The long wait is finally over, and meaningful NFL football is here again. What better way to rev up the excitement than a PFR contest? Scroll down to the bottom for that information.
Tonight's game features two of the most interesting teams in the league. I'd love to hear the thoughts of our readers on what I'm watching for tonight, so please post your opinions in the comments, along with whatever you're looking forward to seeing.
1. The Colts have won 20 of their past 21 home games -- with the only loss coming against Drew Brees' Chargers in 2005. Can Brees continue to do what no other QB has done, and beat the Colts at the RCA Dome?
2. Joseph Addai had more than 25 carries in a game just once in his collegiate career, and has yet to do so as a pro. With Dominic Rhodes now in Oakland, Kenton Keith and DeDe Dorsey are the backup running backs in Indianapolis. Keith was in the CFL the past four years, after spending four years at New Mexico State where he averaged 534 yards per season. By my count, Dorsey is the first player from Lindenwood to ever play in the NFL, and has already been waived once by the Colts. Suffice it to say, Addai should see a ton of carries this year -- Colts RBs have averaged 410 carries the past four years. Can he hold up? Does he get 25 or 30 tonight?
3. Does Reggie Bush explode this year, and leave Deuce McAllister in the dust? Does he turn his success at the end of last year into a huge season as as sophomore, like Frank Gore did in 2006? I know I've written about Bush quite a bit, but seeing him against the Colts defense should be a treat for any NFL fan. Well, except those that root for Indianapolis.
4. What does Marques Colston do for an encore? Colston was leading the entire league in receiving yards and receiving TDs through 10 weeks last year, before injuring his ankle on the first series of the game in week eleven. Since the merger, no rookie has ever led the league in receiving yards, and only Anquan Boldin and Randy Moss finished in the top three. Boldin would record 158 receptions in his next 24 games, and Moss would rank in the top five in receiving yards in four of the next five years.
Only six rookies have ranked in the top three in receiving TDs in a season. Moss and John Jefferson both led the league as rookies, and Jefferson made the Pro Bowl in his second and third years. Charlie Brown ranked 2nd in receiving TDs, and would play even better as a sophomore and make another Pro Bowl trip. Sammy White tied for third in receiving TDs as a rookie, and would finish in the top five each of his next two seasons in that category. And then there was Randy Vataha, who tied for 2nd in the league in receiving TDs as a rookie for New England in 1971, but flamed out shortly after. Calvin Williams tied for third in receiving TDs as an Eagles rookie in 1990, but failed to excel after that. While there are a couple of counter-examples, the history books indicate that Colston has a great chance of earning several trips to Hawaii -- but how does the former Hofstra product fare this year when he's now the number 1 WR?
5. The Colts defense was terrible last year, and has since lost both starting corners (including Jason David to New Orleans), its top tackler and former Pro Bowl LB, and its top run stuffer (Booger McFarland). However, none of those players were elite, and we've seen some very positive things from the Colts defense in the pre-season. A healthy Bob Sanders will go a long way towards curing the historically bad run defense from last year, which has to get better almost by default. If LB Freddie Keiaho and CB Antoine Bethea can improve as second year players, that will go a long way towards improving the defense. The Colts flat out couldn't tackle last season, and the early returns so far are promising. Cato June was a liability last year, and neither Nick Harper nor Jason David were good cover men. Is it possible that we'll see addition by subtraction in Indianapolis this year?
6. This game features two of the best coaches in the league. Sean Payton justifiably earned praise as perhaps the game's best play-caller, consistently making the right calls in leading the Saints to the NFC Championship. He'll match wits against Tony Dungy, who has the exact same career record as George Seifert. Among coaches with 50+ career wins, Dungy and Seifert rank third in career winning percentage behind Don Shula and George Halas.
7. While all eyes will be on the QBs that led their respective conferences in passing yards in 2006, you might want to look to the left a little bit. He doesn't have the reputation of Walter Jones, Orlando Pace or Jonathon Ogden, but third-year left tackle Jammal Brown might just be the best in the league. While he suffered a bone bruise on his right knee a month ago, he should be ready to go tonight against Dwight Freeney, the most well paid defensive player of all time. Brown has quick feet and excels in pass blocking, making this perhaps the top one-on-one battle in all of week one.
The Colts had one of the best pass blocking tackles in the league as well, but Tarik Glenn's recent retirement leaves Indianapolis in a bind. They'll be going with rookie Tony Ugoh to protect Mastercard's favorite pitchman. It's hard to overstate the important of solid left guard play, especially on an offense like the Colts. Indianapolis doesn't want to have to keep TE Dallas Clark and/or RB Joseph Addai in to protect Manning on every play, but they're not going to let him get roughed up, either. And Colts fans better hope that Tony Ugoh got prepared by facing Dwight Freeney in practice, because he goes up against the NFC's best right defensive end in Will Smith. While the Smith-Ugoh matchup isn't strength vs. strength like Freeney/Brown, how Ugoh handles Smith might be the deciding factor in the game.
Prize: 20 virtual dollars with which to sponsor a page at PFR. Also honor and glory.
Scoring and Rules: In order to win, you must pick the correct winner of the game. Your score is calculated as follows:
1) Compute the difference in total points scored between your projection and the final result. Square that number.
2) Computer the difference in margin of victory. Raise that number to the 2.5 power.
3) The person with the lowest score wins. All tiebreakers will be broken chronologically by when you posted your pick. PFR management reserves the right to handle any disputes in the matter that causes it the least amount of hassle. The winner will be announced tomorrow or at PFR management's earliest convenience, whichever comes later.
4) Everyone is limited to one entry per person. If you decide to enter more than once, all your entries will be disregarded and I'll make you watch this video over and over again.
5) Please post your prediction in the following way: Winning Team, Winning Team Score, Losing Team, Losing Team Score. This will make my life a lot easier. Example: Indianapolis, 20, New Orleans, 17.
Examples on how your score is calculated: Suppose the final score is 35-31 Colts. Poster A predicts 20-17 Colts, Poster B predicts 31-17 Colts, and Poster C predicts 35-31 Saints. Poster B would win with the lowest eligible entry. Poster A scores 842 points, Poster B scores 640 points and Poster C is ineligible due to picking the wrong winner.
Good luck to all, and most importantly, enjoy tonight's game!
This entry was posted on Thursday, September 6th, 2007 at 1:15 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.