The League

Michael Bean
Steelers Blogger

Michael Bean

Michael is the founder and editor of Behind the Steel Curtain.

Texas two-step


We're two weeks in to the 2010 NFL season. Eight teams are 2-0. Eight are 0-2. And the remaining 16 stand at 1-1. What's the biggest surprise of the young season? Is it the 2-0 starts for Tampa Bay, Kansas City, or Chicago? What about Pittsburgh's 2-0 start despite having having their fourth string quarterback at the controls for more than half of the Steelers' 19-11 Week 2 win over the Tennessee Titans? Some might argue that the 0-2 starts for Minnesota and Dallas are a bigger shock. Let's break it down real quick and try to make some sense of it.

Kudos to Kansas City for their impressive start. Beating San Diego to kickoff the new year is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it's hard to win in that type of fashion week in and week out (the Chiefs only possessed the ball for 22:32). The Chargers were favored that night, but don't discount the added boost the Chiefs got from the home crowd ... the opening night of the new Arrowhead Stadium, mind you. Raucous atmosphere. The Chiefs then capitalized on an atrocious decision by Cleveland Browns quarterback Seneca Wallace in the second quarter of their Week 2 win over Cleveland. Wallace threw an ill-advised ball outside that Chiefs' CB Brandon Flowers took back the other way for a 33-yard score, the Chiefs' only TD of the afternoon. Three Ryan Succop (your 2009 Mr. Irrelevant!) were enough to hold off the Browns 16-14. As Mike Ditka so eloquently likes to bark: 'you are what you are'. And the Kansas City Chiefs are 2-0. A very nice step in the right direction, but I'm not sold just yet. Something tells me San Francisco knocks them and their fanbase down a notch or two this coming Sunday.

Hats off to Raheem Morris and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for matching the win total many thought they'd have by season's end in the first two weeks. Josh Freeman is making smart decisions with the football (52 pass attempts, 1 INT, 0 Fumbles), and that's allowed the Bucs to hang around and wait for other teams to self-destruct (thanks Jake Delhomme, you too Matt Moore). To me the question comes down to -- is it shocking Delhomme and the Browns + Matt Moore and the Panthers shot themselves in the foot? I certainly wouldn't say so.

I'm not going to waste my time talking about the Chicago Bears' 2-0 start. They shouldn't be 2-0. Calvin Johnson should have been awarded a touchdown, which in turn would have given the Lions a Week 1 win over the Bears. That said, Jay Cutler and Mike Martz look like they might be a dangerous duo on any given Sunday, and the Bears in all likelihood are going to be in the Wild Card hunt at worst come early December thanks to their 2-0 start.

I'm a Steelers partisan, so I might be tempted to make the case for their 2-0 start to the year. I don't know. On the one hand, it's impressive that they're undefeated given the situation at quarterback. On the other hand, all the Steelers do is win season openers (eight straight), and it's not too shocking that the Steelers were able to neutralize Chris Johnson and the Titans' rushing attack on Sunday, as well as force Vince Young into some awful decisions in Young's first career start against Dick LeBeau's Steeler defense. The Steelers' defense absolutely hosed the Titans' offense on Sunday. Over the course of 10 series and 29 plays dating from the first quarter to the opening play of the Titans' lone TD drive at around the 5:00 mark of the fourth quarter, the Steelers limited the Titans to just 10 yards and forced five turnovers. Incredible. You don't need much of an offense to win if your defense is playing like that.

Shocking to see Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys struggle? Is that a trick question? No, no surprise there. As delighted as I am with their start, I must admit that I still believe Dallas will be right there in the thick of things in the NFC East come December, though that's partly because it looks like it may be a race to 10 to win the NFC East this year.

I'm not at all surprised by the 0-2 start by the Minnesota Vikings. They haven't played well, Brett Favre most notably, but they haven't played terribly either. Don't fault them too much for losing a close game against the defending champs at the Superdome on a night when the organization celebrated its Super Bowl triumph in grand fashion. Minnesota's home loss to the Dolphins stings, but don't count Favre and the Vikings down for the count just yet. Here's why. A home date with the Detroit Lions next Sunday presumably has them in the win-column heading into their bye week. The Jets opponent in Week 5 after a week of rest and extra preparation? The New York Jets. Have questions about Favre's intensity, passion, and interest level this year? I'll be the first to say that I think Favre gets up for that game against his former team and leads the Vikings to an upset road victory to level Minnesota's record at 2-2. But back to the point at hand -- no, when your quarterback misses training camp, and you're missing key playmakers on the outside, it's not surprising that you lose to the SB champs and a solid 'Fins team that controls the clock and limits its mistakes.

So who then has been the most surprising team through two weeks?

To me, it has to be the Houston Texans. We're running long, so I'll try to be brief. To begin, let me acknowledge that the Texans obviously have the personnel to make the playoffs this season. At least on paper. And we read all summer about how their opener against the Indianapolis Colts was like their Super Bowl. So, it's not too surprising they finally broke through and beat the Colts thanks to a record-setting day by Arian Foster. What surprised me rather was their win over the Washington Redskins this past Sunday. Overcoming a 17-point second half deficit to win in overtime behind nearly 500 yards of passing from Matt Schaub. Wow. I very much expected the Texans to have an emotional letdown after their big win over the Colts. And for the better part of 40 minutes, that's what appeared to be happening. This year's Texans will benefit enormously from these first two wins. Either one in isolation is less impressive than the two of them in tandem. Winning the way they did in each contest only makes them more dangerous in my mind -- they know they can pound it out and wear you down, and they know they can take to the air and win a shoot-out if need be. I can't believe I'm writing this, but I'm now a believer in the this year's Houston Texans squad. They may not be ready to make a deep run in January, but my money's squarely on them finally advancing to postseason play for the first time in franchise history.

By Michael Bean  |  September 21, 2010; 10:23 AM ET  | Category:  Chicago Bears , Dallas Cowboys , Houston Texans , Kansas City Chiefs , Minnesota Vikings , NFL , Pittsburgh Steelers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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