Looks like women’s soccer is still getting chippy out there. One would think said aggression would only be reserved for referees who make bad calls or miss them, but I digress. At least NBA refs can come out of it saying, “Hey, at least we aren’t as bad as those guys!”
Three things on the debacle that was the Pats game:
1) Prior history did factor into the call; however, Bill made mistakes in both cases where he should of been aggressive when conservative, and vice versa. Take the 2006 AFC Championship game, where the Pats, up 34-31, (after Tom misses a wide open Troy Brown on 3rd and 4), have a potential 4th and 4 from their own 46 yard line with 2:26 left. The defense, who has played 3 games in the playoffs (and 40 over the last 3 years), and the team, which had the flu run amok in the locker room during the week, all in an enclosed dome, is gassed. THIS is when you go for it on 4th down. Never mind the better field position which makes sense; the fact that if Peyton got the ball, he was 90% going to score a TD in this scenario vs a very below average Pats D. Anyone watching the game knew this, Bill somehow didn’t. Only up 3, he punted, they scored, and Tom threw a INT with 20 seconds left. This game affected the Belichick’s decision in 2009.
2) In last week’s game, up 34-28 with 2:10 left in the game, Belichick claimed he, based on a computer simulation named ZEUS that claimed an optimal Manning would score a TD on a 70-yard TD drive 30% of the time, decided he had better odds to go for it on 4th and 2, after missing Welker on a predictable out pattern on 3rd (more on this in a minute). He claims they decided on this BEFORE the drive started, which I claim bullshit, because after 3rd down, the punt team ran out (which is why Bill used his final timeout, which cost the team a challenge that was 50/50 on getting overturned, better than nothing). He claims that the reason he went for it all was so Peyton wouldn’t get the ball back. Well in that case, he employed a strategy that would make Ken Whisenhunt and Andy Reid look like geniuses.
It actually starts on 3rd and 8 from the Indy 23 yard line with 3:49 left in the 4th after a Peyton INT, up 31-21. If you are REALLY concerned with your defense (who had played a B- game at this point) not being able to hold Peyton, this is the time to bleed clock, run the ball, and play Dick Jauron ball. Yes, fans in NE boo, but this is the correct play IF your goal is to give Peyton the least time possible. You either a)take the 45 seconds off or b) make Indy use on their 3 TOs, and kick the FG. The 3 Indy TOs (good coaching, Jim Caldwell) was a big factor in them having a last stand when the Pats get the ball back again, along with the 2 minute warning.
So, Peyton, thanks to a vanilla base defense, scores a quick TD, 34-28. Pats get the ball back at their 20. After using a timeout before coming out of the huddle on 1st down (?), the Pats have one left (and challenge with it). The Pats are short handed at running back and unlike Miami in September, who lined it up and ran all over the Colts all night, possessed the ball for 45 minutes (and still didn’t win), don’t have their power back in S.Morris and F.Taylor, who are both injured. They have been running the ball out of mostly shotgun formation via Kevin Faulk (12 for 78); L.Maroney was running well, but fumbled at the 2 yard line late in the 3rd (which ended up being the biggest play of the game, IMO). They instead have to employ the shotgun dive play on 1st down, stuffed for no gain. OK, second down, it’s Welker time, and they get him on a 8 yard hitch play. After this as an O-coordinator, you need to know that Indy WILL NOT LET THIS HAPPEN AGAIN. With 2:16 on the clock, if you are seriously in dire straits to bleed clock, this is when you bring out the BIGs and line it up. For these reasons:
a)I actually think at this point, you could get a better matchup out of a 2 TE formation vs the Colts personnel as supposed to the shotgun vs Tampa 2, where they know the plays the Pats’ WR run very well, as well as the fact they know the likely hood of the Pats going deep versus the on 3rd down is highly unlikely; all they need is the 1st to end the game. Not only this, the TEs were actually the ones who ended up being wide open out of these formations (Baker 2-31; Watson 2-57), and a solid bootleg fake-fade (the Ben Coates play) might be a better sell to a potentially blitzing defense, rather than a predictable slant/hitch to Welker out of the shotgun (which almost got picked off because even the rookie Melvin Bullitt knew this).
b) Running up the gut rarely nets a huge loss, even if you don’t have your best BIG personnel. The Pats are famous for employing a 40/50 power wham-play (where the TE motions across the formation, and as the ball is snapped, takes on a DT while the center pulls) in these scenarios. They did this play vs a smallish Atlanta team, with Sammy Morris, on 4th and 1 from their own 28 and gained 5 yards. Granted they don’t have their big backs, but you’d think Bill would pull Maroney to the side and go, “All I need from you is a positive gain here; and no fumbles”. Hell, even bring Kevin Faulk out there, run a sweep, run something. The point is, 4th and 1/shorter is a heckuva lot better than 4th and a long 2.
c) Say if you run, and you don’t get it, the clock goes to the 2 minute warning, where you get a free TO to discuss things, AND a freeroll challenge b/c unless it’s 4th and a inch, you are probably passing it. On any big pass plays, it’s a good idea to have a challenge in your pocket if you go for it in this situation. Having a freeroll challenge is optimal, AND even having a timeout in the back pocket for when Indy, or the Pats, gets the ball back after this possession is better than none. Also, well all know why punting is the optimal situation here because of the fact unlike in 2006, we are up by 6 points, so the Colts NEED a TD. If the punter is having a bad day, another reason to go for it; Hanson was having a good day. Instead, the Pats dial up their best 4th down play, miss it by a half of a yard, and Peyton gets the ball at the 29 and he obviously scores. Ugh.
3) At least it can maybe motivate this team to play better. The Pats have had leads on the road this year and haven’t been able to close out games, mostly thanks to missing a big back closer like Dillon in 2004. The defense is young and hurting on D-Line, but improving. And the last two coaches to go for it in a similar situation, Sam Wyche and Barry Switzer, both went to the Super Bowl those years. So, if anything, the Pats can start by taking it out on Jets. However, if they lose that game, combined with all of the things that have gone on in my life and with Boston sports this year, I may kill myself.
The Picks (almost tempted to take Washington +11 @ Dallas, but only if Hunter the punter is QB):
PIT @ KC Under 40
A bit low, but with Bowe out, L.Johnson gone, I see no way KC scores on Pittsburgh, even w/o Polumalu. Plus if the Steelers get the lead, they can finally work on their running game this week.
SF +12.5 @ GB
NYG -0.5 vs Atlanta
NBA Teaser for tonight!
Denver -5 @ LAC
GS +12 vs Portland
I don’t like to go retro when telling this site about my picks, so I will tell you what I have tonight. Two parlays, both spicy.
PARLAY NUMBER ONE
Colorado (+17) @ Oklahoma State w/ NFL Game under
PARLAY NUMBER TWO
Carolina (-3) ((-125)) w/ College game over
If I hit one of these parlays I win a little, both and I am da man. Been drinkin’ since 2 pm. Love and booze.
Stats of the Week
1. The New Orleans Saints are 9-0 for the first time in team history.
2. The Cincinnati Bengals are 5-0 on the road and 5-0 in their division
3. Jay Cutler has thrown 17 interceptions on the year, leading the NFL.
4. The Cleveland Browns and the Oakland Raiders each have scored 7 touchdowns this season. 9 individual players have 8 touchdowns or more. Mike Tirico just described the Browns as “remarkably inept.”
5. As mentioned below, the Chiefs and Raiders were a combined 3 for 31 on third down Sunday.
6. There are two non-quarterbacks with at least one rushing and one passing TD this season. One is obvious, the Dolphins’ Ronnie Brown. The other? Hunter the Punter.
7. With his two scores against Indianapolis Sunday night, Randy Moss (142) passed Terrell Owens (140) in career receiving touchdowns. Moss is second on the all-time list behind only Jerry Rice.
8. Tampa Bay’s newest kicker Connor Barth kicked three field goals of 50+ yards Sunday, only the 4th player in league history to do so.
9. Philadelphia completely gave up trying to run the ball against the Chargers. Donovan McNabb’s 450 yards passing Sunday on 55 attempts were both NFL single game season highs.
10. Of the 16 games in week 11, half of them have a spread of 9 points or higher.
Atlanta @ NY Giants -6
All of the home underdogs and the Redskins (
-11 +11 @ Dallas) will get a long look this week.
Stats & early leans coming tonight/tomorrow. Couple of quick things for now:
It turns out Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio told Maurice Jones-Drew to take a knee at the one yard line with under two minutes remaining against the Jets Sunday, leading to a game winning field goal by Josh Scobee. Jones-Drew was cool enough to apologize anyway:
“Sorry to my fantasy owners,” said Jones-Drew of stopping at the Jets’ 1-yard line with 1:48 left. “They told me to get as close as I can and take a knee.”
Coach Jack Del Rio explained his unusual strategy, which ultimately left Scobee with a point-blank kick from the middle of the field, “We’ve just got to make an extra point. I don’t want to give them a chance to return the kick, hit a fluke play or anything like that.
“I decided that as soon as we got down there, and the guys handled it real well.”
The win locked up the Hampton Cup for the Jaguars for the second time in a row. Who knew this was a rivalry game?
Following up with Joe Posnanski, the Chiefs/Raiders game was underwhelming. Shane Lechler punted 11 times for the Raiders, which sounds like it should be some kind of record, but isn’t.
Whatever the word, it precisely describes the feeling I have now after watching the remarkably bad Chiefs-Raiders football game. The Chiefs won the game 16-10, and in many ways the game had absolutely everything you could want from a bad football game. The Raiders went 2-of-16 on third down and they had the BETTER third-down conversion ratio (the Chiefs converted one of 15). There were 17 punts, five turnovers, 15 penalties, two missed field goals, three quarterbacks crashing into running backs, one quarterback who got yanked, another who got yelled at on numerous occasions, numerous easily-identifiable swear words shouted by coaches, a struggling officiating crew* and, quite literally, countless dropped passes.
Lastly, there’s this old youtube clip of Texans WR David Anderson impersonating Ron Jaworski. “He talks in three word sentences. He has like a pause which you’d think would be a period or a comma which really makes no sense.”
Posted late to save everyone the trouble:
Jacksonville (+7) @ NY Jets
Denver @ Washington (+4)
New England (+3) @ Indianapolis
Good luck out there today.
Two NFL notes that have me confused today. First, the Green Bay Packers are a mess right now, starting with their offensive line and ending with their front office. These two stories happening in the same week offer some insight to what’s going on in Green Bay. Why is everyone bitching and firing old men from the grounds crew???
Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that Packers president Mark Murphy said Monday he’s disappointed with the team’s 4-4 start, especially Sunday’s shocking loss at Tampa Bay, and wants to make sure “changes” are made. The former NFL player turned executive, who took over the Packers in January 2008, believes the season can be salvaged. He also may have put head coach Mike McCarthy on notice. “We’re 4-4 halfway through the season,” Murphy said, “and I think we can still have a successful year just making sure that we make the changes that are necessary to get us to that point.”
I thought the job of the Packers president was to be seen and not heard. I don’t remember former Packers president Bob Harlan ever speaking about the football team directly to the media. I might be wrong, and all loyal Packers readers are welcome to correct me, but from my vantage point, the team president doesn’t have to state the obvious. Mark Murphy appears that he wants to be more involved in the football part of the program as the new president. Anyone other than the head coach talking to the media can send the wrong message to the fan base as evidenced by Murphy’s comments.
What changes would Murph like the Packers to make? Does he really understand the problems? I highly doubt it, and the way to create bad blood in an organization is to say something that makes no sense when you have no idea what you’re saying. I’m fairly confident that the Packers coaches are cynical about these comments.
Coach Mike McCarthy admitted today that he did have a conversation with former Packers employee Mike Wood and later inquired about Wood’s name to a supervisor, but denied any involvement in Wood’s firing.
“He made a comment to me, I made a comment to him, it’s not the worst thing that’s been said, but I would not say it to a fellow employee,” McCarthy said. “So that’s as far as I want to go with it.”
Asked if he had anything to do with Wood’s firing, McCarthy said “absolutely not.”
McCarthy would not reveal what Wood said when asked directly about it.
“Like I said, it’s not the worst thing that’s been said but I wouldn’t say it to a fellow employee,” McCarthy said.
Wood told the Journal Sentinel he yelled to McCarthy, “Hey coach, let’s get the boys ready to kick some butt this weekend,” on Oct. 28, four days before the Packers faced Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings.
On Nov. 1, Wood was told McCarthy informed a supervisor that Wood had said something about not “laying an egg” against the Vikings. Wood was then terminated.
The Packers host Dallas(-3) Sunday. This would normally be an autobet on the Packers getting points at home and fading Tony Romo on the road, but given Green Bay’s musical offensive line and the turmoil in the front office, this can’t be a good spot.
The Packers should now go on to win outright on Sunday.
Second, Dictator Goodell was not pleased with Miracle Covers favorite C. Ochocinco Sunday.
The Cincinnati Bengals receiver was fined $20,000 and reprimanded by the NFL for taking a dollar bill onto the field during an officials’ review of one of his catches last Sunday. Ochocinco held the dollar in his right hand at his side but didn’t give it to the official, who motioned for him to stay away.
Ochocinco said he was just having fun, but the league didn’t like it.
Ray Anderson, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, sent Ochocinco a letter that said: “The very appearance of impropriety is not acceptable. Your conduct was unprofessional and unbecoming an NFL player.”
The No Fun League is back in case anyone was wondering.
First off, I’d like to show some love for Matt Stafford’s Miracle Cover. We might need to add this one to the definitions & examples page as Stafford’s first four picks just weren’t good enough for Seattle to cover. It took a 5th INT returned for a score with under 30 seconds remaining. Ignore the final score for future gambling; Detroit should have won this game handily and it took a Jamarcian performance to give Seattle the win.
The 49ers need to go with a platoon at QB. The Alex Smith we all came to know and love was back on Sunday with three interceptions and a fumble. Shaun Hill needs to start and be pulled whenever SF trails by more than seven points early and/or they need a score in the 4th quarter. Teams do this all the time with running backs and linebackers, swapping out players based on the game situation. Why not at quarterback too? San Francisco is in a perfect position to try this. They’re 3-5 with eight winnable games left on their schedule (CHI, @GB, JAX, @SEA, ARI, @PHI, DET, @STL).
Very, very impressive performance by the
Bungles Bengals at home to Baltimore. Their defense is excellent and held the Ravens to 210 yards offense for the day. Joe Flacco was under pressure all day, Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall were excellent, and Baltimore couldn’t run effectively enough to respond. Baltimore has serious issues on defense and look a lot like the Falcons. They will go as far as their quarterback and defensive scheme can take them.
Lastly, I’d like to propose that DeAngelo Hall be allowed to face the Falcons every season. Not only is he kind enough to play 10-12 yards off the line on nearly every play, he also managed to get in a fight with his old team again AND attempt a tackle as pathetic as Jeff Reed’s on Percy Harvin a few weeks back. Yet another reason to love Falcons coach Mike Smith as tight end Justin Peele has to pull his coach out of the scrum on the Atlanta sideline. Watch the video here.
Stats of the Week
1) Sunday’s loss to the Falcons was the first time the Redskins have allowed over 30 points in a game since their January 2008 playoff loss against Seattle (23 games). The Redskins have yet to score more than 17 points in any game this season.
2) Sack Watch: Aaron Rodgers was sacked six times in Green Bay’s loss to Tampa Sunday, putting him at 37 through 8 games. David Carr has the NFL record of 76.
3) Tennessee is 9-2 all-time when Chris Johnson scores a touchdown. He easily leads the NFL in rushing yards (959) and yards/attempt (6.7).
4) The Titans have zero turnovers in the two games Vince Young has started at QB.
5) Kansas City and Miami both lost Sunday despite having zero turnovers. NFL teams are collectively 40-10 this season when not turning the ball over (3 games have seen no turnovers by either team).
6) Dallas Clark’s 14 receptions on Sunday tied a Colts record set twice by Marvin Harrison in 1999 and 2002.
6b) Peyton Manning was 19-25 passing…in the first quarter. He ended the first half with 40 pass attempts.
7) Randy Moss has 8 touchdowns in 5 games against the Dolphins as a member of the Patriots. Touchdown #8 game on this play.
8) The Jacksonville Jaguars are 4-4.
9) Tampa’s win over Green Bay was their first in 12, dating back to November 30th, 2008 over New Orleans. On that date, their record was 9-3.
9b) Tampa’s kickers are a combined 3 for 9 on field goals this season.
10) Minnesota is currently a 17 point favorite at home to the Lions this week. Assuming it holds, it will be the largest spread of the season.
Not a lot out there early. Maybe this will be my bye week so I can’t set any more money on fire.
New England +3 @ Indianapolis
This will likely be a big public play as Indy looked bad in their win over Houston. That doesn’t change the fact that they have problems with good teams that are bigger than them and can rush the passer (Tony Ugoh had help all day at left tackle).
New Orleans @ St. Louis +14
I don’t want to bet this, but probably will anyway.
Teaser Miami -2.5 v Tampa & Arizona -2 v Seattle
Lots of money coming in on Miami so this line will probably move to 9.5 or 10 making this teaser useless.