Wednesday, October 21, 2009

12 comments Faceoff! It will take your Face, RIGHT OFF

It's the great intellectual meeting of the minds. Once again, we go into the dramatically titled Faceoff. Boom!

Which club that currently has a winning record will have the most trouble making the playoffs?

a quick review of the standings, and eliminating the no brainers (Saints, Giants, Vikings, Patriots, Colts, Steelers, Broncos) gives us the following list of teams - Eagles, Cowboys, Packers, Bears, Falcons, 49ers, 'Zona, Bengals. Just as an aside, it's amazing how shallow the AFC is this year.

Prisco: I'll go with the San Francisco 49ers (3-2) for a variety of reasons. The first is schedule. They have games left at Houston, Indianapolis, Green Bay and Philadelphia. They have home games against Chicago and Arizona. Plus, they have quarterback issues. Shaun Hill regressed in a big way in the loss to Atlanta two weeks ago, which is a concern as they come out of their bye. Could Alex Smith be coming soon?

if the words "Could Alex Smith be coming soon" is part of the gameplan for your team, pretty safe to say that playoffs are unlikely to be part of your future. Quick review of Alex Smith's illustrious career - 63.5 QB rtg, 5.8 ypa, 54.4% comp, 19 TD, 31 INT. His last active year, 2007, he threw two TD passes in seven games. That's San Fran's plan B. That schedule is also pretty nasty. I do suppose someone from the NFC West comes out of this so they are a shout, but 'Zona's only loss in the last four weeks is to Indy, two wins on the road, the wins have been by margins of 24, 7 and 14.

The 49ers don't throw it well enough to win in this league.

and I've already outlined my position on Frank Gore.

Mike Singletary has done some good things, but I think it will unravel some in the next month. Arizona will win the NFC West. The 49ers aren't good enough to be a wild-card team.

no question whatsoever that it's NFC West or bust, million to one odds of winning the wildcard - NFC is deep this year, it's the superior conference.

For what it's worth, I also get a bad feeling about Cincy (eleven point loss at home to the Texans, OT win over Cleveland and last drive miracle against Baltimore in last three games), although Ochocinco looks as good as he has in years. The Odom injury is a really big deal, and that team had been winning with defense. Not sold on Marvin Lewis as a coaching dynamo and Palmer (78.3 QB rating, 25th in the league, T-4th most INT) is quietly having a pretty bad year. At some point they'll have to lean on him and he won't be there. Anyway, I do this for my Clark Judge time, and here he comes.

Judge: Dallas. The Cowboys (3-2) have all sorts of troubles, from an inconsistent quarterback to a head coach under fire to an ordinary offensive line to a defense that has trouble covering the pass and doesn't force turnovers.

look what I just wrote! I understand the AFC is shallower than the NFC, but Palmer is way worse than Romo this year. Romo hasn't been great (86.5 QB rating), but it's in the neighbourhood of Cutler (86.9), Rivers (91.8) and Hasselbeck (85.0). Also, it's dragged down by games against the Giants (posted 29.6) and at Denver (best pass defense in the league? 67.1). That's two games, he's been great otherwise.

Dude is 29, prime of his career, it's weird to predict a tragic fall off right now. He has a lifetime 93.8 rating, three straight seasons of 90+, he's been extremely consistant historically and something that QB rating doesn't take into account and one of his strongest qualities, is how hard he is to sack. He's only been dropped 8 times in five games, which suggests his offensive line remains strong, contrary to Judge's claims. Dallas' O-Line has been a massive strength the last three seasons, and their running game is outstanding, despite a turnstile of backs. The only area they are poor in is too many dumb penalties, but this is relatively trivial. In fact, how could you call the success of the rushing game anything but the product of their O-Line, considering Barber has been in and out of the lineup and they've used three different guys back there? Dallas is third in rushing yards per game.

The problems against the pass do seem real, and worrying considering that they haven't played an elite QB yet (depending on your feeling on Manning). In fact, quite the opposite. They've taken on Leftwich, Delhomme,, I can be fair Judge, this is a good point. But hey, they still have DeMarcus Ware, Terence Newman and Ken Hamlin, the turnovers fall in the same category let's not freak out just yet.

Now you add the Cowboys' division, the NFC East.

can someone, please, tell me what's supposed to be so fucking great about Philadelphia? I remember when I worked as a bookie, their lines were always absolutely silly. They aren't that great! They've beaten Carolina (in the Delhomme blowup to start the season), Kansas City and Tampa Bay (the same three as the Cowboys, I grant you). They were killed by New Orleans, IN Philly, by 26, and lost to the fucking Raiders last week if you didn't notice, where Andy Reid essentially did the football equivalent of banging his head on a brick wall. Here's something for you Judge, these two teams are even in victories right now, but there's one big difference. Dallas have played their Denver game, Philly have played their Oakland game. That's a one game swing right there. By the way, you talk about quarterback inconsistancies/controversy, McNabb just passed 46 times, completed 22 of them, and didn't score a TD last week, with Kevin Kolb and rabid Eagles fans down his neck.

They are also mad injury prone. So yes, about that division, it's one of the more mediocre in the league, stop living in the past!

Dallas is no better than the third-best team there, and that's trouble if you're looking at a wild card. You figure you're up against teams like the Giants or Eagles, the Falcons and probably the Bears or Packers. The Cowboys aren't better than any of those teams, though it's a close call with Chicago and Green Bay.

but the 49er's are? They have yet to win outside their division btw.

The problem is you're talking about two spots, and I give one to the NFC East runner-up and the other to the NFC South runner-up. Now you look at Dallas' schedule, and three of its last five games are on the road -- including the Giants and New Orleans. So the Cowboys make an unexpected late charge against those teams? I don't think so.

yeah but there is more to life than the last five games. Philly and Dallas' schedules have been remarkably similar so far, but there's a difference I mentioned above and the fact the Eagles have a second place schedule. So don't lecture me about schedules.

Who's the top wide receiver in the NFL?

Prisco: That's easy. It's Houston's Andre Johnson. I've banged that drum loudly the past year, but most everyone contested that idea by saying it was Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals. Much of those assessments were based on what Fitzgerald did in the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Not many people watch Johnson. If they did, they would see a big, strong, physical and fast receiver. Johnson is averaging 15.9 yards on his 36 catches. He has four touchdowns and eight 20-plus plays.

just like Randy Moss, who has been weirdly forgotten/taken for granted. I love Johnson (Fitz too, but less so) but Randy Moss should have this spot until conclusively proven otherwise. You may believe he has been overtaken, but conclusively? In the words of Jules Winnfield, allow me to retort!

No one in the league has caught more passes for a first down than Moss (28) and it's a pretty substantial margin to Fitz (23) and Johnson (22). He also has more receptions (38) than Johnson (36) despite being thrown to less (58-66). It's still Moss, and I don't really mind arguments for these other two guys, who are both money, it's just, it seems to me in the NFL, that ideas get taken up and just assumed to be the case.

The Eagles are good. The Cowboys aren't terrible (they seriously are not, and even if they have been, they are 3-2, coming off a bye to work it out, would you be that surprised if they pulled off four or five in a row now? I wouldn't). It's Johnson/Fitz and so on. Copycat league? Copycat press.

He is the reason the Houston offense operates at a high level.

I apprieciate Schaub is no Brady, but Maroney is no Slaton either.

Matt Schaub is putting up enormous numbers, and Johnson is the reason.

well he's a big reason, the most important reason, but what about Owen Daniels (14th in league in receptions, T-1st amongst TE in touchdowns, both more than vaunted Dallas Clark) or Slaton (2 receiving TDs and 4 20+ catches, which is the same as Larry Fitzgerald, trails only Ray Rice in receiving amongst backs). I'm just asking for a comprehensive analysis here.

He gets doubled all the time, yet can still make plays. That's the sign of a star player. My second choice is Fitzgerald...

course it is, because you have no originality and are lazy. Judge is actually ok here, boring, lazy, superficial, but ok relatively speaking.

Anyway, that'll do for this week's Faceoff...really more an excuse for me to rant here than actually attacking these guys, but that's a nice change of gears sometimes I guess.


Bengoodfella said...

I think I really love Faceoff. You know, you are never supposed to say anything negative about the AFC. They are the superior conference and there is never supposed to be any type of debate over this.

Alex Smith is no backup plan. I think the 49ers should stick with Shaun Hill for a little longer. It's not like he has a ton of weapons outside of Vernon Davis to throw to.

I hate to defend Romo, and he can be inconsistent like pretty much any QB not named Manning and Brady, but he has a consistent history of playing well over the course of the season. Really, the offensive line has been a source of strength for the Cowboys as well. I am with you, I think they could end up going on a roll at some point this season.

Great point about Clark Judge ignoring McNabb's inconsistencies. I don't hate McNabb but at a certain point I think Kolb will get a longer look if McNabb has another bad game or two. The Eagles are a good team but that loss to the Raiders and getting blown out by the Saints at home is sort of scary.

Interesting idea that Moss is still the best receiver in the NFL. You don't hear that very often and I don't think I would rank him up there, but your numbers do seem to make a point there could be an argument made for him. I would probably try and say Andre Johnson as well honestly because I didn't even know Moss could still be in the discussion.

While Johnson has a lesser QB throwing to him than Moss, he does have a better RB in Slaton and a better TE in Daniels than the Patriots RBs and TEs.

RuleBook said...

Romo's 8 sacks are more of a comment on him rather than his line. Two years ago, this line was excellent. This season, they are playing poorly. Romo is amazing at escaping pressure and making something out of nothing. He is under duress every play. The line is no longer that great.

I will say, however, that I have seen fewer backfield hits on running backs this year than in previous years, so maybe they've decided to run block this year and forget about pass blocking.

The Cowboys schedule is brutal. In their last 5 games (all in December), they play SD (who hasn't lost in December since 2005), NYG, NO, and PHI. Those are 4 losses (PHI may not be great, but they always beat Dallas in December). That puts their ceiling record at 10-6. They still have games against the Falcons and Packers, which they could easily lose. Thus, they likely finish between 8-8 and 10-6, and with the NFC as deep as it is this year, I don't see them making the playoffs.

My guess is that the Giants win the NFC East, someone wins the NFC West, the Saints and Falcons both go from the South, and two of the top three from the North go.

Bengoodfella said...

I think the Dallas line is great at run blocking but not so great at pass blocking. Not to make you feel worse but that is how the Panthers line is set up as well and it is frustrating. I think that explains both of those things you were talking about.

Even if the Cowboys have a 10-6 record I think that could be better than the Eagles record, but it is true the Cowboys do have a tough road ahead of them. I believe them to be a better team than the Eagles though.

I think your playoff projections are correct.

Go said...

Every team should look at what Oakland's defense did to Philly last week. It appeared they blitzed 40-50% of the time and at all angles. Phi's O-line was brutal and McNabb does not have the wheels anymore to get away.

The playoffs as I see it:
#1 NO
#2 Minn
#3 NYG
#4 Arizona/SF
#5 Atlanta
#6 Green Bay

#1 Indianapolis
#2 Denver
#3 New England
#4 Cincinnati
#5 Pittsburgh
#6 Baltimore/Houston

RuleBook said...

My predictions:

1 - NO
2 - MIN
3 - NYG
4 - ARI
5 - ATL
6 - CHI

1 - IND
2 - DEN
3 - MIA
4 - BAL
5 - NE
6 - PIT

Yes, Miami wins the AFC East again. You heard me!

Bengoodfella said...

I love predictions.

Let me go with (and go ahead and write these down in stone):


1- NO
2- NYG
3- Minn
4- Ariz
5- Atl
6- Dal


1- Ind
2- NE
3- Den
4- Balt
5- NYJ
6- Cincy

I reserve the right to change these predictions based on whether it looks like I will be right or not.

J.S. said...

I will send a $20 AUS checque if San Francisco makes the playoffs. Anyone wanna make that bet with me? Like the article said who is most likely to miss the's totally San Fran right? Wanna take that bet with me, I'll give you my email and home adress...

Fred Trigger said...

I'll take you up on that.

Bengoodfella said...

I just talk about wanting to gamble, I don't actually gamble so I would probably lose this bet. The 49ers would go on a 11 game winning streak to end the season or something.

J.S. said...

Fred -

AJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AJ said...

oh a prediction game!!!

NFC (i've already stated my thoughts on Minny in another post):

1. NO
2. NYG
3. Min
4. Zona (no other team in the west is any good)
5. Atlanta (will finish with a better record then Zona)
6. GB (will beat out Chicago in a tie breaker)

1. Indy
2. NE
3. Den
4. Pitt
5. Balt
6. SD (I think they make a late push, like always...and beat out Cincy in a tie breaker)

I think the last two spots in the AFC are up for grabs...I can see Houston making it, Cincy, Jacksonville, Balt, or SD...