What to look for in the NFC Championship game.

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nfl

Vikings @ Saints

Vikes

QB Farve has brought the passing game that has been missing from the team for years. Prior to this season, the team had the D, the O line, and the running game of an NFL Champion. The one thing they didn’t have was a championship quality passing game. Farve has not only provided the passing, he has helped the receivers develop. WR Rice has gone from “great potential” to one of the best receivers in the league in 1 year. In 08 Rice caught 15 balls. In 09 he caught 83 with a 15.8 yard average for 8 TDs. The rookie that the Vikes drafted Harvin who didn’t have an NFL position. Not only did he become a WR, he caught 80 balls for a 13.2 average and 6 TDs. That didn’t happen by accident. Farve didn’t help them develop out of a desire to be a good team leader. He did it to win a championship. The Vikes have a key injury on O. WR Harvin is questionable for the game. I think he will play.

The problem was that as the passing game developed, the running game withered. RB Peterson is one of the most skilled backs in the league. After his season of 1760 yards, a 4.8 yard average and 10 TDs, he fell to 1383 yards, a 4.4 yard average and has not had a 100+ yard game in the last half of the season. So what is the problem? There are actually a couple of problems. First, there is not nearly enough push by the O line up the gut. The guards are not able to slide off double teams and get to the second level. The line is too often pushed back into the backfield allowing the backs to be hit before they get to the line of scrimmage. The second problem is leakage around the edge. The TEs are receivers more than blockers. In the Dallas game the OLB got to the runner off the edge by pushing past the TE. Those problems are not the kind of thing you can solve in a week.

The D has been solid all year ranking 6th in yards and 10th in scoring D. After holding the Bengals to 10 points in week 14, the D had a pair of bad games allowing 26 and 36 in consecutive weeks in losses to the Panthers and Bears. But they turned it on again and have allowed just 10 total points to the Giants in week 17 and to the Cowboys last week in the Divisional round. The Cowboys were one of the best offenses in the league. The Boys scored just a field goal against the Vikes D. The key to the D is the line. The Williams boys at DT are the best pair in the league. They crush the run and push the O line back into the QB. The DEs Edwards and Allen are as good as any pair in the league. The D has 48 sacks, 23 fumbles forced and 11 picks this year. The D does have injuries as well. Pat Williams and Edwards are both questionable with injuries. The Vikes need both to slow down a great Saint O. CB Sapp is also questionable.

The key to this game may be if the Vike LB can drop off enough to clog the seams and prevent the quick seam pass. The Saints live off of quick passes to the short seam and run after the catch. No catch no RAC.

Saints

The Saints have the top O in the league. They are 1st in yards and points, 4th in passing yards and 6th in rushing. QB Brees is as good a QB as there is in the league. He is under the radar because this is the first time in a while that the team has made it this far. The Saints have 3 WRs, a TE and a RB that each have more than 40 catches. Brees’ favorite receiver is whoever is open. WRs Colston (70 catches) Henderson (51) and Meacham (45) are all dangerous. TE Shockey (48) stretches the D down the middle and RB Bush (47). Bush is perhaps more dangerous as a receiver than a runner. He can take a 1 yard pass out of the backfield and take it to the house. Shockey is questionable as is pro bowl C Goodwin. If Goodwin can’t go it would be a problem for the O. His replacement Leckey struggles to handle big active DTs.

The team has 3 RBs with more than 300 yards. Bush (390, 5.6 average) is Mr. Outside and RB Thomas (793, 5.4) is Mr. Inside. RB Bell (654) can do both. The O line has done a good job blocking the run and the pass. Every lineman can get outside to block the sweep and screen.

The D has been as good as necessary but that is all. They rank 20th in points allowed, 25th in yards, 26th in passing yards and 21st in rushing yards. The D depends on the O to score more points. The loss of DE Grant early in the year hurt the pass rush. DE Smith gets double teamed often. The one weapon the Saints have in the DB is S Sharper. He is a ball magnet and played with Favre in Green Bay. Farve must know where Sharper is. MLB Vilma heads up the second line of defense. If the Vikes can take advantage of a below average Saint D, they can win.

The Bottom line: The Saints are the 3.5 point favorites with an over/under of 52. The Vikes have and outstanding D and an O the equal of the Saints. Despite their D, I think the Saints win but I am not willing to put my money on that. If the game was in Minnesota, I would probably pick the Vikes. I would bet the over as the only pick here.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday morning at 11. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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What to watch for in the games this weekend.

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football

College Football:

Georgia Tech v. Clemson  This game was interesting on a couple of levels.  First, GT is going to be a nightmare to defend.  They have the Navy option game working like a fine tuned race car.  But Clemson in previous years would have folded up like a 78 Ford Fairmont after the opponent put 21 points on the board.  But this Clemson team fought back and made a game of it.  These two should be fun to watch going forward.

USC @ Ohio State Forget what the experts are saying. This game will depend on 2 things—the OSU O and D lines. Can OSU drive USC off the ball to run and give Pryor time to throw? Can OSU’s D stop the run and put pressure on the USC QB? The answer to both is no and OSU will lose the game by 14.

Notre Dame @ Michigan Coach Rich Rodriguez’s system will work but he does not have the players on O or D to make it effective. ND finally has some key parts in place. ND wins by 10.

South Carolina @ Georgia Last year all the experts had Georgia at the top of the rankings. They had injuries and failed to live up to the hype. This year very few are talking about them. Look for them to be better than they were last year even without Stafford at QB. Georgia wins by 10.

North Carolina @ Connecticut NC is ranked in the top 20 but UConn gets no love. UC lost a lot to the draft this spring but is a program on the rise. UConn wins at home in a upset.

Syracuse @ Penn State New QB Greg Paulus had the Orange moving last week with the exception of the fumble on the first drive. That won’t continue and PS wins by 30.

Pro Football:

Tennessee @ Pittsburgh The Steelers won despite the fact that they can not run the ball. The problem is in the O line and won’t be solved this season. Despite having all the other parts, the lack of the ability to run will come back to bite the Steelers.

Miami @ Atlanta Last year Miami improved a great deal. This year they are better but they won’t win as many. ATL wins.

Philadelphia @ Carolina The Eagles show their power against a good Carolina D. Eagles win.

Washington @ New York The experts pick the Giants to go all the way. They won’t because of their lack of WRs. The Giants win but closer than it should be.

Chicago @ Green Bay The Pack is lucky to catch the Bears early. GB wins this one but they won’t at the return engagement at Soldier Field.

Minnesota @ Cleveland Mangini’s trick to keep the name of the starting QB secret works in a big way and the Browns…Just kidding. This game is over at half time. It’s going to be a L O N G season in Brownie land.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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  • Published: Aug 17th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Rap up of the Preseason 1 NFL games

Rap up of the Preseason 1 NFL games

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nfl

This will become a regular Monday column. I will comment on some of the key games of the week. Let me know what you think of it.

Cleveland at Green Bay—Ugly is as ugly does.

Cleveland: The Browns looked bad. The Browns need a pass rush and the ex-Jets don’t have the ability to generate it. Look for DE Williams to get traded. He is not a fit in the 3-4. By the way, Mangenus said that QB Ratliff was a guy he really liked in the trade down from the 4th pick in the draft. Coach, just what was it you saw?

Green Bay: Packer fans shouldn’t get too giddy about the win because they were playing only part of the Browns D without NT Rogers. The Pack O looks very sharp. Bret Who?

Dallas at Oakland—QB Russell looks better

Oakland: JaMarcus Russell looks a lot better. He still is not starter quality but seems to have been working on his mechanics. The running game looks sharp and deep. On D the pass D is fine but they will have to find a way to stop the run.

Dallas: The Dallas O looks confused and shaky. The 1st team O line struggled against Oakland. Romo still has not convinced me he is all pro quality. TO may have been a distraction in the locker room but the WR corps is not nearly as talented as it was before he was released. The D looks OK. DE Igor Olshansky needs to step up his production. S Gerald Sensabaugh may be better in pass coverage than Williams was but does not support the run as well.

Washington at Baltimore—Is it soup yet? Yes, Campbell Soup.

Washington: Jason Campbell is still the QB because the team couldn’t get anyone else they liked better. He is still as inconsistent as always. His mechanics are a little better but still not solid. The other big question is the O line. RT Stephon Heyer held his own against a good Ravine D line but the running game struggled. It was not totally because Clinton Portis was out. The line had a tough time running against the Ravines D. The D didn’t have new addition DT Albert Haynesworth and it showed. They struggled against the running game.

Baltimore: Joe Flacco is great between the 20s. It is in the red zone that he struggles. Having WR Derrick Mason back helps a lot. Don’t forget him in your Fantasy Draft.  RB Willis McGahee looked good. Competition from Ray Rice has inspired him. C Matt Birk provides leadership for a young line. The O line is not yet ready to deal with multiple blitzes. They had better get ready before they play the Steelers. The D looks ready now. It is good to see SS Dawan Landry back from injury.

Denver at San Francisco—Opps, we got the wrong QB!

Denver: QB Orton looked HORRIBLE! He will get better. QB Sims was better but played against the reserves. We will see how he does against some starters. The D is worse. The team looks like it has no idea what the 3-4 is let alone how it is supposed to work. Any change in system will take some time. That time has not come yet for the Broncos.

San Francisco: The team isn’t sure who the QB should be. Smith looked good but it was against Denver. Hill wasn’t in long enough to tell much. Huard would have been better last year in KC with decent protection.

Atlanta at Detroit—Matthew Stafford looks like the real deal.

Detroit: Stafford looked good. He made good reads and accurate throws. The running game is going to be a problem. I am not a fan of Kevin Smith. Rookie Aaron Brown (TCU) could be a find. The D looked a little better but Atlanta wasn’t showing much. The Lions held the Falcons to under 250 net yards. Besides, the Lions won the game!

Atlanta: The Falcon’s O is ready to go. RB Turner looks perfect. Rookie of the year QB Ryan is middle of the season sharp. The Falcon starters are fine but the team does not have enough depth to keep the O going a full season. The D looked totally off. The D gave up over 400 yards to the Lions. That is a bad sign.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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