Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Meditations on a 31-7 victory

Odds and ends, following Monday night's Patriot demolition of the Vikings...

  • Several years ago, the Monday Night Football powers-that-be decided that just listing the starting lineups wasn't good enough - they had to actually take the field off-screen and allow each starter to introduce himself. Amusing once, this very quickly became tedious and obnoxious, as players would throw out nicknames of schools while attempting to present the best "attitude" that they could muster. This year, they've changed it a little, in that they allow one player for each unit to introduce himself and some of his teammates.

    Not an improvement.

  • The combination of the Colts victory over Denver, and the Patriots victory over Minnesota, moved New England into the 2nd seed slot in the AFC. It also gave them the fabled "control over their own destiny." Indianapolis comes to Gillette Stadium on Sunday night. A Patriots win moves them into the top seed slot in the AFC. If they win out, they're number one, with a bye and homefield through the playoffs. Now that Denver's lost, the Patriots don't need any help to accomplish that.

  • Three men in the broadcast booth sort of worked once, back in the 70s when Howard Cosell was still there. It hasn't worked since. The Dennis Miller experiment was a disaster. Apparently no one learned from it, leading to the painful presence of Tony Kornheiser on the MNF broadcast.

  • Speaking of Kornheiser, we were treated - again - to a fundamental misunderstanding about the way the Patriots do business. "Here's their organization motto - they don't pay a lot of money and they are not sentimental." While the latter is basically true, the former is nonsense. It represents a fundamental misunderstanding of what's going on. Tom Brady is making a lot of money. Richard Seymour is making a lot of money. Adam Vinatieri was one of the highest paid kickers in the game for the past couple of years. Dan Koppen's now one of the highest paid centers. They pay up to the salary cap every year. Billy Yates, the 3rd string guard who played so well last night was signed to the highest practice squad contract ever earlier this year.

    What they don't do is over-pay for someone just because they've been good before. And they don't gut the bottom half of the roster to overpay the top half. I'm sure that they'd love to have kept David Givens, but Tennessee gave him stupid money. Substitute Deion Branch for David Givens and Seattle for Tennessee. And many others along the way.

  • And while we're on the topic of mis-leading information - early in the second quarter they ran a scroll of people that have left New England in the last five years, labeled "Key departures," while Mike Tirico said "They keep winning championships, even with a great list of departures." Here's the list - see if you can tell what's wrong with it.

    Key departures:
    Charlie Weis
    Romeo Crennel
    Eric Mangini

    Drew Bledsoe
    Jermaine Wiggins
    Damien Woody
    Joe Andruzzi
    David Patten
    Adam Vinatieri
    Deion Branch
    David Givens

    Lawyer Milloy
    Ted Washington
    Ty Law
    Willie McGinest

    They have not yet won a championship without Charlie Weis. Or Romeo Crennel. Or Eric Mangini. Or Adam Vinatieri or Deion Branch or David Givens. Or Willie McGinest.

    And the idea that Jermaine Wiggins and David Patten and Joe Andruzzi represented "key departures" is just silly. Not that those guys didn't do a good job for New England, but they were just guys - fungible parts.

    That's not to say that they won't win championships without those people. I think that they're the best team in the NFL right now, and, while it's probably too strong to say that I expect them to win this year, it wouldn't surprise me at all. But they haven't done it yet without a bunch of those guys, and it's dishonest to say that they have, as ESPN did last night. I know, I know - just filling broadcast time. They could do it with truth, as opposed to lies...

  • For all the talk about how dominant the Denver defense has been this year, they've allowed 9 fewer points than the Patriots through 7 games (while the Patriots have outscored them by 57). And of the 87 points that New England, 7 were on the punt return last night, and 7 were on the incredibly fluky McCareins TD in week 2.

  • I wonder what the NFL record is for giving opponents their first loss of the season. The Patriots will have the opportunity on Sunday to knock their 3rd opponent from the ranks of the unbeaten, and, if the Bears keep winning, they could conceivably have a shot at 4. That's probably not a record, but I can't believe that it happens very often, either. And has anyone ever beaten two undefeated teams with at least 7 wins in the same season? The Patriots might have that chance... (But I doubt it - Chicago's got to go to New York twice in the next 3 weeks, and I suspect that one of those teams will beat them.)

  • Looking at some numbers:

    NFL Standings - 10/31/2006

    Chicago 700122169Won 7 31.619.9121.710.9111

    San Diego 5200.714216109Won 1 30.9215.6615.320.7972

    New England 6100.85716787Won 4 23.9712.4311.430.7873

    Baltimore 5200.71414591Won 1 20.7161347.750.7174

    Dallas 4300.571204142Won 1 29.1420.3128.940.6745

    Denver 5200.71411078Lost 1 15.72711.124.690.6656

    NY Giants 5200.714180134Won 4 25.7619.186.670.6437

    Indianapolis 7001205153Won 7 29.3321.9217.460.6428

    Jacksonville 4300.571138107Won 1 19.71915.354.4100.6259

    Philadelphia 4400.5206160Lost 3 25.8520115.880.62410

    New Orleans 5200.714167145Lost 1 23.9720.7163.1110.5711

    Atlanta 5200.714153134Won 2 21.91219.182.7120.56612

    Cincinnati 4300.571155142Lost 1 22.11120.3121.9130.54413

    Pittsburgh 2500.286157145Lost 2 22.41020.7161.7140.5414

    Minnesota 4300.571127126Lost 1 18.1221870.1150.50415

    Kansas City 4300.571152152Won 2 21.71321.7200160.516

    St. Louis 4300.571163166Lost 2 23.3923.723-0.4170.49117

    Green Bay 3400.429152176Won 2 21.71325.127-3.4190.42718

    Seattle 4300.571149177Lost 2 21.31525.328-4200.41519

    Carolina 4400.5137163Lost 2 17.12420.415-3.3180.41420

    NY Jets 4400.5160193Lost 1 201724.124-4.1210.40721

    Washington 2500.286140171Lost 3 201724.425-4.4220.40122

    Cleveland 2500.286108139Won 1 15.42819.910-4.4220.37623

    Miami 1600.143102145Lost 4 14.62920.716-6.1240.33124

    Detroit 1600.143132189Lost 1 18.9212731-8.1290.32825

    Arizona 1700.125134196Lost 7 16.82524.526-7.8270.31926

    Houston 2500.286121182Lost 1 17.3232630-8.7300.30727

    Buffalo 2500.286100153Lost 3 14.33021.921-7.6250.29928

    Tennessee 2500.286113179Won 2 16.12625.629-9.4310.28529

    Oakland 2500.28692148Won 2 13.13121.119-8280.27930

    Tampa Bay 2500.28688142Lost 1 12.63220.312-7.7260.27731

    San Francisco 2500.286134235Lost 2 19.12033.632-14.4320.24532

    The Bears have been unbelievable. The Chargers look better than the Colts everywhere except their record. The Patriots are 7th in points per game, 3rd in points allowed, 3rd in point differential and 3rd in overall record.



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