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Ball Control Rules

Mill Woods

Posted on November 15, 2018 14:52

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Scoring is up in the NFL. Tougher rules on hitters have slowed defenses, and ever-improving skills by offensive players have fans seeing more and more games with total scores over 50. What, if anything, can defenses do? An approach that works is the old football philosophy called 'ball control'.

Last week, I saw examples of great ball control offense leading to wins - and a few examples of what happens when a team does not play ball-control football against an opponent with a great offense.

The Panthers started out the weekend with an excellent display of ball control offense, executing a long first drive filled with running plays, crafty screens and short passes. The Panthers ended up in the end zone on that very first drive in Steel Town, but their subsequent drives were characterized by a lot of deep drops by QB Cam Newton, giving the Steeler defense time to get pressure. The Panthers suffered turnovers, and turnovers added to Steeler points.  

Often, the test of a team's commitment to ball control comes after the team falls behind by a score or two. The Panthers were too impatient, thereby digging a deep hole. Also, the Panther pass defense was not up to the task of slowing the potent Steeler passing attack. Soon enough, the game turned into a blowout. 

On Sunday, the Bengals fell behind the Saints early, and then failed to slow the game down with ball control. The Bengal defense really needed a break, as the Saints held the ball for much of the first half, but no break was to come. The game was over before the fourth quarter began.

The Titans sustained an excellent ball-control offense in their big match with the Patriots. They kept the Patriot offense on the bench enough to keep it from warming up, and the Titans slowly added points to their lead.  

In this era of explosive offenses, I think ball control is the best philosophy. As we move into winter, I think teams that can run the ball well and convert third downs are more likely to make the playoffs. For that reason, in this weekend's biggest game, I am going with the Rams versus the Chiefs.  I also like the Bears to top the Vikings, the Saints to best the Eagles and the Giants to prevail against the Bucaneers.

Last weekend, I went 8-6. Here are all the Week 11 contests - and my picks:

1. Packers at Seahawks                Seahawks
2. Bengals at Ravens                    Ravens
3. Cowboys at Falcons                  Falcons
4. Buccaneers at Giants               Giants
5. Steelers at Jaguars                   Steelers
6. Texans at Redskins                  Texans
7. Titans at Colts                           Titans
8. Panthers at Lions                      Panthers
9. Broncos at Chargers                 Chargers
10. Raiders at Cardinals                Cardinals
11. Eagles at Saints                       Saints
12. Vikings at Bears                       Bears
13. Chiefs at Rams                        Rams

Enjoy!

Mill Woods

Posted on November 15, 2018 14:52

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