Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

NFL Week 14 in Review

It's time to quit going over each game in this space, because let's be honest... there are far too many games now we could care less about. Why is that? Well, to steal a page from Bill Simmons, there are a bunch of really bad teams this year. In fact, you are either a great team or an awful team in the 2005 NFL season.

Let's think this through... I have five different classifications for NFL teams. Great Teams are those who could beat anyone on any given day. Good Teams are division winners and solid wild card teams. Mediocre Teams battle for the last wildcard spot, lose a few chokers, and have hope for next year. Awful Teams lose to anyone on any given Sunday. Abominations should be forced to play USC just to see if they are as bad as we think.

Great Teams: Indy, Seattle
Good Teams: San Diego, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Chicago, Dallas, NY Giants, New England, Cincinnati, Denver
Mediocre Teams: Washington, Miami
Awful: Oakland, Tennessee, Baltimore, Cleveland, Buffalo, St. Louis, Arizona, Green Bay, Philadelphia, Detroit
Abomination: New Orleans, San Francisco, Houston, NY Jets

What is nuts about that list is how few Mediocre Teams there are. Even last year I remember about five teams potentially vying for the last couple NFC playoff spots. Is it that hard to be 8-8 or 7-9? This means that everyone's strength of schedule is seriously screwed up this year. If you're in the AFC West, NFC East, or NFC South you play hard games. Everyone else skates. Not only should one beat the teams in the "Awful" bracket, but you should do so by 2 touchdowns. That's why there have been so few real upsets this year. As you'll see in my playoff post, it could easily take 11 wins to make the postseason, which is nuts. The dearth of Mediocre Teams makes the last few weeks especially boring, because those are the teams which pull off the weird upsets, like last week's Miami-San Diego shocker. Seattle should be well versed in my definition, since we have lived in that zone for 20 years.

The upsetting part of all this to me is that there are very few of those Awful teams who have a legitimate shot at getting better in 2006 (I would off the top of my head put Tennessee, Cleveland, St Louis, and Philly on my short list). Many of them have serious issues that will take a while to resolve. That means this may not get any better any soon. That would not be good.

All this to say... when 14 teams have dropped off the face of the earth, there is no reason caring about any result including them. I don't care, and I'll bet you don't either. Here, then, is the reduced Week in Review.

Cleveland 20 at Cincinnati 23
Scientific Pick: Cincinnati
Every time Cincy looks like a worldbeater they throw up a poor home effort against an Awful Team. Frankly I believe that the Bengals are still too immature to win the AFC. They let themselves relax after beating Pittsburgh and almost paid the price. Some congratulations still should go to Charlie Frye and the Browns for putting up a disciplined battle. Put some more weapons on that team and I could see them moving up to Mediocre soon.

Chicago 9 at Pittsburgh 21
Scientific Pick: Pittsburgh
Finally someone holds onto the ball, doesn't allow Chicago an 8 yard or 8 inch touchdown drive, and easily wins. That's all one has to do against the Bears, who should start seriously questioning their offensive personnel. Kyle Orton has won, but at some point they will have to put up points. Indy would beat that team by 30. As for Pitt, they finally unleashed Jerome Bettis and he looked fresh. Perhaps that's been their plan all along, to keep him ready for the postseason, but they may have waited a couple of weeks too long. I could watch him run over Brian Urlacher all day. That was an unbelievable display of power.

Tampa Bay 20 at Carolina 10
Scientific Pick: Carolina
Can anyone explain the Carolina Panthers to me? I'm confused. Either they are my preseason Super Bowl pick or they will lose in the first round. I can't believe in their inability to run the football or inability to throw to anyone not named Steve Smith. Did they learn anything from all that adversity last year? It doesn't look that way. The defense did their part, even if they did let Cadillac Williams run around. If you only need 21 points at home to win a game, you have done your job. At this point you have to look at the Panthers as a poor offensive team. This is three of their past four games (Chicago, Buffalo and Tampa Bay) where they haven't scored 20. Let's give some credit to Jon Gruden and the Bucs, who continue to prove me seriously wrong about them in the preseason. Even Chris Simms is playing mistake-free football. Now, would I love to play Chris Simms in the playoffs? Absolutely. He's due.

Indianapolis 26 at Jacksonville 18
Scientific Pick: Indianapolis
Here's the thing about the Colts. They have gotten seriously lucky every time they've played a contender. New England? Without Corey Dillon, Richard Seymour and half the defense. Pittsburgh? Ailing Ben Roethlisberger and half the defense. Jacksonville? No Byron Leftwich. Now that's luck. People had pointed at this game as the biggest challenge. The moment David Garrard became quarterback that point was moot. Garrard couldn't do anything for a half the week before against the Browns. It didn't hurt that Jack Del Rio played not to lose, instead of to win. Safe game plans won't work against that offense. Cincinnati is the only team that aired it out and they put up serious points. If they'd played some actual defense they might have won. At this point San Diego is the only serious test for the Colts the rest of the way (yes, I'm including Seattle, who will probably sit many people).

NY Giants 26 at Philadelphia 23
Scientific Pick: NY Giants
So Giants fans... still think you're that much better than Seattle now?

Kansas City 28 at Dallas 31
Scientific Pick: Kansas City
Good news for Kansas City, Larry Johnson is primed to be next year's MVP. Bad news for Kansas City, their defense still collapses in big games. When you put up 28 points on the road against that defense, you have done your job. I was impressed again with the rapid improvement KC is seeing in that unit. However, you do not let Drew Bledsoe and Terry Glenn beat you. That's all Dallas has ever been able to do all year! Force them to actually try running the ball sometimes. Did Kansas City even watch the game tape from New York the previous week? This was a bad loss for the Chiefs, who now have to run the table to even consider themselves playoff eligible.

Miami 23 at San Diego 21
Scientific Pick: San Diego
Speaking of bad losses, this was the worst and puts into question one of the most touted quotes of the year... if San Diego was in the NFC they would be the Super Bowl representative. Would Seattle lose at home to the Dolphins? I don't think so. The Chargers and Marty Schottenheimer again blew a winnable game. At some point this has to reflect on the team. Nick Saban has now cemented himself as one heck of a coach in my mind. I'm excited to see what he does with that Miami team in the future.

The Scientific Method may have done his picks in the span of five minutes, but he did a pretty darn good job again, going 10-6.

posted by Gavin @ 1:23 PM  0 comments

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