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Breakfast Table: Salfino and Pianowski Talk Football

Michael Salfino

Michael Salfino

Michael Salfino writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Scott Pianowski

Scott Pianowski

Scott Pianowski writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.


From: Michael Salfino
Date: Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 9:34 AM
Subject: Thanksgiving Breakfast
To: Scott Pianowski


We're going to make this quick this week as I'm hosting this year and let's just say I'm not a people person. Is it okay to give relatives their turkey and trimmings to go?

Where do we start? Do I have to talk Tebow? He's crack over at Yahoo!. Because I bash him, I'm a 5-6, 135-pound geek who only could get to football games in high school by joining the band. "Back in '82, I could throw a football clear over that mountain."

Here's something substantive just in from Rufus Peabody - Tebow's play success rate (converting first downs and effectively setting up the next down) is 40.91% versus the league average of 44.98%. So, I'm with Elway on Tebow. The other thing no one talks about is you can't have a quarterback you have to design your offense around because if he gets hurt, you have to have another QB just like him. If not, you're the 2011 Colts. And unlike Peyton, you know that Tebow is a solid bet to get hurt every year due to all that running.

Ironically, the Jets showed how you neutralize him with all those 46 fronts. And the all-out-blitz call at the end of the game was pretty good if you knew he was going to run. Of course, Eric Smith didn't hold the edge on that play, and the Jets pretty much handed him that touchdown with an inexcusable breakdown. And that was after Mark Sanchez handed them the touchdown they badly needed with a pick six. By the way, teams win about 80 percent of their games when they return an interception for a touchdown. But I think a lot of that is the late pick after the game is decided. I want to know the record of teams when they throw a pick six in the first half. I always want to know something a little different than what they're telling me.

Sanchez has been getting killed here. But there's an example right in our backyard that I think illustrates how you can't come close to closing the book on Sanchez now and declaring him some bust.

Eli then fumbles the game away for the Giants. I figured he fumbles too much relative to how infrequently he gets sacked and decided to look up sack/interception ratio for active QBs with more than 30 starts.

But I was shocked that the league average since 2004 is one fumble by a QB every 3.59 sacks (Eli is 2.85 - seventh worst among the 40 qualifying QBs). I understand that all QB fumbles aren't on sacks, but probably 90-plus percent are. That number is just crazy. You have to, HAVE TO protect the quarterback.

How ironic is it that Jay Cutler gets hurt Namath style making a tackle on an interception. He joins Matt Schaub on the sidelines for the remainder of the regular season at least. Had me wondering: How many playoff teams lost a starting QB to injury for six or more games? Here's the list since the 1970 merger: 1979 Rams, 1981 Giants, 1988 Bears, 1991 Lions, 1994 Lions, 2000 Saints, 2003 Ravens and 2006 Eagles. Of course, the 1990 Giants lost Phil Simms and then had Jeff Hostetler (but mostly their defense) run the table to win the Super Bowl. The 1979 Rams made the Super Bowl, too. If the Texans make the Super Bowl with Matt Leinart, I'll host every major holiday in 2012.

I think the Lions beat the Packers on Thanksgiving. In Detroit, this spread should be a point or two at most, not six or even 7.5 in one casino. Hey, do you know Jordy Nelson is averaging over 14 yards PER TARGET? Most efficient receiver ever, I'll bet. I like how Matthew Stafford didn't force the ball to Calvin Johnson last week when the game seemed to be getting away from Detroit.

I wouldn't want to be playing the Dolphins right now. Remember when I liked Matt Moore? How does a guy with a 98.5 QB rating and 8/2 TD/INT in 130 passes get benched the next year after one start? Because he was an undrafted free agent, that's why.

Can you remember a team collapsing faster and harder than the Bills the past three weeks? Man, Ryan Fitzpatrick had great timing in getting that signing bonus, but too bad he'll never see the rest of that contract now. Maybe he'll kick around for a while like Jon Kitna, Dave Krieg, Rodney Peete or Jeff Blake. Actually, he reminds me most of Glenn Foley.

Kansas City on Sunday night? Come on, NBC. The NFL should just force the network to bail on that game. Heck, I'd rather see Tebow at San Diego. Vince Young can't win again like last week only this time versus Brady, right? Young and Tebow have a lot in common, by the way. I wonder if Tebow fans believe Young should also be feted for his winning. I am looking forward to the Giants at New Orleans. I pick the Giants to win every week, but I'm backing off for this Monday nighter. I think it will be a lot of fun though once the Giants have no choice but to fill the air with footballs (which is what they should do all the time because their running game is a travmockersham.

Enjoy the holiday and try to save some turkey for the sandwiches on the weekend after everyone is gone and you can sit and eat in peace.

From: scott pianowski
Date: Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 1:22 PM
Subject: Re: Thanksgiving Breakfast
To: Michael Salfino


It's pasta for me this Thanksgiving, and every Thanksgiving. The Italian side of the family raised me right.

It's a tricky year to host because the games are so good. Green Bay at Detroit? Must watch. And I can't skip Miami at Dallas either, I really enjoy the Cowboys, and Miami has been a solid club for five weeks now. San Francisco at Baltimore might not be pretty, but it's two strong teams and a mandatory take.

Does anyone ever have breakfast for Thanksgiving?

I'm pro-Tebow, the story anyway. I like knuckleballers. I like unique situations, new storylines. John Fox and John Elway are in a tricky spot with Tebow because they're essentially step-parents - Tebow isn't their baby or their investment. Let's accept one thing: it's more fun to watch Tebow struggle than it ever was watching Kyle Orton play.

Is there a logical reason why the Broncos have been so productive late in games? Are defenses getting tired? Are the Broncos being more aggressive then? Tebow didn't run a lot in the Jets game, but he was a sandlot kid in the game-winning drive. I understand all the logical arguments of why a Tebow offense shouldn't work long-term (or even short-term), but I'm glad Denver is giving it a go anyway.

Lots of departed and near-departed to discuss. Looks like Jay Cutler is done, which is a shame - Chicago is a dangerous club. Maybe Orton returns to Chicago; he has to be better than Caleb Hanie, right? No more Matt Cassel, no more Matt Schaub. Fred Jackson might be done for the year. And get your Norv Turner jokes in before he's fired, which looks inevitable at this point.

It's funny you mention Nelson - I was writing some fantasy stuff on him this week before I came to your note, blown away by the same stuff. He's 51st in receiver targets, and third in fantasy points. Far and away the yards per target leader, and he's caught 40 of 53 passes, which is insane. Of course most of the Packer receivers grade out very well on a per-chance basis because Rodgers is on a different planet. He doesn't merely throw accurate passes, he throws perfect passes, setting up his receivers to make after-catch gains and shielding the ball away from defenders. Rodgers is a clinic every week, but that win at San Diego might be the best QB play we see all year.

Detroit has two key elements needed to run with the Pack - the offense can post a big number, and the defense is physical to the point of being dirty. The secondary hasn't been bad, either. Green Bay's passing game, like any great passing game, is a ballet on the field, an exercise in timing and synchronicity. The best counter to that is a series of hong kong phooey chops; while they're trying to dance, kick them in the mouth.

We'll know in the first quarter if the dog is live; if Detroit is going to hang, it needs to establish a tone early. And you can't be worried about taking chances against the Packers (or any great team). Rodgers will hit some throws against you, accept it. You'll get burned a few times on your blitzes, accept it. The key is making sure you're driving him to the turf a few times every quarter.

The underreported Miami story is the rally from the defense, a unit that's been terrific for a month now. But with Tony Romo healthy and confident again, I can't pick against Dallas. Moore has played well of late but remember he's had just 94 pass attempts over the last four games; the Dolphins haven't been playing from behind, and that allows you to manage Moore, limit his exposure. If the Cowboys have an early lead, and Moore needs to throw 30 or more passes, I'll bet on mayhem returning.

I'd love to see the Niners throttle the Ravens. San Francisco is consistent and has an identity, while the Ravens are one of those schitzoid teams you can't trust week-to-week. And a Super Bowl with the Ravens in it would bore me to tears. It sounds crazy but Joe Flacco has yet to play two strong games in a row - look at the game logs. Niners give us an upset for dessert.

I was surprised NBC didn't flex out of Kansas City, but then again the Steelers are a constant draw. And maybe CBS protected the SD-DEN game; I forget exactly how the rules work, but CBS and Fox do get to keep their hands on some matchups.

I like both New York teams to rally this week. The Bills are the perfect match for the Jets, especially with Fred Jackson out. The Giants are one of those "hate them as a favorite, love them as a dog" teams. Tom Coughlin will get their attention this week.

I'm thankful for our Tables, and for our readers as well. Catch everyone in the comments. A safe and happy one to you and yours, Jersey.