Before we get into the Packers week two stock report, lets look at the overall stock of the NFL after the first week of games. Even though Thursday night’s opener between the Packers and Saints easily won the night, ratings were down about three percent compared to last year’s Saints/Vikings opener.
After years of TV ratings (and profits) continuing to go up, has the NFL reached its peak? What role did the lockout play in the reduced rating? Did having two small-market teams in the opener bring the number down?
The answer to all those questions is probably “it’s too early to tell.” However, I don’t notice the same level of buzz around the NFL that I’ve noticed over the last couple of years. There were some people at work on Thursday that weren’t even aware the season was starting that night. A lot of my friends that are casual football fans also haven’t brought up the NFL much over the last month.
The NFL will remain the top dog in American sports for a long time, but you have to think it will reach a peak in popularity sometime. Maybe that time is now, but I doubt it. With the NFL set to get new TV contracts shortly, I’m sure we’ll hear about record ratings and attendance as the year goes on.
Regardless of which way NFL stock is headed, the Packers have probably never been as popular as they are now. They’re a team at the top that appears to be rising even higher after beating the Saints.
There were some tough omissions from the rising category this week. Honorable mention goes to B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and Jarius Wynn on the defensive line and Morgan Burnett in the secondary.
I told myself I wasn’t going to include Rodgers in the rising category every week, but how can you leave him off after what he did against the Saints? He had no business making some of those throws, but he made them anyway and completed most of them. After the game, he even mocked people who questioned the fact that he did not organize player workouts during the lockout. Just a brilliant night for QB1.
The Packers center was bulldozing Saints defensive linemen all night. I thought Cris Collinsworth was going to leave the broadcast booth and give Wells a kiss at one point in the game. Watching Wells make his initial block at the line of scrimage then work his way to the second level was a thing of beauty.
I went to fix myself a snack during a Saints kickoff because I assumed it would be just another touchback. Next thing I know my wife is going crazy and Cobb is taking the kick back for a TD. The Packers actually returned a kick for a TD! If he stays healthy, Cobb could be a Percy Harvin type of player. Buy now before other investors catch on.
It didn’t take long for Clifton to get himself out of the falling category. Rodgers had time to throw most of the night, and the veteran left tackle deserves a lot of the credit. Now is the time to buy on Clifton. If he stays hot, it won’t be long before his price is too high fore most investors.
A forced fumble early, a couple of big hits, consistent play as the Packers “center fielder” at free safety; Collins has been solid for a while now. He’s one of those investments that stays at the same price, then occasionally yields a big gain.
It didn’t take long for the first “Kuuuuuuuhn” chants of 2011 to reverberate throughout Lambeau Field. Investors can’t as much more from Kuhn, the guy delivers first downs and touchdowns when he carries the ball and provides some extra security for Rodgers.
Uh-oh. Might teams have finally figured out to stay away from Tramon Williams and pick on Shields instead? It wasn’t pretty for Shields on Thursday. Investors will have to determine if Shields is a stock they need to dump, or if he’s just a young player going through growing pains.
Woodson played well enough on Thursday, but Charles, buddy, you can’t uppercut other players when the refs are looking. It’s probably not a good idea to uppercut people in the first place, but if you insist on uppercutting someone, make sure it’s not at the end of a scrum when every single ref on the field is running toward the pile to try and break it up. If he’s not suspended, I expect Woodson’s time in the falling category to be short, but throwing a punch is such a dumb move that he deserves a one-week sentence as a falling stock.
Like Woodson, Hawk played well enough Thursday, but he angered investors by missing a tackle on Pierre Thomas, which forced Tramon Williams to make the tackle. Williams hurt his shoulder when Collins crashed into him on the play. Hawk also had a questionable pass interference called against him as time ran out, but investors refused to give him the benefit of the doubt after the missed tackle before Williams’ injury.
The Watch List
The following players and coaches could end up in next week’s stock report:
Ryan Grant/James Starks
Starks shined brighter on Thursday, but I thought Grant looked fine when he got his carries. Starks is close to appearing in the rising category and I wouldn’t count Grant out just yet, either.
Defending kick and punt returns was an adventure on Thursday. Didn’t Slocum fix this at the end of last season? Darren Sproles is tough for anyone to stop, so I left Slocum off the falling list this week, but investors are souring on him.
Nelson is making a strong bid to appear in the steady category. I also like how he seems to gain a couple extra yards after each catch by running through the tackler.