (pick it up, Pittsburgh). In case you missed it — the following sums up a crazy opening to what should be an even crazier season:

1. Cam Newton shatters Peyton Manning’s record:

Before Sunday, Manning held the record for most yards in a professional debut with 302. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner ended his first NFL game with 422 yards passing. The rookie entered the year with more questions than a calculus final, and proved to the world that he not only belongs, but can have an immediate impact.

2. The Buffalo Bills (?) put up 40+ points:

Take a guess at who the top rated passer is in the NFL? Tom Brady threw for over 500 yards, Drew Brees passed for over 400 yards, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford threw for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns each — though none of those names came out with a 133.0 rating. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for four touchdowns and 208 yards, completing 68% of his passes. The Bills put up a Madden-like video game route of the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Could the Bills be for real or will it be another case of “wide right?”

3. Steelers, Falcons, Chiefs and Colts lose a combined 145-33:

I said I wouldn’t bring it up, but holy ship! Sure, the Colts were without their coach, Peyton Manning, but damn, they couldn’t do a thing. Replacement quarterback and Life Alert spokesperson Kerry Collins filled in for Manning, completed 16-31 passes and fumbled twice. As for the Falcons, they were the only team out of the four to put up more than one touchdown (12 points).

4. Rex Grossman is a starter in the NFL:

The title was not a joke. It’s a serious matter. The joke is that Washington actually won.

5. Ray Rice torches Steelers for 149 total yards:

This hurts, personally. My fantasy running back absolutely crushed one of the top defenses in the NFL, not to mention my hometown team. For those of you who benched him, shame on you. The last time the Steelers let up a 100-yard rusher was some 50 games ago and do you know who that was? This should go as a lesson to you all — in fantasy football: you play your studs no matter who they’re going against.

You’ll notice that Tom Brady’s career day isn’t on this list of top five surprises. There’s a simple reason behind this: It shouldn’t be a surprise. His 99-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker capped off a 517-yard, four-touchdown Monday Night Football performance. For one, he’s the reigning NFL MVP, and two, he was playing the Miami Dolphins. And finally, he’s friggin’ Tom Brady. When GQ drops back to pass, you swear he’s listening to a Beethoven symphony in his helmet. The game looks incredibly easy to him, and that’s why he will continue to put up these numbers in 2011. Bet on it.

Just like I told my dad.

Contact Michael Moses at [email protected].