Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Week Seven Observations

1. The Buffalo Bills have the most underrated offensive line and quarterback in football. I don't expect this team to fade or disappear - they have talent at every position and are the most well-rounded team in the NFL. The Bills are one of the leading contenders to win the Super Bowl. But don't be surprised to see them drop one this weekend at Miami, the NFL's most underrated team.

2. The Chargers have been rather unlucky this season. In week one they got Carolina before anyone knew the Panthers were any good, and lost on a wild last second pass. In week two they faced the Broncos at peak strength and got screwed on two huge calls. Week five they had to play the dreaded East Coast early game against a Dolphins team that matched up well against them, and week seven they again had the dreaded East Coast early game against a top team. Now they have to play in London although they finally caught a break as Reggie Bush - a player that would give them a lot of problems - will not be playing. With all the problems the Broncos are having, the Chargers are still the favorite to win the AFC West then go into the playoffs as the proverbial Team No One Wants To Play. I still consider the Chargers a leading Contender as well - but only if they can pick up the defense. It does not resemble last year's playmaking unit.

3. The Vikings have now had two games where they gave up two touchdowns in the punting game - and neither has involved Devin Hester. The Vikings kept kicking short (and doing a terrible job of it) to avoid kicking to Hester. News Flash, Vikings: Devin Hester is not a returner to be feared right now. Do some scouting, idiots.

4. Marty Booker had a touchdown that made a lot of highlight packages, but he also dropped two touchdowns that cost the Bears ten points. The Bears scored 48 and it should have been 58!

5. Wide receiver Hines Ward broke the jaw of linebacker Keith Rivers throwing a block during the Steelers/Bengals game on Sunday. If you could have picked the wide receiver most likely to break a linebacker's jaw throwing a block, you'd have picked Hines Ward. Rivers, Cincy's '08 first round pick, is out for the season.

6. This Chris Johnson kid is FAST. He looks faster to me than any other running back. The caveat is the only Titans game I have really watched was against the Chiefs. The Titans have this thunder and lightning tandem thing down. Both their backs are not complete every down types, but both have their strengths and you can see the defense struggling to adjust to their differences.

7. I was impressed with the way the Titans came out Sunday morning against the Chiefs and just laid down the law on offense and defense. Very focused. Like they were trying to break the Chiefs right away, just make it clear that KC had no chance and should just give up. We haven't seen many beatings of this severity this season. The final margin was 24 points but this was the most dominant performance I have seen this season.

8. Lavelle Hawkins had two catches for 11 yards. That was it for the Tennessee receiving corps on Sunday. 455 total yards, 11 of them accounted for by wide receivers. They have the worst WRs in the league but they don't give a crap. Adjust to your personnel.

9. As I pointed out last week and will likely point out again next week, the Titans have not played a team with a winning record.

10. Terrell Owens has not led the Cowboys in receiving in any single game this season. Jason Witten has four times, Miles Austin once, Marion Barber once, and Martellus Bennett was the team's leader with 67 yards on Sunday. Owens has now gone ten straight games with less than 100 yards receiving.

11. Brad Johnson played rather poorly on Sunday. All those things you fear and expect when the backup QB comes in - missed throws, fumbled snaps, WRs running different routes than the QB expects, dropped balls by the WRs - happened against the Rams.

12. The Cowboys are having huge problems in their secondary. Rookie first-rounder Mike Jenkins had a rough game against the Rams. Safety Roy L. Williams, a strong run-stopper but a poor pass defender, broke his arm Sunday and is out for the season. Safety Pat Watkins has been having neck problems which may be caused by a bulging disk. He may end up out for the season as well. The Cowboys desperately need Terence Newman back and they need Jenkins to step up. This could be the worst secondary in the league right now.

13. The one Dallas player who seems to be getting better and better is DeMarcus Ware, who is piling up sacks at an alarming rate - nine for the season.

14. For whatever reason the Cowboy offensive line is not blocking as well as they were earlier in the season, both in the run and the pass.

15. Cowboys offensive coordinator and play-caller Jason Garrett has been taking a lot of heat for this 1-3 slide, but I thought the play-calling against the Rams was actually quite good. The problem was execution.

16. It was fun to watch Steven Jackson and Marion Barber in this game as they are so similar in appearance, run style, and overall quality. Jackson is a little faster in the open field and Barber a little better at getting the extra yard in close quarters.

17. I think we can now conclude that Scott Linehan was indeed the worst coach in the league during his tenure. This Rams team looks totally different now that he has been jettisoned. They play harder and smarter. They were so fired up and excited to play on Sunday. Linehan actually put Marc Bulger on the bench! Like that was their problem. The Rams did the right thing and put Linehan on the bench.

18. Although he was the first wide receiver taken in the 2008 draft, Donnie Avery had been flying under the radar. Not anymore. Operating opposite Torry Holt, Avery has made nine catches for 138 yards the last two weeks and his role should continue to grow as he learns the complicated Al Saunders offense. His role and style are similar to the other top rookie WRs, DeSean Jackson and Eddie Royal.

19. The Dolphins moved the ball well against the Ravens, but couldn't stick it in. Baltimore did a nice job preventing the big play, stuffed them in the red zone,and notched a crucial pick six that changed the complexion of the game.

20. Willis McGahee is the factor back for the Ravens, not Le'Ron McClain or Ray Rice. Willis CUTS whereas McClain mashes and Rice just runs.

21. Of all the Really Bad Teams in the NFL, I think the 49ers are the closest to getting out of the dumps. They do need to upgrade the quarterback position though. J.T. O'Sullivan is a poor man's Tony Romo. He plays fearlessly (which I love watching cause all these bad teams throw nothing but 5 yard dinks and the QB nevertakes a chance) but he does not seem to understand how devastating turnovers are. He does not take care of the ball.

22. Frank Gore is only 25 and didn't put on that many miles at the U. He is not really a speed back. He should be a big producer for many years to come.

23. Plaxico Burress is always in the news during the week for the wrong reasons, but it never matters. When it is game time he shows up and plays well consistently. Last year he didn't practice but had a great season and was their MVP in the NFC Championship.

24. It is both sad and funny that Reggie Bush got hurt this week, as I really felt like he was doing a much better job running the ball vertically and sticking his nose into the line in the first half against the Panthers.

25. It's amazing how many deep balls Steve Smith has grabbed over the years through double coverage. He is 5-9. You see that ball go up deep to him, you see two defenders covering him (one or both bigger than him), and then you see Smith come down with the ball somehow.

26. The Texans are giving up a lot of big plays in the passing game.

27. I like Kevin Smith, rookie RB for the Lions. He is fast and hits holes. For the season he is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. The problem is the Lions usually fall behind and have to abandon the run. They also waste carries on Rudi Johnson. Luckily I picked Matt Forte instead of Smith in the fantasy draft.

28. The Lions face a long road to recovery on defense. They do not have talent there.

29. That Oakland crowd still gets up for games even though they have a crappy team and have had one for a while. That's the true test of fans - passion during the down times.

The NFL's Top Ten Crowds:

10. Indy
9. Buffalo
8. Minnesota
7. Pittsburgh
6. Seattle
5. Denver
4. Oakland
3. Washington
2. Green Bay
1. Kansas City

30. Sebastian Janikowski is finally showing why he is the only kicker to ever be drafted in the first round.

31. The Jets ran a gutless, punchless offense on Sunday with no vertical passing. It was like they thought they could win the game by reducing the variance and not making mistakes. They would have except for a couple of ill-timed turnovers. That loss knocked them out of the playoff picture, for now.

32. The Colts had a very hard time passing the ball in Lambeau. I think the wind may have been the culprit. Peyton Manning has a history of struggling in adverse conditions. It seemed to me the Packers coaches and players were prepared for the conditions and the Colts were not. Green Bay's game plan seemed to fit the wind - tons of running and short passes. They were also cognizant of when the wind was at their backs and when it was against them, and structured the attack accordingly. Indianapolis was badly outcoached in this game and Aaron Rodgers played much better than Peyton Manning.

33. Not sure why Derek Anderson gets so many balls batted down at the line of scrimmage. He is 6-6.

34. The ideal recipe for a horrendous day of passing goes something like this: Give an inaccurate quarterback (Derek Anderson) no time to throw all day against the best secondary in the league, then have his targets drop the ball on the off chance he does get it to them. By my count, Anderson blew 11 passes (where it was his fault and not a protection problem) and the Browns dropped four passes. I don't know if Drew Brees has missed 11 passes all season, and don't know if Tom Brady missed 11 all last year.

35. As a team, the Redskins have thrown 332 consecutive balls without an interception - an NFL record.

36. The Patriots should be embarassed giving up six sacks to the league's worst pass rush. Remember last year how Tom Brady never got hit? This isn't all on Matt Cassel. When you give up six sacks to the Denver Broncos, your line is not doing its job in pass protection. Cassel has been sacked at least four times in every game he's started!

37. It sickens me to watch the Patriots. This team had the best offense in the history of football last season! And now they are below average. Cassel always takes the short throw, the checkdown, the dumpoff. Quarterback is not only the most important positionin football, it is the most important position in any of the major team sports.

38. The Broncos should be even more embarassed giving up 41 points to one of the league's worst offenses. I hate it so much when the quarterback gets all the credit or blame (see Bulger, Marc) for a team's success. Matt Cassel is an awful quarterback, one of the five worst to see the field this season in the NFL (two play for the Chiefs by the way).

39. It is the same thing every week for the Broncos - Champ Bailey never gets thrown at but still manages a spectacular play or two and never misses a tackle, Elvis Dumervil gets a sack, Ebenezer Ekuban pressures or sacks the quarterback once, D.J. Williams makes a play or two - and the rest of the defense does absolutely nothing. With the exception of those four guys, EVERY other defender for the Broncos is WELL below average. Their safeties are the worst pass defense safeties in the league, and against the Patriots they were pretty useless against the run too. Denver's defensive problems do not come from scheme or motivation - they come from lack of talent. Their defense has serious personnel problems. They have drafted poorly on defense for many years. It is not going to be an easy fix, it is going to take a long time. Fortunately, they have many offensive positions squared away for a while so they can focus draft and free agency efforts on the defense for the next couple years.

40. Champ is out 4-6 weeks with a torn groin, and his linebacker brother Boss is out for the season and will need the dreaded microfracture surgery. What happens when one of the worst defenses in the NFL loses an All-Pro and a starter? It becomes the worst defense in the NFL, no doubt about it.

41. On the other side of the ball, I expect the Broncos to improve greatly after the bye week. They will get everyone back healthy and rested, including rookie RB Ryan Torain. It has occurred to me that in two weeks the Broncos may trot out the NFL's best offense and worst defense in the same game.

42. This Calvin Lowry kid the Broncos threw in there at safety Monday night looks like one of the worst defensive players to see the field this season. I don't understand why the Broncos let go of Hamza Abdullah and John Lynch if they were going to end up playing someone as bad as Lowry. I helped drive the "John Lynch is old and overrated" bandwagon but had no idea the alternative could be this bad. Lynch lives in Denver and wants to play football. It's the bye week. Please give him a call, Mr. Shanahan.

43. Jay Cutler's biggest weakness appears to be vision. He does not see open receivers and sticks with the covered ones. I don't know enough about the position to know if this is a mental problem that can be overcome with practice or a physical one that will never be fixed. I am praying it is the former, as he has unlimited potential in all other areas.

Power Ratings:

1. Tennessee (1)
2. New York Giants (2)
3. Pittsburgh (3)
4. Washington (4)
5. Buffalo (9)
6. Philadelphia (7)
7. Carolina (12)
8. Arizona (14)
9. Tampa Bay (10)
10. Chicago (11)
11. San Diego (6)
12. Green Bay (20)
13. Indianapolis (5)
14. Dallas (8)
15. Atlanta (16)
16. Baltimore (21)
17. Jacksonville (19)
18. Miami (17)
19. New England (22)
20. New Orleans (15)
21. Denver (13)
22. New York Jets (18)
23. Houston (24)
24. Cleveland (22)
25. Minnesota (25)
26. St. Louis (28)
27. San Francisco (26)
28. Oakland (29)
29. Cincinnati (30)
30. Seattle (27)
31. Detroit (32)
32. Kansas City (31)

13 Comments:

Anonymous Tru said...

Absolutely love these posts, btw. But I have to tell you where you're wrong.

Frank Gore will not be starting in 3 years. He's taking too much of a pounding. Portis was lucky to survive until the Skins actually put together an offense but he's the exception, not the rule.

"21. ... J.T. O'Sullivan is a poor man's Tony Romo. He plays fearlessly (which I love watching cause all these bad teams throw nothing but 5 yard dinks and the QB nevertakes a chance) but he does not seem to understand how devastating turnovers are. He does not take care of the ball" --You know who else is looking this a poor man's Tony Romo? Judgement Jay Cutler.

Top 10 Crowds: Denver is definitely not in the top 10. The broncos might not even have a winning record at the terribly named "Invesco Field at Mile High." I would humbly submit New Orleans.

Other things you can count on in a Broncos game:
1) AT LEAST two extremely ill-advised passes by Cutler.
2) Dre Bly getting burned big and then being dragged for an extra 6 yards before making a "touchdown saving" tackle (that inevitably leads to a touchdown).
3)A phantom call or two.
4)Broncos giving up more points in the second half than they score.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Leo said...

Any time someone uses the phrase "at an alarming rate," I'm laughing out loud.

L

10:14 AM  
Blogger Trey Eight said...

I love these posts as well...

My observation is: although they might not be scaring anyone right now, the Bucs look just like they did their Super Bowl year. An attacking defense that scores, an offense that is getting better week by week, and a very wide open NFC.

12:39 PM  
Blogger TheGraveWolf said...

Gonna agree with Truman about your crowd ratings. Seemed a little biased to me. 3 of the top 5 teams are from the AFC West? How much does that have to do with the fact that Oakland and KC are Denver's rivals and you have been to multiple games? I think the Eagles, Giants, and especially the Browns deserve a shot on that list. Browns replacing the Bills as the rabid hardcore small town fans. I would take Seattle off the list in favor of Eagles or Giants. Also think Kansas City should be a little lower in the rankings.

12:41 PM  
Blogger GnightMoon said...

No idea why Truman would think the Denver crowd is not top ten, they offer everything you could ever ask for in a crowd. They are devoted (nothing but sellouts since I was born) and loud. Was expecting to be questioned on that AFC West bias; I defend those picks, those crowds are awesome. Eagles fans are too negative although they are pretty passionate. New Orleans has an admirable crowd but has not consistently sold out games (probably due to lack of success as a franchise and overall small fan base). Cleveland may deserve a spot in the top ten, actually had them at #11.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Spencetron said...

Can a Green Bay corwd even be classified as fans since the season ticket holders are part owners? Any team whose fans are financially involved in their team, especially where the capacity of Lambeau is higher than the population of Green Bay (total guess, but i'm sticking with it) deserve to be #1.
On a complete tangent, there was an article on Stephen Curry of Davidson one ESPN.com today which got me thinking. What if a future NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL stud went to Macalester and ate at Cafe Mac for two years? That would be so awkward.

2:17 PM  
Blogger TheGraveWolf said...

And what about the Giants? They have sold out something like 250+ games in a row and the waiting list is over 100,000 for season tickets.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Champ said...

Good post!

-Champ "not Bailey" Sampson


How can Denver NOT be considered a top ten crowd? Do these people NOT pay attention to records and attendance? (not to mention merchandise and net worth)

Plus the fan base spreads out to Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona (Cardinals Suck!), and beyond. Did you know the Broncos are one of the most popular teams in Japan? The same Japan that makes your HD TV!!!

EAST COAST SUCKS! Go FUCK YOURSELVES HATERS!

3:43 PM  
Blogger GnightMoon said...

Wikipedia informs us Green Bay has a population of 100,000. Lambeau field has a capacity of about 73,000. The Green Bay metro area has a population approaching 300,000. People also don't realize how many fans come up from Milwaukee, a two hour drive, or the nearby Appleton area.

6:22 PM  
Anonymous GmorningSun said...

"EAST COAST SUCKS! Go FUCK YOURSELVES HATERS!"

Lol, twas not I BUT I like this guy :)

FYI Dumasses - Denver is a top 10, if not top 5 NFL city.

Dexter - Bills O-line not under-rated, they are just playing above their potential but that could lead to a deep playoff run!

Man does Buffalo have a Defence though. I am not sold on Trent Edwards but I am on Lee Evans and Lynch.

You are 100% correct about Denver's D and what you say about Champ, don't call me Elvis Dumervil and Ebaniser Scrooge Ekuban and D.J. WIlliams. Used to be Might Al Wilson making play after play just to have a long third down completion or QB scramble or penalty keeping a drive alive, poor # 56 :(

Put any, any top 10 Defence in Denver and a Super Bowl appearance will always be near. Until then, thanks for coming out Orange and Blue!

Oh, so much for no two teams lighting up the score board the rest of the season, that was a bad prediction.

Gore is a good back but I think he is an even better reciever. He has the best hands of any back in the league, very soft hands!

I won't bash your post anymore cause ya know what, simple, predictible or not, NFL talk is always a good thing!

Hmmm...ya think Green Bay new something about the winds and game plan, the game was in Lambeau Field, lol! The Pack don't practice in Indy!

Peyton Manning is not the same QB, will he ever regain his former self? Doesn't look like it unless that leg that had surgery gets alot stronger in the offseason cause it's sure affecting his footwork and follow through.

Eli is starting to look like his pre-second half 2007 self! G-men have too good a D though and can bail out his mistakes.

Oh, your rankings are whack though. Indy and Dallas just barely ahead of Atlanta, come on dude!

Please heal soon Mr. Willie Parker, my fantasy team really, really needs you!

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin Smith is fast!!!!! LOL

Thats the biggest knock on him. He runs pretty tough but fast he isnt. No game speed and no true speed either. But I do like him.

8:30 PM  
Blogger GnightMoon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:50 PM  
Blogger GnightMoon said...

Smith is a lot quicker getting to and through the hole than Rudi Johnson, perhaps that was where I was misled.

11:51 PM  

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