Glenn Guzzo

 

 

2008 Pro Football 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!         A versatile, powerful running attack led by FB/HB McLain, with help from HBs McGahee and Rice… C Jason Brown (7/6)
Oh No!            Flacco’s lackluster Short Pass columns
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Five 6s, including 3 at LB … The automatic INT on roll 11 on Long Pass in addition to 2-8, 11, 12 on roll 7
Oh No!            The Excellent run D doesn’t force many fumbles
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Koch’s punting … +4 on penalties
Oh No!            Long Gain on kickoff coverage
 
BUFFALO
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         SE Evans is a big-time deep threat … Elite LT Peters (7/6) is the only competent blocker
Oh No!            Drive stoppers: QB Edwards’ Flat Pass misses and RB Lynch’s weak Wrong columns
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         6-rated DLT Stroud, two 5-rated LBs
Oh No!            Few INTs + few sacks (top pass rusher is a 5) = bad pass defense
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         KR and PR TDs … Moorman’s punting
Oh No!            punt coverage is shaky, but no major weaknesses
 
 
CINCINNATI
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         WR Houshmandzadeh’s possession receiving
Oh No!            You can fool the defense by having QB Fitzpatrick throw downfield
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Twin 5s at CB
Oh No!            Well, you can guess run without having to worry about losing sacks
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         +5 penalties
Oh No!            Blocked punt, Long Gain on punt coverage
 
CLEVELAND
Offense:         
Oh Yeah!         No RB fumbles … WR Edwards’ Long Gains … LT Thomas (7/6)
Oh No!            Wide-open is supposed to be good … But it’s not when it describes the blank spaces on all three QB passing cards. Peyton Manning has more                       completions on Long Pass than Anderson and Quinn have on Flat Pass
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Automatic INT on roll 11 for Long Pass … 6-rated NT Rogers
Oh No!            Poor run defense generously gives much more than it takes (few fumbles)
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Zastudill’s punting (still 50 yd at #5, 40 yd at #10) and Dawson’s long-range kicking (2-6 from 33-39 yd line) … Cribbs’ kickoff-return TD
Oh No!            Long Gain on kickoff coverage
 
DENVER
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         Seriously good passing, with QB Cutler, plentiful targets and four 7-rated pass blockers
Oh No!            High RB fumbles and no feature back
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         LCB Bailey is a 6
Oh No!            Everything else – the Poor run D and Very Poor pass D can’t stop anything and can’t force turnovers
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Kern’s distance punting (still 50 yds at roll #6) and Prater’s distance FGs (2-6,11, 12 from 33 to 39 yd line)
Oh No!            Long Gains on both kickoff and punt coverage
 
HOUSTON
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         RB Slaton’s breakaways, a deadly Flat Pass attack, All-Pro WR Johnson and an offense where the TE and RB can catch the bomb
Oh No!            Will the OL come through? All 4s except one 5 as run blockers, and all 5s – but no 7 – on pass protection
 
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         RDE Williams is a 6, with (1*)12 sacks … MLB Ryans is a 6
Oh No!            The Very Poor pass D yields Long Gain at #4 on Short Pass 3 Men and at #s2-5 and 12 on Long Pass 0 Men … And both safeties are 0s
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Jones’ punt-return TD at roll #3
Oh No!            Long Gain on punt coverage
 
INDIANAPOLIS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         QB Manning’s Wrong columns will wow you
Oh No!            With this running game, will Manning ever pass Wrong?
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         RDE Freeney is a 6 with 12 pass rush
Oh No!            Short Gain at roll #7 on LB and ER 0 LB
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Smith’s punting will help the defense
Oh No!            Weak kickoff and punt return won’t help field position
 
JACKSONVILLE
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         RB Jones-Drew will keep opponents from guessing Pass too often
Oh No!            Interior OL is no help on run (both G are 0, others are 4) orpass
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         New starting RLB Durant is a 5
Oh No!            Run D causes no fumbles … Very Poor pass D is prone to Long Gains
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Kickoffs, punts and coverage all strong
Oh No!            FG good only 2-7, 12 from 13 to 22 yd line
 
KANSAS CITY
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         TE Gonzalez and WRs Bowe and Bradley are a nice mix of targets
Oh No!            Four 0-rated run blockers on interior OL
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         We’re still researching this; might take awhile
Oh No!            Poor run D (Short Gains at #7 0 Men) and Poor pass D … No 6s or 5s
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Colquitt’s punting
Oh No!            Very weak FG … Long Gain on kickoff coverage
 
MIAMI
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         No RB fumbles … Pennington is a bit more than a Flat Pass QB now
Oh No!            Receivers will have a lot of drops
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         ROLB Porter is a 6 with (12*) 12 sacks
Oh No!            Off Tackle card doesn’t fit Good to Excellent run D description
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Fields’ punting
Oh No!            Long Gain on punt coverage … Poor kickoff-return men
 
NEW ENGLAND
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         FL Moss still deadly in Pats’ versatile pass attack. Three Short Gain-rich RBs will make defenses pay for guessing Pass
Oh No!            The OL can’t pass protect and it doesn’t have a 6 run-blocker
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Two 6s and a 5 up front in the 3-4, and rookie LILB Mayo is a 6
Oh No!            Too many yards and too few turnovers … Pass D will be torched
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         +4 penalties … Hobbs’ KO return TD … Hanson’s punting
Oh No!            Long Gain on kickoff coverage … punt coverage is lousy
 
NEW YORK JETS
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         QB Favre’s strong completions at all ranges – even his INT # has plus yardage on Flat Pass Wrong … Three 6-rated run blockers
Oh No!            Favre’s INTs: e.g. 2-8, 12 on roll #8 Long Pass Right … RBs are not as impressive as their per-carry stats, but will flourish Wrong
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Excellent run D forces fumbles, stuffs linebucks and sweeps
Oh No!            Only blank spot on Short Pass 3 Men is roll #12 – Ouch!
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Washington’s kickoff-return TD, solid punt-return yardage
Oh No!            Punts can be blocked
 
OAKLAND
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         TE Miller has a star’s receiving card … rookie RBs McFadden, Bush show explosive potential
Oh No!            Russell might be the worst Flat Passer ever among starting QBs … Both OTs are 0 run blockers
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         LCB Asomugha may be surest 6 in the NFL, supports Good pass D
Oh No!            Poor run D gives up big plays but doesn’t make them. Three 0s in front four just makes things worse
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Deadly return game: Higgins’ PR TD and Miller’s KR TD both on roll #3 … Lechler’s awesome punting (50 yds at roll #7) … Janikowski’s 11              touchback chances
Oh No!            The -6 penalty-chance disadvantage is among the worst ever … Janikowski misses extra points and half his FG chances from 23-32 yd line
 
PITTSBURGH
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         Versatile receiving options will help Big Ben make big plays
Oh No!            Interior OL is weak on run (two 0s, three 4s), worse on pass
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Excellent run and pass D supported by five 6s and six 5s
Oh No!            Not much to complain about, but nothing special forcing turnovers
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Superb kickoff and punt coverage
Oh No!            Return men are nondescript
 
 
 
SAN DIEGO
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         QB Rivers is deadly at all ranges … FL Jackson is a constant threat to take it to the house (LG chances or better Wrong: 5 Flat Pass, 8 Short Pass, 12 Long Pass)
Oh No!            Though HB Tomlinson still gets tough yards, he’s not enough threat Wrong to deter defenses from guessing Pass a lot
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         This 3-4 run D can be stout with LB support
Oh No!            Poor pass D gives up too many completions and rarely intercepts
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Scrifres’ punting + team’s excellent punt coverage … Sproles’ KO return TD
Oh No!            PK Kaeding’s weak leg: 2-5,11, 12 on FG from 23-32 yd line; only two touchback chances
 
TENNESSEE
Offense:
Oh Yeah!         Rookie HB Johnson strikes fear with 14 chances Short Gain or better Wrong Off Tackle and 13 chances End Run … 15-TD HB White gets the              tough yards … Both OTs and C Mawae are rated 7/6
Oh No!            Lackluster QB Collins and receivers (except big-play FL Gage)
 
Defense:
Oh Yeah!         Good to Excellent vs. run and pass … Three 6s and a 5 in the secondary
Oh No!            DT Haynesworth (10) is the only formidable pass rusher. LBs won’t help.
 
Special teams:
Oh Yeah!         Bironas’ all-round place-kicking           
Oh No!            -3 penalties, no kick-return TDs