By Tommy Keeler Jr.
Maybe I had a little too much time on my hands last week, or maybe it was simply the excitement of football season starting up.
I'm not sure what it was, but I found myself watching virtually all of the NFL preseason games. I even watched all the way to the end of some of the games.
With the regular season just a few weeks away, I found myself making some observations. There are many things you can learn from the preseason that can be very helpful when it comes to fantasy football, and also to the Northern Virginia Daily's football forecast (champions always come into the season prepared).
With that in mind, here are five of my biggest thoughts from the first full week of the preseason.
1. My Dallas Cowboys will enjoy another mediocre season. The Cowboys have played two games. While they looked impressive against the Miami Dolphins (keep in mind they are the Dolphins), they looked just as bad against the Oakland Raiders (the key point being they're the Raiders).
I know it's only preseason, but any loss to the Raiders is a bad loss, I don't care if you're just playing Uno or Yahtzee against them. Tony Romo was 6-for-8 for 88 yards against the Raiders, but the team only scored a field goal when he was in there. The second drive ended in a blocked field goal attempt (not making me feel great about our red-zone offense). The running game didn't impress me. DeMarco Murray had eight yards on two carries. For the game, the team had 70 yards on 20 carries. I hope it's not a sign of what the season will be like, but the Cowboys gave up the game-wining field goal after a muffed punt return catch. The only thing that went through my head was, 'Some things never change.'
2. Every season there are teams you can count on to be good and make a run for the playoffs, at the very least. There are also teams you know will continue to bring up the rear, and I noticed several of those teams in the first week of the preseason.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have no chance of being successful this year. They made the Dolphins look like a championship team. The Dolphins won 27-3. With the starters in the game in the first quarter, the Jaguars managed a whopping 14 yards on their first three possessions. I'm sure the Jaguar fans are so excited for the season to start.
Another team I think is destined for a bad season would be the Tennessee Titans. I know they showed a little life against the Redskins, but that was all Chris Johnson. There's no question Johnson will get his yards, but if he doesn't have help around him it will lead to a lot of losses. The Titans only had 269 yards of offense, even the Jaguars had more than that. The Titans also made Pat White look like a superstar, I know it was against backups, but still, Pat White? I thought he was making a living in the Arena League by now.
3. Every year there are teams that have big turnarounds from the season before, and I'm sure this year will be no exception.
I think one of those teams will be the Kansas City Chiefs. Just having Andy Reid as coach makes them better. The addition of Alex Smith as quarterback will also be huge. Don't forget Smith won quite a few games at quarterback for the 49ers before Colin Kaepernick emerged. With Jamal Charles running the ball, the Chiefs should have a potent offense. Last week Smith and Charles led the Chiefs to 10 points in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints.
Another team to watch out for are the Cleveland Browns. I was impressed with what I saw from Brandon Wheeden. I think he has the chance to be a really good quarterback. He was 10 for 13 for 112 yards and led the team to 10 points in the team's first two possessions.
4. I still like my picks of the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons for the Super Bowl. The Patriots scored 31 points, including 14 on their first two drives with the starters in the game. If they can keep Tom Brady healthy, I think they will have another huge season (I know I'm going out on a huge limb here). I feel like they've handled the Aaron Hernandez situation well, and I believe that will bring the team closer together.
I was not a big fan of the Falcons last season, and honestly was even surprised they made it to the NFC Championship game. However, I like the additions of Steven Jackson and Osi Umenyiora. Matt Ryan looked sharp in his preseason opener, and I think he may be ready to show that he is an elite quarterback (or at least that he's better than Joe Flacco).
5. The Manning brothers are better at football than rapping. Both Eli and Peyton had decent preseason openers, but that wasn't the big news surrounding them last week. Their new commercial for DirecTV came out, and it's without a doubt the funniest commercial.
If you haven't seen it, make sure to check it out. Everything from their funky hairdos, to their bad rapping skills makes this must-watch TV. The Manning brothers represent everything that's right in the world of sports. They do things the right way, but can still have fun and be entertaining. Don't forget that they are also both Super Bowl champions. If somehow they faced each other in the Super Bowl that would be great from a publicity standpoint, and I think the fans in general would be the real winners.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org