2010-2011 NFL Predictions: Oakland Raiders and 10 Teams In Trouble
Everyone who watches ESPN knows about the ridiculous games the analysts do on their infinite number of NFL talking heads shows.
Challenge Flag. C'mon Man. Other C-words that can only be described with one C-word:
However, the analysts do look like they are having fun, so we are going to give it a try.
It's Jail Time!
No, this has nothing to do with real felonies or criminals. The first 2 weeks of the NFL season has seen a lot of disappointment, and we're out to catch the culprits.
We aren't talking about teams who are usually awful, but one's who have underperformed.
While it may be too early to tell, there are a number of teams who have seen their seasons take an unfortunate turn because integral pieces are not performing up to par.
Without a solid team effort, some highly hyped teams may fall flat on their faces.
But who's responsible, you might ask. Let's find out.
Note: No Plaxico Burresses were hurt in the making of this slideshow.
10. Philadelphia Eagles
The Culprit: The Defense
There's no reason to get into the quarterback controversy talk in Philadelphia. Andy Reid addressed the issue and named Kevin Kolb his starter.
Reid, however, should focus on the other side of the ball. The defense looks atrocious.
The Eagles, who have generally been a strong defensive unit, looked like quadriplegics trying to tackle Detroit Lions tailback Jahvid Best on Sunday.
With six minutes left in the fourth quarter and up 18 points, there shouldn't be a question about who the victor will be.
And yet, the Eagles defense played as porous as possible. Say that last part ten times fast.
Statistically, it doesn't look much better. The Eagles are in the bottom ten in both passing and rushing yards per game, which will not get it done when it comes to playing NFC East rivals.
They've had some good sacks, but if they give back the yards right after, it's all for naught.
Yeah, it's so bad, I went Shakespearean on them.
9. Dallas Cowboys
The Culprit: The Offense's Play Calling
See that picture of Marion Barber III? That's the most active he's looked all year.
And that's a still frame.
Many opinionated NFL fans find the running back by committee idea just awful. The sentiment is mostly driven by angered Fantasy Football owners that don't understand that real life works a lot differently.
I, for one, find committees quite useful, especially if the team has multiple types of runners.
For the Cowboys, they could just use a runner. Period.
Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice all are talented backs, but have not been given the chance to shine.
They have a combined 40 rushing attempts the whole year, while Tony Romo is averaging 49 pass attempts per game.
Ever heard of balance, Jason Garrett?
Yes, Romo is plenty talented, but a solid running game can shorten the game and take away double coverages from his targets.
Also, without a ground attack, the Cowboys defense spends too much time on the field and wears out.
It's all connected. The Cowboys just need to figure out the wiring.
8. Washington Redskins
The Culprit: The Defense
First, an apology to Joey Galloway. For a 94-year-old, you are clearly not the problem in Washington.
However, you do look funny falling down.
A lot of fans might say "The Redskins were a timeout away from being 2-0! How can they be in trouble?"
Easy. Because they aren't.
The Skins D is dead last in passing yards and total offense against. Yes, playing against Matt Schaub can do that, but that's irrelevant if you are giving up 17-point leads in the fourth, and 40-yard heaves on 4th down.
To succeed in the NFL, you can't just nurse leads, you have to be aggressive. That seemed to be lacking once the scoreboard read 27-10. And it came back way too late.
7. San Francisco 49ers
The Culprit: The Secondary
'Frisco fans should be hiding and quivering right, knowing the Saints' are coming to town on Monday.
Rightfully so, because Drew Brees is probably drooling.
The 49ers had so much hype behind them coming into the year. People thought they were a lock for the NFC West, and even one expert on ESPN picked San Francisco to make the Super Bowl.
Then they played the Seahawks and got spanked, 31-6.
Matt Hasselbeck, who probably should have retired a while ago, looked spry again. He threw two touchdowns and ran for another, and only had five incomplete passes.
Only one pass was batted down all game, leading many to wonder, "Does San Francisco have 11 guys on the field?"
If they play another game like that, it might be worth taking a penalty every down for 12 guys on defense.
6. Tennessee Titans
The Culprit: The Quarterbacks
Please disregard Vince Young's performance against Oakland. That teams had more problems than the SAT.
Young and Kerry Collins combined for six turnovers against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Having more fumbles than scoring drives is never advised, but the Titans did it in full force.
Sure, they were still in the game, but if fans feel confident about that, they are in for a long year.
The Steelers defense is good, but these two fellas just made bad decisions. Many of the interceptions were into double coverage, and the fumbles are due to lack of pocket presence.
Tennessee currently faces the worst kind of quarterback controversy: When both of the QBs look bad.
5. New York Giants
The Culprit: The Defensive Front Four
Sure, they are 1-1 and looked impressive in their first outing. Congrats to them.
The Carolina Panthers might be 6-6 playing D-1 football. Maybe D-1AA.
But when it counted most on Sunday Night Football, they fell flat on their faces. Not only did Peyton Manning throw for three scores and 250 yards, but the Indianapolis Colts were able to do something they haven't done in years.
Dominate with the run.
The Colts averaged nearly four yards per carry, and Joseph Addai and Donald Brown ran wild. While that can be blamed on the linebackers as well, there was so little pressure supplied by the Giants D-line, it just made it a field day for the Colts.
With only one sack on Manning, it's clear the front four need to step their game up. A lack of interior pressure will be exploited by the good quarterbacks in the NFL, and playing in the NFC East, they are bound to see plenty of that.
4. Baltimore Ravens
The Culprit: Joe Flacco
The Ravens quarterback does get some slack for playing against two of the tougher defenses in the NFL to open the season.
However, his performances aren't bad due to that. It's on him.
Baltimore brought in a stellar receiving corps to help out Flacco, who already had a very good year in 2009. He knows the tough defenses of the AFC North, so now with Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, he should be able to go to work.
Sadly, not so.
With a completion percentage below 50 percent, one touchdown to five picks and a quarterback rating of 41.2, Flacco just can't seem to find his groove. He's looked errant, and when defenses see that, they stack the box, limiting Ray Rice's abilities as well.
The Ravens go only as far as Flacco takes them, and so far, he's barely got them at 1-1.
3. Oakland Raiders
The Culprit: Jason Campbell
The Raiders entered 2010 as a trendy pick to win the AFC West in a year where the division was in turmoil.
It now appears that Oakland has entered that turmoil.
Jason Campbell's season numbers might not reflect it, but he has looked ineffective in his first two outings in Oakland. His team is 22nd in the NFL in passing yards and he has a quarterback rating of 61.9, which is mediocre at best.
Also, he got benched against the Rams. If he can't get it done vs. one of the worst teams in football, who will he show up against?
What's worse is that Bruce Gradkowski looked good. He sparked the Raiders to come from behind for the victory, and if he becomes the starter, Oakland looks very similar to the team it had last year.
Which missed the playoffs. Not a good sign for the Bay.
2. Minnesota Vikings
The Culprit: The Offense, excluding Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson may be the strongest runner in the NFL, but with the entire offense relying on him, the team is clearly collapsing.
Or maybe it's due to He Who Must Not Be Named missing training camp.
The Vikings need a lot to change for them to right the ship. First, the offensive line needs a lot of help. They are a highly touted group, but their performance has been less than stellar on passing plays.
And with an older gentleman to protect, they need to be a lot stronger to give him more time to throw.
However, with Brett Favre's play this year, it may not matter. He clearly is missing a step on his scrambles, doesn't have the timing down with his wideouts and is doing a lot more slinging the ball than gunning down receivers.
It's a big problem, but the Vikes have a lot of veteran experience. They will need to lean on the savvy leaders if they want to stick around in the NFC North.
1. Arizona Cardinals
The Culprit: Everyone except the receivers.
Yeah, that's right. There are problem all over this team.
They just got lucky to play the Rams in Week 1.
First, Derek Anderson and Max Hall play quarterback like they left their life savings unguarded on the sidelines. Three times as many picks as touchdowns won't cut it in a flag football league, let alone the NFL.
No, no fault falls with the receivers. These two guys are about as accurate as Dick Cheney.
Next, Tim Hightower, who played well against Atlanta in garbage time, had trouble against one of the worst defenses in St. Louis to start the season. Further, when Beanie Wells comes back, Arizona has to decide who's going to get the majority of the carries.
Lastly, the defense. The Cardinals are 21st in passing defense, and 31st in rushing defense. Part of this is due to being on the field too long, and part of this is because they cover receivers like a bikini covers Warren Sapp.
True, they lost a lot of talent in between this year and last. But if they want to end up with more than two wins, something's got to give.