Taking It to the House’s Week 11 Power Rankings

 Despite the best efforts of All-World RB Adrian Peterson, the reeling Minnesota Vikings continue to fall down the Taking It to the House Power Rankings.  This week, the Vikes slide down to #31 on our list

  1. Green Bay Packers (9-0) – 14 point favorites at home against a respectable Buccaneers team tells you how good this team is playing right now.  Week 11: 11/20 vs. Tampa Bay Continue reading

2011 NFL Season: First Quarter Awards by Lloyd Vance

2011 NFL Draft first overall pick, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, has lived-up to expectations and more that is why he is Taking It to the House’s Top Rookie of the First Quarter

NFL’s Best Team

Green Bay Packers –  Don’t give me all that talk about heavy is the head that wears the crown.  I think this year’s Green Bay team is better than last year.  QB Aaron Rodgers is playing at a Tom Brady/Peyton Manning level and he has weapons to spare — so much so that deep-threat receiver James Jones has been an afterthought.  The 4-0 Packers also have one of the NFL best defensive units too as Clay Matthews, BJ Raji, Charles Woodson and company are flying to the ball. Packers numbers through four games are 148 points scored (1st in NFL), 97 points allowed (24.2 per game average), and +6 in turnovers (5th in NFL)

Honorable Mention: Detroit Lions (We knew they would be better after closing 2010 with 4 straight wins, but this team has shown they mean business.  Can’t wait for the their Thanksgiving Showdown with the Packers); Buffalo Bills (3-1 for the upstarts from Western NY), NY Giants (have overcome so many injuries to be tied at top of NFC East), and the Baltimore Ravens (Absolutely dominant on defense and now have a more mature Joe Flacco at quarterback).

Continue reading

2011 NFC Preview By Matt Lombardo

Last season the Green Bay Packers besieged by injuries mounted a late charge in the regular season to enter the playoffs as the NFC Wild Card and later marched to Dallas where they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. The Packers toppled NFC favorites Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago, who all figure to be contenders in this year’s race, en route to their first Super Bowl Championship since 1996.

The NFC can best be described as a whole, as a conference on the rise. Each division boasts teams that on paper will be much improved from a year ago, and the stalwart favorites all improved in the offseason, be it by making bold additions or simply by taking advantage of the continuity necessary to build on early this season after a lockout wiped away all offseason activities.

Here is a division by division look at the NFC entering the 2011 season. Continue reading

The Fallacy of The Michael Vick Experience By Matt Lombardo

Michael Vick looked the part of both a Pro Bowler and an average quarterback at times during the 2010 NFL Season.   Taking It to the House’s Matt Lombardo believes defenses now know how to neutralize him.  Making him wonder, if Vick can overcome his own deficiencies and solve the schemes that have plagued him for years.

On January 23, 2005 at Lincoln Financial Field, the Philadelphia Eagles broke through the glass ceiling of the NFC Championship game for the team’s first trip to the Super Bowl in 25 years, after beating the Atlanta Falcons 27-10.  This game represented the high watermark for Michael Vick so far in his over 10-year NFL career and was his closest chance to date at hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. That day, despite boasting the league’s No.1 ranked rushing offense and a defense that sent two players to the Pro Bowl, Vick was unable to carry the “Dirty Birds” to Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, FL. Continue reading

Eagles Sleepwalk their way to a bad 24-14 loss against Vikings

Vikings CB Anotine Winfield sacks Eagles QB Michael Vick for one of his two sacks in Minnesota’s upset 24-14 win over Philadelphia in the NFL’s first Tuesday game since 1946

In a must-win situation, the Philadelphia Eagles lethargically walked through a game that was more awkward than saying, “Tuesday Night Football”.  After waiting through a somewhat lengthy 2-day postponement, due to a snowstorm that seemed worse to the NFL than others – more on this later – the Eagles were outplayed in a 24-14 home loss to a Favre-less Vikings squad that had a record of 5-9 entering the game. 

Eagles head coach Andy Reid said of his team’s poor performance and losing potential playoff rest, “We don’t deserve it after that performance. Every phase was terrible. We didn’t coach well enough. We didn’t play well enough. I’m disappointed in myself. It’s embarrassing.”

After a 2-day league mandated postponement for a snow blizzard and public safety issues that were much debated – Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell got the ire-up of the Eagles by calling the postponers “Wussies” for not playing the game in Sunday Night’s snow storm and Sportscenter led with on Sunday: “Green Bay Girl Scouts would have been selling cookies in Philly Sunday” — the 2010 NFC East Champion Eagles were flat-out “Flat”. 

The Eagles lost their opportunity to have a bye in the 2010 NFL Playoffs, they had a myriad of things go against them, many of which were their own undoing.  The Birds had too many penalties (12), forgot to run the ball (55 called passes to 16 runs), could not protect their quarterback (sacked 6 times and hit numerous other times), protected the ball poorly (3 turnovers including a fumble recovery touchdown to 1 for Minnesota) and most of all just plain “sloppy” — poor on 3rd down conversions offensively (36%) and defensively (46%).

Much to the Eagles’ chagrin, Minnesota led by former college dual threat quarterback turned part time NFL receiver and first time league starter, Joe Webb (rookie 6th Rd from UAB), brought their “A” game on a night where they were 14 ½ point underdogs.  The Vikings must have not liked staying four nights in the “bunker” like conditions of the Four Seasons Hotel as they were hungry for a win on their 2010 last appearance on the national stage (NBC “Sunday Night Football” turned to Tuesday Night). 

In a season that started out with very high expectations – missed Super Bowl by a 3-point loss in 2009 season – only to go awry – Favre Sexting allegations, roof collapsing at Metrodome, Randy Moss Trade/Waive, head coach Brad Childress firing….I can go on and on.  The Vikings decided that the NFL’s first Tuesday Night game since 1946 (New York Giants at the Boston Yanks) would serve as their Super Bowl.  Vikings DE Jared Allen said after his team’s big win, “I think this was a big win because it was a national game. We wanted to let people know that we are still here to play even though we went through a rough patch. It has been a crazy season and after the last two days and all we went through, this was a nice win.”

Interim head coach Leslie Frazier and his team must have used their time wisely at the palatial hotel by dissecting the Eagles as their game plan was spot-on.  Nine days after the Eagle’s second Miracle at the Meadowlands, there would be no magical Philly comeback this time.  Webb was able to dance around the pocket and make plays on 3rd downs like a young Randall Cunningham, All-World RB Adrian Peterson (22 rushes for 118 yards and 1 TD) was running downhill, and the Vikings beleaguered defense – have allowed 328 points in 2011 – held Philly to 14 points, while bottling-up and beating-down Eagles Pro Bowl quarterback Michael Vick.

Webb, making his first career start instead of Favre (concussion) looked like the veteran quarterback in the game. Peterson said of his young quarterback, “He came out and did his job and did it well”.  The youngster from UAB threw for numbers 17-26 for 195 yards and also added a rushing touchdown. But most importantly, he did not turn over the football against an Eagles defense that tried to rough him up early. 

Conversely Vick (25 of 43 (career-high for attempts), 263 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT with 63 rushing yards and 1 TD), who was named the NFC’s starting quarterback in the Pro Bowl earlier Tuesday, had to fight through a first quarter quad contusion while playing behind a porous Eagles offensive line.  MV7 basically handed the NFL’s 2010 Most Valuable Player Award to Patriots QB Tom Brady as he probably had his worst performance of the 2010 season.  Vick, on a night where no one cared that he threw for over 3,000 yards in a season for the first time in his career, was harassed into an interception and two fumbles. 

Frazier said of the challenge of playing Vick, “The more we watched tape on Michael Vick, the more he made you kind of shake in your boots a little bit because he’s making so many plays on so many people.  And we just felt like we needed to attack him and not let him attack us as much as we saw him attack other people. Our guys did a great job of executing all the things we had talked about in practice.”

The turning point of the whole game was Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield (2 sacks in the game) performing a “quadruple” with the score tied at 7-7 in the final minute of the first half.  Winfield, who looked like he was in the Birds’ backfield all night, sacked Vick, stripped the ball, recovered it on the run and sprinted untouched for 45-yard a score that left Philadelphia faithful stunned.

Frazier, who is coaching his way into losing his “interim” label, said after his team’s gratifying win, “It was a great effort by our players to battle the way that they had to all week and they showed perseverance that has become the hallmark of our team over the last few weeks. I can’t say enough about our players and the attitude they showed this week and I’m glad they were rewarded for it.”  However in the other lockerroom at the Linc there was whole different feeling in the air – remember when your high school coach would bark after a loss, “I don’t want to hear one word on the bus going home” – as Reid was disgusted.   The 12-year head coach obviously was upset by a poor effort, but he looked like a man that was going to angrily pick-up the pieces while kicking giving his team a good kick in the butt.

Because Reid – still 37-17 in the month of December for his career – knows that his Birds cannot lament over their “Terrible Tuesday” loss for too long as they have too much coming too quickly.  This young beat-up squad, who are now firmly the No. 3 seed in the NFC, must play the second leg of a 3-game stretch in a 12 or 13-day span with the Dallas Cowboys (5-10) coming in on Sunday.  Though the Cowboys’ game is basically meaningless, the Eagles (10-5) definitely should use the game to work out the kinks.  The 2010 Playoffs will be starting soon enough and more than likely the 2009 Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints (11-4) or the Green Bay Packers (9-6) will be waiting on Wildcard Weekend as the conference’s sixth seed with their superstar quarterback ready to make Webb’s performance look paltry.

The Birds will now have to win three playoff games to reach the Super Bowl with more than likely 2 road games, so they have work to do. However some hope is that former SB Champs, the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers and 2007 New Giants both had to fight through the Wildcard Round before winning it all, but the Eagles are a long way from talking about Dallas and Super Bowl XLV.

My advice for the Eagles is to use this loss as motivation and then get some much-needed rest against the Cowboys before the playoffs.  But I think a disgruntled Reid has other plans for his young team. 

 Reid closed his news conference by sternly talking of resting his team for the playoffs, “We’re not good enough to do that.”

 

Lloyd Vance is an NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Taking It to the House NFL Podcast 122110

In this week’s Taking It to the House NFL Podcast — The Chicago Bears not only won the 2010 NFC North Title but they also most likely ended the career of future Hall of Famer QB Brett Favre in a Monday Night Football dominating win over the Vikings at wintry TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota

Taking It to the House NFL Podcast 122110

NFL Insider Lloyd Vance reviews Week 15 of the 2010 season with host Mark Gray including breaking down the Chicago Bears came up big against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football in professional football’s version of the Winter Classic at frigid TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota

Taking It to the House NFL Podcast 112210 (Part 2)

In Part 2 of this week’s Taking It to the House NFL Podcast — New York Jets young quarterback Mark Sanchez showed once again that he has ice-water in his veins as the J-E-T-S pulled out another close victory

Taking It to the House NFL Podcast 112210 (Part 2)

NFL Insider Lloyd Vance reviews Week 11 of the 2010 season with host Mark Gray including the J-E-T-S pulling out another close victory, this time over the struggling Houston Texans after WR Santonio Holmes big catch with seconds left on the clock