Archive for September, 2012

WaPo Poll: Obama Up By 1

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

President ObamaI watched speakers from both conventions. And I’ve watched the main stream media narrative about the conventions. It’s interesting, to see the least. Apparently, Obama got a bounce in the polls. Romney did not. Both the Gallup and Rasmussen polls have shown momentum for the president. But the Obama bounce is already fading. This morning, the Washington Post trumpeted “Among likely voters, Obama-Romney close”. In the Post’s latest poll following the two conventions, they have Obama up by one with likely voters, 49-48. They go into great detail explaining how Obama leads on many of the issues.

Not once do they mention the sampling of the two parties in the poll.

One phenomenon I mentioned in my post “Can Obama Win?” is the over sampling of democrats in most of the polls. In 2008, Obama beat McCain by seven points, and democrats outvoted republicans by seven points in the election. But in 2010, an election that resulted in a republican tsunami into the House of Representatives, the two parties were equally represented in the election.

Why are these numbers important to understand? Because in the Post’s most recent poll, they have oversampled democrats by ten points (33-23) compared to republicans. And Obama is only up by one. (See poll results here.)

What should we expect in 2012? I won’t be surprised if the democrats outvote the republicans by a small margin, but there’s little chance that they’ll match their seven point advantage from the 2008 election. Let alone outvote republicans by ten points.

So why are these polls so heavily weighted towards democrats? I have a theory.

Republicans don’t want to be polled.

Assuming that the polls start from a truly representative base of people, either people are lying about their party affiliation, or republicans are refusing to be polled (hanging up on the polling company). I think it’s much more likely that the republicans are hanging up on the pollsters. Why?

I’ve always believed that liberals are much more likely to want to express their opinions than conservatives. They post on blogs. They post on Facebook. The put bumper stickers on their cars. They join politically active organizations. While about twice as many people self-identify as conservatives compared to liberals, it’s been my experience that liberals are much more likely to voice their opinions than conservatives. For the most part, conservatives would like to be left alone.

But I think there’s another issue at play. When conservatives express views in opposition to the president’s agenda, they’re often labeled as racists by liberals and some members of the media. Are there still racists in this country? Absolutely. But it’s incredibly insulting to suggest that fiscal conservatives are only voicing opposition to the administration’s policies because Barrack Obama is black. Some people don’t want to fight that fight.

And lastly, conservatives are skeptical and distrusting of the media. They likely view these polling companies as extensions of the media.

I’ve often made comparisons of this election to the 1980 election between incumbent Jimmy Carter and his challenger Ronald Reagan. As late as October 28th, Gallup had Carter ahead 45-42. And in Gallup’s final poll, they had Reagan with a slim lead of 47-44. Much like the current race, the media said that the Carter-Reagan race was too close to call.

Reagan ultimately won 51-41, with John Anderson getting about 6.6% of the vote. Not very close at all.

AFC West Predictions

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Every year there are surprises in the NFL. A team that had struggled to a 5-11 record the year before goes 11-5 and wins their division. Teams lose key players to injury, like the Colts losing Peyton Manning, and end up with the number one overall pick in the draft. The league is unpredictable. Except that it’s not. While NFL fans always seem to have hope at the beginning of the season, most teams end up in that middle ground winning somewhere between 7-9 games. Bad teams typically remain bad teams. And despite all of the parity in the league, the best organizations, like the Steelers and the Patriots, seem to find ways to win year after year.

The AFC West appears to be an interesting division again this year. The division has a low ceiling, and a high floor. Whichever team wins the division, may be the worst division winner in the league. And whichever team ends up last, will probably be better than the last place team in every other division. Look at last year’s records: division winner Denver (8-8), San Diego (8-8), Oakland (8-8), and Kansas City (7-9). Nobody was really good. And nobody was really bad. I doubt it will be much different this year. Every team has a legitimate chance of winning the division. Though it’s not likely that they’ll all finish within one game of each other again.

Denver Quarterback Peyton ManningDenver Broncos: It pains me to write this, but the Broncos have the best head coach and the best quarterback in the division. They have a decent supporting cast. And they likely have the highest ceiling of any of the teams in the division. But they’ve also installed a new offensive system with Peyton Manning, and they’ve had to replace their defensive coordinator, Dennis Allen, who moved onto Oakland to become their head coach. If everything clicks quickly for the Broncos, they could win 12 games. If the team struggles and Manning isn’t quite the Manning of old, they could win six. I have a lot of faith in Manning’s ability to overcome adversity. Prediction: 10-6 and Peyton Manning starts all 16 games.

Kansas City Chiefs: On paper, the Chiefs have the most talent in the division. But I have big questions about this team that I wrote about a few days ago. Is Romeo Crennel a good head coach? I don’t know. Can offensive coordinator Brian Daboll hit the ground running? That’ tough. Most teams take some time to adjust to new coordinators. Can the Chiefs overcome Cassel’s weaknesses? If everything goes right, the Chiefs could win ten games. And last year, when just about everything went wrong, they still won seven. Prediction: 8-8 and that Brady Quinn starts at least two games.

San Diego Chargers: These are not Marty Schottenheimer’s San Diego Chargers. Marty had built a team that was deep and talented. Other than Phillip Rivers, the stars are gone from San Diego. And who is their head coach? Norv Turner. A fine man, and a very good offensive coordinator. But he’s not an effective head coach. They have issues with their offensive line. A running back and tight end who can’t stay healthy. They lost their best wide receiver. And have struggled to replace their best players on defense. The last two years, the Chargers have finished 9-7 and 8-8. I don’t see anything that leads me to believe that this team can get back to winning 10+ games. And I think it’s possible that this is the year they fall off the cliff, go 4-12, and fire Norv Turner. Prediction: 7-9 and they fire Norv Turner.

Oakland Raiders: I like the direction of the Raiders under new general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen. I’m not making any long-term predictions for how this team will develop over the next few years. But often a team has to take a step back before it can take two steps forward. The Raiders have some talent. If he can stay healthy, Darren McFadden has the potential to be one of the most dominating players in the league. If everything goes right they could win 8-9 games. It’s more likely they’ll have some struggles this year as they try to rebuild the franchise. Prediction: 6-10 and that Carson Palmer gets benched before the end of the season.

Five Questions on the Chiefs v2012

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Kansas City Quarterback Matt CasselLet me first admit that I’m not only an NFL junkie, but that I even enjoy preseason football games. I typically watch every minute of every Chiefs’ preseason game. This year? Not so much. I have maybe watched five quarters of preseason football. And it doesn’t appear that the Chiefs have answered any of the questions I had coming into the season.

Matt Cassel: What exactly is Matt Cassel? Is he the solid quarterback who put up good numbers for the Patriots in 2008 (QB rating 89.4) and the Chiefs in 2010 (QB rating 93.0)? Or the guy who struggled in 2009 (QB rating 69.9) and 2011 (QB rating 76.6)? Can you win playoff games with Cassel? How about a Super Bowl? I’ve been slow to come around. For years I’ve held the belief that you could win a Super Bowl with a competent quarterback. We’ve seen guys like Mark Rypien, Jeff Hostetler, Doug Williams, Jim McMahon, Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson win Super Bowls. And Matt’s struggles are not all his fault. He’s had a different offensive coordinator every year in Kansas City. His offensive line has been mediocre. And last year he lost running back Jamaal Charles and tight end Tony Moeaki for the season.

It’s also important to understand that Cassel’s had limited time as a starting quarterback. If you combine college and the NFL, he’s still only got four years of experience as a starter. Matt has all of the intangibles you could want in a quarterback. His ability to read a defense will continue to improve. If given protection and a strong running game, Cassel can be an effective quarterback.

But is that enough? It appears to me that in today’s NFL you must have an elite quarterback (Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rogers, Drew Brees), or at least a quarterback capable of playing at an elite level (Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger), to win a Super Bowl. During the last 20 years, the only quarterbacks to win Super Bowls who we can compare to Cassel are Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson. Smart players who can best be described as game managers. The odds are stacked heavily against the Chiefs ever winning a Super Bowl with Matt Cassel. And isn’t winning the Super Bowl the goal? (See list of Super Bowl winning quarterbacks here.)

And having said all of that, what are the odds that Brady Quinn could eventually unseat Cassel? If the Chiefs start 3-6 or worse, would Crennel consider switching quarterbacks? Quinn was drafted by Crennel in Cleveland in the first round of the 2007 draft.

Romeo CrennelRomeo Crennel: Crennel seems like a great guy, and he’s been a fine defensive coordinator in the NFL. His only stint as a head coach came in Cleveland from 2005-08 where he compiled a record of 24-40. Was that his fault or is Cleveland just that bad of an organization? I’m not sure. But I will tell you this — at the age of 65, Crennel is not the long-term answer for the Chiefs. It seems to me that you should be looking for the next Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, Mike Tomlin, Bill Belichick or Andy Reid. A guy young enough to be your head coach for many years to come. The goal is not only to build a Super Bowl winning team, but to build stability within the organization in order to obtain long-term and continued success. Even if Crennel achieves some success with the Chiefs, how long will he be the head coach? And he’s stuck with a competent quarterback who will likely never get him to a Super Bowl. Seems like a short-sighted solution for a team without a Super Bowl caliber quarterback.

Brian Daboll: I don’t know a lot about Brian Daboll, but I do think that this is an interesting hire as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator. He’s a high energy guy. He’s 37 years old, and has some experience as a coordinator — 2009-10 with Cleveland and 2011 with Miami. He got pretty good production out of quarterback Matt Moore last year. The Dolphins started the season 0-7 before going 6-3 over their last nine games. Their offensive production improved as the season went along. But as I mentioned before, the Chiefs have had a new offensive coordinator every year since Matt Cassel has been here. I think it’s a lot to expect for this offense to hit the ground running starting week one.

Scott Pioli: No matter what you feel about Todd Haley, the fact that he was fired midway through his third season in Kansas City means that Pioli made a poor decision when he hired his first head coach. And I’m not confident that he’ll be any more successful with his second head coach. Pioli also needs some of his draft choices to step up and produce. Eric Berry looks like a star. Kendrick Lewis has been solid. I like how Pioli’s been rebuilding the offensive line. But after that we’re left with a bunch of question marks. Will Jon Baldwin produce big plays? Can Dontari Poe become the force on the defensive line that the Chiefs have been missing? Will Pioli ever attempt to draft and develop a replacement for Matt Cassel? We’re now in year four of Pioli’s tenure and his drafts have been unspectacular at best.

Defense: While the offense has been under a lot of scrutiny by the fans, the Chiefs defense hasn’t been much better. We’ve been saying it for years, but the Chiefs have to get better play out of their defensive line. It all starts up front with the big guys. They were one of the better defenses in the league in the second half last year. Can they carry that success into this year? How much will they miss Brandon Carr? Will Justin Houstin become that second pass rusher they so desperately need?

The good news for the Chiefs is that everything that could go wrong, did go wrong last year. And they still finished the season 7-9. Romeo Crennel will certainly offer a steadier hand than Todd Haley. And you wouldn’t expect the team to have the same devastating injuries two years in a row. This team has big questions, but on paper this is probably the best collection of talent that they’ve had since the mid ’90s.