Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, we'll have ESPN.com NFL Insider Mike Sando stopping by to talk about the latest NFL happenings.
Sando joined ESPN.com in 2007 after nine seasons covering the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune. He previously covered Washington State University football and basketball for the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review. Mike grew up in Northern California before attending Whitworth College, graduating in 1992 with a B.A. in political studies. He lives in the Seattle-Tacoma area with his wife and their two sons.
Send your questions now and join Sando on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Mike Sando (12:58 PM)
Greetings. We'll get going here in a minute.
Hi Mike, does weather (cold sub 30 and windy +20s) at Meadowlands make you shy away from Romo and his receivers and ditto for NYG skill positions
Mike Sando (1:00 PM)
The wind is more of a concern than the cold, and in looking at the forecast, they are calling for the plus-20 gusts you mentioned. That would certainly affect the ability to throw the ball. Romo has played in one game where the listed temperature was 32 or colder. That was a 2008 game at Pittsburgh in which he completed 19-36 passes for 210 yards with one touchdown, three picks, three sacks and a 5.8 Total QBR score (44.9 passer rating). The Giants have not exactly impressed, however, so I think this could still be a close game, with the Cowboys having a shot. But fantasy-wise, sure, the wind is scary.
Nick Foles has the eagles offense looking better than ever. With the defense improving tremendously of late, would it be crazy to put the eagles as one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs, assuming they make it that far?
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
It sounds good in theory, but where on the road in the NFC would the Eagles win a playoff game? Seattle? New Orleans? I don't see the Eagles being dangerous enough to win in those venues.
Any chance the bills can make a run for the last wild card spot. They have a bye and then play the falcons, buccaneers and jaguars ( possibly the three worst teams in the league). That would make us 7-7 with a winnable home game vs miami and a game vs the patriots who may have nothing to play for by that time
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
Yeah, I give them a chance, but the Buccaneers are not one of the three worst teams, in my opinion. The Bills do have the easiest remaining schedule of the AFC contenders for the final playoff spot. They do have their QB back. I'd say they have an outside chance.
Ed (Queens Village)
Should NFL Playoff format change top 6 teams in conference regardless of division? AFC West winner could win 12 or 13 games and have to play wild card game on road.
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
Debatable. The league has wanted to make division play/standing valuable. I don't expect a big change there. It would be interesting to see if the thinking might change if one of the teams perceived to be an NFL favorite -- Giants, for example -- had to go on the road with a 13-3 record.
Derek (Marquette, MI)
Is it too much to ask that a defensive player, when approaching the offensive player he is targeting, is targeting the player in the correct area not be penalized when the offensive player ducks? As it is, the defensive player can aim for a patch the size of a stamp and hope the offensive player doesn't move the stamp a foot lower. It's really frustrating to watch.
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
What happened in the Saints game is the price the league is willing to pay for reducing the number of dangerous hits overall. They have told the officials in writing (via the rulebook) to err on the side of throwing flags when something looks dangerous. The tougher part is when they fine the defensive player for doing something that appeared very difficult to avoid and was not done with malice. I do think it is possible to reduce the number of dangerous hits through retraining of fundamentals and the overall mindset, however.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Mike - what is an easier thing for the Jets to fix - their secondary's tendency to be beat downfield or the amount of turnovers created by Geno Smith? Both have been problematic all season, even in wins.
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
I think it's easier to reduce the number of turnovers associated with Geno Smith. They can do this by altering the plan and asking him to do less. He really is on a brutal run right now.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Which team done the most egregious job of blowing a division that was ripe for the taking, Dallas or Detroit? Are both coaches gone if their team doesn't win the division?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
Jerry Jones came out today and said Jason Garrett will remain the Cowboys' head coach next season. I do think there would be a change in Detroit if the Lions were to miss the playoffs or slump badly and lose in the first round. The Lions could not ask for more than A) having an easy schedule, B) having Scott Tolzien at QB for the Packers and C) having the Bears lose Jay Cutler.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
First Darrell Green, now Santana Moss. Is RGIII on the verge of losing control of the locker room and his job in Washington? Does Robert need to look in the mirror and engage in some serious introspection before it's too late? The shine has definitely dimmed on his star.
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
Robert Griffin III needs to play better regardless. He has brought this upon himself by basking in the media spotlight so thoroughly. People who play the game or have played the game cringe when they see how Griffin has reveled in the media coverage. I do think Griffin would benefit from a change in his public approach/tone. But either way, playing better is the key. Winning solves all.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Mike - if Indy can hold on to the #2 seed in the AFC would that put them in a good spot to reach the Super Bowl - out of the top AFC teams they seem to be the best equipped (physical play on both sides of the ball, a QB who can beat you in the air and with his legs when needed) to have a long playoff run?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
Falling into the third seed wouldn't be so bad, either, given that the sixth seed isn't looking like a tough draw at this time. The Colts have won three of their last four, but I'm still trying to shake visions of that loss to the Rams. Very interested in seeing how they play against a tough Cardinals defense.
Anthony J Hyde (Phoenix, AZ)
Can the 49ers passing game recover in time for the stretch run leading up to and even in the playoffs? As the saying goes 'defense travels' and while the SF defense can make stops their offense grinds to a halt when defenses load up the box to stop Frank Gore and Kaep from scrambling. As a #6 seed does SF stand much of a chance playing on the road in NO and SEA?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
I still think the 49ers are a good team, and I suspect they are going to demonstrate that against the Redskins on Monday night. I think the 49ers will win 10-11 games this season, in line with my preseason expectations for them. I do think the passing game can come around if Michael Crabtree is near full strength. However, I wonder how quickly he can get up to speed following Achilles' tendon surgery.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Both ATL & HOU have been huge disappointments this year - do you see either bouncing back next year even if they don't make any dramatic moves?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
These teams need to merge so they can have a complete team. I do think these teams will be better next season. However, the Falcons probably need to shift to a more longer-term approach. They have been chasing a championship hard and making some shorter-term moves to get it done. Now, it appears they missed that window. They need to build up their offensive line. The Texans do not have obvious issues beyond QB, which is a big one. We need to see how they approach that position. I'm not sold on Case Keenum as the answer. But some stability at that spot would give this team a chance to be back in the 8-10 win range quickly.
"...and was not done with malice..." Do we know for a fact that Harbaugh is not coaching his defense to push the limit of what would be considered "malicious"? SF-fans used to revel in how many consecutive games their team knocked RBs out.
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
I know what I saw and it appeared violent but not malicious -- a defensive player making an aggressive play at near full speed.
Stuart (Brooklyn, NY)
Hey Mike. Great work. Do you think AP will be productive this weekend or will his groin hinder him? Thanks!
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Hi Stuart. I'm not optimistic for Adrian Peterson based on the comments he made about the groin bothering him. I don't think he would say anything unless it really was an issue. And a groin injury is going to linger. Peterson has had between 56-83 yards rushing in five of his past six games. He did have the 177-yard game against Dallas, but otherwise, he has not been putting up the big numbers since the first four weeks of the season.
Keith (Seattle, WA)
Are the Seahawks the Super Bowl favorite if Harvin can stay healthy?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Yeah, I'd say the Seahawks are the favorite in the NFC based on their record, depth and the likelihood of them having home-field advantage through the playoffs. I'd really like to see that defense and running game against a team with a marquee quarterback, such as Denver.
Keith H (Seattle)
Now the NFCW Blog is no more, do you still get to travel to games or is your job more of a "watch as many games as possible on TV and give opinions" type of thing?
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
Hi Keith. I've gone to games some weeks and not gone to games other weeks. I'm not covering games in the traditional sense, but sometimes it's good to be at games for the opportunities to meet people and catch up with people.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
If CAR and NO split their games against each other it looks very possible that both could go 12-4 but do the Saint need home field more if they have any chance of making the Super Bowl?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
I think the Saints can win on the road, but the advantage of playing in the Superdome is just so tremendous. They dominate in that setting. I'd say the Saints would be the Super Bowl favorite if they had home field throughout. But they might have to win the ultimate road test -- at Seattle on Monday night -- to earn the right to play at home. Really like the Saints overall.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
As long as Cam can maintain his level of play has Carolina emerged as Seattle's main competition to represent the NFC?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
I think the Panthers need to prove that against the Saints first. My guess would be that Carolina will split with New Orleans. I would say the Saints are the primary threat to the Seahawks until the Panthers prove otherwise. They have made big strides that way but the proof will be on the scoreboard against New Orleans.
Don (Berkeley, CA)
Will Jerry Jones ever wise up, or is he destined for Al Davis mediocrity due to his inability to let go?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
Fair point, but I'm a little tired of the constant references to the Cowboys being a .500 team since 1997. Half the league has been worse than that. Another 6-8-10 teams are no more than about 10 games above .500 since then. But I do think it's tough having an owner so involved in personnel decisions unless the owner is great at them.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Mike - do you think the Eagles would have put themselves in the driver's seat in the NFC East if Nick Foles was the starter on opening day?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
Not necessarily. That is easy to say in retrospect, but maybe he was readier to play after sitting for a while and then playing without the pressure of being The Man. Let's also see how he finishes. He's had a great run here and looks the part, but can he be consistent as teams prepare for him? Note that the Eagles have not played the same opponent twice with the same primary quarterback (in terms of which QB the opponent prepared for that week). I'd like to see how Foles does the second time around as well.
Nick (San Diego)
Who in reality is the biggest threat to the Broncos in the AFC? I think Chiefs, Patriots, Colts, and maybe Bengals but which one really gives the Broncos the biggest challenge to win the conference?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I'm going to look at this from the vantage point of a one-game scenario, because that is really what we are talking about. And in that type of playoff scenario, I'm looking at the teams with the top quarterbacks. I'd go with the Colts and Patriots on that basis. Indy has been up and down, but Luck is so talented and resourceful, and his team already owns a victory over Denver. With the Patriots, I've been encouraged by their recent play and will be looking to see if that continues.
Half the league being worse doesn't make Dallas good...especially when they are the ones pushing the "America's Team" brand...and an owner who won't give up the reins can be said to be directly responsible for those results.
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
I didn't say it was good. I was just saying the focus on Dallas being .500 should have some context. There really aren't very many teams appreciably better than .500 over the time period in question.
What's your take on the job Trestman has done with the Bears and their top-5 offense?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
I've been impressed by Marc Trestman and the Bears' overall approach to things. It was a wise move not over-committing to Jay Cutler early in the process. The team has left open its options while proving the offense can function pretty well with or without Cutler.
Mister Jameson (M Town)
Miami has to end up as the 6th seed in the AFC right?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
On what basis? The Dolphins do have a bit of a head start in that they are 5-5 while most of the other contenders for the sixth seed are 4-6. Miami has a tougher schedule than some of the other teams in contention. Owning victories over the Browns, Colts, Bengals and Chargers helps, and of course having two games remaining against the Jets puts Miami in good position. The Dolphins also face the Steelers on the road, so they do have chances. But can we trust that team?
Don (Berkeley, CA)
Don't you think a big difference is the other 6-8-10 teams worse than .500 don't proclaim themselves as "America's Team" and bask in the limelight willingly and shamelessly like the Cowboys and the owner. Kind of like your point with RGIII. You need to win, and win more than one playoff game, right?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
I suppose, although are the Cowboys really running around proclaiming themselves America's Team? Or does the media just fixate on the Cowboys? I don't know the answer.
Alman (Burell, AZ)
why is no one talking about my Cards?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Because perceptions die hard. Also, Carson Palmer has gotten hot against some lesser defenses. My Cardinals note of the week is on the defense. It's really good. Arizona is 5-3 this season and was 5-0 last season when scoring 20 points.
Ellen (Newtonville Upstairs)
do you think the forecast for sunday night (extreme cold with winds of 40+ mph) gives the Patriots a better chance?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
I'm seeing winds in the 20s forecast for that game. Winds in the 40s would be brutal. I do think the wind affects Peyton Manning more now than it used to, as his arm is not what it was. That would help the Patriots, I'd say. I liked their running game against Carolina and what Vereen offered out of the backfield. Nice mix.
Justin (Thayne, WY)
If Kapernick continues to faulter as a QB and can't win tight games against tougher teams, does Harbaugh and company pursue another QB in the offseason?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
I think the 49ers could stand to have a better backup plan in place than the one they have right now. That should probably be a consideration. I wonder if a veteran backup/mentor type might help. But I think they're going to go with Colin Kaepernick as the undisputed starter.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
At what point does Aaron Rodgers need to come back in order for GB to have a chance to win the NFC North?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
The rest of the division could keep Green Bay in the running longer, but I would think it could be tough if the Packers did not have Rodgers for their Week 13 game at Detroit. Winning that one would be huge for winning the division.
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat this week. My pleasure as always.