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2014 NFL 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!           QB Palmer’s very low INTs … Finally, an OL who can block: LT Veldheer (7,5) … WR Floyd’s max Long Pass card; WR Fitzgerald has his LGs back
Oh No!              Zero run-blockers at C, RG in front of stay-at-home runners
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           6s for LE Campbell, LCB Peterson, three sub 4s in secondary
Oh No!             Three of four LBs are 0 in pass D … Long Pass 0 Men looks like a kid punished at school: “Write Long Gain six times” (20+ chances)
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!           PR TD … FG 2-9,12 from 32 yds … +3 penalty differential
Oh No!             Blocked punt, wimpy KO returns
 
ATLANTA
Offense:
Oh Yeah!           QB Ryan’s completion chances Wrong: FP-25, SP-19, LP-13 … Three 7s, three 5s for pass block
Oh No!             Three 0s, three 4s for run block in front of uninspiring runners
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           Matt Ryan can keep the D off the field; kickers can provide field position
Oh No!             Poor vs. pass / Average to Poor vs. run … SG at #7 across the board w/0 LB … no 6s anywhere
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!           PR TD … strong all-around kicking, including FG 2-7, 12 from 37 yd line and 24 deep kickoff chances
Oh No!             Complaints here would be nit-picking
 
CAROLINA
Offense:
Oh Yeah!           Center Kalil (7,5) … QB Newton’s 16 chances of SG or better on ER, 15 chances of 10 or better on Must Run … RB Stewart makes up for Williams’ ghastly card … TE Olsen: max FP, SP and he can go deep
Oh No!             LT Bell (2,0), one of three 0 run blockers in front six … 1-4 Fumble Rtg … As passer, Newton still looking for some touch
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           LBs Kuechly (66) and Davis (64)
Oh No!             Generous yards on run D cards – the twin 5s at DT will have to stuff
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!           PR TD … 26 deep KO chances … +3 penalty differential
Oh No!             Matador kick coverage (+51, 49, 44 on KR; +18, 26, LG on PR) … Blocked punt
 
CHICAGO
Offense:
Oh Yeah!           RG Long (7,5) … QB Cutler’s MR (+10 at #6) … WR Jeffery’s max SP, LP … HB Forte can catch, go deep, is YAC-A … TE Bennett’s career year … Marshall is the only WR with a run block-4
Oh No!             QB Cutler’s INTs … Forte’s big runs are almost gone
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           LE Young (1*)12 leads DL pass rush with 9, 8, 7
Oh No!             Very Poor pass D: LG on SP #4 w/a 0 at LCB, 04 at FS … A 0 at RT, too
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!           KR TD … strong KR coverage
Oh No!             Blocked punt … PK Gould is ghoulish: missed XP on #11, short leg on FGs
 
DALLAS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!           Romo-Murray-Bryant-Witten invoke memories of Aikman-Smith-Irvin-Novacek … Four 6s, three 5s for run block; LT Smith, RG Martin = 7 pass block
Oh No!             Great OL’s pass block includes a 3, two 4s
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           Fumble 2-5,11,12 OT w/0 LB … MLB McClain (65)
Oh No!             Once-prized LCB Carr (0); 8 starters = 0 or 4 vs. pass and run
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!           2-6,11,12 FG from 39 yd line highlights strong kicking + coverage
Oh No! Blocked punt … Longest return of any kind is +42 … 22 penalty chances (combined) means longer games with lots of plays coming back
 
DETROIT
Offense:
Oh Yeah!           Elite WR Megatron … QB Stafford keeps INTs in check … YAC-A for HB Bell, HB/FB Riddick, WR Tate … RG Warford (7,5)
Oh No!             Thrill is gone for C Raiola (2,0) … HB Bush’s longest run = +26, YAC-C … Weak receiving TE’s … WR Johnson’s YAC-D despite big plays
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!          Excellent vs. run / Good vs. pass … Nothing worse than +4 at rolls 6-8 vs. run … RT Suh (6), RLB Levy (66), FS Quin (65) … All 5s, 6s vs pass in Lions secondary – since when, the early ‘60s?
Oh No!             No double-digit pass rushers … LLB Palmer (04)
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!          25 deep KO chances … 2-6, 12 FG from 37 yd line … P Martin: Still 41 yds at #10 w/no block
Oh No!             Poor kick coverage (LG on PR) … Nothing longer than +41
 
GREEN BAY
Offense:
Oh Yeah!          All-world QB Rodgers’ INTs are on #12 w/25 SP, 14 LP completes Wrong … HB Lacy gets tough yards, has LG OT and is YAC-A … WR Nelson LG or better chances Wrong: FP-3, SP-5, LP-12 … WR Cobb would be #1 on most teams … Both guards and FB Kuhn are 7,6 …
Oh No!             LT Bakhtiari (4,0)
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           Inside or out, LB Matthews (56) with (6*)12 pass rush … Three sub 4s in secondary
Oh No!             SG parade vs. run (#7 and 8 OT w/0 LB; #7 Linebuck even w/1 LB) … Eight 0s or 4s vs. run, pass … LE Boyd’s 0 pass rush
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!           PR TD on #4 for Hyde! … 2-6, 12 FG from 38 yd line
Oh No!             Blocked punt … missed XP … LG on both KR/PR coverage … Wimpy KR
 
MINNESOTA
Offense:
Oh Yeah!           Bridgewater is best rookie QB w/strong FP, decent LP … Blank Rec&QB Fumble Rating … Deep threat WRs Wright, Johnson
Oh No!             LT Kalil, LG Johnson both (2,4) … All but two receivers are YAC – C,D,E
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           LT Floyd (6), both safeties 6 vs. run … RE Griffin: (1*)12 pass rush
Oh No!             Poor vs. run / Average to Poor vs. pass … Will force no fumbles
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!           Excellent kick coverage … 2-6,11,12 FG from 38 yd line
Oh No!             Blocked punt … 2-8, 11, 12 FG from 3 yd line
 
NEW ORLEANS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!           QB Brees complete chances Wrong: FP-25, SP-20, LP-11 … WR Stills’ max LP w/11 chances for LG or better Wrong … 7 pass block at both OT
Oh No!             Turnovers (F 2-6, 11, 12 running Right; Brees’ INTs Right) … Stills, Cooks = YAC-E (no WR or TE is better than YAC-C)
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           ROLB Galette: (3*) 12 pass rush
Oh No!             Poor vs. run AND pass … Opposing RBs go marching in: SG #7,8 OT w/0 LB; SG #7 LB w/1 LB … Pass coverage: Four 0s, three 4s in back seven
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!          99 (not TD) for KR Cadet … P Morstead (still 41 yd at #10) supported by +1,2,3 PR coverage … +3 penalty differential
Oh No!             Cowardly #1 PR Cooks … Missed XP, sub-par FG beyond 22 yd line
 
NEW YORK GIANTS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!          QB Manning: 22 completes SP Wrong … LT Beatty (7,6) and RT Pugh (7 pass block) … Max SP, LP for WR Beckham w/11 chances at least +50 LP Wrong
Oh No!             No push: 0 run block at C, both G
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           RE Pierre-Paul: (2*) 12 pass rush and 5 vs run; twin 5s at CB
Oh No!             Poor vs. run (SG across the board at #7 w/0 LB) … where ISN’T there a LG in LP 0 Men? Oh, I see it: #12 … NT Jenkins (0)
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!           Fab KR coverage (+10,11,12) … 2-6,12 FG from 37 yd line
Oh No!             Blocked punt … LG on punt coverage
 
PHILADELPHIA
Offense:
Oh Yeah!           6 run block at TE, RT, C, LG, LT; LT Peters, LG Mathis are 7,6 … HB Sproles’ FP Wrong: +57, +51, YAC-A … WR Maclin: max SP, LP w/12 chances of LG or better LP Wrong … Three TE’s can go deep           
Oh No!             Haste makes waste: Fast offense turns it over – a lot. Sanchez, Foles throw too many to the bad guys. RB fumbles 2-6, 11, 12 Right … Only Sproles better than YAC-C
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           Good to Excellent vs. run … LOLB Barwin: (56) with (7*) 12 pass rush
Oh No!             Very Poor vs. pass shows on D cards, and with twin 0 CBs … Have to replace a 5 with a 0 to get a pass rush from front 3
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!          Sproles PR TD on #3; Both #1, #2 KR men have TDs … 2-6, 12 FG from 37 yd line
Oh No!             LG on punt coverage
 
ST. LOUIS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!          Rookie HB Mason’s +89 ER Wrong, YAC-B … WR Britt’s LG or better chances Wrong: FP-3, SP-5, LP-10
Oh No!             LT Robinson (2,0) one of three OL 0s for run block … High turnovers Right make it vital to out-guess the D … No WR, TE better than YAC-C
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!          Good run D forces fumbles … All 5s up front in 4-3 D, two (Donald, Quinn) with double-figure sack rates
Oh No!             Both OLB (04) with 0 sacks … twin 4s at CB
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!          TD on #5 (!) for PR2 Bailey; TD on #2 for PR1 Austin … PR coverage (+6,2,3) … 2-6, 11,12 FG from 39 yd line
Oh No!             Blocked punt, missed XP … -4 penalty differential … LG on KR coverage
 
SAN FRANCISCO
Offense:
Oh Yeah!           6 run block at LG, LT … Kaepernick’s +90 Must Run (with 12 MR chances) … RB Gore gets the tough yards and can break loose
Oh No!             C Martin (0,0) and generally weak pass block … Kaepernick’s mere 7 complete chances LP Wrong … Only Gore (B) is better than YAC-C
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!          Good INTs, SS-6, CB-5s responsible for Average to Good vs. pass (not the catches and yards) … Retiring RE Justin Smith goes out with a 6
Oh No!             Move your FS up and it’s English muffins – toast with holes
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!           2-7 FG from 38 yd line
Oh No!             Block blemishes Lee’s booming punts … LG on PR coverage … Kickoffs shorter than most; SF’s KO returns, too … 28 penalty chances combined means longer games, many plays called back
 
SEATTLE
Offense:
Oh Yeah!          QB Wilson’s running: 25 chances of SG or better ER Wrong, MR: +55, +40, +22, +14, +13 … HB Lynch runs inside, outside, for power and distance (33 chances SG or better across card Wrong)
Oh No!             Wilson’s passing, receivers don’t look like champs in today’s NFL
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           Excellent vs pass / Good vs run and will force fumbles … Six 6s vs. pass and run
Oh No!             Ordinary pass rush and INTs will limit big plays
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!           Not so special, though kicking is solid
Oh No!             Worst in set (-7) penalty differential … Blocked punt … Kick returners seldoom help field position
 
TAMPA BAY
Offense:
Oh Yeah!           WR Evans’ max SP, LP … WR Jackson not far behind
Oh No!             WRs almost make it worth letting McCown throw to them … Giveaway City: McCown’s INTs, RBs fumbles … All WR, TE are YAC-D or E
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           LT McCoy: 6 with 11 pass rush
Oh No!             Poor vs pass and plenty of yards vs run … FS Goldson (00) and two 4s in secondary
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!           2-6, 11, 12 FG from 38 yd line
Oh No!             Blocked punt … LG on punt coverage … KR #1’s longest is +28 … Only 14 deep KO chances … Only 2-9 FG from 1-12 yd lines … -5 penalty differential
 
WASHINGTON
Offense:
Oh Yeah!           WR Jackson’s LG or better chances Wrong: FP-6, SP-7, LP-15 + YAC-A … QBs Griffin and McCoy’s FP … 3rd-down back Helu: 15 chances of +13 or better ER Wrong, max FP, YAC-A … LT Williams … (5,6)
Oh No!              RT Compton (0,0), LG Lauvao (3,0) … 1-4 Rec&QB Fumble
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!           Good vs run … LOLB Kerrigan: (9*)12 pass rush
Oh No!             Very Poor vs pass is politically correct D.C. language – SP 3 Men: LG on SP #4, no incompletes and a secondary with three 0s and a 4
 
Special Teams:
Oh Yeah!           +4 penalty differential
Oh No!             Blocked punt, missed XP, LG on both KR, PR coverage … FG only 2-3 beyond 32 yd line … Yellow flag days: Only 6 blank penalty chances