Saturday Juice

It's rivalry weekend, and that usually means rankings, stats, and trends shouldn't matter. Buyer beware. It's not picking the hard games that count, it's just picking the winners.

  • Wisconsin (+3) at Iowa - The 49-14 score from last week's MSU upset over Wisconsin maybe wasn't as bad as it looks. Trailing by 7 points just before half time, Anthony Davis was stopped on a fourth down run just short of the goal line. After the half, the Spartans came out and put up 28 unanswered points. But before picking the Badgers, take notice of what this quote says and who is saying it:
    "We can still make it a great season," punter Ken DeBauche said. "We have a week left, and we can still go out on top."
    Hmmm. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

    Then there is this talk of Iowa losing its top five running backs to injury this season. How many more can they have? If you can't run the ball at home, you can't hold a lead. So even if Iowa gets out to an early lead like they did last week (going up 23-10 at halftime in their big win over Minnesota), I don't expect them to be able to hold it. Also, the Buckeyes last week needed the help of five field goals from their kicker and almost lost to the Gophers because they couldn't convert their drives into touchdowns. There's no way they can win that way against this Badgers' defense. So while I question Wisconsin's determination after such a disappointing loss to finish their season as strong as they started it, I'm putting my peanuts on the better team here. They've defeated both Purdue and Ohio State on the road and at +3/+125, the value is there. Yahoo - ESPN

  • That's my big dog of the day. Also give me Clemson -3 vs South Carolina, Navy -3 vs Rutgers, and Iowa St. +10 at Kansas St.
UPDATE: What happened to Anthony Davis? When did he get hurt? And with the Michigan loss, this game is for a trip to the Rose Bowl, thus leaving my realm of meaningless games. Oh well.

Thursday Football

Featured today are red zone offenses. Specifically, who teams throw to when they are inside the twenty yard line. Having a wide receiver pick up a cheap touchdown can save a bad day of yardage. So here's a quick rundown of what team's tendencies are inside the red zone:


They seem to favor the run whenever they do get into the red zone, a result of having the all-time leading rushing and a thrid year QB in the backfield. No one has had more than three red zone passes thrown to them this season. I'd assume that Larry Fitzgerald would be the guy here if they had more confidence in both him and McCown.


Alge Crumpler leads the team with 51 overall targets and that doesn't change when they get in the red zone. His 9 targets are six better than the next person on the list (Justin Griffith) but the Falcons are still a run first (65%) red zone team.


The top of the NFL alphabet is also the top of the red zone runners. These first three teams, along with the Steelers, compose the top four in average percentage of red zone rushing plays. But they all do it differently. The Ravens just give the ball to Jamal. 70% of the time. Recently, however, the 6 foot 6 inch Clarence Moore has been a red zone favorite, catching 3 out of 3 passes for two touchdowns. Keep an eye on him over the next few weeks to see if that keeps up. The return of Todd Heap will also diversify Baltimore's options inside the twenty yard line.


Across the entire field, Eric Moulds leads all Bills with more than double the targets than the next receiver (Evans). In fact, Moulds' 84 are closing in on triple of Lee Evans' 31. Inside the red zone, Eric is still the favorite. He leads the team in targets (7), catches (5), and touchdowns (3). Not far behind, however, is Damion Shelton (I'm not really sure who he is or what position he plays though). Shelton has caught 4 of 6 passes but for only 16 yards and zero touchdowns. The rise of Willis McGahee has made Buffalo more of a run first offense recently.


One might think that the Panthers red zone offense has been a victim of their depleated running game but in fact Carolina is in the top 10 in converting red zone chances into touchdowns. And they are doing it primarily through the air. Muhammad is by far the leader with 5 catches, 11 targets, and 4 touchdowns. Clearly, his size and strength are one of the few remaining weapons this team has and Jake Delhomme has a lot of trust in him. Brad Hoover's 2 touchdowns on 4 of 5 passes are second on the list.


Other than Thomas Jones and Anthony Thomas, there is nothing of value to discuss here. The Bears are a running team and they have a young quarterback.


The Bengals stay balanced when they get in the red zone. Rudi Johnson is an effective inside the tackles runner and Chad Johnson is strong and quick enough to get off the line of scrimmage. Chad's 12 targets are by far the most on the team, but they haven't resulted in any touchdowns yet. Cincinnati saves those for plays to their fullbacks and tightends. Peter Warrick was a good player for this team last season inside the twenty and they continue to miss his presence.


A guy for the Browns who plays a lot like Warrick is Dennis Northcutt. Dennis leads the Browns with 7 RZ targets. He's caught four of them but none for touchdowns. Aaron Shea is the one they've gone to on four occasions (three for TDs). After that, Quincy Morgan was next on their list before he got traded. I assume that the Browns will look to use Antonio Bryant's size advantage here soon.


Jason Witten has been the Cowboy's offense this season. He's brought in an amazing 54 of the 68 passes thrown to him (79%). That number is an indicator that he is a real good football player who has very good hands and also the ability to get open in tight spaces. Dallas' RZ offense is right at a 50-50 run/pass balance but when they do throw, they are most effective when throwing to Jason. Two of his touchdowns are from the inside the twenty yard line. Surprisingly, Keyshawn Johnson is getting his chances (6 targets) but has only caught 1 of those passes. It was at least good for a score.


You can forget about looking for Ashlie Leslie in the Denver's RZ offense. He has had 6 targets there, but only 1 catch for eight yards. Leslie is more of a deep threat who isn't known as a physical player or one with exceptional hands. Rod Smith, on the other hand, is exactly that. Smith's 10 targets lead Denver, as do his 5 RZ catches and 3 RZ touchdowns. Also high on the list is Patrick Hape, a TE/HB who has been used as the blocking tight end in Denver. Coach Shannahan uses Jeb Putzier a lot in this offense, but his TE of choice in the red zone is Hape.


Ah, Detroit. With all the Joey Harrington apologists turning against him for blood now, who knows what will happen over the next 6 weeks. But so far the season, Roy Williams has earned his money inside the red zone. Considering he's only played seven games this season (and many of those while injured) Roy's caught 3 of 6 passes for 3 touchdowns. He's got the size and strength and also the technique to catch passes with his hands away from a defender on a fade or with his body in those tight spaces in the back of the end zone. Stephen Alexander has also been targeted 7 times, catching 4 of them for 25 yards and no touchdowns. The Lions have really spread things around, throwing RZ TDs to 5 different players so far.


Man these guys score a lot. In the red zone, they throw a little bit more than they run (60/40). And they really spread the ball around. Walker - 6/11 48 yds 4 TDs. Driver - 5/9 39 yds 1 TD. Fisher - 7/7 35 yds 2TDs. Franks - 5/6 44 4 TDs. Green, Henderson, and Ferguson have also scored 1 touchdown.


The Texans stay balanced, but they have been very up and down this season. When they're up, they're getting production from Andre Johnson. He's caught 5 of 9 RZ passes for 45 yards and 2 TDs. All of the Texans' RZ TD passes have gone to wide receivers. Armstrong, Gaffney, and Bradford all have one.


Every Edgerrin owner has been complaining about this and here's why: Harrison - 8/14 53 3 TDs. Wayne - 7/11 49 4 TDs. Pollard - 6/8 57 5 TDs. Clark - 4/7 26 4 TDs. Stokely - 3/4 19 2 TDs. Mungro - 2/2 2 2 TDs. And finally, James - 2/2 13 0 TDs. The one thing of note here is how Stokely isn't featured too often. Inside the 20, the Colts usually go to their favored two tightend sets and have the perfect red zone combination of size (Wayne, Pollard) and quickness (Harrison, Clark).


Here's another team that spreads things around inside the twenty. Ernest Wilford had those two game winning TDs early in the season but hasn't done much since. LeBrandon Toefield caught his first RZ TD last week. First round pick Reggie Williams has the size to be effective here, and has gotten the second most amount of chances (5) but has only produced 1 catch for a meager 4 yards. Jimmy Smith is the team leader in targets with 7, but also has just one catch (6 yards). The Jags score with ends and backs primarily. Greg Jones has also taken over the short yardage duties.


Two of the easiest calls here are KC and San Diego. Gonzalez has been RZ targeted 12 times, catching 7 of those for 51 yards and 2 TDs. Interesting to me that Johnnie Morton was second on the list with 5 catches on 7 targets, 51 yards and 1 touchdown. The Chiefs' other tight-end, Jason Dunn is 3/3 with 3 TDs. KC is more of a running red zone team. Obviously, more of the chances normally go to Tony and Priest. But things may get interesting if Holmes keeps sitting out games.


This is all for very little, since the fish are undergoing a change in coach, quarterback, and desire to win. Chambers was the team's red zone leader with 8 targets, but it's probably safe to bring this one back to square one for the near future.


The team that has redefined the red zone pass (at nearly a 70/30 ratio), has been struggling of late without Moss. Before the injury, Randy had 12 RZ chances and he converted on 7 of them for a striking 6 touchdowns. Those 7 catches were for a total of 22 yards (a 3+ yard per catch average). Marcus Robinson is also a favorite. He has gone 6/10 this year for 41 yards and 5 TDs. Nate Burleson, however, is the one who's received the most total chances with 15. He's caught 9 of those for 77 yards (an 8.5 yard per catch average inside the 20!!!) and 4 TDs. Jermaine Wiggins is 5/6 for 29 and 3 TDs and the only other player of note is Moe Williams at 4/6 45 and 1 TD.


Perhaps no other team over the last five seasons has better utlized it's entire roster than the Patriots. But, injuries (Branch, Watson, Brown, Offensive Line) have changed the way New England's red zone offense has looked since the preseason. 11 Patriots have been red zone targets so far this season, which is among the most of all NFL teams. Despite that, there are three clear leaders of the pack- if for no other reason than because they've stayed healthy. Daniel Graham - 6/7 32 5 TDs. David Givens - 3/8 16 2 TDs. David Patten - 4/7 28 3 TDs. Graham's number have dropped lately because he's been asked to block more due to changes along the offensive line. I also think the Pats had a lot of Colt-like things in mind when they drafted TE Ben Watson last summer. That will have to wait until at least 2005.


When Boo Williams is healthy, he seems to be the favored target here (5/8 52 2 TDs). But Joe Horn's quickness and jumping ability gives him enough to be a goto guy in the red zone. He's got decent numbers to back that up to; 6/8 37 4 TDs. After that, it's hit or miss. Donte Stallworth suprised me with his 4/4 21 and 1 TD. Those numbers aren't too bad for a guy who was recently demoted to the #3 WR because of inconsistency.


How many Giants have caught a red zone touchdown pass this season? Only Jeremy Shockey, but at least he's caught four of them. A new quarterback here will also signal new trends. But it's still interesting that only one player has been able to score from short yardage. They've gone to Ike Hilliard 12 times and he's produced 8 catches and 36 yards out of those attempts. Toomer, on the other hand, has only caught 1 of his 8 passes. After those three, there isn't much diversity in the play calling.


You can always count on those west coast teams to spread it around to their reserve backs and ends. Chris Baker leads them with 4/5 and 3 touchdowns. The other tight end, Anthony Becht, has gone 3/4 but hasn't scored. When Justin McCareins was acquired, many hoped he would become a solid red zone threat, but that hasn't happened just yet. He's still tied for the team lead in targets with 5, but has only produced 1 touchdown from the 3 catches he has. This is Curtis Martin's RZ offense, except when he's tired and then it becomes Lamont Jordan's.


Like New England, the Raiders' offense has been hit by injuries and they've used a lot of different players to try to get into the end zone. The Raiders have thrown to 10 different receivers or backs but the only one that has been targeted with any consistency is Joey Porter. Still, his production has not been consistent as he's brought in only three of the 10 passes thrown his way for only 1 touchdown. The Raider offense has struggled all season, but the only player of note that I see making a regular impact from here out is Doug Jolley.


It's TO's world. 11 targets, 7 catches, 60 yards, and 5 touchdowns. After that, LJ Smith has those 3 TDs he got early in the year. There just isn't much else here.


Despite their 65/35 tendency to run more than pass inside the twenty, the Steelers receivers have had some success in the red zone. Plaxico's size gives him an advantage and he's produced 4 catches on 6 attempts for 32 yards and 2 TDs. Hines Ward has done well too, going 5/8 31 2 TDs. After that, there is only the odd single touchdown, from TE's Tuman and Riemersma and RB Haynes and WR Randel El.


Keenan McCardell has always been a good red zone option and if he wasn't sharing opportunities with Antonio Gates, I'd say he was a great late season fantasy option. Keenan is still a good play, having been targeted 7 times in only two games. He has caught 3 of those for 1 touchdown, but really those chances seem to have come more from Eric Parker (who's only been thrown one RZ pass in the last three weeks). The stud of the group, and maybe of the entire NFL is Gates, who has converted on 11 of 14 passes for 65 yards and 8 touchdowns. This is a two man show now, but look for Justin Peelle to get some chances in the same way Jason Dunn does in KC.


As productive as Brandon LLoyd has been this year, he hasn't been targeted in the red zone too often. That surprises me because this guy can flat out steal the ball away from defenders, the sideline, from low flying aircraft, and just about anything else that gets in his way. He's got 4 of the 5 Niner touchdowns from 39-20 yards out, but once they get closer this team goes to Eric Johnson (5/8 42 2 TDs) and Curtis Conway (3/9 29 1 TD). Lloyd's RZ numbers so far are 1/5 12 0.

Perhaps because they don't catch the ball real well, the Hawks' WRs are an afterthought in their red zone offense. But maybe it also has something to do with that they have one of the great touchdown performers of this generation in Shawn Alexander. The guy just knows how to score and this team has no problem letting him. In addition to his 9 overall rushing TDs, Alexander has been the Hawks' most frequent receiving option in the red zone with 7 catches on 10 attempts for 3 TDs. After Shawn comes Darrell Jackson (2/7 11 1), Jerramy Stevens (2/6 19 0), and Mack Strong (5/5 28 0). Koren Robinson? Not so much. 2 targets, zero catches.


Running only when they have to, the Rams spread it around to Holt (4/9 36 1) and Bruce (5/7 42 2) first. But lately they've been using Kevin Curtis (3/4 33 1) and Shaun McDonald (2/3 21 2) more. Not much action for the TE's so far, Cleeland only has had one pass his way and Manumaleuna two. This is a team that scores from 20+ just as much as they do from the 20 and in.

Jon Gruden loves his tight ends. He also loves to spread it around. No one player has more than 1 RZ receiving touchdown. No one player has more than 3 RZ catches. The teams' target leader, however, has been it's most productive overall receiver. Michael Clayton has gone 3/6 16 and 1 TD. Next is Ken Dilger with 3/4 19 and 1 TD. Will Heller, Tim Brown, Jamel Cook, and Michael Pittman have also scored.


Who is Troy Flemming and why does he have two touchdown receptions? I don't really care, actually. Derrick Mason leads the team with 10 targets. He's caught 5 of them for 29 yards and 1 touchdown. Drew Bennett is next with 4/8 23 and 1 TD. The Titans don't have a lot of depth anymore, but one lesser known guy who is good for a red zone chance is Shad Meier. He's caught all 5 of his RZ passes and has scored twice. Enron Kinney has been hurt, but he could end up with a few down the stretch.


A true 'red zone only' threat has emerged in the 2004 version of Rod Gardner. Once a well rounded prospect, under Gibbs and Brunnel, Gardner has produced 401 total receiving yards this season and 5 total touchdowns. 167 of those yards came in one game. Rod's red zone number are 6/8 for 63 yards and 5 touchdowns. So, he hasn't scored from outside the 20 yard line yet, and with the exception of his week three performance against Dallas, he isn't really worth a fantasy spot for a league that rewards yards more than touchdowns. But if you're looking for a guy to steal you 6 points, he's the one. There's a new QB in town, so maybe things will change. Also of note, Coles leads the team with 10 targets, but he's only caught 3 of those for just 1 TD. Chris Cooley is their other consistent option. Cooley is a similar player to Patrick Hape, and has similar numbers: 3/8 18 3 TDs.

As always, my raw target stats come primarily from the hard work of The Football Guys.

Tuesday Football
  • Mike Holmgren:
    I’m very, very upset. I met with the offensive staff today. I’ve already met with the defensive; I’m meeting with the special teams coach this afternoon. The importance of that game and how we played in the game, it really upsets me a lot. We had good practices. I didn’t understand why we had to function that way when we got into the actual game. I’ve said that. Now, the fact is we have seven games left, five games at home. There are a whole bunch of teams clustered at 5-4. This thing is far from being over. There is a lot of football left to play. There is reason for optimism; there is reason to look ahead. We’ll keep working real hard around here.
  • Mike Alstott is probable for this week's game. It may be wise to handcuff him with Pittman considering the great matchups the Bucs have.
  • Lots of headlines today. Just scroll down this list.
  • PFBW's Whispers for this week. Some highlights:
    We’re told Saints head coach Jim Haslett decided to demote WR Donté Stallworth from the starting lineup in favor of veteran Jerome Pathon because he’s tired of using inconsistent players, even if it means putting less talent on the field.

    Sources in Minnesota say WR Marcus Robinson (foot) has a more serious injury than the team is letting on and insist that if Randy Moss had played in the last two games, Robinson may not have been available.

    The Ravens believe TE Todd Heap, out since September with an ankle injury, will be back no later than Week 13.

    Our sources in Seattle say there’s no doubt newcomer Jerry Rice has wasted no time in having a positive effect on the Seahawks’ WR corps, particularly Koren Robinson. Rice, who is still adapting to unfamiliar terminology, has offered more encouragement than tips, but his regal-like presence appears to be making a difference. Dropped passes in practice last week were way down from the previous week.

    Word is, the ankle that Cardinals rookie WR Larry Fitzgerald sprained so badly in the preseason is likely to continue bothering him and won’t be fully healed until next year at the earliest.
  • More on the Saints' troubles here:
    Don’t look for the Saints to suddenly turn things around in the second half of the season. We’re told the players no longer are buying what the coaching staff is selling, and that they don’t seem to be getting anything out of practice anymore. Head coach Jim Haslett has been trying to get his players to take more responsibility for the team’s problems, but he also has accused the local media of being too negative and called out the fans at times for not supporting the team. Maybe a bigger problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a leader on the Saints who can call a meeting to try to hash out the team’s problems among the players. QB Aaron Brooks isn’t a vocal leader, DT Brian Young hasn’t been around long enough and OT Wayne Gandy and LB Orlando Ruff both have been inconsistent, which robs them of credibility. RB Deuce McAllister might fit the bill, but there is a sense that the season is lost and no amount of talking will solve the problem.
  • Curtis Martin's two touchdown, 100 yard performance against the Ravens is just another example why it's not always wise to play the matchup game. It's one thing to go with a certain player based on a favorable matchup because you need to fill a roster spot, but to sit someone like Martin (or Chad Johnson versus Champ Bailey) just because of a difficult opponent doesn't always work out.
  • Fanball.com has Koren Robinson's suspension starting as early as this week.
  • Kevin Jones look fairly strong against Jacksonvile. He showed some ability to change directions quickly against a tough front seven. It would still be nice to see him get 25-30 carries one game to really see how he does once he gets into a rhythm.

Monday Football
  • The trends are with Philly tonight. The Eagles are 15-1 since the 2000 season when following a loss. They are 12-1 under Andy Reid (1999) in prime time, and 7-1 during that same period on Monday Night. Perhaps because of what the Bengals at home did to Denver a few weeks ago on Monday Night are people talking about how it's hard to go against the home dog here. But I feel bad about the picks from yesterday (more on that below), so give me the Eagles just to win. And give them to me 5 times to make it worth it.

    Last October, Dallas beat Philly in Texas 23-21 to improve their 2003 record to 4-1. That game was pretty much the beginning peak of the Cowboys' playoff run, so that was a very different Dallas team. And other than that one game, the recent history is owned by Philadelphia (7 of last 8). The Eagles are also 20-8 on the road since 2001.

    Reid will need to find a way to control the clock with his offense. Early in the season, they've maybe relied a little too much on throwing deep to TO to get them points. Now that teams are using two and three players to take that away, Philadelphia is going to have to learn again how to sustain 80 yard drives for over 5 minutes. Going for them, however, is that their defense should match up well against Dallas. I wish I could 6 point tease the Eagles with the number of times TO dances with pom-poms on the Star.
UPDATE: Good new for the Cowboys, Quincy Morgan will play and Parcells has decided to start Lee at running back. Probably the only reason Lee hasn't played more in recent weeks is Parcell's lack of confidence in Lee's pass blocking. But since the Cowboys have nothing to lose but their season tonight, it's starting to be clear that Bill has been pulling out all the tricks for this game. It should be interesting to see what effect all this has. I'm backing off my Eagles -6.5 pick, but I still like them to win. Eagles/Falcons tease?
  • How bad are things in Washington? Are they asking for Spurrier back? Probably not, but at least his offense could score more points than the one they have now. Last week (week 9 vs Detroit) the Skins scored on a 24 yard field goal, a 15 yard pass FROM Clinton Portis, and on a block punt recovered in the end zone. They had 229 yards of offense (only 73 through the air) against a team that gives up an average of 344 total and 230 passing.

    The thing that kills me is that they have one of the top defenses in the league statistically, and they've had success running the ball this season. Look at these rushing yards from this season. Week One: 166 vs Tampa's 30. Week Two: 108 vs NYG's 62. Week Three: 94 vs Dallas' 50. Week Four: 73 vs Cleveland's 96. Week Five: 52 vs Balitmore's 156. Week Six: 218 vs Chicago's 126. Week Eight: 81 vs Green Bay's 88. Week Nine: 156 vs Detroit's 64. Week Ten: 87 vs Cincy's 99.

    So what's the problem? Well, they're last in the league in completion percentage with 49.5 and they're almost last in yards per game with 173.4. That's just the beginning of it. What struck me watching this game was when they were calling pass plays.

    Washington has one of the best running backs in the game and an above average statistical rushing average at 118.5 ypg. Yesterday they faced a Bengals team that ranks third to last in rushing defense so wouldn't it seem logical that they would come in and try to control the game on the ground?

    Well, the Bengals got out to an early lead despite Carson Palmer throwing a INT on the first play of the game. The first three plays for Washington after picking Plamer off were pass (incomplete), pass (incomplete), and pass (incomplete).

    Trailing 17-0, Patrick Ramsey replaced Brunell halfway through the second quarter. But what disappoints me (since I picked them) is what Washington did coming out for the second half. They received the kickoff and went pass (incomplete), pass (incomplete), and pass (sacked). Their next possession went Portis for 10 yards (1st down!!), pass (incomplete), Portis for 5, and pass (sack). Third possession of the second half (starting with 10 minutes still remaining in the third) went pass (incomplete), pass (11 yards to Gardner), and pass (INT).

    Okay, so we're only down by 17 and the Bengals are really getting conservative. They seem to think that we can't come back against them. There's plenty of time left (6 minutes in the third) and we can still stay balanced on offense. After all, that's where our strength is. Fourth possession, pass (incomplete), pass (8 yards to Coles), Portis for 8 and a first down. Okay, this is good. Three fresh downs. Pass, (incomplete), pass (sacked), pass (incomplete). Time to punt. Again.

    Trailing by 17 to start the second half, the Redskins ran 13 pass plays and 3 run plays. They "gained" zero yards and added an interception on those 13 pass plays. The three runs by Portis got them 23 yards.

    There was one drive that started near the end of the third quarter and extended over into the fourth. They went Portis for 2, and then into the no-huddle and got 14 yards on from a Ramsey pass to Jacobs. No huddle again, Portis runs for 4. No huddle, 4 yards, Ramsey to Jacobs. End of the quarter. Regular huddle, Portis for 8, then Portis for 5. Pass play with an offensive holding penalty, minus 10 yards. Pass play, but Ramsey keeps it up the middle for 3. Incomplete pass on third down and a missed 47 yard field goal.

    The fourth quarter saw some success for the Redskins "vertical" offense. After the previous missed FG, they called 22 passes (for 145 yards) and 2 runs (for -9 yards thanks to a holding penalty). They scored 10 points in the fourth quarter but one could assume the Bengals were in some sort of prevent defense. With a minute left and down only seven points, Ramsey did throw an INT from his own 27. Game over. 17-10 Bengals.

    In all, the Redskins' second half featured 40 called pass plays and only 9 called rushes. Why? If you're offense is Portis and their weakness is rush defense, why? It has to be the coaching, the play calling, and the players. But the next time Clinton Portis speaks out about his team, I'll be more interested in what he has to say.

    View the play by play log.

  • The 49ers have lost four games in a row. At halftime of week 6 against the Jets, they led 14-3 on the road. At halftime of week 8 against the Bears, they were tied 13-13 on the road. At halftime of week 9 against the Seahawks, they trailed 17-21 at home. At halftime of week 10 against the Panthers, they led 17-3 at home. The final tally of the first halves for those four games is Niners 61, opposing teams, 40. The final tally of the second halves for those four games is Niners 20, opposing teams 84. Q-U-I-T.
  • Don't underestimate what yesterday's second half Viking comeback did for this team. Even though they lost, it was the first time since the Moss injury when I really saw that special confidence they had before Moss went out. On Monday Night last week, they also came back to test the Colts, but yesterday they finally looked like they had found their way beyond the Moss injury. Look out next week Detroit. And look out Jacksonville in two weeks, when Moss is expected back. Both games are in Minnesota.
  • Speaking of the Vikings, Nate Burleson had 18 passes thrown his way yesterday. 18!
  • The Bears defensive line is dominant. Even though Billy Volek threw for over 300 yards yesterday, he looked like Chris Rix back there. This is a physical, fast defense that really took it to the Titans on their home field. It's truly amazing to watch a team like this win with absolutely no production from their offense. Especially when you bet against them.
  • It should be so very important to the Colts that they win enough games to secure home field advantage through at least the divisional playoff game. And with Pittsburgh and New England ahead of them, only two of those teams will be given that advantage.
  • All offensive coordinators and quarterbacks: Get in and out of the huddle on third downs fast enough to give you enough time at the line of scrimmage to keep defenses from timing their blitzes according to the play clock. How hard can that be?
  • I'd like to go ahead and place a bet somewhere that the Jags won't have more than 6 wins next season. (See the '01 Bears and the '03 Panthers)
  • After yesterday's inspriring win, the Baltimore Ravens have turned the corner and will be a force in the 2004 playoffs. It's hard to believe that the battle just to go to the AFC Championship Game may put the Steelers versus the Colts and the Patriots versus the Ravens.
  • How many fans were yelling at Will Demps as he was running with his head turned BACKWARD. Maybe he was trying to read Ed Reed's lips as they said, "Turn your stupid head around."
  • Guess who has the fourth best record in the NFL. The Atlanta Falcons.
  • The Lions are really struggling to defend the run. In their last three, they have given up 127 to Dallas, 156 to Washington, and 239 to Jacksonville.

Sunday Juice

Fresh from my success over the last few weeks in finding good value in some less prominent games, I'm going to stay with that trend today. But I do think Cleveland has a very good chance to take the upset vs Pittsburgh. Just like we all look back at the Patriots' 2003 loss to the Redskins, this could be one of those games that just happens. The Browns have a lot of experience at slowing a big back like Bettis (Jamal Lewis) and will have the home field wind advantage in their favor. The Steelers have yet to face a tough inside running team since they lost Casey Hampton, and the Browns have two RBs who can do it.

  • Redskins (-175) vs Bengals - I can't lay the 3.5 points on this bad Washington team. I can't even lay 3, so I'm just going with the win. The Bengals have lost their last six games on the road (dating back to last season). When the Broncos faced the Bengals last year Portis ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns on just 24 carries. But in this one, I'm really looking at the fact that Washington has lost each of it's last three home games. Both teams are 3-5, but the Redskins' defense is much better than the Bengals offense right now. I heard John Clayton this morning report that Carson Palmer's QB rating is somewhere in the 50's against blitzes and that's what the Skins do best. Just, please, please double cover Chad Johnson. Yahoo - ESPN
  • Cardinals (+1) vs Giants - It sounds like the clock is officially running on Kurt Warner. It has been reported that Eli got more reps this week. I don't really understand the move, but I'll bet against it working; even if Eli doesn't play. New York lost both it's defensive ends last week and the Cards offenisve line can play big and powerful when they're on their game. Dennis Green has brought a lot of pride to this team and Arizona is 2-1 at home this year (losing only to New England). Watch out for Troy Hambrick breaking a few tackles today too. Yahoo - ESPN
  • Titans (-6) vs Bears - While Steve McNair may still play, I like Tennessee in this one even with Billy Volek. Chicago hasn't won three in a row since their magical 2001 season. The Titans, meanwhile, are just 1-3 at home so far and this is the type of game that is used to even that record out. Tennessee is also coming off a much needed bye week and is 5-1 after it's last six scheduled weeks off. Chris Brown will play for sure and the Bears give up on average 123.6 yards per game on the ground. Yahoo - ESPN
  • 49ers (-1) vs Panthers - San Fran was keeping pace with Seattle last week for most of the first half and it showed me that they could still come out and fight someone other than themselves. And even though they've lost three straight, they've had the lead at some point in each of those three games. Tim Rattay has started five games this season and is among the league's statistical leaders. But he's 0-5 in those starts. Carolina has officially lost Stephen Davis for the season, and the last three games for the Panthers have sent them home to Seattle, back home and now to San Francisco. Just win ba- oh, that's not right. Yahoo - ESPN


Past Ten Posts
2006 NFL Combine
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Friday Football
Thursday Football (II)
Thursday Football
Wednesday Football (II)
Wednesday Football
Tuesday Football
Coin Flip Challenge - November

2005 NFL Season
Scouting Combine
Offseason News
Fantasy Football Preview
- Offensive Coordinators

Coin Flip Challenge '05
January - February
March - April - May
June - July - August
Sept - Oct - November

Hockey Picks
05-06 Season
03-04 Season

NFL Weekly Picks
2005 Season

2005 Fantasy Baseball
'27-29' Preview:
AL Spring Notes
NL Spring Notes

NHL Lockout

2005 NFL Playoffs
Super Bowl

College Football Bowls
2004 Season


Yahoo Sports
Sporting News
CBS Sportsline


Sports Economist
Sports Law
Sports Prof
Sports Blah
Sports Frog
TheMirl Writers


Off Wing
James Mirtle
Red Line Sports
Tom Benjamin
Sharks Page
Bolts Mag
Ice Block
Puck Update
On The Wings
The Net Files
Hockey Country
Andrew's Stars Page
so very obsessed
Predators' Den
Sabre Rattling
Habs' Blog
RedBlack Hockey
Kuklas Korner
Covered in Oil
Battle of Alberta
Battle of Ontario
Japers Rink
Puck Stops Here
E.J. Hradek
HF Boards
Hockey Hearsay
Hockey Analysis


Pro Football Weekly
Football Guys
Football Outsiders
Pro Reference Guide
Yahoo News
Len Pasquarelli
Chris Mortensen
John Clayton
NFL Insider
Fanball Matchup Index

Football's Future
Braves and Birds -ATL
SportsJunky -SEA
Rams MVP
Broncos MVP
Bengals MVP
Chiefs MVP
Eagles MVP
Colts MVP
Dolphins MVP
Ravens MVP
Bears MVP
Pats MVP
MistakeSports -CLE
PennLive -PHI
NFL Cheerleader
NFL Pick of the Week


John Walters -SI
Stewart Mandel -SI
The Courtmaster
OSU Beavers
USC Trojans
UC Bearcats
UW Cowboys
UM Wolverines
UF Gators
MSU Spartans


Baseball News- R.I.P.
Baseball Analysts
Baseball Musings
Baseball Prospectus
Baseball America
The Hardball Times

Fanball MLB
Roto Times Notes
Roto World MLB
Pro Sports Daily MLB
BTF- Local Links
Stats Inc Data
MLB Clubhouse Links

Peter Gammons
Ken Rosenthal
Aaron Gleeman
Rob Neyer
Jason Stark
Will Carroll
Eric Karabell
Buster Olney

SB Nation
Athletics Nation
Halos Heaven
Braves Beat
Brew Crew
Batter's Box
Cubbie Blue
DRays' Bay
Snake Pit
McCovey Chronicles
Lets Go Tribe
USS Mariner
Fish Stripes
Amazin Ave
Camden Chat
LoneStar Ball
Red Reporter
Over The Monster
Tiger Blog
Pinstriped Blog
Black Betsy


Mark Cuban
Ben Maller
Field of Schemes
Sports Write & Edit
Unknown Column
Sticks of Fire
Excuse The Interruption
Pardon The Interruption


Dave Sez
College BBall
Sports Rankings






09/12/2004 - 09/19/2004
09/19/2004 - 09/26/2004
09/26/2004 - 10/03/2004
10/03/2004 - 10/10/2004
10/10/2004 - 10/17/2004
10/17/2004 - 10/24/2004
10/24/2004 - 10/31/2004
10/31/2004 - 11/07/2004
11/07/2004 - 11/14/2004
11/14/2004 - 11/21/2004
11/21/2004 - 11/28/2004
11/28/2004 - 12/05/2004
12/05/2004 - 12/12/2004
12/12/2004 - 12/19/2004
12/19/2004 - 12/26/2004
12/26/2004 - 01/02/2005
01/02/2005 - 01/09/2005
01/09/2005 - 01/16/2005
01/16/2005 - 01/23/2005
01/23/2005 - 01/30/2005
01/30/2005 - 02/06/2005
02/06/2005 - 02/13/2005
02/13/2005 - 02/20/2005
02/20/2005 - 02/27/2005
02/27/2005 - 03/06/2005
03/06/2005 - 03/13/2005
03/13/2005 - 03/20/2005
03/20/2005 - 03/27/2005
03/27/2005 - 04/03/2005
04/03/2005 - 04/10/2005
04/10/2005 - 04/17/2005
04/17/2005 - 04/24/2005
04/24/2005 - 05/01/2005
05/01/2005 - 05/08/2005
05/08/2005 - 05/15/2005
05/15/2005 - 05/22/2005
05/22/2005 - 05/29/2005
05/29/2005 - 06/05/2005
06/05/2005 - 06/12/2005
06/12/2005 - 06/19/2005
06/19/2005 - 06/26/2005
06/26/2005 - 07/03/2005
07/03/2005 - 07/10/2005
07/10/2005 - 07/17/2005
07/17/2005 - 07/24/2005
07/24/2005 - 07/31/2005
07/31/2005 - 08/07/2005
08/07/2005 - 08/14/2005
08/14/2005 - 08/21/2005
08/21/2005 - 08/28/2005
08/28/2005 - 09/04/2005
09/04/2005 - 09/11/2005
09/11/2005 - 09/18/2005
09/18/2005 - 09/25/2005
09/25/2005 - 10/02/2005
10/02/2005 - 10/09/2005
10/09/2005 - 10/16/2005
10/16/2005 - 10/23/2005
10/23/2005 - 10/30/2005
10/30/2005 - 11/06/2005
11/06/2005 - 11/13/2005
11/13/2005 - 11/20/2005
01/01/2006 - 01/08/2006
02/19/2006 - 02/26/2006

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