Tuesday, December 06, 2005

NFC Report: Week 14
By Zach

So after a couple of close wins the last few weeks, it was a pleasure to be able to enjoy a good old fashioned Seahawk blowout. Plus, it meant I could get started on the NFC Report a bit earlier.

Ok, We Get It. The Torch Has Been Passed.

Seattle Seahawks (10-2)

Outlook: Heading into their game against the Eagles on Monday Night, there were three concerns I had. The first was that the Seahawks under Holmgren (and always, really) have struggled when they’ve had to go to the East Coast for games. The time change hurts going west to east more than east to west (trust me, I’ve logged plenty of cross-country flights), and that has hurt the Hawks numerous times (the Washington game earlier this year being the most recent example). The second concern was that they might have an emotional letdown after clinching the division with the Rams loss yesterday. The last was that the Eagles, despite being hurt and bad, would be playing for pride (and the Minister of Defense). Well, consider my concerns alleviated. They absolutely killed the Eagles, and while the offense wasn’t explosive, it also rarely saw the field. Meanwhile, Lofa Tatupu probably won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year with his performance tonight, and the entire team tackled well despite the snow. Oh yeah, and they forced 6 turnovers. Yeah, McMahon and Detmer are terrible, but still, it was a nice performance.

Just like I said last week, the worst this team does is go 13-3. Assuming that lone loss is to the Colts, they’ll get the top seed in the NFC playoffs and probably be the odds-on favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Gratuitous Extra Seahawk Coverage

So I was having an argument with my roommate about the NFL MVP. I mentioned that I thought Shaun Alexander had to be the frontrunner at this point, while he argued that LaDanian Tomlinson should be the pick. His reason? Because while Alexander got a lot of short touchdown runs to boost his overall total (now 22, on pace to set an NFL record), LDT had to work a lot harder for his. Curious, I looked at the game logs for both players.

Tomlinson TDs:

2 yards
16 yards
4 yards
1 yard
3 yards
5 yards
8 yards
1 yard
2 yards
7 yards
4 yards
25 yards (reception)
1 yard
1 yard
1 yard
32 yards
41 yards

5 TDs of 1 yard
6 TDs over 5 yards
Average TD: 9.1 yards
(without long TD): 7.1

Alexander TDs:

14 yards
25 yards
1 yard
1 yard
1 yard
3 yards
1 yard
18 yard
4 yards
5 yards
1 yard
23 yards
88 yards
14 yards
6 yards
4 yards
17 yards
8 yards
1 yard
4 yards
2 yards
1 yard

7 TDs of 1 yard
9 TDs over 5 yards
Average TD: 10.9 yards
(without long TD): 7.2 yards

What’s this show? At the very least, Alexander and Tomlinson are about equal in that regard, though I’d argue that Alexander’s numbers are (slightly) better. The reason I did the average TD length without the long run was to attempt to negate the fact that Alexander has an 88-yard TD while Tomlinson’s long was just 41 yards.

LaDanian Tomlinson is a great player, and he’s having a great season. If I had to choose any player to start my team with, he’d be my pick. I didn’t include his passing TDs, because while they are nice (especially in fantasy), I don’t see them as being a part of the discussion when it comes to MVP running backs. But if one of these guys is gonna be the MVP this season, Alexander is the clear pick.

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

Oh, So That’s How You Stop Mike Vick.

Carolina Panthers (9-3)

Outlook: They got a great defensive effort and the best game of the year from (the previously non-existent) DeShaun Foster. Still, they remain a good, but not great defensive team and a completely one-dimensional offense. If they can establish some semblance of run game, then maybe I’ll believe that they can go to the Super Bowl. Until that point, I don’t see them as likely to go on the road and win in the playoffs.

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

Winning Despite the QB.

Chicago Bears (9-3)

Outlook: Common sense tells me this Bears team isn't that good. Of course, that's exactly what I said last week, and this week they struggled to beat the lowly Packers.

For those of you who've been paying attention, that first paragraph has been basically the same each of the last four weeks. I would change it, but it still holds true. What happens when they have a game where they don’t get a defensive TD or set the offense up at the opposing one-yard line? They’ll lose, like maybe this next week on the road against a desperate Steelers team.

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

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-4)

Outlook: Their defense is quite good. Not Bears good, which is why they’re not as good as the Bears despite having (slightly) better weapons on offense. If they can get a home game, they can win that, but if you think Chris Simms is going on the road and winning a playoff game, then you’re either an idiot or Phil Simms (yes, I know there’s no significant difference).

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

Who Needs Field Goals?

New York Giants (7-4)

Outlook: So while a certain Giant continues to act out the little-known Arthur Miller play Death of a Kicker, the rest of the team (well, just the defense) played a good game to get a much-needed win over the Cowboys. Eli may not complete many passes, but, uh…his brother is really good, so he must be too! And if he’s not, well we can start the lesser Hasselbeck. Hey, quick. Check and see if Carson Palmer has a brother, we need a third string QB.

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

Maybe Culpepper Was (260 pounds of) Dead Weight.

Minnesota Vikings (7-5)

Outlook: They get three games at home, and their road game is winnable to say the least. 10-6 looks reasonable, with even 11-5 as a possibility. Right now, they’ve got the best shot at the sixth seed in my mind, though how they keep winning with Johnson to Robinson(s) is beyond me. But hey, anything that keeps Mike Tice employed (for a conference rival) is fine with me.

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

So This Is Why Drew Bledsoe Was Available.

Dallas Cowboys (7-5)

Outlook: Well, they’re in bad shape. Fighting with the two other 7-5 teams for the remaining playoff spot in the NFC, they’ve got a tough schedule. They’ve got two home games and a winnable road game, but I’m not sure 10-6 would be enough to get them into the playoffs. Besides, their offense has looked horrible lately, and considering the fact that their line is banged up and Drew Bledsoe isn’t very good, they’re in big trouble.

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

Could We Redo That Trade For Mike Vick?

Atlanta Falcons (7-5)

Outlook: It used to be they could count on owning the Panthers. Now, not so much. Everyone was saying five weeks ago that this would be the year the Falcons would finally post back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history, but I’ve got a feeling they’re gonna finish 8-8. That’s right, they’re about to go from 6-2 to 8-8. That’s what happens when your best running back plays QB and your best wide receiver plays tight end. And your defense can’t cover anyone.

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


Blogger The Armchair Quarterback said...

Maybe it will change after tonight's rout but I find it curious that the Seahawks are seen as the third best bet by many media members (behind Carolina & Chicago) to represent the NFC in the SuperBowl. They can't get over past season's mistakes by Seattle and some games that they felt they "stole" from the opponent this year. I don't get this because the Seahawks will have homefield in the playoffs and they are tough there. How can they not be the favorite? It just seems that for so many people the Panthers were the popular pick in the pre-season and they don't want to let go of that. Anyway, I'm with you on Alexander. I think Tomlinson is the better overall back but Alexander is the most valuable running back this year. I don't know about league MVP but he's definitely in my top 3.

2:06 AM  

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