In CBCSports.ca's weekly chatter, the guys discuss the risk-reward of Andrew Luck, the 49ers' tough loss in St. Louis, overtime under the new rules, and Monday night's big AFC clash between the visiting Houston Texans and high-powered New England Patriots.
Andrew Luck led the Colts (8-4) to another come-from-behind victory after throwing a TD pass with no time left against the Detroit Lions. But Luck has now thrown for 16 interceptions and has lost eight fumbles. Should there be concern in Indy?
Rookie QBs are going to make mistakes, but as long as they show they're capable of making big plays
, I think that bodes well for their future. The classic example is Peyton Manning, who threw 26 TDs and 28 interceptions as a rookie. Luck ranks fourth in the league in raw passing yards and a respectable 17th in yards per attempt. He's certainly showing something.
There should be none. It's been well documented how great I think this rookie is going to be. One of his best and underrated qualities is that he has a short memory. He doesn't stew about a pick for long. Look at what happened against Detroit. He throws a fourth-quarter INT, yet rallies his team with two TDs in the last game's final 2:39. He also threw for 152 yards in the final 15 minutes. His teammates will tell you that with Luck under centre, the Colts
are never out of a game.
Not yet. Rookie mistakes, they will happen. Although he only completed 24 of 54 passes, Luck
still threw for 391 yards in Indianapolis' dramatic win. That's five game-winning drives he's led this year. Overall, his TD to INT ratio thus far in 2012 is 17/16, but nine of those picks have come in just three games, including Sunday at Ford Field. He's averaging 42 attempted throws per game. When you put the ball in the air that often, there will be turnovers. He'll improve in that category. All that matters for the Colts right now is that they're 8-4 and looking pretty good to finish 10-6 and pick up one of the two AFC wild-card spots.
The San Francisco 49ers let a golden opportunity get away in St. Louis, falling to the Rams in OT. Who should get the blame for this loss?
Let's give some credit to St. Louis, which seems to have San Fran's
number. Three weeks ago, the Rams tied the Niners at Candlestick while outgaining them in both raw yardage and yards per play, suggesting the result was no fluke. This week, San Francisco won the yardage battle but lost the turnover one, with a bad Colin Kaepernick
pitchout resulting in a defensive touchdown by St. Louis on the game's only giveaway. I don't really blame Kaepernick, though. Skill sets aside, there's not much difference between him and Alex Smith, so there's no sense faulting Jim Harbaugh for either choice at QB.
Tony Care: I know many will point to the controversial intentional grounded call that cost the 49ers a safety, or the careless pitchout from QB Colin Kaepernick that resulted in the Rams tying the game late. But I think coach Jim Harbaugh plays too conservative at times because he relies heavily on his defence. Take the OT as an example. With the 49ers in Rams' territory, Harbaugh calls two running plays in two of the three downs. This forced David Akers to kick a 51-yard field goal that he hooked. Yes, Akers regularly makes those kicks, but come on, Jim. Give your kicker the easier range. He's not as automatic as he was last year.
Jason Davidson: I find it hard to pin the blame on anyone here. If David Akers makes that 51-yard field goal in overtime instead of barely missing wide right, we're not even having this conversation. The Rams got some clutch kicking on their end, with rookie Greg Zeurlein making a 54-yarder to tie it late in the fourth quarter, then he wins it with a 53-yarder in OT. Overall, Colin Kaepernick didn't have a bad game, but he did make a few mistakes, which had consequences. One resulted in a safety, the other a game-tying touchdown.
After 12 games we've seen numerous overtimes under the new rule where both teams get a possession unless there is an opening TD or defensive score. Do you like the OT rule?
Jesse Campigotto: It's much better than the old system, where all you needed to do if you won the coin flip was gain a few first downs and boot a long field goal. I like how the current system rewards a team for scoring a touchdown on the first possession of OT. And I look forward to the day when a smart/ballsy coach decides to exploit this loophole of sorts: the rules don't actually guaranteed both teams a possession in overtime, but only the opportunity to possess the ball in OT. Therefore, if the team that loses the toss attempts an onside kick and recovers the ball, they need only kick a field goal to end the game on the spot. Sounds like a Sean Payton move, no?
I'm enjoying watch these OT games. It forces coaches into a more aggressive approach. They know that a field goal won't necessary cut it and must plan accordingly. Remember Lions
coaches Jim Schwartz forgoing the easy field goal and going for it on 4th-and-1 attempt? He went for it because his defence couldn't stop Tennessee throughout the game. The strategy backfired and the Lions lost. I know coaches hate the rule because it adds to the second guessing, but as a fan you have to love the new wrinkle.
Jason Davidson: I don't mind it. Before the rule change, more often than not it seemed that if you won the toss, you're going to simply make your way into field goal range and end the game right there. This certainly changes the strategy for whoever receives the ball. A field goal is fine, but you're not entirely off the hook. That all depends on if your defence can hold the fort. Now, if there is one rule change that I don't like, it's kickoffs from the 35-yard line rather than the 30. We see less returns and more stoppages.
Let's look ahead to Monday night's big AFC clash between the visiting Houston Texans (11-1) and the New England Patriots (9-3). Which team do you like and why?
These teams are close to dead even to me. Houston is 11-1
and New England
is 9-3, but the Patriots have the superior point differential (plus-170 to plus-130). Both teams have won six in a row, and both have played schedules that rank among the easiest in the league (the Texans' being a bit easier because their division is softer and they've yet to play either of their two games against the Colts, who are the second-best team in the AFC South). So I'd give the Patriots between a half-point and a one-point edge. Factor in home field, which I'd peg a notch below the standard three points because of New England's relatively sedate stadium and Houston's 6-0 road record, and I'd say the Pats ought to be at most a 3.5-point favourite. I see the spread opened at 4.5 (understandable given all the press New England has received of late) and is down to 4, so if I had to bet it right now I'd lean toward Houston.
Tony Care: Three weeks ago, I would've said the Texans but the way the defence has played lately, I'm switching to the Patriots. Prior to Sunday's easy victory in Tennessee, the Texans were gashed for 66 points and 819 passing yards against the Jaguars and Lions. Granted Houston won both games, but the team was fortunate that Jacksonville and Detroit couldn't close the deal. New England won't be so kind. The Patriots rank No. 1 in scoring offence (430 points) by a mile, and average 7.7 yards per pass attempt, which ranks seventh. The Patriots by three.
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I'm going with the Patriots because it's at Foxborough. Their offence is explosive and I just don't know how the Texans' defence will be able to keep up, despite the presence of J.J. Watt
. Brian Cushing's
absence will be felt. Remember Week 6? Aaron Rodgers
and the Green Bay Packers lit up Watt and company with six touchdowns. Tom Brady
, as we all know, has the ability to do just that. Pats increase their winning streak to seven, while Houston's unbeaten streak ends at six.