From: Michael Salfino
Date: Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 10:15 AM
Subject: Week 15 Breakfast
To: Scott Pianowski
Just noticed we're playing each other this week in our two Yahoo! leagues. Projected points has me winning, so why don't you just concede? Or are you going to make me try to win with Jason Campbell at QB in both spots? I have to survive Michael Vick in Friends and Family, but the Giants are probably the team I'd want him to face, not that I want to face him.
Brett Favre is finally done. Wore out his welcome, as almost everyone does. But he's been fun to watch and is no doubt a great player. It was funny hearing someone say that the charming thing about Favre is that he still plays like a 12-year-old boy. He still texts like a 12 year old, too.
Peyton Manning conceivably can be out of the playoffs for the first time in forever if the Colts lose at home to the Jaguars. I can't see that happening, but Jacksonville is stubborn. Manning would cut his arm off to win this game, I think. (Great movie, by the way.)
I must note (sadly) the Patriots are far and away the best team right now, though they're not going to be playing another big game for a month - a long time. (I'm assuming Aaron Rodgers does not play versus New England this week after suffering his second concussion in '10.) I still think their pass defense will be an issue as I assume the offense won't continue to jump out 17-0 on everyone before the seats are warm in the press box. But you can see that this is their urgency in an effort to protect their weakness by making opposing offenses more predictable. What odds would you want taking Patriots now against the field to get to the Super Bowl and then to win it?
The other big games are New Orleans at Baltimore and Jets at Pittsburgh, with a host of teams in the AFC hoping one or both of those teams lose out. I guess that's possible for the Jets, perhaps probable. What do you think? Week 15 Breakfast is served.
From: Scott Pianowski
Date: Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 3:59 PM
Subject: all shook down
To: Michael Salfino
I'll be happy if I can split my two semifinals with you. I had the better team in the 01824 league for most of the year, but you've rallied nicely, and you're the favorite now. In the F&F League the story is the opposite - you had a better team all year, but I've got some momentum going there (Michael Vick and my top three wideouts are playing their best ball of the season), and I've at least got a fighting chance. The skill is making the playoffs; in the next two weeks, you just want some luck here or there.
It was interesting to see you drop Mark Sanchez for Jason Campbell this week. Are you that eager to attack the Broncos secondary? That worried about Sanchez? People have thrown on the Steelers this year (and we know no one runs on them). I wouldn't be surprised if the Jets sprung an upset here; the Steelers already know they're in the playoffs (the schedule will push them there), and a desperate Jets team should show up.
Jacksonville is the wrong type of matchup for Indy - a strong ground attack with two decent backs, a physical club. Indy is the ballerina, all about timing, precision. These games are generally close - the last six meetings have been decided by 21 points combined. I don't give either team a chance to go deep in the playoffs, but nonetheless this divisional title game of sorts will be interesting to watch for the contract of styles. I do like the Jags with the points.
I was back in New England for a few days, and I made the regrettable decision to listen to a little sports radio. Big mistake. One host feels the only teams the Patriots really have to worry about in the playoffs are in the NFC (absurd to say that). The AFC Championship isn't a mail-order item that comes before Christmas; New England has to win two playoff games (at least) like everyone else. It's still a deep and dangerous conference.
But I do find this team very easy to like. I want to take this team home, put it in an afghan, make it soup. Has any quarterback ever won an MVP with less help than Tom Brady currently has? These skill guys at best are average. I love how Bill Belichick comes up with a distinctly different game plan for every opponent. I love how Deion Branch can't stop smiling after games, knowing he's been freed from football purgatory. Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, a very easy group to pull for.
But how long can this charmed life continue with the turnovers? Sure, Brady's decision making has a major hand in going five games without a giveaway, but a few picks have been dropped, too. Sooner or later someone's going to put the ball on the ground. It's a good thing the defense is getting takeaways because it still doesn't really stop people (especially on third down). I'm fine with New England being the favorite, but this certainly isn't a prohibitive favorite.
I refuse to discuss No. 4 in Minnesota. Talk to me about the Metrodome's roof, Joe Mauer, high school hockey, The Replacements, that's all on board. Too much has been said about Johnny Drama at quarterback.
I didn't talk much about the Week 15 slate yet but this reply is long enough. Fresh snow for you, take the first run.
From: Michael Salfino
Date: Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 4:59 PM
Subject: Re: all shook down
To: Scott Pianowski
Keeping this short as my cold has taken a turn for the worse, though I'll spare everyone the gory details. It's half cold/half 28 Days Later.
If everyone has thrown on the Steelers, why are they 7th and YPA and 5th in TD passes allowed per game? And why don't more people see the value to these rankings? Our memories lie all the time.
Don't the Steelers want to win a division or do they not care about that? If the Jets win, it won't be because of Sanchez. They should be able to harass Roethlisberger all day (Steelers 27th in sack rate allowed and Jets No. 1 the last three weeks and 9th overall defensive sack percentage). Sanchez is in the dark woods right now. He seems defeated out there. The playcalling stinks. Plus there's some internal strife after Rex Ryan blamed the defense for the Miami loss (absurdly).
How can any team with the worst pass defense in the league be a bad matchup for Peyton Manning? I don't know about the points, but the Colts win for sure.
Well, you're a Patriots fan, as much as you're a fan of any team. So of course you want to make it soup. I'll make it soup alright. What is this "lovable underdog Patriots" nonsense? They are as coldly corporate as the Yankees now. I guess that's a complement. Brady is Jeter. And they're running it up on teams now just like in 2007. It wasn't the BCS then, and it still isn't. But they are very good and just about perfectly coached right now, there's no denying it.
I'm really looking forward to outdoor football at night in Minnesota on Monday. But I have to say it would be more fun with Favre. My head is pounding, and it's not only because of this disintegrating Jets season, I swear. You have at the games. I'm toast.
From: Scott Pianowski
Date: Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 5:34 PM
Subject: left of the dial
To: Michael Salfino
Pittsburgh's pass defense stats have been built off a paper-thin schedule. The last two star quarterbacks to face the Steelers absolutely shredded them (Drew Brees, Tom Brady). I'm not guaranteeing Sanchez will have a great game, but he's at least got a shot to be productive.
Maybe the Jets can win the game with their signature unit. Pittsburgh's offensive line is terrible. The New England hiccup aside, I still trust the New York defense. Pick your Jets this week, bro.
Which Manning do we see this week? The surgeon that showed up in Tennessee, or the pick-happy guy who was in a terrible funk before that? And shouldn't in-season metrics be weighted towards the recent games? Jacksonville's last 4-6 results mean far more to me than anything that happened in the first quarter of the year.
You can't compare the Yankees and Patriots. New York's got a collection of Hall of Famers, too many stars to name in one sitting. Who's Canton-bound on the Pats, other than the coach and quarterback? Where's the star power? I'd love to see how you rank their skill players (excepting QBs) versus the rest of the league. I did it about 10 days ago, and I easily found 16 teams that had better skill guys. Do your audit, I want to see what you come up with.
New England's offense is an underdog story, especially the backs and receivers. Green-Ellis, Woodhead and Welker were all undrafted. Excluding the offensive line, you won't find a single first-round draft choice here. Find me another dynamic offense that compares in that way, devoid of first rounders. Find me something even roughly comparable. I'll make my soup and like it.
When the right guy is coaching and the right guy is at quarterback, you can make up for a lot of deficiencies elsewhere. That's what this team has done.
Any loose ends we can tie up in the comments. Feel better, Jersey.