What to look for Saturday in the Wild Card round.

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The Coaching Carousel

Seahawks—Mora is out and rumors are flying that USC Coach Carroll will be his replacement. I believe that will happen. However, in compliance with the NFL policy of requiring an interview of at least one minority candidate, the team has asked to interview others. The Hawks were 10-6 and in the playoffs in 07 but stumbled to 4-12 last year under then lame duck coach Holmgren. Mora had been named “HC in waiting” in the 08 pre season and took over to begin the 09 season. He went 5-11.

Raiders—The Cable will be cut. HC Tom Cable is hanging on by a thread. And worse yet, Owner Davis is standing above him with a pair of scissors. Cable doesn’t have much respect in the locker room or in the bosses office. He asked for a meeting with benched former 1st pick over all QB Russell but the later blew his coach off and left town. Cable will be gone soon.

Jets @ Bengals

The Jets beat Cincy 37-0 in week 17. That will not be the case in the Wild Card round. There is no chance that Bengal QB Palmer will cooperate like he did in that game completing just 1 out of 11 attempts. Also, Cincy RB Benson was held out of that game. He will play Saturday.

Jets

The Jets will rely on the running game because they don’t trust their rookie QB Sanchez. He has not thrown a TD in the last 2 games. Since week 8 he has thrown 4 TDs and 10 picks. The running game is built around 2 pro-bowl players (C Mangold and G Faneca) on the line and RB Jones carrying the rock. He has scored 14 TDs (because they didn’t trust Sanchez throwing in the red zone) but has only averaged 4.2 per attempt. The Bengals held Jones to 2.9 per carry in the game last week. That was similar to his production against the Falcons where he was held to 2.7 per attempt. If he can not reach 4 per carry, the Jets will lose. The danger is that they will fall behind without passing and be forced to throw the ball. That will cost them a win as well.

The Jet D has played well over their heads. HC Ryan has inspired the D to become the #1 D in the league. However that ranking is a bit misleading. They had a schedule where the teams against whom they played were not up to their 08 level. In their division neither the Bills nor the Dolphins were healthy enough to reach their 08 performance. Their non-division opponents like the Panthers were down as well. CB Revis is a pro-bowl player and is the classic shut down corner. He will be on WR OchoCinco. But there are 2 big questions. 1 Can the Jets get pressure on Palmer and 2 can they stop the running of Benson and company? To win they will have to do both.

Bengals

This team has to have a short memory because they stunk the place up last week. But they were resting a number of their top players. The motivation will be significantly greater this week. Palmer has to be more accurate. But more than that, the receivers have to catch the ball. Out of his 10 incompletions last week he had 5 drops.

Benson will be the key to the game. If the O line can give him just a little room, the Jets will be chasing Benson all day long. That is the key to keeping the D honest and giving Palmer time to throw.

Defensively, they need to force the Jets into 3rd and long. That means shutting down the run on 1st and 2nd down.

Even though the Jets won easily last week, I am picking the Bengals to win. I don’t think Sanchez is up to the challenge of the playoffs.

Eagles @ Cowboys

Eagles

The Birds laid an egg last week in Dallas or this game would have been in Philly. The biggest question of all is the health of RB Westbrook. If he is healthy or even 90%, the Birds have a good chance to win. If not the Boys will get to the divisional round. Philly needs him in the passing game as much as they need him to run the ball. He takes a lot of heat off of WR Jackson and opens up the passing game. He is also the relief valve for QB McNabb. The Birds allowed 4 sacks in each of their last 2 games and that has to stop if they are going to win. Westbrook had 20 catches in last weeks game.

Pass protection is critical against a revitalized Boys D.

The Eagle D has played well but rested several of their key player last week. They have to get in Romo’s face and stop the run to win. DTs Patterson and Bunkley have to keep the blockers off MLB Trotter to be successful.

Cowboys

The O has been playing much better down the stretch than they did in the past few seasons. Romo has not thrown the picks he has in the past after Dec. 1. After following their previous script losing the first 2 games, they won the last 3 including last week 24-0 over the Eagles. Romo has thrown 9 TDs with just 2 picks since 12/1. That is significantly better than he has done in the last 3 years when he was the starter. The running game has gotten better in the second half of the season as well. From week 11 on RB Barber has carried at least 14 times a game. He is averaging 4.4 per attempt. Romo needs the running game to work in order to be effective.

The Boys D has been different in the last few weeks also. HC Phillips took over the D and made a great difference. The Boys blitz more and have been more effective at getting to the QB. The D shut out both the Redskins and Eagles in the last 2 weeks. CBs Jenkins and Newman have to keep WR Jackson in their sights. When the Boys blitz, they will have to cover Jackson man to man. That can burn them.

The D won’t have to worry too much about the run because the Eagles won’t run much.

I have believed that the Boys would fall on their face in December 09 and they fooled me. But I no longer believe in the Eagles. The Boys will win.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL FOOTBALL,NFL Playoffs,Seahawks,Mora,USC,Raiders,Davis,Cable,Jets,Bengals,Eagles,Cowboys,Romo,Phillips
  • Author:
  • Published: Nov 7th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Around the NFL for 11/7/09

Around the NFL for 11/7/09

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The winds of change blowing through Cleveland

GM George Kokinis was frog walked out of the complex on Monday. Owner Randy Lerner told the press that he was going to hire a football guy with solid credentials to help rebuild the organization. Good luck with that. Nobody with “solid credentials” would touch that job with a 100 yard stick. For my full analysis of the Browns situation, check out my article on NFLDraftDog.com

The Colts lose 3/4ths of its D backfield

The biggest loss was all pro S Sanders. The Colts give up nearly a full yard per rushing attempt more without Sanders on the field. He is gone for the year. Starting CB Jackson is also out for the season. CB Hayden is out for a couple of weeks with a knee.

Cards @ Bears

The O line of the Cards is going to have to do a lot better this week than they have so far this year if the team is going to win on a regular basis. Warner needs protection and he hasn’t gotten it. The D is playing a full level below the way they did during the playoff run last year.

The Bears have their own problems. Their O line has put QB Cutler under way too much pressure and the WRs have not done him any favors either. The Bear D will play well but the Cards’ O line won’t. The Bears win.

Ravens @ Bengals

The Bengals won in Baltimore and the Ravens need this game badly. It looked like the Raven D was nearly back to the Super Bowl years in performance against the Broncos last week. But that was a mirage. The Broncos had not played a good D up to that game.

The Bengals are winning based on a D playing better as a unit than their individual players indicate they can. That has to continue against a really good Raven O. The running game has also been a center post of their game with RB Benson.

This game will come down to which team generates the most turn overs. The Raven D will and they win in a close game.

Chargers @ Giants

The Giants need this game. Their O has suffered due to the lack of NFL quality receivers. The D has been put in too many bad positions by the O failing to convert 3rd downs. The lack of a passing threat has been mostly responsible for the low yards per attempt of the running game as well.

The Chargers have been very inconsistent as well. They are 4-3 but 2 of those wins have come over Oakland which hardly counts. RB Thomlinson seems to be getting back to form since the bye. Rivers will be better as the running game returns. Because the Giants need the game worse they should win.

Cowboys @ Eagles

The Boys are playing like girls. They need this game but the Eagles have been playing much better in the last few weeks. The Eagles will pressure QB Romo into errors and they will win the game.

Steelers @ Broncos

The fall of the Broncos continues as the Steelers have righted the ship. When the Steeler D puts pressure on Bronco QB Orton he will make mistakes. The Steelers live on errors and win.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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  • Author:
  • Published: Oct 15th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Tuesday Morning QB on a Thursday night.

Tuesday Morning QB on a Thursday night.

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After 5 games there are two kinds of teams—The quick and the dead. The quick are off to a fast start and the dead are just that for any chance to get to the post season. The secret to getting into the playoffs is beating up on the teams that you should and at least splitting with the top teams that you play. This season there are 9 really bad teams in the league. That is more than in most years and points to a lot of coaching vacancies after the season.

The Quick:

5-0

The Vikings are everything I said they would be before the season but there are some danger signs. Three of their wins are on the dead list—Cleveland, Detroit, and St. Louis. When they played better quality teams they have struggled at home on the O or the D. In the game against the 49ers the O struggled to a 27-24 win. Against the Pack the D struggled to get off the field and just won 30-23.

The Indy Colts have gotten off to a fast start but it is a little deceiving. They also played 3 games against teams on the dead list and one at the Cards where the home team didn’t show up for the game. The key to the D is S Sanders. If he is there, the team can stop the run but they can’t without him. The O has a problem as well—The running game is not getting it done. Addai and Brown are averaging less than 3.6 yards per carry. That is not enough balance to win on the road against a good D in the post season.

The NY Giants have looked good but they too have had a majority of their games against the dead. The only good team they have played is at Dallas and they squeaked by 33-31. The D is playing OK but the O has struggled with the running game. Now QB Manning has a foot injury and that could spell trouble for the team when the schedule gets tougher.

4-0

The Saints looked unbeatable at Philly winning 48-22 but the Eagles didn’t have McNabb. They also looked good against the Jets at home. This is probably one of the best teams in the league IF the D continues to play well. Their offense with Breez at QB is outstanding throwing the ball but have to continue to run the ball. They have some problems on the O line as well. We will know a lot more about the Saints after they host the Giants this week.

4-1

The Bengals are playing way beyond the level of talent on the team particularly on D. They have had the toughest schedule so far among the Fast teams. They own wins over the Ravens, Steelers, and Pack. Their only loss was a freak tipped pass against the Broncos on the first game of the season. They are playing well and are the best 1 loss team.

3-1

The Bears are playing well without Urlacker and Cutler. But can they keep it up?

The Falcons looked really bad against the Pats but great against the 49ers. Which is the real team?

The Eagles lost only one game in McNabb’s absence and that is really good news for the team. But can he stay healthy?

The DEAD

0-5

The Titans are the deadest of the dead. No chance to do anything. They got old all at once and are the oldest starting 22 in the league.

The Bucs are a close second on the dead list. This team is just bad and will take a lot of work and good drafts to get better.

All the Kansas teams. The Rams have some potential on O with QB Bulger and RB Jackson but Bulger is hurt. The Chiefs are actually showing some signs of life after death but injuries have hurt them.

1-4

The Browns won a game by default. They are bad and do not have an offense.

The Raiders are without a QB or a front office. Things in Raider land will not get better as long as Davis is running the team.

The Bills are not going to get better soon. Edwards is not the answer at QB.

The Lions have shown improvement. Of course that would not be hard after the 0-16 season.

1-3

The Panthers are the best of the dead teams. Some thought they had a pulse after a win over Washington but that team is near dead as well. No pulse no chance for the playoffs.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 29th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on The Rams have a long road back to respectability.

The Rams have a long road back to respectability.

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The good news at QB is that the Rams have a legitimate backup—Kyle Boller. The bad news is the way the O line plays, they will need Boller and Brock Berlin to replace starter Marc Bulger when he gets hurt. Bulger is a top QB on a team with an O line that couldn’t protect a Sherman Tank.

Bulger has had passer ratings in the 90’s when the team had an O line and receivers that could catch the ball in 2002-2006. In 07 and 08 Orlando Pace was hurt and there were more injured O linemen than healthy ones. Bulger had a rating of 70.3 in 07 and 71.4 last year. Bulger needs some better protection if the Rams’ O is going to improve.

The running game has suffered a similar fate to the passing game. RB Steven Jackson is as good as any but has struggled the last few years. In 06 he carried 346 times for a 4.4 average. In 07 he had averaged 4.2 and in 08 4.1. He failed to finish either of those two seasons healthy. He is capable of being the difference in close games that the Rams could not close out last year. He has 4 guys behind him but the team will probably keep 2 or 3 at the most. HB Kenneth Darby is a 3rd down type slasher back who may not be able to carry the load should Jackson go down. Antonio Pittman has the ability but has had trouble staying healthy. Pittman could be the odd man out. The team drafted Chris Ogbonnaya in the 2nd round this year and he will stick. They also signed vet Samkon Gado who does everything OK but is not outstanding in any way. He and Pittman will battle for a 4th rb if the Rams keep that many. The FB will be vet Mike Karney.

The WR is a gab bag at best. The corps is 2nd year Donnie Avery and a bunch of guys. And Avery is a #2 quality WR at best. He is out now with a broken foot. Keenan Burton is always hurting. Laurent Robinson is trying to revive his career with the team. So far he looks decent and may win a starting job. Derek Stanley is recovering from an ACL. Players usually take 12 months to fully recover. Good luck to the Ram QBs depending on this group. The TE situation isn’t much brighter. Randy McMichael is capable when healthy. He missed 12 games last year with a serious foot injury. So far he looks OK. The rest of the group is a long shot at best.

The O line has been the walking wounded for the last 2 years. It is no different this year. The best of the group is T Alex Barron and C Jason Brown. Barron has been hurt (knee) and is in the last year of his deal. 4 year vet Brown has developed nicely and is solid. LG Jacob Bell was signed from the Titans last year and has yet to prove he is worth his game check. He is now suffering from a concussion. G Richie Incognito is a penalty magnet. He needs to get his head in the game. Rookie RT Jason Smith is going to start but has trouble with quick DE pass rush. The Rams have 10 reserve OL guys and hope to find 4 that are good enough to stick. Don’t bet on it.

The D line will be a challenge as well. The starting 4 will be LDE Victor Adeyanju, LDT Adam Carriker, RDT Clifton Ryan and RDE Chris Long with backup E Leonard Little in reserve. Long and Carriker are good as long as the later can stay healthy. Ryan and Adeyanju are fair at best. Little is a pass rusher and little (excuse the pun) else. They drafted T Darell Scott in the 4th but there isn’t much else. The problem will be that they need at least 2 more good DL guys to make a full rotation.

The linebacker crew is looking much better thanks to the addition of 2nd round steal MLB James Laurinaitis from Ohio State. He attacks the run and is an effective blitzer. Last year’s MLB Will Witherspoon slides to the weak side and should be fine. He is a playmaker. Chris Draft will start on the strong side and is OK. Larry Grant and David Vobora have potential but little experience in the backup roles.

FS Oshiomogho Atogwe and SS James Butler are set. Atogwe has good ball skills and Butler was brought here by Head Coach Spagnuolo from the Giants. The CBs are a question mark. The starters should be Ron Bartell and Tye Hill. Bartell got experience filling in for the injured Hill last year. Hill is battling young Justin King. King had the inside track last season before a toe injury ended his season. Jonathan Wade has the physical tools but has not yet learned what to do with them. He needs to learn the game and become consistent.

OVERALL: The Rams are a good bet to have an early draft choice next year again. But they are getting better with a good draft in 09 and some decent FAs. Spagnuolo should be able to get these guys to play hard and in the NFC West, that could get him some wins. I still expect the Rams to be 4th in the weakest division in the league.  The only Fantasy players are Bulger, Jackson, and maybe Avery.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 26th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Tampa Bay—Pick a quarterback; any quarterback

Tampa Bay—Pick a quarterback; any quarterback

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The Buccaneers have a new coaching staff. new GM, new players, but one thing hasn’t changed since the days of Jon “Chuckie” Gruden—The team is still searching for a legitimate QB. They need an NFL quality QB to compete in the NFC South. Right now they don’t have one.

New head coach Raheem Morris has yet to name a starter. He has a few choices but none of them have “it” that an NFL QB requires. Luke McCown, Byron Leftwich, and rookie Josh Freeman are all in the mix with Freeman a little behind the other two. McCown is 1 and 6 as a starter. He has a career passer rating of 75. No “it” there. I like Leftwich more than the other 2 but he is not an NFL quality starter either. He had a passer rating of 104.3 last year in Pittsburgh. But that was on only 36 attempts. Overall he has a career average rating of a little over 80. As of today, McCown seems to have a slight edge. Morris has said he would reveal the Game 1 starter before the 3rd preseason game. Freeman is the wildcard. He has a ton of physical ability but came from a spread offense at Kansas State and never had to do a lot of reading coverages. In addition the Big 12 is not known for D.

Derek Ward looks to be the pick for starting RB. He is a UFA from the Giants and is starting quality. The backup and short yardage guy is Earnest Graham. Graham is versatile and has played RB and FB effectively. He is also a good receiver out of the backfield. Cadillac Williams is the often injured potential superstar of this group. He has had 2 ACL injuries in the last 2 years. If he is healthy he is the most talented guy on the team. B.J. Askew and Jameel Cook will battle for the FB spot. Both are decent blockers but Cook is younger and cheaper. He wins ties in this contest.

Antonio Bryant and Michael Clayton are the starting WRs. Bryant became they kind of WR for Tampa that the Browns though he could be when they drafted him in 99. The Bucs franchised him this off season. Clayton has been slow to come around but the team resigned him. They hope he will finally begin to produce. Rookie Maurice Stovall and Dexter Jackson will try to become the 3rd WR. I like Jackson’s chances to win the 3rd spot and possibly unseat Clayton. The Bucks traded for Kellen Winslow, Jr. He will become the security blanket for whichever QB wins the job. He will never become the deep threat he could have before his accident. But he is a warrior and plays with pain every snap.

The team has a lot more confidence in their O line than I do. G Davin Joseph was a pro bowler last year. The left side of the line will have T Donald Penn and G Arron Sears. They are both OK but no better. In camp, G Jeremy Zuttah is pushing Sears hard for his spot. C Jeff Faine wasn’t good enough for the Browns. Enough said. T Jeremy Trueblood is developing but has serious technique problems.

The Chuckie Tampa 2 is history. The problem is that the players were selected with the 2 in mind. They really don’t fit the head up 2 gap system that Morris is installing. The projected starters are DEs Jimmy Wilkerson and Gaines Adams, NT Chris Hovan, and DT Ryan Sims. Hovan is no NT even though he is bulked up to 310 pounds. He is a penetrator. Sims is a run stopper with some ability. Wilkerson is average at best. Adams is developing but has yet to prove he is worth his high draft choice. The team wants to get more sacks. The 2 gap system is not going to do it with this group. The bench is a bunch of rookies and “hope so’s.”

The D lost its heart and soul when Derrick Brooks was cut. MLB Barrett Ruud is the only sure thing at linebacker. He is one of the better IB when healthy. Jermaine Phillips was penciled in on the weak side but it is a position move from safety. That is not an easy transition.  He will be moved back to safety soon.  The other side is wide open. Quincy Black and UFA Angelo Crowell (Buffalo) are still fighting for the strong side starting spot. Crowell is coming back from a season ending injury but looks like the leader.

Again the change in scheme is going to be a challenge. CB Aqib Talib should be fine. CB Ronde Barber may not. He has played his entire career in the Tampa 2. Speed is not his strength. The bump and run requires speed. SS Sabby Piscitelli can’t tackle and that is a huge problem. He fills in for Phillips. FS Tanard Jackson is very inconsistent. Last year was not good for him. There is even less on the bench. The team has to be watching the waiver wire to get help at both LB and DB.

OVERALL: This team could be OK but would be better in their former Tampa 2 system. There are just too many questions in the transition. The team has always depended on their D and a conservative O. Now they really don’t have either to depend on. Morris is starting over with this team. It won’t be pretty early. The Bucs will be 3rd or 4th in the division.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 24th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Rap up of Preseason Week 2 Key games

Rap up of Preseason Week 2 Key games

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Chargers @ Cardinals

The Charger O  line is not playing nearly as well as it did last year. They are giving up sacks more often than they should. Even all pro tackle McNeil is slacking. LG Goff is not doing the job.

The SD Defense looks sharp in the red zone but not so much in the middle of the field. They totally stopped QB Kurt Warner and the Cardinal O in two 1s vs 1s series in the red zone. They picked Warner off in the endzone and forced a 4th down when the Cards had the ball 1st and goal inside the 10 from a great kick return.

In the middle of the field Warner was able to find receivers wide running open. The Card running game was just OK against the Charger D. They did not have their #1 pick RB Beanie Wells. He is out with ankle problems.

Matt Leinart was the 3rd QB in the game against the Chargers. He came in with only 8:35 left in the game but drove the team from his own goal line to the Charger 11 in 5:32. But on 2nd down and 3 he threw into double coverage incomplete. On 3rd overthrew WR Long in the endzone. On 4th he again threw into tight coverage and turned the ball over on downs. He looked sharp until he got to the red zone then couldn’t convert. In 2 games Leinart has a passer rating around 78. He is fighting journeyman Bryan St. Pierre for the backup spot.

The Card #1 D did a good job but the team just doesn’t have the depth of a top NFL team. Last year they had very few injuries on D. If they sustain some this season, the D will not be good enough to get the Cards back in the playoffs.

Giants at Bears

The Giants were focused on stopping the run with Forte. The Bears were passing more than running and passed the Giants #1 D crazy. The O line of Chicago looks very solid. Future Hall of Fame T Orlando Pace looks healthy for the first time in 3 years. The Giants D could not get to Jay Cutler much. Cutler was 8-13 121 yds 1 TD.

Forte looks very strong. He is finding holes and exploiting them. Given the improved QB and O line, he should be very close to the first teer RBs in fantasy football. Kevin Jones looks good as the #2 RB but is going to have to hold onto the ball better. The only problem the Bears O has is a lack of depth at QB, WR and in the line. Hester is the #1 WR which takes him out of the return game for the most part. The Bears receivers will look better than they are due to Cutler. This team is going to challenge for the NFC title if the key players stay healthy.

The Giants looked like they were in San Jose instead of Soldier Field. They are much better than they looked. The O line was harassed consistently by the Bears D. However, the lack of any NFL quality receivers will haunt this team the entire year. Eli Manning is not going to have as productive a year as he did last year. He just doesn’t have the guys to catch the ball. Look for more INTs and fewer TDs.

There is nothing wrong with the Giants running game. Brandon Jacobs is a beast. He was the only weapon the Giants had that worked against the Bears top D. He tore huge holes in the D line. He is a top teer RB in FF.

The Giants D will come around. It looked shell shocked against Cutler. They will be susceptible to the pass if their pass rush doesn’t produce more pressure than it did against the Bears.

Dolphins v Panthers

Miami: O sharp Pennington is accurate and has the touch that some lack. He has timed up even the new WR like Patrick Turner (3rd round USC) and Hartwell (4th round Ohio State). The running game looks very sharp against a good Carolina D. Brown is running hard inside. Getting Thomas back at guard has helped.

Other than stopping the run of Williams, the Dolphin D did real well. They are putting a lot of pressure on the opponent QBs. The D seems much more aggressive than it was last year. That should help.

Carolina: Delhomme is still inaccurate too often. He misses wide open WRs deep. Then there is Williams.

On the Carolina 2nd possession, he had been held to 1 yard on 4 carries. On 2nd and 8 from the Dolphin 26, he started left and changed direction when he saw the hole was not there. He was then hit in the backfield by 2 Dolphins, spun off it, was hit again by another broke that and scored avoiding two more tackles. That is why he is one of the top backs in Fantasy football.

RAMS vs FALCONS

Turner is an arsonist—he burns up defenses. He has a combination of speed and vision that is very rare. 2nd RB Norwood is also outstanding. He has excellent vision and a second gear that prevents him from getting caught from behind.

Falcon QB Matt Ryan is continuing to develop. He is seeing the field like a vet and has the arm to make all the throws.

The Rams look good and horrible from one play to another. The O line is still very poor. They are going to have to do a much better job protecting QB Bulger if they expect to win many games. They block the same way for a pass as they do for a screen. They touch the D lineman and let them right in.

RB Jackson has his jump step back and looks good. I still don’t recommend drafting him in Fantasy due to problems on the O line and the probability that the Rams will be playing from behind a lot in 09. Ex Falcon WR Robinson looks really improved. He is catching the ball in traffic, and running better routes. Getting open against the Rams isn’t that hard.

Ram tackling is awful. They couldn’t tackle a lamp post because it would be moving too fast. The #1 D gave up 9 yards per play in the first Q. There were a couple of semi-bright spots on D including 2nd round pick James Laurinaitis. He picked off a pass, blitzed effectively and best of all attacked the run down hill.

Cleveland vs. Detroit—See my complete game analysis at

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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