Monday Night Football Preview
PANTHERS ON THE BRINK OF ELMINATION, EAGLES BEGIN “THE SANCHEZ EXPERIENCE!”
This week’s Monday Night Football attraction isn’t exactly an NFL blockbuster. But, there will be plenty of intrigue because nobody knows for sure how Mark Sanchez will perform as a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles!
Everyone knows his past. He was ill-suited to the New York Jets offense, which may be so poorly designed that hardly anyone could succeed with it! But, Sanchez didn’t help matters with poor decision-making and a tendency to stumble under pressure. With the Eagles, he’s been given the keys to a car that runs much better, and may be exactly what he needs to save his career.
Hey, it’s still Mark Sanchez! You have to assume some misplays. But, he does have a much greater chance to succeed in this schematic than he has in the past.
On Carolina’s side, we have a team that’s on the verge of virtual elimination from the playoff picture...and a franchise that may have decided that Cam Newton isn’t going to be the savior they expected. Are we about to witness the symbolic end of the Newton era and the beginning of the Sanchez era? A look at the game through the lens of JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats...
Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Carolina: 3-5-1 (#9 schedule in USA Today)
Philadelphia: 6-2 (#26 schedule in USA Today)
Those extreme differences in schedule strength are suggesting that these two teams might converge in the middle if they had played league average schedules. Carolina is certainly better than a 3-5-1 team...and would probably still be a serious playoff contender if Cam Newton had been at 100% health all season. Philadelphia might only be a 4-4 team vs. an average slate, and now has to deal with a backup quarterback running the show.
Carolina: 5.1 on offense, 5.9 on defense
Philadelphia: 5.7 on offense, 5.4 on defense
Well, we can’t blame all of Carolina’s problems on Newton’s health. Sure, that 5.1 mark on offense has been influenced by his inability to don a superhero cape. But, the defense has been a huge disappointment. We talked yesterday about Chicago’s woes at 6.0 YPP defensively. Carolina’s only a tick better. That’s a big step back from last year, and a big strike against their playoff hopes moving forward. Frankly, Philadelphia’s YPP differential of +0.3 isn’t very good against such a soft schedule. This wasn’t the explosive second year pundits were projecting for Chip Kelly’s “revolutionary” approach. More like proof that NFL defenses know how to adjust to new wrinkles once they’ve had time to study film. And, perhaps a hint that Mark Sanchez isn’t being handed the keys to a Porsche.
Wow...you wouldn’t have expected those differentials given the won-lost records. Carolina’s smart play (or good fortune) has helped overcome a bad defense. It’s a borderline miracle that Philadelphia is 6-2 with mediocre stats and a bad turnover mark! How can you be MINUS NINE against a soft schedule?! Nick Foles wasn’t playing anywhere near last year’s level. Unfortunately, Sanchez is a proven turnover maker, so the shot he gets at the helm probably won’t help this category much.
Both teams have been moneymakers. Though, it’s worth remembering that Carolina loses BIG when they lose. If they fall behind, the offense isn’t suited to playing catch up...and their defense isn’t suited to getting stops against explosive attacks.
Current Line: Philadelphia by 6, total of 48
Mark Sanchez is such a question mark catalyst that it’s very difficult to anticipate how the game will play out. If he can help the Eagles jump ahead early, then it could be very smooth sailing against a team that’s been throwing in the towel at the first sign of trouble recently. But, if he struggles, it wouldn’t be a shock at all if the Eagles lose this game outright. The raw stats from JIM HURLEY’S pet indicators don’t show much difference between the teams after you adjust for schedule. And, Philly probably just got a point or two worse at the QB position!
We’ve said it often before...but it really applies here. DON’T MAKE A MOVE UNTIL YOU HEAR WHAT JIM HURLEY HAS TO SAY!
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Pro basketball will be under the spotlight the next days here in the NOTEBOOK. Here’s the upcoming schedule.
Tuesday: NBA Preview...San Antonio at Golden State
Wednesday: NBA Preview...Houston vs. Minnesota from Mexico City on ESPN
Thursday: NFL Preview...Buffalo at Miami on the NFL Network
Friday: College Preview...Mississippi State at Alabama on CBS
Saturday: College Preview...Florida State at Miami in ABC
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