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» Scramble for the Ball: Goatee No-tee

Mike and Tom wonder why certain NFL teams are run by '50s Dad and commemorate the Falcons' epic meltdown.

05 Jan 2007

2007 NFC Wild Card Preview

by Aaron Schatz

Dallas is falling apart. The quarterback is a mess, and the pass defense is a disaster. In other words, over the last five weeks, the Cowboys have resembled ... what the Seahawks have looked like the entire season.

The Giants have struggled for two months now. Isn't there anyone in the NFC who didn't back into the playoffs? Oh, hello there, Eagles.

For those who may be visiting this site for the first time to read this preview, we explain our stats at the bottom of the page, or click this link. Each preview also includes a link to the game discussion thread for that game. We're doing separate game discussion threads for each game this year, rather than combining both games on the same day like we did last year.

Dallas at Seattle



Cowboys on Offense
  DAL OFF SEA DEF
DVOA 10.3% (8) 4.5% (20)
WEI DVOA 12.3% (7) 6.6% (19)
PASS 14.6% (10) 6.8% (23)
RUSH 6.1% (7) 2.0% (23)
RED ZONE 7.6% (12) 23.3% (31)


Seahawks on Offense
  SEA OFF DAL DEF
DVOA -11.6% (27) -0.1% (16)
WEI DVOA -12.7% (28) 5.5% (18)
PASS -12.0% (25) 8.5% (24)
RUSH -11.3% (26) -9.4% (8)
RED ZONE 2.9% (15) 10.5% (23)


Special Teams
  DAL SEA
DVOA -0.2% (19) 2.6% (7)
DAL kickoff 6.5 (9) 1.8 (11)
SEA kickoff 0.5 (13) 4.0 (13)
DAL punts -2.8 (22) 0.4 (13)
SEA punts 1.8 (11) 8.6 (6)
FG/XP -7.3 (30) 0.6 (14)

During the game, please join the discussion in the Cowboys-Seahawks Game Discussion Thread.

You also may want to read two of this year's Every Play Counts, on the Dallas front seven and the Dallas running backs.

Note: When I wrote this preview for the New York Sun, I didn't do it in the "When Road Team Has the Ball/When Home Team Has the Ball" format and I don't feel like re-writing it. I hope nobody minds.

A month ago, the Dallas Cowboys were the hottest team in the NFL. Four straight wins put them on top of the NFC East with an 8-4 record. The defense was strong, stuffing the run and pressuring opposing quarterbacks. The offense was firing on all cylinders, and it seemed like quarterback Tony Romo could do no wrong.

So how did we get from there to here? The Cowboys went 1-3 over the last four weeks, gave up the division lead, and backed into the playoffs because the NFC couldn't even field six teams with winning records.

The negatives first appeared in the Cowboys' 23-20 win over the Giants in Week 13. Until that game, the Cowboys had given up 20 or more points in four different games. Including the Giants game, the Cowboys gave up at least 20 points in all five of their December games.

Through Week 12, the Cowboys ranked fourth in defensive DVOA. Since Week 13, they rank last.

The run defense has softened somewhat, but the real problem is the passing game, where suddenly the Dallas secondary can't stop anybody. The Cowboys allowed just 5.7 net yards per pass through 12 weeks, but 7.8 net yards per pass in the last five games.

Dallas isn't just falling apart on defense, however; Romo's early stardom faded as opponents learned his weaknesses. Romo gets rattled and can make terrible decisions under pressure. This problem was exacerbated by his early success because he got used to making mistakes without feeling the consequences.

Romo averaged 8.6 net yards per pass through Week 12, but he's getting just 6.7 net yards per pass since, taking more sacks and throwing more interceptions.

All of this sounds like a recipe for Dallas to go one-and-done, except for one thing: the Seahawks have the same problems, and they have them worse.

Seattle may be the first Super Bowl loser to return to the playoffs since 2000, but that doesn't make them a good team. The Seahawks are 9-7 thanks to an easy schedule and good fortune in a few close wins. DVOA ranks them 27th on offense and 20th on defense. 

Seattle's offense was supposed to rebound when running back Shaun Alexander and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck returned from injuries, but that never happened. Week 12's win over Green Bay was the first time since early in the season that both players were in the lineup. At that point in the season, the Seahawks averaged 4.0 yards per carry and 5.5 net yards per pass (-10.9%, 24th in the NFL).

In the last six games, with Hasselbeck and Alexander both healthy, the Seahawks have averaged 4.1 yards per carry and 5.4 net yards per pass (-12.6% DVOA, 25th in the NFL). Hasselbeck, in particular, just doesn't seem to be seeing the field right. It isn't just that he's throwing more interceptions -- 15 to tie his career high, despite only playing 11 1/2 games. They're monumentally stupid interceptions, throwing to guys who are completely covered.

The injury problems on offense go deeper than just those two players. Injured players have been shuffled in and out of the offensive line all year. Two of Hasselbeck's top three wideouts, Darrell Jackson and D.J. Hackett, may miss this week's game with injuries.

Of course, this is nothing compared to the injuries in the secondary. Seattle will face Dallas, which may have the best receivers in the NFL, with three of its top four cornerbacks out. Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens will be covered by rookie Kelly Jennings and Jordan Babineaux, who was so bad last year as a cornerback that the Seahawks had converted him to safety.

The other issue when Dallas has the ball is the running game, although this may not be as big a problem as Seattle fans think. The Cowboys are good running the ball with Julius Jones and Marion Barber -- although, as we've pointed out before, not in that order -- and if you've watched Seattle games recently, you have a mental picture of the Seahawks missing a bunch of tackles. But DVOA says they really aren't that bad against the run, just average. They rank 23rd, but the teams between 15th and 23rd are all pretty closely packed together. Dallas has an advantage, but don't confuse it with the advantages that the Kansas City, New England, and Indianapolis running games all have over awful run defenses in the other conference.

One more note: Look at that game-by-game DVOA chart on Seattle. The Seahawks have no dominating wins this year. They basically have one dominating half, the first half against New York in Week 3. They also have five games below -40% DVOA. The Cowboys have six games with higher ratings than ANY Seahawks game, and even during their recent slide, only one game below -40% DVOA.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Not much to say. Mat McBriar punts the ball a long way but the Dallas coverage isn't very good. Seattle is above-average in every phase of special teams but spectacular in none of them. Seattle's punting game is the one thing that's better this year than it was during their Super Bowl year. Thanks, Ryan Plackemeier!

OUTLOOK

The Seahawks pride themselves on having a particularly strong home-field advantage, but the Cowboys are healthier on defense and better on offense. Despite their late-season struggles, they are the most likely of this weekend's road teams to move on.

New York Giants at Philadelphia



Giants on Offense
  NYG OFF PHI DEF
DVOA 8.7% (9) -6.2% (11)
WEI DVOA 5.5% (13) -2.6% (11)
PASS 6.0% (14) -8.3% (8)
RUSH 11.5% (4) -4.2% (14)
RED ZONE 29.9% (4) -13.3% (8)


Eagles on Offense
  PHI OFF NYG DEF
DVOA 19.9% (3) -1.7% (13)
WEI DVOA 17.1% (4) 0.9% (14)
PASS 22.0% (5) 1.4% (13)
RUSH 17.3% (2) -5.4% (11)
RED ZONE 27.7% (5) 11.4% (25)


Special Teams
  NYG PHI
DVOA 0.4% (16) -1.9% (22)
NYG kickoff 3.1 (15) -5.4 (25)
PHI kickoff -10.5 (29) 7.9 (7)
NYG punts 11.3 (3) -2.7 (25)
PHI punts -2.3 (21) -6.0 (26)
FG/XP 0.8 (13) -5.1 (26)

During the game, please join the discussion in the Giants-Eagles Game Discussion Thread.

When Donovan McNabb went down for the season, most people gave up on the Eagles. But Jeff Garcia... blah blah blah... You all know how this goes, right? Our version: The Eagles never dropped out of the top 10 in DVOA, and they were always better than people gave them credit for, because they lost some of those early games on weird, weird bad luck. But we didn't think Garcia would be able to keep the offense going either. There's a reason we felt that way. Look below at the Philadelphia game-by-game graph. Wow, is that consistency -- except for two terrible games that stick out like a pair of sore thumbs on a very tired Antonio Alfonseca. Those are Garcia's first two games. After that -- possibly thanks to the magical power of Football Outsiders' first-ever official press box appearance -- the Eagles beat Carolina on Monday Night Football, and ever since they've been the same team that they were back before McNabb got hurt. They have a positive DVOA in 14 of 16 games this season.

Oh, and the Giants completely collapsed over the second half of the season, blah blah blah... you know that part too. Can you tell this is the fourth playoff preview I'm writing over a 24-hour period, and I'm getting a little punch drunk? Anyway, as much as people want to just hand this game to the Eagles, do remember that these teams just played a couple weeks ago, and the Giants were winning 22-21 with seven minutes left.

WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Eli Manning played better over the first few weeks when the Giants went 6-2 than he did in the last few weeks when they went 2-6. DVOA backs up conventional wisdom on this one; other than one strong game (against the Cowboys in Week 13, the start of their defensive demise) Manning has been much worse since Amani Toomer got injured halfway through the year. In Weeks 1-9, Manning had 6.2 net yards per pass, and a DVOA of 12.0%. In Weeks 10-17, he's gaining 5.0 net yards per pass with a DVOA of -14.9%. (The interceptions are the same, however: nine in each half of the season.)

Manning's worst habit is depending on the same receivers over and over. Without Toomer, that left him with just Plaxico "The Living Offensive Pass Interference Flag" Burress and Jeremy Shockey, and he may not even get Shockey this weekend -- the tight end missed the last game of the year and is questionable for this one with a left ankle injury. Before Toomer's injury, Manning threw 12 passes per game to wide receivers other than Burress. Since Toomer's injury, Manning has thrown just six passes per game to wide receivers other than Burress.

The Giants' running game is better than their passing game, and the Eagles' run defense is not as strong as their pass defense. Wow, this is really getting to be a pattern this weekend, isn't it? That Tiki Barber kid is pretty good, but a succession of useful 4-6 yard runs is more likely than Barber breaking off the kind of absurd highlight runs that he had against Washington in the final game of the regular season. The Eagles rank 21st in Adjusted Line Yards but sixth in the percentage of rushing yardage that came past 10 yards. Barber is best running around the ends, and the Eagles are stronger defending those runs than they are defending runs up the middle. But it isn't like the Giants are bad running up the middle, so this doesn't seem like it will be a huge problem.

The Eagles' defense stiffens in "power" situations (third/fourth down with 1-2 yards to go), so Brandon Jacobs might not be quite as money as usual. However, the Eagles are actually below average against the run on third down -- because they've given up some huge scrambles and draw plays on third-and-long. Manning isn't a running quarterback, but Barber can certainly thrive on draws. Screens may not work though, despite the Eagles' love of the blitz; they ranked second in DVOA on passes to running backs.

The Giants are excellent in the red zone, but so is the Eagles defense.

WHEN THE EAGLES HAVE THE BALL

Toomer's final game was also the last game where Michael Strahan was healthy, and so the decline of the Giants' offense was joined by a simultaneous decline on the defense:

  Weeks 1-9 Weeks 10-17
NYG defensive DVOA vs. pass -13.8% 4 16.6% 27
NYG defensive DVOA vs. run -15.1% 11 2.3% 14

(By the way, if those rush defense DVOAs and ranks seem strange, it's because rushing league-wide was much better in the second half of 2006 than it was in the first half of 2006.)

The Eagles' offense has been near the top of the league all year except for that two-game bump when Garcia first took over as quarterback. Everybody knows that the Eagles don't run as often as other teams, but people don't often realize how good the Eagles are when they do run. Brian Westbrook averaged 5.1 yards per carry this year, while Correll Buckhalter averaged 4.2 yards per carry -- rarely breaking a long run, but also rarely getting stopped for a loss or no gain. 

Michael David Smith does such a good job talking about Philadelphia's deep passing game that I might as well point you to this article he wrote over on FOXSports.com. Those deep passes are big trouble for the Giants. Their cornerbacks aren't that good, but their safeties are really bad. Obviously, our game charting numbers for 2006 are really preliminary, including only games from Weeks 1-14. But based on those early numbers, Kevin Dockery allowed 12 yards per pass when he's marked as the defender in coverage -- #1 among all players with at least 30 charted passes. Will Demps' 9.8 is eighth. Both have Stop Rate of 36%, and the only defensive back worse than that is Travis Fisher of St. Louis (again, minimum 30 charted passes through Week 14).

The other problem with bad safeties? Covering tight ends. The Giants ranked 31st in DVOA on passes to tight ends, so L.J. Smith could do some big damage.

The Eagles also have an advantage in some of the most important situations. The Eagles' offense ranks fifth in the red zone, the Giants' defense 25th. The Eagles rank first in "close and late" situations (second half, score within 8 points) while the Giants rank 22nd.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Although the Eagles bounced back from last year's debacle, the special teams did not. This is the first year in a long while where the Eagles special teams have struggled for the entire season. David Akers hasn't done well on field goals this year, although he's still been strong on kickoffs. (By the way, that poor FG/XP number is not all Akers; it includes a bad snap aborted field goal.) If each element of special teams plays according to form, the Giants will have a field position advantage when they punt, and the Eagles will have a field position advantage when they kick off.

OUTLOOK

It probably sounds like I'm predicting a huge Philadelphia victory here, but remember that being a consistent team has a downside. Leaving aside those first couple games while Garcia was getting used to starting again, the Eagles haven't played any really bad games -- but they also haven't really come out and blown anyone away, except maybe for the Cowboys on Christmas Day, and even that game was still just 16-7 with seven minutes left. If Tiki Barber takes over and Philadelphia's tackling problems return, if Eli Manning shakes out of his funk and Jeremy Shockey is able to play, if the safeties don't royally screw up and a couple of bounces go New York's way -- there are a lot of ways I can imagine the Giants winning this game. But the more likely scenario is that the game is close at halftime, and the FOX guys all talk about how surprised they are that the Giants are competitive -- and then the Eagles pull away in the second half and win by a touchdown or two.


Stats Explained

DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) breaks down each play of the season and compares it to the NFL average based on situation and opponent. You'll find it explained further here. Since DVOA measures ability to score, a negative DVOA indicates a better defense and worse offense, and a positive DVOA indicates a better offense and worse defense.

Each team is listed with DVOA for offense and defense, total along with rush and pass, and rank among the 32 teams in parentheses. (If the DVOA values are difficult to understand, it is easy to just look at the ranks.) Red zone DVOA is also listed. These numbers are all regular season only.

WEI DVOA is WEIGHTED DVOA, which is based on a formula which drops the value of games early in the season to get a better idea of how teams are playing now (explained here). This is the same formula used in this week's FOXSports.com power rankings.

SPECIAL TEAMS numbers are different; they represent value in points of extra field position gained compared to NFL average. Field goal rating represents points scored compared to average kicker at same distances. All special teams numbers are adjusted by weather and altitude; the total is then translated into DVOA so it can be compared to offense and defense.

Each team also gets a chart showing their performance this year, game-by-game, according to total DVOA. In addition to a line showing each game, another line shows the team's trend for the season, using a third-power polynomial trendline. That's fancy talk for "the curve shifts direction once or twice." Note that even though the chart appears in the section for when each team has the ball, it represents total performance, not just offense.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 05 Jan 2007

63 comments, Last at 07 Jan 2007, 11:17pm by Charles the Philly Homer

Comments

1
by Sporran (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 5:50pm

This has to be the most insightful breakdown of the Philly/Giants game I've seen yet (and I'm not being sarcastic).

2
by Ray (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 5:54pm

Cowboys at Seahawks may be the messiest playoff game ever, and not just because of the Seattle weather. The scary thing is, despite the current state of the Cowboys, they could very well go to the NFCCG by beating another struggling team in Chicago. As an Eagles fan, should I be excited or worried that hosting another NFCCG is a realistic possiblity?

3
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 6:00pm

Seattle-Dallas is the hardest to predict of all the Wild card games. Both teams have a lousy defense trying to stop an inconsistent offense. Either team could win, but I think Seattle has the upper hand because the game is in Seattle. By the way, I like this format better than the traditional way.

4
by David (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 6:11pm

Seattle/Dallas is as close as we're going to get to an NFC version of Jacksonville/New England, except for the part where the question for the AFC teams was "how good will they be?" and here it's "who's going to suck less?"

5
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 6:45pm

I dunno, I usually like almost everything from FO, but this one seems pretty oversimplified. I'd like to read a bit more about the Dallas defensive problems, and which players seem to be slipping or maintaining stellar play. To me they've still got 3 above-average defenders having good seasons (I know FO is way more down on Terence Newman than I am; I include him with Ware & Ferguson). And what the loss of Greg Ellis has done to guys like Brady James, and Roy Williams, and why they're suddenly horrible. That would be more interesting to me. This is more of a skin-deep overview than a FO preview.

Seattle bits: I don't think Jordan Babineaux was so bad they converted him to safety. I believe he excelled as a nickle corner, and was also adept in coverage at both safety positions, and need dictated his role on the team. When they benched Boulware he filled in horribly in run support, and without Tubbs, Peterson and Tatupu were exposed as not tackling well. And overpursuing, that Seahawk specialty. But the LBs recovered their play with the change in personnel up front, and then they brought back Boulware, who is still a liability in coverage.

Anyhow, Babineaux isn't a natural safety who previously failed at corner and is now filling in because of injury. And this preview just read like the nfl.com preview. Except the remark about Hasselbeck not seeing the field right and making incredibly stupid interceptions. That was a good insight, and true.

6
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 6:47pm

Meant to say, what Babineaux isn't (natural safety playing corner because of injury) and then say what he WAS (nickle corner starting at corner due to injury). Not that anyone was following along...

7
by dave crockett (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 6:48pm

I'm a Seattle fan, and I'm already getting prepped for the off-season. Even if we win on Saturday, I would hope, for the NFL's sake, that we're one and done.

The really sticky questions facing Seattle this off-season are who comes back and where/how the team upgrades?

* Re-tooling the interior of the offensive line is a no-brainer. Gray and Tobeck are done. Fortunately, Seattle's ability to find quality linemen in the draft is as good or better than anyone else's.

* The secondary has been a sore spot for a while, but that's much harder to fix. Seattle could've thrown money at Ty Law this off-season and not been much better off if at all. Seattle's gonna have to try to get lucky in the draft.

* Marcus Tubbs, who is the closest thing to an indispensable player on the defense, is becoming downright Pork Chop Womack-like in his inability to stay healthy. It's too early to cut ties to Tubbs but it's high time to target replacements.

8
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 7:06pm

(By the way, that poor FG/XP number is not all Akers; it includes a bad snap aborted field goal.)

Which, incidentally, is why Philadelphia brought back Koy Detmer as Akers's holder for the playoffs.

Philly had a new holder (Dirk Johnson), and then midway through the season, a new long snapper (Dorenbos) because Mike Bartrum suffered a (likely career-ending) neck injury. Johnson was fine when Bartrum was snapping, but with Dorenbos, they wanted someone who could compensate.

I actually think holding has a lot more to do with Akers' missing this year than most people would think, because holders do more than just put a ball down - they also adjust the lean of the ball based on conditions, request of the kicker, etc. I wouldn't be surprised to see Akers suddenly going back to being money in the playoffs again.

9
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 7:47pm

and the Giants were winning 22-21 with seven minutes left.

For a grand total of 8 plays, which featured a Philly drive that never even had a 3rd down.

I'm not saying Philly blew out the Giants, but they were playing comfortably better than the Giants for most of the game. The Giants were clawing (and doing a damn good job of clawing, mind you) to stay in the game, but after the Eagles answered the first Giants drive, can any Giants fan really tell me they thought the Giants were going to win it?

10
by Yuri (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 7:53pm

One issue not covered in PHL-NYG preview is the extended bye week for Philly last week thanks to Detroit beating Dallas early. This is important for the old or injured players.

PHL's important old guys are the mammoth OTs and they sat out almost the whole game. NYG's important old guys... RB and DE; one rushed for gazillion yards, the other is already on IR. Andy Reid is good after a bye, and I predict Philly in a rout.

11
by Lincoln (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 7:55pm

Maybe I'm the only BP reader here, but I appreciated the Antonio Alfonseca reference!

12
by thad (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 8:15pm

God the dallas defense sucks.
ok lets see,
since Garcia has been qb the eagles have completed 61 passes to rb's and he has thrown 2 int's.
Dallas, with romo, have completed 27 passes to running backs....and thrown 13 int's.

HEY ROMO, LEARN TO CHECK DOWN YA MORON.

13
by Randy S. (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 8:45pm

12 - That's a pretty unfair comparison, considering the Eagles always work in a ton of passes to Westbrook. Barber and Jones, IIRC, were never passing threats for the Cowboys regardless of QB.

14
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 9:53pm

#9... The problem is you ignore the fact the Giants weren't even playing WELL in that game and were still leading 22-21. They had already turned the ball over THREE times and failed to score a TD on two separate trips inside the 10 yard line.

Who knows? Maybe this time Giants convert those trips into TDs and don't turn the ball over at all. Maybe. Maybe the Eagles will beat the Giants in Philly for the first time since week 1 of 2004.

15
by dave (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 10:03pm

first who is Antonio Alfonseca?

Second, I thought the Eagles Giants analysis was very insightful. Although the Eagles basically handled the Giants in both games and the Eagles are ending on an upswing and the Giants on a down .. the teams' records are almost identical.

The two game spread is the result of the Giants with a first place schedule and the Eagles with a last place. Giants lost to Seattle and the Bears while the Eagles beat San Fran and the Packers.

16
by Matt (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 10:39pm

Alfonseca is the former Marlins closer who had 6 fingers on each hand. I too loved the reference

17
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 1:44am

Maybe the Eagles will beat the Giants in Philly for the first time since week 1 of 2004.

Oh, c'mon. Philly and New York play in Philly once a year. Philly's on a whole grand losing streak of "two".

The problem is you ignore the fact the Giants weren’t even playing WELL in that game and were still leading 22-21.

I'm not ignoring it. It's the entire reason that I don't think a single Philly fan in existence was worried after the Giants took the lead there. Philly was playing much better than the Giants were, there was plenty of time left, and Philly was only down by 1.

18
by Steve Young (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 2:16am

IF ANYONE RECALLS THE RECENT MATCHUP BETWEEN THE COLTS AND THE EAGLES, JOSEPH ADDAI COMPLETELY OWNED THE EAGLES DEFENSE.

NOW WHILE JOSEPH ADDAI IS A VERY PROMISING BACK, TIKI BARBER IS MUCH BETTER THAN HIM, AND I BELIEVE HE WILL TAKE OUT THE EAGLES SINGLE HANDEDLY.

19
by Gordon (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 2:59am

Re: 18

You think the outcome of the Colts game might have had something to do with the fact that the Eagles were playing in nickel most of the game? They were trying way too hard to stop Manning/Harrison/Wayne, and let Addai run on them all day long.

Against the Giants, I'd expect a much different game plan: stop Barber, and force Eli Manning to beat them through the air. Which, being that Eli is not exactly his brother (nor is the Giant's WR corps equal to that of Indy), is a very sound strategy.

20
by sneezy (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 7:45am

18: What Gordon said. All the Eags need to do is stack the box. Then what's Eli gonna do? Complete passes? HAH!

Also too, recall that the Giants' Defensive 3rd down DVOA is ranked 22 or thereabouts, which means Garcia/Westbrook joyous fun time of smiles.

Not convinced? Maybe you need to be subjected to a little dose of... Tom Coughlin!!! Yes, THE Tom Coughlin.

What all this adds up to is Giants will likely not win.

21
by yogi (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 8:50am

Something should be said about the coaches, especially since the players seem pretty evenly matched up.
I'd take Andy Reid over Coughlin, especially at Philly, by at least a touchdown.

22
by refchat (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 10:07am

In the Dallas-Seattle game, look to see whether there is The Walt Anderson Effect. Walt has the worst record from the perspective of home teams, which went only 5-10 in the games where Walt was the referee this season. This even though the visiting teams averaged 7.3 wins while the home teams averaged 7.7 wins. His games are a bit higher-scoring than you'd expect (5.2 points higher than expected).

23
by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 11:35am

Re: 8

Tim Layden at SI wrote an interesting piece on your theory, Pat. Follow the link to the article.

24
by JasonK (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 12:36pm

One correction on NYG: Kevin Dockery is not a safety-- he's the backup slot CB. When Mc1/4ths plays outside (which he will tomorrow, because Webster is now on IR), Dockery plays the slot.

Besides Will Demps (who, based on subjective observation, completely sucks), the Giants' other safety is Gibril Wilson (who isn't that bad).

25
by Doug Farrar :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 12:44pm

#22 - Per the FO penalty database, Anderson called one Seahawks and one Cowboys game this season. Dallas and Seattle were the home teams. The Seahawks lost to the Vikings, 31-13 in Week Seven - that was the game in which Matt Hasselbeck sprained his right MCL. Dallas beat the Bucs in Week Twelve, 38-10. In the SEA-MIN game, 13 penalties were called (7 on Seattle and 6 on Minnesota - two offsetting, and one on Seattle declined). In the DAL-TB game, nine total were called, and only three on Dallas (one declined on each team).

Anderson called the twelfth-most penalties in the NFL in the 2006 regular season, but he led the league in offensive holding calls with 44. This should be of special interest to the Seahawks, who were flagged 24 times for offensive holding this season - tied for third with Detroit behind only Minnesota and Oakland.

BTW, if you're the "refchat" I'm thinking of, I like your blog.

26
by Chris (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 12:50pm

Eli Manning torches Philly in the first meeting for 370 plus yards. He was very effective in the "muddle huddle" and 2 minutue offense.

In the second matchup, everybody forgot about the Giants 4 turnovers. How is a team supposed to win with 4 turnovers?

The Giants had 2 fumbles, ( Jacobs being popped on that 3rd down) and the Shiancoe fumble at the sidelines. Manning had 2 deflections for picks as well.

Although the second Manning pass was deflected I think that one was his fault. He needed to get rid of the ball quicker against the blitz. The interesting part is that the ball was hanging in the air for an eternity and Tiki Barber failed to knock it down.

Manning's first interception was not his fault at all ( the receiver failed to catch and squeeze the ball).

Nobody really talks about all of the deflections for picks that Eli had, and the number of dropped passes he has had as well. Now I understand that not every drop ( should have been a catch), but Eli had 9 dropped balls in the Jacksonville game when everybody called him out. Now if even half of those passes were caught it would have helped the team out a whole hell of a lot.

I haven't seen the stats for dropped balls latley. but the last time I saw them Eli Manning had suffered more drops than Mike Vick. Now the media loves to latch on and say that " Vick has no team" and give him a free pass, while everybody loves to bash the younger brother Eli.

27
by Chris (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 12:56pm

#24-

I agree that Will Demps is highly overrated. The Giants overpaid for " the Ravens safety" who was actually the weak link of that defense.

I think Gibril Wilson is a solid starter. He probably won't make any probowls, but he's solid. Out of the Giants defensive backfield, I'd Say that Wilson and Webster were better than Demps and Madison.

I forget what Giants game I was watching, but Kevin Dockery kept getting beat while maintaining solid coverage. I believe even the announcer said that it was good coverage ( by dockery), but a great throw and play by the Quarterback.

A perfect throw always beats good coverage.

I don't think Dockery is better than average, but he's not the worst DB in the league.

Mike Rumph of the Redskins is not only the worst DB in the league, I think he is the worst PLAYER in the entire NFL. The guy is either really slow ( which he is not), or he plays games at half speed.

28
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 1:31pm

Eli Manning torches Philly in the first meeting for 370 plus yards. He was very effective in the “muddle huddle� and 2 minutue offense.

The defenders he 'torched' were only playing due to injuries to the starting CB and the nickel CB. Virtually every play was a short slant that took advantage of Toomer and Burress's size advantage over Hanson and Wynn.

Wynn's not with the team anymore. Hanson probably won't be active. No more midgets to pick on.

The Giants had 2 fumbles, ( Jacobs being popped on that 3rd down) and the Shiancoe fumble at the sidelines.

Two forced fumbles. That might have something to do with playing against the safety who has the highest number of forced fumbles per tackle in the league (over his career).

Unsurprisingly, they were both caused by him.

29
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 1:33pm

#26: By the way, who the devil gives Vick a free pass anymore? We're way past 2004 at this point. Everyone agrees he's a poor passing QB.

30
by Chris (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 2:17pm

Pat-

So Dawkins forces a fumble on the Giants back up running back and back up tight end. That's great but do you think he will force 2 fumbles tommorow? Manning had 2 picks off deflections ( although he should get credit for that final pick) for not correctly reading the blitz. Teams that turn the ball over 4 times don't win and Eli gets a lot of the blame for his teammates mistakes.

People are screaming for Eli's head, but how many other quarterbacks had 370 yard games this season? How many other quarterbacks engineered such great comebacks?

I think Plax and Shockey have a lot of talent, but they can be cancerous to the team. Eli has so much pressure on his shoulders week in and week out.

31
by Chris (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 2:21pm

Pat-

About Vick, I forgot I was at FO for a second. A lot of people still think it's not Vick, but everybody elses fault and if only he were on the Colts offense he would be the best QB ever.

If Vick were on the Colts offense, he would still be the lazy, selfish ball hog who shows up to games unprepaired for games and expects to just " make plays". Instead of passing to Harrison and Wayne on 3rd and 7, he would try and run for first downs and his receivers would be decoys.

I also guarantee you that Vick would be sacked a whole hell of a lot more than Manning is in that colts offense. Manning get's rid of the ball in 3 seconds or less, and Vick holds onto the ball forever.

I don't know why nobody else understands that stuff.

32
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 2:35pm

So Dawkins forces a fumble on the Giants back up running back

Brandon Jacobs has almost twice as many TDs as Barber. He's not a backup running back. He's a short-yardage back. He fumbled in a short-yardage situation.

That’s great but do you think he will force 2 fumbles tommorow?

No. Will I be surprised if he does? No. All I'm trying to say is that it's misleading to mention the 4 turnovers as "unlikely to happen again" considering three of them were direct results of Philly's defense. Those turnovers might not happen again, but some will.

It's similar to a previous comment by a Giants fan who called the first game a complete aberration in terms of the performance of the offensive line. Lo and behold, in the second game, they had another "complete aberration", though it led to fewer sacks (but a boatload of quarterback hits).

I mean, Dawkins had a forced fumble in the first Giants game, too, which kindof implies that it's likely he'll have one here (aren't they coaching ball protection in New York?).

33
by Kachunk (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 3:11pm

I don't think they're coaching ANYTHING in new york. Except that Tom Coughlin is scary. An important lesson, no doubt, but not one that helps you win football games.

34
by Chris (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 3:12pm

If Tiki Barber is the STARTING runningback, then what does it make Brandon Jacobs?

I am not saying the Giants won't turn the ball over tommorow, but 3 of those turnovers seemed pretty fluky to me ( I refuse to use the word unlucky).

This is the hardest game of the playoffs to pick, but I lean Philly and see them going back to another NFC championship and losing ( after beating the Saints).

I know your a Philly fan and here is your doomsday scenerio...

New Giants play caller Kevin Gilbride ( QB coach) tries to take some burden off Eli's shoulders with the run game. He just doesn't want Jim Johnson and the Eagles defense to just tee off on Eli with blitzes.

The Giants focus on the run game, and Tiki Barber plays inspired football keeping the score close and the pressure off Eli. More foucs on the run game would also seem likely to NOT result in 4 turnovers.

I think the favorites sweep in the AFC, and if Dallas doesn't win the Giants are the underdog that wins by default.

35
by Sporran (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 3:16pm

How did the Giants do running the ball the last two games against Philly?

36
by You Heard It Here First! (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 3:36pm

NFC Wild Card Weekend:

Game 1: Dallas 64, Seattle 29. The MVP of the game? Mat McBriar, oddly enough.

Game 2: Iggles 4, Giants 0 at the half - but the Giants dig down deep inside and roar back to shock the favored Philadelphians, 14-8.

37
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 3:41pm

If Tiki Barber is the STARTING runningback, then what does it make Brandon Jacobs?

The short-yardage running back. "Backup" tends to imply that he doesn't play much.

The Giants focus on the run game, and Tiki Barber plays inspired football keeping the score close and the pressure off Eli.

Focus more on the run game? In their first three drives in the last game, they had a grand total of 6 plays that did not involve a running back, out of 19 plays.

What would focusing more on the run game be? Playing in a single-wing set without Eli even in the game?

38
by Chris (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 4:14pm

Pat-
What percentage of plays do you think Jacobs sees vs Barber? Barber is in for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and long to moderate. Jacobs spells relief later in games ( or after big runs), and the 3rd and short. You act like the Giants are running a thunder and lighting offense, when Barber and his 2k yards of offense are CLEARLY the starter.

I see you picked up in that the Giants RAN a whole heck of a lot more with Kevin Gilbride at the helm ( and they won). My point is that I can see them sticking with that gameplan of more runs ( as opposed to earlier in the year).

If NY runs the ball and doesn't turn it over, Andy Reid isn't exactly known for opening it up during the playoffs.

He plans conservative Martyball and tries to hold leads. I know, I know, you will point back to that Atlanta championship game where he still let Mcnabb play, but that leopards stripes are clearly written across his obese forehead.

39
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 4:23pm

I see you picked up in that the Giants RAN a whole heck of a lot more with Kevin Gilbride at the helm

Um. No. Gilbride was changed in the last week of the season.

The numbers I gave were from the last Philly game.

They tried running a bunch. It failed.

40
by Chris (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 4:28pm

Gilbride was changed last week, and Tiki barber urinated on Fedex field in front of 90,00 fans ( many of whom were Giants fans).

41
by DavidK44 (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 4:46pm

40 - but of course, this is one week after the Saints defecated on Giants Stadium.

I truly think there are simply way too many ifs on the Giants side. If the Manning who is good and not retarded shows up...if Barber goes nuts...if Coughlin lets Barber run the ball most of the time instead of pretending he's got Peyton and not Eli manning. If the two scrabble DEs can get to Garcia quickly enough so that Demps can't be burned again. If Pierce can stop Westbrook. If...you get the idea.

Seriously, I have no clue how this game will turn out, and really, I don't think anyone really does. But go Giants!

Dave

42
by DavidK44 (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 4:48pm

By too many ifs, I don't many too many ifs to win the game, I mean too many ifs to lead to any sort of worthwhile prediction.

Which is why Bill Simmons' prediction was right, giving the Eagles 7 points is ridiculous...this should be like a 3 and a half, not a 7 pointer.

Dave

Dave

43
by Chris (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 4:54pm

Well at least we know this...

If the Eagles are up by 3 touchdowns, they might win the game but their lead isn't safe.

44
by Andrew (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 3:24am

Chris #30:

So Dawkins forces a fumble on the Giants back up running back and back up tight end. That’s great but do you think he will force 2 fumbles tommorow?

Its the playoffs. Wierd shit happens. Like Elder Brother tossing three picks for the first time this year, two to his other favorite receiver, Ty Law.

I can almost guarantee one thing - there were 3 or 4 Giants fumbles in September, and 3 or 4 more in December. There are probably going to be 3 or 4 Giants fumbles in this third game too.

45
by Andrew (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 3:29am

Chris #30:

How many other quarterbacks engineered such great comebacks?

Did Elisha use special mind control powers to make Westbrook fumble, to make Burress fumble into the endzone, to make the refs and replay guys not review Dawkins interception that Shiancoe one-armed into "possession" once on the ground, to injure Hood in the 4th Quarter and Kearse in overtime, and to make Cole kick McKenzie in the nuts? That engineering?

46
by jdb (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 5:24am

Chris, various and sundry:

Yeah, what Andrew said in #45 about that awesome comeback. I don't think there IS another QB who could have managed to have a ball fumbled forward into the end zone to be recovered as a TD. So that's something Eli's got going for him...

The Giants are not that good at holding on to the ball. They turn the it over pretty often. Eli threw 17 picks this year. Whether or not his picks were tipped in the last PHI-NYG game, it's pretty reasonable to predict he'll throw an INT or two tomorrow.

Also, dude, to echo Pat, how could the Giants possibly become more focused on the running game? I think it would be totally awesome if they ran a single T a la Darren McFadden at Arkansas this year. After all, don't the Jets do it with Brad Smith? Maybe Tiki has a laser/rocket arm that nobody knows about...

If the Eagles do get up by 3 TDs I'll be waiting feverishly for Eli to sprinkle some magic fairy dust on the ball, causing Brandon Jacobs to fumble it forward 86 yds for a TD.

47
by Kyle (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 5:27am

Did Elisha use special mind control powers to make Westbrook fumble
Nope! The defense used its special "forcing fumbles" powers. Many defenders possess such astounding abilities. See: X, Weapon.

to make Burress fumble into the endzone
The one event in the entire game that can be chalked up purely to chance.

to make the refs and replay guys not review Dawkins interception that Shiancoe one-armed into “possession� once on the ground
Whining over officiating? Yeesh. Now you're simply resorting to any argument imaginable to justify this loss to yourself.

to injure Hood in the 4th Quarter and Kearse in overtime
Football seems to be a rather violent sport. Half the Giants defense disappeared in a span of two weeks.

and to make Cole kick McKenzie in the nuts?
Eli seems to have put the Giants in position to kick a 52 yard field goal, but moving down the field so speedily seemed to get to the immature Trent Cole. If you want to somehow imply undisciplined football is dumb luck, I'll claim that Eli indirectly caused Cole's childish actions by pissing him off with driving his team 48 yards downfield (63 including penalty) in a mere 51 seconds to tie the football game.

Hell, if undisciplined football is dumb luck, then the Giants are the unluckiest team in the NFL by a mile! :)

By the way, I see no complaints on your part about how a ball bouncing off of Tiki Barber's hands for a sure first down on 3rd and 2 that resulted in an interception? The play happened with 12 minutes left in the 4th on the Eagles 41 yard line. The Giants have a great shot of adding 3 points here. But alas, Tiki not only fails to catch it, he bats it straight up! I take it this is the skillset of the Philadelphia Eagles? Intimidation seen in schoolyard sports. "BOO! MISS! DROP IT! HISS! YOUR TWIN IS COOLER THAN YOU!". Not to mention the Eagles also benefited from what amounted to the worst pass-blocking effort the Giants offensive line produced all season by an incredible margin. In spite of pass protection breaking down at a Texanian rate, the youngest Manning somehow managed to compile 240+ passing yards, two passing TDs, and a Cole-boosted FG drive in 51 seconds to win the game.

While most Giants fans will readily admit that a mixture of skill and luck produced a Week 2 victory, you repeatedly argue the so very incorrect position that nothing of skill took place from men in Blue uniforms.

48
by Kyle (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 5:29am

Err, the one sentence reads as if I'm stating the Feely FG won the game. What I mean is the scoring drives he engineered produced a victory.

49
by jdb (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 10:34am

I don't think anyone's denying that the Giants made the necessary plays in their Week 2 comeback, but they did benefit from a number of unpredictable plays (although forcing fumbles is skill, recovery of fumbles is pure chance, and of course the Burress fumble TD) that were fluky at best and are unlikely to be repeated. The Eagles certainly helped them along with a very lackluster 4th quarter and Cole's dumb penalty, but they've been playing much better of late.

I really don't think the Giants can come into Philly and pull of a win, but if the Colts can hold Larry Johnson to 32 yds anything is possible.

50
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 11:08am

Football seems to be a rather violent sport. Half the Giants defense disappeared in a span of two weeks.

Yes, but that had nothing to do with the Giants. That was a calculated risk by the Eagles, who thought Sheppard might be back by that week, but wasn't. It was a risk, and it failed, and it had a huge impact on Eli being able to put up those numbers and everyone clamoring that he can shred the Eagles defense.

Except Philly won't be taking that risk on Sunday. Hell, Philly won't be taking anywhere near that risk, what with Sheppard, Brown, Hood, and likely James as corners.

And, of course, we haven't even mentioned that the Giants won't actually have Toomer, so Philly only needs to cover one oversized WR anyway.

51
by Chris (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 11:58am

So Eli sucks because Plax fumbled forward? Correct me if I am wrong, but Elisha completed that deep pass righ? Was it his fault that cry baby Plax fumbled?

I'm with Kyle in that you Eagles fans think ELI Manning is Ryan Leaf, and that he did nothing of value for his team.

How come when Trent Cole makes a bone head penalty it's luck, but all of those penalties the Giants make aren't?

Eli was sacked, and sacked, and sacked again in that game but he bounced back to play a nearly flawless game to engineer that comeback.

Since Dallas lost, I think the Giants will now win this game. We will see three favorites winning in this wild card weekend and I don't think the underdogs get swept.

The Giants have their backs against the wall and I see fight or flight instincts taking over. This could be Tiki Barber AND Tom Couglins last game.

Giants +7

52
by Dan Riley (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 12:03pm

I believe Drew Bledsoe to be one of sport's most stand-up guys (no pun intended), but today he just has to be waking up as the happiest man in all Texas.

53
by Polaris (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 12:51pm

Let's hear it for Tony "The Lucy" Romo. Given how many here have (with reason admittedly) run down Seattle as the worst team in the playoffs, I think the game deserves a "Any Given Sunday" moniker.

The Botched snap was less important than one might think. Seattle would have gotten the ball back with more than a minute to play and for all of Seattle's faults, they have a stellar 2 minute offense and an absolutely clutch kicker in Josh Brown. I'd say Seattle likely would have won anyway even if Dallas makes that FG. Don't forget that Seattle had time of possession, total yardage, first downs and generally (statistically) was the better team regardless of the 'day after' hype.

-Polaris

54
by Chris (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 1:09pm

Yeah all the Giants and Eagles fans are laughing at Romosexual.

Madden and Michaels never mentioned that Romo almost picked up the First down ( at the 1) without picking up the touchdown. I guess everybody just had a mindset that it was an extra point and he needed to reach the endzone.

If you watch the play again, Gramatica wiffed at the man who ended up tackling Romo. Now I know Gramatica must have been out weighed and out muscled by 50-75 pounds but geez. If Gramatica would have just got in front of the guy and run over ( not even blocking) Romo gets the first down.

Romo botched the snap, and I guess he had his mind on other things... Like Jessica Simpson or that other American Idol waste.

At least Romo felt bad after the play. How many players just don't care anymore? Mike Vick is the highest paid player in the league and it was 2 or 3 weeks ago he was laughing with teammates at the end of the game when they lost. He obviously didn't care that his team lost, he probably made some cool ESPN rushing yards so people could blame the loss on his coach and receivers.

55
by jdb (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 1:41pm

"so Eli sucks because Plax fumbled forward?"

uh, no. he was a mediocre QB this year because he completed 58% of his passes, averaged just under 5.9 yd/att, threw 17 picks (versus 24 TDs, which along with over 3000 yds passing shows he had some good games), and is ranked 22nd in DVOA. Not the worst, but but not even quite up to the middle of the pack. He ranks 18th in DPAR with 28. Jeff Garcia, who admittedly has been playing out of his mind, ranks 17th in DPAR with 27.6, despite playing less than half as many games and attempting 331 less passes. While Eli could still improve, right now he sucks because he sucks, although he's worlds beyond Ryan Leaf's best day. He doesn't need any help from ol' Plaxico.

"How come when Trent Cole makes a bone head penalty it's luck, but all of those penalties the Giants make aren't?"

Nobody said Trent Cole's penalty was anything less than idiotic and you are correct that it had nothing to do with luck.

"Since Dallas lost, I think the Giants will now win this game. We will see three favorites winning in this wild card weekend and I don't think the underdogs get swept."

That is crazy, crazy, crazy. That argument is not based on anything rational. I agree that the "back to the wall" underdog type mentality may help the Giants as it does every underdog, but the Dallas/Seattle game has NOTHING to do with any game today.

And Romosexual? Is that supposed to be an insult? If so it's lame and tasteless. Also, did Michael Vick run your dog over or something?

56
by David (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 2:01pm

Asking Grammatica to throw a solid block on a safety when he's already turning the corner and when the kicker himself probably had barely any idea what the smeg was going on isn't exactly fair. But if you want to second-guess the man, what he should have done was commit the world's most blatant hold or block in the back on Babineaux. Those could have stopped him where a legit block from a 175-pound kicker wouldn't, and then Romo very probably would have gotten that extra yard. In that situation, the Seahawks would pretty much have to accept a 10- or 15-yard penalty and let Dallas try the kick again.

57
by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 2:05pm

51:

Sweet, you just FOMBC'd us a victory.

58
by Kyle (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 2:40pm

Re 57:
As a Giants fan, Chris is alone in his views, as I fully expect the Giants to get run out of Lincoln Financial Field after Kevin Gilbride abandons the running game after a few unsuccessful tries and pretends its 1992, going Run-and-Shoot Oilers style, thus getting Eli Manning killed in the process.

59
by Chris (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 3:19pm

JDB

How is 3 favorites winning an irrational point for looking at the 4th game? I guess you have never bet on a game before?

You can't evaluate a QB only by his rating because different QB's are in different situations. A Big Ben might have to manage a game, while a Jon Kitna is playing from behind. Some QB's are game managers, while the Manning brothers try and win games with their arm.

Also, how do you take into account all of the drops and interceptions off deflections Eli suffered? A bum like Byron Leftwhich for example won't have that because he is mainly throwing dump offs.

#56, I am not saying Gramatica should have thrown a pancake block or anything, but merely getting in the way would have slowed the tackler enough to get the 1st down. Instead, Gramatica looked like a matador as he scooted out of the way to avoid contact.

60
by jdb (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 7:20pm

Chris: (btw, I'm not a fan of the Eagles nor the Giants, in case you want to make a homerism suggestion)

Oh man, oh man, where to start. I guess with your theory about the previous 3 games somehow impacting the Giants/Eagles game.

You're talking about the gambler's fallacy, which has actually caused money to lose large amounts of money placing bets based on erroneous beliefs. If you placed a bet before any of the games started that one of the 4 games would result in an upset, that would have made sense. The point of betting is to be able to pick which game will be the upset. However, to say that it becomes more likely for an upset to occur in the remaining times as the favored times win is incorrect. The gambler's fallacy wrongly assumes that a random event (or in this case, an event unrelated in that there are different teams playing each game) is more likely to occur if it has not occurred in a long time. As every favored time wins the odds of an upset do not themselves become more favorable. The Giants could certainly win the game today, but because of their football prowess and possibly some luck, not some kind of wacky theory about there not being an underdog sweep.

As far as evaluating QBs, that is what DVOA and DPAR and more traditional stats like passer rating all attempt to do. They are not perfect but they are better at accurately evaluating QB play than relying solely on anecdotal evidence as you seem to be doing. Can you coherently articulate the difference between a "game manager" and a Manning brother without using tired sports cliches (i.e. game manager, just wins, etc.)?

All QBs suffer from drops and deflections. I don't have the stats in front of me to say whether or not Eli suffered more or less than the league average from drops and deflections (although I do remember the Jacksonville game, and yes, that one wasn't really his fault). Either way drops and deflections are part of the game. Some deflections are even the QBs' fault for throwing into clogged passing lanes or forcing throws.

A bum like Leftwich, huh? Eli completed 109 (81 to Tiki) passes to RBs this season and 129 to TEs (115 to Shockey). In all 238 of his approximately 519 attempts were to RBs/TEs, or approximately 46%. Even assuming a fair number of the throws to Shockey were downfield that's some pretty serious checking down, no?

Your boys Eli and Plex are playing pretty darned well so far. I don't think the Giants are totally hideous (just mediocre) or that Eli is the Antichrist or something. I just think you've consistently made poor arguments that you failed to back up with anything. Anyways, I give up on arguing. Enjoy the game.

61
by jdb (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 7:22pm

damnit, every single "time" should read "team"

62
by Chris (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 10:41pm

There is a difference between say the Steelers offense last year which featured a power run game and the Giants offense.

Big Ben might hand off the ball over 5 times in a row and then throw play action to a wide open tight end.

Eli Manning might get the occasional break out run from Tiki, but then might get 2 yards on the next 2 plays putting him in a difficult 3rd and 8 situation when he has to throw it and everybody knows it.

It is difficult to quantify dropped balls ( because sometimes they are the quarterbacks fault, and sometimes the receivers faul) and also when say Plax quits on a route and causes an interception.

There is also a difference between Byron Leftwich taking a snap and instantly throwing to a RB and picking up his RAC yards as passing yards and Eli looking downfield and then checking down to the RB.

There are so many factors that go into QB rating and even DVOA and DPAR. I am not saying Eli Manning is god, but listening to Joe Buck bash him the whole game was foolish.

Joe Buck is so biased against anything New York and anything Manning it's sickening.

And yes Byron Leftwhich is terrible.

63
by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 11:17pm

The Giants played their best game of the year. My hat is off to them.