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Scouting Notebook: Giant mistake

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

Why do the Giants continue to emphasize a running game that on its best day will average 4.0 yards per carry when your QB is averaging 8.0 per pass attempt? This is like taking your pocket knife to a gun fight. Trying out your kickboxing moves. Pass early so you can run late. But the Giants don't believe that Eli Manning(notes) is great despite mounting evidence that supports this. If so, why would they always worry about the other team's quarterback or running game or defense. Just let Manning do his thing.

Friend and colleague Scott Pianowski sort of called a Frank Gore(notes) injury earlier this week. My thought was that all backs are about equal injury risks. That's an all-time record for me being wrong.

I figured there was a 20 percent chance that Arian Foster(notes) was a flash in the pan and a 20 percent chance that his hamstring injury would linger. But the guy is just incredible. He's like Eric Dickerson with hands. But Dickerson was a No. 2 overall pick, not some undrafted free agent. So I respect Foster immensely. But the situation here is weird. Ben Tate(notes) is just as good and a committee actually seems the smart play. So you're not getting near the volume you would normally from a player with his ability. Great guy to have, but he has to be spectacular to put up big points where in years past the All-Pro-caliber back on a great running team would just grind his way to huge days.

Who can explain Philip Rivers(notes)? He entered the week 20th in passer rating after being second in 2010, and that was the fifth biggest drop since 1990. Then, against the Raiders, he got even worse.

Maybe Donald Brown(notes) does something down the stretch on a terrible team by just getting volume. It's happened before. I'm thinking Nick Goings(notes) for the Panthers in 2004, but that Carolina team was average. Still, you get the point. I touted Brown in the preseason but who cares now because he's long past the point where I would have (and did) cut him.

Boy, that end game in Atlanta was interesting. Normally, the numbers guys say to go for it on all fourth and shorts (and that was inches). But this was overtime when missing pretty much meant losing. So even a guy like me who is Mr. Probability would have seen the extreme downside there and ripped up that "go-for-it" chart.

Darren Sproles(notes) killed his owners today. But the floor is so low with a situational back like him. The textbook says you stop a midget back by blitzing right at him, knowing he can't possibly hold up in pass protection. That's how teams finally countered Giants running back David Meggett when he was unstoppable in a Sproles-type of role.

I issued a wind warning via Twitter (@MichaelSalfino) before the Steelers-Bengals game after a live report said it was whipping at 30 mph. Usually, ignore anything under 20. But, you see how dangerous it is to react to even reports of 30 mph, as whatever wind there (Cincy) had marginal effect.

A.J. Green(notes) left with a knee injury after a great touchdown catch that showed true "freak" skills. Check your local listings tomorrow for an update.

Wow, Cam Newton(notes) looked like a rookie today. But he is, after all, still a rookie so that shouldn't be a total shock. I still love his game and so should you.

Chris Johnson looked like an No. 1 overall pick, finally. But if you read our Football by the Numbers matchups piece on Yahoo! every week, you would have seen that coming. The Panthers entered Week 10 ranked 27th in rushing yards allowed per game and 31st in rushing TDs allowed per game.

Nothing goes better with Tim "Intangible Train" Tebow's passing than a slide whistle. But as long as he's winning, who cares if he sets the passing game back 70 years? Next up for Tebow, Rex Ryan and Darrelle Revis(notes).

The Eagles have three corners who have been in the Pro Bowl so why not put a rookie safety man-on-man with Larry Fitzgerald(notes) with the game on the line? Well, what do you expect when you have a defensive coordinator – Juan Castillo – who before this year last coached defense in 1989 – in high school. The Eagles are the first team ever to blow four fourth-quarter home leads – nifty since they've played just five home games.

Does John Skelton(notes) challenge Kevin Kolb(notes) now in Arizona? He should, but the money says no. GMs hold on to bad investments like we hold on to bad stocks. Fantasy lesson: Admit mistakes.

Speaking of contracts, Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) picked a great time to cash in. The Bills are regretting that now that his finesse passing game (meaning, "short") has been exposed in back-to-back weeks by Ryans. But we're allowed to broom him. There are better options on almost every waiver wire, depending on the week's matchups.

Roy Helu(notes) owners: Welcome to the Mike Shanahan Fantasy Hellhouse.

Marshawn Lynch(notes) really ran hard today. He averaged three yards per carry, but gets an A for effort.

It's hard to look at Joe Flacco(notes) objectively either on film or on the stat sheet and not conclude that he's badly regressing. His declining yards per pass attempts is the clearest sign – 6.6 before today's putrid effort in Seattle (255 yards on 52 attempts).

Matthew Stafford(notes) deserved negative points for his performance against Chicago but some crazy coaching by Jim Schwartz kept him in a total wipeout so he could pile up serious points in leagues that don't severely penalize picks and especially pick sixes (which should be minus whatever a TD pass is).

Michael Salfino writes and edits the SNYWhyGuys blog that projects player and team performance for New Yorkers. He's also a quantative sports analyst whose writing regularly appears in the Wall Street Journal.

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