by Jeremy Gottlieb, Patriots Daily Staff
September 16, 2009

Brett Favre.

There’s two words sure to entice readers not to surf elsewhere/vomit, right? I’m sorry, loyal readers, I couldn’t help it. The thing is, I hate the guy. Loathe him. As far as I’m concerned, he resides in the upper stratosphere of the worst professional athletes known to man, resting comfortably alongside the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Terrell Owens and Kobe Bryant. I had promised myself following this summer’s installment of his stupid, boring, completely predictable, ego-maniacal, ongoing soap opera that I would do what needed to be done and just pretend he didn’t exist. It was working, too, even as all the ESPN robots and the like continued to suck up to him like he cured cancer. And then, Week 1 happened.

The headline for the Worldwide Favre Leader’s web coverage of the Vikings/Browns tilt read, “Favre, Peterson Lead Vikes.” It occurred to me nearly instantaneously that such a statement was patently untrue and absurd. Favre passed for 110 yards. Peterson rushed for 180 yards and three TDs, including a 60-yarder that was nothing short of breathtaking. If Favre absolutely needed to be included in the headline (which he probably did seeing as how the decision makers at ESPN would seemingly rather piss themselves continuously for all eternity than not treat him as the centrifugal force around which the entire universe revolves), shouldn’t Peterson’s name been listed first? Just a thought.

I could go on about how ESPN went on to feature one of their (and perhaps biggest) Favre shills Gene Wojciechowski’s postgame column, which naturally was all about Favre, or have the lead photo on both their front page and NFL page show Favre in the foreground and Peterson not only in the background but also out of focus. But I won’t. I need to stop before I’m the one who vomits. I’ll just end this little diatribe by noting that the chances of ESPN doing something like this again later in the season – that is to say hyping a washed-up, overrated, team and coach killing has-been over the best, most dynamic player in the league who also happens to play for the same team -are about as good as the sun rising tomorrow.

This Week’s Five Best Teams

1. Pittsburgh: Their bruising win over the Titans on Opening Night was not terrible artistic and losing Troy Polamalu for any length of time will definitely hurt. But until they lose, it’s hard to put them anywhere else, especially with Ben Roethlisberger being the best clutch quarterback in the league who isn’t named Brady.

2. New York Giants: They may be thinner at receiver and running back than in the past couple of years, but they still have a super defense and a (gulp) proven winner at quarterback in Eli Manning. There was never a time in their Week 1 win over the Redskins when it looked like anything but a sure W.

3. Philadelphia: There’s a caveat to this one since Donovan McNabb is now hurt (again) and the team the Eagles walloped last week – Carolina – seems to have a season ticket holder calling signals these days instead of an actual quarterback. But they are loaded with talent in all phases and showed it in abundance down in Charlotte.

4. New England: I’m gonna get hated on by the homer bashers for this one, especially considering how potentially disastrous the situation on defense looks. But with everything the Pats have on offense it won’t be long before they can afford to give up 30 points per game and still win. That’s how good Brady, Moss, Welker, et al are.

5. Green Bay: It took the Pack nearly the entire game to get anything going (sound familiar) on Sunday night, but when they did, Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings exploded. It helped that they played the Bears, who have 6-10 written all over them with Brian Urlacher going down and the fraudulent Jay Cutler at QB. But their offense still seems to have what it takes and their defense, which killed them last year, looks much improved.

This Week’s Five Worst Teams

1. St Louis: It took the entire lifespan of the NFL for there to be a winless team before last year’s Lions. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that this year’s Rams – completely devoid of talent beyond Steven Jackson – make it two in two years.

2. Cleveland: If the over/under on how long it would take Eric Mangini to go from hot, young coaching star to unbearable, pig-headed, soon-to-be-unhireable loser was six years and you took the under, you win!

3. Detroit: It’s amazing – the Lions are now just the third worst team in the league and we may as well throw them a party. How many teams can get pasted with 45 points in Week 1 as Detroit was last week and still have reason for optimism?

4. Jacksonville: The Jags hung with the Colts last week, as they usually do. And they may even beat the Cardinals this week in their home opener. But really, what’s there after Maurice Jones-Drew? Not much, which means we may only have to live through 15 more weeks of the insufferable Jack Del Rio.

5. Cincinnati: I know, the Bengals didn’t play that badly against Denver last week. And they were just over 30 seconds from winning. And this year’s edition of “Hard Knocks” on HBO was cool. But really, could what happened at the end of the Broncos game have happened to any other team but them? 5-11, here they come! Again!

What’s Trendy

Joshua Cribbs, Cleveland: An argument could be made that Cribbs is the best player on the Browns. Not too far-fetched when you look at the total sucktitude of the rest of the roster. Anyway, he reinforced the notion with a 67-yard punt return for a score in the second quarter, the seventh special teams TD of his career.

Jeremy Shockey, Saints: He caught two of Drew Brees’ six TD passes for the Saints against the Lions, two more than he’s had since November, 2007, when he was with the Giants.

San Francisco: The Niners went on the road to face the defending NFC Champs, managed less than one yard per rushing attempt and featured 57-year-old Isaac Bruce as their leading receiver yet still dispatched the Cardinals, 20-16.

What’s Not

Jake Delhomme, Carolina: In leading the Panthers to 169 yards of total offense and just three third down conversions in 19 tries, Delhomme passed for 73 yards, threw four picks and fumbled. He now has nine turnovers in his last two games, 11 in his last three. He also has a $40 million contract extension (almost $20 million guaranteed) which began at the start of the season. Go Panthers.

Jay Cutler, Chicago: Four picks for the Bears’ franchise savior, each one worse than the last. Cutler may be the first franchise savior in history to assume such a mantle with a 17-20 record as a starter and never lead his team to the playoffs.

Leodis McKelvin, Buffalo: He’d do it again, 100 times out of 100. If it does happen 100 more times, look for the Bills to go 0-100.

And finally…

This week marks the regular season debut of the Cowboys new, multi-billion dollar palace when the Giants come into Arlington, TX. The over/under on how many punts bounce off that ridiculous video board that Jerry Jones won’t just move a measly 10 feet higher because, as he’s proven time and again since the last time Cowboys actually won a playoff game, he’s more interested in being gossiped about than actually winning, is 2.5. I take the over.

Jeremy Gottlieb’s ‘Around the League’ will be a regular weekly feature on Patriots Daily.