Thursday, September 30, 2010

Week 3 Rubdown - NFC South


WK 2 W v. Arizona 41-7, WK W at New Orleans 27-24
Offense Rank 6th, Defense Rank 21st

The last two weeks saw two teams really step forward in the conversation of who is the best in the NFC. We talked about one of them yesterday, the Bears. The other is the Falcons. They performed an unadulterated beatdown on the Cardinals in Week 2, then pulled off a thrilling victory in Week 3 against the Super Bowl Champs, in their own house. Matt Ryan has shaken off the sophomore slump of 2009, and has put up a 94.3 passer rating, which is better than his rookie year. He's completing 5% more of his pass attempts this year than last year. The defense has given up yardage, but it also has been very opportunistic. The Falcons D has generated 7 turnovers, 6 of them interceptions, including 2 in the win over the Saints. This team is going to be tough to beat all season, and has a lot of weapons. Roddy White is a top 5 receiver, Michael Turner had a bounceback game in week 3, and Tony Gonzalez had probably his best game as a Falcon in that win. We all know a different team wins the NFC South every year, it very well could be the Falcon's turn in 2010.

Your Steroids Can't Help You Now, Roided Up Kicker

WK 2 W at San Francisco 25-22, WK 3 L v. Atlanta 24-27
Offense Rank 14th, Defense Rank 22nd

It's a little scary how close the Saints are to an 0-3 start. Minnesota had them on the ropes in Week 1, but refused to deliver the Adrian Peterson knockout punch. They needed a last second field goal to beat a Niners team that is a complete mess, and of course, the loss this past weekend at home to the arch rival Falcons. True, they would be 3-0 had Garrett Hartley not missed a chip shot field goal in OT. But look at those offense/defense rankings. The offense has been nothing special, 14th in the league. Reggie Bush is out for the year, which whatever you want to think about Reggie Bush does impact the Saints adversely. Pierre Thomas is averaging a dismal 3.2 yards per carry, so the entire offense is resting on Drew Brees, and so far, it's been just so-so. The defense is getting gashed by opposing running backs. The Saints rank last in the league against the run, and Atlanta rushed for over 200 yards against them.

So that's the bad news. The good news is that the Saints have a cupcake run coming up with games against Carolina, Arizona, Tampa, and Cleveland. That should leave them at a 6-1 start, which is nothing to feel bad about. But I don't think this team is going back to the Super Bowl based on what I've seen so far.

If Only the Football Team Were As Good


WK 2 W at Carolina 20-7, WK L v. Pittsburgh 13-38
Offense Rank 27th, Defense Rank 19th

If you need further proof that at least 75% of a team's performance (most teams, not the Steelers) depends on their quarterback, look at the Bucs and the team below them in this division, the Panthers. The Bucs have 2 wins pretty much only because Josh Freeman has been adequate at quarterback, while the teams they beat, Cleveland and Carolina, are a complete disaster at that position. The Bucs are good enough to hang with and beat teams that are in the bell jar like they did the first two weeks, but we saw just how far they have to go when Pittsburgh blew their doors off in Week 3, with the Bucs defense making Charlie Batch look like an All Pro. Tampa's spent 3 of their 4 first and second round picks the last 2 years on defensive tackles, and yet they are 28th in the league in run defense. That's a bad sign. Freeman, however, looks like he could be the answer long term at QB, and he's got some interesting receivers around him, so that's a start.

Now It's Time for my Douchebag Dance!

WK 2 L v. Tampa Bay 7-20, WK 3 L v. Cincinnati 7-20
Offense Rank 31st, Defense Rank 14th

Not a whole lot of analysis needed here. The Panthers put up a grand total of 14 points in back to back home games against a couple of teams that are OK at best. Matt Moore was benched after a horrible first two weeks and rookie Jimmy Claussen hasn't been any better. Because of this, the "Double Trouble" running game has been no trouble for anybody, running into brick walls regularly.

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