Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ten Things I learned about you

 1. Run Baby Run: The Philadelphia Eagles can play smash-mouth football!

It wasn't Desean Jackson's four catches for 210 yards with a sprained ankle. It wasn't even that Vick got smashed into the turf regularly and was able to rally his troops from 20-14 in the third quarter in Dallas. The Eagles ran the ball consistently in the final four minutes of the game! I couldn't believe my own eyes. If there was always one flaw with the Eagles and Andy Reid's play-calling, it was their pass happy nature at the end of games. With 4 minutes 22 seconds left in the game, Jason Witten scored for Dallas making it a three point game at 30-27. The Eagles went on offense and were able to finish the Cowboys off by not letting their offense back on the field. They ran the ball until the clock showed zeroes on the overstated scoreboard at Big D's stadium. This used to be the Eagles achilles heel, but Sunday was their strength. The Cowboys defense knew it was coming, but were unable to neutralize this surprising ground game. No tricks, no reverses, just hard-nosed uphill running that was the difference in the game. If the Eagles can add this to their resume the rest of the way, its going to be nearly impossible to defend them. Remember, they still have Jackson, Maclin, and of course Vick if the running game stalls.

2. They're only kings if they have Cassel

Matt Cassel for MVP. Matt Cassel for MVP. I don't believe this, but you better believe Kansas City Chief fans do. Without Cassel, the Chiefs offense doesn't move. His backup Croyle completed 7 of 17 passes for 40 yards and was sacked four times in his first start since the 2009 opener. The MVP debate right now doesn't include Cassel but maybe he should be on the shortlist. The Chiefs with him are a legitimate playoff contender, but without him judging from Sundays beat down would be a three win club right now at best. Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, third in the NFL with 1,137 yards rushing coming in, was held to 40 yards on 10 carries. Dwayne Bowe who became the franchise leader in receiving touchdowns for the chiefs and having an MVP type season of his own, had one reception for 3 yards. Three yards actually makes sense I suppose when your quarterback throws for 40 yards total. An MVP is a player that elevates an entire team when he takes the field. Cassel has done that this season. Cassel proved that he is the difference between the chiefs being a contender, or the bottom-feeder of the AFC they have been over the last few years. Inside the numbers: 23 Touchdowns 4 interceptions. 98 QB Rating.

3. If Aaron Rogers sits, Greenbay should just Pack(er) it in.

What do the Falcons and the Patriots have in common besides (11-2) records?

Healthy players. The NFL is a coaching league and a league plagued with injuries. A talented team that has more injuries than an Emergency room is going to falter especially if injuries are to key play-makers. A big reason some teams that had high expectations end up falling short are injuries. Before the season started, the Greenbay Packers were the favorites to come out of the NFC. Then, players went down week after week and they started (4-3). Now, key pieces started coming back and they started winning again. Last week, people were talking about them like they did before the season started. The Packers lost Sunday 7-3 (not a typo) to division opponent Detroit. Worse than losing the game was losing Rogers to his second concussion this season. Once he was out, similarly with the chiefs backup, the Greenbay offense was dead. The Packers have to travel next week to Foxboro to face the red hot Patriots and a healthy Tom Brady. Is backup Matt Flynn going to break Brady's 26 game home winning streak in New England weather? Health is key.

4. Don't sleep on Mardi Gras, and don't sleep on the Saints.

The only (10-3) team people aren't talking about is the New Orleans Saints. Perhaps it was because they just won the Superbowl or because they came out of the gate slow. Either way, the Saints are once again marching along one of the most dangerous teams in the NFC. More eye-opening than their resurgence offensively was that their defense started making game-changing plays. Corner back Micheal Jenkins intercepted Rams quarterback Sam Braford twice returning one back to the house. As prolific as their offense was for their Superbowl run last year, their defense was equally explosive making big plays in key moments. They beat up on a Rams team that has played very well at times, but the Saints made them look like the Rams of the Pre-Sam Bradford era. Pierre Thomas returned for the saints and didn't have monster rush yards, but his presence was felt in blocking and catching out of the backfield. If he can get back to 100% and the defense continues to make big plays, the Saints could find themselves playing at Dallas in February.

5. M-J-D has a huge H-E-A-R-T

Maybe I always knew Maurice Jones Drew played bigger than his 5'7 stature, but it was definitely re-affirmed Sunday as he rushed his team to victory over the Raiders. MOJO gave a emotional speech at halftime to inspire his team and put his words into action with a 30 yard touchdown run to ice it with 1:34 left. Jacksonville is a game ahead of the Colts and can clinch the division next week with a victory and a loss by Houston. Jones-Drew ran 23 times for 101 yards and this was his sixth consecutive 100 yard rushing game. Many teams need their quarterback to win games, but Jacksonville is unique in that its MVP is MJD. The offense runs through him even when he doesn't touch the rock. Defenses have to account for Jones-Drew in the running game, blocking, and passing game. He has been a class-act on the field and off for the Jags and emerged as a locker-room leader which is important since the jags will need composure as they have a chance to clinch a playoff berth against the Colts next week. You go MoJo.

6. You can take the quarterback out of California, but you can't take the California out of the quarterback

I thought the Jets, feeling embarrassed and motivated after last Mondays beat down by the pats were going to come out and knock the dolphins teeth out. If I was a betting advisor in Vegas, I would have got laughed out of the desert. The Jets were flatter than Coke when shaken. The Jets for the second straight week seemed allergic to offense. You can point to Santonio Holmes dropping a touchdown pass in the end zone or Jeremy Cotchery dropping a first down pass in the 4th quarter. I saw an alarming trend that if you are a Jets fans should have you worried.
Mark Sanchez's production goes drastically down when he plays in cold weather. Sanchez grew up in so-cal, played high school quarterback in southern Cali, and went on to play college ball at USC. He has a pattern of being much less effective when the weather outside is frightful with a large increase in turnovers and a decrease in touchdowns and overall offensive production. A fear if you are a Jets fan is that this isn't just a coincidence, but a trend that hasn't gotten addressed or corrected. If the jets coaching staff doesn't help Sanchez fix his mechanics in the cold weather, this could be the chink in the Jets armor for years to come.

7. The Chargers will win the AFC west. That's it.

8. The Vikings should sail west

The Giants/Vikings game will be played tonight at Ford Field in downtown Detroit. The roof of the Metrodome has collapsed for the fourth time in its history. A Fox news camera got everything. I know I would never take my family to a game at that stadium. I'm sure engineers are pretty smart, but the picture I get in my head is engineers for the stadium sitting in a circle saying "If the roof can withstand 18 inches of snow it will be fine. It doesn't really snow in Minnesota". Minnesota is like as Norwegian colony of the USA. It snows all the time. The stadium itself is like a very cold refrigerator with plastic seats. Its ashame because the franchise has a rich history and loyal fans, but its time for a change. Los Angeles wants a team and it seems the roof collapse is a sign to do it and do it soon. The roof might not be ready for next weeks game either. Los Angeles is warm, loves football and Magic Johnson could be part owner. I don't see a downside. Brett Favre would like it. Maybe he wont retire and he can play in L.A. where women wont be bundled up in scarfs and parkas. It will be a kid in a candy store for Favre.

9. Pete Carroll: You should have stayed in melo red and yellow.

Coach Carroll is leading the most inconsistent team in the NFL this season. The Seattle sea chickens are 6-7 (still could win the dreadful NFC west) and they come out of the tunnels as a different team each week. Ive said before that coaching wins at the NFL level and Carroll seems to be a bit too "laid-back Cali bro" to get the job done in the NFL.

10. Jon Kitna isn't that bad!

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