Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why I Hate Aaron Rodgers and the New Ways of Media Reaction

It started after the Bears beat the Packers in a well-competed, albeit sloppily played game. The Bears became the last undefeated team in the NFC. They got a 1.5 game lead over the rest of the NFC North, and Jay Cutler, the most vilified, hated player in the league last year, was the winningest quarterback in the NFC in 2010.

I know this because I saw the game, with my own two eyes, sober and clear. The Bears did win that game, and I was there to see it. Thank God I did witness it, because everyone in the media, and across every swath of the footballing world (except for that area in Chicago) seems to think the Packers did. I mean, Steve Young and Trent Dilfer both said right after the game on ESPN that the Packers "dominated that game" (literally exactly what they said). Then Matt Millen said it, then the guys at Football Outsiders said it. Then the village dumbfuck of the NFL Media, aka Michael Lombardi (the man who used to run, as well as the man who was so dumb that the Raiders firing him was a good move, and the same man who would suck Bill Belichick dry for a ice cream cone) said that the "Packers dominated every part of that game, and cost themselves with huge mistakes." Finally, it became common knowledge that the Packers won every single aspect of that game (including the fight that ensued between Packers safety Nick Collins and a Bears fan who was elated after his teams alleged win), and that the Bears were extremely lucky. God, there was nothing more frustrating than this, almost as frustrating as when people still call Tom Brady better than Peyton Manning.

Most of the people who said the Packers were clearly the better team, other than the large reason that everyone orgasms at the sight of Aaron Rodgers (which I'll get to shortly), pointed out that the only reason the Packers lost were due to their own mistakes, dropped interceptions of Cutler, and the fact that the Packers outgained the Bears by 101 yards. All of those reasons were complete bullshit. The Packers lost becuase they didn't play as well as the Bears, and any other explanation is just false praise for a team that is quickly becoming very, very overrated.

Just because you outgain a team does not mean you outplayed them. Just because you committed clear penalties on plays that would have been interceptions, doesn't mean you deserve those incompletions. Just because your team has been anointed the next great dynasty to take over this league like Alexander the Great in Eastern Europe, does not mean you deserve to beat a team that played well. Outgaining a team means nothing. It especially means nothing when the Bears scored a nice touchdown without the ability to gain a single yard, which was the case when the Beast known as Devin Hester. Outgaining an opponent means nothing. Hell, four other teams outgained their opponent by more yards than Green Bay and lost those games. Herein lies the massive double standard.

The Broncos outgained the Colts by 150, but were labeled as a team that needed to grow up in the red zone. The Raiders outgained the Cardinals by 140, and were labeled as the same old choking Raiders after missing their field goal that could have won the game. And even like the Packers, the Raiders let up a special teams touchdown. The Giants outgained the Titans by exactly 200 yards, but were labeled a team in disarray, a team on the decline and a team wandering the lost frontier of an NFL gone bad. Hell, the Chargers outgained the Seahawks by two hundred and fifty fucking four yards, upped the Packers by giving up two special teams TDs, lost by a touchdown and were labeled the same old stiff Chargers. The Packers outgained their opposition by 100 yards (a lot less when you factor in the two pass interference penalties), and were labeled as a team still destined for a Super Bowl, but one unlucky to lose. Does anyone else see the gross double standard, or more accurately, quintuple-standard here?

The Packers are given the benefit of the doubt because people love them for some reason. Actually, here are the reasons. They play in a little cheese-manufacturing outpost in the prarie of Wisconsin. The play in a cute archaic cylinder in Lambeau. They have a good looking QB who had to, gasp, take over the job of replacing a QB who has, after leaving, gone 21-11 in two seasons, while Rodgers has gone 17-15. They have a nice defense that now features three long-haired hippy white outside linebackers (and we love white players playing historically black positions - let's take a break while I join Jim Nantz and do a dutch rudder to a picture of Wes Welker doing a tango with Jim Leohnard). They have a defense that likes to hit the QB so much they gave up 51 points in their most recent playoff game. The Giants are none of these things. The Chargers and Broncos are none of these things (especially becuase Jesus Tebow hasn't done shit yet), and good Lord the Raiders are none of these things.

Lost in the shuffle of the world's race to give the Packers a hug after (gasp, cries of horror of millions of dairy farmers everywhere) their loss, is that the Bears are back. Martz is working it. They were able to block the Packers well in the second half, and their defense is great. There is a reason why the Packers only put up 17 points. This is the one thing that the media has just basically decided did not happen. Despite the penalties, and Devin Hester, and white people, no one has any good explanation for why the Packers could only put up 17 points, with one turnover. Sure, there was a blocked field goal, but the Bears had a missed field goal as well. The reason: The Tampa Fucking Two. It is still the most effective way to limit the oppositions scoring. If you give up 60 yards a drive, but each one of those drives end up with 3 or 0 points, that means you are a great defense. The Bears are like this. Julius Peppers is a man, and he just abused Mark Tauscher into three holding penalties (about five un-called holding penalties) and two false starts. Those penalties weren't due to the Packers deciding to play the "Who can let the other team beat us the most" game. No, they were due to the Bears defense playing great. People can go on hating the Bears, hating a Tampa-2 "bend or don't break" defense, and keep on fellating the Packers on every turn, but that does not change the fact that the Bears were the better team, easily.

By the way, can Steve Young get Aaron Rodgers jock out of his mouth. He said on three different occasions after the game ended that "Aaron Rodgers played great, but got no help." Of course, when Peyton Manning had to live through years of having no help from his defense, and live through three straight years of having his team outgain their opponent but lose in the playoffs, he was called a choker (even by Young, who considers Brady the better player), but let's get back to Rodgers (who had a horrible intentional grounding penalty that stunted their final drive). Young also said on three different occasions that Rodgers is a "future hall of famer in the making." Are you fucking me? This guy has played two seasons in the league. He has not won a playoff game. He has put together three total game-winning drives. He's led just three career 4th-quarter comebacks. He's done nothing in the clutch. He just lost another game that he was supposed to win (his supposed-to-be record is about 75 and -3). He went 18-21 in the second half. That's great, but those passes went for 138 yards. That's a 7.7 yard-per-completion. 7.7 is a good yard-per-attempt, not the other way around. Giving up small gains is exactly what the Bears defense is built to do, becuase the Bears count on the fact that their opponent has to play perfectly to move the ball, and perfection is hard to sustain. Of course, for the Bears, in reality, perfection has been sustained through three weeks. For the Packers, in the media's mind, it has been sustained as well, but thankfully, reality still wins out.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Week 3 NFL Review

Sorry for not posting the picks. Never had time to put it up, but I did make picks. I sware to God that these were my picks for Week 3, spread as the "winner".

49ers (+3) over Chiefs
Vikings (-11) over Lions
Bills (+14) over Patriots
Falcons (+3.5) over Saints
Giants (-3) over Titans
Ravens (-11.5) over Browns
Cowboys (+3) over Texans
Steelers (-3) over Buccaneers
Bengals (-4) over Panthers
Eagles (-3) over Jaguars
Redskins (-5) over Rams
Colts (-5.5) over Broncos
Raiders (+4.5) over Cardinals
Chargers (-4.5) over Seahawks
Jets (+2.5) over Dolphins
Bears (+3) over Packers

So, I went 11-5, which you can (should) believe. Here are my records so far

Week 1: 8-7-1
Week 2: 9-6-1
Week 3: 11-5

Overall: 28-18-2

Anyway, on to the Week 3 review!!

Player of the Week #1 - Leon Washington, KR, Seahawks

Leon Washington used to be one of the most dynamic backs in the NFL with the Jets. He was a slightly bigger, slightly stronger version, slightly slower version of Darren Sproles. After his horrific injury over against the Raiders (It always seems that the Raiders cause more injuries than any other team - and not only ones that end with paralysis), his career would never be the same. That ended up being quite prophetic, as his career never was. It is better. People just don't return two kicks for TDs in one game. Let alone being his team's sole form of scoring in the second half. His made that game for the suddenly in great shape Seahawks. Qwest is loud again. From 2003-2007 it was the hardest place to play in the NFC. So far, the Seahawks are 2-0 in Qwest, and are primed for a good home record. The NFC West might easily come down to one game, and becuase of Washington's great performance, the Seahawks have a game that they easily could have lost. The Jets traded Washington to Seattle (Washington) for a 4th round pick. I'm pretty sure the Jets would love to have Washington, and not Joe Fucking McKnight, the man they spent that pick for.

Player of the Week #2 - Austin Collie, WR, Colts

With Reggie Wayne being draped by Champ Bailey, and Dallas Clark being consistently double-covered, and Pierre Garcon sitting out (and eating Shrimp Aux Gras), and Anthony Gonzalez injured, again, Collie started a game for the first time in his career. How did the little Mormon respond? With a 12 catch, 171 yard performance, with a touchdown and a game-clinching 45 yard catch on 3rd and 15 deep in Colts territory. Collie used to be a player without tons of speed, without great upside. That scouting report (which was also backed by Football Outsiders) has now been beat with a club and raped to death. Collie right now leads the league in catches and yards receiving, as well as 3 tds in three games. He's becoming a great receiver. I really just hope to God that no one evokes the name of His Whiteness Wesley Welker in reference to Collie. First of all, this new trend of calling every small, white, slot receiver "Team X's version of Wes Welker" is just racist. Secondly, no one is Wes Welker, a shifty little bugger, and Collie's certainly not. Collie is a big, strong guy. He runs all types of routes, and runs them very well. He put in extra effort in the offseason to work with Manning, and it has shown.

Goat of the Week - Garrett Hartley and Sebastian Janikowski, K, Saints and Raiders

Fuck both of them, and do it hard. Let's start with Hartley. First of all, no Saints' fan should give him shit for the next twenty years. In the postseason of the sucky kicker (remember Nate Kaeding's 0-3 performance in the divisional round, or Shayne Graham missing two short field goals in the wild card round), Hartley nailed a kick to take the Saints to the Super Bowl, and then hit three 40+ yard field goals in that Super Bowl. Right now, Hartley's missed three field goals this season. He can fuck himself, because if he misses any of the three field goals in the Super Bowl, the Colts win that game. Then there is Sebastian Janikowski. The Raiders dominated that game from the start, but he missed three field goals that were easily the difference in the game. He had his best season of his career last year, and look at the fat Polish fuck now! (I realize the vulgarity of this rant, but after Janikowski cost the Raiders a chance to be 2-1, he deserves to be spoon-fed mice feces for a month, as it will suck and will at least get him to lose some weight).

Surprise of the Week - Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns

For six years (from 2003-2008) no one got over 100 yards against the Ravens defense. No one. Last year, Cedric Benson did it twice, and now Peyton Hillis just blazed that Ravens defense. Try telling LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew that none of you have gotten 100 yards on the Ravens, and not only has Cedric Benson, a man that was essentially stuffed into a cargo hold of a plane leaving O'Hare, done it twice, but now Peyton Hillis has done it. Peyton Hillis, the man who's main role in college was laying the red carpet for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones to walk on after those two left a limousine after banging Arkansas co-eds (sisters?), ran for 144 yards in just 22 carries against the Ravens. I have to only assume that Haloti Ngata was stuck at a buffet for that to have actually happened.

Disappointment of the Week - Lions Supposed Average-ness

The Lions were getting buzz as a team that might finally be competitive, frisky and 8-8 fodder. Well, let's get that storyline erased. The Lions entered this game of a close loss to Philly and the Vick Show (appearing against Donovan McNabb next - has there any game that is meaningless now, as if Kolb was still the starter the Eagles' fans would have been irate at McNabb, but with Vick, they are too busy playing with their Vick-at-the-dog-fight-bobblehead). The Lions were expected to give their fellow 0-2 Vikings a good, tough game. The Lions did not do a thing in that game. Their one score came courtesy of a gift-wrapped interception. Their defense got very little pressure on Favre, and their run defense was shredded (which did not happen the first two weeks, for the most part). The Lions look like they may be proving that Jim Schwartz is not the misplaced genius that everyone thinks (hopes) he might be.

Team Performance of the Week - Dallas Cowboys Defense

That was impressive. I am usually loathe to give the Cowboys any credit, but that was too good of a performance to pass over. DeMarcus Ware (who it should be noted was playing against a rookie left tackle in lieu of Duane Brown's steriod-y absence) looked like, well, DeMarcus Ware. Their secondary played very well on anyone not named Andre Johnson (and they even got an interception when Schaub threw to Johnson). Their defense was amazing all day long. They got help by an offense who finally converted yards into points, but the big star of the day was that defense.

Team Laydown of the Week - The Packers ability to not get Penalites

That was quite impressive by the Packers. Getting more penalties than points is very diffucult, and that is true even if you score 7 points. Scoring 17 points, and still getting more penalties than yards, that is amazing. That deserves a special designation, almost like a "Miss Congenialty" type award of the NFL. The amazing thing though, was that every single one of those calls was right. The roughing the passer, the unecessary roughness, the pass interferences, the holdings (which could have been called so many times, as Julius Peppers just abused that poor little Mark Tauscher), the false starts, delay of games, late hits. You name it, the Packers won big, getting the penalties version of Bingo, and doing it about four times over. That was a performance to remember, and it was epically capped by a great double forward-pass lateral-rooski on that last kickoff return. A part of me (a large part of me) was really hoping the Bears realized that the Packers did a forward pass, and proceeded to allow the Packers to return that for a touchdown, just for it to get called back on the penalty. That would have been epic.

Storyline that the Media Loves Propogating that Makes Me Want to Stick Forks Through My Ear Canals - Teams Getting "Outplayed" just because they were outgained

Quite often during any given week, a team will win a game where it gets outgained, and sometimes largely so. Case in point was in this past week, where the Bears were outgained by 101 yards by the Packers, and therefore were "outplayed." This started in the post-game show when Steve Young and Trent Dilfer both said, before analyzing anything about the game, and giving any sort of credit to the Bears, that the Packers totally outplayed the Bears. OK, let's see. The Packers couldn't run the ball a lick, turned the ball over once, and couldn't get any pressure on Cutler in the second half. The Packers also committed penalties, and other than the pass interference ones, all of the penalties were because of the Bears playing well. The Packers didn't commit holding because Tauscher had an sudden urge to back his team up ten yards. No, he committed holding because Julius Peppers was owning him, and that was the only way the Packers o-line could keep up. The Bears defense was great. Aaron Rodgers had nice stats, but had one TD, and was never able to get anything deep except for a few throws down the seam to Finley. The Bears play a cover-2 defense, and that is how you play it. They were great, making the Packers play perfectly the whole time. Also, it might be hard to gain yards when you have a possession that doesn't allow you to. Hester's punt return didn't allow the Bears to get about 60 yards on that drive. Either way, rant is over.

Story that Will Make Me Wet for Week 4 - Pats Dolphins and the Continuing AFC East Merry-Go-Round

The AFC East might have three flawed, ultimately irrelevant teams (I really doubt any of them will be playing come January 23rd, 2011, the day of the AFC Title Game), but they are fun to watch beat up on each other. Right now, the Jets are the leaders, having beaten the Pats convincingly in the Meadowlands, and going to Miami and beating the Dolphins not as convincingly. This game will be great to see who should be right behind the Jets. This is the only intra-AFC game yet to be played. So far, the Jets are 2-0, the Bills are 0-2, the Dolphins and Patriots are both 1-1 (The Jets and Bills play Sunday). This game ended the Patriots run of not losing back-to-back games when the Dolphins beat the Pats last December. The Dolphins are a good team. Chad Henne-to-Brandon Marshall looked explosive last Sunday, and that was against a CB who is miles better than either Devin McCourty, Darius Butler, or the new starter Kyle Arrington, or the other about-to-be-starter "the corpse of Ty Law". The Patriots offense was great last week, and look to again explode against the Dolphins. This should be a really, really exciting game. When ESPN just took over the Monday Night responsibilities in 2006, their games used to suck. They would get two or three high quality games each year, but generally get average games (like Bears-Cardinals in 2006, which ended up being memorable, as the game "was (not) what we thought it was). Now, they get really, really good ones. I mean, look at the week after. NBC gets a potentially 0-4 San Fran team hosting the Eagles. ESPN gets Favre and the Vikings against the Jets. Talk about better games.

Power Rankings coming either today or tomorrow (or maybe a quick power rankings next Friday, seeing as I don't mind just posting things when they are past irrelevant).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Week 2 NFL Review

I did these in the playoffs, and they worked pretty well, so I'm bringing them back out of the coffin for the regular season. By the way, it was a nice rebound week for me, as I went 9-6-1 on the picks. So, after I give myself a little pat on the pack....... let's get to the Weekly Review.

Player of the Week #1: Jay Cutler, QB, Bears

Let's give some credit to the man that has been ducking from rocks in the Chicago area for a year now. Cutler then had to duck Cowboys for the first quarter, as DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and company got tons of pressure on him. Cutler didn't back down, playing perfectly. He launched an epic deep ball to Johnny Knox on 3rd and 15, and then a beautiful touch pass to Hester for a TD. He was reading the Cowboys defense perfectly, throwing a jet-hot-read on a big blitz, and not making mistakes. That was the huge part, with Cutler not forcing throws, and not getting intercepted, they can get the most out of Cutler's talents, which so far seemed to have matched perfectly with Martz. Next Monday Night will be a good test for Cutler, as he'll face an even better pass-rush in the Packers.

Player of the Week #2: Michael Vick, QB, Eagles

Since he seems destined for the bench, which in theory makes sense since Kevin Kolb has a better chance of being the future than Michael Vick, Vick may not have many weeks left as the starter. If that is the case, he at least has this game. This was better than I have ever seen Michael Vick play. He did not force the run at all. He did not escape the pocket at first instance of pressure. He was poised and more accurate than ever. He always had a fastball for an arm, but I have never seen that type of accuracy from Michael Vick. Michael Vick may never have a game this good again (and playing the Lions probably aided that effort a little, or a lot, or totally) but ten weeks from now, no one will care that it was against the Lions, just care that Vick did to the Lions defense what he did to those dogs, he raosted 'em.

Goat of the Week: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots

I realize that this is starting to be too QB-centric, but I have to put Brady as the main goat. Brady at halftime had about 170 yards, two touchdowns and no picks. He ended the game with 255 yards, the exact same two touchdowns and now two interceptions. The cherry on top of that suck-sundae? Revis didn't play in that second half. I'll give the rookie Kyle Wilson for covering Wes Welker as well as anyone has in that second half, but Brady had tunnel vision for Moss. Moss was now getting safety coverage on every play, and Brady still needlessly lobbed bombs to moss three times, twice turning into interceptions and one incompletion. Brady also moved into pressure a couple of times, which is something he never used to do. Brady had his tight ends all day, but with Revis off the field, he decided that this would be 2007 all over again. It will never be 2007 again for Brady and the Pats. I told you this after week 1, and I still feel that way, even if they go beat Buffalo 42-7. Brady was awful, just horrible, in that second half. Give the Jets credit, but it says more that the last time Brady beat a good defense before Week 1 over Cinci was in 2007.

Surprise of the Week: Pacman Jones, CB, Cincinnati

I thought he might be a good risk/reward pick-up for the Bengals in the offseason. Everyone but I thought that this was another criminal going to the Cincinnati County Jail that is Paul Brown Stadium. As it turns out, I was closer to right than everyone but I, at least for this week. Pacman (or as he hilariously demands people call him, Adam) Jones was great. He took whoever was in the slot completely out of the game (mostly TJ Houshmanzadeh). Pacman's first interception was one of the best corner plays of the year. It wasn't the interception, but the coverage, just cutting off the slant route. Then, Pacman threw an amazing block on another interception return. Pacman took people out of that game. The only reason he's not a player of the week is that Flacco was so inexorably bad in that game that it made covering receivers slightly easier than normal.

Disappointment of the Week: Panther's Offense

I'll admit it freely: I got the Panthers totally wrong. Their offense is putridly bad right now. Matt Moore was awful (I will say that I don't think Jimmy Clausen will be any better). The real problem is that with Moore being this bad, and more than that, this inaccurate, the opposing defenses can go with 8-in-the-box (or even 9-in-the-box) and even stop that running game, which has really screwed up my fantasy team (which is more important to me than the running game screwing up the Panthers actual team). The Panthers line remained solid in pass-blocking, as Moore was not pressured, but they haven't become the road-grating o-line that they were in 2008-2009. It is a long season, and the Panthers had a similar slow start last year (0-3), and turned it around, but they were so bad against a below average team it is hard to see a repeat.

Team Performance of the Week#1: Indianapolis Colts Team

I had a good feeling that the Colts would come out with an intensity and lay a real drubbing on the Giants, but even I didn't expect that performance. It was so good that I was literally enraged when the Giants got the crap touchdown late after the fumble to make it 38-14. They were so good that they won a game 38-14, and could make a real case that it should not have been nearly that close. The defense was dominant, slowing the running game until the second half. The pass-rush was great, even the interior guys. The Colts played man coverage a lot more than normal and covered the Giants receivers excellently (even a good play sighting by Kelvin Hayden). That was beautiful, that was great, that was defense. Then, there was that offense. That running game is what needs to happen every week, every game. Addai and Brown both ran for over 4.0 yards-per-carry. Manning was perfect, going 20-26, with three more tds and again, no picks. That was as good as the Colts have ever played.

Team Performance of the Week#2: Pittsburgh Steelers Defense

Speaking as playing as good as ever, that was a vintage Steelers' defense. James Harrison had two sacks, LaMarr Woodley added another one. Lawrence Timmons was a monster in the middle. Bryant McFadden was good in coverage. Troy Polamalu was, well, a healthy Troy Polamalu. This was vintage 2008 Steelers' defense. Polamalu timed snap jump to stop Kerry Collins' QB Sneak was a thing of beauty. The Steelers are heading what so far has been the year of defense (just like I predicted this offseason). Teams are only averaging 19.4 points per game, which is ridiculously low (last year, the league wide was 22.5). The Steelers are the gold standard of defense, and it shows when they can win a game comfortably when their offense only gains 125 yards. They'll be really, really scary when Roethlisberger comes back.

Team Laydown of the Week: Arizona Cardinals Team

That was quite despicable. The Cardinals have a good defense. They do. Darnell Dockett is an all-pro. Calias Campbell is a good up-and-comer. They have good players in the secondary. None of that seemed to matter. The Cardinals quit on that game, which is even scarier since Micheal Turner went out of the game when it was 10-7, and the Falcons then proceeded to beat the Cardinals, much in the same manner a Falcon would eat a Cardinal (red meat!!). The Cardinals were pathetic. Ken Whisenhunt needs to be able to motivate his team, and it seems like Matt Leinart had a lot more supporters in that locker room than the media thought, since no one seems to play all that hard for Derek Anderson. A team that is probably a hair less talented than their opponent should not lose 41-7.

Storyline that Will be Beaten to Death This Week: QB switches.

It seems like every team that had sucky starting QBs got together at some convention and unanimously decided to switch their QBs this week. We have the ongoing saga of Vince Young, whose unofficial tag name has switched from "all he does is win games" to "all he does is get benched for a balding, white geriatric of a man". Then there is Oakland's possible switch to Gradkowski. Then there are the ones we know about, like Kevin Kolb returning to replace a QB who played a lot better than Kolb ever has. Of course, there is the humorous one with Trent Edwards getting benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick, which shows that Harvard can even best Stanford in "NFL Starting QBs" category of US News' 2011 College Rankings. Finally, there will be hype surrounding Jimmy Clausen's first start. Of course, none of this actually matters. All of the teams mentioned here are not that good, and I personally guarantee that NONE of them will go to the playoffs (except Oakland has a 0.3% chance to steal that AFC West). None of these QB switches will impact the playoff picture.

Storyline that Should be Beaten to Death This Week: Chicago vs. Green Bay

This is the only Week 3 matchup featuring two 2-0 teams, and they just happen to be playing in the same division, and also comprise one of the oldest rivalries in the NFL. The Bears and Packers in Soldier Field. Of course, I wish this game could have been played in December in a frigid Lambeau, but Monday Night will work just fine. The Bears defense has been excellent the first two weeks. They totally shut down Detroit in Week 1, and for the most part controlled Dallas until the Cowboys piled up yards when the game was already 27-17. The Bears defense can absolutely shut down the run. Tommie Harris looks healthy, finally and Urlacher is flying to the ball. The Packers have arguably the most well-balanced team through two games. Clay Matthews is a beast going up against a suspect o-line. These two always play close games (last three times decided by 3, 6, 7). The Packers will be favorites, but remember the lesson the Bears showed us last year in Week 16 on Monday Night against the Vikings. Soldier Field will be crazy, and it should be a great way to cap off Week 3.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Week 2 NFL Picks

Let's do this quickly. Don't have much time. In fact, maybe taking less time to overthink the game might help in my picks. By the way, my record for week one was not that good. Let's go.

Week 1 Record: 7-8-1

Kansas City Chiefs @ Cleveland Browns (-3)

Obviously, Vegas doesn't really buy the Chiefs win over the Chargers either, since they are dogs against a Cleveland team that lost to Tampa last week. Either way, Vegas knows their shit. The Chiefs aren't any good. Watch the defenses, since they are led by Romeo Crennel, and Crennel's replacement, both in New England and Cleveland. The Browns are better. Barely, but barely.

Cheifs 14 Browns 20 (CLE)

Buffalo Bills @ Green Bay Packers (-13)

This line is great. For a team to be a 13 point underdog in Week 2 is insane, and you can't really argue that the line is wrong, or underselling the Bills. The real challenge is to see if the Packers can actually win this game by this many points, and although the Packers love to crush teams, the Bills defense is probably good enough to keep them within 20, but their offense is bad enough to let the Packers cover.

Bills 10 Packers 27 (GB)

Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals

So here we are. The Bengals, who won the AFC North last season, and swept the Bengals are having their home opener against a Ravens team who won a physical Monday Night game on the road six days earlier. Teams don't usually pull off back to back road wins, especially if the second is against a team that plays them extremely well, and that team has more rest.

Ravens 13 Bengals 17 (CIN)

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tennessee Titans (-5)

The Steelers got one game without Ben, and that really makes this one gravy (just like the Ravens one will be in two weeks). The Titans have legitimate playoff aspirations, and if they are serious about it. The Titans defense is good enough to crush Dennis Dixon (or Batch, or whoever), and their offense can put up points.

Steelers 13 Titans 24 (TEN)

Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) @ Detroit Lions

If the Lions proved anything last week it is that their defensive line can dominate opponents. This isn't a huge concern to the Eagles, since Vick should allude that pass-rush. Vick should also show well. Teams aren't used to playing a QB that fast anymore, and it might take a while for teams to re-learn how to play Mike Vick. The team that learns it first definitely won't be those Lions. That said, this line is too high. There is optimism in Detroit, and their home opener is probably the best bet to get a fired up crowd.

Eagles 30 Lions 24 (DET)

Dallas Cowboys (-7) @ Chicago Bears

So, the Cowboys, who couldn't score more than 7 points, are giving seven points against a Bears team that gave up the fewest yards of any team in the NFL last week? That doesn't seem right. The Bears are a Tampa-2 team at heart, which makes them already better than most at red zone defense, and the Cowboys are abhorrent at red zone offense. The Bears steal one again, and the Cowboys nation gets an early conniption.

Cowboys 14 Bears 21 (CHI)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers (-3.5)

Again, this line seems like stealing. The Panthers are an average team, and that is much better than the Buccaneers. The Bucs are the worst 1-0 team in the league. The Panthers are one of the better 0-1 teams. The Panthers are at home, and should flex some muscle.

Buccaneers 10 Panthers 24 (CAR)

Arizona Cardinals @ Atlanta Falcons (-6.5)

The Cardinals are 1-0, but that was a close win against the Rams. This is a game against a fired-up Falcons team out to prove that their week one showing is not going to become a trend. The Falcons should be able to control the Cardinals offense well enough to let their offense fly in that carpeted dome of theirs.

Cardinals 17 Falcons 31 (ATL)

Miami Dolphins @ Minnesota Vikings (-5.5)

This game has gotten some underdog love, but I don't see it. The Vikings will probably never have that bad of an offensive performance again. The Dolphins had problems scoring on the Bills defense, and the Vikings defense is miles better. The Vikings should start their ascent again.

Dolphins 10 Vikings 24 (MIN)

St. Louis Rams @ Oakland Raiders (-3.5)

The Raiders biggest weakness is their o-line, and the Rams one of many weaknesses is their d-line, so advantage Raiders (since the Raiders are better at almost every other position except for RB). The Raiders should win this game, and hopefully put to rest their horrific Week 1 finish.

Rams 14 Raiders 27 (OAK)

Seattle Seahawks @ Denver Broncos (-3.5)

Really, was the Broncos performance in Jacksonville that good to merit being a favorite against a Seahawks team that at least for one week played like it was 2005 all over again. The Seahawks have the ability to beat this Broncos team easily. The Broncos love their short passing game, and the Seahawks are much more susceptible to the deep pass than it is to the short one (just ask Alex Smith).

Seahawks 27 Broncos 20 (SEA)

Houston Texans (-3) @ Washington Redskins

Both teams might not be as good as their Week 1 performance. The Texans better hope that McNabb isn't still rejuvenated and good at escaping pressure, because that is really their only hope. The Texans will probably have to turn to the pass more this game. It should be fun, and arguably the best game of the week, one that will go down to the wire, with the Texans pulling it off again.

Texans 27 Redskins 26 (WAS)

Jacksonville Jaguars @ San Diego Chargers (-7)

This is probably the 50th game that pits a 1-0 team against a 0-1 team where the 0-1 team is the better one. All the other games will probably end in both teams finishing the day at 1-1, and this game is no different. The Chargers should be able to shred the Jaguars slow secondary, and put up enough points to win this game easily.

Jaguars 17 Chargers 34 (SD)

New England Patriots (-3) @ New York Jets

The Patriots and Jets will steal more headlines than any other game, and maybe for a good reason, because if the Jets lose, they might not get any more big headlines the rest of the season. The Jets have to win this, HAVE TO. After the amount of shit they talked, if they start out 0-2 it is over. The Jets also have to send a statement to the Pats that they are still for real. The Pats offense is not at 2007 years, but they aren't going to be easy to stop either. I'll take the Pats and run the other way. Head says Pats, heart says Jets, but head wins the game, heart wins the spread.

Patriots 17 Jets 16 (NYJ)

New York Giants @ Indianapolis Colts (-5)

I'll go with head and heart here. The Colts need to make a statement, and what better way to make one then go out in their home opener and dominate the Giants. Last season, after their version of the Houston game (the Miami game where they gave up 250 yards rushing and held the ball for 15 minutes), they played a night game against the Cardinals and crushed the living shit out of them. It might happen again, and I think it will.

Giants 17 Colts 31 (IND)

New Orleans Saints (-5.5) @ San Francisco 49ers

The Saints are better, but the 49ers will be fired up. You can complete short passes against the Saints, which is good news for Alex Smith. I'll do something I rarely do (and only have once so far in this weeks' games), and pick the favorite to win but not to cover. I think the Saints pull it out, but the 49ers defense won't make it easy.

Saints 27 49ers 24 (SF)

Enjoy the Game!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Week 1 Overreaction

I'm deciding that until Week 2 is complete, to not do an updated power rankings, nor switch my formula ratings (except that Detroit is now a 5 at QB, and Philly a 4, for switching to Shaun Hill and Mike Vick). Part of this is because I didn't do it soon enough, and part of it is because too often people let what transpires in Week 1 cloud their judgment. Week 1 is probably the least important Week of the NFL season (yes, I realize that mathematically, they are equally important), but it is the week that garners the most reaction, and mostly overreaction, of any other. Because of just one week of play, seemingly "experts" have the league all figured out. Because of one win, some teams are now 'shoo-ins for the playoffs' while others 'have had their window of opportunity slammed shut'. So, instead of a conventional ranking, here is a list of the 10 Largest Overreactions of Week 1.

* The Cowboys have serious problems scoring

It would be nice to start with an overreaction that is probably true. The Cowboys do have major problems scoring, and these problems are not new at all. Last year, the Cowboys averaged 399 yards of offense a game, good for second in the league. However, they only scored 361 points, which was 14th in the league. If anything, a team would rather be reversed. Not being able to translate yards into points is the worst problem that can afflict any offense, and it is the same now. Romo and the 'boys put up 380 yards on Sunday Night, and put up just 7 points. This is exactly what happened last year, nothing new at all. The Cowboys do have serious problems scoring points.

Anyway, let's get to the real overreactions, ranked from slight overreaction to absolute ludicrous overreaction.

10.) The Jets Suck.

This was shouted all over the medias following the Jets listless showing on Monday Night. People thought that the Jets were either a.) blown out of the water, or b.) were on the losing end of the most one-sided one point game of all time. People seem to forget that the Jets had the ball with two minutes to go with a chance to kick a field goal and win the game. However, their inability to kick that field goal gets us to the part that isn't a total overreaction. Mark Sanchez, while not "sucking" by definition, is at least mediocre at best. He checks down way, way too much, which is odd since he throws a beautiful deep ball. You can't hide your QB, and making him check down is hiding him. It won't work. Either way, their defense seemed as good as ever. With Revis getting back into football shape, games like Boldin's probably will stop happening against the Jets. The Jets were never going to be a 13-3 team. They were a 10-6 type team all along, and they still could be.

9.) The Titans have gone back in time to 1999 or 2008 again

Young went 13-17 with two tds and no ints in the Titans win over the Raiders. This gave him a QB rating of 142.8, which is his second best ever. What that really means is that there is no way in hell he keeps that up. He's not going to be the reason this team goes to the playoffs, or approaches the 1999, 2000 or 2008 Titans (all 13-3). It will be Chris Johnson, who was average. Of course, his numbers of 27 carries, 142 yards and 2 tds look great, and they were, but 76 of those yards came on one run, which means his other 26 carries went for just 66 yards, which is, plainly, bad. He needs to bust those long runs, and more often than not he does, but it isn't a guarantee. Anyway, they might have had one of the most impressive Week 1 wins, but they aren't a powerhouse.

8.) The Bears got Lucky, and aren't any good.

The Bears nearly gave that game away. If Calvin Johnson caught that pass for the TD, the Lions would have won the game, but they would have won it on a hail mary. The Bears were the better team that day. If Lovie Smith doesn't idiotically go for it on 4th down trailing by one point, and kicks a field goal, there is no opportunity for Calvin Johnson. Cutler and the Bears offense went up and down the field with ease. The Bears defense was great, limiting the Lions to just 168 yards on the day. Jahvid Best may have had two tds, but he put up just 20 yards on 14 carries. That performance was reminiscent of the 2005-2006 Bears defense. Julius Peppers played like a man possessed. The Bears are a good team. Their o-line still worries me a lot, but if the Lions can do anything, they can get pressure on the QB.

7.) The Falcons are done.

Sure, losing to the Steelers without Roethlisberger is not a good start, but beating the Steelers in Heinz on opening day is one of the hardest propositions in the NFL. The last time the Steelers lost their home opener was in 2002. I should have realized this before picking the Falcons. Also, the Steelers were a great match-up for the Falcons, as they have the ability to make Michael Turner and that ground game irrelevant, and the Falcons relied a little too heavily on the ground game until falling behind late. Either way, that game was more a win for the Steelers than a loss for the Falcons. The Steelers are a really good team, and it showed. However, let's get to this, if Polamalu doesn't make an interception that probably only he or Ed Reed makes, the Falcons kick the game winning field goal and win that game. The Falcons were also the loser of the only OT game of the week. I'm still confident that they have the ability to make the playoffs.

6.) Wes Welker, and more so, the Pats, are back in full.

This was probably the most versed overreaction after Week 1. I'll admit, the Pats looked very good in their opener. Their defense was good in the first half, and had a timely int return TD, while their special teams contributed another. Those two scores were the difference in the game, and that is the problem. The Pats offense alone scored 24 points. Of course, if the int-return and kick-off return took two possessions away from the Pats offense, in which they could have scored those two TDs as it was, but they didn't. The offense scored 24 points. Brady did look great, but he always does at home. There was a lot of talk about Welker's game. To me, he wasn't exactly the same. 8 catches and 64 yards is not really that much production, as 8 ypc is pretty bad for a WR. He had two TD's but that doesn't make his three yard catches suddenly great plays. The Pats defense also showed some major weakness in that second half, and although most pundits wrote that off as the Pats playing prevent, they still are the Pats. The Pats never play prevent. They like to win games 45-10. Belichick, I'm sure, was furious at their second half defensive performance. Either way, the Pats are a good team, probably better than I give them credit for, but they are not the 2007 Pats.

5.) The Seahawks are again the favorites in the NFC West.

There was no bigger statement made in Week 1 than the Seahawks. They drummed the prohibitive, overwhelming favorite in Week 1, and Pete Carroll partied like he was in Matt Leinart's hot tub. However, let us calm down. The Seahawks were actually outgained for the day. That was as flukey as a 25 point win can get, considering the 49ers only committed one more turnover on the day, and they didn't miss a field goal. There really was no explanation for the huge point differential. The Seahawks will never get outgained and win by 25 again, in fact, this is the first time since 2007 a team was outgained and won by more than 20 points. The Seahawks may well be a good team, and may well win that division, but they aren't shoo-ins yet, far from it.

4.) The Saints are still great.

The Saints won their opener, which is no surprise, since the home team winning the Thursday Night Season Opener is the biggest lock in NFL Gambling. However, the fact that they won 14-9 is both a good sign that their defense is still good, but also a bad sign that their offense can be contained. To be simple, their offense didn't look all that good. Unlike the Vikings, whose offense looked rusty, and is due for major regression as it was, the Saints didn't look that explosive. After that first drive, they did nothing until they started running the ball, which isn't a great sign, as last year, they could score easily by going all-pass. What was even worse was that unlike the NFC Title Game, the Vikings didn't get major pressure on the Saints. Brees had time, but just didn't click. The Saints aren't going to run away with the NFC this year.

3.) The Eagles are better off with Vick.

A lot of people were back on the Vick bandwagon after Kevin Kolb struggled and Vick ran and threw for 100 yards. Kolb struggling was predictible, since he isn't that great as it was, is essentially a rookie and was going against one of the better defenses in the NFL. Vick performing well was surprising, but not shocking, especially his running. NFL defenses haven't really faced the true Mike Vick since 2006, and probably aren't used to a QB running that fast again. Vick's speed became commonplace and defendable in 2005-2006, but after four years trapped in a cage, when it was unleashed it was fresh. It won't truly stay that way. That said, with Vick, they might win more games, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are better off. Vick is not the long-term answer in Philly, Kolb (or someone not yet on the team is), and the Eagles are just delaying the inevitable if they play Vick.

2.) The Colts defense stinks.

The Colts defense did stink in Week 1 (more pointedly, their rush defense, since their pass defense was good, like always). The Colts always have these types of games. Last year, it was Week 2 in Miami. They gave up 239 yards on the ground (which was actually more than this year) and Miami controlled the ball for a hellish 45 minutes. Of course, the Colts one that game because Manning threw down one of his greatest performances of all time. Manning did so on Sunday, but his other players let him down. The o-line was awful, which led to a sack stalling one drive. Pierre Garcon's drop stalled another, and then Austin Collie fumbled nine yards away from a TD that would have made in 20-17 (the Texans recovered, and scored to make it 27-10). The Colts will be fine. They might not have a cakewalk in the AFC South, but they still are the best team in the division.

1.) The Chiefs are Good.

The Chiefs scored the biggest upset of Week 1, but that doesn't suddenly make them contenders. In fact, the Chargers played the almost exact replica of that game one year ago, with the only difference being the Chiefs held up in their goal-line stand, and the Raiders allowed the Chargers to score. It was eerily similar. The Chiefs got the benefit of two long TDs, including a punt-return, which aren't exactly repeatable acts. I will say this: Romeo Crennel can coach defense (sadly, he can't coach a team, but he doesn't have to here). The Chiefs defense will be frisky all year, but if you can limit big plays, you can beat the Chiefs, easily. As an aside, Matt Cassel played like garbage. For more proof that comparing QBs by wins and losses is an idiotic process: Peyton threw for 433 yards, 3 tds and no picks and lost, while Cassel threw for 68 yards and one td, and won.

Week 2 will tell us a lot more, and will allow me to actually not be lazy and do a power ranking (not sure how that works). Picks tomorrow!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Reign of Rafa

New York loves to crown kings. They crowned Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra, Joe Namath and most recently Derek Jeter. New York loves excellence, demands it even. That is why there is no better place for Rafael Nadal's coronation. Sure, he still isn't quite the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT for future reference), but that is just a matter of age, not ability. He's not as accomplished as Roger Federer not because he isn't as good, but isn't as old. Rafael Nadal is now a king of the sport. He's done it all, and twice over. He's accomplished everything there is to accomplish, and he is now the Best Athlete in Sports.

I remember 2005, when I first watched Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in the French Open Semifinal. It was something that at that time was refreshing and new. Federer clearly was no match for Nadal's quickness, defense and determination on clay, but that was the negating factor. For two years, Rafael Nadal could only do it on clay. There was a huge limitation to his game, in that it did not translate to any other surface. He couldn't hit flat enough, or serve big enough, or hit a good enough backhand. He couldn't hit winners, or even volley. Of course, that seems like an eternity ago. In a way, it was.

Fitting that Zidane would hand over Nadal's first slam trophy

Rafael Nadal first conquered the deficits in his groundstrokes, flattening his forehand at times and developing a deadly cross-court backhand. This helped him finally conquer grass, winning his epic 2008 Wimbledon title over Roger Federer, in a true changing of the guard. Then he developed a more offensive game, which helped conquer hard courts in his Australian Open win over, again, Roger Federer in 2009. Rafael Nadal was on top, and more than that, his ability and dominance over Federer would keep Federer for ever even attaining his Grand Slam Title record.

Nadal finally conquered another surface, starting Rafa's true rise.

Of course, that is when the hero falls. Nadal's aggressive, physical style was always his largest threat to himself (more than Federer, or anyone else), and it finally beat him. Tendonitis set in, followed by the divorce of his parents, which might have been a bigger factor to Rafael Nadal's fall. Rafa still lives in his parents compound in Mallorca. He's a family man through and through, coached by his Uncle, fed by his parents, which made the divorce a huge hurdle for Rafa to climb over, but like that forehand, backhand and passive play, he would climb all the peaks necessary to become the greatest.

Starting in April, with the Monte Carlo Masters, Rafael Nadal went through arguably the greatest five month period in Tennis history. He finished the clay court season winning each of the four largest tournaments, with dropping just two sets, period (none at the French Open, which he also did two years ago). He then went to Wimbledon and despite some early struggles, played his best tennis at the end, epically crushing the souls of every Briton in his win over Andy Murray in the semifinals. Next, came his biggest challenge, that old US Open.

Rafa Nadal's return to form was great, winning without dropping a set, again.

Rafa entered the US Open with no holes in his game, except for his serve. He had great spin, placement and probably the bets percentage of first serves in on tour, but it wasn't all that fast. Of course, in the first round, he banged home a first serve at 132. The second round, he smashed a 134, and finally, in the round of 16, against big serving-Feliciano Lopez, he drilled a serve at 135. He was serving bigger than Roger Federer, even. He was complete, perfect and brilliant. It should be noted he didn't even lose a set in any of those matches.

Rafael Nadal has more humility than any tennis player ever. He always gives credit to his opponent, even after mentally and physically overpowering that opponent to a broken pulp (like Federer was in his tearful meltdown after losing the 2009 Australian Open Final). He always answers any questions about his motivation with one response "I try every day to get better." And that is what fuels him every day, to get better. It isn't an empty answer or a falsehood, but a true one. He was once a player with many holes in his game, but one by one, by just getting better every day, trying to get better every day, he filled each one, and that led us all to last night.

Novak Djokovic is a worthy foe, a great player, and in the literal sense of the word, a champion. He's won a major, made at least the quarterfinals in 13 of the last 15 majors, and at least the semifinals in nine of those. With a day of rest, he was up for the challenge of spoiling Rafa's coronation two days after spoiling the impending Rafa-Roger final. Yet, he was no match for history and more so for Rafa Nadal. Rafael Nadal played with the determination and fire of one of the greats. He showed everything that made him a champion and everything that will make him a better one.

He was only 6/26 on converting break points, and in the third set, clinging to a one break lead, he was 1/11. Repeatedly he threw away 15-40 games. These things would have killed a player, losing out on all these chances. Lesser players would have choked away their serves after failing so many times. Not Nadal, who put each one of those opportunities immediately past him and went on to serve the set out. Nadal was unflappable at the tensest moments. Trying to serve out the third set, after failing on all those opportunities to attain a two break cushion, Nadal was down 15-30. What transpired next should be framed and sent to Smithsonian, and it probably put a huge frown on Roger Federer's face. Nadal served three straight first serves, all 125+, and all three were unreturnable. Game, set, and inevitably match.

Nadal, a man for all surfaces, finally wins the one thing that eluded him.

Rafael Nadal has a very good chance to win four straight majors at the 2011 Australian Open next January (he's already won it in 2009), and should be a near lock for the 2011 French Open title as well as the favorite at Wimbledon, but the future isn't clear sailing. Novak Djokovic is still only 23 and historically has had success against Nadal (7-4 now on hard court against him). Andy Murray still plays Rafa well (but few other players well), and the big question mark is Juan Martin del Potro, who won three straight against Rafael Nadal at the end of last year, who has the talents to be a big time major winner is almost back from a wrist injury. Through it all, though, Rafa Nadal is clearly the best today. He is also three ahead of Roger Federer's pace in winning majors. Rafa Nadal has nothing really in his way from history.

The Roger Federer era is over, but it was a great one. Some of his streaks, like five straight Wimbledons and five straight US Open's, Rafa Nadal, or likely no one else, will ever match. His 23 straight semifinals in majors is probably also unattainable, but likewise, there are things Rafael Nadal has accomplished that Federer hasn't and likely never will. Nadal has won three straight majors in a calendar year, plus has won mutliple slams an hard court, clay and grass (which only Mats Wilander has also done). Rafael Nadal may like to deflect questions of "Will you match Federer's 16 majors?" with "No, that is way too many", but soon it won't be too many. Soon that day will come, and when it does, the coronation will be final. Here's hoping it will again be on the green/blue concrete in Flushing, under the lights of New York City.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Week 1 NFL Picks

Here we go, starting from Week 1, it is on this year. 60% or your money back (all zero dollars you gave me for this). Let's go.

Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints (-5)

Formula Winner: New Orleans (17-26)

The home team (defending champion) always wins these. The energy is right, the crowd is amped up, everything works for the defending champ. However, the defending champ doesn't always cover. Each of the past two years, the road team covered but lost, and if Sidney Rice was playing, I would say it would happen again. The Vikings defense is a horrible matchup for the Saints offense. They cannot run on that team, which forces them to go in the air, and the Saints struggle against premier DTs on defense. All of this would matter if Sidney Rice was playing. He's not, and that really hurts, as the Saints have good enough corners to cover the rest of the targets. Saints should pull this out.

Vikings 20 Saints 27 (NO)

Carolina Panthers @ New York Giants (-6.5)

Formula Winner: New York (19-30)

This line seems a bit too high. The Panthers running game will keep them in most games. The Giants running game, the easy way to beat the Panthers, is scuttling right now. The Giants are also a little banged up on the o-line. I am already regretting my 13-3 prediction for them, as it is, so it will be really hard if they start with a loss. However, I think that their pass rush looked great in preseason, and Matt Moore might get a bit rattled. Steve Smith is also not 100%, the Panthers one that is. Finally, I don't see the Giants losing their first game in their new stadium.

Panthers 17 Giants 20 (CAR)

Miami Dolphins (-3) @ Buffalo Bills

Formula Winner: Miami (35-46)

The Bills are not very good. Their only good healthy running back is CJ Spiller. If the Dolphins have playoff aspirations, the win this game. I think they do. They need to put the hammer down and win this game. I think they do. No real explanation needed, except for that they are the better team, hands down.

Dolphins 24 Bills 14 (MIA)

Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Formula Winner: Pittsburgh (26-27)

The Falcons aren't really a great matchup for the Steelers. With Dennis Dixon starting, the Steelers will turn to Mendenhall, a lot. That bodes well for the Falcons, who are a lot more susceptible to the pass than the run. The Falcons will probably have to rely on the pass, because even in their dark days in 2009, the Steelers' run defense remained strong. Their pass defense is still very good, but the Falcons have one of the better o-lines in the NFL. If Ben Roethlisberger was starting, I would go with the Steelers, but then the line would be a lot different as well. He's not, the Falcons are the better team with Ben out of the picture.

Falcons 20 Steelers 14 (ATL)

Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears (-6.5)

Formula Winner: Chicago (20-42)

This is a perfect match for the Bears. The Lions run defense should be a lot better, but their secondary is a mess. Their pass rush is good, which will test the Bears o-line, but there should be plenty of areas for Cutler to throw in against the Lions. The Bears defense will be a lot better than people give them credit for. Tommie Harris is finally healthy, Urlacher is back and Peppers could run wild against Jeff Backus. The Bears should flex their muscles.

Lions 13 Bears 28 (CHI)

Cincinnati Bengals @ New England Patriots (-4.5)

Formula Winner: Cincinnati (21-22)

This line is about right. The Pats usually don't lose their opening game (haven't done it since 2003). They historically play the Bengals really well, beating them 34-13 in back to back season (2006 and 2007), but these are the new Bengals. Those Bengals didn't have the horses on defense (especially in that 2007 meeting). They have the corners to at least stay with the Pats bevy of weapons. They have the players up front to just take away the running game, and then they have enough players to get some penetration. The key here is the Pats defense. I really don't know what to think about them. They are young and allegedly talented. Not sure if I totally trust Belichick as a personnel guy anymore, but I trust him to at least win this game. They better, because their schedule is deadly going forward.

Bengals 20 Patriots 24 (CIN)

Cleveland Browns @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)

Formula Winner: Cleveland (45-50)

For some reason, the Browns are getting a ton of love in this one. People obviously are convinced that the Browns are less awful than the Buccaneers, and are absolutely sure of this fact. I'm not so convinced, at least right now. Neither team is really any good. The Browns do have better coaching, and probably a better QB (odd, isn't it, that Delhomme is the "better" QB), but the Bucs are at home, and this line is awfully small. I'll go against the grain and pick TB. I mean, they aren't going 0-16, and they don't get to play themselves, so they have to win some of these games, right? (I realize that was probably my worst justification for making a pick ever.)

Browns 14 Buccaneers 17 (TB)

Denver Broncos @ Jacksonville Jaguars (-3)

Formula Winner: Jacksonville (42-47)

Interesting that the Jaguars are favored here. Both teams fizzled at the end of the regular season, plus there are odd people, probably led astray by the messiac nature of Timothy Tebow, who love the Broncos. Of course, you all know that I am not one of those people, but I too feel that the Jaguars aren't much better. But, they are better. The Jaguars have to win this game, and more than that, have to stop Tim Tebow from scoring. The last time this situation arose was when Vince Young played the Texans in Houston. Of course, the Titans won that one with a Vince Young TD in overtime, but I really can't foresee that scenario. The Jaguars better win this game, because they need a fast start to have a chance at avoiding blackouts later in the year, and Jack Del Rio needs it for the stability of his income.

Broncos 17 Jaguars 24 (JAX)

Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) @ Houston Texans

Formula Winner: Indianapolis (14-24)

In what could be the best game of the weekend, the Colts and Texans play in a game the Texans have really highlighted since the schedule comes out. To me, I truly hope the Texans don't take this game too seriously. If they lose, their season is not over. The Texans don't need to beat Indianapolis to make the playoffs (just ask the 2008 Ravens or 2007 Giants who both were swept by bitter rivals in the regular season, but still made the playoffs and went far). The Texans just need to win their other games. Last season, I thought the Colts would lose their game in Houston, and if this game was in any week after the first, say, five, I would think the same thing, but the Texans are notorious slow starters. Missing Brian Cushing also hurts. The Texans will need their d-line to dominate the trenches, which is possible with the Colts o-line in tatters. However, none of that really matters. The Colts haven't lost a regular season game that they tried to win since October 2008 (No lie). They aren't about to lose to their biggest rival in the AFC South.

Colts 27 Texans 23 (IND)

Oakland Raiders @ Tennessee Titans (-6.5)

Formula Winner: Tennessee (29-36)

This is a game the Raiders might have a chance to steal, but over the offseason, when I was looking over the games, trying to work out the records, I had the Titans taking it. I heard some media people say that this is a litmus test for the Raiders defense. Bull. Chris Johnson isn't a litmus test. Chris Johnson owns even the best defenses. The Raiders just need to slow him down to 120 yards, instead of 200. The Raiders offense should be able to get somethings going against the Titans, but I just don't like this matchup in Tennessee. If it were in Oakland, I would probably take the Raiders to win. Here, just to cover.

Raiders 20 Titans 24 (OAK)

Green Bay Packers (-3) @ Philadelphia Eagles

Formula Winner: Green Bay (18-32)

How is this line not any higher? The Eagles are starting Kevin Kolb against a good defense. The Packers are looking like a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. If the Packers want to be taken seriously, they win this game easily. These are the games Super Bowl teams win. The Packers have the better matchup on offense and defense, especially since they can take the Eagles running game away, and force all the pressure on Kevin Kolb. This is one of the easiest picks of the weekend.

Packers 27 Eagles 14 (GB)

San Francisco 49ers (-3) @ Seattle Seahawks

Formula Winner: San Francisco (36-47)

The Seahawks couldn't beat the 49ers even when the Seahawks were good (1-3 from 2006-2007). They definitely shouldn't beat them now. The 49ers are a bad matchup because the Seahawks o-line struggles mightily against 3-4 teams. And again, this was when the Seahawks were good. The 49ers are the best team in their division, or at least better than the Seahawks, and Qwest really isn't a great home-field advantage, since their fans have nothing really to get into. Painful days lie ahead for Seattle. Luckily, they still get to play the Cardinals and Rams 4 times.

49ers 23 Seahawks 14 (SF)

Arizona Cardinals (-4) @ St. Louis Rams

Formula Winner: Arizona (30-51)

I hate even talking about these NFC West games. Remember when the Rams were the greatest show on turf? That could not have been the same NFC West? Anyway, the Cardinals are starting Derek Anderson, and I have no idea what to expect from him. He might be the 2007 version, considering he finally has some nice weapons, or the 2008-2009 version, considering he is Derek Anderson. Of course, the Rams are in worse shape, if that was possible. Without Donnie Avery, they lack their only true go-to receiver, plus they don't have anyone that can pressure the QB, which is the best way to beat the Cardinals given their o-line mess. Either way, the Cardinals should win this game. Luckily for the Rams, they still get the Seahawks two times.

Cardinals 31 Rams 17 (ARZ)

Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) @ Washington Redskins

Formula Winner: Washington (28-28 (Home Field Gets Advantage))

This line is stupid. Why is Dallas so good. Everyone talks about them like they won the Super Bowl. Honestly, the Dallas love is less understandable than the Jets love. At least the Jets won two playoff games and had the Colts on the ropes early. Dallas is returning essentially the same team that got DESTROYED by the Vikings in the playoffs. Remember that game? It was 34-3, the Cowboys getting so horrendously outplayed. Tony Romo was sacked six times, and his line has not gotten one iota better. The Redskins defense has always been good, and the good karma for at least one week of Shanahan and McNabb will at least do something, right? Anyway, winning Sunday Night games on the road is a tough proposition, and even tougher when you aren't really that much better than your opponent.

Cowboys 20 Redskins 23 (WAS)

Baltimore Ravens @ New York Jets (-2.5)

Formula Winner: Baltimore (23-27)

This is an interesting game, featuring two overrated teams. The Ravens now have essentially three possession receivers and no deep threat. I mean, is there any difference between Anquan Boldin and TJ Houshmanzadeh? I really don't see how that helps them, especially since Flacco's strength is the deep ball. As for the Jets, getting Revis back really, really helps this team. They should have a great crowd behind them two, being it the first night game in that stadium, and there actually being a real sense of optimism and expectations among the Jets fanbase. This is actually a litmus test for both teams. The lose will have to deal with expectations being set back, while the winner will get so high and mighty that preparing for their week two matchup (CIN for the Ravens and NE for the Jets) might be a problem.Either way, the Jets need this game more. They have talked about this game, and the start of this season. Now, with Revis back, I think the team will play with a new-found energy, and that will last, at least for now.

Ravens 14 Jets 20 (NYJ)

San Diego Chargers (-4.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs

Formula Winner: San Diego (23-50)

I don't like the Chargers right now. They have problems all over their team, and more and more it looks like V-Jack and McNeill won't be back for a long, long time. Luckily for them, the Cheifs are worse, however I will say that the late Monday Night Game might give the Chiefs an added boost of energy. It certainly did for the Raiders last season. The Chiefs will keep this close, but probably eventually run out of gas by the end of the game.

Chargers 27 Chiefs 23 (KC)

Enjoy the Games!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rankings - the Non-Power Variety

I liked my formula ranking picker I unveiled last year in the playoffs that I am bringing it back, regular season style. I will now rank the teams in the NFL 1-6 in offense, defense, QB and coach (don't worry, I'll do a longer 1,000 word+ plus QB and coach breakdown later in the year). These initially will be done purely on my guess as to how these units will play in the NFL season, and in the future will be adjusted based on how those teams perform in the season plus my guesses as to how they will play in the following weeks. By the way, since there are 32 teams, assigning them 1-32 would be absolutely ridiculous, since the formula would end up with the Buccanneers at 252 (I'm estimating, a little). So they are in groups:

(1 = elite, 2 = very good, 3 = good, 4 = average, 5 = below average, 6 = awful).


1 = Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints

No surprises here. They have the league's two premier QBs, a bevy of receiving weapons, and at least for the Saints, a quality running game. What makes the Saints and Colts "elite" compared to other great offenses is that they consistently put up points against all teams, good or bad.

2 = Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, New York Giants, San Diego Chargers

The reason a lot of these teams are here are because they can light up the stat-sheet, and even the scoreboard against lesser competition, but at times struggle against quality opponents more than "elite" offenses should. The Hardest team to put in this category instead of the "elite" category is Green Bay. However, I can't get out of my head their performance in their three most important regular season games (vs BAL, and the two MIN games) where their o-line couldn't block anyone, and they fell behind early.

3 = Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles

All of these teams can score, but also can be shut down by quite a few teams. The Vikings are only here because of Sidney Rice's injury (which I doubt he would be fully recovered from until 2011) The Cardinals are here becuase of Derek Anderson replacing Matt Leinart, plus they still have great weapons at the receiver position and runing back. The Cowboys just looked abhorrently bad in the preseason, and their red zone offense isn't nearly good enough to merit a better spot.

4 = Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins

These are frisky. What is interesting is that three of these teams are the three best running team in the NFL. The Panthers still don't have a second receiver, the Jets still do have their scatter-brain QB, and the Titans have a RB who is bound for regression towards the mean. The Steelers transition back to the running game also hurts their chances. Detroit has all the skill positions there. Schwartz needs to build that o-line.

5 = Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers here have the best upside, but Singletary is against going shutgon primarily, which Alex Smith needs to be comfortable. The Jaguars o-line is in tatters, and they really struggle against out-of-division teams. The Broncos have just traded away all of their good skill position players.

6 = Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

They are all dregs. I hate putting the Seahawks here, but Hasselbeck is no longer a quality QB, and their trade of Houshmanzadeh leaves them pretty bare. The others are all struggling to build offenses. Two, Cleveland and St. Louis, had some friskiness but lost key guys (Hardesty, Avery) which put them back down here.


1 = Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers

These three are all set apart from all the others. The Bengals were unfortunate with injuries last
season (Odom, Maualuga) and still were great most of the time. The Steelers missed two of their four best defensive players and were still a top-10 defense, and now everyone's back and healthy for both. The Jets were healthy for all of last year (except for Kris Jenkins, but NTs aren't that important in Rex's defense) and were great. These are the three best.

2 = Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers

All of these teams have the players to play great defense. The Bears and Colts will never utterly dominate teams, but they are the best two Tampa-2 teams out there, and both teams are getting their second best defensive player back fully healthy (Urlacher, Sanders). San Francisco doesn't have the greatest secondary and the Ravens don't have a great secondary at all. The Packers defense is much like their offense, dominant against dregs and average against quality opposition.

3 = Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins

The Cowboys are here mainly because of regression. Their run defense relies too much on older players that are bound to get worse due to natural decline. Plus, they are also inevitably going to be more injured this year. The other teams are all teams whose defense will keep them in most games. The Giants are the opposite of the Cowboys, in that due to injuries healing and a change in coaching, they are bound to improve to their 2005-2008 levels. The Cardinals still have a bevy of talent, despite losing Dansby and Rolle.

4 = Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers

Luckily for the Falcons, Texans, Saints, Patriots and Chargers, their offenses are good enough to win most of these games, but the common theme between all of these teams is that they lack the brilliant players that the better defenses have. People somehow believe the Eagles are still a good defense, but Jim Johnson's influence has not been replaced, and they were strafed by good offenses last season.

5 = Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

None of these teams defenses have the coaching or the players to be very good. The Buccaneers will be quite good in the future, but it is too early for them. The Chiefs have the coaching to be competent, but not the players. The Jaguars are just the definition of below average, and the Seahawks cannot stay healthy at all.

6 = Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos, St. Louis Rams

They just stink. I'm throwing Denver in here because they will not have Dumervil all season, and Mike Nolan is gone. The Broncos defense was horrible to end last season after their 6-0 start. The Lions and Rams are just obvious. They aren't very good. The Lions have talent in the d-line, but nothing else. The Rams really have nothing.


1 = Indianapolis Colts (Manning), New Orleans Saints (Brees), Pittsburgh Steelers (Roethlisberger - however, until he comes back, drop them to 5), San Diego Chargers (Philip Rivers)

These are the top-4. They can be joined by other guys later, but for now, for the regular season, these are the best four QBs in the sport. They don't fold late, they don't have bad games. They are just consistent. Of course, until Roethlisberger comes back, the Steelers drop to a '5'. I'm a Rivers believer, at least in the regular season.

2 = Green Bay Packers (Rodgers), Houston Texans (Schaub), Minnesota Vikings (Favre), New England Patriots (Brady), New York Giants (Manning)

These guys are great in fantasy, and are great in certain aspects but aren't the complete package. Brady, Rodgers and Schaub all struggle in close games. Of course, this wasn't always the case with Brady, but he was plain bad in close games last season. Eli is the opposite, as he is great in close games late, but struggles at times. Brett Favre is due to some decline, but he clearly can play that offense perfectly, and still has enough weapons, plus he has the best RB of the group.

3 = Atlanta Falcons (Ryan), Baltimore Ravens (Flacco), Chicago Bears (Cutler), Cincinnati Bengals (Palmer), Dallas Cowboys (Romo), Washington Redskins (McNabb)

There is upside (Ryan, Flacco), downside (McNabb, Romo) and two guys who aren't as bad as they were last season (Cutler, Palmer). Romo and McNabb have peaked, and Romo's low int-rate was probably a fluke. Ryan and Flacco are similar players, with similar upsides. Cutler will probably still throw interceptions, but with Martz his numbers should explode, while Palmer now has the weapons that made him great in 2005-2007.

4 = Carolina Panthers (Moore), Denver Broncos (Orton), Detroit Lions (Stafford), Jacksonville Jaguars (Garrard), Miami Dolphins (Henne), Oakland Raiders (Campbell), San Francisco 49ers (Smith), Tennessee Titans (Young)

The hardest things to guage in the NFL is an average QB. People love to either fellate their QB if he is good, or prod him if he's bad. People don't know what to do with an average one. Stafford and Henne won't stay average for long, but the others are about as good as they will be. They are all good enough to go to the playoffs with help, but probably not good enough to win a Super Bowl (unless they have Ravens 2000 type help).

5 = Arizona Cardinals (Derek Anderson), Cleveland Browns (Delhomme), New York Jets (Sanchez), Philadelphia Eagles (Kolb) Seattle Seahawks (Hasselbeck), St. Louis Rams (Bradford)

I don't trust Kevin Kolb at all, and his shakiness in the preseason just made my trust level go further down. Sanchez is wildly overrated. Anderson, Delhomme and Hasselbeck are all similar in that they will have great moments, but more likely horrible ones (or in Hass's case, painful, injurious ones). Bradford is a rookie, and without any help. He will not follow the Sanchez, Flacco, Ryan path into the playoffs, at least in year one.

6 = Buffalo Bills (Edwards), Kansas City Chiefs (Cassel), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Freeman)

These three are the worst starters in the league. Freeman has upside, I guess, but has very little to work with. Cassel has shown just how important Randy Moss is to a QBs ability, and Trent Edwards is just a horrible fit in Buffalo, as he has no deep arm which is necessary in that Buffalo wind.


1 = Carolina Panthers (Fox), New England Patriots (Belichick), New Orleans Saints (Payton), New York Giants (Coughlin), Tennessee Titans (Fisher)

Obviously, analyzing coaching is really diffucult, but through their ability to win consistently, manage games brilliantly, and in the cases of Fisher and Fox, perform steadily with less-than talent, they are all the elite coaches in the league.

2 = Arizona Cardinals (Whisenhunt), Baltimore Ravens (Harbaugh), Green Bay Packers (McCarthy), Philadelphia Eagles (Reid), Pittsburgh Steelers (Tomlin), Washington Redskins (Shanahan)

Other than Reid and Shanahan, the other four are all young coaches who have had immediate, sustained success. Reid may screw up his timeouts, but is a premier play-caller. Tomlin doesn't handle any play-calling responsibilities, but his image is stamped all over that team. Whisenhunt's true ability will be tested now without Kurt Warner.

3 = Atlanta Falcons (Smith), Chicago Bears (Smith), Cincinnati Bengals (Lewis), Houston Texans (Kubiak), Indianapolis Colts (Caldwell), Miami Dolphins (Sparano), New York Jets (Ryan), San Diego Chargers (Turner)

All of these coaches have certain flaws that keep them right below the level of the greats. For guys like Ryan, Turner and Lewis, it is their game management. For Smith and Sparano, it is their ability to build complex teams. I don't yet trust Caldwell. In the few games he faced real coaching pressure, he wasn't always up to task.

4 = Dallas Cowboys (Phillips), Detroit Lions (Schwartz), Minnesota Vikings (Childress), Oakland Raiders (Cable), San Francisco 49ers (Singletary)

I like Singletary as a motivator, but his thinking of what his offense should be like is vastly different from what the 49ers actually need. Schwartz seems to be universally loved, but hasn't really showed anything. Philips and Childress are one in the same. Their records are fine but neither seems to be ever in total control of his team.

5 = Buffalo Bills (Gailey), Cleveland Browns (Mangini), Jacksonville Jaguars (Del Rio), Seattle Seahawks (Carroll)

Gailey and Carroll haven't coached in the NFL in over a decade, so it is hard to trust either. Del Rio has been coaching on borrowed time for years, and Mangini has the problem of having a boss that doesn't entirely gel with him.

6 = Denver Broncos (McDaniels), Kansas City Chiefs (Haley), St. Louis Rams (Spagnuolo), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Morris)

Well, McNasty has done nothing but trade away good players and use the draft picks in return to mostly select bad players. He inherited a good team, which is the only thing that kept him from a 4-12 season. The key between theses four coaches, all of them are entering their second years. Worse still, three of them had a worse record in their first year than in the year previous.

Formula Rankings (Formula: (Offense+Defense)*3 + Quarterback*2 + Coach)

1 = Indianapolis Colts - 14

2 = Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints - 18

4 = Pittsburgh Steelers - 19*

5 = New York Giants - 20

6 = Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals - 21

8 = Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers - 23

11 = Houston Texans - 25

12 = Minnesota Vikings - 26

13 = Atlanta Falcons - 27

14 = Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets - 28

16 = Washington Redskins - 29

17 = Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans - 30

20 = Philadelphia Eagles - 33

21 = Miami Dolphins - 35

22 = Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers - 36

24 = Detroit Lions - 42

25 = Jacksonville Jaguars - 43

26 = Cleveland Browns - 45

27 = Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos - 47

29 = Seattle Seahawks - 48

30 = Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 51

32 = St. Louis Rams - 52

* - Pittsburgh will be a 27 until Roethlisberger returns

About Me

I am a man who will go by the moniker dmstorm22, or StormyD, but not really StormyD. I'll talk about sports, mainly football, sometimes TV, sometimes other random things, sometimes even bring out some lists (a lot, lot, lot of lists). Enjoy.