On this week's edition of the WWL NFL Podcast, we discuss the rise of the Kansas City Chiefs, and because we just can't help ourselves, the argument over system quarterbacks continues to rear its ugly head.
We also take a look back at the biggest results from Week 11 including the shocking Rams dismantling of Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
The Mailbag once again remains empty we have not a single question to answer, and Seth claims that the 5th time is a charm w/ his sucker line of the week (he is 0-4 currently). Email us your questions! firstname.lastname@example.org!
We preview the upcoming biggest matchups of the week including Arizona @ Seattle and the argument over who is truly better will be settled.
Finally, I'm delivering the most shocking Lock of the Week ever seen. The only thing more shocking is how boring Seth's Lock Of The Week is (can you tell who wrote this promo?) So sit back, relax, grab a drink and get ready for some WWL NFL Podcast fun.
This is perhaps the coldest edition of Hot Takes I have ever written. LSU was miserable Saturday night against an Arkansas team that proved once again why you should never doubt the almighty minds over in Vegas. The Razorbacks took the Golden Boot from the Tigers for the first time since 2010. The most disappointing part of the match isn't just the fact that LSU lost, rather it was the way in which they lost. LSU gained just 123 yards en route to a 17-0 loss to Arkansas. That means that the Pelicans scored more points Friday night than LSU gained total yards. Let that sink in.
There Isn't Just One, Singular Reason for the Loss
Everyone wants to blame Anthony Jennings for the loss and while Jennings didn't play well he is far from the only reason that the Tigers lost. In fact, I would argue that he wasn't even the main reason. Vadal Alexander was a surprise scratch from the lineup as apparently he is hurt. This was an immediate red flag. During the beginning of the game, starting center Eliot Porter went down and all of a sudden the starting offensive line is down to 60% of their maximum strength.
Although the O-line has looked great these last few weeks think back to the beginning of the year when Porter was suspended. At that time they were disappointing and looked nothing like the group that was expected to lead this team. When Porter returned, however, they started to play better and better culminating in a fine showing against Alabama. Well last night the line traveled back in time. LSU ran the ball 32 times for 36 yards. That is an insane stat. I don't know when the last time I saw a rushing total like that. Added to the pot beyond the poor quarterback and offensive line play were poor special teams and defensive play as well.
Colby Delahoussaye was unlike himself as he finished 0 for 2 in the freezing cold conditions. The defense played well enough to win, however their inability at times to get off the field on third down would only exacerbate the issues the offense were facing. Arkansas finished 10/17 on 3rd down. When you add all these ingredients together you get a dangerous mixture that can result in an outcome as unexpected as this game.
Twitter is an insane place
I broke one of my cardinal rules. I engaged in extended negative discourse on Twitter. Normally I love talking to everyone, but if there is a senseless negative comment I ignore it and move on. Despite the fact that I know better, I found myself arguing with a few people and starting to get angry. Why would I let a person's opinions affect my mood?
I think one of the main issues that I had with the comments was the blind hate thrown at Anthony Jennings. It wasn't criticism. It wasn't thought out. It was just simple, reductive statements that ignored the possibility that anything else could have been contributing to the poor play from LSU. Now, I should point out that I have an issue with boo-ing college players. I have written about this previously, but basically I think that criticism is valid but should have reasoning attached. Either way at the end of the day everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I write this paragraph merely in the hopes that next time you go to make a "*Insert Player Name Here* sucks and is the worst thing ever to happen" tweet just be aware of how dumb you sound.
Bottom line is this game was terrible. Pretty astute observation right? The reason why I think such a simple statement is appropriate is because this is one of those games that you have to digest and move on from immediately. No one is going to get better or improve by feeling sorry for themselves. Normally the best thing is to wash the bitter taste out of your mouth with a victory the next week - however, LSU will have to wait a bit longer. The Tigers will have an extra week to gnaw on this unpleasant bone due to next Saturday's bye week. The question now becomes whether or not they will give up or come out swinging. Once again the answer lies in the response. Last week I would have said that the Tigers would definitely rise to the challenge, now I'm not so sure.
When I went to take notes for this game I jumped straight to the series history. The Battle for the Boot is one of the underappreciated rivalries in college football. One might assume that LSU wins all the time yet the numbers tell a different tale. The series history speaks of a rivalry filled with shocking results peppered throughout the timeline.
Who could forget the 2007 triple overtime game in which a Razorback team sporting three legitimate NFL running backs in the same backfield was featured? Peyton Hillis, Felix Jones, and Darren McFadden. The 2002 game where Arkansas came back from down 10 going into the fourth to win with a touchdown throw with just nine seconds left on the clock. This game is particularly special to myself since I remember crying and running upstairs and locking myself in my room. I blamed my Dad because he kept saying "its not over yet" as the Hogs deftly marched down the field.
In fact, during my five years the Arkansas Razorbacks were the only team in the entire SEC that we had a losing record against (2-3). Well Arkansas may not have won an SEC matchup in their last 17 tries yet it seems as if they are due, or at least, that is what Vegas thinks as they have the Hogs favored by 2.5. LSU will travel to Fayetteville Saturday to try and prove Sin City that they should stick to Magic Shows. (not really - Vegas almost always knows what they are talking about)
Keys to the Game
How does LSU handle the cold weather?
The weathermen in Arkansas have forecasted doom for LSU. Death by frostbite, or at least that is what it will feel like to many of these warm weather Tigers. In fact if the weather channel is correct LSU could be looking at its coldest game since 1992 and perhaps the coldest environment it has faced in over half a century. Possible snow showers and tempatures in the high 20s and low 30s are what await the youthful Tigers. The Razorbacks should thrive in such an environment as they have adapted to such conditions. Not unlike the Himalayan Sherpas with their increased lung capacity so too have the Hogs mutated to better handle their surroundings. Unfortunately LSU's players are adapted to the heat making this arena that much more weighted in the home team's side. However, I believe there is a tenacity in this young team that can overcome such adverse conditions.
Who will win the Battle of the O-lines?
If you are a fan of running the football well then this Saturday's game should be your dream come true. Neither of these teams want to pass Both would prefer to run it around 75% of time. There are no trickery or games in this fight. Just straight up brawling. Hulking masses meeting head to head in violent clashes to decide who will be able to crawl forward a few yards. Time and time again the sides will PUNCH reload, PUNCH reload, PUNCH reload… At a certain point I expect it will become a war of attrition. The question is, whose defense will crack first under the ongoing barrage. In the words of the Italian Stallion, "It ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done."
Fight for the Boot
The environment will be hostile on Saturday. This is a Razorback fanbase and team that has had their hearts broken multiple times over the past couple of years. They are not only thirsty for revenge but they are desperate for a win. Everyone knows an enemy is most dangerous when desperate. The massive Golden Boot will be sitting across the field taunting the Razorbacks. The flag and sigil of the enemy. The treasure to be had at the culmination of the battle. A prize so sought after yet not seen in many years in Fayetetville.
Yes, this arena will be set against the invaders, however these Tigers of Baton Rouge are also thirsty for glory. Genghis Khan is once said to have remarked something along the lines of "there is no greater pleasure than vanquishing your enemy and plundering his wealth." LSU has a chance to take something from Arkansas this Saturday…. their hope. The Tigers need to look the Hogs in the eyes, see their desperation, and then crush them beneath their heels. No quarter is expected and no quarter shall be given.
When writing this article I made a conscious decision to avoid Xs and Os. It has become clear to me in my experience with the Arkansas game that all statistics can be thrown out of the window because the majority of the time the two sides are in for a brawl.
Many would say that LSU cannot be ready for this fight due to the tough, physical nature last week's loss. I say it all resides in how this team responds. Rather than feeling sorry for themselves this team should be hungry to show that last week was an aberration.
I've been immensely impressed with the growth of the Tigers this season I think they can take another step in the right direction in Fayetville. Sin City be damned, I say the Tigers hold onto the boot.
The NFC playoff race is turning into one of the most compelling in recent memory. We break it down, and tell you which teams will rise above the rest.
Plus, T-Bob and Seth debate the definition of a system quarterback and if Mark Sanchez should be getting all of the credit people are heaping on him this week. You don't want to miss the back and forth as the debate turns into commentary on the state of football statistics and the "stupidity" of the national sports media.
As always, we sprinkle in some of our favorite segments including our Sucker Line of the Week where Seth's embarrassing streak continues.
Incredibly disappointing for LSU as once again the Tigers watched as the Crimson Tide steal one from the Tigers with an unbelievable late drive in one of the most hostile environments I have ever witnessed. I am exhausted. The emotional peaks and valleys that filled this game were enough for an entire lifetime much less the four hours in which it took the game to be played. Simply put I am stunned.
When LSU forced the turnover to get the ball within the ten yard line with a little over a minute to play a Tiger victory seemed all but assured, however it was not to be as this young LSU squad would make a couple critical mistakes that would cost them a desperately needed victory.
Critical Mistakes in crunchtime opened the door for Alabama
LSU forced their first turnover of the night at the best possible time giving the Tigers the ball with a little over a minute to play and just six yards to go to find the end zone. This is where it all started to go downhill. On the next play Vadal Alexander was flagged for an absolutely senseless unsportsmanlike conduct which forced the Tigers back 15 yards. This is important because it basically negated any chance of scoring a touchdown. This fact combined with Alabama's three timeouts meant that the Tide would be guaranteed time left on the clock with only a field goal needed to send it into OT.
Colby Delahoussaye would go on to make the field goal and put the Tigers up by three but the game wasn't over yet. The next major mistake came on the kickoff where LSU kicked the ball out of bounds giving Alabama excellent field position at the 35 yard line. These two mistakes were the steps that the Tide used to climb their way to a victory.
Credit Lane Kiffen and Blake Sims for showing up when the game mattered most
Blake Sims and the Alabama offense struggled all night. The entire second half the Tide failed to move the ball with any effectiveness however when the stakes were the highest Blake Sims turned into a different quarterback and marched the Tide right down the field in one of the most insane environments I have ever seen. Behind the play calls of Kiffen, Sims and company ran one of the most perfect two minute drills I have ever witnessed without the help of any timeouts.
LSU fans could only watch as Alabama methodically worked the sidelines and began to work their way into field goal range. A couple big plays later and it suddenly felt as if Tiger fans were attempting to hold water in their hands while it slowly trickled through their trembling fingers. Alabama knocks it through the uprights and then executes in overtime and the rest is history.
LSU's inability to throw the ball cost them
LSU's gameplan was solid. They positioned themselves perfectly to win this game however the painful ineffectiveness of the passing game ended up being too much for LSU to overcome. Don't misunderstand me, I don't mean that the passing game COST the Tigers the game but it also didn't help them win. There were multiple third and manageable situations in the fourth quarter in which LSU failed to complete simple pass and catch plays that would have resulted in first downs and extended the drives.
Overall Anthony Jennings finished 8/26 for 76 yards with one touchdown and one interception. This is not all Jennigs fault however as I can think of a few key drops that could have changed the complexion of this game. Also I would like to give number ten credit for playing tough and coming up with a few huge 3rd down runs to extend drives. There are a ton of bright spots on this Tiger team however moving forward quarterback play must improve if LSU wants to make noise on a national level.
LSU and Alabama are preparing once again to square off in a battle that will be viewed by millions across the country. The Crimson Tide are currently 5th in the Selection Committee's Playoff rankings, but there are many who say they would rank Alabama as the best team in the country based on how they have played in recent weeks.
LSU is also a team that has been trending upward having won three SEC games in a row after losing their initial two. The best win of the three came two weeks ago when the Tigers knocked off the Ole Miss Rebels in Death Valley. It was a game in which the Stadium truly shined.
Even through the television you could feel the passion of the 100,000+ fans as they willed the purple and gold to victory. The Old War Skule will be called upon once again as the Tigers attempt to thwart the Tide's effort to get their fourth win in a row in this LSU/Alabama series.
Keys to the Game
LSU's Defense Must Keep It Close Early
It has become obvious to anyone who watches this LSU team that the Tigers want to run the ball and will do so regardless of the look their opponents throw at them. Naturally teams will load the box and sell out to stop the run. Earlier in the year, LSU was not able to overcome these overloaded boxes and struggled to put drives together and score points. Recently, however, the offensive line has played much better and the running game has carried this team to the aforementioned three wins.
Interestingly enough, the offensive line may not actually be the key to whether or not the run game succeeds on Saturday. A solid rushing attack works like the process of erosion. Reach back and think about Jr. High science class where your teacher taught you about how waves and water eventually break down giant boulders down into sand. This is not a process that happens instantly. If you watch the waves crash upon the rocks you think that the water is doing nothing except bouncing harmlessly off of these solid formations. After a couple minutes you become bored and move on.
Come back a couple years later, however, and there will be significant changes to the rock face that is continuously getting pounding by these waves. Now condense this process into a 60 minute football game and you will understand how a great rushing attack works. It doesn't matter how tough a defense may seem initially, even the hardest of rocks will eventually get worn down. Runs that may be hitting for one or two yards in the first quarter will be gaining seven or eight yards by the fourth.
The question then becomes whether or not the Tigers can keep the game close enough for the running game to reach its full potential. This is why I believe that defense may be the real key to the Tigers offensive success as incongruous as that sounds. Against Miss St and Auburn, LSU fell behind early and was forced to pass the ball in an attempt to catch up. This made the Tigers one dimensional and in a dimension in which they already struggle.
LSU has rarely found success in the passing game this season and it makes it that much tougher on the offense when the defense knows it is coming. Suddenly, you find yourself consistently trying to convert on 3rd and long and that is the last place you wish to be. Speaking of 3rd down, the LSU defense will have their work cut out for them. Alabama is currently second in the nation converting on 55.7% of their third down attempts. If the Tigers fail to force the Tide off the field on the penultimate down it will be a long night for both the purple and gold offense and defense.
Tiger Stadium is legendary. I wrote before the Ole Miss game that Death Valley can cause LSU to run faster, jump higher, and hit harder. It is like a giant, concrete version of PF Flyers. I also spoke on the practical advantage that a defensive line gains when you factor in heavy crowd noise. This week I want to watch the Stadium interact with Alabama on a much more specific level. In fact I believe there is one player above all others who may be the key to this game and that is Tide quarterback Blake Sims.
Sims is 5th year senior who has finally been given his opportunity to play and he has made the most of it. Sims is currently 3rd in the nation in passing efficiency having thrown 15 touchdowns to 3 interceptions. If Sims plays well on Saturday I believe that victory will be all but assured for the Crimson Tide. However, just recently we saw another quarterback who was having the best year of his career come into Tiger Stadium and fail to pass the test.
I speak of Bo Wallace. This is Wallace's third year starting and he had actually already been successful in Tiger Stadium in the past but something was different this time around. The atmosphere and the fans seemed to rattle Ole Miss' senior signal caller to the point where he was interacting back and forth with the crowd. Whether it was being too excited, or too distracted Wallace struggled all night and his final mistake would prove to be the most costly as Bo threw an interception to seal the 10-7 result. In Blake Sims you have a quarterback who is much less experienced than Wallace that has already struggled on the road this season.
The Tide lost to Ole Miss and squeaked out a win against Arkansas as Sims struggled to find success in both matchups. Those two stadiums were not nearly as loud or raccous as Tiger Stadium will be Saturday and I am anxiously awaiting to see how Sims will respond to the challenge. There are a few who have stared into the gaping maw of the purple and gold leviathan and lived to tell the tale, however there are plenty more who have wilted under the oppressive cacophony emitted from the 102,000 yelling fanatics in the stands. Will Sims rise to the challenge or fail to quell the ancient spirit of the marshlands? The answer may hold the key to the outcome of this game.
If you look at the Crimson Tide's stats this season they are once again incredible. They are ranked near the top of the country in all defensive categories and the more you read the more discouraging it becomes for Tiger fans, however I don't believe these stats tell the whole story. Alabama has done an excellent job of taking care of the opponents on their schedule, but thus far how impressive has that schedule been? The Tide's best win is over West Virginia and while it is a quality victory it does not speak of some unstoppable conquering force.
In fact, if you discount the A&M game (because they are terrible) Alabama has lost to the last three ranked teams they have faced (Auburn, Oklahoma last season, Ole Miss this year). I say this not to say that Alabama always loses against good teams because obviously that is not the case. Rather, I say this to point out that you can't always live and die by the numbers and statistics. They tell part of the story but not the whole tale. Alabama will have their strength tested both mentally and physically and their response will go a long way towards proving what sort of team they really are.
Bottom line, I think we are in for another thrilling college football game and who will win is anybody's guess. After the Ole Miss game I have learned that you can't quantify the magic of Tiger Stadium and I hope that LSU can tap into that source once again.
With another regular season victory over Peyton Manning, have the Patriots cemented themselves as the team to beat in the AFC?
Plus, Seth continues to deny respect to the Cardinals causing T-Bob to mount a counter offensive to defend "his team/" We'll also review the west of the week 9 games, and preview the upcoming week including the massive showdown in the Superdome between the Saints and 49ers.
As always we sprinkle in some of our favorite segments, including our Sucker Line of the Week, where we think we've found a jinx on par with SI Cover or Madden Cover ones.
The College Football Playoff Selection committee released their first team rankings yesterday and while the reaction hasn’t been wholly positive I believe that the majority of fans are pleased with the committee’s initial findings. In case you don’t know I will give you a very general, very brief overview as to how the new College Playoff system works.
There used to be four major BCS bowls and it was the goal of every school to play in said games. There are now six major bowls. Two of these will be semi-final games that lead to an eventual title match. The six major bowls are now the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Peach, and Cotton. The selection committee is in charge of ranking the top teams and will decide who deserves to play in each game. This means that the most coveted spots of the rankings are the first four.
Tuesday night the committee released their first list and the SEC West claimed three of the top four spots with Mississippi State at number one, Florida State at two, Auburn is three, and Ole Miss is four. Ole Miss? But didn’t they just lose? This is one of the main reasons why I am such a fan of this new system.
Now that human discourse reigns supreme in college football rankings we are able to throw out some of the more dated issues that have traditionally plagued the polls. One of the old adages was always “its better to lose early than late.” I would make the argument that while this certainly can be true (it helps your case if you have improved later in the season, the new system rewards this as well) it is not always the case. Losses should be looked at on an individual basis and judged on their quality.
In the past, Alabama would have jumped Ole Miss in all the polls following the loss to LSU, however under the new system, the committee recognized that Ole Miss’ loss was in an extremely tough environment against a good team and at the end of the day they had still beaten Bama head to head (also lets not kid ourselves the Rebs only gave up 10 points in the LSU game… that defense is still great). Another reason I love this new system is it doesn’t reward teams who don’t have a quality schedule.
Notre Dame is coming in at number ten and there are plenty of Irish fans who are upset however if you are being purely objective you would struggle to make a convincing argument that has them placed higher. The Irish haven’t beaten any good teams in fact they lost to the best team (Oregon) they faced. No longer will we have championships decided by happenstance and circumstance. Now, it will be the teams that are objectively better at the game of football that make it regardless of conference.
As enthusiastic as I am about this new system I would like to point a few things out. The first of which is that I readily admit that some of my excitement could stem from the novelty of it all. I feel a bit like a kid with a brand new shiny bike that I can’t wait to head out and ride. Maybe once I hit the road I will find that it doesn’t support my weight, or won’t turn well… you get the point. Also there is the issue of human bias. The committee is made up of people after all and no matter how hard we try I believe that it is impossible to remain completely objective.
I do think, however, that this issue is minimized by the fact that the committee is made up of diverse members from schools all around the country. The last thing I will say on this new system is that in reality the rankings are frivolous until the final week. If a team wins all the games on their schedule they will end up where they want.
This new weekly ranking makes a ton of sense from a business perspective. It plays great to a television audience. Because the choosing of the teams is somewhat subjective there is no way to predict which teams will be ranked where making it must watch TV for anybody with a team in the hunt. Also, it allows fans to theorize and play with different scenarios as they try to create a storyline that finds their favorite school playing in the Final Four (good luck LSU fans have fun!).
I recognize that no system is perfect but initially I find myself as a big fan of these new rankings. There is one key ingredient in this new mixture that truly separates it from the BCS is common sense.
The Arizona Cardinals are soaring at an NFC best 6-1, but have they reached their BEAK? (see what I did there?)
Also we take a look back at the biggest games of this last week as we try to figure out who is real and who is a big fat phony. Seth refuses to admit that he was wrong with his sucker line of the week and I spend an inordinate amount of time talking about Kyle Orton.
As always we preview the biggest matchups of next week including: Saints @ Panthers, Cardinals @ Cowboys, Broncos @ Patriots, and Eagles @ Texans.
So grab a drink, sit back, and kick it with ya boys as we talk all things NFL for the next hour and a half. As always, you can email us at WWLNFLPodcast@gmail.com!
Wow, what a game! Sorry yall tonight’s Hot Takes™ w/ T-Bob will not be as in-depth as normal as I am about to head over to Bayou Burger for the post game show!
The LSU Defense is Going to be Good for a Long Time
Tonight the Tigers defense played like the great defenses that LSU fans are used to seeing in Death Valley. Time and time again the defense stepped up to the plate and rose to the occasion no matter how bad of a hand they were dealt. The best part is that the players who were continuously having their names called are YOUNG. Jamal Adams, Davon Godchaux, Kendell Beckwith, Tre White, Rashard Robinson, ect these are all guys who can’t leave next season! As in like, legally not allowed to! Yay for the NCAA!
Turnovers are the key to the game (or not)
Throughout the week all the experts and analysts (myself included though I am neither) were saying that if LSU was going to rise to the occasion and beat Ole Miss turnovers would be the key! Well, I wrote not long ago that football has a funny way of making us question what we really know and that was once again on display tonight as LSU lost the turnover battle to Ole Miss 4-1….. 4-1!
That is absurd especially considering that Ole Miss only gave the ball away on the final play of the game. It is a credit to this team’s mental toughness that they were able to overcome all the early miscues and still win the game!
Death Valley is Where I Want My Ashes Scattered
My God I fell in love all over again with college football today. The campus was electric and it was impossible not to be in a good mood while walking around in this beautiful weather. Unfortunately I was not able to go to the game (see above about the post game show) but even through the television I could feel the magic of Tiger Stadium. The rising and falling cacophony emanating from the stadium made it almost impossible for Ole Miss to communicate all night.
Also, there is no doubt in my mind that these players played better because of the crowd. I myself have experienced that feeling. It doesn’t matter how tired your body is there is a tangible energy that exudes from the stands and players can tap into it in order to play harder, faster, and stronger. What a game… Death Valley truly is the place where opponents dreams come to die.