• Zone Blitz: Get Ready to Sanchize! Or Your Week 10 Open Thread


    Despite some technical difficulties, the Big Man is back this week, as we discuss the mess in SF, Big Ben's Big game vs the Ravens, and the return of the Sanchize.

    The More Things Change...

    San Francisco Mess
    BW: Coming into this year, we all knew that the 49ers had some depth issues on the defensive side of the ball, due to both attrition and injuries. However, with a quality OL, a super-talented young QB, and a pretty good haul of weapons on the offensive side of the ball, it was expected that the Niners would have more than enough to make up for their defensive losses.

    While the defense has performed admirably despite their losses, the offense completely lacks any type of identity. Frank Gore's touches are being limited due to his age and Carlos Hyde isn't getting it done in the 7 touches per game he's receiving, which means that the offense is now running through the disappointing Colin Kaepernick. When taking over in 2012, Kaepernick looked almost revolutionary at times, in leading the 49ers to within a few yards of a Super Bowl championship. However, since that season, and despite the fact that he supposedly has a really solid work-ethic, Kaepernick has failed to progress to the point to where he may actually be regressing the more they attempt to rely on him. Statistically, Kaepernick has had a decent season, but his uneven play, specifically on Sunday, encapsulates what's been a very disappointing season thus far in San Francisco. Yes, he probably scored to end the game on Sunday, and was instead credited with his 2nd fumble. But why weren't the 49ers handing the ball to Carlos Hyde on that play? And why did they end up with only 10 points, despite playing at home against a Ram defense that has been destroyed by injuries, featured an inexperienced secondary that was without Janoris Jenkins, and is 27th in points allowed?

    At what point do we hold Jim Harbaugh accountable for the fact that Kaepernick simply isn't cutting it? Reports are that Harbaugh is entering his final 8 games as the 49er HC, and while that is more a product of a disconnect between he and the front office, the fact is, Kaepernick's performance has not improved under his watch. At this point, I feel like Harbaugh is proving himself to be overrated as a HC, and unless Kaepernick turns things around in a hurry, the 49ers will be on the outside looking in come playoff time.

    PS: Kaepernick sucks. He is the 49ers' Achilles heel. If every NFL play needed no more than a really fast QB with a cannon arm, Kaep would be great. Sadly, being an NFL QB takes a little more finesse.


    Wait... Wasn't Kirk Cousins Supposed To Be THE Answer?
    Remember when RGIII got hurt, and Kirk Cousins was going to take his job and never give it back? Yeah, about that...

    Cousins went from starting against the Titans two weeks ago to being benched at halftime in favor of Colt McCoy, and suddenly finds himself as the 3rd string in DC. I'm not certain as to whether or not the Redskins ever received an actual offer of draft picks for Cousins, but it goes to show that if you have a backup QB who has his value inflated due to a small sample size of work, it's best to get value for him while you can, since in the end, it's very likely that he'll end up proving to be nothing more than a backup QB.

    I still have major concern for Griffin's health. There were a few times where it didn't look like he'd get up, but it was a positive that he made it a point to slide on a couple of occasions. The talent is undeniable, and he still has projectable upside. I'm not giving up on the hope that RGIII can eventually turn himself into one of the game's better QBs.

    PS: RGIII....

    I'll set the line on Jay Gruden lasting in Washington past 2015 t 6:5 & pick 'em at best.

    "Success is not owned it's leased and rent is due every day!"
    -- J.J. Watt

    Hey, RGIII, time to put up or shut up. And disable your thumbs. I mean, really, trying to win the internet is pointless.

    Meh. No worries. What kind of cheese do we serve RGIII with his whine?

    Oh, and this:

    Attitude reflect[s] leadership.




    ...The More They Stay The Same

    Patriots
    BW: Following 3 bad performances in 4 games to start the season, culminated by a 41-14 whitewash at the hands of the Chiefs, many (including yours truly) were caught writing the Patriots off as dead in the water. The offense couldn't get anything consistently going, Tom Brady was showing major signs of continued regression, and the defense was absolutely shredded by the Chiefs.

    The Patriots have responded by winning 5 in a row, including demolitions of the Bengals, Bears, and Broncos, all at home. While the defense has been mostly good, if not a bit inconsistent this year, the real resurgence has come thanks to the reemergence of Rob Gronkowski, who looks like he's finally on the verge of being fully healthy. While Gronk had 3 TDs early on, he was otherwise non-existent, with 4 or fewer catches and fewer than 50 yards receiving in each of his first 4 games.

    One good sign to come from that game against the Chefs was the emergence of Brandon LaFell, who had 6/119/1 that night, and has since turned into the dangerous big play threat that the Pats have been desperately searching for during the past few seasons. Since that game, the best development for the Pats has been Gronk, who has had at least 5 receptions and 9 targets in every game since, and has 3 100 yard efforts in his last 5 games. With those two weapons playing at such a high level, this is the best Tom Brady has looked since winning his second MVP in 2010.

    Following their bye this week, their next 4 games feature 3 road affairs in Indy, GB, and SD, mixed with a home date with Detroit. We'll know much more about them after that tough stretch, but after destroying the Bears and Broncos in back-to-back weeks, it certainly appears that the Patriots have emerged once again as legit threats to the AFC Throne.

    PS: The two no-brainer teams most others want nothing to do with are the Pats & Steelers. Add in the Seahawks, if they get they their heads out of their asses...

    Steelers
    BW: After 8 quarters, the Steelers and Ravens are tied at 49.

    While we spent last week talking about how Ben Roethlisberger put together one of the greatest performances in NFL History against the Colts (his 99.0 QBR was the highest that ESPN has ever calculated), he followed it up this week with what is arguably the greatest encore in league history. Ben is now not only the only player with two career 500 yard games to his credit, but he is also the first to throw for 6 TDs in back to back games.

    Ever since Mike Tomlin took over in 2007, the Steelers have had consistent struggles at RB, on the OL, and in finding a legitimate Red Zone threat in the passing game, which has led to the offense not being able to consistently put up points despite a very good QB, and some elite weapons. This year, while they've had some struggles at times, it seems like they've finally found the right mix. Le'Veon Bell has quickly emerged as one of the best young RBs in the league and the OL is starting to come together. However, the biggest difference over the past 2+ games has been the emergence of Martavis Bryant. Bryant not only fills the role of deep threat, but also gives them a physical presence in the Red Zone, which is something they've lacked since Plaxico Burress left town following the 2004 season. Ben's explosion has coincided with the activation of Bryant, who was left inactive through their first 6 games.

    Oh, and it also helps to have the league's best and most consistent WR on your side as well.

    The other good sign from Sunday was the performance of the defense. This is the nastiest the defense has looked since 2010. While the secondary is clearly shaky, and the (hopefully temporary) loss of Troy Polamalu isn't going to help, the front 7 wreaked havoc on Joe Flacco all night, as the Steelers finally unleashed a relentless blitz, rushing at least 5 on over 50% of their defensive snaps. The defense is not nearly as good as it was from 2007-2011, but it's certainly good enough to win if the offense can continue to perform at a high level.

    The true test for the Steelers is in the weeks ahead. Their dip into mediocrity over the past two years has been mainly a function of uneven play against inferior opponents. A few weeks ago, I talked about how since they were Tebowed in 2011, they've lost 12 games as the favorite over the past 2+ seasons. This includes a disappointing loss against the otherwise winless Bucs this year, and does not include a no-show against the Browns a few weeks ago. They've responded exceedingly well to that loss, but if the Steelers want to reclaim their perch at the top of the AFC North, they'll have to show that same level of dominance against inferior opponents such as the Jets and Titans.

    With the killer instinct they showed on Sunday night, I have a feeling that the Steelers are officially back.

    PS:If I had to lay out a Super Bowl pick right now. I would have to be nuts to not consider the Steelers. What they are doing IS nuts. If they can hold it together defensively and Big Ben keeps rolling, look out world. Lombardi Trophy #7 may end up in the Rooney family collection.


    AFC- Always and Forever...
    BW: A look at the top of the AFC shows the Patriots, Colts, and Broncos, with the surging Steelers just a half game behind the Bengles. The Ravens, while currently in last in the North, are the statistically superior team in that division, and have a pretty sweet schedule the rest of the way, with only one more divisional matchup against Cleveland in week 17 on the docket. Since the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV, for the past decade and a half, the AFC has been dominated by the Pats, Mannings, Ravens, and Steelers, with those teams representing 13 of the conference's 14 Super Bowl berths over that stretch. With both Manning's former team and current team each at the top of the heap, and the Steelers and Patriots surging, it looks like this year in the AFC, the more things change, the more they stay the same...

    PS: Yup.


    The Sanchize!!!
    BW: We are all aware of the history of Mark Sanchez, and yes that butt-fumble will live in infamy. But let me be clear-- the Eagles are AT LEAST as well off starting Mark Sanchez as they were Nick Foles, and frankly, they may even be better. After a fluky great year last year when it came to TOs, Foles has thrown for 10 INTs this year, and has lost an additional 3 (out of 4) fumbles. He has consistently missed wide-open receivers all over the field. More troubling, in the red zone, there has not been a less efficient QB than Foles. In 39 RZ pass attempts, Foles has 5 TDs, which is the worst % in the league for any QB with at least 20 RZ attempts. Inside the 5, Foles is 0 for 4 with an INT. To compare, Geno Smith inside the 5 is 3 for 3 with 3 TDs.

    Sanchez impressed the Eagle organization in the preseason, and upon being called into duty, on his first pass attempt, hit Jeremy Maclin for a 52 yard completion, showing that he's put in the work and was ready to play, which is not something that can be said for many backup QBs around the league. Sanchez is also more mobile, and is a quick decision-maker, which are both positives in the Chip Kelly offense. Plus, inside the RZ, where Foles had his biggest struggles, Sanchez (in an obviously small sample size) was 2 for 3 with 2 TDs.

    Let me say it again-- THE EAGLES WILL BE BETTER OFF WITH MARK SANCHEZ! There was a chance Foles was going to lose his job within the next few weeks anyway. This injury has expidited the process, but don't be surprised if (when) Foles comes back, and Sanchez is still leading the Eagles as they head into the playoffs. Just a couple of years ago, I thought Sanchez had a chance to turn in an Eli Manning-type career. He was never given a real chance in New York. Now, he's getting that chance, in the form of an innovative coach who knows how to help a QB succeed, along with real talent around him, and I think he's going to run with his opportunity
    .
    PS: I was of a similar mind regarding Sanchez a couple years ago. I really hope he does well, because what the Jets did to him was criminal.


    The Commish Report- Fantasy Minute
    BW: Go pick up Mark Sanchez. Whether you have been struggling at QB, or you simply need a quality backup, go get him. He will be at least as good as Foles, and likely better. Eagle QBs compile numbers either way, so even if he's bad, he'll still be a worthy backup at the very least.

    QB reshuffle- Top 16 QB Ranks from here on out
    1. Andrew Luck
    2. Peyton Manning
    3. Aaron Rodgers
    4. Drew Brees (he has 5 home games in his next 7. Just have a good backup ready for his week 13 and 15 matchups @Pittsburgh and @Chicago.)
    5. Tom Brady
    6. Ben Roethlisberger
    7. Matthew Stafford
    8. Philip Rivers
    9. Matt Ryan
    10. Mark Sanchez (I can see the argument for Romo here, but with his back issues, Sanchez feels safer. I'm telling you, PICK HIM UP!)
    11. Tony Romo
    12. Russell Wilson
    13. Ryan Tannehill
    14. Jay Cutler
    15. Robert Griffin III
    16. Andy Dalton


    WEEK 10 FACT OR CRAP
    PS:

    • Mark Sanchez will thrive in Chip Kelly's system creating a QB controversy in Philly.
    • Mike Vick will flame out leaving the Jets with an impossible situation.
    • The other playoff team from the NFCW will be the 49ers, not the Seahawks.
    • We will not see Adrian Peterson in uniform this season for the Vikings.
    • The Dolphins are poised to upset the Lions this week.
    • The Raiders may make it a game when Peyton and the Broncos roll into O.co.
    • I will not go undefeated in W&L this week
    • The NFCN will not field two playoff teams
    • The AFCN will field three playoff teams
    • The Browns will sneak up and beat the Bengals on TNF


    BW:
    This week features a relatively weak slate, with 6 teams on bye, and only 2 games between teams with winning records. Thursday night brings us one of those games, with an interesting matchup in Cincinnati between the Browns and Bengals. While they have struggled a bit since laying a beatdown on the Steelers last month, a Browns win away would put them in a tie with the Steelers atop the AFC North. The Bengals enter the game in first place despite their own recent struggles, and will have to survive this matchup without Gio Bernard and Vontaze Burfict. However, the Bengals will have a special guest in attendance, as Leah Still, the brave 4 year old daughter of Devon Still who has been battling Stage 4 Pediatric Cancer, will be there to watch her dad play for the first time.

    The big Sunday matchup is taking place in Detroit, as the suddenly dangerous Miami Dolphins, plum off their 37-0 shellacking over the Chargers, take on the returning Calvin Johnson and the 1st Place Lions. This may very well be a matchup of the two best defenses in the entire league, and while the return of Megatron will help Matt Stafford tremendously, there are very few players in the league that are playing at a higher level than Ryan Tannehill right now.

    Other Sunday matchups include the red hot Steelers traveling to New York to take on a 1-8 Jets team that has had major issues in stopping the QB. This is a classic trap game possibility, and is a game the Steelers need to dominate if they want to be considered legit Super Bowl contenders. -San Francisco takes on the Saints in a matchup of two teams that would both be missing out on the playoffs if not for the Saints being the top dog in the atrocious NFC South. The game will be played in the Superdome, which means the Saints will win. -After a year away, the Jaguars finally head home this weekend to take on the Cowboys in London. Somehow, the Cowboys are underdogs in this one, but with Tony Romo possibly being back under center, I'm expecting a big rebound effort from DeMarco Murray as the 'boys roll on the other side of the Atlantic. -The Sunday night matchup features the Packers hosting the Bears in a game that realistically represents the hope for Chicago if the Bears want to turn things around this year. On Monday night, Mark Sanchez will make his first start for the Eagles against the Panthers.

    Now, it's your turn!
    The table is set, FPeeps. It's now your turn to add to the conversation. Your NFL week 10 Open Thread is now live.

    Comments 22 Comments
    1. Amy's Avatar
      My takes:

      Mark Sanchez will thrive in Chip Kelly's system creating a QB controversy in Philly: Fact
      Mike Vick will flame out leaving the Jets with an impossible situation: Crap. The Jets are already in an impossible situation.
      The other playoff team from the NFCW will be the 49ers, not the Seahawks: Crap.
      We will not see Adrian Peterson in uniform this season for the Vikings: Fact
      The Dolphins are poised to upset the Lions this week: Fact, kinda. They are poised to, but they won't.
      The Raiders may make it a game when Peyton and the Broncos roll into O.co: Crap
      I will not go undefeated in W&L this week: Fact
      The NFCN will not field two playoff teams: Crap
      The AFCN will field three playoff teams: Crap. AFC might be the better confernce this year.
      The Browns will sneak up and beat the Bengals on TNF: Fact
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Andy Dalton Fallout:

      Updating my stats for COTL Week 6, Dalton is now 2-6 in last 8 prime time games and his average line drops to (some #'s rounded):

      20-37 (54%), 199, .88 TDs and 1.0 interceptions.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      1.Mark Sanchez will thrive in Chip Kelly's system creating a QB controversy in Philly: FACT, though I don't thriving is going to be needed for that.

      2. Mike Vick will flame out leaving the Jets with an impossible situation: CRAP Agree with Amy's comment.

      3. The other playoff team from the NFCW will be the 49ers, not the Seahawks: CRAP

      4. We will not see Adrian Peterson in uniform this season for the Vikings: FACT

      5. The Dolphins are poised to upset the Lions this week: CRAP I don't think it would be an upset.

      6. The Raiders may make it a game when Peyton and the Broncos roll into O.co: CRAP Gotta stand by the stats presented in COTL.

      7. I will not go undefeated in W&L this week: FACT I won't, either.

      8. The NFCN will not field two playoff teams: FACT I bet the second place team loses to tie-breakers somehow.

      9. The AFCN will field three playoff teams: CRAP Two.

      10. The Browns will sneak up and beat the Bengals on TNF: FACT I'm 1 for 1!
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      Andy Dalton Fallout:

      Updating my stats for COTL Week 6, Dalton is now 2-6 in last 8 prime time games and his average line drops to (some #'s rounded):

      20-37 (54%), 199, .88 TDs and 1.0 interceptions.

      stretches beyond Dalton. Bengals were horrible in primetime before Dalton showed up too.


      It's a mentality issue, and that starts with Marvin. His calm, cool demeanor backfires in games where the intensity is ratcheted up, and his teams come out flat.


      It speaks volumes that you can't point to a single Bengals player who played well lastnight. It's not just a Dalton issue. It's an organization issue.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      stretches beyond Dalton. Bengals were horrible in primetime before Dalton showed up too.


      It's a mentality issue, and that starts with Marvin. His calm, cool demeanor backfires in games where the intensity is ratcheted up, and his teams come out flat.


      It speaks volumes that you can't point to a single Bengals player who played well lastnight. It's not just a Dalton issue. It's an organization issue.
      No doubt that it's not all him. Just updating something I remember writing about. I saw an overall record in prime time for the Bengals somewhere... and it was bad. Something like 17-41 bad.

      Lovie had a similar quality in Chicago that eventually grated on the fans. Is is correct to say that Marvin has MB's trust? So, where do you think the team should go? What about the huge money about to be paid to A.J. Green? He's probably going to start contract talks next off-season. What about his line of 4-41s (as a generalization, I don't know is actual #'s, it just doesn't feel that they have been good) that seem to happen in these games?
    1. Nancy's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      Andy Dalton Fallout:

      Updating my stats for COTL Week 6, Dalton is now 2-6 in last 8 prime time games and his average line drops to (some #'s rounded):

      20-37 (54%), 199, .88 TDs and 1.0 interceptions.
      I just read somewhere that the Bengals' total record in primetime games is 18-41. I'm surprised it's that good. I can't come up with more than a few wins from memory; however, last night's game has me scratching my head and trying to remember why I've been a Bengals fan for most of my life. Dalton was horrible, and I just don't get why he and Green are consistently bad in big games. But everyone else was equally crummy, with the exception of little Leah Still. Her I like.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      No doubt that it's not all him. Just updating something I remember writing about. I saw an overall record in prime time for the Bengals somewhere... and it was bad. Something like 17-41 bad.

      Lovie had a similar quality in Chicago that eventually grated on the fans. Is is correct to say that Marvin has MB's trust? So, where do you think the team should go? What about the huge money about to be paid to A.J. Green? He's probably going to start contract talks next off-season. What about his line of 4-41s (as a generalization, I don't know is actual #'s, it just doesn't feel that they have been good) that seem to happen in these games?

      we're actually having that very discussion about AJ shrinking in big games and against top corners here (feel free to chime in):

      http://footballpros.com/showthread.p...his-Discussion



      I think you still have to give him a new deal because even if he is shrinking, he's still great and there's no other clear cut #1 on the roster.


      PFF had Green down for 9 targets, 2 catches, 2 drops, on 5 catchable passes. 23yds.
    1. Nancy's Avatar
      It's a mentality issue, and that starts with Marvin. His calm, cool demeanor backfires in games where the intensity is ratcheted up, and his teams come out flat.
      They were also lousy under Paul Brown, Forrest Gregg, and Sam Wyche. This is jinx-type stuff, no?? They need someone to do a dance or an incantation or something.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      I have a hard time believing its been this many played, but Marvin Lewis is now 6-19 in primetime and playoff games.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Carson Palmer has signed a three-year contract extension.

      Always liked that guy and hope he does well going forward.

      http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap300...-50m-extension
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar


    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      The book on one Eric Ebron:

      2 games lost to injury
      3 stupid quotes given (with the high water mark being his supposed conquering of the rookie wall)
      6 games played
      7 drops
      10 receptions

      At least one thing about this kid matches his draft position.

      {}

      Ebron is, {shockingly}, listed as doubtful this week.

      Again, I am shocked.

      {}
    1. Hoser's Avatar
      Thump thump. Thump thump. Thump thump.
      The Niners still have a heartbeat and get a big boost next week with the return of Aldon Smith.
      Thump thump.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      The Bears are the worst team in the NFL. The Jags and the Raiders can't help how bad they are; they don't have enough talent. The Bears have talent and that makes their 3-6 worse than any 1-8 or 0-9 out there.

      Plus, they had two weeks to prepare for this one. I said the next three weeks would define Trestman. We already have the answer. No heart. No scheme. 12 passes, 4 runs. Same blown coverages.

      I have a ton of things going on this week personally and will be traveling, forcing an abbreviated COTL this week and an inability to see Bears game next Sunday. I am not sad about missing the game. Haven't said that for years.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      The Bears are the worst team in the NFL. The Jags and the Raiders can't help how bad they are; they don't have enough talent. The Bears have talent and that makes their 3-6 worse than any 1-8 or 0-9 out there.

      Plus, they had two weeks to prepare for this one. I said the next three weeks would define Trestman. We already have the answer. No heart. No scheme. 12 passes, 4 runs. Same blown coverages.

      I have a ton of things going on this week personally and will be traveling, forcing an abbreviated COTL this week and an inability to see Bears game next Sunday. I am not sad about missing the game. Haven't said that for years.
      Wow.

      Just..... Wow.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      So Carson Palmer signed a contract extension and promptly tore an ACL?

      Talk about being snakebit...
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      So Carson Palmer signed a contract extension and promptly tore an ACL?

      Talk about being snakebit...

      2nd time that's happened to him. When he signed his big extension in 2005, he injured the same knee in the very next game.
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      To update a stat I've mentioned a few times this year, 13 losses for Pittsburgh as a favorite since the Tebow playoff game 42 games ago.

      Prior to this season, since Tomlin took over, they've lost 12 games to teams that ended the year with a losing record, 10 of which had 5 or fewer wins. This despite the Steelers never finishing with a losing record under Tomlin.

      This year, they've now lost to the Bucs and Jets, who have combined for a grand total of 1 other win.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Is it time to anoint the TrestmanBot?
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Have you guys heard that the Cleveland Browns are in sole possession of first place in the AFC North after Week 10?