Daily Archives: November 2, 2010

Football Relativity Week 8

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity tool. There are some significant shifts this week as we now have three weeks of results with which to evaluate teams. We’ll indicate as we go which teams are moving up and down from the Week 7 comparison.

Reggie Wayne of the Colts scores against the Texans

10 – Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts (UP A LEVEL), New England Patriots (UP A LEVEL), New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers – The Patriots and Colts move up to a crowded clump atop the NFL. The Colts took care of business on Monday night, beating the Texans 30-17 to reestablish AFC South dominance. Even though they’re really beaten up physically, they’re still playing well. The Patriots took down the Vikings 28-18 at home, and New England is now the only team with a single loss on the season. New England’s defense seems to be getting better, and the offense is getting along fine without Randy Moss. They’re not dominant, but the Pats will be a tough out. We discussed why the Jets stay at this level in Rise/Sink/Float, and for many of the same reasons we leave the Steelers at this level despite a 20-10 Sunday night loss in New Orleans. The Ravens were on bye.

9 – New York Giants – The Giants, who were on bye, have this level to themselves.

8 – Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins (UP A LEVEL), New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans – The Packers got a huge 9-0 road win at the Jets, but with all their injuries, we can’t raise them any higher than this. But if this win spurs a winning streak, that can change. We didn’t overreact and drop the Saints that far down when they struggled, and so we won’t shoot them up the comparison after they beat the Steelers. We still have a hunch that, once Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush return, the Saints will be among the class of the NFC. The Titans and Texans both lost on the road, and so we keep both AFC South teams at this level. They’re half a step behind the other teams at this level, but they’re still better than the teams on rung 7. We discussed the Dolphins’ rise in Rise/Sink/Float, and the Falcons and Eagles were on bye.

7 – Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (UP A LEVEL) – The Chiefs had a dogfight against the lowly Bills, but give them credit for eking out a 13-10 overtime win. They face a big AFC West clash against the Raiders this week, and a win will show that the Chiefs are a legit playoff team. The Buccaneers got a road win in Arizona as QB Josh Freeman led another comeback victory. Maybe Freeman is a Jake Plummer, or maybe he’s a legit star, but there’s no doubt he is buoying the pirate ship crew to more wins than their talent suggests they deserve.

6 – Washington Redskins – We discussed the Redskins’ loss to the Lions and the subsequent Donovan McNabb controversy in this post.

5 – Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars (UP A LEVEL), Oakland Raiders (UP TWO LEVELS), San Diego Chargers (UP A LEVEL), St. Louis Rams (UP A LEVEL) – The middle of the league had a good week on Sunday. The Jaguars got their fourth win in a dominant performance in Dallas. When David Garrard plays that well, the Jags can be dangerous. The Raiders posted their second straight blowout win, and if they can beat the Chiefs this week, the playoffs become a real possibility. The Chargers broke through with a home win against the Titans, but with the Chiefs and Raiders showing strength, they still face an uphill battle in the division. The Rams used a businesslike performance to take care of the Panthers, as we discussed in this week’s game thoughts. The Bears were on bye.

4 – Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings (DOWN A LEVEL), Seattle Seahawks (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Bengals lost at home to the Dolphins, falling further down the standings. The Bengals can play good teams close, but they simply aren’t getting the wins this year. The Seahawks lost in Oakland, and while losing on the road isn’t a surprise, losing by 30 is. The Vikings lost in New England, but we move them down more for off-the-field mismanagement of Randy Moss and Brett Favre than for their on-field performance this week.

3 – Arizona Cardinals (DOWN A LEVEL), Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys (DOWN TWO LEVELS), Denver Broncos (DOWN A LEVEL), Detroit Lions (UP A LEVEL), San Francisco 49ers (UP A LEVEL) – The Cardinals lost a home game, and if they can’t defend their home field they are behind NFC West rivals Seattle and St. Louis. The Cowboys fell to 1-6 with an embarrassingly decisive loss to the Jaguars at home. Despite their talent, they’re not good at all right now. Denver lost in London to the 49ers, leaving both teams at 2-6. The Broncos can throw the ball but do little else, while the 49ers hope new starting QB Troy Smith can provide a spark. Detroit finally won a close game at home against the Redskins, and if the Lions can start to defend home field, they’ll move forward in their rebuilding process. The Browns were on bye.

2 – None – There’s a significant gap here.

1 – Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers (DOWN A LEVEL) – The Bills lost in overtime for the second straight week, showing that they are still competitive even though they have yet to win. This week’s game in Toronto against the Bears looks like a good chance at a W. The Panthers, coming off their first win, got next to no offense going against the Rams and lost 20-10 in a game that wasn’t even that close.


Filed under Football Relativity

McNabb stabbed in the back

Donovan McNabb

Mike Shanahan has done it again. The first-year Redskins head coach, whose well publicized battle of wills with DT Albert Haynesworth ended up costing the Redskins the services of their most dominant defensive player for two games (both three-point Redskins losses), is now taking on QB Donovan McNabb. Once again, Shanahan is using conditioning as the excuse. Shanahan yanked McNabb out of Sunday’s game with the Lions in the game’s final two minutes with the Redskins trailing by six. Backup Rex Grossman was sacked on the next play from scrimmage, and Ndamukong Suh recovered and returned the ball for a game-clinching touchdown. Obviously, Shanahan’s gambit didn’t win the Redskins the game, and it may well have cost the Redskins their chance.

McNabb’s play this year, and in this game, have not been spectacular. Before he was pulled, the Redskins’ previous two drives had ended with a McNabb interception and McNabb being sacked on a fourth-down play. McNabb was 17-of-30 for 210 yards with one touchdown and one pick against the Lions, and on the year he has just seven touchdowns with eight interceptions. He still throws perhaps the most effective deep ball in the league, but he’s completing just 57 percent of his passes, but there haven’t been nearly enough big plays. So it’s no surprise that his passer rating, 76, is 25th among qualifying quarterbacks. He hasn’t been good.

But the Redskins have been better than last year. After going 4-12 last season, they sit at 4-4, and McNabb’s veteran presence has helped. He has provided enough stability to help the Redskins win some low-scoring games, and Washington has been close in just about every game this season. (Only one game didn’t come down to the final two minutes.) Shanahan is kidding himself if he thinks Grossman, who was renowned for his inconsistency and turnovers when he started for the Bears, can provide similar stability. Yes, Grossman has just as many Super Bowl appearances as McNabb, and he has two more seasons in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s offense, but while McNabb brings calm, Grossman brings chaos.

So what is Shanahan’s end game? Is it a shot across the bow against McNabb for his conditioning or his preparation? Perhaps. Is McNabb so banged up at this point that he really can’t run the two-minute offense well? We doubt it. Frankly, we wouldn’t be shocked if Shanahan is making a statement to make sure the team knows it’s his way or the highway, no matter who you are. That’s the tactic Shanahan used with Haynesworth, so we know it’s in his bag of tricks.

The problem is that consolidating your power as a coach doesn’t equal wins. It equals ego, it equals office politics, but it doesn’t equal wins. And if Shanahan keeps playing these ego games and stabbing his best players in the back in the process, he’s going to end up losing a lot more than he wins.

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