Archive for September, 2009

Rodgers can’t finish?

September 14, 2009

Well, for those who carried over concerns from last year about Rodgers’ ability to finish, you can rest easier. That was an emphatic finish for Rodgers – ending the game with an absolutely perfect pass on a huge, national stage. I bet this feels really good for Rodgers. I’d even say it was classy for Rodgers to avoid throwing Allen Babre under the bus in the post game interview considering Babre repeatedly jeopardized Rodgers’ health. But the thing I liked best about this finish is what Rodgers’ demonstrates mentally here. I just like the fact that Rodgers didn’t lose his focus in a game when he could have easily lost his focus. He was getting pounded all game (whether it was the horrendous Babre not blocking anyone or the officials not calling a late hit after Rodgers slid) – but then at the most critical moment, he sharpened his focus and threw a beauty to Jennings in stride.

I’m glad we won, but I’ll be one person who won’t forget how crappy the officiating was. The call against Al Harris gave the Bears a go ahead field goal with very little time left. That line judge is probably an old pal of Mayor Daley’s.

The…um…stones!!!

September 13, 2009

Wow. I am typically all for the unconventionaly playcall, the trick play, the unpredictable call. But I didn’t even have a play like that one called up. That call took stones and I love it (now that it worked). Wow. Great play call. 3rd and 1, of course the Bears would guess run, pulling it seemed like 9 guys in the box. Unreal. Now, let’s hold on here. (What is this BS delay – what are they reviewing? The way things have gone, they are just trying to figure out some way possible to screw the Pack again.)

Poppinga…um…sucks

September 13, 2009

Once again, Brady Poppinga has 6 tackles tonight ALL AFTER THE GUY WAS ALREADY DOWN!!!!  I’m not going to quit bitching about Brady Poppinga until the guy is on the bench. Right now, Poppinga has zero tackles…zero anything. Just weak.

Allen Babre…um…sucks

September 13, 2009

As Brother Steve is pointing out, we don’t have a back-up right tackle right now because Breno Giacomini is not active. Even though Breno kind of sucks, Babre has been so bad it’s unreal. Simply unreal.

Anyone else think Mark Tauscher is watching with piqued interest.

Cutler…um…sucks

September 13, 2009

That last Cutler interception was horrible. I don’t care if Knox ran the wrong route, that ball was thrown when Cutler was under major pressure on the run and it was thrown into double coverage. Cutler is not there mentally right now – and the Pack’s D has a lot to do with it.

Nice play by Chillar- no, unreal play by Chillar.

Week 1 Picks

September 11, 2009

By way of reminder, each week I pick games against the spread.

  • TN @ Pitt (-4.5). Pitt will barely pull this one out in overtime. Hines Ward will have a costly fumble at the end of regulation, but it won’t matter. Jeff Reed will kick 2 FGs, one of which will be an ugly liner that is lucky to go through. The announcers will talk on 2 separate occasions about how Bruce Arians, Pitt’s OC, won’t mess with Ben Roeth’s “courageous” approach to quarterbacking. Jeff Fisher will continue to have a mustache and occasionally contemplate during the game growing out his mullet again.
  • Mia @ Atl (-3.5). This is one of those games where I’d pick the home team no matter what. So, Atl. I’m surprised that with the loudish Bill Parcells at the helm, the Dolphins have kept a low profile this offseason – especially after winning the division last year.
  • Jax @ Indy (-6.5). Not sure what to expect from either team. Jack Del Rio tends to either maximize the potential of his players or minimize it – if the trends continues, this could be a good year. But not yet – Colts by many.
  • MN @ Cleve (+3.5). Tempted to take Cleve simply because Favre has had issues in his past winning games his team should win. Difference in this game is that the Cleve sucks (Mangini is too busy playing ridiculous games) and MN has good supporting cast.
  • Dal @ TB (+3.5). Despite this tremendous quote from cbssports.com, I don’t see good things in store for TB this week or this year (though I must say, low expectations are something Byron Leftwich usually does well with): Bucs WR Antonio Bryant (left meniscus surgery) appears ready to go against the Cowboys on Sunday and isn’t worried about developing timing with starting QB Byron Leftwich: “Most of the spectacular catches I made last year were bad timing.”
  • NYJ @ Hou (-4.5). I can see the Jets trying to surprise the Texans a bit by throwing early and often. What I’m not sure of is how Mark Sanchez will play. I can see him having a much talked-about debut and I can also see this game plan back-firing and Jet fans already starting to worry about Rex Ryan’s cockiness interfering with sensible game plans.  One thing to watch in this game is Hou’s defense – it could quietly be better than last year giving Hou a legit shot at the playoffs.
  • KC @ Balt (-9.5). I’ve gone back and forth here. It’s hard to know exactly what to expect from the re-tooled Chiefs and their wild coach Todd Haley. While I’ll wait to render full judgment, something tells me Haley is going to be one of those impulsive-zero-anger-management-skills coaches who benches key players for petty things at inopportune times. Take Balt here on the off chance Haley benches his entire starting defense for giving up a first down early in the game.
  • Den @ Cincy (-3.5). Read this quote from the Colorado Springs Gazette by Denver coach Josh McDaniels:  “Brandon certainly will (contribute), and he’s had a good week of practice. But we’re going to use a lot of people. It’s going to be hot.” It’s going to be hot? Who says that? WT…? Cincy by 2 TDs despite Denver’s heat.
  • Det @ NO (-11.5). It would be sad to be a Det fan for many reasons, but especially when starting the season at NO. I’ll bet a “success” in the eyes of fans/the organization this weekend will be not losing by more than 20. And that may even be out of reach. I don’t think Detroit is THAT bad, but starting them off against NO in NO is kind of cruel.
  • Phil @ Car (-1.5). Pretty interesting to me that Jake Delhomme got a fat contract renewal this offseason after throwing 6 picks in a playoff game and admitting “he just couldn’t see the field right” – and a year after major surgery no less. Jake seems like a really nice guy and a good teammate, but if I were a Carolina fan, I would have lobbied for Michael Vick. Vick, D Williams and Steve Smith would have been a formidable trio. As far as Philly, I have this suspicion that D McNabb and Philly may think they are a little better than they are right about now. They may struggle early in the season and then warm up.
  • Wash @ NYG (-6.5). Mike Florio and co at profootballtalk apparently picked Washington to go to the Super Bowl! What? I have been guilty in the past of picking Wash as an under-the-radar-underdog-type, but this is ridiculous. That said, the Giants are overrated and this game will be close. NYG probably wins, but not by much.
  • StL @ Sea (-7.5). I would be more comfortable if this spread were -6.5, but I’ll still take Sea. The Rams likely won’t be as porous defensively simply because of their new coach Spagnuolo (who has a knack for making regular guys big-time guys). Still, Sea’s passing game will overwhelm (despite at least one pick by StL S Otogwe). Amazing how Sea went from 1 receiving target last year (John Carlson) to 5 (Carlson, TJ Housh, Nate Burleson, Deion Branch and Deon Butler). I wonder if Mike Holmgren is somewhere feeling walrus-like.
  • SF @ Ariz (-6.5). Many think this may be a lopsided game but it won’t be. SF has the potential this year to surprise, though they face a similar concern as KC re the head coach’s impulsiveness. Singletary may evolve into a very good head coach, but I’d think a key for him will be surrounding himself with quality assistants who can help keep him in check if he’s about to go off (so he can retain some credibility). Don’t get me wrong, I like fiery guys, but there is a line between fiery and ridiculous. Watch out for Josh Morgan and SF’s improved passing attack now that Shaun Hill has been established clearly as THE guy.
  • Chic @ GB (-3.5). Not liking this spread as there is an outside chance that this could be a one field goal game. However, a bigger part of me (my leg) can see this being a route. I hate to be cocky as a Packer fan, but given the very real excitement that exists in the GB locker room for this team, it’s easiest right now for me to envision a chaos-causing defense getting the ball back several times for an offense that will seem unstoppable and unpredictable. My only concern is that I thought Jay Cutler performed quite well upon his return to Denver  – and there was certainly lots of pressure in that game. Still, Pack by 10+.
  • Buff @ NE (-10.5). I almost wonder if Dick Jauron may only have half a season left. If he doesn’t pull some early upsets and get a few wins, he could be out. Look for anywhere from 1-3 long Lee Evans TDs – but also look for a Bill’s defense that struggles to contain Welker and Kevin Faulk. Pats by 13+. (By the way, I heard the real reason TO doesn’t like the Buff no-huddle is because he planned to offer live tweets from each huddle during games).
  • SD @ Oak (+8.5). Rivers will go wild, LT will go wild, Gates will go wild…and so will Darren McFadden. I’m sure McFadden wants to play elsewhere so I’ll bet he is excited to show the NFL world how good he can be. I can see him producing this season if he stays healthy, but I can’t see Oak producing as a team. If Oak wins this game, I will feel very strange. If they don’t win, I will feel very concerned for all of Tom Cable’s assistants.

2009 Predictions – NFC North

September 11, 2009
  1. GB (11-5). I think the Packers will be good this year and could very well end up an elite team. Rodgers looks great, the o-line seems to be up to the challenge, the WRs are great, RBs are solid (though they should still have Tyrell Sutton), and the defense pretty much can’t be worse than last year. Things look good. My only caution, and I write this reluctantly, is that a few key injuries could change the outlook. Here’s to hoping Rodgers, Jennings, Pickett, Harris/Woodson and Collins all stay healthy! One thing I want to put out there is that I have very strong expectations for Ryan Grant. I  read something in the offseason about Grant feeling like last year, his legs weren’t fully under him (conditioning/hamstring issue) and it cost him his burst and ability to break tackles. I actually believe this 100% because part of what made him so impressive in 2007 was his ability to run through tackles – and last year was such a huge contrast when finger-tackles were pulling him down. All reports this year indicate he’s back to his old self, and that he’s looked very good in camp. Grant to rush for 1500+, score 9 TDs or so, and have more receptions.
  2. MN (10-6). I know, I know, those who memorize my posts so that you can some day in the future point out my inconsistencies will be the first to tell me that I said earlier this year that the Vikes would be 12-4 if Favre plays for them. I’ve cooled on that a little bit – but mainly because I have elevated my opinions of both the Bears and the Packers making – the division games harder. This is still a good team, a solid D, the best running team in football, and now, they will have a QB with major experience. Two of Favre’s staple targets over the years have been the TE and the third-down RB – in Shiancoe and Chester Taylor, he has two quality targets. Throw in Percy Harvin and he will have at least some targets in MN. And Favre won’t be left with too many 3rds and long (I believe that is grammatically correct, not 3rd and longs), because AP will likely get positive yards on downs 1&2. One kind of scary thought I haven’t heard ANYONE talk about: what if Favre ends up having a monster year? I have not read one article/blog etc speculating re this possibility. I, and most others, tend to think it would be unrealistic, which is why we haven’t read anything about it. But, it is possible. While I laid out the conventional thinking above – saying that Favre won’t need to pass much because AP will do most of the damage – there may be a flip side. If teams consistently put 8-9 in the box to stop AP forcing Favre to throw, it’s at least possible that he’ll successfully take advantage of these relatively easy passing situations (single-coverage) and produce, no? Yes, he’s old, unwilling to learn new things, difficult in the locker-room, has a generally weak receiving targets and a poor coach, and overall is an assface for going to the Vikings, but the fact is, putting up gaudy stats isn’t exactly foreign to the man. My hope for this team is that they…um…just suck, finish 2-14 and are moved to L.A. for 2010.
  3. Chic (10-6). I’m nervous about Sunday’s game in part because I haven’t changed my opinion much from when the Bears announced the arrival of Jay Cutler. I think that was a very smart move by the team, a surprisingly smart move, and it will pay dividends. Cutler is very good and I think his addition brings instant variety to an offense that was fairly run-focused.  Matt Forte will be good again, he’s a smart player, but he won’t be needed quite so much this year. I think WR Earl Bennett will do some damage this year. Cutler came back to Vanderbilt to throw for Bennett for Bennett’s pro day 2 years ago – and he did this a couple years after Cutler had already been in the NFL. Good friends. Bennett and Greg Olsen (Cutler’s 2nd best friend on the team) will get plenty of looks. The Bears could have some issues on defense – not sure they are capable of being the fearsome defense they once were. One hope we can all have is that Cutler’s personality/still-frat-guy-in-college-mentality might rub teammates the wrong way leading to internal fighting – like Brian Urlacher ending up calling Cutler a ***** for real.
  4. Det (5-11). The Lions will have their moments this year. I think Jim Schwartz may end up being a good coach. He certainly did a nice job in TN as a DC. RB Kevin Smith, WR Calvin Johnson, TE Brandon Pettigrew, LB Julian Peterson and S Louis Delmas will all have strong seasons. Stafford will have a few quality games too. Other than that, once again, not much to look forward to if you’re a Lions’ fan.

2009 Predictions – NFC West

September 9, 2009
  1. Sea (10-6). Despite questions re the o-line, I think Seattle management has done a nice job of replenishing a weakened receiving corps – and it will make a big difference. The addition of TJ Housh from Cincy was very smart – big year for him this year, Nate Burleson is back and healthy and importantly, rookie Deon Butler could be a sneaky good additional option for Hasselbeck. One guy I’m high on is TE John Carlson – Hasselbeck loves him and so do the coaches. Jim Mora used the **** out of TE Alge Crumpler when HC in Atlanta and I expect Carlson to get similar attention in this offense. I’m not sure re the running game headed by Julius Jones, but the passing attack should be good. The Seattle defense may surprise some this year. They still have some quality LBs and secondary guys, the question may be if their d-line can step up to the challenge. I like Jim Mora as a coach generally and expect this team to be good.
  2. AZ (9-7). I like Ken Whisenhunt as a coach too and even think the departure of former OC Todd Haley could help this team. While Whisenhunt would be foolish to alter the offensive game plan a ton (because AZ was so dominant in the air), I’m pretty sure he will push harder than they did last year to establish the run. RB Beanie Wells may help them do just that  – as Tim Hightower just didn’t seem to be the answer last year. I don’t see AZ being bad this year or having the post Super Bowl slump – I just see them being outplayed by division rival Seattle.
  3. SF (7-9). Tough team to figure. At one point this summer, I considered making SF my darkhorse team – the team that would cruise through their division en route to a playoff run. But I can’t fully trust the volatile Mike Singletary yet, nor can I trust QB Shaun Hill (though I think he’s the best QB there – though rookie QB Nate Davis has shown well this summer). Still, their offense has weapons in Frank Gore, now back-up RB Glen Coffee, WRs Isaac Bruce and Josh Morgan and yes, I still think Vernon Davis can be good. But it’s their defense that could do real damage this year. As a defensive-minded coach, I can see Singletary most effectively leading the resurgence of this D – led by Patrick Willis who is the real deal. If the D starts playing out of its mind and the offense controls game tempo by running it effectively, perhaps SF may end up as that sleeper team yet.
  4. St L(5-11). I still think Marc Bulger is good and with Steven Jackson healthy and the likelihood that the defense at least won’t be an afterthought anymore (because of HC Steve Spagnuolo), this team could be a bit more competitive this year. Still, they are probably 2-3 years away from contending for the division. Funny to think that the Rams, the Bucs and the Raiders have all been to the Super Bowl more recently than the Packers.

2009 Predictions – NFC South

September 9, 2009
  1. NO (12-4). NO had a down year last year, but finally, the organization went about trying to improve the defense. And, while the offense didn’t really need to improve much, it did. Robert Meacham has developed into a yet another legit WR threat, Jeremy Shockey is apparently a different person health-wise this year (though the loss of the 2nd TE Billy Miller does hurt), Pierre Thomas has very convincingly answered questions re whether he can be the featured back and Drew Brees is Drew Brees.
  2. Atl (10-6). I still like Atlanta. For a while this offseason, I was prepared to predict a 2nd year slump for Mike Smith, Matt Ryan and Michael Turner. Then, they picked up Tony Gonzalez which I think will only create more mismatches for opposing defenses. Then, I also thought about the fact that their defense was not great last year – so improving upon that may not be difficult. Possible playoff team again.
  3. Car (7-9). It’s strange, when Carolina is good their team doesn’t seem to be appreciably different than when they are bad. I don’t really get it. This year, I can see a solid running game (having 4 high quality RBs in DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Goodson and now Tyrell Sutton), perhaps a bit of a revived pass game due to everyone being healthy (and the emergence of Dwayne Jarrett), but I can see there being some questions on defense. Jon Beason’s health is a concern as he is a stud when healthy. (Also, the loss of DT Maake Kemoeatu hurts this defense a lot – he was good last year).
  4. TB (4-12). I see Tampa winning 4 games at home and that’s it. They may end up with a nice running game and some defensive moments, but that’s about it. The passing game should be questionable at best.

2009 Predictions – NFC East

September 9, 2009
  1. Dal (11-5). Reading through other predictions, I know that I’m pretty much on my own here thinking the Cowboys will be division winners. I think they will benefit from playing in a division on the decline. But importantly, don’t forget the Cowboys are loaded with talent. Romo will prove this year that he can play in big games, Witten is the best TE in football (until Jermichael Finley develops a bit more), Roy Williams at one time was a tremendous WR for Detroit, the other WRs are quietly not bad, the defense is at least decent and the Cowboys may end up with the best running game in football this year. (I am particularly excited to see the Cowboys use the duo of Felix Jones and Marion Barber at the same time in the backfield because this just makes sense to me.) T.O. was a distraction especially last year and not just for Romo. He bothered Witten, the OC Jason Garrett, the head coach and other WRs. This team is set to rebound and could finally do some damage in the playoffs.
  2. Philly (10-6). Philly could be good again this year. They’ve finally given McNabb some better WR targets and Brent Celek may be poised for a breakout season. My concern is the defense though. With Jim Johnson’s passing, the team loses a brilliant defensive mind. New DC Sean McDermott may have been well schooled by Johnson, but I’m doubtful he will demonstrate the kind in-game coaching ability Johnson did…at least early on. And the Eagles lost perhaps their most spirited/respected leader in Brian Dawkins as well as the unknown but quality LB Stewart Bradley. I wonder if McNabb may feel more pressure on himself/the offense if the defense ends up being considerably less reliable than it has in the past.
  3. Wash (7-9). The Redskins will play hard and have their moments, but this will likely be the end of Jim Zorn’s time there. Zorn is one of those guys I could see going somewhere else and doing fine – just not in Washington. The big question for the Skins this year, as it is most years, is: what can they expect from QB Jason Campbell. From the sound of it, Zorn and co plan to open up the passing game allowing for more deep throws than in previous years when Campbell has been held in check w/re to throwing down field. This is one of those quiet changes that might end up really helping out this team. Just having watched the Skins a few times over the last 1-2 years, I have noticed that their field on offense often seems congested – spreading the field may indeed force defenses to pay more attention to the pass instead of focusing so much on stopping Portis.
  4. NYG (6-10). Ok, I believe I have been wrong each of the last 3 years picking the Giants. I usually pick them to suck because I still think I’m in denial that Eli Manning is any good. But this year, I really think I’m going to be right (whatever that means). I see the Giants’ reliance on their running game as a potential problem as teams may focus on defending the run while taking their chances against a weak receiving corps. Even though the Giants’ O-line is still probably one of the better ones out there, I just don’t see this offense causing the kind of damage that a playoff team needs to cause. The defense will be good, but probably no better than average. I think the loss of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will be significant.

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