John Madden
John Madden
Five great games for the weekend
By John Madden
ALLMADDEN.com

Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts

Last week getting ready for our Monday night game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tennessee Titans, we watched the coach's film from the previous weeks game the Titans had played against the Colts and QB Peyton Manning. After watching the tape I feel like Manning is different this year. He's always been good and just last year he was the co-MVP of the NFL, but it just seems like everything he is doing this year is quicker. He runs the play action passes and is able to get spun around quicker to make his reads and the ball is coming out quicker. He gets to a point during games where he is impossible to defend. Whatever that thing is, he's there and he has it.

Over the years I have said that good defense will beat good offense and I think I am going to make an exception here. If the good defense is on a par with the good offense that is probably true, but I think there is a separation here. I think the Colts offense is on a higher level than the Ravens defense.

As for the Ravens offense, they have been on the upward trend from the beginning of the season and they are now starting to look like an NFL offense along with that, the Colts defense is not very good. Having said that, the Ravens offense is going to have to find a way to score a lot of points because the Colts offense is going to. A good example of knowing what a team is up against with this Colts offense was Jeff Fisher a couple of weeks ago tried three on-side kicks on the first three kick offs knowing that his team was going to have to find a way to put up a lot of points. He knew he had to find a way to score early and often and not only with his offense, but with his special teams.

Seattle Seahawks at New York Jets
This time of the year when you play in the Northeast you have to be able to run the ball. Earlier in the year the elements don't play such a critical role in games but come December and January the wind becomes a factor and at times teams will have to run the ball and when it gets really bad in one direction then a team may have to run the ball for an entire quarter.

Coach Herm Edwards made a pretty good point and that was that it looks like the New York Jets are going to be a playoff team but until they start beating playoff teams you have to wonder how far they are going to go. It's one thing to get into the playoffs but winning in the playoffs is what the heck it's all about!

For the Seattle Seahawks running the ball means hooking the wagon to Shaun Alexander and Mike Holmgren has a tough time doing that. He loves to throw the ball, so he'll end up running the ball a little and then he will get away from it because he wants Matt Hasselbeck to throw the thing. I think there are times that a coach just has to stay with the run and I think this is one of them. Seattle's problem is still consistency and once again they proved it the last two weeks. On Monday night two weeks ago they played the Dallas Cowboys in a game that they had won and still managed to lose and then last week they go into Minneapolis and win. You don't know what you are going to get with this team. I just don't think this team can stand prosperity!

Jacksonville Jaguars at Green Bay Packers
The Jaguars are one of those teams that every time I see them I am impressed. Coach Jack Del Rio has toughened this team up. It's like the Titans used to be, when teams knew when they faced them they were going to be in a fight. I don't know if this team is going to be a playoff team this year or if they are going to contend for anything, but you can see them coming. They are building and getting better and better and whether or not they make any noise this year I think they are getting ready to make a pretty strong move next year!

We've talked about this before with the Packers and at one point not too long ago they were a throwing team with QB Brett Favre. The last two or three years they have changed into a running team and if they can get that running game going then their offense really clicks. If their running game struggles then that leads to turnovers and struggles overall. Their passing game is very dependent upon the running game, their bootlegs, play action, and screens. So if you ask what does Jacksonville have to do? I think they have to stop the run. Make them one dimensional. I would make them do that, I would make them beat me with his arm and I am not sure that I think I would have ever said that in my life, but I think that is what they have to do.

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons
The Panthers were left for dead when they were 1-7 and labeled the most disappointing team in the NFL in the first half of the season and now they are riding a five-game winning streak and are the biggest surprise team in the NFL in the second half of the season. You can attribute it to QB Jake Delhomme, RB Nick Goings and DE Julius Peppers, but it is all about guys stepping up when adversity strikes and coaching through it and still winning, that's something special and that is what coach John Fox has been able to do.

For the Falcons they have the one weapon that you just can't contain and that's what makes the Falcons so tough to defend. You can have a guy in perfect position to contain Michael Vick, he has him right in front of him and he just can't make the tackle. I have said this about Vick in the past but I'll bet when he was a kid and played a game of tag, I'll bet he was never it! You just have to hope that you are able to have a bunch of guys in position with enough speed to catch him.

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are having a bad year, that is no secret, but the one thing that they do have is a pretty good defense. For them it starts with their corners Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain who are both pretty good corners. That means that the game is not going to get out of hand and neither team is going to score 40 or 50 points.

Patriots' QB Tom Brady is really on top of his game right now and I keep saying that he reminds me of Joe Montana. What that means is Montana used to do the things that every other quarterback was doing but he made them look easier. Brady does that now, he is so smooth and he looks like he has everything under control at all times, doing the same things all the other quarterbacks are doing and making it look easier and doing them better!

Corey Dillon has changed the playbook for the Patriots this season. They used to have a bunch of short passes that they would use in lieu of the run. I think Charlie Weis, their offensive coordinator, considered those short passes not a part of the passing game but his running game. With Dillon they don't have to use those any more and the offense is even more efficient.

The one thing to remember is that this is a division game and as much as the Patriots have the ability to confuse teams with their defense the Dolphins kind of know them and know what to expect. These two teams play each other two times a year and the Dolphins will be able to prepare with the knowledge they have accumulated over the last few years but having said that they are running a little short of talent to compete with a team as talented as the Patriots. They do have a few guys in Randy McMichael, their tight end and Chris Chambers, their wide receiver, but it all goes back to their offensive line protecting well enough to give A.J. Feeley time to get them the ball and then if they do that can Feeley get them the ball?

Both of these teams are having some turnover in their coaching staffs. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is being given the opportunity to take a job that he has probably always dreamed of having. Here is a guy that went to Notre Dame, didn't play football and now is being given the opportunity to go back as the head coach! That has to be big in his life! The next issue is that he now has two jobs and only 100 percent of himself to give to both. The Patriots have had all 100 percent until now and some people say that won't be a thing but they are wrong. If he gives 30 percent to Notre Dame then he only has 70 percent left to give to the Patriots.

Imagine if you are Weis, you are getting ready to play a game and getting ready to go into the playoffs and on the other hand he is now the head coach at Notre Dame who has to put together a staff, start a recruiting program, talk to your players ect& I have been through this as a head coach and believe me it is a problem! This is going to be a decision for Bill Belichick. I have seen it done both ways, I have seen the coach stick with the coordinator for the remainder of the season and I've seen where they let them go to concentrate on their new job and fill in the gap. I don't know that there is a right answer but if you ask me which way I would lean I would lean towards letting him go.

I don't think anything is going to happen in the Dolphins coaching ranks until they figure out what is happening in the front office. Are they going to hire a general manager, new president, etc. The other thing is that I think they ought to wait and see what coaches become available in the NFL. There has been talk about some pretty good head coaches maybe becoming available. Mike Holmgren and Mike Shanahan may become available and I think if I were Wayne Huizenga I would wait and jump on one of those guys. It might not happen but why not start there and see what happens.

You can hear me with Adam Schein on Sirius NFL Radio on Friday and Monday afternoons on "Afternoon Blitz" and Sunday mornings on the "Sirius NFL Tailgate Show."


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