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 .

Technorati Tags: NFL Football,nfl draft,NFL Playoffs,NFC,Championship game,Vikings,Saints,Bengals,Brees,Favre,Colston,Bush,Grant,injury report,odds,over/under

Around the NFL for 10/03/09

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football

Top games of the week

GB @ MIN The battle of the QBs should be more than interesting. The Vikes come in undefeated getting a breathtaking pass for a win last week. Favre is playing well but he has to do just a little with the great running game of Peterson and Taylor. Taylor is going to have to increase his 2.4 per attempt average to get the ball much. Rogers is playing great and the D has come around using the 3-4 faster than expected. The Vikes win in a close game.

BA @ NE The Ravens may be the best team in the league. QB Joe Flacco has a qb rating of over 100 and the combination of rbs have moved the chains. The goal line back McGahee has scored 5 TDs in just 3 games and is making his fantasy owners very happy. The Pats are OK on O but their D has deteriorated badly from age and neglect. The Ravens win and it might not be close.

NJ @ NO The Jets get exposed as a good but not great team. The Saints have always mistreated scoreboards around the league with one of the most potent Os in recent memory. The D has been a problem but is playing much better. Ex-Jet MLB Vilma has been looking forward to this game for a long time. He has stabilized the D getting everyone in the right spot. The D makes Jets rookie QB Sanchez look like a rookie and the Saints win.

SD @ PT This game is a must win for the Steelers. They will know if the Ravens win their game against the Pats before the kickoff. At 1-2 the Steelers can not afford another early loss in the conference. The Chargers should get LT back this week at least for part time duty. They have to generate a rushing game to go with QB Rivers passing O. The blame for a lack of running is shared by the backs and the O line that has not been getting the push they need. Pitt is tough to run the ball against and win the game in a low scoring squeaker.

DA @ DV Paul Brown once said “I’d rather be lucky than good. Good teams lose.” No team has been as lucky as Denver. Their D is much less than suspect and their O is depending on QB Orton because the running game has been invisible. Dallas is better than it has played and needs to show us something by beating a very over rated Bronco team. Dallas wins.

Stinker of the week – As usual, there are a lot of candidates for this “award” in the week 4 schedule. CN @ CL will make the battle of Little Big Horn look close. DT @ CH will insure the Lion winning streak ends at 1. OK @ HO who cares?

But there is one game that the league should have to pay the fans to watch—TB @ WA When you lose to a team that has not won a game in over a year, you deserve to be ranked among the rankest in the league. TB isn’t much better. I feel sorry for the announcers in this debacle. It will be a very long afternoon with the ineptness broken only by plays that will show up soon in Football Follies.

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 .

Technorati Tags: NFL Football,Fantasy Football,Packers,Vikings,Ravens,Patroits,Jets,Saints,Chargers,Steelers,Cowboys,Broncos,Bengals,Browns,Lions,Bears,Raiders,Texans,Buccaneers,Redskins
  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 22nd, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on The Saints will come marching into the end zone often.

The Saints will come marching into the end zone often.

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t

There is no question that the Saints have one of the most dangerous Os in the league. Their win/loss record will depend most on how well they can stop the other team from doing the same thing.

Drew Brees is the #2 QB in most Fantasy Drafts this year for good reason. In the last 3 seasons he has thrown 26, 28 and 34 TDs. The only comment that some QB gurus make is that he is too short at a little under 6 feet to see over the O linemen. Let’s be honest. When you have 5 guys that are between 6-8 and 6-5 in front of you, you have to be 8 feet tall to see over them. Every QB needs to look in between his linemen to find his target. Brees has it all—leadership, arm, accuracy, ability to read coverage, ability to move in the pocket and rush awareness. His backup is Mark Brunell. Mark has to use Grecian Formula 88 to keep his hair brown because Grecian Formula 44 wasn’t strong enough. He is 39 but is a reasonable backup. Joey Harrington joins Brunell on the bench.

The Saints running game is a little up in the air. If you look at all the preseason books, they show Reggie Bush as the starter. He may but his has never in his college or professional career been “the” guy. Even sharing the position with a number of other Saints, he has not been healthy for an entire season over the last 2 years. He is a talent and has speed and elusiveness. But he is not built to handle 25 carries a game for 16 games plus playoffs.

My Fantasy tip of the year—get Pierre Thomas as your 2nd or 3rd RB. He averages 4.8 yards per carry and scored 12 TDs last year (9 rushing). The duo is solid and should make it difficult for defenses trying to defend the pass. The FB is Heath Evans, an excellent blocker and receiver out of the backfield.

The receiver corps is a 3 headed monster. Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Lance Moore are as good as any 3 in the NFC. Colston was out for 5 games but the O never seemed to slow down. There may be another head added to the group because Robert Meachem is getting better and is a solid threat. The TE are Jeremy Shockey, Billy Miller, and Darnell Dinkins all of whom have been starters. Shockey was a disappoint primarily due to injuries. He still caught 50 balls.

One of the goals on the O line last year was to get bigger and tougher. Ts Jammal Brown and Jon Stinchcomb were the only guys to survive the change. The team added 2 rookie guards Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans and both were OK. Jonathan Goodwin stepped in at C. The entire group is back with Brown as the best of the line. G/C Jamar Nesbit, T Zach Strief and C Nick Leckey provide veteran depth.

If the O is the good and the D is the bad then the D line is the ugly. Both DEs Charles Grant and Will Smith had injuries last season and have been suspended for the first 4 games for substance violations. Bobby McCray, Paul Spicer and E Anthony Hargrove will battle to start in their place. Spicer and Hargrove were UFA additions and have look very good in camp and in the first preseason game. DTs Sedrick Ellis and Kendrick Clancy were OK. Ellis started as a rookie.

The team traded for MLB Jonathan Vilma and he solidified the middle of the D. It’s a good thing because backup MLB Mark Simoneau was put on the IR with a torn tricep. SLB Scott Fujita and WLB Scott Shanle are projected to start but may be challenged. UFA and former all pro Derick Brooks was signed to bolster the LBs. He provides leadership and is particularly good at pass coverage.

The D backfield last year was a major problem. The team brought in vet CB Jabari Greer and drafted rookie Malcolm Jenkins from Ohio State. They will challenge expected starters Randall Gay and Tracy Porter. UFA FS Darren Sharper brings leadership and joins SS Roman Harper to solidify the last line of defense. The group should be better with the additions. Vet S Pierson Prioleau was signed as a solid backup and former starter Jason David is expected to be the 5th DB or be cut due to his salary.

OVERALL: The Saints are great on O but improving on D. They will challenge the Falcons for the NFC South title. The winner will be whichever D plays the best. Bet on the Falcons with the Saints a possible wild card team.

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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