Once again we were at XM's place to watch the Saints obliterate the Packers last night 51-29 and while trying to enter a zen-like state where Tony Kornheiser's comments escaped my auditory senses, I jotted down my observations from the NFL action I watched this weekend. One thing that definitely stands out is how wafer-thin the line is in the NFL from success to failure. With 5 weeks left, teams once thought in the driver's seat could be holding onto the bumper as the playoff car speeds away. More NFL
senseless insightful rabblings after the break.
We won't get fooled again.
There has been another turn in the development of Matt Cassel. He is running the offense now how I thought he would earlier in the season. By now everyone has heard the stat about Cassel throwing for over 400 yards in consecutive games and being only the 5th QB since the merger to do so. The list would be seem more prestigious if Billy Volek were not on it. The 415 Cassel produced was impressive, but perhaps even more relevant was his ability to get the ball to Randy Moss. The Dolphins elected to keep Moss in single coverage and he made them pay for it. Once Randy got the ball early he was rolling, catching 3 TDs and totaling 125 yards while making some spectacular grabs as New England won big 48-28.
The Dolphins did gain decent yardage in their own right but the characteristic of the Patriots defense is its ability to make adjustments in the game. Most opponents get their points early, but then New England finds a way to shut down what they are doing successfully. A big adjustment by the Patriots this week was made from the first game at home against the Dolphins when the wildcat formation led by Ronnie Brown shredded thde defense for 137 yards. On Sunday the Patriots held the wildcat formation to 25 net yards. The common arguement made on the New England defense is that it is "old and slow". It's been said by one member of the media to the next and then been regurgitated by everyone listening to them. You've probably said it a few times yourself. While the defense does have a lot of veterans on it, it does have some young fast players featured this year. Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour on the defensive line should hardly be considered slow for their positions, Jerod Mayo and Gary Guyton provide youth and speed at linebacker, and due to injury Brandon Merriweather replaces the aged Rodney Harrison at strong safety.
Still with all that said, the Patriots defense is getting scored on more often than they would like and it will be the big challenge going forward as the offense starts to function better. The Patriots have a big match-up this week with Pitssburgh while the Dolphins are not out of it yet. Miami still has games left against St. Louis, KC, Buffalo, and San Francisco.
Water covers 3/4 of the Earth's surface, the rest is covered by Ed Reed.
Philadelphia truly looks like a team that has given up after their 36-7 loss in Baltimore. Donavan McNabb looked bad in the game and then apathetic on the sideline afterwards. In any shade of color McNabb did not look like someone who wanted to play for his coach or organization anymore. Andy Reid has been coaching in Philly for ten years now but it might be time for him and the Eagles to move on. The other Reed, Ed broke his own interception return record with an 108 yard score off Kevin Kolb's pick. Reed now has 37 picks in his 7 years in the league and has to be considered one of the best safeties in football right now if not ever. Notice in the video that Hakuri Nakamura attempts to get Reed to lateral the ball as he is 5 yards from the endzone which is ridiculous especially after Reed tried to lateral and fumbled on an earlier interception. Baltimore sits on the last playoff spot right now but faces a tough schedule after they face Cincinnati next week which should be their only gimme. They have Washington, Pittsburgh, and Dallas before closing against Jacksonville.
Panthers have a rough trip down I-85.
With a chance to stay ahead in the competitve NFC South, the Carolina Panthers got slammed 45-28 in the Georgiadome. This loss pulls the Panthers into a tie with Tampa Bay who beat them earlier and only one game ahead of the Falcons and two ahead of the Saints. The game started slow for the Panthers on offense as they had two quick three and outs while Atlanta jumped out to a 17-3 halftime lead. In the second half Carolina got the ball moving but it was the defense that failed to keep them in the game. There were 6 4th quarter touchdowns scored, the backbreaker being Michael Turner's 3rd of his 4 with the Falcons up 24-21 and facing 4th and Goal from the 1. The defense which had gotten a pass from last week's poor performance at home against Detroit, now becomes a concern for the Panthers as they head into Green Bay this week and have a huge home Monday nighter against the Bucs in week 14. The Panthers were helpless against the run and missed key assignments and tackles in the passing game. The bright side for the Panthers is that they are 8-3 and problems on defense are probably easier to correct for John Fox and the coaching staff than offensive inefficiencies.
San Diego is the bizarro Indianapolis.
Much like the bizarro Superman that lived in an opposite universe from the real Superman, the Chargers are the Colts from the parallel dimension. The Colts drove the ball down the field and had Vinatieri hit a long game-winning field goal as time expired to win 23-20. This was after San Diego drove down the field to tie, but were unable to run time off the clock due to a penalty or even bring it close and score the winning TD. The polarization of the two franchises in their current state starts with the quarterback. Peyton Manning is quiet on the field but efficient and a proven winner with a super bowl ring; Phillip Rivers has been known to run his mouth at times on the field and has not yet reached the Super Bowl. Joseph Addai is a young dymanic running back; it appears LT's best days might be behind him. Reggie Wayne came into the league unheralded at the wide receiver postion but as turned into one of the best in the league; Chris Chambers has had a lot of expectations but has never reached his potential. Tony Dungy is the epitome of a players' coach and overcame tough losses in the playoffs to win the big one; it's pretty fair to say Norv Turner is not a players' coach and has never been able to take a team to the next level. San Diego's linebackers are fast, flashy, and like to dance; Indy LB Gary Brackett quietly makes big plays week after week. In the front office, Colt's president Bill Polian is seen as one of the best executives in the league; A.J. Smith dumped Marty Schottenhiemer after a 14-2 season because he didn't like him and hired Norv. Inianapolis finally overcame the Patriots and won the Super Bowl after being told they just couldn't win the big one; the Chargers could not get past the Patriots in the past couple of years even after many people were telling them they were the most talented team in the NFL.
The last evidence of the bizarro relationship of these two teams is their records: the Colts are 7-4 and the Chargers sit at 4-7.