Some odd factoids to feast on as you start your short week:
5 -- Dallas is 5th in scoring defense and rising. Look at the Cowboys and other league and conference contenders:
1. Colts - 15.7 ppg.
2. Patriots - 16.4
3. Bengals - 16.7
4. Ravens - 17.1
5. Cowboys - 17.5
10. Vikings - 19.3
11. Cardinals - 19.7
13T. Saints - 20.4
13T. Eagles - 20.4
19T. Falcons - 22.8
23T. Giants - 23.5
Dallas faces Oakland next. They average a league-worst 10.8 points per game. They have not topped 20 points this year. They've topped 13 points just three times. They've scored 10 points or less in half their games. If the Cowboys hold the Raiders to their average of 10 points, Wade's guys will likely crack the top three in scoring defense.
The NFL ranks defenses on yards allowed, the NFL's version of using batting average to assess who is a great hitter. It's fun, but misleading. The Giants, for instance, rank 2nd in yards, but are last in the division in points allowed and are last among the NFC contenders in this category.
The Cowboys, meanwhile have been slowly and steadily rising up from the 30th spot they occupied after the Giants meltdown in week two. Little Doomsday now ranks 16th in this category.
The New Right Tackle?
Doug Free was trouble free today. Didn't draw a penalty. Run blocked well; Jason Garrett didn't favor the left side, as he has in the past. The yardage averages to the right looked very similar to the left, and Free's pass protection appeared sound.
I already see a rush to appoint him Flozell Adam's replacement next year. Perhaps, but I think the team might be better served leaving him right where he, provided his solid play continues. Free received a lot of playing time in the preseason and did not excel at left tackle. The Vikings backup Brian Robison ran around Free several times in the exhibition finale.
Marc Colombo isn't getting any younger and there's no guarantee he'll be the same guy when he returns. He's already overcome one severe leg injury. Dallas likes Robert Brewster as a future guard prospect and may have found their right tackle of the future. I'll guessing Flozell's eventual replacement is on a college campus right now.
Who Said Parity is Dead?
Remember the knee jerking from national press a few weeks ago, when the NFL had one of its bloodiest weekends, with blowouts across the landscape? If a short stretch of mismatches means parity died, can we now call it Lazarus?
This weekend seven games were played between teams separated by three or more games in the standings. Let's see how those turned out:
- Colts 17, Ravens 15;
- Cowboys 7, Redskins 6
- Chiefs 27, Steelers 24
- Vikings 35, Seahawks 9
- Saints 38, Bucs 7
- Cardinals 21, Rams 13
- Raiders 20, Bengals 17
The favored Vikings and Saints won blowouts, but look at the Chiefs and Raiders. The Redskins, Rams and Ravens came close in their games.
The previous week the Redskins knocked the Broncos down to size while the Bucs and Rams threw scares into their heavily favored foes. The Rams in particular had the ball in the final minute with a chance to upset New Orleans.
In the NFC, eleven of the sixteen teams remain in playoff contention ten games into the season. Only the Rams, Bucs, Lions, Seahawks and Redskins can be ruled out, and yet we've seen in the last two weeks how dangerous Washington can be.
In the AFC, only the Browns, Bills, Chiefs and Raiders can be called out and the last two just pulled off huge upsets. If the Titans beat the Texans tonight, they'll be back in the wild card race after an 0-6 start.
Wade Phillips was right in his post game presser, when he said he would not apologize for his ugly win. Wins are hard and an ugly one means just as much as a pretty one when the season is over.