Thursday, September 14, 2006


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"

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.

I was all proud of my preview. Then I read yours. Now I feel shame.

Just an excellent and well thought out preview. Comprehensive and Easterbrook in length.

The main point of my comment: the Panthers black/light blue color scheme is very becoming on their cheerleaders. None of them is especially good looking, but I want to do nasty things to each one pictured.
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