Week 8 Observations

The Patriots seem like a smoke and mirrors team - good enough to outsmart most opponents, especially in the regular season, but not good enough to face top defenses or go deep into the postseason.

Some number crunching systems graded the Rams as far and away the worst team in the NFL prior to Week 8, while the Saints were among the elite. Those systems were not wrong - the Rams performance through six games was that bad. But it does show how sometimes past performance is not always a great indication of future results. If it were, teams would rarely get a lot better or worse during the season - something we observe all the time.

The Ravens came back to win against the Cardinals, but after losing in Jacksonville and being life and death against Arizona at home, it's hard to take them seriously as a threat to win the Super Bowl. Joe Flacco bounced back for 336 yards, but it took him 51 attempts to get there against an abysmal Arizona defense.

Chris Johnson and DeAngelo Williams are going to cost running backs like Fred Jackson and Peyton Hillis (assuming he ever returns to last year's form) a lot of money. The Frank Gore extension (which looked awful through four weeks) is a relative bargain.

Now that Adrian Peterson once again has a role in the passing game, he's the No. 1 overall back and probably the No. 1 overall player. Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy and Calvin Johnson deserve some consideration, too.

Eli Manning's averaging 303 yards per game this year, and he would have had about 450 on Sunday had his receivers not dropped a few perfectly thrown balls. The Giants schedule gets brutal - @NE, @SF, vs. PHI, @NO, vs. GB, @DAL, vs. WAS, @NYJ and vs. DAL - the rest of the way, but NE, GB and WAS are in the bottom third in YPA allowed, and only NO is in the top third. In other words, those are good teams, but if anything, most of them (other than the 49ers and Jets) are likely to score points and force Manning to throw in the second half.

Assuming the Packers are the class of the NFL, what team would you give the best chance of beating them? I'd have to say the Eagles, who were a Desmond Bishop ankle tackle of DeSean Jackson away from knocking them out of the playoffs last year. Incidentally, Andy Reid is now 13-0 coming off the bye week. I wonder whether that'll be priced into the line next year. It certainly wasn't this year. And every team except the Pats won after the week off, so the notion that the new bye-week rules made a difference is probably false.

The Tim Tebow experiment might not last a whole lot longer - 4.4 YPA not including seven sacks for another 55 yards lost is far below the baseline above which intangibles like leadership and inspiration could possibly make a difference. From a fantasy perspective, it's nice that he tries so hard in garbage time, but it seems like Broncos management knows the season is lost and is simply allowing Tebow to prove he's in over his head, so that they won't have to deal with fans clamoring for him while they try to develop a real quarterback. I hope he proves me wrong because I have him in two important leagues, but my faith is waning.

I have to admit Ryan Mathews simply can't stay healthy. I'll give a mulligan to players who simply have had bad luck, but he seems to leave almost every week with one injury or another and doesn't play through it.

The Geico caveman commercials were *never* funny. At this point, they're embarrassing.

The Browns are incapable of producing any player with fantasy value.

I had the Titans in survivor this week, and while they were up 20-0 early, I had a slight scare early in the third quarter when the Colts drove down the field and had a 4th and goal from the Titans four. When Jim Caldwell settled for a field goal to make it 20-3. I pumped my fist, called my brother and said: "That's why we backed the Titans this week!" I almost admire the unique and fathomless cowardice it takes to do that when you're 0-7 and down 20 on the road in the second half. From a different perspective the decision could be looked at as art.

How unsurprised are you that the Chargers fumbled away a sure regulation win, incidentally?


By: Scott Pianowski
On: 10/31/2011 9:26:00 PM
Pittsburgh's blueprint is worth copying if you like your cornerbacks. The Steelers pressed New England and dared the Patriots to beat them downfield. A lot of teams don't have the DBs to try it, or the stones. But the Patriots don't have a field-stretcher, so it's a logical move.

Conversely, the teams that play a clogged-up zone normally pay for it; the Patriots are too smart, they solve that easily. When you man them, you challenge them in execution. When you zone them, you challenge them to outthink you.

Eli Manning desperately needs Hakeem Nicks to stay on the field. But either way, Manning is helped by New York's failure to run the ball.

On: 10/31/2011 9:31:00 PM
Bang on about Mathews.
By: Zenguerrilla
On: 10/31/2011 9:33:00 PM
Nice to see you wake up finally on Mathews. He is what some of us said he was. The Browns have 2 All Pro's on the O line and 3 guys who suck...not good. Tebow needs a good qb coach. He has potential imho. Phillip Rivers is the biggest whiner in the NFL? no? Tough loss there with the Pack on deck....
By: Kevin Payne
On: 10/31/2011 9:33:00 PM
The Giants are the posers of the league. I don't care about the lead, they don't win the division and they'll be lucky to make a wildcard. Flo (Progressive) is worse than a caveman or lizard. Keep in mind it'll be a hot team towards the end of the season to win the SB. NE and NO got put in weird places this week on the road, that should not be overlooked.
By: Scott Pianowski
On: 10/31/2011 9:44:00 PM
Todd Haley has a lot of rogue in him, but watch his presser and watch Norv Turner's, then ask yourself: who would I want to play for? It's Haley in a slam-dunk.

Hollywood is the ultimate copycat league: find something that appears to work once, then keep spinning it off. It's why I never went for SNL. And it's why most advertising sucks: it's aimed at the LCD, and it's telling the same joke over and over.

By: Mark Stopa
On: 11/1/2011 4:14:00 AM
I agree that man with good corners stops the Pats, whereas zone doesn't, but I'm not sure intelligence is the distinction - it's more the speed at WR, or lack of it. Speaking of which, wasn't Chad Ochocinco supposed to fill that void?

Mathews is the prima donna who needs to go to the bathroom to check her makeup every five minutes. Give me the cool, confident girl who can confidently smile and have fun all night.

Peterson, Foster, McCoy, and CJohnson are in my top 6, too, but there are 2 names you're missing.
By: Scott Pianowski
On: 11/1/2011 9:41:00 AM
I want to emphasize the point, many (if not most) teams don't have the personnel to do what Pittsburgh did. Not a lot of corners can get up in your face and cover; it's why we make such a big deal over Revis and (Oakland's version of) Asomugha, and it's why Arizona gets toasted every week. But you can't be afraid of the Patriots. You have to challenge them. Going zone is death by 1,000 cuts.
By: herbst13
On: 11/1/2011 10:44:00 AM
Chris, if NE and Balt aren't serious Super Bowl contenders out of the AFC, then who is??? Pittsburgh, who you had dead and buried not too long ago? *Someone* has to represent the AFC...
By: Chris Liss
On: 11/1/2011 11:01:00 AM
One of them could sneak through and make it. I don't see either hanging with the Packers, though. Whereas the Jets pass D and Steelers pass D gives them a better chance. I also see the Eagles or Saints having a better chance, too. But a lot will change between now and then. Just don't see how the Pats can beat a great defense without the ability to stretch the field. And the Ravens D would have to be the 2000 version to win with that offense. Maybe if Lee Evans comes back, and they open things up, and Flacco gets a rhythm it'll be different. But for now, it seems like a long shot.
By: herbst13
On: 11/1/2011 11:26:00 AM
Here are some odds to win the Super Bowl according to as of today: Packers 2-1, Patriots 6-1, Pittsburgh 8-1, Balt 10-1, Hou 10-1, Chargers 15-1, Bills 18-1, Jets 20-1. It's pretty wide open among the AFC teams. I kind of like the Bengals at 60-1. They seem to have just as good a chance as anyone else in the AFC, although they have yet to play Pittsburgh or Baltimore.
By: gooklaw
On: 11/1/2011 2:33:00 PM
Chargers @15-1? Sure you didn't miss a zero or two?
By: Kevin Payne
On: 11/2/2011 7:33:00 PM
Chris and I *discussed* the Giants and my *poser* comment today on the radio. He admitted that they're not playing as good as the Eagles, and the GMen have a brutal schedule. Bring in Dallas, who outside of the division has Miami, Buffalo, Seattle, Arizona and TB on their schedule outside of the division. And the GMen and Dallas match up twice in the last four weeks. The Giants are not winning the division and will be lucky to get a Wild Card this year.

And Herbst - crazy talk (I've mentioned this a million times) I got the Bills at 200:1 and Houston at 40:1 back on the Rotowire trip to Vegas (TB and Detroit each 30:1).

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