Ready or Not
Week 13 of the NFL season is upon us. I'm second in my office football pool, but I gained a lot of ground with last week's picks.
Picks Record Through Week 12
Straight Up: 118-57
Against the Spread: 100-75
Thursday Night Football—Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks
Straight Up: Seattle
Against the Spread: Seattle +2.5 (as of Tuesday night, Vick’s status is still uncertain)
Over/Under: Hold onto your hat—it’s supposed to be clear on Thursday night. Wow. Of course, as of this writing, there is no line because of the Vick situation. I’m guessing under 40.
As a reward for completely tanking against the New England Patriots on Sunday, the ‘Iggles get to fly to the Pacific Northwest and face the disorganized but dangerous Seattle Seahawks.
Not to mention costing you at least one trip to the Super Bowl and probably the big game itself. Give me a break. At least fans weren’t blaming Juan Castillo this week.
I don’t even quibble with going deep twice in a row on the Pats’ secondary. It wasn’t a bad idea and it worked. But three times? On a Bill Belichick defense? I don’t care if the players are in diapers—Belichick isn’t.
But I digress. Philadelphia actually played very well—for about six minutes. Vince Young played well throughout the game: 26-of-48 for 400 yards, a TD and an INT. It would have been 500 yards if not for all of those dropped passes. Ugh.
It certainly wasn’t his fault that Reid abandoned the run. Did Andy forget that he has one of the very best Faulk/Westbrook-type runners in the NFL? Even if LeSean McCoy wasn’t totally healthy, Ronnie Brown can still tote the rock. Unless there’s something about Brown that we don’t know.
I’m not even going to get into the general lack of discipline. If I were one of the grown-ups on the Eagles’ squad (and I do believe that there are some), I’d be absolutely furious with all concerned.
Last week I wrote that I might be being hasty, but it looked like perhaps Tarvaris Jackson was becoming a real NFL QB. It turns out that, yes, I was being hasty. He may have thrown for two TDs, but he was less than 50 percent in completion percentage.
I’d campaign for Marshawn Lynch to make a trip to Hawaii after yet another dominating performance on the ground for Seattle. But, he needs another year or two of production before I can forget what he did to the Buffalo Bills. I’m not even a Bills fan, but I’m a grudge-holding girl when it comes to off-field arrests and on-field complacency.
As much of a you-know-what as the Eagles are, I’d pick them in a heartbeat if the game were in the Eastern Time Zone. As it is, I have to go with Marshawn Lynch and a bunch of really big safeties and cornerbacks for Seattle.
I’d try, probably in vain, to encourage Andy Reid to remember that LeSean McCoy is wearing the green and white. But the Seahawks are 11th in the League in run D, so that probably won’t even work.
Straight Up: Oakland
Against the Spread: Oakland +2.5
Over/Under: under 43
The Raiders had to work pretty hard to beat the Bears on Sunday. Miami has had a long week to lick their wounds from that killer close loss to Dallas. Hmmm. Advantage Miami.
Carson Palmer is playing excellent quarterback, even with backup WRs. The above photo is Louis Murphy, by the way.
Michael Bush is playing excellent running back and certainly would be starting on quite a few teams.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski (bad groin and all) is a force of nature.
It’s a good thing, too, since the Raiders could not score touchdowns against Chicago’s D. I don’t think it’s going to be any easier against an underrated Dolphins’ D.
Advice to Carson Palmer: Do not throw the ball anywhere near Safety Yeremiah Bell or you’ll be trying to tackle him going the other way. And you know what happened to Jay Cutler.
Matt Moore and the Dolphins’ offense had their own scoring issues on Thanksgiving, settling for FGs four times. Moore was 19-of-32 for 288 yards and a TD pass that Brandon Marshall caught while being literally throttled by a Dallas defender. Look it up, I assure you I do not exaggerate.
Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas combined for a potent rushing attack that Miami fans wish had been clicking in September. With Clyde Bates returning kicks and Brian Hartline making clutch catch after clutch catch, this team “coulda been a contender.” Oh well, at least they have completely regained respectability.
The Dolphins are playing hard for pride, but the Raiders are in contention for the AFC West title. So, Oakland must win—on the road and probably tired—against a team with nothing to lose. Could be tricky.
Possibly relevant: Dolphins’ players credit their recent success at least in part to the fact that head coach Tony Sparano gives them plenty of rest. Uh-oh.
Straight Up: Chicago
Against the Spread: Kansas City +8.5
Over/Under: Rain, showers, cold by the lake. Brrrr. Under 37.5
Cris Collinsworth told the Sunday night TV audience that KC RB Dexter McCluster was “the only thing approaching a big play threat on this offense since Jamaal Charles got hurt.” I told my living room, “Well, in the running game at least.”
Of course I was thinking of WRs Dwayne Bowe and Jonathan Baldwin. And then I remembered that Tyler Palko was throwing the passes. Oh yeah.
And then it turned out that Dwayne Bowe had decided to show the entire country the exact meaning of the term “alligator arms.” Seriously? You pull a Randy Moss and throw your “I’m open” hand up in the air and you don’t even reach for the ball? I don’t know what to say.
Yes, I do. Dude, you call yourself a professional wide receiver. You get paid as a professional wide receiver. How about you receive?
If I were a member of that Kansas City Chiefs’ defense, I would be warming up the tar, plucking the chicken and finding the rail to ride Palko and Bowe out of town on.
Or maybe Todd Haley, or whoever decided that it wasn’t a critical enough game to rush Kyle Orton into practice and have him available when the expected Palko meltdown occurred. Orton was standing on the sidelines. In a sweat suit! Words truly do fail me.
Maybe Orton should have gone to Chicago after all. The Bears clearly could use him. I know, it’s the first game for Caleb Hanie, blah blah blah.
Reality check for Lovie Smith. You play in the NFC North. Translation: There is no way you are going to catch the Green Packers and win this division. Deduction: You are fighting for a Wild Card.
Insert your favorite Mike Ditka quote here. Geez.
Perhaps the Bears’ D and the Chiefs' D could stage a coordinated revolt until somebody’s offense decides to score some points.
Until Caleb Hanie proves that he can accomplish that, the Chiefs will concentrate all of their effort onto containing Matt Forte. You can’t stop the guy, but Oakland proved that Hanie couldn’t win without Forte gaining his usual 100+ yards on the ground.
I’m giving Da Bears the nod on home field and Forte. But don’t go crazy on points because Kyle Orton is going to be on a mission to beat the team that landed him in that Denver mess to begin with.
The other Denver runner
Straight Up: Denver
Against the Spread: Denver +.5
Over/Under: I couldn’t find a line on this since no one knows if Adrian Peterson will play. I would say under 40 for sure. Probably under 38 even.
The Denver Broncos’ defense has allowed a total of 36 points in the past three weekends combined. I’m just saying.
And, no, I still don’t like John Fox as a head coach. I never said he wasn’t a good defensive coordinator. He’s exactly like Wade Phillips. He just doesn’t have the permanently perplexed facial expression.
Tim Tebow praised the Broncos’ coaching staff after their latest win. He was absolutely right: Very imaginative play design and offensive game-planning have multiplied the preparation load facing opposing defensive coordinators.
Those who insist on viewing Tebow as just another running QB with suspect passing ability are going to get creamed. Those who acknowledge that No. 15 is unique and try to remember how they schemed in college are going to get creamed. Basically, if you can’t lock down the entire first 20 yards of the playing field sideline to sideline—you’re going to get creamed.
I’m not being inconsistent here. I don’t think Fox had anything to do with this (thus far) successful strategy other than acquiescing. The man wouldn’t know creative play-calling if it stripped naked and danced in front of him.
It has to be offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and quarterbacks coach Adam Gase. Gase has very little experience with anything approaching a successful offense, so I’m guessing that he is backup to McCoy on this.
Fox probably trusts McCoy after their time together in Carolina and McCoy has coached under a variety of offensive regimes, with a vast array of fair-to-good offensive talent. It has to be him.
Anyway, to be fair (not that I want to be), Fox has rallied this Broncos’ D to an extremely high level in a very short period of time. Of course, having the services of rookie LB Von Miller has been of no small assistance.
With Fox’ planning, Champ Bailey’s and Brian Dawkins’ leadership and Miller’s raw talent, the defense can hold their own against most opposing offenses. They keep the game within that one scoring drive that Tebow seems to be able to pull out every week. They must be exhausted.
Speaking of tired, can someone please put the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line out of their misery? They’ve stunk for three years, they were built for the run and not pass protection anyway and now they don’t have a runner. Just great. (You know there is a tiny part of Donovan McNabb that isn’t too upset about not getting killed out there every week.)
New offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave should have known better than to just follow suit and pile all the eggs into Adrian Peterson’s basket. That’s what got Brett Favre retired and Darrell Bevell fired.
Can the Vikings please just admit that sophomore Toby Gerhart is a fullback and not a running back and that Percy Harvin is unable to catch a pass from anyone except Favre?
If Peterson can’t play, at least try giving the ball to third-stringer Lorenzo Booker. He looks at least serviceable. And how about you target second-string WRs Devin Aromashodu and Michael Jenkins more often?
Let Harvin return kicks if his ribs can take it and put Bernard Berrian on the bench. That guy must have pulled someone out of a burning building to still have a job.
The Vikings’ defense ranks ninth against the run, so they have a shot against Tebow. But I think that the Denver defense is going to eat Minnesota’s rudderless group alive.
Not rude, Ruud
Straight Up: Buffalo
Against the Spread: Buffalo -1.5
Over/Under: Over 43.5 Unless it rains. Hold off on this one as late as possible. It’s going to be at least cloudy, with a possible storm coming in. Hmmm.
I base this pick largely on the potential absence of Titans’ defensive anchor Barrett Ruud. Without him, I think even Buffalo RB C.J. Spiller might have success on the ground.
The rushing attack on both sides will be the key to the game.
Buffalo’s running game went down with Fred Jackson’s broken leg and the Bills’ defense has given up an average of 132 yards on the ground over the last three weeks.
Conversely, Titans’ RB Chris Johnson has finally started earning that big contract in the last two games. However, I just don’t trust him.
Buffalo seems to have recovered a bit from being trounced and thrown out of playoff contention (effectively, if not mathematically). Ryan Fitzpatrick started connecting again with his remaining WRs and they almost beat the Jets on Sunday. In New York.
The Bills’ pass D is still respectable, although this group really has to work on the bend-but-don’t-break concept. Over the past three weeks, they surrendered 331 yards total, but that turned into almost 36 points for opponents! Yikes.
However, I think that they can win at home in the cold.
Straight Up: Atlanta
Against the Spread: Atlanta -2.5
Over/Under: Under 38. What? Well, both defenses have gotten rather stingy. Plus, the forecast is for rain.
So how unimpressive must Kellen Clemens have been this week to make Houston sign Jake Delhomme off the farm to back up rookie T.J. Yates? That is embarrassing.
I think it’s a great signing. Clemens is still angry that Chad Pennington beat him out in New York and wants to start. Jake Delhomme is probably happy to do for Yates what Rodney Peete did for him in Carolina. By all accounts, Jake is a great guy and very generous.
Now, for those of us with only a hazy knowledge of Mr. Yates, he is (ironically enough) from Atlanta. He played college ball at UNC, where he owns all sorts of records. He also belongs to my father’s fraternity (Sigma Chi) if you care deeply about these things. I don’t—just thought I’d share.
T.J. completed almost 63 percent of his passes and threw for 58 TDs in college. However, he also threw 46 INTs. Oops.
The good news for Texans fans is that
a) Amazingly, Houston runs a similar offense to the Tar Heels
b) Kubiak knows how to call plays for young QBs
c) The Houston front office drafted Yates in part because they see him as having a similar skill set to Schaub’s.
d) The young signal-caller completed 8-of-15 passes for 70 yards last week. Okay, nothing to give defenses nightmares, but at least he didn’t give up a pick-six.
e) You still have RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate, WR Andre Johnson and TE Owen Daniels.
f) Your defense is the number one defense in the entire NFL. Well, that’s encouraging.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta defense has really improved since September. I’m bummed that 5’9” dynamo Brent Grimes may not be able to play. Did you see that highlight of him levitating in the end zone last week to knock a pass away from a WR that had to have been 6’5?” And I do mean levitating. The guy has springs in his legs. It’s really cool.
And they have held RBs to virtually no yards recently. Now, granted, last week was a Vikings’ team minus Adrian Peterson, but in the two previous weeks the Falcons’ D was facing Chris Johnson and the New Orleans Saints' cadre of runners.
Watch to see if Foster and Tate can get going against the Falcons’ LBs. Okay, they'll be able to run. It's just a question of how much.
Beyond that, it’s up to the offensive line to protect Matt Ryan. The guy is terrific when he’s not having his helmet torn off.
In fact, that O-line comment goes both ways. My husband asked me the other day if the Texans still had a chance. I said, “Well they have two wonderful RBs, a good WR and a great WR, a Pro Bowl TE and a frightening defense.” He said, “Well, then what’s the problem?”
I answered, “Apparently, it’s protecting the quarterback.” Yeah, that about sums it up.
How does he do that?
Straight Up: Carolina
Against the Spread: Carolina +2.5
Over/Under: Over 48.5
The Panthers are on a one-game winning streak! It may not be much, but it’s better momentum than the snake-bit Bucs have going right now.
Carolina is racking up over 150 yards on the ground courtesy of Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. The Buccaneers have been giving up almost 160. Ouch.
Newton is on his way to Rookie of the Year and poor Josh Freeman is in a terrible slump.
I’d worry terribly about the off-the-street Carolina defense (32.7 points per game this past month), except that Tampa Bay is only one point behind them in the gifts-to-opposing-offenses department.
LeGarrette Blount is always good for at least one spectacular hurdling rumble per game, but it won’t be enough.
All in all, I have to go with the hot hand.
Straight Up: Pittsburgh
Against the Spread: Cincinnati +7.5
Over/Under: Over 42—it’s going to be cloudy and in the 50s, so scoring is a possibility.
I hope that the Bengals were taking notes on the Kansas City defense Sunday night. The Chiefs did a fantastic job of holding what has become a Steelers’ offensive juggernaut down to a dull roar (no pun intended).
Even without DB Leon Hall, the Bengals’ secondary is respectable and has only given up 210 passing yards per week as of late. The “rub” will come against Pittsburgh RB Rashard Mendenhall.
Last week, Cleveland’s Peyton Hillis pounded the tigers’ D for a steady three yards or so every time he got the ball—and frequently more than that. If Roethlisberger has Mendenhall running successfully, he’ll just start slinging it all over the field to Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and TE Heath Miller.
Honestly, if Ben hadn’t been such a creep for his first few years in the league, we’d be talking about him as a MVP candidate. Roethlisberger is playing really, really well. He’s morphed into a complete QB with total command of his offense.
On the other side of the ball, we have what is becoming known as the “Rookie Connection” between QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green. If everyone stays healthy, this offense is going to make waves in the AFC North for years.
And it’s not as if Green is the only toy in Andy’s cupboard. He has stud runner Cedric Benson (who is probably thrilled to not be the entire offense), very promising TE Jermaine Gresham, young WR Jerome Simpson, new kid Andrew Hawkins and older kid Andre Caldwell. No wonder Dalton is always smiling.
Cincy was able to stay in the game with Pittsburgh right to the end a few weeks ago. I think that is the best we can hope for here.
Take note of Troy Polamalu’s concussion status, although I have a feeling he will be on the field.
Remember this, Dwight?
Straight Up: New England
Against the Spread: Indianapolis +20.5
Over/Under: Over 48 (Bear with me here—if the Pats start a blowout there is no way that Belichick doesn’t pile on and mortify the Colts and if the Colts have a chance, they’ll have to score points. Of course I could be completely wrong and Indy might continue to put up seven points per game. Okay, it’s nine.)
This could be the week that Pats' RB Benjarvis Green-Ellis looks like Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders and Walter Peyton rolled into one. Indy has been giving up almost 170 yards on the ground over the past couple of weeks. Ugh. Danny Woodhead might get 100 yards all by himself.
However, here is a stat that will surprise you: The Colts give up only 185 yards per game through the air. So, there’s hope.
Can we please remember how to rush the passer, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis? Honest, you used to be really good at it.
Over twenty points is a lot. That’s all I’m saying. But I’m probably wrong and just being a PollyAnna.
Get 'im, Bart
Straight Up: New York
Against the Spread: New York -3.5
Over/Under: Over 38
The weather is supposed to be nice in D.C. Sunday, which is great—but probably won’t help the ‘Skins win. Even with their faults, the Jets are a better team. A much better team.
The catch here is that the Redskins have a pretty decent defense. In fact, statistically, they are better than Gang Green when it comes to passing yards allowed, total yards allowed and points allowed.
The problem for the boys in burgundy is that the offense is about as suspect as you can get outside of KC and Jacksonville. Washington has improved to scoring almost 19 points per game, but still can’t manage 80 yards on the ground.
I’m sure Roy Helu is all jazzed after his highlight-reel performance last week. Let’s see if he can do it against Bart Scott and the New York linebackers. I’d say it’s a firm “maybe.”
The Jets’ running game has been a weakness this season. Regular readers know that I consider Shonn Greene to be a borderline bust. But with LaDanian Tomlinson probably out, he’s all they’ve got (plus probably 25 or so yards from return man Joe McKnight).
That won’t be enough, so the game will come down to Mark Sanchez versus the Washington pass defense. The ‘Skins rank 10th in overall D and 10th in passing D. Hmmm. That will be an interesting matchup.
I only pick the Jets because they are desperate. And I like Sanchez better than the average bear.
You're our only hope
Straight Up: Cleveland
Against the Spread: Cleveland +6.5 (I’m very surprised it isn’t more.)
Over/Under: It’s going to rain. Yuck. Under 37.5
I’m going way out on a limb here, since I’ll be live-blogging this game for Bleacher Report (go to the Browns’ home page to follow along and laugh at me if Baltimore blows them out).
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if John Harbaugh decides he doesn’t need Ray Lewis to beat the Browns. And he may be right.
But Peyton Hillis played much better last Sunday than he had any right to play after being out for so long. And he did it for four quarters, which really shocked me in terms of conditioning.
A significant factor in the running game will be the presence or absence of FB Owen Marecic, who is recovering from a concussion.
Then there is Chris Ogbannaya, who obviously has the best attitude of all three Cleveland running backs and knows Colt McCoy from college. He is making a hard-to-pronounce name for himself this month coming off the practice squad from another team. Good for him.
We don’t know whether or not second-string RB Montario Hardesty can play or not. If he can, so much the better—since the Cleveland passing game cannot even be called a passing "attack." It's more like a skirmish.
Rookie Greg Little has the best natural ability of the Browns' WRs, but he keeps forgetting to look at the football. Joshua Cribbs cannot return kicks, cover kicks and be the only redzone threat. Reality check, please.
Mohamed Massaquoi has got to step up and catch some passes and Coach Pat Shurmur needs to call a few more throws to the TEs. That was working well last month—time to give it another shot.
The Cleveland defense is excellent under the tutelage of Dick Jauron and the talent of D’Quell Jackson. The man has 100 tackles on the season.
The young D-line is playing extremely well, but I do not know who is going to replace Scott Fujita at SLB. He’s on the downside in terms of ability, but is a great force in the huddle.
It may not matter, since the elite San Francisco defense couldn’t stop Raven Ray Rice. I’m not sure how that is physically possible, give Rice’s diminutive size, but they couldn’t. Nor could they shut down enormous over-the-middle power WR Anquan Boldin. Is there such a thing as a "power WR?"
I base this pick on the fact that the Ravens’ D looked a bit tired, the Cleveland Browns’ fans are tremendous, Baltimore has played down to the competition all year and this could be a letdown game.
But if Ravens' QB Joe Flacco and rookie WR Torrey Smith get clicking it will be a long day in Ohio. Unless, of course, you're from Baltimore. In which case, you'll be cold but happy.
Counting on you, Beanie
Straight Up: Arizona
Against the Spread: Cardinals +4.5
Over/Under: Over 45.5
I know, I know—I’m dreaming. But I just hate picking against home underdogs.
Rookie RB DeMarco Murray has outgained every other rookie through 11 games in Cowboy history. Yes, that includes Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith. Wow. And he’s only been the featured back for a couple of weeks! He’ll see a whole lot of action against the Cardinals’ weak defense.
But I also expect Tony Romo to continue throwing to new WR toy, Laurent Robinson. On Thanksgiving, Romo ended up completing 22 passes on 34 attempts for 226 yards and two TDs. But he also threw 2 INTs.
I swear, if you took away Jason Witten, Romo wouldn’t have those game-saving fourth-quarter drives. That’s a coaching suggestion, by the way, Arizona.
With Beanie Wells having a twisted knee, I don’t really know what kind of offense Arizona can mount that doesn’t include 60 passes to Larry Fitzgerald.
The Cards' defense has only allowed 20 points per game over the past three weeks, so that gives me hope.
Basically, I’m counting on the Cowboys getting complacent. Which they are going to do. I hope.
The new gold standard
Straight Up: San Francisco
Against the Spread: St. Louis +13.5
Over/Under: Under 38.5
Sam Bradford is passing for less than 160 yards per game. I understand that from Alex Smith, but Bradford? Wow.
Once again, RB extraordinaire Steven Jackson is the only offense in the Gateway City. At least he always gets a trip to Hawaii. This year, he might even be there with the Niners’ RB stud, Frank Gore.
I’m picking the Rams because I think the Niners are tired. They’ve done way too much crossing of the country this season.
They also have significant pass-protection issues. And that is putting it very, very kindly. Smith hit the ground nine times on Thanksgiving night. Please.
Beyond that, WR (and I use that title loosely) Braylon Edwards appears to be having another one of his bad years. The guy can either run, do full back flips and make one-handed circus catches—or he can’t “catch a cold.” They really need him deep, because right now Smith can’t complete anything past 20 yards.
That might be enough against the offensively-challenged Rams with their inconsistent defense. But winning by two TDs is a lot to ask of this San Francisco group that has managed an average of only 18.7 points per game. Yeah.
A little help here?
Straight Up: Green Bay
Against the Spread: Green Bay -6.5 (unless both RB Ahmad Bradshaw and LB Michael Boley are suddenly healthy and back on the field).
Over/Under: Over 53 (decent weather is expected and I certainly hope that the Giants’ WRs decide to catch a few this week)
Eli Manning is playing the best football of his career. And the New York Giants have averaged 18 points a game this month. Yuck.
I’ve always been impressed with Victor Cruz, but I have never been impressed with the rest of this WR corps. I know I’m in the minority but I think the last two games prove my point.
Poor New York RB Brandon Jacobs (yes, I know he’s weird, but he is a force on the field) really needs his running buddy Ahmad Bradshaw.
Jacobs is designed to power through from the two. He’s not even really a one-cut runner. He’s more of a snowball. Or I guess a rolling boulder. Did you see how much of a run-up he needed when he was in the backfield?
But the real problem, as everyone in the NFL world knows, is the Giants’ defense. Okay, I’ll say it—they have not been the same since Michael Strahan retired. They haven’t.
No one has stepped up to fill that role. Osi Umenyiora could have, but he’s pouting. Michael Boley was showing some excellent leadership at LB, but he’s hurt.
It’s not good. Since when has a Giants’ D given up over 31 points per game? Well that's what has happened on average over the last three weeks.
Even Green Bay should be able to get some kind of running game going against them. And that’s just sad.
The Green Bay Packers ran a total of 43 offensive plays last week in Detroit. They scored 27 points. That, sports fans, is efficiency.
I am not even going to address the Packers aerial attack: There are no superlatives left and I’d bore myself.
The real MVP
Straight Up: New Orleans
Against the Spread: New Orleans -7.5
Over/Under: Over 53.5
Detroit hasn’t played since Thanksgiving and the Saints had to play on Monday night. That doesn’t seem like equitable scheduling.
On the other hand, the Lions won’t have their premiere defensive player Ndamukong Suh on Sunday night—and we saw them fall apart without him on Thanksgiving.
Of course, by that time, Lineman Cliff Avril was hurt and safety Louis Delmas was out of the game, along with running back Kevin Smith.
There were so many defensive injuries that the Lions had WR Rashied Davis out there doing a “Troy Brown” and playing DB! He’s 32 years old and had a bad hamstring! It showed, too, but he gets major heart points.
Not to mention all those other Detroit penalties. I’d mention Matthew Stafford’s three INTs, but they weren’t all his fault.
How about someone other than Calvin Johnson try to catch a football? Unless the Detroit O can get coverage on Johnson back to two defenders instead of nine, Megatron might as well be on the bench. Quick, can you even name another Lions’ WR? See?
For the record, it’s Nate Burleson and two TEs.
The Lions are down to over-30 RB Maurice Morris and young-but-green Keiland Williams. Actually, that’s not a bad combo—so look out.
Let’s contrast the above facts with the number of folks capable of catching and running a football in New Orleans. How about four RBs (Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory) and four WRs who always catch passes (Marquis Colston, Devery Henderson, Lance Moore and Robert Meacham), not to mention the next Tony Gonzalez in TE Jimmy Graham. You see the mismatch(es), right?
The Saints’ problems come on defense, where they simply have not been the same since winning the Super Bowl. They still have Tracy Porter and Roman Harper back in the secondary to ruin an opposing QB's day (fair warning, Matthew). But they simply have not looked as tough or as sharp.
The numbers (helped by an excellent showing against Big Blue) don’t agree: second overall D, first against the pass. But they are giving up over 125 yards every week on the ground.
That’s good news for Detroit’s running odd couple.
Anything can happen and if we were in Detroit I might caution an upset. But it’s the Super Dome (no matter what conglomerate has naming rights, it will always be the Super Dome).
It's all yours, Mel
Straight Up: San Diego
Against the Spread: San Diego -2.5
Over/Under: Did you think you’d ever see a San Diego game where the O/U was 40? Wow. And it’s not even supposed to be bad weather. And you know what’s worse? I’m picking the under.
Is Norv Turner still coaching the Chargers? Well, then Jacksonville has a chance.
Can we talk about Jaguars’ former head coach Jack del Rio for a second? What the *&^($ was he thinking, benching Blaine Gabbert? He must have been thinking of his job and not the future of the team.
I hate coaches who pretend that benching their starting QB is going to result in “shaking him up” in a good way. How selfish. And, no, it doesn't matter that Gabbert was simply horrible.
Turns out that it didn’t work, anyway. Del Rio was fired on Tuesday; giving interim head coach Mel Tucker six whole days to turn the team around. And I’ll bet he thought it was going to be difficult.
The politics here are interesting. Del Rio passed the losing buck to offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter twice in the past couple of weeks. I’m sure that Jack felt desperate, but even if the losses were Koetter’s fault (and as outsiders we’ll never really know), this is not something a leader says to the media. Tacky.
The public blame may be the reason that Tucker and not Koetter is the interim guy. Which seems somewhat bizarre given that it is the offense that needs help.
Gabbert has a QB rating of 62.2. Okay, that’s pitiful. But Luke McCown’s is 39.0!
The Jaguars certainly have tremendous offensive “challenges,” to put it mildly. With all due respect to RB Maurice Jones-Drew—they stink.
MJD is certainly holding up his end and has a total of 1,246 combined yards. If you haven’t voted him to the Pro Bowl yet, get to it.
Otherwise, Gabbert is trying to complete passes to a bunch of second-tier WRs and a streaky TE who has been targeted 62 times and caught 27 footballs.
The Jacksonville offense is 32nd in total points, total yards and passing yards. See, that’s not good.
Not to mention the seven sacks they gave up last weekend.
The defense continues to work their butts off and produce. They are fifth in points allowed (18.2), fourth in total yards and fourth in passing yards. And, despite the fact that they rank 14th against the run, this squad did a pretty good job of holding Houston RB Arian Foster in check last Sunday.
The result? Two backup Texans' QBs had to try and beat the Jaguars through the air. The fact that they succeeded is a depressing sign of the times in Florida.
Not that the San Diego Chargers are much better. Can we please stop wasting time? Fire Norv Turner now—and get on with rebuilding. Or focusing. Or blowing it up and starting over. Something.
Personally, I’d get rid of GM A.J. Smith: He’s the one who got you into a mess where you have tons of talent and no production. Well, that’s not going to happen, but I can dream.
The truly dysfunctional thing is that Smith has succeeded when it comes to player personnel. Yet again, three of his rookies from this draft are winners—already. But his ego is clearly so large that he can’t exist with a forceful coach.
Well, A.J. old buddy, unless you’re going to come down out of the Front Office tower and call some plays, you might want to consider hiring someone capable of being a NFL head coach. Ugh.
It’s just disgusting and I feel devoutly sorry for all of the players. And even more sorry for the fans.
How is it even possible to be fifth in passing yards and seventh in total yards and only score 22.6 points per game? That isn’t going to cut it when the defense is surrendering 25 points each and every week.
Let’s be clear: It is not Philip Rivers’ fault and it is not the defensive secondary’s fault. These guys would be having Pro Bowl seasons if they weren’t constantly thinking that they all have to win the game all by themselves.
Please, do something before this insanity ruins some good football players forever.
Now that I’ve got that out of my system—surely the Chargers can beat the Jaguars. Surely.