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Kwisatz Haderach
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Discussion Starter #1
How important is a fast start? Apparently 60% of the Super Bowl winners since the NFL has expanded to 32 teams has started 2-0. Of course this means nothing, as anything can happen (as proven by the Giants starting 0-2 and winning in 2007-08).

2011 - Giants 1-1 (9-7)
2010 - Packers 2-0 (10-6)
2009 - Saints 2-0 (13-3)
2008 - Steelers 2-0 (12-4)
2007 - Giants 0-2 (10-6)
2006 - Colts 2-0 (12-4)
2005 - Steelers 2-0 (11-5)
2004 - Patriots 2-0 (14-2)
2003 - Patriots 1-1 (14-2)
2002 - Buccaneers 1-1 (12-4)
We also recall teams such as the 2011-12 Bills who started 2-0 only to fall to 6-10. A 2-0 start is great but it is still only a start. It doesn't guarantee anything and just because you crown a team in mid-September doesn't mean that they're destined to win the Super Bowl. In fact what we've seen since 2005 are teams who have either gotten hot late or had a favorable matchup in the Wild Card round of the playoffs which helped them advance, and in the playoffs matchups are key (obvious).

I've watched a fair amount of games so far (Game Rewind is a godsend. Haven't really dived into the coach's tape as I don't have a ton of free time) and I really feel like the play in the NFL has finally rebounded after what I thought was a dismal past few years. There's more competition and there seems to be more teams who have a realistic shot at making the post season. Last year there were teams you could just write off in August and just suffer with them through the season. This year I'd count only the Raiders as a lost cause with no signs of improvement.

I'm just excited. Despite the refereeing which has slowed down the games and produced some mind numbing calls, we've actually received a lot of good football. This should continue and hopefully injuries are down this season.
 

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Where would you get the coach's tape from?
 

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Kwisatz Haderach
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Discussion Starter #4
It's for $70 for a full year. I wouldn't suggest it for everyone, but if you're going to rewatch games it's worth it. I just wish it had an app on the XBox so I could just watch on there instead of plugging in my laptop if I want to watch on my TV.
 

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Kwisatz Haderach
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Discussion Starter #5
Here's an article from the NYT's Fifth Down Blog that I read this morning about 0-2 records.

Six N.F.L. teams have started the season 0-2, the lowest number since 1997. No doubt the most surprising of the winless teams is the New Orleans Saints, who happen to be the only winless team in the N.F.C.

Over in the A.F.C., the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Tennessee Titans, the Cleveland Browns, the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs are still looking for their first wins. Among the winless teams, the Chiefs head to New Orleans to face the Saints this weekend, in a desperation game for both.

Since 1990, only 22 of the 184 teams (12 percent) that started the season 0-2 ultimately made the playoffs. Of course, most of those 184 teams missed the playoffs not because they lost their first two games, but because they weren’t very good. Since the league expanded to 32 teams in 2002, only 11 of the 72 teams that started the season 0-2 would have made the playoffs had they won two more games.

It’s not the case that each team that loses its first two games has a 12 percent chance of making the playoffs. Just like a snowflake, every 0-2 N.F.L. team is unique, if not necessarily pretty. By placing the 22 “0-2 to playoffs” teams into specific groups, we can try to see if there is a blueprint out there for the current crop of 0-2 teams.

Made a key change (6 of the 22 teams)

Six teams made significant changes during the season, which made the team that took the field the first two weeks a different team from the one that made the playoffs.

In 1998, Glenn Foley and Rob Johnson went 3-6 as the starting quarterbacks for the Jets and the Buffalo Bills; they were replaced by the veterans Vinny Testaverde and Doug Flutie, who combined to go 19-4. Both Testaverde and Flutie made the Pro Bowl despite starting the season on the bench.

A similar story took place in Pittsburgh in 2002, as Tommy Maddox revived his career as turned the run-heavy Steelers into a more balanced and explosive offense. And, of course, Drew Bledsoe started the first two games of the season for the 2001 Patriots before Tom Brady took over for the rest of the season, setting the stage for a dynasty.

In 1993, the star running back Emmitt Smith held out for the first two games of the season, and Dallas struggled without him. In 2008, the Dolphins got a similar boost to their running game when they introduced the Wildcat formation to the league in Week 3 against the Patriots.

2012 blueprint: These changes are hard to see until they happen. It’s possible that the Tennessee Titans could switch from Jake Locker to Matt Hasselbeck, who played well at times in 2011. In Jacksonville, Maurice Jones-Drew’s holdout is already over, although it was a poor pass offense that sank the team in Week 2. For the Raiders’ sake, there must be better options on which to pin their hopes than Terrelle Pryor. And unfortunately for the Saints, Sean Payton isn’t walking through that door.

High-scoring offenses (4 of the remaining 16; 4 of 22 over all)

The Saints have scored 59 points through two games, the fourth-highest total of any team to start 0-2 since 1990. The 1994 Patriots (70 points), the 2008 Chargers (62) and the 2002 Vikings (62) were the only teams to score more points, and the Patriots and the Chargers each went on to make the playoffs. Only 15 teams even reached 45 points after two games, and one of those was the 2007 Giants, an eventual Super Bowl champion (the other was the 2002 Atlanta Falcons). That means 27 percent of the teams to score at least 45 points but start 0-2 went on to make the playoffs, and that number probably underestimates New Orleans’s chances considering just how effective the Saints’ offense has been over the past half-decade.

2012 blueprint: The Saints stand out as the 0-2 team most likely to turn it around. High-scoring teams always have a chance to win, and the Saints are still capable of winning a bunch of shootouts in 2012.

Close losses (2 of the remaining 12; 6 of 22 over all)

This is closely tied to the previous category but instead focuses on points differential and not just points scored. Six of the 22 teams (from previous categories, the ’98 Bills, the ’94 Patriots, the ’08 Chargers and the ’02 Falcons) that started 0-2 and made the playoffs were outscored by 10 or fewer points after two weeks. The 1990 Eagles lost in Week 1 by a touchdown to the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants; the following week, a field goal in the final seconds helped the Phoenix Cardinals defeat Philadelphia, 23-21. But the Buddy Ryan-coached Eagles still made the playoffs with a 10-6 record. The 2008 Minnesota Vikings lost by 5 to the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 before blowing a lead to the Peyton Manning-led Colts in Week 2. Still, a strong running game and run defense drove Minnesota to a 10-6 record and a postseason berth.

There were 184 teams that were 0-2 after two games from 1990 to 2011, but only 29 of those teams had been outscored by 10 or fewer points. Since 6 of those 29 teams went on to make the playoffs, that jumps the likelihood of making the playoffs from 12 percent as a generic 0-2 team to 21 percent as an 0-2 team that has lost some close games.

2012 blueprint: The Cleveland Browns held a fourth-quarter lead late against the Eagles and kept it close against the Bengals. Despite an 0-2 record, the Browns have only been outscored by 8 points this year.

Good defense (2 of the remaining 10; 4 of 22 over all)

Four of the 22 teams to make the playoffs after an 0-2 start allowed just 35 points or fewer after two weeks (’98 Bills, ’01 Patriots, ’91 Falcons, ’06 Chiefs). Since only 17 of the 184 teams that started 0-2 allowed 35 or fewer points, that means 24 percent of the teams to start strong defensively went on to make the playoffs despite failing to notch a win.

2012 blueprint: Unfortunately for this year’s crop, none of them have had good starts on that side of the ball, with Cleveland leading the winless pack by allowing “only” 51 points.

Winning 11 games the year before (2 of the remaining 8; 6 out of 22 over all)

Only 23 teams won at least 11 games and then started off 0-2 during this period; as you might suspect, a relatively high percentage, 26 percent, of those teams still managed to make the playoffs. Being a good team and starting off the season 0-2 is unusual, but a few bad breaks could distort the quality of any team. The Philadelphia Eagles went 12-4 in both 2002 and 2003. But in ’03, the Eagles faced the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1 and the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in Week 2, losing to both. The ’92 Steelers went 11-5 but started the season against an excellent 49ers team that went on to lead the league in points differential. In Week 2, they put up a clunker of a game in Los Angeles, but the Steelers got back to their winning ways the rest of the season. The ’08 Chargers, ’90 Eagles, ’02 Steelers and ’93 Cowboys also fit the model of teams with at least 11 wins in the prior season.

2012 blueprint: The Saints won 13 games last season, but only 2 of the 8 teams that started 0-2 after winning 13 or 14 games still qualified for the playoffs. In a very difficult division in what appears to be the tougher conference, it’s not going to be easy for New Orleans.

Turnovers = Good? (2 of the remaining 6; 7 of 22 over all)

In 1990, both the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Oilers turned the ball over 10 times in two losses to start the season. But considering the fickle nature of turnovers, you wouldn’t expect those teams to remain so turnover prone the rest of the way. In fact, of the 22 0-2 teams that had at least eight turnovers in their first two games, nearly one-third of them went on to make the playoffs (in addition to the two teams in 1990, the ’02 Steelers (10), ’93 Cowboys (8), ’03 Eagles (8), ’91 Falcons (8), and ’94 Patriots (8) had turnover problems early on.)

2012 blueprint: It’s the Philadelphia Eagles who lead the N.F.L. in turnovers with nine, and they were just two plays from finding themselves in this column at 0-2. The Kansas City Chiefs are second in the league with six turnovers but have now been outscored by 204 points in their last 20 regular-season games.

Better to be lucky than good – the 1998 Arizona Cardinals

The ’98 Cardinals are arguably the N.F.L.’s worst playoff team. They played the weakest schedule in the league and were still outscored by 53 points. They didn’t beat a team with a winning record, or with an 8-8 record, or even with a 7-9 record. According to Pro-Football-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System, the Cardinals were one of the five worst teams in the league that season, despite winning nine games. Arizona went to win a playoff game, but it’s certainly not a team any 2012 team wants to model itself after. And yes, in case you haven’t figured it out by now, the Cardinals started the season with 38-10 and 33-14 losses.

2012 blueprint: It’s the Tennessee Titans who have the worst points differential in the league at -49. If ever there were a Jake Plummer replica, it’s Jake Locker.

Turning it on after a slow start

To some extent, all 22 teams turned it on after a slow start, but the last three teams in particular seemed to just sleepwalk through the start of the season.

The 1995 Detroit Lions finished in the top three in points, yards, first downs, passing yards, passing touchdowns and rushing yards per attempt. But that firepower wasn’t on display early in the season in losses in Pittsburgh and Minnesota. Three months later, Detroit beat Minnesota 44-38, as part of a seven-game winning streak to end the season after starting 3-6. Barry Sanders rushed for 1,500 yards, Herman Moore and Brett Perriman combined for 231 receptions and 3,174 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns, and Scott Mitchell threw for 4,338 yards and 32 touchdowns. But Detroit had two of its three lowest-scoring games in losses in Weeks 1 and 2.

The 1996 Patriots made the Super Bowl and ranked in the top three in points, first downs and passing yards. Four members of the offense — quarterback Drew Bledsoe, running back Curtis Martin, tight end Ben Coates and left tackle Bruce Armstrong — wound up making the Pro Bowl. The rookie wide receiver Terry Glenn — who ranks just ninth in receptions among the members of the 1996 draft class — ended up setting a rookie record for receptions in a season with 90 (since surpassed by Anquan Boldin). But New England scored just 10 points in each of their first two games, road losses to division rivals Miami and Buffalo. The Patriots scored 70 points in the rematches against the Dolphins and the Bills, and won 11 of their last 14 regular-season games.

The 1992 San Diego Chargers were a balanced team, ranking in the top 10 in points, yards and first downs on both offense and defense. John Friesz was expected to start at quarterback, but a preseason injury ended his career. San Diego traded for Stan Humphries from Washington, who unsurprisingly took some time to get acclimated. But after throwing 1 touchdown against 8 interceptions en route to an 0-4 start, Humphries had a 88.1 passer rating in the team’s final 12 games. Over that span, San Diego allowed the fewest points in the league and went 11-1.

2012 blueprint: Like the first category, these things are difficult to identify at the time. But I am intrigued by the potential of the offense in Oakland. Carson Palmer, Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore give Oakland a strong group of talent at the skill positions. It’s been a rocky start for the Raiders, but they seem like a better breakout candidate than Cleveland, Jacksonville, Tennessee, or Kansas City (and obviously New Orleans wouldn’t apply here, unless the defense did a 180). In Tennessee, Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt give the Titans potential dynamic weapons on offense, but both players’ reputations have taken serious hits after a rocky couple of years.

The obvious horse to bet on to make the playoffs in this field is New Orleans. In 2008, the Chargers, the Dolphins and the Vikings all rallied from 0-2 to the playoffs, but no team has done it since. If that’s going to change in 2012, Drew Brees will be worth every penny this season.
http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/n-f-l-blueprints-for-getting-out-of-0-2-holes/
 

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Kwisatz Haderach
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Discussion Starter #6
This could be sacrilege, but Andrew Luck doesn't really jump out to me when I watch the Colts. I don't see what made him to be the "best QB prospect in a generation" while at Stanford. I'm not expecting him to be lights out as a rookie, I just expected to see some passes that were special. It's still early.

Not a lot of zip on these passes.

Also I actually like Christian Ponder as a NFL starter but, boy, does he believe in running out of the pocket and throwing the ball away? There were several plays in this Colts game where he ran outside of the pocket and slid before the line of scrimmage.
 

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I feel like more stock should be placed into a first quarter of the season checkpoint then 2 measly games

So I'd love to see articles and such about 4-0 2-2 0-4 teams
 

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Kwisatz Haderach
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Discussion Starter #10
Too many teams that started 4-0 and 2-2 have made the playoffs for it to really work for an article. Not enough have made it after starting 0-4.
 

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Kwisatz Haderach
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Discussion Starter #11
Got my tickets for next Sunday to see Chokin' Cam.
I'm considering trying to go to Eagles/Giants. If I can find the motivation to go down to South Philly next Sunday night.
 

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I just feel like 2 games doesn't mean anything. I mean the numbers regarding SB/playoff chances are there but that's because they have to be if you get my drift
 

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Kwisatz Haderach
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Discussion Starter #13
On paper the Eagles have perhaps one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. On the field they're one of the most turnover/mistake prone units in the NFL. It's unfortunate that a week after beating the Ravens in a fist fight they were basically bullied in Arizona.

The Cardinals have a great defense. Mediocre offensive line, and horrible QB but they were the much better team today. Also Ryan Williams looked pretty good on interior runs vs the Eagles. They also have a really good WR core. They're 3-0 and could be a problem going forward. I think the NFC West is gonna be really tough and it seemingly happened overnight.
 

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Kwisatz Haderach
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Discussion Starter #14
I just feel like 2 games doesn't mean anything. I mean the numbers regarding SB/playoff chances are there but that's because they have to be if you get my drift
I get what you're saying, but what this article shows is that the two games means something but not what most make it out to be.
 

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Vick hasn't changed man. He still holds that ball too long and makes too many dumb decisions for his age
 

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Kwisatz Haderach
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Discussion Starter #16
Okay, I was complaining on twitter about this and I don't know if anyone in the national media pointed this out but I need someone smarter than I am to explain this.

Devin McCourty gets a pass interference call when he's defending Jacoby Jones. The next play Joe Flacco gets the ball and downs it. So it's 2nd down for the Ravens with 43 seconds left and the Patriots have two timeouts. The Ravens were going to stop the clock before the kick. The Pats could have stopped the clock and gave their offense a chance to win the game.

Instead Belichick sat on his two timeouts waited for the Ravens to call their timeout, and when Tucker was about to kick they called TO to try and freeze the kicker. Freezing the kicker doesn't work! It doesn't work! It doesn't work! I just don't get it. This is the second week Belichick has been un-Belichick at the end of games.
 

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Kwisatz Haderach
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Discussion Starter #17
Vick hasn't changed man. He still holds that ball too long and makes too many dumb decisions for his age
Today it wasn't even as much his dumb decisions. He fumbled, and that's one of those things you just have to accept. But today the offensive line was a shit show. Demetress Bell is the third string tackle and he was beat all day. It looked like the game on Any Given Sunday when the O-Line hated Willie Beamon.
 

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That's funny cause my Aunt was like she thinks his line doesn't block as hard for him because they still don't like him over the dog shit...which is ridiculous but funny cause he was running for his life so often today

I think this might be a good sign that they're confident in Kolb as their guy playing so hard in a game that probably meant a lot to him too
 

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Kwisatz Haderach
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Discussion Starter #19
LOL. That sounds like something ridiculous I would say when I get mad watching games.

What surprised me was that Kolb was getting hit and pressured and he didn't look shaky. He didn't look like a great QB but he looked competent. I'm sure the Cardinals brass would rather have him hold the starting job with all the money they're paying him.

OH! And did anyone see this? I just found out about this last night and couldn't stop laughing:

 
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