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In the end, the game comes down to one thing: man against man. May the best man win.

~ Sam Huff                    



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Smell Test #5
by
Sep 26, 2014 -- 1:57pm

WHAT'S THE FRIDAY FOOTBALL SMELL TEST?

It's a contrarian handicapping philosophy. I look for the games where the public is convinced they are right about a point spread and I go the other way. Have fun and as always, this is for entertainment purposes only.
 
PREVIOUS YEARS
 
2006-- 60.4%
2007-- 56.6%
2008-- 63.1%
2009-- 57.5%
2010-- 48.8%
2011-- 48.7%
2012-- 54.1%
2013-- 47.4%
 
THIS YEAR
Last Week: 2-4
Overall:  13-10-1
 
SMELL TEST PICKS FOR WEEKEND OF 9-27-14
 
Saturday, September 27
 
Syracuse +9.5
Missouri +5.5
 
Sunday, September 28
 
Vikings +3
Jaguars +13


Skins-Giants Wrap
by Kevin Sheehan
Sep 26, 2014 -- 12:07am
ESPN 980

The good??, bad, and more from the Redskins blowout 45-14 loss to the Giants.

Good:

1.  Tress Way's punting.  58.3 yards per punt including a 77-yarder.

Bad:

ESPN 980 1.  Outcoached.  Haslett was totally out schemed by McAdoo.  The defense couldn't figure out where the Giants were going, who to cover, and when to cover them.  He made Eli look like a Super Bowl quarterback again.  The defense may have been hurting and/or tired but it wouldn't have mattered much.  Meantime, the head coach through 4 games has one of the most penalized teams in the league and tonight coached a team that lacked energy and fight.  The 11 penalties all came in 3 quarters during the somewhat competitive portion of the game.  This game may prove to be just one of those bad nights set up by a physically exhausting loss in Philly on Sunday but whatever the reason, it was bleak.

2.  Defense.  In addition to the bad night for Haslett as mentioned, the defensive players and their execution stunk.  Eli had too much time and had his choice of open receivers (usually Donnell).  Hatcher was a non-factor for the first time this year....maybe because of the injured hamstring.  The linebackers generated zero pass rush and covered poorly (see Riley on Donnell).  The secondary couldn't cover (rough night for Amerson in particular) and made up for it with some bad-angle tackles (Merriweather) and a dropped interception (Merriweather).  The Giants made 8 of their first 10 third-downs thanks to no pass rush, bad coverage, and what appeared to be players out of place and confused.  The first big throw to Cruz seemed to confuse the hell out of Biggers who first looked like he would blitz then tried to chase down Cruz who had blown by him.  How confident were the Giants against the Skins defense tonight?  With a 21-7 lead and just over a minute left in the first half, instead of running the clock out from their own 18 like many teams would, they stayed aggressive and moved the ball down the field and got 3 before halftime.  The defense isn't anywhere near as good as I had hoped and thought after the first two weeks.  Really glad Haslett and Orakpo are unshackled this year. 

3.  Turnovers.  Two first-half fumbles gave the Giants a short-field for their first touchdown and took a potential score off the board for the Skins when they were in the red zone and still very much in the game.  That Paulson fumble was inexcusable.  He let the defender take it from him.  That was the difference between a reasonable halftime deficit and a 17-pt hole.  The picks in the 2nd half were all bad.

4.  Offense.  It killed itself with the turnovers in the first half when they were still in the game and the penalties didn't help when they weren't turning it over.  The offense wasn't all bad in the first half but the mistakes reduced any chance of keeping pace with the Giant offense which was torching Haz's defense.  The Cousins picks in the 2nd half were all bad and appeared to be all on him. 

5. Kirk Cousins.  A bad night for sure.  All 4 of his interceptions came in the 2nd half and it appeared as if all of them were his fault.  The first was a back-shoulder pass thrown to the front shoulder...oops.  The 2nd was late for Garcon giving the safety time to make an easy play on the ball.  The 3rd and 4th were just awful throws.  The 3rd perhaps could've been a miscommunication with Roberts.  He had two others that were nearly picked.  It didn't start terribly.  His first-half could've turned out much better if not for a few things that were out of his control.  An early missed P.I. against Roberts on the Skins 2nd drive on a 3rd & 5 was ridiculous considering this flag-happy season for anything resembling contact.  That should've been a first down for the Skins.  The Paulson fumble equaled pts lost.  He also appeared to have Paul deep on the play before the sack/fumble but Paul let up a bit on his route and the ball ended up overthrown.  The 3rd quarter opening 80-yard drive in 2 minutes looked like it got them back in the game but he fell apart after that.  He looked rattled and his hanging head on the bench wasn't a good look.

6.  Special Teams returns/coverage.  Andre Roberts made a fair catch on a punt with what appeared to be a big opportunity for an early big return and the kickoff coverage unit gave up a 35 yard return. 

More:

1.  Eli Manning was the 2nd straight QB to light up the Skins defense.

2.  I thought the Keenan Robinson INT was a touchdown catch by Randle.  The call on the field saved them in that spot.

3.  Kirk's read-option run for 11 yards was impressive.  I think they should use that series more.  Morris has more room to run out of that look.  Cousins actually may have had another opportunity for a big RO run but gave the ball to Morris instead.  Seemed like the wrong read.

4.  It's obvious that any running play will go to Garcon's side if both he and Jackson are on the field.  Jackson seems to be a conscientious objector to blocking on running plays.

5.  I should've put Morris and Helu on the good list.  Morris runs hard and Helu is a better than average pass option out of the backfield.

6.  Was that really a P.I. on Breeland at the end of the first half?

7.  Was that really roughing the passer on Hatcher on the Giants' first offensive drive of the game?



Skins-Giants Preview and Pick
by Kevin Sheehan
Sep 25, 2014 -- 2:17pm
ESPN 980

The Redskins will beat the Giants if...

1.  they get off to a quick start.  Both teams will suffer from everything a short NFL week brings making a quick start an important aspect of this game.  In the case of the Giants, they don't appear to be cut for comebacks.  Ben McAdoo's offense is still in its infancy in New York but it doesn't appear at this point equipped to deal with a signifcant deficit.  The Redskins have scored first in all three of their games this year.  If they do it again and can extend out to a 17-7 type of lead, they should be in good shape.  A quick two-score lead for the Skins might be a prelude to a blowout.

2.  they don't lose the turnover battle.  They don't have to win the turnover battle but losing it means the Giants have a chance to beat the Skins.  This includes special teams gaffes.  A blocked punt or a big return is sometimes worse than a turnover.  The Giants will have a tough time scoring more than 21 on their own....a number the Skins should be able to deal with.  Give New York a few easy scoring opportunities off turnovers or special teams' mistakes and the Giants could put up 28+.  The Skins can't give up short-field opportunites for points unless they get a ton of those back for themselves.

3.  they don't waste scoring opportunities.  Last week, they missed a 33-yd FG and couldn't get a yard on their final drive with starting field position at the Eagle 41.  Two field goals in both spots may have been the difference between winning and losing.  Touchdowns are better but field goals are ok.  They're much preferable to nothing.  Missing short field goals and not taking advantage of great field position are killers. 

Prediction:

Redskins 28-25.



Skins-Eagles Wrap
by Kevin Sheehan
Sep 21, 2014 -- 6:00pm
ESPN 980

The good, bad, and more from the Redskins' 37-34 loss in Philly.

Good:

1.  Kirk Cousins.  Good performance but not great.  Great would've meant finishing the deal.  Down 37-34 at the Eagle 41, a great performance would've ended in either a lead or an attempt at a tying FG.  With that said, it was one of the best statistical days for Skins' QB in franchise history.  He went 30-48 for 427 yards with 3 TD's, one pick.  He was near-perfect in the first half leading the team to four scores on four drives.  He was inaccurate at times in the 2nd half and some of that seemed to be a result of ironically, being too quick with throws.  Seemed like he could've extended a few plays longer than he did.  I'd like to see him run occasionally.  The upside of getting rid of it is that he didn't get sacked on 48 throws but it just seemed like there were more chances in the 2nd half.  He also looked jumpy on a few throws....specifically the 3rd and 3 on their first drive of the 3rd qtr on a throw to Jackson.  It looked like he had other places to go.  In his defense, he had some balls dropped too.  Grant, Paul and Roberts had opportunties but couldn't bring in catches on throws that weren't perfect but catchable.  Also thought as the game went on that Philly started to jump some routes and another deep shot or two on double moves or stop-and-gos would've worked.

2.  Pass protection.  Part of pass protection was Cousins getting the ball out early but he was never really hit except once in the first half and that one was late.  That play specifically nearly got Morris hurt.  The O-line and backs did a pretty decent job.

3.  Pierre Garcon.  An outstanding overall performance from Garcon.  11 catches for 138 yards and several of them were spectacular.  The catch early in the 4th quarter on the sideline when he took a huge hit was big-time.  He had the catch on a throw behind him on the first play of the day.  He also had a huge Morris fumble recovery that kept a touchdown drive alive in the 1st quarter.

4.  2nd-half defense.   Philly is really good so to force 2 FGs and 3 punts on the Eagles' first 5 drives of the 2nd half was a major improvment from the first half.  On the Eagles' 6th drive the Skins nearly had them off the field but Keenan Robinson was called for a very questionable pass interference penalty which ultimately led to a go-ahead touchdown pass to Maclin.  If you had told me that the defense would hold LeSean McCoy to 22 yds on 20 carries and one catch for zero yards I would've said the Skins won the game.  The only big criticism of the defense in the 2nd half was their inability to get to Foles against an O-line in tatters.  They hit Foles several times but they couldn't get to him.  The defense gave the team a chance to win in the 2nd half.

Bad:

1.  1st-half defense.  On it's heels against one of the best schemes in the NFL.  They made the proper choice throughout the entire game to make Foles beat them and he did.  Foles' performance was spectacular but it was made too easy for him in the first half.  Pressure wasn't there and receivers were open.  Haz played a ton of people in the first half to try and keep things fresh but it didn't work.  Philly didn't touch the ball until 1:36pm but when they did, they were unstoppable.  3 touchdowns on 4 drives and the only possession that didn't end in touchdown was the drive that ended with the Sproles fumble after an 18-yard gain. 

2.  Special Teams.  Too many back-breaking plays.  A 102-yd kickoff return and a missed 33-yd field goal is hard to overcome on the road against a good team.  They also gave up a 35 yard kickoff return, an 18 yard punt return, and committed an offsides penalty (Merriweather) on a kickoff.  I thought Andre Roberts did a nice job especially fielding a short punt early in the 4th quarter that saved a ton of yards. 

3.  Penalties.  For the 2nd straight week, too many penalties.  Some were questionable but 10 for 131 yards is a bad day.

4.  Penalty on Baker.  Ridiculous.  If the QB can't be hit on an INT or fumble return then he shouldn't be an eligible tackler.  That block was legal and it happened as Foles moved towards Breeland as a potential tackler.  The play wasn't over and Foles was an active player on the play.  A rule to make the QB a "dead" player on a change of possession should be implemented if they're not going to let that QB be blocked. 

5.  Injuries.  This one loss felt like 3.  The injuries to Hall, Hatcher, and others combined with a short week makes it a devastating missed opportunity.  Bottom line, at 1-2, the Giant game is a must if they intend on being a legit competitive team this year.

More:

1.  The complaints about Gruden using his first timeout before the 4th down with under 2 minutes left versus saving it for his defense is nit-picking.  The right play-call in that spot is equally important especially given the field position.  From your own 20, you know you're going to punt so don't use the timeout.  At the opponent's 41, you're going for it so make sure you don't rush a bad play in order to keep a 3rd timeout.  Would've been interesting if Gruden had decided to punt....maybe after a move to try and draw Philly offsides for 5 yards (and FG range).  Wouldn't have been popular but they would've had all 3 timeouts and could've put Philly in a hole.  That's true 2nd guessing and I think going for it was the right move.

2.  I don't like taking a knee at the end of a half from your own 41.  Why not throw it to into the end zone?  Nothing to lose.

3.  Baker had a huge opportunity to pick off a pass on a Kerrigan pressure at 27-27.

4.  D. Jackson should've been hit with a 15-yarder on the first drive of the game.  Ref caught the reaction, not the instigator although truth is, Jenkins went after Jackson't shoulder on the ground which is what made Jackson react.  I also thought that Amerson should've been penalized during the brawl for a punch.

5.  Morris fumbled again.

6.  Jackson and Garcon made some great sideline catches while taking big hits.

7.  Maclin's early bubble screen for big yardage would've been played better by Kerrigan than the way Orakpo played it.  Kerrigan sniffs those plays out and would've altered the throw.  Maybe that's why Philly went to the other side on that play.

8.  Skins had another bad challenge on the Cooper catch.  Have they won a challenge yet?

9.  Foles was great.

10. Morris had one of the best 7-yard runs ever on the last play of the 3rd qtr.  That should've been no gain or minus 1.

11.  The reversal on the Maclin catch in the 4th was the right call.  The knee was down before the elbow hit out of bounds.

12.  The holding penalty on Philly on their last punt was the difference of roughly 40 yards of field position.  Skins had a perfect set up for a go-ahead score late and couldn't get it done.



Skins-Eagles Preview & Pick
by
Sep 20, 2014 -- 9:59am

The Redskins will beat the Eagles if...

1.  the defense stops the run.  Can't let McCoy and Sproles have room to run on read options, sweeps, etc.  Make Foles beat them with his arms or legs.  This is one of those games where we'll all know early if the Skins have a legit chance based on how they defend Philly early in the game.  If Philly is able to run the ball, move the ball, keep the ball, and finish with points it'll be a long day.  A few 3, 4, or 5 and out series to start and the Skins are in it.

2.  the offense gets some short-field chances.  Kirk Cousins' first start on the road against the division favorite won't be easy but a few short-field opportunties would really give him and the offense a chance to score early and gain confidence.  The Skins' defense is much improved as are their special teams.  A big Roberts punt return and/or an interception where the offense starts a drive or two in Philly territory would be huge.  Great starting field position for the offense gives them a chance to score 21+ which will be the minimum necessary to be in the game.

3.  no more than one turnover.  Last week, the only winning team in the entire league to throw an interception was Philadelphia.  Turnovers on the road equal losses.  No more than one in this game will be a problem.  Give Philly more chances with the ball and they'll end the game with 75+ plays and the opposing defense will be exhausted. 

Prediction:

Philly is on a short-week after the Monday night win in Indy and the Redskins have some confidence for the first time in nearly two years.

Redskins 28-20.



Smell Test #4
by
Sep 20, 2014 -- 9:43am

WHAT'S THE FRIDAY FOOTBALL SMELL TEST?

It's a contrarian handicapping philosophy. I look for the games where the public is convinced they are right about a point spread and I go the other way. Have fun and as always, this is for entertainment purposes only.
 
PREVIOUS YEARS
 
2006-- 60.4%
2007-- 56.6%
2008-- 63.1%
2009-- 57.5%
2010-- 48.8%
2011-- 48.7%
2012-- 54.1%
2013-- 47.4%
 
THIS YEAR
Last Week: 7-2-1
Overall:  11-6-1
 
SMELL TEST PICKS FOR WEEKEND OF 9-18-14
 
Thursday, September 18
 
Bucs +7
 
Saturday, September 20
 
Utah +4
 
Sunday, September 21
 
Bills -2.5
Jaguars +7
Seahawks -5
 
Monday, September 22
 
Jets -2.5


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