Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Dave from parts unknown writes: Mike, as a Cardinals fan, I think I need to point out a few statistics to explain why most of us are not optimistic about this game. The cardinals have not won a game in EST since Nov. 7, 2004 at Miami (24-23) and the dolphins were 4-12 that year. The cardinals have not won a cold weather game since Sunday, November 28, 1999 against the New York Giants. If they win this game, even against a terrible Eagles team, I might start to believe.
Mike Sando: Some Cardinals fans seem to be skittish about committing too much to the cause emotionally. I've encountered among some fans a deep-seated mistrust lined with cynicism and hardened by years of broken promises. It's toxic.
The only way this season unravels for Arizona is if something happens to Kurt Warner. Arizona is not unique that way. You think the Colts are a playoff team without Peyton Manning? The Cowboys without Tony Romo?
This Cardinals team is different by definition. How many 7-4 Cardinals teams have lost on the East Coast or anywhere? This is new territory. This is a new team even if the Eagles win Thursday night. Hopefully you can enjoy the moment a little.
Mark from Montana writes: Mike, Back in your TNT blog days, I used to look forward to all of your audio postings. You were great about getting pressers and player interviews up on the blog in a timely manner. I remember you writing something about a league policy change that would only allow you to post very short snippets of audio. I really miss being able to hear all of them in full. Is this still in effect and if so, why?
Mike Sando: Yep, the league has limited sites to 45-second clips that can remain online for 24 hours. It saves me quite a bit of time now that I'm not in the audio editing business.
The emphasis should be on making sense of information, anyway. If the league wants keep the audio for itself, that's the way it goes. More time for me to break down things such as officiating and personnel use.
Andrew from Seattle writes: So has there been any word on a possible suspension or at least fine for Santana Moss for punching Josh Wilson last week? Or is the NFL going to let this slide cause Sean Taylor is being inducted this week at home for the Redskins? If he doesn't get fined but they're fining people left and right for blocks and such that's ridiculous.
Mike Sando: The remembrance for Taylor would be a separate issue. I've asked the league about Santana Moss' head slap but have not heard back.
Ikee from Philadelphia writes: Alright Mike, interesting question here... I need you to answer this one right away because I love the thought of it. Matt Cassel is in his final year of his contract, he is clearly performing and he is going to get a big offer from somebody with QB issues right? What about the 49ers? Why not offer Cassel an offer he can't refuse, I know it'll be hard to get him away from a championship contending team like the Patriots, but I don't think he wants to sit behind Tom Brady his whole career.
Why not bring in Cassel, he'll obviously be the starter from day 1, and just to put icing on the cake try to get Josh McDaniels to be the head coach? That way you bring in an offensive-minded head coach so no need to worry about switching systems and coordinators, and you have a QB who is already familiar with the coach and the offense. Let Holmgren oversee like Parcells in Miami and McDaniels at head coach and Cassel at QB. Please tell me this is possible? Can't you talk to some of your 49er friends and put that idea in their head? I like that more than i like Singletary at coach, (and i like Singletary), and i like that more than i like Holmgren at head coach. Come on Mike, tell me its going to happen...
Mike Sando: Sounds good in theory, but is Matt Cassel definitely better than Shaun Hill? In other words, if you plugged Hill into the Patriots' offense with Randy Moss and Wes Welker, and you had Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels supporting him, would Hill fare well? Conversely, if you removed Cassel from that environment and plugged him into a new offense in San Francisco, would he reward the investment? He might, but that's quite a risk in my estimation.
Brian from parts unknown writes: Hey Mike! Thank you very much for the spreadsheets. Needless to say, you've done most of the work for me. I've been downloading NFL, NBA and NHL rankings and calculating forecasts, etc. for years. Yeah, it exposes some geekiness, but what fun!! Keep it up!!
Mike Sando: You've got a deal. That approach helps me make sense of information. I spot things I would never spot otherwise, and you're right. It's fun.
Adam from Sacramento writes: It seems to me that the 49ers offensive line has improved tremendously recently... mainly in pass protection. Although, I must admit that the run game was horrible against the Cowboys. Is that possible? Or is this due to the changes in the offensive scheme and/or QB?
Mike Sando: Hi, Adam. David Baas has helped the line improve. Adam Snyder has probably been better at right tackle. Beyond that, I think the adjustments in approach explain most of the difference. Quarterbacks make or break their protections most of the time. They need to move efficiently in the pocket and get rid of the ball.
Ant from parts unknown writes: Mike, Could you discuss three similar officiating calls from the 49er-Dallas game? The first quarter P.I. that was not called on Henry but should've been and thus cost the 49ers four points. Then the illegal contact on Clements covering T.O. on the first Dallas touchdown; it had no bearing on the play as T.O. caught the ball but shouldn't that have been a no call in light of Clements standing still and having a right to his position as T.O. ran into him? Lastly, the long T.O. reception later in the second quarter that lead to a Dallas FG in which Owens pushed off Clements.
I heard Singletary say on a local radio show that the league informed him that a pushoff should've been called on Owens. As lopsided as the game felt by the late third quarter, how close was it really if the first and third penalties are called correctly? At the very least, don't you take away three points from Dallas and give S.F. four more entering the final quarter? This all got lost in the post-game analysis that focused solely on Owens. Thank you for running a gr
Mike Sando: Thanks, Ant. I think the first non-call affected the game. It's 10-0 instead of 6-0 and that makes a difference when Owens scores his first long touchdown. Instead of suddenly being down, the 49ers are up by three. I still think the Cowboys would have won the game, though.
Tom from St. Louis writes: Hey, I replied to one of your blogs recently about the yards per rush on what down, and you replied with the info. I know you're a big numbers guy from what I read, so I thought you might like this article. Not sure what that means for any team in the NFC West...just thought I'd share though ;)
Mike Sando: Thanks. Some of the record-setting scoring ties into rules interpretations. Offensive linemen are getting away with what used to be interpreted as holding. Rules also restrict what defensive backs can do contact-wise. Points, points, points.
Justin from parts unknown writes: Figures you covered the seahawks since you have the STEELERS at 5 in your power rankings. Go back to covering the hawks and crying about super bowl xl!!!
Mike Sando: You've got a deal. First, you have to provide evidence that I ever cried about that Super Bowl. I haven't had a rooting interest in an NFL game since my previous life as a Raiders fan growing up in Northern California. Right now, I root for the postgame interview process to go favorably and for teams to use personnel groupings I can recognize quickly enough to chart in real time. In essence, I root for me!
As for my rankings, the Steelers have not beaten any of the teams ahead of them in my rankings. I just wouldn't feel right putting the Steelers ahead of the Colts when the Colts won in Pittsburgh.
Nathan from Seattle writes: It's great to see you linking to John Morgan's Fieldgulls.com.
Mike Sando: His occasional use of profanity is really the only reason I don't link more often.