Tuesday, November 06, 2007

NFL week 9 wrapup

Week 9 in the NFL...

  • I covered the Patriots-Colts game yesterday, and don't really have much to add. Yes, the Colts had some injury issues but everything else, including some of the worst officiating in the history of organized football, was against the Patriots, and New England scored 14 points in 2:26 of possession time in the fourth, forced two fumbles, and put together an extremely impressive 6+ minutes of football to walk out with the win.

  • The storyline, which was being talked about already, gathers strength - can the Patriots finish 19-0? They've been favored in every game they've played so far and, assuming that Brady doesn't get hurt, will be favored in every game left to play. They've got to win 10 straight through the Super Bowl to match (and, frankly, significantly surpass) the feat of the 1972 Dolphins. Well, they've done that before, as the 2004 Patriots, led by Brady and Belichick, won their last 15, 12 in the regular season and three in the playoffs. There were columnists talking about them needing to lose before they got to the playoffs that year. They didn't, and they didn't lose in the playoffs that year, either.

    If you assume that they are 80% likely to win each of their remaining games (and Pythagoras thinks they're actually about an .817 team), they have a 20% chance of finishing the regular season undefeated, and about 10% chance of running the table to finish 19-0.

    I wouldn't bet against them.

  • Perception tends to lag reality. For some reason, people seem to still believe that the Baltimore Ravens have a dominant defensive football team. While it's true that they were (before last night) fairly high on the points-allowed list, they've done so by playing offensive cripples. They gave up a total of 10 points, for example, to St. Louis and San Francisco, two of the worst offensive teams in football. They've also played the NY Jets, Buffalo and Arizona. Against the decent offenses they've played, they allowed 27 to the Bengals (in one of Cincinnati's two wins) and 27 to the Browns. And now 38 to the Steelers (though the Raven offense had a lot to do with Pittsburgh's total.) The fact is, defensively, they are not a great team, and I was surprised by the number of people that thought the spread on last night's game was way too high.

    (I first said this two months ago, by the way.
    I'm developing a level of skepticism about the Baltimore defense. If they were what people think they are, they wouldn't have let the Jets drive down the field with a QB making his first NFL start and tie the game inside the last two minutes. What's that? They didn't? Well, yes, they did. The Jets just failed to score the points. McCareins dropped one touchdown, Clemens overthrew a second. No credit to the Baltimore defense.

    It was there for everyone to see, but most seem to have chosen not to.

  • How on earth did the Broncos beat the Steelers two weeks ago?

  • Were the Minnesota Vikings not aware that missed field goals can be returned? Antonio Cromaritie ran the entire length of the field without a Viking getting within hailing distance. Missed tackles are a bad thing, but better to have few of those than what actually happened, which seemed to be the Viking field goal team heading to the sideline as soon as the ball was kicked.

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

    Seattle at Cleveland - "On my pre-season list of "Phrases That Won't Be Needed During The 2007 NFL Season," sandwiched between number 3 ("it's a long bomb from Pennington to Cotchery!") and number 5 ("the 49ers are ready to assert control over the NFC West") was number 4 ("Cleveland just has too much offense for the Seahawks to match.") So the list needs some editing. Because, frankly, Cleveland just has too much offense for the Seahawks to match."

    Dallas at Philadelphia - "Philadelphia could win this game. If they bring their absolute best performance and Dallas plays their 'C'-'D' game, and Philadelphia wins the turnover battle +3 or more. Otherwise, the Cowboys win. Comfortably."

    Baltimore at Pittsburgh - "If the Ravens really had the defense that people seem to think that they do, 9 points would be far too much for the Steelers to give. But they don't. Baltimore's inept offense will score 10 or fewer, and the Steelers will score 20+ for the cover."

  • Evidence that you should be listening carefully to what I say (and betting the opposite [slim pickings, in one of the best weeks I've ever had.]):

    San Diego at Minnesota - "I knew that the Chargers would go up to Green Bay and win. I was wrong. While I sometimes learn from mistakes, I know that the Chargers are going to go up to Minnesota and win."

    Green Bay at Denver - "The Saints have awoken. But how good are they, really? And who's playing QB for the Jaguars this week? Do I care? I can see a New Orleans win, but I'm going with the better team from the better conference."

  • For the week:
    Winners: 11-3
    ATS: 9-4-1

  • For the season:
    Winners: 85-45
    ATS: 67-55-8

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