By Alan Squatrito – Big Blue United 10.14.13
I’ll refrain from opening up this post with an obnoxious 0 and 6 knock-knock joke for all you die hard Giants fans on here. But still, I encourage you to consider the pain of a 0-16 season first before complaining about the dreadful 2013 season you are having thus far.
As easy as it might be to beat the Giants while they’re down, let’s give them some credit for trying to stand up this past TNF.
Positives @ Soldier Field:
- Brandon Jacobs didn’t fumble; he also averaged 4.8 yards per carry, a vast improvement over the 2.8 yards he averaged in week 5.
- The Giants prevented their defense from letting up 30 points, that’s a first on the season!
- Statistically, the Giants’ offensive line had their best game of the year. Rookie tackle Justin Pugh only let up one hurry in pass protection compared to six in week 5. He’s also showed a drastic improvement in terms of both run-blocking and pass-blocking over the last four weeks and is shaping up to be a quality first round selection.
- Recently acquired Panthers’ MLB, Jon Beason was a great addition to the Giants-mounting 7 stops and 11 tackles in week six. He hasn’t played a full season since 2010, but perhaps that will change in a GMEN’s uniform.
- What else? Eh, not much more. The Giants did cut their penalty yards in half from the week prior though, and made a lot less mistakes as a unit.
Now for some turning points…
- Amateur Hour - On the third play of the game, Bears’ strong side cornerback Isaiah Frey crosses the line of scrimmage undetected and Easy E ends up throwing a ball off his back foot, leading to his first interception of the game. You know better than that Eli! Luckily, that turnover didn’t cost the Giants any points.
- Spoke to Soon - Woops, Tim Jennings picked off Eli Manningon the very next drive, and the Bears got on the board for six! Eli and Matt Schaub are starting to look identical after that costly interception. Honestly, the blame should be put on Rueben Randle here; he was supposed to run a hitch route but ended up running a go route instead, foolish.
- Not Another Plax - Rueben Randle almost pulled a Plaxico Burress after a 20 yard catch taking the Giants down to the Bears fifteen yard line when he slammed the ball down in frustration without being touched down after slipping. Luckily, the officials ruled Rueben down for “giving himself up” and it was NOT a turning point of the game!
- Red Zone Mishap - In the second quarter, on 3rd and goal for the Bears, Will Hill was caught out of position attempting to undercut a ten yard pass over the middle. Brandon “Godzilla” Marshall ended up catching the pass behind him for a score.
- Not Without Hope: The Giants get a chance to upset the Bears on a late drive towards the end of the game, but Brandon Myers botches an unforgivable dropped pass that lead to another Tim Jennings’s interception and another Giants’ loss.
The Bottom Line:
The Giants had three turnovers, the Bears had zero. The Giants didn’t make plays in key situations that could have changed the outcome of the game, the Bears did. Still, the Giants appear as though they are beginning to put it all together, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they finally get their first win in week 7 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Thanks for tuning in peeps, stay classy, those are your turning points for week six.
By Alan Squatrito – Big Blue United 10.7.13
I attended a Latin Mass this Sunday prior to the 1’o clock kickoff, but failed to understand what the pastor was preaching about. Later that afternoon, I watched Eli Manning attempt to run an offense and a similar feeling ensued: “What the heck is going on out there?!”
Three intentional grounding calls, three interceptions, and twelve penalties for 136 yards will most likely guarantee a loss for any team in the NFL. I don’t need to reiterate how frustrating it is to watch the Giants play football this season, but it is a bit surprising.
A Broken Record: Again, the Giants didn’t lose the game because of a single play. Again, the Giants didn’t lose the game because of one single play. Again, the Giants didn’t lose the game because of one single play.
You have to wonder, are the Giants sick of watching film yet on Monday’s?
Anyway, here are the top plays the Giants could have avoided but didn’t in week 5:
- Giants lead 7-6 in the second quarter: Michael Vick throws a 56 yard pass to DeSean Jackson that goes right through Trumaine McBride’s hands for a should-have-been interception. This sets up a LeSean McCoy score from one yard out.
- Giants trailing 13-6 in the second quarter: Brandon Jacobs fumbles at the 50-yard line, reminding Giants’ fans why he should have stayed let go. Forget about the disagreement to restructure a new contract deal in March, 2012 when he was originally released! This turnover sets up a Michael Vick hamstring pull and an Alex Henry field goal, count it.
- Giants down 22-21 in the fourth quarter: Eli’s attempts to avoid a sack makes the play a lot worse, putting a meatball intended for Brandon Jacobs up for grabs. Jacobs fails to pull a David Tyree from Super Bowl XLII, and Mychal Kendricks comes down with another costly interception, setting the Eagles up for a highlight-worthy touchdown grab made by Brent Celek from 25 yards out.
Giants travel to Soldier Field on a short week to take on the Chicago Bears. I’m kind of curious as to how long they can keep their losing streak going at this point.
Cheer up Giants’ fans; those are your top turning points for week 5.
In a battle between two 0-2 teams scratching for their first win, you could assume the will or efforts put forth by every individual to be exactly the same, yet that would be foolish. The New York Giants didn’t put up much of a fight against the Carolina Panthers in week three because they were too busy beating up themselves.
The Giants put a zero burger up on the board against a Panthers’ secondary that was riddled with injuries, without the likes of Quintin Mikell, D.J. Moore, Josh Thomas, and James Dockery. Further, the Panthers ranked 26th overall in pass coverage this season prior to Sunday’s inactive player report.
Scratch your head: Hakeem Nicks didn’t even register a catch!
IF there HAD to be ONE momentum changing play of the game, it would be Josh Browns’ missed field goal at the start of the second quarter with the Giants trailing by seven.
Prior to the attempt, Aaron Ross intercepted Cam Newton at Carolina’s 13 yard line, setting the Giants up for a gift wrapped scoring opportunity. Capitalizing on turnovers by adding points = the most powerful way to change a game’s momentum. What happens to momentum when the opposite occurs?
The Giants still had two and a half quarters left of play to reestablish their offense but failed. Eli Manning got sacked seven times in the game but what is interesting to note is that five of those sacks happened in the first quarter! That set the tone of the game.
I could be wrong, but the Panthers didn’t even need a twelfth man for their homecoming game at Bank of America Stadium; the Giants were defeated before they ran out of the tunnel. Hopefully, Tom Coughlin can realign the troops in week 4, as they travel to Arrowhead to take on the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.
1) Larry Fitzgerald – Larry Fitzgerald’s current ADP is 27; Stevan Ridley’s current ADP is 22, but how? If Bill Belichick uses a running back carousel throughout the course of the season, drafting Ridley ahead of Fitz could harm your fantasy squad. Fitz is arguably the best wide receiver in the game and unlike last season, the Cardinals have a capable quarterback in Carson Palmer this year. The hiring of Bruce Arians also raises Larry’s stock. On average, Bruce Arian’s NFL offenses have generated 23.5 points a game, that’s eight points better than the 2012 Cardinals (15.6). This is why I believe Larry Fitz makes a great candidate to be a SAFE top 15 pick this season. I’m not mistaken; the common misconception analysts made in placing Fitz in front of Ridley is due in part of the bad taste John Skelton and Kevin Kolb left in our mouths’ last year.
2) Jared Cook – A lot of people don’t know this, but Jared Cook is one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He is an acrobatic 6′ 5” monster, with 4.5 forty speed and a 41 inch vertical. He received a new deal with the St.Louis Rams worth 35.1 million dollars. Besides for being their former coach, the trade still had to be made. Jeff Fisher knew the Titans underutilized Cook’s talents because of their tight end blocking schemes; that’s not going to be the way the Rams utilize Cook in 2013. Don’t be foolish, Cook’s current ADP is 97 and Jason Witten’s is 52; I believe the two should be flip flopped! Regardless, you don’t have to reach for Cook, but take advantage of his ADP and turn him into one of the steal’s of your draft!
3) DeSean Jackson –Before the season even began, Jeremy Maclin landed on the NFL Hit List with an ACL injury. Tough break Jeremy, but still, that doesn’t mean DeSean Jackson’s ADP should have to suffer because of it. Actually, he should get a boost. Action Jackon’s ADP in most drafts is currently 67. With elusive ability and a 4.3 speed, he is going to find his way in space and behind defenses all season long. If Vick stays healthy, and that’s one big if, Jackson’s current ADP of 67 will become a popular topic amongst fantasy football nerds at the end of the season.
4) Russell Wilson – The kid is going to be great, there’s no doubt about that; and if you have a man crush on him, fine, pick him at his projected ADP-60th. Don’t get it confused: his value last year as a Mr.Irrelevant pick was a lot more valuable than his value heading into 2013. I’m not quite sure why he is ranked higher than Tony Romo, Michael Vick, Eli Manning, and Matthew Stafford on NFL.com’s rankings. As you all know, I conceive Michael Fabiano and his commonly mistaken entourage to be quite foolish, but then again, I enjoy being in fantasy drafts where owners draft accordingly to their rankings. Don’t be surprised if Wilson isn’t the most consistent fantasy quarterback this season. Coach Carol tends to base his team’s offense around their defensive play and run game, because they can.
5) RGIII – Just because Adrian Peterson recovered from an ACL and MCL tear in a nine month time frame, it doesn’t mean RGIII will recover similarly so. I apprehend it as silly to place Robert Griffin III ahead of Matty “Ice” Ryan on your fantasy rankings heading into this season; but it’s the general consensus among NFL.com analysts. RGIII has eye widening athletic ability and at the quarterback position, his value seems limitless, but last season the rookie’s biggest strengths were his biggest weakness. If RGIII stays healthy all season long, he could outperform Matt Ryan, but do you want to take that risk? Fact: Matt Ryan averaged .4 points more than RGIII did last season. Where’s the logic NFL.com? This is a no brain decision.
No matter what kind of research we do, no matter what kind of history and stats we look up, we won’t find the answer we are looking for when trying to predict the outcome of Super Bowl XLVII. It just wont happen! Still, that won’t deter any of us from shaking out all the variables to justify the reasoning behind our winning pick this Sunday in New Orleans. Ha-ha-ha, you might as well flip a coin in this matchup or go visit your local fortune teller. My two cents: your going to have to scroll down and weigh out all the variables for yourself.
Let’s Start Small: On paper, the 49ers blow the Ravens out of the water in most categories.
Profootballfocus.com ranks the San Francisco 49er’s # 1 overall on offense and on defense in 2012.
Take a look at where the Broncos and Patriots placed on offense and defense this season. Hmmm…..
Seasonal Patterns: Let’s take a brief look @ the 49er’s and the Raven’s win and loss patterns in 2012.
SUPER BOWL XLVII – ?
Interesting to note: This season, the 49er’s have had a trend of most likely losing every third game they have played. This season, the Ravens have had a trend of going on a few 4 game winning streaks. After the Niners bye week, they tied the Rams. After the Ravens bye week, they went on a 4 game winning streak. So by looking at these so called patterns I dug up, it seems as though the Ravens are due for a win and the 49ers are due for a loss. Am I reaching too much? Eh, you tell me. Either way, there are more goodies downtown, do it!
Joe Flacco vs. Colin Kaepernick: Technically, Kaepernick is a second year pro at the quarterback position, but he hasn’t seen everything. This seems like an advantage for the Ravens defense considering the different types of blitzes they can/will throw at him all game, however, the boy can run. Colin ran a 4.5 forty at the 2010 NFL combine and can run in and outside of the tackles without hesitating. The Ravens have had a huge problem at containing the outside rush all season long, and that won’t change in Super Bowl XLVII.
Kaepernick set the NFL rushing record for a quarterback with 181 yards against the Packers three weeks ago, so the Ravens have to balance their blitz attack and look to get a couple of great hits on Colin to keep him from entering beast mode. Ask yourself this question: can he be stopped? Are the Ravens going to lay licks or throw cheap shots at Colin to get him out of the/off of his game?
Joe Flacco is a prototypical, fundamentally sound quarterback @ “6′ 6,” with one of the strongest arms in the NFL, but ever since Jim Caldwell took over as the offensive coordinator, his qb production has soared through the roof. In the postseason, Flacco has thrown for 8 touchdowns with 0 interceptions with a more balanced attack offense. His quarterback rating in the playoffs thus far is 114.
Now, something interesting to note is the fact that Joe Flacco is incredible when opposing teams don’t blitz or pressure him, while the complete opposite is true when he does get blitzed or pressured. Sounds like a pretty common sense statement to make about most quarterbacks playing the game of football, but that simply isn’t true. A lot of great quarterbacks love getting blitzed, Joe Flacco does not however. Take a look see.
It’s no surprise that Flacco is pretty bad against the blitz. The 49er’s know it but they don’t like to blitz a whole lot because they can generate pressure with their front 4. The truth: The Ravens offensive line is one of the better offensive lines in the NFL at pass protection, so expect the Niners to dial up some blitzes if they want to fluster Joe cool.
Strange but True: Ed Reed is overdue, having not collected an interception or pass defense since Week 13. 49ers’ outside linebacker, Aldon Smith hasn’t recorded a sack since Week 14 of the regular season.
Distractions: Did Ray Lewis use deer antler extract to help him recover from his triceps injury? Who gives a _________!!!!! The whole world wants to see him play, he’s freaking playing and he’s gonna do the squirrel dance one last time by golly!
New Orleans is a very easy place to get distracted by, especially right before the Super Bowl. This will be the tenth Super Bowl played in New Orleans since the start of the Lombardy Trophy race.
Besides for the three point difference in Super Bowl XXXVI (20-17) between the New England Patriots and the St.Louis Rams, the Super Bowl loser in New Orleans loses by an average of 22 points since it’s history of hosting Super Bowls. Super Bowl XXXVI is the only outlier. WOW.
Either way, You knew this was coming:
Football games aren’t played on paper, they be played on the gridiron fool, so choose wisely.
My Prediction: If it wasn’t for the Harbaugh brothers knowing each other so well, I would honestly take the 49ers in this game in another New Orleans’ Super Bowl blowout. The 49ers are a young team with so much brute force and a ton of depth on the interior line, on both sides of the ball; it’s hard to pick against them.
On the flip sip,the Ravens are old vets that use to be the best in the business on the defensive side of the ball but they have adapted by countering a “bend but don’t break defense” with an interchangeable offense that could put up plenty of points when in need.
The mystique behind Ray Lewis’s retirement and the Ravens will to win in the past two games and on the road as the underdogs, against TWO 8/9 point spreads, is arguably a miracle. Don’t count out the trials and tribulations the Ravens went through as a team all season long in 2012.
When the now backup quarterback for the 49ers, Alex Smith was benched behind Colin Kaepernick long term, I thought it might have bitten San Francisco in the back, it hasn’t yet. I think it will in Super Bowl XLVII. I do want the Ravens to win but I also believe that they can and will. I believe that every individual Raven wants to win Super Bowl XLVII more so, than every individual 49er. The Ravens are going to win Super Bowl XLVII, 24-19 final.
If you attempted to surf the Baltimore Ravens official website this past week, you couldn’t help not skipping past the highlight montage created for family and fans, recapping the entire Ravens’ 2012 season. After watching the well designed video, I couldn’t help but get the sense that the Ravens’ season has finally come to an end, but then I was like, “Oh yeah, don’t cry Alan, the playoffs are just about to begin!”
Finally, I watched a press conference held by Ray Lewis announcing his return to the AFC Wild Card game this week along with a mini speech regarding his NFL career and departure, post 2012. As many variables as their may be heading into each and every individual game on football Sundays, the desire to keep Ray Lewis on the field for another game, is quite strong.
BO Ray Lewis Knows how to Motivate: Even when he’s not motivating or has no intention to do so, it’s in the role model’s nature. “Everything that starts has an end. There’s no accolade that I don’t have,” Ray said. Walking away from his teammates to spend more quality time with his kids isn’t going to be that hard of a transition into for Ray, especially since he has done it all. Regardless, the Ravens organization respects his decision to retire and will sell out even more than they ever had before, for Ray, heading into the 2013 playoffs.
Ray’s Playing Time: Ray says he’s nearly 100% recovered. Many speculate that he’s not expected to see a lot of playing time on Sunday, but then again, how can we be so sure? Foolish analysts claim Ray will suit up just to run out on the field with his teammates, but Ray Lewis isn’t fake, nor does he know what pain is. For Ray, 3 snaps on the field could parlay into 3 series’, which could parlay into every passing down for the game’s entirety. Against Bruce Arian’s non-stop passing offense, Ray could be on the field for the majority of the game. Dropping in pass coverage is a lot less demanding on the body than shedding blocks and trying to stop the run, so let’s keep it a mystery until kickoff. Ray Lewis hasn’t been on the field since week 6.
Caldwell vs. Pagano: Ravens offensive coordinator, Jim Caldwell spent the last decade with the Indianapolis Colts. Also,you may all know, Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano, is the former defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens (3 years). Hmmmm, Chuck may know a thing or two about his former team as well but the advantage goes to Jim! I was about to consider this matchup a wash but in a league where the rules are catered to offenses scoring points, I’d say Jim Caldwell has the slight edge in this battle. Pagano’s battle with cancer has been an excellent story all season given the Colts’ success, but in order for the Colts to pull up an upset on the road, they have to invent a letter before A, and play that type of game, if they want to match the Ravens.
Game Day Strengths and Weaknesses:
It doesn’t matter much, but since you asked, the Ravens defense has been giving up an average of 4 yards a carry this season, which s surprisingly one of the better defenses at containing the run. However, the Ravens still have problems slowing down the rush outside the tackles. Colts’ running back Vick Ballard is averaging 4.3 yards a carry outside of the tackles this season, but he isn’t considered a home run threat or a running back that can take over a game. Yes, this alleviates some pressure on the Ravens rush defense but it also puts more pressure on Andrew Luck to read, react, and pinpoint his throws all game. According to profootballfocus.com, the Colts defense is ranked dead last at stopping the run. Something, something, something: RAY RICE, all day.
Prediction: Forget the fact that M & T Bank Stadium is one of the loudest places to play in, Ray Lewis is retiring after this season and will be running out on of the tunnel one last time (?) to play with all of his teammates; I think not, guy! The fans won’t let that happen, the Ravens’ ball boy won’t even let that happen. The Colts should be grateful for how far they’ve come this season, no doubt. They are grateful for their 11-5 record and don’t have as much to play for like the Ravens do, I like the Ravens to squash the Colts, 34-17.
15 out of the 16 games being played at 1 o’ clock this Sunday have playoff aspirations at stake. The Ravens may have had back to back losses in the last two games of the regular season, but a win versus the Denver Broncos this weekend @ home will secure them a playoff birth in 2012.
Can it be done? The last time the Ravens lost back to back games was in 2009. They actually lost 3 straight to the Patriots, Bengals, and Vikings. The Patriots game was decided by 6 points (away), the Bengals game was decided by 3 points (home), and the Vikings game was decided by 2 points (away). If there were any team that could hand the Ravens their third loss in a row this season, it will be a team led by future hall of famer Peyton Manning, but they won’t go down without a fight.
Ray Lewis said Peyton Manning was the best quarterback he has ever faced in his entire life; he didn’t say that for just any ‘old reason. Out of the the last 4 games played against each other, the Ravens have gone 0-4 against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts (the other guys). Peyton Manning will certainly be relieved to play the RayLewisless Ravens this time around in 2012, but how relieved will he be facing his former quarterbacks & head coach Jim Caldwell.
Blessing is Disguise: It’s very strange for an organization to fire their offensive coordinator (Cam Cameron) when their team has a winning record (9-4), but maybe this was the best possible time for the Ravens to unleash Jim Caldwell’s power. Not only will the Ravens defense have a hunch or two about Peyton Manning’s on field tendencies, but if Joe Flacco needs to air the ball out all game, Jim Caldwell will be the man for the job to call all the plays.
Prediction: The Ravens still posted up solid numbers last week on the road against the Redskins as it was any one’s game. I don’t think their game/focus has slipped like it did against Charlie Batch in week 13, but I am concerned with Joe Flacco’s inconsistency at the quarterback position when he is under pressure. The Broncos have a phenomenal pass rush on defense with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil so Joe Cool could be in for a long day. Luckily Ray Rice is a full go and Jim Caldwell will design the perfect balanced attack to defeat Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos @ home. I like the Ravens to be the only NFL team to make it to the postseason in the last 5 years in a row, and that starts tomorrow with a win @ home. The Ravens win this one, 31-20.