11.09.2005
 
Wednesday Football (II)
    As promised, two more games:
    Oakland - Kansas City | Chicago - New Orleans

    Oakland Raiders:
    This game featured nothing of importance for the first three quarters. The Raiders had 101 yards of offense and they had just given up the first touchdown of the game, making the score 9-13. Then all of the sudden, they put together two drives in the fourth quarter for a combined 155 yards and more importantly, 14 points. Another 40 pass attempt game for Kerry Collins, but just 162 yards threw the air.

    Looking at the midseason stats, I don't see anything that the Raiders are doing well. They are 13th in total yards, 15th in first downs, 13th in third down efficiency, 23rd in opponents yards per game, 24th in opponents points per game, and 17th in point differential. With a 3-5 record, and with the AFC West playing the NFC East this season, there really isn't much hope for this team. A 7-9 finish should be expected.
    TARGETS(catches):
    Porter- 9(7)
    Moss- 8((1)
    Jordan- 8(5)
    Gabriel- 5(3)
    Anderson- 5(2)
    Williams- 2(2)
    Foschi- 2(1)

    Kansas City Chiefs:
    As mentioned on the OAK side, the score of this game was just 9-6 until late in the third quarter. Both teams were basically sleeping their way through, and that's surprising considering how important this one was to each team.

    I thought going into this game that it would be a good opportunity to get a sneak preview of what Larry Johnson will be like as a team's featured back. I did not expect that day to come so soon. Johnson came into the league as a strong between the tackles runner, but he has improved under Holmes' guidance around the perimeter and behind pulling linemen. Still, he's no Priest Holmes and this team will probably look to run more straight ahead plays.

    Despite being one of the top 10 offenses in the league, Kansas City ranks just 23rd in the league on third downs. And inside the red zone, once the foundation of this team, the Chiefs are just at 50% in touchdown effeciency (15 for 30). That's good for 21st in the NFL.

    And even if they didn't score on that last play of the game. For a team like this, I love the attitude that says, 'if we can't gain one yard doing what we do best, then we don't deserve to win this game anyway.'
    TARGETS(catches):
    Kennison- 8(5) Gonzalez- 7(5) Horn- 6(4) Johnson- 6(3) Hall- 5(3) Richardson- 2(2)



    Chicago Bears:
    Kyle Orton started the game poorly. Mushim Muhammad wasn't able to do much to help him out either. But since this wasn't really a road game, the young quarterback got a chance to settle in and still be in a position to win the game late. And that's what he and Mushin did on a key third down late in the fourth quarter. Against almost any other team, in any other city, the Bears lose this game. Their offense was terrible, but as it turned out it wasn't as bad as the Saints'. And that throw Kyle Orton made at the end of the game was the only pass he was asked to make on their 4 minute, 10 play, game winning drive.

    Two straight road victories is just huge for this team. They've got two games with Green Bay still, and next week's game versus San Francisco.

    The Bears' midseason stats are as expected. They are in the top 10 for every major defensive category and they are in the bottom 10 for every major offensive category except rushing yards per game (6th) and average gain per rush (7th). As well as things are going right now, this 5-3 team will have to be very fortunate to finish better than 9-7. But that'll be good enough to secure a first round playoff loss.
    TARGETS(catches):
    Muhammad- 9(3)
    Gage- 8(4)
    Wade- 2(1)
    Clark- 2(1)
    Jones- 1(1)
    Peterson- 1(1)
    Edwards- 1(1)


    New Orleans Saints:
    Antowain Smith had a very strong game running up the middle on the Bears defense- which is where you have to attack them because they are probably the fastest defense in the NFL. But Aaron Brooks was horrible. He had put together a couple of good games earlier in the season, but that hasn't been the case lately. How does this team think it can go anywhere with him at quarterback?

    And where was Joe Horn? Only 4 targets, he played for most of the game, but just didn't get many looks. That's very unusual for Aaron Brooks.

    The Saints are last in the league in turnover edge, and they have one of the worst defenses against the run. Opponents are getting much through the air against New Orleans, but their statistical success in that category is more due to teams not needing to pass versus not able to pass. On offense, the Saints are 9th in the league on 3rd downs, and they're 8th in average rush, so there is something there. But no one's doing anything about it.

    And that poor crowd in Baton Rouge. It looked like there was maybe 25,000 in attendance. It sounded like less. San Antonio Saints?
    TARGETS(catches):
    Stallworth- 4(3)
    Horn- 4(2)
    Hitlon- 3(2)
    Stecker- 3(2)
    Hakim- 2(1)
    Poole- 2(1)
    Hall- 2(1)
    Smith- 2(2)
    Karney- 2(2)


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