Belfast American Football Writing

I write a column on American Football for a local paper - here you can read the reports a couple of days before they go in print; and my confused waffles...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Divisional games feature in Week Two

WEEK two in the NFL sees a host of big division games that could determine who will be the early pace setters.

In the NFC East, the whole division is going at it, with the New York Giants at Philadelphia and Washington at Dallas Sunday night.

In the NFC South, there’s Tampa Bay-Atlanta. In the AFC East, New England comes down to visit the Jets.

Also, there’s Lions-Bears, Browns-Bengals and Chiefs-Broncos among others.

“One of the goals every team has is to take care of business in your division,” says Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren, whose club face the NFC West Arizona Cardinals this week.

All this comes after a Kickoff Weekend that saw a host of surprises with11 road teams winning; the most on an opening weekend in 23 years no-one quite knows what’s in store tomorrow (Sunday).

Leave it to a player -- the Jets’ Pennington, who missed most of a whole season last year -- to capture the exuberance a player feels in the return of an NFL season. “It’s an honour to play this game,” said Pennington. “That’s the way I look at it.”

It’s also time for a clash with a mentor. And what better type of mentor can you have than one who has won three of the past five Super Bowls? That is Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick, under whom new Jets’ coach Eric Mangini was an assistant/defensive co-ordinator for with the Browns, Jets and Patriots for 10 seasons through last year.

All that coziness aside, Mangini and his Jets – coming off a satisfying 23-16 win over Tennessee – have to reverse a six game losing streak to the Patriots.

They aren’t the only AFC Easters to suffer at the hands of New England. The Pats have won 16 of their past 18 division games, including last week against Buffalo, who take on a Miami side that are still smarting from last week’s fourth quarter loss to the depleted Steelers.


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