Monday, September 22, 2008

Non-Patriot NFL Thoughts

Once again, got a chance to see a number of different games this weekend and here are some observations:

# Mike Ditka is an absolute idiot. On Mike and Mike this morning, he remarked that the Steelers offense looked so terrible againast the Eagles because they got away from what they do best which is running the football. Ditka then remarked that the Steelers offensive line is a "run-blocking offensive line" and, I kid you not, that "they don't practice pass-blocking." I don't think I've ever heard anything so inane come from the mouth of a supposed NFL expert. The Steelers couldn't stop the Eagles pass rush because they don't practice pass blocking ... No wonder the Steeler coaches kept calling pass plays!

# Tennessee is a very good team, but with or without Vince Young, quarterback play is going to be a sore spot. As I remarked during the game, every pass Kerry Collins threw looked like something he would throw to neighbor kids at a backyard barbecue.

# The Bengals gave away chance after chance to win their game againast the Giants. Driving down to kick what would be the field goal to send the game into overtime, the Bengals faced a second and 10 from 23 with 35 seconds and one timeout remaining. Carson Palmer completed a short pass over the middle to Houshmandzadah to get the ball to the 14, giving the Bengals a 3rd and 1. Rather than having another play ready to go, Palmer had to take the time to call another play, eating an extra 5 seconds, minimum, off the clock. They converted the 3rd and 1, but by the time they did, only 4 seconds remained on the clock. If they had a play ready to go on that 3rd and 1, they would have had one shot into the endzone from the 4- instead, they had to settle for the tie.

Overtime was worse, as they may as well have handed the game to the Giants. After actually getting a stop, their offense took over and proceeded to try running the ball on first and second down. The 2 runs netted 2 yards and they couldn't convert the 3rd and 8. Palmer was 27 of 39 on the day, while Chris Perry had only 74 yards on 20 carries (take away his 25 yard TD run and he managed only 49 yards on 19 carries), yet the Bengals decided to get all conservative when they had the ball in overtime. In case you were wondering, these sort of mistakes fall on the coaching staff.

# The Bills pulled out another one and are now 3-0. They have the makings of a playoff team because Trent Edwards continues to make good decisions, the defense continues to play tough, and Marshawn Lynch is a very good runningback.

# I wasn't the least bit surprised by the lack of fireworks in the Cowboys-Packers game. After defensive shortcomings the previous week, both teams were sure to try and clamp down this week. The Cowboys did have 453 yards of total offense, but 112 came on the 2 long touchdown plays which basically ended up being the difference in the game. Greg Jennings by the way, continue to amaze, with 8 more catches for 115 more yards giving him a total of 19 catches for 373 yards on the season. Interestingly enough though, after 12 touchdowns in 13 games last season, he hasn't yet to reach the endzone this year.

# Yes, they lost, but the Saints put up some amazing numbers on offense yesterday- 502 yards of total offense- Drew Brees completing 39 of 48 passes for 421 yards- Reggie Bush totaling 148 yards of offense and scoring twice. They should be fun to watch all season.

# Top 5 QB's so far this season? For my money it's Jay Cutler, Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Donovan McNabb, and Aaron Rodgers.

# I'll say it here first- the NFC has far surpassed the AFC in terms of quality of play. So far we've seen little in terms of inter-conference play, but what we have seen has been telling. The marque games thus far have seen the Bears crush the Colts, the Colts sneak by the Vikings, the Panthers defeat the Chargers and the Eagles embarrass the Steelers. That's a 3-1 advantage to the NFC, who own a 7-3 advantage on the season.

More importantly, look at the AFC's division leaders after 3 weeks- Buffalo, Tennessee, Baltimore, and Denver, none of whom are particularly intimidating. Who knows what's become of the Patriots, the Colts are 1-2 and don't look like quite the same team, the Chargers haven't won a game yet, and the Steelers- supposedly the class of the AFC so far this season, looked like a deer in the headlights againast the Eagles pass rush. In The NFC, the East looks strong and is easily the best division in football at this point. The Bears and Vikings are both 1-2 but have been competitive and the Packers, despite their loss to the Cowboys, clearly have a good football team. The NFC South and NFC West have a few more wild card elements, but I'd be pretty confident in saying that Arizona for example is a better team than Baltimore.


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