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Link – I’m the Wife of a Former N.F.L. Player. Football Destroyed His Mind.

Today, as we watch the Super Bowl being played and take our various rooting interests, will we see the guys on the field as human beings, or as sport gladiators?

The more we see stories like this, personalizing the players and the struggles they face post-football, I think the harder it is to watch the game and continue to simply view them as some sort of super-human “player”. Once that happens across society, I’m not sure what is left for football as big business. The more we learn about the effects of concussions, and the risk of CTE, can we continue to watch men do this to themselves for our entertainment? It’s a legitimate question. One I even have misgivings about to be honest.

So Your Team Started 0-2 Is It Time to Panic?

NFLWell yes, in the National Football League, it’s always time to panic!

You’ve all seen the numbers, the low percentage of teams who start the season 0-2 who actually make the playoffs. But, it does happen. So what are the chances your currently 0-2 team could still make the playoffs?

The “aren’t that bad” group:

Seattle, Baltimore, Detroit.

Seattle is a good team, who happens to have opened the season with two tough road games. They’ll be fine, and should manage to get into playoff contention.

Baltimore has one loss where the offense was terrible, and one where the defense was terrible. There’s hope that they’ll get it together once the shock of losing Suggs for the season wears off, but it needs to happen now. There division doesn’t allow for too much of a whole with solid Steeler and Bengal teams.

Detroit isn’t as bad as they seem, but they definitely have problems, and it’s going to be tough for them to dig out of the 0-2 hole. Not impossible, but difficult. They aren’t a hopeless team though.

The “they are that bad, but it might not matter” group:

Philly, NY Giants, Indianapolis*.

Philly and the Giants have been awful, and their fans should be worried that they might be awful all season long, but with their division competition being Washington and Dallas, who has to go with Brandon Weedon starting half the season, this division is still wide open.
The “they are that bad, maybe, but we just can’t seem to admit it” group:
New Oreleans – Forget Manning, is Drew Brees aging right before our eyes? There are still a lot of tools in the shed in New Orleans, but it is not working, and it’s confounding.
The “yeah, they aren’t good” group:
Houston, Chicago
There’s nothing there for either of these teams that would lead me to believe they will be anything but awful. They are 0-2 when even teams like the Raiders and Browns, who we assumed would be awful this season, have a win. Start scouting the NCAA games fans. A QB would go a long way toward helping things, but lacking a fix there, this season is going to be painful. Houston’s defense, frankly, deserves better.

On the other hand, there is the outside possibility that Indy and Houston could wind up switching places in these groups. Someone has to win that division, after all!

 

 

 

JJ Watt is the Best Player in the NFL, but not the MVP

jj watt photo

There’s been a push for JJ Watt to named the MVP this season, and after the season he’s had you’re not going to get any argument from me that he’s not a great football player, maybe even the best player in the entire league this year.

But he’s not the MVP. In fact, they should just go ahead and change the awards around and call the MVP award the “best quarterback” award. Here’s the thing, in 2014 teams in the league are absolutely, 100%, dependent on quality quarterback play, and the rest is less important. Not completely unimportant, but significantly less.

Just look at the “elite” quarterbacks in the league. Who are the top seeds going into the playoffs? Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Wilson. That is not a coincidence. Look at the teams with the top draft picks? Who played QB for them this year? Again, not a coincidence.

Look at all the teams not in the playoffs, including the Texans. How many of them can honestly say that they had fantastic QB play, but other areas kept them out of the playoffs? Even the Saints, who have one of the best in Drew Brees, did not get a very good season from Brees. Teams that got solid, sometimes spectacular, QB play are at the top of the standings, teams who’s QB’s turned the ball over, or were very inconsistent, are not.

For another example, just look at Arizona. When they were getting decent QB play, they combined that with a great defense to jump out to a great record. Since going to their third stringer, the defense isn’t enough to get them in the win column, and they are a pretty big underdog to Carolina, of all teams! Because no one trusts their quarterback.

The bottom line is that the most important driving factor for every team, for better or worse, is the play of their quarterback. How then, could someone playing another position be the league’s Most Valuable Player?

Now if JJ starts playing QB for the Texans on top of everything else, we can talk.

Photo by The Brit_2

Will the Saints Keep Giving Mark Ingram the Ball?

new orleans saints mark ingram photo

Photo by modenadude

Something interesting has happened with the Saints over the past couple of weeks. Somehow, they’ve managed to dominate two straight games after being kind of a mess to start the season. The one obvious difference between those two games has been the effectiveness of running back Mark Ingram. I do not think this is a coincidence, but I do think the Saints have stumbled into it, and I’m not sure they will continue to do it.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

  • In the last two games, both wins, Ingram has 54 carries, 272 yards and 3 TDs rushing.
  • In the previous 3 games in which he played, all losses, Ingram had 34 carries, 159 yards and 3 TDs rushing
  • In the previous three seasons, Ingram has played a total of 37 games, carrying the ball a total of 356 times

In essence, what’s different over the last two weeks is that Mark Ingram is carrying the ball 27 times per game, versus his career average of just under 10 times per game. The Saints are winning, and Ingram looks like the player he was at Alabama all of the sudden. Imagine that.

Unfortunately, I think the Saints have only allowed him to carry the ball that much over the last two weeks because Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas have been injured, and Darren Sproles is in Philly. As all fantasy football owners know, the Saints like to play a lot of running backs, and spread the ball around. (They also like to throw the ball a lot, including to those other running backs.) The lack of those options has forced Sean Payton to ride Ingram as the feature back, and Ingram has been great. When Robinson and Thomas come back, however, will the Saints old play calling patterns come back with them?

It’s only a small sample size for now, but clearly there is evidence that the Saints should keep running Ingram. Old habits die hard, however.