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2010 Pro Football Thrills and Chills, Part I (NFC)
 
By Glenn Guzzo
 
            Here’s a brief summary of the highlights and lowlights of Strat-O-Matic’s new football ratings:
 
 

ARIZONA

Offense:
Oh Yeah!         Hightower is a rare breakaway HB-FB; Fitzgerald is a sticky-hands WR
 
Oh No!            Three erratic passers, one back who can run and only one WR (24-catch                                      Andre Roberts) who has a LG on his card
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         SS Adrian Wilson is the lone 6, though there are four 5s
 
Oh No!            An olé run D and five 0s (three LBs in the 3-4 D) are the culprits on a team                                  that surrendered 434 points
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!         Stephens-Howling’s KOR TD; reliably good punting and placekicking
 
Oh No!            Shaky kick coverage and -3 disadvantage on penalty chances
 
 
ATLANTA
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         Stalwart run/pass blocking, balanced run-pass offense that will keep                                            defenses guessing and nearly turnover-free offense make HB Turner and QB                                  Ryan better than they appear. All-Pro WR White will be tough to                                                  stop.           
 
Oh No!            This safety-first offense is no threat to score till it crosses midfield
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         RE John Abraham and MLB Curtis Lofton are 6s; the secondary has three 5s
 
Oh No!            Can you find the blank on the SP 3-man card? Foes won’t fear running or                                      passing against these team D cards
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!         An awesome +8 penalty-chance advantage; Eric Weems’ KOR TD
 
Oh No!            A blocked punt and a LG on kickoff coverage
 
 
CAROLINA
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         Goodson’s versatile run/receive card to replace injured HBs Williams,                                          Stewart … C Kalil and LT Gross are run-block 6s … Rookie WR Gettis can                                      explode
 
Oh No!            Pathetic passing – wide open spaces, high INTs, weak pass blocking
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         RE Charles Johnson replaced Julius Peppers as a 5 with 12(1*) pass rush
 
Oh No!            Four 0s and no 6s; there’s no stopping interior runs with twin 0s at DT and                                    poor run-D team cards
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!         Kasay’s distance FGs: 2-6 from 33-38 yd line
 
Oh No!            LG on punt coverage; -5 penalty-chance disadvantage
 
 
CHICAGO
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         HB Forte is a locomotive – power and breakaway ability inside and out (LG,                                  +68, +61) and a receiving threat Flat and Long (LG and +89)
 
Oh No!            The OL is a train wreck – nothing but 4s for run block, nothing better than 2                                  for pass block
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Good to Excellent run D forces fumbles
 
Oh No!            14.5 LG chances in LP-0 Men will force FS to stay home
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!         Devin Hester rides again: PR TD on #4 roll; Gould’s 2-6 range on 45-54 yd                                    FGs
 
Oh No!            LG on punt coverage
 
DALLAS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         Cowboys still a power guessed Wrong, especially with deep-receiving threats                                Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Roy Williams, Jason Whitten, Felix Jones
 
Oh No!            No fear of Cowboys guessed Right – no tough yards on the ground, high INT-                                to-completion passing
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         ROLB DeMarcus Ware is the man: A 6, with 12(12*) pass rush
 
Oh No!            With nearly 19 LG chances on LP-0 Men, there may be no remedy for the LG                                   on roll #4 in SP-0 Men
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!         Can’t punt away from Bryant (TD on #4 roll), with PR No. 2 man McCann’s                                    TD on #3 roll
 
Oh No!            Kick me: Blocked punt, missed XP on #11 and Buehler’s schizo FGs (2-7, 11,                                12 from 13-22 yd line, 2-6 from 33-37)
 
DETROIT
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         WR Calvin Johnson would look great on any team … The OL has become a                                    strong pass-block unit (two 7s, three 5s) … QB Shaun Hill is effective Flat                                      and Short
 
Oh No!            It will still be tough to pass on a team with no place to run – the backs can’t shake                        tackles, the OL (all 4s) can’t run block.
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Rookie DT Suh dominates with a 6 and 12(1*) – the rare asterisk for a DT
 
Oh No!            Five 0s won’t mend the flaws in ordinary team-D cards
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!         Stefan Logan has TD on KOR and +71 on PR
 
Oh No!            LGs on both kickoff and punt coverage
 
GREEN BAY
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         QB Rodgers is elite on LP: 8 complete Right, 13 Wrong … WR Jennings (9 LP                                  chances LG or better Right, 12 Wrong) will make any CB tremble, and three                                  other WRs have LGs, too. Most have LGs Flat, Short and Long
 
Oh No!            With ball-carriers like these, the pass game better be elite
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         LOLB Clay Mathews, with pass rush 12(8*), leads unit with four 6s, four 5s
 
Oh No!            Despite a 6 at FS and three 6s in the secondary, this team will be beaten                                      deep, with LP-0 Men or 1 Man
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!         +4 penalty-chance advantage
 
Oh No!            No breakaway return men, but a LG on punt coverage; only 1 touchback                                      chance
 
MINNESOTA
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         HB Peterson is dangerous on the ground Wrong (11 chances of SG or better                                  OT and a +80 ER) and WR-HB Harvin can fly
 
Oh No!            QB Favre is dangerous, too – though more than 65 percent of his passes                                      were caught, more than 5 percent were caught by the other team. With this                                  edition of Favre, passing is always a risk
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Though in decline, the D still has two 6s and five 5s
 
Oh No!            The once-proud D is mostly average now, except in the secondary, where it                                  is worse (two 0s, one 4)
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!         Harvin’s KOR TD and Longwell’s 2-10 FGs from 23-32 yd line
 
Oh No!            No touchbacks and LGs on both kickoff, punt coverage
 
NEW ORLEANS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!          QB Brees is amazing again – plus yardage even on his INT number in FP,                                     only 6 chances to miss on SP Wrong, and 10 completions LP Right (13                                            Wrong) … Brees becomes even better with the deepest corps of quality                                        receivers (4 WR, 2 TE) in the set and three interior OL who are 7 pass                                         blockers
 
Oh No!            For a guy who is supposed to be a threat to score on any touch, HB Reggie                                    Bush’s longest plays are (+23 running, +20 receiving, +43 on punt returns)
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Jonathan Vilma (a 6 with 7 pass rush) is among the best MLBs
 
Oh No!            The only incompletes on SP-3 Men are at #11 and #9 (where the INT is only                                2-3)
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!          P Thomas Morstead can dominate field position (he’s still got 41 yds at roll                                   #10)
 
Oh No!            A poor return game (longest KOR is 39) will put a big burden on the offense
 
NEW YORK GIANTS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         It’s all here: QB Manning’s big-time completions and deep receiving corps;                                    HBs Bradshaw and Jacobs’ Long Gains; six stalwart blockers (five 5s and a 6                                on runs; three 7s and three 5s on passes)
 
Oh No!            Manning’s INTs Right and huge RB fumbles (2-8, 11, 12 Right) will kill drives                                and lose games that could have been won
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         The Excellent run D forces fumbles big-time … Bookend DEs Tuck and                                          Umenyiora put the squeeze on QBs with twin 12(1*) pass-rush ratings
 
Oh No!            Six 4s (all three LBs) and a 0
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!         +4 penalty-chance advantage and excellent kickoff coverage
 
Oh No!            Bad combo: Boring kick returners, a LG on punt coverage and a blocked punt
 
 
PHILADELPHIA
Offense:
Oh Yeah!          The flashiest offense in the set: QB Vick runs as well as ever (19 chances of                                 SG or better on ER; +35, +31, +22, +21 on rolls 2-5 for Must Run) and                                       passes better than ever, making him a terror on SP and LP Right and Wrong                                 … WR DeSean Jackson has 6 chances of LG or better on Flat Pass Wrong (9                                   on SP and 12 on LP) with a +91 and a +88 on LP Wrong … WR Maclin also is                                  deadly and RB McCoy has 12 chances of +40 or better spread across his                                       card                       
 
Oh No!            Other than 7/6 blocking LT Peters, the OL is a waste land                       
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!          6-rated LCB Samuel and RE Cole, a 5 with 12(1*) pass rush, lead the D                       
 
Oh No!             Up to 20 LG chances in LP-0 Men means little help for a SP-3 Men card with                                   completions everywhere but roll #s 5, 9 … Twin 0s at OLB won’t                                                 help                       
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!           Jackson’s PR TD … Eagles as good as any at kickoffs + coverage and punts                                   + coverage           
 
Oh No!             Huge -7 penalty-chance disadvantage means many wasted big plays           
 
ST. LOUIS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!           Bradford’s doesn’t look like a rookie QB card (low INTs, solid completions)                                    … Quality pass-blocking (a 7 and three 5s) doesn’t look like the recent                                          Rams
 
Oh No!              Big plays will be scarce with a safety-first offense and pedestrian receivers
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           DEs Hall (11) and Long (9) lead a capable pass rush
 
Oh No!              The D does not specialize in stopping runs or passes (weak team cards and                                  no 6s)
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!           +4 penalty-chance advantage, Donnie Jones’ distance punting (still +41 at                                     roll #10), Josh Brown’s solid FG kicking (2-6 from 33-37 yd line)
 
Oh No!               LGs on both kickoff and punt coverage
 
SAN FRANCISCO
Offense:
Oh Yeah!           HB Gore gets tough yards and adds big plays, with few fumbles … QB Alex                                    Smith is sound on FP, SP
 
Oh No!              The shaky OL won’t help Gore or Smith … Though TE Vernon Davis, WR                                        Crabtree are threats deep, Smith will have trouble getting it to them (few                                    QB-card completions, weak pass block, many penalties)
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           6-rated RE Justin Smith (9 pass rush) leads a 5-5-6 DL; 6-rated RILB Willis                                   (10 pass rush) leads a solid pass-rushing LB crew (a 10, two 9s and an 8)
 
Oh No!             “Good” team run D forces no fumbles; pass D is “Poor” on merit (no 5s or                                     6s in secondary)
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!           Ginn’s PR TD … Excellent punting and punt coverage
 
Oh No!              No touchbacks, yet a LG on kickoff coverage … Debilitating -6 penalty-                                        chance disadvantage
 
 
SEATTLE
Offense:
Oh Yeah!           WRs Williams, Butler and Obamanu are threats to get deep behind                                              defenders
 
Oh No!              RG-C-LG all 0 run blockers and everyone else is a 4 (and the RBs are not                                      good enough to get the tough yards on their own)
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           “Good” run D includes twin 5s at DT; LE Clemons (11) can pass rush
 
Oh No!              Very Poor pass D and very few takeaways in air or on ground
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!            Washington’s KOR TD on roll #3 and +84 on PR
 
Oh No!               LG on punt coverage
 
 
TAMPA BAY
Offense:
Oh Yeah!            Minimum-INT 2nd-yr QB Freeman, explosive rookie HB Blount (solid yards                                     and big plays on all run types) and rookie big-play WRs Mike Williams and                                   Benn ignite the Young Bucs offense … Blockers, too: C Faine (7/5                                                 blocking), LT Penn (5/6) and RG Joseph (5/6)            
 
Oh No!               No depth: A couple of OL holes; only WR Williams and TE Winslow are                                         reliable pass-catchers
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!            6-rated LCB Talib, 5-rated RCB Barber boost the pass D
 
Oh No!               Short Gains galore on Poor run D … Weak pass rush and six 0s and 4s in                                       the front seven
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!            Superb punt coverage … Spurlock’s 95-yd KOR
 
Oh No!               No touchbacks, yet LG on kickoff coverage … -5 penalty-chance                                                   disadvantage
 
WASHINGTON
Offense:
Oh Yeah!            2 WRs, 2 TEs are deep threats … WR Armstrong doesn’t catch ‘em all, but                                     he goes a long way when he does: 6 LG chances or better on FP Wrong (9                                     on SP Wrong, 15 on LP Wrong)
 
Oh No!               Three 0s, two 4s for OL run-blocking
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!            6-rated LILB Fletcher and 5-rated, 12(1*) pass-rushing ROLB Orakpo
 
Oh No!               Pathetic DL pass rush (3-0-0) requires high-risk blitzing
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!            Banks’ KOR TD
 
Oh No!               Blocked punt and LG on punt coverage