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Breakfast Table: Salfino and Pianowski Talk Football

Michael Salfino

Michael Salfino writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Scott Pianowski

Scott Pianowski writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

From: Michael Salfino
Date: Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 10:27 PM
Subject: Week 2 Breakfast
To: Scott Pianowski

I guess you can assess Week 1 not for what it tells you but for where it forces your attention in Week 2.

We're not going to find out much about the Steelers, who did look too old last week on defense, at home versus Seattle. Oakland vs. Buffalo though is suddenly interesting - maybe one or both of these teams will contend. Arizona at Washington? I wonder if you believe in Kevln Kolb less than I believe in Rex Grossman. Must win at home for the Saints versus the Bears? Close to it at least. I will go out of my way to watch Cam Newton in his home debut against the Packers, which I never would have believed I'd be saying just a few days ago. I can't see learning anything about the Lions at home against the Chiefs, can you? Tony Romo can't blow games back-to-back, can he (at SF)? Chargers at the Patriots - now there's a game. Blitzing the Patriots is playing right into Brady's hands. Even Rex Ryan learned that, Miami. The Chargers will score 30-plus so this should be fun. On a 1-to-10 scale, how badly does Atlanta need a win at home on Sunday Night against the Eagles? The rest of the slate stinks, says me. What say you?

Week 2 Breakfast is served.

From: scott pianowski
Date: Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 10:24 PM
Subject: always moony
To: Michael Salfino

Let's get some rants out of the way first.

Why does Danny DeVito have to be on Always Sunny in Philadelphia? When I am king, that will be one of the first things I fix. It was a better show without him.

Why do we have 10 early games and four late games on Sunday's main menu? And why do we still force West Coast teams to play at 10 am body time on the East Coast? Oakland, Seattle and Arizona have to deal with the body clock issues this week.

You can have the Raiders. Their Week 1 win was mostly about Denver mistakes and hiding Jason Campbell, and you can't be a good team in this league hiding your QB unless you have a Top 10 defense (at minimum). Buffalo's got its problems, too, but the offense is frisky. Ryan Fitzpatrick would be a star if he had elite physical skills, but he's smart enough to make good decisions for three hours.

How badly do the Giants need to win this week? All those defensive injuries, and Rex Grossman of all people shredded them in the opener. At least they draw St. Louis at a perfect time; the Rams took several bullets in their loss to Philly. Do we overrate Eli Manning, he of the 80.1 career QB rating?

I expect Atlanta to rebound at home and beat Philly, but Matt Ryan's road struggles need to be addressed. At home he's got a 96.5 rating and a 7.5 YPA, on the road it's 79.4 and 6.5. Part of the blame belongs to the entire team, of course; playing with a lead will help any QB's stats, and playing from behind is a recipe for mistakes (you're easy to defend, and the pass rush tees off). But I can't shake the idea that Ryan is overrated, treated as a star QB when he's just another solid but unspectacular guy. If you were starting a team from scratch today, do you pick Ryan or Matt Stafford? Ryan or Mark Sanchez?

The Dallas loss was maddening because I want to like Tony Romo, and it was simply a giveaway. You can live with the physical mistakes to a point, but botching a sure win by being stupid is frustrating. Maybe I project too much with the Cowboys. If Felix Jones can handle a starter's workload, if Dez Bryant can stay healthy, if the offensive line holes can be masked with the right play calls, if the secondary gets healthy quickly. But I'll be a fool and pick them against San Francisco anyway, another hide-the-QB team. It's never going to happen for Alex Smith.

The schedule is going to bail out the Steelers. Pittsburgh over Seattle this week is the lock of the decade, and the Steelers could go 4-2 or 5-1 in their next six games without doing much. But there are big red flags all over the place, the awful offensive line, the aging defense. Maybe Pittsburgh is one of the surprise teams to miss the playoffs.

You can have first run on the Pats and Chargers. New Orleans should handle Chicago, right? What should we expect from Cam Newton for the balance of his rookie year?

From: Michael Salfino
Date: Thu, Sep 15, 2011 at 11:10 AM
Subject: Re: Breakfast
To: scott pianowski

Thought you'd lead off with Entourage officially signing off about three seasons after it unofficially left the yard.

The West Coast teams get that circadian rhythm advantage back and then some in night games:

West Coast teams won 63.5% of games, while East Coast teams won only 36.5% of games. West Coast teams won by an average of 14.7 points per game, whereas East Coast teams won by an average of 9.0 points per game. West Coast teams won 59.3% of the home games through the years, while winning 71.0% of Monday Night Football games. East Coast teams won 56.5% of their home games, but only 43.8% of Monday Night Football home games!

Overall, West Coast team records are 4.4 percentage points better than East Coast team records since 1970. However, when West Coast teams play East Coast teams for Monday Night Football, West Coast team records are 27.0 percentage points better than East Coast team records.

I think Campbell is a neutral player. I do not think you have to hide him. And I think Oakland's defense is pretty good - maybe top 10. Then front seven may be top one. While I like Fitzpatrick, give me Oakland this week even on the road.

Manning is above-average to good. Maybe touches the top 10. I don't know of many outside of Giants country in North Jersey who rank him more highly than that. But who cares about career rating. Last there years, 86.4, 93.1 and 85.3 and last year's number includes the eight picks that first hit the hands of intended receivers. Plus his inexperienced guys round off some routes and do not otherwise bail him out.

I don't know about Atlanta. They won five games last year that Massey-Peabody say they should have lost - the most in the league. They could be an 8-8 team, legitimately. Plus if they want to throw as they seemed to last week (17 passes, 8 runs in the first half), this is not a good matchup. Of course, they should be able to run at will against the Eagles Charmin-soft front seven. I'd rank those guys Ryan, Sanchez, Stafford. I can't buy Stafford given his shoulder issues. Plus we never see a big stretch of games with him when he's playing beat up and having to deal with adversity and expectations. He checks out every few games.

Romo is a crazy player to assess. What great skills and instincts and playmaking ability. But he has a lot of brain farts. That may be the other side of the Favre-like improvisational ability he has. But Favre won more than Romo, especially early. But comparing him to Danny White is crazy. White was a mechanical player, the antithesis of Romo. Ironically, Romo has to be more like White when heroics are not needed.

Dez Bryant is like the 15 year old on his first trip to the brothel. Stamina is a big problem for him. He got into it with Revis and got the better of him on one play, but then Revis just beat him up at the line of scrimmage, and Bryant lost his legs. Revis did too for a while with cramps. Revis, though, got right back on the field and then looked like his old self. Bryant started to look like he was playing in an old-timer's flag football game, barely running out routes. Drew Pearson could have done as much as Bryant in the fourth quarter.

Man, does Alex Smith just stink. He is unwatchable. What do you do with Vernon Davis? Play him I guess, but he gets no help from his quarterback, and you need that in this league. Frank Gore - third-round value this year IF he stays healthy, says me.

Pot odds say to pick against the Steelers in survivor this week. Maybe their defense is so old now that it's just going to collapse to an 8-8 level, meaning they could conceivably lose any game. I understand the offense had seven turnovers. But the Ravens seemed to move the ball at will, and Baltimore's offense is at the Jets level of mediocrity. You hope for slightly above average from them. What would Pittsburgh do against San Diego or New England?

The Chargers will outplay the Patriots decisively and find a way to lose. Heck, they almost lost a game where they held the opposing QB to 39 passing yards and had four straight drives totaling about 280 yards (seven points). The problem with San Diego is that if they play great, they could lose. And if they play mediocre or bad, they probably will. The championship level teams need to be the opposite - when they play mediocre or bad, they could win. When good teams play well, they should win by two or three scores and never really be threatened. Especially against a nothing QB like Donovan McNabb (check please).

Yes, New Orleans over the Bears easy. The Bears still can't block, I predict. And Brees will tear them apart because they are strictly a deception defense.

How can you project Newton? I have no idea. Peyton Manning had the Week 1 rookie record of just over 300 yards. Newton shattered it. On, I'll post a list of quarterbacks who had the best first games measured by yards and QB rating. Not many stiffs there so I do not think it's a fluke.

From: scott pianowski
Date: Thu, Sep 15, 2011 at 2:48 PM
Subject: no future for you
To: Michael Salfino

Good riddance, Entourage. The final season was terrible, the last episode specifically awful. Every female character is naive, flaky or spineless, and will change her mind on anything after 15 flimsy minutes of coercion. I know it's an escapism show and not meant to be Masterpiece Theatre, but the writing fell off a cliff. (And let's push Eric off that cliff, too. Eric Connolly has no talent, zero, none. Asking him to be a tree in a third grade play would be outside his range.)

The previous Oakland coaching staff knew Campbell had to be hidden. Look at the pass attempts by week. And he's never developed any pocket awareness, the extra sense that tells you when to buy an extra second and throw, when to just chuck the ball away and live for another down, where the quiet spot is in the pocket. You're not a good quarterback until you learn to avoid sacks, which the best quarterbacks do. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, they all make their offensive lines look better than they really are because they pick up pre-snap blitz indicators and have outstanding post-snap instincts. It's never going to happen for Campbell, it's too late in the game.

Does playing on Monday night hurt teams the following week, with short prep time? Maybe that affects Oakland this week, too. The San Diego-New England line opened up at Patriots -7, which is all about the coaches. There's no way the collective talent of the Patriots is notably better than the Chargers, if it's better at all. This is a coin-flip game, and anyone logical is going to take the points. But the books know how the public views Belichick vs. Turner. Also, any team that goes off on Monday night tends to be overrated in the line the following week.

If your QB rating isn't over 90, you don't deserve the pub (13 quarterbacks were over 90 last year, and one of them, David Garrard, lost his job before the 2011 opener). The 80s are average, and then there's sucking in the 70s. I don't mean to treat QB rating like an answer key, but Manning was 17th in the stat last year. And that doesn't dock him for the five fumbles he lost.

I thought you liked the Falcons; didn't you call them a smart, SABR-friendly team last week? Maybe I've got post-concussion syndrome after watching all that game tape. Sometimes home/road stats are junk, but when a team shows a home bias in a dome-controlled environment, I'm more likely to buy it. If the Falcons can win at Detroit, Houston or New Orleans later in the season, I'll re-evaluate (assuming Stafford is still playing for the Lions by then).

Romo's goal-line fumble really ticked me off, and I have no stake in the result. You have to play to the game situation, and you have to protect the ball in the red area, where you've already got points in your pocket. If Romo keeps his cool in that spot, the Jets are down 10 and in big, fat trouble. Maybe Jason Garrett gives Romo too much leash - compare to how Jim Harbaugh reeled in Alex Smith last week, making his QB run the most buttoned-up offense possible. It almost looked like a first preseason game.

I was surprised that Baltimore's line held up against Pittsburgh, but Ray Rice also deserves his props. He's the only back who does a thing against the Steelers defense. I get your pot-odds survivor theory, but Seattle's crummy line and spotty QB are going to get exposed. I give Pittsburgh a 65 percent chance to score on some kind of runback this week; Seattle's coverage units were awful in San Francisco, and Tarvaris Jackson cannot be trusted in a hornet's nest. This game has 34-7 written all over it.

I still think New Orleans is pretty good. The Saints defense had several plays in the opener where perfect coverage was overcome by perfect offensive execution. If the Packers stay healthy, they're on a different level than everyone else. But Gregg Williams will find a way to beat Mike Martz this week, and Jay Cutler's sneer/pout will be on full display by the end of the game. Forget QB rating, Cutler should be measured by Emotional Management Index - call it EMI for short.

I'm sure there are loose ends here, we can address them in the comments (or in Breakfast Table, the movie).