The Athletic Reporter
September 12, 2005 Sports News the Way You Want It. Completely Made Up. Issue 127
The Average Mulder
by Joe Mulder
Week 3: What Do We Know?

The two-time defending champion New England Patriots just beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that lost a grand total of one regular season game last year, on the Steelers' home field. The previous week, the Patriots had lost to the Carolina Panthers, a popular NFC Super Bowl pick when the season began but now a 1-2 team with losses to the 1-2 Saints and the Miami Dolphins, 4-12 a season ago.

The Saints, meanwhile, after beating the Panthers at Carolina in Week 1, turned around and lost to the Giants and the Vikings -- the same Vikings that were also a popular preseason Super Bowl pick but who got off to a dreadful 0-2 start, playing two horrible games against Tampa Bay and Cincinnati (two teams that missed the playoffs last year but are now 3-0). The same Vikings that, after beating the Saints (who beat the Panthers, who beat the Patriots, who beat the Steelers), now have as many wins as anybody else in the NFC North, the winner of which -- no matter how bad they are -- will host at least one playoff game.

What's the point of all this? The point is that, early in an NFL season, you really don't know much.

But with three-seventeenths of the 2005 NFL season behind us, here's what we DO know:

- The Patriots are still the favorites to win the Super Bowl, and should be the favorites to win any game they play until it is shown that they can be beaten in a must-win game. Sure, they lost to Carolina; nobody goes undefeated. They were going to lose at least once. They might lose twice more.

- The Colts apparently joined the Big 12 in the summer. Their early schedule features more cupcakes than a popular fat kid's birthday party. I don't know how they secured those home games against Ball State and Eastern Michigan; somebody really, really wants the Colts to be 7-0 when they go to New England on November 7th. For a Monday night game. After a bye week. And the game before that? At the Texans. I hear the NFL is trying to arrange for yet another hurricane to hit the Houston area, just so that game can be cancelled and the Colts can come into Foxboro fresh off a nice three-week rest.

- The Bengals are good.

- So are the Buccaneers.

- Once Gary Hogeboom finally gets kicked off of "Survivor: Guatemala," the chances are probably pretty good that the Jets will give him a call.

- The Brett Favre collapse is sort of scaring me. Remember when Roy (of "Siegfried and Roy") was mauled almost to death by Montecore the white tiger a few years ago? Accounts of the incident were so horrifying that nobody (for the first week at least) dared make any jokes about it, and I remember thinking "Wow, how bad does a tragedy involving Siegfried and Roy and one of their tigers have to be that people aren't even willing to make fun of it?" Well, that's how I feel about Brett Favre. Even as a lifelong Vikings fan and (it goes without saying) Packers hater, as much as I'd love to, I can't enjoy watching Favre play as badly as he is right now.

Until he comes to the Metrodome, at least.

By the way, I know we're used to seeing Packers stuff all other the place for the last decade because of Favre, but let them have a few lousy years and see how many Green Bay jerseys you see around in, say, 2011. In fact, if you know anybody who didn't grow up in Wisconsin who roots for the Packers, I want you to make it your personal mission to start harassing the crap out of him starting three years from now (when the Packers have put together a couple of really horrible seasons in a row) and ending only when his sorry frontrunning ass finally hurls itself out of a twelfth-story window in order to get away from your relentless -- but fully justified -- taunting.

- I drafted Steve Smith and Cadillac Williams for my fantasy team. I'm an absolute genius.

- I drafted Kurt Warner and Travis Henry for my fantasy team. I'm a complete idiot.

- The thought of that Colts offense -- which will get on track, I imagine -- having a good defense backing it up will probably cause Patriots fans to have the fear of God put into them for the first time since it because obvious that they could hang with the Rams back in February of 2002, even though the Patriots are still clearly the team to beat.

- I'm awesome at suicide pools (for those that don't know, in a "suicide" pool you pick one team every week; if that team wins its game that week, you move on to the next week. You can't pick the same team twice in a season. Thus, in Week 1 I picked the Steelers, in Week 2 I picked the Eagles, and in Week Three I picked the Colts. Now, in Week 4, since I can't pick Indy, Philly or Pittsburgh, I'm picking the Bengals. If your pick loses its game, you're done for the year) (I'm saving the Patriots until I really need them)

- Peyton Manning and Michael Vick are well on their way to becoming Dan Marino and Randall Cunningham to Tom Brady's Joe Montana.

- The Eagles might be tied for last place in their division, but it's hard to imagine anyone in the NFC beating them. Unless the Buccaneers are actually as good as they've looked so far.

- The Arizona Cardinals are a "sleeper" team, in the sense that the effect they have on their fans is identical to the effect of the professional wrestling hold of the same name.

- If you're thinking of going into the season with a young, potentially shaky white guy named "Kyle" as your starting quarterback... don't.

- If you want to knock Byron Leftwich out of a game, you're probably going to have to freeze him with liquid nitrogen, blast him into little bits with a shotgun, and, when the little bits flow back together and turn back into Byron Leftwich, knock him into a vat of molten steel. Even then, he'd probably only be listed as "questionable" for next Sunday.

- USC could probably win the NFC North.

- The touchdown celebration bar has been raised, thanks to Chad Johnson's "Riverdance" in Chicago. As the only white guy in America who loves end zone celebrations, I salute you, Chad Johnson. Keep up the good work.
Joe Mulder

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