We are The Pulling Linemen: dedicated to bringing you stories and opinions from the guys at the centre of football - Linemen!

Contact us at info@pullinglinemen.com, or on twitter @PullingLinemen

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Pick Foles Prediction League - & Games of the Week - Week 13

Do we have a close race for you! After 12 weeks there is just a one game gap in the prediction league, with last year's winner Toby hunting down Phil, who has been at or near the top all season.

A poor week from both 2nd City Fanatics and TomTom Sports has seen them fall away from the race and give themselves extra work to do. Do they take some risks to try and make up ground?

In week 13, with must-win games for several teams from Pittsburgh against their bitter rivals Baltimore to Seattle's road trip to Chicago, everything is on the line. You won't win the Super Bowl (or Prediction League) this week, but you could definitely lose it!!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

OLR Week 12: Standing On The Shoulders...

Another superb week from the Giants offensive line. As we take our weekly dive into The Pulling Linemen's exclusive Offensive Line Rating ("OLR") statistic, the Giants emerge as the cream of the crop once again, playing a huge role in their surprising domination of the Green Bay Packers in week 12, and cementing their position as the best OL in the NFL in 2012.

Just below NYG in week 12, however, is a unit we haven't seen mentioned amongst the best for quite some weeks, mostly because they've been shocking.

So shocking in fact, they were bottom of the NFL in week 11...

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Thanks-Picking Prediction League - And GOTW - Week 12

While America settles in for turkey and trimmings we here at TPL get the joy of extra thursday football, even though once again the Lions and Cowboys are struggling to play watchable football.

Last week saw 3 very near upsets from Arizona, Cleveland and Jacksonville, only to be denied in at the death.

Our pickers have found a rhythm now, and it's getting very, very close. With Phil leading by just one from TomTom Sports and by two from Toby every game is crucial, and one bad week could see you fall out of contention for the most coveted title in all of sports. With no more byes for the rest of the season we're back to picking 16 games a week, so let's get on it. But first, our games of the week...

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

OLR Week 11: San Fran-Tastic on MNF

It was first billed as a potential preview of the NFC Championship game. Then it became the Backup Bowl. It ended as the 49ers show.

Their 32-7 victory over the Chicago Bears may not be indicative of how these teams will fare going forward once their starting QBs return, but with both teams sporting top 10 defenses, it certainly shows where the Offensive Line strength really lay in this matchup. As we look inside the numbers, the 49ers OL unit can be very pleased with their performance this week as they take the number 1 ranking, their first of 2012.

Friday, 16 November 2012

November Power Rankings

With just a month and a half left of the regular season, we're starting to see a clear playoff picture emerge in one conference, though the race remains tight in the other. Much more important than potential seeding, however, is where we have them ranked in our monthly power rankings. A lot of the changes this month are relatively minor, often being a change of no more than three or four spots, but there are two hugely noticeable changes - the Colts, who jump a huge 16 spots, and the Redskins, who tumble 11. For the rest of the rankings, hit the jump.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Colin Kaeper-pick Prediction League - & Games of the Week - Week 11

A tie... A frickin' tie!!! No one enjoys tie games in the NFL. Half of the players didn't even realise the game was over after the clock wound down. It threw up issues for survivor pools and betting slips and in our picks league we're left with a disgusting "-1" in our records.

Is it really that hard to keep playing til we have a winner? If you want to lower the strain on players then adopt the NCAA system of each team starting at the opposition 25 yard line. There are plenty of ways to leave teams and fans with a more satisfying feeling than what we saw at Candlestick on sunday.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

OLR Week 10: Revenge of the Titans

You're welcome Titans fans.

Last week in my OLR analysis of the NFL, the Tennessee Titans offensive line graded out top of the league, despite the team having their asses handed to them by the Chicago Bears. After watching the game back it was clear the Titans OL had done reasonably well in pass-pro, and kept QB Matt Hasselbeck's nose clean, but their numbers in the running game were massively bloated by Chris Johnson's garbage time 80 yard TD scamper, so I dismissed their #1 rating as a quirk of the numbers.

Someone obviously told the Titans what I'd said...

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Ryan Pick-ett Prediction League - & GOTW - Week 10

Welcome back, one and all, to the Phil Gaskin Show.

Phil has lept into a 1 game lead after another outstanding week, going 13-1 to gain some separation. It was a week that seemed to go largely as expected, with reports that the sportsbooks in Las Vegas had a really bad day as a lot of the favourites cantered to victory.

Well this week we've all been left with some work to do to chase Phil down, and there looks to be many tricky to call matchups this week, from the NFC East battle between Philadelphia and Dallas to the NFC North game between the struggling Lions & Vikings. So let's take a look into our games of the week, starting with what could be a defensive war between two 7-1 teams....

Five(ish) Plays that Paid Off - Week 9: A Rush and a Bush and the Touchdown Is Ours

After a far-longer-than-expected hiatus, the Five Plays that Paid Off are back! For the rest of the season, as a preemptive move, I will say that while the aim is still to get five plays out each week, it's not always going to be feasible - but fear not, during the offseason, there will be a "Missing Plays" series, making sure that there will have been five plays from every week broken down. So, please feel free to continue sending in nominations for plays to be broken down - either on Twitter using the hashtag #TPL5plays , or in our Facebook group - and they will be gotten to eventually, either during the week or during the offseason.

Anyway, on to the break down. The last play we broke down was a Reggie Bush run (back in Week 4.... mea culpa), so it's only fitting that we end the hiatus with another Reggie Bush play. The play, a straight forward outside-zone run, shows how, even when the play is (largely) blocked correctly (we're looking at you, John Jerry and Jonathan Martin!), the blockers can only do so much - and how a running back with the athletic abilities of Reggie Bush uses that agility to turn a potentially small-ish gain into a touchdown. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

OLR Week 9: Lies, Damn Lies, And Statistics

Sometimes, when you analyze the NFL statistically, you can tell a real story. The numbers generated during every game can be crunched this way and that to reveal previously misunderstood units, to prove arguments when a team's record doesn't seem to match their play, or to attribute blame to one particular area of a roster for a team's failures on the field. Sometimes, however, the numbers generated can just be misleading, and less integral sources might use these figures to try and convince you of something that simply isn't true.

Fortunately, here at TPL, we try to keep our integrity in tact, and when the results we generated this week for OLR analysis threw up a frankly ridiculous #1 team, we didn't fall for it and won't try to pedal it as fact. What will do, is present the numbers and let you decide for yourself if they deserve the top spot.

This week's number 1 team: the Tennessee Titans...?

Monday, 5 November 2012

Can The Colts Make The Playoffs?

In 2011 it was all doom and gloom in Indianapolis. The team was dreadful, Peyton Manning was in street clothes and they had an emotionless robot for a head coach. Fast forward 12 months and things are looking pretty good in Indy despite saying goodbye to #18 and Chuck Pagano's illness.

Mostly, this is thanks to one Andrew Luck. For those of you who've been living under a rock for the last 9 weeks, Andrew Luck has not disappointed in his rookie year. A lot of people said he would be unable to live up to the pre-draft hype about him being the best prospect since Peyton Manning, and that with this team around him he'd struggle to get any kind of passing rhythm. Well if anything, the pre-draft hype undersold Luck's ability. His movement and vision is that of a 10 year veteran, his accuracy is unerring. And he's got Reggie Wayne to sling the ball to.

Sitting as they do at 5-3, two games behind Houston for the division and with the 3rd best record in the AFC, is it possible that just 1 year on from going a horrible 2-14 that the Indianapolis Colts could make the playoffs?

Friday, 2 November 2012

Talib to the Patriots: Both Sides of the Coin

Here at TPL HQ we're lucky enough to have supporters of both the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So when former first round pick Aqib Talib traded the Florida sunshine for winter in New England there was a buzz like nothing else. Not only was it a rare trade during the NFL season, but it was a "talented but troubled" young player who has the potential to really help a contending team.

The NFL doesn't see nearly as many deadline moves as the other major US sports. A lot of that simply has to do with the complexity of NFL schemes and play calling over the pretty seamless transition that is possible in baseball, basketball and ice hockey.

Those who frequently play the EA sports Madden franchise often make a lot of trades during their franchises. Playing as Carolina? Well I clearly don't need two highly-paid running backs, I should trade one for a guard or a defensive tackle (It's pretty obvious we were all understanding when the Panthers fired Marty Hurney a few weeks ago). That kind of thing just doesn't happen in real life. UNTIL NOW!!! The Patriots turned over a 4th round pick to Tampa in return for Talib and a 7th rounder. So let's get the opinion from both sides of the deal...

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Pickuan Underwood League + GOTW: Week 9

In the depressing (for Phil anyway) aftermath of the Wembley game last week came a very solid set of performances all round in our picks league. Phil leads the way at 73-45 along with 2nd City Fanatics and TomTom Sports, with just a 4 game lead over the last placed Until Kickoff.

Entering week 9 certain teams are very much in a "Put up or shut up" state as it becomes harder and harder to dig yourself out of an early-season hole and stake your claim to a playoff spot. And so we bring you our games of the week, featuring those who could use a nice winning streak...