What to look for in the AFC Conference championship game.

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Tomorrow: The NFC Conference championship game.

Jets @ Colts

Jets

The Jets are the only surprise in the playoffs. They were not even supposed to make the post season but here they are after upsets of the Bengals and Chargers. The O depends on the run WAY too much and that could be the downfall of the Jets. RB Thomas did not practice on Thursday but the absence was not injury related. They can not hope to win without a huge game from him.

The game plan of the Jets will be run the ball and hope to keep the Colts O off the field. The Colts are vulnerable to the run. But the Jets will face 46 guys in the box if they cannot pass for more than 100 yards against the Colts.

QB Sanchez has not been asked to do much passing the ball. In both games the Jets have been ahead. They will get behind against the Colts and it will be up to Sanchez to pass them to catch up. There is a great deal of doubt he can do that. The media has made a lot about rookie Sanchez winning his first 2 playoff games. He has not won them. Rather, he has not lost them for the Jets.

The Jets O line did a very solid job protecting the QB giving up just 1 sack in 2 games. More significant, C Mangold was able to handle the NT of the Chargers letting the Gs get to the second level to block for the run. He should be able to do the same against the 4-3 of the Colts.

The D of the Jets has been outstanding. It continued to stifle the opponents offense ability to pass and run. They have gotten 5 sacks in the two playoff games but have consistently put pressure on the opponent QBs. There is “but” coming however. The team has played 2 offenses that have been down in the last few games. The Bengals couldn’t score more than 24 points in any of their final 5 regular season games. Palmer looked old and was inaccurate and RB Benson was hurt and not nearly at 100%. The Chargers had only 1 good offensive effort against the wounded Titans in their last 5.

The key to the Jets D will be putting heat on QB Manning. They can disregard the run because the Colts are last in that category in the league. They also need to find a way to cover the receivers for an extended period of time. Otherwise Manning will pick the pass D apart.

Colts

For the Colts, its Manning, Manning and Manning. They have not been able to run the ball all year and will not be able to run against the Jets. The passing game should be helped by the return of WR Wayne. He had a full practice Thursday. They will need all their weapons in the passing game to compete. If they could find a way to run just a little, it could make a huge difference in the amount of pass rush the Jets can generate.

The D is hobbled by injury. They are looking for any help they can get particularly in the D backfield. They have signed S Darrick Brown (Saints) and have looked at FA CB Deltha O’Neal (Texans) due to injuries. S Sanders is on IR and S Bethea was limited in practice due to injuries. Reserve CB Powers will likely not play due to a foot injury. Bethea is critical because with the loss of Sanders, he is a key run defender.

The bottom line: I don’t think that Sanchez can take advantage of the injuries in the pas D of the Colts. The Colts can score a lot faster than the Jets. I will take the Colts to win but probably under the total points projected by Los Vegas.

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 look for in the Saturday Divisional round games.

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Cards @ Saints

Cards QB Warner had just another day at the office. Against one of the most improved Ds in the league he went 29-33 for 379 yards and 5 TDs without a pick. The Pack had no answer for Warner. They blitzed him and he picked man to man coverage apart. They rushed 3 and kept 8 in coverage and he found holes in the zones. The O line protected Warner for the most part and sub WRs did well to make up for the loss of WR Bolden.

On D, the Cards and the Pack allowed the score board to look like the something out of Pinball Wizard. Neither D could put consistent pressure on the others QB. The Pack was so focused on Warner that they allowed RB Wells 6.5 yards per attempt. They were lucky that their O was putting up so many points or Wells would have had more than his 14 carries. If the Cards are going to have any chance to stage the upset the D is going to have to play like they did last year in the playoff run to the Super Bowl. The passing game of the Saints is equally lethal. The Cards are 23rd in pass D. The D may be missing DE Campbell, LBs Davis and Hayes. If they can’t go the D will be in even more trouble. Get your popcorn ready, this could be a wild offensive show.

Saints

The Saint’s D coordinator Williams isn’t sleeping too well this week. He has nightmares of Card WRs running wide open through his D backfield. The Saints D had played much better this year than last but it has had a tough time against high percentage passing attack. The good news is that CB Jenkins is hampered by a hamstring but is expected to play. The bad news is that Boldin is optimistic about playing as well. The Saints are ranked 26th in pass D. The key to the game for the Saints D will be their ability to pressure Warner better than the Pack did.

The Saints O is outstanding. They are 1st in both yards and points, 4th in passing and 6th in rushing. The team stumbled into the playoffs with 3 straight losses. The O is going to have to play like they did early in the season and not in the last 3 games. They scored only 44 points in those losses. The 23-10 loss to the Panthers could have been explained by the team resting a lot of the key players but not the losses to the Boys and the Bucs. The problem was not rushing. They ran for 124 against the Bucs. The problem was not turnovers or completion percentage. The Saints may get RB Thomas back. That will help them get a running game going again.

The problem was they could not get the ball into the endzone. The game will depend on the Saints finding their scoring punch again. If they are forced to kick field goals to score, they will lose.

Both teams have a questionable D. But the Saints are struggling on O and the Cards are hotter than the sun. I will go out on a limb and pick the Cards in a huge upset.

Ravens @ Colts

Ravens

The Birds did a great job pressuring the Pats D with the running game. The O scored 33 points but got a lot of help from the Pats. They won’t get that kind of help from the Colts.

The O is going to have to get more out of the passing game. They won 3 of their last 4 games but those wins were against the dregs of the NFL. Against a team that scores like the Colts, 4-10 for 34 yards and a pick will not get it done. QB Flacco has not stepped up to the challenge like most expected him to do. The O line isn’t the problem, accuracy and lack of game breaking receivers are the critical issues. The coaching staff doesn’t trust Flacco to win games for them and they shouldn’t. He has crumbled in big games like against the Steelers. The running game is solid but won’t score often enough to keep the Ravs in the game. They will have to depend on the passing game and it will let them down.

The weakest part of the Ravs D is the pass defense. They are 5th against the run and 8th against the pass. They depend on pressure on the QB to control the pass. They won’t be able to get enough pressure on Manning to stop the Colts passing game.

Colts

The Colt O is devastating but it is one dimensional. They are #2 in passing but dead last in the running game. They are going to have to run the ball a little to keep the chains moving. The one advantage they have is that they can play catchup really well. Manning is playing at a very high level. The team lost 2 games but in both cases Manning and company were pulled early.

The Colt D has played great in some games and lousy in others. They rank 24th against the run and will get a lot of practice stopping it against the Ravs. The key injuries on D are all probable. That should help as the D has suffered a lot of injuries during the season. The rest the wounded got will help them.

The key to stopping the running game has been S Sanders but he is on IR again. The Colts’ D will struggle stopping the run but will get the win due to their O.

Saturday I will discuss the Sunday games.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over.  Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at http://sportsims.net/.  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 has also published several novels on and edits .

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  • Author:
  • Published: Dec 3rd, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Around the NFL after week 12.

Around the NFL after week 12.

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The Colts struggle to keep perfect.

The Texans had a 14-0 lead on the Colts at the end of the 1st quarter. Indy seems to play down to the level of their competition for the first 3 quarters then play like the devil in the 4th. Almost half of the Colts wins have come on the last drive. The D is struggling due to injuries but the O is operating at a very high level most of the time. They will beat Tennessee this week but won’t go undefeated.

The Saints are a real threat to go all the way.

Two games against the Pats by the Saints and Colts show the difference between the two undefeated teams. The Pats had the Colts beaten until Belichick made a key mistake and handed Manning the win. The Saints on the other hand totally thwarted the Pat O and had WRs running through the Pat D like children in a field of flowers.

The Saints O has more weapons than the Colts and is better balanced with a credible running game to go with an outstanding air attack. The Saints D is also better than the Colts is without S Sanders and the other wounded Colts. The Saints will have an excellent shot at a perfect regular season. They will be a tough out for any team because they are good and will have home field through the NFC playoffs.

The Giants will not make the post season.

The Giants are dead. The loss to a falling like a rock Broncos was the final blow. They now have 5 losses and with their schedule it is very unlikely they will get into post season. QB Manning’s foot problem is a lot worse than has been admitted. It will end his season before game 16 and the team can not win without him.

The Titans are pretenders not contenders.

It’s a great story—QB Young bringing the team back. But don’t believe that Young is the answer to get a team that got old all at once back into the playoffs. It won’t happen. The Young O is easy to defend and the NFL is a great copycat league. The D coordinators will force Young to throw from the pocket and he will disintegrate.

The Eagles are limping toward the playoffs. The question is will they make it?

QB McNabb is up and down. RB Westbrook is out for the foreseeable future with a concussion. The injuries are beginning to pile up on the other side of the ball. Even so, the Birds have a good chance of making the playoffs due to the weakness in the NFC East and great coaching.

The Coaching firing watch is on.

Cleveland—Mangini is as good as gone. Owner Lerner doesn’t have the guts to do it but will hire a “football guy” to can him. There is no question that the team is much worse than last year and the 1-10 record is the worst in Browns history.

Dallas—Jerry Jones issued a call to arms this week saying that Coach Phillips must win a playoff game to keep his job. But when a couple of name brand coaches come calling, Phillips’ post season 09 won’t matter. He will not be back. This is a very talented team that should have been much better for the last few years. Phillips is the reason that the team loses in December.

Washington—Coach Zorn is history as well. The team is 3-8 and is rudderless with QB Campbell under center. The team needs new leadership.

Houston—Coach Kubiak can’t get this team over the .500 mark and that will do him in this year. It is a good team that only a Cowher could carry much above 8-8.

Tampa Bay—Coach Morris is clearly in over his head as head coach. In January 09 he was hired as Offensive Coordinator then went to get a haircut. When he came back, he had been named Head Coach. The Ownership may choose to bring in an experienced Assistant HC to help him or fire him and try again depending on who is available.

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

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  • Author:
  • Published: Oct 31st, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Around the NFL for Week 8

Around the NFL for Week 8

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This week is the half way mark in the season. Tuesday we will look at what the playoffs look like as well as the second half. But this week there are a couple of key games to watch.

DV @ BA

The second half of the Bronco schedule is a lot harder than the first half. They play the Steelers next along with the Giants, the Colts and the Eagles. Sunday we will see if the Bronco O is a competitor for the Super Bowl or just a pretender. Their O line has not faced a D like the Ravens even if the Ravs are not playing as well as they have in the past.

The Bronco D has played well against some of the weakest offenses in the history of the NFL. We will see how they look against a balanced Raven O. QB Flacco is playing very well and will challenge a questionable Bronco defensive backfield.

The Ravens have to tighten up the D. The pass coverage has been far below what it was in previous years. This season they replaced both CBs and Foxworth and Washington have not produced like McAlister and Rolle have in recent years. As a result, the D is giving up more passing yards and forced to blitz more.

The Ravens need the win much more than Denver and win the game.

SF @ IN

The 49ers have played well and are 3-3 going into Indy. Smith is going to start at QB which has been the weakness of the team. RB Gore is healthy and the Colts have trouble stopping the run. S Sanders is back for the Colts and that will help against Gore.

The 49er D has been very strong but has not faced an O like Manning and Co. The SF O and the Colt D are a standoff. It will be the Colt O that gives Indy the win.

MN @ GB

The return of Farve is all the media is talking about. But those that have watched Viking games realize that Favre is the icing not the cake itself. RB Peterson is the key player on the O for the Vikes. The Pack D has played well but has gotten most of their numbers against weak teams like the Browns and the Lions.

However, the key will be the Viking D against a very potent O of the Pack. The Packers have suffered injuries on the O line and the Viking pass rush will be the difference. If the Vikes can put enough heat on Pack QB Rodgers, the Vikes will win in a close game.

The Vikes won at home and should win again in Favre’s return.

AT @ NO

The Monday night game should be a very good one. The Falcons come in 2 games behind the Saints at 4-2. They really need to win to get within striking distance of the division leader. The Falcon O has scored 21 points in each of the last 2 games. That won’t be nearly enough against the NFL’s top offense. They will need to play the best game defensively of the season and still score 35 to have a chance to win.

The Saints D has played way above expectation. It has been helped by the pressure that the O puts on the opposition. Very often the D can just worry about rushing the passer because the Saints are so far ahead of the opponent. The D has not faced a team that could match them score for score as the Falcons can on a good day.

But their visit to the Big Easy will be anything but and the Saints win comfortably.

QB changes around the league

The Titans will start Young to see what he can do. At 0-6, its about time. I will have some additional suggestions for them next week.

Despite cries of protest and the most abysmal lack of offense in years, the Browns will continue to start Anderson. He has a passer rating of 40.6. If a QB goes 0-1 without an interception, the rating is 39.6. He is completing just 43.8 % of his throws. Quinn has a pr of 62.9 and a 60.8 completion rate. Give him a chance.

The 49ers have replaced QB Hill with former 1st overall pick Smith. Hill had a qb rating of 79.6 but Smith in very limited action has a 118.6. I don’t believe that Smith is that much better than Hill and in more extensive action will prove it. We will see how he does against an only fair D backfield of the Colts.

Raider fans have to be wondering what the D could do if Davis had not cut the vet QB Garcia. Russell has a rating of 47.2. The only QB with any experience on the team is Gradkowski who has proven beyond a doubt he isn’t an NFL qb. Like the Browns, the Raiders will have a very long season.

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

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