Glenn Guzzo

 

2008 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!         QB Warner may be the best passer, WR Fitzgerald the best No. 1 receiver, WR Boldin the best #2 receiver, and WR Breaston the best #3 receiver 
Oh No!            Opposing defenses will seldom need to guess Run
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Good to Excellent run D forces fumbles
Oh No!            Very Poor pass D yields Long Gain on roll #4 on Short Pass with 3 Men
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Arrington’s kickoff-return TD
Oh No!            Kickoff and punt coverage yield Long Gains
 
ATLANTA
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         There’s a strong OL, a strong running game, a solid QB – but the star card is SE Roddy White
Oh No!            Nothing major to complain about, but some would have hoped for even better ratings for RB Turner and QB Ryan
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         DRE Abraham’s (4*) 12 sacks
Oh No!            Takeaways will be rare; long drives will not
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         +4 penalty advantage … #2 PR Douglass’ TD on roll #3 … Elam’s FGs are 2-10 through the 32 yd line … superb punt coverage
Oh No!            Punts can be blocked
 
CAROLINA
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         RB Williams has LG right and wrong across the card at roll #2 … Backup RB Stewart would start for most teams … LT Gross (7/6) … SE Smith is a constant threat to burn defenses
Oh No!            When Smith is 2-tmd, passing attack is erratic
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         DRE Peppers (3*)12 / 6 vs. run; 6-rated MLB Beason and LCB Gamble
Oh No!            Interceptions will be rare
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         PK Kasay: 2-10 FG up to 32 yd line, 2-12 XP and 12 touchback chances
Oh No!            Punting: punts can be blocked and coverage yields a Long Gain
 
CHICAGO
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         Rookie HB Forte gets tough yards inside and has some breakaway runs
Oh No!            So-so QB Orton gets no help from his WRs
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Good to Excellent run D especially tough Off Tackle
Oh No!            Poor pass D (and no 5s or 6s in secondary) always vulnerable to big plays
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Manning’s kickoff-return TD is just the start: still 30 yds at roll #9
Oh No!            Hester’s return TDs are gone this year
 
DALLAS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         QB Romo Flat and Short to TE Whitten, Long to Owens … Three 6-rated run blockers will help trio of complementary runners
Oh No!            A lot of big plays are coming back – see Special Teams below
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Run D is among the best at forcing fumbles … Tremendous pass rush should pass D many times – if you risk the blitz often
Oh No!            Pass D card is embarrassing – many yards, few picks
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         #2 kickoff-returner Felix Jones’ TD … FG kicker Folk
Oh No!            -6 penalty disadvantage is a killer … so is the Long Gain on kickoff coverage for a team with only 3 touchback chances … punts can be blocked
 
DETROIT
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         FL Calvin Johnson is everything you can ask for
Oh No!            The weak OL will stop many drives
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Lions pretty good at forcing fumbles
Oh No!            Worst-ever eight 0-rated starters, including all 4 DBs … Short Gain at 7 and 8 on Linebuck 0 LB
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Hanson is the best at FG in the set: 2-10 thru 32 yd line, 2-7,11,12 thru 39
Oh No!            +46 is longest kickoff return; +27 is longest punt return
 
GREEN BAY
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         Defenses must fear QB Rodgers at any range … Big-time threat FL Greg Jennings makes Rodgers even better
Oh No!            Weak middle of the OL and sub-par RBs make the tough yards tougher
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Three 6s in the secondary
Oh No!            Run D does not cause fumbles
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Blackmon’s PR TD on roll #3
Oh No!            -3 penalty disadvantage
 
MINNESOTA
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         Tough to stop right or wrong, RB Peterson runs behind 6-rated run blockers at C, LG and LT and inspires fear on sweeps Wrong 
Oh No!            QB Frerotte’s horrible INTs, QB Jackson’s inaccuracy and a drop-prone receiving corps
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Excellent run D is very stout: Top team card, plus three 6s on the DL … Right side pass rush with DE Allen (4*) 12 and DT K. Williams (10)
Oh No!            Long Gains on Long Pass 0 Men means FS might not be able to help Short Pass coverage that needs it
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         +4 penalty advantage … #2 punt returner Berrian’s TD on roll #3
Oh No!            Punting: blocked kick and long gain on coverage undermines Kluwe’s great distance … Only 2 touchback chances on kickoffs
 
NEW ORLEANS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         Gun-slinging QB Brees has a great card and four 7-rated pass blockers on the OL … WR Henderson’s yardage is eye-popping, but the whole               receiver crew gets big yards, including the backs on Flat Passes
Oh No!            HB Bush is far more a receiver than a runner
 
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Uh … well, MLB Vilma is a 5 (but the only 5 or 6 on the team)
Oh No!            Don’t ever move the 0-rated FS unless you like your DBs toasty
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Bush’s punt-return TD on roll #3 … Pakulak’s punting
Oh No!            Long Gain on kickoff coverage
 
NEW YORK GIANTS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         HB Jacobs gets the tough yards and has 17 changes for Short Gain or better Off Tackle Wrong … FB/HB Ward adds 14 such chances Off                                   Tackle … C O’Hara (7/6) and RG Snee (7/6) lead the best run-block OL … QB Manning makes this offense the best in the set           
Oh No!            Drops galore among the WRs
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         DLE Tuck is a 6 with (1*) 12 sacks
Oh No!            The run D causes no fumbles
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         +4 penalty advantage … Punting: Feagles’ yardage and superb coverage
Oh No!            Everything else is ordinary
 
PHILADELPHIA
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         Both OTs are 7 pass-blockers
Oh No!            Eagles’ difficulty getting the tough yards shows in poor run blocking
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Excellent run D is stingy with yards and forces fumbles
Oh No!            The price for good secondary ratings (two 6s, two 5s) is a weak team-pass D card
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Kickoff-returner Demps and punt-returner Jackson’s TDs
Oh No!            Punts can be blocked … kickoff coverage yields a Long Gain
 
ST. LOUIS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         QB Bulger is very solid … LT Pace, healthy at last, yielded only 1 sack and is a 7 pass blocker
Oh No!            Other than Pace, weak pass-blocking … WRs are lackluster
 
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         FS Otogwe is a 6        
Oh No!            The team cards are the worst in the set, with no relief on pass or run. Example: Short Pass 3 Men: There are NO blank spaces for incompletions
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Jones’ awesome punting (still 50 yds at roll #8) … Brown’s FG is 2-7 from 33-37 yd lines
Oh No!            Where is the real Dante Hall? (41 is his longest kickoff return)
 
SAN FRANCISCO
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         WR Bruce looks 10 years younger than his age
Oh No!            RB fumbles are 2-7, 11, 12 Right … OL is weak … QBs can’t throw deep
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         RILB Willis is a 6 and LILB Spikes is a 5
Oh No!            Run D causes no fumbles and pass D has few INTs
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Rossum’s kickoff-return TD
Oh No!            Punts can be blocked
 
SEATTLE
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         LT Jones (7/6) is only thing spectacular, but there’s solid run and pass potential
Oh No!            RB ratings reflect Seahawks’ troubles getting tough yards
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         No explanation point warranted … But two of three LBs are 5s
Oh No!            It will take lucky rolls for this D to force turnovers
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Mare’s all-around kicking: 11 touchbacks, 2-12 XP, strong FG range
Oh No!            Punting: blocks and a Long Gain on coverage
 
TAMPA BAY
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         Bucs can play ball-control better than most, with excellent Flat Pass yardage, solid run-blocking and steady ball carriers … WR Antonio                             Bryant is a legit deep threat
Oh No!            Other than Bryant, the big-play potential is sub-par
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Something harder to come by: A decent pass D card for a team with decent DB ratings (three 5s)
Oh No!            The pass rush from the OLBs and DTs is basically non-existent
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         KR/PR Clifton Smith’s TDs, other strong gains on both return types
Oh No!            Bryant’s placekicking is shaky in all areas
 
WASHINGTON
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         With FB Sellers and LT Samuels (both 7/6) leading a strong run-blocking crew, it should be all good for RB Portis, who is strong inside and out,                   Right and Wrong         
Oh No!            QB Campbell is a running threat and seldom throws picks, but his Short Pass card is way below average
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         MLB Fletcher and FS Landry are 6s
Oh No!            Bad combo: Few sacks and almost no turnovers (no fumbles on D cards)
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Randle El’s punt-return TD
Oh No!            Punting: blocked punts and a Long Gain on coverage