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Opening weekend lives up to hype

By By Josh Taylor/staff writer
September 14, 2003
Surprisingly, opening weekend of the 2003 NFL season was all that it was hyped up to be.
I think we can all agree that one of the biggest surprises of Week 1 was the Houston Texans' 21-20 victory of the highly touted Miami Dolphins.
After a miserable 4-12 season in 2002 everyone expected the Texans to be horrible once again. What everyone did not expect was a vast improvement in one key part of every football team, the offensive line.
The Texans led the league in sacks allowed last season with 76. That's almost five sacks per game. Last year's sack leader was none other than the Dolphin's Jason Taylor with 18.5. Their opening day battle looked like it would be a dark day for the Texans.
I guarantee that you cannot find one analyst who picked Houston to win that game, including myself. Miami was picked by many as an early Super Bowl contender with their high-powered running game and a tough defense.
There are five guys who put an end to Miami's early season hype. Chester Pitts, Milford Brown, Steve McKinney, Zach Wiegert, and Greg Randall are the unknown souls who make up the Texan's offensive line. These five guys did not allow a single sack on Houston quarterback David Carr.
The Texans are set for a Week 2 showdown with New Orleans today. The Texans Cinderella year will probably end today, but they sure are fun to watch.
Tough Teams
The two toughest teams so far are Tampa Bay and Tennessee. These two teams may very likely face each other in this year's Super Bowl.
The Buccaneers picked up right where they left off in February. The NFL's number one defense shut out Philadelphia in the Eagles new home stadium.
Shutting out anyone in the NFL is hard to do. A team can usually get at least a field goal. To shut down Donovan McNabb and the Eagles is a statement of authority. The Bucs are back and they have no intention of relinquishing that Super Bowl trophy.
The Tennessee Titans have had a solid team since the Music City Miracle. Injuries have been their biggest foe. This year's Titans team comes to the field with a healthy Steve NcNair and Eddie George.
They proved their worth on Monday Night with a win over the Oakland Raiders. It looked like they were playing the Oakland Bengals.
I realize I may cause some discontent with this statement, but McNair is possibly the best quarterback in the NFL right now. He has the perfect mix of
running ability and passing skill. He's also built like a linebacker.
I guarantee you that every team in the NFL knows when they play the Bucs and Titans.
Early Surprises
How bout them Lions. That's right, I said Lions.
It is quite possible that football fans in Detroit were not talking about Barry Sanders this week. This may be the first time in 10 years.
The Lions took a dominant 42-24 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1. I realize that it's the Cardinals, but young quarterback Joey Harrington lit
up the field with his arm.
The recent addition of Steve Mariucci to the Lions has given them a legitimate expectation for success. Just like the Texans, I don't expect the Lions to go all the way, but they sure are fun to watch.
Did anyone happen to see the Carolina-Jacksonville game last Sunday? Did you happen to notice the Panthers' new quarterback? If he looks familiar that's because he used to be the Saints' backup.
Carolina's Jake Delhomme had an impressive day and an even more impressive 24-23 comeback win over the Jaguars.
Delhomme is for real. Along with a tough Carolina defense, they may be this year's Cinderella team.
Game Of The Week
The most interesting game in Week 2 is Miami at the New York Jets. These two teams were both picked to do extremely well in 2003. After suffering opening losses they are both in must-win situations.
I realize that there are no must-wins in Week 2, but this is a must-win.
Another great game in Week 2 is Pittsburgh at Kansas City.
The Chiefs are set for a great year on the legs of Priest Holmes while the Steeler's Tommy Maddox has picked up right where he left off in 2002.
The garbage gamr of the week looks like Dallas at the New York Giants.
A lot is being made about Bill Parcells going back into New York to face his former team. While this is a little intriguing, I can go ahead and let you in on a little secret. The Giants are going to pound the Cowboys.
If you enjoy halftime scores of 35-0, this is your game.