Saturday, September 30, 2006

 

The Case Against Joe Namath



Whether it's figuring out which NFL teams are most like female chefs or what players are most like characters from "The Big Lebowski", we here at MFR are dedicated to bring our core of 8 readers the truth about professional football. It is in that spirit that I write about the Hall of Fame credentials, or lack thereof, of Joe Namath.

I come here to bury Joe Namath, not to praise him. Yeah, that's right. I am here to "Swift Boat" Joe Willie. Every baby boomer's favorite football hero, was, in fact, just an average quarterback. Certainly not a player worthy of the Hall of Fame. Chances are that if you are a football fan, you already know this. But just in case, I am here to set the record straight on Joe Willie Namath.

Joe Namath probably benefited from one game more than anyone in the history of sports. As everyone knows, Broadway Joe boldly, and correctly, "guaranteed" his Jets would beat the Colts in SuperBowl III. I am the first to admit that this took a lot of balls. (Even if Bubba Smith says the game was fixed.)

Whether he was trashed when he made the statement doesn't even matter. He said it and backed it up, so for that I give him props. But one big game, even in the Super Bowl, shouldn't give you an automatic ticket into the Hall of Fame. Otherwise, Desmond Howard, Larry Brown and Dexter Jackson would be headed for Canton.

Lost in all the hoopla of the guarantee is the rest of Namath's career. Here are the facts. Joe Namath played 13 seasons of professional football from 1965 until 1977- the first 5 were with the old AFL and the last 8 were with the NFL, after the two leagues merged in 1970. Namath played his entire career with the Jets, except for that one, final, miserable season with the Rams. The numbers, frankly, are mediocre. Namath threw 173 career TD passes, a respectable number, and over 27,000 passing yards. But he also threw 220 INTs. That's right- the man threw more picks than TDs. But, wait, there's more.

Even in his best seasons, Namath never managed to complete as much as 53% of his passes. His career completion percentage of 50.1 makes Mike Vick look like Steve Young. I know what you are saying- "But the game was different then- offenses didn't run the West Coast system- they threw down the field and valued big gains over accuracy. Plus the rules today give the offense a huge advantage."

There is some truth that pre-1980 QBs threw for lower completion percentages than we see today. Still, however, the greats of the past threw for a higher completion than Namath. Johnny Unitas' career completion rate was 54.6 percent. Unlike Namath, however, he also had 5 seasons where he completed 57 percent or more of his passes. Bart Starr's career completion rate was 57.4; Sonny Jurgenson's was 57.1. The point is that even among his contemporaries, Namath completed a low percentage of his passes.

Clearly the best AFL QB of all-time is Len Dawson, not Joe Namath. Dawson, a Hall of Famer in his own right, blows Namath away in every objective category except facial hair and attempts to seduce Suzy Kolber. Not only is his 57.1 career completion percentage much higher than Joe's, he also threw for 239 career TDs and only 189 picks. See Joe- he threw more TDs than INTs, not the other way around. His career yards per passing attempt is also better than Namath's- 7.7 to 7.4.

Another old AFL guy, John Hadl of the San Diego Chargers, puts Joe's career in even more perspective. While Hadl, isn't a Hall of Famer, and rightly so, I'd say that based on the numbers, he arguably was a better QB than Namath. Hadl played from 62 to 77, around the same time as Namath. Like Namath, Hadl has a low all-time completion percentage of 50.4 percent and threw a lot of picks- 268. But his 248 career TDs are better than Namath's and he also threw for more yards. Yet, somehow, the Hall of Fame voters continue to deny Hadl membership.

My point is that Joe Namath, while a decent QB, should not be in the Hall of Fame. His all-time passer rating of 65.5 is the second worst out of currentHall of Famers--the worst is George Blanda at 60.6--another charity case put in cause he was like 80 when made a Field Goal. Steve Young, to put these numbers in some context, has the highest career passer rating at 96.8.

So why is this guy in the Hall of Fame? Well, in addition to the guarantee, I believe its based on the romanticism the baby boomer generation has for this guy. Ever hear Costas talk about Mickey Mantle? Its kind of like listening to John Karr talk about Jon Benet. Joe Willie is given the same reverence by those from that generation as Mantle, even though he doesn't deserve it-- at least if the criteria is on-the-field production.

To the narcissistic baby boomers who voted him in, Joe Willie represents all that was good about that era and electing him to the Hall of Fame validates their existence. Namath personified changing times- he had long hair, liked to get laid and was generally viewed as a "rebel" in a game filled with straight edged coaches and players. In a way, he made the game safe for hipsters and cool kids everywhere to watch. Which is great. But the Hall of Fame? No way.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

 

GOT THE ASS’ AFC WEST TEAMS AS STUPID WILLIAMSBURG HIPSTERS

It was a slow news week in the AFC West, what with three of the four teams on a bye. But that still didn’t stop me from turning this is late… again. So for you six people who are going to read this, I’ll give this piece a reason to be late. See, this is:

GOT THE ASS’ AFC WEST TEAMS AS STUPID WILLIAMSBURG HIPSTERS

For those who don’t know (luckily for you), Willismsburg is a part of Brooklyn where the masses of New York newbies come to be “hip” and “all dat” with their small-town escapin’ ass. It used to be, like all pre-hipster domains, a place where artists found cheap, industrial lofts where they could create art. This is a place where you could wear Dickies and John Deere clothing without being ironic—you just didn’t want to get scalded by the 1200-degree burning oven for your glass-blown housewares. Then, one by one, following their Ben Smith shoes, smelling cheap rent for the picking, they ventured from all over to find the best in ironic t-shirts and Bolivian marching powder. There’s a reason why the only way to get there from Manhattan is the L train, people. I’m not saying that all hipsters are bad—I used to be a half-hipster, half-human myself, kinda like Blade, minus the vampires. But the city of New York… nay, the WORLD, would be better off if they didn’t exist. Except hipster girls. They’re hawt.

Anyway, I thought that with all the rage (six months ago) of people comparing X to pop culture icons, I thought I’d do my little twist. And why compare this particular group? Because I hate all parties involved—even…

THE OAKLAND RAIDERS.
I loved you once. Your bad-assed attitude and disregard for rules. That’s why you moved to Oakland, isn’t it? To get away from that hell-hole town (L.A.) and live a life of freedom in a black hole of nothingness. But since you’ve been back, you’ve been nothing but bad news. Sure, there’s been some good times—that time in 2002 when you almost made me happy, but then that asshole ex of yours beat me up. It’s been all downhill from there. You can’t get along with anyone, I can’t take you anywhere without being made fun of—usually to my face. Luckily, you’re oblivious to everything and can’t hear a word they say. YOU ARE: THE WILLIAMSBURG QUEEN OF THE HARPIES





THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Hey man, chill out? Chill out? All you do is chill out. No highs, no lows, you just are. Why? Because you’re strung out. I come over to buy a little weed off of you, and you tell me tales that are just boring about back in the days when you used to wear a blazer every “game day” and the time you thought a guy named Elvis was going to take you to Graceland. But it’s always been a dream. Worst of all? For the past four years, every time I went over, I had to hear that damn emo in the background. Crying and shit, while you just languish in that shithole you call a home. YOU ARE: THE AGING HIPSTER WHO MOVED TO WB BECAUSE HE FIGURED HIS APPEARANCE WOULD BE TOO GHASTLY FOR THE LES



THE SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Ah, Ms. Pretty Body. The Belle of the Ball with her stylish clothes and subtle smile. Even though you’re just as old as all the other girls in BillyBurg, your youthful parts make you seem hotter then the rest. Most people think you’re going all the way now, but you tell them to wait. You’ll get there. Your sunny disposition comes from your roots, where you’re from, but don’t let them try to walk all over you. You’ll fucking shank them (especially if it’s against the Queen of the Harpies—you hate her). You’ll go fucking wild, drinking your Lean and driving your car, getting shot by the cops and livin’. Sure, you’ve been shunned before by the pretty boys, but you think you’ve got the right guy now. You’re poised to go to the top, and you’ll step on each of their heads getting there, YOU ARE: THE SMART ONE WHO JUST LIKES TO LIVE LIFE—AND A LITTLE COKE


THE DENVER BRONCOS
Look at you—a Likin’ Park Tee? Come on, dude, you’ve gotta live life a little harder than that. You’re in Williamsburg, not a skate park in St. Paul. Where’s your Clap Your Hands T Shirt? A smile? You don’t smile in the ‘Burgh, son! You frown because you’re an… artist? Actually, no, you’re an investment banker who bought property in the WB and is charging people an arm and a leg to live there. The only thing mile high about you is the exorbitant rent you charge. Yeah, you’ve got it all—a couple of masters, that chick licking your shoulder—but what you don’t have is cred, man. Your masters-that hose faced guy wrote all your papers, but your racist ass didn’t give props to the black guy who did all the research. That girl licking your shoulder—it used to be a man, man. YOU ARE: THAT ASSHOLE WHO USED TO LIVE ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE, BUT THEN REALIZED THAT YOU CAN GET SLEEZY WOMEN TO SLEEP WITH YOU FOR A LOT LESS IN WB

Oh yeah, and last week, Plummer got his groove back, Javon Walker is happy, Tatumn Bell is now officially the man for Shanahan and the Denver D is fo’ reals.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

 

I am the greatest agent ever!


Do you know who I am? You should know who I am, since I have perpatrated probably the greatest coup ever in sports with possibly one exception except back in Michael Jordan's day, they didn't have agents like me.

My name is Ben Dogra of SFX Sports Group out of St. Louis, MO, and I convinced the Houston Texans to sign Mario Williams and take him with the first overall draft pick. I know that Mario has no sacks currently, but he might get a couple before the year is over. So what if Reggie Bush is going to probably have 1500 multi-purpose yards at the end of the day. The houston texans have dominick davis who will be a star this year, oh wait I meant next year since he's out for the year this year. Reggie Bush won't have a good career overall, and Mario Williams will eventually become Lawrence Taylor. You will all see that my fee wasn't based on pulling the wool over all the Houston Texans' front offices eyes.

 

The AFC South, or the conference that can't make up his mind.


I do appologize for not doing the AFC South post last week but between grad school, interviewing, and my fiancee it wasn't going to happen. I was five for five in week 2 doing both AFC south and north. So this week I will look at the AFC South and predict which teams will pull a TO and try and kill themselves.

Dallas versus Tennessee: Dallas is a bad team fortunate for them Tennessee is worse. Kerry Collins is old enough to be Vince Young's dad and they still won't admit their season is done. Tennessee will once again lose even though dallas looks equally as bad especially with the whole TO mess currently going on: Dallas 24 Titans 10.

Jacksonville versus Washington: Jacksonville looked not so hot versus the Colts last week, however washington is a team of mystery. Will a good team show up or a bad one? hmm. Redskins 17 Jaguars 14.

Miami versus Houston: Houston, still crappy...just to remind you. Miami 35 Texans 24

Indianapolis versus NY Jets: Can the jets actually be a real life team? Can the colts be defeated? Yes the colts can be defeated but not by the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!!!. Colts 41 Jets 35. A real shootout I think we are due for.

On a side note, being a big chicago bears fans...please for the love of god....STOP TALKING ABOUT THE SUPER BOWL!!! We have only won three games, its not even october..stop talking about it. Until we have a pass defense (steve smith) please stop mentioning it. It will just hurt more when we lose then. May the cheerleader pictures help...they help me get through my day.

Friday, September 22, 2006

 

The AFC West... well, it sucks.

Staring at Lindsay Lohan’s vagina has made me realize that we are all not long for this world. In the same vain, I don’t think anyone from the AFC West is not long for the playoffs—yes, not even the Chargers. The other day on ESPN, some numbnut was going over their top five teams in the AFC, and not one was an AFCW team. Then they added the Chargers as an afterthought. I’m not one who rubber stamps things that those guys say, but I will agree. For those who disagree, let’s see the Bolts play two teams who don’t automatically crap the bed before they hit the field (Oakland and Tennessee).

Staring at Lindsay Lohan’s vagina has made me realize that we are all not long for this world. In the same vain, I don’t think anyone from the AFC West is not long for the playoffs—yes, not even the Chargers. The other day on ESPN, some numbnut was going over their top five teams in the AFC, and not one was an AFCW team. Then they added the Chargers as an afterthought. I’m not one who rubber stamps things that those guys say, but I will agree. For those who disagree, let’s see the Bolts play two teams who don’t automatically crap the bed before they hit the field (Oakland and Tennessee).

Quarterbacks:
The Raiders quarterbacks combined to throw… one hit. One damn hit, that’s all we got? (You can’t say damn on the radio) Doesn’t matter. No one’s listening anyway. That sort of sums up the Raiders season so far. Oh yeah, and Aaron Brooks got knocked out of the game. Hooray Bear.

Jake Plummer continued his slow descent into football obscurity by throwing for 173 yards and an interception (that’s seven in his last three games). Shanahan has given him a vote of confidence, but one more game like this and Cutler will be the number one pick up on the waiver wire hotlist. As his owner drowning mice said, “You see Plummer's projected 13 points? That's for the season.”

Philip Rivers actually threw the ball more than 11 times last week, throwing for 235 yards and a score. Billy Volek was traded to the Bolts/Dolts this week, officially screwing me because I picked him up as my 2nd QB. Jerk.

Damon Huard continued following Jake Plummer (see above) by throwing for an amazing 133 yards in the KC-Denver 9-6 shootout. Unfortunately for KC fans, Trent Green’s return date has been mentioned as a month to indefinite. Man, Herm doesn’t have any luck with his QBs, does he?

Running Backs:
I like it when someone say they’re gonna do something, they do it. Not like people who propose articles from people to run on Tuesday, only to turn it in on Friday. You know, like me. The former props go to LDT, who continues to warrant his Top-3 pick status by kicking foes to the curb (but if I’m going to criticize the SD team as a whole for playing cupcakes, then I should for him… though he’s been doing the same thing his whole career). He ran for two more scores and a combined 123 yards. And that’s playing only 3 quarters. His fill-in Michael Turner had even more yards (145), which is amazing.

Larry Johnson also had a ton of yards (167), but he couldn’t hit paydirt in that 9-6 KC loss to Denver. It seems like missing Trent Green and his O-Line is going to be rough for him in the next month or so. Having Herm doesn’t help him either, considering his play calling is more conservative than a Karl Rove dinner party. On the other side of the ball, DENVER RB had a combined 122 yards (56 for Mike, 66 for Tatumn), but again had no TDs. And Mike Bell got hurt earlier in the week, which doesn’t help, more so than Plummer stinking up the joint.

LaMont Jordan does not suck. The Raiders do. Let’s hope his next three (v. Cleveland, Arizona and San Fran) yields better numbers for him than last week (35 yards).

WRs and TEs:
With QBs falling (both physically and mentally) left and right in the AFCW, there’s no real offense happening in the division. Not even the running backs are getting any love (on an ESPN chat, someone asked if it was okay to trade LaMont for Drew Bennett-and the answer was yes). So that means that anyone whose job is actually catching the ball has been a fantasy bust so far. Javon Walker by far had the best day, catching 79 yards for the Broncos, followed by Keenan McCardell’s 58 yards for the Chargers. SD’s Vincent Jackson was the only person to catch a touchdown pass, an 8 yard job against the Titans.

FORECAST:
Luckily for Oakland, a bye week awaits them, and they have two weeks to prepare the team for the Browns. God, if they don’t score more than 10 points, let the official 0-16 talk begin. As well as my burning of anything with Raider Jack on it. San Diego and KC also have byes.

That leaves Denver vs. New England in the Sunday night game. I’m actually thinking Plummer has a good game here because I’m thinking the Broncos will have to throw most of the game, down by at least 10 though out most of it. Plummer throws for 225 and a TD (most likely to Walker), while DENVER RB has a combined 150 yards and another score.

The Raiders quarterbacks combined to throw… one hit. One damn hit, that’s all we got? (You can’t say damn on the radio) Doesn’t matter. No one’s listening anyway. That sort of sums up the Raiders season so far. Oh yeah, and Aaron Brooks got knocked out of the game. Hooray Bear.

Jake Plummer continued his slow descent into football obscurity by throwing for 173 yards and an interception (that’s seven in his last three games). Shanahan has given him a vote of confidence, but one more game like this and Cutler will be the number one pick up on the waiver wire hotlist. As his owner drowning mice said, “You see Plummer's projected 13 points? That's for the season.”

Philip Rivers actually threw the ball more than 11 times last week, throwing for 235 yards and a score. Billy Volek was traded to the Bolts/Dolts this week, officially screwing me because I picked him up as my 2nd QB. Jerk.

Damon Huard continued following Jake Plummer (see above) by throwing for an amazing 133 yards in the KC-Denver 9-6 shootout. Unfortunately for KC fans, Trent Green’s return date has been mentioned as a month to indefinite. Man, Herm doesn’t have any luck with his QBs, does he?

Running Backs:
I like it when someone say they’re gonna do something, they do it. Not like people who propose articles from people to run on Tuesday, only to turn it in on Friday. You know, like me. The former props go to LDT, who continues to warrant his Top-3 pick status by kicking foes to the curb (but if I’m going to criticize the SD team as a whole for playing cupcakes, then I should for him… though he’s been doing the same thing his whole career). He ran for two more scores and a combined 123 yards. And that’s playing only 3 quarters. His fill-in Michael Turner had even more yards (145), which is amazing.

Larry Johnson also had a ton of yards (167), but he couldn’t hit paydirt in that 9-6 KC loss to Denver. It seems like missing Trent Green and his O-Line is going to be rough for him in the next month or so. Having Herm doesn’t help him either, considering his play calling is more conservative than a Karl Rove dinner party. On the other side of the ball, DENVER RB had a combined 122 yards (56 for Mike, 66 for Tatumn), but again had no TDs. And Mike Bell got hurt earlier in the week, which doesn’t help, more so than Plummer stinking up the joint.

LaMont Jordan does not suck. The Raiders do. Let’s hope his next three (v. Cleveland, Arizona and San Fran) yields better numbers for him than last week (35 yards).

WRs and TEs:
With QBs falling (both physically and mentally) left and right in the AFCW, there’s no real offense happening in the division. Not even the running backs are getting any love (on an ESPN chat, someone asked if it was okay to trade LaMont for Drew Bennett-and the answer was yes). So that means that anyone whose job is actually catching the ball has been a fantasy bust so far. Javon Walker by far had the best day, catching 79 yards for the Broncos, followed by Keenan McCardell’s 58 yards for the Chargers. SD’s Vincent Jackson was the only person to catch a touchdown pass, an 8 yard job against the Titans.

FORECAST:
Luckily for Oakland, a bye week awaits them, and they have two weeks to prepare the team for the Browns. God, if they don’t score more than 10 points, let the official 0-16 talk begin. As well as my burning of anything with Raider Jack on it. San Diego and KC also have byes.

That leaves Denver vs. New England in the Sunday night game. I’m actually thinking Plummer has a good game here because I’m thinking the Broncos will have to throw most of the game, down by at least 10 though out most of it. Plummer throws for 225 and a TD (most likely to Walker), while DENVER RB has a combined 150 yards and another score.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

 

An Unlikely Combination

I hate it when people make lists comparing sports teams or athletes to other entities in entertainment (movie character, singers, etc.). But I'm about to do it. I'll flagellate myself later.

Your AFC North Preview for Week 3
The teams of the AFC North as Female Food Network Celebrity Chefs

The Cincinnati Bengals

At times, people have written you off as nothing more than novelty. You inherited a legacy which you haven't yet been able to duplicate.

And yet, there's a certain attractiveness about you. Even though your hair accentuates your large forehead, you've got a lot of fans who like you because you're flashy (and possibly a tad superficial). But you're clearly talented, and dedicated.

You have a bad habit of overlooking the less savory elements of your lineups, which includes cooking with too many unhealthy ingredients, not to mention the fact that sometimes, your recipes look good on paper, but are more life-threatening than not in execution.

Still, you try hard, and you've got quite the following. You've made a name for yourself, although you still like talk funny in order to remind people of your legacy, just to solidify your fanbase. There are a lot of people still jumping on your bandwagon, even now.

Who are you? You're Giada De Laurentiis.



The Baltimore Ravens

Your recipe for success is simple. Hit them hard, hit them fast, and before they know what has hit them, it's all over.

It's so successful, in fact, that it has become a little boring to some. In fact, your insistence on a particular style might be holding you back.

Nevertheless, people are excited about your success, especially of late. You're about to really take off, and even though your appearance has been a bit inconsistent, you're ready to make people notice you.

Still, people aren't entirely sure what to make of your loud and spastic nature.

You're a bit of a crazy one. You might provide a path to victory, or you might turn around and stab someone.

Who are you? You're Rachel Ray



The Pittsburgh Steelers

You have a long history of success. So much that you barely have to do anything these days to be hyped up.

You've got experience, and you pride yourself on doing things the right way, no nonsense. Yet, you're not afraid to let your hair down and deep fry a candy bar or eight.

And because of this, because you established yourself as a bit of a maverick, you're always something to be reckoned with.

Finally, you have a following that literally idolizes you, to the extent that it has become slightly disturbing. It also doesn't hurt that you have huge tracts of land.

Who are you?

You're Nigella Lawson



The Cleveland Browns

You're fat. Your followers eat a lot of cake and twinkies, and are likely as fat as you are, if not more so. In fact, the very thought of your cooking, which always includes inordinate amounts of lard, instills diarrhetic sentiments.

How are we ever going to clean up after you?

You've never met a recipe you couldn't add more butter to, and you've never met a salad in your life. You're also the only truly unattractive one in the bunch.

In summary, you're a threat to humanity.

Who are you? You're Paula Deen. Fatty.



Oh yeah. Picks for this week (home teams in caps).

Pittsburgh (-1.5) over Cincinnati - They got shut out last week, but it can't possibly happen again, can it? Can it?

I would like Cincy more had they not been so bloodied in Week 2.

Baltimore (-7) over Cleveland - As much prior history says that Baltimore struggles to score, their offense has at least put bread on the table, and they've been abusing young quaterbacks in the first couple of weeks. I can't see how Charlie Frye is going to buck the trend.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

 

NFC North Week 2 Review- Guaranteed Not To Suck

The Direct TV NFL Sunday Ticket, not withstanding those lame commercials with that fat old man, kicks ass. Most of my Sundays are spent with my remote in one hand and my dick in the other, which remains perpetually hard at the thought of all the NFL action at my disposal.

This week, however, I was at the mercy of the networks and what they wanted to show in my area since I was spending the night at my mother's house for some family bullshit which could not be avoided no matter how hard I tried. For some reason, my mom continues to ignore my advice and has steadfastly refused to get NFL Ticket. Oh well, it's her loss.

Forced to choose between the Bills v. Dolphins or Saints v. Packers, I decided to watch the Packer game in order to better fulfill my duties as official NFC North scribe for MFR. The Pack got off to a quick start at home, recovering two early fumbles which prompted them to a 13-0 lead. The crowd was into it and it looked like they would get their first win. By halftime, however, the Saints were up 14-13 and would ultimately prevail 34-27.

Brett Favre actually looked solid in this game, throwing for 340 yards, 3TDs and only 1 INT. Admittedly, his one pick was one of those "up for grabs" specials that has become his trademark.

His main target, Donald Driver, continues to impress, catching 8 passes for 153 yards. Unfortunately for Green Bay, Ahman Green never got on track, running for 42 yards on 16 carries. More damaging for Ahman and the Pack was his fumble late in the game- an occurrence that cannot be a surprise to Packer fans at this point. Although the Packers run defense held Deuce and Bush in check, Brees still threw for 353 yards on them.

This game merely confirmed that the Packers are an awful team--certainly one of the 5 worst in the league. Unless they play the Texans and Raiders every other week, things are going to end badly this season for Green Bay.

The Minnesota Vikings have to be considered the surprise of the division, at least through the first two games. On Sunday the Vikings beat the Panthers 16-13 in OT to remain tied with the Bears for first place in the division. Unlike the recent past where the Vikings would beat you with deep bombs from Culpepper to Moss, the Vikings are now doing it with defense and a commitment to running the ball. Chester Taylor had 24 carries for 113 yards while Brad Johnson was a pedestrian, but competent, 19 of 31 for 243 yards passing and one INT. Troy Williamson continues to be his main target, catching 6 balls for 102 yards.

The two biggest plays in this game were on special teams and both involved trick plays. (And although this game involved the Vikings, the only "tricks" were on the field.) Down 13 to 6 in the 4th, the Vikings lined up for a short FG. Kicker Ryan Longwell ended up throwing the ball to some dude I've never heard of for a 16 yard TD. Did you have Longwell on your fantasy team? If so, I hope that TD pass counted on your final stat sheet.

The other trick play came moments earlier on a punt return which was as unnecessary as it was stupid. Leading 13-6 with 10 minutes left, John Fox inexplicably called for one of those "guy who catches the punt heave it across the field to another guy plays." (We used to run that play in my neighborhood backyard games with much better results.) That play was very uncharateristic of Fox, and looked like something Steve Spurrier might run of he were leading Vandy by 40. The Vikings recovered the fumble and then Childress, as if to show Fox how to properly run a trick play, ran the fake FG for 6. Are the Vikes for real? We will see this week against Chicago.

In a division matchup, the Bears hosted Roy Williams and the Detroit Lions. This game was notable mostly for Williams' absurd pre-game guarantee and other moronic comments. After the Lions narrowly lost to the Seahawks last week, Williams said that his team should have scored 45 points, and then guaranteed victory this week against the Bears. The Bears won, of course, 34-7, but that still didn't stop Williams- 6 catches 71 yards- from acting like a jackass.

Down 10-0 early to Chicago, Williams caught a pass for a first down and did one of those lame first down poses. Who invented this tired move? Chris Carter? Michael Irvin? (You can bet that Raymond Berry never did that. If he had, Johnny Unitas would have thrown the ball at his nuts, like Burt Reynolds did in "The Longest Yard." Just look at him in that picture. Even though they had helmets at this stage in his career, Berry didn't wear one, stating that helmets were for "pussies and faggots." Ahh, the old days.)


When asked later if it was cool to celebrate a measly first down trailing 10-0, R. Williams replied "What does that mean? ... That means nothing to me. The score means nothing." Seriously. He said that. And this is coming from the one wide receiver who has allegedly panned out? (Mike Williams, inactive again, was rumored to be at a Shoney's Big Boy during the game.)

Lions QB Jon Kitna was a Kitna-esque 23 for 30 for 230 yds and 1TD (rushing). Kevin Jones and the rest of the Lions offense continues to be MIA.

The same thing cannot be said of the Bears offense. I was firmly convinced that Grossman would be benched by the 3rd or 4th week game- but the guy has started the season hotter than a Mike Vick flare-up. Against the Lions, Rex threw for nearly 300 yards and 4TDs.

But, as Mr. Wolf might say, "Let's not start sucking each other's dicks just yet Bears' fans." The running game didn't provide much, as Thomas Jones managed only 64 yards on 21 carries, and the two victories have come against Green Bay and Detroit. Until next time;
OUT.




Saturday, September 16, 2006

 

The week that was in the AFC West… and what will be! (Week 2)

The teams in the AFC West have a long, illustrious history in the NFL, one that predates the league itself. Week one may have done more damage for that image than all of Al Davis’ lawsuits.

(BTW, sorry this is so late, but work was killer this week...)

QUARTERBACKS: It was a particularly dismal week for the QBs for the league. Jake Plummer seems to be regressing to again, throwing three picks (and fumbling twice!) for an amazing 138 yards. Needless to say, he didn’t throw any touchdowns, and ended up with -6 points in our league. This was against a rather patched up St. Louis team, which doesn’t bode well for him with Cutler in the rear view. Not that Shanahan would sub the rookie in. I think he'd rather insert 3 RBs in the backfield, just to screw everyone up even more.

Aaron Brooks didn’t fare much better, though he ended up with a positive point total, albeit 2 points. I guess the Raiders didn’t get the memo about shining on Monday night, as the offensive line was downright offensive (bet you never heard that one before). He had no time to throw, and the SD D (at least the front 7) looked beastly.

Trent Green left the field with a concussion that we’ve all heard about. Those aren’t fun, folks. I’ve had one, and 11 years out of high school, I think I still haven’t fully recovered.

Philip Rivers threw 11 times, really 11 more times than he had to given LDT’s dominance. Given Martyball is will be the key this season, I don’t think Rivers will have to air it out too much this year, and his first game is a testament to what we will expect him to do, especially with tougher defenses than the Raiders, which is to say every other defense he’ll face this year (except for later in the season when he plays the Raiders again).

RUNNING BACKS: LDT was the key here, and honestly, everyone saw it coming with his history of running the ball down the Raiders throats. He has 101 yards in the first quarter! He ended up with 138 yards on the ground, but only because Schottenheimer decided to keep on running it with LDT’s backup, Michael Turner, in the second half to the tune of 70 yards and a touchdown. His opposite for the day, LaMont Jordan, was limited to a measly 20 yards as the Chargers completely shut down any semblance of offense on the Silver and Black’s side.

Larry Johnson, he of the number one pick, didn’t fare that much better. Sure he had 144 combined yards, but losing your QB and realizing your offensive line might get you killed this year (Willie Roaf? Herm’s on line one for ya) probably made LJ lose more than his fair share of hair on Sunday.

DENVER RB has a prosperous day, even if TBell lost a fumble and MBell almost lost a finger (his index finger’s bone is rubbing up against his fingernail—ouch!). They had a combined 161 yards rushing (T:103/M:58) and MBell scored the touchdown. With MBell’s injury, Cedric Cobbs might be into the mix this upcoming weekend, so set your lineups accordingly.

WRs/TEs: It was an awful couple of days for receivers in the AFC West. With Quarterbacks being either incompetent (Brooks, Plummer), insulated (Rivers) or immobile (Green), the receivers didn’t get much play this week. Actually it was a couple of tight ends who caught the AFC West’s only receiving touchdowns of the week, Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez.

FOR THE UPCOMING WEEK

Denver (@ KC): Denver travels to rib-land, Kansas City, Missouri, which shouldn’t be confused with Kansas City, Kansas, which isn’t that far away. You know, you’ve got to tell Jake Plummer these kind of things because he’s not that bright, although he is smart enough to figure out KC’s bad bad D (especially the Run D, so put your DENVER RB in if you can) and hold on to his job for at least another week. 2 TDs/250 is what I’ll prognosticate, with Rod Smith (who has a penchant for scoring on the Chiefs) and one of the DENVER RB (who’ll have 200 yards, combined… three ways this time) catching it in the end zone. Denver’s D is a so-so play this weekend with LJ coming to town, but we’ll see if Huard can keep them honest enough so they don’t stack 8 in the box against Donald Faison lookalike LJ.

Kansas City (v. Denver): KC comes into their home opener limping something awful. They’ve lost their QB, their O-Line is in shambles and the D Line resembles those cartoons when a guy plugs his finger into a leaky damn wall, only to have another hole open up somewhere else. But they do have LJ, who is obviously not going to rush for 2000 yards this season, as some were imagining. But he will get his, to the tune of 2 TDs/150 combined yards. Those Denver CBs are fierce, and they allowed Marc Bulger shit last week, letting him down the field, but completely shutting him down in the red zone. Expect a lot of dumping off to either him on TG (100+ yard day), that is unless Huard’s on his back most of the day, which he should not. Herm starts to feel a lot of heat early in the season, which sucks cause he’s a nice guy (I interviewed him once… no lie!)

Oakland (@Bal). Heh. I always thought the Football Gods had a love/hate relationship with the Raiders, and I now think the franchise left the toilet seat up or made fun of one of the Football Gods’ eating habits because it’s pissed off city. Last week, the Silver and Black were handed its lunch (or late snack, as it was pretty late here on the east coast) by a souped up Charger front seven. This week it’s the Ravens’ turn to light up Aaron Brooks (115 yards/0 TDs) and hold LaMont (50 yards) and Randy (75 yards) to nothing. The reason I’m giving them so much credit is because I hold a slim belief that Art and the Gang will be able to game plan a bit better this weekend. It still won’t stop the Ravens from winning the game by 2 TDs (minimum—play the money line fo sho!).

SD (@TN) SD is lulled into thinking it’s a Super Bowl contender by beating up on this patsy Titan team that allowed half-an-arm Pennington to be considered “back” (wait till the Pats eat you up this weekend). LDT should run off two TDs and might break 200 combined yards on a team with a worse D than the Raiders (yeah, you heard me right). Rivers will be too restrained by Martyball to do anything other than what he did Monday night, 125 yards and maybe a dumpoff TD to Gates, who should account for a lot of those 125.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

 

NFC North Week 2: Electric Boogaloo

Welcome to this week's NFC North preview. Lots of intrigue this week-Can Brett Favre lead the team in both interceptions and tackles against the Saints? Will Mike Williams sport a cool brim watching the Lions play the Bears? Are there any places a Viking player won't fuck in? Let's get to the ugliness.

Fresh off their imaginary 45 point performance against Seattle, the Lions go on the road this week to take on the Chicago Bears. In an interesting sidenote to this game, Roy Williams has guaranteed a Lions victory. No word yet on if Williams has attempted to kiss the nearest sideline reporter. Vegas, however, isn't putting much stock in Roy's words and has them at 8.5 point dogs. In all fairness, the Lions gave the Seahawks a lot more than anyone expected and their rookie LB Ernie Sims could be a break out player if his egg shell skull doesn't break first.

The Bears, against Green Bay last week, looked solid on both sides of the ball. If Grossman can just be an average QB, then the Bears defense should get them the victory. Final score- Bears 20 Lions 10. Alternative Reality Score- Lions 55 Bears 3.

The most talented Packer team ever looks to get their first win against the New Orleans Saints this week in Lambeau. Brett Favre has reportedly asked new Comish Goddell for a "do over" with respect to last week's game against the Bears.

As of today, the Saints are two point favorites against the Pack. This game is an absolulte must-win for the Packers if they want to cling to the illusion that they can somehow manage a respectable season. Ahman Green provided a glimpse of hope last week for Packers fans, gaining over 100 yards on the ground. Forced to pick a winner here, I'd probably take the Packers. Something just doesn't feel right about them getting points at home against the Saints.

The Vikings got a surprise win on the road against the Skins and now play the Carolina Panthers in their home opener. The Metrodome is a tough place to play and I think Carolina will have their hands full. That thud you heard was the entire world jumping off the Panthers suddenly empty bandwagon.

Apparently, the Panthers' offensive game plan of "throw it to Steve Smith and watch him run for a TD" doesn't work well if Steve Smith isn't actually in the game. Still, the public likes Carolina as they are one point favorites. Fred Smoot, following D'Angelo Hall's lead, said that Smith was a "god damn fucking baby ass faggot punk-bitch who doesn't have the balls to take me on." Smith, however, has made it clear that pride and public humiliation are not what motivates him.

The Vikings are balanced, if not exactly explosive, on offense with Brad Johnson at the helm. Mike Vick, however, he ain't and the Panters vaunted front four should give him problems. The Vikings defense gets a boost this week when stairwell-fucker Dwight Smith returns to the lineup. I like the Vikings to win this game in a mild upset.

Peace.

 

AFC East Week 2 Preview

This weekend was not supposed to involve much football. I spend roughly 90 percent of my time thinking about baseball, so I figured I’d spend 90 percent of my time on baseball, since it’s Red Sox weekend and all. But the Red Sox turned into a bunch of lepers, and I’m faced with the first Yanks-Red Sox series this decade that I don’t care about. Like so many of my friends, I’ll forget baseball exists on Sunday (and Saturday for that matter) and enjoy me some Week Two.

Buffalo (+6.5) over MIAMI

It’s not so much that Miami sucks, it’s just that many people think they’re better than they are. Or at least that’s the way it was heading into Week One. Hopefully people have learned quickly, and we can all agree that they’ll finish 7-9 or 8-8.

One of these eight wins should be against the Buffalo Bills; I just don’t think it’ll be by a touchdown. Follow me if you will: If last week is an accurate indicator, Miami at full strength is about as good as the Patriots were last week. Ergo, they should be able to produce a similar result, beating Buffalo by less than a TD or losing. Either way, taking Buffalo and their 6.5 points makes sense.

QB
Culpepper: Do you have him on your team? Do you have another quarterback not named “Brooks,” “Losman,” “Favre,” or “Plummer?” Well, then, you might want to consider starting him.

Losman: I think I pretty much covered him. Right?

RB
Brown: Hard to imagine he’ll score two TDs on the Bills defense. Maybe one, probably none, though he should improve on his meager 30 yards from last week. You were probably better off taking the top QB on the board if you took Brown in the Top 5.

MacGahee: As I surely mentioned last week, I’m a MacGahee burn victim from 2005. I hate him, and he stinks. I won’t wish injury upon him, but I will put a hex on him. And his children. And his children’s children.

WR
Chambers: Many thought Culpepper would complement him well. Instead, he’s turning him into the next Nate Burleson. Being outscored by Marty Booker does not bode well. He could just as easily do it again this week.

Evans: Suffered from the same affliction as Chambers; shitty QB, outscored by second receiver. Let’s see if we can find a trend this year in shitty quarterbacks hitting their No. 2 option more frequently than No. 1.

TE
Randy McMichael: I had high hopes for McMichael this season, but much like Chambers, he’s been derailed by Culpepper. I’m not saying don’t start him; I’m just saying be prepared to play Find the Tight End on the waiver wire every Monday morning.

Robert Royal: The Bills have a Tight End? Where was I when that happened?

New England (-6) over NEW YORK
But that doesn’t mean I’m going to bet on it

It pains me in every possible way, especially considering the tampering charges filed by the Patriots this week, to pick the Patriots here. I want to believe that the Jets have a decent team, but last week reeks of aberration. Gun to my head, forced to make a bet on this game, I would have no problem taking the Jets. However, wanting to retain some degree of objectivity, I can’t reasonably pick them.

Honestly, do you believe that the Patriots played to their fullest capability last week? I’m not even delving into potential here; I’m talking full up, present capability. There’s no way they’ll lay a second consecutive stinker for division opponents. Their defense is much more capable than the Titans, as is their offense. And, if that’s not enough, Bill Belichick is probably working overtime on his gameplan. Think about how much work you could get done if you perpetually slurped coffee and didn’t require sleep. That’s how prepared Belichick is for this game.

QB
Pennington: You have to be impressed with his Week 1 performance. And by “impressed,” I mean “probably should have picked him instead of Brian Griese in the draft.” I fully blame that pick on the marijuana. All the other picks were mine.

Brady: You think he’s going to toss a pair of pick this week? He’s no Kerry Collins, folks. Even without Branch, he should find plenty of holes in the Jets secondary. You have to wonder how pissed Brady is, though, that they let Deion Branch go. It’s not just that they let him go, but it’s that they refused to pay him when Brady took less money so that the Patriots could afford him a supporting cast. Never trust a Kraft.

RB
Barlow?: You have to figure he’s the starter, because, as I’ve stated at least once a day this week, Derrick Blaylock is completely worthless. Why the Jets signed a Chiefs running back castoff is beyond me. It’s like signing a pitcher let go by the Braves. Just ask the Diamondbacks, who are paying Russ Ortiz to sit on his couch and masturbate. Anyway, I’ve got Barlow, and I’m not starting him, if that’s any indication.

Dillon: I don’t know why I’m listing him, since the Pats have Laurence Maroney, a sexy fantasy pick, and Kevin Faulk, who led the Pats running backs in points last week. It’s just that…fuck it, I’ve got nothing. I hope you don’t have a Patriots running back in your starting lineup unless you’re playing me.

WR
Coles: You know all that kissy kissy hubbub about Lav Coles being Pennington’s favorite target? Well, turns out it’s true. Obvious homosexuals whose performances dropped off significantly when separated, Pennington and Coles are back together, pitching and catching with the flow only lovers can exhibit. Though, Pennington may be gunning for the elusive three-way with Jerricho Cotchery. I wonder if Coles is into that kinda thing.

Not Deion Branch: Okay, so it’s Reche Caldwell, and I liked him between his injuries in San Diego. He was never real good in Madden, though, which irked me to no end. He’s not a No. 1 receiver by any means, but Tom Brady has done quite well in the past with a group of receivers absent a No. 1.

TE
Baker: Early in camp, they said Jolley would start, but they traded him to Tampa Bay. After Mike Nugent showed that he’s not quite worthy of a second round pick, Jets fans are giving a posthumous boo to the team for a trading flub that netted them Nuge and Jolly when they could have just drafted Heath Miller. Anyway, I picked up Baker on the waiver wire because he’s decent in the red zone. That, of course, is contingent on Pennington being as good as he displayed last week. Too many ifs to start him.

Watson: Dude’s good, and the Jets don’t exactly have a linebacker matched up well enough to cover him. As a betting man, I’d put decent money on Watson scoring a TD this week.

 

NFC South - Picked Off First But Back For More

So Week 1 didn't go so well for me - 1-3 against the spread, 0-4 straight up, and gross miscalculations of Reggie Bush, the Falcons defense, and the suckitude of the Bucs. My girlfriend makes better picks than that, and she knows less about football than The Sports Gal. (The Little Lady has her high spots, though ... most notably, not being married to Bill Simmons.) I feel like Willie Mays Hayes, picked off because I was too busy looking at my shoelaces. An entire box office full of sportswriters is jacking off looking at me right now. Though, in truth, that happens more often than I care to admit. Especially with Jay Mariotti. I gotta call the police about him. Or Carl Monday.

Anyway, back to Major League. In that same scene, Harry Doyle (Bob Eucker) claims that you can tell how a season is going to go by the first batter. Fortunately, football doesn't work that way, because there are no batters. So despite a piss poor start to the season, I'm back in the saddle. Besides, if you can't recover after an awful first week, the Panthers and Bucs have long, long season ahead of them.

With that in mind, my fantasy and gambling (is there any difference) picks for Week 2 in the Dirty South:

Bucs (+4.5) over FALCONS, Falcons straight up


"Do you know us? We're a major league...team."

But, since they played like a Division II school last week, you'd be forgiven if you thought that the Bucs, on paper, look like cannon fodder for the Falcons. This looks like a great 2nd game for the Birds - they are coming back to the ATL for their home opener after a huge road win in the division. Their iffy quarterback had a good game, their defense came up large, and their home field gets genuinely loud. Oh, and their opponent got shut out at home last week. Yeah, this looks good on paper.

But ... not to go Lee Corso on you or anything ... not so fast. First of all, the Bucs offense never got the chance to get into rythmn. Baltimore stuffed them so badly in the first half tht they had to completely pitch the game plan, and the Bucs simply don't have the quarterback to improvize at the half. I can't imagine things going that poorly two weeks in a row. Second, Carnell Williams was sidelined with back spasms for most of the game, but he expects to be feeling better and ready to go come Sunday. Finally, Chucky won't stand his team putting up that poor of a performance two weeks in a row - especially from himself, after he abandoned the run when Cadillac went down even with Michael Pittman and Mike Alstott available. Plus, they've had a week to enjoy the fine talent in Tampa strip clubs to clear their minds. The Bucs will play better.

Oh, and Mike Vick rarely has two solid games in a row. I'm going with the Bucs against the spread no matter what - but since I'm worried about Caddy's back, I take the Falcons straight up.

Baby made a boom-boom last week. Baby has fresh diaper.

Panthers (-2.5) over VIKINGS, Panthers straight up

"That's it. We're coddling these guys. Yeah...."

That's the only explanation I can come up with. The Panthers looked awful on Sunday, so I can only conclude that they let all the Super Bowl hype (and Steve Smith's injury) get to their head. Yup. That's the only explanation. They'll be back.

Now, my roommate is a crazy 'Skins fan. Not "wear a pig snout and a house dress" crazy, but a pretty serious guy with a hetero-man crush on Clinton Portis and Joe Gibbs. According to him, Monday night's surprise win by the Vikings at FedEx Field was less a case of them looking good and the Redskins looking bad, and more a case of the Vikings looking mostly competent and the Redskins looking mostly lost. And no, my roommate isn't Mike Wilbon, though that would be pretty cool too.

I take that to heart, so I think the Panthers take this one on the road. Yes, I know that Steve Smith is still questionable with hammy problems. And yes, Dan Morgan, their Pro Bowl linebacker, will be out with what is "at least his fifth" concussion. And that they lost their starting left tackle, which will probably not be so good for their running game. I'm calling it for the teal and black. Call it the "everyone in the NFL will go 8-8, so everyone will start 1-1" theory.

Or, more accurately, call it the "Eirishis is sticking with his binky at least one more week" theory.

Don't worry, ladies - y'all still my girls. Especially in bathroom stalls.


Saints (-1.5) over PACKERS, Saints straight up

"Eh, who cares, nobody's listening anyway."

You want to know why CBS/FOX don't air double headers every weekend? Because of games like this. The Saints are 1-0 because they were passable in their opener, while the Browns looked like the Browns. The Packers, once invincible (now available at a theater near you!) at Lambeau, got shut out last week, leading Brett Favre to leave the field early for his prostate exam. They have one wide receiver who doesn't drop the ball. They have two running backs - one of whom can't hold onto the ball or his health, the other of whom went to Liberty. The Packers stink. This game stinks.

Upside - we get to see Reggie Bush terrorize an unsuspecting defense. Say what you will about the Browns, but most "experts" agree that they have a fairly solid defense - and Bush lit them up for 120 yards total offense. The only thing the Packers could defend would be a bratwurst invasion.

I can't see this game being close. Either Brett Favre gets paddleshocked before the game and manages to fuck this up for the Saints, or the Packers will lose by double digits. I don't get this line.

Only marginally better at killing brats than the Packers and their fans.


On to the fantasy players to watch out for this week (for good or ill), similar themed to the beginning of Major League:

"I thought you said we didn't have any high-priced talent" - Jake Delhomme. He rarely has two off weeks in a row, and the Vikings defense isn't nearly as good as the Falcons. Plus, he might have Smith back. Regardless, I think he's due. Unfortunately, that means that the 11pm SportsCenter with Boomer and TJ will make you want to pull your hair out.

"Even tough guys get sore arms, cramps, and muscle aches..." -
Cadillac Williams and Steve Smith. Both of these guys are game-time decision, but it's an easy call - if they play, you play them. Chucky said that he rested Caddy during the 2nd half against the Ravens , and again in practice this week, to make sure his main offensive weapon would be healthy for Week 2. I'm willing to bet on that. And Steve Smith will find a way to get open even if you stab him in his kicking hamstring.

"Not bad for a bunch of has-beens and a couple never-will-bes." - The Falcons Defense. I'm a believer, in case my column on Tuesday didn't tell you. Then again, if they stink this week, I might pull a Shanoff - ignore them for a few weeks, then pretend I never wrote about them , take whatever opinion I want and pretend I always held it. I'm like 1984 in that way.

"Play like Mays, run like Hayes. How you doin? How you doin? My man!" - Reggie Bush. I'm still skeptical about his value on a weekly basis, but he'll light up the Packers on speed alone. I'll admit - I'm kinda cheering for this to happen, because I'm convinced that I have another pun in me involving a sexual entendre, Bush, and his opponent. Something tells me that "Bush" and "Pack" might be even better than "Bush" and "Brown".

"I've never heard of half these guys ... " - Marques Colston and Drew Carter. I'm hot/cold on these guys, respectively. Colston was a 7th round pick out of Hofstra (again - HOFSTRA!), but is a great fantasy pickup for two reasons: 1) Drew Brees has to throw the ball to someone and Joe Horn is declining, and 2) he's eligible at both WR and TE in most leagues. Good combination. Carter I am less sold on. He filled in well for Steve Smith last week, but that's a specific role. He's not a possession-type receiver, so he can't swap out with Keyshawn, and they already have Keary Colbert for the slot. I don't see him getting a lot of touches in the next few weeks unless Smith stays hurt.

"And Vaughn and the Indians continue to struggle with the Yankees..." - Warrick Dunn. Yes, he had a great game last week. Yes, the Tampa defense might be getting old. But for all their other troubles last week, the Bucs held Jamal Lewis to 78 yards and a pedestrian 4.3 yds per carry. Plus, in the Falcons' two games against the Bucs last year, Dunn averaged only 83 total yards per game, and scored no touchdowns. There will be a fantasy let down somewhere on the Falcons - I think this is the spot. Mind you, I think this is a one week thing - he'll break down later in the season.

And with that, I'm out. Enjoy the games, and just remember - when an evil owner plans on sending you down to the minors or giving you your outright release, the only thing left to do is win the whole fucking thing.

 

AFC South and North

So Dick Butkus wanted to charge me $450 to run his picks to click, and I'm a poor graduate student. So I decided I'm going to dump him and start covering the AFC South and North since no one is covering them. By the way, the burrito is because well, I'm a grad student its what we live on that and humiliating undergraduates who put down stupid answers.

AFC South:
Houston vs. Indianapolis: An interdivision matchup that last year I would say would be no contest. Who am I kidding, the colts are going to roll this week, last week was a good test but houston's Defense still isnt all that great Mario Williams or not. Pick-Ponies 38 Texans 14

Tennessee vs. San Diego: San Diego looked great on defense and okay on offense versus a crappy oakland defense. Tennessee is still growing and learning, this weekend will be a lesson in who Shawne Merriman is. Pick-Greek gods 9 General Lees 42.

Jacksonville vs. Pittsburgh: Toothlessburger (Remember kids wear your helmet) should be back for the steelers versus jacksonville and I think this one will be really close and I am actually going against my pool....Pick-Mittal Corps. 14 Jag-u-ars 17

Good Starts: Peyton "The Mongoose" Manning, Marvin Harrison, Philip Rivers, LaDanian Tomlinson, SD's Defense, Hines Ward

Sit Them, David Carr, any Tennessee players really, Willie Parker

AFC North
Baltimore vs. Oakland: Since oakland looked like Indiana University's football team last week, Baltimore should roll easily. Pick-Quote never More 31 the french navy 0

The Battle of Ohio: Cleveland vs. Cincinnati: Hide the women and children, lock up the guns, close your local businesses early. Cincinnati will win rather easily but I wouldn't wanna be there at the game or even close so I won't get mugged. Bengays 37 Poop 7

The steelers we covered before...yes scroll up....right now....yes...

Good Starts: Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson, Baltimore's D, Jamal Lewis, Derek "grunts" Mason

Sit Down: Cleveland...just go away, Willie Parker, and with the first pick in the NFL draft the oakland raiders take.......

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

 

AFC East: Week 1 Under Review

Before we dive into the week that was the AFC East, let's take a look at my boneheaded picks:

Dolphins (+4) over Steelers

Can you really blame me for refusing to pick in favor of Charlie Batch? Of course, I didn't at all expect Culpepper to completely melt down over the course of two passes, which completely skewed the game. The second wan was extra killer, because it put the Steelers beyond the spread. Stupid me for thinking Culpepper's 2005 was an aberration. Note to self: the Dolphins probably aren't nearly as good as the hype. Not picking them again until they win.

Titans (-3) over Jets

As it turns out, Chad Pennington is the exact same quarterback he was prior to the shoulder surgery. Armed with his favorite target (a popular story among New York area newspapers, even though it's been done to death), Pennington put up a week expected by none. The only problem with the Jets win is that the expectations are going to be a bit loftier, meaning disappointment could be looming.

Patriots (-8.5) over Bills

D'oh! Right winner, but not even close on the spread. So much for the 13 point spread I mentioned in the preview. Not having seen the game, I attribute it more to bad luck on the Patriot's part than the Bills being good in any way. Then again, there's always the possibility that the Pats luck has run out. I'm still not betting against them, though.

So that's a whopping 0-3 in Week 1. Hey, if I'm this bad next week, you can always come to me as a reliable source for who not to bet on (ahhhh! Preposition at the end of a sentence!)

As for the week in fantasy:

QBs

1.Chad Pennington (16): 319 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 1 fumble lost
Remember back in 2002 and 2003 when Chad was actually a good quarterback and had a viable target in Lav Coles? It seems those days are back, or at least they were for Week 1. The main difference, though, is the lack of a running back, which will prove detrimental in the coming weeks. Start him if you will next week, but beware the aberration factor.

2.Tom Brady (11): 163 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble lost
Disappointing for Brady despite the two TDs. The pick and the fumble were even more hurtful because of his low yardage. I totally expect better numbers next week agains the Jets.

3.J.P. Losman (3): 164 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 0 fumbles lost
Yep, pretty shitty, just as expected. At least he didn't fall into the negative category ::cough:: Jake Plummer. Then again, if you received Losman's three points this week, you're likely an idiot and will deserve the -12 he'll put up in one of the coming weeks. The Buffalo Bills: fucking up the draft and ruining their long term prospects since I can remember.

4.Daunte Culpepper (1): 262 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT, 0 fumbles lost
Yeah, I'm being harsh on Daunte, but he fuckin' deserves it. He had the lead, and in the span of a few football minutes, he squandered it all. You can say that he'll recover and that his performance hinged on the Pittsburgh D, but that's a sheer cop-out. Fantasy owners across the nation are bracing themselves for Year Two of the Culpepper regression. Get him out, NOW. Because when you score less points than J.P. Losman, you've truly hit rock bottom. I'd say his trade value right now hovers somewhere around newly signed Koren Robinson's.

RBs

1.Ronnie Brown (14): 30 yards rushing, 32 receiving, 2 TDs
In a game where Willie Parker ran for 119 yards, Ronnie Brown still outscored him, proving that Willie is not a good fantasy player (which is probably a surprising statement coming from me). Pretty shitty average per carry, but the two TDs are a reprieve for fantasy owners. If Culpepper continues his shitty passing, though, Ronnie could be in a bit of trouble, as he won't have any goalline situations in which to score from three yards out.

2.Kevin Faulk (8): 21 yards rushing, 17 receiving 1 TD
Yep, he outscored Dillon and Maroney because of the TD. Thankfully, neither of the aforementioned backs were drafted too too early, so the hit isn't that bad. I still wouldn't nab Faulk on the waiver wire, however, unless I had a gaping hole at running back. Actually, I thought I would have one, but lo and behold:

3.Kevan Barlow (8): 35 yards rushing, 1 TD
So he looked terrrrrrible out there, rushing for just a pathetic average per carry. He can't break tackles, and he doesn't have a quick step to the outside. However, he's infinitely better than Derrick Blaylock, and should be getting more touches in the coming weeks. Probably the best 13th round pick I've made in a while.

4.Willis McGahee (5): 70 yards rushing, 24 receiving, 0 TD
The killer of my fantasy team here is killing someone else this year, as McGahee absolutely blows. That's what you get when your team's quarterback has a bigger pussy than Holley Mangold (do those jokes ever get old? Did I overdo it there?). Fuck you, Willis. Have fun racking up your 8 points a week average.

WRs

1.Lav Coles, Jericho Cottchery (9): 153 yards / 65 yards, 0 TD/ 1TD
Yeah, I think it was his TD that got called back on a D'Brickashaw holding call. And then Nuge flubbed the field goal, and the Jets were left with naught. It appears, however, that Coles and Pennington are on the same page, making Coles a potential weapon. I'm still not completely sold, but I'm liking what I see. I like Cottchery a helluva lot more, however.

2.Troy Brown (7): 18 yards, 1 TD
Could the departure of Deion Branch be the downfall of New England? It appears at least possible, as Tom Brady now has, oh, no reliable receivers beyond Brown, who is getting up there in age. He's on the DTAFFL waiver wire, and I for one haven't put in a claim.

3.Marty Booker (3): 64 yards receiving, 0 TD
What happened to Chris Chambers?

4.Josh Reed (2): 40 yards receiving, 0 TD
What happened to Lee Evans?

This is long...already over a thousand words. I think you're all fine with a major three position overview. If you want me to do tight ends, kickers, and defense, you'll just have to wait. My lunch break is almost over.

 

No Frills NFC North Review

Ok folks, let's get right to the games last week. No bullshit, just the straight dope.

Minnesota looked very capable last night, going into DC and punking Southeast Jerome and the rest of the Redskins. I was impressed with Brad Johnson, who was very efficient in throwing for 223 yards, no picks and one TD to Marcus Robinson. Troy Williamson might need to get some fucking glasses based on those two huge drops. I mean, what the fuck? Ahmad Rashad would be rolling over in his grave if he were dead. But even with the drops, Johnson kept throwing to him and he ended up with 4 catches for 77 yards.

Chester Taylor also looked pretty good- it was the first time I've really seen him play and he finished the game with 88 yards rushing on 31 carries. Childress, now in control, appears a lot more dedicated to running the ball than Reid. Also, as I wrote in my preview, their defense looked better than in years past, giving up only 163 passing yards and holding the DC running backs to under 100 yards rushing.

Bottom Line- The Vikings should challenge the Bears for the NFC North title. I see them as a 10 or 9 win team who will be tough to beat at home. While not an elite team, you don't have to be elite to win this division. My advice- play their defense, Taylor, Williamson and keep Brad Johnson as your number 2 QB.

The Detroit Lions might be better than last year, as they fought the Seahawks until the very last play of the game before losing 9-6. Alexander only rushed for 51 yards and Hasselback was sacked 5 times as the Lions D seemed to respond to former Tampa D-Line coach Marinelli. Their rookie with the special helmet, Ernie Sims, had 10 tackles and could end up a solid pro if he doesn't get another concussion.

The bad news is that the Lions offense only managed 39 yards rushing and no touchdowns. If the offense ever catches up to the defense, .500 could be a realistic goal.

Bottom Line- While they might be an improved team, their offense is dreadful and there are no real fantasy studs on the team as of yet. Although Roy Williams talks a good game and has guaranteed a win against the Bears this Sunday, I wouldn't bet on it.

Bears- As expected, the Bears defense crushed the Packers. What was not expected, at least by me, was Rex Grossman throwing for 262 yards and a TD. Thomas Jones got the bulk of the carries and finished with 63 yards on 21 carries while C. Benson had 11 carries for 34
yards. M. Muhammed ended up with over 100 yards receiving and may be back to the form that made him so dominating as a Carolina Panther.

Bottom Line- The Bears were not really tested last week, so its hard to say if Grossman can put up numbers like this on a regular basis. Jones appears to be the main guy at RB, but Benson will get his share of touches.

Packers- In a stunning reversal, Brett Favre, after the game, informed us that this team might not be that good. No shit. Favre threw his customary two INTs against the Bears and had another horrible day as his team got their ass kicked at home. There was, however, some good news for the Packers-Ahman Green had 20 carries for 110 yards and his leg did not explode. Donald Driver also had a decent game, catching 7 balls for 96 yards.

Bottom Line- As everyone outside of Green Bay already knew, this team is flat out awful. Favre is embarrassing and the defense cannot even slow down the Bears.

This week's Brett Favre Award, going to the worst performance by a QB in the NFC North, goes to: Brett Favre and his 40.9 QB rating. Congrats Brett!


Monday, September 11, 2006

 

NFC South Gangbang - Week 1

With none of my teams playing in Monday Night Football (now on ESPN, in case you didn't hear), here is the week that was (and the predictions that were) in the Dirty South:

I might have been wrong about the Panthers.

Panthers (-5.5) over Falcons, Panthers straight up.

Falcons 20, Panthers 6

It looks like Atlanta can do the Dirty Bird all they want for the next few days, because BOY was I off on this one. Mea culpa. I would say that it's my turn to eat crow, but I know already that my stomach would reject it as poison and kill me immediately.

As for the Panthers ... Seriously, fuck you. I hate looking like an idiot. I go out on a limb and pimp your division crown like its a foregone conclusion, and you go out and perform "Najeh in the Hamper" for your home opener. One more performance like that out of you and I swear to God, I'm giving you up as my binky. (No, I didn't mean it like that ... please, don't cry ... I'm sorry, of course I didn't mean to hurt you ... look, I'm just stressed out from work ... why don't we order in tonight, we can talk things over.)

I'm not going to kill you, Chris. Or am I?

Bucs (-3.5) over Ravens, Bucs straight up.
Ravens 27, Bucs 0

Speaking of teams that completely crapped out on Opening Day ... what the hell happened to the Buccaneers? Didn't this team (with almost no changes) win the division last year? Didn't the Ravens (with only one major change) finish with a losing record last year? Wasn't this game in Tampa? I don't care how much of a difference Steve McNair is supposed to make (and I still question whether that is indeed the case) - nobody predicted that kind of asswhipping.

The Bush is always better than the Brown.

Saints (+3.5) over Browns, Browns straight up.
Saints 19, Browns 14

Well, at least I got one bet right - taking the points with the Saints was a winner. I might have looked even better had Braylon Edwards not forgotten how to catch a ball, directing Charlie Frye's final pass attempt into the hands of a Bayou Boy Scout and killing the Browns hopes of eeking out a last second win (which would have still been within the spread). I'd bitch, but ... frankly, as a Browns fan, I kind of expected it.

Oh, right, the Saints are the team I'm supposed to talk about ...

Week 1 NFC South Fantasy Studs (points in our league in paratheses):

Warrick Dunn - 132 yds rushing, 10 yds receiving, 0 TD (7): He was kind of a big deal. I stand by my statement that he will breakdown this year without a complementary back, but until that happens, my oh my is he good. And if Jerious Norwood turns out to be that back, Dunn will be even more dangerous.

Michael Vick - 10/22, 140yds, 2 TD, 48 yds rushing (16): He still isn't very accurate, and the touchdown to Jenkins was due to a defensive breakdown. He also still went to Virginia Tech and enjoys lying about veneral disease. That said, he had a killer week in the stats.


John Carney - 1/1 PAT, 4/4 FG, 1/1 FG 40-49 yds (14)
: Probably wouldn't have made the list if he weren't a Domer, but he had great fantasy stats this week. And given that neither Bush or Deuce (who had an OK, but not stellar, game) could punch in a 2nd touchdown on two tries apiece for the Saints, that bodes well for Carney getting more chances to kick shorties. (Hehe...kick shorties...)

Performance of the Week

Falcons Defense - 6 points allowed, 2 forced turnovers, 4 sacks (15): Clearly, they took the bulletin board material I gave them to heart. Even without Steve Smith, the Carolina offense was supposed to be well-rounded enough in both the air and ground games to still kill you. The Atlanta D only went out and got four sacks, forced three forced fumbles, nabbed two turnovers, and held the Panthers to six points and 215 yards of total offense. That kind of domination tends not to be a one-shot deal.

Week 1 NFC South Fantasy Duds (points in our league in paratheses)

Tough to select just a few from two terrible team performances ... but ...
Jake Delhomme - 21/39, 186 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble lost (-1): As I said, Delhomme has three games every year where he forgets to wake up in the morning. He'll be fine next week.

Panthers Defense - 20 points allowed, 1 sack, 0 turnovers, 1 blocked kick (4): Combined with Delhomme's sleepwalking performance and the Panthers' inability to run the ball, I'm pretty sure my friend Nordy, an unemployed Panthers fan, tried to commit suicide last night.

Carnell Williams - 22 yds rushing, 25 yds receiving, 0 TD (2): [Insert broke-down Cadillac joke here]. I was pretty surprised by this. The Ravens run defense was expected to be good, but ... wow. I'm guessing it's a bad day to be at the Bucs' compound, with Chucky blowing a gasket.

Tampa Bay Defense - 21 points allowed, 1 sack, 0 turnovers (1): Cue Harry Doyle - "One hit? We only got one goddamn hit?" "You can't say goddamn on the air!" "Eh, who cares, no one is listening anyway."

Joe Horn - 25 yds receiving (1): I wasn't wrong to say that he sucked.

Ricky Vaughn Hall of Shame

Chris Simms - 17/29, 133 yds, 0 TD, 3 INT (-4): Our favorite tattoo buddy pulled off easily the worst fantasy QB performance of the week. Somehow, I doubt it's his last. Jon Gruden - I want you to think long and hard about these names: Brad Johnson. Brian Griese. Heck, at this point, Shaun King. All decent quarterbacks that you let go in favor of this kid. But it's OK - I understand that Jeff George is still taking calls.

NFC South Newcomer of the Week:

Reggie Bush - 61 yds rushing, 58 yds receiving, 0 TD (6): The proudest resident of the 619 wasted no time in making me look like a fucking idiot. Once he starts scoring (if that happens), he might actually be worth the hype. But, let's all breath deep - it was the Browns. Also pretty good in this game - Marques Colston, a 7th round pick for the Saints, who picked up 49 yds and a touchdown. He went to Hofstra. Hofstra!



The overall lessons - (1) I've apparently been drinking too many hurricanes, because the Saints were the only team I had any sort of bead on in Week 1, (2) the small fast players in this division might be pretty good, and (3) the "bet the house" defense of the division may not be located where we thought it was.

We'll try again on Thursday.

 

NFC West Breakdown. Cue the Crappy Tantric Song.


Screw the music, let's break down some football.

Denver over St. Louis
.
STL - 18 DEN - 10

Oops. My bad. This Snake did not fare too well on the plane Sunday. Rams Kicker Jeff Wilkins kicked 6 field goals throw down a whopping 21 points in the league, only bested overall by Baltimore D (25 pts), Donovan McNabb and Kurt Warner (22), and the same number as free-agent sub-in for Big Ben-Charlie Batch.

Seattle over Detroit.
SEA - 9 DET - 6

I was wrong in the blog (about the 50 TD's), but oh-so-right in my fantasy team. Josh Brown knocks in the only points that the Hawks scored. Alexander looks like he always does in the first game of the season, lost. Detroit still sucks.

Arizona over San Francisco.
ARI 34 SF 27

This was a close one, and Kurt Warner outdueled Alex Smith to give the new-look Cardinals their first win. Frank Gore was a maniac, Edgerin James seemed to be adapting to his new team well, and the Boldin/Fitzgerald combo delivered. The Pink Taco faithful were not disappointed in the stadium's first real win.

I'm 3-1 so far in preview picks. Not bad.

Week 1 NFC West Fantasy Studs:

Kurt Warner, QB - ARI (22). 23/37 , 301 yards, 3 TD's, no INTs. Kurt is the ultimate roller coaster, and when he reminds us that he's not dead, it's usually in a rather spectacular way.

Jeff Wilkins, K - STL (21). 6/7, 51-yard long kick. Much like Brown with the Seahawks, Wilkins put the team on his back and scored all of their points. In this case, it was an impressive 18-spot against the Broncos. While Rackers and Vinatieri were getting snagged way too early, this guy looks to be a steal and a solid investment.

Frank Gore, RB - SF (19). 17 carries, 87 yards, 2 td's. 6 rec, 83 yards. With his longest run coming in at 32 yards, and some serious sticky fingers, Quite Frankly is looking like a steal in the position he fell to in the draft. If he hadn't lost that fumble, he could have easily had the most points of any player in the league.

ST Louis, D - STL (18). 10 points allowed, 4 sacks, 3 INTs, 2 fumble recoveries. STL's D has put Jake the Snake's job in jeopardy. Big stops and momentum-killer interceptions axed any shot the Broncos had at taking this one.

Josh Brown, K - SEA (12). 3/5, 51 long, 2 blocked kicks. Last year Joshy benefitted nicely from Hasslebeck and Alexander's riduclous amount of TD's, he was a viable option last year purely based on PAT's. This year he will get less PAT's and waaay more FG's. He's got good range, and aside from poor protection twice in this week's game, he's consistent as hell.

Fantasy Duds:

Shaun Alexander, RB - SEA (one fucking point). Shaun starts slow. Whenever I draft him, I always pick someone who looks flashy in the first few games to start the season opener. Like your friend's Toyota Tacoma that needs 2 minutes to accelerate to 90, Shaun needs to get into the groove before he becomes a points machine again.

NFC West Free-Agent Performer of the Week (tie):

Adam Bergen, WR - ARI (7) & Troy Walters, TE - ARI (6). Bergen and Walter took grabs away from the wonder twins (Boldin and Fitzgerald) and were viable options that put up better numbers than a number of early-round equivalents. These guys look to benefit most from pass defenses that focus on the twins. These numbers won't happen often.

NEXT WEEK:

Arizona at Seattle
St. Louis at San Francisco

It's crazy divisional matchup bonanza week. Look for a preview sometime around Thursday or Friday.

EDIT: Deion Branch has been traded to the Seahawks. The Hawks were definitely missing the now-injured-Brown Jurv, and he should be a great option for BC product Hasslebeck.

Friday, September 08, 2006

 

Profile of a So-So Player

Admittedly, I'm much more a baseball guy than a football guy, so I'm going to have to draw upon my hardball knowledge here. It's common among baseball commentators, especially former pitchers, to assert that a young flamethrower is a “thrower,” but doesn't yet understand how to become a “pitcher.” Many people tackle this kind of statement as inane baseball rhetoric, something Rick Sutcliffe would blurt out while twice in the bag. However, it does hold water. If a youngster can throw 98 m.p.h. with some late movement, he can certainly get by without a ton of control. But that live arm doesn't last forever – just ask Randy Johnson – and at some point the kid is going to have to learn to paint the corners and use off-speed and breaking pitches to his advantage.

I draw on this knowledge when I make the following statement: Willie Parker is not a good running back. The kid has legs and can sprint up a storm, as evidenced by his 32-yard breakout run last night. However, that leaves him with 83 yards over his other 28 carries, or 2.8 yards average. That, my friends, is not a good runner. That's a guy who, if his blockers open up a perfect path, will sprint through the hole for significant gains. But with linebackers seeing him early and often, he's not likely to break off such a run very often. He may gain significant yardage per game, but that's directly a result of the Steeler's modus operandi of running the ball 30-35 times a game.

Even worse than Willie Parker the real football player is Willie Parker the fantasy player. Even with his 115-yard performance, he managed only 12 points in my ESPN league (I didn't create it, and yes, ESPN leagues are stupid). This is one point for every ten yards, and a bonus point for a 100-yard rushing game (dumb, dumb setting there). Ronnie Brown, who ran for just 30 yards on 15 carries, scored 15 points by virtue of two touchdowns. Unfortunately for Parker owners, he's not the type of player to whom you hand the ball on the goal line. Hence, he's going to score all of his touchdowns from 10+ yards out, ergo he won't have many at all. He may be decent as a backup you use when your starter has a bye week, but not someone you want to start every week.

I bring this up because a team in that league – who happen to be owned by my best friend – traded for Parker immediately following our draft. The compensation? Matt Hasselbeck and Thomas Jones. Nevermind for a minute that Hasselbeck will undoubtedly score more cumulative points than Parker this season (TD passes are worth six points, the way it should be). Here's the roster he's now trotting out on a weekly basis:

QB – Culpepper
RB – Alexander
RB – Parker
WR – Randy Moss
WR – David Givens
WR/TE – Lav Coles (though it could be Bray Edwards)
TE – Alex Smith
K – Akers
D – Redskins

Trading those two for Parker immeasurably hurt his team depth. And with Culpepper looking rather terrible last night, this trade looks even worse. His top QB doesn't look to be any better than last year (though it's only one game, so we can't completely jump the gun). His top RB is at serious risk for severe regression, and his second option won't score more than six touchdowns on the season. To boot, his other option is Travis Henry, who, with LenDale White looking strong, probably won't get too many touches. Randy Moss is a complete gamble, since it's unknown whether Aaron Brooks can even deliver him the ball. Givens is dependent on Kerry Collins, which doesn't bode well. Worse yet, Coles depends on Chad Pennington, the only QB in the league without a rotator cuff, and Bray Edwards is reliant on Charlie Frye.

With all this in mind, why would you trade a good quarterback and a decent running back (who could certainly score more touchdowns this season than Parker, despite being platooned with Cedric Benson)? Why would you allow Parker to become one of your primary backs at all?

Looking at last season, it's difficult to decipher why Parker is rated so highly. He scored a mere four touchdowns in 225 attempts, though in his defense that's mainly because the Steelers are wont to feed the ball to Bettis near the goal line. However, I don't think they'll be feeding it to the 5'10, 210 Parker in those situations even in the Bus's absence. His 1,202 yards gained seems impressive for a rookie at first glance, but there is more behind this number. For instance, Parker had three stellar games in which he notched over seven yards per carry. In each of those, he broke off a 30+ yard run. And, if you want to take it deeper, they were all against terrible run defenses.

Week 1 vs. Tennessee (ranked 22nd in the league against the run). 22 carries, 161 yards, 7.3 average, long run of 45-yards. Without the breakout run, that average is down to 5.52, which is still respectable. It would be more respectable against an upper-half run defense.

Week 7 vs. Cincinnati (20th against run). 18 carries, 131 yards, 7.3 average, long run of 37 yards. Without the breakout run, 5.52 ypc. Basically, it's the same deal as Tennessee against a very slightly better (i.e. a difference of three yards per game) defense.

Week 16 vs. Cleveland (30th against run). 17 carries, 130 yards, 7.6 average, long run of 80 yards. Without the breakout run, 2.94 ypc – against a simply abysmal run defense.

In each of these games, Willie was not burdened with running the ball in the fourth quarter, which could have significantly reduced his average. In essence, Willie is a fill-in player. He'll nab you a long run about once per game, but unless his feet hit the end zone on said run, he's not going to be worth many points. I'm not going to sneeze at 12 points, but I'll laugh when Hasselbeck puts up 20.

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