NFL Week 7 Predictions, Dick LeBeau and Writing Recap

That was a historic week. Peyton Manning set the new mark for fourth quarter comebacks, which only changed record holders for the third time since 1963, and I wrote eight articles totalling over 24,000 words.

Think I need a bye week.

This Week’s Articles

Captain Comeback Week 6: Matt Ryan Passes Tom Brady For Best Record in the Clutch – Cold, Hard Football Facts

While Manning and the Denver Broncos had the Drive of the Week, there was a rare (or at least they used to be) blown lead of two scores in the fourth quarter by the Patriots. With Tom Brady unable to answer, he was surpassed by Matt Ryan (19-11) for the best record in NFL history at 4Q/OT drives to win games.

Peyton Manning is the NFL’s All-Time Leader in Fourth Quarter Comeback Wins – Cold, Hard Football Facts

With 37 4th quarter comeback wins, Peyton Manning now has the NFL record. Of course in classic comeback semantics style, he was asked in the post-game conference the following question: “Did you know you passed, or tied Marino for the most fourth quarter comebacks?” You can’t make this stuff up, just as the Broncos can no longer claim Elway had 47 comebacks. The comeback king lives in Denver, and this time it’s valid.

NFL Rookie QBs Off to Unprecedented Start – NBC Sports

The 2012 season is the first time five rookie quarterbacks started in Week 1, and Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson continue to hold onto their jobs. They are off to one of the most productive starts in NFL history for a rookie class. I understand the table is not displaying properly in this article, so here is a picture of it.

2012 NFL Season is the Year of the Kicker – Bleacher Report

Did you know through 91 games kickers were on pace for the greatest kicking season ever? They have made 326 of 372 field goals (87.63 percent), which would be a new NFL record. A crazy fact: the top nine seasons in NFL history for FG percentage are the last nine seasons (2004-12). Find out what could be causing this.

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 6 at New York Jets – Colts Authority

The second career road game, much like the first, for Andrew Luck did not go so well. A look at every drop back.

The Thinking Man’s Guide: NFL Week 7 Predictions – Bleacher Report

This week we take a look at Seahawks/49ers, and already a correct prediction on the 49ers holding up at home in a low-scoring game. Also: Joe Flacco is a much different QB on the road, Eli’s revenge on Washington, and the Steelers’ recent struggles in prime time.

Captain’s Challenge: Your Answers to the Top 5 Quarterbacks in NFL History – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Here are some of your answers and feedback on the challenge of using one stat to reflect the best top 5 group of QBs in NFL history. I still think 4QC wins does the best job, but some interesting choices also came up.

Don’t Believe Hype with Steelers’ Defense – NBC Sports

Steelers’ CB Ike Taylor asked us to look at the facts, so I did. Not only has the defense been blowing leads in the fourth quarter with regularity since 2007, but this was a big problem in Dick LeBeau’s first run as defensive coordinator in Cincinnati (1984-91). They allowed 27 game-winning drives in that span, tied for most in the NFL. Since 2007 the Steelers have allowed 20 (tied-2nd), and a whopping nine of them came with less than 0:40 left in the game. It’s a career trend, as is the constant failure against the elite QBs in the game.

This is one that can get at least two follow-up articles, so I’m not done yet.

One thing I’ll point out right now is why I didn’t include LeBeau’s 2004-2006 tenure into the stats.

For one, I do have a space limit, and already went over more than I should have on this piece. Two, I feel the problem has grown since Mike Tomlin became the head coach (2007), and I also know the game has statistically changed since that season in terms of passing efficiency.

LeBeau’s defense works great…if you want to win the AFC Central in 1995. But against today’s pass-heavy offenses with multiple receiver sets and little care to the running game, it is a lot easier to pick up his blitzes and throw against his CB cushions. If the scheme was still really that signficantly great, then why is it so dependent on one player (Troy Polamalu) to be there? Without Polamalu this defense is one of the worst in NFL history at creating takeaways.

As for the 2004-2006 seasons, let’s do a quick review for notable games.

2004

Week 1 vs. Oakland – in his first game back, LeBeau’s defense squandered a 21-10 lead in the fourth quarter, with Rich Gannong throwing a 38-yard TD pass on 4th and 12. Ouch. Fortunately, the offense put together a game-winning drive, using up 4:30 of the final 4:36 on the clock in a 24-21 win.

Week 4 vs. Cincinnati – Down 21-17, Carson Palmer threw a pick six late to Troy Polamalu, in what may have been the first big impact play of Troy’s career.

Week 6 at Dallas – Down 24-20, Vinny Testaverde only had 0:25 left at his own 35, but was able to get the ball to the PIT 30 for one final play. The Hail Mary was broken up in the end zone.

Week 11 at Cincinnati – Up 17-14, the Steelers made four stops in the fourth quarter, including forcing a late safety when Palmer was called for intentional grounding in the end zone.

Week 13 at Jacksonville – The Jaguars went 62 yards for a field goal to take a 16-14 lead with 1:55 left. Roethlisberger led the game-winning drive, and Byron Leftwich only had 0:11 left. He would complete a 19-yard pass to Jimmy Smith, but Josh Scobee was wide right on the 60-yard FG.

Week 15 at NY Giants – After the offense took a 26-24 lead, the Steelers allowed a 52-yard TD drive by the young Eli Manning. Giants led 30-26, but Ben led another go-ahead drive. With 3:31 left Manning’s deep ball was intercepted, and the offense converted two third downs to run out the clock.

Week 17 at Buffalo – Playing their backups, the Steelers forced a fumble of Drew Bledsoe, and a young James Harrison returned it for a touchdown to take a 26-17 lead.

AFC Divisional vs. NY Jets – After the offense tied the game 17-17, the defense allowed the Jets to drive, but Doug Brien missed a 47-yard FG with 1:58 left. Roethlisberger threw a big pick, but Brien missed it again. The Jets converted a 3rd & 13 in OT, but a holding penalty stalled their drive. The Steelers drove for the GW FG.

2005

Week 3 vs. New England – Down 13-10 in the 4th, Tom Brady led the Patriots on a 86-yard TD drive. They went 59 yards to add a FG (20-13). Roethlisberger led a game-tying TD drive. With 1:14 left Brady found two quick, easy completions to running backs, and Adam Vinatieri made the 43-yard GW FG with 0:01 left. It was a 37-yard drive.

Week 5 at San Diego – Down 14-13, Drew Brees led the Chargers 62 yards for a FG to take a 16-14 lead. Roethlisberger got the lead back with a 3-play TD drive. The defense allowed an 11-play, 62-yard TD drive to give up the lead again. Fortunately they stopped the 2pt conversion. More fortunately, the Steelers drove for the game-winning FG with only 0:06 left, so Brees didn’t have a third chance.

Week 6 vs. Jacksonville – Defense made a few stops in a tied game, but Tommy Maddox threw a game-ending pick six in OT.

Week 8 vs. Baltimore – Anthony “Radio” Wright led three straight FG drives in the 4th quarter to turn a 17-10 deficit into a 19-17 lead for Baltimore. Roethlisberger led the go-ahead FG drive, and the defense finally stopped Wright on a 4th and 6.

Week 9 at Green Bay – Up 13-10, the Steelers forced a 3 and out and a pick of Brett Favre.

Week 11 at Baltimore – With Maddox struggling at QB again, the Ravens went on a 30-yard drive in OT that ended with Matt Stover’s 44-yd GW FG.

AFC Divisional at Indianapolis – Despite leading 21-3, the Colts went on TD drives of 72 and 80 yards in the 4th QT, plus a 2-point conversion to make it 21-18. Getting the ball back, the Colts went 4 and out after two sacks of Manning. Jerome Bettis shockingly coughed the ball up, and Roethlisberger tackled Nick Harper. Manning completed two passes for 30 yards before rookie Bryant McFadden prevented a Reggie Wayne TD. Mike Vanderjagt missed a 46-yard FG.

Super Bowl XL vs. Seattle – Down 14-10, Seattle drove from their own 2-yard line to complete a pass to the 1-yard line, but Sean Locklear was called for holding. Three plays later Matt Hasselbeck threw an interception and the Steelers all but put the game away on Randle El’s touchdown to Hines Ward.

2006

Week 1 vs. Miami – Up 21-17, this one was a good hold to start the season. The defense intercepted Daunte Culpepper twice, including a pick six by Joey Porter to ice the game.

Week 3 vs. Cincinnati – Two fumbles led to two Carson Palmer touchdown passes on short fields in a comeback win for the Bengals. While the fumbles were bad, there’s no reason to give up one-play TD drives of 9 and 30 yards. Hold them to a field goal at least once. This was the season-long problem with the 2006 Steelers. The offense would turn it over, and the defense would compound it by allowing instant points. A perfect example here.

Week 7 at Atlanta – An unexpected shootout, the Steelers tied the game late 38-38. Michael Vick drove the Falcons, but Morten Andersen was short on a 52-yard FG. In OT Andersen made the GW FG from 32 yards out on the only drive of OT. Key play was Vick converting a 3rd and 9 for 26 yards to Alge Crumpler.

Week 10 vs. New Orleans – Another shootout with Brees, the Steelers took a 38-24 lead. The Saints went 64 yards, scoring on a “fumblerooski” play. Brees was driving late for the tie, but Terrance Copper fumbled at the PIT 25 after a huge hit from Tyrone Carter. Steelers won 38-31.

Week 11 at Cleveland – One of Roethlisberger’s best comebacks. Down 13-3, he led the offense 87 yards for a TD. Josh Cribbs returned the kickoff for a TD (20-10). Ben led another TD drive, then another with 0:32 left. Charlie Frye only had 0:27 left, but moved the ball to the PIT 22. On his last chance, Braylon Edwards could not complete the catch in the end zone.

Week 17 at Cincinnati – This turned into a 4th QT shootout. Down 7-3, Palmer went 80 yards, completing a 66-yard TD to the late Chris Henry. The Steelers went 63 yards for a TD (14-10). The Bengals came right back with a 73-yard TD drive (17-14). Steelers tied with a FG (17-17). With 0:55 left at his own 33, Palmer would find Henry deep for 47 yards. Shayne Graham was wide right on a 39-yard FG with 0:08 left, or else the Bengals would have won, made the playoffs, and another GWD against this defense. Instead the Steelers get the ball in OT and Santonio Holmes goes 67 yards for the TD to give a disappointing season a nice finish.

What do we see? Some good, some bad, and more of the offense bailing out the defense at the end. Things were better then than they have been in recent years, but it’s not the lockdown defense the stats show in terms of how many points and yards they allow. No one cares how many yards you gave up if you blow it at the end of the game.

2012 NFL Week 7 Predictions

I had the 49ers, so I’m already four wins away from matching last week’s awful total.

Winners in bold:

  • Titans at Bills
  • Cowboys at Panthers
  • Ravens at Texans
  • Browns at Colts
  • Cardinals at Vikings
  • Redskins at Giants
  • Packers at Rams
  • Saints at Buccaneers
  • Jets at Patriots
  • Jaguars at Raiders
  • Steelers at Bengals
  • Lions at Bears

Season results:

  • Week 1: 12-4
  • Week 2: 11-5
  • Week 3: 4-12
  • Week 4: 10-5
  • Week 5: 10-4
  • Week 6: 5-9
  • Season: 52-39
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