Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

28 Sep 2006

Week 4 Rundown: NFC Title Game Preview

Two teams, both 3-0, sitting on top of easy divisions: one of the teams in this weekend's Chicago-Seattle matchup will be representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. Also this week: Boston sportswriters lose their minds, Baltimore learns about guts and stomps, and Billy Volek is surprisingly flammable.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 28 Sep 2006

33 comments, Last at 30 Sep 2006, 2:08am by Bobman


by IsaiahC (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 4:42pm


by dfarrar777 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 4:53pm

I know it was you, Tanier. You broke my heart!

And speaking of Art Shell - this guffaw comes courtesy of Bill simmons' most recent chat transcript:

"Is '503 Servor Error' one of the Raiders' play calls?"

by Tom S (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 4:53pm

Are you TRYING to incite a riot with the Pats Fans?

by Spike (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 4:53pm

No real comments on Maurice Morris vs. Shawn Alexander in the rundown, so I'll ask--what's the realtive PAR between them? I remember Morris hitting a lot of 1 and 2-yard runs during the playoff game Alexander missed. That's fine when you're on the 1 yard line, of course, but doesn't sounds like a close game to me if you can't run...

by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 4:56pm

"12-step drop." sweet.

also: "This week, the Jets will be identified as the team trailing by 27 points in the fourth quarter."

and, man, the hits just keep on coming: "Warner needs to get with the program: when you turn the ball over multiple times and lose a game, you're supposed to blame Tom Coughlin."

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mike Tanier, the NFL's first stand-up-analyst.

by David (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:00pm

I think you're forgetting Dennis Miller. You mean the NFL's first good stand-up analyst.

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:04pm

I'm definitely looking forward to the Ravens/Chargers matchup. I think its safte to say neither team will be able to run much, though LT's superior skill should give SD an edge there. However, that could be offset if McNair has enough time to throw the ball downfield, where Mason, Clayton and Heap can exploit SD's achilles heal, their secondary. It will be interesting to see how Rivers does, he is still a big question mark, he certainly hasn't faced a secondary like the Ravens so far.
Is there any data to suggest that west coast teams don't play as well during 1pm east coast games?

by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:05pm

Quickly becoming my favorite Fox feature.

by Ilanin (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:09pm

Mike Tanier's preview articles are clearly ranked too low because there aren't any ranks higher than "best". There is nothing that is way better than this. Raiders are going all the way this year - first ever 0-16 season!

by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:12pm

The Eagles have won the last four meetings, going back to 2003.

Actually, the Eagles have beaten the Packers in Philadelphia in 2005, 2004, 2003 (twice), 1997, 1994, 1990, 1978 and 1974. One must go all the way back to the embarrassing Nick Skorich years, specifically the abysmal squad put out in 1962 to find a loss to the Packers in Philly.

Although the Patriots did finally figure out how to win in Arrowhead (easy - hold Tony Gonzalez in the endzone so he can't catch touchdowns), there is still one certainty left in the NFL - the Packers will come to Philly and walk away with a loss.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:15pm

Mike Tanier doesn't like the Saints linebackers because he doesn't like Black people.

Oh, wait...

by willg01 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:26pm

I'm funny how? I mean, funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh... I'm here to amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?

by Jaws (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:30pm

NFL Matchup, starring Lisa Loeb.


by Hutz (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:35pm

Football Outsiders is bigger than US Steel.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:37pm

How come the Ravens win was a "gut" (should have been a skate), but the Bengals win was a statement? After all, if the Bengals can't bring thier A-Game against the Steelers, why would I beleive they can bring it against the Patriots (who always bring thier A game following a loss)?

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:40pm

13: I assume Lisa Loeb will be in the Sal Palantino spot.

by Jaws (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:43pm

Re: 15

I think there's a teenie tiny difference between a close win against the defending SB champs and the Cleveland Browns.

by Spike (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:44pm

That would take at least 4 or 5 Lisa Loebs.

by Jaws (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:48pm

But Culpepper says to have faith. "It's all timing. When we get it down, it's going to be like a wild fire." We'll see. Right now it's like an Easy Bake Oven.


by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:49pm

But Culpepper says to have faith. "It's all timing. When we get it down, it's going to be like a wild fire." We'll see. Right now it's like an Easy Bake Oven.


I hate when I forget to change my name back. >:(

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 5:50pm

Ooh, B's right. A close win over a losing team is a skate, not a gut. See the original GUT/STOMP article here.

by MdM (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 7:29pm

Great stuff! I laughed out loud twice during that article.

by Don M (not verified) :: Thu, 09/28/2006 - 11:28pm

"The Jets will be identified as the team trailing by 27 points going into the fourth quarter" is clearly an example of that big media market bias. Only someone who's the parent of a NYJ starter would be so optimistic. (Best football article I've read this week.)

by lastchance (not verified) :: Fri, 09/29/2006 - 1:49am

Larry is the sun. Larry is the moon. Larry brings the rain clouds that flood the river banks and make the harvest possible.


by Jeff F (not verified) :: Fri, 09/29/2006 - 3:39am

22: Only twice? I didn't stop laughing.

Well done, Mr. Tanier!

by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Fri, 09/29/2006 - 8:42am

The orginal article seems to have disappeared from FOX :-( Anyone have an archive?

by Mshray (not verified) :: Fri, 09/29/2006 - 2:50pm

Re #7 "Is there any data to suggest that west coast teams don’t play as well during 1pm east coast games?"

Last year when the Seahawks played at Washington (& lost in OT) the TV announcers discussed this & there were some graphics on it. It was a pretty decisive disadvantage for the West Coast visitors, but I forget the exact details. I want to say the percentage of winning visiting teams under these conditions was somewhere in the low-mid 20's, whereas visiting NFL teams overall win over 40% of the time.

by The Ninjalectual (not verified) :: Fri, 09/29/2006 - 3:26pm

Bravo! Fantastic column.

But what exactly happened in Tenessee with Fisher and Volek? I heard vague assertions of awkwardness and throwing people/things under busses and such. Does anyone care to explain or post a link?

by kal (not verified) :: Fri, 09/29/2006 - 6:10pm

#27: I believe this was covered in the PFP, and the general consensus was that it didn't matter in the slightest; IIRC, one oddity was that for a few teams, it appeared to actually favor them taking all these trips.

by jack (not verified) :: Fri, 09/29/2006 - 6:14pm

...he was throwing screen passes against a pee wee defense
I'm a Texans fan, and I'm here to tell you my Texans are getting way too much respect. Yes, I'm doing a reverse Rodney - I've heard talk about the Titans and the Raiders in the Brady Quinn chase, but the Texans have as much chance as anybody. Even if they will pass over him to draft a linebacker or defensive end. So it's nice to see a more realistic assessment of my main men.

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/29/2006 - 8:31pm

Are you TRYING to incite a riot with the Pats Fans?

If you mean we're going to riot in SUPPORT of MikeT's assessment of the Boston press, you're right on the money. I'm ready with my chant now: "Fi-re Bor-ges!" And to the fans out on the ledge with those guys, I say: "Remember the Sullivans!"

by Fiver (not verified) :: Fri, 09/29/2006 - 11:33pm

Yeah, I don't get the "statement game" stuff either. I watched that game and the Steelers were the better team on the field. The Steelers rushed for 170 yards, had six sacks of Palmer, and held the ball for 34 minutes. The Bengals rushed for 84 yards and went 4-12 on 3rd downs.

The only reason the Bengals were within 2 TDs of the Steelers was a wind-aided muffed punt at the 9 and Roethlisberger's "rust" or whatever we're calling it now. If Charlie Batch is playing QB Sunday, Cincy loses. That game was more of a "fluke" than a "statement".

by Bobman (not verified) :: Sat, 09/30/2006 - 2:08am

RE: 28

Ninjalectual, I'm pretty sure there is a thread or two here covering Volek's and Fisher's spat (well, I implied all sorts of improprieties involving Fisher's kids being born WITHOUT the signature moustache, before Fisher came out with the big middle-school sin: "Volek lied to me! Waaaah waaaah!")

JF would not go into detail, but shortly after Volek had been named starter, he lied to Fisher. Which is why they brought in Collins, demoted BV to turd string, and had Collins start about 72 hours after he first cracked the playbook open. They were happy to get rid of him to SD. What on earth was the lie? I suspect it was "No, Jeff, those pants don't make your ass look big." or "I did not have sex with that woman, Mrs. Fisher." or "No, that moustache doesn't remind me of every 20th Century dictator I ever learrned about in school."

Fisher seems to be a real stand-up guy and never has stomped ona player so publicly. And they threw away their starter. So this musta been huge.