Tag: San Francisco 49ers

Random thoughts from Week 9 of the NFL

The first half of the 2015 NFL season has been crazy.

Right now, the Atlanta Falcons are in sole possession of the second wild card in the NFC… but does anyone really believe this team will be there at the end?  They’ve lost three of their four, including back to back losses against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, unforgivably, the San Francisco 49ers.

While the loss to the New Orleans Saints a month ago was simply a case of running into Drew Brees healthy and at home, and even last week’s loss to Tampa Bay featured an insane number of turnovers that you would not expect to see again, the loss to the 49ers this week was simply inexplicable as the Falcons running game completely disappeared against a very bad team.

In context, it now looks like the Falcons are finding ways to lose every week, and their current lead (a game and a half over the Rams and Seahawks)  seems unlikely to hold up since they still play the Vikings, the undefeated Panthers twice, and New Orleans again.  But beyond that, it’s easy to imagine this team dropping one of their two road games at Tampa Bay or at Jacksonville, and you have to wonder just who’s left on the schedule that the Falcons might actually beat.

This Week’s Sucked And Won

Andre Johnson, WR (IND):  I know the Johnson signing hasn’t really worked out, but this week against Denver he caught zero passes for zero yards and was only targeted three times.  It looks like Johnson doesn’t figure into the Colts offense at all.

This week’s poor sport award goes to former Panthers and current Packers DE Julius Peppers.  Knowing former teammate Cam Newton’s propensity for giving touchdown footballs to kids in the stands, Peppers snatched the ball away before Cam could give some kid the coolest souvenir imaginable.  Of course, Green Bay’s defense still got their asses spanked, but the kids in the stands got to see a former hero acting like a spoiled brat.  Class act, Julius.

Shocking realization of the week

By beating the Jaguars, Ryan Fitzpatrick became the first quarterback to start and win against the same opponent with five different teams.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets

“Blue! 33! My thumb hurts! Hut!”

This week’s Catch Of The Day goes to the Bills Sammy Watkins, on just a picture perfect 44 yard throw and catch TD from quarterback Tyrod Taylor.  Watkins called for the ball, then ran to the spot where Taylor’s had perfectly placed it.  A thing of beauty.

Drew Brees must have felt like a marked man against Tennessee this week, as the Titans drew 3 roughing the passer penalties in their game against New Orleans.  Brees also got sacked 4 times and hit (legally) bunch more than that.   Duck Drew!  Duck!

This Week’s Great But Lost

Michael Crabtree, WR (OAK):  Crabtree caught 7 passes for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough to lift Oakland over the Steelers.

This week’s “no substitutions please” award goes to the New York Jets.  Due his thujb injury, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had to be replaced as the holder on special teams.  His substitute?  Kicker Nick Folk, who couldn’t kick because of a quad injury.  His substitute?  Punter Ryan Quigley, who went xx for xx in field goal attempts.  I’d love to tell you that for some reason back up QB Geno Smith had taken over punting duties but sadly that was still Quigley.

Thursday Pick:  Buffalo (+3) @NY Jets (MGM Mirage)

The long term trends here favor the Jets:  the home team has had the better of it in this divisional rivalry and the Jets own a modest advantage over the last half a dozen years.  The short term trend favors Buffalo:  they crucified the Jets last year, winning both games by a combined 55 points.  The bottom line though is that the Bills just got healthy whereas the Jets are all banged up.  These two teams aren’t that far apart:  injuries make the difference.

Buffalo Bills 23, New York Jets 22

N-F-Yell

“There is nothing wrong with our team.  We just lost a tough game.” – Packers coach Mike McCarthy, on his team’s loss to the undefeated Panthers.

“It was fun to see him out there chasing the quarterback.” – Giants QB Eli Manning, on teammate DE Jason Pierre-Paul, who saw his first action of the year after his unfortunate fireworks mishap and injury.

“I thought we would get the kick, get the stop defensively, then use our timeouts and go attack on offense.  We’re a really good two-minute offense.  I felt like we were stopping them defensively and could do it again and go win that way.” – Falcons coach Dan Quinn, on his decision to kick a field goal to make the score 17-16 with 3 minutes to go against the 49ers.  The Falcons never got the ball back and lost 17-16.

“We’re close to leading the league in penalties right now.  That’s gonna get you beat.” – Saints QB Drew Brees, after his team lost to Tennessee overtime.

“It’s nothing that a little Charles Woodson wine won’t take care of.” – Raiders CB Charles Woodson, deflecting a question about his injury status and taking the opportunity to chat up his Napa Valley vineyard.

“We won, that’s the biggest thing.  Obviously there was some sloppy things we have to clean up.” – Jets coach Todd Bowles, on his team’s closer-than-expected win over Jacksonville.

“We will bounce back. We are 7-1. It’s a long season. Name me the last undefeated champion.” – Broncos S TJ Ward, putting Denver’s first loss of the season in proper context.

“I don’t agree with the hit.  I think some of those players on that team are pretty cheap, to tell you the truth. I hope we see them again.” – Vikings G Brandon Fusco, echoing the comments of a number of Minnesota players about the Rams’ hit on QB Teddy Bridgewater that knocked him out of the game.

“There are three people I have zero respect for in this world.  It’s people who hit women, people who molest children and rapists. I’m glad he didn’t have a good day.  I think it’s a joke a guy like that is able to play this quickly.” – Eagles C Jason Kelce, taking a huge shot at Cowboys DE Greg Hardy.

 

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Random thoughts and good quotes from Week 6

Yay! Random thoughts, betting odds, and good quotes from Week 6 of the NFL!

The New England Patriots once again knocked off an opponent to remain unbeaten, but don’t buy into the “invincible” argument being thrown around.  Granted, their offense is intimidating.  Brady has been magnificent and Gronk and Edelman are mismatches waiting to happen to opposing defenses.

But defensively the Pats have not been great, just average.  And their schedule has not been that hard, especially on the defensive side — the Week 2 win vs. Buffalo which looked so impressive at the time looks considerably less so today.

The Buffalo Bills defense is middle of the pack and they’ve recorded just nine sacks all season.  That means that the Pats next game, against the divisional rival New York Jets, will be the best defense they’ve faced all year.  If they run it up on New York (without forcing turnovers) then they really might be invincible.

This Week’s Sucked And Won

Adrian Peterson, RB (MIN):  The Kansas City Chiefs vs. Minnesota Vikings game was the kind of grind it out, slugfest that Peterson usually wins all by himself.  Instead, he gained only 60 yards on 26 carries (subtract his long of 23 and that leaves 37 yards on the remaining 25 carries — a pathetic 1.5 yards per carry average.  He also fumbled and didn’t find the end zone even once.  The Vikes can thank their defense for this win.

Sunday’s catch of the day belonged to Steelers WR Martavis Bryant, playing in his first game of the season.  His 88 yard catch and run TD in the fourth quarter to seal the win for Pittsburgh featured multiple cutbacks and one very fine broken tackle (against S Tyron Mathieu of all people) and was a quintessential example of the phrase “run to daylight.”  Well done.

Shocking realization of the week:

The league’s leading receiver is NOT Julio Jones, AJ Green, Larry Fitzgerald or Antonio Brown.  Instead it’s Houston’s Deandre Hopkins (WHO?!), whose playing in what is, frankly, a pretty toothless offense, yet somehow Hopkins is putting up dizzying numbers.

DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

Can Julio Jones do this? Actually, yes, just a little less often.

I’ve finally figured out how to get rid of that STUPID timeout just before a field goal that has absolutely no correlation on whether the guy makes or misses it.  The NFL should simply change the rule so that there can be no timeouts called on an opponent’s field goal attempt once the play clock is at :07 or less.  That ends the practice. For good.

This Week’s Great But Lost

Philip Rivers, QB (SD):  Good lord.  Few QBs can outplay Aaron Rodgers, and none can do so at Lambeau Field, but that’s exactly what Rivers did.  He threw the ball 65 times without throwing a pick, completed ⅔ of his passes, and amassed 503 yards and 2 TDs.  What an amazing day.

Thursday Pick:  Seattle (-6) @San Francisco (MGM Mirage)

How long can you continue to believe that Seattle is moments away from turning it all around? Apparently, at least one more, given that they’re favored by six on the road in a divisional rivalry game. In this particular rivalry, the home team has consistently come through. I don’t know if I’m ready to take the 49ers to win, but I’m more than ready to take 6 points.

Seattle Seahawks 23, San Francisco 49ers 20

N-F-Yell

“Well, I think I spend a lot of time on it, not a lot of wasted hours.” – Chiefs coach Andy Reid, responding to a question asking if he would be giving up play calling duties.  Unless there is someone on the staff who can call plays in which Jamaal Charles is no longer out for the season, I don’t think it really matters.

“I would say he’s our quarterback.  We’re going to stick with him. We’ve got a lot of confidence in him.” – Texans coach Bill O’Brien, on QB Brian Hoyer, whom he benched in week one in favor of the truly putrid Ryan Mallett.  That is has taken O’Brien this long to “settle” on Hoyer should be enough to get him fired.

“This season is not done at all.” – Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, on his team now standing at 2-4.

“I don’t really think of myself as a matchup for us to key on, but the plays were there.  He found the open receiver and a few times that happened to be me.” – 49ers FB Bruce Miller, who caught 3 passes for a career high 89 yards against the Ravens on Sunday.

“Today was solely on me.  It was my fault.  I can’t blame anybody but myself.” – Chargers rookie RB Melvin Gordon, on being benched after fumbling twice in the first half against the Packers.

“He looked good to me.  He’s our quarterback now.” – Steelers LB James Harrison, on 3rd string QB Landry Jones, who will most likely start next week due to injuries.

“I’m not making excuses for anybody, I’m not trying to baby anybody.” – Washington coach Jay Gruden, after listing a variety of reasons (including the weather) why Kirk Cousins basically stinks on ice and then emphatically insisting he would not change quarterbacks.

“It’s on me.  It was a communication breakdown.  It’s not on those players.” – Colts coach Chuck Pagano, on the hideously stupid fake punt play call that essentially put the game against the Patriots out of reach.  Don’t worry Chuck.  Everyone agrees it’s your fault.  No one is blaming the players.

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NFL 2015 preview: Seahawks win a crowded NFC West

Predicted Finish:

Seattle Seahawks (11-5) (2nd seed; Super Bowl Winner)

St. Louis Rams (9-7)

Arizona Cardinals (8-8)

San Francisco 49ers (5-11)

Don’t be misled here. Just because I don’t have multiple teams making the playoffs from the NFC West this season doesn’t mean it’s not still one of the best divisions in football. In fact, it’s primarily a collection of very tough schedules that I see holding down some of the division’s contenders, not a lack of ability.

Do I really think Seattle can come out and go to three straight Super Bowls, something that hasn’t been done since Jim Kelly’s Bills did it in the early ‘90s?

You’re damn right.

The Seahawks defense is epic. They are a unit for the ages. And offensively, they got a lot better in the offseason. They also have a very smart quarterback in Russell Wilson, and the thing that distinguishes the Mannings and the Bradys of the world more than anything else is not their throwing ability or their athleticism or even their leadership. It’s brains. You doubt Seattle can go to a third Super Bowl and win their second. Be my guest. You’ll see.

I have the St. Louis Rams edging out the Arizona Cardinals this year because the Rams got the easier path schedule-wise while the Cardinals have a tough go of it. These are very evenly matched teams, and I really do like the way Jeff Fisher has his guys ready every week. That’ll be enough for second place.

The Cardinals will take a step back this year, and I think they may move on from Carson Palmer at some point as well, but don’t count out Arizona in the future. This is a team with a solid core, especially defensively, and they aren’t going to have a killer schedule every single year.

If there’s a team that got absolutely dismantled in the offseason, it’s the San Francisco 49ers. I believe they are returning one out of 11 starters on defense, which is just… I don’t even know. This entire team has fallen apart this offseason, so when you hear people saying how much the 49ers miss Jim Harbaugh, try not to throw up in your mouth.

Like I said, I have the Seahawks winning it all against Baltimore this year, in what promises to be an epic Super Bowl. One of the keys to getting there, however, is the Packers’ inability to defense a mobile quarterback like Wilson. Expect Green Bay to blow it in the NFC Championship game before Seattle nails it down in the big game.

Games to Watch:

Week 2 – St. Louis @ Washington: Nick Foles’ career numbers against Washington’s lousy secondary are video game crazy. If you like yardage, points, more yardage, more points and more yardage, this will be the game for you.

Week 4 – Green Bay @ San Francisco: There are a lot of teams that are going to be looking for payback against the Niners now that they’re down and out, but perhaps none more so than the Packers. This one could get ugly.

Week 7 – Baltimore @ Arizona: I have the Cardinals’ tough schedule keeping them out of the playoffs. One remedy for that is for Arizona to come out and beat down their tough schedule. This one will be hard to win, but it’s doable.

Week 11 – San Francisco @ Seattle: As I said, a lot of people will be looking for payback. I’ll take the Seahawks.

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With Harbaugh’s departure, are the 49ers finished?

The regular season is over and the annual shuffle of coaches and front office personnel has already begun.

Highest profile, of course, was the departure of Jim Harbaugh from the NFL to take over the Michigan job, leaving “experts” proclaiming the 49ers’ job the most attractive one available.

But is it?

San Francisco has plenty of talent along the o-line and defensive front 7, but it’s aging, injured and will never be as good as it was two years ago when the team went to the Super Bowl.

(more…)

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