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Seahawks and Patriots Run to Conference Championship Games

January 12, 2014 in NFL

Thanks to a Beastly Performance, Seattle One Step Closer to Super Bowl.

The Seattle Seahawks entered Saturday having lost their previous four divisional playoff games, and their 2-6 record all-time in the round was tied for the second-worst mark among teams with at least three divisional playoff appearances. However, none of those Seattle teams possessed what this one was does in terms of being a complete football team.

The ability to run the football, play great defense and convert special teams’ opportunities can make a run through the NFL postseason much easier. Seattle rode another “beastly” effort from Marshawn Lynch, along with a stellar performance from its defensive secondary, to pick up the 23-15 win over the New Orleans Saints and secure a spot in the conference championship for the third time in franchise history. Kicker Steve Hauschka booted three tough field goals in blustery conditions to contribute nine points in an eight-point win.0111seahawks2

Lynch finished the game with a Seahawks postseason-record 140 rushing yards, breaking a mark he previously shared with Shaun Alexander. Lynch now has three of the four highest single-game rushing yardage totals in Seahawks history. For his career, Lynch now has three 130-yard rushing games in the postseason. Under the current NFL playoff format (dating back to 1990), only Terrell Davis and Thurman Thomas have more such games.

Lynch did the majority of his work going right up the middle, with 19 of his 28 rushes to that area, for 108 yards (5.7 yards per rush). On the nine rushes outside the tackles, Lynch gained just 32 yards, for 3.6 yards per carry. Thirty-one of those yards came on his fourth-quarter touchdown run. In true “Beast Mode” form, Lynch finished with 66 rush yards after contact. In Seattle’s Week 13 victory over the Saints, Lynch finished with just 45 total rush yards on 16 carries.

The Seattle secondary also contained the Saints biggest weapon, Jimmy Graham. At the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was 0-for-4 when targeting Graham, with all four incompletions having been broken up by Seahawks defenders.

Thanks in part to Seattle limiting Graham, the Saints finished just 3-for-12 (25 percent) on third down. During the regular season, the Saints were third in the NFL and tops in the NFC, converting 43.9 percent of their third downs.

The QB’s played sporadic on a rainy cold day in Seattle. Russell Wilson finished 9 of 18 for a career-low 103 yards. His leading receiver was Percy Harvin, who was making his second appearance of the season after nearly being put on injured reserve less than two weeks ago. Harvin had three receptions for 21 yards in the first half and one rush for 9 yards, but left the game late in the first half with a concussion.

Drew Brees, who had one of the worst first halves of his career with 34 passing yards and was horrific the last times these teams played in early December, finished 24 of 43 for 309 yards with one TD. However, Brees did scare Seattle fans to close out the contest. Brees took the Saints 80 yards in nine plays, capped with a 9-yard TD pass to Marques Colston with 26 seconds left that made it 23-15.

Colston then recovered the onside kick when it caromed off Tate and directly to the Saints' receiver. Brees took over at his 41 with 24 seconds left and Jimmy Graham caught his first pass of the game on an 8-yard completion. Brees spiked the ball to stop the clock, and then found Colston near the sideline. Instead of stepping out of bounds, Colston tried to throw across the field to Darren Sproles. It was an illegal forward pass and the penalty ran off the final 10 seconds of the clock giving Seattle the victory.

Russell Wilson was better able to cope with the poor weather conditions in the first half Sunday, going 6-of-8 on passes thrown beyond the line of scrimmage. Drew Brees struggled on those throws, going 2-of-8, including 1-of-7 to his wide receivers and tight ends. The Seahawks led 16-0 at halftime and through three quarters, as neither team scored following the intermission. This was followed by a 22-point fourth quarter, as the Saints scored 15 points. Since the start of the 2007 season, teams to shut out their opponents in the first half of a playoff game are just 4-3. Those teams are just 2-3 when scoring under 20 points in the through 30-minutes of play. New Orleans moved to 0-32 in team history when shut out through 3 quarters (including playoffs).

Seattle will host the winner of the San Francisco-Carolina today, as the Seahawks get set to participate in the franchises third conference championship. They are 1-1 in those games, with their last appearance coming back in 2005, as they defeated the Carolina Panthers to advance to Super Bowl 40.

Patriots Advance to Third Straight Conference Championship Quite Blountly:

If I told you the Patriots would score 40 plus in a game and Tom Brady failed to throw a TD pass, would you believe me? Well-it happened last night, as New England routed the Indianapolis Colts 43-22 on a rainy miserable night in Foxborough Massachusetts. The Patriots offense gouged the Colts defense on the ground, as they rushed for 234 total yards, 166 of them on the back of LeGarrette Blount.

Blount becomes the latest Bill Belichick find to have success for a team that needs it when it matters most. Playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012, Blount had 151 rush yards and two rushing touchdowns the entire season. download

In the Pats win last night, Blount surpassed both of those numbers, making NFL history with 166 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns in the 21-point win. He is just the second player in NFL postseason history to run for at least four touchdowns in a game. Ricky Watters had five for the San Francisco 49ers in a divisional playoff game in the 1993 season. No other player has had more than three, making Blount the first player in postseason history to have more than 120 rushing yards with at least four rushing touchdowns in a game. For the game, 162 of Blount’s 166 yards came on runs inside the tackles. That is the fifth most by a player in a game this season, regular and postseason.

The Patriots' blocking deserves a lot of credit for the performance as well. Blount had 146 of his yards before contact, the second most such yards for a player in a game this season. Only DeMarco Murray (149 against the Rams in Week 3) had more this year.  Blount scored on three 2-yard runs in the first half, and then broke one down the right side for a 73-yard score.

Blount wasn’t the only Patriots running back to find the end zone. Stevan Ridley scored twice to give the Patriots six rushing touchdowns for the game, making them just the third team in NFL postseason history to reach that mark. Before Saturday, the Patriots had never rushed for more than four touchdowns in either a regular-season or a postseason game.

The Patriots had success rushing the football this season but nobody expected this type of a performance vs. the Colts. The Colts held Tom Brady in check but could not contain the ground attack. Brady was just 13-25 for 198 yards and the unbelievable stat of no TD’s with 43 points scored. The 43 points scored 43 points without throwing a TD pass was the 3rd-highest point total without a TD pass in NFL playoff history.

ESPN keeps their own QB rating over the normal NFL passer rating and it grades a QB’s performance from a 0-100. I prefer this passer rating because I feel it measures more of QB’s overall game performance. Despite not throwing a TD, Brady's 75.1 Total QBR is the highest postseason single game Total QBR since 2006 by any quarterback who failed to throw a touchdown pass; Brady also holds the fifth-best Total QBR in a similar game.

While Brady may not have contributed on the scoreboard, he didn’t hurt his team with turnovers. Colts QB Andrew Luck, who tossed three picks last week in their dramatic come from behind win, tossed four more on Saturday night. Luck threw just nine interceptions in 16 games (570 pass attempts) during the regular season. He threw seven interceptions in two playoff games on just 86 pass attempts. His second pass of the night was picked off, as he never seemed to get comfortable.

After falling behind 14-0, the Colts trailed 21-12 at halftime, and then cut the deficit to 29-22 on a 35-yard TD pass from Luck to LaVon Brazill with 5:01 left in the third. The Patriots simply took over and dominated the game from that point.

The most impressive stats of the night for the Pats may be what they did to Indy in the red zone. The Patriots, who started the year without their top five receivers from last season, struggled all year inside the 20-line but not on Saturday night. The Patriots scored a touchdown on five of six red-zone trips (83.3%) — all via rush. During the regular season, they found the end zone on 55.4 percent of drives that reached the red zone, 15th in the league.

TE Rob Gronkowski was the catalyst for the Patriots success in the red area. They scored a touchdown on only 42.4 percent of red-zone drives without Gronk but in the seven games with Gronkowski on the field this season, the Patriots found the end zone on 68.8 percent of red-zone trips.

The Patriots will either travel to Denver or host the Chargers next week in the AFC Championship game, their third straight. Last year, the Ravens came into Foxborough and dismantled Brady and the Patriots enroute to winning the Super Bowl.

Brady is now 7-1 in bye weeks during the playoffs and will look to advance to his sixth Super Bowl with a win next week. If the Pats continue to get the type of play from LeGarrette Blount that they have been getting, there will be no stopping them. Aside from last night’s record setting performance, Blount scored on runs of 36 and 35 yards in the regular-season finale against Buffalo. He also returned kickoffs 83 and 62 yards in that 34-20 victory, that gave New England a first-round bye.

Thanks to ESPN Stats & Info and STATS LLC

DAILY DISCUSSION: Colts the Team to Cheer For?

November 9, 2012 in NFL

You have love Andrew Luck and the Colts right now. Could they be the new America's Team…the team you find yourself rooting for even if its not your team?

Every fan is rooting for Chuck Pagano to beat his battle with cancer.  But his fight is contagious and the Colts are on a roll.

I for one, am rooting for them this season…how about you?  And do you think they can make it to the playoffs this season?

 

Morning Links: NBA Talks Contraction, Manning gets Franchised

February 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

David Stern Talks About The Current Labor Situation And Even Contracting The Hornets:

In a very candid interview NBA commissioner David Stern, we find out a good about the NBA's thinking regarding the Hornets, including that contraction has been on the table. Why some NBA owners would want to contract the Hornets is beyond me? People need to start realizing that in professional sports, expansion, not contraction is the answer. Remember when MLB talked about contracting a team, including the Florida Marlins who won a World Series earlier this decade, and the Tampa Bay Rays, who are one of the bright young teams in baseball. Why would the NBA look to contract a team that has a pair of stars like Chris Paul and David West? The Hornets problem is bad management, and an over inflated salary structure, not lack of star talent. New Orleans has the star players needed to compete, they just haven't been able to find the role players to build around them. For as much as we focus on the Kobe-Gasol led Lakers (or Kobe-Shaq version), the Jordan-Pippen led Bulls, and the Duncan-Parker led Spurs, there were other players that helped lead them to Championships. Where would the Bulls have been without Ron Harper and Steve Kerr (among others), or the Lakers without Derek Fisher or Robert Horry, or the Spurs without Horry, Kerr, or Bruce Bowen? The Hornets have never found those complimentary starters or reserves and that is why they have languished as a fringe playoff team. In this day and age when the NBA is bringing in more and more talent from Europe, South America and Asia, why would it make sense to limit the number of jobs available. Now it remains to be seen if New Orleans can support a franchise, but I do know this their previous management system didn't exactly 'wow' the city into believing they should go to every game.

Colts Franchise Manning:

There was no way this wasn't going to happen, and it wasn't surprising to see the Colts use the exclusive franchise tag, meaning other teams can't even talk to Peyton. While he might be in his 30's, there would be a team or two out there that would be willing to give up a pair of first round picks and a mega contract if Manning hit the market. It is smart of the Colts to ensure that he doesn't get tempted, but now comes the hard part. Indy needs to sign Manning to a contract that compensates him for what he is worth, while at the same time ensuring that he isn't to costly that it prevents the team from having quality players in other areas. I still believe that having a long term deal with guaranteed money in future years makes sense in this situation. Sure usually I wouldn't advocate a strategy that would leave a team with a lot of 'dead' money 6 years down the road. But it is better to have a single year of having to worry about tightening the budget instead of being a bit short handed each of the next few years. The Colts aren't going to compete without Manning so what does it matter if they have to be frugal that first season after he is gone. I think it is better to have that money now when it can really impact the Colts Super Bowl chances, than in a season when it will determine whether the Colts get 6 wins instead of 5.

Wednesday's Morning Links:

January 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

Colts Set To Show Manning The Money: This year's biggest NFL free agent isn't going anywhere as the Colts have made it abundantly clear they will pay Peyton Manning whatever he is worth. My guess is it will be bigger than Tom Brady's deal and carry more guaranteed money, but don't be shocked if its more creative as well. I think that without a doubt the salary cap will be back next season, and it is even possible that the NFL slows its growth rate. Regardless of how large it is, and how much it will grow each season, it is in the Colts best interest to find ways to defer costs into the future. Look for extra years to be tacked on with some of the money guaranteed, well past when they'd want to pay Manning so that they can lower his costs now. Sure the money will accelerate when Manning retires, and there could be a significant dead money amount that season, but its the smart play. What would you rather have one year of a big dead money hit, during a season where I'm guessing the playoffs will be a longshot without Manning, or paying an extra $2-3 million over 4-6 years, while you are a viable playoff and Super Bowl contender with Manning. Those extra million per year would be the equivalent of another solid starter compared to a minimum salary guy, and that could be the difference. Manning's contract will be a fun story to watch, but there really isn't any suspense involved, he will be a Colt well into the future.

Rumors Persist That The League Will Force The Players Hand: While there has been a number of accusations on both sides during this posturing period of labor talks, this is one story that could hold water. Basically instead of the league 'locking out' the players over contract negotiations, they will publicly announce their final offer, and force the players to decide whether to accept it or 'strike'. That is the only feasible way I could see a work stoppage in the NFL. While neither side wins in a labor dispute, the owners and league have more on the line. Even if a work stoppage doesn't affect one single game next season, they would have to deal with the process stories all year long. How they couldn't sign/trade a certain player because of the work stoppage, or that a player got injured because he didn't have a full offseason workout plan. And finally certain teams went to the playoffs, because they didn't have a significant amount of turnover, and other teams couldn't compete because they did. If the players strike you will still have stories, but the main culprit won't be the owners. And lets face it the owners can't face the bad press in a down economy. When unemployment rate is at an all-time high, no one wins in a battle between billionaires and millionaires. And the billionaires even get a bigger share of the blame as they need to now go out and sell season tickets and merchandise. Unlike the NHL which had a lockout and has recovered nicely, there was an actual reason for the lockout as salaries were exceeding revenues and could have become a real solvency issue for the league. There is no solvency issue for the NFL as even the poorest teams are quite capable of paying their bills. Look for an agreement to be reached, but if not don't look for the NFL and the owners to take the fall.

Matt Szczur Chooses MLB Over the NFL: Villanova star wide receiver Matt Szczur will commit fully to the Chicago Cubs, and forgo his NFL career at this time. Szczur was a 5th round pick last season by the Chicago Cubs and signed for a bonus of $100K, with an additional $400K (or $500K) if he choose baseball over football by this February. Szczur played rookie ball for the Cubs last summer, and looked really good and was even named the Cubs 7th best prospect according to Baseball America. At the same time though he went back to Villanova for his senior season, and had another impressive year. He was projected to be drafted in the 4-5th round based on workouts, but given his work ethic and character (which are both off the charts) he could have heard his name called much sooner. Szczur seemed likely to choose football over baseball, so the Cubs stepped up their offer to $1.5 million. Szczur will now be heading to Spring Training as opposed to the NFL Combine this spring. He is still a bit raw as a prospect since he split time between two sports, but he has a ton of potential. He profiles as a starting center field prospect, who could be up within 2-3 seasons. Its a bold move for Chicago, and one that I'm sure many an NFL G.M. hates to see.

Monday's Morning Links:

December 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

Eagles Beat The Giants In Dramatic Fashion: When you are up by 28 points with under 8 minutes to go at home, you can usually chalk that up as a win, except of course for yesterday. The Giants suffered a complete breakdown on offense, defense and special teams after dominating all game. I know they can't label one particular guy to blame but that was an awful decision by the punter to kick it away to DeSean Jackson with just seconds on the clock (and the Eagles having no timeouts). So what if you kick it out of bounds and they have 9 or 10 seconds with solid field position, they basically have to throw a hail mary, which I'd rather take my chances on that having Jackson in the open field. Also I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how bad that onside kick was. The coaches said they thought it might be a possibility and discussed it, but apparently no one took them seriously, because none of the Giants were ready for it. Given the situation that they were in, the Eagles needed a momentum changer. How you weren't ready for that, I don't understand.

Matt Flynn Nearly Leads The Packers Over The Patriots: Color me shocked. I never thought the Packers would be within 10 points of the Patriots without Aaron Rodgers at the helm. This game was in Foxboro no less, making it an even more impressive start by Flynn. Flynn at times held on to the ball too long and made a few errant throws, but he also wasn't helped out by a Packers receiving corps that dropped a couple of easy passes. While the Patriots ended up winning, Flynn really had them on the ropes and if not for a fluky big kickoff return by an offensive lineman in the first half, the Packers might have won this game.

Colts Move Into First Place: It has been a rough, injury filled season for the Super Bowl runner-ups, but they got back in the playoff hunt with a win over Jacksonville. While the Colts and Jags have the same record, Indy holds the tie breakers and now holds their playoff hopes in their hands. It was a great game by the Colts who held the Jaguars rushing attack in check. At the same time Indianapolis showed some ability to run the ball themselves. If the Colts can start to move the ball effectively on the ground, and play better defense, they could make a run this postseason.

Picks for the Sunday:

November 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

Bengals +7.5 @ Colts: I love Indy with this pick. I know the Bengals battled back against the Steelers and made it close, but I'm not buying it two weeks in a row. Cincinnati isn't a good team this year and I don't see them going into Indianapolis and matching Peyton TD for TD. I think the Colts win easily by double digits 31-20.

Vikings -1 @ Bears: Chicago is at home, and the Vikings still are a splintered team but I'll take Minnesota in this game with a pretty high confidence. The Bears simply can't protect Jay Cutler, and the Vikings still get after the quarterback with the best of them. On offense Favre is coming off his best game, and he has been known to carry teams on his back in the past. I look for it to be close but Minnesota to win and cover 21-17.

Lions -1 @ Bills: A lot of people seem to be pegging this as Buffalo's first win, and I get the argument. The Bills are at home, have shown improvement and Lions quarterback Matt Stafford is out. Now if Drew Stanton was playing I'd say they have a case, but I believe Shaun Hill will lead the Lions to their 3rd win. That Buffalo offensive line is one of the worst in the league and we all saw what the Lions did to the Washington Redskins unit. I think the Lions will slow down Fitzpatrick and force a couple of costly turnovers. The Lions win this 27-24.

Jets-3 @ Browns: Boy this is a tough one, on paper it shouldn't be a contest and the Jets should win by 13 not 3, but they have been struggling recently. And while the Jets have been struggling the Browns led by rookie quarterback Colt McCoy are looking good. Back-to-back wins against the Saints and New England, have people beginning to take notice of the Browns. Normally I'd say this is where Cleveland's glass slipper falls off, but I'm not ready to count them out just yet. Jets win but don't cover as they squeak out a 24-23 victory.

Titans +1 @ Dolphins: It's unclear if or how much Vince Young will play so I understand why the Dolphins are favored at home, but remember they too are going with a different guy behind center. Chad Pennington is replacing ineffective starter Chad Henne, so it will be interesting to see how Chad Part II does. Even if Young doesn't play I like Tennessee in this game, they have been struggling of late, but they have a top notch defense, Chris Johnson and oh yeah just acquired Randy Moss. He might not have a huge impact, but i'd expect Moss to open up some things for CJ. Titans win 28-20.

Panthers +7 @ Buccaneers: Although I still think Tampa is a bit overrated I don't think they will have much trouble in today's game. Carolina isn't a good team to begin with, and injuries are really beginning to take their toll. I really think Tampa runs away with this game early and I see a 31-13 final.

Texans +1 @ Jaguars: I understand the Jags are at home and have been playing better football, but I just don't see it. The Texans have struggled some, and their defense can't really stop anyone, but Schaub/ Foster/Johnson are nearly unstoppable. I think the Texans secondary will keep Jacksonville in it but I see a pretty high scoring game, 35-27 in favor of the Texans.

NFL Power Rankings: Week 7

October 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

1. Steelers- Roethlisberger looked fine in his debut, and Pittsburgh continued to roll. Now with a passing attack to go along with their ground game and defense, I'm not sure how you stop them.

2. Jets- The Jets are 5-0 after their opening week loss to the Ravens, and are showing a tough (albeit not great) D and a strong running game. Sanchez has improved this year, but still has had some bad weeks.

3. Ravens- Baltimore might have two losses, but neither are a blow out and this team is balanced and ready to play.

4. Colts- Indy might have two losses, but they still look like one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL. Manning is having another incredible year and could lead this team back to the Super Bowl.

5. Patriots- New England might only have 1 loss, but I'm still not believing in this team sans Moss. The Patriots look okay now, but can they sustain it?

6. Saints- This isn't last year's Saints team, but they still have plenty of offensive firepower, the question going forward is can that defense hold up?

7. Titans- Tennessee has the running game and defense down pat, but they still need consistent performances from their quarterback.

8. Texans- Houston has some holes in their pass defense, but have a fantastic running game and passing attack.

9. Falcons- Atlanta is a very good team, but to be a contender you have got to win some tough ones on the road, and they looked over matched last week.

10. Eagles- Philly has two quarterbacks that could start for most teams in the league, and an impressive offense. The loss of Jackson hurts them though if he is out for an extended period.

11. Giants- New York is hotter than Philly right now, but the Eagles have the more talented team. Either way these two teams should be fighting for the division.

12. Chiefs- The Chiefs came extremely close to beating both the Colts and the Texans, but in the end couldn't pull it out. Overall they are a good team but still have a few big holes.

13. Packers- Green Bay roster is beginning to look like an infirmary, but they still have Aaron Rodgers at the helm and that will keep them competitive.

14. Dolphins- Miami is 3-2 and has looked pretty good thus far. Their two losses have come to divisional foes and they almost upset the Jets. They are still a developing team, but the future looks bright.

15. Redskins- Washington is 3-3 and have done a good job of playing up to their opponents. Their defense has some major holes in it, and their offense is incomplete, but they are still in games.

16. Bears- Not addressing their offensive line issues this offseason has come back to bite the Bears hard. They have a good defense and a number of playmakers, but their o-line will hold them back.

17. Vikings- It hasn't been pretty this year in Minnesota, but their defense has held up. The question remains is how will Favre's arm hold up for the rest of the year?

18. Seahawks- Seattle isn't the most impressive team in the NFL, but they have put together some nice games. And should remain in the West race.

19. Bengals- Cincinnati needs to figure out what is going wrong, because the talent is there with this team.

20. Broncos- Denver's offense is looking good, unfortunately their defense can't really stop anyone.

21. Cardinals- Arizona is relying on an undrafted rookie, but they have the talent around him to pile up a few wins.

22. Buccaneers- Tampa has a bright, bright future ahead of them, but that defense has not been able to stop top notch offenses.

23. Rams- St. Louis lives and dies with Bradford, as he has put together some good games, and some ugly games. They (Bradford esp.) seem to play much better at home, so it will be interesting to see how they end up with their road record for the year.

24. Cowboys- They might only have 1 win, but I wouldn't count the Cowboys out just yet. They have so much talent, but no discipline or gameplan.

25. Chargers- San Diego's defense is letting them down big time, and could keep them from a return trip to the playoffs.

26. Lions- Detroit lost another quarterback, but Stafford should be back now. Their defense has some issues, but that offense can score with anyone.

27. 49ers- San Francisco finally got a win, but they still aren't playing up to their talent.

28. Browns- Cleveland is starting to show some semblance of an offense going forward, now they just need a defense to step up.

29. Jaguars- Jacksonville is 3-3, but with Garrard possibly injured for a couple of weeks (maybe less) their situation is pretty ugly.

30. Raiders- Oakland has some talent they just need to put it all together.

31. Panthers- It looks as though they rushed Clausen, hopefully it doesn't do long term damage to the kid.

32. Bills- Why this team didn't improve at quarterback or the offensive line this offseason is beyond me.

Week 4 Full of Surprises

October 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

Wow this week was full of a number of shocking games and brutal losses against the spread (and hopefully no one bet on too many of my predictions this week as no one saw this coming!)

Ravens over the Steelers: While Pittsburgh played well enough to win, they ended up beating themselves in the end. Between missed field goals and stupid penalties, Pittsburgh continued to shoot themselves in the foot. How you have three penalties on your last offensive series, while you are trying to put the game away is beyond me. The Steelers have the return of Ben Roethlisberger this week (they have a bye, so he won't play until the following week) so I think they will be quite alright, but it was still a rough loss to Steelers fans.

Atlanta Beating the 49ers on a last second FG: The Falcons were coming off a win against the Saints and were once again at home, but they were a completely different team yesterday. Atlanta was sloppy all game (and the 49ers weren't that much better) and needed a last second 43 yard field goal to beat San Francisco. Although the shock of the season might be the 49ers 0-4 start, the Falcons barely squeaking by shows some weaknesses on that team. The Falcons should still be a solid playoff contender, but that offense was not clicking on all cylinders yesterday against a team that can't seem to get out of their own way. Atlanta will need to tighten up if they are to contend with the best teams in the NFC.

Saints squeaking by the Panthers: New Orleans was favored by two touchdowns, but needed a FG late in the 4th quarter to get past the hapless Panthers. Carolina played well enough to win this game against the Super Bowl Champs (in New Orleans no less). Rookie Jimmy Clausen showed some promise and their running game did well against the Saints defense. New Orleans is still 3-1, but they haven't dominated anyone the way they did last year, and have some major questions going forward. I will say it is probably a good thing they changed placekickers as John Carney's leg was needed three times.

Redskins Upset Philly, In McNabb's Return (and Vick's exit): Washington scored 17 points on their first three drives, and it is a good thing they did since those were the only points they had. While Washington's offense struck early, this ended up being a defensive game as the Redskins held the Eagles to just 12 points. Philly lost starting quarterback Michael Vick to a rib injury at the end of the 1st quarter, but Kolb came in and played a solid game. Some bad coaching calls help lead to Philly's demise (the whole 4th and 1 thing at the end of the first half was ridiculous). The Redskins won the game based on their rushing attack and defense, but the win still propelled them to 2-2 and atop the NFC East.

Colts Lose Their Second Divisional Game on a last second FG: Indianapolis has at times appeared dominate this season (weeks 2 and 3 and the last 5 minutes of week 1) but at other times has looked pretty ordinary. While Peyton put up another 350 yards and two touchdowns, their rushing attack failed to average any better than 3.1 yards per carry. While the Colts defense didn't give up major yards like they did in Week one, they still gave up some big plays that put them in a hole. Overall I wouldn't be too worried about the Colts as they are still a playoff team, but this loss could really hurt their chances for the division.

Week 4 NFL Picks:

October 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

Denver +6.5 @ Tennessee: I like the Titans to win this game and cover the spread. Denver has a decent passing attack, but little in the way of a ground game. I look for the Titans to get up early and run wild with Chris Johnson. 27-13

Baltimore +2.5 @ Pittsburgh: No matter who is behind center or where this game is at, this rivalry is always a battle. Despite still being with out Roethlisberger the Steelers are the favorite in this game. I think they keep the momentum going and knock off the Ravens while covering the spread. 20-13

Cincinnati -3 @ Cleveland: The Browns looked better last week against the Ravens and displayed a solid offense. Their defense still is a work in progress, and should be their downfall in this game. I think the Bengals will have no trouble covering this spread. 21-10.

Detroit +14 @ Green Bay: This is a tough game to pick, despite having almost 100% certainty that the Packers come away with this week with another 'W'. Green Bay played sloppy last week, and doesn't look like a team that can beat anyone by two touchdowns. By the same token they have a great passing attack and a relentless defense, which combined could make this a blowout. Green Bay wins easy but doesn't cover. 31-21

Carolina +13.5 @ New Orleans: The Saints should have no trouble redeeming their heartbreaking overtime loss last week, with a big game against the Panthers. Carolina looks lost right now and has a rookie QB starting. The Saints on the other hand have been pretty much as good as they were last year. While their running game is still struggling, they could rebound this week against Carolina. I think the Saints win and cover easily 34-14.

San Francisco +7 @ Atlanta: The 49ers might have a new offensive coordinator, but thus far they are the biggest disappointment in the NFL. While they remain a dangerous team, I think it will be another week before they see their first win. I like the Falcons in this game and think the have a good chance of covering 28-20.

Seattle -1.5 @ St. Louis: Both teams are coming off big wins last week, but Seattle is the far superior team. The Rams are at home so they could be a bit dangerous, but the status of their star running back Stephen Jackson is in question. No way they win two weeks in a row without Jackson in the backfield. Seattle wins and covers 21-17.

New York Jets -6 @ Buffalo: The Bills are coming off a big game against New England where they had the Patriots on the ropes, while the Jets still remain without their top corner back Darrelle Revis. The Jets still are too good for this to be much of a problem for them, as their passing attack is the best it has been since Favre was healthy two years ago. I think the Jets cover easily for a 24-9 victory.

Indianapolis -7.5 @ Jacksonville: Things have gone from bad to worse in Jacksonville and a game against Peyton and the Colts isn't really the remedy. Indianapolis has torched every opposing defense this year. And while their own defense has some holes, the Jags aren't exactly the offense to exploit those weaknesses. I think the Colts win and cover easily 35-7.

Houston -3 @ Oakland: Both teams had tough losses last week, but that is where the similarities end. Houston is one of the better teams in this league, while the Raiders are still trying to find themselves. I think the Texans offense puts up big numbers against the Raiders defense, while the pass rush neutralizes Oakland's offense. I think the Texans win and cover 31-10.

Arizona -9 @ San Diego: The Cardinals are coming off a nice win against the Raiders, but still aren't a top contender. They lack an efficient passing attack and will need to rely on the ground game to open up things down the field. The Chargers are a weaker team this year, but I wouldn't count them out just yet. I think San Diego wins but fails to cover 31-24.

Washington -5.5 @ Philadelphia: They return of McNabb to Philly has been well hyped, but I don't know if Donovan's sense of revenge can make a difference in this game. Philly is running on all cylinders with Vick at the helm. While their defense has been up and down, they are better then a Redskins defense that gave up 30 points to the Rams. I think Philly covers 28-17.

Chicago + 3.5 @ New York Giants: The Bears are coming off with a big win over the Packers so their is the chance for a let down, but right now this is one of the better teams in the league and I'm shocked they aren't the favorite. The Giants have their backs against the wall, but have honestly looked awful this year. Even their win against Carolina in week 1, was pretty ugly, and that was the high point of their season. New York has a shot but I think the Bears win this game and go to 4-0, 24-13.

NFL Power Rankings

October 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

1. Pittsburgh Steelers- Great defense and a strong running game will get you to 3-0, the fact they did that with their 3rd and 4th string quarterbacks is unheard of. One more week without Roethlisberger, but after he returns they could be scary good.

2. Indianapolis Colts- They might have started the season with a loss, but this team is exceptionally good. Peyton Manning plays in his own world and as long as he remains upright this team is a Super Bowl contender.

3. Chicago Bears- The Bears are off to a great start, and their defense is playing pretty good football. They still need a better ground game, but they look to be a tough team this year.

4. Green Bay Packers- Packers need to find a way to run the football and protect Aaron Rodgers. That being said they were a handful of stupid penalties away from being 3-0.

5.New Orleans Saints- New Orleans is still a great team, but back-to-back nail-biters (including one loss) are a bit troubling. The running game is lagging behind this year and will need to pick up.

6. Houston Texans- The Texans have a very good balanced offense, but problems in their secondary could keep them back this season.

7. New York Jets- Its been a bizarre year in New York as now they apparently have a passing offense, but their defense is letting them down. I think the defense will right itself  and the passing attack will stay above average.

8. Atlanta Falcons- Atlanta had a big win last week, but they were one 29 yard FG away from falling 1-2. While it was a solid comeback against the Saints, they need to be a bit more balanced on offense.

9. Philadelphia Eagles- Their offense is running on all cylinders now with Vick at the helm, and they can score from anywhere on the field. The Eagles defense hasn't been the greatest so far, but they are showing signs of getting better.

10. New England Patriots- The Patriots still have some holes on defense, though their is a ton of potential there. Their running game is non-existent, but their passing attack could still carry them to the playoffs.

11. Baltimore Ravens- Injuries along the O-line have kept this offense from running at full steam, but they have shown some flashes. Their defense though has shown some weaknesses that could be exploited by better teams. Flacco also needs to be more consistent.

12. Cincinnati Bengals- As crazy as it sounds the Bengals might need to think about changing QB's (not that they have a good one on their roster). Palmer looks awful, and now with the weapons they put around him there is no excuse.

13. Tennessee Titans- Titans need more out of Young and their receivers, but Johnson and the defense have looked good.

14. Miami Dolphins- Miami is a better team this year, but they still might not have enough for a playoff run. At the same time they won't go quietly into the night, look for them to be competitive in every game.

15. Dallas Cowboys- Cowboys need to start utilizing all their weapons and stop trying to get cute. This team is a bit lost, but should get dangerous fast.

16. Minnesota Vikings- Not a great start for a Super Bowl run, but I wouldn't count out Minnesota yet. Their receivers and O-line need to get straightened out, but this is a good team.

17. Kansas City Chiefs- Not much respect for a 3-0 team, but both the Chargers and 49ers have been huge disappointments and the Browns are still pretty bad. What they have done so far is impressive but they could crash down to earth. I do think they have a shot at the division though as no one else seems to want it.

18. Seattle Seahawks- Seattle is playing well so far this season, while they still have a few holes the West is poachable.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Tampa came back to earth some last week, and won't finish higher than 3rd in their division. That being said they have a very bright future and have the pieces in place.

20. New York Giants-Problems are afoot in New York as no team is playing worse with a higher level of talent on their roster.

21. San Diego Chargers- The Chargers look like a shell of themselves from previous years, and now the division has gotten a bit tougher (still not great but no longer a cake walk).

22. Denver Broncos- The injury bug has killed the Broncos so far and will likely keep them down on this list for some time, but next year this could be a team to watch.

23. Arizona Cardinals- MUST FIND A QUARTERBACK….Cardinals have a lot of promise but their lack of a signal caller will hold them back.

24. Washington Redskins- Given their talent the Redskins should rank higher, but that defense is just awful. On offense the running back by committee approach could backfire, and this is still a 1 receiver team.

25. San Francisco 49ers- There is no reason the 49ers should be 0-3, hopefully their new offensive coordinator will fix things.

26. Oakland Raiders- The Raiders are a better team on paper, but they just can't get out of their own way it seems like.

27. St. Louis Rams- Bradford isn't completely overmatched which is very promising, but the team around him needs to improve to keep climbing this list.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars- This is a team on the brink of collapse, their talent should rank them higher but their play could bring them to the bottom of this list.

29. Detroit Lions- Shaun Hill has filled in admirably, but it will be interesting to see how this team does with Stafford at the helm. Best has been a big surprise, but the defense and O-line need to play better.

30. Cleveland Browns- The Browns look like they are building something for the future, but right now they are struggling. Their defense has completely let them down, and they have no passing attack.

31. Carolina Panthers- They have already switched to rookie Jimmy Clausen so they could start to rise. Though they will need to find a way to run the ball.

32. Buffalo Bills- Another bad year in Buffalo, still major questions at QB, OL (all of them), WR, TE, DL