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Two NFC teams were hit hardest by injuries last year. One already set the AGL record in 2016, while the other has a coach with the worst AGL since 2002. Also: the Rams' incredible bill of health in L.A., and Tampa Bay's questionable injury reporting.

20 Sep 2005

Any Given Sunday: Panthers over Patriots

by Ned Macey

One week after making this column as an upset loser at the hands of New Orleans, Carolina is back with a huge win over the two-time defending NFL champion New England Patriots. The Patriots had gone 32-2 over their past 34 games, a run that included two Super Bowl championships. For any other team, losing a road game against a supposed Super Bowl contender would not be a major concern, but for the Patriots it is seemingly cause for alarm. The loss could be easily written off as a game of mental mistakes by the Patriots as they committed 12 penalties and turned the ball over three times. Still, as they head into a Week 3 clash with the Steelers (in Pittsburgh no less), the Patriots have to be worried about their running game. As for the Panthers, the win highlights a reason -- besides the commonly cited improved luck with injuries -- that they could be a force in the NFC.

Before we get into the specifics, the most salient observation I took from the game was how amazing New England's run has been. Luck is a factor in all NFL games, and in any game the inferior team can win due to lucky breaks or exceptional big plays that are unlikely to be repeated. Consider this game, where the Panthers used a fumble recovery and a punt return to start two drives inside the 15-yard-line. John Kasay was two for two on 50+ yard field goals. The Patriots had the second through fifth longest drives of the game but finished two of those drives with turnovers. The biggest referee call of the game awarded an apparently undeserved touchdown to the Panthers.

Almost every week, losing teams can point to facts like these as a reason that they lost, but for the past 35 games, this is only the third time the Patriots have lost. In that time, the Patriots are now 17-2 in games decided by ten points or less. In all games that Tom Brady has started (including playoffs), the Patriots are 32-7 in games decided by ten points or less and "only" 25-7 in games decided by more than ten points.

That's enough Pats admiration given that they actually lost this week, so let us turn our attention to the principal cause of the defeat, the lack of a running game. That the Patriots' running game improved after switching from Antowain Smith to Corey Dillon is self-evident, but look at the impact on the passing game:


Year Brady DVOA Rank
2001 -0.4% 17
2002 6.8% 18
2003 5.3% 14
2004 41.6% 2

Which one of these years is not like the other? While the raise in actual DVOA can be partially attributable to the increased offensive environment of a year ago, the jump in rank from middle of the pack to second overall is clearly an indication that last year was aberrant. As we state in our methods: “When we say, ‘Priest Holmes has a DVOA of 17.6%,' what we are really saying is ‘Priest Holmes, playing in the Kansas City offensive system with the Kansas City offensive line blocking for him and Trent Green selling the fake when necessary, has a DVOA of 17.6%.� While Brady likely improved as a quarterback a year ago, the increased attention defenses played to the running game allowed a slightly improved Brady to have a much more productive season.

The problem so far is that through two games Corey Dillon has looked a lot more like Antowain Smith than Corey Dillon. While two bad games is not the end of the world (and that goes for all you who followed our advice on Kevin Jones), Dillon was at risk even coming into this season. Aaron wrote frequently about the impending decline of Curtis Martin, and what he says for Martin is almost equally true of Dillon. A year ago, Dillon set a career high with 345 carries in the regular season. Add in 65 in the postseason for 410 total, and you have far too many carries for any back, let alone one turning 31 next month. Through two games against teams that ranked 13th and 19th in run defense DVOA a year ago, he has rushed 37 times for 99 yards. This is a troubling trend for a player who had a fairly negative KUBIAK projection of 1226 yards and 4.2 yards per carry.

Another explanation for the offensive struggles is the departure of Charlie Weis. Since I wrote the article in Pro Football Prospectus arguing that such a loss is unlikely to impact them, I am not going to change my opinion after two games. The central point of that article is that units that lost their coordinators to head coaching positions declined no less the next season than top units that retained their coordinators. (For fans in Minnesota, I did not study coordinators that made a lateral move). While the Patriots' offense is clearly off to a slow start the season, I would argue it looks no worse compared to last year than their fellow residents in the top five of 2004 DVOA: Indianapolis, Kansas City, Minnesota, and the New York Jets.

While Patriots' fans can take solace in the fact that they won two Super Bowls without Dillon, it is impossible to deny that last year's team was the best team yet, despite a defense that had some holes. Their overall DVOA of 35.6% was 13.2% better than the year before, or roughly the difference between the Jets and the Bengals a year ago. Had the Patriots maintained their 22.4% DVOA of 2003, which was second in the league that season, they would have ranked seventh last season and third in their own division. With the Colts and Steelers looking to be as good as a year ago, the 2003 version of the Patriots may not be good enough to deliver another title.

As for the Panthers, this victory was a serious statement by a defense that looked very ordinary the week before. Crucial to this victory was the Panthers defense's ability to get the Patriots off the field on third down. They held the Patriots to 4-14 on third down, quite a serious departure from a year ago. Patriots' fans can point to stupid penalties (six false starts) and a weak running game leaving them in many third and longs. This is all true, but for the Panthers a year ago, third and long was exactly where they did not want to be.

As we have mentioned on numerous occasions, a third down performance that is out of line with a unit's performance on other downs is unlikely to be repeated. A year ago, the Panthers' defense on first down had a DVOA of -16.0%. On second down, it was -19.6%. If they matched this performance on third down, they would have had a DVOA of -17.6%, second best in the league. Instead, thanks to a third down DVOA of 33.4%, they finished 10th in the league with a DVOA of -7.1%.

While the Panthers were below average on third downs of all sorts, they were particularly bad on long third downs, with a DVOA of 116.1% on third downs of seven to ten yards and 53.2% on third downs greater than ten yards. Given that the Patriots were exceptional on third down a year ago, this is a very encouraging sign for the Panthers, albeit one that was easily predicted.

The other key to the Panthers' victory was their ability to cash in on all three scoring opportunities in the red zone, something they have been unable to do in recent years. Fail to convert any of those, and the Patriots final drive that ended in a Ben Watson fumble would have been a chance to win the game.

What is notable about it from the Panthers' perspective is how much they have struggled to run the ball inside the ten yard line the last few seasons. Last year without Stephen Davis, they had a DVOA on runs inside the ten of -10.4%. The year before, with Stephen Davis, they were infinitely worse with a DVOA of -117.2%. Of course, had Davis's fumble been properly called, they would have been headed in that direction again. Given the Panthers' predilection for playing close games, improved efficiency at the goal line will lead to more wins.

What is also impressive is the way that they turned the Patriots' weaknesses against them. The Patriots have been an excellent red zone team in recent seasons with a DVOA of -20% in the red zone a year ago and -30.5% the year before. While they excelled in defending all red zone pass plays as well as runs between the 10 and 20 yard line, they have been below average defending runs inside the 10 yard line both of the last two seasons. Switching out Tedy Bruschi for Monty Beisel should only exacerbate this problem.

With the win in hand, the Panthers are in a much better position than their Super Bowl XXXVIII opponent. The Panthers play the Dolphins, Packers, Cardinals, Lions, and Vikings over the next six weeks. Provided Jake Delhomme starts playing a game resembling football where the goal is to throw to your own team, it is hard to imagine them losing more than one of those games. At that point, they would have a very interesting Week 9 confrontation with the resurgent Buccaneers.

The Patriots just lost the first game of what was certain to be a brutal stretch of games. Their next six games are against teams with winning records a year ago, and after hosting San Diego, they have to travel on back-to-back Sundays first to Atlanta and then to Denver. Four of their next five opponents ranked in the top eight in rushing defense DVOA a year ago, so getting Corey Dillon back to his 2004 level will be a very difficult task. I would not advise betting against the Pats yet, but chinks in the armor have definitely been exposed.

Posted by: Ned Macey on 20 Sep 2005

43 comments, Last at 23 Sep 2005, 8:23pm by Wilbur


by Dayne Boki (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 1:22pm

Great Article but I thought the Panthers punter did a great job of pinning the pats deep in their territory.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 1:34pm

My biggest fear going into the season was that with Weiss gone, Bellicheck would turn conservitave and start calling more running plays than passing plays. That hasn't happened yet, and with a brutal stretch of rush defenses in the horizon, I hope that he'll keep trying to throw the ball more. Of courwe, if Brady keeps missing open receivers and receivers keep dropping easy catches, it doesn't matter either way, does it?

by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 1:49pm

Ned, Good article. We didn't get this game in the UK, (we got Jags @ Colts & Falcons @ Seahawks) but this reads like a fair summation of the game. How did the Panthers D play the pass?

It might just be me, but doesn't seem that over the last couple of years, when the Pats get it wrong, it's spectacular? 3 turnovers on Sunday, four (I think) against the Fins last year, multiple turnovers against the Steelers last season.

Two ways of looking at this:

a: If you can squeeze the Pats you might see them self-destruct

b: Unless they hand the ball back on request you can't beat them

by MDS (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 2:08pm

A couple of observations about this game:
--Delhomme absolutely gift-wrapped the INT-TD to Vrabel. I think Delhomme is a very good quarterback, and I can't remember seeing him make such a stupid play.

--I've never studied this (if anyone has, let me know), but I have a hunch that teams with good pass rushes often cause their opponents to have more false start penalties. The Patriots seemed very concerned about Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker (and with good reason), and I think that contributed to the disoriented play of their offensive line.

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 2:53pm

In fairness to Delhomme, the replay showed what happened. Davis leaked out into the flat and he waited, waited, waited, and then just as Delhomme threw it to him, Davis took off upfield, leaving no one in the area but Mike Vrabel.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 3:15pm


I don't know how you'd measure that, though. Number of sacks vs number of false starts? Well, if you do that for all of the teams in the first week, it certainly looks completely random (Minnesota: 8 sacks, 1 false start, NE: 2 sacks, 6 false starts, just to give an example) though a much, much larger sample might show something.

by Terry (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 3:17pm

It's Weis! Jesus!

by Ned (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 3:28pm

Obviously it's Weis...really stupid mistake and corrected.

by Neptune1 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 3:31pm

Is the problem Dillon or the offensive line? I watched the game against Oakland, and Dillon looked like he had plenty of power in his runs, and he did not appear to be missing any quickness. It just seemed like he did not have anywhere to run. In the Panthers game, it looked like more of the same PLUS there was a lot of pressure on Brady. The Panthers have a great d-line, but on some plays they were getting pressure sending only three guys. I do not know how much influence Weis had on the o-line, if any, but from what I have seen that appears to be a significant problem for this year's Pats.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 4:00pm

I know you're thinking what I'm thinking...

Metcalf up the middle!!

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 4:03pm

MDS: That was the dumbest play I've seen Delhomme make, but he is a guy who throws a lot of risky passes. He had 20 turnovers last year, and 25 the year before. There were a couple other plays in that game where a NE player almost picked off one of his passes, although none of them were gift-wrapped touchdowns like the throw to Vrabel. Also, in fairness to Delhomme, the Panters running back was in the area right before he threw the pass, but started running downfield.

by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 4:09pm

Give the O-line time. Every year the Pats have a different mix at O-Line, and every year it takes a few games for them to gel. Last year Dillon had a slow start, remember? The Pats are starting one rookie on the O-line and rotating one other. I'm not worried about the Pats running game...yet.

One thing I found more disturbing is something no one has talked about. Several of Delhomme's long completions on Sunday came because the Pats were caught in an all out (6+ player) blitz. Mangini is admittedly more agressive than Crennel, but one of the hallmarks of the old Pats D was the ability to make the opponent think they were blitzing 80% of the time but actually only blitz 20% (hence that 20% was really effective, and the rest of the time the QB often hurried needlessly and threw into heavy coverage). In their first two games, the Pats have been blitzing a lot more. I see this as a problem...

by Neptune1 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 4:24pm

My recollection of last year is that Dillon had a pretty good start. I don't remember exactly, but I thought he had close to a 100 yard game in the opener against the Colts and followed that up with another one against somebody else I don't recall right now. At no time do I remember Dillon having a game where he averaged under 4 yards a carry, but that might not be completely accurate. 14 carries for 36 yards = Something scary.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 4:45pm

MJK #12:

What are you talking about with Dillon having a slow start to 2004?

Week 1 (Colts) - 15 for 86 (5.73/carry)
Week 2 (Cards) - 32 for 158 (4.94/carry)
Week 4 (Bills) - 19 for 79 (4.16/carry)
also 23 yards receiving
Week 5 (Phins) - 18 for 94 (5.22/carry)

Looks like a great start to me! His worst games were weeks 14 and 16 (Bungles and Jets).

by DavidH (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 4:49pm

Dillon's game by game rushing totals from last year, for reference:

opp(H/a) att/yds avg
IND 15/86 5.7
ari 32/158 4.9
buf 19/79 4.2
MIA 18/94 5.2
SEA 23/105 4.6
NYJ 22/115 5.2
pit did not play
stl 25/112 4.5
NUF 26/151 5.8
kc 26/98 3.8
BAL 30/123 4.1
cle 18/100 5.6
CIN 22/88 4.0
mia 26/121 4.7
nyj 29/89 3.1
SF 14/116 8.3

IND 23/144 6.3
pit 24/73 3.0
Philadelphia not shown on NFL.com game log for 2004 (????)

So in his first 8 games, the only time he average less than 4.5 ypc was at Buffalo. No shame there.

Last 9 listed games - 5 times 4.1 or lower, including against the likes of KC, Cincinnati, an the J-E-T-S.

At first glance seems like he started out hot and tired, and he is continuing the reduced effectiveness this year.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 4:50pm

I see Andrew beat me to it.

by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 5:03pm

OK, thanks everyone. I guess my memory was playing tricks on me. I didn't see the Arizona game last year, and the other three early games all had Dillon under 100 yards. I remember wondering why the coaches weren't running him more when his ypc were decent, which is probably where my impression that he started slow came from.

Still, I stand by my statement that last year the Pats didn't have two rookies playing significant time on the O-line, and my prediction that (barring injury) Dillon's carries will get better as the season progresses.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 5:18pm

I think we have to acknowledge the fact that Carolina's run defense is very good this year, as well, considerabally better than The Colts/Cards run defense was last year.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 5:23pm


Waiting on the Oakland explanation...

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 5:28pm

Warren Sapp wasn't wearing deodearant so every time Dillon went near him, he passed out from the overpowering stench.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 5:33pm

Did his leg spasm like the squirrel from the commercial?

by RCH (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 6:50pm

Going into this year my biggest fear was an injury to Dillon. It seems strange to me that a team that is so deep in so many places doesn't really have a dependable (every down) backup for a 31 year old RB. Its too bad that Cobbs didn't pan out.

One difference from last year is that Dillon would get a heavy workload when the Pats had the lead and the other team was tiring. Nothing like a 25 yarder to help the old average.

As for the O-Line, could the loss of Andruzzi be problem? The performance against the Packers in pre-season now looks much less impressive.

by Tom (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 7:15pm

I wondered why the Pats called 51 passes and 16 runs + 2 to kill the clock, including all passes in the 4th quarter. Nice balance, there.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 09/20/2005 - 7:30pm

Carolina was the better team, but the Pats played so poorly that they probably would have lost to the 49ers. Brady was awful, special teams coverage couldn't have been worse, Dillon looked (looks?) old and slow, the O-line didn't run block at all, they had a false start penalty on almost every drive and the D didn't step up when it was clear the O wasn't going to win this game.

Other than that they were quite good.

Now, I'm probably going to get lambasted, but Carolina in no way showed me that they are a SB team. Other than special teams, they didn't really dominate a Pats team that played their worst game since the Pitt game last year. Carolina only scored 13 points on drives that started outside of the Pats 15. Davis, even though he scored 3 TDs, didn't run all that well. Delhomme threw some terrible balls and was lucky to only have 1 int. Damn lucky, in fact, since one was called back due to a penalty that had no impact on the play. And for all the kudos the Panther's D is going to get this week, they really only excelled at stopping the run. Receivers were open all game and Brady just missed them (or they dropped the decent throws in the 2nd and 3rd quarter). The Cats got decent pressure on Brady, but nothing that should have caused his complete melt down. They were more in his face in the SB two years ago. Plus, they should have rushed well since every drive started with a 1st and 15 after another O-line false start.

All that said, remember, the Pats lost an ugly game to the 4-12 Dolphins last year. They always have 2 road klunkers a year. The Steelers will be in for a tough game next week.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2005 - 12:05am

I think the real upset is that the Browns managed to win a game without being featured in this article. Of course, if they had beaten someone who didn't completely suck... But a win's a win, baby!

And Fnor, thank you oh so much for bringing back the Metcalf-as-Riggins approach that earned Belichick his 'genius' tag in Cleveland. But you forgot to mention that the next play after sending the 160-pound Metcalf up the middle would usually be a toss sweep to Kevin Mack or Touchdown Tommy Vardell. Yes, let's use the scrawny, fast, elusive guy as a battering ram, and the big, slow, battering-ram guys as scatbacks (not like Najeh Davenport).

by WeaponX (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2005 - 11:36am

Oswlek 24:
"Carolina only scored 13 points on drives that started outside of the Pats 15." That's like saying NE only managed 1 other scoring drive (for a FG) offensively after Ricky Manning Jr helped them out with blown coverage. The Pat D played a really good game, they even scored almost as many points as their O. The Patriots stayed in the game because their D didn't lay down. I'm curious though, who has shown you they are a SB team allready?

by Ned (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2005 - 12:04pm

I think I can safely say that if the Browns win again this week in Indy, they will be the subject of this article next week.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2005 - 12:47pm


clearly you think I am trolling, which is not the case. To your questions/points.

1) The Pats hadn't played as horribly offensively since the Buffalo game to start the 2003 season. I don't remember claiming that they did well.

2) I realize that no team is going to look their best in week 2. My point was that Carolina didn't play particularly well other that special teams (dominant) and run D (excellent). I guess it may have come accross a little strong, which I apologize for.

by WeaponX (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2005 - 1:03pm

*hattip* no biggy Oswlek, I'm just a bit thenthitive today I guess.

by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2005 - 1:43pm

Here's what I've noticed regarding the Pats offense (I'm a Cowboys fan).

In the Super Bowl Philly D-Coordinator worked very hard at getting his team to shut down the edges against Dillon. It worked pretty well for the most part and it's noticeable to me that the Raiders and Panthers followed suit.

Dillon doesn't run behind the guards very well and doesn't have much cutback ability and thus the running game has been stymied.

Brady is excellent, but now the offense is more one dimensional. Brady will still succeed, but now opposing defenses can tee off on him and while he's one tough hombre in the pocket, even the greatest QB's can't handle getting knocked around for too long.

I wouldn't call this offense "conservative", but they seem a bit more predictable. Under Weiss they were almost impossible to figure out. You think they'd do one thing, then they'd do something you've never seen before. I didn't get that feeling in their first two games.

Not only that, in the past when the offense would struggle, Brady would come over to the sidelines, they'd make adjustments, and then it would get straightened out.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2005 - 4:52pm

#30 Good insights. I agree with the predictable part. However, after a few years of Charlie calling for reverses on third and goal, screen passes to Dan Klecko, and other wonderful bits of "creativity", I'm thankful for the predictability.

by Ryan Carney (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2005 - 5:10pm

Re:31 dryheat I wouldn't be thankful for anything having to do with Weis being gone. A. Have you seen what he's done at Notre Dame with no time for turnover of talent? B. Did the Patriots not win two Super Bowls in a row with him commanding the o? 3.) For those two plays you mentioned, how many great plays did he call at just the right time? obviously a lot. In short, I'd be careful what you wish for, and I hope no Pats fans see what you posted

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2005 - 5:50pm

Re: (#31, #32 )--

Yeah, Weis could be a little wacky at times. Strangely enough, the Dolphins were pretty good at sniffing out his wacky play calls, year in and year out.

I thought I saw something brilliant, Week 1: they faked the end-around to Branch like in Superbowl XXXIX, then instead of throwing to Branch, threw a screen right to Dillon. It's been Dillon's only big gainer all season.

Nothing quite so creative this past week. :-(

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2005 - 5:58pm

I'm going to miss Weis and his wacky plays. For all the times he made strange descisions like trying a QB draw on 3rd and long, he'd have 10 plays that would catch the defense off-guard and put up some quick points. But my favorite tactic of his was when he takes a risk late in the game to turn a one score lead into a two-score one. Case in point, the end of the NE/Seattle game last year, the Patriots were up 7, and it was 3rd and long after two running plays, Brady goes long to Bethel Johnson. The ball was overthrown, but Bethel reaches out and snags it. Two plays later the Patriots score and the game's over.

by Ned (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2005 - 6:16pm

Funny you should mention that because I thought (without any proof) that it was one of Weis's biggest weakness. He could not just run it three times and punt. The two most prominent examples in my mind are at Indy two years ago which gave the Colts a chance to come back (before they got stopped at the 1) and the Dolphins game last year where they seemed to be throwing for no reason and we saw the terrible interception. Also, against Michigan this year he threw on third down incomplete and gave Michigan plenty of time to score.

Of course, as mentioned in this article, they almost never lost close games, so maybe upon further study this is the right move. It just seems like it has backfired as often as it has helped, particularly since he had a defense in N.E. who he could reasonably lean on to stop a last minute drive. Also, Patriots fans will have seen more games than I have so maybe my examples are incomplete.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/21/2005 - 6:34pm

Actually, most Patriots fans would agree with you, but I think that's because we only remember the times when it doesn't work. When it works, Pats fans go awaythinking "Brady made a great throw" or "What a well-executed screen pass" When it doesn't work "What was Weis thinking? He (nearly) cost us the game!" It would like to go back and look at the Patriots 4th quarter offense in close games, and compare it to the other front-running teams, see if anything is different in thier playcalling.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/22/2005 - 9:37am

#32 In short, I’d be careful what you wish for, and I hope no Pats fans see what you posted

Rest assured, Ryan, I'm Patriots diehard since the Ford administration. I don't miss Weis' play calling AT ALL. I think we'll be a better offense (on Sundays) for him being at South Bend.

Just one fan's opinion.

by Jeremy (not verified) :: Thu, 09/22/2005 - 9:58am

"Yeah, Weis could be a little wacky at times. Strangely enough, the Dolphins were pretty good at sniffing out his wacky play calls, year in and year out."

Maybe, but one of the most important "wacky plays" Weis ever called for the Pats was against the Dolphins in their first Super Bowl year. Direct snap (if I recall correctly -- might have been a pitch) to Faulk, who then passed to Brady for a 25+ yard gain.

Another Weis highlight was the David Patten TD pass against Indy (in the game where he had the trifecta of passing, rushing, and receiving TDs).

My personal favorite Weis call ever wasn't really a gadget, though it was unconventional -- the first TD in the 2003-04 AFC Championship Game. After three seasons of running that quick-hit to the WR, he breaks out the fake at just the right time. Colts DB bites hard, Givens TD, and the Pats are rolling.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Thu, 09/22/2005 - 12:03pm

"Warren Sapp wasn’t wearing deodearant so every time Dillon went near him, he passed out from the overpowering stench"

Would that be the overpowering stench of his celebrated "stinking soul"?

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 09/22/2005 - 8:45pm

Speaking of Faulk, why not mix him in more? I don't understand the hallowed "feature back" business, especially with the Pats!

Faulk isn't an every-down back, but he gives you some interesting looks as a receiver and, at this point, he's probably a bit better on the runs to the sidelines.

Use Pass a little on the short yardage and throw him a few, too.

by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 09/23/2005 - 7:13pm

I haven't seen the Vegas line, but I say Stillers by 3.

by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 09/23/2005 - 7:24pm

Doh! I went and checked it out. It's 3. O/U is 42, as of Friday night.

by Wilbur (not verified) :: Fri, 09/23/2005 - 8:23pm


If I remember correctly, the pass to Brady was negated by a penalty but it was a great call.