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» Futures: My Expansion Franchise

You've just been awarded an NFL expansion team and must build your personnel department. How would you do it? Matt Waldman takes on the exercise.

29 Aug 2006

Every Play Doesn't Count: Week 3

by Michael David Smith, with notes from the rest of the FO staff

The Week 3 schedule is the closest thing the preseason has to meaningful games. The starters often play beyond halftime, and most coaches install game plans that closely mirror the ones they'll use in the regular season. So while we still have the "doesn't" in the headline for our third week of preseason analysis, we're getting an idea of how these teams will look when the games really do count.

AFC

Baltimore

The Ravens must be concerned about free-agent running back Mike Anderson. He simply doesn't look like he's running hard enough, and he's averaging less than three yards a carry. Where's the power we saw in Denver?

Fifth-round draft pick Dawan Landry out of Georgia Tech looks like he's going to be a very good safety. He appears to have earned the starting job alongside Ed Reed, and he has some of Reed's playmaking instincts.

Buffalo

It's strange to say this, but J.P. Losman actually played relatively well against Cleveland, with a well-thrown touchdown pass to Peerless Price and better decision-making than he's shown in the past. But the strangest spectacle of the Bills' game was the way the local announcers, Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker, told the story of how Losman bought a place in downtown Buffalo rather than choosing to live in a suburb like most of his teammates. Johnson and Tasker had a laughing fit when they described it, and generally acted as if choosing to live in downtown Buffalo is like choosing to live in Antarctica.

Cincinnati

Rookie defensive tackle Domata Peko is exactly the kind of big presence in the middle that Marvin Lewis needs for his defense. Peko, who stuffed Najeh Davenport on a third-and-short attempt, holds his ground in the middle of the field and doesn't move.

Cleveland

The Browns' veteran defensive line of Orpheus Roye, Ted Washington and Alvin McKiney played well early in the game against the Bills, keeping Willis McGahee from finding any room to run. But can a group that averages 33 years old and 325 pounds consistently keep it up for four quarters over the course of a 16-game schedule? It seems unlikely.

Denver

Outside linebacker D.J. Williams had an outstanding game against the Texans. He forced a fumble, intercepted a pass, and looked like the fastest player on the field. Williams was a little disappointing in 2005 after a very good rookie year in 2004. He looks like he's getting ready for a great 2006.

Houston

Everyone seems to be bashing Mario Williams for not getting many tackles in the preseason, but watching him, you can see that he has a lot of power and quickness coming out of his stance. It's too early to label him a disappointment (similarly, if he had five sacks in the preseason it would be too early to label him a star), but he definitely has the necessary tools to become a very good player.

Indianapolis

Terrence Wilkins was a decent third receiver for the Colts a few years ago. He's since bounced around the league and been unable to find a long-term home, but he's now back in Indianapolis and looks like he's earned a roster spot as a return man. He had kickoff returns of 28, 31 and 35 yards and a punt return of 17 yards against the Saints.

Jacksonville

Linebacker Jorge Cordova has been with the Jaguars for three years, since they made him their third-round pick in 2004, and has never played in a regular-season game. But he looked good against Tampa Bay, picking up a sack and generally flying around the field.

Kansas City

The Chiefs game story in the Lawrence Journal-World actually contained the words, "Rookie quarterback Brodie Croyle led two scoring drives against the Rams' first-team defense." Yes, Croyle led the drives. On one of those scoring drives, all three of his passes fell incomplete but a pass interference penalty put the Chiefs in field-goal range. On the other drive both of his passes fell incomplete, and the Chiefs actually lost five yards on the drive, but since they took over after a fumble on the Rams' 27-yard-line, they still managed another field goal. As the Lawrence Journal-World story notes, Croyle finished the game 1-for-9. But he led two scoring drives, so I guess he's a good game manager.

Miami

His linemates didn't look very good, but center Rex Hadnot is turning into a surprisingly effective blocker. You can just see Hudson Houck's coaching when you watch how fluid his motion is from snapping the ball to engaging his man. When Ronnie Brown got stuffed at the 1-yard line on a fourth-and-goal against Carolina, Hadnot opened a sizeable hole by pushing Kris Jenkins aside. Unfortunately, Brown didn't see the hole and instead ran into a pile of Panthers.

New England

Second-year defensive end Mike Wright, who had two sacks against Washington, should get increased playing time in the line rotation. He's quick off the ball and strong against the run. He also plays kickoff coverage, a rarity for a defensive lineman.

Junior Seau has something left. He certainly has more left than Monty Beisel or Barry Gardner ever had to begin with. He made a nice play to tackle Ladell Betts by leaping over Redskins guard Randy Thomas.

Tight end Ben Watson looked good, but most of his plays were because of bad coverage from the Redskins. He caught a 35-yard seam route in the second quarter right through the middle of zone coverage, and his six-yard touchdown later on that drive came when Washington blitzed, leaving Watson free.

Bill Belichick is already in midseason form. He was wearing the same sweatshirt that he normally wears during autumn games, except with the sleeves cut off halfway. Is the "cut sleeves" version available in the official NFL coaches' gear catalog?

New York Jets

First-round linemen D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold both look like they'll be ready to play from opening day, but Mangold, the less heralded of the two, actually looks more prepared. Ferguson still looks a little jittery at times; he had two false starts in the first quarter against the Giants.

Oakland

The Raiders could have a very good group of young linebackers. Middle linebacker Kirk Morrison was one of the best defensive rookies in the league last year, and he looked outstanding against the Lions, getting an interception and having some key tackles. Strongside linebacker Sam Williams had a season-ending knee injury last year, but he's back in the starting lineup. And rookie weakside linebacker Thomas Howard is a good athlete with a lot of speed for a 240-pounder.

Pittsburgh

Backup quarterback Shane Boyd isn't much of a passer, but he's a fast runner who leads the Steelers in preseason rushing yardage. If Boyd makes the active roster for the regular season, you can bet offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt will have some trick plays drawn up to take advantage of Boyd's talents.

San Diego

Philip Rivers still hasn't answered the question of whether or not he's ready to be an NFL starter. He looked fairly accurate against Seattle, but he also lost three fumbles. Rivers had better be ready because the Chargers don't have much behind him. A.J. Feeley, the No. 2 quarterback, who never showed that he could play effectively in the NFL, was released. And rookie Charlie Whitehurst, the No. 3 quarterback, who was generally recognized as one of the more NFL-ready passers in this year's draft class, hasn't looked ready so far in the preseason. He's averaging just 4.4 yards a pass and has two interceptions.

Tennessee

The problem with LenDale White isn't that he spat in the face of a teammate in practice. The problem is that he looks slow and out of shape. He did pick up three first downs in short-yardage situations, but he hasn't shown any burst to get beyond the first line of defenders.

NFC

Arizona

Matt Leinart is throwing mostly short, safe passes, but he's doing it with pinpoint accuracy. He's also showing better mobility than he showed at USC: On a third-and-4, Leinart outran two Bears linebackers for seven yards.

The next hole Edgerrin James runs through will be his first in a Cardinals uniform. He has seven carries for one yard so far in the preseason. The Cardinals' offensive line is a joke.

Atlanta

The T.J. Duckett trade means running 240-pound running back Marlion Jackson, who has bounced around training camps for years but never played in a regular-season game, could finally make an NFL roster. Jackson would be, at best, third on the depth chart behind Warrick Dunn and rookie Jerious Norwood, but he has the kind of power that made Duckett valuable in short-yardage situations.

Carolina

When DeAngelo Williams ran around the right end for a nine-yard gain in the second quarter against Miami, commentator Tony Siragusa said “that's all him,� and Moose Johnston called it a “great individual effort,� but neither announcer noticed that Mike Wahle, the best pulling guard in the league, was leading the play. Williams flashed his talent, both on offense and when he scored a touchdown on a kickoff return. His straight-line speed is very impressive. Now he needs to show he can contribute consistently and not get bottled up behind the line of scrimmage.

Chicago

If the officials keep calling taunting penalties the way they have during the preseason, some players are going to have to make a major adjustment. One of those players is Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris. Harris, who got called for taunting against the Cardinals, looks like he has something to say at the end of every other play.

If Lovie Smith gives Rex Grossman the starting job at quarterback over Brian Griese, he's essentially saying he doesn't care how well his players play in the preseason. Griese hasn't been a little better than Grossman, he's been a lot better.

Dallas

Research shows that preseason games are particularly useful in evaluating teams that were in the middle of the pack last year. That's a very good sign for the Cowboys, who are 3-0 and have outscored their preseason opponents 60-17. Drew Bledsoe and Terry Glenn have played well, but perhaps the most impressive player on the roster has been third-string running back Tyson Thompson, who has looked more impressive than the running backs ahead of him on the depth chart, Julius Jones and Marion Barber.

Detroit

Eddie Drummond was a full-time kick returner in his first four years in the league, but he looks like a great fit as a receiver in Mike Martz's offense. He has eight catches for 118 yards in the preseason. Receivers Mike Furrey and Corey Bradford also played well against Oakland while former top 10 picks Mike Williams and Charles Rogers warmed the bench. It's hard to imagine Rogers making the roster, and Williams could be in jeopardy as well.

Green Bay

Center Scott Wells struggled against Cincinnati and generally doesn't look like he's the right fit for the Packers' new zone blocking scheme. On a few plays he tried to get up to the next level to block the middle linebacker and simply whiffed on him.

Minnesota

Undrafted rookie receiver Jason Carter deserves a roster spot. He has touchdown catches of 77 and 42 yards and has shown some nice moves on punt returns. The dismissal of Koren Robinson might have made room for Carter to make the team.

New Orleans

Reggie Bush caught five passes, but they were all short dump-offs. The Saints would be better off having Bush run some deeper routes and using his speed to stretch the defense. The Saints' other rookie running back, Jamal Branch, has looked very impressive. He's currently leading the team in both rushing and receiving yards. On a roster that includes Bush and Deuce McAllister, Branch, an undrafted player from Colgate, is no sure thing. But he's opened some eyes.

New York Giants

The bad news for the Giants is that they had to punt eight times against the Jets. The good news is that they look like they have two good punters on their roster: Jeff Feagles, who has 19 years of NFL experience, and Travis Dorsch, who has one game of NFL experience. Both punters showed good hang time and placement, as five of their eight punts landed inside the 20-yard line and the Jets didn't get a single punt return all night. And yes, this is the same Travis Dorsch who was a 2002 fourth-round pick by Cincinnati and had one of the worst punting games ever in his only NFL regular-season appearance, as documented in the Giants chapter of Pro Football Prospectus 2006.

Philadelphia

Donovan McNabb is playing really, really well so far in the preseason. He's completed almost 75 percent of his passes, has thrown some good-looking deep balls, and generally looks like he wants to do everything he can to keep last season's problems from defining him.

St. Louis

Scott Linehan is doing everything he can to get him involved in the offense, but Steven Jackson looks awfully tentative. He got the ball five times on the Rams' first drive, and the five touches consisted of a loss of three, a loss of two, no gain, a gain of two on second-and-13, and a gain of eight on third-and-26.

San Francisco

If you're a Seattle fan, do yourself a favor and don't read the next sentence. Tom Rouen averaged 54.3 yards on his three punts last week and landed all three of them inside the 20-yard line.

Seattle

Lofa Tatupu was all over the field against the Chargers. He had four tackles for either a loss or no gain. He might be the early favorite for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Tampa Bay

Rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who had looked phenomenal in Tampa Bay's first two preseason games, looked like a rookie quarterback against Jacksonville. Gradkowski had two interceptions and two fumbles in half a game.

Washington

Joe Gibbs is right to be worried about his team. Mark Brunell is looking tentative and inaccurate, and the Redskins have 17 points in three games. It won't be long before fans are calling for Jason Campbell, but he doesn't look ready. And the offensive line, which played very well last year, hasn't opened many holes for the running game.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 29 Aug 2006

64 comments, Last at 04 Sep 2006, 9:22am by shadrivers

Comments

1
by The Phil (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 11:33am

Downtown Buffalo isn't Antarctica. But it isn't far off.

2
by Doug Farrar :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 11:42am

I'm starting to wonder if Matt Leinart isn't going to wind up as this generation's Bobby Douglass. God, that line is horrid. If there's one team that should have thrown down a poison pill on Steve Hutchinson...

Re: the taunting penalties, I'm getting a sense that the officials are trying different boundaries from week to week in the preseason - at least that's what I hope. New rules aren't generally called with great consistency (hello, horse-collar), and I wonder how this will play out.

3
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 11:44am

Re: Detroit
Mike Furrey is the new Scottie Vines on the Lions. I was also surprised to see Corey Bradford running crossing patterns. Kitna didn't look that great though.... he has a knack for missing underneath coverage.

Re: Oakland
Their young defense looked good, not only the LBs but the DBs too. Playing against Detroit might've helped.

Re: Washington
What, me worry? Saunders and Gibbs have downplayed the offensive performance, saying they haven't been running the real offense, and have just been experimenting during the preseason... which seems to make most fans happy and back on the kool-aid bandwagon.

This might be true from a play-calling aspect, but it's the execution, especially on the OFFENSIVE LINE that is hurting them. For one second I don't believe their line is going out and saying, "Let's not open up holes, let's not pass protect, let's get Brunell killed".

I'm less worried about their defense... if Mason/McNair tear them up this week in the passing game, there will be more concern.

4
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 11:51am

Backup quarterback Shane Boyd isn’t much of a passer, but he’s a fast runner who leads the Steelers in preseason rushing yardage. If Boyd makes the active roster for the regular season, you can bet offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt will have some trick plays drawn up to take advantage of Boyd’s talents.

Friggin' tell me about it. Obviously Philly didn't exactly scheme for Boyd's talent, because he was running right through them each play. Normally I wouldn't care - it means that the secondary's keeping good coverage, and the defensive line's getting pressure. But this being the Steelers, I did want Philly to win. Thankfully Reed eventually did sack Boyd, and forced a fumble as well.

Donovan McNabb is playing really, really well so far in the preseason. He’s completed almost 75 percent of his passes, has thrown some good-looking deep balls, and generally looks like he wants to do everything he can to keep last season’s problems from defining him.

I don't know why the Philly media hasn't said more about this - probably because it's Philly, of course, and they have to complain about something. Getting Stallworth really boosts their receiving corps, but McNabb would've been fine with that group - he just kept finding the man in open space, over and over.

The worst mistakes he's made so far this year were the sacks he's taken, but he hasn't fumbled, and on several sacks he picked up enough yardage to basically make it an incompletion.

5
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 11:55am

Oh, and also re: the taunting penalties. I cannot, for the life of me, understand what the hell they're doing with these. The "taunting" penalty that Greg Lewis drew in the Philly game was just total and complete crap.

If you're going to call penalties for such tiny crap like that, you've got to - absolutely have to - have a 5 yard and 15 yard version. 15 yards for an action that could be interpreted as taunting but could be interpreted as something else is just ridiculous. Last time I checked, 15 yard penalties usually involved stuff like punching people or spitting on them. Tossing the football to them doesn't exactly fall in that range.

6
by James C (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 12:00pm

If Ferguson looked more jittery than Mangold it is probably because Ferg' lined up opposite Umeniora (I know I have spelled that wrong but can't figure out how to spell it right) Whereas Mangold lined oposite whoever the hell it is that plays defensive tackle for the Giants.

Also isn't a tackle far more likely to false start than the guy who snaps the ball.

7
by Doug Farrar :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 12:00pm

#5 - Right. Meanwhile, Joey Porter stands over a guy and jaws at him after a tackle - an action Mike Pereira specifically cited as verboten on "Official Review" just a few days before - and gets a free pass.

8
by ToxikFetus (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 12:02pm

The only difference between downtown Buffalo and Antartica is the lack of buildings in the latter. I've made many a wing pilgramage to the 'flo, and after 5 PM, that city is desolate.

9
by Adam H. (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 12:21pm

At least Antarctica has one decent bar, Top o' the Rock! Alright "decent" might be a stretch, but it has two pool tables.

10
by dryheat (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 12:26pm

In all fairness to Buffalo, when was the last time you enjoyed Antarctica Wings?

Although....those penguins DO get awfully large...

11
by Boston Dan (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 12:33pm

What's up with these cities in upstate New York? I've been in Albany on weekend afternoons in the fall a couple of times and the place looks like a ghost town that you'd read about in King novel.

12
by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 12:39pm

Buffalo gets more snow.

13
by JasonK (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 12:56pm

Re: Giants' punters:

The Jets didn't return a single punt all night, but they did return a punt block for a TD. One of the interior blockers on the Giants' second-team punt coverage unit whiffed, and Dorsch got blocked. I don't know if it would have made a difference on that play, but he does seem to be a bit slower in his approach than Feagles.

14
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 1:57pm

Anyone willing to offer an explanation for Charles Woodson just NOT trying in last night's Packer debacle? Along with the interior offensive line getting pushed around by an ordinary Bengals d-line the complete no-show by Woodson was glaring. Several times he appeared to just be tagging along with the receiver and if the guy caught the ball Woodson would stop running.

I was less then thrilled that GB spent the money on an injury-prone CB who is 30 and after watching this display I am disappointed to know that I seem to know more then the management of my team on what resources have value in today's NFL.

I would be very grateful if somebody could tell me I am overreacting. Somebody? Anyone? Bueller??

15
by Will (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 1:57pm

Where do you get your Dallas info? Tyson Thompson runs with the second and third teams and hasn't shown anything impressive.

Real stories are UFA WR Sam Hurd, RT Marc Columbo's comeback (though RT for DAL may not mean to much relative to other teams), rookie FS Pat Watkins turning heads, first round pick Bobby Carpenter struggling - not on the first team, out of place often with the second team, and UFA LB Oliver Hoyte. Hoyte is a real player, but will likely end up on the practice squad.

FA LB Akin Ayodele, a nice homecoming story (from Irving, TX), has made a smooth transition to ILB from the outside.

OL still looking very shaky against strong DL.

16
by Jim L (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 2:05pm

Really? No comment at all on Carson Palmer's first live game since his injury?

17
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 2:52pm

Charles Woodson didn't try because he retired a few years ago, but decided to not inform the team that was depositing cash into his money market account on seventeen Fridays per year. He may be a drunk, but he's no dummy.

18
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 3:00pm

The upside story on the Vikings is that the defensive line looks like it has a chance to be extremely good, and to be much more deep than seemed possible a couple weeks ago. The downside story is that the offensive line has not run-blocked too well, although with the first unit only playing one or two quarters, it's kind of hard to to fully evaluate run-blocking effectiveness.

19
by Nate (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 3:34pm

15 - I really hope Marc Colombo can come back. He was a serviceable LT his rookie year before that disasterous knee injury, and he was a real trooper afterwards for my Bears, in spite of the bad hand he was dealt. I heard something recently that it took over two years before his lower body strength began returning. Just a horrible, horrible injury.

20
by Kevin (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 4:21pm

I'm glad the Giants' comment was wasted on punters. It might've been helpful to say that the Giants haven't allowed a TD on defense since the first drive of the first preseason game. If not for a blocked punt returned for a TD against their backups the Giants would have the fewest points given up this preseason.

21
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 4:38pm

If not for a blocked punt returned for a TD against their backups the Giants would have the fewest points given up this preseason.

By 1, mind you. That's actually slightly worse, because it means they gave up 4 scoring drives as opposed to Dallas's three scoring drives. Looking at the performance of the starters is still probably a better measure of the performance of a team.

I'm fairly disturbed by how much each of the NFC East teams is outplaying their opponents in the preseason, save Washington (really, really save Washington). I am, however, also very glad to see that New York's offense struggled against Baltimore and the Jets, and that Dallas's offensive line still looks a little iffy.

It's probably crazy of me to believe it, but some part of me does think Philly could go, in the division, from 6-0 to 0-6 to 6-0. That'd be insane.

22
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 5:49pm

The Giants have cut Travis Dorsch, so he's available to any team lacking a serviceable punter (Washington?). It also looks like Rob Johnson's comeback is over.

23
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 6:02pm

Washington signed at least 1 punter... I was hoping for them to go after the losers of the Giants and 49ers competition... although San Fran might not choose until next cut day?

24
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 6:14pm

Re: 23
The Washington Post (scroll down to the second article) reported that the Redskins have signed Eddie Johnson, who has had one (terrible) season in the NFL, to compete for the punter spot. I think Dorsch would be an improvement over him or Frost.

25
by Grouchy Bills Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 6:30pm

Losman could be the most talented QB in Antarctic, I mean Buffalo, history, but the O-line sucks. I mean, it really really sucks. The most we can hope for is that it improves a little bit since last season. But a sucky o-line means Losman gets hit a lot, has a lot of 3rd-and-long downs, plays from behind a lot. Eventually he'll lose his cool or get injured. Grrrr....

26
by Grouchy Bills Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 6:32pm

BTW, re-reading my post, I hope it's obvious to other readers that the "may be the best" comment was only a hypothetical, not my opinion. IMGO JP is a bit better than Rob Johnson and that's all.

27
by Vash (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 7:10pm

All you can talk about is the Steelers' fourth-string quarterback. Was the rest of the team really that bad?

28
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 7:19pm

Newsflash!

Small pox has been wiped off the face of the earth!

Unfortunately, a case appeared at the other end, in Buffalo.

29
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 7:33pm

All you can talk about is the Steelers’ fourth-string quarterback. Was the rest of the team really that bad?

Nah. Philly looked good and the Steelers looked good. Nothing really surprising there.

Boyd was just bloody freaking annoying, though. He was really the only standout there.

30
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 7:34pm

Re: Denver:
Williams was a little disappointing in 2005 after a very good rookie year in 2004.

Where is this coming from? It's in PFP '06 also, and it isn't true. I've posted this in the FO Mailbag thread too, but briefly, DJ Williams was moved from "Will" to "Sam" due to Ian Gold's return from Tampa. He also lost his place on the nickel D to Gold and was on the field a lot less. This is why his raw numbers in 2005 were down from 2004. His play, however, drew the usual superlatives from Al Wilson and Larry Coyer.

Re: Arizona:
Edgerrin James has practically stated outright that his sole objective in the pre-season was to not be hurt. He adds in the Arizona Republic:

"As long as you don't get tackled in the backfield - and I didn't get tackled in the backfield - it's sweet," said James, who gained 5 yards on two carries against the Patriots. "Trust me."

I'd be chewing fingernails if I was a fan, but Cards fans are an enduring breed. :-)

31
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 8:20pm

In other news, SI.com just predicted all four NFC East teams to go 9-7 this year.

That's hilarious.

32
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 8:34pm

Pat:

Panthers over Dolphins in the superbowl? That is hillarious!

33
by morganja (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 9:06pm

Dolphins in a weak division, Patriots fading fast, it seems very reasonable. Home Team advantage is huge in the playoffs, as well as needing only two wins to get to the Super Bowl instead of three, the Steelers last year notwithstanding.

34
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 9:08pm

Is it just me, or did they predict all eight of the division losers to repeat?

* That counts two teams with the same, worst record as co-division losers.

Also, the Rams at 9-7 is hilarious.

35
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 9:13pm

#33: They have them playing precisely 1 home game, then winning away games at Pittsburgh and Indy. They would have to play 3 games. Did you even look at the, I will say again, incredibly amusing article?

36
by morganja (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 9:14pm

On second thought. They had the Dolphins playing three games and winning on the road in two of them. That does seem very unlikely. I think they might be right on them winning the division if everyone stays healthy. Their defense has looked good so far.

Ah, who am I kidding. Patriots again from the weakest division.

37
by David (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 9:15pm

Couldn't they just say "hell if we know" and leave it at that?

*time passes*

Wow, after reading the projections, they really might as well have just thrown up their hands. Their bold prediction is that, ties notwithstanding (Because let's face it, predicting final win-loss records is crazy enough, but predicting tiebreakers? Yeesh.), all of one division winner from 2005 will fail to repeat. Right. Only two wild-card winners from 2005 will miss the playoffs, and they'll both be within a game of the mark. Sure.

Basically, they're predicting that the 2006 season will be the 2005 season with different ball bounces and a few quarterback upgrades.

God, I hate predictions like that.

38
by Marko (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 9:20pm

Fnor: Yes, that is hilarious. They picked the Dolphins to win two road games in the playoffs (over the Steelers and Colts) on the way to the Super Bowl, and they picked the Giants to win two playoff road games as well (over the Redskins and Seahawks) on the way to the NFC Championship Game.

What a joke. Since SI picked the Bears to go 3-13 last year, I'll take their predictions with not just a grain of salt, but a whole box.

39
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 10:01pm

What did PFP 2005 say about the Bears? Not defending SI, just curious. Was there anything the team projection system noticed to indicate the defense would be that good?

40
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 10:15pm

If the New England's defensive line stays healthy, the Dolphins will not win the divsion.

41
by nocal (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 11:00pm

SI predicts records, playoffs, hilarity ensues.

Also, thankfully, Dominic Rhodes isn't returning kicks anymore, looks like. His 2004 was good(ask the Chargers) but last year's had me yelling at the TV.

42
by james (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 11:33pm

re:Washington

How many commentors have actually seen the Redskins presseason games. Let me tell you, the skins are not excited about playing in these games at all. Its like the coaching staff had to beg them to play these games.

Secondly, you can tell that they have spent 0 time game planning for any of these games. No player has gone in motion on any play.

If you think the skins will stink this year that is one thing. If you think they will stink because of the their preseason performance then you are basing your opinion on "disinformation." This team isn't trying.

As a fan I hope that they are good, but the verdict is still out. They have no depth as a team and the recievers are vastly overrated though a definite improvement over last year's core. The defense has seemingly improved with the additions of Archuletta and Carter as well as the subtraction of the underacheiving Arrington. Just don't judge this team by the preseason.

43
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 11:33pm

Maybe we should try to get an Extra Points thread for the SI predictions.

I mean, I just laughed when I saw the NFC East predictions. All of them going 9-7? Yeah. Right.

But even looking at the others, they're horrible. For one thing, they're far too clustered: the NFL does not have that much in-season parity. Bad teams lose lots of games. Good teams win lots of games. Only 2 12-4 or better teams? Yeah. Right. There were 4 last year, 5 in 2004, 6 in 2003, 3 in 2002, 5 in 2001. Ditto with teams 4-12 or worse.

Plus, I'm not actually sure that that result is even possible. 4 9-7 teams in one division, 1 9-7 team outside the division, and two of the 9-7 teams in the division get the wild card?

Somehow I doubt that it's even possible: the only team that could eliminate the Rams via head-to-head sweep would be the Redskins, and according to SI, they would win the conference. I don't think that the Rams could possibly have a worse won-loss record in the conference given who they played.

44
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 11:33pm

I posted this elsewhere, but Aaron had the Bears at 5.5 mean wins; it appears they were a real outlier. On the upside, Aaron predicted the rise of the Bucs, Panthers, and Bengals.

45
by JimK (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 11:58pm

PFP 2005 said 28% the Bears would win between 0 and 4. It was a 10% chance of winning 11+. They did say that the Bears faced the easiest schedule according to DVOA. In the article, MDS said that the defense had the potential to develop into one of the league's top defenses. Not a bad set of predictions.

46
by Marko (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 12:16am

By the way, SI wasn't just wrong about the Bears (who were ranked dead last at #32) in 2005. (Click on my name for SI's 2005 predictions and rankings.) SI only got 4 of the 12 playoff teams correct (Panthers, Patriots, Steelers, and Colts). Meanwhile, 4 of the teams ranked in SI's bottom 10 made the playoffs (Bucs #24, Giants #27, Redskins #29, and Bears #32).

I recall that in its 2004 predictions, SI ranked the Chargers as the worst team in the league. Like the Bears in 2005, the Chargers won their division in 2004. Maybe that will bode well for the Texans, who SI predicts will have the worst record this year.

47
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 12:17am

Yah, defense is just harder to predict - primarily, I think, because so much of it is outside your own control.

In addition, it's not like the Bears really played like an 11-win club. They only had 8.5 estimated wins. 6 games against a -7%, a -13%, and a -19% team will do that for you.

Normally you think of a team that wins 11 games with 8.5 estimated wins as a lucky team - I don't think it was luck, though. They only beat 1 team ranked higher than them in DVOA - Carolina - and hey, they played them again and lost in the postseason. So out of 17 games, their record against teams better than them in DVOA was 1-4. Their record against teams that were worse than them was 10-2.

Looks like the Bears just enjoyed beating up on the little kids. Although I wonder if that might not in general be true: teams with a great defense easily beat teams worse than them, but struggle against teams better than them.

(And no, it's not in general true that teams are that consistent: Miami, for instance, was 4-2 against teams better than them, and 5-5 against teams worse than them.)

48
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 12:50am

Funny that the bears are the ones beating up on little kids now... it reminds me of a joke my old professor once told me:

'So, the Berstein bears are getting divorced. Sad, I know, but true. There ensues, however, a rather nasty custody battle, where they try to figure out what to do with Baby Bear. So they ask Baby "would you like to go live with Mother Bear?"
To which Baby replies, "No! No! You can't send me with her, she beats me!"
"All right," the court says, "How about Father Bear?"
"No! No!" Baby cries, "He beats me too!"
So the court says "Hrm, what to do?" He thinks for a minute, then exclaims, "Aha! I've got it! I'll send you to the Chicago Bears! They can't beat anyone!'

49
by thoughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 1:01am

Re #31
Thank you. I almost fell out of my chair laughing. BTW, which do you think is more unrealistic? Bills at 8-8 or Rams at 9-7

50
by Marko (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 1:09am

Bills at 8-8 is more unrealistic.

51
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 1:16am

You guys remind me of the comic book store guy from the Simpsons, laughing about a prediction of all 9-7 for the NFC East.

I think they just thought, "All of them will finish between 8-8 and 10-6, so why not average it out...".

I don't think thats unreasonable... especially given the parity that exists in this league. Now, maybe I'm just a fool... but I'm sure last year if they predicted the Eagles to go 6-10 you'd have a similar attitude.

52
by centrifuge (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 2:18am

That Porter picture almost doesn't even look real -- like a very detailed CGI Joey or something. Too much shimmer or something.

53
by Joe Don Looney (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 2:19am

re: 16

For anyone who saw MNF, I think Theisman commented enough on Palmer's injury on to last everyone a long long time

54
by calbuzz (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 10:20am

re: 42 and rest of NFL.

There's probably a fine point that someone can explain to me: why is it that when a team's pre-season perfomance sucks, it's a lack of game planning, but when they succeed, it's superior talent?

Name a team with losing record, or lack of offensive points in the pre-season, who isn't citing "lack of game planning."

55
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 10:37am

Name a team with losing record, or lack of offensive points in the pre-season, who isn’t citing “lack of game planning.�

Actually, none of the teams I've seen who've lost in the preseason are claiming that. Just look at Oakland's quote after the Hall of Fame game from LaMont Jordan: "Looks like we picked up right where we left off."

Most of them have been saying "man, we sucked it up."

56
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 10:55am

I don’t think thats unreasonable… especially given the parity that exists in this league.

The parity that exists in the NFL is long-term parity. Within a given season, the NFL has far less parity than, say, baseball. And that prediction would be far more appropriate for a 16-game stretch of baseball than football.

There are only 4 teams in that prediction with 12 or more losses or 12 or more wins. That's never happened, and never come close to happening - the lowest number is seven, and the average is something like 8.5.

It's a middling prediction. If it was statistically based, I could understand. But it's not - it's a human prediction. And in that case, it's just silly.

57
by Pressed Corner (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 11:44am

Dolphins win division!?

Barring key injuries Patriots are minimum 11-5 (look at the weak schedule,especially compared to last year) and win their fifth or sixth consecutive division title. Culpepper is an upgrade but not the answer; most of the defensee is ready for social security.

58
by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 12:02pm

Re Taunting:
The refs were already after guys for flipping the ball in the general direction of opposing players. I think David Terrel was called for this in his last year as a Bear.

Re Dorsch:
One of the few Punter/Kickers to be drafted. You couldn't find a more hated man in West Lafayette. There had to have been dozens of comic strips devoted to his suckitude. Really, he was decent but he came up short a few times and that killed his popularity.

59
by Boston Dan (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 2:23pm

http://www.ajc.com/tuesday/content/epaper/editions/tuesday/sports_443ffd...

Falcons middle linebacker Ed Hartwell is questionable for the season opener at Carolina Sept. 10 and possibly the home opener the following week against Tampa Bay after having arthroscopic surgery to both knees Monday.

The procedure was to remove debris that had accumulated after years of wear, coach Jim Mora said.

60
by Tom (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 2:29pm

Re #55
The Titans cited that as a reason for part of their 35-10 loss to Denver, I guess in the sense that the Broncos were trying to win and the Titans weren't. This was particularly evidence by the Titans' persistent failure to bother defending any of Denver's numerous counter and rollout plays.

61
by Bjorn (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 8:46pm

Re: Redskins
This team isn’t trying.

yeah. A team that has to be begged to do their job and doesn't seem to care. Real super bowl contenders right there. Give me a break.

62
by billvv (not verified) :: Thu, 08/31/2006 - 1:49pm

If you look up your teams result against an opponent your're predicted to win on your page, the opponent might just as likely be predicted to win on their page!

63
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 08/31/2006 - 3:41pm

How do the stillers look at FS? I haven't seen any of the preseason games. So I guess you could expand that to the team in general....

64
by shadrivers (not verified) :: Mon, 09/04/2006 - 9:22am

Steve Tasker and Gus Johnson were sharing a little in-joke. The street they mentioned has long been code for streetwalker territory in Buffalo, fairly or unfairly. They giggled about it like 14 year olds.