2007 Pro Football Thrills and Chills
By Glenn Guzzo
Here’s a brief summary of the highlights and lowlights of Strat-O-Matic’s new football ratings (teams
Oh Yeah! HB Ronnie Brown’s Short Gain-happy running card and his strong receiving card until he was lost for the year after 119 carries
Oh No! The receivers and QBs are weak. QB Cleo Lemon isn’t easily intercepted, but lacks completions and yards. Backup Trent Green has
more of those, but his Long Pass Right Int 2-10, 12 is on dice roll #7
Oh Yeah! RE Jason Taylor still dominates as a 6 vs. the run and a 12*5 pass rusher.
Oh No! Six 0s in the starting lineup, including three in the secondary. The run defensive card yields Short Gains at dice roll 7 and forces very few fumbles.
Oh Yeah! Ted Ginn Jr.’s PR TD and Brandon Fields’ strong punting.
Oh No! +32, +30, long gain on kickoff coverage
Oh Yeah! HB Adrian Peterson’s best-of-set running card has Long Gains Right across the board at #2, 17 chances of Short Gain or better Off Tackle Wrong
and 10 chances of +28 or better End Run Wrong … Unlike most breakaway backs, Peterson’s Right columns are strong, too … Most teams would be
very happy to Peterson’s backup, Chester Taylor … They run behind a trio of 6-rated run blockers from center to left tackle.
Oh No! QB Tavaris Jackson and the WRs are so bad that Peterson will have to run Right and Keyed most of the time
Oh Yeah! A Supreme run defense with twin 6s at DT
Oh No! Two 0s in the secondary and a Poor card vs. the pass means opponents won’t have to waste much time trying to run on the Vikes.
Oh Yeah! Chris Kluwe’s punting and Ryan Longwell’s FG kicking (2-10 on all kicks less than 50 yards)
Oh No! The kick returners seldom will give the Vikings good field position
Oh Yeah! Tom Brady is so much better than other QBs that he’s even better Right than most are Wrong … Dynamic Randy Moss leads the deepest
WR corps in the set … Any turnover on Patriots cards will be a fluke … the middle of the OL can’t be matched: C Dan Koppen and
LG Logan Mankins each are 6/7 blockers and RG Stephen Neal is 5/7. RT Matt Light and TE Kyle Brady are 6 run blockers to boot
Oh No! As we saw in the Super Bowl,
Oh Yeah! LB Mike Vrabel (6 rating with 12*6 pass rush) leads a defense with five 6s and is carded as Good vs. run, Good vs. pass
Oh No! Pats will have to blitz to sack often: Starting front three are rated
but unfamiliar for
Oh Yeah! +4 penalty differential … superb punt coverage
Oh No! blocked, punt, long gain on KOR coverage, FG good only on roll #2 from 33-37 yd lines
Oh Yeah! LT Jammal Brown (6/7) leads four 7-rated pass blockers on the OL to protect the elite passing card of QB Drew Brees, who is deadly at all ranges …
WRs Marques Colston, David Patten and supreme bomb threat Devery Henderson give Brees plenty of options.
Oh No! HB Reggie Bush’s longest gains of +22 running and +25 receiving
Oh Yeah! RE Will Smith (run-5, pass rush-8) will have to make the big plays on a defense with four 0s and five 4s
Oh No! The
Oh Yeah! The punting and placekicking are sound. Kickoffs go deep.
Oh No! long gains on both the KOR and PR coverage
Oh Yeah! With a powerful line led by LG Chris Snee (6/7) and multiple strong RBs, the Giants will run as well as anyone. RB
Jacobs gets the tough yards and has 23 chances of Short Gain or better Off Tackle Wrong, protecting inconsistent QB Eli Manning.
Not much fall-off with RBs Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw.
Oh No! Manning’s interceptions Right (e.g automatic on
Oh Yeah! No 6s, but seven 5s, including the whole front four, MLB and FS. A powerful pass rush inside and out, left and right:
12*1, 10, 9, 7, 6, 6 …super-sub Justin Tuck: End-4, Tackle-4, pass rush-10
Oh No! Poor vs. the pass
Oh Yeah! Best-in-set +6 penalty differential …Domenik Hixon’s KOR TD
Oh No! Very weak kicking game: A blocked punt and sub-standard yardage (an unusual combo); missed XPs on roll #11, only a #2 chance to kick a FG beyond 50 yards.
Oh Yeah! No RB fumbles and no QB/WR fumbles … WRs Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles pose a double threat
Oh No! The RT and LG are both 0/0 blockers. The whole offense is poor at pass protection … The passing game is Flat:
QB Chad Pennington has only two chances of completing a
Oh Yeah! Jets can blitz from anywhere with LBs rated 10-7-7-6-6 (yes, five of them) … SS Kerry Rhodes is the only 6, but the team pass-defense card is Good
Oh No! A 3-4 defense with a 0 at NT, three 4s at LB and two 0s in the secondary adds up to trouble … The run D is awful:
Short Gains at roll #7 across the board and NO fumbles
Oh Yeah! PR Leon Washington’s TD on roll #3 … Mike Nugent’s deep kickoffs (9 touchback chances, plus the other deep kicks)
Oh No! long gain and poor KOR coverage, a blocked punt and a missed XP
Oh Yeah! RB Justin Fargas’ career year = big plays, Short Gains, consistent yards and few fumbles
Oh No! Both Ts are 0 run blockers and 2 pass blockers … QB trouble: Daunte Culpepper is more miss than hit, though his interceptions
are low. Backup Josh McCown can run and throw but his interceptions are wild (2-11 Right on Short Pass #10 and Long Pass #7)
Oh Yeah! 6-rated LCB Nmandi Asomugha and a pair of 5s on both the DL and at LB … Raiders can put a pair of pass-rushing 10s at DE …
The pass defense card is good
Oh No! This is how bad a run defense can get: End Run is +44 at roll #2, Short Gain at #4, +4 (no fumble) at #6, Short Gain at #7, +5 at #8 …
Check out the Raiders’ right side: 0s at RT, RLB and RCB (and FS, too)
Oh Yeah! P Shane Lechler is still at +50 on roll #8 (with no block) … PK Sebastian Janikowski is tops in the set at kickoffs (12 touchbacks)
and long FGs (2-7 good from 33-37 yd lines)
Oh No! long gains on both KOR and PR coverage
Oh Yeah! 2,100-yd man Brian Westbrook is the best receiving RB in the set and is a strong Short Gain-or-better threat running Wrong …
He’ll get his chances with QB Donovan McNabb, who is not elite, but is in the next tier of passers, with solid completions and few interceptions.
Oh No! All 3s and 4s for pass blocking not good enough vs. the strong pass rushers in Eagles’ division
Oh Yeah! RE Trent Cole: run-5, pass rush-12*3
Oh No! 2-3,12 is as strong as it gets to force a turnover without extra men in the zone … The Eagles’ swagger is gone: No 6s.
Oh Yeah! Save Rocca’s reliable punting
Oh No! long gain on punt coverage … +35 is the longest Eagles kickoff return … Where is the David Akers we know?
This PK is 2-4, 12 on FGs from 23-32 yd lines and has only three touchback chances on kickoffs
Oh Yeah! QB Ben Roethlisberger has a high-gain, low-interception card and he can run, too … RB Willie Parker has +20 or better
on 12 chances spread across his card … Double-threat RB Najeh Davenport is a breakaway runner and a receiver who
can catch Long Passes … WR Santonio Holmes is a constant Long Gain threat at all ranges.
Oh No! The pass protection is skimpy and the run blocking is mostly 4s (except LG Alan Faneca and TE Heath Miller, who are 6s)
Oh Yeah! The Steelers force fumbles. And with three 6s (including NT) and three 5s in the front seven, they are Good to Excellent vs. run …
NT Casey Hampton, RLB James Harrison (12 pass rush) and SS Troy Polamalu are 6s in places where 6s are tough to come by.
Add 6-rated LE Aaron Smith to the group.
Oh No! The Steelers don’t intercept passes. And the front three’s sack ratings (
leave the good LBs in coverage to help two 4s and a 0 in the secondary
Oh Yeah! There is nothing special about these special teams
Oh No! long gains on both KOR and PR coverage
Oh Yeah! FOUR perfect blockers: 6-run and 7-pass at C, LG, LT and FB … RB Ladainian Tomlinson is strong inside and out,
Right and Wrong, running and receiving. His End Run Wrong: +49, +35, +34, +28 and Short Gain …
Antonio Gates is an elite TE who gets deep as well as most WRs
Oh No! QB Philip Rivers’ completions are down and his interceptions are up. The new ratio is not attractive …
Gates is the only receiver with a Long Gain.
Oh Yeah! Chargers force fumbles and intercept – a rare combo this year … OLBs Shawne Merriman (12*6) and Shaun Phillips (12)
are top sackers … Chargers can fill a dime secondary without a single 0-rated DB
Oh No! No pass rush from the front three (3-0-2)
Oh Yeah! Darren Sproles’ TDs on both KOR and PR … Nate Kaeding’s strong FG kicking inside 50 yards
Oh No! a blocked punt
Oh Yeah! RB Frank Gore will have to carry the offense again. Though good, he’s not the star he was last year.
Oh No! QB horror show: Alex Smith is less than 50-50 to hit a Flat Pass Wrong. Trent Dilfer has more interceptions
than completions Long Pass Right … With little pass protection, the 49ers would be better off just grinding it
out on the ground. Except: … RB fumbles are automatic Right
Oh Yeah! Rookie ILB Patrick Willis is a 6 with a 7 pass rush. Both CBs and the SS are 5s, as are both DE.
Oh No! Both OLB are 0s … The Short Pass-Long Pass card is Poor and the run cards are worse
Oh Yeah! P Andy Lee is a true field-position weapon. PK Joe Nedney is 2-10 on FGs up to 49 yards
Oh No! -4 penalty differential … long gains on both KOR and PR coverage
Oh Yeah! QB Matt Hasselbeck is good, and his WRs can get deep, but not likely good enough to carry an offense with
no running game and little pass blocking … Aging LT Walter Jones went to the Pro Bowl again and returns as
a 6/7, but the rest of the OL is a liability
Oh No! RB Shaun Alexander, wounded and cut by the Seahawks just two seasons after setting the NFL record for rushing
TDs, is a shell of his former self… And he’ll have no help from three 0 run blockers at C and both G
Oh Yeah! A lot of star power: LE Patrick
adding a pass rush rating of 12*2; LCB Marcus Trufant is a 6; three more 5s throughout the D
Oh Yeah! Nate Burleson returns both kickoffs and punts for TDs … No. 2 PR Josh Wilson has a TD at dice roll #3 …
+5 penalty differential … FG kicker Josh Brown is 2-6 from the 33-37 yd lines
Oh No! No calamities, though punting and kick coverage could be better
Oh Yeah! RB Steve Jackson has Long Gains and +50 or better in all running categories Wrong … QB Marc Bulger can throw Long
Oh No! An OL ravaged by injuries sabotaged the offense. No run blocker is better than 4 and both T are 0s.
The pass blocking is little better … Though 1,000-yard runner Jackson has multiple breakaways, his gains are feeble on
rolls 4-9 … With no protection, immobile Bulger is a serious interception risk … Not one receiver has a Long Gain
Oh Yeah! Will Witherspoon, a 5 vs. the run, offers rare dominant pass rush (12) from MLB.
Oh No! Poor vs. run = Short Gains at roll #7 with 0 Men and rare fumbles
Oh Yeah! PR Dante Hall’s TD on roll #3 … P Donnie Jones is a field-position weapon … Jeff Wilkins hits FGs 2-6 from the 33-37 yd lines
Oh No! +37, +34, long gain kickoff coverage
Oh Yeah! Very few interceptions or fumbles … With a card thick in Long Gains and huge yardage, Joey Galloway will be one of the most
feared WRs in the set … Though most of its starters are unspectacular, this offense is versatile with quality depth at QB, RB, WR and TE
Oh No! None of the RBs has a longer run or pass play than +28
Oh Yeah! Though no 6s, no 0s, either and twin 5s at DT, two more at LB and three in the secondary, plus pass-rush ratings of 11-9-9-6 …
The Bucs cause fumbles and knock down passes
Oh No! Rare interceptions
Oh Yeah! KOR Michael Spurlock’s TD
Oh No! A blocked punt, FGs good only 2-3 from 33-37 yd lines, long gain on KOR coverage
Oh Yeah! WR Justin Gage has the only big-play potential in this offense.
Oh No! QB Vince Young is fine throwing in the Flat, but guessed Right, he’ll most often run (well, but not great) rather than throw Short and Long.
Oh Yeah! Titans are Good to Excellent vs. the run, with 6-rated DE Kyle Vanden Bosch and DT Albert Haynesworth, who also rush the
passer well …Titans can fill a dime defense without a 0 in the secondary
Oh No! If the Titans can’t rush the passer with their front four, they won’t do it at all – among the linebackers,
David Thornton is a 3-rated sacker and the others are 0s
Oh Yeah! PK Rob Bironas: 2-10 on FGs inside 50 yards and 2-6,12 from 33-39 yd lines; perfect XPs; 9 chances for touchbacks on kickoffs.
Oh No! long gain on punt coverage
Oh Yeah! LT Chris Samuels and FB Mike Sellers are perfect 6/7 blockers … Chris Cooley is one of the best deep threats among TEs …
Jason Campbell is no Michael Vick, but he’s the best running QB in this year’s NFC.
Oh No! Hawg Hell: 0 run blockers at both RG and RT
Oh Yeah! FS Sean Taylor’s 6 is a nice gravestone marker. A pair of 5s on the DL, another at LB and another in the secondary … Very low yardage allowed vs. run
Oh No! Very few turnovers
Oh Yeah! Except for a long gain on KOR coverage, excellent coverage on both kickoffs and punts
Oh No! Ho-hum kicking and kick returns leave ‘Skins at special-teams disadvantage most games