Monday, November 28, 2005

NFC Report: Week 13
By Zach

Well that was a mighty interesting week. The Seahawks and Bears perhaps emerged as the top two teams (at least record-wise), while numerous teams snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Honey, do you have Jay Feely/Matt Bryant's address? I want to send him a fruit basket.

Seattle Seahawks (9-2)

Outlook: For the second straight week, they pull out a late victory. This time, they got outplayed by a talented Giants squad, but were the beneficiaries of a total meltdown by Jay Feely. I'll let him off the hook for the 54-yarder, but no way you can miss from both 40 and 45 yards in that situation. The biggest concern for the Hawks is that the Giants were able to impose their will defensively on Seattle as Walter Jones gave up his first sack(s) in two years while the run game never got fully on track. The other big issue was that yet again they were unable to generate offense late in the game. They had the one touchdown drive, but beyond that struggled to move the ball, especially in overtime. The defense had its own issues, allowing another late TD drive and then another drive which could have led to the game-winning field goal (seriously, anyone with Feely's address should e-mail it to sportszilla at gmail dot com, I'll make sure he gets something nice). Then, in OT they again allowed the Giants to get field goal chances.

All that being said, they're almost certain to go at least 12-4 and very likely will finish 13-3 or better. Their remaining schedule features one tough game, and that's at home. The same Qwest Field crowd will be out in force, and after forcing the Giants into 11 false starts yesterday, who knows what they might manage against the 49ers and Colts. They've got the massive inside track to home-field advantage, and with the way the NFC is shaking out I'm not sure I see anyone going into Seattle and winning.

Remaining schedule: @PHI, SF, @TEN, IND, @GB

Chicago Bears (8-3)

Outlook: Common sense tells me this Bears team isn't that good. Of course, that's exactly what I said last week, and they just beat the Buccaneers. For those of you who've been paying attention, that first paragraph has been the same each of the last three weeks. I should modify it slightly. The Bears defense is very, very good. But their offense is very, very bad. Kyle Orton is a joke, and if Lovie Smith sticks with him at QB when Rex Grossman is healthy he's not the good coach I thought he was. I don't care that they've been winning with Orton at QB, they've won in spite of him. Seriously, their offense is terrible. Their only TD came when they took over at the Tampa Bay one yard line. Their running game is mediocre and they can't pass at all. That's why I can't take them seriously as a Super Bowl team. And remember, while everyone will talk about how lucky the Seahawks were, the Bears were far more fortunate that Matt Bryant missed a 29-yard field goal late in the game. Who knows what happens if they have to go to OT on the road?

Remaining schedule: GB, @PIT, ATL, @GB, @MIN

Media Darlings No More

Carolina Panthers (8-3)

Outlook: Well, at least they won this week. Still, a miserable showing against the Bills has me thinking that the jig may be up with this team. The defense remains solid, but the offense is so one-dimentional it's now an example in geometry textbooks. People finally wised up and started doubling and even tripling Steve Smith, so now Jake Delhomme has no one to throw to. Plus, the run game still struggles, even against a poor defense like Buffalo's. With a very, very tough remaining schedule they're gonna have a tough time holding on to their NFC South lead.

Remaining schedule: @BUF, ATL, TB, @NO, DAL, @ATL

If I Only Had a Kicker...

Dallas Cowboys (7-4)

Outlook: I'm sorry, but when you get the largest advantage in the NFL (a home Thanksgiving game) every year, you deserve some bad luck. Seriously, it's an utter joke that the league allows this to go on. To make a team travel only two or three days after playing the previous week is massively unfair, and then to give the advantage to the same two teams each season is even worse. The Lions may need all the help they can get, but the Cowboys don't. They, like the Giants, outplayed their opponent, but just like Big Blue they couldn't put the game away. Billy Cundiff's miss from 34 yards cost them a chance to win in regulation, but just as galling was allowing Ron Dayne (no children, he's not dead) to rumble 55 yards to set up the winning figgie in OT. Their game next week against the Giants will decide the NFC East race, and may push the loser out of the playoffs altogether.

Remaining schedule: @NYG, KC, @WAS, @CAR, STL

New York Giants (7-4)

Outlook: Most of what I have to say can been seen above in the Seahawks column. Today, on my radio show, I wondered if this isn't the kind of loss that can linger with a young team. I certainly saw that with the Seahawks the last few years. The Baltimore game in 2003 and the Rams game in 2004 had a lasting effect on the team's psyche. When you lose games you know you should have won, it can keep you from winning down the road. As mentioned above, their game with Dallas next week is a must-win. I firmly believe that if they don't win, not only will they not win the division, the Giants won't make the playoffs. Their remaining schedule is just too tough for them to go 3-1, and that's what it would likely take.

Remaining Schedule: DAL, @PHI, KC, @WAS, @OAK

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4)

Outlook: The biggest play in the game was made by Chris Simms, and not in a good way. His fumble handed the Bears their only touchdown and bailed out what was otherwise a woeful offense. The problem for the Buccaneers is that while their defense is good, it's not enough to overcome the QB situation. Even a rejuvenated Cadillac Williams hasn't been enough. Still, they've got some winable games left on the schedule, so the playoffs are still a possibility.

Remaining Schedule: @NO, @CAR, @NE, ATL, NO

Plenty Left to Prove

Atlanta Falcons (7-4)

Outlook: Well, they beat the Lions. Hooray! We'll see how they do against the rest of the schedule. Two games against the 8-3 Panthers, another against the 8-3 Bears (in Chicago), one against the 7-4 Buccaneers (in Tampa), and a gimmie at home against the Saints. No way they make the playoffs without a miraculous run from Vick, Dunn, and Co.

Remaining schedule: @CAR, NO, @CHI, @TB, CAR

Maybe Their Ship Didn't Sink After All

Minnesota Vikings (6-5)

Outlook: They have at least three winnable games left on the schedule, and the two tough ones are both at home. Plus they hold the tiebreaker over the Giants. I'm still not sure that Brad Johnson can really lead a team back from the brink, but I've got to admit there's at least a chance they can get there. Still, with no running game and a patchwork offensive line, they're gonna need improvement on the defense and in the wide receiving corps if they want to pull of one of the all-time great in-season turnarounds.

Remaining schedule: @DET, STL, PIT, @BAL, CHI

Say Goodbye To:

Washington Redskins (5-6)

Remaining schedule: @STL, @ARI, DAL, NYG, @PHI


Blogger The Armchair Quarterback said...

I agree with you about Orton. The Bears lead is big enough that they can experiment with Grossman for a game (maybe 2) and see if he can generate anything resembling an offense.

4:21 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home