View Full Version : Against The Grain -- Sunday's Week 15 games

12-15-2008, 07:46 AM
Posted by: Andrew Perloff

A weekly NFL breakdown that heads in the opposite direction of your average pro football analysis.

1. Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes' game-winning catch against the Ravens was a touchdown. The most forward progress of the ball was in the Baltimore end zone. If that happened in the second quarter, no one would have questioned officials for overturning the call. People are just up in arms because it came so late in the game. The officials should be lauded for not being too scared to make a decisive ruling just because the clock was winding down.

2. The Ravens need to do a better job of getting their defense on the field. Stop wasting time with those three-yard Le'Ron McLain runs so Ed Reed can get on the field and put some points on the board.

3. Relax, Cowboys and Giants fans. New York wasn't playing for anything on Sunday night. The real Giants will return next Sunday when they beat up the Panthers in the Meadowlands. Dallas deserves credit for doing its job, but this win doesn't mean all its problems have gone away.

4. I will guarantee the Lions beat either New Orleans or Green Bay. Call me the Joe Namath of bloggers.

5. Think defensive coordinators have had time to adjust to the Titans' Kerry Collins? Collins does not look like a quarterback that can lead a team to the Super Bowl. Tennessee's Super Bowl chances could become remote if it loses to Pittsburgh next Sunday and gives up homefield advantage in the AFC playoffs.

6. After the Arizona Cardinals get spanked by the Patriots next week, they'll fall to 8-7 and need a win over Seattle in Week 17 to finish over .500. Even if they do finish at 9-7, that record is inflated because of the non-competitiveness of the NFC West. Same story for the Broncos in the AFC West. It will never happen, but the NFL should institute a rule that requires a division winner to be over .500 to reach the playoffs. The Cardinals and Broncos had enough of an advantage by playing such a lame schedule and still will barely avoid losing seasons.

7. Six of the Packers' nine losses have come by four points or less. How many of those games would Brett Favre had won? Regardless of how you feel about Favre, he was definitely smarter than GM Ted Thompson when it came to the Packers' surprise pick of defensive tackle Justin Harrell in the first round of the 2007 draft. Is that guy still in the NFL?

8. In years past, the Bengals' 20-13 win over the Redskins might have been bad news as Cincy falls from No. 2 to No. 4 in draft position for 2009. But next year, the top few picks are going to be hot potatoes for franchises that don't want to hand rookies huge contracts before the NFL has a chance to institute a rookie cap, likely in 2010. Expect "trade down" to be the No. 1 option on several draft boards around the league.

9. The 2008 Miami Dolphins remind me of the '06 Jets, who surprised everyone in Eric Mangini's first season by going 10-6 and reaching the playoffs. Both teams featured an uncharacteristically healthy Chad Pennington, feasted on easy schedules and caught opponents off-guard with gimmick plays. But their overall talent probably wasn't at playoff level. The Jets lost in the wild-card round and fell to 4-12 the next season. Expect the same thing in Miami.

10. Dallas' DeMarcus Ware has an outside shot to break Michael Strahan's single-season sack record of 22.5 and pretty much every good pass-rusher in the league is on pace for at least 15 sacks this year. But don't mistake these sack specialists with the all-time greats. Sack numbers have to be rising since rules now favor passing over rushing more than ever and more QBs are dropping back. Not one pass-rusher in today's NFL could hold Lawrence Taylor or Reggie White's jock.