Patriots 31 Colts 28no comments
Patriots 31 Colts 28no comments
As always, we'll be tweeting during the game. For those of you who don't use Twitter, you are missing out on lots of bonus 18to88 stuff. I routinely tweet stats, facts, and observations that don't show up on the site. You don't have to have a twitter address or tweet to read me, though. Just go here. You should also follow Luke and Shake.
On game days, I've put together a great follow list with some of the best local and national voices on the Colts.
Of course, if you want to read all of this as part of our moderated chat, use the application below. Remember that I can't see what you write in the chat, so if you want to respond, use Twitter, and tag your comments @18to88. The chat will go live between 3:45-4.
My latest piece for Cold Hard Football Facts is up. This piece was requested by Kerry Byrne as a lead in to today's game.
It's the story of 38-34, the Greatest Game in Indianapolis Colts history.
I've written a lot of about 38-34, but after all, it's probably one of the greatest games in NFL history, so why not?
Reports coming in from all corners that Collie made the trip to New England.
Addai, Brackett, Tryon, Session, and Hart all stayed home.no comments
No matter what happens tomorrow in New England, the Colts will still be in first place in the AFC South. The only question is if they'll be alone. Here's who to root for this week.
Browns at Jaguars
Ravens at Panthers
Redskins at Titans
Raiders at Steelers
Broncos at Chargers
Obviously, we are rooting against the AFC South and against the AFC in general in cross conference matchups.
Also, I think we all expect the Chargers to be a playoff team, or at least close, so let's pull against them. That also means rooting for Oakland for three reasons:
1. Oakland wins hurt the Patriots' 2011 draft. If Oakland wins that division, the Seymour trade can be worth no higher than the 20th pick. The Pats screwed that deal up as it hurt them last season and now, and won't pay out with the high pick they had hoped.
2. Oakland wins hurt the Chargers
3. Losses by the Steelers help the Colts.
Texans at Jets
Are you more worried about the South or the #1 seed? A Jets loss and a Colts win, and Indy has the top spot in the conference. A loss to the Jets, however, would all but eliminate the flagging Texans. However, if the Colts lose to the Patriots, a Jets win keeps them in control of the AFC East, and could STILL end up sending New England to Indianapolis regardless of the outcome of the game Sunday. The only bad combination is a Texans win and a Colts loss.
Cardinals at Chiefs
Who would you rather play in the playoffs: San Diego or Kansas City? Yeah, me too. Time to start pulling for KC.
18 Things to Watch During Sunday's Patriots-Colts Game
It's a historic duel and a Patriot is going down.
Last week, the banged up Colts rode their defense to a win over the Bengals. Now, it's finally here: the yearly show-down between the two most dominant teams in the NFL over the past 10 years. It's Colts/Pats week. You and everyone else in the world will be watching. Here's what to keep an eye on:
1. Watch the tipping point. We pointed out that Pierre Garcon is having a rough season, but if there was ever a week where he would turn it around it would be this one. The Patriots secondary is as bad as advertised, and despite wishful thinking from Pats fans, there aren't many signs it's turning around. New England is horrible against #2 WRs (30th in the NFL), and Garcon should have room to run. His time is now. It's been a brutal season, but watch for Garcon to post huge numbers and get things moving forward. If he can't do it this Sunday, it's a terrible sign for his future.
Our normal 18 Plays Podcast never got off the ground this week, but fear not. I don't leave you without quality audio.
Clicking on the link will download the podcast directly, but you can also listen in the embedded player to the lower right of the page.
18 Plays is brought to you reguarly by Broad Ripple Tree Service. Remember that if you mention 18to88.com, you'll get a 5% discount on your tree work.
There has been some virtual hand-wringing this week over Peyton Manning's numbers over the past three games. Just today, KC Joyner of ESPN said it was evidence of Manning 'slipping'.
He has been the NFL MVP frontrunner in most people's minds (including mine) for many weeks, but after taking a closer look at the game tapes and metrics it starts to become clear that No. 18 is having one of his worst seasons in recent memory.
Actually, Joyner never used the words 'slipping', but ESPN slapped a suggestive headline on the story and in tweets sold it as much. Joyner's piece argues that Manning has played poorly all season, but uses wide receiver numbers to prove it, a dubious strategy indeed. A lot of the focus has been on Manning's play in the last three games, in which he has posted the lowest YPA of any three games in his career.
Most Colts' fans however, will remember a time in 2007 that is strangely reminiscent of what we are seeing now. Going into the New England game, the Colts were already banged up. In addition to Marvin Harrison being out, the Colts lost Anthony Gonzalez in the first half. In the second half, Dallas Clark and Tony Ugoh got hurt. Manning struggled in the second half the game as guys like Aaron Morehead and Craphonso Thorpe simply couldn't produce. Charlie Johnson struggled at left tackle, and Manning was sacked and fumbled on both of the Colts' final two possessions.
The next two games were brutal. The line was a patchwork quilt, and the receiving corp was a nightmare. The Colts famously rallied in San Diego, only to lose on a missed field goal. They then struggled to beat the Chiefs, and four days later played in Atlanta on Thanksgiving as players started to come back. Manning started slow in that game as well, and the Colts were shut out in the first quarter. Finally, on the last play of the quarter, Manning hit Gonzo (recently returned that very night) for a long pass to set up what would become the first of many Colts' scores that night.
The drought lasted 11 quarters. During that stretch, Indy scored 41 points. These are Manning's numbers from the start of the second half of the New England game (after Gonzo went down) through the end of the first quarter of the Falcons game:
|11 quarters (2007)||67||98||625||6.3||2||8||8||58.4|
Now, in fairness, one of the 8 picks was a Hail Mary at the end of the San Diego game. Without that, Manning's rating for the 11 quarters is 71.2. The stretch ended with the return of Anthony Gonzalez to the offense.
Now, let's look at the recent stretch. The Colts offense started off strong against the Texans, with a nice TD drive in the first quarter as Jacob Tamme (replacing Dallas Clark) caught them by surprise. In that quarter, Manning was 5/8 for 48 yards and a score, a rating of 118.8. Since then, the wheels have come off the Indy offense. In the past 11 quarters, they have put up 46 points (plus 14 more on defense). As Austin Collie and Mike Hart also joined the injury list, the Colts' offense has ground to a halt. These are Manning's numbers over that stretch:
|11 quarters (2010)||72||124||699||5.6||2||2||5||72.6|
Bear in mind, that in 2007, the Colts had their full compliment of running backs healthy. Addai was playing the best football of his career. His performance in the Kansas City game (21 for 72 and a score), was perhaps the finest day of his career behind an impossibly bad line. This stretch has featured injuries to the runners as well, thus forcing Manning to throw more.
In 2009, we learned that Peyton can take any wideout with whom he has time to work and turn him into a credible player. What 2007 and now 2010 teach us is that when the wideouts are not normal 4th or 6th round picks, but rather players that were literally available to any team in the league just days before, even Peyton Manning will struggle. Last Sunday, the Colts featured three players not on any NFL roster a month ago.
Manning's 'poor play' isn't poor play at all. He's putting up poor stats, but has helped the Colts win two games and lose by 2 on the road to possibly the best team in the NFL in the other. If anything, the drop in interceptions from Manning shows how much he's learned. He's protecting the ball much better than in 2007. This stretch of play is not indicative of anything at all other than how badly banged up the Colts are.
It is certainly not 'unprecedented'.
The Colts have made 32 trips into the redzone with 20 TDs, the 4th best rate in the league so far this year. There's a glaring problem with this statistic though. Nearly every measure of redzone success you'll see either ignores fieldgoals or treats them as equal to TDs.
In addition to the 20 TDs, Adam Vinatieri has attempted 11 fieldgoals of 38 yards or less, hitting 10 of them. This means of the Colts 32 redzone appearances, there have been 20TDs while 10 have netted a field goal, for 5.31 points per redzone appearance. How does this compare to previous years?
In 2009 the Colts made 54 redzone trips with 35 TDs, a rate about 2% better than this year. On top of the 35 TDs there were 5 RZ FGs from Vinatieri and 7 RZ FGs from Stover, giving 5.20 points per redzone appearance.
So compared to last year, the Colts are actually getting into the redzone slightly more often and getting a sliver more points per time they do.
Mgrex's excellent winning factors series ran the numbers on the Colts redzone success from 2004 to 2008. In that 5 year span the Colts scored 225 TDs with 105 FGs on 371 trips to the redzone. 5.09 points per redzone appearance.
Running all the way back from 2008 to 2001 the Colts scored 87.4% of the redzone trips with 277 TDs and 132 FGs in 468 appearances. 4.99 points per RZ attempt.
Then why does it seem like the Colts are struggling in the redzone? Maybe it's a recent effect the last few games.
The Colts have made 11 trips to the redzone the last 3 games, netting 6 TDs and 5 FGs. That's 5.18 points per appearance, actually better than the Colts usual clip the last decade.
My last idea for reconciling my impression of redzone struggles with the numbers is very short fieldgoals. They are especially frustrating and wouldn't show up in the redzone stats. The Colts have made 5 fieldgoals of 27 yards or less (meaning the LOS was inside the 10) through the first 9 games of 2010. In 2009 they made just 4 all year. In 2008 it was just 2. You have to go back to 2007 to find the Colts kicking so many chip shot FGs with 13 that year. 2007 is the only year among the past 6 in which the Colts have hit more than 5 FGs of 27 yards or less. If the Colts keep pace, the 9 very short FGs will be their 3rd highest total this decade behind 2007 (13) and 2003 (12).
The Colts are still turning redzone attempts into points at their traditionally high rate, but the unusually high number of chip shot FGs they've kicked this year could account for the impression of struggles quite well.
It's Patriots week, and I wanted to call your attention to a variety of articles.
Don't forget some oldies but goodies this week:
Due to complications, there won't be an 18 Plays this week, but I will be appearing on the Check it to Pancakes Podcast tonight, so I'll share my observations there.
Also, as always, be sure to purchase your copy of Blue Blood. I think we have about 10-15 autographed copies left at the most. You can get the book in book stores in the Indy area, or from any online retailer. If you want an autographed copy, drop me a line. Blue Blood is the perfect Christmas gift for Colts fans.