Week 17 Observations

I'm sure I speak for many Giants fans when I say I didn't appreciate the indignity of rooting for the Lions today. Thankfully, the VIkings won anyway, so Detroit's four-turnover giveaway to one of the league's truly inept offensive teams didn't matter in the end.

I was 8-1 against the spread in the early games, and looking at 3-3 or 4-2 in the afternoon when the Cardinals covered on a 4th-and-24 hail mary, the Chargers got a punt blocked and blew their cover (how could I expect otherwise from them?) and the Packers couldn't send their game into overtime.

I think Adrian Peterson should probably win the MVP award after getting the Vikings into the playoffs. Otherwise, it might as well just be called the MVQB award. Peyton Manning was only marginally better than Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and RGIII, but no one was close to Peterson from the running back slot. Put differently, if you take Manning and Knowshon Moreno/Willis McGahee off the Broncos and replace them with Peterson and an average QB like Andy Dalton, they're probably 13-3 either way. This same fallacy happens in the draft where teams fall all over themselves to get a franchise quarterback, not realizing that there are probably 15 QBs from Jay Cutler (for whom the Bears traded an arm and a leg) to Matt Stafford, Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford, Joe Flacco to Cam Newton who are considered that by their respective franchises. Take away Manning from the Broncos, and you still have a very good foundation - even Tim Tebow won a playoff game with that team last year. Take away Peterson from the Vikings, and you have a team drafting a top-5 pick. And while several QBs - Brady, Rodgers, RGIII, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger - probably could have led this Broncos team to a top playoff seed, what running back other than Peterson would have gotten the Vikings into the playoffs?

Is anyone (other than fans of the teams) excited for HOU-CIN or BAL-IND? By contrast, could anyone not be excited about the SEA-WAS game which will probably be a pick 'em. I could see the public taking Seattle and the sharps on WAS. Not sure which way I'll go yet.

For those of you doing playoff drafts, I put together the playoff cheat sheet for the site. I like the Packers (home game against the Vikings), the Patriots and Broncos as the teams to bankroll, as they're very likely to have two games and have the upside to win the whole thing. The 49ers could win the Super Bowl, but they likely draw the Packers in their first game and could easily be one and done. The Falcons will be vulnerable to the winner of the Redskins-Seahawks game, but only one of those two is going to make it, so while both have upside, it's a crapshoot which will get through. One could also go ugly with the Ravens and Texans, both of whom are 2:1-ish favorites at home. But should either win, it would be a big underdog in Round 2.

That Michael Floyd had such a great game is yet another indictment of Ken Whisenhunt for burying him all season.

The Rams are apparently not the least bit intimidated by their physical NFC West foes. The played the Seahawks to a draw for most of the game in a very tough environment.

I love that the Colts beat up on the Texans despite having nothing for which to play. Houston didn't deserve the No. 1 seed, and it would be a shame for the Pats and Broncos to play before the AFC title game .

While I hate the Cowboys and am glad to see them not wasting a playoff spot (as they had zero chance to do any damage), it was annoying to see the Redskins gifted the game-winning first down on a roughing-the-passer call. Yes, the defender hit RGIII in the head, so technically it was a foul, but it wasn't a hard blow, and he wasn't hurt by it. As a result, instead of kicking the FG to go up six, with Dallas getting the ball back, the Redskins chewed more clock, got a TD and put away the game. One can argue it was dumb to hit RGIII and it was, but there has to be some discretion as to what's a dangerous hit and what's a harmless accident, especially when it artificially ends one team's season. We want to see who the better team is, not who ran afoul of a cheap technicality.

When Kyle Shanahan compared Alfred Morris to Terrell Davis after Week 2, I thought it was ridiculous and probably code for "he's losing his job to Evan Royster any day." But that comparison was never more apt than in Week 17 when Morris looked like Davis' carbon copy, gashing the defense all day and breaking through for a long TD in the second half. Pierre Garcon is a decent weapon, but if the Redskins ever got a game-breaker like Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant or Julio Jones, the offense would be unstoppable.

The Panthers decided to take the Ferrari (DeAngelo Williams) for a spin today. It's way too expensive to use regularly though.


By: Scott Pianowski
On: 1/2/2013 1:23:00 AM
Teams *should* fall all over themselves to get a franchise quarterback, because that's the only way you'll set up your franchise for a decade of excellence. There are a zillion superstar running backs who never made the Super Bowl. Star QBs who didn't make the Super Bowl are very hard to find. You've got Dan Fouts, Warren Moon (somewhat overrated; never made a conference title game) and Bernie Kosar (ignoring his Dallas backup ring). Then it drops down to the Romo/Brunell/Rivers types.

On the running back side, Tomlinson, Simpson, Campbell, Sanders, Dickerson all never made it. Peterson is going to have a difficult time making it on this Vikings team. Priest Holmes was a bit player on the Ravens title team, but his Chiefs teams (when he was king) didn't get far in the playoffs. Walter Payton got to the Super Bowl once, and that was basically because of the defense (though he was still good in 1985).

Now I know someone can say "wait, the Pats got Tom Brady cheap" or "the Seahawks got Russell Wilson cheap" but that's an unfair way to look at it. Those are random flukes. No one is that good when it comes to drafting. If a team were, it would simply trade all its Day 1 picks every year, then pick Alfred Morris in the sixth round every season. But you can't expect to win the lottery like that very often.
By: Scott Pianowski
On: 1/2/2013 1:26:00 AM
To fairly evaluate Peyton Manning's season, you need to accept that the 2011 Broncos were a mediocre team.

- 2011 Broncos: 8-8 record, 309 PF, minus-81 point differential
- 2012 Broncos: 13-3 record, 481 PF, plus-192 point differential

The Broncos scored 172 more points this year, and improved their point differential by 273 freaking points. Defensive improvement is part of the story, but I think we know the offensive spike wasn't because of Jacob Tamme.
By: Chris Liss
On: 1/2/2013 11:45:00 AM
Clearly the Broncos were far better this year than last, but that would have been the case if Roethlisberger, Brady, Rodgers, RG or Brees took over. Even if it were Romo, Eli, Newton and half a dozen others then would have won 11 or 12. Thomas and Decker were going to get better regardless.

As for RBs, Tomlinson made the playoffs a lot of year, and it's not that different from Marino who made one SB and lost. (Not that Tomlinson was anywhere near as valuable as Marino), but making one SB is using a random end point. And Elway never won a SB until the Broncos had TD - who I think was actually more valuable than LDT at his peak.

But either way, while QBs generally are more valuable than RBs in the modern NFL (Jim Brown was ridiculously valuable in that era), it's still a matter of where you put replacement value.

If you're using Tebow/Ponder/Lindley as replacement value, then even Brown in his prime could not possibly be more valuable than a franchise QB like Matt Ryan (which is what you can hope for when you select a franchise QB, not Peyton Manning, Brady, Brees).

But if we use Andy Dalton/Joe Flacco/Jay Cutler - the average QB - as replacement value then there's a case to be made Matt Ryan isn't worth taking over an elite CB, DE or WR.

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