From: Scott Pianowski
Date: November 16, 2010 5:12:59 PM EST
To: Michael Salfino
Subject: this breakfast goes to 11
I was preoccupied by the beam of the moon Monday night and missed the first half of the Eagles and Redskins. Did that Michael Vick game really happen? Have we finally found a successor to the Steve Young throne? I'm trying to figure out how the Eagles got Vick to this point. Is this Andy Reid's finest hour? Is Marty Mornhinweg an unheralded mad genius?
Heck, can Vick be the MVP of the league? According to a Darren Rovell tweet, Vick's MVP odds have sunk to 5-1.
The AFC playoffs should be an exciting mess, but the playoff picture has me a little cold. Jets, Pats, Steelers, Ravens, Colts and I suppose the late-charging Chargers - those look like the playoff teams, right? But I'm sure there's a frisky team or two that I'm overlooking - state your case for a sleeper. (It's hard to trust the Chiefs after that no-show in Denver.)
The NFC has more teams of interest, more fleas, and more intrigue. Do we give the Giants a mulligan, or did the beatdown in Jersey expose long-term problems? Are the Eagles legitimate conference favorites, or is it a mistake to count on Vick staying healthy all year? Have the Packers and Saints patched things up to your satisfaction? Is there any reason to believe in the Bears, Bucs and Seahawks?
I like seeing Oakland at Pittsburgh on the Week 11 schedule - it means we'll be treated to Ken Stabler and Lynn Swann highlights all week (John Stallworth had a better career than Swann, but we've already had that argument). I'm expecting Pittsburgh to lay the wood on game day. Mandatory comments and predictions are in order for Pats-Colts and Giants-Eagles. And if you see a tasty upset brewing, make your case.
Puppet Show, and Breakfast Table. This week, we go to 11.
From: Michael Salfino
Date: November 16, 2010 5:48:52 PM EST
To: Scott Pianowski
Subject: Re: this breakfast goes to 11
Vick is in a unique situation of his own making, and we can read a lot into some transformation that occurred behind prison bars. But that's too convenient for me. So I'm going to stick to the rule of multiple endpoints and just look at the biggest numbers we have and conclude that Vick, while quite reasonably much better, is not close to being the new Steve Young. He's really only played four games. You made fun of me for making a lot of Mark Sanchez's three road playoff games where I think the emphasis on that most recent data was more defensible in light of Sanchez's rookie status.
Vick has started and finished four games and thus cannot be in the MVP conversation. Plus, I'm all about judging the art and not the artist, but you're going to go out of your way as a writer to reward a guy who's acted like Vick?
The problem with Vick is that it's not just the conventional injury that could hamper his game incredibly but just getting any kind of leg injury that most QBs would play through. I think the odds are pretty good - 40% or more - that he gets hurt again this year. Then you add the reasonable chance - 25%? - that he's been fluky good, and what do you have that's bettable?
I would not be surprised to see the Steelers collapse. Where's Troy Polamalu been? Is he hurt again? I see his hair, I think, always where it's not supposed to be. But it's never attached anymore to actual playmaking. Their injuries on both lines have been devastating if we view the game against New England as an indicator of their depth. I was impressed by Mike Wallace showing he can run some routes other than the straight go. But other than that, yuck. The Texans are done. Mark Sanchez will throw three TDs this week, and it will be Murder She Wrote for Houston. The Chargers will probably run the table again (until January, when they will fold). I'm going to go genius here and say that the Steelers get boxed out and two teams also come out of the AFC West. This could make me end up looking as dumb as "Redskins will win the NFC East" did.
I wrote this week about how the Giants are the league worst since 2009 in giving up 30 or more points (40% of the time) and how Kitna's yards per completions against them on Sunday was the second best mark since 2000. Oh, in those 10 30-plus point games, the Giants have 11 total sacks. So if you block them, they are dead. (Perfectly illustrating my earlier Table point about why it's better to have the great offensive line.)
I need to see the Packers and Saints make some big plays. It's too hard to win without them. And they've been gone for the most part, especially in New Orleans. The Bucs and Seahawks stink - don't care what the records say. If you think the stats lie, you are either looking at the wrong stats or are delusional.
I think the Steelers get beat again, as the Raiders are very tough against the run of late. I'd feel better about Oakland if I knew Nnamdi Asomugha was healthy enough to take Mike Wallace out of the game. But it's too early in the week for that. Either way though, I like Oakland. I have to think on the Colts-Pats and Giants-Eagles some more and will save those predictions for my final reply.
From: Scott Pianowski
Date: November 17, 2010 9:55:22 PM EST
To: Michael Salfino
Subject: quality footwear
The reason I didn't get too hyped about Sanchez's playoff run is that the victories came with him in a support role. When he starts driving the offense in January, I'll be a lot more impressed. That said, I thought he was terrific down the stretch at Cleveland, and his pocket awareness is developing nicely (you can't get that in college if you never take any hits). And the Jets have finally acclimated Santonio Holmes into the offense; he bailed them out in overtime the last two weeks.
As for Vick's sample size, shouldn't there be some signature significance to the type of game he had Monday in Washington? I also feel like we need to reopen the Andy Reid discussion and give this guy his due. He's a tremendous coach Monday to Friday; that 12-0 record after the bye weeks isn't a coincidence. Okay, he's terrible with his timeout usage, his challenging decisions and his endgame management, no one disputes this. But he's been a consistent winner in Philadelphia and that's very difficult to do given the framework of the NFL; a .620 winning percentage is ridiculous.
Houston's corpse has been rotting for a while (Coughlin's Law: Bury the dead, they stink up the place). You can't go anywhere with the worst secondary of the league unless your offense is just as terrific, and Matt Schaub just isn't the same guy this year (79.4 rating in their five losses). They have no second receiving threat, just a bunch of No. 3 and No. 4 types. Arian Foster is a Top 5 back, and it's all going to be wasted.
Pittsburgh's schedule will push the Steelers into the playoffs: they've got Oakland, Cincinnati and Carolina at home, and road games at Buffalo and Cleveland. They'll win at least four of those, and probably split with the Jets and Ravens. That's 11 wins, and that's in. We'll find out about the Chiefs when they play three road games in four weeks (starting in Week 12, they have trips to Seattle, San Diego and St. Louis). I'll be stunned if they win two of those, and Tennessee might take then down in KC in Week 16.
Time for some predictions. Tom Cable has quietly done a great job with the Raiders - they play their asses off for that guy - but Jason Campbell in Heinz Field? All you. Steelers by 10. A lot has been made about the Pats having no downfield threats but look at Peyton Manning's YPA - it's at 6.9, the lowest since his rookie season. Still, the Colts look like the more desperate team here, and I'm siding with that.
I picked the Giants over the Eagles for a collision of bounceback theory - Philly is coming off its best game of the year, while the Giants laid an egg last week. That also requires that I toss out the recent games between the teams - the Eagles have won the last four meetings. But taking the points generally seems to be the way to go in NFC East games, and I don't think home field means all that much in any of those divisional games. The Giants also get the benefit of one extra preparation day.
Philip Rivers is my MVP, and the Chargers will be playoff bound again. He's been throwing to Antonio Gates and lawn chairs for the majority of the season. And now that all of the targets are back, they should rampage through the second half and easily pass the rest of the mediocrity in that division. Sooner or later they'll figure out how to block on a punt. Too many key stats are in San Diego's corner.
From: Michael Salfino
Date: November 17, 2010 10:47:30 PM EST
To: Scott Pianowski
Subject: Re: quality footwear
I don't know. Maybe I'm too skeptical. Too cognizant of the weight of Vick's career numbers. But I see a real defense sending the house at Vick on every play and forcing him to think quickly instead of running around the pocket for eight seconds while casually contemplating whether to pass or run.
The Giants will be a better test, especially given how ticked off they will be. Rex Ryan would be the ultimate test, but it's tough to put most corners up against Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson one-on-one. Blitzing takes care of LeSean McCoy though, as he'll have to block the clean rushers.
Would you rather your team went for all the glory in a boom or bust way and mixed in some .400 seasons with the .800 ones or steadily won without ever really breaking through? When have the Eagles ever been the league's best team under Reid, even for a week? Maybe the Eagles are the poor man's Colts - who are the NFL's Braves. None of this excites me.
Don't start quoting "Cocktail" or we'll go way off topic here. Best unintentionally-great-for-being-so-laughably-bad movie ever. The condition has to be that the director and actors have to be going for greatness and failing terribly without even knowing it. That's funny. So are these.
Passer rating in losses? I've been there. It doesn't work. All QBs stink when they lose, which is why the lose. That's the tell for how important the QB is. Let's test it randomly. Peyton Manning career in losses - 78.2. Brady: 69. Philip Rivers: 86.6.... Man, Rivers is underrated - good even in losses.
Salfino's Law: Having a top five back is always wasted. Well, almost always anyway.
The Steelers can't block anymore. Polamalu is terrible all of a sudden, perhaps a fluke, but still... I count losses this week (the Raiders can rush the passer), at Cleveland and home against the Jets and at Baltimore. That's 9-7, and you're out!
I'm with you on the Colts being more desperate. Manning knows if he loses this week he loses any Super Bowl dreams, too. Plus the Patriots still can't cover, and the Colts' weapons are better than the Patriots', and so is the Indy defense because Indy can at least prevent big passing plays.
Wait? Vick is great off the signature game, and Andy Reid is money and you pick the Giants in Philly? I am as conflicted as you. Pressure is how you beat Vick, but you need blitz pressure with the guys wearing 20s and 30s not a bunch of defensive lineman that Vick can run around. Still, betting regression to the mean for Vick, big time. Giants.
Gates isn't back and doesn't look like he's coming back anytime soon. But he has a little Willis Reed in him, we know. Ryan Mathews is also hobbling. Still, Rivers alone beats the Broncos who can't defend anything well enough. But that game will be a Thanksgiving-styled scoring feast.