Monday, October 22, 2012

8 comments ...Our Pets' Head Are Falling Off!: Week 7

San Francisco 49ers 13 Seattle Seahawks 6

I had no doubt the 49ers were going to come out and give an excellent defensive performance in this game. The Seahawks are also a good defensive team, so this was pretty much the game I expected it to be. Let's just say I wasn't starting any offensive players in my fantasy leagues for this game if I could help it. Alex Smith was efficient and didn't have to do too much because Frank Gore ran the ball so effectively. The "Russell Wilson is just so amazing and is a dedication to small quarterbacks everywhere" train took a derail this week, but that isn't completely unexpected. He's a rookie and these things happen. The 49ers are such a good defensive team but I would be lying if I didn't think the fact they are what I call "a formula team" won't hold them back at some point in the playoffs. They have a formula for winning and while it works to win games, good teams can ruin this formula for the 49ers. Run the ball, play great defense and don't force their quarterback into long third downs or situations where he has to win the game on his own. That's the formula. They can obviously win games if this formula is off, but it greatly decreases their chances. It's not a knock on them, but just an acknowledgement of how they lean on their running game and their defense. Alex Smith isn't a terrible quarterback, but more times than not the 49ers can't have the game be in his hands to win. Anytime someone says, "You need an elite quarterback to win a Super Bowl" someone scoffs and says, "What about Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson." They are the outliers. Look at the names of the winning quarterbacks in the Super Bowl since 1980.

Eli Manning
Aaron Rodgers
Peyton Manning
Drew Brees
Ben Roethlisberger
Tom Brady
Brad Johnson
Kurt Warner
Trent Dilfer
John Elway
Brett Favre
Troy Aikman
Steve Young
Mark Rypien
Jeff Hostetler
Joe Montana
Doug Williams
Phil Simms
Jim McMahon

The non-elite quarterback names on this list are Jim McMahon, Doug Williams, Jeff Hostetler, Mark Rypien, Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson.

McMahon and Dilfer had historically great defenses behind them.

Brad Johnson was the game-winning quarterback for the Bucs, whose coach (Jon Gruden) knew nearly every play the opposing team (the Raiders) were running and how to counter their personnel in that Super Bowl since Gruden was the head coach for the Raiders just a year before. Johnson played well, but the Bucs had a clear advantage over the Raiders due to Gruden's knowledge of the Raiders offense and defense.

So there are three non-elite quarterbacks over the last 25 years who won the Super Bowl without a historically good defense (and the Giants behind Hostetler had an all-time great defensive performance in that Super Bowl, they also had some great individual defensive players) or an outlying circumstance that gave one team an advantage over the other have won the Super Bowl. So the question remains for the 49ers is whether their defense is historically good or not, or if Alex Smith can be really good when he needs to be. I'm not saying he can't, I am just saying he isn't an elite quarterback and that is usually what it takes to win the Super Bowl. I'm not getting excited about Alex Smith consistently being the guy who can win games for the 49ers and repeating his performance against the Saints in the playoffs last year. Smith is like tricking-out an old model Buick Skylark (which I saw the other day). It looks new because of all the modifications done and the hard work put into it, but at the end of the day it is still an older model Buick Skylark.

Houston Texans 43 Baltimore Ravens 13

The Texans bounced back nicely against the Ravens. Joe Flacco further proved his status as the one of the elite inconsistent quarterbacks in the NFL by leading the Ravens to 176 total yards of offense. I know the story is going to be that the Ravens miss Ray Lewis, but they were giving up a lot of points to teams before Ray Lewis got injured. I don't know if I can predict a free fall for the Ravens like others probably can, but it seems to be me like the Ravens offense is going to have to carry more of the load than they are used to. I guess we will find out if Joe Flacco is really an elite quarterback or not by his performance over the rest of this year. I'm not sure the Texans are still an great defensive team or not, but they certainly looked like it against the Ravens. It's hard when the opposing team is able to score at will on your defense, so I probably shouldn't put much of the blame or sarcasm on the Ravens offense. I still have questions about the Texans ability to throw the ball well if the running game isn't working due to a lack of threats outside of Andre Johnson, but when they can run the ball it really opens up the field for Schaub to throw the ball off play-action. They are very, very hard to beat when they can run the ball and are able to put pressure on the opposing offense with their pass rush. They don't look so threatening when they can't run the ball well, but I guess I should tell that to the Ravens and explain how exactly they are supposed to prevent Houston from running the ball. It's one thing to see the problem and another thing to be able to correct the problem.

Tennessee Titans 35 Buffalo Bills 34

I guess I was wrong a few weeks ago when I said Chris Johnson was done running well for the year. He went crazy against the Bills for 195 yards, though it has to be acknowledged the Bills defense isn't very good. So it was the non-moving object against the non-resistant force in this game. Ryan Fitzpatrick giveth and he taketh away again. Fitzpatrick played well for most of the game, but then he had an interception and a fumble lost late in the game. He just can't help it. He has to do just enough to help his team win and lose the game. Matt Hasselbeck subbed in nicely for Jake Locker and he sort of has the Titans moving in the right direction. That is two straight weeks of comeback victories for him. The Bills defense simply can't stop the run or the pass at this point. I'm not sure how Dave Wannstedt keeps his job after this season or even during this season for that matter. Not that the Titans are anything special obviously, but it seems to me (as an admitted outsider) the Buffalo defense should be able to stop the run at the very least better than they are doing. It's funny because there isn't a lot of drop-off in the Titans offense when Jake Locker isn't playing quarterback. Maybe that speaks to how good of a backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is or maybe it says Locker is about on the same level as Hasselbeck at this point in his career. I'm going to go ahead and count Chris Johnson out again for the rest of this year and say he doesn't hit 1000 yards rushing on the season. He may not even hit 900 yards rushing. He can't play the Bills every week, as much as he would like to.

Indianapolis Colts 17 Cleveland Browns 13

After taking a week off from helping the Colts win games for Chuck Pagano, God showed up again on Sunday and helped the Colts to beat the Browns as a tribute to Pagano. It seems God hates the Browns (which I am sure Browns fans already knew) and the Packers. All sarcasm aside, it is nice to hear Pagano is out of the hospital. Grandpa Weeden played pretty well yesterday, but he didn't get much help from his teammates. Trent Richardson was injured and ineffective and after that there was no running game for the Browns. Andrew Luck did his best running quarterback impression and ran for two touchdowns, which was pretty much all the Colts needed to win this game. Josh Gordon dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone that would have put the Browns ahead for good, but that's one of the issues when you have a young team, drops and mistakes like that happen. The Browns just hope the rookies are able to grow into the game and build something great 3-4 years down the road right around the time Brandon Weeden is looking to retire/collect Social Security. I would mention Andrew Luck and how great he was, but it goes without saying that he was his typical Hall of Fame self.

Green Bay Packers 30 St. Louis Rams 20

Aaron Rodgers threw seven incomplete passes in this game against a pretty good Rams secondary. That's impressive. Rodgers picked on Janoris Jenkins a lot in the game and it is unfortunate since the Rams have Jenkins' personal life all straightened out for him, they couldn't also have taken care of covering the Packers receivers for him as well. Really, the Rams need to be a better full service organization. Jenkins can't be expected to do everything. The Packers were 9-15 on third down, which seems like a pretty reliable way to win a football game. If the opposing team can't keep you from converting on third down then there's a pretty good chance to win the game. Rodgers has put all talk of a slump to rest over the past few weeks, while Sam Bradford didn't play poorly either. Bradford threw for 255 yards and seemed to be in control of the offense. Good thing for Rams fans they have a home game next week in England. The Rams even get to play the Patriots in England, which is doubly good news. Not only do the Rams lose a home game this year (after this game was overrun by those mysterious Packers fans that seemingly cheer for the home team when the Packers aren't in town but cheer for the Packers when they show up in's just my experience, I'm not saying it is true everywhere), but they also get to play Tom Brady and the Patriots in England. Gosh, I love how the NFL is expanding like this and rewarding loyal Rams fans for cheering on their team. Fuck you Rams fans, not only do you lose a home game, but you miss a chance to see Tom Brady play in your home stadium. The NFL appreciates your support and wishes you would kiss their ass.

Minnesota Vikings 21 Arizona Cardinals 14

Haven't these two teams played like twice already this year? I swear they have. Anyway, the NFL is a cruel little bitch. Both teams committed two turnovers. The Cardinals had 356 yards of offense and the Vikings had 209 yards of offense. The Vikings quarterback threw for 58 yards and the Cardinals quarterback threw for 262 yards. So how did the Cardinals lose this game? Of course it helped the Vikings that Harrison Smith got a pick-6 and Adrian Peterson ran for over 150 yards, so maybe that had something to do with it. Christian Ponder said the statement of the game in my opinion,

"To win an ugly game like this is huge. That shows how good of a team we are," said Ponder, who finished 8 for 17 for 58 yards and two interceptions.

Yes, only having 209 yards of offense and still managing to win the game does show what kind of team the Vikings are. They are a team that somehow managed to win a game when they played badly and only had the ball for 25 minutes in the game. Minnesota is a team that has to play better than this next time out. That's the kind of team they are. This win is the result of the Vikings defense playing lights-out against the Cardinals by sacking John Skelton seven times. It's almost like the Cardinals need offensive line help. If only there were a draft full of college offensive linemen where they could get such a high quality player to help protect their quarterback. Oh well, it is nothing but a pipe dream it seems, there is only an NFL Draft where the Cardinals can draft from a pool of available wide receivers like Michael Floyd. The Cardinals offensive line doesn't even have the excuse they couldn't run the ball to explain the seven sacks since Levon Howling-Drowlings-Poole-Quartermaine (fine, it is Stephens-Howling) ran for 100 yards in this game.

New York Giants 27 Washington Redskins 23

At this point can the Giants just pretty much throw a touchdown pass any time they want to? I ask this only because it seems like whenever the Giants need a long touchdown pass they are able to connect on one. It must be nice to have a competent quarterback throwing the football and great set of receivers he can throw the ball to. I have to say, while I have criticized Mike Shanahan a lot over the past few years, he is pretty good at finding running backs later in the draft. Alfred Morris has been really good so far this year. He ran for over 100 yards this week. Of course the story of this game was how Robert Griffin played against the Giants. He only had eight incomplete passes and also ran for 89 yards. One of the reasons I don't care about NFL players talking shit during the week, like Jason Pierre-Paul did this week, is no one remembers what was said after the game is over. The media blows these words or threats during the week up as if they have actual ramifications when they don't. Earlier this week Pierre-Paul warned Griffin against running on his side, and what do you know, Griffin eluded Pierre-Paul on a crucial fourth down and then threw a 19 yard pass to convert the first down. It turns out Griffin can run to this side. Pierre-Paul's words are just bluster and few people remember what he said at this point. For me, the Giants are the team to beat in the NFC. If I were a Giants fan I would probably feel better if the Giants played poorly now and played better towards the end of the season. That seems to be their formula to win a Super Bowl.

New Orleans Saints 35 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28

I guess it is official that the Saints defense still isn't very good. They gave up 513 yards to the Buccaneers offense and could have lost the game in overtime if Mike Williams had not illegally touched the football after stepping out of bounds when Josh Freeman was out of the pocket. That's not a rule I entirely understand, but it seems like a defender's best move near the end zone is once the quarterback leaves the pocket to push the receiver out of bounds so he can't be the first to touch the football, meaning not be eligible to catch a touchdown pass. Jonathan Vilma came back and though God didn't help the Saints win the game solely because of Vilma's return, it appears Vilma was able to lift the Saints up and help them in the victory through his speeches and moral support. This doesn't sound at all like bullshit that is completely made up to explain why the Saints won this game,

"It's awesome to have him back," receiver Lance Moore said. "To go through the things that he's gone through individually, then to just kind of break through and get a chance to get out there, be with his teammates -- he spoke to us last night, got us all fired up, and we had to come out here and play well."

The Saints HAD to come out here and play well. Why did they have to do this, you ask? Because Vilma said he was going to pay any Saints player $1000 to injure a fellow teammate who didn't play well against the Buccaneers. What a motivator that Vilma is. Vincent Jackson went bananas and had 216 yards receiving, which would impress me more had it not come against the Saints secondary. I think it is clear the Saints need to ride Brees out the rest of this year and hope he can simply outscore the opposing teams enough for them to get back in the playoff hunt.

Win: Dallas Cowboys 19 (3-3)
Loss: Carolina Panthers 14 (1-5)
Save: NFL Officials (1)

Even though I just posted that really whiny score above, let me make clear I absolutely do not think Carolina lost this game because of poor officiating. I do think poor officiating took away three opportunities Carolina had to win the game. It's very difficult to come back after three bad calls go against a team in the last 2 minutes and 11 seconds of a game. The Cowboys took care of winning this game and the officials helped to seal the victory. Let me explain and have every Cowboys fan who reads this blog comment angrily to disagree with me. On fourth down with 2 minutes and 11 seconds in the game, the Cowboys were changing personnel. Cam Newton saw this and hurried up a play which was complete to Greg Olsen for the first down. As Olsen caught the ball, the officials blew the whistle and signaled the Cowboys had called timeout. It didn't seem to me like the Cowboys got the timeout called before the play was called and witnesses (admittedly biased) at the game indicated the timeout was called after the play was running. Oh well. Then after the timeout Morris Claiborne committed pass interference (at least from my biased point of view) and the Panthers weren't able to complete the pass. Dallas got the ball back and then the officials called a phantom horse-collar tackle on James Anderson on second down when he stopped Phillip Tanner for no gain, which gave the Cowboys a first down. What can you do? Dallas is self-proclaimed "America's Team." Guess you can't expect calls to go your way when going up against America's Team when your team stinks.

Tony Romo was really good in this game and proved why he tends to get more blame than necessary for the Cowboys losses. If the Cowboys had lost this game it wasn't because of Romo. Winners win and losers lose. The Cowboys' offensive line did an excellent job keeping Romo clean all day and I think the only time he got his uniform dirty is when he may have spilled a drop of Gatorade on it while standing on the sidelines. The story this week is that Romo knows how to win close games, let's see if the media chooses to follow this narrative a few weeks from now.

Oakland Raiders 26 Jacksonville Jaguars 23

As I have never said, you don't want to give Carson Palmer a chance to comeback against you and the Jaguars gave Palmer a chance to comeback. The big story in this game was that Chad Henne got a chance to prove he is not the answer to the Blaine Gabbert Question. The Jaguars were 1-15 on third down and Henne performed slightly worse than Gabbert did in this game. So for Jags fans who clamor for Henne, you got him and now you can go back to clamoring for Geno Smith or whichever college quarterback savior you have your eye on this year. I know it is his first year in Jacksonville, but for a guy known as an offensive coach, Mike Mularky's team doesn't seem to gain a lot of yards on offense. Granted, it doesn't help when Maurice Jones-Drew gets injured and barely plays. The Jaguars offense has to be better than this though. At this point, Jags fans won't give a shit if all of the home games are played overseas, just as long as they don't have to pay to watch Jacksonville play (yes, I realize this was a road game for the Jags). The Jags defense didn't play terribly through the first half, but started to give up touchdowns after that. It's hard to pin this on the Jags defense when the Jags offense fumbles in overtime and easily sets up the Raiders to win the game. This sounds crazy, and I know I jokingly linked Gruden to the Cowboys last week, but I wonder if the Jags are going to fire Mularky (if they fire him, which I have no idea if they will or won't) and then go after a big name coach? It makes sense from a PR perspective and the Jags seemingly need someone to turn the momentum of the franchise around.

New England Patriots 29 New York Jets 26

Mark Sanchez blew another game for the Jets. He failed to block well enough to prevent himself from fumbling the ball and this enabled the Patriots to kick the game-winning field goal in overtime. All joking aside, Sanchez had played fairly well until that point and dealt with a Stephen Hill drop that could have helped the Jets win this game in regulation. Of course if Sanchez had hit Hill in stride earlier in the game then the Jets would have had a touchdown, and instead the ball was intercepted by Alonzo Dennard. Tom Brady was his usual efficient self and the difference in this game was the Jets turned the ball over when they couldn't afford to and the Patriots did not. I am sure this game will just give more fuel to the crowd who wants ex-backup quarterback punt protector Jets to get more snaps as the first team quarterback, but this loss wasn't completely on Sanchez. I'm just happy this was a good game because the NFL was so intelligent to only schedule two 4:25pm games on Sunday and if this was a blowout then we would be stuck with Jacksonville-Oakland (which was actually a good game as well).

Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Cincinnati Bengals 17

Yet again, the Bengals have a chance to prove they can beat good teams and they fail to beat a good team. The Steelers were missing their top two running backs and Troy Polamalu, but they still had Ben Roethlisberger, which seems to be good enough to win games. Jonathan Dwyer got confused and thought he was back at Georgia Tech running the triple-option and accidentally ran for 122 yards. Andy Dalton was fairly mediocre in passing for only 105 yards, even on a night when he didn't get sacked. The Steelers weren't even that sharp in the first half and the Bengals still couldn't build up a lead in order to win the game in the second half. The Steelers held A.J. Green to one catch and the Bengals weren't able to run the ball too well on the ground as well. This game re-taught me two things:

1. I don't count the Steelers out no matter how many injuries they have, because they have two important parts of a great football team. Great coaching and a great quarterback.

2. The Bengals are fakers until further notice. I don't mean to be hard on them, and while the Bengals have made the playoffs over the last two seasons, but they haven't consistently shown they can't beat good teams in the playoffs. This bleeds over to the regular season as well it seems.

The Steelers are annoyingly effective. They lose a road game to the Titans, and then while being short-handed, win a road game against the Bengals. I guess there goes part of the "The Steelers can't win a game on the road" narrative.


Anonymous said...

Indianapolis Colts 17 Cleveland Browns 13

Is there any doubt that the botched extra point in this game was a warning from the "Football Gods" to Peter King? Letting him know that making Easterbrookian, blanket statements such as "extra points never affect games" will not be tolerated?

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I think that is the only conclusion we can draw at this point. The football gods are displeased at the multiple use of haikus and blanket statements.

rich said...

"You need an elite quarterback to win a Super Bowl" someone scoffs and says, "What about Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson."

You can win a Super Bowl with them, but you sure as hell have a top 10 all-time defense. You aren't winning shit with Trent Dilfer and the NO Saints defense.

The other thing that gets overlooked is that Dilfer had Jamaal Lewis and Brad Johnson wasn't a shit sad QB (he was a two time pro-bowler believe it or not) who had a HOF FB in Alstott.

Basically, you aren't winning a SB unless you're very good in both phases or you're all-time great at one and at least serviceable in the other.

historically great defenses behind them.

The Giants D that backed up Ole Jeffy to a SB wasn't too shabby either. Fewest points allowed (by 28), second in total yards and allowed the fewest first downs (by 6).

Oh and the coaching staff from that team included: Parcells, Belicheck and Coughlin.

I am just saying he isn't an elite quarterback and that is usually what it takes to win the Super Bowl.

I'm in a slightly different camp. I'm in the "you can win with him, but holy shit would it be easier if you got a better QB" camp. It's a long name, you should see our business cards.

If they stick with what works best for them - namely running the ball and forcing turnovers - they have a shot to win. That defense is championship quality, the running game is championship quality. The QB situation isn't ideal, but it's competent enough to get the job done if you can get the Alex Smith who isn't shitting himself on every pass.

Alfred Morris has been really good so far this year. He ran for over 100 yards this week

The Giants cannot stop the run. I do not know how they are so bad at this, but they are very bad at it. Right now, they are allowing five yards a carry. That's a big 5.0 yards per carry. Good for third in the league, behind Buffalo and Atlanta.

However, teams are only averaging 25 carries a game against them, so their total yards allowed isn't terrible.

Moral of the story: Giants' defense is going to get it's ass kicked for the next decade by RGIII and a Shanny led rushing attack.

the Giants played poorly now and played better towards the end of the season.

This is actually their MO. Last year they were 6-2 through week 8 and then went on a 4 game losing streak.

They were also 6-2 through week 8 of the 2007 season. Then promptly went 4-4 to finish the year.

So what I'm saying is the Giants could easily lose their last 9 games. They play each divisional team plus:

Baltimore, GB, Cincinnati, Pitt, NO and Atlanta.

Despite their 5-2 record, I doubt they finish with more than 10 wins.

poor officiating

Ya, as much as the replacement refs sucked, this was not a good week for the regular officials.

During the Niners game, they called a penalty of Patrick Willis... while he was on the sidelines injured.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, that Baltimore 2000 defense was incredible. They did have a strong running game also, which helped them a lot. Part of the reason I'm not betting on SF is I don't know if that is a historically good defense or not. If anything, they do fit the Baltimore model a little bit.

Brad Johnson wasn't a bad QB, but I wouldn't consider him elite by any measure. Still, he is probably better than Alex Smith, which goes back to the main point.

I almost added in who the coaching staff was, but didn't want to make it seem like I was saying the '90 Giants had a good defense simply b/c of the coaching staff. They did have a good coaching staff though with two of the best coaches of the last 30 years and Parcells (see what I did there?) on staff.

They have a quality running game and a quality defense, but I don't believe Alex Smith won't shit the bed. I believe if the running game and defense take another step further and become better than maybe the 49ers could win the Super Bowl, but at this point they are going to dominate bad teams, but good teams are going to be able to put pressure on Smith to throw.

What helps the Giants is they can score points so quickly, other teams don't have a chance to run on them as much. I don't know how they are so bad at stopping the run, but they did a pretty good job against San Francisco at stopping their run prior to San Fran giving up on the run.

As a Giants fan, you want them to only finish with 9-11 wins, right? It's good luck sort of.

It was not a good week for the officials. I thought they blew the call against the Bucs, but they were right about that. I hate whining about officiating and that isn't why Carolina lost, but it certainly didn't help at the end.

waffleboy said...

Not to be picky, but if the list of Super Bowl quarterbacks goes back to 1980, where's Jim Plunkett? I'm pretty sure he won during that time period. I'm also pretty sure I had a lot more hair back then too.

Bengoodfella said...

Waffle, That's not picky. I was going to go back to 1980, but then decided against it and only went back the last 25 years. That's a mistake. If so, that would include Joe Theismann as well.

ivn said...

I think Mark Rypien is the real outlier there because he had a crazy career year in 1991 and never approached that again.

The other guys there won as caretakers who made plays when they had to, and Brady even straddles the line because the early-2000's Patriots teams were more conservative and defensive-minded and the 2004 team especially leaned on the running game. You could also include Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger's first Super Bowl victories in that category.

also, rich's comment about Alstott being a HOF fullback is kind of misleading — that 2002 Bucs team had an awful running game, as Gruden's teams usually did. everyone was shocked when Pittman ran as well as he did in that SB. they basically used a conservative passing game as a substitute for the run game. which makes sense considering he's a Walsh guy by way of Holmgren.

Picking the Niners isn't flying in the face of conventional wisdom so much as it is an assumption that the defense and running game would be good enough. and honestly, other than the Giants I don't know who I would take to beat them right now.

Bengoodfella said...

Ivn, that is true about New England's early Super Bowl victories and the Steelers won the 2005 Super despite of Roethlisberger. I will say this though, both Roethlisberger and Brady were young during those Super Bowls so I wouldn't compare them to Alex Smith. Neither Roethisberger or Brady were at their peak in those Super Bowls, while Alex Smith is essentially a veteran at this point and probably isn't going to improve drastically. Maybe it is a small difference.

Gruden did use the passing game as a running game, like with Charlie Garner.

I probably would take the Giants and the Falcons over the 49ers right now. I think the 49ers are a good team, and I have pretty much guaranteed they will win the Super Bowl now, but I think they have a ceiling.