Take a seat!
November 27, 2006 7:04pm CST
Just when you think you've seen it all, the NFL will show you something new. I mean, the New York Giants blowing a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter to the Titans? Things are starting to fall apart for that franchise, but I'll elaborate on that later. In this week's Six Points, I'll take a look at some victims and survivors during a Week 12 slate that gave us a few upsets, some shutouts and outstanding and terrible performances from players who figure to play key roles for Super Bowl contenders. THE GOOD Ravens offense Even before coach Brian Billick took over the offensive play-calling, the question surrounding the Baltimore Ravens was their running game (114 yards in a victory over the Steelers). Would this unit provide enough production to complement a great defense? Well, the Ravens are giving the ball to Jamal Lewis and it's changed the complexion of that offense. As I've said before, by establishing the run, they've taken pressure off of Steve McNair. So now you wonder: If it's as simple as just giving Jamal Lewis and the other backs more carries, why couldn't former coordinator Jim Fassell implement that strategy? Well, we're starting to see more and more that Fassell was a good coach, but not necessarily a good coordinator. When you go back and look at the success the Giants' offense had under Fassell, he was teamed with Sean Payton. Payton has gone on to have success in Dallas and New Orleans, which leads me to believe he was the one making the right calls – not Fassell. Patriots D The New England Patriots defense must create big plays. The Pats play a 3-4 and in that alignment, you need good linebackers, which they don't have. Defensive tackle Richard Seymour (sack, fumble recovery, blocked punt in win over the Bears) is going to have to dominate the line of scrimmage. And Asante Samuel, the best player in that secondary, has to make big plays as he did on Sunday. His three picks were crucial. Seymour and Samuel have to play at this level for the Pats to have continued success. Saints offense The New Orleans Saints are really exciting to watch. They have the ability to run the ball with Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush. Then, they're able to throw the ball down field with Drew Brees (349 yards, two touchdowns in win over Atlanta). I'm really impressed with what coach Sean Payton has done. In the past, when the Saints were in a "must-win" situation, they usually lost. This time, they managed to end the losing streak at two and take a one-game lead over the Panthers in the NFC South. THE BAD Bears quarterback Grossman It's time for Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith to sit Rex Grossman (15-of-34 passing, four turnovers in loss to Patriots). When I look at the situations with the Bears and Broncos, I actually think Lovie has an easier decision to make than Mike Shanahan with Jake Plummer because Brian Griese is a known commodity (unlike Jay Cutler). Griese has played, won games and there's not a lot of difference in terms of arm strength and scrambling ability. If it was me, I would make the switch. I believe Grossman could keep this team from reaching the Super Bowl, not just because he's making mistakes, but because of bad decisions. I'm not sure what adjustments the coaching staff can make to better protect him because teams are going to blitz and they're sending one more defender than the Bears can handle. With Grossman, there's the concern of possibly doing long-term damage by benching him. I would worry about the relationship later. The most pressing concern is maximizing home-field advantage in the playoffs. You're not in this position every year, so you have to try to win now. Panthers offense The Carolina Panthers are hard to figure out. You make excuses for the injuries: "When they get players back, they'll be fine." But the reality is they have one of the most boring offenses in the league and it's reflected in their inconsistent play (264 offensive yards in loss to Redskins). They can't run the ball like we're used to seeing. And eight-year veteran quarterback Jake Delhomme, despite having Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson, isn't making enough big plays. You very seldom see them put together a full football game. Imploding Giants The NFC East is a study in teams going in different directions. The Cowboys are starting to make all of the plays and the Giants can't make any. The talk of running back Tiki Barber's retirement and the constant griping about the coaching staff have had an impact on this locker room. A team, even a veteran group, should only have so many outbursts a season. You can only accept: "I'm sorry, I apologize, I blew up," so many times. Cris Carter is Yahoo! Sports' NFL analyst. Send Cris a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.