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NFL.com preseason review


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Arizona (3-1): 75 points scored; 74 points against

In the preseason, the team ranked eighth overall on defense but only 21st against the run. The key stat was that the Cardinals were plus-8 in sack differential. In the 2004 regular season, the top five teams in this statistical category made it to the postseason, and four of them won their respective division titles. Rookie running back J.J. Arrington had 28 rushes for a 2.6 yards-per-carry average and no touchdowns. The offense passed 126 times and ran the ball 97 times. Head coach Dennis Green passed more than his teams ran in nine of his 10 years in Minnesota. In those 10 years, he averaged 123 more passes than rushes per season.

Atlanta (4-1): 107 points scored; 72 points against

The team ranked 28th overall on defense -- No. 1 against the run and dead last against the pass. The offense ran the ball 154 times and passed 128 times, the same mix that was so successful last season. Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett both averaged more than 6.0 yards per carry. In 2004, the top five teams running the ball made it to the playoffs, including the Falcons, who were No. 1 in the league. Atlanta ran 129 times more than it passed in 2004; look for more of the same this year. Seven draft picks made the roster in addition to a league-high four rookie free agents.

Baltimore (2-2): 64 points scored; 62 points against

Baltimore ranked 15th overall on defense -- 13th against the run and 19th vs. the pass. The Ravens passed 144 times and ran it 106 times in the preseason, putting a little more emphasis on the improved passing game. Baltimore ran more than it passed in 2004. Randy Hymes led all receivers in the preseason with 13 catches and two touchdowns. Chester Taylor was the preseason's No. 1 rusher with 270 yards (6.9 average). Kyle Boller had a passer rating of only 44.6 with two touchdowns and four interceptions.

Buffalo (2-2): 63 points scored; 54 points against

In the preseason, the team ranked No. 2 overall on defense (ninth against the run; fifth vs. the pass). The Bills allowed only one passing TD in the 2005 preseason. New starter J.P. Losman completed 54.3 percent of his passes with one touchdown and two interceptions. Wide receiver Sam Aiken played very well on special teams. Overall, the team did a very good job controlling the ball, holding a 32:47 edge in time of possession.

Carolina (2-2): 89 points scored; 78 points against

Carolina was down the middle in overall defense at a tie for No. 19 overall, but it was fourth against the run and 29th vs. the pass. The team had 10 passing touchdowns and no rushing scores in the preseason. Jake Delhomme had a great passer rating of 109.1 and completed nearly 74 percent of his passes. Drew Carter, a first-year player after sitting out 2004 due to injury, had a good preseason with 11 catches for 142 yards and two TDs. The Panthers should score a lot of points, but they must replace Colin Branch on defense, as he was lost for the year due to a preseason injury.

Chicago (3-2): 86 points scored; 86 points against

The team ranked 14th in the preseason on defense, 25th against the pass but third against the run. That is a big improvement over being 25th against the run last year. Rookie Mark Bradley was the preseason leader with 331 receiving yards, including a Hall of Fame Game-record 131 yards. He had one touchdown reception and a 23.2-yard average on kickoff returns. Fellow rookie Kyle Orton completed 63 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and three interceptions. He has a strong arm but is not real fast. Running back Cedric Benson held out for 36 days and it will take five or six games until he is able to start and play well.

Cincinnati (2-2): 92 points scored; 67 points against

The team ranked 22nd overall on defense, 13th against the run and 23rd against the pass. Chris Perry averaged 4.0 yards per rushing attempt and led the team in receptions. Carson Palmer was just OK, completing 52 percent of his passes with three touchdowns, two interceptions and had a 75.0 passer rating. Cincinnati passed 148 times and ran 125 times. Rookie receiver Chris Henry had 10 catches, two touchdowns and a team-high 170 yards. The Bengals ranked first with 41 first downs and in third-down efficiency, and second in average points per game.

Cleveland (3-1): 74 points scored; 56 points against

In a definite turnaround, the team ranked 13th overall on defense (18th against the run; 14th vs. the pass). It was a balanced offensive attack with 121 passes and 125 rushes. Antonio Bryant averaged 21 yards a reception. William Green was a surprise running and catching the ball. Rookie Joshua Cribbs will help the return game. The Browns look to have nine new starters this year. Charlie Frye completed 68 percent of his passes and had a 92.8 passer rating. Lee Suggs has only three carries for 11 yards in the preseason.

Dallas (3-1): 77 points scored; 52 points against

Dallas ranked fourth overall on defense (second against the run; 10th vs. the pass). The Cowboys passed 109 times and ran on 145 occasions. With that, the team averaged 33:37 in time of possession (Bill Parcells loves to control the clock). The top three runners averaged 4.7 yards per attempt or better. The big question is how will the signing of Peerless Price affect Jason Witten's and Patrick Crayton's numbers. The team is much improved on defense with better players and more depth.

Denver (4-0): 113 points scored; 80 points against

Denver ranked 16th overall on defense (14th against the run; 20th vs. the pass). The team ran the ball 137 times and passed 119 times. The trio of running backs -- Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne -- rushed for 550 yards on 87 attempts for a 6.3 average. The Broncos were plus-5 in sack differential. In nine of the past 10 years under Mike Shanahan, one back has had at least 51.5 percent of the carries for the season. In the three-best years -- 1996, '97 and '98 -- Terrell Davis ran it at least 65.7 percent of the time. I think all three of the guys this year will play, with Anderson as the starter. Jake Plummer had a 123.6 passer rating with three touchdowns and no INTs in the preseason. Todd Devoe had a 20-yard average catching the ball.

Detroit (1-3): 50 points scored; 75 points against

Detroit ranked 23rd overall on defense, 19th vs. the run and 18th against the pass. The team passed 130 times and ran it 107 times, showing the firepower of the talented receiving trio. This was very similar to the percentage of pass/run last year. Roy Williams showed he should be a big-time receiver, and Kevin Jones will be a big-time runner. Joey Harrington completed 69.7 percent of his passes with no TDs. Mike Williams did well with eight catches for 130 yards (16.3 avg.). The team just hopes Harrington will be stellar due to Jeff Garcia's leg injury.

Green Bay (2-2): 41 points scored; 78 points against

Despite being outscored by 37 points, the Packers were 11th in defense in the preseason (28th against the run; seventh vs. the pass). The team passed 113 times and had 104 rushing attempts. Even though the team scored only 41 points in four preseason games, Green Bay scored only 36 last year en route to a division title. The team was minus-6 in sack differential, which is not a good sign for an aging Brett Favre. Favre came to camp in great shape and lost about 15 pounds. This has led to better quickness. The big question is if the team has successfully replaced the loss of starting offensive linemen in the offseason. The offense did not have a rhythm this preseason, controlling the ball for less than 27 minutes a game.

Houston (1-3): 56 points scored; 96 points against

Ranked 30th overall on defense (23rd against the run; 27th vs. the pass). The Texans ran 118 times; passed 116. David Carr did not have a good preseason (23.0 passer rating; he might be hurt). He completed 44.1 percent of his passes with one touchdown against four interceptions. Domanick Davis looks like he will get a lot of carries and receptions. Opponents completed 67 percent of their passes for nine touchdowns and a 113.1 passer rating.

Indianapolis (0-5): 72 points scored; 143 points against

Team ranked 24th overall on defense (32nd against the run; sixth vs. pass). The Colts passed 191 times; ran 96. The Colts had one rushing touchdown and gave up eight in the preseason. Manning had a 106.9 passer rating, completing 68.1 percent of his passes for four touchdowns against one interception. The signing of ex-Eagle Corey Simon should help the run defense. The trade for ex-Titans linebacker Rocky Calmus also should help. Tight end Dallas Clark caught only one pass in the preseason. The Colts starters did not play a lot.

Byron Leftwich, right, should be improved, but he still needs Fred Taylor around.

Jacksonville (2-2): 74 points scored; 84 points against

The team ranked 18th overall on defense (26th against the run; 12th vs. the pass). The Jaguars rushed 114 times; passed 123. This team needs Fred Taylor if it is going to do much on offense. Jacksonville's leading rusher in the preseason was Alvin Pearman, who also is a top receiver. Matt Jones had nine catches for 168 yards (18.7 avg.) and one touchdown. Byron Leftwich should play better in the new offensive system.

Kansas City (0-4): 73 points scored; 101 points against

The team ranked 31st overall on defense (20th against the run; 30th vs. the pass). The Chiefs ran 110 times; passed 140. Kansas City scored 483 points during the 2004 season. It led the NFL in yards but was the only team in the top 10 in that category that failed to make the playoffs. Trent Green threw only 22 passes in the preseason and recently underwent a medical procedure on his lower leg. Thanks to a 97-yard touchdown, Larry Johnson gained 8.2 yards per carry during the preseason. Holmes had 23 carries for 81 yards. Derrick Johnson, the first linebacker taken in the 2005 NFL Draft, has a chance to be the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Miami (1-4): 78 points scored; 105 points against

Ranked 27th overall on defense (27th against the run; 13th vs. the pass). The Dolphins passed 221 times; ran 96 (five games). Ricky Williams will miss the first four games, so Ronnie Brown should get most of the carries in the early going. Gus Frerotte, who will be starting against Denver in Week 1, completed 45.5 percent of his passes and had a 60.2 passer rating during the preseason. Opponents rushed for 4.1 yards per carry and five touchdowns in the preseason. Keep an eye on David Boston -- he might be a surprise.

Minnesota (3-1): 90 points scored; 81 points against

Ranked seventh overall on defense (17th against the run; ninth vs. the pass). The Vikings passed 131 times; ran 124. The biggest questions are who will be the No. 1 running back (I think it will be Michael Bennett) and who will be the second receiver after Nate Burleson (my guess is Travis Taylor, who caught 34 passes for Baltimore with no touchdowns). Daunte Culpepper had a great preseason (81.8 percent; 114 rating). Rookie Troy Williamson will make a few big catches.

New England (2-2): 80 points scored; 80 points against

Ranked sixth overall on defense (25th against the run; third vs. the pass). The Patriots ran 121 times; passed 120. Opponents completed less than 50 percent of their passes and had a 52.8 passer rating. Look for Ben Watson to be a factor on offense as a pass-catching tight end. Deion Branch had no catches in the preseason (is he OK?). The team did not control the time of possession and allowed first downs on almost 48 percent of third-down situations.

New Orleans (1-3): 64 points scored; 95 points against

The team ranked 29th overall on defense (30th against the run and 17th vs. the pass). The Saints passed 157 times; ran 129. Look for this team to run the ball closer to 50 percent of the time. In the preseason, opponents gained 5.7 yards per carry and scored five rushing touchdowns. Donte' Stallworth played well in the preseason. Look for Aaron Stecker to play more. It will be hard for the Saints to play well because of what happened in New Orleans.

N.Y. Giants (3-1): 83 points scored; 55 points against

The team ranked No. 1 overall on defense (16th against the run; first vs. the pass). The Giants passed 105 times; ran 123. The team had a minus-8 sack ratio in the preseason. David Tyree (22.1 yards per reception) had an outstanding preseason. Rookie Brandon Jacobs was the leading rusher. The Giants held opponents to a .488 completion percentage and a 42.3 passer rating. Eli Manning (elbow) is a big question mark.

N.Y. Jets (3-1): 89 points scored; 53 points against

The team ranked No. 12 overall on defense (seventh against the run; 22nd vs. the pass). The Jets passed 85 times; ran 117. New offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger likes to go for big plays in the passing game. The Jets held the ball for less than 27 minutes per game in the preseason. Laveranues Coles and Chad Pennington are reunited. The Jets have a very good backup quarterback in Jay Fiedler. Rookie kicker Mike Nugent was 4 for 4 in field goals. Keep an eye on rookie DB Kerry Rhodes (three INTs in preseason).

Oakland (1-3): 59 points scored; 63 points against

The team ranked No. 3 overall on defense (12th against the run; fourth vs. the pass). The Raiders passed 149 times; ran 96 times. The defense showed improvement. One reason is because the offense had the ball for an average of 32:21. Oakland has a strong receiving corps and an up-and-coming offensive line. Kerry Collins was very good in the preseason (109.9 rating; 70 percent completions). Johnny Morant had 15 catches for 315 yards.

Philadelphia (2-2): 92 points scored; 106 points against

The team ranked No. 9 overall on defense (11th against the run; 16th vs. the pass). The Eagles passed 155 times; ran 89. Two rookies have a chance to play and do well -- RB/KR Ryan Moats and wide receiver Reggie Brown. Donovan McNabb had a great preseason (114.4 passer rating; 66.7 percent completions). Philadelphia has very good special teams.

Pittsburgh (3-1): 86 points scored; 68 points against

The team ranked No. 21 overall on defense (fifth against the run; 28th vs. the pass). The Steelers passed 124 times; ran 117 -- this will change during the regular season. The team was a plus-7 in sack differential. Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley most likely will miss three games at the start of the season. Ben Roethlisberger did not play well in the preseason (32.8 rating; 44.4 percent completions). Nate Washington, a free-agent receiver from Tiffin College, was the leading receiver. All eyes will be on running back Willie Parker in the early going.

Steven Jackson enters his first season as the Rams' featured back on a promising note.

St. Louis (3-1): 102 points scored; 85 points against

The team ranked No. 20 overall on defense (22nd against the run; 15th vs. the pass). The Rams ran the ball 119 times and passed it 112. Steven Jackson (6.7 yards per carry) was outstanding. Kevin Curtis scored three touchdowns and gained 21.3 yards per catch. Mike Martz says St. Louis will run more. In 2004, the Rams passed 199 times more than they ran. Shaun McDonald did well in the preseason.

San Diego (2-2): 87 points scored; 74 points against

The team ranked No. 17 overall on defense (eighth against the run; 24th vs. the pass). The Chargers passed 141 times; ran 106. San Diego has all its starters back from last season. Backup running back Michael Turner was impressive in the preseason. Rookie Darren Sproles adds to the return game and led the receivers in the preseason. LaDainian Tomlinson had only one carry in four games -- a 55-yard touchdown.

San Francisco (2-2): 82 points scored; 80 points against

The team ranked No. 32 overall on defense (31st against the run; 31st vs. the pass). The 49ers ran 111 times; passed 130. Tim Rattay had a good preseason. Arnaz Battle and Brandon Lloyd (10 receptions each) are the best receivers, and Kevan Barlow is the best runner. The 49ers need to do everything possible to keep the defense off the field.

Seattle (2-2): 88 points scored; 73 points against

The team ranked No. 26 overall on defense (29th against the run; 11th vs. the pass). The Seahawks ran 108 times; passed 147. Matt Hasselbeck was outstanding (114.7 rating, 70.5 percent completions). Seattle signed ex-Cincinnati receiver Peter Warrick. Tight end Jerramy Stevens looked good. Shaun Alexander can become a free agent at the end of the season.

Tampa Bay (2-2): 89 points scored; 68 points against

The team ranked No. 10 overall on defense (sixth against the run; 21st vs. the pass). The Buccaneers ran 118 times; passed 117. Tampa Bay was minus-9 in sack differential. Second-year running back Ernest Graham played well (36 carries, 4.4 avg., two TDs). The defense held opponents to under 50 percent in completions and to a 61.3 passer rating. Rookie running back Carnell Williams should do well.

Tennessee (1-3): 71 points scored; 78 points against

The team ranked No. 5 overall on defense (24th against the run; second vs. the pass). The Titans ran 121 times; passed 159. Chris Brown will have fewer carries because of the trade for Travis Henry, which should help him stay healthy in the long run. New offensive coordinator Norm Chow will try to control the ball and shorten the game. Tennessee's average time of possession during the preseason was 33:43. Tight end Ben Troupe missed all of the preseason. The team has three good rookie wide receivers -- Courtney Roby, Roydell Williams and Brandon Jones (a Hines Ward look-alike). Tennessee was a plus-8 in sack differential.

Washington (1-3): 64 points scored; 88 points against

The team ranked No. 25 overall on defense (10th against the run; 26th vs. the pass). The Redskins ran the ball 117 times; passed 146. Washington gave up 10 touchdown passes in the preseason, which could explain why its opponents passed 149 times and rushed 106. Patrick Ramsey was only average in the preseason. Clinton Portis should get more than 300 carries, and second-year tight end Chris Cooley could see a lot of passes come his way.

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FIRST in total first downs and third down efficiency, and bound to get BETTER as the offense gels. HELL YEAH.

13th in run defense, 22nd in pass defense. Don't know what to take from this, other than that we DID stop the run well against first team offenses, and the pass defense numbers were inflated by the Philly game.

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As much as I'd love to get excited about those #s, they truly don't mean a thing...

You are right, but still, the numbers I listed jumped out at me as worth posting. If they can be that successful on third down on a consistent basis during the regular season, then this offense may be even better than it has been hyped up to be.

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He made the point that Frye had a 68 percent completion percentage but then did not take into consideration that he was playing backups and alot of players that did not even make an NFL roster.

These statistics are meaningless, the Colts went 0-5 in the preseason so surely we should downgrade our expectations for the upcoming season, right...

quoting Preseason Statistics should be outlawed.

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