Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thoughts for the week

Time to spin around the NFL and look at some of the things to consider heading into week 4:
-- The New York Giants are in disarray right now. Penalties & poor play have combined to really kick this team when they're down. I think most people thought the signing of former Bills defensive coordinator Perry Fewell would spark the Giants D into life, but it hasn't happened. Their pass rush is almost a non-factor and they're struggling to keep teams bottled up on the ground as well. With all the weapons they have on offense not making themselves count either, it's a grim forecast for week 4 as the Giants host a Bears team on a role.
-- But how good are the Bears? Chicago is in the odd situation of being 3-0 without having put out a stellar performance. If Calvin Johnson doesn't fumble the ball as he gets up to celebrate his TD, then the Bears would have sunk to the Lions in week 1. In week 2 they beat a sketchy Cowboys team but we can't really take that from them, then in week 3 they overcome a Packers team that throws away yardage, scores and interceptions with penalties. It's possible that the Bears might be the worst 3-0 team in recent history and could potentially become the worst 4-0 team this Sunday.
-- The Bengals travel to Cleveland this week and it's here that we get a great look at Carson Palmer and the passing offense. The Browns are not what most people would describe as a solid pass defense. The expectation in Cincinnati will be for Palmer to push 300+ yards against the Browns secondary. If he doesn't, the potential for sparks to fly is high.
-- The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens this week and it has "defensive battle" written all over it, which is just my kind of game. The Steelers D has been superb with Polamalu back in the line up. The Ravens haven't been too shabby themselves. The question then becomes a battle of the QB positions. Which Joe Flacco will we see this week? If the Steelers shut out Anquan Boldin, can Flacco find his other receivers consistently? And what about Charlie Batch? He tore up the Buccaneers D but how will he handle Ray Lewis and company?
-- New England travels to Miami on Monday night with a big cloud hanging over their heads. That defense looks terrible. Chad Henne showed against the Jets that he can pick on weak defenders and make good throws when given time. With the lack of a pass rush from the Patriots, Henne might just be a deciding factor in this game.
-- Kansas City 3-0? You'd better believe it. The combination of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones in the backfield, Dexter McCluster as a receiver and a special teams returner, plus some great defensive efforts from guys like Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Glenn Dorsey has made Kansas quite formidable across all three phases of the game. Not unbeatable - not by a long stretch - but very good none the less.
-- The Dallas Cowboys finally got a win on the board against a previously undefeated Houston, but how much can we read into it. The Texans were missing their starting left tackle which allowed DeMarcus Ware free reign to find the QB for three sacks and additional pressures. Can Dallas really repeat that show when they come back off their bye week (against the Titans at home)?
-- So Minnesota, where do we go from here? Brett Favre or Adrian Peterson. Someone has to take a back seat, so who's it going to be? The Vikings thrived behind the tough nosed running of AP against the Lions, while Favre still looked a little a unsure. The question is whether Brad Childress will stick with Peterson or try and push Favre in order to show he was right to bring the guy back for another year.
-- How about the Atlanta Falcons. After a first game loss to the Steelers they bounced back to handle Arizona roughly at home, then went on the road and took the Super Bowl champion Saints to over time, eventually winning after a fortuitous miss by Saints kicker Garret Hartley. Next up for the Falcons? Hosting a 49ers team that is rapidly spiralling out of control.
-- 43 points. An average of 14.3 recurring per game. What am I talking about? That's how many points the Rams have given up so far against Arizona, Oakland and Washington. Granted that's not exactly three of the NFLs powerhouse offenses, but for a Rams team that has quite frankly sucked b***s in recent years, it's still quite impressive. Next up for the Rams is the yo-yo Seahawks at home.
-- The Jaguars picked up QB Trent Edwards off waivers. I don't know whether Jaguars fans are laughing or crying right now. The idea that somehow the future of your franchise can be saved by replacing one QB who's been very inconsistent with one who is consistently not very good is bizarre. Scarily, it might actually work.
See the trouble with teams like Jacksonville, Carolina, Minnesota and Tennessee is that they all have great running backs - who you could argue are the best players on their respective teams - that they don't use very much. Of the approx. 60+ snaps each team has in a game, they tend to use their running backs on less than 1/3rd of all snaps. That seems like an awful lot of plays to not be using one of your best players.
Contrast this with Colts, who make sure they use their best offensive weapon - Peyton Manning - on at least 2/3rds of all their offensive snaps. So having a rubbish QB can be a big boost for a team like Jacksonville. It forces you to put the joke that you call a passing game on to the back burner in favour of handing the ball off to Captain Stud in the backfield more often. Thus by that bizarre logic, Trent Edwards may end up as the saviour of the Jaguars.
-- Mark Sanchez. 6 TD passes in two games. What happened to the useless tub of junk that was quarterbacking the Jets through pre-season? Where did Sanchez find these sudden magic powers of throwing? With their defense playing as well as expected without Revis and their offense playing much better than anyone ever thought possible this season, the Jets are looking like a very tough team to beat.
Have a great day everyone.

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