Primetime Previews: Week 7, 2015

I didn’t spend any money watching that Thursday Night Football “game” featuring the Seattle Seahawks beating the San Francisco 49ers, but I would like a refund of the time I wasted watching that farce.

Week 7’s primetime games feature 3 teams named after birds and 1 team that is the favorite of reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry (SPORTS!!!!). Without further delay, I present the Sunday Night and Monday Night Football previews for Philadelphia at Carolina, and Baltimore at Arizona.

Sunday Night Preview: 6-0 For The First Time In Franchise History?

 Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 11.22.34 PM

NFC East teams seem to be all the rage for primetime games, or so I’m told. Philadelphia already appeared on Monday Night last week, in which they seemed to have won against the Giants in spite of Sam Bradford, who threw 3 costly picks in that game.

This time, the matchup is in Charlotte against the undefeated Panthers, who are 5-0 for the first time since the 2003 Super Bowl run. Cam Newton is running away with MVP consideration as if it were a free laptop, playing really well with a considerably limited supporting cast. The defense has held its own, keeping the games competitive for the offense to win.

Coming off the upset special at Seattle, Carolina faces the opportunity to be 6-0 for the first time in franchise history. As said before, this is the 2nd time the Panthers have ever been 5-0 to start a season. See the chart below.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 7.22.01 PM

2002 was the exact opposite of 2014 if you’re the NFC South (OAK, TB, and ATL had at least 9 wins that year), which serves as an additional reminder that the current NFC South is of the same quality as a Meek Mill diss track.

Not to channel Captain Obvious, but this is a huge game for CAR, as the lights are on them in a pivotal NFC South race with the Falcons. The home field advantage alone should justify a win for the Panthers, but the Eagles defense ranks 2nd in takeaways this season, only behind Denver.

I suppose it helps to play struggling NFC East teams, but hey, if it’s sustainable, there’s no use crying about it.

Immediately after the Eagles win over the Giants last Monday, I tweeted out that the Eagles would get slaughtered if Sam Bradford plays the same on Sunday Night as he did in the week 6 matchup, and I still think this is the case. Frankly, the Eagles offense seems uneven. One game, the run game explodes, and several have the pass game exploding in the 2nd half. I don’t think Chip Kelly’s schemes have as much to do with that as it does drops, mental errors from Bradford, and poor kicking.

Could we be seeing Mark Sanchez starting soon? Depends on how much crack you’re smoking.

All things considered, I’ve got the Panthers winning, though I think they have an equal chance of winning close as much as they do blowing out Philadelphia. At the very least, I’m expecting a good game, just so long as the Eagles offense doesn’t take Benadryl in the first half again.

Monday Night Preview: The Comedy Central Roast of the Baltimore Ravens

This would look like a nice matchup on paper, if that same paper were to have plans to take Marc Trestman and stuffed him in a box back to Canada.

The Ravens have shocked the NFL by starting off 1-5, barely escaping 0-6 thanks to the clutch efforts of Josh Scobee. Losing to a Josh McCown led-team at home is as hilarious as it is saddening, and thus Baltimore looks nothing like the highly successful team they’ve been since 2008.

Trestman’s play calling has been one of the reasons’ for the terrible start, as well as the regressed defense and poor offensive line, but quarterback Joe Flacco is also to blame. He’s been really bad this season, throwing vomit-inducing turnovers with sub-par accuracy to boot. I can’t say it’s all his fault, but he’s been careless with the ball this season, and I just don’t see that changing this week in Phoenix.

But what’s really disturbing about the Ravens’ lackluster start is their 4th quarter play. Baltimore has trailed by 1-8 points in the final 3 minutes of the 3rd quarter in all 6 games this season.

In other words, Baltimore’s trailed by 1-8 points at this mark in the 4th quarter in 100% of their games this season. In other words, this is a statistical anomaly when compared to the other years in the Joe Flacco-John Harbaugh era, as seen below.

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 1.23.00 AM

Note that this chart only includes games where the Ravens had the ball with at least 3:00 in the 4th quarter down 1-8 points, so the 2011 loss to Seattle does not count. The numbers on the chart are a bit misleading in addition, as the Ravens lost games where they scored the go ahead or game tying score, as well as games were they just barely had any time to run plays. I also have yet to compare these results to the other 31 teams.

Even so, the 4th quarter performance of this team as a whole has been terrible. Depending on if they want to win in Arizona, they must keep it close, then close it out properly.

On the other side, the Cardinals are the leaders of the NFC West at 4-2. Carson Palmer is having an MVP-caliber season, though he’s coming off a pretty lousy game against the Steelers, so the expectation is that he and the Bird Gang bounce back Monday Night. For starters, the Cardinals offensive line has been very good this year, Palmer and Chris Johnson have discovered the fountain of youth and are once again good players, and Larry Fitzgerald has been great this season despite not even being in his prime (or having Kurt Warner), and the defense is 4th in takeaways. In general, there’s plenty of things going right for Arizona so far.

All things considered, the Cardinals win this game. The NFL is an unpredictable game, but I’ll be very surprised if the Ravens make this close, let alone steal the win.

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