Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NFL Stretch Run- Week 11

Thanksgiving is already upon us, and that means that it's no longer ridiculous to start seriously tracking the NFL playoff picture.

So, with that mind, we bid a fond farewell to the Three Technique for 2007. I now go into my stretch run mode, and zero in on the teams that are jockeying for position in what is commonly and gayly referred to as "The Tournament".



WON at Buffalo 56-10
Week 12 vs. Philadelphia (5-5)

One of the things I often think to myself is, "It can't possibly be as easy as the Patriots make it look." That thought segues into, "Why does it always look like nobody is covering Randy Moss?".
So I'm watching highlights of this massacre, and I'm watching the first Brady to Moss TD, which was the standard 45 yard pitch and catch that they always do. The funny thing is, the Bills are rushing TWO guys on this play, which means they are dropping nine guys back into coverage. You would think that at least two of these guys would be covering Randy Moss.

Lo and behold though, the pass is lofted up in the end zone, and the only thing impeding Moss from a long TD reception is some guy who is beat by 3 yards giving a half hearted wave at the ball. Not only that, but there is ANOTHER Patriots receiver standing on the 5 yard line with nobody within a 10 yard radius of him. What the hell are the nine guys the Bills dropped into coverage covering exactly? I don't get it.

It's stuff like this that makes me think that part of the reason the Patriots look so good this year is that most of the rest of the league looks so bad.


WON vs. KC 13-10
Week 12 at Atlanta (3-7) Thurs Night

I don't see what the big deal is about Adam Vinatieri. He's still money from inside 25 yards.

Honestly, I don't know what to think about the Colts right now. Part of me says that they are very injured right now with Marvin Harrison, Tony Yugi-oh, Dwight Freeney, and Anthony Gonzalez all out, and that everything will be OK once Marvin comes back.

The other part of me says that watching this team play lately makes me throw up in my mouth. You've got Vinatieri shanking balls all over the place like he's Carlos Huerta, Peyton Manning throwing passes that sail out of bounds in the general vicinity of nobody, and Tony Dungy going for it on 4th and 1 on the KC five with 2 minutes left rather than kicking the field goal because he no longer has any confidence in his zillionaire kicker, then bafflingly having Manning kneel down 3 times right after that.

So the Colts on 4th and 1 go for it, telling me they have no confidence in their kicker, then the next 3 plays take the ball out of their offense's hands and turn it all over to that guy who 30 seconds ago they had no confidence in. That no make sense. The Colts look totally out of sorts right now and it starts with goofy coaching decisions like that one.


LOST at. NYJ 16-19 OT
Week 12 vs. Miami (0-10)

Wow, so uh, you lost to the Jets. Thats...thats really really bad. Seriously.

Now I ask you, how wondiferous would it be if the Steelers have back to back games against the 1-8 Jets, and the 0-10 Dolphins, and they lose them both? They are already halfway there, and shit, if they can lose to the Jets then they can certainly lose to the Dolphins too. The Steelers will be without Troy Polamalu and top receiver Santonio Holmes for this one as well, and that only adds to the intrigue.

And what is up with Willie Parker averaging under 3 yards a carry against the league's 29th ranked run defense? What's up with the Steelers letting Thomas Jones be the first guy to rush for 100 on them in the last 100 years or so?

Oh, and then there's the special teams, which have been bad all year lost this game in OT when they gave up a long punt return to Leon Washington that set up the game winning field goal.

It used to be that only the NFC was bad, now the big boys in the AFC are bringing the suck too. I don't mean to be a party pooper, but this NFL season is over. Give the Patriots their 40 point Super Bowl win now and let's go home.


LOST at JAX 17-24
Week 12 vs. Baltimore (4-6)

Then you've got this enigmatic Chargers team. You'll hear a lot of people say, "Nyehhhhhhh, Why are the Chargers only 5-5???".

Well, in all honesty, they are lucky to be 5-5, because they rank in the bottom of third of the league in both total offense and total defense. There is nothing you can say they do particularly well at this point.

In fact, defensively you can just go right ahead and say they are downright bad. That goes for the much ballyhooed Shawne Merriman too. He's supposed to be the next, next LT, and he's got only 5 1/2 sacks right now, which ranks him 6th among NFL linebackers. As for tackles, he has 45, which ranks him SEVENTY FIRST among linebackers. The password is "Overrated".

There are problems on offense too, most notably that QB Philip Rivers has regressed markedly. He has a 76.5 passer rating after posting a 92.0 last year, and in his last 3 games he's thrown 1 TD against 5 interceptions. He's pretty terrible right now actually.

Terrible. That's a good word for this season in San Diego. Everyone involved in coaching this team should be fired, because it's ridiculous that they are not running away with a dismal AFC West.


WON vs. SD 24-17
Week 12 vs. Buffalo (5-5)

I'm tempted to say the Jaguars are the second best team in the AFC right now. That's probably not true. They are a month removed from just getting throttled 29-7 by the Colts at home on Monday Night Football, so as bad as the Colts have looked of late, they are still probably the better team.

That said, let's not begrudge the Jags that they have played about as well as they can possibly play the last two weeks. The results have been huge wins over teams they are in competition with for playoff position, beating the Titans last week, and taking care of the Chargers in Week 11.

The running game is hitting on all cylinders. The Jags rank third in the league in rushing offense, Fred Taylor has been effective at 4.2 yards a carry, and Maurice Jones Drew has had limited carries but has averaged 5.0 yards per when he does carry the ball. QB David Garrard picked up right where he left off in his return in last week's win after a month long absence. He has been great this year. He has not thrown an INT in 172 attempts, and his 104.6 rating puts him behind only Brady, Roethlisberger, and Romo in the league table.


WON at Baltimore 33-30 OT
Week 12 vs. Houston (5-5)

Last week's win over Baltimore may have been the most exciting game of this NFL season. Down 30-27 with under 30 seconds left, the Browns got the ball in position for a Phil Dawson field goal, albeit a long one. Dawson's kick clanged off the upright, then off the crossbar, and bounced into the end zone, apparently no good.

The Ravens celebrated, and even left the field thinking the game was over. Romeo Crennel took the headset off, thinking the game was over. The officials continued to converse though. Apparently, the kick bounced not off the crossbar, but off the support behind the crossbar, meaning the kick was good, and that instead of the game being over the game was going into OT. The Browns won the toss, Dawson nailed another field goal, and instead of both teams being 5-5, the Browns are 6-4 and in the thick of the playoff race, and the Ravens are 4-6 and done.

Sure, the Browns have given up over 30 points in 5 out of their last 6 games. They've also won 4 of those games, and every week is a thriller. Who would've thought that the Cleveland Browns would be the most exciting team in the league?


LOST at Denver 20-34

Week 12 at Cincinnati 3-7

Last year the Titans started the season miserably, then all of a sudden started winning games and couldn't stop. That carried over into this season, when they bolted out to a 6-2 start. Could it be that just as quickly and just as severely they are now heading back in the other direction?

It wouldn't be the most surprising development. The Titans offense has been operating at peak efficiency for the last year or so despite having no skill position players who inspire any kind of confidence. The running back spot has been a revolving door, the receiving corps is terrible, and quarterback Vince Young has been winning despite putting up some horrible numbers.

All that has been covered up though, by a defense that has been among the best in the league. That defense's best player, Albert Haynesworth, has been hurt the last 2 weeks, and the unit that has been partly responsible for the 2 game losing streak has not been anywhere near what it was the first 8 games.

Even if Haynesworth comes back healthy, you get the feelings the Titans have been playing over their heads for a while now. They're only a game ahead of the Texans in their own division, and a playoff berth that seemed like a sure thing two weeks ago is slowly slipping away.

Meanwhile, the Broncos are now tied for first in the AFC West (although SD is ahead on the tiebreaker). Their defense is showing signs of being not as horrible as it was a few weeks ago, Jay Cutler is making progress, and Javon Walker comes back after a long absence this week. They may just earn the right to get massacred in the playoffs yet!

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