Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Talbuc's Take - Week 11

I don’t have time to do a Talbuc’s Take every week, but here are some random thoughts after Week 10.

1) Wow!  How huge is that Ben Roethlisberger injury?  This sloppy game aside, Pittsburgh was looking like one of the best teams in football prior to him going down on MNF, but my how things have changed.  With Byron “holy hell he’s awful” Leftwich under center for the second half, the Steelers best offensive weapon was Lawrence Timmons.  Wow, they’ve got absolutely NOTHING to go with if Roethlisberger is out.  Mike Wallace can’t get deep quick enough, Antonio Brown is hurt, and defenses will stack 15 in the box against the run game.  They won and remained within one game of the Ravens, but here’s the bad news – they get those Ravens in two of the next three weeks, including this coming Sunday night in Pittsburgh.  How huge would it be for the Ravens to get both of their games against the Steelers with pork chop Leftwich taking the ball from center?  Just looking at the situation, you’ve got to think this is a pretty significant injury.  Roethlisberger is one of the toughest players in the league, and he immediately headed for the locker room.  Hell, he was at the hospital when the game finished.  Wow wow wow.      

2) The Cowboys need Tony Romo more than Tony Romo needs the Cowboys.  Yes, he makes his share of mistakes, but if you really look at things, it’s not like he has a ton of weapons.  Dez Bryant is still situationally clueless, Miles Austin hasn’t been a big play guy, and DeMarco Murray is hurt.  All he has is shufflefoot Jason Witten.  Jerry Jones and Cowboys fans need to look around the league before they go and discard the former Pro Bowler.  Once you get past Rodgers, Brees, Roethlisberger, Brady, and the Mannings, there aren’t 10, let alone 26 passers better than Romo.  If Dallas doesn’t lock Romo up to a long term deal before next season they’re fools. 

3) I realize the suits think we have to talk about the Jets endlessly because they’re a New York team, but these guys are rivaling the Jaguars for having the least talented roster in football.  Seriously, how many of these guys would you want to start a team with?  Not counting Darrelle Revis, who is on IR, are there even five players worth wanting?  Mangold, Ferguson, Coples, and Wilkerson are the four I came up with.  Maybe David Harris or Stephen Hill.  That’s a bad team that needs to start completely over.  That said, I’m not for tossing Rex Ryan.  I’m pointing a finger at GM Mike Tannenbaum.  Let’s get some talent in here guy!  If things keep trending downward they may be in line to draft Geno Smith or Matt Barkley.  The QB position gets the most attention, but they need help all over the depth chart. 

4) How about those Bucs!  I don’t want to tempt fate by drawing too much attention to these guys, but the team that Vegas slapped with a projected six win season is sitting quietly in second place with a 5-4 record.  No, it’s not the most difficult schedule in football, but they’ve yet to lose a game by more than seven points.  Their pass defense is as bad as expected, but they’re shutting the run down better than any other team in football.  Josh Freeman looks well in control of Mike Sullivan’s offense, and Doug Martin is making plays with the ball in his hands.  They’re a TEAM.  I love stressing that word.  They don’t have the most talent in the game, but they really look like one focused and functioning machine out there.  I don’t know if they’ll be able to stay in the playoff hunt through December, but I’m loving what I’m seeing.  The future looks good in Tampa Bay.

5) Don’t sleep on the Saints.  As bad as their season started (4 straight losses, including Washington and KC at home) they’re coming off a win over the previously unbeaten Falcons and are the most dangerous 4-5 team in the game.  Who wants to play these guys now?  Of their seven remaining games, there’s not one that looks like an absolute loss at this point.  I want to see how they do during the late November early December stretch v. SF, @ATL, and @NYG, but the Saints certainly have my attention. 

Several quick thoughts –

At best, New England is the fourth best team in the AFC.  I think Houston, Pittsburgh (with Ben), and Denver would beat them more often than not, and the biggest reason is defense.  Their defenses shut teams down while the Patriots’ defense hopes to hold the opposition to 24.  Throw Baltimore in their too, even with their defensive questions.  Something just doesn’t smell right about this Patriots team; good not great. 

Hate Jay Cutler all you want, but this team isn’t going anywhere without him.  Their defense can’t score 21 points every game, and Brandon Marshall isn’t the same receiver with Jason Campbell throwing him the football.  Chicago better hope Cutler’s concussion is of the minor variety. 

Why do we still allow for ties in the NFL in the year 2012?  Seriously, we can’t find some way to make sure the game ends with a winner and a loser?  Why do we need an overtime clock?  Just keep playing until someone scores.  I don’t want to hear about players getting tired and/or injured.  These are million dollar athletes playing a game that generates billions.  Finish the damn thing.

Also, during that SF/STL game, was I the only one yelling “CALL TIME OUT!!!” at the tv when the Rams were shifting into their second fake punt of the game late in the fourth?  Several seconds before the snap it was apparent that the Rams were going to once again run a fake punt, and the Niners had timeouts at their disposal.  How do you stop it?  Call time out before they can run the play!  I realize it takes a bit of quick thinking, but with 11 players on the field and a host of coaches on the sidelines, how does St. Louis get that snap off?  If I can think to do it, why can’t Jim Harbaugh?

Ten weeks in, here are the teams I think are non-mathematically eliminated from serious football – Philly, Washington, Detroit, Carolina, Arizona, St. Louis, Cleveland, Tennessee, Jacksonville, San Diego, Oakland, and Kansas City.  That’s 12 of 32 teams. 

Of the remaining, I think the most likely hoister of the Lombardi will come from this six– Houston, Denver, Atlanta, Chicago, and yes, Green Bay.  The Giants, Niners, and Patriots have work to do, and the Steelers better hope Roethlisberger isn’t shelved for long.  Baltimore is looking really sneaky at this point.  If they can capitalize on this Roethlisberger injury, get on a bit of a role, and establish a defensive presence for a postseason run, look out!

My top 10 at this point would be –
1) Houston
2) Chicago (assuming short Cutler absence)
3) Denver
4) Green Bay
5) Atlanta
6) Baltimore
7) Pittsburgh (deep in the teens without Ben)
8) San Francisco
9) NY Giants
10) New England

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