Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Week Thirteen Observations

1. We've reached the point in the season where weather starts determining a large number of games. On Sunday, weather was a factor in eight of the ten games played outdoors. The ability of teams to handle the weather and/or adjust to the conditions becomes crucial. Jay Cutler was not affected adversely by the conditions; Brett Favre, Matt Cassel, Randy Moss, Peyton Manning, and Rian Lindell were.

2. Every Tennessee game I notice that speed Chris Johnson has been blessed with. Some of the other outstanding player traits in the league that seem to jump out every week:

1. The accuracy of Drew Brees
2. The power of Albert Haynesworth
3. The hands of Larry Fitzgerald
4. The toughness of Anquan Boldin
5. The vision of Michael Turner
6. The overthrows of JaMarcus Russell
7. The precise short patterns of Steve Smith (Giants)
8. The playmaking ability of Steve Smith (Panthers)
9. The ferocity of Adrian Peterson
10. The uncanny ability of Jamal Lewis to pick up exactly 3 yards on every run

3. I don't think Tashard Choice is going to get it done for the Cowboys. They need Marion Barber to have a chance at the playoffs.

4. Bills special teams are falling apart after such a great start.

5. We were wondering if Trent Edwards was benched because of injury, as reported, or if the injury was a smoke screen for his feeble play.

6. Marshawn Lynch has one of the strangest running styles you'll see. Almost every step is a miniature cutback. His general direction is often north-south, but his feet are sideways. His head is always moving from side to side. It takes him longer to get through holes than a lot of backs, but defenders rarely get a clean hit at him. What ends up happening is a lot of defenders get 3/4 of a tackle on him. Watching the games running back is the easiest position to evaluate; Lynch is the hardest back to evaluate. I still don't know how good he is, or how good he is compared to Fred Jackson (pictured at right, who has been confirmed as one of the better #2 running backs in the league).

The top ten #2 running backs:

10. Maurice Morris
9. Mewelde Moore
8. Darren Sproles
7. Fred Jackson
6. Chester Taylor
5. Jerious Norwood
4. Leon Washington
3. Felix Jones
2. Derrick Ward
1. Maurice Jones-Drew

7. San Fran second-year wideout Jason Hill continues to impress.

8. It was fun watching Isaac Bruce take rookie CB Leodis McKelvin to school. Class was in session in Buffalo on Sunday.

9. Cam Cameron was on fire again Sunday with his playcalls. He will likely be my assistant coach of the year. No one is doing more with less.

10. I can't remember watching a game this season and thinking "wow, what a great play by Reggie Wayne."

11. Steve Smith (Panthers) uses an assortment of subtle body moves to create separation from defensive backs the last second before the ball arrives. He also has great ball skills and perhaps the best balance of all players in the league. Balance may be the most underrated trait in successful football players.

12. Steven Jackson is an absolute beast. The Rams are a much better team with him in the lineup.

13. St. Louis does not have a good passing scheme. The coaching staff is not designing effective passing plays.

14. Every road game New Orleans plays against a good team follows the same script. They don't make enough stops on defense, they can't run the ball and possessions die on 3rd or 4th and short, they have breakdowns on special teams, and inevitably a desperate Drew Brees ends up forcing it and throwing interceptions. This was a bad year for the Saints to be in the NFC South.

15. People can say the Giants don't need Plaxico Burress, but he is their playmaker in the passing game. They would not have gotten to the Super Bowl last year without him, that is almost certain. They are very good, but I wonder if a situation might develop in the playoffs where they need his playmaking ability. The NFC has a lot of strong teams that can take a shot at the Giants.

16. Although Domenik Hixon played well Sunday making some nice grabs, he and Eli Manning were not on the same page a couple times. Those communication errors led to a D'Angelo Hall pick and another easy one which Hall dropped.

17. Don't be fooled by the final score - the Falcons-Chargers game was not close. Atlanta got repeatedly screwed by the officials, was incredibly unlucky in other plays, and still won without much difficulty. The Falcons are one of the best teams in the league.

18. Antonio Gates is not the explosive, dynamic, dominant player of three years ago.

19. The Chargers still have a positive point differential and the Broncos still have a negative one, yet Denver is three games up.

20. Michael Lombardi writes every week about how Heinz Field is slowing down the Pittsburgh defense and how they are faster and more dangerous in other stadiums. Evidence, such as their monster game Sunday in Foxboro, continues to mount supporting this theory.

21. Whether it was the weather or not, the Pittsburgh offensive line had a rare excellent game pushing the Patriots around on Sunday protecting Roethlisberger and consistently opening holes for Parker and Moore.

22. The Raiders came out with a lot of creative offense against the Chiefs. It was working early, but a ten-point swing on a fake field goal scared them out of sticking with it.

23. JaMarcus Russell went back to being the worst quarterback in the NFL Sunday against a porous Chiefs defense.

24. Oakland's pass defense has given up a maximum of 204 yards the last seven weeks, against some of the better passing teams in the league.

25. Both the Saints and the Chiefs found midseason replacement placekickers, and the new guys (Garrett Hartley and Connor Barth) have not missed.

26. Horrendously coached game by the Jets. The Broncos could not stop the run (7.5 yards per carry Sunday) but the Jets only ran it 19 times. Brett Favre was having difficulty throwing the wet ball, yet the Jets found a way to throw it 43 times. Leon Washington is the perfect player to attack Denver's deficient defense, but the Jets only got the ball to him five times on offense. New York's defensive gameplan was just as bad. Jay Cutler was rarely pressured and never sacked, and he responded with 357 yards in the rain.

27. Denver is now 3-4 as a favorite and 4-1 as an underdog.

28. Dre' Bly has really stepped his game up since compadre Champ Bailey went down. If Bly can maintain that level of play when Champ comes back, the impact of Denver's safeties (by far the worst unit in the league) can be minimized.

29. I've watched closely and think Denver fan favorite Peyton Hillis is legitimately good, though he does not have breakaway speed. I don't think I'm drinking the Bronco Kool-Aid on this.

The most shocking fantasy studs of 2008:

13. Tim Hightower
12. Jay Cutler
11. Kyle Orton
10. Kurt Warner
9. Eddie Royal
8. Le'Ron McClain
7. Tyler Thigpen
6. Steve Slaton
5. Mewelde Moore
4. Lance Moore
3. Benjarvus Green-Ellis
2. Peyton Hillis
1. Matt Cassel

30. We've studied this all season and conclude that Devin Hester's problems on returns are psychological, not physical. You could see on his receiving touchdown he still has the speed and explosive cuts. On returns he just doesn't run vertically.

31. The suspensions of Pat and Mike Williams will likely cripple the Vikings. Both were All-Pros last season.

32. Houston's offense is extremely similar to the one Gary Kubiak coached in Denver during the Broncos championship years. Denver has not been able to get back to the Super Bowl since John Elway retired, and you have to wonder if the Texans are capable with either Matt Schaub or Sage Rosenfels.

Offensive MVP of the Week: Mark Clayton, Baltimore
Defensive MVP of the Week: James Harrison, Pittsburgh
Breakout Player of the Week: Jonathan Babineaux, Atlanta
Coach of the Week: Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
Assistant Coach of the Week: Cam Cameron, Baltimore Offensive Coordinator

Power Ratings:

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


Anonymous Tru said...

Great post, raises your average. Peyton Hillis cannot break the long ones but he breaks off 6-11 yard runs with alacrity, which is all the Denver run game needs.

Two questions: Carolina above the Tampa Bay Devil Bucs in the power rankings? Essentially the same team but TB D and QB are better.

Also, what about Matt Ryan as a surprise fantasy pick?

Nice call on Plax actually being a factor. I totally agree they will need him.

4:37 PM  
Blogger GnightMoon said...

Carolina has a much better run game than Tampa and a playmaker in Steve Smith. Bucs have no firepower on offense.

Matt Ryan, though consistent, an obvious winner, and the Rookie of the Year, does not pile up strong enough numbers to start for a quality fantasy team.

5:44 PM  
Blogger TheGraveWolf said...

Why is the line in the Dallas at Pitt game only -3 Pitt? I was hoping to get a little larger cushion when I bet on the 'boys.

12:08 AM  
Anonymous GMorningSun said...

Mediocre and a little inacurate if you ask me!

1. Cutler can throw a wet ball, Elway couldn't. Championship? Maybe, but not this year unless Denver's D play's like the 85 Bears the rest of the way!

2. The kid is good! That white kid is good too (no mention of him Tommy-boy!)

3. Stating the obvious is penmanship for the weak!

4. Agree!

5. Nope, I was at the game. The Bills fans DESPISE J.P. Losman. The Boo's everytime he stepped on the field were everywhere, lol!

6. I flew to Buffalo to watch Marshawn vs. Gore. This was no heavyweight battle as I was excpeting. Marshawn Lynch won hands down. He is the real beast (not your #12). Nothing wrong with Lynch's style, tough as nails, sheds tacklers and has a fast step. My concern if I was the Bills ownership, is that he is going to get a career threatining injury if he's not careful.

-insert LenDale White as TOP #2 running back!

7. He is okay, that kid Morgan is going to be better!

8. The old man still has some moves!

9. The Raven's have talent on Offence, don't kid yourself. A solid #1 wideout in Mason and depth at rb. They will be a force but they will not get very far in the playoofs.

10. You can't? Hmmm...what about that endzone TD catch clinching the comeback win over houston? He's been playing hurt, still productive!

11. Steve Smith is quick, has alot of moves yes but please end your man love for him.

12. No, the beast resides in Buffalo.

Man you comment on too many points. I will finish my analysis of them at a later date.

Two things I noticed last week in the NFL. 1) I should of flew to The Meadowlands and watched Denver defeat the NY Bretts rather then freezing my toes off in Buffalo!
2) As bad as Buffalo has turned this season, I have to say, the Buffalo fans are one of the most loyal and diehard out there. They love every player (minus J.P. Losman) and stand behind there team tall. I really don't know what that city would do if they moved that franchise to Canada or elsewhere?

10:37 AM  

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