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25 Aug 2010

Scramble: NFC Over/Unders Part I

by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz

Atlanta Falcons (9.0)

Mike: Last week, we talked about the importance of hope and young talent to energize a listless fan base. Atlanta seems to be the poster boy for that, which is an interesting diversion from FO's usual "do not talk about drafts until three years later" mantra.

Tom: The Falcons essay in FOA 2010 talks about how promising the 2008 draft class seems. I hope that doesn't end up like part in Football Outsiders Almanac 2009 where we wrote about how the Jaguars had a nice trio of linebackers, one of whom had his RFA tender withdrawn this offseason and another of whom got kicked out of the middle spot and now has to play outside.

Mike: For that exact reason. On the other hand, it seems that if a rookie quarterback can be impressive for most of the year, he's probably for real.

Tom: Matt Ryan is at least a viable NFL quarterback. You can't hide a lack of talent in your quarterback nearly so well as you can in nearly any other position.

Mike: Yeah.

Tom: I'm not sold he'll be a future elite guy, but consistently league average seems like a pessimistic projection.

Mike: And league average is something you can work with.

Tom: Oh, absolutely. The question is, How much can they improve on last year's nine wins? They overpaid Dunta Robinson, but he clearly fit a glaring need at corner.

Mike: I'm not sure how much one cornerback is going to fix things. Sure, it's a nice step, but as you said, they paid way too much for a cornerback who can largely be thrown away from. In the milliseconds seconds each quarterback has to throw, on each down.

Tom: I'm trying not to concentrate on the secondary again, so I was going to mention they drafted Sean Weatherspoon. I think his tackle totals got inflated, so I'm not sure he'll be as good as the more optimistic projections seem to think.

Mike: Aha, but I merely used the secondary as a bait-and-switch to talk about the pass rush!

Tom: Ah, clever. we were both talking about the secondary as a way to launch into talking about other aspects of the defense!

Mike: Verily, fyves of the hyghe for all and sundry!

(We spent about 3 minutes figuring out the ideal Middle English phrase for high fives. Your Scramble dollars hard at work!)

Tom: Another year, another discussion of how they can add a complementary pass rusher to help Abraham. So, 9.0, tough number. It's sorely tempting me to be a coward and make the statistically stupid call, but I'll be brave and go Over.

Mike: I like what they have done on an individual basis with a lot of these players, but I think they're still a year or two away from where everyone wants them to be. Under.

Carolina Panthers (7.0)

Mike: Apropos of nothing, the DVOA graph for Carolina in FOA is absolutely insane.

Tom: How does John Fox still have a job after mishandling Jake Delhomme so badly?

Mike: Same reason he handled Delhomme so badly. He's been there a while, he gets a pass for crapping the bed once or twice.

Tom: Lack of familiarity with the sunk cost fallacy?

Mike: Probably different ways of stating the same premise. It's much more of a baseball thing, though, which is probably why we're all so surprised to see it in the NFL.

Tom: It's not that I'm surprised to see it. I'm just surprised to see it not end up with the ritual head chopping I expected. I wonder how much the question marks in the owner camp helped Hurney and Fox keep their jobs.

Mike: Anyway, regardless of the question marks, Carolina's command structure just seems like it's rotting.

Tom: They did at least ditch a couple of their mediocre mainstays.

Mike: They've been treading water with a disintegrating team for the past, what, four years? Without any sense of urgency until the bottom fell out last year. And even then, Fox still has a job.

Tom: And now you have a quarterback battle. So, you have a head coach and likely GM on a short leash deciding between a rookie second-round pick and a slightly older but still young guy playing on a one-year deal. That sounds like a sure-fire recipe for ideal decision-making.

Mike: And might I add that none of the options are really great.

Tom: Matt Moore played really well at the end of last season. It's just that lots of guys have played well at the end of a season, but a good number of them have been mediocre or worse in the long run.

Mike: Right.

Tom: That was my problem with the Jimmy Clausen pick -- give Moore a year, and find out whether you have a 5-7 year answer at quarterback.

Mike: I believe they think they know the answer to that, and that the answer is no. He's been kicking around their organization for years, they have had plenty of time to look him over, and lest we forget, he got as much playing time in 2007 as he did in 2009 -- with much more worse results.

Tom: Throwing an undrafted rookie into the fire is not a fair test of a quarterback's ability.

Mike: Probably true, but regardless, I get the feeling that Carolina just isn't going to make Moore the quarterback of the future.

Tom: My irrational fear for the Panthers is Moore will have two mediocre games. After the second one, they'll decide to anoint Clausen as the starter, regardless of whether Moore's second mediocre game in the third game of the season or the 13th, then start making excuses for why they keep playing Clausen when they keep losing and Clausen is playing worse than Moore.

Mike: Yeah, I get the feeling we're going to see Clausen get thrown to the wolves, which will probably mean Carolina will end up being even more of a disaster than it already is, which is just so very sad. Under.

Tom: Agreed, Under.

New Orleans Saints (10.5)

Tom: FOA says this is an easy call, giving the Saints only an 18 percent chance of winning 11 or more games.

Mike: Apparently they haven't discussed this with Harry Connick, Jr.

Tom: One thing I wondered was whether Super Bowl champs have inflated lines. Pittsburgh last year was 10.5 and went under, the Giants only 8.5 and went over, the Colts 10.5 and over, and the Steelers 10.0 and under. So, no apparent trend there.

Mike: I was in the middle of doing the exact same check, and yeah. Vegas isn't sentimental. It's all about the money.

Tom: The year before, New England, 10.5, under. So the trend isn't Pittsburgh under, everybody else over.

Mike: There were good reasons for Pittsburgh to go under the line last year. Probably 2006 also, but eh.

Tom: You picked the Steelers to go over last year, by the way. There are good reasons to pick pretty much every team to go both over and under.

Mike: True, that probably sealed Troy Polamalu's (and by extension the team's) fate. And as we saw two weeks ago, I have learned my lesson! I'd also say there are reasons to pick over on the Browns. Whether they are good is another question.

Tom: I think FOA's projection for the Saints is twigging on something important, namely that the defense was flukily effective last year. And readers who suggest a "Gregg Williams Adjustment" are advised to consult his previous job in Jacksonville and look at their 2007 (Mike Smith) to 2008 results. (Hint: The Jaguars went from league-average to well below average.) Yeah, Darren Sharper was a great fit, nice to have him back. I just don't trust the defense enough to not see a bunch of 31-28 shootouts.

Mike: It's true, coaches not named Martz aren't magic. (FORESHADOWING!) They can win those shootouts, however.

Tom: Sure, but winning shootouts is a less reliable method of winning games than scoring a lot of points and not giving up a lot. So, yay FOA, boo public ... Under for me.

Mike: Likewise, Under for me.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5.5)

Mike: What, exactly, is Tampa's plan on offense?

Tom: I think Step 1 is "Collect underpants." Well, OK, it's "draft shiny rookie quarterback." And now, they've added shiny rookie wide receivers.

Mike: Hopefully those wide receivers shine brightly.

Tom: They have a couple running backs, like Cadillac Williams, and Derrick Ward for when Cadillac suffers his inevitable injury. Throw ball to Kellen Winslow, see Kellen Winslow catch ball.

Mike: Because Josh Freeman is one of those few rookie starters we've seen who has pratfalled? Pratfell? Stunk. It's hard to know if we should expect highly drafted quarterbacks to be more NFL-ready than they have in the past, and honestly I haven't seen much tape on him

Tom: I hated him as a highly drafted prospect. To me, his upside was Leftwich's NFL career. I can't talk about Tampa Bay without mentioning they took two guys best suited as 3-tech defensive tackles with their first two picks. Former Bucs defensive end Steve White, who writes some really great stuff, wrote about why this was a bad decision.

Mike: See, I'm willing to give even a sorry scouting department the benefit of the doubt on that one. So much of how we distinguish nose tackles from under tackles coming out of college is pure physique, because the position in college is really unsophisticated compared to the NFL. As opposed to, say, defensive end.

Tom: I don't think I agree with that. The reason both Gerald McCoy and Brian Price were drafted in the first and second rounds is they had shown skill at being good interior penetrators. Tempting though it may be, it's tough to build a complete defense around solely that type. Otherwise, you can get run on, which is what the Tampa 2 is already vulnerable against.

Mike: It's impossible, of course.

Tom: I can also mention that the Glazers have taken a scythe to team payroll costs this year.

Mike: I just think that one or both of them are going to play nose this year.

Tom: Last I read, they were well, well under last year's salary floor. I'm sure the Buccaneers will hodgepodge something together, but it probably won't make as much sense as it should and won't be as effective as it would've been if they'd done something else with that second-round pick.

Mike: I don't know, if they saw the ability in either to play nose tackle, they could very well have an effective rushing strategy. This is assuming that either or both of them can.

Tom: I hope you still have your can opener from last week.

Mike: Many economists have fallen before it.

Tom: I don't think Bucs general manager Mark Dominik is an economist, so I'm sure he'll be pleased to hear that.

Mike: I don't know, my opinion of college interior defensive line is really "if you can get to the quarterback, you go ahead and do that" as far as priorities go, which leads to difficulty in picking out any mid-range nose tackle talent. We're probably going to have to agree to disagree on that point. But regardless, the offense is a mess, so even if the experiment works, it'll be moot. Under.

Tom: I guess that's a fair enough point of view. And, agreed, Under.

Arizona Cardinals (7.5)

Mike: Arizona is Minnesota's Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

Tom: Arizona has a dominant defensive unit to go with one of the best skill position players in the league?

Mike: No, no, no. Football teams are just quarterbacks, remember?

Tom: Oh, right.

Mike: Everyone else is there to rack up extracurriculars, like a really physical version of underwater basket weaving club, with slightly fewer drugs.

Tom: I've never underwater basket-weaved, but I'll take your word for that last.

Mike: It's true, though, Kurt Warner was probably the best thing that happened to Arizona, and now he is gone, gone, gone.

Tom: Oh, he's clearly the best quarterback the Cardinals had had in years. The last really credible one before him was probably Neil Lomax, and it's very hard to win when you go 20-plus years between viable quarterbacks.

Mike: It's just not often you see a team go from having one position as its strongest to one position as its weakest in the course of one year, but Matt Leinart it appears has facilitated this amazing feat.

Tom: Well, between Derek Anderson and Matt Leinart, I think you could make a good starting quarterback.

Mike: No, you'd still be missing a brain.

Tom: Dan Marino supposedly got a 16 on the Wonderlic. I'm not sure that's completely necessarily if the other attributes are there.

Mike: True.

Tom: Anyway, the "make a good starting quarterback out of Anderson and Leinart" leftovers would be a bodiless, quivering mass of goo unable to walk or talk, so that's not really a viable option.

Mike: It's really a question of football "smarts."

Tom: Yeah, I know. And neither has it.

Mike: Haha, quivering mass of goo. Nice.

Tom: Ever see "Twins?" Think a much, much, much more extreme version.

Mike: Hah.

Tom: I don't trust the offensive line enough, and I don't see enough quality on the defense to overcome the mediocrity or worse at signal-caller.

Mike: I see a young defense that took some hits in the offseason but still has talent. The offensive line is a joke, though. Then again, so are most of Arizona's opponents this year. Over.

Tom: Talent on the defense is in pockets, making it easier to exploit. I know FOA likes the Cardinals. I don't. Under.

St. Louis Rams (5.0)

Mike: There needs to be some kind of "Farm Aid" for running backs on really awful teams.

Tom: Are you thinking of something like holding out and demanding a trade?

Mike: Lots of hand-holding and singing "We are New England." Possibly underwater basket-weaving.

Tom: Oh, hmmm, I guess they were Corey Dillon's eventual savior.

Mike: And at this point, that offense would make a ham sandwich look like Walter Payton. In any case, I will never, ever defend the FOA 2009 projection for St. Louis.

Tom: That prediction was, alas, clearly insane.

Mike: But I will point out that they were really, really unlucky last year, as stated in FOA 2010. Astoundingly unlucky.

Tom: Let's not take that too far. They had 1.6 Pythagorean wins.

Mike: That's only really measuring luck on the margins of victory. Not luck, say, with injuries.

Tom: Sure, but it's still a measure of luck.

Mike: True. I am willing to concede that they were not particularly unlucky for all possible measures of luck. Happy?

Tom: They weren't, say, the 1981 Patriots, who went 2-14, went 2-1 in games decided by more than 10 points, and had 6.7 Pythagorean wins.

Mike: I'm not even going to ask why you have Pythagorean wins from 1981 readily on hand.

Tom: The 1981 Patriots are the unluckiest team in football history, in terms of Pythagorean versus actual wins. And Pythagorean wins are on every team's Pro Football Reference page for that season.

Mike: It's hard to comment on teams that are working on long rebuilding projects, unlucky or no.

Tom: This is true.

Mike: It's not like most teams, where if they have a weakness or two they bring in some young talent and you can talk about whether that will work out in the context of an established team. When your entire team consists of kids, it's hard to even guess how they'll work together, much less which individuals will stand out.

Tom: Absolutely. Like the Lions, rebuilding the Rams is a multiyear project.

Mike: I will nod sagely, and my risk-averse self will go with the Under. They're certainly better than 1 or 2 wins. They may even break even. But I honestly have no way to tell, and anyone who claims to probably also has a few bridges in stock

Tom: They are starting from such a low position, they could be a lot better and win three games. Under.

San Francisco 49ers (8.5)

Mike: Oh man, we got to see lots of Samurai Mike on the sidelines this week, thanks to preseason coverage of questionable value and quality. Rex Ryan may have wrested the title of craziest coach in the league, but Singletary can still bring it.

Tom: I'm still not sure if Singletary's craziest coach claim includes running an offense ill-suited to his team because it fits his idea of what offense should be.

Mike: If we made that a standard for coaching crazy, half the coaches in the league would be in the nut house.

Tom: I guess. There's a chance Singletary costs his team a division title, though.

Mike: That is true.

Tom: I admit it, I've been a big fan of Alex Smith since the 2006 preseason. The 49ers were playing against the Bears, and he was almost jumping up and down with joy completing passes. It was like the light bulb had finally come on, and he learned something, unlike all of 2005.

Mike: I dunno, that sounds a lot like stories of people stuck in the desert thinking sand is water. Your mind was so desperate for competence in the passing game that it conjured some from your subconscious.

Tom: Well, sure, he just looked so bad and so lost as a rookie. Then he finally learned something until Norv Turner left and Martz yanked him around in favor of J.T. O'Sullivan.

Mike: Which, of course, started the Singletary-Martz power whatever.

Tom: Then, the last half of 2009, they finally put an offense around him that makes sense.

Mike: And Martz's eventual departure. And therefore yet another offensive scheme.

Tom: Yes, but these things had something in common: they didn't really work. They switched schemes until they find something that worked, and now they're switching again because it doesn't fit the coach's arbitrary preference.

Mike: I don't know, you could say that about lots of scheme changes. It's always couched in terms of "what the coach knows" or something similar, but usually that's what it comes down to. This is so pervasive and actually assumed to the point where people expected Tomlin to blow up Pittsburgh's defense because he coached the Tampa-2.

Tom: Admit it, you're just saying this because Mike Singletary scares you and Josh McDaniels doesn't.

Mike: ... I admit nothing. In conclusion, San Francisco is the best team ever! Super-great-fun-smash-mouth offense for everyone hooray! Over!

Tom: I don't think San Francisco will be particularly good per se, but they're playing in a horrible division. And I think they'll be just good enough to eke out nine wins and the title. Over!

Mike: (I don't have to go into witness protection!)

Seattle Seahawks (7.5)

Mike: For some reason, Seattle has always reminded me of the Ottoman Empire.

Tom: I must say, that's not exactly the comparison that came to me.

Mike: I don't know, maybe it's based on the early 2000s. You would talk about good teams, the teams that had a shot, and then someone would always bring up the Seahawks, and you'd kind of go "Huh. The Seahawks are still around?" Like the Ottoman Empire. And then they crested with the Super Bowl and have still kind of just hung around.

Tom: Well, they came in, knocked out the old teetering giant (49ers::Byzantine Empire), then ran roughshod over things like a while (Siege of Vienna::rest of NFC en route to Super Bowl XL), then still kind of ran things in a weakened state (Balkans::lousy NFC West). And now, they're in decay mode, and Pete Carroll turnover represents the Committee of Union and Progress limiting the Sultan's power.

Mike Yes. And you're just kind of waiting for a big shake-up for the whole thing to collapse.

Tom In that case, I'm guessing the Week 4 game at St Louis is going to be like the Second Balkan War.

Mike: And fade into East Coast Bias obscurity.

Tom: The years of neglect and lousy drafting by FO's favorite front office staffer, Tim Ruskell.

Mike: To be fair, Ruskell is gone. So maybe the Seahawks can now be Greece? Wait, no, that's no good ...

Tom: Yes, the aforementioned CUP. But we now know the CUP tried, but couldn't resurrect the fading body, and the Ottoman Empire eventually was broken up after World War I.

Mike Indeed.

Tom: Continuing the analogy, Carroll gets a couple years, but doesn't quite succeed. And some other team, maybe Buffalo, moves to Portland and steals away some of the Seahawks' fans.

Mike: And half the players leave for Arena Football, and everyone stops caring about them. See? Best analogy ever.

Tom: Absolutely. It worked about 10 times better than I thought it would

Mike: I think belief in the Seahawks rebuilding plan is really whether you think Carroll can avoid completely screw everything up. Granted, he's not pulling all the strings, but since we're talking about coaches doing things "their way," Carroll really must be part of the equation.

Tom: Three sterling years in New England in which his team had a worse record each successive year makes me say "Absolutely."

Mike: I will readily admit that my bias against the college game enters into this somewhere. But that is still looming, yes.

Tom: Winning in the NFL is a different issue, because you can't get all the best players and simply play the ones that win out.

Mike: Regardless, even if Carroll were a genius, he couldn't teach everyone to say Istanbul. Under.

Tom: Agreed. Under.

Join us next week, as we finish the over/unders by discussing the NFC East and NFC North, and Mike talks about how the only useful thing ever to come out of Chicago is deep dish pizza.

Posted by: Mike Kurtz and Tom Gower on 25 Aug 2010

50 comments, Last at 27 Aug 2010, 1:58pm by Dr. Mooch


by Sidewards :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 12:45pm

Quick note: there isn't a number next to Tampa Bay, so I can't tell what the over/under is based on.

Aside from that, I am stuck where I suspect quite a few people are, having no idea what's going to happen in the NFC West. I haven't followed the teams enough to have a hope of figuring out which teams are going to beat the others in that division. I'm just hedging my bets and making every game played against the NFC West count as a win for the team, and in the case of 2 teams in that division, TIES!

I think if it ended up like that, then it would be best if the NFL started counting two ties as one win.

by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 1:11pm

NFCW plays:

1) Each other. I have no confidence in Seattle or Arizona. I'm confident that for at least one more year St. Louis will stink, and the 49'ers will be just above average.
AZ 3; Sea 3; SF 4.5; StL 1.5.

NFCE. Eww. Seattle and SF will do well in their home games, Seattle and AZ will lose the road games.
AZ: 1.5; Sea: 1.5 wins; SF: 2.5 wins; StL: 0.5 wins.

AFCW. Oakland is better than you think, and the Chargers will steamroll all but maybe San Francisco or Arizona. The Broncos and Chiefs can be had. Seattle has a HFA problem here; they get San Diego at home in week 3, so are only competitive in one home game.
AZ: 2.5 wins; Sea: 1 win; SF: 2.5 wins; StL: 1 win.

X-Div: In my book, only the 3rd place NFC N/S teams are not better than their NFCW equivalents, though the others mostly aren't that far off (I'm picking this to be a bad year for first-seed NFC teams).
AZ (NO, Min): 0.5 wins; Sea: (Chi, Car): 1.5 wins; SF: (GB, Atl): 0.5 wins; Stl: (TB, Det): 0.5 wins.

AZ: 7.5
Sea: 6.5
SF: 10
StL: 3.5

by ammek :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 2:23pm

West plays South this year, not East.

by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 4:45pm

Oh, you're right. Oops.

In that case, I have the following edits:
AZ: Replace Phi, NYG, Was with Atl, Car, TB. +0.5 wins.
Sea: Replace Phi, Was, Dal with NO, Atl, TB. +0.5 wins.
SF: Replace Was, NYG, Dal with NO, Car, TB. +0.5 wins.
StL: Replace NYG, Phi, Dal with NO, Car, Atl. -0.5 wins.
Hmmm... the less-poor get richer, while the poorest goes back to destitute.

by Tom Gower :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 2:17pm

I want to say Tampa Bay was 6.5, but have to double check and will add it in tonight.

by Tom Gower :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 8:01pm

It was 5.5, and Scramble has been updated.

by Dean :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 1:07pm

Only at Football Outsiders would a team be compared to the Ottoman Empire, and when it's all said and done, you find yourself thinking "I can see that."

Well done, gentlemen.

by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 1:23pm

I ran this D&D game once. The players came upon a community in the far-north that made its living packing reindeer meat and fishing a green bay. They lamented the abdication and departure of their great chieftain Farvus, who moved to the mighty city of the campaign setting years ago. Their current leader, effective though he was, lacked Farvus's charisma, and though he was a mighty warrior his forces were no match for the Norsemen who attacked them annually in their horned helmets.

Some of the players helped the people of the green bay dig their fortifications, fending off the primitive Cat and Bear people, while others went away to the east, doing battle with other NFL analogies until they came to mighty Campaign City, which they found to be hotly contested between two political organizations. Each had its own king (King Elias, and a mysterious fellow who calls himself "Xerxes" ("Sexrex" backwards)); after some investigation, they learned that Farvus had been a general there, but returned home the winter before.

Meanwhile, the fellows at home encountered the Norsemen again, only to learn the awful truth. Farvus, senile but still powerful, was angry at his people for allowing him to abdicate. He had defeated the Norsemen's king Torvar in combat, and now as their ruler was bent upon punishing his former subjects!

by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 1:23pm

By "once," I mean this spring.

by drobviousso :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 3:30pm


For non animal teams (which are too easy) did you have:
Brownies, iron golems, uh... titans, wild elves, pirates, lightning elementals, cultists, more pirates, more wild elves, uh... more titans?

Drawing a blank on the Texans, Cowboys, Pats, and Niners.

by zenbitz :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 4:23pm

texans and cowboys would obviously be "Horsemen" tribes.
The 49ers are a Dwarven mining colony.

And the Patriots... obviously the dastardly cheating evil empire!

by JasonK :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 3:42pm

So, did anybody get it? Because my RPG-playing friends would probably miss all the NFL references, and my NFL-watching friends wouldn't be caught dead at a D&D session.

by widderslainte :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 3:56pm

Absolutely. I killed with a friend who's in my rpg group and FF league.

by Dr. Mooch :: Fri, 08/27/2010 - 1:58pm

Only on football outsiders.

by NHPatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 1:16pm

Does this make Rob Chudzinski Kemal Ataturk then when he gets hired to clean up after Carroll inevitably crashes and burns?

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 2:45pm

I dunno - comparing this to this leads me to conclude that ol' Kemal may actually just have been hired by the Redskins, who in this analogy may possibly be China.

by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 3:02pm

At this moment Redskin fans are forming a Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 4:26pm

Who knows how 20th Century history might have gone if they had had an Ultimate Leader?

Bizarrely, I'm actually working on a play set during the Boxer Rebellion at this very moment. Well, not this very moment, obviously. But in general around now.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 4:38pm

Now, I can definitely see Carroll in the Steve McQueen role from "The Sand Pebbles", seeing that the character had an unhappy outcome. Pete'll likely just lose his job, of course.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 4:53pm

Haven't seen it (though I will now have to check it out), but I'm guessing he can't have it much worse than the main character in The Final Torture (the show I'm working on, originally La Dernière Torture) who shoots his daughter to stop her falling into the hands of the besieging Boxers, believing that they are breaking through into the compound, only for the Eight-Nation Alliance relief force to show up and save the day. Error.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 3:47pm

The shame of it is that Carroll probably saw the David Lean classic as a boy, and has always envisioned himself in the Peter O'Toole role, instead of leading the declining power which gets hacked to pieces by the rebels on horseback led by O'Toole.

On the other hand, I can see Singletary shouting "NO PRISONERS!NO PRISONERS!"

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 4:45pm

At least he can remind disgruntled Seahawks fans that the trick is not minding that it hurts.

I'm now imagining a conversation from earlier this year:

"My friends, we have been foolish. Coach Gibbs will not come to Seattle. Not for money . . ."
"Not for Paul Allen . . ."
"Nor to cut block the Niners. He will come . . . because it is his pleasure."
"Your ma mated with a coyote!"

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 4:54pm


by jsdarkman (not verified) :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 1:48pm

What a sh*t column. These two clowns have to go.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 2:47pm

Hmm... or maybe you should just not read it? Probably makes more sense. But if you are going to read it don't leave shit comments and act like this is the FoxSports boards.

by Dean :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 2:52pm

Perhaps they should have compared Seattle to the Merovingians?

by Jimmy Oz (not verified) :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 11:54pm

As much as shit column comments may have irritated others for being too brief a summary, its an accurate assessment.

The only funny thing they intended was the High 5. The only piece that contained any insight was the Bucs, unless you lived under a rock. It seemed to me to be the kind of thing that Easterbrook would write except he'd pad it out with Christmas Creep Crap, Soft Pr0n Cheer Leaders, NASA bullshit, O-Linemen, and some stupid & dubious statistics.

It starts with praise for Ryan for being at least average and then hypocritically condems Moore for not being great.

Harry Connick Jr gets a mention as if his support of the Saints is a joke because he's famous. I don't know, I assume its this becuase I didn't understand what the mention added to the article or what the joke was. It seemed like they wanted to put in a Harry Connick Jr joke but didn't have a joke so they just mentioned Harry Connick Jr and hoped people would think its funny because they just mentioned Harry Connick Jr.

Bags Gregg Williams over his time at the Jags, ignoring the rest of his coaching history, including the season just gone.

Arizona don't have Warner (who knew?) and we have clowns laughing at their own jokes trying to convince us they're funny. I'd rather be Arizona.

They carry on about 49ers coaching, noting that Alex Smith performed well under Norv Turner, but they fail to mention Alex Smith's new coordinator, Jimmy Raye, and that he last coordinated under Norv Turner in Oakland. Is this why Raye was hired, what's the Raye philosophy? These clowns' attitude is to talk about Tomlin's Steelers instead.

Rams talks about Patriots from 1981.

Seattle talks about Pete Carroll as new coach and mentions East Coast Bias.

The irony of dragging Patriots and Steelers into the NFC West discussion before the mention of the east coast bias is the funniest thing in the article. Unfortunately i can't see that it was intentional.

by dbostedo :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 11:15am

"It seemed to me to be the kind of thing that Easterbrook would write..."

Nothing wrong with that. I quite enjoyed it.

by Hari-Kiri Bengals Fan (not verified) :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 2:14pm

So, Carolina's braintrust has seen Moore play, and the fact that they haven't given him more opportunities is a sign that he's bad...

...except that you admit they know nothing about the QB position, as Delhomme's far-too-long tenure would suggest.

I think Moore is a good quarterback, and I think that they're overreacting to Delhomme. They gave Delhomme tons of chances, and now the pendulum has swung the other way, where they're giving More very few chances to impress them, and drafting a high-caliber backup/future replacement.

If you want to worry about the Panthers, worry about their disastrous WR corps.

by montanapanthersfan :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 3:18pm

Yeah, remind me of the fact we had one passing td, all of last year's preseason, and this year we've regressed in that regard. Who knew drafting a guy legendary for drops issues and a two-year-project at best could possibly backfire?

At least we have a probable higher first rounder next year in a weaker draft to...oh, right.


by montanapanthersfan :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 3:20pm

Also, "braintrust" may be a bit kind...

by Bobman :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 4:03pm

Isn't it kind of funny that many predictions are for the SB champs to suffer the "hangover" and the SB losers to continue on as they have in the past? I'm not arguing with it, but it's not the way things are supposed to play out.

Take THAT, conventional wisdom.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 7:34pm

I think people have the attitude of "I'll believe the Colts will win under 10 games in season when I see it happen." As long as they have Manning and their divisional rivals do nothing to improve their defenses, the Colts will dominate...

Also, the Saints NFC Championship was not exactly a convincing display of superior football and their Superbowl win came on a spectacular defensive TD, they didn't really come across as some super-team... (and they didn't even make the playoffs in 2008)

by Just Another Falcons Fan (not verified) :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 6:40pm

I have to ask:

If the Seahawks somehow edge out the 49ers in the NFC West this year, would that make Mike Singletary Winston Churchill? Would that also make Pete Carroll Liman von Sanders?

by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 6:50pm

I would say Singletary as Field Marshal Allenby and Carroll as KreƟ von Kressenstein, but who's quibbling.

by Boots Day (not verified) :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 8:09pm

Re the 1981 Patriots: Near as I can tell, they were 2-2 (not 2-1, as you said) in games decided by more than ten points (beat the Chiefs 33-17 and the Oilers 38-10, lost to the Cowboys 35-21 and to the Jets 17-6). Plus they lost three other games by exactly ten points, so they were 2-5 in games decided by ten points or more.

I checked their record because I thought it would be cool to see a team that was getting beaten at the wire every single week, but they weren't really like that. They consistently lost games by 7-10 points. Of their 14 losses, only four were by a field goal or less, so even if they had split the games decided by three points or fewer, they still would have been a putrid 4-12.

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 10:20am

Yeah, what I meant to write and should have written is that they'll probably be the only 2-win team ever with more STOMP wins than STOMP losses. Their losses weren't all incredibly close, but aside from the one time, they just never got blown out. If/when we get back to 1981, I'll be very curious to see how DVOA ranks them.

by t.d. :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 8:43pm

gregg williams failed in jacksonville because the talent didn't match his scheme, he and del rio clashed, and the reggie nelson experiment was a disaster. previously, he had been highly regarded with success at multiple stops. i just don't get the expectation that the saints' defense will be 'awful', which these projections seem to count on. it seems to be counting on a reversion to the jason david experience, and the saints have changed personnel significantly from the 2007-8 iterations. with a mediocre defense, the saints should be a 10-11 win team, at least

by Xeynon (not verified) :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 10:49pm

Perhaps, if only because they play in a crappy division and 25% of their schedule is gimmies against the Panthers and Bucs. But their defense (which was not all that impressive by other metrics) DID record a statistically aberrant number of turnovers last year, and there's reason to expect they won't repeat that performance. I don't expect them to be "awful" - more like "mediocre" - but they're still going to have trouble keeping other teams from scoring almost as much as they do. Combined with the facts that every single team they play is going to be gunning for them, from week one onwards, and that they're unlikely to remain as healthy at key spots this year as they did last year, that means they've got a very tough road to repeating last year's regular season performance, much less repeating as SB champs.

They won't be terrible (10 wins sounds about right to me), but they're as likely to go 8-8 as they are to go 13-3 again IMO.

by t.d. :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 10:55pm

Great offensive teams with mediocre defenses win a ton of games. That is a typical description of the Colts and Chargers the last five years

by Shattenjager :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 12:06am

Just so Williams's record is clear

1997-Ten: -3.1% total DVOA (16), 7.8% pass DVOA (22), -16.8% rush DVOA (4)
1998-Ten: 11.0% total DVOA (28), 27.7% pass DVOA (30), -8.5% rush DVOA (17)
1999-Ten: -2.0% total DVOA (20), 11.6% pass DVOA (26), -20.2% rush DVOA (7)
2000-Ten: -27.0% total DVOA (1), -23.6% pass DVOA (2), -30.9% rush DVOA (2)
2001-Buf (HC)*: 8.8% total DVOA (26), 11.4% pass DVOA (25), 6.4% rush DVOA (29)
2002-Buf (HC): 7.5% total DVOA (24), 10.2% pass DVOA (24), 4.7% rush DVOA (25)
2003-Buf (HC): -13.0% total DVOA (7), -15.8% pass DVOA (5), -9.9% rush DVOA (12)
2004-Was**: -14.8% total DVOA (4), -5.9% pass DVOA (11), -25.3% rush DVOA (1)
2005-Was: -14.0% total DVOA (4), -13.2% pass DVOA (4), -15.0% rush DVOA (11)
2006-Was: 14.9% total DVOA (32), 35.1% pass DVOA (32), -4.3% rush DVOA (14)
2007-Was: -6.7% total DVOA (7), -7.0% pass DVOA (6), -6.2% rush DVOA (14)
2008-Jax***: 10.2% total DVOA (24), 26.4% pass DVOA (29), -6.4% rush DVOA (10)
2009-NO****: 1.5% total DVOA (14), -3.8% pass DVOA (9), 7.7% rush DVOA (29)

*Tennessee ranked 24 in total DVOA at 6.5%.
**Buffalo ranked 1 in total DVOA at -28.8%.
***Washington ranked 11 in total DVOA at 0.8%.
****Jacksonville ranked 28 in total DVOA at 14.1%.

by Sander :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 10:55pm

On the Bucs D-line plan, McCoy is going to be undertackle, Roy Miller (last year's 3rd round pick who was easily the best DT of a horrifically awful group) the nose, and Price will back them both up. Looking at physique, Roy Miller at least seems to have the build of a nosetackle down if not the pure weight.

by Sander :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 10:56pm

And with 'back them both up' I mean the three of them will probably get equal playing time in games.

by Basilicus :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 10:57pm

The Ottoman Empire? D&D? Mike Singletary as Winston Churchill? This is my favorite thread since those halcyon days of yore (aka Br*dy vs. M*nn*ng).

by Telamon :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 11:06pm

I just realized that if Carroll represents the CUP, then he's going to do something analogous to slaughtering millions of Armenians, and then die fighting in Turkmenistan. I can only imagine what that would mean.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 9:07am

Arbitrarily cut half the players on the roster and get fired after losing a neutral site game in Mexico City?

by Tom Selleck (not verified) :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 9:24am

Brian Price may have been a penetrating DT in college, but at 6'1" 300 lbs he has the body of a NFL 4-3 NT. I think he'd compare to former fellow Pac-10 standouts like Mike Patterson and Brandon Mebane, both of whom have done pretty well for themselves in the pros. At 6'5" Gerald McCoy has a much longer, leaner build like Kevin Williams, the prototypical NFL penetrating DT.

by Duke :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 4:08pm

Shouldn't the teetering old giant of the NFC West have been the Rams?

Oh, and if you're planning on dumping on Chicago (the city) next week, prepare for a long angry rant from me in reply.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 8:58pm

The Ottoman Empire WON the Second Balkan War.

1st Balkan War: Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria vs. OE. Result: Loss of European Turkey.

2nd Balkan War: Bulgaria vs. everyone + Rumania. Result: Bulgarian loss of Macedonia, Dobruja and Adrianople.

by beargoggles :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 11:42pm

Mike, you have 7 teams under and 1 over. You do realize that these teams play each other a bunch of times, right? Unless you have the Niners going 14-2, which I doubt.