Daily Blog • Sunday, January 9th



9:00 PM ESPN
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These two are both on hot streaks as Nevada (6) and BC (5) are two of 13 teams in the nation riding win streaks of 5 or more games. The Eagles are 13-8 in bowl gms and are making their 12th consec appearance (Nevada making their 6th str). Nevada is thrilled with their season as they pulled the upset of Cal earlier TY then got the OT win which KO’d Boise from the BCS. BC is disappointed with this season as they struggled at the QB spot, were quickly eliminated from the ACC Atlantic race, and needed to win out to get to the postseason. They relied heavily on a D which was the NCAA’s #1 vs the run and featured the ACC’s best LB corps. UN fans can easily make this trek as San Fran is just over 200 miles away from Reno, while BC fans are notoriously bad travelers.

BC had high expectations for its offense TY, returning 2,000 yd passer Shinskie. The Eagles opened the year with two expected wins but in gm 3 vs VT, TO’s hit and BC lost 19-0 (1st shutout in 148 gms). BC went on to lose the next 4, but HC Spaziani rallied the troops and BC won out to land here. In gm 4, BC started true Fr Rettig but he was inj’d early and missed the NCSt gm. He returned vs FSU and started the L/7. The off relied heavily on RB Harris and he responded by becoming the ACC’s OFF POY. He missed the finale (knee) but will play here. Overall, the offense has my #91 rating. BC’s defense (#15) has been a constant in Spaz’s tenure (DC ‘99-’08). The already stingy unit toughened up the L/5W of the ssn all’g just 3 off TD’s. The DL recorded 15 of the tm’s 19 sks and BC ranks #1 in the NCAA all’g 80 ypg rush. The LB unit is one of the best in the country with AA Kuechly (#1 tkl’r NCAA), Piccolo winner Herzlich and true Fr Pierre-Louis. The ST’s come in at #99. RFr Freese became the only BC K to hit 4 FG’s in a gm twice in the same ssn.

In the L/3Y, UN has avg over 500 ttl ypg (536 ypg TY). What’s made Ault’s Pistol off so potent and effective is the type of QB and OL he’s had to run it. Kaepernick became the 1st QB in college FB hist to throw for 2,000 and rush for 1,000 in a season in 3 consec years. What’s more, he’s tied for the most rushing TD’s by a QB ever (59) and teamed with RB Taua to become the most prolific rushing duo ever in NCAA history (broke SMU’s mark of 8193 yds from ‘79-’82). The Pack recorded over 400 ypg in all but one gm TY (at UH) and in fact, posted over 500 yds in 8 gms incl 884 yds (UN record) vs ID. UN finished as my #7 off and #64 D. The DL avg 6’2” 266 (2 Sr) and is anchored by Moch, a dynamic DE who is the NCAA’s active leader in tfl (#6 all-time) with 63. UN brought in DC Buh to shore up the tm’s Achilles’ heel and the D responded. UN not only dropped its pts all’d by nearly a TD, but after all’g 298 ypg pass with a 33-8 LY, the Pack’s #40 pass D all’d 253 ypg (57%) with only a 15-10 ratio TY! UN went thru a mid-ssn slump going 5 gms without a made FG but when unheralded walk-on K Martinez split the uprights with the GW FG vs Boise, he became “Big Man on Campus” in one swift kick. The ST rank #107 as UN att’d just one FG over 40 and the KR def is all’g 26.1 ypr.

Kudos to Nevada for their impressive win vs Boise and was one of the game's the nation is still talking about. On the other side BC is a well coached team that has a solid rush attack and most probably the best set of LB’s in the country. Nevada was held 189 yds under their avg at Hawaii and 120 yds under their avg at Fresno and this is the 1st D they’ve faced that’s in the Top 45 away from home. Kaepernick is used to breaking to the outside but will find that task much more difficult vs this quality front 7. In the end, the pack get the win but this will be much closer than what many expect.

PHIL’S FORECAST: nevada 28 boston college 24




1:00 PM ET CBS


The Ravens beat the Chiefs 38-24 in the 1st game of '09 in the last meeting. BAL had a 501-188 yd edge in Haley's 1st game as a HC in which Cassel didn't play. The Chiefs have changed dramatically since then earning their 1st AFC West title S/'03 making a 6 game improvement over LY. They have made the most out of a very easy sked as they have only faced 1 team outside of the division with a winning record which was back in Wk 4 with IND. They lost that game 19-9 being outgained 341-261. Harbaugh is the 4th HC S/'90 to make the playoffs in his 1st 3 years and their 12 wins are the best S/'03.

Under OC Cameron BAL has established its approach to the season as they emphasize the pass until early Dec. Cameron noted that he does this to push Flacco's development as much as possible so when the weather turns bad he can field healthy RB's and a hot QB. After a rough 1st 2 gms, Flacco settled in and finished the year with a 24-5 ratio (7.82 ypa) going 137 str passes without an int. RB Rice has logged B2B seasons of 1,200 yds rush/500 yds rec. He joins WR's Boldin/Mason with 60+ rec's, but BAL did not have a 1,000 yd rec for the 1st time S/'06.The truth is BAL has a good but not great D at this point with solid leadership (Lewis/Reed) that has made up for shortcomings in the secondary. Ngata is a dominant force on the DL who can play any spot up front for a unit that has given up 94 ypg (3.9) rush TY. BAL has had the advantage of a healthy Suggs after a down '09 and he's posted 11 sks for a D that earns 1 every 22 att. In the 1st 6 gms without FS Reed, BAL only had 3 int but with Reed who leads the team with 8, BAL pulled in 16 the rest of the way. BAL has my #11 ST's with a good year by Koch (39.2 net, 39 punts In20).

When Haley took over he didn't have time to assemble the staff he wanted, but got the production he needed from OC Weis and DC Crennel TY. Weis played to the strengths of his players with a run 1st mentality as KC leads the NFL with 556 rush att (4.7). Charles finished 2nd in rushing TY and more importantly took the focus off Cassel who logged 7 gms with a QBR of 111 or better. Cassel was very efficient with the ball throwing an int in just 5 gms TY. Bowe has matured in Weis' system becoming the main receiving threat with more than double the yds of Moeaki who is a good balanced TE option. LY KC had the #30 D with just 22 sks in their 1st yr in a 3-4. TY with a very basic playbook and more speed the Chiefs have improved to 14 on D with 39 sks. OLB Hali finished #2 in the NFL with 14.5 sks and is a perfect fit under Crennel as is Johnson at ILB. Statistically KC didn't improve much vs the pass but they were able to close out gms better and they have a very fast and young secondary for the future. KC finished 17th in my ST's rankings despite the injection of speed TY.

Congratulations to the Chiefs for winning the AFC West but it was done vs one of the weakest schedules with most of their wins coming vs teams with losing records. Losing twice to OAK is almost a preview of this physical Ravens team that wants to run between the tkls and is punishing on both sides of the ball. Baltimore has been exposed through the air and Cassel should be able to do that again. Both teams are balanced with the ability to run and pass but in the end I do like the Ravens on the road yet again as they make it 3 str years with WC road wins.

PHIL’S FORECAST: Baltimore 24 kansas city 17


4:30 PM ET FOX


Green Bay has reached the postssn for the 3rd time in McCarthy's 4Y despite 10 st'rs landing on IR (77+ gms lost to inj). Green Bay beat PHI 27-20 in TY's opener. PHI starter Kolb was KO'd in the 2Q and GB scored 20 unanswered pts. Vick took adv of a GB D that prepped for a pocket QB as he rushed for 103 (9.4) with 175 pass (67%) and 1 TD. PHI pulled within 7 w/5:46 left and Vick led PHI to the GB42 but was SOD on 4&1. PHI is the NFC East champ for the 6th time in 12 yrs under Reid who along with Belichick is the only active HC with 100 wins in a decade.

Green Bay and New Orleans are the only teams to finish in the top 10 on offense in each of the L5Y. Rodgers is an elite QB ranking 4th in pass yds, pass TD and QBR since he took over as the st'r in '08. TY he was 78 yds short of being the 1st QB to throw for 4,000 in each of his 1st 3 yrs. He has had to cope with the loss of RB Grant (brkn ankle in opener) and TE Finley (knee, 5th gm) who was a huge loss for 3rd down pkg's. As a result GB used its run gm to set up the play action and serve as an extra pass protector. Unlike LY, GB has enjoyed stability on the OL as they've had the same lineup for 12 str after Bulaga was installed at RT. GB has capitalized on pts off takeaways (#2 w/111) which has helped them make up for a beat up front 7. After starting 1 gm LY, Raji has been a beast as he's the only DL with 16 sts and his 6.5 sks are the most by a NT S/'90. Despite a nagging hamstring inj Matthews is the 1st in GB hist with 10+ sks in his 1st 2Y. However, GB is very thin at the other OLB spot having started 4 diff plyrs. GB has had good health in the secondary (#5 pass D) with 3 of 4 st'rs together for all 16. This will be the 4th time in 5 yrs that GB's ST's have finished 24th or lower in my rankings with the return units (7.9 PR, 20.1 KR) being the main culprit TY.

Speed kills in the NFL and PHI has it in abundance. PHI has arguably the fastest skill players in the NFL even with Vick having lost half a step. As a result PHI has 81pl of 20+ yds (#1). After not finding a market for Vick via trade before the draft, Reid traded McNabb, benched the QB who he developed to take over and was rewarded by a stunning career year by Vick. Vick finally developed into a strong passing QB (100.2 QBR) spreading the ball around (5 with 40 rec's, 5 with 500 yds rec) with 4 players having 7+ TD's. PHI's 110 ypg rush (5.4) is among the best in Reid's tenure with Vick avg 56 ypg rush. WR Jackson has been very lethal as a deep threat with 20 rec's of 20+ yds as he leads the NFL with a 22.5 ypc. McCoy is the 1st 1,000 yd rusher for PHI since Westbrook in '07 and he also leads the tm in rec's. PHI's #12 D started out slowly vs the run (27th after 4 wks) but picked up after that with 95.6 ypg (4.0). DC McDermott has had his hands full recently as inj's have started to pile up in the 2H of the ssn. PHI lost rookie DE Graham (knee), MLB Bradley (elbow), FS Allen (knee) in B2B weeks after losing CB Hobbs (neck). DT Cole (10 sks) sets the tone and he is the only DL to start all 16 TY. PHI picked up a good hit and run WLB in Sims from DET whose speed plays well in PHI's scheme. The Eagles are #2 in the NFL with 23 int TY with 4 having 3 or more (GB #1). After finishing 21st or worse in my ST's rankings in 2 of the L3Y, the Eagles brought in the best ST coor in Bobby April to head up the unit. PHI's #18 ranking is due to special teamers being forced to start due to inj's.

GB was bled by the Bears LW being forced to go the entire 4Q to earn their playoff spot. That said they are playing at a very high level the month. They are very healthy compared to PHI and unlike LY have a good OL edge. PHI relies on its speed to exploit edges but GB has a very savvy secondary. Look for GB to pull a road upset.

PHIL’S FORECAST: green bay 24 philadelphia 21