Nerd of Batman, sports, logic, objectivity, Star Trek, personal enlightenment, Lincoln, the Rays, psychology, mic dropping. Kind've in that order.
I didn't give much thought to how the Pistons would function defensively after their procurements of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. Neither player, aside from Smith's skill of weakside shot blocker, was ever known for their defensive attributes.
Most of the concern about Smith was that he was going to have to play the 3 and that's way too much size in the front court to function in today's NBA, where many teams often prefer a small ball lineup.
That spacing issue has appeared at times, but it hasn't been iceberg of the Pistons' true struggles. Those have come defensively.
For the dozenth time, teams can easily avoid the Pistons interior size and strength by shooting over it. Which they've done very successfully.
Let's sift through some grizzly numbers.
The Pistons allow the most points per 100 possessions in the NBA at 106.9. For context, Indiana leads at 90.6. Here.
Pistons opponents lead the league in effective FG percentage at 54%. Indiana at the top again at 43.7%. Here.
Pistons opponents non-blocked 2 point FG% is 28th in the NBA at 57.1%. Chicago leads the way at 43.9%. Here.
The Pistons are letting opponents slice them up, as they allow 24.1 assists per game, that's 25th in the NBA. Here.
Their turnovers and opponent rebounds are turning into 14.9 fastbreak points per game. That's 24th in the league. Here.
Pistons opponents shooting 43.4% on shots from 15-19 feet (25th), 46.8% 20-24 feet (last) and they can't even protect the rim. They're allowing 64% on FG within five feet (27th).
It's ugly. Carmelo might score 50 tonight.
We were so enthralled with slamming Jim Schwartz's hideous decision to call for a fake field goal, we completely forgot to acknowledge that the difficulty of some games on the Lions remaining schedule went from Rookie to at least Normal, if we're grading on the Madden scale.
The skill level wasn't actually increased in one single day of games and performances, but over the course of the last few weeks. Things do suddenly change directions in the NFL quite often. And they could change again before the Lions encounter these impending challenges.
The good news is still that they've got any tiebreaker over Chicago with their two wins against the Bears. If the Lions beat Green Bay on Thanksgiving that'll be 1-1, but the Lions will move to 4-1 in the North, with only a game at Minnesota remaining in Week 17 that would prevent them from 5-1 in the North.
Now the bad news.
The Buccaneers, who visit as 9 point underdogs this Sunday, have won two and a half of their last three games. They took Seattle to OT 3 weeks ago on the road, they won the Distraction Bowl against Miami and they just hammered Atlanta. Tampa's backs keep dropping and no name heroes keep popping up to save the day for their run game, and rookie Mike Glennon has a 109 passer rating over the last year. Sunday won't be the walkover we expected several weeks ago.
PHOTO CREDIT - GETTY IMAGES
Almost from Week 1, I expected the trip to the Linc in Philly to be a loss, but the way the Nick Foles has played for Chip Kelly lately, the Lions defense - particularly the secondary - could be in for a humiliating afternoon. If they couldn't tackle Antonio Brown, good luck catching Desean Jackson and Lesean McCoy.
PHOTO CREDIT - GETTY IMAGES
And here come the Giants on their almost annual spurt through November + December, which almost always lands them winning their only game in February, and oh yeah, if they needed extra motivation that game will be played in their stadium. If the Giants handle their remaining schedule of Dal, @Wash, @SD, Sea, @Det, Wash and make the playoffs, then stay out of their way, and start thinking about Eli being up TWO Super Bowls on his brother. Could you imagine Eli vs. Peyton in the NY area Super Bowl. It would be like an entire entourage of Jerome Bettis's on one team being from Detroit. Prepare for incessant.
The Lions remaining schedule isn't unmanageable, and 12-4 wasn't going to happen anyway. Three of the final 6 games just became a bit more grueling, which isn't a bad thing if you're trying to define a winning identity that can help you advance through January.
And by the way, I'm not backtracking on my Ws and Ls.
Green Bay Win
@New York I'll flip here. Loss. EDIT - This is in Detroit. But the point remains, often the Giants are not to be toiled with in December.
10-6. 2-0 over the Bears, 1-1 vs. GB and 5-1 in the North. That SHOULD claim the 3rd seed in the NFC, and possibly create The Handshake Bowl at Ford Field during Wild Card weekend.
The Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl since they were implicated then fined for Spygate in 2007. One of the three teams New England beat in those title games were the Carolina Panthers. Perhaps there was fine print in addition to the $750,000 dollars in penalities that stated 'the league has the right to punish as we see fit moving forward until Brady & Belichick are gone.'
No black helicopters, just a lousy, cowardly retraction of a thrown flag.
Here is the photo of the final play of the Pats-Panthers game. Tomorrow morning, it will be everywhere. https://t.co/t5rNeb2DHE— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) November 19, 2013
That could have been three penalties in my opinion, and possibly yours; DPI, holding or illegal contact.
If it was DPI, Carolina would've needed a goal line stand to prevent the Patriots from winning. That penalty would have moved the ball from the 18 to the 1.
Illegal contact would have moved the ball to the 13, and if I'm correct, holding would've moved the ball to the 8 yard line, and downs wouldn't have mattered since the clock had expired.
Just because the Panthers got the benefit of a poorly officiated final play, doesn't mean they still wouldn't have won that game anyway on the untimed down.
And even if they did lose, I would still state the following...
Because of the 27 Denver put up on KC, Carolina now leads the league in points allowed per game at 13.5. They're the number two defense in overall yards per game. Along with their stout defense, I have immense trust in the Panther running game - even after a quiet night for the backs - which can be guided by Cam Newton's legs if needed. The Panthers exhibit characteristics that travel well to any environment. With two games against the Saints looming, they can win the division, but I think the Panthers may be the only team in the NFC that visit Seattle or New Orleans in January and win on the road.
Which leads to my second notion, that the ascending Panthers remind me a lot of last year's Super Bowl participants.