Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NFL week 8 wrapup

  • The NY Giants have scored 200 points. There are three teams that have scored more. The Colts have scored 224, the Cowboys have scored 227. (They've each played 7 games, while the Patriots have played 8.) The Patriots have outscored their opposition by 204.

    The Patriots have 43 touchdowns and 18 punts.

    The biggest point differential in the NFL over the past 5 years belongs to the 2005 Indianapolis Colts. They outscored their opposition by 192 points. To repeat, through 8 games, the Patriots have outscored their opposition by 204.

    I don't know what the record is, but whatever it is, they've got to be on pace to shatter it.

  • The Patriots have been accused, a couple of times this year, of "running up the score." I defended them running the ball against the Cowboys - diving into the line on four straight downs, when the game would have ended without a score if the Cowboys hadn't called a timeout doesn't constitute "running up the score" in my opinion. The fake spike play against the Dolphins - it was the first half. Brady coming back in the 4th - they've lost a game in Miami late with a big lead before, just three years ago when they finished 14-2 and the Dolphins finished 4-12. So I don't have a problem with that one.

    And I don't have a problem with running the ball on 4th down up 38-0 in the 4th quarter. Better than kicking a field goal. And I don't have a problem with the backup quarterback throwing the ball on 4th down - people whining about a 21-yard pass should take note that they actually threw the ball 7 yards on 4th and 7 - let the Redskins make a tackle, instead of whining about how far they threw it.

    But throwing the ball into the end zone with a 38-0 lead and less than 10 minutes left strikes me as tacky. And to have Brady doing it strikes me as unwise. That game was decided, and, while players play, it would have been better long-term strategy, and better sportsmanship, not to have him playing at that point in the fourth quarter. I don't like that one.

  • That said, I think that this is the appropriate take on it. "Fourth down, when you're in field goal range, that's a tough one. Do you kick another three points there and pile it on, or do you give them a chance to stop you by running the ball on 4th down, and if they stop you they take it back, which is what happened in the Buffalo game."
    - Bill Belichick, 10/29/2007

    It's not New England's job to stop New England from scoring. It Washington's job to stop New England from scoring.

    And it isn't as if Patriots fans have no experience with being on the other side of that situation. The 1990 1-15 team lost by scores of 37-7, 41-7, 42-7 and 48-20. Just three years ago, San Diego beat New England 41-17, the final touchdown scoring with 46 seconds remaining in the game when a safety intercepted the ball and lateraled it rather than going down to seal the victory. Was that "running up the score?" Wouldn't "good sportsmanship" and smart play have dictated taking a knee rather than lateraling the live ball? I don't remember this topic being loudly considered at that time.

  • The big problem, the reason that the topic has been so prevalent, is that the Patriots have just decimated everyone they've played. There are big scores every week in the NFL, there is usually a good team that will be a bad team by 17 or more 3-4 times a year. What's happening here is that the Patriots don't look like they belong is this league right now. They look like bullies, like a division 1 varsity team playing against a division 3 JV squad. Every week. The Redskins came into the weekend as one of the better teams in the NFC, with (supposedly) one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Patriots scored 52 points, and the game never looked, or was, competitive. They've played 8 games, and not one of them has been close late. No one has been within 17 points of them at the finish. They haven't failed to score 34 or more. They have outplayed the competition so significantly and so consistently that they've created the impression of being on a different level. They can't just play football - they're so much better that it isn't fair, and they need to take it easy on the opposition. At least, that's the way it looks. People forget that both teams are professionals, that both teams are spending to the same salary cap and that everyone on the field is one of the best football players in the world. The Patriots are just doing everything so much better than the teams they're playing that it ceases to be sport. Sport implies competition, and they haven't had any.

  • The name that I can't get out of my head right now is Icarus...

  • As impressive as the Patriots have been, you could argue that the Colts have been just as good, beating (some) better teams. But that argument is a little weaker now than it was. The Colts have played 3 teams that are currently over .500, and have beaten them all by an average score of 27-11. Pretty damned impressive. The Patriots, however, have played four teams (Chargers, Browns, Cowboys, Redskins) that are currently over .500, and they have won them by an average score of 43-16.

    We don't really have a context for what we're watching. They're off the charts, playing at entirely different level than everyone else. If a team wins a game by the score of 41-16, that's a blowout, and people talk about what a great week it had. The Patriots average week, through 8 games, is a little bit better than that.

    There have been 108 non-Patriot NFL games so far. 6 teams, 7 games (Cleveland twice) have scored 41 or more points. The Patriots are averaging over 41.

    There have been 7 games with a final score differential of greater than 25. The Patriots average differential is 25.5.

    Again, what they're doing has not been done before, not in my memory.

  • If I remember the hype preceding the Dallas game correctly, there has never been a match-up of NFL teams in which both were 7-0 or better. The New England-Indianapolis game is shaping up as one of the great NFL regular season games ever.

  • Evidence that you should be listening carefully to what I say:

    Cleveland at St. Louis - "So it's come to this. The Rams are underdogs. At home. To the Cleveland Browns. And I think that the spread is low."

    Houston at San Diego - "What the Chargers are going through this week is very hard, and it is understandable if some of them are distracted. But this can also be a team-building experience, where they focus on football and each other as a means of escape, and rise above the external circumstances. If they do, this could be a blowout, as the Chargers are the more talented team. That's the way I'm going."

    Washington at New England - "Sherman's march to the sea continues, as I try to come to grips with the realization that I am now rooting for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees. Not literally - figuratively, as that's what my teams have turned into."

  • Evidence that you should be listening carefully to what I say (and betting the opposite [and this evidence continues to pile up]):

    Buffalo at NY Jets - "The Bills are actually ahead of the Jets right now, at least developmentally, because Trent Edwards is gaining experience and they're learning what he can do, while Kellen Clemens and the Jets organization are watching Chad Pennington play well enough to lose. But the Jets manage to pull this one out at home, gaining revenge for Buffalo's win in week 4."

    Green Bay at Denver - "The Bronco's defeat of the Steelers last week allows them to extend the illusion that they're relevant in the AFC competition this season. By default, anyone one the fringes of AFC contention is better than an NFC team."

  • For the week:
    Winners: 10-3
    ATS: 8-5-0

  • For the season:
    Winners: 74-42
    ATS: 58-51-7

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