Monday, November 30, 2009

The Washington Post: Which Bubble Team Has The Best Shot At Making The Playoffs?

This question was recently asked by The Washington Post. Here was my take, which puts a positive spin on the remainder of the New York Jets' season:

Obviously, bubble teams like Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and the NY Giants would be a safer bet for making the playoffs, but I'm going to make a case for the long-shot New York Jets.

Although it seems very unlikely, the Jets still has a decent shot at making the playoffs. Despite a very rough season so far, which included season-altering injuries (Kris Jenkins, Leon Washington), key players being benched (Kerry Rhodes), a rookie quarterback and coach (Mark Sanchez & Rex Ryan), and losing four games on the last possession -- in two weeks the Jets can very easily be sitting at 7-6 and in the thick of the playoff race.

The Jets' next two games are on the road, but the scheduling gods have blessed them with the Buffalo Bills in Toronto, and the 1-10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yes, Buffalo has been frisky as of late with new coach Perry Fewell, but the Jets are looking to avenge their heartbreaking overtime loss to Buffalo (which included five picks from Sanchez) from week 6. Tampa has also been much better with rookie Josh Freeman, but if the Jets can take care of business, they can be sitting at 7-6 with a key match-up at home against the Atlanta Falcons.

With major playoff implications, perhaps the Jets will get it all together and become a team to be reckoned with. Perhaps regressing to the same team that started 3-0?

The Jets last two games are at Indianapolis and then home against Cincinnati. Yes, those teams are a combined 19-3, but maybe by then, both teams will have everything clinched and will rest their starters? Maybe Cincinnati will be 10-5 or 9-6 going into that game, opening the door for the Jets?

Remember, the Jets beat fellow bubble teams Tennessee and Houston, but lost to Miami (twice) and Jacksonville. Also, teams like Denver, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh have shown they aren't necessarily invincible as of late. 10-6 isn't out of reach, but if the Jets do finish 9-7, that loss can only be to a NFC team, because of tie-breaker scenarios.

So my message to the Jets would be to take care of business in these next two weeks, and maybe you will be able to trade in your bubble status for Cinderella slippers

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Week 12 Picks...

Note: Home teams are in CAPS. All Lines courtesy of ESPN.com

Green Bay (-10.5) over DETROIT
DALLAS (-13.5) over Oakland
NY Giants (-6.5) over DENVER
Tampa Bay (+11.5) over ATLANTA
Miami (-3.5) over BUFFALO
Cleveland (+13.5) over CINCINNATI
Seattle (-2.5) over ST. LOUIS
NY JETS (-3.5) over Carolina
Washington (+9.5) over PHILADELPHIA
HOUSTON (+3.5) over Indianapolis
Kansas City (+13.5) over SAN DIEGO
Jacksonville (+3.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
TENNESSEE (-0.5) over Arizona
MINNESOTA (-10.5) over Chicago
Pittsburgh (+2.5) over BALTIMORE
New England (+3.5) over NEW ORLEANS

Three Best Bets: Green Bay (-10.5), Seattle (-2.5), Jacksonville (+3.5)

Upset Delight: New England over New Orleans

Suicide Pool: Dallas Cowboys (Eliminated in Week 6 with Philadelphia, Week 8 with NY Jets, Week 9 with Green Bay & Week 11 with Cincinnati)

Last Week: 7-8
Season: 82-77
Best Bets: 14-19
Upset Delight: 7-8
Suicide Pool: 7-4

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Proposed NY Jets Helmet/Uniform Re-Design: Open Letter to Jets' Brass

Dear Woody Johnson & Mike Tannenbaum,

In lieu of the new Meadowlands Stadium, which will be unveiled in 2010, changes are in order for the New York Jets. 2010 will mark the 50th year of the New York Jets (originally known as the Titans of New York), and with that a new tradition should be born, with a helmet and uniform re-design.

With that being said, here is my submission for the new helmet design.

I am suggesting that the Jets add a third color to their current color scheme of Hunter Green and White. This third color, will be referred to as “Jet Black.”

These “Jet black” helmets with a single stripe down the middle will signify both a nod to tradition, with a sprinkle of toughness, and will be an instant success with the fanbase! This helmet will also be made in Hunter Green and can also have alternate versions with Hunter Green/Jet Black and vice versa.


The design pays homage to the one-year 1963 logo which is currently being used on merchandise for throwback gear. However, I put a spin on that logo narrowing the “Jet” to look less friendly, and dolphin-like, and taking the word “Jets” out of the logo, emphasizing the outline.

I also created uniform designs to go along with the helmet re-designed helmet.

Home:




Away:



With the new helmet and uniform designs, the Jets can start the new era in style. As a life-long Jets fan, I am hoping my designs “take” with the organization, and it would be a honor to put a stamp of my own on the team that has already given me so much.

For my readers I encourage any feedback (positive or negative), and if you’re a part of the Jets organization, please contact me! Perhaps we could get an online petition for this going?

Thanks for your time,

Sean Moroney, NY Jets fan
Contact: Moroney.Sean@gmail.com

UPDATE: Thanks to Darrelle Revis and Dustin Keller for the kind words, and spreading the word on the redesigns via twitter!

QB Shuffle: Week 11 Notes...

Week 11 is in the books. Here are my post-weekend notes:

THE CLUTCH:

Down 6-0 with 7:06 remaining from their own 40 yard line, Tony Romo led the Cowboys on a 9 play, four plus minute drive, capped off by a touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton to take the lead and give Dallas the 7-6 win over the Redskins.

Down 37-31, with 1:46 remaining from their own 12 yard line, Matthew Stafford led the Lions 88 yards for the game winning touchdown pass as time expired. The touchdown pass was set-up by a pass interference call on a hail-mary attempt, which gave Detroit one last chance from the one yard line. Stafford capitalized on the extra chance with a one yard-game winning touchdown pass to win 38-37.

Tied at 24, Matt Cassel took advantage of their first possession in overtime, throwing a 64 yard pass to Chris Chambers, which led to a 22 yard game winning field goal to beat the Steelers 27-24.

Down 31-24 with 3:42 remaining in regulation, Matt Ryan led the Falcons on a 76 yard touchdown drive to force overtime. Unfortunately for Ryan, he didn’t get a chance in overtime to win the game, as they lost to the Giants 34-31.

On the first possession of overtime, Eli Manning led the Giants 49 yards, which led to a 36 yard game winning field goal by Lawrence Tynes to beat the Falcons, 34-31.

Down 15-10 with 6:12 remaining, David Garrard led the Jaguars on 68 yard, 5 plus minute touchdown drive, which gave the Jaguars a 18-15 victory.

Down 17-10 with 2:12 remaining, Bruce Gradkowski led the Raiders on 80 yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 17 with less than a minute to go. On the in suing kick-off, Cincinnati’s Andre Caldwell fumbled, and Oakland recovered, which led to a game-winning 33 yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski to win 20-17.

Tied at 17 with 2:52 remaining, Vince Young led the Titans 56 yards, for a 53 yard field goal by Rob Bironas, which ultimately beat the Texans.

Down 20-17 with 47 seconds remaining, Matt Schaub led the Texans down to the Titans 31 yard line in 5 plays. Unfortunately for Schaub and the Texans, Kris Brown missed a 49 yard field goal to lose the game.

THE non-CLUTCH:

Down 7-6 with 2:41 remaining, from their own 8 yard line, Jason Campbell threw an interception on the fourth play of the drive, which ultimately cost the Redskins the game.

Tied at 24 with less than six minutes to go, Ben Roethlisberger failed to get his team a score three times (two in regulation, and one in overtime), in the Steelers 27-24 overtime loss to the Chiefs. Roethlisberger left the game in overtime due to an injury.

Down 18-15 with 56 seconds remaining, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a game losing interception the fifth play of the drive to lose to the Jaguars.

Down 17-15, Joe Flacco threw an awful interception in the red-zone with 2:42 remaining in the game, which cost Baltimore the game versus the Colts.

Down 21-13 on the Cardinals seven yard line with a 3rd and 4 and under five minutes to go, Marc Bulger threw two straight incompletions for a loss of downs. Bulger got another opportunity from the Rams own 26 yard line with 1:01 left, but Bulger took a bad sack, and then fumbled three plays later to lose the game to Arizona.

Down 24-20, with 1:50 remaining from their own 21 yard line, Jay Cutler threw an interception on the sixth play of the drive, to lose the game for the Bears against the Eagles.

Did You Know:

Jay Cutler’s Chicago Bears are 4-6. Kyle Orton’s Denver Broncos are 6-3 when he starts.

The Tennessee Titans are 4-0 with Vince Young as a starter and 0-6 with Kerry Collins as a starter.

Vince Young is now 22-11 as a starter

The San Francisco 49ers are 3-3 with Shaun Hill as a starter and 1-3 with Alex Smith.

Alex Smith is now 11-22 as a starter. Benched Shaun Hill is 10-6 as a starter with the same exact team.

Tony Romo is 34-15 as a starter (69%).

Jason Campbell is 5-13 in his last 18 games.

Matt Schaub's career record is only 15-19.

Matt Hasselbeck is 4-11 in the last two seasons and has missed 11 games due to injury in that span.

Jay Cutler is a career 21-26 as a starter.

Since 2007, Brett Favre has a 31-11 record (74%).

Despite a good statistical game vs. the Lions, Brady Quinn has still only one once in 8 career starts.

And with an injury, it may be the end of an "error" for Marc Bulger as a Rams quarterback. Bulger has won 5 times in 35 games the past three seasons, and is 15-44 (25%) since 2005.

HOMER REPORT

Message to Rex Ryan. No matter what, let Mark Sanchez play out the rest of the season. The only way a quarterback can improve is with more starts.

Confidence Scale (out of 10): 3.0- Hoping the free fall ends. Theoretically three winnable games in a row. Cautiously optimistic about a potential 7-6 record three weeks from now.

FOURCADE FORMULA

Based on my Fourcade formula, here are the top 5 and bottom 5 quarterback performances from week 11.

BEST:

1) Matthew Stafford: 422 yards, 5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions + clutch performance
2) Eli Manning: 384 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception + clutch performance
3) Brett Favre: 213 yards, 4 touchdowns
4) Aaron Rodgers: 344 yards, 2 touchdowns
5) Tom Brady: 310 yards, 1 touchdown

WORST:

28) Carson Palmer: 207 yards, 1 interception
29) Marc Bulger: 215 yards, 1 interception + non-clutch performance
30) Chris Simms: 10 yards + benched
31) Josh Freeman: 126 yards, 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions
32) Mark Sanchez: 136 yards, 1 touchdown, 4 interceptions

QB REPORT CARD:

Based on my Fourcade formula, here are the grades for quarterbacks who have started at least six games through Week 11:

A+: Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Kurt Warner
A: Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, Carson Palmer, Kyle Orton, Ben Roethlisberger, Donovan McNabb
B+: Chad Henne, Matt Schaub, Eli Manning
B: David Garrard
C+: Joe Flacco:
C: Matt Ryan
D+: Shaun Hill
D: Matt Hasselbeck, Jay Cutler
F: Matt Cassel, Jake Delhomme, Mark Sanchez, Jason Campbell, Matthew Stafford, Trent Edwards, Marc Bulger, JaMarcus Russell, Kerry Collins

Monday, November 23, 2009

Do Logos Make A Difference? Redesigning Logos In Need of a Change.

Since 1993, six teams underwent a logo change (not including the expansion Baltimore Ravens who were once the Cleveland Browns), and in every case, the team has improved. Let's look into these drastic changes...

New England Patriots: In 1993, New England went from this to this.

Ten Years before Change: 70-89 record, 2 playoff appearances (3-2 record) and one Super Bowl loss

Since the Change: 161-95 record (not including this year), 10 playoff appearances in 16 years (17-7 record) and 5 Super Bowl appearances (3 rings).

Analysis: Despite the fact that I loved the old Pat Patriots uniforms, there was definitely a karmic shift with the logo change.

New York Jets: In 1998, the Jets went back to a throwback design from this to this.

Ten years before change: 57-102-1 record, 1 playoff appearance (0-1 record)

Since the Change: 91-85 record (not including this year), 5 playoff appearances in 11 years (3-5 record) one AFC Championship Game appearance

Analysis: The move worked, with their 90s drab being forever associated with failure.

Tennessee Titans: In 1999, the Tennessee Oilers changed their nickname to the Titans going from this to this.

Ten years before change (as the Oilers): 84-76 record, 5 playoff appearances (1-5 record) played in two divisional playoff games

Since the change: 96-64 record (not including this year), 6 playoff appearances in 10 years (5-6 record) one Super Bowl appearance, 1 AFC Championship game appearance

Analysis: The change definitely made an improvement to the franchise, taking them to their first Super Bowl appearance. Still, their current logo is pretty bland.

Denver Broncos: In 1997, Denver went from this to this.

Ten years before change: 91-67-1 record, 5 playoff appearances (5-5 record), two Super Bowl losses

Since the change: 117-75 record, 6 playoff appearances in 12 years, two Super Bowl wins

Analysis: Again, I prefer the Big D logo to their current one, but you can't argue with results. The new design leads in Super Bowls 2-0.

New York Giants: In 2000, the Giants went back to a throwback design, going from this to this.

Ten years before change: 83-76-1 record, 3 playoff appearances (4-2 record) 1 Super Bowl victory

Since the change: 80-64 record, 6 playoff appearances in 9 years (6-5 record), two Super Bowl appearances, 1 win.

Analysis: The Giants had success with both logos, but their team has improved since the change.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In 1997, Tampa made a big changing going from this to this.

Ten years before change: 52-107, no playoffs

Since the change: 105-87, 7 playoff appearances in 12 years (5-6 record) and one Super Bowl win.

Analysis: Although I have fond memories of the old Popsicle designs, Tampa's current design is much tougher, and like New England, made a karmic shift with the franchise, turning a gutter team to a Super Bowl champion.

So knowing logo changes can make a difference, which current teams are due for a makeover?

The worst teams of teams of the decade include the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, and Buffalo Bills. All could use an update!

Detroit Lions: Detroit recently fine-tuned their current logo, but due to the Lions awful track record as a franchise….they need to start fresh! My suggestion? Why not just a simple over-sized D logo (like the Detroit Tigers)? They can even use the same font that the team just introduced.


I made the main helmet color "Honolulu blue" with a single black stripe down the middle of the helmet.

Buffalo Bills: Buffalo hasn't been to the playoffs since the Music City Miracle. Plus these uniforms are awful yet their throwbacks are awesome. So why not just go back to the throwbacks full-time? This one is a no-brainer. Done and Done.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns have never made the Super Bowl. Yes, their uniforms scream tradition, but let’s ask ourselves, isn't it just a reminder of losing? Simple solution!
The current orange helmets are confusing considering their nickname is the Browns. Yes, they were named after the Brown family. But why can’t they just have a brown helmet/logo design? Simply reverse the colors! Instantly more intimidating, and it’s simply an update from the traditional logo.



What are some other uniforms that can use an update? Two come to mind in my opinion, one being the Jets (which I’ll get to later), and the other is the Tennessee Titans.

Tennessee Titans: To me, the Titans logo is extremely bland. My solution? Simple! The big logo of the Tennessee Volunteers looks great, plus your nickname is the Titans (translation: bigger than Giants), so why not just blow up the “T”…add a few stars from the Tennessee flag and voila!




Teams need to remember, change is good. I am simply offering these suggestions from both a fan and consumer's standpoint. Feedback is always welcomed, and if you work for one of these NFL organizations, feel free to contact me about the ideas!

Also, if you would like to use these designs for another website, feel free to contact me!

Washington Post: Is NFC East now worst division in football?

This question was recently asked by The Washington Post. Here was my take:

I have to admit, when I was first asked whether the NFC East is now the worst division in football, I thought it was a typo.

Am I missing something? The NFC East has the second best combined division record, only to the AFC South. They also have three of the best six teams in the NFC.

The question seemed even more perplexing since the NFL has had a clear-cut, by far the worst division in the NFC West. The NFC West is coming off a 2008 campaign, where their division winner went 9-7. In fact, the winner of the NFC West hasn't won more than 10 games since 2005. This year, 7-9 would probably do the job to win that division.

To bury this argument, the NFC West has been outscored by their opponents by a jarring 143 points!

The NFC East (one of the strongest divisions in the entire league) has no business being in this discussion.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why Are The Cowboys So Hated?

This article is also available on the Washington Post website.

Tony Romo is a career 33-15 (69%) as a starter. Wade Phillips has a career 76-52 (59%) record, and is 28-13 (68%) coaching the Cowboys. What do both Romo and Phillips have in common? Well to the national public, they either stink, are overrated, and and/or are choke-artists.

Like the New York Yankees, the Cowboys are judged under an intense microscope every single day, and to most fans are very easy to hate. Actually, hate is not even a strong enough word, most fans loathe the Cowboys, and will do anything they can to bad-mouth them. Is it fair? Not really.

Romo is one of the premier quarterbacks in the league. Unfortunately, Romo has had a long streak of bad-luck, including the botched snap from a playoff loss to Seattle, a failed last-ditched effort against the Giants during the next playoffs, and missing 3 costly games due to injury (1-2 w/ back-ups) last year to miss the playoffs.

However, people forget to realize, sometimes even the best players and teams just need a few bounces to go their way. Tom Brady's career might have never taken off if not for the "Tuck Game". It even took Peyton Manning 6 years to win a playoff game, and he didn't win a Super Bowl until his ninth year (in which Peyton finally got some bounces his way during their AFC Championship comeback win over New England).

Wade Phillips is another great example. He has improved Bill Parcells' Cowboys team since he took over. However, his playoff resume is filled with unlucky breaks, such as "The Music City Miracle," while coaching the Bills (Buffalo hasn't made the playoffs since Wade left)- which to this day, still looks like an illegal forward lateral to me.But as we saw with the Yankees, and specifically Alex Rodriguez, things can change very quickly. A-Rod went from a career choke artist to a clutch World-Series winner just this last year. Dallas seems due for some good fortune, right?

Of course, dating and dumping Jessica Simpson (Romo), or sometimes looking lost on the sidelines (Phillips) doesn't help the Cowboys case either. For the haters- it just adds more fuel to the fire.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Week 11 Picks...

Note: Home teams are in CAPS. All Lines courtesy of ESPN.com

Miami (+3.5) over CAROLINA
Cleveland (+3.5) over DETROIT
Pittsburgh (-9.5) over KANSAS CITY
Washington (+11.5) over DALLAS
Atlanta (+6.5) over NY GIANTS
TAMPA BAY (+11.5) over New Orleans
JACKSONVILLE (-8.5) over Buffalo
Indianapolis (+0.5) over BALTIMORE
Seattle (+11.5) over MINNESOTA
Arizona (-8.5) over ST. LOUIS
San Diego (-2.5) over DENVER
Cincinnati (-9.5) over OAKLAND
NY Jets (+10.5) over NEW ENGLAND
CHICAGO (+3.5) over Philadelphia
Tennessee (+4.5) over HOUSTON

Three Best Bets: Arizona (-8.5), San Diego (-2.5), Cincinnati (-9.5)
Upset Delight: Tennessee over Houston
Suicide Pool: Cincinnati Bengals (Eliminated in Week 6 with Philadelphia, Week 8 with NY Jets & Week 9 with Green Bay)

Last Week: 8-7
Season: 75-69
Best Bets: 13-17
Upset Delight: 6-8
Suicide Pool: 7-3

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

QB Shuffle: Week 10 Notes...

Week 10 is in the books. Here are my post-weekend notes:

THE CLUTCH:

After nearly blowing the game with a horrible interception that led to a lead-changing touchdown for Tamp Bay, Miami’s Chad Henne redemmed himself, leading the Dolphins to a game winning field goal as time expired. Down 23-22 with 1:14 left from their own 16 yard line, Henne got Miami down to Tampa’s 7 yard line for the game winning kick as time expired.

After Henne's brain-fart, rookie Josh Freeman took advantage of good field positioning, leading the Bucs’ to a 26 yard touchdown drive, which gave them a 23-22 lead with 1:43 remaining.

Down 23-22 with 5:04 remaining from their own 17 yard line, David Garrard drove Jacksonville 69 yards for a game winning field goal as time expired, to win 24-22.

Tied at 17, Jason Campbell led the Redskins on a 60 yard touchdown dive to take the 24-17 lead late with 2:44 remaining. Washington ended up winning 27-17.

Down 34-21 with 4:12 remaining, Peyton Manning led two consecutive touchdown drives to defeat the Patriots 35-34. The first drive was 79 yards in 1:46 and the game winning drive was a 4 play, 29 yard touchdown drive. Of course, Manning’s touchdown drive came in lieu of a controversial fourth down call by New England in the previous possession.

THE non-CLUTCH:

Down 10-6 with 2:47 remaining, Jay Cutler drove the Bears all the way down to San Francisco’s 12 yard line, before Cutler threw the game losing interception in the end-zone, capping off a five interception performance.

Down 28-23 with 2:21 remaining from their own 20 yard line, Marc Bulger drove the Rams all the way to the Saints 32 yard line, before throwing an incompletion on fourth and 1 to end the game.

Down 18-12 with 1:56 remaining from their own 33 yard line, Ben Roethlisberger threw four straight incompletions to lose the game to the Bengals.

Down 24-17 with 2:44 remaining, Denver back-up Chris Simms threw four straight incompletions to essentially lose the game. Simms played awful in relief of injured Kyle Orton, completing only 3 out of his 13 passes, 1 interception, and taking 3 sacks.

Down 21-19 with 3:59 remaining from about mid-field, Matt Ryan threw an interception on the very first play of the drive. Carolina answered with a touchdown that gave them an insurmountable 9 point lead and victory.

Down 16-10 with 1:53 remaining from their own 20 yard line, back-up Bruce Gradkowski drove the Raiders 69 yards before an unlucky break with his receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey dropping an easy pass and being tipped for an interception.

Did You Know:

Jay Cutler’s Chicago Bears are 4-5. Kyle Orton’s Denver Broncos are 6-3.

The Tennessee Titans are 3-0 with Vince Young as a starter and 0-6 with Kerry Collins as a starter.

Vince Young is now 21-11 as a starter

The San Francisco 49ers are 3-3 with Shaun Hill as a starter and 1-2 with Alex Smith.

Alex Smith is now 12-21 as a starter. Benched Shaun Hill is 10-6 as a starter with the same exact team.

Brady Quinn is a career 1-6 as a starter with a 58.0 passer rating.

JaMarcus Russell is a career 7-18 as as starter with a 65.5 passer rating. His passing yards per game average is also lower than 155.

Trent Edwards is 4-11 in his last 15 starts.

...and don't sleep on Jake Delhomme just yet: Delhomme is now 54-36 (60%) for his career as a starter.

HOMER REPORT

Floored after the Jacksonville loss. Jets are 1-5 in last 6, and are only 2-4 in games decided by 7 points of less.

Kudos to Maurice Jones-Drew for giving us the "smartest play of the year" so far this year kneeling the ball on the one yard line to run out the clock. This heads up play, slightly beats out Brandon Stokley's running on the one yard to kill time from the Denver-Cincinnati Week 1 miracle play- game.

Confidence Scale (out of 10): 5.0- Facing a mad Patriots team at New England has trouble written all over it. Realistically, I would be ecstatic if Jets finished with an 8-8 record.

FOURCADE FORMULA

Based on my Fourcade formula, here are the top 5 and bottom 5 quarterback performances from week 10.

BEST:

1) Kurt Warner: 340 yards, 2 touchdowns
2) Peyton Manning: 327 yards, 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions + clutch performance
3) Brett Favre: 344 yards, 1 touchdown
4) Philip Rivers: 231 yards, 2 touchdowns
5) Jake Delhomme: 195 yards, 2 touchdowns

WORST:

26) Mark Sanchez: 212 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions
27) Ben Roethlisberger: 174 yards, 1 interception + non-clutch performance
28) JaMarcus Russell: 67 yards + benched
29) Jay Cutler: 307 yards, 5 interceptions + non-clutch performance
30) Brady Quinn: 99 yards, 2 interceptions

Monday, November 16, 2009

Belichick's Fourth Down Decision: Media Reaction vs. The Football Gods...

Bill Belichick’s decision to go for a fourth down from his own 28 yard line with just over two minutes remaining has been ridiculed beyond belief in lieu of the Patriots 35-34 loss. However, let’s not go overboard here on our pal, Bill.

For anyone who watches football knows, the percentages of Peyton Manning scoring a touchdown from either 22 yards out or 70 yards out with two minutes remaining, would have been essentially inevitable.

So with that being said, Bill Belichick did the anti-normal coach decision and decided to go for the win on a two yard play.

Was it wrong? Perhaps. Would any other coach do that? Hell No!

Coaches are bred to make decisions that shifts blame away from themselves. If Belichick simply punted, he could have simply pointed the blame onto his defense. Instead, Belichick manned up, made a decision that he would live or die by, and fell short. Yes, he will be killed by the media for who knows how long because of this, but from a football’s fan point of view…it sure was refreshing to see a coach put himself on the line and go for the win instead of hoping not to lose.

Still, Belichick did make a number of mental errors that made this decision flawed. The Patriots blew two timeouts on their final drive, leaving them with no timeouts to stop the Colts touchdown drive. Again, Belichick’s fourth down move only really makes sense if you know you’re definitely going to get the ball back with enough time left to answer. Having at least two timeouts would have been mandatory. Another blunder was on the Colts second play of their drive, Belichick should have ordered his defense to let the Colts score the touchdown, which would have given the Patriots a little over a minute to get in field goal position.

So although Belichick made a bold move, other coaching momemts made this very flawed. I would love to see a MIT scholars' take on this situation, running the exact percentages of probability. My guess- The Patriots would have essentially had alittle over 50% chance of converting that fourth down, which would have won the game. If they had punted, I would assume Peyton’s Colts percentage of scoring a touchdown with two minutes left, would have been close to 75%-80%. Let's put it this way, punt or no punt, everyone would have been shocked if Peyton didn't lead the Colts to a touchdown.

Either way, Bill Belichick will be thrown under the bus with Monday Morning Quarterbacks around the country, but don’t fret Patriots' fans- the Football gods were pleased by the boldness, and you will be rewarded in the near future.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Week 10 Picks...

Note: Home teams are in CAPS. All Lines courtesy of ESPN.com

Chicago (+3.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
New Orleans (-13.5) over ST. LOUIS
Tampa Bay (+9.5) over MIAMI
MINNESOTA (-16.5) over Detroit
NY JETS (-6.5) over Jacksonville
TENNESSEE (-6.5) over Buffalo
PITTSBURGH (-6.5) over Cincinnati
WASHINGTON (+4.5) over Denver
Atlanta (-1.5) over CAROLINA
Kansas City (+1.5) over OAKLAND
SAN DIEGO (-2.5) over Philadelphia
Seattle (+8.5) over ARIZONA
Dallas (-2.5) over GREEN BAY
New England (+2.5) over INDIANAPOLIS
Baltimore (-10.5) over CLEVELAND


Three Best Bets: NY Jets (-6.5), Chicago (+3.5), Dallas (-2.5)

Upset Delight: Chicago over San Francisco, New England over Indianapolis

Suicide Pool: New Orleans (Eliminated in Week 6 with Philadelphia, Week 8 with NY Jets & Week 9 with Green Bay)

Last Week: 8-5

Season: 67-62
Best Bets: 13-14
Upset Delight: 6-6
Suicide Pool: 6-3

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Does Aaron Rodgers Secretly Stink? All Signs Point to Yes...

When will the media re-evaluate their affection for Aaron Rodgers?

The common misconception is that it’s not Aaron Rodgers’ fault for all of the sacks that he has taken, and instead it is merely the result of a poor offensive line. In fact, in an October CBS Sportsline poll, 66% of people agreed with this very notion.

My counter to that? You’re not watching the games! For anyone who has followed Rodgers’ career closely, it is clear that Rodgers has a fundamental flaw of slow decision making which leads to drive-killing sacks. Sadly, this is a sign of a bad quarterback.

Obviously Rodgers’ supporters would simply point out reasons why Rodgers is a budding superstar, citing his dazzling statistics while playing in the shadow of Packers’ legend Brett Favre. I can’t deny the fact that he indeed puts up great stats, and would be a very good fantasy quarterback.

However, if you look closely, a lot of Rodgers’ great statistics come in situations in which Rodgers can buff his stats when his team is either blowing out a bad team, or playing catch-up vs. a good team in garbage time. In fact, 8 of Rodgers’ 10 career wins were decided by 10 points or more (blow-outs) vs. an opponent’s combined record of 28-78 (26%)! Naturally, Rodgers feasted on these bad teams with great statistics (70% completion, 266.25 ypg, 18 touchdowns vs. 2 interceptions, 120.1 passer rating). In his 16 other starts vs. opponents with a combined record of 119-87, Rodgers’ statistics are much more down to earth (60% completion, 260.19 ypg, 26 touchdowns vs. 16 interceptions, 87.1 passer rating), with his record, 2-14 in those games, being awful.

Also, in games decided by 7 points of less, Rodgers has a career 2-9 record, with a 0-5 record in games decided by 3 points or less. This is a clear statistic indicating that Rodgers isn’t very “clutch,” which adds to the fact that he doesn’t beat good teams. However, this might be the least of his worries…

The issue of any team’s offensive line is that its perception is directly correlated with the success of the offense. However, even if you have a shaky offensive line, your offense can still thrive as long as you have a good quarterback. Look at last year’s Super Bowl champions! When a team has a superior quarterback, every weakness is hidden because the media is distracted by the success that a quarterback is generating. Aaron Rodgers, not Green Bay’s offensive line, is responsible for leading the league in sacks allowed.

Aaron Rodgers has the same qualities that derailed the careers of bust-quarterbacks like Rob Johnson or David Carr, which is slow decision making, and the tendency to hold on to the ball too long.

Facts are facts: Aaron Rodgers is a career 10-14. Under the same coach, Brett Favre went 21-11 In his 24 starts, Rodgers has taken 71 sacks (2.96 per game), including 37 so far this year (4.63 per game!). For comparisons sake- under Mike McCarthy, Brett Favre took a total of 36 sacks total in two years. Favre took one sack every 31.8 pass attempts in that span, compared to Rodgers’ career average of one sack every 10.7 pass attempts. That means Rodgers takes three times the amount of sacks that Favre would take, with essentially the same offensive line and system.

So what I’m suggesting is that the media should officially stop considering Rodgers a top tier NFL quarterback- at least until he wipes all that super glue off his hands!

In the meantime, I will officially refer to Rodgers as “Stop, Drop & Roll.”

QB Shuffle: Week 9 Notes..

Week 9 is in the books. Here are my post-weekend notes:

THE CLUTCH:

After an interception on the previous drive in Colts territory, down 20-17 with 1:46 remaining, from their own 15 yard line, Matt Schaub directed the Texans all the way down to the Colts 24 yard line. Unfortunately, Kris Brown missed a 42 yard field goal that would have put the game into overtime.

Down 28-23 with 7:15 left from their own 28 yard line, rookie Josh Freeman led Tampa Bay 71 yards for the eventual game winning touchdown pass and two point conversion to go up 31-28. Freeman’s touchdown pass came on a fourth down.

Down 20-14 with 2:07 remaining from their own 20 yard line, Philip Rivers coolly led the Chargers 80 yards, capped off by a 18 yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson to give the Chargers the 21-20 lead with less than 30 seconds to go in the game.

Down 20-17 with 10:55 remaining, Vince Young led the Titans on a 81 yard touchdown drive to give the Titans a 24-20 lead. On Tennessee’s next possession, Young led Tennesse on another scoring drive to put the Titans up 27-20 with 3:00 remaining, and eventual victory.

Tied at 13 with 10:49 remaining, Tony Romo connected with Miles Austin for a 49 yard touchdown pass to give Dallas the 20-13 lead. Then on Dallas’ next possession, Romo connected on a 3rd down pass which put the game away for the Cowboys.

THE non-CLUTCH:

Down 24-17 with 3:38 remaining, Chad Henne threw four consecutive incompletions for a loss of down, and eventual loss of the game to the Patriots, 27-17.

Down 31-28 with 4:14 remaining from their 40 yard line, Aaron Rodgers failed to get Green Bay a first down, taking two awful sacks, and forcing a punt. Rodgers then got another opportunity with 1:35 remaing from their own 13 yard line, took a bad sack, and then threw a pick-6 on fourth down to lose the game, 38-28.

Down 25-20 with 6:46 remaining from their own 11 yard line, Matthew Stafford threw an interception on a long-ball. Stafford then got a chance to redeem himself with 2:03 remaining, from their own 5 yard line and drove the Lions 42 yards before throwing the game-losing Pick-6 interception for a 32-20 loss to the Seahawks.

Down 23-20 with 4:36 remaining from their own 20 yard line, Jake Delhomme failed to get the Panthers into scoring range, fumbling on a fourth down near mid-field. The Panthers got another shot at the end from their own 2 yard line, but DeAngelo Williams fumbled on the first play which was recovered for a Saints touchdown and win, 30-20.

Down 27-20 with 3:00 remaining from their own 28 yard line, Alex Smith threw a pick-6 interception, which gave the Titans a 34-20 victory. This came after an interception on San Francisco’s previous possession, which led to a Tennessee field goal, which made it a touchdown deficit.

COACHING:

Up 17-14, Tom Coughlin called a run play on a 3rd and 9 at the Chargers 9 yard line, essentially settling on a field goal. Very curious call, since Coughlin elected to not even give the Giants a chance to go for the win, since they could have settled on a field goal anyways. This ultimately came back to haunt Coughlin since the Chargers answered with a game winning touchdown.

Andy Reid elected to kick a field goal to cut the lead to 20-16 with 4:27 remaining, which was one of the most head-scratching decisions anyone has ever witnessed. Andy Reid is a great example of maybe the head coaching position isn't that important. Of course, Philadelphia never got the ball back and lost the game.

When the Tennessee Titans finish the season strong at 6-10 or 7-9, please do not give Jeff Fisher the credit for the turnaround! Again, this is the same guy with a shaky resume, who decided to bench the team's franchise quarterback in favor of Kerry Collins. Fisher was so reluctant, even at 0-6, to start Young, that he was essentially forced to play Young by the owner to save his job. Now that Vince Young is 2-0 (you know, since he's a winner!), please give Young the credit for turning his career around in spite of Jeff Fisher, and not because of him.

Did You Know:

Jay Cutler’s Chicago Bears are 4-4. Kyle Orton’s Denver Broncos are 6-2.

The Tennessee Titans are 2-0 with Vince Young as a starter and 0-6 with Kerry Collins as a starter.

Vince Young is now 20-11 as a starter

The San Francisco 49ers are 3-3 with Shaun Hill as a starter and 0-2 with Alex Smith.

Alex Smith is now 11-21 as a starter. Benched Shaun Hill is 10-6 as a starter with the same exact team.

Tony Romo is 33-14 as a starter.

Jason Campbell is 4-12 in his last 16 games.

HOMER REPORT

Coming off a bye week, the Jets face a must win game against the Jaguars. Despite being terrible, Jacksonville has the same record as the Jets, with the loser of this game most likely being eliminated from any chances at the playoffs.

Confidence Scale (out of 10): 7.0- I’m confident the Jets will take care of Jacksonville. Combined with a potential New England loss to Indianapolis this week, this could set up a November 22nd game against the Patriots for first place.

FOURCADE FORMULA

Based on my Fourcade formula, here are the top 5 and bottom 5 quarterback performances from week 9.

BEST:
1) Kurt Warner: 261 yards, 5 touchdowns
2) Ben Roethlisberger: 233 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception
3) Drew Brees: 330 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
4) Tom Brady: 332 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
5) David Garrard: 264 yards, 1 touchdown

WORST:
22) Aaron Rodgers: 266 yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions + non-clutch performance
23) Donovan McNabb: 227 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions
24) Joe Flacco: 195 yards, 2 interceptions
25) Kyle Orton: 221 yards, 3 interceptions
26) Matthew Stafford: 203 yards, 2 touchdowns, 5 interceptions + non-clutch performance

Friday, November 6, 2009

Week 9 Picks...

Note: Home teams are in CAPS. All Lines courtesy of ESPN.com

Washington (+10.5) over ATLANTA
CHICAGO (-3.5) over Arizona
Baltimore (-2.5) over CINCINNATI
Houston (+9.5) over INDIANAPOLIS
NEW ENGLAND (-10.5) over Miami
Green Bay (-10.5) over TAMPA BAY
Kansas City (+6.5) over JACKSONVILLE
SEATTLE (-10.5) over Detroit
Carolina (+14.5) over NEW ORLEANS
San Diego (+4.5) over NY GIANTS
Tennessee (+4.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
Dallas (+3.5) over PHILADELPHIA
Pittsburgh (-3.5) over DENVER

Three Best Bets: Baltimore (-2.5), Houston (+9.5), Carolina (+14.5)

Upset Delight: Tennessee over San Francisco

Suicide Pool: Green Bay (Eliminated in Week 6 with Philadelphia & Week 8 with NY Jets)

Last Week: 6-7
Season: 59-57
Best Bets: 11-13
Upset Delight: 5-6
Suicide Pool: 6-2

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Washington Post: Second Half Chokers

Here is my opinion piece for today's Washington Post's NFL Discussion Panel which can be viewed on TWP's "The League" front-page.

Today's question is:

Halfway through the 2009 season, which current division leader, if any, won't make the playoffs?

Check it out!

Time to speculate which current division leaders are most likely to miss the playoffs.

Locks:

New Orleans: With a current three game lead over Atlanta (who they just beat), Drew Brees and co. have greater expectations than just making the playoffs.

Minnesota: The Vikings have a three game lead over Chicago and Green Bay. Even if Favre starts to fall apart after a fast start like last year, Minnesota only needs to win four of their last eight games to make the playoffs (remaining schedule is 28-29).

Indianapolis: With a tough schedule coming up, the Colts are still a lock for at least 12 plus wins as long as Peyton Manning stays healthy.
New England: With Tom Brady looking more confident as the season goes along, the Patriots have a great shot at not only making the playoffs, but making another Super Bowl.

In very good shape:

Denver: With a two game lead over San Diego (who they already beat), Denver seems to be on their way to the playoffs with Kyle Orton under center.

Arizona: Since the Cardinals play in an awful division (the NFC West has been outscored by 135 points so far this season), nine wins should be enough to take this division. Their biggest threat, the San Francisco 49ers, just benched a quarterback who is 10-6 as a starter (Shaun Hill) for a quarterback who is 11-20 as starter (Alex Smith) with the same exact team. Yikes!

Pittsburgh: The Steelers are currently in a tie with the Bengals for the division lead. However, as long as Roethlisberger stays healthy, I don't see Pittsburgh missing the playoffs.

A lot of Competition:

Philadelphia & Dallas: Both teams are good. However, there will be a lot of competition in the NFC for the final few playoff spots- making it likely that one of these three NFC East teams (Eagles, Cowboys and Giants), missing the playoffs.

Most Likely to Tail Off:

Cincinnati: The Bengals are 4-1 in games that came down to the wire, and already lost defensive star Antwan Odom for the season. With Pittsburgh and Baltimore in their division, the Bengals' luck is the most likely of the current division leaders to run out.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

QB Shuffle: Week 8 Notes...

Week 8 is in the books. Here are my post-weekend notes:

THE CLUTCH:

Tied at 10 with 2:26, Marc Bulger led the Rams 63 yards on four plays, capped off by two huge runs by Steven Jackson (17 yards and 25 yards) that led to a touchdown and win.

Up 18-14 with 5:45 remaining, Peyton Manning converted on two 3rd downs, as the Colts ran out the clock to beat the 49ers, 18-14.

Up 31-26 with 5:38 to play, Brett Favre led the Vikings 59 yards (60 passing yards on the drive) for a game-sealing touchdown pass to go up 38-26.

Up 28-24 with 8:30 remaining, Drew Brees led the Saints 81 yards for a touchdown to seemingly put the game out of reach 35-24 with 3:03 remaining. Despite a scare by Atlanta, the Saints held off for a 35-27 win.

THE non-CLUTCH:

Down 17-10 with 1:38 remaining from their own 20 yard line, Matthew Stafford threw four straight incompletions to lose to the Rams, 17-10.

Down 18-14 in the fourth quarter, Alex Smith took two drive killing sacks on third down on both of San Francisco’s 4th quarter possessions to lose to the Colts. San Francisco punted on both possessions.

Down 30-25 with 3:39 remaining, Mark Sanchez led the Jets all the way down to the Dolphins 9 yard line (including a 16 yard pass on 4th and long). However, Sanchez took a bad sack on 3rd down, which led to a 4th and 13, which fell incomplete for the Jets’ loss.

Down 24-16 with 4:43 left from their own 26 yard line, JaMarcus Russell failed to get the Raiders a tying score, taking two bad sacks, which led to an incompletion on 4th and 20 to lose to the Chargers.

Matt Ryan let the Falcons down on numerous occasions down the stretch in their 35-27 loss to the Saints. Down 28-24 with just under 10 minutes remaining, Matt Ryan threw an interception on the Saints 10 yard line. After the Saints answered with a touchdown to go up 35-24, Ryan threw three straight incompletions to run out of downs. However, Atlanta got a break when the Saints fumbled the ball giving Atlanta good field positioning at their own 47 yard line with 1:23 remaining. Ryan led Atlanta to a field goal to cut the lead down to 35-27, and then recovered an onsides kick-giving them 28 seconds remaining from their own 37 yard line. However, Atlanta’s last ditch effort resulted in another Ryan interception, which ended the game.

Did You Know:

Vince Young is now 19-11 as a starter.

Alex Smith is now 11-20 as a starter. Benched Shaun Hill is 10-6 as a starter with the same exact team.

Jay Cutler’s Chicago Bears are 4-3. Kyle Orton’s Denver Broncos are 6-1.

JaMarcus Russell is now a career 7-17 as a starter, with a 66.3 passer rating.

Since his big 2007 year, Derek Anderson is 4-10 with 11 tds vs. 17 interceptions, and a 55.8 passer rating. In his five starts so far this year, he has three games with under 10 completions and 3 games with less than 100 yards passing.

HOMER REPORT

I'm thinking Rex Ryan ate his 2 point conversion chart before he had a chance to look at it.

Prematurely going for two point conversion in the 3rd quarter, came back to haunt the Jets since they needed a touchdown at the end of the game instead of a game-tying field goal.

Confidence Scale (out of 10): 6.0- I am constantly reminding myself that I'm probably expecting too much from a rebuilding year. Our quarterback is 22 years old. we have a first year head coach, and we lost arguably our best players for the season (Kris Jenkins and Leon Washington). I should technically be happy by a 8-8, or 9-7 season. However, losing three shaky games at the last second, after a 3-0 start, is eating away at my mind. The Jets should be 6-2, but instead are 4-4. I guess "We are what our record says we are."

FOURCADE FORMULA

Based on my Fourcade formula, here are the top 5 and bottom 5 quarterback performances from week 8.

BEST:

1) Brett Favre: 244 yards, 4 touchdowns + clutch performance
2) Donovan McNabb: 240 yards, 3 touchdowns
3) Tony Romo: 256 yards, 3 touchdowns
4) Drew Brees: 308 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception + clutch performance
5) Peyton Manning: 347 yards + clutch performance

WORST:
22) Kurt Warner: 242 yards, 2 touchdowns 5 interceptions
23) JaMarcus Russell: 109 yards, 1 interception + non-clutch performance
24) David Garrard: 139 yards, 2 interceptions
25) Ryan Fitzpatrick: 117 yards, 2 interceptions
26) Derek Anderson: 76 yards, 2 interceptions

QB REPORT CARD:

Based on my Fourcade formula, here are the grades for quarterbacks who have started at least five games through Week 8:

A+: Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Kyle Orton, Donovan McNabb, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo
A: Carson Palmer, Matt Schaub, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers
B+: Joe Flacco, Eli Manning
B: Kurt Warner, Matt Ryan
C+: Jay Cutler
D+: Shaun Hill
D: Matt Hasselbeck, David Garrard, Mark Sanchez
F: Jake Delhomme, Jason Campbell, Trent Edwards, Matthew Stafford, Matt Cassel, Marc Bulger, JaMarcus Russell, Derek Anderson, Kerry Collins