Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Autumn Wind Will Always Be a Raider

I'll be honest, I wasn't too saddened with the death of Steve Jobs. Yes, he was a visionary and an innovator. Yes, he's the man who's mind is responsible for millions of phones and helping to make the music industry somewhat profitable again. Yes, he's the man who made us all see that Microsoft won in spite of it being the worse product. But after all that, he's just a guy who headed a company. Our lives wouldn't be radically different if Steve Jobs never lived. Computers and the internet would still be here. The iPod wouldn't but there were mp3 players long before the 1st iPod. The iPhone wouldn't be there, but I don't have one, and Android phones will overtake iPhones at some point. There were tablet PCs well before the iPad. All of that said, we all owe Jobs a thank you, because he made everything move faster, but I was never along for the ride (except for the iPod - curiously the only Apple product which is buggy as shit). I have an Android. I've been a PC user my whole life. Jobs' tragic defeat in his battle with cancer wasn't that big of a deal.

The loss of Al Davis? That killed me. See my life wouldn't be too different without Jobs (I would have had a Zune, which yes is awful, but without the iPod to compare it to, it would've seemed great). My life would be totally different without Davis and his Raiders. They were the NFL team I loved first. It was the 2000 NFC Championship Game and the Raiders were hosting the Ravens. I did not watch football at the time except for the previous two Super Bowls and still with just a passing interest (my love of Super Bowl XXXIV the year before is mainly from re-viewings years later) in either. Then I watched that game at the at-that-time McAfee Coliseum. I saw throngs of Raiders fans dressed in everything but a NFL jersey. There were countless Darth Vader costumes, Skeleton costumes, spikes and gorilla masks. There was every dark costume you could think of. It didn't matter that the Raiders lost that day 16-3. I was hooked. I was a Raider fan. Some would call this joining the band-wagon, but hell, I was 9 at the time, had no team that I was jumping from, and at least I didn't pick the Ravens who won the Super Bowl that year. I was a Raider fan, and that led me directly to being an Al Davis fan.

To this point in my Raider Fan life, which has spanned nearly 11 years, I've seen the team suffer the worst defeat of any team in any sport in the last decade (my opinion) in the Tuck Rule Game. I've seen them make the Super Bowl, before summarily being crushed in that game. Then I saw them win 4-5-4-2-4-5-and-5 games in 7 years. I saw a team that went 33-15 (4-3 in the playoffs) in three years then go 24-88 over the next seven. It was a tough time to be a Raider fan, a tough time to an Al Davis fan. But I always knew that sooner or later, Al would once again become that brilliant football mind that he used to be. The Raiders wouldn't always be bad. Now, they are a legitimate 3-2 after being 8-8 the previous year. They aren't bad. Hell, in many ways, they are good. They have explosive receivers. They have one of the league's best D-Lines. They have the league's best runningback at the moment. Their O-Line is solid. They have the league's best punter, and a kicker who has already hit field goals from 63, 56, 55, 54 and 50 yards on the season. They are everything Al Davis would've wanted his team to be. The only thing now missing is Al.

Football fans that are my age have long been told that Al Davis was a visionary and once one of the brightest football minds alive. That his teams were dominant for 25 years straight, and that they were the most feared team in the league, while also being the team that had the most fun. They had womanizing, boozing Quarterbacks, and fast receivers with weird numbers (Biletnikoff was #25?_. They had great hard hitting players on defense, and a string of all-pro cornerbacks. We all were told how great the Raiders used to be. I'm sure we all thought that part of this was just a myth. I iknow I did. But none of it is.

When you research the life of Al Davis, the words innovator, visionary and maverick aren't really enough. No, Al was a genius. Not in the same way Bill Walsh (although Al Davis identified that bit of genius, hiring Walsh once) was, or Bill Belichick or Joe Gibbs. No, he was a genius because he could do it all, and do it all his own way, and it all worked. It has been mentioned in scores of articles since his death that Al Davis was a scout, coach, GM, owner and commissioner at some point in his football life. Yes, he was against the merger, but that didn't really come in the way of him being associated with it. He was one of the first AFL owners to start the bidding war with the NFL, the single biggest point of ignition for the merger in 1970. He was the AFL commissioner and deeply believed that the AFL, if it stayed separated, could beat the NFL in popularity. He was the driving force behind the AFL being able to compete with the NFL. Al Davis changed football in that literal sense, but he did it in more ways than just the events of the 60's.

Al Davis' vertical offense was revolutionary. Bill Walsh used a lot of it to create his West Coast Offense. Al Davis' was groundbreaking, as he was made the Raiders first the first NFL team to be coached by a Latino (Tom Flores, who just went on to win 2 Super Bowls), and then the first NFL team to be coached by an African-American (Art Shell), and recently made the Raiders the first team headed by a woman (CEO Amy Trask). He never saw color, or gender, he just saw his team and wanted them to win. He didn't hire Flores because he was Latino, or hire Shell because he was black. He Hired them because he thought they were good coaches and wanted to win. That's why we love him.

Al Davis was the Raiders. It was his renegade image that fronted the team and then the ideal. He collected castoff veterans who were axed because partly because they didn't fit in, and partly because they were doing too much on the side to have the time to fit in. He brought in drunks, and playboys. All he asked them to do was win, and they did. 13-1, 12-2, 12-1-1, 8-4-2, 8-4-2, 10-3-1, 9-4-1, 12-2, 11-3, 13-1, 11-3, 9-7, 9-7, 11-5, 7-9, 8-1, 12-4, 11-5, 12-4. That was the Raiders' records from 1967-1985. Those 19 years were legendary. In that time, the Raiders won three Super Bowls, lost another and made four other AFC Title Games. Only the Steelers were more successful in that time-frame. It was John Madden, Daryl Lamonica, Ken Stabler, Art Shell, Gene Upshaw, Jim Otto, Marcus Allen, Cliff Branch, Ted Hendricks, Willie Brown, Mike Haynes, Fred Biletnikoff, Ray Guy. But most of all, it was Al Davis.

No team is identified by its owner. The one exception is possibly the Yankees and Steinbrenner, but the Yankees have a host of other candidates to identify the team by. The Raiders have had great players, but it was always Al Davis in front of everything. He was the guy who put all of those great players together, who hired young coaches, like John Madden at 32, Mike Shanahan at 35, Jon Gruden at 34, identifying coaching talent well before the rest of the league did. Al Davis was one of the few men who fought the league head on, and won, winning his lawsuit to move the team to LA (Reggie White is probably the other notable example). Al Davis did not like Pete Rozzelle, which led to one of the most iconic football images of the 80's not involving the 49ers, with Al Davis accepting the Lombardi trophy from Rozzelle. Al Davis' was iconic, with that white or black tracksuit as lasting as the silver-and-black team on the field. He loved the silver-and-black. No uniform has been changed less than the Raiders, and for good measure. How can you change a uniform that is perfect? It was so good so many teams in every sport started incorporating black uniforms; some good (Baltimore Ravens), some horrible (Philadelphia Eagles). Al Davis' teams weren't perfect, and neither was his behavior, but the look of him and the team he created. That was as perfect as could be.

Al Davis died last Saturday. In a way, one era of the Raiders died as well. Although he was in bad health, no one was really ready for this day to come, which is why the question of where the Raiders go from here is so interesting. Mark Davis, his son, is the successor for now (I hope for long, I would hate to see them back in LA), and the team looks to have a good foundation off of three straight fruitful drafts by Davis. But the Raiders are no longer Al's team. No other NFL team as old as the Raiders have had one owner. Yes, some have had the same family (Bidwill's, Rooney's, Mara's), but this is just one guy. This was a small-business prospering in the biggest sports business in the world. This was one man against 31 others, and for most of his life, he was up to the task.

The Raiders have always had an image, and it has always been the same image. I think the Steelers are the only other team that can say that. The Steelers have almost always been a great defensive team with tough QBs embodying the city they play in. The Raiders have always been a team with speed and flash on the outside (WRs, CBs) and toughness in the middle (o-line, d-line). It has always been the same. It probably will always be the same. It is sad Al Davis had to die this year. His team was finally right again. He finally had the fast receivers that could actually dominate games. He had the fast running back. He had a stable of fast corners (though his last great corner was gone in the offseason). Al Davis was finally about to prove that the NFL had not passed him by over the last decade. That his tricks weren't too old, that his ideas too antiquated, that the Raiders weren't too far gone.

I loved that image that the Raiders portrayed, which was what kept me with them. They were a team that didn't give a shit what anyone one else thought about how they did business. Their fans were fanatic and they were all over. The Raiders are, in my opinion, one of the four national NFL franchises, along with the Steelers, Packers and Cowboys, in that they have a national fanbase, with a lot of fans outside their own city. The Raiders have those fans, and I am one of them, mainly because of that image of rowdiness, of toughness, of living life on the edge of the rules, of fighting against the Man, of getting your opponent down on the ground, of running by him laughing, of winning. That image was built by Al Davis, and I am sure it will go on many years from now, and Al Davis will smiling all the way.

'Till Next Time (which should be my inaugaral 2011 MLB Playoff Running Diary, and my first attempt at a Running Diary Doubleheader, with the two baseball games tomorrow).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings

After 5 Weeks, it is still too early to make any real judgements on any team not 0-5 (0-4) or 5-0. 1-4 is pretty much done, and 4-1 is pretty much real, but anything in between is just a mash. Anyway, here we go, with a quick version of the power rankings.

32.) St. Louis Rams (0-4)

I hate to blame a team for picking a QB #1 overall, but will we look back and say that the Rams made a horrible pick with Sam Bradford over Ndamukong Suh? Bradford was a consensus top-5 pick so you can't blame the Rams too much, but everyone saw this Suh thing coming.

31.) Miami Dolphins (0-4)

Well, the Dolphins got a nice bye week. I'm surprised Sparano wasn't axed over the bye week, as that is usually a favorite time to in-season fire a coach. I don't think it is all Sparano's fault, mainly because the one thing Miami was counting on, their defense, has been really bad.

30.) Denver Broncos (1-4)

Tebow time!!! I've never seen someone go 4-10 passing and be praised like Tebow has. Orton was not the problem. He wasn't the solution. But this might be a scheme to go get Andrew Luck.

29.) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4)

They should also follow a scheme to get Andrew Luck, but they probably would rather get some corners. I was in Jacksonville over the weekend, and the headlines were talking about a Jack Del Rio getting fired, which is odd, since I thought no one cared.

28.) Indianapolis Colts (0-5)

If Manning was playing they easily win the Chiefs, Browns and Bucs games, and probably win the Steelers game (it helped the Steelers played like shit). I don't know about that Texans game, but they would be 4-1. Fuck neck injuries.

27.) Kansas City Chiefs (2-3)

Somehow, they've won two straight games. Somehow, Todd Haley and Matt Cassel may make it to year 4 together. This makes me so happy, because this team is not any good, and having the Raiders play him twice a year is good.

26.) Seattle Seahawks (2-3)

In a similar vein, the Seahawks are somehow 2-3. I believe in them slightly more than the Chiefs just because they have that home field, and they have more talent. I think they'll stick with Charlie Whitehurst now, which lends me to wonder why they ever wanted Tarvaris.

25.) Arizona Cardinals (1-4)

I still think they are the 2nd best team in the division. That was the first time they weren't competitive in a game. Kolb looks to be somewhat of a disaster, but he's no worse than Tarvaris/Whitehurst or Bradford.

24.) Cleveland Browns (2-2)

2-2, and the two wins are against teams that are currently 0-9. They do have an easy schedule the rest of the way, so their record will probably end up better than their actual level of play. Watching Colt McCoy really reminds me of watching a shittier Brian Griese.

23.) Minnesota Vikings (1-4)

So, after four straight close losses they drill the Cards. Their season is pretty much shot, but at least they are still trying damn hard. Jared Allen is a fucking monster. Watching Jared Allen and Dwight Freeney play great for bad teams is really tough to stomach.

22.) Carolina Panthers (1-4)

The Cam Express is still doing business, but all the attention being paid to Cam overscores what the real issue his. HolyFuckingSteveRules&RegulationsSmith. Steve Smith is a monster, close to what he was in 2005. 609 yards in just 27 catches? That is insane.

21.) New York Jets (2-3)

I still see this team as not being good. They can turn it around if they can get that running game going, and it was good for them to have Mangold back, but the Jets don't have an offensive identity, and as I've said a lot so far in 2011, that defense just isn't as good.

20.) Philadelphia Eagles (1-4)

They could easily be 4-1 (The Giants loss was totally legitimate), but that doesn't mean anything now. There has been five teams that were 1-4 that made the playoffs. Three happpened in the last 10 years ('02 Jets, '02 Titans, '04 Packers). They have a shot, but it better get turned around quick.

19.) Cincinnati Bengals (3-2)

Where was this defense last year? Does Carson Palmer want to know unretire? How are they winning games with Andy Dalton and Bruce Gradkowski? The Bengals are doing kind of what the '09 Bengals did, just without as good of a QB. That's the difference from 7-9 and 10-6.

18.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2)

I never really believed in them. Two teams have beaten the Colts by less than a touchdown (Steelers, Bucs) and both lost their next game. The difference was the Bucs got smacked in a way that hurts. The Bucs just can't consistently play offense the way they need to.

17.) Atlanta Falcons (2-3)

That game showed the Falcons just aren't Super Bowl worthy. They controlled the Packers in the 1st half, but sooner or later, Matt Ryan and his cavalcade of plodding receivers and mid-level throws stop getting it done. That defense hasn't done enough either.

16.) Chicago Bears (2-3)

The Bears have lost by 10 to the Packers and 11 to the Lions. That's about where I see them. They have had a really tough schedule so far (their three losses are to teams currently 14-1), and here on out it isn't as bad. Look for them to make a run at some point.

15.) Tennessee Titans (3-2)

Mike Munchak finally got his welcome to the NFL. That was one team who was 3-1 off an easy schedule and a flukey win (over Baltimore) playing a team with a defense that can still tar up a bad offense. Hasselbeck finally looked like a 38 year old.

14.) Dallas Cowboys (2-2)

I'll talk more about this later, but the Cowboys are a bad matchup for New England. They can throw and throw and throw, and the Pats can't stop the pass. The Cowboys can rush the passer without blitzing, which is key to beating the Pats. I expect this game to be relatively close.

13.) Washington Redskins (3-1)

The NFC East will be a dogfight, but with three dogs that aren't best in show. Rex Grossman is still doing a Jake Plummer impression, but Plummer only once went better than 10-6. The Redskins defense is still excellent.

12.) New York Giants (3-2)

That was a horrifying loss. I did not see that coming at all. The Giants should have pulled it off, and that was a truly flukey interception that Seattle returned for 6, but the Giants should never have been in that sort of game. They have Buffalo and @NE in their next three games. Step up, New York.

11.) Houston Texans (3-2)

Tough loss, but that was a game that would be tough. Losing to the Raiders is not a bad loss anymore. They way it ended was tough with Schaub throwing that pick, but he did convert a 3rd and 23 two plays earlier. I feel bad for them with Mario out, but Wade should be able to scheme them well enough.

10.) San Francisco 49ers (4-1)

I still don't trust this team to be the elite, but they should win the division. They still have Zona and St. Louis twice, as well as Cleveland. The NFL Playoffs will return to the Bay. Will it return to both sides of the bay? Well, that should be interesting to watch play out.

9.) Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)

The Steelers have one win where they were shitty (@IND), and two blowout wins. They also have two losses were they looked really bad. I think the Steelers will not catch the Ravens, but they have a pretty easy schedule, with St. Louis and Arizona still on it.

8.) Oakland Raiders (3-2)

They should be 4-1. They blew that Bills game. Their defense has been bad so far, but they have played three excellent offenses (Pats, Texans and Bills). Their pass rush is still excellent. The problem is their corners, but they'll get experience as the year goes on. BTW, look for an Al Davis piece coming up later this week.

7.) Buffalo Bills (4-1)

Teams that get a lot of interceptions usually are more than being just lucky. The Bills have had talented players in the sencondary for years, and although I didn't think they had that, they obviously do. The Bills offense is also still legitimate.

6.) Detroit Lions (5-0)

They aren't as good as the other 4-1 (or 5-0 in GB's case) teams in front of them. They still have a big play offense, but if they can't get those plays, I'm not sure how good their offense really is. Megatron is amazing, but he makes up for a lot of spotty throws by Stafford.

5.) San Diego Chargers (4-1)

Here is the scary part about the Chargers. They've started slow like they always do. Phil Rivers hasn't really played well yet. Antonio Gates will come back at some point. They are still already 4-1. They have a chance to go on a run. The schedule is tough, but history points to the Chargers getting a lot better.

4.) New England Patriots (4-1)

38, 35, 31, 31, 30. That is their point total in their games in order. Yup, it has been decreasing each week. They are still an excellent offense, but they can't count on getting huge Welker plays each game. The Patriots will have a game sooner or later where they need their defense to step up. I'm not sure what will happen then.

3.) New Orleans Saints (4-1)

They are like the Chargers in that they haven't got it fully together yet, but are still 4-1 with a great QB. They have the full cavalcade of offensive weapons back (in that direction, how good is Jimmy Graham?). They've already finished 3 road games, and will end with 4 of 6 in the dome.

2.) Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

That defense is something I want to see again. Leaguewide the offensive numbers are scarily high, but the Ravens are playing better defense than anything they've played since 2008 or 2006. They get a banged up Texans team and then Jacksonville and Arizona before a showdown with the Steelers in Heinz. The Ravens should enter that game 6-1.

1.) Green Bay Packers (5-0)

I always say that until the Champs lose, they have the top spot. Even if they weren't the Champs, the Packers would have the top spot. The Packers just won a road primetime game against a team that is still talented, and won by 11 without playing anything near their best. They will lose eventually, but it will take a great effort for it too happen, or for Rodgers to play badly. Rodgers played about a "C" against Carolina, so it is still possible.

Projected Playoff Predictions


1.) Baltimore Ravens 13-3
2.) San Diego Chargers 13-3
3.) New England Patriots 12-4
4.) Houston Texans 10-6
5.) Buffalo Bills 11-5
6.) Oakland Raiders 10-6


1.) Green Bay Packers 13-3
2.) New Orleans Saints 13-3
3.) New York Giants 10-6
4.) San Francisco 49ers 10-6
5.) Detroit Lions 12-4
6.) Dallas Cowboys 10-6

'Till Next Time

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week 5 NFL Picks

Doing this quick because I have wedding festivities to attend to.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Indianapolis Colts (-1.5)

If the Colts can't win this game, they might be going 0-16, which is really sad, because the Colts would be 3-1 right now if Manning was playing.

Chiefs 17 Colts 24 (IND)

Arizona Cardinals @ Minnesota Vikings (-3.5)

I don't think the Vikings will lose this game. They are at home, and the teams are pretty much even. Both have played better than their record. I'll go with the team who's defense I trust.

Cardinals 16 Vikings 23 (MIN)

Philadelphia Eagles (-3) @ Buffalo Bills

The one reason to like Philly is that they can't keep losing forever. The reason to like the Bills is that they already beat the Pats, and are being horribly disrespected be being underdogs to a 1-3 team whilst being 3-1.

Eagles 24 Bills 28 (BUF)

Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans (-5)

I wish Oakland won last week because then I wouldn't care as much about this game. I like Houston at home. They finally seem to have gotten their shit together, and they won't drop games at home to average teams.

Raiders 20 Texans 27 (HOU)

New Orleans Saints (-6.5) @ Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are keeping every game close. Yes, they are losing most of them, but they keep them close. The Saints were impressive in a weird way last week, but I think that they won't be here. Second straight road game and all.

Saints 30 Panthers 24 (CAR)

Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars suck. Jack Del Rio will be fired very, very soon. The Bengals defense is really underrated and will hold anyone to less than 30.

Bengals 23 (CIN) Jaguars 13

Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)

The Titans are 3-1 with Chris Johnson doing nothing and Matt Hasselbeck at QB and a lunatic at QB? That is hard to believe. The Steelers are nowhere near a great team, but I think they put the hammer down in this one.

Titans 13 Steelers 30 (PIT)

Seattle Seahawks @ New York Giants (-10)

The Giants escaped Zona like I thought they will. Zona always played them tough (2008, 2009). The Seahawks never do. This one is quite easy to call.

Seahawks 16 Giants 31 (NYG)

New York Jets @ New England Patriots (-7.5)

This is a high line considering the Jets have at times done a good job against this offense. That said, I still don't think the Jets are any good. Mark Sanchez is still overrated. Santonio Holmes has really disappeared. The Pats are just better.

Jets 17 Patriots 28 (NE)

San Diego Chargers (-3.5) @ Denver Broncos

Easiest line of the week. I know that the Chargers haven't blown anyone out yet, but the Broncos aren't any good. The Chargers, I think, will get it going this week.

Chargers 35 (SD) Broncos 17

Green Bay Packers (-6) @ Atlanta Falcons

I actually like Atlanta in this game to keep it close. The Falcons are playing a revenge game that no one thinks they have a shot at.

Packers 23 Falcons 20 (ATL)

Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions (-6.5)

I think the Bears can cover this one too. The Lions are not a great team. What I mean is that they are not 4-0 good. The Bears will be able to do something against the Lions offense, and do enough to keep it close.

Bears 20 (CHI) Lions 24

Last Week: 11-5

Season to Date: 28-19-1

Enjoy the Games!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Week 5 NFL Power Rankings

That was a less satisfying week of football, but the last two night games were good. The Sunday Night Game showed that when they are riled up, in that stadium, the Ravens are the most amazing defense on earth, still. On Monday Night, we saw that the Colts are a proud team. They would be 3-1 if Manning was still playing. The AFC is below the NFC right now, which makes it worse that the Colts can't take advantage of a weaker AFC.

32.) St. Louis Rams 0-4

Boy, oh boy. The defense finally played competently again, but the offense continues to be awful. In the "Year of the QB" Sam Bradford is putting up lethargic numbers. Maybe, just maybe, we just shouldn't of anointed a player who went 7-9 in the first season mainly because the defense got a lot better. Oh, and in other news, Roger Saffold is absolute crap.

31.) Miami Dolphins 0-4

Tony Sparano watch is on, since they are on a bye-week right now, the perfect time to make a change. Chad Henne is not the problem. He's not the answer, but he's basically what Jason Campbell was when he was in Washington. There are loads of problems on that team, like Reggie Bush being a bust in Miami and that defense really deteriorating.

30.) Minnesota Vikings 0-4

I still think they are talented, and the Vikings could easily be 3-1 after losing three straight close games. At this point, I think they should switch to Christian Ponder. McNabb is not getting them anywhere, and in a hyper-competitive NFC, they are absolutely done. Adrian Peterson's long extension is looking like a move that will keep him on a middling team for the rest of his productive career.

29.) Kansas City Chiefs 1-3

It is great that they have looked like an actual NFL team again the last two weeks, but they needed a lot to beat an 0-3 team last week at home. They still have the 2nd worst point differential in football. I still wouldn't trust them to win three more games. If any team should "suck for luck" it is the Chiefs, who's true biggest liability is at quarterback.

28.) Jacksonville Jaguars 1-3

They won their opening game. Since then, they put up 3 points against a Jets team in an effort that looks more embarrassing each week. They then put up 8 against Carolina (admittedly, part of that game was played in a monsoon). Finally, they put up 10 against the Saints at home. They have the worst offense in the NFL. Hey, who knew getting rid of one of your two best receivers and then cutting your starting quarterback and replacing him with a McCown and a rookie would end badly?

27.) Indianapolis Colts 0-4

I always feel bad doing this, but without Manning, I can't see them beating any team. I think they will play more competitively day in and day out with most of these teams in this range, but the other QBs just can't pull games out. The defense has played well two straight games, and the running game has been a revelation. Apart from QB, this is a good team.

26.) Seattle Seahawks 1-3

How the Seahawks came close to winning that game is beyond me. Tarvaris Jackson actually looked decent. All of this is probably just due to that damn Qwest Field, which is still an evening factor of any game the Seahawks play. I think they are still in deep trouble, but that crowd will make games watchable, at least.

25.) Denver Broncos 1-3

Orton and that offense actually moved the ball pretty well against the Packers. It was that defense that is still recovering from bad personnel management since the end of the Shanahan days and through the McDaniels' dictatorship. I love that they finally brought in Tim Tebow for a useless play. If you told NCAA fans two years ago that Tim Tebow would amount to nothing while a renegade QB Cam Newton would be setting rookie passing records, I think they would have killed you.

24.) Arizona Cardinals 1-3

This team came within the following of being 4-0: Two missed field goals in Seattle. A 1-point loss in Washington. A controversial call being called the way a majority of the people in the world saw it. The Cardinals are the best 1-3 team in the NFL (other than the Eagles, who are easily the most talented). Since they haven't played SF yet, I still think they have a good shot at an NFC West title.

23.) Cleveland Browns 2-2

The two teams the Browns beat are both 0-4 (Indy, Miami), and their two losses have come to teams that are among the lesser .500+ teams (Cincy, Tennessee). The Browns are a team with average talent that is unsurprisingly getting average results. All of that amounts to optimism in Cleveland. This isn't the mirage 2007 team, but a team that is worth following, that will end up with single digit losses. That can be an upgrade, just ask Raiders fans' about the 2010 season.

22.) Cincinnati Bengals 2-2

AJ Green is really, really good. The Bengals defense is good. Their schedule, like everyone in the AFC North, is really weak (the AFC South and NFC West will do that to you). They have @JAX, vs IND, bye, @ SEA, @ TEN before their first meeting with the Steelers. There is a real chance they could be 5-3 heading into that game. That is incredible. And just think if Mike Brown and Carson Palmer didn't have to sooth their egos and if he was playing QB.

21.) Carolina Panthers 1-3

Cam Newton is a lot better that what I thought he would be. But that isn't as important as the sudden revival of one Stevonne Latrall Smith (his real name), the master of the rules and regulations of the game. Mr. 89. From 2003-2008, Steve Smith was, other than Moss and Johnson/Ocho, the most exciting receiver in the game. His touchdown dances were underrated (changing the baby). He singlehandidly made Jake Delhomme into a good QB. He's the real secret behind Cam having a great rookie year.

20.) Philadelphia Eagles 1-3

This is just sad. It is just pathetic. Lose to Atlanta: Fine, they were desperate at 0-1 in their home opener. Lose to the Giants: Less fine, but the Giants are still a good team. Blow a 23-3 lead at home to the 49ers: ABSOLUTELY INEXCUSABLE. Michael Vick isn't the issue. It is all the old Eagles' foibles, like not being able to score touchdown and not being able to prevent them when inside the red zone. It also is dumb shit like Frank Gore doing his best Aaron Brooks impression.

19.) Dallas Cowboys 2-2

Tony Romo is really the new-old-Brett Favre (2002-2006). Favre in those years won a lot of games, but he also lost just as many with dumb, idiotic interceptions. Picks #1 and #3 were just bad decisions and throws. Good NFL QBs just cannot make those decisions. I said in the offseason that getting Romo back isn't that big of a deal since the difference between him and Kitna's performance in 2010 wasn't that much. Romo can make throws Kitna can't, but he'll make idiotic decisions like those picks.

18.) San Francisco 49ers 3-1

I thought they would be bad. I'm still not sure they aren't. They don't really do anything well other than not turn the ball over and stop the run. They've been outgained by about 80 yards a game, have no one rushing for over 4.0 ypc, and have Alex Smith throwing for just 800 yards (Brady crossed that in two games, so did Cam Newton). They've given up 14 sacks. They honestly do nothing well, yet came within a Tony Romo comeback of being 4-0.

17.) Atlanta Falcons 2-2

They are what they are, an unexplosive team with good players on paper that aren't any more than the some of their parts. This doesn't mean they are bad. They were the same thing in 2009, when they went 9-7. I don't think they are headed to the playoffs, but they still are a tough out for anybody.

16.) Tennessee Titans 3-1

They have given up the fewest points in the NFL so far, and Matt Hasselbeck is completing 2/3rds of his passes and has a ypa of 8.7. They are 3-1, with Chris Johnson being among the worst RBs in the NFL in ypr right now. Kenny Britt is also gone, but they went out and blasted the Browns in Cleveland. This probably won't continue too much longer, but right now, the Titans are a legitimate wild card threat in the weaker conference.

15.) Washington Redskins 3-1

Holy Rex. He just wins games. He just does what is needed. Enter in whatever Rex Grossman platitude Lovie Smith used to use in 2006. The Redskins have a good defense, capable of winning games if the offense doesn't make too many mistakes. The Redskins have a good offense with a great play-caller running the show. The Redskins played pretty well in their only loss as well. Grossman is really doing a Jake Plummer impression, and that usually ended in January.

14.) New York Jets 2-2

I had a feeling that the Jets would take a step back in 2011 from 2009-2010, but my thoughts were mostly about their defense. I thought Sanchez would get better. Their receiving corp didn't make a great exchange of players, but Sanchez would get better. Well, bang me silly, that really hasn't happened. The Jets need Nick Mangold back, and quick. Seeing them without Mangold get destroyed, I think my selection of Mangold being the higher ranked player over Revis doesn't look as outlandish.

13.) Pittsburgh Steelers 2-2

The old Steelers never let a "finesse" team like Houston run for 170 yards. The Steelers just lost to the Texans in a defensive struggle. That sentence just made a terrible towel eat itself. I think they will snap out of it a bit, and that easy schedule is still there, but their close loss to the Colts was not a mirage. The Steelers o-line has somehow become worse and more injured. The defense still looks old, and now James Harrison is having orbital bone surgery. Black and Blue for the Black and Gold.

12.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-1

I love that the Buccaneers win all these close games, but that just means that they aren't that great of a team. They haven't gone out and beaten a good team straight up. They play all these middling teams close (Indy, Minnesota). Can they just go out and blast a team like all the other good teams? It is like Freeman just wants to get as many 4th-quarter comebacks as possible.

11.) Oakland Raiders 2-2

That was a loss that is acceptable. They aren't ready to beat a team of New England's caliber when they make mistakes. They played Brady well, holding him to just over 50% completion percentage. They were the first team to shut down Gronkowski. If Campbell doesn't throw that ridiculous interception, the worst they go into halftime is 17-13 (or even 17-17). That game could've been different. I still took positives out of it.

10.) Chicago Bears 2-2

Devin Hester is ridiculous. Devin Hester is the greatest returner in NFL history. You know what, it is always fun to watch the absolute best. It was fun to watch Manning carve up teams to no end, to throw balls into tight windows to covered receivers. It was fun to watch Tiger in his prime, or Federer in his. Watching people who are the best to play their sport is fun, and Hester is one of those guys. He's the best ever at what he does.

9.) Buffalo Bills 3-1

That was a crushing loss. I picked that they would not cover the Bengals, but I truly didn't expect them to lose, and in that fashion. I don't think the Bills are the frauds that they were in 2008 when they started 4-0, but the Bills aren't going to the playoffs if they lose these winnable games. By the way, what exactly is CJ Spiller doing these days?

8.) New York Giants 3-1

Oh, G-Men. I'm sorry I doubted you. With Osi back, and Eli getting more acclimated to those new weapons, the G-Men are about to go on a streak. History tells us so. History also tells us that there could be problems in the 2nd half, but that can't last forever. The G-Men still have that great running game and have the best pass-rushing d-line in the NFL. Those two in tandem with Eli playing awesome make a combination ripe for 11-5.

7.) Houston Texans 3-1

Just like I wrote in the Steelers part, the Texans just out-physicaled a physical team. The Texans did what they did, most of the game without Andre Johnson, against the Steelers. Yes, the Steelers o-line is about as good as most Div-III colleges, but that doesn't take away fully from the fact that the Texans pass rush was just dominating on Sunday. The Texans don't have to play great offense to win their games, winning two games when scoring a combined 40 points.

6.) Detroit Lions 4-0

Congratulations for being undefeated one more week. They ripped the heart out of the Jerry Dome. The Jerry-Pire State Building opened in the beginning of the 2009 season. That year, the Lions were in a 5-47 run. A year after that ended (end of 2010), they outgunned the Cowboys in the Jerry-Canyon. Calvin Johnson is also a beast. But we always knew that.

5.) San Diego Chargers 3-1

The Chargers have looked tired and lazy in their three wins, and looked like the "same old Chargers" in their only loss. The Calendar is flipped, and this is when the Chargers start playing good again. That's a good thing, because in this season, the Chargers are already 3-1 in their lazy, tired phase of the season. Phil Rivers won't have more picks than TDs for long. That defense is still really good, and that offense will get better (hasn't score 30 yet this year, I expect that to change, maybe this week). The Chargers are still my pick to win the Super Bowl, but then again, after picking the White Sox to win the Super Bowl, that is probably going to make the Chargers miss the playoffs again.

4.) New England Patriots 3-1

This defense is still awful. They've given up over 410 yards in every game. They can't rush the passer at all. They are virtually the 2004 Colts, with less explosiveness and more efficiency (basically, they won't hit the same amount of deep plays as that Colts team did, but will get more long drives and YAC). That isn't a recipe for success. They've finished their transition to the 2003-2004 Colts. Have fun with that, Pats fans. You have become your enemy.

3.) New Orleans Saints 3-1

That was a game that good teams win in just that fashion. The Saints weren't playing 100%. But they still won by 13 on the road. That's how a good team gets it done. The Saints played the Packers damn tough in what has been the NFL's impossible game (road teams still haven't won the Week-1 game at the defending champ since it started in 2004. Many have been close 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, but the road team hasn't gotten it done ever). The Saints have since been the Saints, and now their defense finally had a great outing.

2.) Baltimore Ravens 3-1

My oh my. How the hell did they lose 13-26 in Tennessee. Even if you include that game, this team has the best point differential in the NFL. Their defense has been fantastic. Some of it will regress back to the mean (like already recovering 8 fumbles and having 14 takeaways through 4 games), but Flacco will probably not end the 2011 season with less than 50% completions. Torrey Smith looks really good, and Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta look to be a solid 1-2 TE combo. The Ravens, in the conventional sense, are the most complete team in the NFL. They just aren't the best, yet.

1.) Green Bay Packers 4-0

They are really good. They are the champs and they are undefeated. They are the best team in the NFL right now. Aaron Rodgers cannot play at a 124.7 passer rating pace for too much longer since that is pretty much impossible (and as good as he looks now, he hasn't played as good as Peyton in 2004 when he had a 121.1). That defense, though, will probably get better. They still haven't had a great game, but they are still getting turnovers. Until they lose they won't drop. I honestly think they have a shot to lose this Sunday night in Atlanta, but that's just a gut feeling. My head is telling me it could be something resembling the 48-21 playoff game.

Playoff Projections/Predictions


1.) Baltimore Ravens 13-3
2.) San Diego Chargers 13-3
3.) New England Patriots 12-4
4.) Houston Texans 11-5
5.) Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6
6.) Oakland Raiders 10-6


1.) Green Bay Packers 13-3
2.) New Orleans Saints 13-3
3.) New York Giants 11-5
4.) San Francisco 49ers 9-7
5.) Detroit Lions 12-4
6.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6

'Till Next Time

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week 4 NFL Picks

So, after a one week hiatus, where everything went right in my NFL world (Pats lost, Raiders won, Colts look competent for once without Manning), I've decided to forget my earlier decision to forget about football. Anyway, here come my Week 4 NFL Picks.

Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys (-2.5)

Dallas beat Washington 18-16 at home. Detroit is a different animal, especially on that defensive line. Suh, KVB and the rest of the boys will tee off on an offensive line that still isn't really gelling. Tony Romo, for all his supposed heroics, played average, especially given that horrible pick he through in the 3rd quarter. The Lions offense should be able to take advantage of that still porous pass defense. The Cowboys should be able to get a good pass rush, but then again, the Vikings did too.

Lions 27 (DET) Cowboys 20

New Orleans Saints (-7) @ Jacksonville Jaguars

The Saints are good. The Jags are not. The Saints have been scoring at a really high rate, and the Jaguars defense, while being good so far, has yet to face a passing offense close to that of the Saints. Drew Brees is quietly having an excellent season through three games. The Jaguars offense will really struggle under Blaine Gabbert against a good blitzing defense. This one is quite easy to call.

Saints 31 (NO) Jaguars 16

San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles (-9.5)

That is a high number for a team that looked lifeless a week ago and with a QB who had a concussion and then a bruised (at one point close to broken) hand in his last two games. The 49ers offense is still not very good, but they have one key advantage over the Eagles: Vernon Davis. The Eagles' LBs are horrible. They can't cover anyone, and Vernon Davis should have a nice game. I still think the Eagles are too good to actually lose this game, but they 49ers will keep it close.

49ers 20 (SF) Eagles 24

Washington Redskins (-3) @ St. Louis Rams

I'm not sure if I like the idea of the Redskins and Rex Grossman being favorites on the road, but the Rams are not playing good at all. The Redskins defense has been really good so far this season, which is worse for an offense still struggling to just get off the ground. Rex Grossman still had a bad interception against Dallas, but mainly stayed protective of the ball. This is much like the old Shanahan reclamation project Jake Plummer. I like this Redskins team right now. Their defense plays tough. Their offense can make some moves and the running game is operating on a Shanahan-lite level.

Redskins 24 (WAS) Rams 16

Tennessee Titans (PK) @ Cleveland Browns

One of these teams will be 3-1. That is terrifying. Mike Holmgren stopped coaching Matt Hasselbeck in 2008, when Hasselbeck was washed up. Now, either a team QBed by Hasselbeck or run by Holmgren will be 3-1. Personally, I don't think either team has lasting power, and I like both teams, but when in doubt, go with the home team that isn't QBed by a 38 year old bald man who's really playing with house money.

Titans 17 Browns 23 (CLE)

Buffalo Bills (-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals

Are the Bills really going to be 4-0? I think for the first time in 2011 the Bills offense will be slowed to a point. The Bengals defense is good enough to keep this game relatively lower-scoring. The Bills defense then will have to play well against Andy Dalton, which really isn't a task too difficult for a team that just picked off Tom Brady four times. Andy Dalton has really looked like an overdrafted rookie in a volatile situation. The Bills will, in my estimation, be 4-0, as crazy as that sounds.

Bills 23 (BUF) Bengals 16

Minnesota Vikings (-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs

The only meeting of two 0-3 teams is a game where the two teams is a matchup where one team has lost three close games to three good teams. The other is a team that was blown out twice and then lost a game nowhere as close as the score indicated to San Diego (in KC's defense, Minnesota did as well). I'll go with the team that has played better, the team that has built up big leads, mainly because without Thomas Jones, the Chiefs can't really make the comeback.

Vikings 27 (MIN) Chiefs 20

Carolina Panthers @ Chicago Bears (-7)

The Panthers are a nice team, they really are. But what amazes me is that they've had a lot of success on offense without getting much from DeAngelo Williams ("not getting much" is actually an understatement, since he's been horrific), or that defense. That is not a good way to match up against a team that can play great defense, and limit the big play. The Bears are good enough to beat the Panthers.

Panthers 16 Bears 28 (CHI)

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Houston Texans (-4)

I'm amazed the Texans are favored in this game. I'm more amazed that I really like them here. The Steelers defense is just not the same. They need to replace Aaron Smith, James Farrior, James Harrison and that whole secondary quickly to be set for the next decade. The Texans have a huge game in this one. The division is going to be winnable anyway, but this is the type of game that they lay the hammer down. They will.

Steelers 17 Texans 24 (HOU)

Atlanta Falcons (-6) @ Seattle Seahawks

There isn't any point in picking this game. Weird things happen in that stadium. Most people view this game as a lock for the Falcons, but I think the Seahawks keep it close. I'm not really sure why I do, but it just looks like that type of game that could lose a lot of people a lot of money. The Falcons haven't done anything to prove that they can go into what is still a tough place to play and win by a touchdown.

Falcons 27 Seahawks 24 (SEA)

New York Giants (-1.5) @ Arizona Cardinals

I also think this game will be closer than most, and here the line agrees with me. I'm surprised after a win like that the Giants are only favored by 1.5. The Cardinals are better than that 1-2 record. They could easily be 3-0, losing their last two games in bad fashion. The Giants are playing a classic letdown game. Then again, I can't see the Cardinals winning, and that line is awfully low, so after all that, the Giants should cover.

Giants 33 (NYG) Cardinals 28

Miami Dolphins @ San Diego Chargers (-6.5)

The Dolphins stink. The Chargers are still getting better. The Chargers haven't played a great game yet, and Philip Rivers has been pedestrian for him. I won't waste time on a game that is really obvious pick.

Dolphins 13 Chargers 27 (SD)

Denver Broncos @ Green Bay Packers (-12)

This is more obvious than the Chargers pick. The Packers will lose eventually, but it sure as hell won't be to the Broncos. Orton will have time, and that Packers defense doesn't look nearly as good as it was in 2009-2010, but the Packers offense will easily score too many points.

Broncos 24 Packers 41 (GB)

New England Patriots (-6.5) @ Oakland Raiders

This is a homer pick. This is a pick that will probably be wrong, but fuck it. This is the biggest game the Raiders have played in a while. They can make a statement here. This is the type of team New England can struggle against. The Raiders can run clock to get a good time of possession (much like Baltimore in the 2009 playoffs). The Raiders have the d-line that can get good pressure without blitzing too often (like the Giants in the 2007 playoffs). I like the Raiders to stun everyone and beat the Pats.

Pats 20 Raiders 24 (OAK)

New York Jets @ Baltimore Ravens (-5)

I don't think the Jets are that good. I don't think they are making the playoffs. They made their offense worse with their free agent decisions, and then their defense has mysteriously regressed. The Ravens will be ready for this. This is their night game at home. I researched that they are wearing the black uniforms, and other than a loss to the Colts in 2007, the Ravens have NEVER lost a night game in the all-black uniforms (they've won the other 4). Ravens in Black, it is over.

Jets 13 Ravens 24 (BAL)

Indianapolis Colts @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-10)

I would love to pick the Colts in this game. I won't do that because I don't trust Curtis Painter at all to be anything more than bad. That said, I can pick this to be close because the Buccaneers just don't blow-out anyone. The Colts defense is playing amped up. They aren't quitting, and that is all that I can say about a team that will probably go 3-13.

Colts 17 (IND) Buccaneers 24

Last Week: 10-6

Season to Date: 17-14-1

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.