NFL instant takeaway
OK, we normally add a reason or three about why each team is ranked where it currently sits. We are going to shorten that because Holy Minnie Pearl's Hat, did you see that Monday Night Football game?
Buckets of Tin Foil and Tulips, it was every old-school moniker/cliche you can recall. Basketball on grass. Greatest show on dirt. Fast-break football.
And it was amazingly entertaining. (Unless of course you had a 30-point lead in fantasy football in a must-have game and your opponent — this time Wells Guthrie — had Tyreek Hill and his 38-plus fantasy points. Still, it was amazing entertainment.)
We're here this morning, robbing from the rankings to make a few points and ask one serious question about it.
The NFL game has changed. It changed as quickly as the NBA did, and it happened right in front of our eyes.
The NBA addressed the offensive and mathematical model that 3 points at 40 percent is better than 2 points at 55 percent. And like that, the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets became the best two teams in the league with a cast of athletic rim protectors and an array of long-range gunners.
The NFL changed with the tweaks of the rules and the expansion of the playbooks that embrace presnap reads and amazingly quick players in space because defenders can't touch them and can't knock them out when they go over the middle.
We have talked about the rules protecting the quarterbacks, and that rule has given the better quarterbacks the best chance to remain healthy. But the rule changes that are most responsible for these eye-popping numbers on the scoreboard and the stat sheet focus on the secondary.
With the spread-out, less-physical fly lanes, undersized and overly quick guys like Brandin Cooks (8 catches, 107 yards) and Hill (10 catches, 215 yards, two scores) are match-up nightmares. How big of a change is that? Each is 'generously' listed at 5-10, and each lines up in the slot and provides option routes in the short game and when you try to bracket them, they go vertical and quarterbacks simply throw to space.
This is simply the expansion of the weever demanding challenge that is playing defense without the intimidation factor of a 5-10-ish dude going over the middle and getting knocked into the middle of next July.
So what does that mean moving forward? Let's explore:
Value/quantity of elite speed perimeter players will grow. It also will be interesting to see the price Le'Veon Bell, a dual-threat space guy who can also exploit the growing divides that defenses create to defend the field from sideline-to-sideline and more than 40-plus yards down the field.
Value of innovation will be rewarded. We talked some about the return of Andrew Luck over the last five weeks, and he has been almost perfect as he has become only the fourth NFL passer ever to have at least seven straight games with three TD passers or more. (The others are Dan Marino with seven, Peyton with eight and Brady with 10, and if you are a QB and are the fourth name on a list with Marino, Manning, and Brady, well, job well done.) But the Colts offense — with two tight ends, an undersized No. 1 wide out — has become borderline elite because Frank Reich is running the show. Where was Reich last year? Yes, he was in Philly, which won the Super Bowl with his play-calling and is 4-6 right now without his play-calling.
The value of a physical force that makes defenses honor the and defend the middle is also needed. That could be an elite tight end — Gronk or Travis Kelce fit — or a down-hill running back — Gurley or Mark Ingram — because if defenses can go straight dime or even quarter packages, then they skew the match-ups.
It also will greatly enhance the value of certain defenders. Let's look at some of those dudes. Jalen Ramsey is one because he can simply follow the other team's best receiving option everywhere. (He held Hill to four catches for 61 yards when the Jags and Chiefs player earlier this year.) Pass rushers who demand a double team and still create pressure — Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald come to mind — are clearly as precious as diamonds. Safeties and interior linebackers that can pursue and be physical between the numbers — over the next five years Roquan Smith will be the face of this positional need —will be in high demand.
Those were some instant reactions about the nature of the changing NFL from the jaw-dropping 54-51 Rams win over the Chiefs last night.
What about the changing nuances?
We think more teams will have to go for it on fourth down. Possession in a game of speed and scoring from anywhere will be more value than field position moving forward.
For example, the Rams punted on fourth-and-28 from their own 40 and three plays later Hill scores on a 73-yard TD play. No one would go for it on fourth-and-28, we get that. But if it was fourth-and-4 from at their own 40 in today's line of thinking, punting is still the play. But what difference will 40 yards of field position make? Then it's a 33-yard TD inside of a 73-yard TD.
And when you are playing one of these five or six elite offenses — the Saints have scored on 24 of their last 29 drives remember — there is nothing more valuable than the football.
It also will make the double-up a familiar phrase and a common goal. The double-up or the two-fer or whatever you want to call it is the team that will receive the second-half kick-off trying to score on the final possession of the first half as well.
The two-score swing in a league in which offense dictates everything can be, well, everything.
As for the whimsical and the cynical scribe that dares to mix his metaphors and look the golden gift goose right in the mouth and ask: Is this too much offense? Do we want the best teams in the NFL looking like the best teams in the Big 12?
Not sure I have the answer on that and it's been my experience that all of sports are cyclical, so eventually someone is going to counter the spread and speed of the Rams and Chiefs with the with a power-running, clock-controlling attack.
Other than the simple irrefutable fact that last night was a ton of fun — that was the most of a regular season game I have watched in a long time — who truly knows right?
NFL power poll
Wow, that was a lot of words on the state of the NFL. But, buckets, as regular reader Don H. shared this morning:
"Jay... Whatever prose you throw out after The Greatest Monday Night Football Game EVER (maybe THE Greatest Game EVER) will not do it justice. You're a good writer but words will fail to encapsulate that epic performance."
Fair enough. And since we tackled the greatest of last night's game with quantity as much as quality, let's get to the power poll and keep this puppy rolling.
How much does offense dictate league supremacy? We're going to put the points per game for each team and rank after the record. And know this: The top seven teams in scoring either include six division leaders and a team one game back.
1. New Orleans (9-1; 37.8 ppg, which is first). How great were the Rams last night? Yeah, the Saints beat them. Drew Brees vs. Mahomes is going to be an MVP slugfest.
2. Los Angeles Rams (10-1; 35.4 ppg, which is third). We seriously are wondering who has more value for this team and this offense, the quarterback or the coach. Remember this was a QB — along with back-ups and future starters Case Keenum and Nick Foles — that Jeff Fisher did nothing with. Now comes Sean McVay and Jared Goff is Kurt Warner all of sudden. Hmmmmm.
3. Kansas City (9-2; 36.7 ppg, which is second). A side point from last night's funtivities. Andy Reid wanted that game. Badly. He knows this offense can win a Super Bowl and that would forever change his legacy. He knows his defense will be noticeably better when Eric Berry returns. And he knows that the Chiefs lost the tie-breaker to the Pats, and there is a world of difference between getting to the Super Bowl from Arrowhead and trying to get there going though Foxboro. How bad did Big Red want last night? Did anyone else see him snap at Goff and all but say, "Get out of here young 'un. The adults are talking."
4. Pittsburgh (7-2-1; 29.9 ppg, which is fourth). The Steelers have won six straight and may offer arguably the best blend between scoring and stopping. Pittsburgh leads the NFL with 37 sacks, and not to be too obvious, but negative plays are more important than ever.
5. New England (7-3; 28.0 ppg, which is seventh). They still have Brady. They still have Belichick. All these other theories and postulates and projections are just diagrams on the analytical wheel of finesse if the road goes through Foxboro. And the polar bear that is Gronk is back on the field.
28. New York Jets (3-7; 20.8 ppg, which is 23rd). Want to know a silent and underrated part of the Patriots' dynasty? The extended suck-a-tude of the Jets.
29. Buffalo (3-7; 13.7 ppg, which is DFL). Read the above analysis and replace 'Jets" with 'Bills.'
30. San Francisco (2-8; 23.0 ppg, which is 18th). The 49ers, if Jimmy GQ is who they believe —and are paying him like— he is, could quickly get into the mix of teams moving the ball all over the park next year. Kyle Shanahan, job well done sir. And if they can add a defensive piece or three in the first two days of next year's draft, this bunch could be right there. How good of a job is Shanahan doing? Well, how many other teams could average 23 points per after losing your top two QBs and your top two RBs?
31. Arizona (2-8; 14.5 ppg, which is 31st). The early returns on rookie Josh Rosen have been mixed. He was 9-of-20 for 136 in Sunday's loss to the Raiders. On the season — with a slew of question marks around him — Rosen has nine TDs and 10 picks and a QB rating of 68.5.
32. Oakland (2-8; 17.0 ppg, which is 30th). How bad are the Raiders? They lose when they win. Like last Sunday. C'mon Gruden. Embrace the Tank.
Shining star, dark past
While we are here, this is your friendly reminder that supreme talent will always garner the multiple chances.
Tyreek Hill is as dangerous a perimeter player as there is in the NFL. Right there with Alvin Kamara, Julio Jones and any of them. And Hill is dang lucky he is not in jail rather than on his way to the Pro Bowl.
In 2014, he was kicked off the Oklahoma State football team for after being charged with felony domestic assault by strangulation. According to the police report, he hit and choked her, busted her lip, left her with an that was turning purple as she spoke to police, sat on her and punched her in the stomach.
She was eight weeks pregnant at the time. He pled guilty and received probation, and eventually got engaged to that girl. But, unlike Ray Rice, there was no video of Hill's actions, so there you go.
Hill's numbers have always been amazing, and we're not just talking stats. He has run a timed 4.25 40 and could easily have been an Olympic sprinter. His time in the 200 as a senior in high school would have placed sixth in the London Olympics in the same year.
(And here's one more, when Mr. I'm a Man, I'm 40 Mike Gundy was asked about kicking Hill off the Cowboys team, he told reporters, "We try to stress as much as we can to these guys, there's just certain things right now that society frowns upon." Uh, Mike, let's try to stress that there are certain things that grown-A men should never do, and high on that list is putting hands on a female. Period.)
Hill, despite head-turning, jaw-dropping speed, fell all the way to the fifth round of the 2016 draft, and his is an interesting case study of the power of supreme talent in terms of extra chances.
It also makes me wonder if there is one Red Letter offense/crime that should not allow a college kid the chance to have a professional career, whether it's with Chevy or the Chiefs?
Rice was banished from the league, but if he was young with no miles on his RB treads, would the morality posturing of the league been as strong, even with the video?
You may hate Colin Kaepernick's kneeling, and that's fine, but in the grand scheme of things, it's no where as offensive as what Hill did. Terms and phrases like "ragdoll" and "manhandling" his pregnant girlfriend were in the police report after all.
Sure we embrace second chances. Know I've gotten a few of them along the way too.
Hill is amazing with the ball in his hands. Next level in fact.
Hope he makes the most of his second chance — on the field and with his fiance.
This and that
— The high school championship game between DeMatha and Gonzaga in D.C. ended 46-43 with three TDs in the final 50 seconds, including a 60-yard Hail Mary on the final play. Oh my.
— Jerry Jones said he's not sure if he'd sell the Cowboys for any price and thinks they may be worth as much as $10 billion.
— Vegas took a seven-figure bath on the over 64 last night in the Game of the Century Mark.
— We will add the college football statement/overstatement/understatement into Wednesday's program.
— Remember the thankful messages friends. It's important.
True or false. We'll say true.
True or false, you are all in for 54-51 NFL games, defense be damned.
True or false, Sean McVay is more valuable to the Rams than Jared Goff.
True or false, Duke will go unbeaten this year.
True or false, the Dallas Cowboys — and Jerry's World — are worth $10 billion.
You know the drill. Answer some, leave some no big whoop.
As for today, Nov. 20, it is national peanut butter fudge day, name your PC day, and Universal Children's Day. Again, shouldn't that last one be every day. After all, I believe that children are the future; teach them well and let them lead the way.
It also is the 33rd birthday of Microsoft 1.0. We think that company may eventually hit it big.
Joe Biden is 76 today. Dabo Swinney is 49 today.
Other than Saban, who is on the Rushmore of college football coaches currently working today.