A Head in the Game: Week Four
Three Things I’ve Learned:
1. I’ve learned we are living in offensive times. The last few weeks have all been about powerful offensive teams winning big games, especially this last weekend. The only team you see in today’s NFL winning with their defense is the Jacksonville Jaguars, and not everybody, certainly not all the sports analysts I’ve read, think that they have any chance of the playoffs in the long run.
The last bit of proof comes from this statistic, courtesy of NFL.com: The teams with the six top offenses in the NFL are 11-3, the teams with the top six defenses are 6-8. Need we say more?
2. I’ve learned that these days it’s hard to be a Florida football fan. The state has three teams, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Miami Dolphins, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The former is 3-0, the latter two are both 0-3. As mentioned, the Jaguars are 3-0 on the back of their defense, but that 3-0 record is a very shaky one, especially when you can point to stats like this: they are 6-34 when going for yards on the third down.
The other two teams are the most painful to watch in the NFL, including the KC Chiefs I bemoaned last week. The Dolphins have been hit by a lot of bad luck, from Ricky Williams to hurricanes, but the Bucs’ failure is totally due to all the changeup in the roster Coach Jon Gruden enacted over the offseason. It’s your bed, Jon, and now you have to sleep on it. Unfortunately, so do all your fans.
3. I’ve learned that maybe all Donovan McNabb needed was a good receiver. The Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback has been maligned in the past as being a merely okay, not great, QB, partly because of a low completion rate. The last four seasons his rates have been 58, 57.8, 58.4 and 57.5. But this year, now that he’s got high-caliber receiver Terrell Owens to throw to? That rate has gone up to 69.8, which is a heck on an increase.
While the playoffs are a long ways away and these numbers can change, McNabb is giving me hope the Eagles can keep this momentum going.
What We Will Learn:
1. Which trumps which: offense or defense? We’ll learn when the Jacksonville Jaguars run into the Indianapolis Colts, the most powerful offense in the league. Last week, the Colts scored 45 on the Green Bay Packers, and that came mostly on passes from the incomparable Peyton Manning. But the Colts won’t score as many points this week, especially if the Jaguars’ huge defensive tackles can put enough pressure on Manning. But if those tackles only take away the running game, the Colts won’t stop. They have to establish the pass rush as well. I don’t think the Jaguars will, not enough to win. Colts take it, 21-17.
2. Will Jamal Lewis break 300 yards this week? He’s going against the Kansas City Chiefs, so he might. I know this is my second Chiefs prediction in three weeks, but a prominent Sports Illustrated predictor, Paul Zimmerman, said the Chiefs will win over the Baltimore Ravens, Lewis’ team, this week. That statement is so patently wrong that I feel I have to make it clear.
The Chiefs cannot defend the run, and all the Ravens do is run. See the problem? I smell a blowout of mythic proportions. The Chiefs are toast to the tune of 38-17. If I’m wrong here, well then you’ll know why I’m writing for MIT and he’s writing for SI.
Prediction record so far: 3-1