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Tuesday Morning Handicapper
by Hollywood Sports - 09/24/2013
Football tips and observations from over the weekend that may inform my decision-making for making NFL picks and College Football picks this week.
THE FORMULA FOR SLOWING DOWN THE EAGLES' OFFENSE
Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs' coaching staff put on a clinic last Thursday that entire football world should be taking notes from as to how to slow down Chip Kelly's fast-paced offense. For starters, the Chiefs controlled the line of scrimmage with their defensive line dominating the Eagles' offensive line. That neutralized Philly's rushing attack of LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick. Kansas City also moved up their cornerbacks to play close to the line of scrimmage to defend potential screen passes. Furthermore, the Chiefs relied on their safeties to make sound tackles when presented with those opportunities. Lastly, KC relied on their offensive line to dominate the line of scrimmage on offense to control the clock and keep the Eagles' offense off the field. The Chiefs held the football for over 39 minutes in this contest. With the Philly defense already challenged by the quick-pace of their offense, this dynamic of keeping the Eagles defense on the field and tired may devastate this offensive strategy of Kelly's in the long run. It it informative to remember that Kelly's teams at Oregon often struggled against Stanford who played physical on both sides of the ball while possessing a ball-control ground game.
ITS A SIMPLE GAME WHEN YOU DON'T TURN THE BALL OVER
The biggest reason as to why Kansas City is 3-0 this season is that they have not yet turned the ball over in the Reid era. The Chiefs own an outstanding +9 turnover margin which is a dramatic turnaround from their -24 net turnover margin last season. However, is this outstanding turnover differential sustainable? Turnover margins are often dependent on the luck of where the bouncing ball bounces. While teams can control forcing turnover situations on defense and limiting mistakes on offense, KC's current turnover metric is likely to be unsustainable -- just like last season's number was an outlier on the other end of the spectrum.
PANIC BUTTONS IN PITTSBURGH, NEW YORK, MINNESOTA AND WASHINGTON
All three of these teams are 0-3 -- and the metrics are dreadful as to the likelihood of teams starting winless in their first three games turning things around to make the playoffs. The Redskins continue to struggle on defense with a subpar secondary. And Robert Griffin III is not the same dynamic player when he is not a threat to run the football. The Giants just look old -- but how many times have they been counted out in the Tom Coughlin era before picking themselves off the mat? The Vikings' problem begins and ends with Christian Ponder who is not developing at quarterback. His inability to develop an effective passing attack is allowing defenses to stack the box with nine men to neutralize Adrian Peterson. The Steelers may have the best chance of turning things around with the return on offense of tight end Heath Miller and the addition of rookie running back Le'Veon Bell. While all three teams are in trouble, they remain interesting teams to consider as the season moves forward.
As always, best of luck for us -- Frank Sawyer, Hollywood Sports.