Friday, August 31, 2007

The Answer Might Surprise You- Rating the Preseason

Save for 2 final games that take place tonight, the NFL preseason is over, and in less than a week either Adam Vinatieri or Olindo Mare will kick off the 2007 NFL season when the Colts and Saints tangle in the RCA Dome.

Some may say the preseason can be ignored entirely. I don't think that's the right thing to do. I know I'm talking a different sport here, but this spring, while the White Sox were putting up the worst record in the Cactus League, I kept hearing "Oh it's only Spring Training". But lo and behold, they've sucked in the regular season too, really, really badly.

So with 4 preseason games in the books for each team, I think even if we don't use the preseason as a 100% foolproof predictor of future results, we can at least step back and look at how each team did, let it stand on its own merit, and then you all can decide for yourselves if it tells us anything.

To that end, I've ranked every team from 1-32 on 5 measures. Offense and defensive yards per rushing attempt (that's two). O and D passing yards per attempt, and turnover margin. I then add up all those ratings, and the lowest total score wins.

Just like everyone's favorite Arab American, Kasey Kasseem, I'm going to count 'em down all the way to #1, starting at #32.

#32- ST. LOUIS RAMS (Total Score 116)
OFFENSE: Rushing 25th, Passing 26th
DEFENSE: Rushing 26th, Passing 19th

The Rams have an excuse, at least on offense. Steven Jackson didn't play at all and Tory Holt was banged up. Even given this, Marc Bulger was still terrible, posting a 51.0 rating in 40 attempts.

#31- GREEN BAY PACKERS (Total Score 116)
OFFENSE: Rushing 28th, Passing 27th
DEFENSE: Rushing 29th, Passing 17th

I expect the Packers to be a pretty good team this year, but they didn't look like one in August. The offense lacked explosiveness and struggled to run the ball. Rookie Brandon Jackson was treated as the starting running back in the absence of Vernand Morency, but averaged only 3.3 yards per carry. A couple of rookies did impress though. 3rd round WR James Jones led the team with 21 receptions (the next closest Packer had 8), and first round DT Justin Harrell looked like he'll be a good one.

#30- KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (Total Score 115)
OFFENSE: Rushing 13th, Passing 32nd
DEFENSE: Rushing 19th, Passing 22nd

The Chiefs were the stars of this season of HBO's "Hard Knocks" training camp series, and the title was appropo. KC's preseason was a disaster. Brodie Croyle failed miserably given an opportunity to win the starting QB job, and Damon Huard will be the opening day starter despite attempting only 9 passes in preseason. 1st round WR Dwayne Bowe caught only one pass, and Larry Johnson held out for every game save for the last one. The only thing that may qualify as a bright spot was that Michael Bennett's 4 yards per carry on 83 attempts were enough to get LJ back in uniform.

Check back tomorrow for #29-20, I promise #29 will SHOCK you. And no it's not the Chargers, although that would have been a clever teaser. I'm trying to think of one for the team it actually is but I can't.


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