Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Week Seven Observations

1. Check out this sequence from “the best team in the NFC” after recovering a Sam Bradford fumble at the St. Louis 6-yard line:

1st and goal, 6-yard line: Josh Freeman throws a pass to Kellen Winslow in the back of the end zone. Winslow catches it but lands out of bounds. Winslow is flagged for offensive pass interference.

1st and goal, 16-yard line: LeGarrette Blount, who you should pick up in fantasy ASAP if still available, breaks four tackles on a very rough three yard gain. Holding on guard Jeremy Zuttah.

1st and goal, 26-yard line: Josh Freeman is sacked by three Rams for a loss of ten.

2nd and goal, 36-yard line: Cadillac Williams picks his way for two yards.

3rd and goal, 34-yard line: Freeman throws what ultimate Frisbee players call “a hospital pass” up for grabs towards Mike Williams and two Rams. Williams, who is on the short list of players I will be looking to sign to a 3-year contract in my fantasy keeper league in 2011, skies to make the catch at the 12-yard line, lands, takes a hit, somehow stays on his feet, fumbles, and somehow recovers the ball amongst a cluster of Rams. Bucs kick a field goal and take a 3-0 lead.

2. Tampa Bay has the worst crowd in the league.

3. Danny Amendola is more of "a middle-class man’s Wes Welker" than “a poor man’s Wes Welker."

4. Bucs +3 over CARDINALS is one of those games that drives me nuts as a gambler – these could be the two most overrated teams in the league. You can't bet against both.

5. The longer Alex Smith stays injured and the Niners have to play David Carr, the higher Smith’s stock should rise. Oh wait, nevermind – the Niners have already opted for Troy Smith over Carr.

6. An annoying trend right now is the excessive cutbacks ball carriers are making rather than just taking the outside yardage available. Marshawn Lynch has always been the biggest offender in this department.

7. Another annoying trend: coaches screwing up the decision to go for 1 or 2. Although there are some subtleties to these decisions, they’re not rocket science. This is 2010. Much like players report to OTAs, coaches should practice game and clock management in the offseason. Or maybe Roger Goodell should start fining coaches for particularly egregious game management errors.

8. All things considered I think this was the coolest, craziest play of the season.

9. Just when I was ready to give the Manginius credit for an amazing coaching performance against the Saints, he made the worst challenge of the season, actually turning a Saints 4th and 3 field goal attempt into a Saints 4th and 1 and subsequent conversion followed three plays later by a Saints touchdown.

10. Both the Bears and Redskins are particularly adept at making their opponents play like crap this season. This seems to be more than just solid defensive play, which both teams have. Opponents are dropping and fumbling balls and missing throws with greater frequency against Chicago and Washington.

11. I am one of those bleeding heart Jay Cutler supporters that somehow still believes all his problems result from the inadequacies of those around him and not his own mistakes.

12. Ray Rice's play seems to have regressed closer to his rookie season than last year's.

13. The San Diego Chargers are a fascinating team. The general rule in the NFL is that you need a quality quarterback to win. With Philip Rivers, San Diego has a QB who is, at worst, the second best in the world right now. Incredibly, the Chargers also feature an excellent defense, probably a top-5 unit. But San Diego is 2-5. The combination of Rivers and a staunch defense should ensure a playoff berth, yet the Chargers postseason hopes are dwindling quickly.

San Diego has the worst special teams in the league, and has an excellent chance to wind up with the worst special teams in the history of the NFL.

Special teams performance is typically more variable than offensive or defensive performance. It’s essentially impossible for San Diego’s special teams not to improve as the season progresses.

All five losses have come by one score or less. Four have come on the road against decent but not elite teams. Incredibly, the 2-5 Chargers are at +28 on the season in point differential. Football Outsiders actually has them as the 8th best team in the league, which doesn’t seem too far off to me.

The Chargers have been hit acutely by injuries at wide receiver, losing their top two wideouts (top three including holdout Vincent Jackson) as well as a hobbled Antonio Gates. The guys playing wide receiver for them this past week were bottom of the barrel sorts called up from the practice squad and/or recently acquired on waivers.

San Diego has a hard time running the ball, especially in short-yardage situations.

San Diego’s remaining schedule is favorable. A 7-2 finish is reasonable. But the Chiefs may well win ten games this season, and nine won’t be enough for a Wild Card in the AFC. The Chargers made the playoffs after starting 4-8 in 2008, but that won’t happen again.

San Diego would be the best team to wager on the rest of the season but for one problem: the Chargers are typically one of the most overvalued teams in the league by the public, thanks to a flashy offense and success in high profile games during the Norv Turner era.

14. Kudos to Ryan Wanger for finding this clip a week before the worst defeat in Denver Broncos history.

15. Every year I seem to badly misevaluate one team and stubbornly refuse to budge them despite mounting evidence. Last year it was the Giants – I maintained they were one of the league’s best as the losses continued to pile up. This year it was…the Giants. Consider me convinced now. The Giants are absolutely loaded on both sides of the ball; I see no weaknesses.

Evaluating these teams can be maddening. Last year New York’s defensive line, stacked beyond comprehension, just didn’t play well. Knowing how good players can be and watching them underperform (this year I’m looking at you, Jay Ratliff) is incredibly frustrating for the football gambler.

The Giants won Super Bowl XLII in large part because of their defensive line and a brilliant game plan installed by then defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Their defense dominated again in 2008 (without Osi Umenyiora) under Spagnuolo’s direction, but faded in 2009 despite Umenyiora’s return and incredible depth. There was no one to pin this decline on other than new defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, promoted after Spagnuolo took the head coaching position in St. Louis.

Last season the Buffalo Bills sucked pretty hard, but their defense (particularly their pass defense) was a bright spot. The Bills upgraded to down right mediocre after firing Dick Jauron midseason and installing defensive coordinator Perry Fewell as interim coach. Buffalo blew up the building after the season, letting go of Fewell and the entire coaching staff. Fewell moved across the state to guide the Giants D. Now Buffalo’s defense could be the worst in the league, New York’s could be the best, and Fewell is on the short list of candidates to replace the likes of Jack Del Rio and Mike Singletary at season’s end.

16. In a week in which the dominant news story in the NFL was a crackdown on big hits by the defense, more points were scored per game than any week in seventeen years.

Power Rankings

32. Arizona (30)
31. Carolina (31)
30. Buffalo (32)

29. San Francisco (26)
28. Denver (21)

27. Jacksonville (28)

26. Tampa Bay (25)

25. Oakland (29)

24. Cleveland (24)

23. St. Louis (27)

22. Detroit (23)

21. Seattle (22)
20. Dallas (9)

19. Chicago (20)

18. Cincinnati (19)
17. Washington (18)

16. Houston (16)
15. San Diego (17)

14. Minnesota (15)
13. Kansas City (14)

12. Green Bay (6)

11. Miami (13)
10. New Orleans (7)
9. Atlanta (8)

8. Tennessee (12)
7. Philadelphia (10)

6. New England (6)
5. Indianapolis (3)

4. New York Jets (4)
3. New York Giants (11)

2. Baltimore (2)

1. Pittsburgh (1)

Week Eight Picks

Also like:

RAMS -3 over Panthers
SAINTS -1 over Steelers

If forced to choose:

Texans +5.5 over COLTS
CHIEFS -7.5 over Bills
JETS -6 over Packers
Bucs +3 over CARDINALS
Seahawks +2.5 over RAIDERS
LIONS -2.5 over Redskins
Broncos +1.5 over Niners
Dolphins +1.5 over BENGALS
Vikings +6 over PATRIOTS
Titans +3.5 over CHARGERS
Jaguars +6.5 over COWBOYS

Lock season record: 1-0
Really like season record: 2-1
Also like season record: 18-10-2
If forced to choose season record: 34-34-1
All games season record: 55-45-3


Anonymous Anonymous said...

#11 - He is just not that good. I will definitely agree that the team around him is bad, but a decent quarterback would be doing better than he is. He is like a poker player who tilts hard way too often --> moments of brilliance, but too often is throwing it all away.

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Raiders loss clip is amazing.

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