The Ferringo NFL Report
by Robert Ferringo - 9/18/2009
Well boys and girls, the Ferringo Report is back by popular demand. I will have my weekly nonsensical ravings and rants in this space for your viewing pleasure. Week 1 is in the books and, with few exception, things went pretty smoothly and according to script. Don't worry though: that will change soon enough.
I can't cover everything. And as we get deeper into the season you can expect me to be more numbers-oriented than early in the year. Stats can be very deceiving in these first few weeks. So instead these are just a hodgepodge of random thoughts and things that I noticed while watching my wagers on Sunday and Monday night:
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So without further ado, here is The Ferringo Report for Week 1:
- Too many things have to go right for Miami to score. Their offense revolves around too much misdirection and too many trick plays, with too few big plays or playmakers. Their margin for error is just too slim. And I think a lot of the quirks that they have on offense are conducive to turnovers, penalties and drive-killing plays for a loss. And that's exactly what happened on Sunday. Also, as the season wears on and teams can scheme for it, as weather becomes a factor, and when they are playing better defenses that they are just going to have the door slammed in their faces.
- The entire Atlanta defensive line looked much, much better than I thought it would be. They were actually hitting people. And you can see Mike Smith's influence starting to seep into this team. Miami was a very physical team last year and they were completely run through by Atlanta. If the Falcons are this physical this year they will win the South.
Atlanta is a really interesting case study this year. They appear that they are a team on the rise. However, the sophomore slump is not an apparition and has sabotaged other young quarterbacks. There's concern about Michael Turner's productivity dropping after a season in which he had so many touches. There are some aging and injury-prone stars that this team can't lose. And there are just a lot of red flags. However, they were one of the more impressive teams I watched in Week 1. Stay tuned.
- Minnesota and Dallas looked like they blew out Cleveland and Tampa Bay, respectively. But in reality the Browns and Bucs were step for step with the Vikings and Cowboys for the better part of three quarters. Slightly deceptive final scores in both games. And the difference in those games: half time adjustments.
- Tampa Bay is going to be better than I thought. I had a feeling they could be 2-14 or 3-13 bad. I don't believe that. They were everything with Dallas for most of that game - it was 20-14 early in the fourth quarter. Tampa impressed me with their physicality. Especially in the running game. In fact, Tampa Bay actually outgained the Cowboys in the first half. But conservative play calling and clock mismanagement in the last two minutes of the first half really cost them and it changed the game. Then they failed to make second half adjustments. Both of those issues boil down to one thing: rookie coach.
- The Bears defense was exceptional. Especially considering how mismatched they were in the secondary. I will say that Chicago's secondary was beaten several times down field. But Rodgers was scared into making bad throws because of the excellent pressure that the Bears were able to generate with their front four. The Green Bay offense is no joke. And with the exception of that last touchdown (which was partially due to having to sell out with eight in the box to keep Green Bay out of moving further into field goal range) the Bears shut The Pack down.
- Jay Cutler is who I thought he was. I have said repeatedly and loudly that the Bears made a huge mistake in their trade for Cutler. Cutler is one of the most overhyped and overrated players in the NFL. He has some physical tools. But the most important thing about being an NFL quarterback is decision making. And he has shown consistently poor decision making and he nearly sunk the Bears in Green Bay all by himself. (That, and my head is still spinning from that bizarre fake punt call late in the game.)
- I agree with a lot of other people that the Wildcat is just kind of cumbersome. It's not some disastrous monstrosity that has somehow changed the game. It's more of a fad, like the run-and-shoot was. And I have to say that while the Wildcat formations that I saw this week really didn't create any big plays, they also gained a few yards most times that I saw them. But I guess the point is that with the amount of time and effort that I'm sure most coaching staffs put into scouting, scheming, and developing their own versions of the Wildcat was worth the two carries for seven yards that I estimate most teams got out of it.
- Some people say that the preseason doesn't mean anything. I couldn't disagree more. My examples: Carolina, Arizona and the New York Jets. The Panthers were banged up and sloppy throughout the preseason and went 0-4 SU and ATS. Then they came out and got humiliated on their home turf. Arizona absolutely slept through their preseason - Super Bowl Hangover, as reliable as the tide; especially for a group of guys like Arizona has and a franchise as pathetic as that one - and then came out and thought they could just show up and beat San Fran. Then there was the Jets. Rex Ryan made a point to try to win in every single preseason game he played. That attitude paid off. Green Bay and San Fran are two other teams that looked great in the preseason and carried it over.
- The NFC West is still pathetic. I just don't understand how one division - no different from any other - could be as terrible for as long as that one. Just ugly, ugly football.
- Coming into this year, double-digit favorites in Week 1 were just 4-11 ATS over the past three years. This week they went just 2-2, with Baltimore barely covering against the Chiefs.
- For the seventh straight season blindly betting the 'under' would have turned a profit in Week 1. Teams went 7-9 against the total this week. And that includes the Giants-Redskins and Patriots-Bills games which barely, barely snuck over in the final few seconds. Over the past seven years teams are 44-68 against the total in Week 1. That is a 61-percent trend over seven years.
- I literally posted this on a Patriots website just minutes before Leodis McKelvin's fumble: "Onsides kick would be ridiculous. These are the Bills. They have been here before. Just give them the rope and they will hang themselves." I mean, how many times do you have to see it? That franchise is just cursed with the stench of loser.
I just cannot say enough bad things about the Bills. All night they looked confused and scattered. They took a bunch of terrible penalties, they dropped at least a half-dozen passes, they missed a load of tackles, and they blew an 11-point lead with three minutes to play. Losers. All of them. (But hey, they got the cover, right!)
- Random prediction: the Giants will win a game this year because of a blocked field goal.
- How about the moxie of Kansas City? I think that they clearly have the talent - with a healthy Matt Cassel - to be competitive (think six or seven wins) this year. Todd Haley's machismo is rubbing off on this team. And if they can find a way to defend - at all - then this team can be feisty.
- JaMarcus Russell will never be a good NFL quarterback. The Raiders would be better to just cut their losses now and move on. And they need to be getting Darren McFadden 20 touches per game. I mean, it's getting ridiculous. Use Michael Bush as your fourth quarter closer. But give McFadden the rock and let the guy go to work.
- Was that Jim Schwartz or Rod Marineli leading the Lions on Sunday? I am firmly on record in saying that Dante Culpepper should be starting in Detroit. That is a quality offense and those guys are going to score some points.
- Raiders totals are going to be really difficult to gauge this year. They play offense like a dead 'under' team, running the ball and the clock on each possession. However, we basically have to guess which Raiders defense is going to show up each week. They can be physical. But they are also at a talent deficit and they have a tendency to give up late in games.
- Great quote about the Patriots from John Romano of the Tampa Times: "(They are) the only NFL team ruthless enough to steal from a confused old man like Al Davis."
- Say what you want about the Saints pass defense. But the bottom line is that the Lions are going to score points on people. And New Orleans' front four - which I still say is one of the more underrated units in the game - helped the defense allow just 33 yards on 20 carries.
- Jacksonville and Cincinnati both have the same problem: two of the worst offensive lines in the game. Neither one of those teams can take anything more than a three-step drop without the quarterback having to run for his life. As a result, don't expect either team to convert many big plays this season. Both have young, aggressive defenses. Both have some skill players that can do some things. But with those pathetic offensive lines unable to do anything in the running or passing games it's like trying to build a house on rotten wooden stilts.
- Tampa Bay's secondary gave up four plays of 40 or more yards. But I swear I didn't think that they played that poorly. I thought Ronde Barber had his usual stellar game. But the big thing is that Tampa Bay generated absolutely no pass rush. Mix in some exceptional individual efforts (Miles Austin's 42-yard touchdown catch was ridiculous) and the result was a shoddy box score. And clearly they missed Tanard Jackson.
- How did Indianapolis' defense fare without Bob Sanders? Just fine thanks. They gave up just 114 total yards and allowed a meager 2.3 yards per carry. (On an aside, why did the Colts decide to play with the roof open? What was that about? I truly believe that it had something to do with the Colts' scattered play. As if their first game without Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, and several others wasn't awkward enough.)
- Just the same old Bungles. And while Marvin Lewis might have came off as a sympathetic figure during the HBO series Hard Knocks this fall he still is not a good coach and always field undisciplined, unfocused teams. Sunday was vintage Bungles football: botched field goals, dropped passes, turnovers, sacks taking them out of field goal range and penalties negating big plays. At the end of the first quarter the Bengals had outgained the Broncos 130 to -1, yet the score was 0-0 due to all of the above. The Bengals had a 184-32 yardage edge with two minutes left in the second quarter - and they ended up trailing at halftime. I knew that was a terrible pick by me when I made it.
- The Giants wide receivers played absolutely out of their minds against Washington this week. They clearly answered the bell after all of the offseason questions. But I have to say; there is no way they are going to play like that all year. I mean, they were catching everything near them, regardless of some pretty good coverage.
- The Chargers team just looks picked clean. They have simply lost a lot of key pieces over the last few seasons and they are just really not that good. Guys like Igor Olshansky and Mike Goff weren't household names but they were part of a physical backbone for this Chargers team. Now they are gone. All of those people that picked them to win the Super Bowl I have two words for you: Norv Turner.
- It was only Week 1 but we were not immune from some brutal backdoor covers. Chiefs backers (what few there were) took what I thought was the harshest loss against the spread of anyone. But the Giants, the Bears, and the 'under' in the New England-Buffalo game were wagers that probably should have won but were stolen in stunning fashion.
- The Jets just have a bunch of the same type of guys on offense. Stuckey. Clowney. Washington. Cotchery. They are all basically the same player: small, amazingly quick, great ball skills, and a threat to break one every time they touch the ball. And Thomas Jones continues to be the most underrated running back in football.
- Hey, remember when Houston was Everybody's Sleeper Team? Things never, ever work out well for Everybody's Sleeper Team. And I would just like to gloat a little bit here. I flat out said in my AFC South preview that the Texans suck. They flat out suck. They are soft. Downy soft. White puffy clouds soft. Delicate little puppy soft. They have only about four guys on defense that would play on a Top 15 unit.
They got worked over by a more physical, aggressive team. Houston's defense allowed the Jets to control the ball for the first seven-and-a-half minutes at the start of the second half. For the game the Jets held the ball for 38:46 compared the Houston's 21:14. They outgained the Texans 462 to 183.
- Arizona had 12 penalties for 82 lost yards on Sunday. Again, that's just sloppy, undisciplined football. They have been a wreck all preseason and I think it's obvious that they miss both Clancy Pendergast and Todd Haley as coordinators. That team was just 9-7 last year yet they acted like they could just show up and win with no resistance. Not in the NFL, girls.
- The Vikings (6.1), Eagles (5.8) and Bucs (5.6) each averaged over 5.5 yards per carry. The Niners won a game despite averaging 0.8 yards per carry. The Lions (1.7), Chiefs (1.7) and Steelers (1.6) all averaged less than 2.0 yards per carry.
- I still can't get over how accurate Matt Ryan is. I always knew he had the moxie watching him in college. And he clearly has the arm. But that guy is just a jugs machine. He is an awesome quarterback.
- I think that this year Miami fans are going to get a taste of what Jets fans dealt with so many years with Chad Pennington. I have always, always been a big Pennington supporter and I still love his work. Last year he finished second in the MVP voting with good reason. But I think he comes back to earth this year. The Jets dealt with that type of inconsistency throughout his career. Just call it a hunch.
- Michael Turner looked about two steps slow. John Abraham did not.
- Ray Lewis is another guy who definitely looks like he has lost a step. And I don't know why or what it is, but I have a feeling that the Ravens defense is not going to be nearly as stout as it has been over the last decade. Call it a hunch.
- LaDainian Tomlinson isn't "done", but he is no longer a Pro Bowl, MVP-caliber running back. He just isn't that guy anymore.
- I saw when it happened that the Falcons picked up Brian Williams after the Jags, for some unknown reason, released him. I remember thinking what a brilliant pickup that was and it paid dividends in Week 1 when Williams - who can play corner or safety - contributed a big turnover in the first half. I also said that the pickup of Mike Peterson this offseason was infinitely more important than getting Tony Gonzalez. Both played great and really were difference makers in that game. But I still stand by my assessment.
- Brett Favre looked like garbage in the first half. He looked like a guy who was bored and completely disinterested in that game. It looked as if the rumors about him wanting to sit out the first half of the season were true and that this guy has a "Call me in December" attitude. Obviously, he was better in the second half. But winning NFL teams are built this time of the season. Is he still willing to put in the work for the sake of chemistry and cohesiveness?
- Adrian Peterson gets all of the love. And he deserves it. But it's still Steve Hutchinson and Bryant McKinnie that are the dominating force behind that offense. Any time they have a third-and-short or they absolutely have to gain some positive yards they just run off tackle on the left side. And they always seem to get it. As I said, AP is great. But remember how great Larry Johnson was when he was running behind an o-line full of Pro Bowlers. I'm just saying: those guys up front in Minnesota still don't get enough respect.
- Patrick Willis might be the best linebacker in football right now. If he isn't, he is in the Top 3.
- At this point it would just be piling on to talk about how pathetic Jake Delhomme has been. But let's be honest: this was a guy from a small Sun Belt school that really came out of nowhere to lead Carolina to the Super Bowl. It looks like he's making his exit from The Big Stage just as fast as he made his entrance. According to Peter King, in Carolina's last 22 series on offense Delhomme has single-handedly turned the ball over 11 times.
- Darren Sharper was one of the best free agent pickups in the league this year. That guy is just an absolute turnover machine. And in a New Orleans secondary that still doesn't seem capable of stopping people the ability to steal the ball is a critical one for the Saints.
- Leodis McKelvin, what the hell were you doing? Not only can you not tackle but also now you're costing Buffalo games on special teams. Also, how about Bobby April's special teams unit? He is one of the best in the business and has been for a very long time. But all preseason and now in Week 1 their special teams have been pathetic.
- Also, Mike Greenberg and Steve Young were completely overmatched and were just terrible as the "B Team" on Monday Night Football. Greenberg should never call another football game. However, I thought Mike Golic was pretty good. No shtick, just football. I wouldn't mind hearing some more of him calling games.
- I think Tom Cable has the Raiders pointed in the right direction because he's building his program the right way: running the ball, playing good defense, and being physical at all times. He doesn't necessarily have the guns to get it done right yet. But he has the right attitude. Also, he had his team motivated and very well prepared. And - a very, very underrated trait - I thought Cable has done a solid job with clock management in end-of-game and end-of-half situations so far.
- Those shampoo commercials with Troy Polamalu are hilarious. "You asked me with your eyes" is a great line.
Robert Ferringo is a professional handicapper and you can purchase a full season's package of his football selections for just $25 per week! Click here for details.
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