Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: NFL Primer Week 9

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is a weekly NFL primer. Nothing is sacred, not the players, not the coaches, and certainly not the betting lines.

The Good: The Game.
This one's easy, and for the first time in weeks we're talking about a game people would actually want to watch. The Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots are about to become the first teams to play each other when each is at least 7-0, setting up an epic battle; or at least what we hope is an epic battle.

The Indianapolis Colts are about to have their first game as an underdog at home, certainly that's virgin territory for this team. And it's unclear about what Vegas feels on this game, if they see New England as that good, or it's a statement about how quiet the Colts have been about their impressive start. It just doesn't seem that they do anything that great, besides of course Peyton Manning finding the ever open receivers jogging uncovered down the field. And yet, they're solid on both sides of the ball, it's been an impressive start. New England's impressive start can't possibly go unnoticed, especially by me since I have Brady on my fantasy team. They've been blowing people out college football style; 52-7 isn't an NFL score.

So what's going to happen? I'm glad you asked. It's being billed as an impressive matchup of titans, but just like many games, the on-the-field play will likely not live up to the commercials. In fact, I'm so unimpressed (still don't know why) with the Colts start that I'm just hoping they make a game of it, and don't get blown out. As is the case, I certainly don't feel they have a chance to win the game, and with a line of -6.5, the Colts will be lucky to keep it within two scores. Take the Pats to cover, as you have hopefully done all year, and you'll be in the money.

Here's hoping I'm wrong. The Bostonians will be insufferably annoying if all their teams win.

The Bad: The Jets.
It's funny how easy it is to find Bads and Uglies on a weekly basis. It's like going to a bar. Zing.

Honestly though, let's take a look at this team - the same team, mind you, that went 10-6 and got into the playoffs last year. What could possibly happen in one year to have the bottom fall out when no wholesale changes have been made. In fact, it's not only that, they've added parts that should have made them competitive with New England (ha!), but they've completely regressed. As Mike Greenberg said this morning, "I can't believe that Pete Kendall would be the downfall." He certainly isn't. It's a combination of things.

has set his foot in the ground that his team does not suck, and Eric If there's one thing that every Belichick disciple has in common, it's stubbornness. Charlie WeisMangini showed an equally thick head with the future of Chad Pennington. It's not that Chad Pennington is bad, it's that he handcuffs the offense. The truth is, he doesn't have a good arm to throw down field, but he has an excellent 20 yard floating pass. Which means, this offense works in a mostly 20-25 yard cushion plotting down field with nary a deep threat, which is okay. But this doesn't work in the NFL for the entire game. After a while, defenses get too good and they catch on; this allows them to stuff the run and predict routes, thus getting many three-and-outs. Because of this, the defense ends up being on the field an awful long time, and while this is good at the beginning of the game, it ends up biting them in the end. A simple change in week two should have been to bench Pennington, and it's getting done, but it's too little too late. The ship for the playoffs sailed, and the Jets are still at the dock.

The Ugly: Cincinnati Bengals situation
To be fair, it's not just the team on the field that's ugly, it's also the team off the field, and the front office. First of, what's going on the field is bordering on embarrassing for everyone involved. The defense can't stop nearly anyone, and the offense hasn't been in sync at almost any time this year. For a team loaded with offensive weapons that work so well together, having a full season last year and an off season this year with a healthy Carson Palmer throwing routes for Chad Johnson should have produced explosive, not mediocre results. The worst part on the defensive side had to be when the Bengals didn't have enough healthy bodies to fill in at linebacker earlier in the year. This leads us directly to...

Off the field issues have bothered the team, very obviously, more than anyone thought it would - specifically one Marvin Lewis. It was obvious that when he went on what was then the Dan Patrick Show and tried to convince us all that the Bengals did not have a jailbird issue, he is out of touch with reality, and out of touch with his team. It's hard to imagine what kind of guy he is behind closed doors, whether he's a player's coach, or a disciplinarian, but whatever he is isn't working. Maybe the problem is that he doesn't know and he waffles back and forth, thus creating a vague plan for the franchise down the road. Whatever happens the rest of this year, from an outsider's view, there's only one thing that can be done, and that's letting Lewis go. He did a great job building this franchise to respectability, something it hasn't sniffed for the last two decades. But it's obvious from this year there's no farther he can take them, and they're not buying into his system anymore, they're regressing in it.

Maybe he never had a chance. It's Cincinnati, after all.

Photo: Derok

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