Glenn Guzzo

 

2006 NFL THRILLS AND CHILLS

Part One: The NFC

 

By Glenn Guzzo

 

            Few National League Football teams are without obvious strengths or weaknesses. In the Strat-O-Matic versions of the 2006 National Football Conference, New Orleans’ passing offense and Minnesota’s run defense are something to behold. So is Washington’s pass defense – but for the wrong reason.

 

Here’s a look at the soon-to-be-released ratings: 

 

ARIZONA

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        With a dynamite card and a strong second WR option in Larry Fitzgerald, WR Anquan Boldin can dominate.

Oh, No!           Boldin will have to – there’s no running game and, especially guessed right, QB Matt Leinart may lead the league in incompletions.

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        SS Adrian Wilson is a 6 and the Cardinals force fumbles

Oh, No!           The other three in the secondary are 0s; moving FS Robert Griffith from the Long Pass zone risks nearly 7 Long Gain chances, plus 9 defender X or Long Gain chances.

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        J.J. Arrington’s KO return TD

Oh, No!           Although Scott Player punts for deep yardage, he has a block and the punt coverage is awful (+14, +19, LG)

 

 

ATLANTA

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        QB Michael Vick’s 25 chances of SG or better on End RunWrong. Don’t fear being guessed Right on passes – Vick’s 18 Must Run chances become 21 chances for +8 or better. No fumbles in the running game and Justin Griffith is one of the best FB’s around.

Oh, No!           Warrick Dunn ran for 1,140 yards, but after his +90 End Run there’s not much left in the Wrong columns. The WRs all look like backups.

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        Decent run D, plus 6s in LT Grady Jackson, RLB Keith Brooking and LCB DeAngelo Hall.

Oh, No!           Poor against the pass (scary bad with 0 Men in Long Pass) and 0s at RCB and FS

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        We’ll get back to you on this one when we find something.

Oh, No            A punt block and pedestrian kick returners

 

 

CAROLINA

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        QB Jake Delhomme’s strong Wrong columns. WR Steve Smith and HB Deangelo Williams are fine receivers

Oh, No!           With weak Right columns and run blocking, RB Deshaun Foster has to be running Wrong to be any help

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        LE Julius Pepper – a 6 with a 12 pass rush. RT Kris Jenkins is a 6.

Oh, No!           Few turnovers, six 4s and a 0

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        PK John Kasay is 2-10 to the 32 yd line and 2-6, 12 to the 37, and perfect on extra points.

Oh, No            Though P Jason Baker booms them (+48 at dice roll 7), he has a block and the Panthers yield a LG on punt returns. The kickoff returners are terrible and the Panthers are -4 on non-mandatory penalties.

 

 

CHICAGO

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        Great OL led by C Olin Kreutz and LT John Tait, both 6-run and 7-pass blockers

Oh, No!           QB Rex Grossman’s interceptions are at #10 Flat and Short, #8 Long

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        Automatic fumbles on #4. Three 6s (LT Tommie Harris, MLB Brian Urlacher and RLB Lance Briggs) and five 5s

Oh, No!           No much to cry about, though SS Chris Harris is a 0.

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        Devin Hester’s KR TD on #3 and his PR TD on #10. P Brad Maynard.

Oh, No            Although Bears are +4 in non-mandatory penalties, 7 chances of their own mean lots of plays are coming back

 

 

DALLAS

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        Excellent receivers will stretch the defense for QB Tony Romo, who can make plays at every range

Oh, No!           Pretty solid all around except QB/rec fumble rating 1-3

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        The 3-4 run D will be terrific if you can fill the right hole. ROLB DeMarcus Ware’s pass rush – (8*) 12 and 6-rated LCB Newman

Oh, No!           Short Pass 3 Men and Long Pass 0 Men are way beyond bad

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        PR Terence Newman’s TD at #3 and P Mat McBriar’s awesome punting (+50 at #7)

Oh, No                        FG kicker Martin Grammatica (good 2-6, 11, 12 from 23-32 yd line)

 

 

DETROIT

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        QB Jon Kitna’s Flat Pass columns; SE Roy Williams is elite; FL Mike Furrey has great hands Flat and Short

Oh, No!           Rec/QB fumble rating 1-5. RB fumbles 2-8, 11, 12 Right. Weak OL.

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        Better than average forcing fumbles

Oh, No!           Very Poor vs. the pass. Five 0s and no 6s

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        FG kicker Jason Hanson’s 2-6 from 33-37 yd lines. P Nick Harris

Oh, No                        -4 on non-mandatory penalties. Long Gain on punt coverage

 

 

GREEN BAY

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        Pass blocking – three 7s and four 5s. SE Donald Driver

Oh, No!           With little else for threats Short and Long, Driver will see many double-teams

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        LE Aaron Kampman is a 6 with (3*) 12 pass rushing

Oh, No!           Two 0s in the secondary and another on the line

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        P John Ryan kicks for distance and average

Oh, No                        Punt coverage yields a Long Gain

 

 

MINNESOTA

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        Both QBsFlat Pass columns. Three 6-rated run blockers.

Oh, No!           Both QBsLong Pass columns.

HB Mewelde Moore’s +50 Flat Pass Wrong is the highlight of the                                 receiving corps, the worst in the set

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        Supreme vs. Run – fumbles, few yards, twin 6s at DT, the works

Oh, No!           Very weak pass rush – no ratings higher than 5

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        Mewelde Moore’s punt-return TD

Oh, No                        Long Gains on both kickoff and punt coverage.

Only #6 and #8 are blank in the penalty column = whistles all day

 

 

NEW ORLEANS

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        Lethal passing game: QB Drew Brees great at all ranges; LT Jamaal Brown (7-6) and Stinchcomb (7-5) lead excellent pass-blocking. How do you cover FIVE big-play deep receivers?

Oh, No!           HB Reggie Bush is REALLY bad guessed Right

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        Only hope for the pass D are the sackers – a 12 and four 7s

Oh, No!           A playoff team Poor vs. Run and Pass – big yards, scarce turnovers

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        PR Reggie Bush’s TD. Fine kick coverage. P Steve Weatherford

Oh, No            No real weakness – KO returns aren’t much; John Carney can miss an extra point

 

 

NEW YORK

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        HB Tiki Barber’s final card is one of best all-around running cards in the set. With Barber, FB Brandon Jacobs and strong run-blocking, tough goal-line run game.

Oh, No!           QB Eli Manning has fewer sure completions Flat than Short

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        6-rated MLB Antonio Pierce assists Good run D

Oh, No!           Two 0s and a 4 in the secondary

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        Top-shelf punt coverage (+1, +2, +3)

Oh, No                        Ho-hum on everything else

 

 

PHILADELPHIA

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        This team needs to score TDs and should. QB Donovan McNabb and pass and run (18 Short Gain chances on End Run Wrong). Fill-in QB Jeff Garcia is better than many starters. Even the RB and two TEs catch Long Passes. Pair of 6-run blockers at RG (Shaun Andrews) and RT (John Runyan). Pair of 7 pass blockers (Andrews and LT Tra Thomas)

Oh, No!           Running game is fumble-prone

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        Pair of 6s (LCB Lito Sheppard, FS Brian Dawkins) and a 5 in the secondary

Oh, No!           Nothing better than a 4 on the DL of an Average/Poor run defense       

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        Everything below average except 2-12 extra points

Oh, No            FG kicker David Akers only 2-7, 11, 12 from 13-22 yd line. Long Gain on punt coverage. -3 on non-mandatory penalties

 

 

ST. LOUIS

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        HB Steven Jackson has Long Gains on Linebuck and Off Tackle. WRs Terry Holt and Isaac Bruce both have 21 catch chances Long and Wrong. LT Orlando Pace is a 6 run-blocker, 7 pass-blocker

Oh, No!           Both guards are 0 run-blockers and 2 pass blockers. QB Marc Bulger’s Flat Pass isn’t up to norms for a 61-percent passer

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        Three 5s in the secondary and LE Leonard Little’s (3*) 12 pass rush

Oh, No!           Low-turnover defense Poor vs. Run

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        FG kicker Jeff Wilkins is 2-6 from 33-37 yd line

Oh, No            Long Gains on both kickoff and punt returns. Blocked punt. -3 on non-mandatory penalties

 

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        HB Frank Gore gets the tough yards Right and the long yards Wrong – like the Long Gain at #4 Off Tackle and the 8 chances of +20 or better End Run.

Oh, No!           Too many drops on all receiver cards

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        RCB Walt Harris is a 6

Oh, No!           Harris is one of only two defenders better than a 4 on a team Poor vs. Pass and Average/Poor vs. Run

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        Few punt deeper than Andy Lee

Oh, No                        Lee outkicks the coverage (+16, +19, Long Gain)

 

 

SEATTLE

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        Look hard, but FL Darrell Jackson has 9 Long Pass chances Wrong of Long Gain or +72

Oh, No!           Hardly anyone has fallen farther than HB Shaun Alexander, no longer a TD maker or a breakaway threat. QBs Matt Hasselbeck and Seneca Wallace are wild throwers. LT Walter Jones (5 pass block, 6 run block) is by far the best of a very bad lot on the OL

 

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        6-rated RLB Julian Peterson is also a (6*) 12 sacker

Oh, No!           Poor vs. Pass

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        A lot to like -- PR Nate Burleson’s TD; FG kicker Josh Brown’s 2-6 from 33-37 yd line; P Ryan Plackmeier; +4 non-mandatory penalties

Oh, No                        Brown is just 2-8, 12 from 13-22 yd line.

 

 

TAMPA BAY

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        Big-play SE Joey Galloway

Oh, No!           Miserable running game: HB Cadillac Williams is 4-cylinder and 6-rated TE Anthony Becht is the only run blocker better than 4

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        RCB Ronde Barber and RLB Derrick Brooks are still 6-rated

Oh, No!           Pitiful Short Pass card drives team’s Very Poor rating vs. Pass. A 0 pass rush for Brooks to go with 8 teammates who are 0s and 4s

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        Superb KO return coverage (+10, +11, +12). P Josh Bidwell

Oh, No!           Long Gain on punt coverage, missed extra point on #11, no breakaway returns

 

WASHINGTON

Offense

Oh, Yeah!        QB Mark Brunell’s ultra-low interceptions and no running fumbles. LT Chris Samuels and RT Jon Jansen (both 7-5 blockers) lead an offensive line reminiscent of old Hogs in front of HB Ladell Betts, who runs well everywhere and catches, too.

Oh, No!           SE Antwaan Randle El’s card suggests he should stick to returning punts.

 

Defense

Oh, Yeah!        6-rated LLB Marcus Washington and FS Sean Taylor

Oh, No!           The worst defense in the set: A pass D so bad that you guess Pass and hope the offense runs Wrong, even against a team Poor vs. Run

 

Special Teams

Oh, Yeah!        In NFC, only ‘Skins and Bears can return both punts and kickoffs for TDs

Oh, No                        Fewest touchbacks, a blocked punt and -3 non-mandatory penalties