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12 Jan 2007

2007 NFC Second Round Preview

by Aaron Schatz

Welcome to the undercard! There's no question that the AFC final four is superior to the NFC final four this season, but Philadelphia and New Orleans are two talented, evenly matched teams. Chicago and Seattle, on the other hand, looks like the Battle of Who Can Implode Less.

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

Philadelphia at New Orleans

Eagles on Offense
DVOA 19.9% (3) 3.6% (19)
WEI DVOA 16.3% (4) 1.9% (16)
PASS 22.0% (5) 6.0% (22)
RUSH 17.3% (2) 0.9% (20)
RED ZONE 27.7% (5) -15.2% (6)

Saints on Offense
DVOA 13.7% (5) -6.2% (11)
WEI DVOA 15.3% (5) -0.7% (11)
PASS 22.9% (4) -8.3% (8)
RUSH 2.7% (10) -4.2% (14)
RED ZONE 4.3% (14) -13.3% (8)

Special Teams
DVOA -1.9% (22) 0.7% (14)
PHI kickoff 7.9 (7) -3.3 (19)
NO kickoff -5.4 (25) 0.4 (17)
PHI punts -6.0 (26) -1.9 (19)
NO punts -2.7 (25) 6.3 (9)
FG/XP -5.1 (26) 2.7 (10)

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

Also of interest: An October Every Play Counts on the Saints defense, this article on how the Saints should use Reggie Bush, and Any Given Sunday columns on the Eagles' Christmas win over Dallas and the Saints' loss to Washington in Week 15.

A quick note: This year we got away with just two Week 17 games where playoff teams used second-stringers for most of the game, but the two teams that did were Philadelphia and New Orleans. Philadelphia actually played pretty well with its backups, but the New Orleans numbers are slightly depressed by the Jamie Martin Experience.

Like the other NFC semifinal, this game is a rematch of one from the regular season. But that game was not a blowout; it was a hard-fought, well-played battle, taken 27-24 by New Orleans thanks to a last-second field goal. The Saints and Eagles are as evenly matched now as they were then, and this second game will probably end up just as close.


Both Philadelphia and New Orleans rank among the five best offenses in the league this year, but they were not equal on defense. Philadelphia ranked 11th in DVOA, New Orleans 19th. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that Philadelphia has a clear edge when their offense is on the field.

Philadelphia had one of the most consistent offenses in the league this year, faltering for just two games when Jeff Garcia first took over as quarterback for the injured Donovan McNabb. The Saints, however, had one of the least consistent defenses in the league. They shut down some teams (Falcons, Cowboys, Giants) while other teams -- mainly those from the AFC -- walked all over them. The benefit of inconsistency is that below-average performance on the season doesn't necessarily mean below-average performance in your next game.

The Eagles have a more balanced offense than most fans realize. While they prefer to pass, they are extremely efficient when they run, and Brian Westbrook averaged 5.1 yards per carry this year. New Orleans' main weakness against the run comes on the right side of the defense. Opposing running backs gained 5.1 yards per carry on runs listed as left end or left tackle (4.7 adjusted line yards), compared to 4.4 yards per carry on other runs (4.0 adjusted line yards).

The Saints' pass defense got an extremely imbalanced performance from the secondary during the second half of the year. Starter Mike McKenzie and nickel back Jason Craft played very well, but Fred Thomas was consistently burned by speedy receivers like Chad Johnson, Terry Glenn, and Antonio Bryant. Over the full season, the Saints were the worst defense in the league against opposing number one wideouts.

The Eagles didn't show much of their long passing game against the Giants last week, but they do love to throw the ball deep, with fast receivers like Donte' Stallworth, Reggie Brown, and Hank Baskett. Stallworth was injured when these teams first played, but Brown burned the Saints for 121 yards and a touchdown on six catches. Westbrook may not get as involved in the passing game as usual, however, because the Saints are one of the top teams at stopping passes to running backs. (Likewise, the Saints love to throw to Reggie Bush, and the Eagles are also one of the top defenses against passes to running backs.)

The Eagles were the best offense in the league on first down -- yes, better than Indianapolis. The passing game wasn't quite as efficient on second and third down, but the running game on third-and-long is exceptional. Westbrook is excellent on draws, and Garcia, like McNabb before him, is always a threat to run for a first down if he can't find anyone open and there's a hole in front of him. This is a big advantage for the Eagles, as New Orleans had a terrible time stopping scrambles and draws on third-and-long. Combine that with the fact that the secondary can be beaten deep, and the Saints ranked 29th in defensive DVOA on third downs.

One more interesting split for the New Orleans defense: They had the worst defensive DVOA in the league between their own 40-yard line and the 20-yard line, what we call the "front" zone. But they had the sixth-best defensive DVOA in the league in the red zone -- so we may be seeing a lot of David Akers.


The Saints had one of the best passing games in the NFL this year. Drew Brees was an MVP candidate and he had a variety of weapons to throw to: Bush coming out of the backfield, outstanding rookie possession receiver Marques Colston, breakout speedster Devery Henderson, and the face of the Saints franchise, veteran Joe Horn.

Horn was a huge problem for the Eagles when these teams first played. He gained 110 yards and scored two touchdowns. Safety Michael Lewis made numerous mistakes trying to help with deep pass coverage against Horn; it led directly to him being benched and replaced with Sean Considine.

Horn probably won't cause so many problems this time, however. He may not even play. Horn has only played three of the last nine games for the Saints, and he is once again listed as questionable due to a groin injury.

The Eagles do have a problem, though, covering all of these good receivers without their best cornerback this season, Lito Sheppard. That leaves Roderick Hood starting opposite Sheldon Brown. If you look in Pro Football Prospectus 2006, you will see that Hood was spectacular in our game charting numbers last year, but he really struggled early in 2006. However, based on very limited charting data from this season, it does look like post-injury Hood has been far better than pre-injury Hood.

The real worry is what to do when the Saints go three-wide or four-wide. The Eagles may be excellent against passes to running backs, but that's usually a running back coming out of the backfield, not someone like Bush lining up as a receiver. The Eagles linebackers and safeties aren't really known for being great in pass coverage, and with Hood as a starter, the nickel back will be Joselio Hanson, or as he's better known on Philadelphia sports radio, "Toastolio."

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson loves to throw complicated blitzes at opponents, but that may not work so well against the Saints, who have a much improved offensive line and backs who can block. The Eagles had the league's fourth-highest adjusted sack rate, a stat which measures sacks per pass play adjusted for situation and opponent. But the Saints' offense had the fourth-lowest adjusted sack rate.

The Eagles do have problems against the run, often leaving holes with their big blitzes and struggling to wrap up on tackles. The Eagles are probably more susceptible to the straight-ahead style of Deuce McAllister rather than the shifty boom-and-bust style of Reggie Bush. The Eagles are strong against runs around the ends, but they are weaker against runs up the middle.

The run defense does stiffen when necessary, however. The Eagles stopped 47% of runs in power situations (third/fourth down, 1-2 to go), which ranked fourth in the NFL. The Saints converted just 54% of those runs, which ranked 30th.


If Bush is returning punts for the Saints, there's always the chance for a game-changing play, but otherwise, the Saints are average on special teams. 42-year-old kicker John Carney is reliable but rarely tries a field goal over 40 yards. The Eagles had poor special teams in 2006, and even reliable kicker David Akers had a tough year on field goals, although he was still one of the top kickoff men in the NFL.


This game is actually quite similar to the New England-San Diego game that will be played on Sunday. The two top franchises of the early 21st century face two franchises without many recent playoff appearances. Each set of opponents was evenly matched during the regular season, but in each game, the less experienced team has the advantage of home field and an extra week of rest. That last-minute field goal that gave New Orleans a 27-24 win back in Week 6 also makes the Saints a slight favorite in this otherwise even matchup.

Seattle at Chicago

Seahawks on Offense
DVOA -11.6% (27) -20.3% (2)
WEI DVOA -13.0% (28) -16.5% (3)
PASS -12.0% (25) -24.5% (2)
RUSH -11.3% (26) -14.7% (5)
RED ZONE 2.9% (15) -1.0% (12)

Bears on Offense
DVOA -3.9% (18) 4.5% (20)
WEI DVOA -8.8% (24) 4.2% (18)
PASS -10.5% (23) 6.8% (23)
RUSH 2.8% (9) 2.0% (23)
RED ZONE 1.1% (16) 23.3% (31)

Special Teams
DVOA 2.6% (7) 7.6% (1)
SEA kickoff 4.0 (13) 3.4 (9)
CHI kickoff 1.8 (11) 18.9 (1)
SEA punts 8.6 (6) 11.7 (2)
CHI punts 0.4 (13) 2.0 (16)
FG/XP 0.6 (14) 8.8 (3)

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

Also of interest: This Every Play Counts from back when the Chicago passing game was working and this Too Deep Zone with ideas on how to make it work again, plus this Any Given Sunday on Seattle's first loss to San Francisco.

Both Seattle and Chicago were undefeated when they first met back on October 1, and the game was hyped as a preview of the NFC Championship. Then the Bears destroyed the Seahawks 37-6, dominating every phase of the game. After that, most people were wondering if the Seahawks could even make it back to the playoffs -- and if Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman might finish the season with an MVP award.

On paper, the sequel looks to be a mismatch like the original. DVOA has Chicago as the fourth-best team in the league this year, and Seattle is 25th, by far the worst team to make the playoffs. But nobody is talking about Rex Grossman as an MVP candidate anymore -- they're talking about how many interceptions he'll throw before head coach Lovie Smith pulls him for backup Brian Griese. And even the vaunted Bears defense has declined of late, giving up at least 21 points in four straight games after giving up 21 only twice in the first 12. Chicago has a below-average defensive DVOA in those four games (4.6%). Could the Seahawks possibly pull the upset?


In the past 11 games, Grossman has barely completed half his passes, with 17 interceptions and only 13 touchdowns. But numbers don't do enough to describe just how bad Grossman is playing. He's constantly flustered by pass pressure and missing open receivers all over the field. By early December, the Chicago offense had regressed to the point where coordinator Ron Turner was calling easy short passes just to try to build Grossman's confidence -- only to watch Grossman overthrow open guys in the flat, or hold the ball too long, unsure of himself.

Grossman had reasonably good games against St. Louis and Tampa Bay late in the year, but that wasn't Grossman fixing his problems; that was Grossman facing two very bad defenses.

On the surface, Seattle also seems like a bad defense that Grossman can handle, especially since they've been hit with a barrage of injuries in the secondary. There's a small chance that starting cornerback Marcus Trufant will play; otherwise, with three of their top four cornerbacks injured, the Seahawks will start rookie Kelly Jennings and Jordan Babineaux, who was so bad as a cornerback last year than the Seahawks moved him to safety. Nickel back Pete Hunter was working a desk job until two weeks ago.

But there's an important difference between the Seahawks and those other teams: the Seahawks have a pass rush. It isn't quite as strong as 2005, when the Seahawks led the league in sacks, but it's plenty stronger than the Rams or Buccaneers. Last week, the Seahawks's front four put enough pressure on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo to allow the linebackers to give the weak defensive backs help in zone coverage. And if the pass rush forces Grossman into mistakes, it won't matter who the Seattle cornerbacks are (or how talented the Chicago receivers are).

While Grossman has faltered, the running game has improved. Over the first half of the season, veteran Thomas Jones averaged 3.8 yards per carry, but he's averaging 4.4 yards per carry over the last eight games. His backfield partner, Cedric Benson, has averaged 4.7 yards per carry over the last eight games and is finally fulfilling his promise as the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft.

Chicago runs best up the middle, leading the league in adjusted line yards middle/guard. Seattle's defense was average against runs middle/guard. Their strength was stopping runs on the right side of the offense (sixth against runs right tackle, second against runs right end) where linebacker Leroy Hill is better against the run than the pass. Seattle's weakness was giving up long runs (32nd in the league on yards gained more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage). Seattle showed some horrible tackling this year, and Jones and Benson are physically similar to a running back who gave the Seahawks fits, Frank Gore of San Francisco. However, Jones doesn't quite have the burst of speed that Gore does, which is why Chicago ranked only 27th in rushing yardage past 10 yards.

Even if Jones and Benson are gaining yards on the Seahawks, the Bears can't run the ball on every play. Grossman will have to throw the ball occasionally, and every time he drops back to pass, Chicago fans will hold their breath, waiting for him to do something stupid.


The Seahawks struggled at midseason when both quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and running back Shaun Alexander were sidelined by injuries, and most Seattle fans assumed the Seahawks offense would return to greatness once they both returned. But it never happened.

In the first ten games of the year, the Seahawks averaged 4.0 yards per carry and 5.5 net yards per pass (-10.9% DVOA, 24th in the NFL). Alexander returned in Week 11, Hasselbeck in Week 12 -- but still, the Seahawks averaged 4.1 yards per carry and 5.4 net yards per pass (-12.6% DVOA, 25th in the NFL) over the final six games.

Nothing changed against Dallas. Alexander gained just 69 yards on 24 carries, while Hasselbeck completed only half his passes and threw two interceptions.

Chicago's ferocious defense dominated Matt Hasselbeck when these teams first played, and defensive tackle Tommie Harris led the way. While he only had two official sacks, it seemed like Harris started every play by tossing a double team aside and ended every play sitting on top of Hasselbeck.

But Harris won't be playing this week. He suffered a season-ending injury against Minnesota in Week 13 -- and without Harris to provide pressure, the Chicago pass defense has faltered. The Bears allowed 4.6 net yards per pass with 21 interceptions in the first 12 games (-42.3% vs. pass), but 6.0 net yards per pass with only three interceptions in the final four (12.2% DVOA vs. pass). They're still getting 2.5 sacks per game, but Chicago's adjusted sack rate has dropped in half, from 6.6% to 3.0%.

While Harris is the most important injury here, he's not the only one. The Bears have also been without strong safety Todd Johnson, who himself was a replacement for starter Mike Brown. Johnson will be back this week, good news for the Bears.

But the Seahawks are also getting important players back. The most important one who missed the first Chicago game is, of course, Alexander. Quotes in the press seem to indicate that the Seahawks plan on riding Alexander to victory, but Chicago's run defense didn't decline over the last four games the way the pass defense did. On the other hand, there's a 70% chance of snow, and the last time the Seahawks played in snow, they handed the ball to Alexander roughly 40 gazillion times and he gained 200 yards.

The Seahawks are also getting wide receivers back. Bobby Engram, who missed half the season with a thyroid disease, was once again the dependable first down machine of old as Seattle's leading receiver against the Cowboys. Number one receiver Darrell Jackson is expected to return from a toe injury that has kept him out of the last four games. One of Chicago's defensive weaknesses is that they rank just 21st in DVOA against number one receivers. Their tendency towards zone coverage usually lets an opposing quarterback find his favorite target if he manages to stay upright. Of course, it's hard to identify a number one receiver in Seattle right now. Is it a still-hobbled Jackson, last week's star Engram, or former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch?

So Hasselbeck will likely spread his passes around, to everyone except tight end Jerramy Stevens. He scored two touchdowns against Dallas, but Chicago has the best defense in the league against tight ends.


With rookie return man Devin Hester and kicker Robbie Gould leading the way, Chicago put up the second-highest special teams rating in the ten years for which Football Outsiders has play-by-play breakdown. Hester set an NFL record with six return touchdowns, ranking second in punt return average and fifth in kickoff return average. Gould was excellent on both field goals and kickoffs. The Seahawks also had good special teams, ranking seventh overall. Kicker Josh Brown won four games for the Seahawks with field goals in the final minute of regulation, while rookie Ryan Plackemeier solved the punting problem that helped cost the Seahawks last year's Super Bowl. All those injuries in the secondary, however, also mean a host of new faces on the Seattle punt and kickoff coverage units.


Even with their defense faltering, Chicago is the heavy favorite in this game. Seattle's offense has been subpar all year, and the secondary is put together with scotch tape. But what if Hasselbeck and Alexander can, in fact, find their Super Bowl form of 2005? And what if Grossman has problems from his very first snap of the game?

Even though he gave Griese paying time in Chicago's last two games, Smith insists that Grossman is not on any sort of "short leash," and under no circumstances will he consider pulling his starting quarterback. But if Grossman throws an interception or two early on, can Smith possibly stick to that statement, knowing it might cost the Bears their best chance at a Super Bowl title in 20 years?

Stats Explained

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

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

WEI DVOA is WEIGHTED DVOA, which is based on a formula which drops the value of games early in the season to get a better idea of how teams are playing now (explained here). This is the same formula used in this week's FOXSports.com power rankings, and it includes wild card games. All numbers except for WEIGHTED DVOA are regular season only.

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

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

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 12 Jan 2007

83 comments, Last at 16 Jan 2007, 6:47pm by Pat


by Gabrosin (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 1:39pm


by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 1:42pm

The Seahawks chart makes my eyes bleed. I know that's really what their uniforms look like, but can you change it to a color that won't cause physical discomfort?

by Paulo Sanchotene, Brazil (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 1:45pm

That's what I thought. Eagles and Patriots are the teams that have the best chances to win on the road. The problem is I also think that the Bears and the Ravens are the two teams that have the best chances to lose at home...

by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 1:46pm

I knew I was right about that Saints-Eagles spread. I've seen it narrow to 4 from 5 where I placed my action, and there's been heavy betting now that Joe Horn looks like a scratch. Me and Jim Jones out back sipping the Red Juice, oh yeeaaaaaaaahhh. Go Birds.

by Scott C (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 1:49pm

Should "Saints are one of the top teams at stopping passes to wide receivers" read "to running backs"? Good analysis, though, Aaron. But enough with the numbers. Who's "hot" right now? That's what all the talking heads on TV say is most important.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 1:51pm

I don't really think the lack of sacks from the Saints offensive line is the OL. Brees has just a ridiculously fast release, like Manning and Favre. He's just not easy to sack. (Why that's true this year, and not previously in SD, I don't know. Payton, maybe? Got me.) That same pressure, though, does have an effect - Brees was dinking and dunking his way down the field last time vs. the Eagles (with great success, mind you). He threw deep a grand total of three times in the game, and one of them was only because of the Michael Lewis botch.

That's part of the reason why I don't think Sheppard's loss is that big a deal. Brees will barely ever be throwing downfield. Granted, in a close game, one pass could make all the difference.

by Paulo Sanchotene, Brazil (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 1:51pm


In this sentence "Westbrook may not get as involved in the passing game as usual, however, because the Saints are one of the top teams at stopping passes to wide receivers", I think you mean halfbacks. Don't you?

by Boots Day (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 2:24pm

Hmm, in their last three games, all of which were meaningless, the Bears had two mediocre games followed by a stinker to close out their season. In their last three games, two of which were meaningful, the Saints has a stinker, a good game, and a stinker to close out the season.

One of these teams is imploding, while the other is "talented."

by navin (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 2:26pm

I think Brees wasn't going deep early in the year because his shoulder was still an issue. Now he seems very willing to sling it deep.

Of course this is purely based on observation and not statistics. It would be nice to get a Saints fan's opinion.

by milo (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 2:36pm

Saints fan opinion: Henderson in and Horn out means more deep balls. I just hope Devery remembers to bring his hands to the game.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 2:38pm

#9: No, he's not really passing deep any more recently (by the play-by-play) than before. I should note that he typically only throws deep about ~3-5 times a game. The observations from the Philly game were just from watching - while they didn't sack Brees, they did hit him 5 times. The DL does affect Brees, but he's been handling it exceptionally well.

The two corners (Brown and Sheppard) were barely involved in pass defense in the first game. Sheppard had an interception and one tackle on a short pass to Colston. Brown had one tackle on a short pass to Stecker (on a 2nd and 17, so Brown was probably playing a soft zone off the line), and defensive pass interference on Horn on an 11-yard pass.

It's pretty clear that the Saints were attacking the short and middle field in the first game. I can't imagine they wouldn't do it again.

by JPS (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 2:53pm

Just FYI, towards the bottom of the paragraph that begins with "The Eagles didn’t show much of their long passing game," I think your intention may have been to have the sentence read, "Westbrook may not get as involved in the passing game as usual, however, because the Saints are one of the top teams at stopping passes to running backs.

by Sporran (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 3:10pm

Really? It should read "running backs" and not "wide receivers"? I didn't see that mentioned three other times in the comments already, nor did I see that the change had already been made.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 3:24pm


What're you considering as "pre-injury Hood" and "post-injury Hood"? Hood was injured early in the Giants game and played through it for a week. It was actually an aggravation of an injury, so he really wasn't healthy at all early in the season.

It basically took until the Indianapolis game until he was actually at 100% again. He was actually scratched from the Titans game since they thought Hanson was playing better (and if that doesn't tell you he wasn't 100%, I don't know what would).

by joel in providence (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 3:26pm

the bears DVOA graph looks like a good place to spend the weekend skiing.

by DWL (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 3:31pm

"I don’t really think the lack of sacks from the Saints offensive line is the OL. Brees has just a ridiculously fast release, like Manning and Favre. He’s just not easy to sack. (Why that’s true this year, and not previously in SD, I don’t know. Payton, maybe? Got me.)" - maybe a near-career ending injury makes you think more about getting rid of the ball sooner rather than later.

by Dean (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 3:36pm


You mentiond Hanson as the nickle back for Philly, but according to what the Philadelphia Inquirer has been reporting all week, Will James is healthy and expected to be the 3rd CB.

Do you know something the Inky doesn't, or does this need to be corrected?

by pawnking (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 3:43pm

Hmmmmm. I thought the Saints were better than they appear to be here. I'm not seeing a one-sided game, but rather a close one. Why is everyone picking the Saints?

by tim (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 3:44pm

as an eagles fan, I've always been frustrated with the eagles D against screens, trotter is too slow to crash over the containment and the will LBs of old were too weak to blow up any of the blocking. I fear that Deuce could have a great time on screens to the weakside or underneath the line ( shovel pass style )due to the D keying in on bush if he's lined up in the slot.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 3:58pm

#18: Home-field advantage plus the bye. #1 and #2 seeds have something like a 60% winning percentage. I think that's a little overblown though, as normally #1 and #2 seeds are noticeably better than their opponents, whereas the Saints/Eagles are pretty evenly matched.

Plus everyone's going "oh my God, Sheppard's out, the Eagles are going to be toasted downfield!" - and like I said, I think that's a little insane given that the Saints are more likely to repeat their previous gameplan of attacking the middle of the field. The offensive line probably wouldn't be able to give Brees enough time for a deep pass, and it'd be risky even if he did it. No real reason to when you can get decent production out of the short passing game.

by Seth (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 4:07pm

Amen, Pat. The Saints won with the gnat attack in the first game. The only deep balls were to Horn, and it looks like neither him nor the guy who was supposed to cover him are going to be prominently involved on Saturday.

Looking forward to a great game!

by Paulo Sanchotene, Brazil (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 4:12pm

A lot of people is picking the Saints also because of Katrina. Everybody loves a plot like this team has.

by WWKOD (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 4:17pm

All signs point to a sure Bears win in the CHI-SEA match.

Chicago's O-line is playing well and will be able to contain the Seattle pass rush. The Bears' offense will notch a few scores by mostly keeping it on the ground (positive run DVOA!), with field position help from Mr. Hester and co.

The Bears' D will likely add a touchdown or two of their own against the Seahawks' sputtering offense.

Plus the Chicago fans will be baying for blood, and once the Seahawks realize the other team is playing hard they will have one of their trademark meltdowns like they did against Minnesota and San Francisco.

This win is a sure thing. Not even Grossman can screw it up

Then the Bears will lose to the Eagles.

Gratuitous marijuana reference: "Grossman" is German for "fat one".

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 4:19pm

Just to defend myself, though, I want to repeat I'm not saying the Saints won't win. The linebackers have always been the weak point for the Eagles for years (funny, considering that they are freaking stacked with weapons to attack weak linebackers - they're their own worst enemy). But they aren't going to win because Sheppard's out. They're going to win if they make Trotter, Dhani, and Gaither cry for help by the end of the game - which they're easily capable of doing.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 4:26pm

Not even Grossman can screw it up.

Now you're just talking crazy.

by admin :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 4:51pm

I do make mistakes, and if Hanson isn't third on the depth chart anymore, that's my error. He's listed that way online.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 4:52pm


#1 and #2 NFC seeds have only lost a small handful of games in the divisional round outside of strike years.

#2 seeds losing: 2005 Bears, 2003 Rams, 2001 Bears, 1995 49ers, 1989 Giants, 1984 Redskins, 1980 Falcons
#1 seeds losing: 1986 Bears, 1979 Cowboys

This makes #1 NFC seeds 92% winners since 1978, and #2 NFC seeds 73% winners since 1978.

In the AFC, #1 seeds have been upset many times: 2005 Colts, 2000 Titans, 1997 Chiefs, 1996 Broncos, 1995 Chiefs, 1992 Steelers, 1985 Raiders, 1983 Dolphins, 1980 Browns, 1979 Chargers,
#2 seeds not so much: 2003 Chiefs, 1999 Colts, 1984 Broncos, 1981 Dolphins, 1978 Patriots

This makes #1 AFC seeds 62% winners since 1978, and #2 AFC seeds 81% winners since 1978.

Overall since 1990, the divisional round has seen home teams win 80% of the time, and 75% since 2002 with the divisional realignment.

If I had to guess upsets purely based on history, I'd go with the Saints and/or Chargers getting upset.

by Calbuzz (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 5:05pm

23. "Seattle trademark meltdown against Minnesota." The air kinda went out of the stadium after Hass left. Mistakes were made in this game, but it was still a winnable game until Hass got knocked out.

With the statement "Chicago fans baying for blood." I assume your talking about the Chicago QB.

As for all the other rationalizations, substitute "Dallas" for "Chicago" and you get the popular pre-game analysis for last week, with "oh yeah, and your secondary can't hold our receivers" mixed in.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 5:08pm

#27: Of course, if you note, three of those #1/#2 seeds losing have been in the past 5 years. Whereas for the AFC, only two #1/#2 seeds in the past 5 years have lost.

Now look over the 5 years previous to that, and it'll switch: no NFC team losing, and 4 AFC teams losing.

It's parity. In the early 2000s, the AFC has less parity than the NFC. In the 1990s, the NFC had less parity than the AFC.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 5:09pm

#26: Aaron - that's NFL.com's sucktastic depth chart. The Eagles' website has Hanson as the 3rd team backup LCB/RCB.

by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 5:26pm

Now that I've found a pair of sunglasses, I have a question about Seattle's chart: are the Seahawks the only team in the DVOA era to win a playoff game when their trendline never goes above 0%?

by Marko (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 5:27pm

Andrew: The 1986 Bears were the #2 seed. The Giants were the #1 seed that year.

by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 5:47pm

#8: Chicago's declining trend line began well before those 3 meaningless games, take a look. The St. Louis game was won by Devin Hester, on that infamous fasttrack the Ed Jones dome. The Rams were in that game, for a good long while, until Hester blew it open, and moved the ball well against the Bears. They did have some of their trademark red zone problems on offense, and their defense was not up to the task as we all knew to begin with.

#23 All signs do NOT point to a sure Bears win. No football city that remains in the playoffs is as nervous this week as Chicago, everyone knows it. Rex Grossman's good/evil saga, the remarkable declining DVOA of the Bears (see above) the 3 MORE muffed punts Devin Hester has produced than he has TDs, those are all signs. And they don't point to a sure Bears win.

The Bears still have the edge, it's plain to see. But while the Bears' O-line should win the matchup against the Seahawks' D-line later on in the game, the Bears' ability to contain the Seahawks' pass rush is not the sure thing you are taking it for.

by Joel in New Orleans (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 5:57pm

I hope you people are avoiding betting on the Saints/Eagles game. Look, the Saints have a long standing tradition of irrationally imploding in the bag game. Just because they showed up against the eagles earlier this year is no indication that they will this time. I'm predicting that the Saints will go down in flames, to the tune of 14 to 17 points margin.

While the O line has appeared to jell a bit better as the season has gotten on, without Horn, they have butterfingers Henderson to rely on. While he might outspeed Horn on paper, he has to actually catch the ball to be of any use. Kolston is likely still not 100%. their passing attack will be less effective this time out, bank on it.

The other way, the Eagles have the tools to easily exploit the Saints weaknesses.

As a Saints fan, I predict that this won't end well.

by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 5:58pm

#31: How mathematical are those trend lines? Asking because I don't know. It's clear that they aren't some sort of 8x oversampling of the DVOA pointmapping, so it looks to me like they're somewhat subjective.

Compare the Seahawks' trendline from after the KC loss to the Saints' 5 games after their bye. The Seahawks' trendline seems to not be giving them the benefit of the doubt, and leans towards the 3 stinkers they laid during that 7 game stretch, while the Saints seem to be getting the benefit of the doubt for the 3 stinkers they laid during their 5 game stretch.

My observation there is just as subjective; I'm not including the Seahawks' lowest point on their trendline, there, the MIN/KC losses. But for illustrative purposes with these 4 graphs at hand, those two areas seem to be reflected inconsistently, if there is any inconsistency at all.

by Joel in New Orleans (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 5:58pm

#34, I mean big (not bag) game. (Sorry).

by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 5:59pm


Another interesting trend to watch - pressure on the playoff inexperienced home team.

Teams with playoff experience in the two years prior to a current appearance were 30-12 in their first game from 1988 to 2000 (27-10 from 1990 to 2000, 18-5 from 1994 to 2000), but have gone just 5-16 from 2001 onwards to this year, including last weeks games. Playoff inexperienced home teams have done even worse, racking up a 1-7 record since 2001 (versus 21-7 from 1988 to 2000, 14-4 from 1994 to 2000).

Both inexperienced teams who have already played (the Chiefs and Cowboys) lost this year, and they were both road teams. The two teams remain who qualify as inexperienced by that criteria are the Saints and Ravens, and both are at home.

Knowing the recent trends, would you bet on both these teams to win?

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 6:00pm

"I hope you people are avoiding betting on the Saints/Eagles game. Look, the Saints have a long standing tradition of irrationally imploding in the bag game."

They have a new coach and like 33 new players this year. I dont see how anythign historical has anything to do with them.

by MR SMARTMONIES (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 6:21pm

Easiest game of the week. Bears -8.5

In fact I think the score is Bears 21- seahawks 0 in the 2nd QTR right now.

by Bulgaroktonos (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 6:23pm

Related to nothing, I had the way the Madden 07 announcers say "Stecker." I have no idea why, but it makes me profoundly unhappy.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 6:25pm

Just an observation from having watched a good number of Saints games on TV and the Saints-Giants game in person:

Reggie Bush against the Giants in Week 16 was not the same running back he had been in all games prior. He was hitting the holes HARD and FAST and he was running inside. He was running with determination and I would even say anger.

I felt it was a breakthrough game for Bush, who for the first time looked like a superstar running back and not just a versatile slot receiver. I'm hoping that Week 16 Reggie shows up tomorrow night.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 6:45pm

#35: It's just a third-order polynomial fit to the data - it is trying to fit the data as best it can, with only two changes in "direction" maximum. There's no real basis to believe that teams only truly change "direction" twice.

In some sense, the trendline is "just to guide the eye." There aren't enough data points to do anything better than that, really.

So no, it's not really subjective, although there's no serious reason to believe that it represents reality better than, say, a straight line, or even a flat constant.

by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 7:12pm

42: I see, thanks. I figured it's greatest purpose was to guide the eye so to speak. It is good to know that it's got some methodology behind it, though.

Anyway, those green dots definitely look radioactive.

by NF (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 7:34pm

34: I'm an Eagles fan, and it would be typical of the last 5 years of the Eagles if they grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory. They lost the 2001 NFC championship by less than a TD, the Bucanneers had been owned by the Eagles until the Eagles got destroyed in the 2002 NFC championship by them, and the team went on to the field and died when they were the big favorite against Carolina in the 2003 NFC Championship. In 2004 McNabb threw 3 picks in the Super Bowl despite only throwing 9 the entire regular season, and the Eagles lost by 3. In 2005 there were the opening-game loss to the Falcons, two close losses to the Giants in which the Eagles owned Eli Manning, and the single worst game in the history of Lincoln Financial Field (Dallas 21, Philadelphia 20). In 2006, there was the lucky 4th-quarter comeback by the Giants, the Field Goal at Tampa, and the supposed must-win game against the Jaguars who lost to the Texans the week before. The Eagles lost that game 13-6, and it was very ugly.

The voodoo curse on the Eagles is stronger than the voodoo curse on the Saints.

by TFG (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 7:41pm

#31: even better than that question, I'm wondering if a team has ever made the playoffs or won a playoff game (like the Seahawks) when their best DVOA performance of the entire season is so low? It appears that their best game all year was around +30%; a mark exceeded by the Eagles 8 times, Saints 6 times and Bears 7 times.

Bizarre; almost as bizarre as 596 yards passing all year to non-WR's....

by Doug (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 7:48pm

#43 - Depends who you ask. Some people use the trend lines exclusively. Called technical analysis.

by Zac (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 9:14pm

Re: 15. New Rule: Don't bet on a team if the Line Rider can ride their graph without crashing (click my name if you aren't familiar with Line Rider).

by Reinhard (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 10:14pm

So this isn't the right place to post this, but I'm just putting it up for discussion:
the stats here at FO are an excellent database to use to try to make some sophisticated algorithms. I haven't seen the last few Bears games so this might not be so relevant anymore, but you'll get my point:
the Bears have been excellent in 3rd and long obvious passing situations. The key to this might be Ricky Manning Jr, along with their strong passrush, and athletic linebackers who can cover, as well as tackle any ill-advised 3rd and long running play. The key to playing the Bears defense is to get some big plays and to avoid 3rd and long. So if you took Seattle's 1st down rushing and passing DVOA and Chicago's 1st down rushing and passing defensive DVOA as inputs into the algorithm you could try to estimate the chance of gaining x number of yards. Then use those percentages with 2nd down stats... etc. In this way you could generate an estimate of: the chance of getting another first down, and also the number yards per first down for both teams. Those four numbers could then be made to correlate with spread numbers (which encompass a lot of football knowledge in a single number) or/and with actual game results.
Does my idea make sense? Does it sound feasable? I think that if you have an advanced metric like DVOA it only makes sense to try to use them in a sophisticated way to better understand their implications.

by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 11:10pm

#41... I also attended that game, but I wouldn't make too much about what occurred that day. That was EASILY the Giants worst defensive performance of the last 3 months of the season. Plus, can we draw a direct correlation between the Saints running success and the fact the Giants offense never moved/held the ball the entire game? The Giants defense was on the field the entire game.

I can't see any way the Eagles win this week. They barely managed to beat a team that shot itself in the foot 4,000 times over the course of a 60 minute game. Also add in the fact the Saints have many more offensive weapons and the QB play... well, let's just say Brees will be an improvement over what they faced last week.

Call me crazy, but I think the Bears-Seahawks game will be close late. Seattle still hasn't played their A game so I could understand the skepticism. My question is will the Bears commit to the running game? The 'Hawks D seems to really tire in the 4th quarter.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 11:11pm

The Saints have a history of collapsing before the NFC Championship game, where as the Eagles' specialty is to collapse in the NFC Championship game, so that means the Eagles will win this week, right?
39: how can a team with Rex Grossman at QB and a defense that's been unable to stop anybody in a month be considered easy money?

by mactbone (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 12:57am

Re 50:
That's funny, because they still managed to win 3 out of 4 in the past month...

by dbt (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 1:31am

Look, anybody who wants to take the Hawks and the points, fine. But I'll point out this.

According to today's paper (and who knows, it could be "misleading"), 75% of the action in vegas is on the Seahawks.

And yet, after an entire week of this, the line hasn't moved.

Which means the sports books think that the Bears are a mortal look.

by econometrician guy (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 1:56am

Dbt: I find it hard to believe that both of those things are true (probably the 75 percent part isn't true). Since there is no way that the outcome is certain, why would the bookies expose themselves to that kind of risk?

by refchat (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 2:04am

For the Philadelphia-NO game, if Mike Carey indeed is the ref, that might be a slightly good sign for NO because home teams did best in Mike's games (winning 67%). Mike's games were usually lower-scoring than you'd expect. But Philadelphia had a better season-long DVOA, so checking how home teams did when they had a lower DVOA, weaker home teams went 5-4 in Mike's games.

by Polaris (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 2:59am

#53 dbt,

The sports books have been known to be wrong about games such as Chicago and Seattle, sometimes glaringly wrong. Another pointer is that when a team gets blown out in the regular season and then faces them in the playoffs, they win most of the time and in about 40% of those cases, it's a blowout the other way.

I am not saying that Seattle is going to win. I do like Seattle's chances especially since the above graphs confirm what I have been saying all along....as of now Seattle (per DVOA) is actually playing better ball than the Bears.

We'll know soon enough, but this has upset written all over it.


by Joel in New Orleans (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 4:14am

If I had any money to bet with, which thanks to Katrina I don't, I'd put it all on Seattle winning in a blowout. Granted, I've usually been horribly wrong about predicting this stuff, but, I think Seattle showed some signs of getting their act together these last few weeks. Chicago hasn't shown us much of anything over the second half of the season.

As for #38, I can't tell you how many times that I heard that very same line of reasoning over my lifetime (or at least two other times in the last 12 years or so) and still, the Saints manage to come up with a good team and choke and choke hard when it counts the most. Also, the Saints have NO home field advantage. The stats clearly spell this out. Excluding the Katrina year on the road, looking at the last, say, decade or so, you'll find that the Saints tend to loose less on the road.

At least we don't have to play the Vikings this time. They ALWAYS destroy us in the playoffs when we meet them.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 4:31am

Marko #32:

Andrew: The 1986 Bears were the #2 seed. The Giants were the #1 seed that year.

Are you sure? Because in the divisional round, the Bears played the 4 seed (Redskins), and the Giants played the 3 seed (49ers).

by Reinhard (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 4:56am

I'll have to take the Bears then.

by Boots Day (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 12:33pm

According to my morning paper, the line on the Bears opened at 7 and has moved to 8.5.

by Reality Check (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 2:12pm

Andrew: Yes, I'm sure. That was back in the day when a wild-card team couldn't play a team from its own division until the conference championship game, so the Redskins couldn't play the Giants in the divisional round. I know that if the Bears had beaten the Redskins, they would have had to go on the road to face the Giants in the NFC Championship Game.

by Marko (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 2:13pm

Andrew: That last post was from me - I forgot to change my name back.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 2:16pm


I hadn't remembered that rule. That makes a few things in playoff history make a little more sense now. Thanks.

by Joon (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 2:33pm

re: #47

man, screw all this football stuff. line rider is awesome.

by Gordon (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 5:21pm

Re: 24

Does your handle stand for "What Would Kyle Orton Do?"

Re: 56

Yeah, the Vikes have won 100% of those matchups. All two of them. The Eagles are also the holders of a 100% success rating against the Saints in the postseason, but I can't really take that as a predictor, much as I'd like to.

Go Eagles!

by TomC (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 5:34pm

as of now Seattle (per DVOA) is actually playing better ball than the Bears.


DVOA, last 4 games of the season:

Seattle: -60%, 0%, 2%, 5%.

Chicago: 80%, 2%, -5%, -80%.

by thad (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 7:28pm

Hey Pat, post 55 sounds like a bunch of baloney.
When you wrote that article did you find that to be true?
That teams who get blown out in the regular season win playoff games in the rematch?
I think the Bears are gonna win easily, as are the Eagles.
God I hate the Eagles!
But they are a reallly good team.

by Dave (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 10:00pm

since i'm lazy and can't be bothered to look it up, who is the enormous black man who just told me not to forget katrina (thanks for that, enormous black man!)? isn't this jb's job?

by Joel in New Orleans (not verified) :: Sun, 01/14/2007 - 2:17am

I have here an economy sized bowl full of steaming hot crow, a knife and a fork, and a big glass of water.

I'm gonna eat it, and it never tasted so good. :)

by someone (not verified) :: Sun, 01/14/2007 - 9:10am

What was that pathetic line of reasoning you came up with to explain your previous criticism of Deuce McAllister and why you weren't completely, hopelessly wrong about how good a player he was? I forgot. It's not down to Brees, Jammal Brown, Faine, Bush & Colston finally giving the Saints a proper offense around him; it's that he's miraculously changed & improved beyond all recognition as a player this year. Probably due to his significant knee injury, and that 2002 1300 yard rushing 70 reception year, well, let's just gloss over that one shall we?

I'm still chuckling about that. I only wish Carl was still around.

by Polaris (not verified) :: Sun, 01/14/2007 - 9:42am

#65 TomC,

You numbers support what I said. The Seahawks are playing better than the Bears now. Look at the last three, and look at the trends. For that matter look at the trendline prediction.

I am right (and you know it).


by Polaris (not verified) :: Sun, 01/14/2007 - 9:45am

Sorry Bears fan, but you can look it up yourself on NFL.com. It's accurate. When a team loses by 28 points or more to another team and they rematch in the playoffs, 40% of the team it's a blowout the other way and most of the time the team that lost the first time wins.

Of course, such stats need to be considered carefully because it's situational, but it's not garbage.


by B (not verified) :: Sun, 01/14/2007 - 1:21pm

51: Unfortunatly, the Bears won't get to play the Lions, Bucs or Rams in the playoffs. Maybe they can luck out and not see any teams as good as the Packers.

by brian c (not verified) :: Sun, 01/14/2007 - 5:17pm

terrible interference call

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/15/2007 - 12:05am

#71: Do you have any idea how small that sample size is? And that means the error in that "40%" number is gigantic. Skip considering the playoffs. Just consider all rematched games. In that case, a win by 28 is won by the same team that won the first game about 80% of the time. The average margin of victory is about 10-14 points in the second game.

by Polaris (not verified) :: Mon, 01/15/2007 - 4:03am



Did you also read my disclaimer about reading too much into the Stat? I suggest you do before you jump on my case.

For that matter, I think you owe me an apology. True Seattle lost, but to hear it from you Seattle had no business to even be competative, and that was far from the truth. The truth is that Chicago played a better game than they had in more than a month and even THEN the game was about as even as it could get.


by Polaris (not verified) :: Mon, 01/15/2007 - 4:42am


Oh, one more think. I think it is important to limit the sample size to playoff rematches only. Why? Because it shows that if a team is good enough to make it back to the playoffs, then the talent is more even than many would like to think. In short, the 'playoff' limit takes away blowout wins when one team is grossly superior to another which accounts I think for most of the difference you quote.

While Seattle didn't win, they did prove on the field that they had parity with the Chicago Bears and that IS something a too literal interpretation of DVOA did not predict....so again, I was generally right (even if the Bears did win the game). I note in passing that Vegas took a huge bath on this game.

by Peter Libero (not verified) :: Mon, 01/15/2007 - 4:57am

Uh, it doesn't matter if they're better and thus less likely to be beaten a second time. The sample size is still too small to draw any conclusions from it, even "with a grain of salt." I see no way how a blowout victory by a team doesn't mean a strong correlation with victory in the rematch, and that's what the numbers bear out when they have statistically relevant samples.

by Polaris (not verified) :: Mon, 01/15/2007 - 5:45am


The sample size is 14 games. It's a very small sample size which is WHY I gave the caveat I did, but it is enough to conclude that in the case of a playoff rematch after a regular season blowout, a repeat win is by no means assured.

Basically the numbers indicate that regular season blowouts have suprisingly little correlation with post-season performance. That was my basic point.


by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/15/2007 - 11:25am

Basically the numbers indicate that regular season blowouts have suprisingly little correlation

A sample size of 14 games indicates absolutely nothing.

by Polaris (not verified) :: Mon, 01/15/2007 - 6:17pm


That's not true Pat. It just means the error bars are too wide for fine analysis. You can statistically (in polling for example) get a rough idea of what a demographic looks like even with that small a smaple size. Same same. Can you make predictions on it? Probably not. However, it is enough to notice non-trends....and that was what I am pointing out. There seems to be no correlation to regular season blowouts to post season success between two teams.


by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/15/2007 - 8:53pm

However, it is enough to notice non-trends….and that was what I am pointing out.

No, it's not! With 14 data points, you'd need to have like 12 out of the 14 data points support the model in order to rule out 50/50. With only 8 of the data points, you can't rule out basically anything other than "both of the teams could win."

by Polaris (not verified) :: Tue, 01/16/2007 - 5:15am


Which is precisely what I did. Too many people INCLUDING YOU didn't think Seattle should have showed up based on DVOA.

Well, the model was non-predictive in this case. It happens.


by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 01/16/2007 - 6:47pm

#82: If you honestly think I was saying "Seattle has no chance to win" you really, really, really weren't ever reading anything I said.