Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NFL week 12 wrapup

Week 12 in the NFL...

  • At 6:00 this morning, ESPN's SportsCenter led with the Sean Taylor story, including quotes from Daniel Snyder to the effect that they were "cautiously optimistic." When the next broadcast started as 7:00, that report was missing, replaced by a breaking news report that Taylor had died. It is obviously a sad event for his friends and family, but I can't pretend that it is anything other than a news story to me.

    It should go without saying that you never want things like this to happen. And the story seems not just tragic, but odd. There is not enough context or information to determine what happened, but there is enough information to make one wonder. Assuming, always, that the information in the public domain is actually correct, which isn't necessarily a great assumption, or one that I like to start with. But if it is, this doesn't seem like a random act of violence. In any event, it is a tragic event for his friends and family, a sad event for his coworkers and Washington fans, a depressing story for NFL and football fans, and just another piece of news for everyone else.

  • The word on everyone's lips yesterday was "blueprint." As in, "the Eagles have given everyone a blueprint for stopping the Patriots." Right. The Patriots offense got the ball three times in the first half and scored three times, two TD and a field goal. They did punt twice in the second half, and they also had a drive end on a "missed" field goal after the officials took away a touchdown on a phantom offensive pass interference call.

    The Eagles did some of the things that you need to do to beat them. They went for it (and made it) on fourth down. They recovered an onside kick. They did "hold" New England to 17 points in the first half, not because the Eagles defense held down the Patriots offense, but because the Eagles offense kept the Patriots offense off the field.

  • That said, the Patriots defense played very poorly Sunday night, and there are a couple of teams left that could threaten them if they play that way again. And if Hobbs and/or Gay are gone for any significant length of time, that weakens a secondary that can't really afford to be weakened.

  • One play warrants mention - early in the second quarter, the Eagles pulled a trick play out. Feeley pitched to Avant, who then looked to pass downfield. I've seen the play dozens of times - I have never seen the player pull the ball down because there's no one to throw to. The Patriots, though they played poorly defensively, are so disciplined that they didn't bite, and the receivers remained covered.

  • I still expect the Dolphins to win a game this year, possibly this week against the Jets, but you can't read much into that performance in Pittsburgh last night. The field was unplayable. When a punted football plugs like a 9-iron into a sand trap, you know that nothing good's going to happen.

  • The Thanksgiving football was every bit as bad as I thought it would be.

  • Evidence that you should be listening carefully to what I say (and there isn't much, as I'm finally in mid-season form):

    Houston at Cleveland - "The Texans played a great game last week in getting back to .500, but the Browns have too much offense, and great special teams. Cleveland by a touchdown. Or more."

    New Orleans at Carolina - "How often is the 4-6 team with two straight losses the hotter team going into a game? If someone wants to complain that this pick suggests contempt for Carolina, well, yes, it does."

    NY Jets at Dallas - "After their stunning upset of the Steelers, I'm sure that there are Jets fans and players with delusions of going down and beating the Cowboys. Ain't. Gonna. Happen. There is no way that the Jets can stop the Cowboys, and if they score a little, it will be too little."

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

    San Francisco at Arizona - "Somehow, the 49ers beat the Cardinals at home in week one. This week, Arizona returns the favor, with interest."

    Tennessee at Cincinnati - "How is it that the Titans are only a 1 point favorite over Cincinnati? Because they can't score. Well, they'll score against Cincinnati, enough to cover a one point spread anyway."

  • For the week:
    Winners: 9-7
    ATS: 7-9-0

  • For the season:
    Winners: 113-63
    ATS: 90-76-10

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