Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NFL week 10 wrapup

Week 10 in the NFL...

  • Mixed emotions watching the game last night. Obviously, there was the whole "wow, is this pathetic - what a horrible team San Francisco is" thing, but as a rule, when watching a neutral game, we tend to root for the underdog. Goliath's supporters support Goliath - everyone else supports David. And I don't like the Seahawks. And there was a tremendous urge to root for Mike Nolan, after the death of his dad, as the greatest possible storyline for the night.

    On the other hand, the Patriots get the 49ers first round draft pick, so I want the 49ers to lose. I wanted to root for Nolan and the 49ers, but just couldn't do it.

  • After dropping their first two games, the Giants reeled off six straight wins, leading people to think that they might be a real team, and might challenge the Cowboys in the NFC East. After a thorough demonstration on Sunday that that's not the case, people went back to that six-game winning streak.

    5-4 Redskins.
    4-5 Eagles.
    1-8 Jets.
    3-6 Falcons.
    2-7 49ers.
    0-9 Dolphins.

    That streak was obviously far more about the level of competition than the Giants' performance.

  • The Colts came out slowly, as I thought that they might, but were clearly the better team on Sunday night. They were just never able to overcome one of the worst special-teams performances of all time. In the first 9 minutes of the game, they gave up both a kickoff return and a punt return touchdown. They missed a field goal at the end of the first half, they missed a field goal at the end of the second half. And they lost by two. If they make the play on any one of those four special teams plays, they probably win the game.

    Which is not, actually, to say that they played well. Manning was pretty bad. The amazing thing is that San Diego was worse. But they had those two big early plays, and just hung on for dear life.

  • Everyone's played nine games, now, so you can look at things like these:
    • Pittsburgh, Indiapolis and Dallas are 2, 3 and 4 in point differential, having outscored their opposition by 127, 116 and 101 points respectively. The Patriots have outscored their opposition by 208.

    • The Patriots point differential is higher than the number of points scored for 22 of the NFL's 32 teams.

    • In their first three games, the Patriots scored 114 points. The San Francisco 49ers have scored 104 in their first 9. In 2 games, weeks 7 and 8 combined, the Patriots scored 101.

    • In 48 weeks of NFL football over three years, 1990-1992, the New England Patriots won as many games (9) as they won in the first 9 games of the 2007 season.

    • The offense has (rightfully) gotten the lion's share of the acclaim thus far, but the Patriots have allowed fewer points than all but four other teams, despite several games against some of the NFL's best offenses. (They've played the top-3, and 5 of the top-9 non-New England teams in the points scored list.)

  • Evidence that you should be listening carefully to what I say [and there's a lot of it this week]:

    Dallas at NY Giants - "The Cowboys spanked the Giants in week one, but New York is currently on a six game winning streak. They've been beating up on the little sisters of the poor, however, and the questions about the actual quality of this Giants team have not been anything close to answered. We may get some answers this weekend. Until I see them do something against a real team, I'm an unbeliever."

    Minnesota at Green Bay - "Minnesota is undefeated when Adrien Peterson runs for 296 yards. There's a good chance, however, that Green Bay won't spend the afternoon in a nickel defense. Since the Vikings can't do anything else to score, it's tough to pick them unless you think that Peterson's going wild. So I'm not picking them. Packers win, Packers cover."

    Cleveland at Pittsburgh - "I know that Pittsburgh went into Cleveland and won big in week 1. That resulted in Charlie Frye being dispatched to Seattle and, since then, the Browns have been very competitive. More than that, they're 5-2, and 5-1 outside of New England. They kept the Patriots game relatively close, and only a last-second fumble return for a touchdown prevented them from losing by just 10. Pittsburgh will win this game, but it won't be a blowout, and 10 points is too many against a team with Cleveland's offense."

  • Evidence that you should be listening carefully to what I say (and betting the opposite):

    St. Louis at New Orleans - "The Rams averaged 40 points a game last year - if they score 7 this week, it'll give them 40 for the season. OK, both of those figures are obviously lies. Hyperbole, exaggeration, literary license, "meant to give an air of artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative." Suffice it to say, the St. Louis offense has been weak. Bad. Practically non-existent. The Saints spent a month that way, too, but unlike the Rams, have chosen to actually play the NFL season after taking the first four weeks off. 12 points is a lot to ask of any non-Foxborough-based team to cover, but since it actually only requires that they score 13 (OK, more exaggeration - bear with me), I'm willing to give the points."

    Atlanta at Carolina - "Well, here's a scintillating division game. Not. I can't believe that I'm actually picking the Panthers to cover a 4-point spread, but the alternative, picking Atlanta on the road, is equally unpalatable."

  • For the week:
    Winners: 7-7
    ATS: 7-6-1

  • For the season:
    Winners: 92-52
    ATS: 74-61-9

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