NFL Divisional Round Game Previews

Last week in the game previews, I also gave some game predictions. Although I thought deep down inside the Cowboys would win, I didn’t pick them because they’re the NFC equivalent to the Patriots* – we can’t stand them. The other game I got wrong was the Bears. That was a shocker. Not so much the loss, but not using Khalil Mack to get after an injured Nick Foles.

This week, let’s take a look at the divisional rounds. Every once in a while, two teams face off that the seeding is wanky, this year there are two – the Colts and Chargers. Both had early losses which landed them here and while on paper, usually you’d want to face a 5 or 6 seed, in these two cases, not so much.

SATURDAY

6 Seed Colts (10-6) vs 1 Seed Chiefs (12-4) 4:35 NBC

Referee Crew

John Hussey ref crew

No Walt Anderson for any team this weekend, so they should be cheering (except he is an alternate for this match-up so pray no one gets sick). Offensively, these teams aren’t that far off, especially if you look at the last month, not the first. Defensively, they’re worlds apart.

On offense, you have the veteran QB vs the newbie and the better defense vs the putrid. What Kansas City has going for them is home field advantage. Arrowhead stadium is LOUD. Arrowhead will be cold, snowy/rainy and miserable. Arrowhead on a good day for an outdoor team is a struggle, for a traveling dome team, it’s got to be counted as a 12th and 13th man.

I did see the Colts were outside practicing a little bit in their own nasty weather, so at least they’re trying to get ready. However, this will be their first snow game and it can’t be ignored. In poor conditions, throwing is usually kept to a minimum and the run game rules. This is where Indianapolis can gain some ground, their rushing attack was mediocre; however, over the last month, Marlon Mack and co have turned it on, while KC without Hunt has lost a lot of ground.

If teams go to the air, it’ll be up to the best defensive scheme and I don’t see KC’s man working well when trying to cover guys in a tough to see sky and slippery field.

This is bad news for KC who is ranked 29th with 19 rushing TD’s allowed and 132 yards per game. Indy is ranked 10th with 12 TDs and slightly over 100 yards. Marlon Mack was the leader last weekend in yards, plus he had a TD. This isn’t a good match-up for KC who would’ve had a chance to cream the Ravens or Texans.

Obviously, when it comes to Total points scored and TDs thrown, the Chiefs are leading with 50 TDs and 35 points per game, with Indy in second having 39 TD’s and 27 points per game. However, Luck’s short game is better than Mahones and that will be a big deal this week.

An area Kansas has better defensive stats is in the sack department with 52 compared to Indianapolis’ 38. However, the Colts have allowed a league low of 18 sacks, so something has to give. Mahones was sacked 26 times. When it comes total defense, Indy is 11th, and 10th in points allowed (21.5). KC is 31st in total and 24th in points allowed (26.30).

When it comes to defending the pass, Mahones may have a long day, Indy is tied for third in only giving up 21, but KC is 22nd with 30. As far as stopping the run, the Colts are 10th allowing 12 TD’s and the Chiefs are 29th with 19. The question is, what happens when a team that is tied for third least passing TD’s meets a team that is first in throwing them? KC gains 35 points a game, but Indy allows 21.

Indy gains 27 a game, while KC allows 26.  In bad conditions, will Mahones with Travis Kelce in the short (safe) passing game do slightly better than Andrew Luck and Eric Ebron? No one on the Colts defense can keep up with Tyreek Hill, but in a bad weather game, nature may even things out by negating the deep pass and his chance to streak away for a score.

I like the chances of Indy’s DL vs Mahanoes’ OL more than KC’s vs’s Indy OL. This game will come down to the run game and defense in bad weather – that’s Andrew Luck and Marlon Mack with some doses of TE’s. More than anything though, in a tight clash, I’m not sold on Andy Reid and his clock management skills.

4 Seed Cowboys (10-6) vs 3 Seed Rams (13-3) 8:15 FOX

Referee Crew

john parry referree crew

I don’t watch a lot of NFC games and never seek out the Cowboys, but since the NFL has anointed them, I’ve watched enough to know that the Rams have two jobs if they want to win: stop Zeke and protect Goff.

Dak Prescott needs everything perfect to win, remove one item and he can’t carry this team and I don’t think Jason Garret can, either. I’m not so sure Jared Goff is all that great with missing pieces, either, so this match-up should be a fun defensive one to watch.

Can Wade Philips and his squad draw up some plays to confuse Dak and keep him in the pocket? Prescott on the run is pretty good, in the pocket against good coverage? Not so much, his passes become wild too much of the time.

Not to mention, he’s among the worst for sacks being his fault (56 of them!). Dallas’s front seven is pretty dang good and could see them giving Todd Gurley fits, which in turn will force Goff to throw more. In a throwing match-up, I’ll take the Cali dude, his 10 more touchdowns and better accuracy.

Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliot should be the stars of the game…or why one team loses because whichever defense shuts down the run game, wins. The Rams give up more yards than Dallas, but they’re tied in scores allowed at 22 a piece. To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s due to LA’s goal line stance or teams decided to throw in the red zone instead since they stunk at defending passing TD’s. Maybe getting Aqib Talib back in form will help (please).

Meanwhile, Dallas has allowed ten less, so this will be a clash that LA could find itself on the wrong side of. However, when it comes to interceptions, the Rams are killing it and that is very bad news for Prescott. He’s pretty safe with the ball, but this could force him to be more cautious which means a slower release and more chance for sacks.

IF LA can keep him contained. LA has 41 sacks which could equal a very bruised Dak. A better defense facing a better passer on one side with a worse quarterback and worse defense on the other side. This could even out the passing side and as I said above, becomes a run game duel. If that’s the case, I’ll take the team with better rushing stats, more sacks and more interceptions.

SUNDAY GAMES

5 Seed Chargers (12-4) vs 2 Seed Patriots* 1:05 CBS

Referee Crew

ron torbert ref crew

My dearest Ron, America begs on its knees for you to go against every stat in New England and please call a fair game. Amen. The snow Patriot* fans were hoping for isn’t coming. The weather forecast shows sunny and around 25. Not ideal for a warm weather team, but there won’t be winds, so that helps.

Based on the weather, we should see both sides play fairly close to what we’ve seen on offense. My guess is both quarterbacks will play a bit cautious as turnovers will be in their mind. Tom Brady‘s arm lacks the juice it once had, don’t get me wrong, he can still make deadly throws, but he’s tossing far more, what was that?, balls than before.

As far as Philip Rivers, he’s a gunslinger at heart. Taming that (like we saw vs the Ravens) will be a game plan I’m guessing. Let their better defense and close run game lead the way. While NE* does have more yards, their yards per carry are lower and the touchdowns are only two more than LA’s no doubt due to the absence of Melvin Gordon. I’d say these two are about equal in this department.

When it comes to passing, both teams are also very close. Rivers has three more touchdowns. Where the two differ is LA’s offensive line is offensive, they’ve allowed 34 sacks and unlike in places like Houston and Dallas, it’s not on him, they just aren’t good.

That is the key for NE* (in a fair called game), abuse the OL. Of course, the same is true for Brady*, not that his OL stinks, they don’t, but he struggles when pressure is his face. LA has two really good pass rushers, but Gus Bradley will need to find creative ways with some stunts to send them through the A and B gaps, not just the C’s. Or send Joey Bosa up the middle with Melvin Ingram screeching around the edge. Whatever it takes to disrupt Brady*. Rivers is better used to pressure in his face, so for him, they’ll need to actually sack him.

The key to this game is turnovers. The Chargers haven’t been very good in the differential, but the Pat’s have been and maybe last week was a trial run of how much LA can get away with without passing. Anyway, as I wrote, both QB’s are pretty close with Rivers a tad better. Including last week, they are 8-1 on the road and that’s huge. If they make it to the Super Bowl, that will weigh heavily in their favor no matter who they face. The Saints would be the worst though.

The Chargers have 38 sacks, 13 interceptions, have given up 23 passing TD’s, 228 air yards and 11 rushing. New England* has 30 sacks, 18 interceptions, allowed 29 passing TDs, 246 air yards per game and seven rushing touchdowns. In total, NE* gave up 2 more TD’s. This also is close.

Overall, the Chargers are ranked 9th in defense to the Patriots’ 21st, but when it comes to stopping scores (not including kicking ones) they’re really close. Only .3 per game separates them. We’re talking 4 points for the season.

HOWEVER, when you look at their DVOA’s, the Chargers are better – DVOA takes into consideration the teams they played. With all this said, it’s going to be a close game. Hopefully, LA learned last week that if you’re ahead a bunch, don’t take the foot off the gas and NE* is the most lethal to pounce when a team does.

If LA plays a clean game, limits mistakes and pressures Brady* all game they win. If they commit dumb penalties, they lose, that’s how close these teams are.

6 Seed Eagles (9-7) vs 1 Seed Saints (13-3) FOX

carl cheffers ref crew

This game does have the right ranking, the Eagles are the worst of the NFC teams that got in and the Rams, the best. Even so, it’s tough to say this will be a blow-out only because Philadelphia has a way of doing the impossible.

In my predictions above, I picked the most balanced teams to win. Going with that again. The Saints are far and away a better team; however, when it comes to scores against them, Philly isn’t that far behind.

Against the pass, both defenses stink. I can see Drew Brees and Nick Foles having a bunch of air yards. To note though is the Saints have given up eight more passing touchdowns. This game is inside and that will help Foles.

When it comes to stopping the run, New Orleans is a little better, that might not matter much, both teams are keeping offenses under 100 yards. Where the Saints have the run away stats is for that – the run. 26 rushing TD’s, 126 yards a game and 4.3 per rush.

That’s the game right there. If the Eagles can’t stop the run, they’re done. The Eagles are only averaging 98 yards a game, so there’s no break out chance for them in this category – they’re facing a decent run stop team.

If the Eagles want to win, they’re going to need to pass and pass often. When it comes to TD’s they only have four less. They may need to pass because of time of possession. If the Saints go with the run heavy game with short passes, they’ll use up the clock.

To counter that, Philly will need to run more hurry up unless they score first. If they can get a TD up first, now they can be more balanced, but with only 12 rushing touchdowns, not sure how.

Since this game is in the Saints’ dome, crowd noise will make the Eagles go silent snap count and I’m not so sure about that success because getting the defensive line to jump will be tougher. Little things like that will matter. I’m going with the run game and Drew Brees.

AFCS Week 17 game previews – TV areas, stats, injury reports, & passing charts.

AFCS Week 17 game previews

This is it, one last game for the Jaguars to pull off a win, tanking be damned. If you want to know why I abhor tanking, READ HERE. This is also the last ditch effort for our three divisional teams to make the play-offs or move up in seeding. Here’s the AFCS Week 17 game previews – TV areas, stats, injury reports, & passing charts.

jaguars:texans tv viewing area wek 17

SUNDAY 1:00

Jaguars (5-10) vs Texans (10-5) CBS

As usual, here’s the refs which I include because we should keep track of the crap since the NFL doesn’t seem to care.

Referee Crew:

Pete Morelli referee crew

Sad to say, but I won’t miss seeing Leonard Fournette. This season, he’s had two games that were ok, the rest were snoozes. Let’s bring on Dave Williams. It’s good to see DJ Chark back. People hate on Jalen Ramsey, but that dude has played almost the entire season hurt and yet Jax’s secondary is still tops.

Jaguars week 17 friday injury report

Have written before, I don’t trust Bill O’Brian’s injury reports, so just ignore them.

texans week 17 friday injury report

Blake Bortles is baaaack, will he play the entire game is the question? They’re dressing out Tanner Lee, so we can guess they’d like to give him reps and if that happens, assume we’re getting creamed.

I’m posting just the cumulative passing charts because Bortles hadn’t started in a few weeks. Clearly, Deshaun Watson is having a good season even if he’s not among the top passing leaders. He’s judicious with the ball and compliments their run game.

As a slight defense of Borltes, his OL has been atrocious, he didn’t have his number one wide receiver, tight end or running back, plus the OC was fired. Not exactly what is scripted for bringing out the best in QB’s.

A quick recap of the last match-up: Bortles fumbled twice which allowed Houston to get a FG and a TD. Cody Kessler played the second half and lobbed in a TD. Yeldon let a pass bounce off him for an interception.

The Texans had less than 300 total yards, they won from sloppy play by Jax. If the Jags truly want to win, they’ll need their defense to do it for them. To do that, they’ll need to sack Watson more than once. Most importantly, they must play a clean game.

Limit penalties, don’t turn the ball over, create turnovers.

Watson only threw 139 yards that day, I could see that again, but the offense must show up. Houston is ranked 29th vs the pass. They’ve allowed 28 TD’s, but they’ve got 43 sacks and with this OL, it’s tough to see that number not jumping a bunch.

Jacksonville has not been good against the rush, that’s the concern. Even though Houston has DeAndre Hopkins (IMHO the best WR in the NFL this season), the Jags may be best to double him and force Watson to throw everywhere else.

Encourage the pass over the run because it makes their time of possession smaller which will be critical for the Jacksonville offense. One, they’re terribly inefficient and will need more chances to score and two, passing keeps our defense fresher.

Houston’s run game is mid pack as well as their passing, but as everyone knows, stats only tell half the story. How and when you get your yards and scoring is what matters. The Jaguars need to have the Texans pass between the 30’s and run in the red zone. With only ten rushing TD’s this is where they are vulnerable.

As far as Houston, all they need to do is play their defense because the Jag’s offense is putrid. The offensive line is a mess, the tight ends are non-existent, Dede Westbrook is the only receiver (although with DJ Chark back, he could help) and with them down to Yeldon and Williams, who knows what the run game looks like?

The keys are:

Jax: Play smart. Sack Watson. Make him throw to anyone, but Hopkins.

Houston: Show up.

8:20 NBC

Colts (9-6) vs Titans (9-6)

Referee Crew:

walt anderson referee crew

Marcus Mariota won’t be playing. Not that he’s had a good year (he hasn’t), but he’s been able to run to keep drives going, plus he’s much better than Blaine Gabbert at reading defenses.

With the Colts being in bad shape health-wise, they need a break and not having to spy on Mariota is that chance – not that Gabbert won’t run, but he’s not a dual-threat.

colts week 17 friday injury reporttitans week 17 friday injury report

There isn’t a cumulative chart for Gabbert, but his stats are: 7 games, 3 TDS, 2 INTS, on 72  attempts. His rating is 80.8 with a 59.7 completion rate. He’s tried to run 6 times, but has zero yards. His most attempts is 22 and most yards is 118.

The Colts won’t have to worry abut Gabbert tearing them up with his legs or arm. Their concern will be stopping the run and having enough offensive weapons to overcome the Titans 7th ranked defense.

Luck has used tight ends like a magician, it’s an area Tennessee has struggled against (as has most defenses), so while Eric Ebron and Ryan Hewitt are beat-up, he does have Mo Allie-Cox.

What’s of concern is their secondary, but with Gabbert playing, it may be a wash. Inman and Hilton also being hobbled is a huge concern. The Titans are third against the pass, not the best time to have hobbled tight ends and wide receivers.

Marlon Mack will most likely be the cog for Indy today. Tennessee is third vs rushing TD’s, but mid-pack elsewhere. If Indy can rely on him to carry the load between the 30’s and use Luck in the red zone, they could do ok.

Obviously, this will be a run and defense day, not only because of injuries, but the game is outside. The Colts are really good at limiting rushing yards, but only so-so in stopping scores. Against the pass, they’re only two TD’s behind the Titans and with Gabbert at the helm, that shouldn’t change.

These two teams are so close in what you see and get. They’re built differently, but they find ways to win. How injured Indianapolis really is, will be the difference. If it’s just normal bumps and bruises, they should win with Mack and Luck leading the way and just enough defense to stop Tennessee.

If the Colts are as bruised as their injury reports suggests and the Titans can get to Luck, it will be a long day. Both teams have 38 sacks which could be a big key for both teams. If Indy can get to Gabbert, game over, he’s not the calmest guy under pressure.

Andrew Luck is getting rid of the ball much faster this season, which has helped his great OL keep him at a league low of 17 sacks (wow). That will be the Titan’s task: sack Luck or at least cover his receivers long enough he has to hold on to the ball.

The keys:

Indy: Protect Luck. Rush Gabbert. Stop the run.

Tennessee: Derrick Henry must ball out. Sack Luck. Stop Mack.

This concludes the AFCS Week 17 game previews. Hope everyone has a good New Year’s, and none of our hated rivals get a play off win.

As always, GO JAGS!

AFCS Week 12 Scouting Report – Injury Reports, Stats, Passing Charts, Referee Crews, TV Viewing

AFCS Week 12 Scouting Report

Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans are featured in this AFCS Week 12 Scouting Report – Injury Reports, Stats, Passing Charts, Referee Crews, TV Viewing.

Mathematically, Jacksonville still has a chance to make the play-offs (don’t laugh), so until they’re eliminated, we’re going to treat this as a normal week. Once they do get the ax, then we’ll switch to 2019 and draft watch mode.

The first game up is of course the Jags as the lone AFCS 1:00 game.

Jaguars (3-7) vs Bills (3-7) CBS

As an aside, if Walt Anderson ever refs another Jaguars game, I may need to jump on the field and kick his ass. I’ve never been arrested, but might as well add it to my bucket list. My guess is I won’t be alone as he’s lucky the field wasn’t stormed last week by infuriated fans carrying torches and pitchforks.

Referee Crew:

Walt Anderson referee crew

This game is going to sooo exciting, just like the KC/Rams aerial-fest we saw this week. Not sure how the tens of millions watching will be able to contain themselves. I’m sure history will be made for all the primetime viewers to witness. I’m thinking 9-3.

Only posting their last games to make a point and one it’s clear to see what it is.

I wanted to get the ugly out of the way before moving on the injury reports which look better than those outstanding passing charts.

For Jags fans, the big, oh crap, is DJ Chark because he’s the fastest guy on the team and while he’s raw, he’s made gains. However, since Bortles doesn’t need a fast receiver to get downfield for all those deep bombs, he may not be a big missing key.

These two teams are top of the boards in total defense, each have only allowed 14 passing TDs. As far as rushing TD’s, Jags have allowed eight and Buffalo nine. Buffalo is averaging 99 yards to the rush and Jacksonville 109, so these teams are very close.

As far the offenses go, when it comes to the run, the Bills have seven scores to the Jaguars’ four; however, Jax is averaging .2 more yards a carry (woohoo).

Here’s the one and only stat that matters: Buffalo has a grand total of 5 passing TD’s. As anemic as Bortles has looked, he does have 13.

That’s the key for Jax to win.

  • Contain the run
  • don’t turn the ball over.
  • Score on defense

For Buffalo

  • force Bortles to throw deep or to the outside
  • contain the run
  • don’t let Bortles run to the outside

It’s tough to get excited about two teams who have pitiful offenses and you hold your breath each time the ball is thrown. I believe the Jags will win because their defense is much better than Buffalo’s offense.

Normally, I have a lot more to write about Jacksonville, but there’s not much to say because it’s obvious the key is for the defense to give a damn. The game lies on them.

Dolphins (5-5) vs Colts (5-5) 4:25 CBS

I don’t like the Dolphins, but we sure need Adam Gase to find a way to win.

Referee Crew

Clete Blakeman ref crew

The Dolphins are a wreck injury-wise, adding one more reason their work is cut out for them. The Colts real concern is two TE’s that are questionable, since they are Andrew Luck’s favorite targets.

Once again, not posting the full passing charts because Ryan only played a handful of games before getting hurt. In his five games his completion percentage was pretty good, that’s what the Dolphins will need to win.

Obviously, this will have to be a defensive game for Miami in order to give Tannenhill a chance to keep up. I’m not going to use Miami’s passing stats because Asweiler isn’t playing.

Miami only has 3 rushing TD’s compared to Indy’s seven, but some of that is due to the QBing. It’s tough to run if teams can load the box because there’s not a fear of the pass. However, not sure Tannehill is that much of an upgrade. It may be up to Amendola (who’s hurt).

When it comes to stopping the run, Miami is bad. They allow 142 yards a game and are tied for 19th in TD’s given up. Indy is tied for 7th for TD’s and give up 105 yards game.

The grits come down to passing defense. Indy has given up 16 TDs, Miami, 18. That’s the ball game. If Miami’s defense can’t have the game of their season, this is a done deal for Indy. The bad news is Miami ranks down at 29th for sacks while Indy is 16th.

The good news is Indy is down to only two TE’s from the four they had just two weeks ago. This will limit Luck which Miami will need since they’re not great at stopping TE’s.

As far as Miami’s TE’s, Indy isn’t great stopping them, either. In fact they’re down in 26th.

Keys for Miami to win

use their TE’s

force Luck from the pocket

Indy to win

Luck just needs to throw no picks

Yes, simple. On paper, Miami needs to do more than they have in a road game and Indy play the same.

 

Titans (5-5) vs Texans (7-3) Monday 8:15 ESPN

Don’t like either team and if they tied, I wouldn’t cry. I wish they had Walt Anderson and his crew so the fans could have freak-outs all game.

Referee Crew

 

Craig Wrolstad ref crew

While Tennessee is very healthy, the same cannot be said of the Texans. Here’s the deal, if the Jags lose, then I’m pulling for the Titans to lose, too. Considering that Marcus Mariota is like a box of chocolates, that could happen.

An injured Mariota (again) behind an OL that also has some injuries may not be a recipe for success. However, Deshaun Watson has his own OL issues that have left him a battered soul, too.

This game could end up in which QB lasts the longest. Neither offense is tearing up the NFL, but Watson has 18 TD’s to Mariota’s 7. For these two, I am posting more charts because there wasn’t a chart for Mariota with all his throws. Odd.

The Titans haven’t won from a passing attack, which is obvious since they have the second worst TD amount and overall are 30th. As far as rushing, they’re mid-pack in TD’s and yards.

When it comes to Houston, they’re tied for second worse with only 4 TD’s and an average of 4 yards. Both QB’s will run, but Mariota is the dangerous one when he does.

On the passing side, Houston is 15th and Tennessee is 31st. Bottom line, it means that these teams are dependent on their defenses which is a great thing for Tennessee who’s third best in not allowing passing TD’s.

The Texans aren’t far behind with only three more. In stopping the run, both teams are aces in only allowing 5 (Houston) and 6.

The keys for both defenses is the same, but feel bad to say, it’s to hit the QB’s since they’re so beat-up.

Keys for Texans:

  • Keep Mariota in the pocket
  • Rush from the edges
  • Throw to the edges

Keys for the Titans:

  • Spy on Watson
  • Rush him up the middle
  • Play man

May both teams lose.

AFCS Week 11 Game Previews – stats, injury reports, referee crews, passing charts

AFCS Week 11 Game Previews

Week 11 marks what could be the end of the road for a few teams and Jacksonville is one of them. If the Colts lose, their ice will be as thin as the Jaguars. The AFCS Week 11 Game Previews will go into stats, injury reports, referee crews, and passing charts to give the reader an idea where these teams win and struggle.

This AFCS chart shows where everyone is and why the Colts need to win to help the Jags, plus the Texans need to lose. If the Jags win out, and the rest of the AFCS drop another game, we make the play offs. Yes, lots of “ifs”, but it is what it is. Win Sunday and go from there.

The turnover differential tells the story and that’s what Jacksonville must fix right now.

W L T PCT HOME AWAY DIV CONF PF PA DIFF STRK
Texans 6 3 0 .667 3-1 3-2 2-1 5-2 216 184 +32 W6
Titans 5 4 0 .556 3-1 2-3 2-0 3-4 168 151 +17 W2
Colts 4 5 0 .444 2-2 2-3 1-1 3-4 260 239 +21 W3
Jaguars 3 6 0 .333 2-3 1-3 0-3 2-4 160 199 -39 L5

Titans (5-4) vs Colts (4-5) 1:00 CBS

Referee Crew:

This is a game the Colts need to win for the Jaguars because it would tie these two teams up and Titans need a division loss. Taylor is still dealing with turf toe and Conklin remains under the concussion protocol. They look pretty healthy which isn’t great for Indy.

I believe a couple of the DNP for the Indianapolis Colts were due to rest, not ability to dress out especially since their game status isn’t given a designation.

When it comes to points allowed on defense, Tennessee is #1 least. Indy is down at 20. The question will be can Andrew Luck put up more than the 16.8 points the Titans are giving up? Indy is allowing 26.6 which is very Mariota-friendly.

Titans are also first when it comes to passing TD’s allowed at only 11 and that will hurt the Colts since they pass the ball. Indianapolis has given up 15. TN has given up 4 rushing TD’s, Indy, 7.

The Colts are averaging 28.9 passing points a game, so we see the first match-up. One would think that this number could be 22 as a split between 16 and 28. Luck has a few less, but not below Tennessee’s average.

Mariota is throwing 18.7 points, Indy giving up 26.6. So, if we split that, too, that would give Mariota 22, as well (rounding the numbers).

On paper, this game is easier for Indianapolis than it is for Tennessee because it’s at home and the Titans being passing-shy, helps them. When it comes to rushing, Indy pounds out more yards, but less scores than Tennessee, but neither team is setting the world on fire with their rushing.

Plain and simple, the Titans have relied on their defense to shut down their opponents and Mariota to do just enough when it matters. With Luck having 26 passing TD’s, and Mariota 7, they’ve got their work cut out for them.

The bad news for the Colts is I don’t think Tennessee has given up a single TD to a TE and they also are stingy with yards. With that said, the Titans haven’t had to shut down three tight ends. It’s one thing to shut down one TE, maybe two on a few plays, but three?

I normally include passing charts for the last few weeks, but NexGen was not working right, so can only include the overall chart.

Marcus Mariota Qb-grid Chart

Overall, Indy has a better chance only because it’s tough to keep the mental stamina needed to play against a big passing offense and one with three tight ends. Mark Vrabel is a good defensive coach, can he scheme up the D to negate the tight ends? He can if he can push Luck around.

Andrew Luck Qb-grid Chart

Texans (6-3) vs Redskins (6-3)  1:00 CBS

Referee Crew

This game will have the rest of the AFCS in agreement: the Texans must lose even though they’d still be in first due to division wins.

Another team that has halved its report is the Texans, it’s not coincidence both are winning.

Washington, We NEED YOU, this report doesn’t give Jags fans a lot of hope. Although (since hope springs eternal), the skins did get several players in full; however, Friday’s are walk-throughs, so it’s not as if they’re actually doing anything.

Washington is one of those teams where you look at their record and watch them play and think, huh? It’s not as if they have a great coach, scheme, QB, defense or one thing you can hang your hat on and say, that’s why.

The skins have seven rushing TD’s to Houston’s 4 and that’s the match-up. Can Peterson carry more a load with Thompson still out?

Washington has 10 passing TD’s, Houston has 17. Neither team is lighting up the NFL with those numbers. Where DC has an advantage is turnover differential.

Both defenses are mid pack or so in giving up passing touchdowns; however, when it comes to shutting down rushing TD’s, Houston is tied for second with 3. Can Washington keep their rushing attack up against a top defense?

Washington is going to need its receivers to catch the ball, something they struggle with. When that happens, Alex Smith can’t get in any rhythm and the offense just stalls out. That’s what they’re going to have to do win: catch the ball. With Houston having two banged-up CB’s, Smith will know where to target, but they’ve got to catch the ball (repeat).

Alex Smith Qb-grid Chart

As you can see, Watson is having a good season since his first stumbles at the beginning. Not to mention, he’s healthy now. Speaking of health, he’s been sacked 30 times and that’s where Washington must pounce, go after his OL. They are ranked 13th (tie) with 25.

Deshaun Watson Qb-grid Chart

As beat-up as the skins’ OL is (Jacksonville sympathizes), Smith may be grateful that Houston hasn’t done a whole lot of sacks at 23 considering they have JJ Watt. Smith is a fairly athletic guy, so his agility may save them.

At this writing, the status of Coutee was still in doubt, which helps Washington. As an aside, Smith has seen Demaryius Thomas many times as a former AFCW rival, he may be able to give his DB’s some intel to shut him down. That could be a 1-2 punch that limits Watson.

Without a great run game, it could be the deciding factor.

Steelers (6-2-1) vs Jaguars (3-6) 1:00 CBS

Referee Crew:

The Steelers look so damn healthy it’s disgusting, they make me want to punch them for this report.

What a surprise, OL players with D or Q status. The, oh crap, is Dareus being Doubtful. The DL hasn’t been bringing down the house, so this is bad news. What else is bad news is this game will be full of Steeler fans. Jax season ticket owners sold a bunch of theirs to the enemy, so there will be no home field sound advantage.

Ben Roethlisberger got his old coach back and this season, he’s made huge strides. That’s bad news for Jacksonville, the guy who Todd Hayley stifled, is gone. While the Jags have been Ben’s quicksand, the defense we’ve been seeing this season will be a red carpet.

Jacksonville’s run defense has been mediocre and that may actually be the real issue. Pittsburgh has 12 rushing TD’s. 12, that’s 4x more than Jax, who ranks dead last. Which does come down to the walking dead offensive line.

If the DL (with a hurt Dareus) can’t channel some #Sacksonville, the game won’t be winnable. Period. All those interceptions Ben threw vs Jags was in large part due to him being hurried all game(s). With a run game and time to throw, there’s nothing stopping Pittsburgh unless we see the defense that showed up last week during the second half.

Even then, they weren’t that great, just lots better than previous weeks. I know, I’m a downer, but this is based on stats. Right now, there’s only one stat that Jax is better at and that’s the passing defense. Can they keep Pitt to 200 yards and only an average of 1.3 TD’s?

Ben Roethlisberger Qb-grid Chart

No center and LT #6, one wonders how Blake Bortles will make it through this game. Jag fans know that for most of the season he didn’t have his star WR, TE or RB, so the last game to judge on an almost full starting crew was vs New England. In that game, he had his LT (1/2 the time), RB and TE.

Last week, we saw two tight ends appear and make catches. James O’Shaughnessy returned from injured reserve and a guy off the street, Blake Bell also surprised fans. Can those two make up for issues to the LG, C and LT? Tough to see. What must happen is Leonard Fournette, Carlos Hyde and TJ Yeldon go out there and shove the ball down Pittsburgh’s throat.

I’m not sure if Bortles doesn’t trust his dropsy WR’s or he’s nursing another injury, but he’s check-down Charlie and avoiding the deep throw. Against the Steelers, that may not be a bad thing because they allow about what Bortles is throwing, anyway.

They’re giving up 2.1 TD’s and 6.9 yards, Blake is at 7.0 yards and 1.33 TD’s a game.

Blake Bortles Qb-grid Chart

Here’s the bottom line for this match-up: the Jags offense has got to win the turnover battle and score first. The run game must appear and same for the run stop.

I don’t think there’s some special key the Steelers need to win, just play as they have been. If Roethlisberger doesn’t turn the ball over, tough to see the Jaguars finding a win. The last two match-ups, Pittsburgh won almost every good stat, from time of possession to first downs, etc, but it was the interceptions at the worst time that doomed them.

Jaguars musts:

  • get after Ben
  • get after Ben
  • don’t turn the ball over
  • show you care

I’ll be there amidst a sea of terrible towels screaming my fool head off, I better damn well see the same passion from the guys in black and teal. If that mindset happens, they can pull off a win.

AFCS Week 7 Game Previews – stats, TV guide, Passing charts, injury reports

Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans

Yes, this is late, but was very ill the last few days, my apologies. Because of that, this will be short, just the basics for the AFCS Week 7 Game Previews.

Here’s the run down for the AFCS Week 7 Game Previews

Below is the viewing map for the early games, Green is Jags/Texans, Purple is Colts. I believe the whole country (minus a couple black out areas) get the Titans game.

Titans (3-3) vs Chargers (4-2) CBS 9:30 AM LONDON

Referee Crew

The Chargers are 6th in total offense, 13th in passing and 6th in rushing. Tennessee is 30th in total, 31st in Passing and 20th in rushing. Where things get interesting is quietly the Chargers are 12th in total defense, while the Titans are oddly down in 27th. LA is 16th vs the pass and TN 8th vs pass, 12th vs rush, 27th vs rush

It’s clear the Titans will have their work cut out for them, even if Melvin Gordon is a question.

Who’s not on this list, which is amazing, is Marcus Mariots after he was sacked a record 11 times and that doesn’t even count QB hits. Wondering how he’s feeling on a “short” week? Even though the game is on Sunday, all that traveling takes away from physical therapy.

titans week 7 friday injury report

 

chargers week 7 friday injury report

Texans (3-3) vs Jaguars (3-3) CBS 1:00

Referee Crew

Jax is 16th in total offense. If the Line could be healthy like week 2, they’d be higher, but that’s not case. 14th in passing and 17th in rushing. Hopefully, next week with Carlos Hyde, both numbers move up.

Houston is 10th in total offense, strangely. 12th in passing and 13th in rushing. Texans don’t have a good offense despite their numbers, it’s because a lot of the numbers don’t really reflect what was going on in the games or the teams they played.

On the defensive side of the ball, Houston is 13th total, 14th against the pass and 11th vs the rush.

texans week 7 friday injury report

Jacksonville’s injury report is sad, and especially so if you could see the IR list. Jacksonville is one beat up team and that will decide this game because Jax is better, but without key places all over the place, it doesn’t matter.

JAGUARS WEEK 7 FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

Bills (2-4) vs Colts (1-5) CBS 1:00

Referee Crew

CBS should pay people to watch this game. Derek Anderson vs a Colts team of the walking wounded. For any team without their starting QB going down this would be a slam dunk. While Josh Allen wasn’t winning any rookie trophies, he knew the playbook and could run. Anderson has had a week.

Passing chart for Derek Anderson doesn’t exist, so there’s only Andrew Luck’s.

Buffalo is 8th in total defense, 10th vs the pass and 9th vs rush. Buff is 18th for rushing. Not including passing because its irrelevant.

Indy is 24th in total defense, 27th against the pass, 16th vs the run. In total offense, Indy is 16th, 10th in passing, 29th in rushing.

bills week7 friday injury report

The Colts aren’t good and they’re beat up, but they’re facing a team with Anderson. However, the Bills defense is pretty good and the Colts have zero game film on Anderson. Tough to see Buffalo doing anything intricate besides handing the ball off and taking some shots downfield.

colts week 7 friday injury report

As always, lose Titans, Texans, Colts and GO JAGS!

 

Why the Jaguars

I’m writing this to be up front and honest with the readers. While my family and I have lived in the Jacksonville area since 1994 and have been to many games in the following 22+ years (see my t-shirt with the outlawed logo), my first love was for another team.

I grew up in South Florida to Dolphins’ season ticket holders; however, I picked my team 40 years ago and didn’t look back…until 2015. That’s the year Denver fans boo’d Peyton Freakin’ Manning.

We’ve been to Jags games when Bortles threw interceptions and even had one go off a cleat, but never heard a boo. In fact, in 22 years, the only boo’s we’ve heard from the fans was towards the other team and once at Jack Del Rio (deserved). Yes, 22 years of games because while Denver was my first love, the Jags were a close second. In fact, my brother is a first year season ticket holder, a loyal fan through a couple decades of misery.

Which leads me to why I dumped the Broncos, a team I wrote about for a couple of years, loved, sweated and cried over. Professionalism. Integrity. The Jaguars, their media and fans have it, the Broncos don’t.

After having an up-close encounter with Denver, their coaches, team make-up, their in-house media and fans, it became apparent they make the Bills fans at the play off game look like nice people. I won’t address the appalling media surrounding Denver.

Remember when Tom Coughlin was fired and Wayne Weaver seemed to check out as an owner? How the Jaguars became stale, the media became belligerent and there was this sense that the Jags were being left behind? That’s Broncos Country times ten. When Shad Khan bought the team, that all went away.

The Khans brought fun back to Jacksonville. They brought professionalism, cutting edge thoughts, technology and while they needed to go through two head coaches, they found their men in Doug Marrone and Coughlin. Plus, props to Dave Caldwell who’s done a good job drafting.

While some may say I’ve jumped on this bandwagon because of last season’s winning, the truth is, the wins came from the above paragraph. What I love, why I kicked a lifetime team to the curb, is the way the Jaguars operate. As a longtime Navy wife, that leadership style gets my blood going.

In May, I had a gruesome injury that could have killed or left me without a lower leg. That’s when I realized that life is too short and fragile to waste it on dysfunctional things and people.

Even during the dark times, one thing the Jags fans never lost was their sense of loyalty, fairness and honor. Maybe it’s because there are so many veterans here, but fans know there is something wrong with booing a player and booing one before he takes the field. I find it difficult to believe that the Khans, Tad Dickman, Coughlin, Caldwell or Marrone would ever allow that to happen. Or allow local media to destroy a player.

Call me a bandwagon fan, I will own it, but know this, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be my last team because this is home. This is where I belong. In the South, with southern fans, southern charm and writing about a franchise that is run with military precision and leads the NFL in innovation.

HOORAH and Go Jags!

 

 

I’LL ALWAYS CHEER, NEVER BOO A JAGS PLAYER OR THE TEAM!