NFL 2016: Week 14

Thursday
Raiders-Chiefs

Sunday
Redskins-Eagles
Texans-Colts
Bengals-Browns
Broncos-Titans
Cardinals-Dolphins
Bears-Lions
Steelers-Bills
Chargers-Panthers
Vikings-Jaguars
Jets-49ers
Falcons-Rams
Saints-Buccaneers
Seahawks-Packers
Cowboys-Giants

Sunday
Ravens-Patriots

32 Responses to “NFL 2016: Week 14”


  1. don

    Nice Thursday night matchup. Hope both teams play well, unlike last Thursday night.

  2. Mitchell

    I’m expecting the Raiders to get smushed.

    Man, this past week seems to have been the week of the Chiefs. Everyone I listen to couldn’t stop talking about them. They all but convinced me that the Raiders are scary, but that the Chiefs are the best team in that division. Ugh.

  3. Reid

    Pre-Game Comments

    Raiders-Chiefs
    I agree with Don, this is a good test for both teams.

    Redskins-Eagles
    Two or three weeks ago, I would’ve been more enthused about this. Something seems to have happened to the Eagles, including their defense. Or, they weren’t as good as I thought.

    Broncos-Titans
    Good test for the Titans. I always feel like they’re going to make boneheaded plays, but Mariota seems to really have gotten the turnovers under wraps.

    Saints-Buccaneers
    Strangely enough, this might be one of the best games of the week. Are the Bucs for real?

    Seahawks-Packers
    At the beginning of the season I would have been more enthused about this, but the Packers don’t look good. Still, I never know what to expect from the Seahawk OL. They perform decently, and it should be all good. They don’t, and they may struggle to score 7 points. I leaning toward the ‘Hawks in this, though.

    Cowboys-Giants
    Another potentially good one, but I don’t know what to expect from the Giants, especially their offense. (I feel like the Giants defense might be able to contain the Cowboys offense, but we’ll see.)

    Ravens-Patriots
    I’m a little more interested in this. Without Gronk, the Ravens have a chance.

  4. Reid

    Mitchell,

    As negative as I’ve been about the Raiders, I’m not thinking they’re going to get crushed–or at least I’m not having strong feelings that that will be the case. It wouldn’t totally surprise me, though. I just expect boneheaded plays/mistakes from the Raiders, and I guess that could lead to a blow out.

  5. Mitchell

    Two or three weeks ago, I would’ve been more enthused about this. Something seems to have happened to the Eagles, including their defense. Or, they weren’t as good as I thought.

    Cian Fahey says Dalton had an uncharacteristically (as in, maybe for the first time in his career) good game. The Bengals didn’t win in spite of Dalton, he says. They won because of him, and the Eagles D played well.

    Although the Chargers and Panthers are both out of it, their game this week could be excellent. I find this an interesting matchup.

  6. Reid

    Cian Fahey says Dalton had an uncharacteristically (as in, maybe for the first time in his career) good game. The Bengals didn’t win in spite of Dalton, he says. They won because of him, and the Eagles D played well.

    Two things:

    1. This doesn’t raise my esteem of Fahey. Dalton has limitations, but never playing a good game? You know I don’t think highly of Dalton (and that’s mostly based on him handling pressure, especially in the playoffs), but I would never say this.

    2. I’m not just talking about the game against the Bengals. It goes back to at least the game with the Seahawks.

  7. Mitchell

    I don’t like the Raiders white jerseys nearly as much as their black ones, but this white jersey with the silver numbers is sweet.

  8. Reid

    I’m not watching the game, but if it’s the one I think, I dont’ really care for that one. I agree that black jerseys are better than the white, but I would think that’s obvious. (I still like the white jerseys, too, though. Raiders have the best jerseys helmets)

    Power Rankings

    Some general thoughts. This a year where the teams with the best defenses either may not make the playoffs or go very far into the playoffs. This opens the door wide open for offensive-oriented teams–teams like the Patriots, Falcons, Steelers, even the Raiders.

    Rankings

    Cowboys
    Seahawks

    Patriots

    I’m just dropping the Cowboys down because Prescott recently said the dredded words: “We’re America’s team.” 🙂 (He actually did reference that; and yes, it was annoying.) Seriously, I’d probably put the Cowboys slightly ahead, mainly because they seem more like a sure thing. The Seahawks OL is too unpredictable and inconsistent–and they’ve lost Earl Thomas for the year. (I think they can overcome that if the OL plays well.) The Patriots no longer have Gronk.

    Broncos
    Steelers
    Chiefs
    Vikings
    Raiders
    Falcons
    Lions
    Giants

    This second tier is a crapshoot. I struggle to put them in any order. You could randomly mix them up, and I might be OK with the list. But I guess I do favor the Broncos, but this is contingent on Siemian protecting the ball and being able to make plays. I’m leaning toward the fact that he will, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t. In fact, I’ve seen tendencies that could lead to turnovers–but I’m leaning against this. If the Broncos defense turns it up, I’d hate to face them, and I would put them in the top tier. If the defense is great, they could wipe out many of the other teams.

    Falcons and Raiders are lower, because of their defenses. Vikings would be higher, if not for their offense. Steelers are rather high because I’m starting to feel like their defense is improving–but that’s not based on careful observation. Chiefs seem like the really balanced team. Smith is starting to make me wonder if he can actually lead a team all the way. (I’m doing this before watching the Raider game, though.)

    Saints, Buccaneers, Colts, Ravens, Redskins and Packers–I guess they could be in there, too.

  9. Reid

    Raiders-Chiefs

    Carr didn’t seem right tonight, but still…penalties, muffed FG, and, to me, it seemed like a lot of dropped balls. The Raiders ran fairly well, but it seemed like they couldn’t take advantage of the Chiefs losing Derrick Johnson, and playing a dime defense.

    The defense wasn’t great, but they got two turnovers, and ST got one turnover as well. KC seemed to get real conservative, and the Raiders couldn’t take advantage. Ugh.

  10. Mitchell

    You’re dropping the Cowboys down to first? And no love for the Titans. I’m mildly surprised. They were one of the three teams I think you said you were really looking forward to this season. Have they been a disappointment? I think I’m more optimistic about them now than at this point last year.

  11. Reid

    Last week, I had the Cowboys in a tier above the Seahawks and Patriots.

    As for the Titans, I think their defense is pretty bad. Then again, there are other teams like that as well–e.g., the Falcons (although, the Falcons defense might be slightly better–maybe). It seems like Mariota and the offense have gotten a handle on the turnovers, but I’m still a little wary of this.

    What did you (and Don) think of the Raiders’ running game? The sense I got: if you just take away the pass and dare them to run (e.g., you play them in a nickel or dime package), the Raiders won’t be able to take advantage of you. This is the kind of thing that happens to explosive, pass-first offenses in the playoffs. And it’s one of the reasons I didn’t like their chances of doing well in the playoffs. Also, I didn’t think their run-blocking was all that great, especially if they have one of the better OLs in the league. (They also didn’t have Kelechi Osemele.)

    Also, do you guys think they made too many boneheaded plays–e.g., dropped balls, penalties, etc.? I could be exaggerating this because I like the Raiders. That is, I get more frustrated by mistakes or failed plays because I care about the team. If I didn’t like them as much, the mistakes, etc. might not seem as big of a deal.

  12. don

    Re Broncos:
    I really like this year’s Bronco offense over last years, despite the Broncos still having a somewhat anemic run game this year. I just think teams have to honor Siemian more than they did Manning (or maybe the two QBs are equal, but they seem to be honoring Siemian more than they did Manning). I listen to the Ringer podcast from a week ago, and one of the writers spoke to the Bronco defense being not as good as last year’s and really missing the middle of that defensive line. He said they are ranked 23rd(or around there) against the run this year. I really didn’t like the Bronco’s chances last year. I really thought after seeing them early on this season that they were a much more balanced team (ie: better on offense and still strong on defense), but if they cannot shut down teams (ie: give up no more than 14 a game), I don’t give them much of a chance.

    Re Chiefs:
    I think the Chief’s defense looks better this year than last and in the last couple games look really good with a semi-healthy Houston. I also heard that Chris Jones rookie DE has been pretty darn good this year. Can this defense carry this team? Possibly, I don’t see them being as good as Denver last year, but I think they could be Denver’s equal this year.

    Re Packers:
    I think I stated before that Rodgers has been much better. Is it the emergence of Adams? Adams was a drop-machine last year. But whatever the case, Rodgers looks like a guy that can carry this team at least to be a playoff team, which would mean either the Redskins or Vikings or Lions being out.

    Re Raiders:
    I disagree and do think the Raiders can run against a defense trying to stop the pass. This is being said without see a whole lot of the Raider games, though. I think it just depends what you are looking for: numerous 8 yard runs or consistently getting 4-5 yards. I see the Raiders more in the later. My observation and what I like about the Raiders is it seems the Raiders love to pass on run downs (ie: first down) and run in seemingly passing situations (ie: second and long). Much more than the Cowboys, and I wish the Cowboys would run more on second and long to get into third and manageable. I’ll also add that when the Ringer guys talk about the Raiders they almost always mention their offensive line with much admiration. Without hearing their rankings, my guess is they would have the Raider offensive line second to the Cowboys, whereas in the preseason it was mostly about the Bengals and Cowboys.

  13. don

    Forgot to add that Cooper was known (last year anyway) as a guy that drops passes, so maybe they do make a little more boneheaded plays than other teams.

  14. Reid

    Don,

    I really like this year’s Bronco offense over last years, despite the Broncos still having a somewhat anemic run game this year.

    I agree, but that’s not saying much, either.

    I really thought after seeing them early on this season that they were a much more balanced team (ie: better on offense and still strong on defense), but if they cannot shut down teams (ie: give up no more than 14 a game), I don’t give them much of a chance.

    Yeah, I’m sort of with you, here. I’ll just add that “shutting down” isn’t only about points, but it also relates to turnovers as well. If they give up a little more than 14, but they’re good at generating turnovers (while protecting the ball on offense), that can be another path to victory. Last year, the Broncos seemed to be that type of defense–and they certainly was that type of defense in the playoffs and Super Bowl. I’m less certain that they can be that way this year, though.

    I think the Chief’s defense looks better this year than last and in the last couple games look really good with a semi-healthy Houston. I also heard that Chris Jones rookie DE has been pretty darn good this year. Can this defense carry this team? Possibly, I don’t see them being as good as Denver last year, but I think they could be Denver’s equal this year.

    I think these are valid points. I think I’ve been too dismissive of the Chiefs because of my position on Smith. (He didn’t really look that great yesterday, especially when the offense got real conservative. His deep passing looks a lot better, though.)

    Do you think the defense is on par with the Vikings’ and Seahawks’? I don’t really get that sense, but I could be totally wrong about that. It’s something I’m going to be trying to assess from here on out.

    I think I stated before that Rodgers has been much better. Is it the emergence of Adams?

    For what it’s worth, this is motivating me to watch the last two or three games. Do you also think the WRs/TEs are doing a better job of getting open? Or is it your sense that Rodgers has to thread the needle quite a bit? If it’s the latter, that’s not a good sign in my view.

    I disagree and do think the Raiders can run against a defense trying to stop the pass. This is being said without see a whole lot of the Raider games, though.

    What about last night’s game, though? Murray ended up running for 100+, but I would say their offense struggled overall. The yards don’t matter–it’s how the offense functions overall, whether they can get the points they need. The Raiders offense couldn’t really do that in my view.

    I’ll also add that when the Ringer guys talk about the Raiders they almost always mention their offensive line with much admiration.

    If we’re talking pass-protection, I can see this. But run-blocking–I don’t really see this at all, not if they’re supposed to be one of the best OLs. I can see really good run-blocking with the Titans and Cowboys. Shoot, even when the Falcons and Seahawks (when they play well) can produce better lanes. It could be that Murray just doesn’t have great vision or patience–that wouldn’t be that hard to believe. But they don’t get the type of push and create the type of running lanes I notice with the Titans and Cowboys.

    A big reason for this might be philosophy, too. The Raiders are pass-first, with the run being used as a change-up.

    Forgot to add that Cooper was known (last year anyway) as a guy that drops passes, so maybe they do make a little more boneheaded plays than other teams.

    Cooper can drop relatively easy passes. We’re not talking a lot–maybe he can do it once or twice in a game–but still. He’s sort of like Demaryius Thomas in that way. But Crabtree has dropped balls this year, not all easy, but the type where really good WRs hold onto, especially if you’re a possession guy. Seth Roberts has too many drops for my taste.

    I’m happy the team did well on the turnover ratio, although I thought Cooper actually fumbled the ball (and they got lucky on that).

  15. Mitchell

    I actually like the Raiders’ run-blocking. It’s not awe-inspiring, but those rushes are not token attempts. There were a couple of nice draw plays.

    It was clear that something was off with Carr, and the receivers did drop far too many balls they should have had. I’m wondering if that finger problem from last week is a bigger deal than the team is saying; another possibility is Thursday night syndrome. Three days’ recovery time just isn’t enough for these guys, and that’s if they get away from Sunday’s game unscathed. For something like a banged-up index finger on your throwing hand, Carr might have been fine Sunday, but Thursday may have been asking too much. Speculation.

    The Chiefs’ defense isn’t as intimidating as the Seahawks’, but they seem a lot quicker to swarm around whoever’s got the ball. They seem like two completely different animals. Neither of which I’d want to meet in a dark forest.

    I saw very few plays I would call boneheaded. The play was sloppy, but I did not see stupidity or cluelessness.

  16. Reid

    Mitchell,

    There were a couple of nice draw plays.

    I agree with that, and there were a few times when there were good running lanes–but not enough if they’re one of the best OLs. And this doesn’t apply to just this game. (The game against the Broncos, the run-blocking looked consistently good, if I recall.)

    I also want to reiterate what I said to Don: the offense didn’t do well. I just remembered that, twice, they got the ball back close to, if not, in the red zone from turnovers. And they had to settle for FGs, missing one of them.

    Something else comes to mind. When the vaunted Bills, with their vaunted red gun offense, faced the Giants in the ’91 Super Bowl, the Giants dared the Bills to run. I think the Thomas or Kenneth Davis(?) ran for about a 100 yards, but they lost. And I recall that they probably should have ran more. As a comparison, Belichick employed a similar strategy against the Peyton Manning and the Broncos (in 2014?). Knowshown Moreno ran for about 200 yards, and the Broncos won.

    I’m wondering if that finger problem from last week is a bigger deal than the team is saying;

    I forgot to mention this, but I think this injury was a big deal–and I would guess this was the main reason for some of Carr’s passes that were uncharacteristically inaccurate. Another sign: he almost never took the ball from center, and their runs came from the pistol or shotgun formations. I’m pretty sure they almost never run the ball from the pistol formation. It reminded me of the time Aaron Rodgers had an ankle injury, and the Packers utilized the pistol formation a lot (2014, I think). In this case, I don’t think Carr could take the ball hitting his pink from under center. Michaels and Collinsworth also mentioned that Carr said this was the most pain he’s ever felt, and if you watch the play, he just backs off from under center, heading toward the sideline–not even trying to recover the fumble. Finally, the weather was cold, so that might have made his finger more painful.

    The Chiefs’ defense isn’t as intimidating as the Seahawks’, but they seem a lot quicker to swarm around whoever’s got the ball.

    OK, thanks.

    I saw very few plays I would call boneheaded. The play was sloppy, but I did not see stupidity or cluelessness.

    Yeah, I actually agree with that. There didn’t seem to be a lot of stupid plays–although some of the penalties were debatable.

  17. don

    Reid,

    You don’t think the Bronco offense with Siemian is significantly better than last year’s, and if this year’s defense can get to last year’s level they would definitely be the favorite to win it all? This is versus last year when not that many were picking them.

    As far as the Raider run game and running lanes, maybe it has more to do with style than ability. I’m guessing they don’t run a zone blocking scheme? I remember in the “old days”, I mean our time, the Raiders with Marcus Allen were known to just get big offensive linemen and the RBs were supposed to pick their own holes. So it wasn’t so schematic, where they were going to run. That may be a myth though.

    I didn’t watch too much of the game but two good points about Carr’s finger injury. First pointed out by Mitchell and then the fact they were running the pistol. I just didn’t put two and two together until you guys mentioned it. In fact I sort of forgot of his injury.

  18. Reid

    Don,

    You don’t think the Bronco offense with Siemian is significantly better than last year’s,…

    Yes, I agree with you. My point was that saying they’re better than last year isn’t saying much, because the 2015 offense was really bad at times (including turning the ball over).

    …and if this year’s defense can get to last year’s level they would definitely be the favorite to win it all?

    Yeah, I agree with that, too. In fact, if I was confident this would occur, they would definitely be in the top tier, and maybe a favorite to win it. The defense doesn’t seem as good. I don’t know if it’s the run defense, or what. Maybe to shore up the run, it leaves them a little more vulnerable in the pass defense? It could also be that teams have figured out a way to adjust. What I noticed is that offenses will pass a lot to TEs and RBs. The Broncos look vulnerable in that case. I’ve also seen teams bring in extra lineman for pass plays.

    As far as the Raider run game and running lanes, maybe it has more to do with style than ability. I’m guessing they don’t run a zone blocking scheme?

    I don’t think they use a zone-blocking scheme, but I’m not sure. Actually, I don’t really seem a lot of pulling linemen. I think it’s more of the fact that they run off of the passing game–that running isn’t a point of emphasis. It’s like the Packers OL. They’re really good, but they don’t strike me as a great run-blocking OL. By the way, I don’t think the Titans are ZBS, but they can block well.

    Your “style” comment isn’t necessarily off point. I mean, if you’re committed to running the ball, your OL will probably run-block a lot better. One other thing: I think Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington (who must be hurt) look a little better because they’re shifty and they can find creases–but I get the sense they’re making something out of very little. Murray can’t really do that.

    I still kind of wish someone like Harbaugh or Shanahan coached this team–because I’m pretty sure we’d see a really good run-first offense.

    Having said that, I think I could live with Del Rio if the defense was better, and they didn’t seem to make as many careless mistakes.

  19. Don

    Your “style” comment isn’t necessarily off point. I mean, if you’re committed to running the ball, your OL will probably run-block a lot better. One other thing: I think Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington (who must be hurt) look a little better because they’re shifty and they can find creases–but I get the sense they’re making something out of very little. Murray can’t really do that.

    Yeah I agree with all of this. However, that being said, that’s why I thought Murray was a good back to gain 4-5 yards pretty consistently. Is that incorrect based on what you guys have seen? He’s more of a three yards and a cloud of dust guy from what I have seen.

  20. Reid

    If I understand what you mean, I don’t agree–well, I’m not sure. What you’re saying is right, if the OL isn’t blocking that well. But if he played on the Titans or Cowboys, I could see him breaking off long runs–although I don’t get the sense he’s as good as someone like DeMarco Murray. DeMarco has impressed me this year with his cuts. He’s not shiffty, but he can read blocks and make good cuts. Latavius might be more like Derrick Henry. If that’s what you mean by 4-5 yards and cloud-of-dust, then yeah, I agree. But would you describe DeMarco is that way? I don’t think I would.

  21. don

    Packers, Hawks:
    I didn’t watch a whole lot of the game, but it doesn’t seem like I missed much. Wilson had some pressure, but for the most part he was just bad. My guess is that a lot had to do with weather for both him and his receivers.
    Rodgers looked fantastic in the parts I saw. As I’ve been saying the last few weeks, Rodgers seems to have found something (that he lost). He isn’t even that healthy too.

    Broncos, Titans:
    The Titans front seven is decent. I know that the Broncos are not a good offensive team, but I think the Titan’s defense is a few parts away from being very good. I think the same can be said about the Cowboys, I guess. Actually the Titans front seven and Dallas secondary would make a very good defense if I had to guess.

    Cowboys, Giants:
    The Cowboy offense has look pedestrian for a few weeks now. I think the league is catching up to them. That isn’t great news, since their defense cannot win games for them. On the other hand, the Cowboys made the Giants offense look really bad, and that’s not great news for the Giants, either. I think part of both offenses failing has to be attributed to the weather.

    The Giants seem to want to take away the short passing of Dallas and probably play over-the-top of Dez to make someone else on the Cowboys beat them long. This is a great strategy since Dallas number two receivers don’t get much production down the field. I thought Dak played okay, but Romo would have been better. I was surprised at the Giants’ speed on defense (although field conditions may play a part in that) and that really limited what Dak could do with his legs, both scrambling and rushing. I think that was the difference in the game.

  22. Reid

    Don,

    Wilson had some pressure, but for the most part he was just bad.

    Agreed–this might be the worst game I’ve seen Wilson play. Two picks were not his fault, but I’d put the other three on him. Also, his accuracy wasn’t very good. I think he was under pressure quite a bit, but still, that’s not a good enough excuse.

    This might be the worst game I’ve seen the Seahawks play since Wilson’s been the QB. They played awful against the Packers in the 2014 NFCCG, but they had limited pass-catching weapons. They don’t have that excuse this time.

    As I’ve been saying the last few weeks, Rodgers seems to have found something (that he lost).

    He looks better, but he also seemed to have all day to throw the ball. Then again, he had that type of protection pretty much the whole time, and it got to the point where he looked off. Keep in mind that the Seahawks were without Earl Thomas, though.

    … but I think the Titan’s defense is a few parts away from being very good.

    If the implication is that they have a pretty good defense now, I strongly disagree with that. One of the reasons I don’t give the Titans much of a chance is their defense. If I thought the defense was on the same level as the Cowboys’, I’d give them a shot. In yesterday’s game, I suspect the Titans defense looked good because the Broncos offense isn’t that great.

    As for the talent of the Titans front seven–on paper–I would think they would be solid, with Derick Morgan, Brian Orakpo (who I don’t think is great, but good) and Jurrell Casey, but they play below my expectations. The thing is, I think their defensive style and LeBeau, as DC, might be a big reason for their problems; and it’s hard to judge the talent independent of the system/coaching.

    The Cowboy offense has look pedestrian for a few weeks now. I think the league is catching up to them. That isn’t great news, since their defense cannot win games for them.

    The Giants and Vikings Dls, though, that’s the key. Plus, the Vikings are just really good overall. With the Giants, I don’t know what to expect. It’ll be interesting to see them go against the Buc’s DL–who is looking pretty solid right now.

    On the other hand, the Cowboys made the Giants offense look really bad, and that’s not great news for the Giants, either. I think part of both offenses failing has to be attributed to the weather.

    Weather was a factor, but the Giants offense is inconsistent–they didn’t look that different from other games I’ve seen. Eli had some horrid throws, too. Even if they get into the playoffs, I’m a bit skeptical they could go far because of it.

    I thought Dak played okay, but Romo would have been better.

    The Romo we know–yes. That Romo can create plays, and I would guess is a better pocket passer overall. This is the type of situation that you have to worry about with Dak–where you need the QB to make a lot of plays. Romo have proven he can do that; Dak, not so much.

    Dak was OK, but that one bomb that got picked off wasn’t very good.

    For me, two things stand out. The Giants got a good pass rush with just four or five defenders. And the Cowboys turned the ball over three times. Ball game.

  23. don

    Man, I don’t see how the Cowboy’s defense can be better than anyone. It’s hard to compare defenses because the Titans tend to play more aggressively, whereas the Cowboys are more conservatively. But I’m pretty sure the Cowboys are dead last in yards per play defended and I think they are near the bottom on third down conversions allowed. That cannot be great in any situation, as they are taking bend but don’t break to new levels. I would say that if the Titans played the Marinelli way, they would do better than the Cowboys, is my guess.

    Yes the Giants may not be consistent offensively, but they were getting off the field pretty darn quickly on offense. Probably the best the Cowboys defense has looked this year, and I doubt that has anything with what the Cowboys were doing.

    Dak interception on the long throw to Dez wasn’t a great decision, although to me he should be throwing the ball long in that situation (ie: interception could be as good as a punt), but Dez’ got cut off by his defender and almost looked like he didn’t know where the ball was. I put a lot of that either on Dez, a pass interference (although defenders impede receivers all the time, so I wouldn’t have called that), or a great defensive play (or all of the above) more than on Dak.

    Dak has some moments where he looked like Rivers where the walls were closing in on him and he tries to stand tall in the pocket. To me in those instances, that’s not great/wise, because he almost doesn’t seem fazed by the rush or he doesn’t care, and that could lead to turnovers (ie: strip sacks). Dak is not Rivers, nor is he River’s height. He also rarely makes a great throw in those situations (again unlike Rivers), so it’s not productive to not just throw the ball away. It shows good poise on the one hand, but I don’t think it’s ideal for Dak to continue to stand in there in those situations.

  24. Reid

    Don,

    Man, I don’t see how the Cowboy’s defense can be better than anyone.

    I suspect that’s the fan’s worry coming out. They held the Giants to 10 points. Sure, the Giants offense is inconsistent, but still, if the Cowboys d was terrible, I think the score would be higher. In terms of red zone defense and points per game, the Cowboys are pretty good, if I’m not mistaken.

    I would say that if the Titans played the Marinelli way, they would do better than the Cowboys, is my guess.

    It’s really hard to separate. The Titans have more known players in their front seven. Does that mean they’re better? I don’t know.

    It shows good poise on the one hand, but I don’t think it’s ideal for Dak to continue to stand in there in those situations.

    I see this more as a positive. The problem isn’t nearly as bad as Mariota in his first year–and in that case, I still thought that Mariota’s comfort was positive rather than negative. The bigger problem is that he’s just inexperienced.

  25. Mitchell

    I didn’t even know Orakpo was still in the league until last night, when he and some other Titan were named among the most fearsome pass-rushing duos on the Ringer (you can guess who the number one duo was). Titans and Broncos was such an uninteresting matchup to me. I quickly switched to Eagles-Redskins, which was far more interesting and entertaining.

    There were some nasty hits in that game, especially the one on the punt return where they took Sproles out.

    I missed whatever the second game was. Packers-Seahawks, I guess.

    I actually enjoyed the Dallas-New York game. The thing about the Dallas offfense is that there doesn’t seem to be any adjusting if the defense shuts down the short game. Dallas has a all-pro-level deep man, but a quarterback who’s iffy on getting the ball to him, which means just average secondaries can probably be good enough, assuming their own offense can put a few points on the board. New York’s low score should be a concern for the Giants, because it didn’t look to me like Dallas had a decent chance of keeping the score low.

    Eli played about at his worst, and the Giants still beat the NFC’s top seed. I think this bodes well for the Giants in the post season, if they get there, but then that might be wishful thinking since I’ve been rooting for them to win that division all season.

    You know who else seems to have woken up, along with Rodgers? Flacco. I’m watching the Monday night game now, and the Ravens still don’t look great to me, but Flacco doesn’t look nearly as bad as I’ve been hearing all season.

    All in all, I have enjoyed this week’s games, including the Raiders’ loss in KC.

  26. Reid

    I didn’t even know Orakpo was still in the league until last night, when he and some other Titan were named among the most fearsome pass-rushing duos on the Ringer (you can guess who the number one duo was).

    Was it Jurrell Casey? I’m a little surprised that they would choose the Titans as having the most fearsome passing-rushing duo, although I don’t know who I would choose behind Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware.* The Vikings front four is pretty solid–with Eversen Griffin and Brian Robison at the DEs. I liked the Eagles–Connor Barwin, Fletcher Cox, can’t remember the other guys names now–but they look like they’ve run out of gas. I think I would take Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett over Casey and Orakpo.

    There were some nasty hits in that game, especially the one on the punt return where they took Sproles out.

    Yeah, that was a vicious hit.

    Dallas has a all-pro-level deep man, but a quarterback who’s iffy on getting the ball to him, which means just average secondaries can probably be good enough, assuming their own offense can put a few points on the board.

    If you’re saying Prescott, doesn’t have a iffy deep ball, I disagree with that. He may not be reading coverages well or failing to see the open guy, but I think he throws a good deep ball from what I’ve seen–better than Marcus Mariota. (Mariota’s deep ball in the middle of the field has gotten better. I don’t think he throws many deep balls on the sideline now–but I think that’s because he can’t do it well.)

    Eli played about at his worst, and the Giants still beat the NFC’s top seed. I think this bodes well for the Giants in the post season,…

    The thing is, they’ve sort of consistently played like this. I keep expecting them to explode, but I’m wondering if Shepard and Cruz aren’t really that good.

    (*By the way, I noticed teams have found ways to prevent Von Miller from getting to the QB in 3rd downs and two-minute situations. I noticed an interesting twist Wade Phillips seems to have done: He’ll make Miller rush hard inside, pulling the RT with him. Then a DT or someone other pass rusher will stunt around to the spot left vacant by Miller. Couple of times, the pass rusher was untouched.)

  27. Mitchell

    I’m a little surprised that they would choose the Titans as having the most fearsome passing-rushing duo

    They weren’t chosen the most fearsome. I think they were number five. I’m too lazy to look it up right now. The Dolphins (Suh and…Wake?), Raiders, Seahawks, and Vikings were also on the list, I think.

    If you’re saying Prescott, doesn’t have a iffy deep ball, I disagree with that.

    No, I’m saying he does have an iffy deep ball. Yes, he gets it to his guy sometimes, but I think mostly he’s succeeding on deep plays when he finds those spots in the field where Bryant can go get it. He’s certainly not in Roethlisberger or Rodgers territory. I do like his midrange throws — or I did in the early part of the season. He hasn’t look as good on those fifteen-yard-outs as he used to. But I admit I haven’t been examining him very closely. I’ve kind of lost interest in Prescott.

  28. Reid

    I think they were number five.

    OK, that makes more sense. The thing about the Titans is that I don’t get the sense that they do a good job of rushing the passer with four or five guys–and that’s generally one way I’d assess this. Oh, shoot, Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn’s gotta be in there, I would think (although I think Quinn is a little overrated, to be honest, or he’s not being used properly).

    He’s certainly not in Roethlisberger or Rodgers territory.

    Both haven’t been as good this season, in my opinion. Which raises the question: who has been the best? Actually, just off the top of my head, I don’t think there’s a QB that really stands out this year as throwing a great deep ball. I think Prescott is better than you think, though. The thing is, he hasn’t thrown a lot of deep passes. He’s not really throwing a lot of passes, period, if I’m not mistaken.

  29. Mitchell

    You could be right about the number of deep passes. Although Flacco threw a few nice ones this evening.

  30. Reid

    I’m not sure how many Flacco has thrown. Flacco hasn’t looked great this season, but I feel like it has more to do with the OC/offense. It’s too bad they picked up Marty Mornhinweg before Norv Turner left. My sense is that John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome prefer a more physical, run-oriented team. Trestman and Mornhinweg are more West Coast guys, and not of the Mike Shanahan variety, either. I think Flacco would perform better with a stronger run game.

  31. Mitchell
  32. Reid

    Oh, I forget about Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. I really like what I’ve seen from Bosa.

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