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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 #10
by
Oct 31, 2014 -- 1:56pm

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: 2-5-1
Overall:  32-28-2
 
SMELL TEST PICKS FOR WEEKEND OF 11-1-14
 
Thursday, October 30, 2014
 
Louisville +4
Panthers +3
 
Saturday, November 1, 2014
 
Maryland +3.5
Temple +7.5
Pitt -3.5
Virginia +4
UCLA -6.5

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Texans +2
Ravens -1

Monday, November 3, 2014

Giants +3.5


Redskins-Cowboys Wrap
by Kevin Sheehan
Oct 28, 2014 -- 1:28am
ESPN 980

The good, bad, and more from the stunning 20-17 overtime win in Dallas. 

Good:

ESPN 980 Galleries 1.  Jim Haslett.  Unleashed!  He turned it loose tonight dialing up a ton of blitzes that disrupted Dallas, especially late when it mattered most.  At 17-17 on Dallas' final drive of regulation, he called what appeared to be 3 straight all out "zero" blitzes.  It nearly created two turnovers....the almost fumble recovery by Kerrigan and the near pick by Breeland on the T. Williams catch.  5 total sacks and many pressures including on the final play of the game was a deciding factor in the game.  He's always schemed Dallas and Romo well.  They were always in position when Romo tried to spin his way out of trouble with excellent contain.  I'm really surprised Dallas didn't run the ball even more than they did.  19 carries for Murray....should've been more.

2.  Colt McCoy.  It wasn't pretty all the time but it was damn good most of the time especially with the game on the line.  The negatives were one bad interception which took points off the board and multiple struggles getting out of the huddle and to the line of scrimmage in a timely manner.  He wasn't perfect accuracy-wise which cost some YAC chances including under throwing Jackson on a deep shot in the 2nd quarter that could've been a touchdown.  But when he wasn't perfect throwing it, he still got it there and completed the throws.  He went 25-30 for 299 yards which has to be one of the best nights statistically in Skins' history in terms of completion percentage combined with yards.  In the 2nd half, he was 4-5 on 3rd-down pass conversions and 1-1 on a 4th-down pass conversion.  Add to that, a 3rd and goal QB draw for a touchdown and a 3rd and 2 naked bootleg run for a first down.  Those #s define big-play success.  He got the ball out quickly when people were open and he used his legs to extend plays all night.  The throw to Reed on the sideline in OT after he got flushed from the pocket rolling left and directed Reed down the field got the Skins into FG range.  He audibled into big plays like Morris' 29 yard run early in the 3rd quarter.  Plays under the radar like the sack he avoided on 3rd down on the first drive of the game that kept them in FG range were important plays in the game.  His performance put himself into Skins-Cowboys lore by leading one of the memorable upsets in the rivalry's history.

3.  Baushaud Breeland.  He had a game that makes you think the Skins have a corner that can cover a little bit.  There was a deep shot early to Terrance Williams that was covered well.  There was the 3rd and goal break-up of a pass in the end zone against Dez Bryant.  There was the near-pick at the end of regulation on what turned out to be a first-down catch for Williams.  There was the final play of the game break-up on the throw to Bryant and add to all of that, he had a strip-fumble on Murray in the 2nd quarter.  With all the blitz pressure, he and Amerson were asked to cover man-up a ton and Breeland came up big.  The only potential bad play I can think of was the Witten touchdown where it looked like he and Merriweather got confused in coverage...maybe a missed switch on the clear-out by Harris.

4.  DeSean Jackson.  I guess I care if he can't block but the big plays he makes as a receiver completely mask any of the "bad blocker" talk.  Simply put, he's the franchise's best deep threat since Gary Clark.  6 catches for 136 yards.

5.  Garcon, Reed, and Paul.  All 3 made key plays as receivers.  Paul early....Reed and Garcon late.  Reed is the real deal.  Please stay healthy.  Paul was inconsistent as a blocker, Reed too.  Paul's holding/tackling penalty on the Skins' first drive of the 3rd qtr was bad and could've derailed the drive but his 20-yard catch and run on the game's opening drive was a big early play.

6.  Brandon Merriweather.  The tape may show that he missed some things in coverage but he was really disruptive around the line of scrimmage and as a pass rusher.  Two sacks, another QB hit, and a fumble recovery is a damn productive night in terms of impact plays.

7.  Cowboys' playcalling.  DeMarco Murray averaged 7.4 yards per carry.  He only got 19 carries.  He should've gotten more but Dallas seemed to fall back on their pre-2014 ways.  On their OT drive, he ran 8 yards on 1st and 10 from the 20.  Then the Cowboys went with 3 straight throws.  Criticizing playcalling is always dicey but given the problems Dallas had with the Skins' blitz scheme, I'm surprised they didn't hammer Murray for at least another 5-10 carries.

8.  Special Teams.  Roberts had his best punt return of the year early in the 1st quarter which led to pts.  Akeem Davis had a big hit in punt coverage.  Tress Way's punt to the Dallas 3 late in regulation was huge!  Forbath was 2 for 2 with a monster clutch kick in OT.  There was one near-disaster play however.  Why did Roberts reach his hand out and swat the ball on a punt return near the sideline late in the 3rd qtr.  It seemed he was close to accidently knocking the ball back in bounds.

9.  Skins’ linebackers.  I thought Kerrigan, Murphy, Robinson, and yes, Riley, all had some very impactful moments.  Robinson was all over the field and had the big hit on Romo.  Kerrigan had a sack and 3 tackles for loss.  Murphy recovered a fumble and made a “Kerrigan-like” near interception after deflecting a pass and nearly coming down with it.  I thought Riley had one of the better games he’s had all year.  He was good in coverage and relentless chasing and tackling.  He had two huge plays on 2nd and 2 (tackle of Murray) and 3rd and 3 (coverage on Witten) on the Cowboys OT drive.

Bad:

1.  Penalties.  They only had 6 for 45 yards but 3 of them cost the team a chance at points.  Paulson's 15-yarder in the first half knocked them out of FG range.  The Jackson unsportsmanlike led to offsetting penalties and a replay of a 3rd-down instead of 1st and 10 at Dallas 44.  Lastly, the delay of game penalty on the final drive of regulation knocked them out of FG range while simultaneously creating a 3rd and long instead of 3rd and makeable.  Gruden should've called his last timeout in that spot. 

2.  Ryan Clark.  He's the weakest DB they have.  He gets lost in coverage and doesn't really bring much of a thump in the run-game.  He may have been hurt which could explain tonight’s poor showing.

More:

1.  Jason Hatcher didn't register a tackle in the game but he drew a ton of attention which freed others up to make plays.

2.  Alfred Morris ran harder and better tonight than he has all season.  He got to the corner with some speed and made yards after contact.  They pitched the ball to him more giving him a chance to get the ball quicker.  He definitely has a fumbling problem even though he didn't lose any.  BTW, he got facemasked on the Skins' OT drive with no call.

3.  Roy Helu continues to be a productive runner and pass catcher.  His 1st and 25 run of 18 yards on a draw was key on their early 3rd qtr touchdown drive.

4.  Weeden did a great job in relief of Romo.  2 drives….10 pts.  Was it a blessing for the Skins that an injured Romo came back and played?

5.  Silas Redd got a carry and looked good until he nearly fumbled....ruled down before ball came loose.

6.  I was convinced that Romo was destined to be the hero after Kerrigan couldn't come up with the fumble on the Merriweather sack late in the game and Breeland missed on the pick 2 plays later.

7.  I though the Skins might take a timeout and force a punt at the end of the first half with 20 seconds left and I thought they might take a shot at a 10 yard pass to the sideline and a Hail Mary at the end of the 4th quarter.

8.  Can you imagine the heat Dan Snyder would take if he stood on the sideline next to his coaches and players during the crucial moments of a game like Jerry Jones does?



Redskins-Cowboys Preview and Pick
by Kevin Sheehan
Oct 26, 2014 -- 4:11pm
ESPN 980

The Redskins will beat the Cowboys if...

1.  the defense stops the run.  The goal is 3.something per carry against a Dallas rush offense that's averaged 4.8 per.  If the Skins can't slow down Murray, this one's got 35-14 written all over it.  Allow Dallas to run the ball and Romo and company will have their way especially with no D-Hall in the lineup.

2.  the offense dominates time of possession.  The goal is something north of 35 minutes of time of possession.  Dallas is 2nd in the league in keeping the ball averaging 34:35 per game so flipping that # and taking 10 minutes of time/plays away from the Cowboys would likely keep the game close.

3.  they make many fewer mistakes than Dallas.  The Skins are dead last in arguably the most important statistic in the NFL....turnover margin.  Their -9 almost defines "losing record" in the NFL.  The Skins are an awful 2nd in the NFL in penalty yardage.  Add to that, they've got poor special teams that rarely make a positive play and are good for at least one miscue per game.  To beat Dallas on the road, they need +2 or better in the turnover battle, a big special teams play or 2, and it would help if they got a couple of Dallas defensive penalties on 3rd down to move the sticks and 1-2 Cowboy offensive holding calls to create 2nd and 3rd and longs.

 

Prediction:

Cowboys 34-17.



Smell Test #9
by
Oct 24, 2014 -- 1:48pm

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: 3-2
Overall:  30-23-2
 
SMELL TEST PICKS FOR WEEKEND OF 10-25-14
 
Saturday, October 25, 2014
 
Auburn -19
Kentucky +14
Washington State +2.5
LSU +3.5

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Jaguars +6
Bears +6
Titans +3
Saints -1.5


Skins-Titans Recap
by Kevin Sheehan
Oct 19, 2014 -- 5:52pm
ESPN 980

The good, bad, and more from the Redskins 19-17 win over Tennessee.

Good:

ESPN 980 Galleries

1.  Colt McCoy.  His 2nd-half spark was necessary....his poise and confidence on the final drive was a nice change from what we've seen the last few weeks.  He was never close to making a mistake and was 11-12 for 128 yards.  He had another big throw to Jackson called back because of penalty and his 3rd and 2 shot to Jackson on the final drive was the perfect call and a perfect throw.  It drew the critical pass interference penalty which put them in easy field goal range.  Two more things.  First, I really liked his willingness to use his mobility, something Cousins hasn't been willing to use in recent weeks.  Secondly, he threw more back-shoulder throws in one half than I've seen any Skins' QB throw in a game.  A very good play by Tennessee corner Wilson broke up a nice back-shoulder fade to Reed in the end zone.  I think we'll see that a lot if he continues to play and I think he will.  I'd be surprised if he doesn't start in Dallas.

2.  Redskin' pass receivers.  Garcon, Jackson, Roberts, and Reed are as a group, an upper-echelon receiving corps.  Jackson is their first legit deep threat in years and he's making plays every week.  He had a 37-yd catch in the first half from Cousins, a 36-yarder from McCoy on the final drive which was called back by penalty but the catch and effort to get two feet in-bounds were brilliant, and he drew the P.I. at the end on another deep shot.  I still think he should get more touches.  Garcon is the fiercest competitor on the team, catches everything, is very good after the catch, and yes, can make big plays like the one early in the 3rd quarter.  Reed is so talented it's scary.  He gets open easier than anyone on the team and his ability after the catch is top-tier.  Roberts as the 4th option among this group is pretty good.

3.  Kai Forbath.  4 for 4 including the game-winner.  He became the most accurate kicker in the history of the franchise today.

4.  Keenan Robinson.  His speed is noticeable throughout and his tackling was very good.

5.  Bashaud Breeland.  The interception was nice even though he seemed to forget that he was in the NFL.  He could've gotten up and run with it.  More than the pick though, I thought Breeland was really active as a tackler.

6.  Darrell Young.  I love him as a receiver on bootlegs and as a runner in short-yardage situations. 

7.  Opponents' penalties.  Tennessee had 11 penalties for 96 yards today.  In the last 3 weeks, Skins' opponents have committed 38 penalties for 294 yards.  The illegal use of hands on #62/Schwenke on the Titans final offensive drive was the key to forcing Tennessee to punt.  Interesting how conservative Ken Whisenhunt played that final drive.  He seemed to feel confident that his defense could keep the Skins from moving into FG range.

Bad:

1.  Kirk Cousins.  His good plays just aren't enough to overcome the bad plays he makes in games.  He may grow out of it down the road but it's not good enough now on a team that struggles on defense and special teams and needs consistent offense without back-breaking mistakes.  The interception was awful.  His decision to throw a shovel pass to Helu in the red zone was near-disaster.  More than anything, he seems to have lost his confidence over the last 3-4 games.  He looked rattled again today.  It seemed doubtful that the team would've won the game without the 2nd-half QB change. 

2.  Special teams.  The turnover on the punt return was a good result although unforced (bad mistake by McCluster) and Forbath's 4 field goals were the difference in the game but the Skins got nothing on returns and the Trent Murphy offsides penalty on the first-half 4th and 4 was a major lack of discipline.  

3.  Lack of defensive disruption.  There was more pressure today than in recent weeks but one sack and maybe 3-4 hurries just isn't good enough against a team that had given up an average of 3 sacks per game before today.  Jason Hatcher and Ryan Kerrigan were playmakers at times but the defense still has yet to make one of those huge game-impacting plays.

More:

1.  Bad judgement by Jackson to get up and jump up in McCourty's face after the late P.I. call.  A 15-yard penalty wouldn't have been good in that spot.

2.  Morris' non-fumble was ruled correctly but he seems to have an issue with holding onto the ball.  

3.  Logan Paulson has a problem holding onto the ball also.  I'm unsure as to where his value lies with Reed healthy..

4.  Compton replaced for Palumbus who got beat on the Cousins sack/fumble in the first half and also had the holding penalty at the end of the first half.

5.  A 3rd and 10 Whitehurst to Kendall Wright throw in the first half that Wright extended beyond the first-down marker was spotted poorly.  However, the Titans were out of timeouts and couldn't challenge the spot.

6.  Jarvis Jenkins misses too many tackles although he seems to be in position to make many, sometimes for loss.



Skins-Titans Preview and Pick
by
Oct 19, 2014 -- 12:06pm

The Redskins will beat the Titans if...

1.  Gruden takes the pressure off Cousins.  Running the ball, more bubble screens, etc. to create easier playaction and bootleg opportunities would go a long way to reducing some the physical and mental pressure Cousins has been dealing with.  A lead would be nice....a few short-field opportunities also.

2.  More touches for Jackson.  I've seen enough to know that if he's on the field, throw the ball to him.  Whether it be short, medium, or long, 5 targets and 3 catches isn't enough.  That's what he had last week in Arizona...it should never be that minimal.  Why not 5 bubble screens each week.  Anything to get him the ball.

3.  No backbreaking mistakes.  In a game between two bad teams, it's usually a mistake that costs one of them the game and a chance to finally win.  The Redskins made sp teams mistakes in Week 1 and Week 3, bad coverage communication in Week 4, and too many interceptions in a close game last week.  Avoid the backbreaking momentum-changing plays and they should be able to avoid "losing" this game. 

Prediction:

Skins 20-17. 



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