Posts Tagged ‘Calvin Johnson’

NFL Midseason Report

November 7, 2011

Half the NFL season is over, so it is the perfect time to take a look back at our preseason picks and judge how we did. There is no trick journalism here…we’re just that good. Alright fine, our picks weren’t that great, but sports are about unpredictability. And that’s our defense. Let’s see who we picked and how they turned out.

NFC

Contenders

Atlanta

At 4-3 the Falcons look pretty good, but not as good as we’d thought. The run defense is continuing where it left off last year, currently ranked 7th allowing 98.4 yds/ game. After a king’s ransom for Julio Jones, the offense hasn’t seem to hit its stride with Matt Ryan having a pedestrian 9 TDs to 8 INTs. Normally unstoppable at home, Atlanta looked questionable after blowing an early lead and eventually losing 25-14 to GB, their first loss in 23 games after having the lead at halftime.

Green Bay

The Super Bowl Champs haven’t lost a game since week 15 against the Patriots 31-27 when backup QB Matt Flynn was put in the game after an injury to Aaron Rodgers. Flynn played surprisingly well and the Flynn-led Pack almost pulled off the win. But that was last year. Aaron Rodgers is playing out of his mind, shredding any opposing defense that’s put in front of him. Rodgers has a 125.7 passer rating (1st), 20 TDs (1st), 2372 yards passing (3nd) and just 3 INTs. The Packers defense however has not looked as dominant as it was last year. Charles Woodson with his 5 INTs and the rest of the defense have held it together by forcing turnovers when it matters most.

Philadelphia Eagles

The “dream team” started the season off with some troubles. After beating the lowly Rams (1-6), Philly dropped their next four. In defense of the Eagles, they did lose to solid teams though. The Giants (4-3), New York (5-2), San Francisco (5-2) and Buffalo (5-2) are all above .500. But that isn’t how the “dream team” was supposed to play. Philly turned it on then, and they won their last two games, both over division opponents. With those wins in the books, the most recent over Dallas very convincing, Philly seems like they’re back on the right track. They have a huge game coming up against the Chicago Bears on Monday night. If they can win that one, they’ll be back at .500. And looking ahead, Philly has games against the Cardinals, Seahawks and Miami. Those should all be easy wins. They do have to face the Jets and Patriots though, which are always tough games. The Eagles have so much talent, it shouldn’t be this hard. Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel should be more valuable than sub-.500 shouldn’t they? PBSB has faith the Eagles will keep building and finish much better than they started. McCoy is second in the league in rushing yards (754), so feed that guy the ball. The biggest indicators on the Eagles results will be their rushing defense and whether Vick can hold onto the ball. He already has eight picks, more than he had all of last year.

How they’ll finish: 10-6

New Orleans Saints

Who are the real New Orleans Saints? The guys who beat the Colts 61-7 (we know the Colts are basically a middle school team, but still, 61 is a whole lot of points) or the team that just lost to the Rams last week? Even after giving St. Louis their first win, the Saints are 5-3. One loss to the undefeated Super Bowl champs and another to division rival Tampa Bay are losses News Orleans can live with.

They need to focus on their ground game. They spent a pick on Mark Ingram, paid Darren Sproles in free agency and kept Pierre Thomas. Use all three of those guys and get the play-action going for Drew Brees. Between those three back, they should be averaging more than 117 yards per game. But remember, the run is meant to set up the pass. They have to keep giving Brees opportunities to sling it. He’s already thrown for 2,746 yards (first in the league by nearly 400 yards) and 19 TDs (second in the league). Also, who would have thought Jimmy Graham was going to have 713 yards receiving mid-way through the season. New Orleans upcoming schedule is split. They have games against Tampa, Atlanta twice, the Giants and Detroit. But on the other hand, they play Tennessee, Minnesota and Carolina.

How they’ll finish: 11-5

Pretenders

Minnesota Vikings

So it only took the Vikings until week 7 to bench Donovan McNabb for Christian Ponder. As predicted, the NFC North is super competitive this year; Green Bay is undefeated, the Lions now look like a playoff-caliber team and the Bears 4-3 record is deceiving (see Matt Forte). It’s going to be a long year for Minnesota, unfortunately not long enough to get Andrew Luck, but pbsb thinks that they’ll be ok with Ponder under center. Ponder didn’t look terrible in his debut and the Vikings still have the best back in the NFL in Adrian Peterson.

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas is too up-and-down to trust. They’ve blown huge leads. Tony Romo isn’t dependable. They blew  fourth quarter leads against the Jets and blowing a 24-point third quarter lead against Detroit. Surprisingly enough, Dallas gave the 49ers their only loss. So which team are the true Cowboys. We think they’re the ones that blow leads. There always seems like a lack of focus in Dallas, so until that changes, PBSB isn’t backing the ‘boys.

How they’ll finish: 8-8

Surprise

Detroit Lions

Detroit’s 6-2 record is somewhat misleading. They’re getting wins, but they aren’t really quality wins. Who have they beaten that are a true contender? They topped Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Minnesota, Dallas (we already talked about the Cowboys problems), Chicago and the Denver Broncos Tebows.

Calvin Johnson…is that a complete sentence yet? Because it should be. Megatron has 804 receiving yards (third in the league) and has eleven TDs, which puts him on pace to tie the NFL record for TDs in a season (Jerry Rice will truly always hold the record; he scored 22 in just 12 games during the shortened 1987 season). The Lions are ranked sixth in the league against the pass. Can that continue that when they face Green Bay twice, New Orleans and San Diego?  Detroit has the best turnover differential in the league at +13. That becomes more valuable when every possession is more important.

How they’ll finish: 11-5

AFC

Contenders

Kansas City Chiefs

This pick looked really bad for a while. When they lost 41-7 to the Bills, it was before everyone knew the Bills were actually pretty good. Then they fell to the Lions and San Diego, both respectable teams. In our defense, the people we thought would be most important for Kansas City’s success, Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry, got injured in the first two games of the season. And that’s when PBSB went into a minor depression. Then the skies opened, and Kansas City turned it on. They’ve won four in a row, albeit not over the greatest teams (Minnesota, Indy, Oakland and San Diego). But wins are wins, especially when they make us look better. The Chiefs up-coming games: Miami, Denver, Oakland and Denver again. That seems like a pretty easy schedule. That’s probably because we didn’t include their tough games. New England, Pittsburgh, Chicago, the Jets and Green Bay. It won’t be easy for Kansas City the rest of the way, but they’ve found ways to win thus far, PBSB has faith it will keep going.

How they’ll finish: We have no idea…9-7?? Too up-and-down

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have one solid win…Last week against the Pats. That’s really it. Seattle, Indy, Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Arizona aren’t really impressive victories. But when it gets colder, the Steelers get better. They are already first in opposing pass yards, and eighth in opposing rush yards. They are also eighth in passing yards behind Ben “the motorcycle riding, sexual harassing” Roethisberger. Pittsburgh will always live and die by their defense, and that defense is still strong enough to get them deep into the playoffs.

How they’ll finish: 12-4

New England

At 5-2 the Patriots seem to be right about where we thought they’d be at this point in the season give or take a Brady Ugg endorsement or a Vince Wilfork INT.  While Tom Brady continues to be NFL’s poster child, the Pats D isn’t where we thought it would be. They rank dead last against the pass and Albert Haynesworth isn’t having the rebirth we thought he would’ve, recording only 2 tackles at this point in the season. But a well deserved shout out goes to Kyle Arrington and his 4 INTs, good enough for 3nd in the NFL. Also, where is Ochocinco? He’s yet to reach the end zone and only has 9 receptions.

New York Jets

The Jets stand at 4-3 good enough for 3rd in the AFC East. Already having to play second fiddle to the Patriots in the division was bad enough before the Bills started to wake up. The offense has yet to get its act together ranking near the bottom of the league in rushing yds (28th), passing yds (22th) and total yds (29th). Post-Jail Plaxico hasn’t exactly been the spark for the offense that we thought he would’ve, although he did have the 3 TD on 5-reception performance against San Diego. Plax isn’t completely to blame for the offense’s woes. We blame Mark Sanchez.

Pretenders

Indianapolis Colts

It’s safe so say we told you so. Manning is donezo for the year and we see what the Colts are like without their fearless leader. We thought that they’d be bad, but come on. They’ve yet to win a game and their remaining schedule doesn’t get any easier with games against New England, Baltimore and Atlanta. How fortunate would the Colts be to land Luck? They got Manning with a #1 pick. But would Manning be a mentor to Luck or take the Favre approach to things? Anyway, the Colts look horrendous and are bound for a high draft pick.

San Diego Chargers

Oh San Diego, how you tease us. So much talent you’ve had over the past few years, but you still can’t seem to bring it all together. Back-to-back losses against the Jets and Chiefs put them back in second place in the AFC West. The Chargers have the interception leader, Eric Weddle with five. They are sixth in passing yards and fourth in passing yards against. Stopping the pass and being able to pass is huge, especially when you play in beautiful San Diego, but they will do something stupid and blow games. The Chargers are -5 in turnover differential. As much as PBSB loves San Diego for its weather, we think the Chargers will be spending their January on the beach…lucky guys.

How they’ll finish: 8-8

Surprise

Houston

Matt Schaub's wife...We approve. "He's necking with the cheerleader"

Injuries to Mario Williams and the still nicknameless Andre Johnson haven’t slowed down the Texans who at 5-3 are 1st in the wide-open AFC South. The offense is moving the ball with Arian Foster on the ground averaging 140 yards a game and Matt Schaub is 10th in the league with 264.8 yards a game. The sans Mario Williams defense is quietly near the top of many defensive categories including rushing yds 97.4 (6th) and passing 198.4 yds allowed (5th). With a solid defense, a consistent run game and a reliable QB look for the Texans to make a playoff run.

New Surprises

Miami Dolphins

We don’t think the Dolphins were the Super Bowl pick for many people this year, but 0-7? The Dolphins are at the front of the pack in the Suck 4 Luck campaign and Coach Tony Sporano recently put his house up for sale. Not much going Miami’s way this season.

Buffalo Bills

If we told you the Bills weren’t terrible you’d believe us right? Well they are actually are pretty good this year. They already beat the Pats and the Eagles. With two games against Miami, games against Tennessee and Denver, the Bills could actually win the AFC East. They had to be at the bottom of this division at the beginning of the season. We wish we were betting men. And we also wish we predicted the Bills would be good, but we just assume they will always be awful. Congratulations Buffalo. Enjoy it until you miss a big field goal.