Winds of change

Week 5 NFL weather report

Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs may be dealing with rain. Andrew Mather, Chiefs team website

This weekend the country will be split between red and blue, but not only because of the Supreme Court confirmation vote. What I really mean though is that an area of high pressure will be causing very warm temperatures in the eastern half of the country, and a dip in the jet stream will allow colder air from Canada to drop in over the western part of the nation (except California, because usual weather rules never seem to apply to California). In between these contrasting airmasses… WAR. Well not really, but there will be a good deal of rain. And wouldn’t you know it, this week’s game of the week is sitting smack in the middle of that rainy sweet spot.

Jaguars @ Chiefs (12:00 PM Sunday) This is easily the game of the week. You have the unstoppable force that is the Chiefs offense versus the immovable object of the Jags defense. Unfortunately though Kansas City is sitting right in the conflict zone between the warm air to the east and cold air to the west.  On Saturday a cold front looks to push through Kansas City only to stall just to the south and waffle back north as a warm front on Sunday bringing some solid rainfall. At the moment rain looks like a possibility for the entire game but is definitely more likely during the early portions.  How quickly the warm front moves back through the KC area will determine timing though. So, while you should set your lineups or wagers planning on rain, check back before game time for some more refined details. The wet conditions would obviously seem to play to the Jaguars as a defensive and run-first minded team.  Kansas City on the other hand may be held back on offense a little more than they would be otherwise as airing it out will be a riskier proposition. Here are my thoughts on position group impacts (3 arrows possible)

QB: ↓↓

RB: ↑↑

WR: ↓↓

TE: ↓

K: ↓

DEF: ↑↑

Raiders at LA Chargers (3:05 PM Sunday) California is making a rare appearance in the weather report this week thanks to strong winds.  October is usually a month that sees an increase in windy spells in the state in part thanks to the Santa Ana Winds.  This game will see southwest winds around 15 MPH gusting up to 20 or 25 MPH. The stadium’s orientation will have winds blowing diagonally across the field and the relatively small and short-topped stadium the Charges play in will provide less of a wind break than other stadiums might.  In these conditions look for negative impacts on the deep passing game and for kickers, but a slight positive bump for tight-ends in the short game and running backs. Position impacts as follows:

QB: ↓

RB: ↑

WR: ↓

TE: ↑

K: ↓↓

DEF: ↑

Cardinals @ 49ers (3:25 PM Sunday) This game will also have a wind issue, with winds in this part of northern California being even stronger than in LA.  The wind should be blowing out of the northwest at 20 MPH with gusts of 25 to 30 MPH, which with the stadium’s orientation will cause the wind to blow diagonally across the field.  Impacts here will be like the game above but slightly more pronounced (especially considering the caliber of quarterbacks in this matchup):

QB: ↓↓

RB: ↑

WR: ↓

TE: ↑

K: ↓↓↓

DEF: ↑

For more information on any other games, to check in on conditions before kickoff, or if you have any other questions you can find me on Twitter @stephenuzick.


 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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