Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Dec 2006

Week 15 Rundown: The Cliche Quiz

Match the "we're still in the playoff hunt" cliche to the player who said it! Plus, are you tired of hearing about the alleged Colts run defense? Not as tired as Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor, who wanted to lay down and rest but couldn't find anyone willing to tackle them. Plus: Tony Romo is not the savior, so let's pack up the hype machine and head to Vince Young's house.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 14 Dec 2006

31 comments, Last at 17 Dec 2006, 11:07am by MikeT


by Ray (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 12:27pm

Another great rundown, Mike. Nicely done.

by Fiver (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 12:56pm

Speaking of The Messiah, did anyone else see NFL Network advertising a Tony Romo show to air this weekend? Or was that some horrible dream? I did fall asleep in front of the tv last night, but I'm not kidding when I say I have a distinct memory of them promoting a prime-time show completely about Tony Romo. Is this really happening? Or was this only a terrible nightmare bubbling up from the murkey depths of my depraved mind?

by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 12:59pm

Re 2 - No, unfortunately you were not dreaming. That was real. And scary.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 1:01pm

Dangit, I flipped 1 and 6, else I would have gotten them all right.

Oh, and the Colts' read-and-react defense works better when they don't have to play against quick backs. See Travis Henry, Titans-Colts #2, worst RB DPAR even without adjustments.

by James C (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 1:03pm

I have heard that the 49ers/Seahawks game may get 70 mph winds. That could be interesting. Is it possible to make a passing game work at all under those kind of conditions? I was at the wind bowl game at Soldier Field last year which had 50 mph winds and that was fairly silly, I think the Niners completed one pass all day.

If the wind does get up that much the 49ers should put Robinson in at QB and play single wing all day. Maybe the Seahawks should do the same thing and play Wallace. I would love to see Gore, Robinson and Morris in the backfield running the option, mixing in reverses with Vernon Davis.

by Travis (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 1:21pm

I have heard that the 49ers/Seahawks game may get 70 mph winds. That could be interesting. Is it possible to make a passing game work at all under those kind of conditions? I was at the wind bowl game at Soldier Field last year which had 50 mph winds and that was fairly silly, I think the Niners completed one pass all day.

70 MPH gusts - almost no chance. At lesser (but still high) wind speeds, teams can still pass, but only if a team is going with the wind, or if they have a big-armed QB (Vinny Testaverde, for all his faults, was great in the wind).

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 1:22pm

It's a completely understandable mistake, but those little midgets in green were Joselio Hansen and Dexter Wynn, not leprechauns.

by Dr. Mathematician in Disguise (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 1:24pm

2-3 Correct: Hooray for the law of averages!

What?! You need to look up the matching problem. Expected number of correct answers when randomly assigning n answers to n questions is 1, regardless of n.

Yes, I felt unappreciated for getting three answers right, although I have no excuse for getting Joey Porter wrong.

Please also consider the impossibility of getting exactly five answers correct.

by Comrade Jason (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 1:25pm

Yes, it' supposed to be very windy in Seattle, but I think right now they are saying the winds won't really hit the city until 7 PM at the earliest, maybe later. Should make for an interesting second half anyway. Which would be nice, because otherwise I feel sorry for the rest of the country having to watch this highly-anticipated game between two quality opponents. I guess it's a good thing no one gets NFL Network?

by Doug Farrar :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 1:34pm

Millen: If you drop one of those Mentos breath mints into a two-liter diet soda, the soda shoots about 20 feet in the air. I hear that's how Mikey from the cereal commercials died.

Oh, my ... thanks for the spit take. That was marvelous.

by Harry (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 1:38pm

But the playoff-bound AFC teams that are good at grinding it out on the ground (Baltimore, San Diego, New England) are drawing up their anti-Jaguars gameplans now.

New England has yet to show it can "grind it out on the ground." For all the hype Maroney has a negative DPAR this season as a running back and the Pats have already lost games to two of the worst run defenses in the league (Indy and NYJ). On paper New England would seem to have the talent to have a great running offense but they have yet to actually perform.

by Fiver (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 1:47pm

Re: #3
So, regarding the impending Tony Romo show, do any Cowboys fans who frequent these boards now understand why so many good and decent people despise your favorite football team?

I mean, Romo just got utterly outclassed by Drew Brees on national tv, and yet, because he plays for the pro football team based in Dallas, and for no other reason, he is going to have a primetime documentary dedicated to his wondrous infallibility?

I'm sorry, I'm having one of those "Is the world insane or am I?" moments. I'll be quiet now.

by dbt (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 1:51pm

Can we get the Devin Hester track set to music? Come on, Mike, I'd love to hear your singing voice...

by zip (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 2:23pm

"You better watch out/You better shed blocks/You better not dive at this fella's socks/Devin Hester's comin' to town. He's catching the kick/He's making a move/The Bears don't need Rex when he's in a groove/Devin Hester's comin' to town."

I lol'ed.

by mgd (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 2:49pm

Can't speak for all Cowboy fans, but do you think we care what everyone else thinks? Anyway, I don't remember a prime time show dedicated to Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson, etc. So maybe, just maybe, it has a little something to do with ability. And yes, I'm guessing you are the one that is insane.

by Marko (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 3:15pm

I thought that Mikey died from having his stomach explode after ingesting Pop Rocks and Coke.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 3:16pm

#12: The NFL Network's ads for Saturday's game discuss the streaking Cowboys, and how the Falcons want to stop the Cowboys' winning ways. This advert made its debut BEFORE Sunday night.

That they haven't changed it since Sunday night is pretty sad.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 3:17pm

The winds in the Seattle area were bad enough yesterday to knock power out at my house twice (about 4 miles as the crow flies E of Qwest Field), and they were nowhere near 70 mph. The stadium is close to the harbor and not much is blocking it from the prevailing winds from the SW, so it could be insane.

And it's not just the wind--the hortizontal rain is pretty weird to deal with as well--at least it gives you an instant wind-direction indicator, which might be helpful, when the rain's not blowing up your nose.

I assume the Q has plenty of backup generators, but that's a LOT of power required to light that place. The lights fliskered a lot in my downtown office bldg yesterday with the (estimated) 40 MPH gusts. So what happens to an NFL game when the power goes out? Is it ike the postal service, or more like... "Neither rain nor snow nor--oops, the power is out and our TV contract requires that we show this game. Come back tomorrow folks."

by 10K (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 3:39pm

Why does Ronnie Brown mean so much (or are you just avoiding making a pick)? He didn't matter in the Pats game.

by Kellerman (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 3:41pm

Well, now comes the moment of truth for the Bengals and for my predictive powers. After the Bengals dropped the San Diego game to be 4-5, I looked at the Bengals, their schedule, their health and history and concluded that they had an excellent chance of winning 4 in a row to get to 8-5 and then losing three in a row to finish 8-8. I ended up deciding they could probably go 9-7. Well... the first four went just like I thought they would, so I'm happy, but now I want to be wrong for the last three. Is there legitimate reason to alter my expectations? I originally said the Indy game could be another in which both teams score 40. I now believe that unlikely to happen. The Bengals will try to run it and try to control the ball for 36 minutes plus. I see that DVOA says the Bengals are above average against #1 receivers, 6th against #2s and 28th against other wideouts (also below average against tight ends). That looks like Ricky Proehl being the key for the Colts. Does he have anything left? I guess we'll find out. I still think there's every reason to believe this game will get into the 20's for both sides and the Bengals probably can only hold Manning to 1 point per minute of T.O.P. If the Bengals hold the ball for 36 minutes they probably win.

I originally thought the Bengals had to rely on the Broncos having nothing to play for in order to win in Denver and thought it unlikely to happen. Denver will CERTAINLY need that game to get to the playoffs. Cutler can't be as bad on the 24th as he was against the Seahawks, so I still expect the Bengals to fade in the 4th quarter like they always do in Denver.

Pittsburgh probably will have nothing to play for the last week except pride and a winning record. The game is in Cincinnati and the Bengals will certainly be up, but the Bengals have yet to beat the Steelers in Cincinnati under Marvin Lewis. I also remember the last game of 2004 when Buffalo needed to win to get into the playoffs and the Steelers already had homefield advantage locked up. Cowher took the game seriously. Guess who won?
So... it still looks like 9-7 and out of the playoffs for the Bengals to me, but I'm sure hoping for 10-6. minuteseverythin

by Kal (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 4:09pm

#20: I'm not sure that if you run it against Indy, you can control it for 36+ minutes. Simply because running the ball against Indy tends to mean you have shorter drives, not longer ones.

I don't like Indy's chances at all, especially without Clark or Stokely. They have Utecht, who isn't bad, but Proehl is just not that threatening. My suspicion is that you'll see a lot of 2HB sets against Cinci and a lot of screens and dumpoffs. Which...tend to work against Cinci, actually. But it still won't matter, because the Colts won't be able to stop anyone running.

by Ray (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 5:59pm

Well, I switched my pick in my office pool to Cinci, which of course means that Indy will shut them down and next week the talking heads will be saying "How could we have doubted the Colts?" It should be a fun shootout to watch, anyway.

by Staubach12 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 10:25pm

Re: #12--Yes, I get why people get upset about how much attention the Cowboys get. Quite frankly, I don't care. My honest first reaction to the comment is "that's just the natural order in the NFL." I know it sounds arrogant, but it's true.
Besides, it's not like people are ignoring NO. The focus, however, has been on Reggie Bush, not Drew Brees.

by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 12:31am

#7 - I fully expect a karmic payback this week and an Eagles victory. Either that, or maybe I'll just hide under my bed until the game is over.

This Eagles team has been "opposite George" all season, and yet somehow, they are still in the playoff hunt. I don't really understand it, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 3:27pm

Tony Romo = Steamin Willie Beamon?

by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 3:28pm


Two words:

Bobby Hoying.

by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 5:00pm


The New England running game was grinding out some pretty good ground games early in the season. The problem was that (to my admittedly inexperienced eye) it seemed to be built around just two plays. They would run a standard trap play up the middle (usually when Dillon was in the game, but Maroney was having success with it as well), and they would run a play off right tackle where the right tackle and the strong side TE (Graham, one of the best blocking TE's I've seen) would seal the end and the right gaurd (Neal, who pulls better than almost any right guard I've watched this year) would pull and kick up the field to open an outside lane. They ran this play mostly with Maroney, since Dillon and Evans didn't have the speed to make it work, and Faulk didn't have the power to bowl over the CB that Troy Brown invariably couldn't block.

Unfortunately, this running game got derailed. First Graham, then Neal, then both right tackles (Kaczur and O'Callaghan) and now Maroney were injured--the Patriots haven't had the four key personnell for this play on the field at the same time since about week 3, until two two weeks ago against Detroit (when, incidentally, it worked), but then Maroney went down.

The other play is easily stopped by a properly positioned safety who meets the RB in the hole, and once teams figured it out, they shut it down (it was easy to spot because it's the play that Dillon would come into the game for). The Colts did it first with Bob Sanders, but other teams (like the Jets)copied them. This defensive tactic is neutralized by a deep passing threat, because then the safety has to be somewhere else, but Jackson has been injured, Brown and Caldwell are too slow to be a deep threat, Gabriel inexplicably got no playing time and then got cut, Gaffney is still learning the system, and Brady's been out of sync due to O-line protection problems. I.e. no deep threat, and so the safety can stop the run plays up the middle.

I have high, although maybe overly optimistic, hopes that Maroney, Graham, and Neal will all be healthy come playoff time, so that the one play will start working again, and that someone will develop into enough of a deep threat to keep the safety out of the RB's face on the other play.

by stan (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 6:57pm


I thought Brady was out of sync because of his career long habit of throwing inaccurate passes on a regular basis.

by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 9:16pm

Um, stan, digs work better when they have some basis in reality. Knocks on Brady have always been that he lacks arm strength for the deep ball (not really justified) and that he is so slow that he's not a scrambling threat (very justified unless your name rhymes with "burr-cracker"). But his accuracy has never been questioned until this year.

by stan (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 12:14pm


I'm not interested in the conventional wisdom. I make my conclusions based on what I see. I stand by my post. Anyone who should go look at tape of past seasons can see how often Brady, with plenty of time and an open receiver, throws and misses. Or completes, but costs YAC because he fails to throw it where it ought to be thrown.

One of many examples which immediately comes to mind would be Oakland (last year?) where he started the game 7-10, but should have been 10-10. He had all day to throw each time and a wide open receiver. Yet he missed on 3 easy throws and had several others where he made a poor throw and forced the receiver to make a big adjustment to make the catch.

His numbers looked really great, but his actual throws were very poor given his protection and the open receivers.

by MikeT (not verified) :: Sun, 12/17/2006 - 11:07am

Well, now I've heard everything.