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Friday, September 12, 2008

NFC West Week 2 Preview

Week 1:

Season: 3-0

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

Seattle swept the season series from the Niners last year by a combined score of 47-3, but that was last year. Despite losing quarterback Alex Smith for the season with a torn rotator cuff, the news is even worse for the Seahawks. Down to one healthy, experienced wide receiver heading into week one, the Hawks lost Nate Burleson on the opening drive against Buffalo with a torn ACL in his left knee. The receiving situation is so desperate, the Hawks are considering starting backup quarterback Seneca Wallace at split end. With two second year WR in line to start, and a rookie tight end as well, QB Matt Hasselbeck will need to be on his game for the Hawks to prevail.

On the other side of the ball, Niners RB Frank Gore averages more than six yards per carry during his career against Seattle, with QB J.T. O'Sullivan again being asked to manage the clock and to avoid turnovers if at all possible.
Prediction: The Hawks injuries on offense are just too much to overcome, and Hasselbeck can't do it all himself, especially considering he isn't at 100% himself. If O'Sullivan can manage to avoid multiple turnovers, and if Gore can match his career averages against Seattle, I can't see them winning.

Prediction: 49ers, 17-13.

New York Giants @ St. Louis Rams

The Rams suffered a big loss on offense last week, WR Drew Bennett will miss at least a month with a broken foot. RB Steven Jackson should be in better shape than last week, although he is still not 100% after missing training camp and the pre-season following a hold-out. The Rams offensive line is its weakest link, the Giants should have little trouble pressuring QB Marc Bulger, putting even more pressure on Jackson.

The Giants offensive line, on the other hand, is a strength, they should have no trouble driving the Rams DLine off the ball, opening large holes for the Giants backs. QB Eli Manning should be aware of a potential mismatch between 6'6" Plaxico Burress and 5'9" Rams cornerback Tye Hill.

Prediction: Giants big, 38-13.

Miami @ Arizona

Here's a stat for you, in the third quarter of last week's opener at San Francisco, the Cardinals time of possession in the third quarter was 13:17. After a shaky first half which ended in a 10 all tie, QB Kurt Warner settled in and executed Coach Ken Whisenhunt 's short pass offense to perfection. In the first half, Anquan Boldin had zero catches, Larry Fitzgerald had seven. In the second half, after a 49ers adjustment, Boldin caught eight balls, with Fitzgerald grabbing three. Expect more of the same against Miami, as their secondary lacks a dominant, shutdown cover guy, which should result in Boldin and Fitzgerald once again approaching double digit catches apiece.

Falling behind early is what the Dolphins would like to avoid, as they are a run dominant team, led by Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. Last week against the Jets, they combined for 23 carries, the Dolphs would like to see them approach forty combined carries.

Prediction: The Cardinals, behind the ever-confident Kurt Warner and the unstoppable duo of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald win comfortably, 27-10.

Al Groh Gets What He Deserves

First off, the guys over at Awful Announcing represent the best and the worst of the blog world by pulling this prank, but if anyone deserves it, it is without a doubt Al Groh. I'd also like to thank ACC Nation, for bringing this clip to my attention as it will certainly be one of the favorites at Walker-Sports.

Al Groh has ruled the UVA football program with an iron fist for eight seasons now. And all the program has gotten out of it is one 9 win season that was a complete accident and a decent Pro-Factory for Tight ends and O-Linemen. Oh, and the school now has a rap sheet of play dicipline problems that would make Miami and Penn State jealus (well done coach).

What makes it even worse, is Groh's "one voice" mentality means he has made himself the face of the program and for anyone who has ever watched Belichick give an interview, well Groh was taking notes and is every bit the ass. Now think back to when Belichick was at Cleveland and he couldnt sniff the playoffs more or less the Super Bowl, now you got Al Groh.

So to hear him get punked during a conference call on Thursday was great. It could not have happened to a more pompus ass. Now lets see if he can get his team to muster more than 1 TD this week against UConn.

TGIF Daily "Linkin' Logs" (9/12/08)

"NFL rivalries come and go. Today, none is more heated than Patriots-Jets. Why? Two men: Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini"

If that isn't one of the more ridiculous things you've read in a while, then you're either a jaded AFC East fan or a total newbie to the NFL. Rivalries aren't simply born out of competitive banter, like that of Belichick spurning the Jets or Mangini spurning New England (for the Jets) or even things like Spygate. They need competition. The Colts and Patriots have become a rivalry of some proportion (I'd compare it to the rivalries of the mid-90s between the Cowboys, 49ers and Packers) because of not just some type of anomosity (though mostly press-driven) but also because every friggin' game was competitive and meant a whole lot (namely either home field/playoff seeding and/or a playoff game itself).

Since the Belichick era in New England exactly 4 of the 17 games (1 playoff game) have been settle by 6 points or less (with the best being a 1 point loss in 2000, when Drew Bledsoe was the New England QB) and more than half have been total spankings (10 points or more). Hardly a rivalry and while the heated exchange after Bill Parcells's departure in 1996 resulted in some animosity the Patriots were such a lowly team (even with a Super Bowl Birth) that no one really cared (Tuna Bowl was merely a ESPN Invention to drive ratings). Even after the Belichick spurned year in 2000, the two teams (one a playoff regular, the other a fortunate AFC Champion just once in its post-merger history) simply were not that entertaining. Boston was a baseball town and New York had...well...The Subway Series and the Giants (eventual NFC Champions in 2000).

All inter-division matchups are rivals, even more so when the two teams are competitive, but the posterchild for this is the NFC East and its been proven game in and game out to result in not only close matchups, but excellent football. So until both teams decide to be competitive or the Jets can beat the Pats (They've beaten the Patriots just twice since 2002), then don't call it a rivalry.
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