Massive Week 10 Monday Morning Hangover

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Nov 09, 2008



This week's Monday Morning Hangover was pieced together after a weekend consuming about 32 too many Yuengling Lagers that we enjoyed lustily in anticipation of Penn State's big victory over Iowa and in anticipation of Philly's big upset win over the Giants Sunday night.
 
We then consumed Yuengling lager mournfully when it became apparent that JoePa's season had come crashing down around him and that the Eagles would not deliver on our predicted upset.
 
But that's O.K. ... we also predicted that the Bears would knock the Titans from the ranks of the unbeaten. So we have that going for us today, too. 
 
Game of the Week: N.Y. Giants 36, Philadelphia 31
See our wrap-up of the Week 10 primetime clash here, highlighting the historically bruising nature of the Giants ground game and how Big Blue is attempting to pervert the natural order of the football universe.
 
Blog of the Week: MusicCityMiracles.com
Titans fans are starting to feel a little cocky, and one of the best chroniclers of the rise of the Collins Gang is the  crew at MusicCityMiracles.com.
 
Video of the Day
Today's long-distance dedication comes from one Garden State icon (the Boss) to another (the G-Men).
 
show video here
 
 
Rising & Falling in Week 10
Rising: Matt Ryan – Forget Rookie of the Year. The Atlanta QB might be the league's MVP. He's put up very un-rookie like numbers (7.6 YPA, 11 TD, 5 INT and an 89.9 passer rating), while leading the Falcons to a 6-3 record and erasing the distasteful memories of the 2007 season.
 
Falling: Ben Roethlisberger – He tossed picks on each of Pittsburgh's last two drives in a crushing, 24-20 home loss to the Colts Sunday, and added another earlier in the game. He now has more INTs (11) than TDs (10), and eight of those picks have come in the last three games.
 
Rising: Bill Belichick's plug & play system – Led by QB Matt Cassel and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Patriots are tied (with the Ravens, Jets and Steelers) for the second best record in the AFC and in a solid position to capture a first-round bye, provided they can beat the Jets Thursday night and Big Ben's struggling Steelers on Nov. 30.
 
Falling: The passing game – Long noted by CHFF as the key to success in the NFL, the passing game is suffering something of a come-uppance here in 2008. The Saints had led the league in passing yards per attempt the entire season, but are now just 4-5 and in last place in the NFC South after being outclassed by the Falcons Sunday. The Giants and Titans, meanwhile, are huge favorites to play in the Super Bowl thanks largely to dominant ground games.
 
Rising: The Vikings – Second-year Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson gained more yards on the ground Sunday (192) than the entire Packers offense (184), while off-season acquisition Jared Allen sacked Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers for a safety that proved the difference in a 28-27 Vikings win. Minnesota is 4-1 in its last five games and tied atop the NFC North with a 5-4 record.
 
Falling: Jim Haslett – The Rams coach was the toast of lager town when he replaced Scott Linehan after Week 4 and quickly led the team to surprising wins over the Redskins and Cowboys. Since then, he's 0-3, and has lost by progressively bigger margins each week: 23-16 at New England, 34-13 vs. Arizona, and Sunday's embarrassing 47-3 debacle against the Jets. Even Linehan never lost that badly.
 
Tennessee 21, Chicago 14
Kerry Collins has frequently been called a "caretaker" and a "game manager" since becoming Tennessee's starting QB in Week 2.
 
Those descriptions were probably appropriate, as he hadn't thrown for even 200 yards in a game all season. But on Sunday, he showed that he can still be effective as a pure passer.
 
With Chicago limiting the Tennessee ground game to only 20 yards on 29 carries (0.69 YPA), Collins kept the Titans undefeated by completing 30 of 41 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns. Both tight end Bo Scaife and wide receiver Brandon Jones set career highs for receptions, recording 10 and 8, respectively. To put the passing numbers into perspective, no Tennessee player had more than seven catches in any of the team's first eight games.  
 
Perhaps we should have given Collins a little more credit: He quietly stands at 14th on the all-time career passing list, with 36,242 yards through the air, ahead of Live Ball Era Hall of Famers such as Jim Kelly (35,467), Steve Young (33,124) and Troy Aikman (32,942).
 
Indianapolis 24, Pittsburgh 20
The Steelers pride themselves on running the football, but our Offensive Hog Index indicates that their o-line is the worst in the league this year.
 
These sad-sack hogs cost Pittsburgh a key AFC game on Sunday.
 
In the fourth quarter of their showdown with the Colts and the game tied at 17-17, Steelers RB Mewelde Moore was stopped for no gain on two straight rushing attempts from the Indy 1-yard line.
 
Pittsburgh was forced to settle for a Jeff Reed field goal and a 20-17 lead, giving the Colts a chance to win with a TD. And that's exactly what they did, on a scoring pass from Peyton Manning to Dominic Rhodes to take the final 24-20 lead.
 
Each of Pittsburgh's last two possessions ended in interceptions by Ben Roethlisberger, who threw three on the day. For the season, he has more INTs (11) than TDs (10), and eight of those picks have come in the last three games.
 
Minnesota 28, Green Bay 27
Adrian Peterson has accomplished a lot early in his career, like setting the single-game rushing record and winning rookie of the year honor.
 
But he pulled off a rare statistical feat Sunday, single-handedly outgaining the entire Packers offense. Peterson accounted for 225 yards from scrimmage, while the Packers produced just 184 yards of total offense. Peterson also more than doubled the rushing output of the Packers, with 192 yards on the ground, to just 74 for Green Bay.
 
The 192 rushing yards is the third highest total of Peterson's career, and he's now eclipsed the 100-yard mark in four straight games.
 
And he absolutely owns the NFC North. Here's how his career stacks up against the Black & Blow Division and against the rest of the league.
  • Peterson vs. the NFC North: 10 games, 194 attempts, 1,168 yards, 6.0 YPA, 11 TD, seven 100-yard games
  • Peterson vs. the rest of the NFL: 13 games, 250 attempts, 1,188 yards, 4.8 YPA, 8 TD, five 100-yard games.
Atlanta 34, New Orleans 20
In a huge divisional game, against an opponent that boasts one of the most productive quarterbacks in the league, Atlanta QB Matt Ryan easily outplayed his Saints counterpart Drew Brees.
 
In fact, Ryan confirmed a long-held CHFF maxim that volume in the passing game means nothing, while efficiency means everything.
 
Brees passed for a gaudy 422 yards, while New Orleans racked up 521 yards of offense. Ryan passed for just 248 yards, while Atlanta racked up 361 yards of offense.
 
But Ryan was far more productive in every efficiency measure, such as completion percentage, YPA and passer rating:
  • Ryan – 16 of 23 (69.6%), 10.8 YPA, 2 TD, 0 INT and a 134.0 passer rating
  • Brees – 31 of 58 (53.4%), 7.3 YPA, 2 TD, 3 INT and a 66.9 passer rating
One player won the volume war. One player won the efficiency war. Naturally, the more efficient passer carried the day.
 
Miami 21, Seattle 19
The secret to Miami's success? They start well and end even better.
 
The Dolphins have outscored opponents 47-40 in the first quarter this year. But they really have laid waste to the opposition in the fourth quarter, where they've outscored opponents nearly 2 to 1 (56 to 29).
 
Their win over Seattle was indicative of this season-long trend.
 
In the bookend quarters Sunday, Miami generated 13 first downs and 200 yards of offense, while controlling the clock for 19:32 and converting 5 of 8 third downs.
 
In the middle quarters Sunday, Miami generated just seven first downs and 161 yards of offense, while controlling the click for just 12:21 and converting 1 of 7 third downs.
 
Mike Holmgren's career, meanwhile, continues to whimper to a conclusion in Seattle.
 
Holmgren's teams have ranked in the top half of the league in passing yards 11 times in his 16 previous seasons as a head coach.
 
The 2008 Seahawks are 31st in the NFL, with an average of just 144.7 YPG through the air. Only the pathetic Raiders are worse (139.2 YPG). Seattle has failed to reach 200 passing yards in eight of nine games this season.
 
San Diego 20, Kansas City 19
Chiefs coach Herman Edwards once famously said "you play to win the game." He boldly backed up his mantra against the Chargers: trailing by one point with 23 seconds to play, Edwards skipped the sure tie and a shot at overtime to go for a two-point conversion and a regulation victory.
 
But this being the Chiefs, and this being Edwards, the decision naturally backfired: The Chargers stopped the conversion pass and held on for the 1-point victory.
 
Sure, the decision failed, but Edwards made the right call in our book. After all, it's hard to see Kansas City finding themselves in a better position to win than they had here, just 2 yards from victory.
 
In their five second-half possessions prior to scoring the late touchdown, the Chiefs generated 46 total yards and two first downs, while punting five times.
 
San Diego, meanwhile, moved the ball well throughout the game, with just one three-and-out drive and five scoring drives of 45 yards or more.
 
San Diego kicker Nate Kaeding has also proven extremely effective kicking at home, hitting 55 of 59 (93%) career field goals at Qualcomm Stadium.
 
So Herm played the odds ... and the odds conspired against him here in a season where nothing is going right for the 1-8 Chiefs.
 
When the Patriots opened the 2008 season, fourth-year quarterback Matt Cassel was a backup with no starts since high school and rookie running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis was relegated to the practice squad.
 
In Week 10, they were New England's two leading rushers and only touchdown scorers.
 
Cassel registered just his second rushing TD as a pro when he scampered 13 yards for the game's first points. He finished with 22 yards on a career-high 9 carries, the last three of which were kneel-downs to secure the victory.
 
Green-Ellis established career bests with 26 carries and 105 yards. He also scored a rushing touchdown in a fourth straight game, becoming the first member of the Patriots to accomplish that feat in the regular season since Corey Dillon did so in Weeks 13-16 of 2005.
 
 
N.Y. Jets 47, St. Louis 3
Quick: Who's the top rusher in the AFC?
 
Believe it or not, the answer is Thomas Jones of the Jets.
 
He entered the weekend in a distant second place, 114 yards behind Chris Johnson of Tennessee. But Johnson was held to a mere 8 yards by the Bears.
 
Jones, meanwhile, had a much more favorable matchup against the Rams, and he took full advantage. After gaining 149 yards on 26 carries, Jones now has 750 rushing yards this season, good for the AFC lead (he trails four NFC rushers).
 
He also ran for three touchdowns, giving him nine scores on the year and matching his highest total for a single season (2005).
 
The Rams, meanwhile, have lost three straight games, each one by a greater margin than the other, and the Jim Haslett Era, after a promising 2-0 start, is shaping up a lot like the Scott Linehan Era.
 
Baltimore 41, Houston 13
It's pretty sad when you're a pro plying his trade in Texas, and you're probably only the fifth best QB in the state.
 
But that's the position Houston QB Sage Rosenfels finds himself in, somewhere behind Tony Romo of the Cowboys, Graham Harrell of Texas Tech, Colt McCoy of Texas and his own teammate, Matt Schaub, on the list of the best passers in the Lone Star State.
 
Rosenfels was his usual turnover-filled self with four picks, as the Texans were embarrassed by Baltimore. It was the first time the Ravens had scored 40 or more points on the road in a decade (1999)
 
It's also part of a growing positive trend for Baltimore. The Ravens are 4-0 in their last four games, and have scored more points with each successive week, beating Miami 27-13, Oakland 29-10, Cleveland 37-27 and, now, Houston, 41-13.
 
It's one of the most productive offensive periods in team history and bodes well for the future of the Joe Flacco Era.
 
Carolina 17, Oakland 6
We'd rather have our eyeballs gouged out with rusty spoons than be forced to watch the Oakland offense.
 
No matter that they do, nothing works.
 
Pigskin "pundits," for example, love to tout the importance of controlling the clock. But as you'll learn later this year when we publish some results from our new database, the correlation between controlling the clock and actually winning games is not very high.
 
Just ask the Raiders. They held the ball for 37:02 Sunday, easily outpacing the Panthers in this category (22:58). They were even handed four picks by Carolina QB Jake Delhomme.
 
Yet the Oakland offense – this time with Andrew Walter taking the bulk of the snaps – was as embarrassing as always despite the misleading time advantage: they mustered just two third-quarter field goals, averaged an awful 2.9 yards per pass attempt and converted just 2 of 17 third-down attempts.
 
Over the past two weeks, the Raiders have dropped back to pass 62 times (53 attempts, nine sacks), while generating just 122 net yards passing – a dreadful two-game average of 1.94 yards per pass attempt.
 
They are literally better off running the ball on every play and just giving up on the pass completely.
 
Jacksonville 38, Detroit 14
The Detroit defense provides a much-needed boost of confidence to any offense and any quarterback that needs it.
 
Just ask David Garrard. Facing one of the most porous pass defenses in the history of football, Garrard had a career performance, completing 18 of 25 passes (72.0%) for 238 yards, 9.5 YPA, 2 TD, 0 INT and a 128.4 passer rating.
 
The average per attempt and rating were both season highs for the Jaguars quarterback, and among the highest marks in his career.

Of course, the Lions couldn't stop the Jaguars on the ground, either, as Jacksonville ripped off 157 rushing yards.
 
Since the Jaguars acquired Maurice Jones-Drew in 2006, they are 16-4 when they rush for 150 yards or more and 7-14 when they fail to reach 150 yards.

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