The Schein Nine  

 

Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Joe Philbin show true colors

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The Cardinals played the Bears on Sunday. Thus, I had Dennis Green's famous postgame rant ringing in my head:

"They are who we thought they were!"

While there were many upsets and results I didn't see coming -- thanks, Chip Kelly -- Sunday did confirm some notions I had about certain players, coaches and teams. Basically proving that, well, they are who I thought they were.

Allow me to channel my inner Denny Green, Schein Nine style:

1) Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers: Simply the best.

Before the season kicked off, I picked Aaron Rodgers to win another MVP award and Green Bay to win another Super Bowl. And Sunday night's 27-17 win over the Seahawks confirmed my thinking on all of the above. Rodgers was at his best in the fourth quarter, when it mattered the most, putting together a vintage 10-play, 80-yard drive capped off by a touchdown pass and two-point conversion to Richard Rodgers. The best quarterback in the business was composed and took advantage of the middle of the field, with Seattle missing Kam Chancellor. And Rodgers was able to rock steady despite Eddie Lacy missing most of the game with an ankle injury.

We all know Rodgers is the best quarterback in the game today. (Related side note: This kind of throw is just unfair.) The big key for Green Bay to reach the pinnacle as a team: The defense has to be clutch. This unit won't ever be dominant. But in a big game -- a revenge game -- the Packers' D made plays and created turnovers in the fourth quarter. If this remains the norm, Packer Backers can start booking trips to the San Francisco Bay Area in early February.

2) The Pittsburgh Steelers are an offensive juggernaut.

Now this is why I picked Pittsburgh to make the playoffs. The Steelers bounced back from a Week 1 loss in New England to bludgeon the 49ers, 43-18. This is what I expect from this offense, which will get even better when Le'Veon Bell returns from suspension next week -- and when Martavis Bryant follows suit in Week 5.

After racking up a lot of yards (464) but not a lot of points (21) in Week 1, Pittsburgh simply exploded against a San Francisco defense that was fresh off completely shutting down Adrian Peterson and the Vikings. Ben Roethlisberger was dynamite, showing again that he is truly elite with this stat line: 21-27, 369 yards, three touchdowns, zero picks. Predictably, a large portion of that came via Antonio Brown, who posted nine catches for 195 yards and a touchdown. Bell placeholder DeAngelo Williams provided positive returns for the second straight week, logging three touchdowns on the ground.

Ben, Bell and Brown comprise the best set of triplets in the NFL today, and they will carry Pittsburgh -- despite its work-in-progress defense -- to the postseason.

3) Adrian Peterson is still a rushing machine.

Every game, all season

The Niners bottled him up last week, but the Lions had no answer. And you can't be surprised: Clearly, Week 1 was the aberration.

Peterson, who managed just 31 total rushing yards in the opening game, piled up 45 in the opening drive against Detroit. By day's end, he had 192 total yards, including 134 on the ground.

This guy remains the best running back in the NFL, and he was the big difference between the Vikings and the Lions on Sunday. Minnesota is the second-best team in the NFC North behind the Packers.

4) Surprise! The New England Patriots are the team to beat in the East.

I tried to warn you in the preseason that Tom Brady would embark on the greatest middle-finger tour in sports history. Don't get it twisted: The final score -- Patriots 40, Bills 32 -- isn't indicative of how lopsided this game truly was. Brady absolutely torched Rex Ryan's talented defense with 466 yards through the air. No, Rex didn't have King Kong at his disposal, and Rob Gronkowski remained unstoppable, with 113 receiving yards and a touchdown. Julian Edelman caught 11 passes for 97 yards and two scores. Oh, and Dion Lewis, who was out of the NFL last year, continued to make a name for himself in New England with 138 total yards and a touchdown on 13 touches.

The Bills are better, but don't get delusional: The Patriots remain the cream of the crop in this division.

5) The Houston Texans don't have a quarterback.

Starting Ryan Mallett over Brian Hoyer in Week 2 was a no-brainer. But after what we saw on Sunday, it's clear Mallett is hardly ready for prime time.

The Texans had high aspirations entering this season, but they fell to 0-2 by losing to a Panthers team missing Luke Kuechly. Mallett completed just 27 of his 58 pass attempts for 244 yards -- that equals a measly 4.2 yards per attempt.

It's tough to see the well-coached Texans getting over the hump and making the playoffs in 2015 -- and even tougher to see the 2016 Texans quarterback on the roster right now.

6) Hello again, mediocrity! The St. Louis Rams are an 8-8 team.

St. Louis had a strong win against the Seahawks in Week 1, furthering the offseason notion that Jeff Fisher's squad was ready to break through in 2015. But Sunday's 24-10 loss was just unacceptable. Getting pushed around by the Washington Redskins? When you play in an ultra-competitive division like the NFC West, that can't happen. What happened to the power-loaded D-line? Redskins rookie Matt Jones ran wild, with 123 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.

The Rams have had a knack for playing down to inferior competition in recent years. Perhaps rookie running back Todd Gurley can change fortunes whenever he returns to the field, but Sunday was alarming and painted a picture of another up-and-down season in St. Louis.

7) The New York Giants have major problems.

The Falcons went into New York and beat the Giants despite having trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter. The smarter and better team won. It's all rather telling for Big Blue.

The Giants become the first team in NFL history to blow two straight double-digit leads in the fourth quarter to start a season. And it was marred, again, by mind-boggling game management.

This New York roster was put together in anemic fashion -- again. The Giants don't have the requisite talent to make the playoffs -- again. And they start the season 0-2 -- again.

8) Joe Philbin isn't the future of the Miami Dolphins.

I picked Miami to earn a wild-card slot despite my reservations regarding Philbin. The Dolphins are 1-1 and could easily be 0-2 -- which is rather remarkable, considering Miami has played the Redskins and Jags. Jacksonville simply outplayed Miami on Sunday. Self-induced mistakes plagued the Dolphins, and Blake Bortles and the Jaguars took advantage.

Even if the 'Fins make the playoffs, I think they need to win a game for Philbin to stick around. And they definitely can't afford to fall short, like they have in each of the past two years. Losing to inferior teams like the Jaguars certainly doesn't help.

9) The Arizona Cardinals are a top-three team in the NFC.

I said the above in the preseason and firmly believe it today. What impressed me about the Cards in Sunday's 25-point win at Chicago was the mentality.

Last week, in the walk-up to the game, DB Tyrann Mathieu joined my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein on Sports." The third-year pro described the business-like approach in Arizona. We saw that on Sunday in all phases, starting with David Johnson's 108-yard touchdown on the opening kick of the game. The defense forced turnovers. The Carson Palmer-to-Larry Fitzgerald combo produced three touchdowns. And none of this is surprising.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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