Due to too much turkey, I didn't get around to writing much about either college football or pro football from this past week/weekend. So I'm just going to do the lazy thing and combine them into one post that's much shorter than normal.
On to what we learned.
1. That both the Eagles and Colts have given the NFL a blueprint for how to slow the Patriots offense. The Colts were able to give the Pats offense trouble by having a devastating 4-man rush that got pressure on Brady which allowed the Colts to frequently drop as many as 6 or 7 guys into secondary coverage. The problem was that the D-line ran out of gas in the 4th quarter and Brady started to get way too much time to pass. On the flip side, the Eagles had Lito Sheppard basically take Randy Moss out of the game. That way, instead of having to always double team Moss, they could frequently blitz an extra linebacker because they knew Sheppard would be all over Moss. The only problem was that just taking out Moss wasn't good enough, as Welker went wild. And he frequently caught passes in the middle of the field during a blitz package. So essentially there are two ways to slow down the Pats offense. One is to have a great 4-man rush that consistently gets pressure on Brady and allows you to drop as many as 6 or 7 guys into the secondary for pass defense. The other way is to have one or two shutdown corners that neutralize Moss/Welker (hopefully both) which allows you to consistently blitz Brady and force him to throw quickly. Of course, if the Pats ran more, they might be able to keep defenses like the ones the Colts and Eagles threw at them a bit more honest. But since the Pats aren't doing that (and I'm not really sure why) then these are really the only two ways to limit the Pats offense. Both the Colts and the Eagles were almost successful in doing their defensive gameplans for 4 quarters. However, both came up a little short. The Colts just kind of ran out of gas, and the Eagles had no answer for Welker, partly because they sold out on the blitz so much and partly because no one could cover him. The question then of course is - can anyone do what the Colts or Eagles did for 4 quarters to beat the Pats? I'm not sure anyone can. This may sound crazy, but one team I'd like to see play the Pats is the Broncos. With Champ Bailey and Dre Bly, two shutdown corners, they might give the Pats offense serious problems. Of course, they don't meet in the regular season and the Broncos might not even make the playoffs. The Packers with a healthy Woodson and Harris might also give the Pats some trouble, but both would have to make the Super Bowl.
2. The Eagles game also gave the NFL a blueprint for how to score on the Pats defense. The Pats don't have a great pass rush. Or at least they sure as hell didn't against the Eagles. Feeley often had all day to throw. If there's one gap in the Pats defense, it's the 10-20 yard in. That was open all night for Feeley, and it was how the Eagles managed to consistently score points. Considering the Eagles had a career-backup QB consistently leading his team up and down the field against the Pats defense, I'd say Andy Reid found a weakness and exploited it all game long. And strangely, the Pats never really adjusted to it. Now, will this weakness still be present in future games? I'm not sure. And I think Belichick will be working real hard this week to fix that problem. But there's no question that the Eagles, at least for one week, really showed a true weakness in the Pats defense.
3. I finally have to man up and say the Packers are for real. They beat a suddenly woeful Lions team, but hey, the Packers didn't create their schedule. Favre's definitely been on point this season, and when you combine that with some of the breaks he's gotten, look out. Plus when I said this team couldn't run worth a damn, they pulled Ryan Grant out from under a rock and he's done a hell of a job. They also have a great young defense and if they hadn't blown that game against the Bears, they'd be undefeated. That's pretty crazy. We'll get to see how legit they are this Thursday (or the five of us who get NFL Network will) when they meet up with the Cowboys in Dallas. I think to stand a chance they need Woodson to be healthy, and that looks doubtful.
4. This may be it for Eli Manning. Even though some people thought he had turned the corner this year, let's be honest. He was turning the corner from being a bad QB to a mediocre QB. Plus, he's thrown at least one pick in all but two games this year. That's terrible. Plus he's below the league average in passer rating. Have our expectations of Eli been reduced to such a level that we'll basically take mediocrity from this guy? I mean, he was the number 1 pick. It's ok to just admit he sucks and move on.
5. I think you can make an argument that Darren McFadden should be the Heisman winner right now. McFadden pretty much single-handedly lifted Arkansas over LSU. And despite some early game turnovers, his second-half and OT performances were truly ones for the ages. He also did what Tebow couldn't do - beat LSU. And McFadden's team only has one more loss than Tebow's Florida. I'm not saying give McFadden the Heisman now. I'm just saying that his performance against LSU - combined with Tebow's injury - made the Heisman race a lot more interesting all of a sudden. And it likely made McFadden the new frontrunner. Maybe.
6. So right now we're looking at a National Championship of Mizzou against West Virginia if both win out. Somehow I'd actually prefer that to one of the two of them losing and seeing Ohio State squeak in. Lord only knows what happens if they both lose. Ohio State v. Georgia maybe? That seems to make even less sense, because Georgia isn't even playing in the SEC Championship game. Man, I have no clue. Either way, it should be interesting.
7. A columnist said after USC beat ASU on Thanksgiving that USC is the best team in college football right now. He may be right. That team is finally completely healthy and playing like they should have been all season. Remember, they lost to Stanford in large part because Booty was playing with a broken throwing finger for most of the game. And they lost to Oregon because Sanchez was at QB. I honestly think USC, top to bottom, is the most talented team in the country. And now they're finally playing like it. Seeing them potentially match up against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl would I think be a bigger game than the National Championship.
8. I'd like to thank the Raiders for ending their 17-straight game skid to AFC West opponents. That's almost unreal when I stop and think about it. And thanks to the 49ers for finally stopping the bleeding at 8 games. That's life in the Bay Area as a football fan. Not good.
And that's it, I'm still messed up on tryptophan from one last helping of leftovers.