• Zone Blitz: Week 11 Open Thread



    Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2013 4:05 PM
    From: Amy
    Subject: Re: Blitzkrieg
    To: Brian


    Crunch time is quickly sliding over us as the fights for the 6 seeds pick up. It looks like both Wests will take 2 seeds as Denver/KC and SF/Seattle both look like locks. It should make for high pressure games coming down the wire with 3 or 4 teams, in each conference, fighting for just one slot.

    The games I chose this week, with the Pats on bye, were Philly/Packers (for Shady and Chip), and Panthers/49ers (cause I expected it would be great).

    Fly, Eagles Fly

    Philly/Green Bay was an interesting game, with the Pack forced to go thier 3rd string QB. But, it was really the defense that cost them the game. While the offense did have two turnovers (both seemingly on timing mistakes, not at all to be unexpected), the D had no excuses when they gave up TDs of 55 (to Jackson), and 45 (to Cooper) yards. It was a game that was closer then the score indicated, and a ton of players went down, too. I think 8 at the end, 3 Philly and 5 Pack. I wouldn't write the Pack off, however. They are only one game back and quite a few teams including both from last years Superbowl, showed you can have a major change (OC and QB) and still make a run. And, AR will be back.

    Peanut Tillman might not be, however. He was put on IR (deginated to return), which means he can start practing in 6 week and return in 8. So, he could be back for the playoffs, if the Bears make it that far. But, like the Packers, I wouldn't write the Bears off yet.

    Philly, with the win, and with the Saints treating the Cowboys so meany, is now tied for first in the NFC first round loss division. Dallas has the tiebreakers, but I'm rooting for the Eagles. One extra week of Chip would be cool. Nick Foles needs to do something about his hair. Everytime I saw him with the helmet off, I was thinking 'Ok, put it back on.'

    Harbaugh Choked?

    The late game was awesome. The score was only 10-9, but it was one of those low scoring games that was low scoring because of great play. It was a very very fun game to watch, and I think that one of the reasons the 49ers lost was because Harbaugh had a pansy moment. Leading 6-0, the 49ers had a 4th and 1 from the Panthers 2. They don't even need to get to the endzone, and if they fail to get to the 1, they pin Cam and company deep. Given how both D's played, it's a good gamble.

    But, they kicked the FG, took the 9-0 lead, kicked off, Panthers got it at the 20, and took it down the field, scoring the TD right before the half. As you know, I always think you should go for it, on 4th and 1 inside the 10, unless there are 10 seconds or less left, you are down 3, exactly, and out of timeouts. But, Harbaugh choked, took the easy points, and lost by 1. It goes to show that even great coaches can make key errors.

    AFC South

    Trap game Alert! Trap game Alert! When a team had a TNF game inside it's division, and the opponent is the (team it wants to hold off/team it is trying to catch), one must be aware of looking ahead. Especially when you have a DIv 2 team on the schedule. So, it's not a total shock that the Titans fell to Division Foe Jacksonville on Sunday, opening the way for Indy. Wait, Indy lost too? To The current team employing '9-7 won't get me fired, so it's good enough' Jeff Fisher? Yes, yes, they did! You can at least give Tennessee credit. It must be hard getting excited about an 0-8 team, but, really Indy? Really? And not only lose, but get killed? Well, the AFC South (and the nightmare of Pollard coming to kill *another* Pats season (he's up to 4), is alive) is still wide open.

    I'll skip talking about Jets South. At least Rex has fun scandals.

    Finally, for now: Thank you Rams and Ravens for helping the Pats win thier Bye week. It was almost perfect, but, as usual, the San Diego Not Quite Super Chargers failed.


    Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2013 12:17 AM
    From: Brian
    Subject: Re: Blitzkrieg
    To: Amy


    I will agree that Denver, KC, and Seattle all look like mortal locks at this point. Clearly SF is also a favorite to grab one of the two NFC Wild Card spots, but I'm not ready to crown them a lock by any stretch of the imagination. Carolina is now the 5 seed, and will hold the all-important tie-break advantage if needed against San Francisco, thanks to their impressive grind-it-out victory yesterday. San Francisco has already beaten Green Bay, which will help their cause, and many of the potential Wild Card contenders seem to be crumbling around them. But it's too early to leave Green Bay or Chicago for dead, and don't look now, but Arizona is only a game back, has a nasty, big-play defense, and closes the season by hosting the 49ers. Plus, they have one of the most exciting X Factor players in the NFL that no one is talking about in Andre Ellington. I expect SF to get in, but it's going to be a dog fight, and I won't be shocked if they're left out of the party.

    Sweet Carolina

    Can we now say that Carolina is legit? They sure look like the real deal to me. It wasn't pretty, but going into San Fran and winning the way they did was awfully impressive. After losing their first 2 games of the year, the Panthers have now won 6 of 7, and are playing like an incredibly confident team on both sides of the ball. Moreover, Ron Rivera is coaching like a coach that's incredibly confident in his team. Their defense is nasty, holding SF to under 200 yards of total offense, and forcing 6 sacks and 2 TOs. The 4-headed rushing attack wasn't great, and may be frustrating for fantasy owners, but was good enough to grind out 30 attempts for 111 yards against a stout defense. Cam certainly didn't have his best game, but he had been dynamic in their 4 wins prior to Sunday. The QB isn't always going to be at his best, but when you can win games on the road against very good teams, even when your best player isn't at his best, that's a very good sign for the future prospects of the 2013 Panthers.

    The Panthers still have 2 matchups with the Saints on their schedule, but also have very winnable games remaining with the Dolphins, Jets, Bucs, and Falcons. Then, there's that little matchup next Monday Night when they host the Patriots. Other than the Jets, all of those teams have been struggling recently against the run, which plays right into Carolina's hands. And other than the Saints, none of those defenses stand out as defenses that are going to make Cam uncomfortable with a pass rush. With their defensive improvement, I don't think they pass NO for the division, but I do think they're every bit as likely as San Francisco to finish strong with 11 wins, and grab one of the two Wild Card Spots.

    The Big Easy

    Speaking of New Orleans, with all the talk of Denver and Seattle, it seems that they're being a bit overlooked. We all know how good their offense is, as they completely shredded whatever remained of Monte Kiffin's defensive reputation. They managed to set a record for most 1st downs in a game with 40, and gained over 600 yards of total offense. But it is the defense that has really stood out to me. Rob Ryan has that Saints defense playing angry. Keenan Lewis, whom they signed as a Free Agent from the Steelers, has turned into one of the legit shut-down CBs in the league, holding Dez Bryant to nothing until the game was long out of reach. The pass defense as a whole has been as good as any in the league this year, holding teams to under 200 yards and a 1/1 TD/INT ratio. Their run defense isn't quite as efficient, but with as good as their offense is, teams are rarely able to stick with the run when facing the Saints. Seattle would clearly present their toughest matchup in any playoff setting, but if they can find a way to beat the Seahawks in Seattle in a couple of weeks, the NFC road to the Super Bowl could easily be traveling through the Big Easy.

    Weekend at Monte's

    On the other side of the Sunday night game, we had the Cowboys. I understand that Sean Lee left early with an injury (he's another of those great players that just doesn't seem to own the skill to avoid injuries), but at least continue to fight. 600+ yards and 40 1st Downs? If Monte Kiffin were still alive, he'd have never allowed this to happen. Somehow, Dallas has once again allowed every other team in the NFC East to hang around. Now, it appears that Philly is starting to hit its stride, and don't look now, but the Giants have won 3 in a row, and are somehow only 1 back in the loss column. I sincerely hope Jason Garrett and company are able to earn a ton of residuals from their Weekend at Monte's movie production, but on Black Monday, Garrett and his staff are likely going to be the first on the chopping block.

    Quick Hits

    -The Tennessee loss to Jacksonville didn't surprise me too much, but certainly the Indy no-show was a shock. I expect the Colts to be spitting fire on Thursday night, and take Tennessee to the woodshed.
    -Quietly, the Eagles defense has been pretty solid in recent weeks, especially against the run. Plus, I think I'm a believer in Nick Foles. He was a bit lucky yesterday against a Packer defense that's been pretty solid against the pass. With Washington's shaky defense coming to town next week, I'm thinking the Eagles will be able to pick up their first home win in more than a year.
    -I know they lost, but Philip Rivers has impressed me every time I've seen him this year. I'm now more convinced than ever that something was wrong with him last year. His ball seems to have more zip on it this year than at any other time I can remember. It's easy to forget that it wasn't too long ago that he was among the top handful of QBs in the league. I think we can consider him back in that mix, which will make SD a frisky opponent down the stretch run, even if they don't have quite enough to get into the dance themselves.

    What are your thoughts on next week's games, and specifically, on that huge Patriots-Panthers matchup on Monday night?


    Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2013 11:29 AM
    From: Amy
    Subject: Re: Blitzkrieg
    To: Brian


    I can't disagree with anything you said. I think SD is done, though, they are too inconsistent even with Rivers excellent play. The six seed with be a race between the Jets and Browns. Maybe the Titans, but with no Locker they may be done. I can't say that makes me sad. No Pollard in the playoffs makes me happy.

    Philly could make the same sort of run Washington made last year. They seem to be getting better by the week, and, let's face it, they have the best back up QB situation in the NFL. If Foles gets hurt, Vick can run that offense and vice versa. And they run it in different ways, too.

    Week 11 Part I

    We have a lot of good games next week: Indy vs Tennesee. A loss could really hurt the either team. If the Colts lose, Tennessee can catch them for the South, if the Colts win, the Titans may be done. The Jets need to beat the Bills to stay in the race for the 6 seed, same for the Browns, playing a Bengals team that suddenly looks iffy, Philly vs Washington is huge, as is Bears/Ravens. A Bears win keeps them in the hunt, and, IMO, buries the Ravens, and a loss might be fatal for the Bears hopes, while keeping Baltimore in play. Barely. Maybe.

    But, that's not all. The loser of Chargers vs Dolphins is done, while the Pack can keep hope alive with a win vs. the Giants.

    Then, we have the big games: Niners vs Saints, KC vs Denver, and Panthers vs Pats. The 49ers really need to win, to have any chance of catching the Seahawks, A KC win would shut up the critics, and might have Denver reeling when they come into Foxboro, and the Pats/Panthers game has implications for as many as 4 playoff slots, 3 in the NFC, plus ours.

    Pats and Panthers does worry me. We have them on the road on MNF, then the Broncos, at home, on SNF. (Yes, Denver gets back to back SNF). I'd be happy to 1-1 those two games and I'd prefer the win over Denver, for playoff reasons. 2-0 would be better, of course, but we'll see just where we stand. We should have Talib, Ninkovitch, and, maybe Vereen back. We cut Colley last week, so KT should get playing time again, in the 4 WR group, which is good. We'll get Gregory back in a few weeks, (though he might play with a broken thumb, who knows). We have to play fast paced, up tempo, vs Carolina. If we keep it close, they probably win. If we start to open a lead, I don't think Cam can race Brady. But, then, they know that as well. So, we'll see!


    Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2013 4:20 PM
    From: Brian
    Subject: Re: Blitzkrieg
    To: Amy


    10 of the 16 teams in the AFC have a losing record. It's really tough to envision a scenario where the Patriots, Bengals, Colts, Chiefs, and Broncos aren't playing January football. Which means that there's one spot remaining for the rest. While the Jets currently hold that spot, I'm far from ready to declare that the 6 seed is coming down to either the Jets or Browns. Both teams are solid defensively, but have serious question marks on offense. There are currently 7 teams within 2 games of that final spot, and still 6/7 games remaining. It is very possible/probable that 8-8 will get it done. If that's the case, are we ready to concede that the Ravens can't finish 4-3? Or that the Steelers can't finish 5-2? In the Steelers' case, they've already beaten the Jets, and have taken 1 game against Baltimore. If the Steelers can find a way to upset Detroit (I'm by no means holding my breath), that Thanksgiving Day game with Baltimore will thrust the winner into the WC conversation, while the loser will for all intents and purposes be eliminated.

    Week 11 Part II

    We've discussed a number of games, but I think this week stands out as an important week for 2 teams in particular-- Kansas City and Detroit. For 5 straight weeks, the Chiefs have faced a team with a different QB than the one they started the season with (Ten, Oak, Cle, Hou, Buf). For as great as the pass rush has been, I'd say the degree of difficulty will go up {just a smidge} this weekend. By no means am I saying that KC has to win this game to be considered a legitimate contender, but I am saying that they have to compete. If they get blown out by Denver, then suddenly the nay-sayers will look at that previous 5 game stretch, and start to make conclusions about the validity of their success.

    Of course, with Peyton already dealing with a high-ankle sprain, and perhaps more, all it would take is one hit to the wrong (right?) spot, and suddenly the Chiefs would have the opportunity to indoctrinate Brock Osweiler to the NFL.

    Of the non-marquee games, the one I'm looking to is in Pittsburgh. A 4-6 Steeler team would be far from out of it in the mediocre AFC. But this game isn't as much about them as it's about Detroit. Matt Stafford has shown marked improvement this year, thanks in no small part to the addition of Reggie Bush in the backfield. Add in that Megatron is now finding ways to end his receptions in the end zone as opposed to inside the 5, and the Lions offense has been one of the best in the league. But for all of the analysis, it comes down to this. The NFC North has opened it's gates for the Lions. The division is theirs for the taking. Heck, I think the Lions would match up as well with Seattle as anyone in the league. If the Lions want to win the division, and be considered serious contenders to make an early February trip to Jersey, they have to win road games against teams they're better than. The Lions have 3 road games remaining, all against inferior opponents. There's no question the Lions are a better team than the Steelers. But coming off a big divisional win over Chicago, this is a game they would traditionally lose. If they can win on Sunday, that would be an excellent sign that they're ready to take that next step into the discussion as one of the top teams in all of football.

    Now It's Your Turn

    Please feel free to comment on anything we've discussed above, as well as any other topics you feel we've missed. Your week 11 discussion thread is now officially open for business.

    Comments 77 Comments
    1. Hoser's Avatar
      I had the exact same reaction to the Niners kicking the FG from their 2. To me the reward outweighed the risk.
    1. Nancy's Avatar
      The Panthers-Niners game was great. Despite the fact that our QB and center tried desperately to give it away at the end (yet again), the Panthers actually looked good against a very good team. I's always fun to watch two good defenses go at each other and it happens all too rarely these days. I agree that Harbaugh should have gone for it early in the game, but with that defense and the Panthers' inconsistent offense, it's hard to blame him too much for taking the points and turning things over to the D.

      It must be hard getting excited about an 0-8 team, but, really Indy? Really? And not only lose, but get killed?
      That offensive line is going to get Andrew Luck killed. They may get Trent Richardson killed as well.
      Nevertheless, the Rams are a bad team and while the Colts are clearly not a bad team, they do have some fairly serious problems that they've overcome due to a few timely defensive gems, some good fortune, and the brilliance of Luck when they give him more than a nanosecond to throw the ball. They are nowhere near as horrible as the Rams, but the weaknesses in the offensive line, the lack of experience in the receiving corps, issues with stopping the run, and having Toler at CB keep them from being the sort of team that can overcome a "flat" performance against anyone.
    1. xmenehune's Avatar
      luv it again,

      though, I wonder if you two had a pod cast. I know, I know it wouldn't be too long. maybe 10-15 min at the most. You would probably hash it out together what you might want to review for 15 min of prep time, 5 min of conference audio checks and then somehow make a pod cast.

      Since you both write so well, I can only imagine the banter back and forth, but I maybe the only one interested in the audience. so march on or something like that. I don't watch the post game anymore w/CBS or FOX, CBS seems like so much bickering and FOX usually sticks to only a few games. So for me this is pretty good, spot on post game analysis w/a touch of character.

      BTW just an FYI over at arenafan.com they have a weekly podcast during the season, which I do listen to. Sometimes I think it's too long for some of the issues or games that are reviewed, but I'm probably biased and I'm not an active user on their site, so I guess I'm out of the loop at times with their subjects/issues reviewed or they just don't interest me.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by xmenehune View Post
      luv it again,

      though, I wonder if you two had a pod cast. I know, I know it wouldn't be too long. maybe 10-15 min at the most. You would probably hash it out together what you might want to review for 15 min of prep time, 5 min of conference audio checks and then somehow make a pod cast.

      Since you both write so well, I can only imagine the banter back and forth, but I maybe the only one interested in the audience. so march on or something like that. I don't watch the post game anymore w/CBS or FOX, CBS seems like so much bickering and FOX usually sticks to only a few games. So for me this is pretty good, spot on post game analysis w/a touch of character.

      BTW just an FYI over at arenafan.com they have a weekly podcast during the season, which I do listen to. Sometimes I think it's too long for some of the issues or games that are reviewed, but I'm probably biased and I'm not an active user on their site, so I guess I'm out of the loop at times with their subjects/issues reviewed or they just don't interest me.
      Thanks X, I appreciate the feedback. My goal when starting this particular endeavor was to go for a long-form, podcast-type feel, except in written form. We have recently made a small adjustment by adding headlines, in the hopes that it makes it easier for people to follow, but I don't want to lose the conversational feel. I hope we're doing an admirable job at that, and keeping things interesting for everyone who wants a bridge from the past week into the next week. This has been a fun venture for me, and to turn this into an actual podcast would be an interesting thing to consider down the road.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Nancy View Post
      The Panthers-Niners game was great. Despite the fact that our QB and center tried desperately to give it away at the end (yet again), the Panthers actually looked good against a very good team. I's always fun to watch two good defenses go at each other and it happens all too rarely these days. I agree that Harbaugh should have gone for it early in the game, but with that defense and the Panthers' inconsistent offense, it's hard to blame him too much for taking the points and turning things over to the D.
      Short term, that decision gave the 49ers a 2 score lead, which seems like sound logic. But considering the timing of the decision, being that it was still the first half, even with the way the 49ers defense was playing, I don't think they should have played it conservative in that spot. If it were the 4th quarter, then sure, but there was still too much of the game remaining.

      Plus, with the time on the clock, had they not converted, Carolina would have been in a '1st down so we can run the clock out' mode, as opposed to getting the ball in more comfortable field position, and having the chance to put a drive together. And if San Francisco scores, a 13 point lead may have very well been too much of a deficit for the Panthers to overcome.
    1. Amy's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      Short term, that decision gave the 49ers a 2 score lead, which seems like sound logic. But considering the timing of the decision, being that it was still the first half, even with the way the 49ers defense was playing, I don't think they should have played it conservative in that spot. If it were the 4th quarter, then sure, but there was still too much of the game remaining.

      Plus, with the time on the clock, had they not converted, Carolina would have been in a '1st down so we can run the clock out' mode, as opposed to getting the ball in more comfortable field position, and having the chance to put a drive together. And if San Francisco scores, a 13 point lead may have very well been too much of a deficit for the Panthers to overcome.
      When they kicked on the 4th and 1, they were up 6-0, so it made it 9-0. My dislike for the play is that I think that anytime you are inside the other teams 10 - and this is magnified in a defensive game - and it's 4th and 2 or less, you should always go for it. In this case, too, the Niners could have gotten a first down at the 1, so they didn't even need to get into the endzone. In this case, if they fail, they give the Panthers then ball at the 2, against that 49er defense. I don't mind that, I trust the D to not give up a 98 yard drive.

      The exception to the Amy rule is: down by three or less in the 4th, with no timeouts, and less then :30 to play. Then kick for OT.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      well done PFT

      Former Bengal and convicted sex offender Nate Webster had his 12-year prison sentence reduced to 10 years by an appeals court.
      Webster has 98 career games played. 3 of them with Cincinnati...9 years ago. He played 32 more games after his measly 3 in Cincinnati.

      In total he played: 63 games with Tampa, 3 games with Cincinnati, and 32 games with Denver.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      well done PFT



      Webster has 98 career games played. 3 of them with Cincinnati...9 years ago. He played 32 more games after his measly 3 in Cincinnati.

      In total he played: 63 games with Tampa, 3 games with Cincinnati, and 32 games with Denver.
      Nothing like propping up an old narrative, eh?
    1. Pruitt's Avatar
      I really, REALLY want to believe that the Browns can win in Cincinnati this week.

      And having watched the Bengals game against the Ravens, I think it could happen...

      And then comes games against a bunch of guys in Steelers uniforms (NOT the Steelers as we know them), and the Jags. dare to dream Browns fans, this team could be 7-5, at which point we start to dream of the Bears and Jets games as being meaningful games in December. And when is the last time we could even dream like this?

      Beat Cincy and 9-7 becomes an achievable target.

      As of Wednesday, it all seems so logical.
    1. GoBigOrGoHome's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
      I really, REALLY want to believe that the Browns can win in Cincinnati this week.

      And having watched the Bengals game against the Ravens, I think it could happen...

      And then comes games against a bunch of guys in Steelers uniforms (NOT the Steelers as we know them), and the Jags. dare to dream Browns fans, this team could be 7-5, at which point we start to dream of the Bears and Jets games as being meaningful games in December. And when is the last time we could even dream like this?

      Beat Cincy and 9-7 becomes an achievable target.

      As of Wednesday, it all seems so logical.
    1. GoBigOrGoHome's Avatar
      Apparently it is illegal to fart in the parking lot of Oakland Alameda Coliseum.

      I'm not sure who copied whom, but San Diego and Oakland have virtually identical tailgating regulations handed down by their county with only the facility names altered. Plagiarism I say! Anyways, these regulations are by far the most draconian in the NFL. Aside from the "don't throw anything" rule, tailgaters cannot:

      Explode, set off, discharge, or otherwise release or cause to be released, any smoke bomb, fireworks, stink bomb, or other substance which is physically harmful or otherwise irritating, offensive, repugnant or disgusting to the eyes or sense of smell.
      http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/63882998/
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      This would never happen to the NFL's darling teams.

      http://www.buffalobills.com/news/art...6-c632ea671dbc
    1. Andy Freeland's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
      When they kicked on the 4th and 1, they were up 6-0, so it made it 9-0. My dislike for the play is that I think that anytime you are inside the other teams 10 - and this is magnified in a defensive game - and it's 4th and 2 or less, you should always go for it. In this case, too, the Niners could have gotten a first down at the 1, so they didn't even need to get into the endzone. In this case, if they fail, they give the Panthers then ball at the 2, against that 49er defense. I don't mind that, I trust the D to not give up a 98 yard drive.

      The exception to the Amy rule is: down by three or less in the 4th, with no timeouts, and less then :30 to play. Then kick for OT.
      I mostly agree with that. Pinning a team inside the 3 can change a game more than a FG as can, obviously, a touchdown. The only additional caveat I would add is under a minute to go in the first half when there isn't enough time to take advantage.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      This would never happen to the NFL's darling teams.

      http://www.buffalobills.com/news/art...6-c632ea671dbc

      to add another "low market team" to it:

      Cincinnati just finished playing 4 road games in 5 weeks, including a Thursday night game, that imediately followed them playing a 4:05 game that Sunday.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      to add another "low market team" to it:

      Cincinnati just finished playing 4 road games in 5 weeks, including a Thursday night game, that imediately followed them playing a 4:05 game that Sunday.
      I should not have been so quick on the draw with the 'darling teams' comment. I mean the Eagles and Ravens both got shafted in 2012 when each got stuck playing four games in 17.5 days.

      That Bills schedule is rough, though.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Todd Christensen dead at 57.

      Sad.

      http://www.cbssports.com/collegefoot...sen-dies-at-57
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      Wow! So young. Great, great tight end. And a pretty good TV guy too.

      I'm shocked.
    1. Amy's Avatar
      So, do you want your team to sign Ed Reed?

      My answer would be no. I loved watching him, but, I think he's done. What do others think?
    1. Wordsworth's Avatar
      He would likely have to accept somewhere near the veteran's minimum, and if you're a team with room to spare and want his presence in the locker room, I think he'd be a good fit- so long as you're not expecting much, if any, production out of him.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      I agree, he's done.