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Another week in the books, and I have to figure out WHAT I THINK I LEARNED FROM THE NFL THIS WEEK. It took me a while to realize WHAT I LEARNED and WHERE I WENT WRONG with my picks: TEAMS IN TODAY’S NFL DON’T DO WELL WITH EXPECTATIONS.

The concept is really nothing new, because we all have had to deal with it in life. You are perfectly good at what you do, and then “BAM”, our efforts become an EXPECTATION, and it all becomes more difficult. Let me explain. I am an artist from birth. I like to draw. I like to create. I like things that I’m a part of to explode with creativity. As long as I am working under my own guidelines and can work to meet my own expectations, it’s fun. As soon as someone views my work, and says, “Wow! We should have you do ______”, my creativity and desire go out the door.

Week after week, I see teams falling into the same trap. They go out one week and look like they are “clicking on all cylinders”, and the next week they throw up a “goose egg” against a sub-par team.

BALTIMORE RAVENS
After the way they handled their division rival Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1, I knew this team would be a force to reckon with this year. The media was buzzing about what they would do in the AFC North. The following week they lose to the Tennessee Titans 26-13, which is embarrassing on two fronts. How does a dynamic offense like this only score 13 points? And how can a dynamic defense like this allow 26 points? Guess what, they did it again this week. Coming off a huge, impressive win over the Houston Texans, they manage to score 7 points, on the Monday Night Football stage, against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
It depends on which side of the fence you are on with this team. You may feel that they are a .500 team, who happens to pull out big wins. Because I am a fan, I feel like they are a good young team who knows how to win. Coach Raheem Morris certainly thinks they are the “best team in the NFL”. The problem is that as soon as they have a big win, they follow it up with a huge let down. Week 3, beat the Falcons…..Week 4, comeback win over the Manning-less Colts.….Week 5, destroyed by the 49ers…..Week 6, beat the Saints…..Week 7, lose to the Bears.

DETROIT LIONS
Detroit made us all “believers” in the first 5 weeks of the season. They scored points with ease. Their defense played with heart and determination. The entire organization, from the Head Coach to the Kickers, looked like a group that was used to winning, and so, we started EXPECTING that trend. They lost their first game, and afterwards their coach is running down the field to fight the opposing coach. They lose a second game, and the integrity of their defense is being questioned.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS
This looked like it would be the season the ‘Skins got back into playoff talks. I, for one, thought once Dan Snyder released his death-grip on the organization’s operations, things would turn around for the better. After a strong pre-season, and good start through Week 4, even Cowboys fans were saying, “the ‘Skins are for real this year”. They went into their Week 5 “bye” week with huge expectations surrounding their season. They have since changed QB’s, looked horrible on both sides of the ball, and are on a 2-game losing streak.

OAKLAND RAIDERS
I understand that the injury to their starting QB has probably disrupted the team flow even more than the passing of Al Davis. I understand that the were working with their back-up QB, and a guy who was just on the couch 5 days earlier. But the Raiders have been the “dark horse” this season. They have impressive wins over the Jets and Texans. They lost to the Bills by 3 points. As soon as we make the mistake of expecting them to go out and play this season in honor of Al Davis, the get destroyed by Kansas City. What’s even worse is that Oakland won every division game last year…..when we LEAST expected it.

In my COUCH EXPERT OPINION: The only way not to suffer a serious let down from some of these teams on Sunday, is to not expect anything out of them. Go into each week assuming that any team can pull a big win. It seems to be that type of season. Even the teams who are looking good on the record books, aren’t looking too good beneath the surface. (Green Bay beat Minnesota by 6 points, and the Vikings had two consecutive possessions to score the winning TD) These are the type of things that makes it great to be a fan, and suck to be a fan, all at the same time. OR….maybe one week, one of these teams will decide to play at a level to live up to the EXPECTATIONS.

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