The Blog of Northern Aggression

The Blog of Northern Aggression: Football Team Bias

By David Wipperman (a.k.a. Ragnarok) – @Wipperman

David Wipperman, also known as Ragnarok (or Rags) on the forum, has been in charge of setting up the Wednesday fantasy football mock drafts for a few years. Ragnarok had his own section in the fantasy mocks this summer where he broke down the best and worst teams.

Ragnarok will be writing his own weekly column on this Web site. It will contain a different topic each week as well as some of his gut bets, which should be used for entertainment purposes only.

You can follow Ragnarok @Wipperman or leave a comment below.

We all have preconceived notions on what we expect from various teams going into each NFL season. Whether it is an offense, defense, or individual players, there are certain things we do and do not believe they are capable of. This week, I am going to look at the six offenses that either impressed or disappointed me the most. This is not a list of the best or worst offenses, but rather the ones I was personally surprised by.

New England Patriots
As I wrote last week, I expected Bill Belichick and Tom Brady to come out and quiet everyone who had doubted them this offseason. They did the exact opposite and were almost beaten by the Bills. It started with Stevan Ridley forgetting how to hold on to the ball before getting benched. Shane Vereen came on and did an excellent job, but unfortunately he broke his wrist and will miss the next few weeks. If Ridley doesn’t turn things around, New England’s run game could be in serious trouble these next couple weeks.

That said, the most concerning thing for me was the seeming disconnect between Brady and his receiving corps. The two rookie wideouts who everyone has been all over looked like rookies, and Amendola struggled mightily until Brady went off on him on the sidelines. Brady didn’t seem quite like his regular self as he missed a number of throws. It makes me wonder how Patriots will do on a short week against a better defense… although knowing Brady, he will go off at home.

Pittsburgh Steelers
I mentioned the Steelers in my “Gut Bets” last week as a team I thought would have some issues due to its pitiful offensive line, but I did not expect Pittsburgh to look this awful. The Steelers had a good first drive that they squandered on a fumble, and aside from that, they were atrocious.

Big Ben has long been able to use his size and mobility in the pocket to overcome a poor front five, but that was not the case Sunday. Not only was there no running game to take the pressure off, but there was no time to let passing plays develop. Compounding this issue is the loss of Maurkice Pouncey, the only player on Pittsburgh’s line who could be trusted. Unlike the Patriots before, I am not nearly as sure that the Steelers can overcome such a glaring weakness going forward.

Cleveland Browns
Last week, I wrote an article about how the Browns could be a surprise playoff team. Their fans on the forum, almost in unison, said that while I had made a lot of logical, solid points … this was still the Browns. Logic doesn’t apply in Cleveland as it’s where hopes and dreams go to die. Aside from Jordan Cameron, no one else decided to show up. That’s what I get for thinking things could be changing. The only time a “season over” comment is appropriate after the first game is when it’s the Browns.

San Francisco 49ers
This one pains me to do as a Packers fan, but I was not expecting this offense to be this explosive through the air. Especially when San Francisco’s running game was as contained as it was. I wouldn’t have been nearly as surprised if the 49ers had run the ball well to set up the pass, but Kaepernick showed vastly improved touch on his way to over 400 yards. The most impressive aspect was how well he clicked with Boldin, who was unstoppable all day, as well as Vernon Davis, considering how poorly they connected last regular season. If Crabtree comes back in any regard later this season, I have a hard time seeing this offense being slowed down.

Oakland Raiders
I believe that almost everyone, including myself, was not expecting Oakland to field anything close to a competitive team. A frequently hurt running back, major offensive line issues and a quarterback who not many people had much confidence in does not for a good offense make. But no player surprised me more this weekend than Terrelle Pryor. He made very good decisions in the passing game, and his unreal athleticism hid some of the offensive line woes. Pryor does have some talented wide receivers to work with, and if he can grow in the mental aspect of the game, it will be interesting to see him develop. I don’t expect Pryor to be very good, but even average is a big step up from popular expectations.

Denver Broncos
I almost have to mention this offense. Seven touchdowns is just unbelievable especially when one of your wideouts (Eric Decker) forgot how to catch. Julius Thomas in particular was an absolute stud, and if he continues to play like this, Peyton Manning and the Broncos are going to be very difficult to stop. Manning’s ball placement was absolutely fantastic all game; the only issue was that some of his passes seemed to float on him. It does make me wonder if all that talk about his arm being back was more lip service than anything else. That aside, he was very precise even without much of a run game to help him out as his line did a better job than I expected.

Gut Bets

Saints: -3.5
I don’t get this line. Tampa Bay looked awful in a close loss while New Orleans handled its business. I have no faith in Josh Freeman, while Drew Brees and Sean Payton are going to be on a mission. I know this could be viewed as a let-down game, but it’s not like Tampa Bay offers a good home-field advantage.

Panthers: -2.5
Now, I could see this being a let-down game for the Bills. They went all out for the Patriots and fell short. Not to mention that Buffalo will have to rely on the arm of E.J. Manuel to win as Carolina has a fantastic front seven. I think Cam Newton has a much better game with the secondary of the Bills still in disarray.

Cowboys: +2.5
I think this line is being skewed due to the Chiefs spanking the Jaguars – the worst team in the league. The Cowboys can score, and Alex Smith is not good enough to come from behind. I always hate betting on Tony Romo, but Dallas should win this game.

The Blog of Northern Agression Menu:
NFL Power Rankings - 10/31
Surprises and Disappointments - 10/19
Hard Knocks - 10/10
Mock Draft - 10/4
NFL Power Rankings - 9/27
Football Team Bias - 9/11
Surprise Super Bowl Team - 9/6

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

2024 NFL Mock Draft - Feb. 21

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12