NFL Week 9 Notes: 2010
November 11, 2010 12:40 AM
Week 9 notes on the National Football League
1) Trick plays are contagious. After Cleveland beat the Saints on the strength of a fake punt and a pass to a QB, the Saints came out the next week against Pittsburgh with a fake field goal and a play designed as a pass thrown by a WR. Pittsburgh caught the virus and ran a similar WR pass play against Cincinnati this week. And Cleveland ran a cute TD play against New England that involved the QB lining up at WR and an RB secretly handing the ball to a WR. Next week I'd look for the Patriots and Bengals to add a couple trick plays to their game plans. The Browns are the leader of the pack with these plays, so I expect to see even more from them.
Personally, I love this stuff. I don't even like calling them "trick" plays. A play is a play is a play. Is it a trick play when you pretend to hand off the ball to an RB, then throw a pass? No, that's called "play action." A lot of football relies on deception and misdirection, you could call most plays "trick" plays if you wanted to. As long as a team has the personnel to pull off the plays, and as a coach you trust your players, and as players you feel confident, then why not? Who says football can't be wildcat formations and stunt blitzes and flea flickers and tackle-eligible touchdowns and fake punts and laterals and ... you know ... fun!
2) Cheerleader of the week: Jessica of the Carolina Panthers' Cheerleaders, aka TopCats. I'd like to tell you more about her, but the website is pretty thin on information. Plus, it doesn't really matter, does it.
3) The New Orleans Saints body-slammed the Carolina Panthers (34-3), as they should, since the Panthers are not good right now. The Saints are finally rounding into shape, looking like a team that can win the NFC again. In their last three wins the average score has been Saints 28, Opponents 6.
4) Really tired of Brett Favre being the top story every week no matter what he does. If he sucks, everybody talks about how injured he is and how he might retire at any moment. If he's great, everybody talks about how amazing he is. Can't we just treat him like a regular quarterback?
5) My Top 5: New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens, Atlanta Falcons, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants. The Thursday night game between the Falcons and Ravens should be awesome.
6) The Buffalo Bills can't buy a win lately, but at least they play with the intent to win. Unlike the Dallas Cowboys. What a sorry sack of nonsense the Cowboys are. Coach got fired, but who cares. The Cowboys season is over.
7) The Saints defense has been excellent this year, particularly recently. They rank top five in a number of defensive categories: yards allowed per game, points allowed per game, third down percentage, yards allowed per play. And since Sharper returned a couple weeks ago, the turnovers have started to flow better too. But this defense isn't relying on turnovers this year. They are stopping teams and forcing punts. The turnovers will be a bonus. As proud of the offense as Saints fans have been for the last five years, they should be equally proud of the defense this year.
8) How about the Raiders? Managed to sell out the Oakland Coliseum and win a game that actually mattered. The Raiders have not played in a game that mattered since 1947. That would be kind of crazy if they managed to win their division, also kind of cool.
9) Fantasy tip: Now's the time to acquire LeGarrette Blount. He just had a blah week, and owners might be bummed, but he next faces the Panthers and 49ers. And at fantasy playoffs time he's got the Lions and Seahawks.
10) I think the Rams have a good shot at winning the NFC West. They play good football, and the rest of the division isn't very scary. Every team in that division is mediocre.
Fearless Prediction: Stone-cold lock!
The Saints are on a bye week, spending time getting healthy, playing golf, and preparing to crush the Seahawks in week 11. This week's lock: Buccaneers 22, Panthers 9.
Bonus! New Orleans Saints notes!
1) Holy crap! Marques Colston has been playing great lately. In his first four games: 18 catches, 190 yards, 0 TDs. Last five games: 36 catches, 402 yards, 2 TDs. That's what the Saints need from their #1 receiver.
2) Saints stat of the week: 69.8. Drew Brees's completion percentage. Leads the league and the next closest guy (with at least 250 passes) is at only 65.7%.
3) Garrett Hartley started the season by missing 3 of 7 field goals. Since his return he has made 6 of 7 field goals. And he's a perfect 19 of 19 extra points for the season.