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NFC teams on the playoff bubble

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; http://www.nfl.com/news/story/6844254 NFC teams on the playoff bubble ÂÂÂ* ÂÂÂ* By Art Shell Special to NFL.com (Nov. 18, 2003) -- There are exactly six teams in the NFC right now with winning records, so the playoff picture is fairly clear -- ...

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Old 11-20-2003, 10:12 AM   #1
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NFC teams on the playoff bubble

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/6844254

NFC teams on the playoff bubble

ÂÂÂ*
ÂÂÂ* By Art Shell
Special to NFL.com

(Nov. 18, 2003) -- There are exactly six teams in the NFC right now with winning records, so the playoff picture is fairly clear -- for now.

If the season ended today, the NFC playoff teams would be Carolina (8-2), Dallas, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis (7-3) and Minnesota (6-4). But there are six teams in the conference that are sitting at 5-5 or 4-6 hoping to make a run. It won't be easy, of course.

Here's a team-by-team look at these hopefuls:

Green Bay: The Packers are right in the thick of things. At 5-5, they're one game behind the Vikings in the NFC North. The Vikings started out of the gates real fast and have hit a wall. They haven't responded to losing their first game of the season four weeks ago, and the weaknesses they've shown defensively have been exploited. And this is a copy-cat league, so until they figure out how to stop giving up a lot of rushing yards, every team will try to come after them in that way. Green Bay has split the season series with Minnesota, and now it's coming on strong. It's going to be interesting down the stretch, and Green Bay might have a better chance of winning the division than getting in as a wild card. At least both of those are viable options, which helps their chances.

New Orleans: It's going to be difficult to catch Carolina in the NFC South, but at 5-5 the Saints are in the wild-card hunt. If they can play like they did last week and finish strong, they've got a shot. Their defense has been up and down, but the key is for the offense to understand they have a true weapon in running back Deuce McAllister and they have to use him. In order to win in this league, you need a good running game. When you are able to run the ball, your play-action passing game becomes a whole lot easier. For a while at the start of the season, I thought the Saints were a little too wide open, too reliant on the spread offense. They weren't utilizing McAllister enough. This guy is darn good, and he can make a lot of things happen for you. And the more McAllister runs the ball, the more dangerous the New Orleans passing game will be.

San Francisco: The 49ers seem to be turning things around at the right time. Tim Rattay has done well filling in for Jeff Garcia at quarterback; if Garcia can come back healthy, then they can make a playoff run. At the beginning of the season, I thought Dennis Erickson could have success in his first season at the helm because he was inheriting a good football team. And that's happening now. They're utilizing the running game better, and that's helping the passing game. They're getting the ball down the field a little bit more. And the defense is really coming along and making big plays for them. I think they've got a good shot to make the playoffs. ÂÂÂ*


N.Y. Giants/Tampa Bay: At 4-6, it's going to be tough for either of these teams to make the playoffs. What they need to do is run the table because I don't think 9-7 will be good enough. They've got to circle the wagons and really finish strong. The Giants will play Monday night at Tampa Bay, so this has a chance to be an elimination game of sorts. I think the winner of this game will have a slight chance to run the table. I would give the Bucs the edge here since this game is in Tampa Bay. I still think they can find a way to get things done. They've just got to get back to the drawing board on a few things and understand that teams are gunning for them every week because they are the world champs. But they've still got a lot of the same players who won the Super Bowl last year, so they can get it done.

Washington: Another 4-6 team that needs to run the table. It will be awfully difficult for the Redskins to do that, in my mind. I worry about their ability to protect the quarterback. It's not entirely the offensive line's fault. When you talk about blitz pickups, you're talking about the line, the blocking backs -- and even the quarterback himself, because he's got to make sure he has the right protection called to take care of the blitz. For that reason, I don't see this team winning six in a row.
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Old 11-20-2003, 11:29 AM   #2
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For a while at the start of the season, I thought the Saints were a little too wide open, too reliant on the spread offense. They weren\'t utilizing McAllister enough.
Interesting to read that. Earlier in the season, I agreed with a lot of the posters here that McCarthy needed to open the offense up more instead of trying to force the run. Shell says the opposite.
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Old 11-20-2003, 11:40 AM   #3
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nteresting to read that. Earlier in the season, I agreed with a lot of the posters here that McCarthy needed to open the offense up more instead of trying to force the run. Shell says the opposite.
Maybe that\'s why he\'s not coaching anymore. Nah, that surprised me as well , I agree spreading the field is the way to help open things up for Deuce so he doesn\'t see so many loaded fronts. However with all the injuries and problems at the WR position coordinators might not respect the pass as much and load up the box anyway. It\'s going to get tougher for Deuce, injuries to the O line and the focus of Defensive planning mean we need Horn to get healthy soon and Paython needs to build on his progress last week to have a shot.

[Edited on 11/20/2003 by saint5221]
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Old 11-20-2003, 11:56 AM   #4
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Pathon and/or Boo Williams are going to have to have a big day if we\'re going to beat the Eagles. Maybe Stealthman is right and Hilton will break it open-- if he gets playing time. That would be nice to see, but if he can\'t run-block, I don\'t think he\'ll be in the game very much unless we have a lot of 3rd-and-long situations.
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Old 11-20-2003, 10:20 PM   #5
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What that means is that when the Saints spread the field, opposing teams don\'t respect it. They\'re still keying on Deuce, daring Brooks to throw over them. I know we\'re banged up at WR, but now is the time to step it up. Brooks AND ALL of the WRs need to bring their games to another level. If we can burn them a few times, they\'ll soften up and Deuce can run wild. Bottom line - when teams are stacking 8 to stop the run we HAVE to take advantage in the passing game.
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Old 11-21-2003, 06:38 AM   #6
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WhoDat -- I read that article 3 times and I don\'t know how you gathered the writer was saying --

What that means is that when the Saints spread the field, opposing teams don\'t respect it. They\'re still keying on Deuce, daring Brooks to throw over them.
I do think some teams are doing that, but only the teams that have corners good enough to play man-to-man. Like Seattle and Tennessee. Both Seattle and Tenn. used their saftey in run support more than most teams because their corners were capiable of covering man-to-man. Other teams like -- Huston, Chicago, Atlanta, and even Carlonia, tended to play more zone coverage. Not to say that they never used their saftey in run support, but just that they didn\'t commit 8 in the box nearly as much.

Now, the eagles will be putting 8-in the box and daring Brooks to throw. The Eagles have excellent corners and it seems they even have supreme faith in their #3 corner. In another post, I basically said the samething you are saying, Which is, Brooks must be able to make some plays to make the defense play honest. If Brooks and the passing game are not effective, it\'s going to be a long day.

I read an article that says Jim Johnson of the eagles likes to clog the middle of the field in the passing game and force QB\'s to throw outside the hash-marks. He says those throws are more difficult for a QB to complete. I agree with that statement.

No QB has thrown for 300 or more yards against the Eagles defense this year. Also, only 2-QB\'s have thrown for more than 1-TD against the Eagles and both threw for only 2-TD\'s.
It\'s going to be a very tough match-up for the Saints offense.

Not only is the Eagles secondary going to create some problems, but the pass rush is going to have to be held in check. Anyone that is familar with the Eagles knows the front 4 is still pretty darn good, even without Hugh Douglas. Jim Johnson aslo likes to blitz early and often.

Which brings me to this question. What do the Saints need to do to scheme for this Eagles defense? Here\'s a few things I think they need to do.

1. Roll Brooks out. (Move the pocket.)
2. Call plays designed for Brooks to run.
3. Run more screens.
4. Run a few trick plays. (Keep \'em guessing.)

I do not like the idea of just playing a spread formation and trying to beat the Eagles secondary. No one has been able to do it yet.


[Edited on 21/11/2003 by BillyC]
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Old 11-21-2003, 10:28 AM   #7
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No one want\'s to talk stratagy on how to beat the Eagles? LummOx, tweeky, WhoDat, B&B, saintfan? Anyone?? Ok -- Well, I\'m heading to Galveston, Tx. Everyone has about 5-hours to post some stratagy. I\'ll read it when I get there. --- :P

Saints -- 35

Eagles -- 17
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Old 11-21-2003, 11:41 AM   #8
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Its pretty simple. Bring our A game and we\'ll win.
Philly may be looking a little ahead at the Carolina game.
We may surprise them.

Offensive Gameplan-
Let Philly chose their poison.
If they crowd the line, pass.
If they play honest, run Deuce till they stop them.
ADJUST IF NECESSARY.

Defensive Gameplan-
Play mostly base and let our front 4 apply the pressure. Their WR\'s don\'t scare anyone.
Blitz occasionally from all directions. Keep them guessing. Watch for the screen on every play.

Overall-
Play ball control, limit turnovers, involve TE\'s and screens.
Get Brooks\' confidence up early with high % passes.

No trick plays, Philly\'s defense is too experienced and too smart.
I think we have superior special teams in all phases. Take the points when available.

On returns, start Lewis toward the sidelines like he\'s done all year and bust it back toward the middle and take it to the house.

While I think we can win this game, I don\'t think we will. I had this game originally marked as a loss. If both teams bring their A game I can see us losing 27-24.
But keep in mind that Philly is now playing like everyone thought they could. I think they are now the best team in the NFC.

This game will tell us a lot about us. If we play them tough I think we will get to 9-7 or even run the table. If we suffer another blow-out then I think we\'ll struggle to make it to 9-7.

If we win, watch out. I think 10-6 is a minimum.


[Edited on 21/11/2003 by tweeky]

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Old 11-21-2003, 02:40 PM   #9
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Turn off McCarthy\'s microphone.
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