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2012 NFL Thrills and Chills, Part II (AFC)
 
By Glenn Guzzo
 
            Here’s a brief summary of the highlights and lowlights of Strat-O-Matic’s new football ratings:
 
BALTIMORE
Offense:
Oh Yeah!   Balanced unit w/versatile HB Rice, backup HB Pierce (Short Gain Right across the card), serious LG threat Torrey Smith at WR, possession WR Boldin, pass-catching TE Pitta, low turnovers … RG Yanda (7,6)
 
Oh No!     Not much to complain about, but Smith offers the only Wow factor
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   6s for RE Ngata, FS Reed and (1*) 12 pass rush for sub Kruger
 
Oh No!     Few takeaways and Short Gains at #7 w/0 Men in all run zones w/0-rated NTs
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   Jacoby Jones’ KR TD on #3 and a PR TD, too … Koch’s punting (43 yds at #10) and excellent punt coverage … PK Tucker: FG 2-6, 12 from 56 yds and 20 touchback chances
 
Oh No!     Heavy penalties for BAL and foes will cancel many good plays
 
  
BUFFALO
Offense:
Oh Yeah!   Beep, Beep – Good-bye: HB Spiller explosive in all running and receiving columns (LG Right on all runs, 17-19 SG or better Wrong, including LG at #12 and #3 OT Wrong) … A 7 and four 5s to pass block on OL
 
Oh No!     Automatic RB fumbles Right + ordinary pass game requires play-calling genius … RT Hairston 0 run block
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   6s for RT Kyle Williams, FS Byrd … Mario Williams a 5 w/(1*) 12 pass rush
 
Oh No!     Poor run D believes it’s better to give (yards) than receive (takeaways) … four 0s overall and a 0-4-4 at the secondary’s coverage positions.
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   McKelvin’s PR TD on #4, Smith’s KR TD
 
Oh No!     Long Gains on coverage of both PR, KR (with only 11 touchback chances) … -4 penalty differential
 
 
CINCINNATI
Offense:            
Oh Yeah!   WR A.J. Green’s max catches and big plays in all categories
 
Oh No!     QB Dalton’s high INT, disappointing completions on SP, LP
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   Two 6s, six 5s w/powerful right side pass rush: RT Atkins, RE Johnson both (1*) 12 … Good pass D gets its rating on coverage; Good run D for causing fumbles
 
Oh No!     0 at MLB and not much blitz value at any LB
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   Jones’ PR TD … P Huber (42 yds at #10) and excellent punt coverage
 
Oh No!     Jones’ PR fumble at #10 … -3 penalty differential … Long Gain on KR coverage
 
 
CLEVELAND
Offense:
Oh Yeah!   Rookie WR Gordon can fly (LG or better chances: FP-3, SP-6, LP-10) … perennial All-Pro LT Thomas (7,6) again
 
Oh No!     Rookie QB Weeden, HB Richardson need to get much better than this
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   6 for LCB Haden
 
Oh No!     No 0s, but eight 4s … pass rush will struggle
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   Even without TDs, PR Cribbs is one of the most dangerous … Dawson’s FGs (2-10 to 49 yds, 2-7, 12 to 54) … Sensational KR coverage (+11, +13, +12)
 
Oh No!   Long Gain on PR coverage
 
 
DENVER
Offense:
Oh Yeah!   LT Clady (7,6) and pass blocking (three 7s, three 5s) for QB Manning who can shred any D at any distance (how does 0 incompletes FP Wrong, 19 completes SP Right and 14 completes LP Wrong sound?) … deep receiving corps led by WR Thomas’ max catches SP, LP
 
Oh No!     C-RG-RT run block all 4s … Manning will throw some picks Right and RBs will fumble (2-6 Wrong)
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   The Ultimate Von Miller: a 6 at LLB w/(12*) 12 pass rush … stingy yards for Good to Excellent run D … Bailey still the Champ as LCB-6
 
Oh No!     0 MLB
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   Holliday’s KR and PR TDs … +4 penalty differential … Mile High punting (41 yds at #10), FGs (2-6 at 54 yds) … Excellent KR coverage, better PR coverage
 
Oh No!     #1 KR Bolden’s got nothing
 
 
HOUSTON
Offense:
Oh Yeah!   WR Johnson has the max catches and yards at all 3 distances … LT Brown, C Myers both 7,6 blockers … No Rec/QB fumbles
 
Oh No!     Very little at #6, 7, 8 Wrong for HB Foster
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   Excellent run D and LE Watt – a 6 w/(8*) 12 pass rush … 6 for RCB Joseph and three 5s in secondary
 
Oh No!   Burn, Baby, Burn – Poor pass D has to have the worst Long Gain frequency ever. Guess Pass, bring the house and NEVER leave 0 Men in LP zone
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   P Jones (42 yds at #10) … 2-6, 11, 12 FG from 54 yds
 
Oh No!     Only 11 touchback chances and +30, +26, Long Gain KR coverage … LG on PR coverage, too
 
 
INDIANAPOLIS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!   QB Luck doesn’t look like a rookie, with solid FP/LP combo … WR Hilton’s max catches at LP … Pass block: 7 at center, FB; 5 at both OT
 
Oh No!     Both guards are 0 run blockers for RBs who need the help … Drop-prone on FP and SP, only Hilton offers LGs among receivers
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   Mathis – LOLB-5 w/11 pass rush
 
Oh No!     Poor run D and poor pass D are fumble-free w/few INTs … 0 NT and seven 4s … 3-0-0 pass rush on DL
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   Karim’s KR TD and Hilton’s PR TD … +7 penalty differential!
 
Oh No!     Blocked punt and Long Gain on PR coverage
 
 
JACKSONVILLE
Offense:
Oh Yeah!   WR Shorts’ chances Wrong for LG or better (FP-4, SP-7, LP-11)
 
Oh No!     Generally lackluster unit suffers must endure 0 run block at LG, RT
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   Sort of … The team pass D cards have better-than-average incompletes
 
Oh No!     Poor run D cards look like Jags are playing a man short … Poor pass D comes from three 0s, three 4s in back seven and weak pass rush
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   P Anger’s multiple boomers (+73, +62, +58)
 
Oh No!     Blocked punt and Long Gain on PR coverage … XP miss on #11 … longest KR = 38, longest PR = 15
 
 
KANSAS CITY
Offense:
Oh Yeah!   The Usain Bolt of the NFL is this card for HB Charles: Long Gains Right across the card, Long Gains Wrong and +80 or better Wrong in each category. End Run Wrong: LG at #2 and #3, +91 at #12 and eight more chances of SG or better
 
Oh No!     Get the cough medicine! High INTs, high fumbles … LG Allen (2,0)
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   Four 6s (two LBs, two DBs) on a Poor-Poor defense … Powerful outside pass rush in LOLB Houston (11*) 12 and ROLB Hali (8*) 12
 
Oh No!     Poor run D is a fumble-free 3-4 with worst yards allowed in set (e.g. OT 0 Men = +35 at #2, +15 2-10 at #4 and SGs at #7 and #8) … Poor pass D has only 1 incomplete chance for SP 3 Men and two 0s in secondary … 0, 0 players start at NT, LILB
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   P Colquitt (42 yds at #10)
 
Oh No!     Long Gain on PR coverage … FGs drop to 2-8, 11, 12 at 10-19 yds
 
 
MIAMI
Offense:
Oh Yeah!   C Pouncey (7,6) … HB Bush has Long Gain OT Wrong, +65 and +53 ER Wrong
 
Oh No!     RG Jerry (3,0), LT Long’s decline to 5,5 … Rookie QB Tannehill shows promise, not polish on an offense that needs more shine everywhere
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   RE Wake has stud value: 6 with (3*) 12 sacks … Good run D is stingy on yards
 
Oh No!     Theft charges dropped: Fumble-free run D and very low INTs … 0 at RCB
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   Thigpen TDs on KR, PR … +4 penalty differential … superb P Fields (still 5 yds at #8 and 40 at #11)
 
Oh No!      Long Gains on both KR, PR coverage
 
 
NEW ENGLAND
Offense:
Oh Yeah!   Intimidating QB Brady’s SP completes: 19 Right, 23 Wrong … LG Mankins (7,6) and 7 pass blockers at both OTs … TE Gronkowski has 20 chances of +10 or better FP Right, 15 catches LP Wrong … RB Woodhead’s FP, WR Welker also weapons
 
Oh No!     Greedy to complain, but there are cracks in the pass protection at C, RG
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   Excellent run D w/high fumbles allows D to guess Pass often … Wilfork: 6 at RT and DE; Mayo: 6 at RLB and MLB
 
Oh No!     Very Poor pass D has as many LG chances as incompletes SP 3 Men, three 4s in secondary and no double-digit pass rusher
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   Edelman PR TD on #3, McCourty KR TD … Superb KR, PR coverage
 
Oh No!     Blocked punt
 
 
NEW YORK JETS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!   Road pavers: another 6 for center Mangold and three 5s on OL … WR Kerley makes big plays
 
Oh No!     Shaky pass blocking, 1-4 Rec/QB fumbles make bad QB Sanchez worse … Fumbling RBs can’t make up the difference
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   Average pass D knocks down more passes than most, has Cromartie’s RCB-6
 
Oh No!     Average to Poor run D is ole when DL’s 6-5-5 ratings not in play
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   McKnight KR TD, Kerley PR TD … +4 penalty differential
 
Oh No!     Worst-in-set 6 touchback chances and LG on KR coverage … Blocked punt and LG on PR coverage
 
 
OAKLAND
Offense:
Oh Yeah!   7 pass blockers at C, LG, LT to help QB Palmer with deep completes (7 Right, 12 Wrong) … versatile FB/HB Reece can catch and run … No RB fumbles Wrong
 
Oh No!    HB McFadden’s LG on ER Wrong, +64 on OT Wrong leave few other yards from 3.3 average … all-or-nothing WRs, too
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   Consolation prize to LLB Wheeler, team best as both a 5 w/6 pass rush
 
Oh No!   Very Poor pass D w/0 FS, three secondary 4s and a LB 6 as top-rated pass rusher … Poor run D … No 6s , three 0s (two at LB)
           
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   PK Janikowski: 2-10 FG or better thru 49 yds, 2-7, 11, 12 to 57 yds, 21 touchbacks, perfect XP
 
Oh No!     PR Adams has 4 chances to gain, 10 to lose … +39, +38, LG KR coverage …                                     blocked punt
 
 
PITTSBURGH
Offense:
Oh Yeah!   Center Pouncey (7,6) … Low-INT QB Roethlisberger a force at FP, SP
 
Oh No!     High RB fumbles (2-7 Wrong) and 0 run blocks at RG, RT, 4s at LG, LT … OT pass blocking: 2 and 3
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   Good to Excellent run D w/two 6s, three 5s in front seven
 
Oh No!     Slim pickings in low-INT pass D (but three 5s in secondary)
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   Suisham FGs: 2-10 or better to 49 yds
 
Oh No!     Blocked punt and Long Gain on PR coverage
 
 
SAN DIEGO
Offense:
Oh Yeah!   QB Rivers’ dominant FP card … No RB fumbles Wrong … WR Alexander’s LGs
 
Oh No!     Rivers lost WR Jackson and his LP sizzle … LT Harris (0,0) on OL with 4 run blockers everywhere else … 1-5 Rec/QB fumbles
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   Good to Excellent run D … FS-6 for Weddle … LOLB Phillips’ (1*) 12 pass rush
 
Oh No!      Poor pass D w/two 0s and a 4 in secondary
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   #2 KR, PR Spurlock has TDs on both
 
Oh No!      Blocked punt
 
 
TENNESSEE
Offense:
Oh Yeah!   QB Locker’s running … QB Hasselbeck’s FP … LT Roos (7,6)  … HB Johnson’s home runs Wrong (LB +80, OT +83, ER +94 and LG on #3) ... WR Washington’s LGs … TE Cook goes deep very well (15 catches Wrong)
 
Oh No!     QB Locker’s passing and a roster of drop-prone receivers
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!   5s at both CB … 9 pass rush at both OLB
 
Oh No!     Poor run D is fumble-free … SP 3 Men: LG on #4 … Four 0s, no 6s
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!   Reynaud’s PR TD on #3 and his KR TD
 
Oh No!     -5 penalty differential … blocked punt … Long Gain on KR coverage