Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The First Quarter Ends

Week 4 of the 2012 NFL season is in the books.  In the latest of our blog conversations, Mainzey (@mainzey7) and I take a look at the state of the league a quarter of the way through.  The NFC part of our review actually began before the week 4 matches, whilst the AFC discussion began straight afterwards.

DUTTON - I think it's time we looked at how things have started off. Who are the surprises, who are the slow starters, and who "are who we thought were", to quote Denny Green.

As usual, we start with the NFC and the NFC East. Three teams sitting 2-1, with only the Redskins apart at 1-2. The Eagles offence, and overall offensive strategy, makes me violently sick.

MAINZEY - Has it been three weeks already? Doesn't time fly when you fantasy team stinks...(as of writing, Mainzeys Marvels are a glorious 0-4)

NFC East has been a strange one three teams 2-1 but in many different ways I mean the Eagles haven't played a good game yet which has got to be good, but after the bad first week I still think the GMen could be the best team with the best QB in football never mind the East.

But the only story in the East is RGIII what a start and if this is what I can expect for the next decade I will be a happy man unless Shannahan gets him killed first

DUTTON - I think RG3 needs to take heed from Vick, and NOT copy him. Get rid of the rock, just because you CAN run doesn't mean you HAVE to run.
I have to presume the Eagles O will start matching or at least coming close to the Eagles D, which has been awesome. The ignoring of McCoy continues to baffle and anger me.
The G may well be the best team in the NFC, but so far EVERYONE looks beatable.

Moving now to the North, and this is not a picture I thought we'd see. Are the Vikings for real, or due to fall away?

MAINZEY - It's not RGIII its the Coaches who are putting him in the dangerous position at the moment. I think the Eagles offence will come around but will it be under the stewardship of Vick is another matter

The North is interesting. Are the Lions the worst team in it (possibly)? Green Bay were screwed on Monday night (the now infamous Inaccurate Reception) but they need to sort their offence and fast and seriously can someone get the Bears GM to get some Tackles and Guards for Cutler please!!!!

The Vikings have been impressive just not sure if they can hold it up all season.

DUTTON - Ah, Shanahanigans...

The Bears O line is up there with the worst units in professional sport, up there with Liverpool's shooting and Bangladesh's bowling. Doesn't help that they are not given confidence by Jay "Good Luck" Cutler. It's not always the Right Tackles fault that you throw into triple coverage Jay.

The Packers are just too explosive to struggle to put points on the board for too long, but my god they're O-line needs to stop copying the Bears. A-Rod can not be getting sacked 8 times a game, let alone a half.

The Lions can will and so score points, but their secondary is garbage. The Vikings have started well, but honestly don't see them winning more than another five games tops.

How bout the South?

MAINZEY - I think that should read as bad as the Liverpool first team shooting as the kids are doing alright (7 in 2 games!!)

If you don't think Coaches are more importantly leaders are important just look at the Saints. I know Ross Tucker doesn't agree but the loss of Payton is a big loss although he doesn't coach defence and so far neither has Spags

Atlanta look excellent but I m holding judgement until they win a playoff game and they will get the chance at home this year by the looks of things

Carolina flat out stank last week (against the Giants week 3) and Cam looks short on weapons good job they spent all the money on RBs for no reason. As for Tampa they are playing hard just not sure they can win 10 and although I don't think Schiano was wrong not sure its very professional what he is doing at the moment. (Mainzey speaks here of Schiano's decision to blitz QBs when they are obviously in the kneel down / victory formation).

DUTTON - Carolina were awful. I remember reading a tweet from Sky Sports David Tuchman saying that Ron Rivera was one of the worst coaches in football...and that was during preseason.

Atlanta will not draw comment from me until they win a playoff game.

I can't believe how bad the Saints have been. I mean, it's STILL Drew Brees at QB!! The defence stinks, you could argue Spags had a better defence at St Louis.

I just think Tampa will struggle on offence, it stinks. At this stage, if I'm Schiano I'm seriously questioning whether Freeman is the answer at QB.

MAINZEY - And now to the best division in Football (yeah I said it) the NFC West
Even with the loss on Sunday I think San Fran are the best team in this division although if they keep falling 2 scores behind we may see the end of Alex Smith

Arizona are the surprise with the record especially when they have played New England and the Eagles but their defence is for real and they look like a good team.

Seattle are also an awesome defence and Russell Wilson has a little magic in him although not sure how long this will last I mean he is smaller than Melia for gods sake.

If I am St Louis I am happy as well I may not be good this year but the Redskins defence sucks and I have their picks for the next 2 years which should mean I will be good for years to come.

DUTTON - Potentially, especially with the injuries the Redskins have suffered, the West boasts the best division for defences in the National Football League.

Arizona have some serious studs like Dockett and Campbell, I'd argue that Seattle has the best secondary around, St Louis are improving and San Francisco's defensive strength is well documented. It's just not a great division for QBs. On paper Sam Bradford is the best, but has very few weapons. If you can take the lead on the 49ers you take Smith out of his comfort zone, Kolb is crap and Wilson needs to learn when NOT to throw the ball.

MAINZEY - So to the AFC and the East specifically. Miami have thrown Tannehill to the wolves hoping he doesn't drown. Bills started OK as have the Jets although their offence is putrid and the 2nd best player ever in their franchise is out for the year. The Patriots have a losing record for the first time since forever but I still expect 11 wins. 

DUTTON - Nice mixed metaphor there Paul...The Pats looked very good in the second half, and lo and behold could this be that they are throwing the ball to Wes Welker again?
Tannehill is not the worst rookie QB I've ever seen, he just has no weapons. Hartline may have just topped 250 receiving yards, but if he gets the same tally over the next four games, I'll eat my hat.

The you are exciting to watch. As Katy Perry said, you're hot then you're cold.

The Jets offend my eyes. Simply the worst offensive unit in the NFL. No play makers, no confidence, and no QB. Sanchez is averaging less than 50% completion rate. Not good enough. Tebow won't help.

MAINZEY - So to the AFC North.

The Steelers are starting to look old and injured, need Harrison and Polomalu to play otherwise they won't be getting to the playoffs. The Ravens look very good on both sides of the ball if Joe keeps the ball they will go far.  I like the big play capability from fellow Ginger Andy Dalton especially to AJ Green, if they shore up the defence might get to the playoffs. Cleveland can hope the league contracts them soon although their 'young QB' looked good on Thursday. Pity he is throwing to the a Maghull 5th's team I played for (this is not good btw)
(Editors note - Paul played for the 5th XI during a time when some youngsters where selected for whom fielding and catching was not deemed a necessary part of the game.)

DUTTON - Ravens could be the best team in the AFC, though I think Houston may disagree. Flacco is not getting any poorer financially with each passing game, believe me. Baltimore are going to have to stump up a LOT of cash when he sits down for his contract negotiations. Not big on Pittsburgh. Putrid O line, no difference makers on defence. Nah, not for me. Cincy have a lot of talent going forward, Dalton to Green is a great hookup. Cleveland...not wasting my breath. And my worst ever 5th team caught the ball better than Greg Little. He sucks, he single handedly is making Weedon look terrible, which he is not....not really.

MAINZEY - And now the West. I think this division has disappointing so far. Peyton looks like he is still struggling with his neck a little but I will say they have lost to the best teams in the League so far (Houston, Atlanta). San Diego have wins in September which is good for them and good for Norv, get Rivers to throw to San Diego receivers and I think they could be a playoff team. Oakland are awful although Carson is playing OK but they lack talent. As for Kansas City... they follow the same issue as New Orleans as they also don't have a coach, at least New Orleans have a QB (ouch x2)

DUTTON - That's a big ouch for Kansas, or as I like to call them "my Superbowl pick Kansas City". They have been quite simply awful. I thought their offence was Cassell proof. I didn't realise how awful he truly is.

Very tough division to comment on, apart from that. Oakland are what I think we thought they were. Granted they beat the Steelers, but I think that says more about Pittsburgh than the Raiders. Phil Rivers seems to be playing at his 2011 level rather than his 2010 standard, but they are in the hunt early. Denver are a weird team. Manning shows flashes of his old surgical self (a Manning drive is still a work of art), but he and his receivers are not always on the same page. Their defence is not what everyone thought it would be either. Very odd division.

MAINZEY - And finally the worst division in the league AFC South. They have Houston and Andrew Luck and that is it. I do not wish to discuss it further.

DUTTON - I would tend to agree. Best team in the AFC (perhaps), best young QB in the league. Otherwise bloody awful.
MAINZEY - They all stink but could easily have a Superbowl team go figure!!

So there you have it.  Mainzey and I would also like to express our best wishes to Indianapolis Colts heach coach Chuck Pagano, who it was announced this week is suffering from a treatable form of leukaemia.  From everything that I have read, Pagano seems to be one of the good guys of the NFL, and there is tremendous confidence that he will overcome this illness and return to the job.