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28 Jul 2005

2005 Over-Unders: East Divisions

by Al Bogdan and Vivek Ramgopal

Also check out last week's look at the AFC West and NFC West. Lines come from VegasInsider.com.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

O/U: 8.5
2004 Record: 6-10
2005 Home Opponents: WAS, PHI, NYG, ARI, DET, DEN, KC, STL
2005 Away Opponents: SD, SF, OAK, SEA, PHI, NYG, WAS, CAR

Vivek: So we have Drew Bledsoe reunited with Bill Parcells, the team signs Jason Ferguson and shifts to a 3-4 defense, and all of a sudden this is supposed to be a .500+ team? I just don't see it. This is a good up and coming team with Julius Jones in the backfield and Roy Williams hitting everything in sight in the secondary, but Dallas is a year away. Its success depends on the development of first round defensive ends Demarcus Ware (who may move to the linebacker spot in the new 3-4 defense) and Marcus Spears. With change to a 3-4 scheme, Parcells is effectively reducing the role of Greg Ellis, his leading sack man for the past four seasons. I am curious to see how he and veteran La'Roi Glover handle this.

What does Bledsoe have around him on the outside? Whatever it is, he will have to find it quickly as the not so fleet footed Bledsoe will have the aging Marco Rivera and Larry Allen protecting him. The Buffalo offensive line wasn't the only factor in opposing defenses sacking Bledsoe almost three times per game during his tenure there. That is the whole key to Bledsoe's success --give him time, and he will produce. Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn, and Quincy Morgan are all nice pieces, but will not be able to bring Bledsoe back to his form from six years ago. Add in the fact that all three are coming off of surgeries, and that cannot make Bledsoe feel too confident. Tight end Jason Whitten might be Bledsoe's most reliable weapon, similar to what he had in New England with Ben Coates.

I might be being too harsh on this team, but out of division games against the Broncos, Chiefs, Rams, Raiders, Charger,s and Panthers do not hurt my case. A year from now I'll take the over but for 2005, I'm predicting a .500 record and the UNDER.

Al: Finally, some serious disagreement between us. I'm expecting Dallas to be one of the top teams in the NFC and possibly the favorite to be playing in February if Terrell Owens isn't lining up wide in Philadelphia for a full season.

There are a lot of reasons, other than the personnel upgrades, to expect Dallas' offense to significantly improve this year. (For more details, read the Dallas (written by yours truly) and San Diego chapters of the top-selling football book on Amazon.com). As is pointed out in much more detail in the book, Dallas was terrible passing the ball on third down last year. Even a moderate improvement in that category could lead to significant overall improvement in the team's offense. Also, Vinny Testeverde was atrocious in the fourth quarter last season. With a younger quarterback than Vinny behind center, Dallas could expect to have more consistency in game performance across all four quarters from Bledsoe than they got from Testeverde.

I am concerned about the secondary, which was Dallas' weak link last year. Their starters should be improved with the additions of Anthony Henry and Aaron Glenn, but I have serious concerns about the depth behind those starters. If Henry, Glenn, or Terrence Newman gets injured, things could get ugly real fast in Dallas.

In any event, this team should go at least 9-7, even if they don't reach the Super Bowl contender status that I'm expecting from them. OVER.

Philadelphia Eagles

O/U: 11
2004 Record: 13-3
2005 Home Opponents: SF, OAK, SD, DAL, GB, SEA, NYG, WAS
2005 Away Opponents: ATL, KC, DAL, DEN, WAS, NYG, STL, ARI

Vivek: T.O. isn't the only one who has to take care of his family this year. I have a down payment and wedding to plan for, and if Terrell Owens doesn't suit up for the Eagles, I'll have to keep my day job because I am sticking with the Eagles this year. T.O. or no T.O, This team is a regular in the NFC title game, and the secondary of Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown and Michael Lewis can ensure that the Eagles will not need to score 30 points to win. This will essentially be the same defensive unit went to the Super Bowl last year, minus a handful of players who did not make much of an impact. If the defense can execute Jim Johnson's pressure filled schemes, you should see a something along the lines of last year's 17 interceptions and 47 sacks.

Even with a first place schedule, this team can approach last year's win total. OVER.

Al: This team has won at least 11 games for five straight years. The presence or absence of Owens probably will be the difference between this team having a tough run in the playoffs, or having a cake walk to another NFC Championship. Last year's Super Bowl team is returning virtually intact. The only off-season departure of any significance was Jermane Mayberry who left for New Orleans. But the Eagles have a replacement waiting in the wings with last year's first round pick Shawn Andrews. Add in the best secondary and special teams in football and there's just no way I could take the under here. OVER.

New York Giants

O/U: 6.5
2004 Record: 6-10
2005 Home Opponents: ARI, STL, DEN, WAS, MIN, PHI, DAL, KC
2005 Away Opponents: NO, SD, DAL, SF, SEA, PHI, WAS, OAK

Vivek: 698 and 860 yards in the past two seasons. Does that sound like #1 receiver stats to you? Plaxico Burress missed five games last year, so even projecting his stats across a full season gives you a hair over 1,000. The combo of Burress and Amani Toomer is an upgrade from last year, but not one that would vault Eli Manning into the top half of NFL quarterbacks. You know that your 2004 wide receiver corps struggled when Ron Dayne found the end zone (1) more often than the top two receivers (0). Nobody ever knows what to expect from Jeremy Shockey, so the Giants cannot depend on him as a safety net for Manning. And if Jim Miller is slow to heal from hip surgery, the Giants will be forced to go with the reality star Jesse Palmer or husband-of-a-reality-star Tim Hasselbeck. New tackles Kareem McKenzie and Bob Whitfield should, however, help sure up an offensive line that allowed 52 sacks last year.

Can Tiki Barber pile up the same yards with defenses not as concerned with Manning? He averaged 91 yards rushing and receiving for the final five games of last season (versus 150 the rest of the year) and more alarming was his four fumbles during that span. The Giants would have to give the ball to rookie Brandon Jacobs, who looks more like Julius Peppers than a running back, if Barber goes down.

Towards the end of last season, Al played "What would Ernie Accorsi do?" and wrote, "I'd keep Eli, Tiki, Chris Snee, Will Allen, Gibril Wilson, David Tyree, Willie Ponder, Jeff Feagles, Osi Umenyiora, William Joseph, and maybe Shaun O'Hara if he moves over to guard. That's about it. Everyone else can be replaced." Well, Al was ten for ten on those guys, and the Giants build around them by signing Antonio Pierce in addition to McKenzie and Whitfield on the o-line. The losses of Norman Hand, Omar Stoutmire, Ike Hilliard and Terry Cousin will have a minimal impact. OVER.

Al: It's all about Eli this year in New York. As I've mentioned elsewhere -- yes, I wrote this chapter in the book as well -- the Giants have brought in new personnel to improve every one of their weaknesses from last season save one -- starting quarterback. If Manning is the quarterback this season that he was against Pittsburgh in Week 15, the Giants will be championship contenders. If Manning is the quarterback that he was against Baltimore in Week 14, Tim Hasselbeck will become the most talked about backup quarterback in the history of sports radio. I'll split the difference and say Manning plays like he did against Dallas and Cincinnati in Weeks 16 and 17: right around league average. As long as Eli doesn't stop them, this Giant team should make the playoffs or at least be in contention for a spot until the last week of the season. OVER.

Washington Redskins

O/U: 7.5
2004 Record: 6-10
2005 Home Opponents: CHI, SEA, SF, PHI, OAK, SD, DAL, NYG
2005 Away Opponents: DAL, DEN, KC, NYG, TB, STL, ARI, PHI

Vivek: Al, make sure to temper your enthusiasm a bit after last year's Skins' love fest. Sorry for the cheap shot. I'll note that I also predicted the demise of Curtis Martin last year.

The nation's capitol did have a good offseason in terms of made for television drama -- the drafting of a quarterback of the future when the head coach had given his endorsement for the incumbent, two star players departing for "greener" pastures and what plotline would be complete without an assault/weapons charge for last year's star rookie.

While the potential of the 2005 players might be greater than last season, this team took a big step backwards in terms of on-field talent. Patrick Ramsey only had three wins in his half season of starting, so barring a Drew Brees-like resurgence, how long until Joe Gibbs hands the ball over to Jason Campbell? And even if he does, what weapons does he have on the field with him in the aerial game? Newcomers Santana Moss and David Patten are nice second and third receivers, but cannot carry this passing game. To say that the 2004 offense never got in synch is an understatement. All season the offense looked confused, especially on third downs, an anomaly for a team with a featured back the caliber of Clinton Portis. The Skins converted less than a third of their third down attempts, which can be linked to Portis's drop of 1.7 yards per carry from his other two seasons in the league. Joe Bugel will have to simplify the offense in order to reduce the training camp errors.

The team's best cover corner, Fred Smoot, jumped ship from a Redskins team that has gone downward since his arrival there, finishing a total of 12 games under .500 his four seasons. Linebacker Antonio Pierce followed suit and headed up I-95 to Giants stadium. Because of Dan Snyder's earlier open-wallet policies, the Redskins have limited resources to replace their offseason losses. Almost a quarter of the 2005 cap is allocated to players who are not on the roster or who will not see much action. The return of LaVar Arrington (we think) should soften those blows, but do not expect a defense that will mirror last year's.

The odds makers are being pretty generous with this line, so definitely the UNDER.

Al: Don't worry Viv, I'm not making the same mistake twice. Washington appears to be the weakest team in the division. While their fellow teams in 6-10 land spent their offseason adding to their team through free agency and the draft improving their team's weaknesses, the Redskins went around trading away their one effective offensive player to give them less cap space with which to improve the rest of the squad. The defense has seen departures, injuries and legal troubles this off-season, but very few additions. On offense, Casey Rabach and a returning Jon Jansen should lead to an improvement in the running game, but Washington has replaced the departed Laveraneus Coles and, according to a report on Redskins.com, Rod Gardner with Santana Moss and David Patten. At best it's wheel spinning for the sake of salary cap inflexibility. At worst, one of the league's five worst passing offenses from 2004 will find itself sliding even further down the rankings this year.

Is there anything I like about Washington this season? Sure. Robert Royal is my fantasy sleeper TE of the year. He finished last season with four touchdowns in Washington's last five games. With an increased role in the offense, Royal is a great pick as a #2 TE in leagues where you're forced to carry a backup. UNDER.

AFC East

New England Patriots

O/U: 10.5
2004 Record: 14-2
2005 Home Opponents: OAK, SD, BUF, IND, NO, NYJ, TB, MIA
2005 Road Opponents: CAR, PIT, ATL, DEN, MIA, KC, BUF, NYJ

Al: We're completely into uncharted territory here. Only one other team has won at least 14 games in consecutive seasons like New England has: the 1985 and 1986 Chicago Bears. The next year for Chicago was the strike year, when they still managed to pull of 11 victories. The Bears kept it going into 1988, winning 12 games. What does this mean for New England? Absolutely nothing.

I want to go under, but I just can't do it. Sure, you have to wonder how the team will do after losing both their coordinators. But the personnel is just as good, if not better than it was last year, despite the departures of Tedy Bruschi and Ty Law. The wide receiver corps is deeper than ever with the additions of David Terrell and Tim Dwight. That should make up for the inevitable decline of Corey Dillon as he turns 31 after logging a career-high number of carries last year. The offensive line is back pretty much intact from last year, possibly improved with the addition of first round pick Logan Mankins.

The biggest question marks are on defense, where Bruschi is done for the year and Law is out looking for a job elsewhere. But the secondary was effective without Law for most of last season, and New England has brought in a number of linebackers to fill in for Bruschi as well as Ted Johnson, who surprised the team by retiring today. It would be nice for the Patriots if Chad Brown could stay on the field for a full 16 games for the first time since 2001, but even if he doesn't, newcomer Monty Beisel should be effective, at least on pass coverage.

The schedule looks tough, but the Patriots are still the toughest team any of their opponents will play this year. I'm glad this line isn't a half point higher. OVER.

Vivek: Have we all learned yet not to bet against Bill Belichick? The Patriots will probably slot in Deion Branch in the secondary to replace Ty Law and Patrick Pass at linebacker for Teddy Bruschi. Ok, there was sarcasm there, but how many of you would have believed that Troy Brown would make a greater impact on defense than offense last year? We are all waiting to see how Belichick will do without his right-hand men, Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis, and that might be Belichick's greatest personnel loss during his years in New England.

So how do you beat the Patriots? You cannot stack their schedule with playoff teams, as New England has compiled a 16-1 record against playoff teams during the past two seasons. You cannot rattle Tom Brady unless maybe you bring back Tara Reid into the picture. And Bridget Moynihan may be the only one who can break through the offensive line to get to Brady. Last year the Steelers handed the Pats their worst loss when Corey Dillon sat out with a thigh injury. If Dillon misses an extended period of time, Brady and the Patriots will find life a little harder. Al is more confident about the WR crew than I am. Branch, Givens, and Terrell should not be a comforting sight if Brady has to revert to the shorter passing game from 2003. Tight end Ben Watson, who lost his 2004 campaign to a knee injury, would have to develop into a deep threat quickly.

On the defensive side, the Pats will slot in free agent signees Brown and Beisel while Bruschi sits this season out recovering from his stroke. Brown help will keep the pass rush at the top of the league, having averaged almost three a game last season. Law was the only other significant defensive loss, but Asante Samuel is emerging as a solid corner.

Another 13-14 win season is within reach. OVER.

New York Jets

O/U: 9
2004 Record: 10-6
2005 Home Opponents: MIA, JAC, TB, SD, NO, OAK, NE, BUF
2005 Road Opponents: KC, BAL, BUF, ATL, CAR, DEN, NE, MIA

Vivek: This Jets team is one of the hardest to predict in the league, one that could end the Patriots' run as the toast of the AFC or one that could fall flat without its leader Chad Pennington. After Pennington's rotator cuff surgery, there is still an outside chance that Jay Fiedler opens the season as the starter. Regardless of whether or not he will be under center in Week 1, Pennington has missed all of the offseason workouts with new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger and his downfield attack. Heimerdinger's offense requires a quarterback with good arm strength and that's not Pennington's game. The return of Laveranues Coles and potential comeback of Wayne Chrebet will mean nothing if Pennington's shoulder does not allow the team to be aggressive. A few interceptions downfield, and Jets fans might not miss Paul Hackett's play calling so much.

Curtis Martin has to slow down one of these years, and this might be the one. Martin could miss last year's starting right tackle Kareem McKenzie, with an unproven Adrian Jones now in that spot. At least if anything does happen to Martin, Derrick Blaylock can easily step in as a different style runner.

The Jets made huge strides in 2004, but regressed this offseason. Pardon the pun, but the team is thin at the tackle spot after Dewayne Robertson. The defection of nose tackle Jason Ferguson will not only hurt Robertson, but also rising linebacking stars Eric Barton and Jonathan Vilma. Opposing teams had to devote multiple offensive linemen to take care of Ferguson, but now they can focus their efforts elsewhere.

I am not sold on Pennington's shoulder, and for that reason, I'll take the disappointing UNDER.

Al: What are you talking about Viv? This team is deep everywhere. So deep that they could spend their first draft pick this year on a kicker! (Yes, Mike Nugent bashing by Football Outsiders. Big shock there.)

Seriously, though, I agree that the Jets didn't do enough to fill the hole left by McKenzie. The Jets had one of the best offensive lines in the league last year according to the new and improved adjusted line yards. They were third in the league running behind right tackle and the best in the league running outside the right tackle. Now, a lot of that has to do with Kevin Mawae's amazing pulling, but McKenzie has to be given some of the credit as well. With an unproven right tackle, you have to expect the Jets rushing numbers to decrease, especially to that side of the line.

I really like the Blalock signing, though. He was in the top 10 in DPAR and top 5 in DVOA last year and had a positive DVOA in 2003, albeit in limited playing time. (DVOA and DPAR explained here.) He'll more than make up for the departure of LaMont Jordan and should end up with a good number of carries backing up and eventually sharing time with the sure-to-decline Curtis Martin.

That road schedule is sick. I wouldn't pencil in a single victory. The Jets aren't going to reach 10 wins without going at least 4-4 on the road, and with this schedule I just don't see it. Especially if The Chad misses more than a game or two with his inevitable annual injury. UNDER.

Buffalo Bills

O/U: 8
2004 Record: 9-7
2005 Home Opponents: HOU, ATL, MIA, NYJ, KC, CAR, NE, DEN
2005 Road Opponents: TB, NO, OAK, NE, SD, MIA, CIN, NYJ

Vivek: Run, defend, and protect young quarterback J.P. Losman. The game plan is pretty simple for the Bills in 2005. Willis McGahee gets his long awaited full-time starting job in 2005. He may not, however, put up the eye popping numbers that he did as the starter last year with this downgraded offensive line. Other than quarterback, the only other position that will feel a drop-off from last year is the offensive tackle spot after Jonas Jennings signed with the 49ers. McGahee needs to run between the tackles, and we will wait to see if Mike Gandy and Mike Williams can step it up.

I like the pickup of Kelly Holcomb to back him up if head coach Mike Mularkey feels the need to sit Losman for a bit. Losman will have a good group of receivers around him, though. Eric Moulds pulled in 88 catches last year, and the Bills will finally end their efforts to make Josh Reed a solid #2 wideout with the push of Lee Evans and rookie Roscoe Parrish.

This team was very close to the playoffs last year, and I think Buffalo will be competitive again this year, but it is hard to take the over with the Jets and Pats on the schedule for four games. UNDER.

Al: Why do odds makers think this team will do worse than last year? The loss of Drew Bledsoe and Travis Henry? I can understand the hesitation to wager that a team with essentially a rookie quarterback will have a winning season. However, J.P. Losman is unlikely to decide the fate of this team. Not when virtually the entire defense, number one in DVOA last year, is coming back for 2005 and they have a running back that PFP 2005 projects to finish among the NFL's top five in rushing yards.

The Bills' road schedule is much easier than the Jets' looks to be. As you'll read sometime in the next few weeks, I'm not sold on Tampa, New Orleans is perpetually mediocre, and I think Oakland will still struggle, especially on defense, despite their recent additions. If Buffalo can win those games and squeak one road victory out against a division rival or either San Diego or Cincinnati, they'd be 4-4 on the road and half way to hitting the over/under number. Should be an easy OVER.

Miami Dolphins

O/U: 6
2004 Record: 4-12
2005 Home Opponents: DEN, CAR, KC, ATL, NE, BUF, NYJ, TEN
2005 Road Opponents: NYJ, BUF, TB, NO, CLE, OAK, SD, NE

Vivek: Grass Valley, California. There, I got that obligatory Ricky Williams joke out of the way.

Gus Frerote or A.J. Feeley? Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams? Marty Booker or David Boston? If you like camp position battles, then this will be a fun team to watch. Frerote, Brown and Booker should be the opening day starters, and those are all the right calls. Feeley has proved nothing as a starter in the NFL, and Williams is nowhere near the physical shape that he was in two years ago (not to mention the mental shape).

With all the offensive struggles from last year, the defense carried this team (if you can say "carried" for a team that won four games). The Dolphins went out and signed pass rushers Kevin Carter and Vonnie Holliday, but will miss corner Patrick Surtain. Opposing quarterbacks will light up when they see an aging Sam Madison and unproven Mario Edwards and Reggie Howard lined up against wide receivers. UNDER.

Al: Maybe I'm in the minority, but I'm expecting the Dolphins to be at least mediocre this year. Williams has been knocked on more than one occasion on this site. But after Williams has had a year to recover from the wear and tear of two 380+ carry seasons, and with Brown sharing the backfield, Miami could actually have a decent running attack.

Of course, this team will only go as far on offense as their line will take them. The Miami offensive line has been awful, finishing at or near the bottom of our offensive line rankings for the past two years. Stockar McDougle will be an upgrade over John St. Clair on the right side of the line. Sprinkle in a little more Vernon Carey and a little less Wade Smith, and maybe this won't be the worst offensive line in football.

On defense, the Dolphins has as deep of a defensive line as you'll find anywhere in the league. They have two lines worth of starters on their team. An effective rotation will keep the linemen on the wrong side of 30 like Jason Taylor, Keith Traylor, and Carter fresh and more effective. The secondary was effective last year and should remain so despite the losses of Surtain to free agency and Will Poole to injury.

Miami has the easiest road schedule of any of their division rivals. If they can find a way to go just .500 at home, this team should be able to squeak out 7 wins. OVER.

Next week: AFC North and NFC North.

Posted by: scramble on 28 Jul 2005

38 comments, Last at 20 Nov 2011, 4:17pm by Bet in Vegas

Comments

1
by BillT (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 8:12pm

Am I the only one that thinks the Jets should sign Jeff George? Yeah, probably. But really... Jay Fiedler?

2
by Tim L (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 8:57pm

I'm very surprised the Redskins over/under was so high and the Giants were so low. If I were to set them myself, I'd probably go with five for Washington and eight for the Giants.

3
by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 9:17pm

I'm a Dolphin fan, and feel that they should be able to win 6 or so games. I think there was a lot of "give up" on the team last year. They seemed to play a little better with Bates coaching. The QB play was pretty bad. Frerotte should be able to turn it up a notch. The Dolphins go from no running backs, to 3 (Brown, Williams and Gordon). They still have lots of solid veterans on defense. I see no reason why they won't be much more competitive than they were last year.

4
by Johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 9:44pm

6 seems a little low for the Dolphins line. Dolfans are pretty high on this season. Any thoughts to why it's 6 games? For the record Mario Edwards has been in the league since 2000. I thinks it's safe to say he's proven how much value he has.

5
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 10:05pm

6 seems a little low for the Dolphins line. Dolfans are pretty high on this season. Any thoughts to why it’s 6 games?
To balance out the betting. You've got to balance Dolfans who would bet the over on a 14.5 line, with (New England) fans of other (Patriots) teams who would take the under on 4.

I wouldn't be hugely surprised by anything from 3 to 9 wins from this Miami team, so 6 seems as good a place as any to start the line at.

6
by Johnny Jets (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 10:17pm

The Jets have been one of the best road teams for quite some time now.
Heimerdinger adjusts his playcalling and schemes. He's not a square-peg-into-a-round-hole kinda guy. He'll attack defenses in different manners on a week-to-week basis. You'll see in due time. Chad Pennington can throw the deep ball. He threw the best pass in the NFL last season. Check out the AFC Wild Card game vs San Diego.

7
by Vince (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 10:21pm

Any thoughts to why it’s 6 games?

Probably because most people don't think they'll make it. I'd bet the under, for sure. I think 0-8 at home is a real possibility.

8
by Bill (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 11:40pm

Am I the only one that thinks the Jets should sign Jeff George?

I am sure a certain ESPN.com columnist from the Atlanta area agrees with you.

9
by somebody (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 11:41pm

RE: 6
The best pass in the nfl last year was an 80 yd td bomb from culpepper to moss that traveled about 65 in the air in detroit. But the jets pass was in a higher stakes game so i see your point. But for pure artistry i'll go with the minnesota pass.

10
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 07/29/2005 - 1:01am

The Jets have been one of the best road teams for quite some time now. Heimerdinger adjusts his playcalling and schemes.

The first part might be true. I don't feel like looking it up. But it's a little early to suggest how Heimerdinger is going to handle the Jets, considering he just joined the team this year. Let them play before crowning the new offensive coordinator as an improvement.

11
by Johnny Jets (not verified) :: Fri, 07/29/2005 - 1:18am

It won't take much to be an improvement over Paul Hackett.

12
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 07/29/2005 - 1:45am

Paul Hackett managed to direct the Jets' offense to the playoffs, then to a playoff win on the road. That puts him ahead of 28 other offensive coordinators last year, including Heimerdinger.

You may argue that the success was not Hackett's, and you may blame him for the loss in Pittsburgh. But Herm Edwards was on the sideline in Pittsburgh, too, piddling away the chance to move closer for that last FG attempt, and he still can overrule his OC.

Don't pin all your hopes on Heimerdinger.

13
by Jets Fan (not verified) :: Fri, 07/29/2005 - 8:39am

I think Lavernio, Laverana, Lavern.. well, Coles and McCarens and Curtis Martin are going to help Heimerdinger make a splash right away. He has some weapons.
Look out Pats !

& for those of you that weren't watching the Jets every week -Hackett was awful. Painful to sit through... good quarter back coach, but I seriousely question if he will ever be an OC again.

Sometimes I wonder how Curtis Martin must feel, knowing that if he wasn't traded away from the Pats he could of had a couple of superbowl rings now...

14
by Harris (not verified) :: Fri, 07/29/2005 - 9:05am

The Cowboys won't be a playoff team unless Drew Bledsoe suddenly improves to mediocre. His passing DVOA was -0.2% and VOA was -6.4%. Testaverde was 3.2% and -0.3% respectively. Incredibly, Testaverde was a better runner too with a DVOA of -12.3% and VOA of -18%. Bledsoe's numbers were -41.5% and -42%. And Bledsoe had superior receivers in Buffalo. Looks like I'll enjoy another season of laughing at Cowboy fans. Go Eagles!

15
by Sean (not verified) :: Fri, 07/29/2005 - 5:14pm

Heimerdinger has run two distinctly different types of offenses in Tennessee, so there is no reason to think he's inflexible about fitting a scheme to his personnel. (Of course, anyone who has watched Bill Parcell's post-1990 career would say the same about him, but for some reason every commentator's brain seemed to freeze right after the victory over Buffalo.) And for what it's worth, I think that Pennington is going to succeed far better in a vertical offense than he is given credit for. He spent his entire career at Marshall out of the shotgun and throwing the bomb to Randy Moss. He throws a good deep ball, and he hit on them with a high frequency last year (everyone remembers the Moss pass against San Diego, but Pennington was deadly early in the season with strikes downfield). The routes he struggles most with are deep intermediate routes, deep outs and comebacks, but even then he shows an ability to complete them. On deep passes outside the hash, Pennington tends to put a hump in the ball, with the result that the receiver is the only player able to make a play on the ball. It assures that there won't be any yac, but he can throw those routes for completions. Maybe I'll be proved wrong, but I think Pennington is going to be a much better fit than people give him credit for.

16
by Sean (not verified) :: Fri, 07/29/2005 - 5:21pm

I'm not so sure the Bills had better receivers. Yes, they had good 1 and 2 receivers, but they had the worst 3 and 4 receivers in the league, no pass catching tight end to speak of, and no backs who were receiving threats out of the backfield. The Cowboys have three receivers that fit their roles well, and they have one of the best pass catching tight ends in the league (and if for whatever reason they end up re-signing Richie Anderson, they'll have a quality safety outlet). The Cowboys have a much better ability to attack all parts of the field with their passing personnel than Buffalo did.

17
by billvv (not verified) :: Fri, 07/29/2005 - 6:20pm

OK, Al, you've penciled in the annual injury to CP. Three other QB's with no injuries? What are the chances of that? If TB is one, who is his backup? What do you think their record becomes then? I think you are entirely too locked in on last years news.

18
by Lombardius (not verified) :: Fri, 07/29/2005 - 7:20pm

Looks like I’ll enjoy another season of laughing at Cowboy fans. Go Eagles!

The football The football gods do not look kindly upon childish gloating. See a) the Eagles' playoff frustrations for almost half a century; and b) the link.

Consider yourself warned, mortal!

19
by Vince (not verified) :: Fri, 07/29/2005 - 9:10pm

A man is shot and nearly killed, and you're telling a football fan it's his fault for being rude? This is classless, tasteless, offensive, and worst of all, not funny in any way.

20
by Flux (not verified) :: Sun, 07/31/2005 - 4:26am

I'm surprised at the lack of outrage (thus far) at the Patriots' low O/U. You guys (Pats fans) just so used to be underestimated that you no longer bat an eye when you get a 10.5 O/U, or some bored columnist launches into one of those "Payton > Brady" articles?

For the 2-time defending champs, winners of 14+ both times, with no major personel losses, and a proven ability to overcome injuries, to get an expectation of hardly enough wins for a wildcard spot seems low.

Then again, pretty much every O/U line tends to err towards the side of caution, with no team really low or high, for obvious (gambling-related) reaons. And it's not like the casinos are in the business of losing money.

21
by Pat on the Back (not verified) :: Sun, 07/31/2005 - 5:38pm

When gauged against the Eagles' 11, I think it is pretty fair. When the one good team in a horrible confrence is only pegged at 11 wins, then a good team in a conference full of competitive teams only getting a half-game demotion is a pretty nice endorsement. Also, the "no major personell loss" forgets the coaching staff and the brutal schedule of the first month.

22
by smash mouth football (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 12:52am

Re: 20, 21
Since when does losing both starting inside LBs not constitute a significant personnel loss? And that assumes Richard Seymour is ready to play before the start of the season--something that doesn't look like a guarantee at this point. Not to mention losing both the O and D coordinators.

Having said all that, I still like the over. 10.5 is pretty low for NE until proven otherwise. I agree that O/U usually bunches toward the mean a little too much. Fact is, most seasons there are at least a couple 13-3 and 3-13 teams. At least.

23
by smash mouth football (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 12:59am

Considering the Jets road schedule and the uncertainty surrounding Pennington's shoulder injury, I like the UNDER here.

Still don't understand why Buffalo gets no respect. Their D and special teams look outstanding. Admittedly their offense looks unsettled, but I still like the OVER.

Washington at 7.5 wins O/U ??? The writer must be on crack or something. They just lost key parts of their D, and their offense still sucks. They'll be lucky to win 6 games again.

I have a suspicion the Football Giants will exceed their meager 6.5 O/U. I think their offense will improve--that Eli will develop.

24
by Ken (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 9:57am

Re: Pats O/U

Also remember that the bookies offer different odds depending on which one of the Over and Under you take...

25
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 10:22am

Heck, I think the reason the O/U for the Pats is so low is because they simply can't pick NE sweeping Buffalo, Indianapolis, and the Jets again. That, and the NFC South looks like a better division than the NFC West.

Then again, I think the NFC South has just as much potential to implode just like the NFC West, with Carolina the only team I'd put any trust in. So maybe it will be another cakewalk season for the Pats.

26
by Al (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 12:35pm

Al, you’ve penciled in the annual injury to CP. Three other QB’s with no injuries? What are the chances of that? If TB is one, who is his backup? What do you think their record becomes then? I think you are entirely too locked in on last years news.

Chad's never played a full season and is coming into camp with a reconstructed rotator cuff. His offensive line took a huge hit in the off-season with the loss of McKenzie. Not pencilling in an injury for him would seem foolhardy.

Will New England be hurt if Tom Brady goes down with an injury? Most likely. But Brady has played in every Patriot game since becoming the starter in 2001. New England has ranked 5th, 12th and 8th in adjusted sack rate the past three seasons.

Could Brady get hurt and miss the entire season? Of course. But there's little evidence to believe that it's more likely to happen to him than anyone else in the league.

27
by billvv (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 1:32pm

Any one else around the league? Anyone, in you estimation, besides CP. Wouldn't you think the odds for Brady getting injured would be going up? Certainly the league odds put him in the "lucky, so far" category.

28
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 2:42pm

Heck, I think the reason the O/U for the Pats is so low is because they simply can’t pick NE sweeping Buffalo, Indianapolis, and the Jets again. That, and the NFC South looks like a better division than the NFC West.

Indy isn't in the AFC East any more, though at times it seems like it is.

29
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 2:43pm

billvv (#27 )--

Well, this consideration is only the East divisions. Of the 8 current pencilled-in QB starters, two (Losman, Manning) are second-year starters who should have the health of the young. Two (McNabb, Bledsoe) missed substantial time from big injuries, but otherwise were pretty steady as starters. Two (Frerotte, Ramsey) are widely believed not to really matter if they start or not, since they're essentially replacement-level anyway. Brady hasn't missed a start in 68 straight games, despite playing with a shoulder separation in much of 2002.

And then there's Chad Pennington, who if he starts every game this season, it would be the first time. Chad Pennington in the only QB in the combined Eastern divisions who both routinely misses games, and actually makes a difference if he starts. It's not a gratuitous dig to pencil in CP for his annual injury; it's a perfectly valid dig based on his performance over 4 years, compared to other QBs in the East.

30
by Jets Fan (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 4:20pm

"His offensive line took a huge hit in the off-season with the loss of McKenzie".

How do you know? Seems to me the Jets have him replaced already, and since no one knows what the future will bring -- this may not be such a "huge hit."

Last year the offensive line took a "huge hit" with the sudden retirement of Dave Szott, but then in came Pete Kendall and the "hit" in reality became an upgrade at the position.

I wonder how many people thought it was a "huge hit" to the Pats when Bledsoe got hurt. In steps Brady, and the rest is history.

Let Ricky Williams be the expert on "huge hits"... as for me, I'll watch the game and see what happens.

That's why you play the game !

31
by billvv (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 5:08pm

As a dig, I'm fine with the humor of it. As fact, that you can expect an injury of a player, even a penciled injury, I have a problem with it. Also, he has recovered his form each time, unlike Bledsoe. You can call Favre lucky and Pennington unlucky, but you can't expect an outcome for either.

32
by Led (not verified) :: Mon, 08/01/2005 - 5:55pm

While the concern about Pennington's recovery from shoulder surgery is certainly valid, I don't think there's any particular reason to conclude that he's injury prone. The "never played a full season" line is a little silly inasmuch as the games missed in 2002 were not due to injury. He played 14 games that year without incident. So we're talking about two injuries, which may or may not have been flukey bad luck. The fact is that there's really no way of knowing. We do know, however, that he has no history of injuries prior to reaching the pros and that neither recent injury is of the degenerative (e.g., knees, back) or recurring (e.g., hamstring, achilles) kind. So if his shoulder is fully healed from the surgery I don't think he's at any greater injury risk than any other QB.

33
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 08/08/2005 - 1:25pm

Football is a collision sport, and a player's ability to avoid injury generally amounts to luck and knowing how to take or avoid a hit. However, in CP's case, I'd be concerned about the health of his rotator cuff, as it sounds like something that's caused by his throwing motion. Will Carroll did some more writing on this, and I recall he said that a rotaror cuff isn't as bad for a QB as it is for a pitcher, but we'll see.

34
by Wayne Pitcher (not verified) :: Mon, 08/08/2005 - 2:31pm

I just wanted to point out that the 1989-1990 49ers also had consecutive 14-2 seasons, like the current Patriots and the '85-'86 Bears. Like the Bears, I don't think any conclusions can be drawn from those Niners teams (who subsequently had seasons of 10,14,10,13,11,12,13,and 12 wins). Among other things, the NFC West was fairly weak during most years of the Niners great run of the 80's and 90's. Though like New England (and unlike the Bears), they had pretty good consistency at the quaterback position...

35
by dead meadow (not verified) :: Sun, 08/14/2005 - 7:55am

Taking the over for the Cowboys is almost as much of a gimme as the over on the Chiefs

36
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2006 - 12:35pm

Interesting that both the Eagles and Patriots ended up under the Vegas projections. I guess the numbers weren't that far off after all.

37
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