Our offseason Four Downs series ends with a look at the NFC West's biggest remaining holes and their most notable UDFA signings. The Rams and 49ers have to kick-start their passing games, Arizona's offense lacks a big dimension, and the Seahawks continue to rely on Russell Wilson's magic tricks.
09 Sep 2004
by Al Bogdan and Vivek Ramgopal
Al: Ian's gone, so I needed a new partner for Scramble. I was going to do the column on my own, but I figured I'd get bored with it after a few weeks. I still have the first draft of a Kurt Warner article I was writing over the off-season sitting on my hard drive that I just never had the interest in finishing (quick summary: it doesn't look good for Warner this year). So, what to do? I teamed up with Aaron for the pre-season over/unders, but he writes enough columns for the site as it is. I thought about having a rotating cast of characters as my partner -- other Outsiders, readers, random guests, etc. -- but that seemed like it would be a bit too unwieldy. Then, I heard from a voice from my past when I received the following message in my inbox:
"Ian mentioned that you were looking for someone to share the SFTB duties with you this year. Find anyone?"
Who was it that came in to save the day? Well, to answer that question, we're going to have to go back in time.
The year was 1996 and two dorky high school seniors were editors of the Long Beach High School newspaper, The Tide. They were also writers -- award-winning writers. These two teens set the NY sports world ablaze with their incendiary columns. OK, maybe not, but we did win the first annual New York Post/Madison Square Garden/Marv Albert High School Sportswriting award. Now that I think about it, it was probably the only Marv Albert Sportswriting Award given out as he got into a little bit of trouble the next year. Anyway, as you've probably guessed, the person who sent me the email and who will be my new Scramble for the Ball partner is none other than the man who shared that award with me, Mr. Vivek Ramgopal.
So, how's it going Viv?
Vivek: Pretty good. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Good times, good times.
But, this season starting late is getting to me, both mentally and financially. The pushed back opening night only gives me more time to pump money into additional pools and fantasy leagues. It also gives me more time to regret jumping onto the Falcons bandwagon. I've never been a big Michael Vick fan -- I argued that while being an electric player to watch and have the potential to make one game-deciding play on his own, he is not mature enough to know when to use those talents. So enter 2004. I'm not sold on Carolina, and I figure that now would be the best time for Vick's Falcons to take the division title and I finally draft Vick in one of my fantasy leagues. Plus, I had Peerless Price pegged as one of my comeback players of the year. (Granted, 838 yards receiving in 2003 isn't awful.)
Then comes the preseason game against Washington. In five passing possessions, three incompletes, one interception and one fumble. Lavar Arrington looked like another #56 in that game. Yes, it's preseason, but there has been nothing positive from Vick this summer: 5-12, 35 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. The telling point was when Vick lobbed the ball into the air to avoid a sack, making an easy pick for the Skins' secondary. In my mind, that pass proves that he has not matured enough to lead this team. Do I hear Matt Schaub knocking? No, it's not going to be that bad, but it makes for the makings of a great QB controversy if Vick struggles through the first half of the season.
Am I on target with this? Or trying to take my anger about the Yankees enduring 1978 in reverse out on Vick?
Al: Where's all the Matt Schaub love coming from? I had never heard of the guy three weeks ago and now everywhere I go someone's talking about Matt Schaub. Maybe if I could get Falconvision in NYC, I'd have seen the Falconography on Schaub, but unfortunately YES is the only sports franchise-based cable network we get. I wonder if they'll replay Kevin Brown breaking his hand after punching a clubhouse wall on Yankee Magazine this week.
I wouldn't worry too much about Vick. Like you said, it's the preseason, and the Redskins do a have a pretty good defense. I can't look at one play in the preseason and say that proves a quarterback isn't ready to lead a team. The Falcons couldn't have asked for a better matchup this week than San Francisco. They should have no problem running the ball against the 49ers, taking some of the pressure off of Vick to carry the team. The Falcon defense could win the game all by themselves with the inexperienced 49er offense making their first start together. I wouldn't worry too much about having Vick on your fantasy team this year. I would worry though about how you blew your first round pick in our keeper league draft at the end of August on Ricky Williams.
Speaking of Falcon backup QBs, I'm starting to feel bad for Kurt Kittner. He was just released for the fifth time since the end of last season. This time it was the Pittsburgh Steelers that set Kittner free. This has to be some type of record.
But enough about the Falcons and former Falcons. Are you excited about the Jets this year, or nervous that some people (like me) and statistical projection systems are predicting they'll do well this year? One thing that would still concern me if I were a Jet fan is Herm Edwards' inability to manage the clock. At least Edwards seems to be addressing the problem by assigning an assistant coach to handle the issue.
Is there an easier job in all of football coaching than the guy who has to stand next to Herm Edwards and tell him when to take a time out? What does he do for the first quarter of the game? Does he stand there and say "No coach. You don't need to run the two minute drill with nine minutes to go in the first quarter?" And really, if clock management is all you're assigned to do, it shouldn't be that tough of a job to get it right. The Jets will have no excuses this year if they lose a game because they failed to take a time out in a critical situation.
It's nice, though, that there's some hope in one locker room in the Meadowlands. I'm dreading watching how bad some of these Giant games will be this year. "And after Warner's fourth sack of the game, it's 3rd-and-18 from the Giant 12-yard line." Ugh. At least San Diego will have two draft picks in the top five of next year's draft instead of just the one they earn themselves every year.
Vivek: OK, let me first go off on a tangent and defend that Ricky Williams pick. The league has a crazy scoring system and keeper rules -- keep 12 out of your roster of 20, 280 points for a passing touchdown, 300 points for a 50-yard field goal, 2 points for a rushing attempt, etc. With my keepers, I held onto Ahman Green, Jamal Lewis, Tiki Barber and Michael Bennett. Williams was actually a thirteenth-round pick and my fifth running back. With 96 players already protected and my having a late pick in each round, I figured why the hell not. Plus, Last Comic Standing was on.
Back to your point about Gang Green -- I didn't expect them to have a great season with questions on the D-line and secondary, especially with players learning both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, but outside of the Pats, Chiefs and Colts, the rest of the playoff spots are wide open. So open that Chris Berman took the Dolphins as one of the two AFC wild cards. See the Outsiders' preseason picks to get my take on the Jets' RB situation towards the end of the season.
One last thing about the Patriots -- the only thing going against Tom Brady and the Pats is that he has a famous girlfriend to start the season, and we all know what happened the last time Brady began the season with a Maxim cover girl.
Since we have the columnist version of attention deficit disorder, I'm going to jump to what you said about Edwards' clock management coach. These specialized coaches are getting out of control. In the coaches' box, Joe Gibbs has a former NFL official keeping tabs on potential instant replay challenges. Defensive line coaches, secondary coaches, SECONDARY secondary coaches, clock management coaches, etc. Can you imagine Vince Lombardi saying to someone, "Yeah, I'm just going to delegate responsibilities here, be a bit hands off and supervise?" Is a coach today now only as good as his assistants?
Al: It's about time for the first edition of the Scramble for the Ball Mailbag. You can email your fantasy or other football related questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll run as many of the emails as we can in each week's edition. This week's email comes from a familiar contributor. Ian from Braintree writes:
"In case you guys wanted to write about the results of our auction in Scramble, attached are the draft rosters."
Thanks Ian. Longtime Scramble readers will remember Ian and I dissected the results from this league last year (that article, unfortunately, is one of the few that hasn't made it over to the new design yet). This is an annual auction style league featuring some Outsiders, former Outsiders and friends. Last year Ian and I predicted the team that we (mainly Ian) ran would come in second. We were wrong -- we won. So, this year Vivek and I will dissect the results and make fun of how awful all the teams are.
For those of you unfamiliar with fantasy auctions, here's how they work. Each team is given a salary cap of fake dollars ($160 in the case of this league). Instead of distributing players through a draft, player names are called out one by one. Each owner then has the opportunity to bid on each player. The owner that bids the highest gets the player on his/her team. I'm a big fan of auctions because it gives you an opportunity to own any player you want. If you have the sixth pick in a traditional draft, you know that Priest Holmes isn't going to end up on your team. Each team starts 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 DT. Each team is required to carry one backup at each position with an additional flex bench spot. The league expanded to 12 teams this year so running backs ended up even more valuable than usual.
Anyway, we'll go team by team and give a quick analysis of who we think bought themselves a championship and who just threw away their entry fee. We'll be sure to point out which teams belong to Outsiders.
QB: Brett Favre 4, Jake Plummer 1
RB: Shaun Alexander 62, Clinton Portis 72, Deshaun Foster 2
WR: Plaxico Burress 4, Brandon Lloyd 4, Robert Ferguson 1, Nate Burleson 1, David Terrell 1
TE: Jerramy Stevens 1, Eric Johnson 1
K: Jeff Reed 1, John Kasay 1
DT: Seattle 2, Indianapolis 1
Al: I'm a bit partial to this team since I had suggested Ian follow a strategy of drafting Alexander and Portis and picking up scraps everywhere else. Favre was a very good deal at $4. I don't like Ian's cheap WRs, however. Ian's in love with Brandon Lloyd and Nate Burleson. I guess I just don't share his enthusiasm. If he can put three decent WRs on the field, and find a TE off the waiver wire, Ian has a very good shot at the title.
Vivek: Funny you mention that Ian followed your strategy because I suggested to the same Ian from Braintree that he do the opposite. I believe my quote was: "Let the other teams screw themselves over by overpaying for RBs." 84% of your cap room on two RBs? He recouped some of his potential losses by grabbing Favre and Plummer for a total of $5, but those five WRs will struggle to total 3000 yards combined. He needs to snag this year's Anquan Boldin on the free agent wire.
QB: Steve McNair 5, David Carr 1
RB: Domanick Davis 40, Rudi Johnson 40, Chris Brown 15, Quentin Griffin 21
WR: Darrell Jackson 16, Jimmy Smith 5, Larry Fitzgerald 2, Darius Watts 1
TE: Jason Witten 2, Kellen Winslow 7
K: Jason Elam 2, Josh Brown 1
DT: Tampa 1, Dallas 1
Al: I always think Jason does a great job at the auction, but he somehow never manages to win the league. If you're not going to spend money on a big name RB, I think this is the way to go. Buy four guys who each have the potential to be a top ten back. All you need is for two of them to work out and you've done your job. Domanick Davis and Rudi Johnson are this team's Week 1 starters, but Chris Brown and Quentin Griffin could easily end the year as the team's best RBs. The WRs are suspect. Jimmy Smith's numbers have declined the last two seasons. Rookie WRs traditionally do not make good fantasy bets, and as this team stands now one will have to start every week. If Kellen Winslow is as good as Peter King thinks he is, Jason could end up with the best at each of the "other" positions. This team can win it all.
Vivek: I agree with his strategy with RBs, but it seems like he could have spent less on a 3rd or 4th RB to upgrade some other skill positions. He's banking on Smith returning to 75% of what he was and Larry Fitzgerald living up to the hype in his first year. Or better put, he's banking on two first-year full-time starters (Byron Leftwich and Josh McCown).
QB: Peyton Manning 37, Byron Leftwich 2
RB: Stephen Davis 35, Brian Westbrook 43, Julius Jones 3, Willis McGahee 1
WR: Derrick Mason 18, Charles Rogers 5, Jerry Rice 2, Tyrone Calico 1
TE: Alge Crumpler 5, Desmond Clark 1
K: John Carney 1, Jay Feely 1
DT: New England 4, Atlanta 1
Al: Brian Westbrook for $43 seems like it's too much. I'd rather have either of the backs Jason bought for $40 than Westbrook. That being said, the two backup RBs are nice value picks. If Jones isn't the feature back in Dallas Week 1, he will be by Week 3 when Stephen Davis is on a bye. Willis McGahee could turn out to be a huge steal at $1 if this team can afford to be patient. I like Derrick Mason and Charles Rogers this year. I'd be a bit worried about relying on either Jerry Rice or Tyrone Calico.
Vivek: After seeing what Brett Favre and Steve McNair went for, I don't think I could justify spending $37 on Peyton Manning. Everyone is expecting to see a huge dropoff in Stephen Davis's workload, so a lot is riding on Westbrook. That being said, Julius Jones and McGahee could be the picks of the draft come mid-season.
QB: Matt Hasselbeck 18, Jeff Garcia 2
RB: Jamal Lewis 53, Kevin Jones 14, Lee Suggs 6, Musa Smith 1
WR: Randy Moss 45, Chris Chambers 9, Isaac Bruce 2, Roy Williams 1
TE: Antonio Gates 2, Freddie Jones 1
K: Jeff Wilkins 2, Lawrence Tynes 1
DT: Tennessee 1, Detroit 1
Al: Outside of Randy Moss and Matt Hasselbeck, this is a team full of question marks. Will Jamal Lewis play in November? Even if he does, will he be able to stay healthy and productive after logging so many carries last year? Will Musa Smith be productive if Lewis does miss time? Was Lee Suggs' Week 17 performance from last season a fluke? Can Kevin Jones run behind a questionable Detroit offensive line? Will Miami score any TDs this year for Chris Chambers to catch? Too much uncertainty for my tastes.
Vivek: I disagree with Al here. This is the best WR foursome that came out of the draft, and the team is fine at QB. Lewis will make it through a full season, and while not having 2000 yards, 1300 is still a pretty damn good year. The bottom line in Detroit is that Jones is the full-time starter. Defenses cannot stuff the line with Rogers and Roy Williams on the outside, there will be plenty of room for Jones.
QB: Trent Green 13, Jake Delhomme 1
RB: Priest Holmes 77, Curtis Martin 29, Charlie Garner 4
WR: Deion Branch 2, Keyshawn Johnson 2, Marty Booker 1, Justin McCareins 2, Anquan Boldin 1
TE: Tony Gonzalez 24, Ben Troupe 1
K: Doug Brien 1, Phil Dawson 1
DT: Jets 1, Cleveland 1
Al: Sorry boss, don't like the team. I think Aaron did a better job than Ian did of grabbing cheap WRs, except for Anquan Boldin. You're committing your flex spot for at least eight weeks on an unusable player. Not a great strategy in a league with strict roster construction. Trent Green at 13 is too much, considering what Favre and McNair went for. What do Priest Holmes, Curtis Martin and Charlie Garner have in common? They're all on the wrong side of 30. There's no way all three of them make it through the season without suffering an injury or losing their job to ineffectiveness.
Vivek: Again, Al and I are on the different side of the fence on this one. (And I'm not kissing up to the editor.) If you are going to spend all your money on one player, it might as well be Priest. His potential 20 touchdowns will make up for any deficiencies elsewhere. This team is one decent RB away from being the best in the league. The Boldin pick means that Aaron needs to make sure that both Martin and Garner are dependable, and I see Lamont Jordan getting a lot of carries towards the end of the year.
(The advantage of being the editor is I get to speak in my own defense. Green went before Favre and McNair and I was kicking myself about overpaying for him the rest of the draft. I didn't mean to end up with all old backs but Martin is cheap for a full-time running back -- every year they say Jordan will take his carries, and he never does. Garner makes sense because Pittman is gone the first few weeks and Martin and Holmes are on bye weeks 3 and 5. The Boldin pick was just tossed out there for the heck of it, and it ends up being meaningless. Add it up and you'll notice my salaries add to $161, not $160, because of a mid-draft agreement to take Musa Smith and deal him to NECN producer Ted McEnroe for the receiver I really wanted, McCareins. Since the Jets and Pats share a bye, Boldin has to go for someone I can play Week 3. After that this will be the "waiver flyer on emerging players" slot. I'm gonna spend the whole year rooting for the Chiefs and Jets so my projections -- especially the one about the Jets' easy schedule -- better work.)
QB: Rich Gannon 1, Joey Harrington 1
RB: LaDanian Tomlinson 76, Warrick Dunn 12, Garrison Hearst 1
WR: Marvin Harrison 42, Koren Robinson 10, Drew Bennett 1, Reggie Wayne 1, Andre Davis 1
TE: Todd Heap 9, Desmond Clark 1
K: Sebasatian Janikowski 1, Kris Brown 1
DT: Green Bay 1, Denver 1
Al: This team has some obvious holes it will need to fill to contend. Garrison Hearst needs to be replaced for a playable backup RB. The QB situation will need to be addressed as well. Rich Gannon could be on the bench in a few weeks and Joey Harrington has yet to show he can be a valuable fantasy QB. I do like the WRs, though. If this team hits the waiver wire hard early in the year, this team could make a run.
Vivek: The plan of nabbing Marvin Harrison and LT backfired a bit since this team was left with Gannon and Harrington at QB. I would have rather seen David Carr or Jake Plummer taken for $1.
QB: Donovan McNabb 28, Marc Bulger 5
RB: Marshall Faulk 36, Michael Bennett 12, Travis Minor 7
WR: Hines Ward 25, Joe Horn 21, Eric Moulds 14, Javon Walker 4, Marcus Robinson 1
TE: Billy Miller 1, Marcus Pollard 1
K: David Akers 2, Martin Gramatica 1
DT: Minnesota 1, Kansas City 1
Al: I like the secondary positions here. Billy Miller and Marcus Pollard are a good cheap tandem. David Akers is always a top five kicker. KC was surprisingly a top 10 fantasy defense last year. I don't understand how Donovan McNabb goes for $23 more than Marc Bulger. I'd have just grabbed Bulger for $5 and spent the extra $23 on better RBs. What are the odds that Marshall Faulk and Michael Bennett are both healthy at the same time for one week this year? Solid WRs, but the RBs will kill this team.
Vivek: The success of this team lies on Bennett. Reports have him potentially missing the first three games now, and that leaves him with one game before the return of Onterrio Smith and a potential RB by committee approach if you throw in Moe Williams. Travis Minor will now lose his job after Week 1, so the owner needs to hope that the solid WR and D corps make up for that spot.
QB: Michael Vick 28, Tom Brady 19
RB: Edgerrin James 63, Thomas Jones 26, Moe Williams 1, Jerome Bettis 1
WR: Peerless Price 9, Donald Driver 1, Peter Warrick 1, David Givens 1
TE: Bubba Franks 3, Jim Kleinsasser 1
K: Adam Vinatieri 3, Paul Edinger 1
DT: Philadelphia 1, Pittsburgh 1
Al: So close, yet so far. There's no reason to spend so much money on both of your quarterbacks. Take the 18 extra dollars that could have been saved by drafting a $1 backup instead of Brady and Thomas Jones could have been upgraded to a legitimate #2 RB. I can see this team dealing Brady and Jones for a running back within a few weeks.
Vivek: Talk about a good investment in WRs. Two number one receivers for $10. This team had so much room to spend elsewhere, but like Al said, didn't need to invest $47 in QBs. I would have preferred to spend $15 of Brady's salary to snag Priest or Tomlinson.
QB: Brad Johnson 1, Josh McCown 1, Drew Bledsoe 1
RB: Fred Taylor 44, Duce Staley 27, Travis Henry 24
WR: Torry Holt 37, Santana Moss 17, Eddie Kennison 1, Eric Parker 1
TE: Boo Williams 1, Ben Watson 1
K: Joe Nedney 1, Jason Hanson 1
DT: Jacksonville 1, Washington 1
Al: I'm guessing this team didn't want to use it's flex spot on Drew Bledsoe, but called out his name in hopes that someone else would say "two dollars." Unfortunately, everyone in this league dislikes Drew Bledsoe. Great starting WRs. So-so starting RBs. Fred Taylor's always an injury risk, Travis Henry could lose his job, and Duce Staley hasn't been a good fantasy back in years. I don't see this team winning the league.
Vivek: The most even distribution of money in the league, but other than Torry Holt (Taylor is due for an injury) there is no true gamebreaker.
QB: Aaron Brooks 7, Tommy Maddox 1
RB: Deuce McAllister 71, Kevan Barlow 51, Tatum Bell 2
WR: Laveraneus Coles 13, Rod Smith 3, Kevin Johnson 1, Donte' Stallworth 2, Rod Gardner 2
TE: Randy McMichael 2, Daniel Graham 1
K: Matt Stover 1, Shayne Graham 1
DT: Buffalo 1, Giants 1
Al: I wouldn't have spent $71 for Deuce. I don't understand how he goes for $9 more than Shaun Alexander. I don't like the WRs either. It's doubtful that the Redskin passing offense will be so good that you'd want to start both of their WRs each week. Rod Smith isn't getting younger, Donte' Stallworth is inconsistent and Kevin Johnson is Kevin Johnson, only now on Baltimore.
Vivek: I really am not a fan of Aaron Brooks. I would have preferred Bulger, Favre or McNair here. The WR corps could be solid though.
QB: Daunte Culpepper 38, Mark Brunell 1
RB: Corey Dillon 46, Tiki Barber 26, Stephen Jackson 3, TJ Duckett 2
WR: Steve Smith 20, Andre Johnson 7, Jerry Porter 3, Amani Toomer 3
TE: Byron Chamberlain 2, Christian Fauria 1
K: Mike Vanderjagt 4, John Hall 1
DT: Carolina 2, St. Louis 1
Al: The RBs just aren't good enough here. Corey Dillon should be solid in New England, but I'm very down on Tiki Barber's fantasy potential this year. The Giant line is still suspect and there just may be some truth to the talk that Ron Dayne will see increased touches this year. Stephen Jackson will be good when he plays, but there's no guarantee as to how much he'll get to play behind Marshall Faulk. If TJ Duckett scores a TD he's worth having him in the lineup, if he doesn't score, he's worthless. If only you could tell ahead of time which games he's going to score he'd be a valuable backup. I'm a big fan of Steve Smith and Andre Johnson. Jerry Porter and Amani Toomer should be productive enough to not hurt this team. I don't think these WRs will be good enough to overcome the weakness at RB.
Vivek: How much value is yardage in the league? If it's a good amount, then Tiki won't be dead weight like Al predicts, but a TD-heavy league can hurt this team.
Al: It's a point for every 10 yards rushing/receiving, which would go in Tiki's favor.
QB: Chad Pennington 10, AJ Feeley 1
RB: Ahman Green 67, Tyrone Wheatley 3, William Green 2
WR: Chad Johnson 29, Terrell Owens 32, Lee Evans 1, Muhsin Muhammad 1, Joey Galloway 1
TE: Jeremy Shockey 5, Anthony Becht 1
K: Ryan Longwell 1, Olindo Mare 1
DT: Baltimore 4, Miami 1
Al: Man, talk about a tough RB situation. I don't like this strategy at all. WRs can carry a team, but you need a better #2 RB than Tyrone Wheatley to do it. There will be weeks where Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens gain a combined 120 yards with 0 TDs. The rest of this roster just isn't strong enough to carry them when that sort of thing happens, although The Chad certainly will try. Even though I'm a Giant fan, or maybe because I'm a Giant fan, I wouldn't go near Jeremy Shockey as a fantasy TE. He's going to be ineffective for the first few weeks of the year recovering from his injury and will likely find some way to get hurt again.
Vivek: Are we the fantasy football equivalent of Stadler & Waldorf? We haven't had many positive things to say about this draft. Al has already addressed the glaring weakness in this team. One good waiver wire pickup, though...
Bring on the hate mail!
Al: It's tough not to have weaknesses on your team in a 12+ team league. Remember folks, if you want us to insult your fantasy team next week, email us your squad at email@example.com.
Al: Last year Ian came up with a point system for picking games. First game was worth three points, second game was two points, last game was one point. Good idea, but after a few weeks, it's tough to tell who's having a good picks season. So, if it's OK with you Vivek I'd like to do a more straightforward picks of the week contest. It's based on how Mike and the Mad Dog do their weekly picks. We'll each pick at least three games against the spread, best winning percentage at the end of the year wins the contest. You don't have to pick only three games, however. If you want to pick all of them, go right ahead. Whoever is behind in the contest will get to make their picks first. Since you're the new guy, I'll give you first dibs.
Three picks from me this week, and we'll start off with Tennessee giving three points to the Dolphins. Some people are still giving the Dolphins a chance because of their Defense, but without Ricky, there will be a lot of three-and-outs. A poorly rested defense will result in a field day for McNair & Co.
I'm a fan of Denny Green and think that the Cardinals will show improvement, but McCown and Fitzgerald still need time to grow. Look for the Rams' big three to put up big numbers and cover that 11-point spread.
This could be Warner's coming out party as a Giant, but it will most likely be one of his few 2004 highlights. I'm giving Big Blue some credit with Tiki, Toomer and Shockey.
Al: Alright, I didn't want to touch any of those games. Except the Titans. I can't believe the line is that low.
Let's get started with the season opener. Inspired by Destiny's Child and Elton John, the Pats should win this game pretty handily. The Colts haven't won in Foxboro with Peyton Manning at QB. Only one of those victories has been by three points or less. I don't see any reason for the trend to reverse itself this week.
The Texans have never lost a season opener. Drew Brees is starting at QB for San Diego. I'd expect this to be a battle of the running games, with Domanick Davis tearing up the Charger defensive line while the Texans are able to hold their own against LT.
My upset special shouldn't really be an upset. Everyone here (except for me) loves the Packers this year. I'm not as high on them as everyone else is, but I still think they beat Carolina this week. I'm not convinced that the revamped Panther offensive line will be as good as last year's unit was. And of course, you'd be crazy to bet against Brett Favre on Monday Night Football.