Schein 9: Curtains for Chris Johnson?
Buying the Chiefs?
Selling the Bengals?
Believing in the Bears?
Is my preseason Super Bowl pick of Green Bay and Indy already doomed?
We wade through the Week 2 madness with a game of “boom or bust,” SCHEIN 9 style.
1. The Pittsburgh defense will shut down Chris Johnson
I have the utmost respect for the Steelers defense. Their effort against Michael Turner was outstanding, making him a total non-factor in Week 1. “Matty Ice” surprisingly melted down in the face of the Pittsburgh defense. But Chris Johnson is a different cat. This is a bust.
This Sunday, CJ aims for his 13th straight 100-yard rushing game. In his last seven home games, Johnson has averaged a whopping 146 yards per. When I asked Steelers coach Mike Tomlin what impressed him about Johnson, he said with a laugh, “You mean besides the fact he is a legit threat to score every time he touches the ball no matter where he is on the field?’
And what truly makes Johnson special is how he can beat you in the passing attack. Tomlin told me on Tuesday that he noticed how great Johnson’s hands were coming out of East Carolina and credited Johnson’s college coaches. Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger does an excellent job calling Johnson’s number in the passing attack. Vince Young can’t be accused of checking down. The quarterback simply looks for his best player.
Johnson is a special talent who will lead the Titans to a big win against the Steelers on Sunday.
2. The Chiefs will keep the good times rolling
Did you see Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey finally doing something right for the Chiefs? How about my guy Derrick Johnson flying around the field? Johnson gave the credit for Jackson and Dorsey’s improved play to new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and the work that was put in all offseason and in preparation for the San Diego game.
Romeo’s going back to Cleveland. Do you think he wants this one? And the Chiefs showed their sizzle on special teams. Wait until Matt Cassel gets going. It’s a boom.
3. Week 1 proved the Ravens will beat the Bengals in Week 2
The Baltimore effort in a hard-earned win against the Jets was amazing. The Bengals were flat-out pathetic in New England.
But this, my friends, is a bust.
The Ravens badly wanted to shut up their former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan. They put a lot of time, energy and words into the win -- before, after, and obviously during the game. It’s a short week and another road game for Baltimore. It’s going to be a tough turnaround physically and emotionally. And Cincy just isn’t that bad.
And remember last season when the Bengals swept through the division. Cedric Benson recorded over 100 yards on the ground in both Cincinnati wins last year.
John Harbaugh is an excellent coach but I have to believe Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer will have their Bengals focused and ready to win at home.
4. The Chargers are in trouble
San Diego faces a very confident Jaguars team on Sunday. David Garrard, known to most as America’s quarterback, was grooving on the Jags balance on offense in the crisp Jacksonville Week 1 win against Denver when we talked on Tuesday.
But I think the Chargers will bounce back from the loss in KC. Jacksonville had issues on the road last season and I still don’t trust the Jaguars as a consistent outfit.
San Diego badly misses Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson. But they can beat the Jaguars, even though defensive end Aaron Kampman presents a match-up nightmare.
It’s a bust. The Chargers should win 10 games. I’m not sounding the alarms in San Diego. That is unless, of course, the Chargers lose to the Jags.
5. Matt Forte will get back on track towards stardom this season
When the Bears hired Mike Martz, who seemingly has never met a run play he likes, I started to write the epitaph on Forte’s career in Chicago. But after watching Week 1 and talking to Forte on Monday on Sirius NFL Radio, I have seen the light. It’s a boom.
What doesn’t get talked about enough was Forte playing hurt last season. Forte told me he played all of last year with an MCL sprain and a hamstring tear. He’s finally healthy now.
And I think that the Lions game offered a pretty good glimpse on how Forte will be used. He was Jay Cutler’s go-to guy in the passing attack and carried the ball 17 times, involved enough to gain 200 total yards.
Forte won’t touch the 1,238 rushing yards mark from 2008. But his health and great talent will force Martz to adjust his pass-happy ways. And Forte says he could end up being the Bears team leader in receptions. Adjust your fantasy roster accordingly.
6. Sam Bradford’s debut opened eyes around the NFL
The Rams lost at home. In a related story, the sky is blue. All that matters this year is that the club sees something from its No. 1 overall pick. And the league is buzzing about Bradford’s debut. It’s a boom.
One high-powered league executive told me after the game, “He’s Troy Aikman if they could ever get anything around him.” Bradford threw a touchdown pass on a 4th-and-goal. He completed some big strikes on third down. He showed touch and moxie.
I was against the Rams pick. I would’ve picked Ndamukong Suh. If the Rams could ever find Bradford some targets in the passing attack and if Bradford could ever stay healthy, I’ll be proven wrong. And for the sake of the suffering Rams fans, I’d love to whiff on that take.
7. San Francisco’s defense will stone the Saints
The Niners, despite what happened last week, have great defensive talent. And defensive coordinator Greg Manusky does a great job with it. And in talking to Drew Brees on Wednesday, he referenced the great job the Niners defense did on the Colts last year.
But this Monday night, the Saints will roll. Brees lamented some missed opportunities against the Vikes. The Saints offensive line is outstanding. The Niners, who lead the league in meetings between Weeks 1 and 2, are a bit of a mess. It’s a bust.
8. My Packers/Colts Super Bowl is up in smoke with injuries
The Ryan Grant injury is a killer for the Packers. He was a lock for 1,200 yards. A healthy Bob Sanders changed everything for the Indy defense. It’s a major void.
But it’s a bust. I could see Green Bay adding a back and Mike McCarthy has always liked Brandon Jackson. And I think history has shown us to never count out the Colts, though they will be tested mightily this Sunday night by the Giants.
9. A sloppy Week 1 proved you need four preseason games
This is a huge boom. John Madden drilled this point home to Rich Gannon and me as we hosted “Madden Football” Wednesday afternoon on Sirius NFL Radio. And coaches need to play their starters more in the preseason and focus more on special teams. Week 1 was exciting. It was also a bit of an aesthetic mess.