Saturday, August 28, 2010

Boo hoo Peyton

In keeping with the recent trend of bizarre time lines, we'll look forward to Saturdays games first, then look back at Fridays action, But first I just wish to chortle further at Peyton Manning's misery. The Colts are complaining that because of the new placement of one of the umpires (one of the few good improvements we've seen under Goodell) that the Colts are getting flagged excessively for false starts. Being that this rule has so far only had a major impact on one team I'm intrigued to see if the league does anything about it. It is the Colts after all. I'm also amazed that Manning can bitch about this when his team has been more than generously provided for in recent years by officiating crews regarding pass interference calls, namely the sometimes pathetic defensive calls that the Colts get in their favour while simultaneously getting away with offensive pass interference (so called 'pick plays') so regularly that I suspect we may one day look back at them and refer to them as 'Colts specials' plays. Anyway, on with the games: -- Browns @ Lions: The Jake Delhomme/Seneca Wallace battle rages on as the Browns drop in for a visit with their fellow bottom dwellers. If anyone got better in the off season then it was the Lions. It's a sad testament to just how bad they've been recently that even with the addition of a 3x pro bowl Defensive End, a second overall pick at Defensive Tackle - plus numerous other upgrades - the Lions are still a terrible football team. To a degree anyway. Their defense is still suspect and that remains the major problem. Like the Saints of 2008 (and 2010?) they often have few troubles scoring, but all kinds of problems stopping other people scoring in return. Hopefully for Lions fans the Browns will solve that inconvenient problem, 'cos lets face it, they're hardly a dominating offense. They're slowly scraping a run game together, but they have nothing else to back it up. Their idea of a down field game consists of Josh Cribbs returning punts and kicks, or catching screen passes. It's getting better, but the rate of increase is probably not enough to stop the Lions. -- Bengals @ Bills: Batman and Robin come to visit the frozen tundra hideout of Mr. Freeze. I've realised in the run up to this game that Twitter does indeed have a use; it allows defensive backs to write checks their play may not be able to cash. Drayton Florence laid down the challenge to the Bengals dynamic duo of receivers and it's sure to be a gauntlet that Ochocino and Owens will want to pick up. The Bills pass defense was among the best in the league last year (I don't think I'll ever get used to saying that) and so provides the perfect test for Palmer and the Bengals. The Bills on the other hand will be wishing they had their own dynamic duo. They still have no standouts among their receiving corps to compete with (or even just prod) Lee Evans, so again much of their play making ability will fall on the shoulders of running back C.J. Spiller and their defense (Jairus Byrd prime among them). It doesn't say a lot about your offense when you're relying on Roscoe Parrish to return special teams plays for TDs. -- Jaguars @ Buccaneers: A 3rd year QB takes over from a 2nd year QB to lead one of the worst franchises in the league. And surprisingly, I'm not even talking about the Jaguars. I am of course referring to the injury to Bucs' QB Josh Freeman that will sideline him and leave the door open for Josh Johnson in what might be his best opportunity to win a starting job in Tampa. I like Johnson. He is one of those quarterbacks who can make plays with his feet and can throw pretty well too. What he could really use now is some plays by his young but promising receivers. For the Jaguars it's the never ending quest to find a way to not suck such b***s on defense. Last weeks performance was much improved given their terrible record rushing the passer last year, but was it a flash in the pan or can the Jaguars indeed find some consistency? What they could really do with is playing a quarterback who's had limited playing time so far in his career... ah! -- Giants @ Ravens: We find out what Rhett Bomar is really made of against the Ravens D. Let's not beat around the bush; even with a depleted secondary, this is still going to be a tough ask for Rhett. Chances are that Manning wont play. If he does then his snaps will be very limited so it's up to Mr. Bomar to find a way past the likes of Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed. Good luck with that. The Giants looked under a rock last week and found what they suspect might be their running game, but only time will tell if it's back to business as usual for Earth and Fire (if you don't get that, not to worry). For the Ravens there will be a target on Joe Flaccos back. That seems like a fairly obvious thing to say, but the Giants are still looking to get back to their old ways with their pass rush. Taking down the vaunted 'Air Flacco' would be a big boost to their season, so Joe had better keep his eyes on them hot routes. Hoping to see a bit more of Tight End Dennis Pitta and maybe some Anquan Boldin reviving his Arizona days in the screen game. -- Cowboys @ Texans: Texas goes to war (now there's a surprise) as dull offense and tight D take on explosive Offense and sieve like D. Obviously the Texans aren't going to be mistaken for having a tight defense, so we'll start with them. Watching them play New Orleans last week you can't help but wonder if the Texans have ever heard of the phrase "block destruction". Their D-line looked for all the world like "block constructors" last week, so that definitely has to be improved this week if they're not to get trashed by a Cowboys offense that has so far failed to kick start its rushing attack. Most interesting will be when the Texans O takes the field. Can they off set the play of their defense by breaking down the Cowboys D? The Texans are very pass heavy still as their RB situation hasn't progressed the way they'd hoped this off season. That plays right into the hands of DeMarcus Ware and DT Jay Ratliff, so don't be surprised to see plenty of clips of Matt Schaub hauling himself up from the turf. -- Seahawks @ Vikings: Maybe Frasier can finally talk Favre into retiring. The ancient one is raised from his coffin once more, this time to fight back Seattle and their fearsome Defense! Oh wait... sorry I forgot, Seattle doesn't have a defense. But then the Vikings are rapidly running out of offense, as Favre drains the life force of the youngest players around him in order to sustain himself for one more season. Bernard Berrian isn't quite the desperation receiver some are making him out to be, but things are looking grim in Minnesota. Not that the Seahawks can laugh. Almost every time that Matt Hasselbeck slips off the field for a quick gatorade break, the Seahawks offense collapses like a bridge made from damp cigarette papers. Their sole bright spot in a sea of gloom has been the return to fitness and the field of RB Leon Washington. On a side note, Russell Okung gets a nice test of his skills against the Vikings pass rush. -- Titans @ Panthers: Under rated Titans take on Chris's favourite team (haha). When the Titans stormed to the play offs on the back of of a ten game winning streak, it was Chris Johnson and LenDale White that led the charge. It was only when they hit the play offs and inexplicably decided that Kerry Collins had suddenly morphed into Joe Montana that things went awry. LenDale is gone, but luckily his particular skill set (being big and running with a low pad level) is easily replicated by backs like Javon Ringer and LaGarrette Blount. Thus the Titans march on through the pre-season. The Panthers are in a slightly tighter spot. They still have DeAngelo Williams and will get the excellent Jonathan Stewart back with plenty of time to kick butt. But they also have Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen. Neither is quite living up to their billing so far and herein lies the problem. The obvious choice is to grind it out through the season on the ground and hope that an improving defense can hold strong. But that's precisely what the Panthers refused to do last season - foiling my picks at every turn in the process - hence why I hate them so much. Go Titans. -- Cardinals @ Bears: Two craptacular quarterbacks flame out in style. So Leinart has been benched then? At least the Hindenberg had an air of class about it before finally going down. Enter then Derek Anderson, the saviour of Arizona. If you listen really carefully, you can hear the Browns fans laughing from here. And time for a bold prediction I think; Whisenhunt decides to go Steeler-style on the Bears a**es, pounding the rock with Wells and Hightower while unleashing play-action bombs to Fitzgerald, Doucet and Breaston down the field. And it works... The Bears have the duel problem of trying to find a way to stop Jay Cutler throwing the ball away in the red zone while also finding a way to stop Matt Forte getting stuffed for no gain. Easy as that then. The Cardinals D has adapted well to the loss of some key players so this will hardly be a walk in the park for the Bears. I'm expecting D-R-Cromartie to fill his boots in this one. -- 49ers @ Oakland: Almost akin to saying Jets @ Giants, but without the unwarranted media hyperbole. Again, another reason to like pre-season. You get rivalry match ups on a consistent basis. And without JaMarcus Rustle-me-up-some-codeine at the helm anymore, the Raiders will be eyeing a chance to knock off their highly touted neighbours (at least, as highly touted as you can be coming from the NFC West). And unlike the Jets, the Raiders have their prize corner locked in. The 49ers will be looking to take the reins off "The Gore" or "The Inconvenient Truth", depending on your personal stance. Anthony Dixon has taken a pounding so far as the 49ers try to bring him up to speed and test his readiness. I'm expecting Michael Crabtree to be fully unleashed as well this week. The 49ers have done well in their two pre-season wins so far, but the reliance on the defense to keep the score down to manageable levels is worrying (see Redskins circa. 2009 season). And that - as they say - is that. Now, recap time. I'm afraid that will have to wait till tomorrow as my eyes feel like they're about to fall off my face. Have a great day everyone.

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