Friday, December 4, 2009

Prime Cuts: Vernon Davis

Last year, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis was humiliated and punished by his new head coach Mike Singletary, sent to the locker room in the middle of a game for lackluster behavior. (It sucked for Vernon, but also gave us one of the more memorable rants in recent memory.)

But a year later, Davis is one of the most productive tight ends in the league. Kudos to you if you held on to him in fantasy.

Now, some more good news from #85: he likes to chomp at one of San Francisco's best chophouses. Via his twitter page last night:

Just finish eating at the house of prime in san francisco. Thanks to my
offensive line for inviting me
Taking a glance at the menu at House of Prime Rib, I'd guess that Davis would be a King Henry VIII guy. Probably the mashed potatoes and creamed spinach as well. Regardless, the place looks all class.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

El Hombre Scale: Week 12

Each Monday (or Tuesday), we'll celebrate the top 5 and bottom 5 QB performances from the previous week.


Vince Young
Where do you draw the line between clutch, good mojo, and luck? Betting on Vince Young going 99 in two minutes for a winning touchdown wouldn't fetch good odds, and they'd drop lower if you knew he'd have to convert 3 4th downs in the process. And the first of those do-or-die conversions happened because somehow the defensive back had his back turned and the ball whizzed right by his head. But the dude got it done, culminating with a sweet step-up to avoid a rush and an on-the-run-across-the-body pea to Kenny Britt for the winning score. Clutch, mojo, luck ... a bit of all 3.

Drew Brees
Mentioned this on Twitter, but it seemed like the Saints have been operating at about a third of their capability the past few weeks against crummy teams, gearing up for the Pats. And, in the immortal words of Randy Moss, they whooped they ass. So precise, so creative, awesome to watch.

Dennis Dixon
The OT interception aside, the only one more impressive than Ray Rice (studly) and Cris Collinsworth (calling out everything before it happened) on Sunday night was Dixon. Even if the Ravens D isn't what it used to be, that's an intimidating situation, and Dixon didn't bail all night. Earlier Sunday on the Fantasy Fix, guest Rocco DeMaro compared it to taking on a tiger with a baseball bat. The Louisville Slugger won.

Aaron Rodgers
That loss to the Bucs seems like a long time ago. Crazy completion in the 1st quarter, when Rodgers threw the ball close to 70 yards in the air.

Brett Favre
How do you turn 40 and somehow play twice as good as you did when you were a back-to-back-to-back MVP almost 15 years ago? Unless you're Barry Bonds, of course.


Matthew Stafford
As quickly as everyone jumped on the bandwagon after his heroics against Cleveland, they jumped off twice as fast after this stinker.

Chad Henne
Throwing in Upstate New York in late November isn't the same as South Florida.

Tom Brady
Dare we say he was rattled? Sure looked like it.

Jake Delhomme
Even more than the interceptions (which were hideous), the thing that made Delhomme so bad Sunday was the number of times he threw an incompletion and there wasn't a single player on the screen when the ball stopped rolling. That is stunningly inaccurate.

Brady Quinn
15 completions. 100 yards. Goo.

Friday, November 27, 2009

On this date ... 1994

One of the most hilarious/depressing/defining moments in Jets history. Looking to tie the Dolphins for first place, the Jets took a 24-6 lead in the 3rd quarter. But Dan Marino led Miami back, pulled off the fake spike play to Mark Ingram with under 30 to go, and the Dolphins won 28-24. It was a start of a 5-game losing streak to end the season, and Pete Carroll's only year as head coach. FML.

Monday, November 23, 2009

El Hombre Scale: Week 11

Each Monday, we'll celebrate the top 5 and bottom 5 QB performances from the previous week.


Matthew Stafford
Who cares that it was only the Browns? Youngest player ever to throw for 5 TDs. 400 yards passing. Erased a 21-point deficit. Leads final drive with no timeouts. Shades of Flutie as he avoids numerous defenders before chucking up a Hail Mary. Throws winning TD pass with no time left after injuring his left shoulder. That's some huge cajones.

Eli Manning
He was bound to have a good post-November 1 performance at Giants Stadium one of these days. (Shhh, don't tell anyone that it was 55 degrees an sunny on Sunday.) Eli might need to do that a couple more times this season to bail out a crummy defense.

Tony Romo
The end-of-the-day stats don't look good (15/27, 158 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT), but he was 7-for-8 on the final drive and made a sick play on the winning TD pass. For someone who takes a load of crap every time he doesn't come through, maybe he deserves some props for pulling this one out. And he was banged up with a bad back.

Aaron Rodgers
Annihilated the same pass defense that ate up Jay Cutler last week. Some thanks should go to Greg Jennings, who silenced some skeptics by finally ripping off a couple big plays. Nasty double-move on a first-quarter reception.

Brady Quinn
At least Notre Dame fans had something to cheer about this week. Nice bounceback by Quinn after an uninspiring performance on Monday night. And while he's getting criticized for throwing an incompletion on 3rd down to set up the Lions winning drive, are we sure that Mohamed Massaquoi (a rookie WR) ran the correct route on the play?


Charlie Batch
It's difficult to top Jay Fiedler's feat back in 2005, who came in for after a Pennington injury, messed up his own shoulder after taking a hit on his 3rd snap, and was done for the year. Batch came close - on the field for 4 plays in relief of Ben Roethlisberger, and now he's done for 6 weeks with a wrist injury. The Jets were forced to play Brooks Bollinger and then dusted off Vinny Testaverde for a final cameo. If Roethlisberger is out for the long haul, are the Steelers in better shape with Dennis Dixon at QB?

Josh Freeman
Looked confused for the first time in his young career - 17 completions for only 126 yards and 3 picks.

Jay Cutler
We're not into piling on an easy target, but Cutler stunk last night. And it's extra annoying when he costs you a fantasy win.

Mark Sanchez
When the Jets drafted Sanchez, optimists noted how successful rookies Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco were in 2008. But neither player was asked to go out and be the front guy very often. Ryan was an occasional complement to a dominating running game, and Flacco had the luxury of a suffocating defense. This year's Jets have shown flashes of both, but have done neither consistently. And now for the 3rd time (Saints and Bills, previously), Sanchez has crushed his team's chances with a turnover-packed game. The question is, have the Jets put him in a bad position to make those kinds of mistakes, or has his reckless play put the Jets in an impossible spot to protect and develop him? Probably a little bit of both.

Chris Simms
The Broncos start the game with the ball on their own 26, and after 7 straight runs, they're at the Chargers 17 and poised to deliver the game's first punch. And then Denver calls for a pass, Simms neglects an open receiver in the flat, takes a sack, fumbles, and the Broncos never had much of a shot after that. Haven't we seen enough of this guy - 4 years of overrated, choke-filled games at Texas, 5 years of blah production at the pro level including a TD/INT ratio of 12/18 - to realize that this guy would've been cast aside if he didn't have a dad who was a Super Bowl-winning QB over 20 years ago?

The Office Power Poll: "Shareholders Meeting"

1. Michael: The shaking out the jitters as Andy faux-announces him was genius ... "I wish the windows werent tinted so people could see us in here." ... Nailed the twirl/spin. Nailed it ... "Limos are for people who make the company money, not lost millions and have no plan. So we're leaving early." Brilliant line, brilliant move, brilliant performance this episode. A virtuoso Michael Scott - displayed every element of his personality that makes him so enjoyable/cringeworthy.

2. Oscar: He always seems to find himself on these guy road trips, doesn't he? ... Two and a half jabs at his sexuality, from Michael ("I hate to break it to you Oscar, but some of us like boobs"), Dwight ("How is he gonna have grandkids?"), and Andy ("Don't be a wuss" - 1/2) ... "I know a guy, this Mexican guy, he is a math whiz, he's knows economics as well as he knows bull fighting."

3. Jim: Finally does something cool and badass after about two seasons of of being lame (what guys say) and cute (what girls say).

4. Security Guy: Has he ever protected the President? Madonna? The Obama twins? He's not supposed to talk about it. P.S.: Nelly Furtado.

5. Former Congressman Chris O'Keefe: Respect for pouring the glass of scotch during the recess ... Some good lines: "Who the hell is this guy"; "He's our best manager? Where's the off button on this moron."; "He can take the bus. He's had his limo ride."

6. Phyllis: Strong performance by her, getting "plastered" at lunch. Wonder if she and Bob Vance had a nooner in the restaurant bathroom again.

7. Erin: Only one line, but it was brilliant (upon seeing the limo): "It's like what high school kids take to prom on TV shows."

8. Dwight: Ah, getting caught changing lines. Kinda like when you change lanes in heavy traffic, only to see your departed lane start to move ... There's shirt guy in the garment district who specializes in mustard-yellow button-downs ... Who the F are you to ask Dwight to save your spot in line? Were you raised in a world without consequences?

9. Andy: How did he get a 1220 on SAT but still made it into Cornell? Glee club as an extracurricular activity must've pulled some serious weight ... Not gonna lie: we would've expected a more theatrical pretend-intro for Michael.

10. Ryan: Finally gets served by Jimbo. Don't worry Ryan, you know it gets bigger once you're in there ... Wardrobe Watch: Cardigan, then a checkered shirt with a tie. One of the better subtle subplots of the season.

Others receiving votes:

Kevin: Who heard it from Ryan? "Does an e-mail count?"

Pam: Not looking real preggers, is she?

Kelly: No lines? Bad job.

Alan Brand: Forgettable CEO.

David Wallace: So can we blame him as the CFO or just the bad economy on the fall of Dunder Mifflin?

Meredith: This year's breakout star was invisible after an early opportunity: "It looks like you're taking a dump."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

NFL Picks: Week 11

Indianapolis at Baltimore (pick)
Who needs it more:
Colts basically have home-field locked up, and don't know how much they really care about going undefeated. The Ravens are in the middle of a large pack of teams angling for a wild card.
Kinda feels like: Signs would point to a Colts letdown, but it's also the type of game that Peyton Manning takes over and wins by himself. Plus, sometimes he's even more dangerous on the road.

Atlanta at NY Giants (-6.5)
Who needs it more:
Giants, but only because it's a home game and they've dropped four straight. The winner gets put on a track towards the playoffs, and the loser is scrambling.
Random stat/observation: The road team has won 12 straight between the two teams. Back in 2005, Eli Manning made his first career start in a loss to Atlanta.
Kinda feels like: Not having Michael Turner isn't as big a deal as a less-than-good Matty Ice. The G-Men get the benefit of the doubt for one more week - coming off a bye, in front of an amped up crowd, and relatively healthy, should help them get by.

Pittsburgh at Kansas City (+10)
Who needs it more:
The champs have to be humbled a bit after Cincy swept 'em. A loss to the woeful Chiefs seems out of the question.
Kinda feels like: If KC hadn't won last week in Oakland, it would be entirely conceivable to see more Steelers fans in the crowd than Chiefs fans. Still might be the case.

San Francisco at Green Bay (-6.5)
Who needs it more:
Both teams are trying to build on big wins, but a loss could knock the Niners out of it for good (barring an Arizona meltdown in St. Louis).
Kinda feels like: San Fran just seems to play close games (for the most part). Hopefully that's the case so we can feel a little nostalgic about those late-90's games, including the one where T.O. dropped like 8 passes but held onto the game-winner because he got sandwiched and there was no direction for the ball to fly out.

Arizona at St. Louis (+9)
Who needs it more:
At the very least, the Cards should get through this week with the 2-game lead intact, and most likely see that bumped up to 3.
Kinda feels like: Ya know, it's been awhile (like 3 weeks) since Marc Bulger got knocked out with an injury.

Washington at Dallas (-11)
Who needs it more:
Cowboys had their freebee last week. Now they have this one and a layup on Thanksgiving (Oakland) before a big trip to NY.
Fantasy hunch: Could see Ladell Betts having another good game, but it's also about time we heard from Marion Barber.
Kinda feels like: Tight game at the half, but the Cowboys pull away. A big deficit won't stop Santana Moss from spinning the ball after every 8-yard catch, though.

Buffalo at Jacksonville (-8.5)
Who needs it more:
Jags are now officially in the playoff chase, while Buffalo now has T.O. playing with a backup QB from Harvard and an interim head coach. Heh.
Fantasy hunch: Mo-Jo, you owe a lot of people (including me) some love after what happened Sunday (even though you still had a kick-ass day).
Kinda feels like: The fact that this game is in Jacksonville really doesn't mean anything, since maybe 40k will show up, and the Jags actually seem to be tougher on the road. Maybe Buffalo will rally behind but its doubtful.

Cleveland at Detroit (-3.5)
Who needs it more:
The loser will be thinking, "Jesus, we're so bad, we lost to the f-ing ____," and I'm not sure which team to fill in the blank is worse.
Random stat/observation: If this game was billed as a battle of the two QB's with the most Deadspin appearances, would Matt Leinart object?
Fantasy hunch: If it doesn't happen this week for Kevin Smith and Calvin Johnson, it aint happening this year.
Kinda feels like: Almost ridiculous to say this, but the Lions, handily.

Seattle at Minnesota (-11)
Who needs it more:
With Seattle out of it, Minny wants to stay within a game of the Saints for home-field.
Fantasy hunch: Great point by the guys at Football Outsiders, noting that had the Vikings kept pursuing TJ Houshmandzadeh, Sidney Rice probably doesn't get a chance to put up freaky numbers, or turn out to be the best 13th round steal ever.
Kinda feels like: The Vikes got the sloppy kinks out last week, while Seattle has to be a bit bummed after watching their 2nd half lead in Arizona disappear. And if the 'Hawks can't tackle Beanie Wells, how are they gonna fair with Adrian Peterson coming at them?

New Orleans at Tampa Bay (+11)
Who needs it more:
Guessing that an undefeated team doesn't want it's first loss to come in Week 11 to a one-win team.
Random stat/observation: The Saints have scored the 4th-most points (331) through 9 games in NFL history.
Fantasy hunch: For a team that is so dynamic offensively, it must be frustrating that the only reliable fantasy starters are Drew Brees and sometimes Marques Colston. Everyone else alternates having a big game.
Kinda feels like: Similar to the past few weeks, the Saints win, but not convincingly.

Cincinnati at Oakland (+9.5)
Who needs it more: Is Cincy good enough where they can just show up and win?
Fantasy hunch: All Cedric Benson owners who handcuffed you are counting on you, Bernard Scott.
Kinda feels like: Depends if the Raiders are good for more than just one home game a year where they actually show up and play. Letdown game potential for the Bengals, but also breakout possibilities for Scott.

San Diego at Denver (-3)
Who needs it more: The game is for the first place, and even though a Chargers loss means getting swept by the Broncos, this one is more vital for Denver. Another loss, and they're officially in a total free-fall.
Fantasy hunch: After getting a 46-spot put up on me from Ricky Williams and Steve Smith on Thursday night, hearing that Chris Simms could be starting was a bit of a relief (my opponent has Brandon Marshall). Although that sentence probably just jinxed it.
Kinda feels like: Loss for Denver, in heartbreaking fashion. At least they still have games left with the Raiders and Chiefs.

NY Jets at New England (-10.5)
Who needs it more: Both need it for different reasons. Jets can get back in the race with a win, and wipe out a lot of negative energy surrounding the club. A loss, and they're playing for 2010. The Pats need to keep the 2-game lead in the division more than they do to bounce back after a tough loss to the Colts. And some revenge would be nice, too.
Fantasy hunch: Not having Wes Welker for that Week 2 game might've been the biggest difference. Look for him to go for 12-100+ and at least a touchdown.
Kinda feels like: Jets have been a tough out in Foxboro and this one should be the same. Look for Belichick to run up the score if he gets a chance, and the final score could look more lopsided than the game really is.

Philadelphia at Chicago (+3)
Who needs it more: Donovan McNabb said this was a must-win for the Eagles. Perhaps a bit extreme. It is a must-win for Jay Cutler if he hopes to have Bears fans cheer for him at all the rest of the year.
Random stat/observation: Doesn't it sound like McNabb always needs to blow his nose?
Kinda feels like: Chicago either comes out with an inspired performance in front of a pumped up crowd, or they get smoked and it's an empty stadium midway through the 4th. Really, it all depends on if Cutler throws a pick at all.

Tennessee at Houston (-4.5)
Who needs it more: The Titans have a nice run going, but the Texans are the ones who have realistic playoff chances.
Kinda feels like: Fun game, Texans eke it out, and many ESPN declarations how the Texans have officially arrived and are ready to make the playoffs. Also, if you weren't aware that Vince Young grew up in Houston, ESPN will be sure to remind you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sex & Awesomeness: Jack Donaghy's Best from "Sun Tea" (11/19)

In honor of his classic from the reunion episode, every week, we'll keep track of Jack Donaghy's top lines from the latest episode of 30 Rock.

"Holding up one finger to get someone to stop talking? He invented that."

"Geiss also invented the abrupt, conversational segueway ... Talk about your thing now."

"You know why my place is so big? When I was first married to my ex-wife, we were in the basement. Over the years, I kept buying the floors above me to make room for the family I thought we'd have. Well now I have something better than a family - a walk-in humidor, a lap pool, and a replica of the Irish pub where my grandmother was born."

"This could be your dream apartment. Sniff around your upstairs-neighbor's, see if he's planning to leave. If not, make him an offer he can't refuse. Trademark 1974 ... Don Geiss."

"I know it sounds ugly, but with Manhattan real estate, there are no rules. It's like check-in at an Italian airport."

"You're preaching to the choir, Kenneth. I mean, I love the Earth. I have these rare, coggable (sp?) blossoms flown in every morning from Sri Lanka on a private jet. That's the definition of green."

"Look at this. The Geiss name used to be synonymous with success ... power ... funny incidents where women died at barbecues. Now it's being dragged through the mud. This is why I'm having a vasectomy."

"Tracy, I want to have children. I want those memories no matter what the cost. And, I have to pass on this head of hair."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Saturday Slate: November 21

#10 Ohio State at Michigan
The last game of the Rich Rodriguez era. It won't be missed, unless you're a fan of a Big 10 team not named Michigan. Do the Wolverines (and R-Rod) have enough pride to show up and keep this close? You would hope so. And say what you will about Jim Tressel's boring style or inability to beat big teams or his pathetic wardrobe. But the dude beats Michigan. Best thing about this game: no more Big 10 football to suffer through for about a month until we get to watch them lose all the bowl games.
The pick: Ohio State 26, Michigan 16

#8 LSU at Ole Miss
There are many things to appreciate and admire about the south. The unbelievable food, the beautiful women, the friendly hospitality, etc. And then you read shit like this, and it just cancels everything out.
The pick: LSU 20, Ole Miss 16

#11 Oregon at Arizona
Would've been a lot cooler of a game had Cal not knocked off 'Zona last week. Although if your QB thinks he can throw a second pass after the first one was defelcted right back to him, then maybe you deserve to lose.
The pick: Oregon 49, Arizona 38

UConn at Notre Dame
Hey, speaking of last games...we're really sick of hearing about Charlie Weis' job security. Remind me why this is one of the most-desired jobs in America again? If they win though, the alma mater and seniors' final lap should be an emotional scene. Chucky's been stamped as a rough, arrogant guy, but he seems to legitimately care about his players and get wrapped up in all the pageantry.
The pick: Notre Dame 37, UConn 31

Harvard at Yale
The Crimson lost out on the Ivy title last week against Penn, but you'd figure they'd rebound for their main rival before entering the real world and screwing up Wall St.
The pick: Harvard 27, Yale 24

Lafayette at Lehigh
The Rivalry is the most-played football rivalry in the country, and has been played every year since 1897. Lehigh ended a four-year drought last year, and their 3-7 might be a bit misleading: they're 3-2 in league play. Which either means they played a really rough non-conference schedule, or the Patriot League stinks. Really not something for someone from the NESCAC to comment on.
The pick: Lehigh 23, Lafayette 20

Last week: 6-3

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Video: Rex Ryan makes fun of Sanchize, self

Rex Ryan probably pisses a lot of people off with his mouth, but it's tough not to laugh when the guy does stuff like this:

They Are Who We Thought They Were: NFC South - Week 11

New Orleans Saints (9-0, 1st)
Last week:
Def. St. Louis 28-23 on the road
Next up: Tampa Bay on the road
We thought: They'd do enough to beat the Rams, as they had been making habit of doing just enough ever since thrashing the Giants.
They are: Squeaking by could be a trend that leads up to the Pats game, where everyone assumes that the Saints are finally going down, only they absolutely unload on New England with everything they've got, win by 2 scores, and the undefeated talk returns.

Atlanta Falcons (5-4, 2nd)
Last week:
Lost to Carolina 28-19 on the road
Next up: NY Giants on the road
We thought: Not as good as advertised, particularly because Matty Ice was getting a pass from the critics despite a mediocre-to-subpar year so far (and that was before Sunday).
They are: Fitting that less than a week after people dismiss the Curse of 370 as it applies to Michael Turner, he hurts his ankle. We'll be shocked if Jason Snelling (or Ryan) goes into the Meadowlands and picks apart a pissed off, rested Giants team.

Carolina Panthers (4-5, 3rd)
Last week:
Def. Atlanta 28-19 at home
Next up: Miami at home (Thurs)
We thought: John Fox is a good enough coach to get them to play hard the rest of the way, even if the playoffs seem unlikely.
They are: Very much alive, particularly if they take advantage of the Ronnie Brown-less Dolphins. How hard are they kicking themselves for blowing that home game to the Bills a couple weeks ago?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8, 4th)
Last week:
Lost to Miami 25-23 on the road
Next up: New Orleans at home
We thought: Curious to see how long it would take before Josh Freeman's Welcome To The NFL moment.
They are: Hasn't really happened in 2+ games, and judging by the postgame quotes, the Dolphins players were impressed with Freeman. And he's still the only 2009 1st Round QB without a 5-pick game.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

They Are Who We Thought They Were: NFC North - Week 11

Minnesota Vikings (8-1, 1st)
Last week:
Def. Detroit 27-10 at home
Next up: Seattle at home
We thought: Free ride for a couple weeks.
They are: For a few minutes, they had some people nervous against the Lions (mainly survivor pool people). On a happy note, a couple weeks of non-intriguing matchups means a break from Favre Media Love.

Green Bay Packers (5-4, 2nd)
Last week:
Def. Dallas 17-7 at home
Next up: San Francisco at home
We thought: Extremely desperate for a win they'd probably get, as long as it didn't come down to the final few minutes.
They are: Intriguing. And after what he did Sunday, and having seen these occasional flashes of brilliance from Charles Woodson, is he underappreciated or one of these guys who's never really tapped his full potential?

Chicago Bears (4-5, 3rd)
Last week:
Lost to San Francisco 10-6 on the road
We thought: Primed for a shoot-out because their D is horrible.
They are: It's easy to pick on Jay Cutler because he seems to have this antagonstic personality, but we refuse to blame him for all 5 picks (although a couple of them were brutal), and don't buy the notion that he's not a winning QB.

Detroit Lions (1-8, 4th)
Last week:
Lost to Minnesota 27-10 on the road
Next up: Cleveland at home
We thought: Missing Kevin Smith, who was a fantastic soundbite last year, as he seemed to be the only one on the team to be upset at the losing.
They are: Hey, at least they compete. Not well, but they do compete.

They Are Who We Thought They Were: NFC West - Week 11

Arizona Cardinals (6-3, 1st)
Last week:
Def. Seattle 31-20 at home
Next up: St. Louis on the road
We thought: Way better of a team than anticipated, and better than they were at this point in the regular season last year.
They are: No one executes the slightly underthrown fade ball better than Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald.

San Francisco 49ers (4-5, 2nd)
Last week:
Def. Chicago 10-6 at home
Next up: Green Bay on the road
We thought: Beating Chicago was essential if they had any hope of staying close to Arizona.
They are: Alive. Expect another tight on against the Packers.

Seattle Seahawks (3-6, 3rd)
Last week:
Lost to Arizona 31-20 on the road
Next up: Minnesota on the road
We thought: Not bad enough to dismiss every week but not good enough to take seriously.
They are: Not much has changed. The tackling display on Beanie Wells was pretty atrocious.

St.Louis Rams (1-8, 4th)
Last week:
Lost to New Orleans 28-23 at home
Next up: Arizona at home
We thought: Fiesty enough to make the Saints sweat a bit.
They are: Fiesty enough to make the Cardinals sweat a bit.

They Are Who We Thought They Were: NFC East - Week 11

Dallas Cowboys (6-3, 1st)
Last week:
Lost to Green Bay 17-7 on the road
Next up: Washington at home
We thought: The Packers game was a little like playing with house money. Big win at Philly gave them some breathing room and week where they could avoid any bashing.
They are: Had a bad game. It happens. You could say that the great teams don't lose like that, but we'll give them a pass against an extremely desperate Packers squad. Cowboys will be fine.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-4, 2nd)
Last week:
Lost to San Diego 31-23 on the road
Next up: Chicago on the road
We thought: In the middle of mid-season lull.
They are: We'll see now if Brian Westbrook is truly the MVP of this team. LeSean McCoy can do some nice things, but does Andy Reid trust him enough to give him a full workload? Things usually don't go well for the Eagles when they're throwing 50 times a game.

New York Giants (5-4, 3rd)
Last week:
Next up: Atlanta at home
We thought: Forget getting back on the horse right after a tough loss. The G-Men needed a week to re-group.
They are: Suddenly after a couple losses from other teams, things don't look so bleak. Of course, it only looked bleak to people who overreact, which is about 90% of New York sports fans.

Washington Redskins (3-6, 4th)
Last week:
Def. Denver 27-17 at home
Next up: Dallas on the road
We thought: A live dog against a reeling Broncos team.
They are: Could Ladell Betts be a better player than Clinton Portis, or is he just fresher at this point in the season (as Sirloin friend Ti-Bo insisted this week)? Regardless, it's nice to see the best team on paper win a game on the field.

They Are Who We Thought They Were: AFC North - Week 11

Cincinnati Bengals (7-2, 1st)
Last week:
Def. Pittsburgh 18-12 on the road
Next up: Oakland on the road
We thought: Tough, likeable, but ultimately not ready to topple Pitt on the road.
They are: Swept Baltimore, swept Pittsburgh, haven't lost on the road ... and there are still people who will insist on a letdown game and a loss in Oakland.

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3, 2nd)
Last week:
Lost to Cincinnati 18-12 at home
Next up: Kansas City on the road
We thought: Those two early losses were a thing of the past, and the Steelers would win a tough, low-scoring game.
They are: If the Steelers played in Cincy in the playoffs, we still would take Pittsburgh. But they seem to be humbled a bit now. And obviously, without Troy Polamalu, they're not nearly as scary on D.

Baltimore Ravens (5-4, 3rd)
Last week:
Def. Cleveland 16-0 on the road
Next up: Indianapolis at home
We thought: Browns are the perfect team to play as a sandwich game between Cincy and Indy.
They are: Seemed like they wanted to get done with that Monday Night game as soon as possible, and figured that a few points would fall to them by default.

Cleveland Browns (1-8, 4th)
Last week:
Lost to Baltimore 16-0 at home
Next up: Detroit on the road
We thought: Eric Mangini seems like a decent man who is very confused about how to run a football team.
They are: Even Brady Quinn, who got another chance to start, didn't seem to be excited about playing.

They Are Who We Thought They Were: AFC South - Week 11

Indianapolis Colts (9-0, 1st)
Last week:
Def. New England 35-34 at home
Next up: Baltimore on the road
We thought: On the verge of their first loss.
They are: Getting lost in the Belichick talk is how bad ass of a comeback that was. Peyton Manning is better at managing the clock than Herm Edwards was at mangling it, and that's saying something.

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-4, 2nd)
Last week:
Def. NY Jets 24-22 on the road
Next up: Buffalo on the road
We thought: Didn't think these guys were that good, and didn't think they'd go up and down the field on the Jets.
They are: Raise your hand if you own Maurice Jones-Drew in fantasy? (Raising hand). Raise your hand if you're a Jets fan? (Raising hand). Raise your hand if you're still keeled over from the triple kick in the nutbag - fumble on the 1, kneel on the 1, beat the Jets - that MJD inflicted upon you (raising hand while still keeled over).

Houston Texans (5-4, 3rd)
Last week:
Next up: Tennessee at home (MNF)
We thought: Want to believe in the Texans. Fun team to watch.
They are: Monday's game against the Titans is suddenly a lot tougher than it looked a couple weeks ago.

Tennessee Titans (3-6, 4th)
Last week:
Def. Buffalo 41-17 at home
Next up: Houston on the road (MNF)
We thought: A team with little margin for error not playing great for the first 6 games and having every break go against them suddenly has its swagger back.
They are: Vince Young, suddenly confident (and competent), playing in Texas on Monday Night. If he plays well and wins, you will most certainly hear about the Return of VY.

Monday, November 16, 2009

They Are Who We Thought They Were: AFC West - Week 11

Denver Broncos (6-3, 1st)
Last week:
Lost to Washington 24-14 on the road
Next up: San Diego at home
We thought: Reeling, exposed, primed to get beat against the Skins.
They are: Tough to totally kill Chris Simms, as there have been many times when a backup failed to impress in relief of an injured starter, but was solid with a week of preperation running with the first string. That being said, we still hold it against Simms that Major Applewhite didn't get a fair shake in Texas, and actively root against him and therefore retract the previous excuse. If he's the starter, the Broncs are screwed.

San Diego Chargers (6-3, 2nd)
Last week:
Def. Philadelphia 31-23 at home
Next up: Denver on the road
We thought: Simmering, on the verge of officially becoming dangerous, if they weren't already.
They are: About to go into Denver, whip the Broncs, and take the lead in the West for good. Even if the NFC East is overrated, that's two excellent wins in a row over the G-Men and Iggles.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-6, 3rd)
Last week:
Def. Oakland 16-10 on the road
Next up: Pittsburgh at home
We thought: The game against the Raiders was the least anticipated game of the year.
They are: At least Jamaal Charles has some explosion? At least they didn't get swept by the Raiders? Anyone?

Oakland Raiders (2-6, 4th)
Last week:
Lost to Kansas City 16-10 at home
Next up: Cincinnati at home
We thought: See Chiefs, above.
They are: Part of me wants to see JaMarcus Russell get benched for good (never thought he should've sniffed that #1 pick). Part of me wants him to keep playing so see how bad he can play and still claim he didn't play that bad. There really isn't a ceiling (basement?) for his sucktitude.

They Are Who We Thought They Were: AFC East Week 11

New England Patriots (6-3, 1st)
Last week: Lost to Indianapolis 35-34 on the road
We thought: On the verge of exploding. They seemed to be peaking and had them beating the Colts in Indy.
They are: Loved the decision to go for it. Easy to forget now how well they played throughout much of the game. The whole "Belichick disrespected his defense" argument is a bunch of crap. Why does having complete confidence in your Hall-of-Fame QB and Ultra-Clutch Kevin Faulk to gain 3 yards need to be perceived as a slight to the D?

Miami Dolphins (4-5, 2nd)
Last week: Def. Tampa Bay 25-23 at home
We thought: Susceptible to a bit of a letdown but confident enough to make them a survivor pool pick against the Bucs.
They are: Whew. Chad Henne's interception to set up Tampa's go-ahead score was one of the ugliest passes you'll ever see, but credit to him for rebounding and leading the winning drive. And even more credit to Ricky Williams, whose huge 27-yard run all but clinched the game. Now, with Ronnie Brown most likely out, Williams might even be a top-10 fantasy option this week.

New York Jets (4-5, 3rd)
Last week: Lost to Jacksonville 24-23 at home
We thought: Coming off a bye week, the defense was sure to come out firing and stifle the Jags in their own building.
They are: Same Old Jets: Maurice Jones-Drew gashes them; David Garrard picks them apart; they waste a timeout with a 1st and Goal from the 1; Braylon Edwards makes a fantastic leaping catch on a clutch 3rd down but then can't squeeze the 2-pt conversion; under instructions to let MJD score a touchdown, they tackle him on the first try (Rex Ryan: "We couldn't even get that right."), then watch in dismay (along with fantasy owners) as he takes a knee at the 1 on the following play. Next up, a pissed-off Pats team looking to make up for a crushing loss to the Colts and to exact some revenge on the mouthy Jets from Week 2. Searching for a reason to believe in an upset. Not finding one.

Buffalo Bills (3-6, 4th)
Last week: Lost to Tennessee 41-17 on the road
We thought: Not good, but better than people were giving them credit for.
They are: It was actually nice for these past few weeks when we didn't have so much T.O. in our lives.

Video: Pats vs Colts

Here's the 4th and 2 and the Reggie Wayne TD. (Only allowed 45 seconds of NFL video on the site).

Bill Belichick's postgame presser. Vintage.

Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison both direct and critical of Belichick after the game.

Bill Belichick's Brass Balls

A few points regarding a certain coaching decision that might make talk radio and the internet simultaneously explode this morning...

First, loved the call. Loved the aggression, loved the balls it took, loved that it pisses off boring old conventional football wisdom, loved that Bill Belichick coaches like it's a Madden game, and really loved that it backfired and the Pats lost.

Maybe it's an oversimplification, but from the Pats' perspective: Do you like your chances better of giving Tom Brady the ball to get 2 yards on 1 play with Kevin Faulk and Wes Welker as options, or handing Peyton Manning the ball (anywhere on the field) with 2 minutes, 1 timeout, and in need of a TD? Given those two options, we'd let Brady have a crack at it.

(Note: We've seen a few writers place what seem like arbitrary percentages on the two options, including Peter King, who was very against the move: "Let's place the odds of Brady getting two yards at 60, 65 percent. The odds of Manning going 72 yards to score a touchdown in less than two minutes ... that's maybe 35 percent." So in other words, 65% chance that Brady makes it, 65% chance the defense stops Manning if they punt. Also, here's a dude who did the math.)

And if you're the Colts, what are you hoping they do there? Seeing Brady stay on the field to go for it on 4th down must have been terrifying. Give Manning or Jim Caldwell a shot of truth serum and ask, at that moment right before the play happened, if they'd prefer the Pats to punt or rely on their defense to stop Brady from completing a 2-yard pass.

Finally, we're with Gregg Rosenthal, who notes that because of all the scrutiny of Belichick, we're forgetting that the Colts did a fantastic job coming back and scoring those final two touchdowns, including a ridiculous catch by Reggie Wayne.

Friday, November 13, 2009

NFL Picks: Week 10

Tampa Bay at Miami (-10)
Who needs it more:
Miami. They're getting a lot of love as The Best 3-5 Team Ever, which is somewhat ironic because the team is run by Bill Parcells, who is famous for hating crap like that. You are what you are. Yeah, the Dolphins could've won their games against Indy and N'Awlins. They also could've lost both games to the Jets. Quit making excuses for them.
Mundane stat/observation: If you play in a nice weather city (like Tampa), can't there be a way to schedule all their road games in nice weather cities before November?
Fantasy hunch: Don't be shocked if Ricky Williams puts up some numbers in this one. His production has been similar to Ronnie Brown's most of the year.
Kinda feels like: Dolphins win, but sloppily. Usually happens when you play a crummy team after two tough divisional games.
Postgame chompin': Rookie QB in his building could mean big things for Jason Taylor. He seems like a classy guy, so good bet he hits up the Smith & Wo. He considers going with the NY Strip, but that makes him think of the Jets. Rib-Eye, it is.

New Orleans at St. Louis (+13.5)
Who needs it more: A loss wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for the Saints - the Pats proved that the burden of staying undefeated is too much - but it can't be this week.
Fantasy hunch: Much like Williams in Miami, a backup RB like Mike Bell could get a bunch of carries, especially if this one is a blowout.
Kinda feels like: Saints win with ease, but a Rams cover wouldn't be shocking.
Postgame chompin': In an attempt to add some winning karma, Steve Spagnuolo hits up Mike Shannon's. Maybe he can get some of the Cards' mojo.

Detroit at Minnesota (-17)
Who needs it more: Vikings can't blow this one, particularly if they care at all about suicide pools around the country.
Fantasy hunch: If the Vikes jump out big (which they should), look for Chester Taylor to get some looks.
Kinda feels like: A painful day for Matthew Stafford. #69 in purple should be good for at least 2 sacks today.
Postgame chompin': After abusing the Lions o-line and burying Stafford into the Metrodome turf, Jared Allen will either hunt for his dinner, or hit up a Minneapolis Longhorn.

Atlanta at Carolina (+2)
Who needs it more: The Falcons need to keep pace in the Wild Card conversation. Panthers will play hard but the playoffs are almost out of the question.
Fantasy hunch: An outburst has to happen sometime for The Original Steve Smith, right?
Kinda feels like: Low-scoring, lots of running, sub-par QB play. The Panthers get the season split.
Postgame chompin': Because he's All Class, and because his head will be (temporarily) off the chopping block, John Fox will treat himself to the outrageous Au Gratins and succulent Porterhouse at Del Frisco's.

Buffalo at Tennessee (-7)
Who needs it more: All of a sudden, the Titans don't seem that bad, and Vince Young is playing for his future. Neither team is going to the playoffs, but Tennessee has more pride.
Mundane stat/observation: Prior to last week's game, half of Chris Johnson's runs added up to 0 total yards - 17 no-gains, 20 carries for a loss, 22 gains of 2 yards or less. The other half of his carries averaged 14 yards a pop.
Fantasy hunch: With Trent Edwards back in the lineup, Lee Evans might see some action. This would be the week to do it, facing the league's worst pass D.
Kinda feels like: Lots of Jeff Fisher fist pumps, numerous VY head nods and chest pounds, and plenty of blank stares from Dick Jauron.
Postgame chompin': Pondering the realization that he'll probably need a new home next year, Kerry Collins plops himself down at Morton's and makes a list of teams with shaky starters who could use a veteran backup.

Broncos at Redskins (+4)
Who needs it more: Broncos are reeling at bit with 2 straight L's, and a 3rd would put the city of Denver in full panic mode.
Mundane stat/observation: After losing to the Chiefs, Jim Zorn, at his postgame presser, said "We fight, because we're Redskins." LaRon Landry and DeAngelo Hall took it literally.
Fantasy hunch: Remember a couple years ago, when Clinton Portis got hurt and Ladell Betts turned into a force in the fantasy playoffs? We could be headed there again.
Kinda feels like: My buddy TiBo, an avid Redskins fan, likes them this week. I haven't heard of a 'Skins fan liking this team to win since the Rams game in Week 2. Maybe that means something?
Postgame chompin': The poor guy has been killed most of the year (possibly unfairly - Football Outsiders have Jason Campbell as a better-than-average QB this year), so a nice upset win deserves a chop from Charlie Palmer's. Maybe the Rib-Eye "Bone-In Cowboy Cut"?

Jacksonville at NY Jets (-7)
Who needs it more: Both are 4-4 and a loss probably means the end of playoff hopes, but the Jets can't drop a 3rd game at home.
Mundane stat/observation: The last time the Jags were in the Meadowlands, the Jets lost Chad Pennington and Jay Fielder to season-ending shoulder injuries on successive drives. Pennington actually came back in the game but the Jets lost in OT.
Fantasy hunch: Hopefully the game against Miami was a sign that Mark Sanchez and Dustin Keller are developing a rapport. They've looked out of sync since the opener.
Kinda feels like: Coming off a bye, the Jets are gonna get off to a fast start. Sometime late in the 2nd quarter, the momentum will shift, and it'll be a tight game until late, when the Jets D forces a David Garrard mistake.
Postgame chompin': After stifling the likes of Randy Moss and Andre Johnson, covering Mike Sims-Walker aint a problem for Darrelle Revis, who saws away on a Prime NY Strip at Fleming's in Edgewater.

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (-7)
Who needs it more: Steelers because they're home and don't want to be swept by the Bengals.
Mundane stat/observation: The NFL fined Chad Ochocino 20k for pretending to "bribe" officials with a $1 bill last week, once again pretending it has no affiliation with gambling in any way.
Fantasy hunch: Not really a sleeper, but somehow in one of my leagues, Santonio Holmes was traded for Jamaal Charles. Anytime you can give up the Super Bowl MVP for a guy who gets 7 carries as the starter on a bad team, you need to make that trade.
Kinda feels like: Steelers jump out early, and then defense dominates on both sides the rest of the way. Maybe Pittsburgh can't cover Ochocinco, but when they pressure Carson Palmer all day, it'll feel like they did.
Postgame chompin': He missed the first game against Cincy, so Troy Polamalu makes up for it by shutting down Ced Benson. The chop at Pittsburgh Rare afterwards is strong.

Kansas City at Oakland (-2)
Who needs it more: Does it really matter?
Mundane stat/observation: The Chiefs have won 6 straight in Oakland, which is pretty amazing when you realize that Herm Edwards was the coach for 3 of them.
Fantasy hunch: The return of Darren McFadden. About time.
Kinda feels like: The great Joe Posnanski predicts it'll be the worst football game ever. He's probably on to something.
Postgame chompin': Since Kincaid's Fish, Chop & Steakhouse is riding high after being voted "best steak in the East Bay," they refuse to allow any Raiders inside.

Dallas at Green Bay (+3)
Who needs it more: The Packers are officially reeling. First, Favre rips their guts out. Then they blow a gimmie in Tampa. A bad loss here, and Mike McCarthy might need to start updating the resume.
Mundane stat/observation: Tony Romo has won 13 straight games in November.
Fantasy hunch: Paging Greg Jennings ... fantasy owners are getting impatient.
Kinda feels like: Either a convincing Packers win (10 points) or Dallas pulls it out late. In a close game, it's tough to back the Pack until they prove they can win a game that's decided in the last couple of minutes.
Postgame chompin': If the Vikings win the Super Bowl this year, does this place get burned to the ground?

Philadelphia at San Diego (-2)
Who needs it more: The Denver score will be posted, and the Chargers will know that a win either gets them in a tie for the division or keeps them a game back. Philly would prefer to not fall into a tie with the G-Men, but they usually wait until later in the season before showing a true sense of urgency.
Mundane stat/observation: So that was a Captain Morgan pose from Brent Celek? Sorta looked like he was mimicking a dog taking a leak.
Fantasy hunch: Looking like Brian Westbrook will be back, hopefully not at the expense of LeSean McCoy's touches.
Kinda feels like: Chargers big.
Postgame chompin': Nothing but Outback's Bloomin' Onion for Philip Rivers.

Seattle at Arizona (-9)
Who needs it more: Cards can't get lazy at home again and they want to keep that 2-game lead in the division.
Fantasy hunch: After missing last week, Anquan Boldin gets fed a lot.
Kinda feels like: Cardinals in a blowout. If it's not, we'll go back to thinking that they stink.
Postgame chompin': Looking for some classy advice, Beanie Wells asks Kurt Warner where he should chomp. As a prank, Warner suggests Rustler's Rooste. Welcome to the majuhz, rook.

New England at Indianapolis (-3)
Who needs it more: Too close to call, but the Pats can kiss home-field goodbye if they lose. Not that playing in front of comatose fans at Gillette is that much of an advantage, though.
Mundane stat/observation: If the Pats win a close one, you're guaranteed to see Tom Brady head-butting his linemen after a final kneel-down, and Bill Belichick rubbing it in with overly enthusiastic hugs and backslaps on the sidelines, followed by a slightly condescending "great job" to a disappointed Peyton Manning.
Fantasy hunch: If you're in a PPR league, hope that you have Wes Welker, who might have 15 catches.
Kinda feels like: Pats in a close one. Damn it.
Postgame chompin': Will the owner's of St. Elmo leave the joint open late for Manning if they lose?

Baltimore at Cleveland (+11)
Who needs it more: Ravens don't mind a gimme after getting pounded in Cincy last week.
Fantasy hunch: There's a good chance that not a single person is starting someone on the Browns this week.
Kinda feels like: Some possible Brady Quinn fiestiness, but ultimately an easy Ravens win.
Postgame chompin': Eric Mangini is longing for the days when he was enjoying a meal at Vesuvio and getting greeted by Tony Soprano.

Saturday Slate: November 14

#1 Florida at South Carolina
Would love to see the Gamecocks pull the upset, complete with a Steve Spurrier smug grin as he shakes Urban Meyer's hand afterwards. Don't see South Carolina putting together enough offense though.
The pick: Florida 23, South Carolina 13

Notre Dame at #8 Pitt
Naturally the Charlie Weis Watch has begun, but watching that loss to Navy, it's tough to pin that one on him. One thing you can question: why Golden Tate gets only 1 touch in the 1st half. And while it was nice to have Michael Floyd back, it's also a fact that he dropped a couple passes including a TD and a bomb before the clinching safety, didn't know the play call that resulted in an INT that bounced off his back, and probably took some looks away from Tate. Remember this though: the Irish are desperate, and Dave Wannstedt is on the other sideline. If the Irish pull it out, we look forward to Lou Holtz gloating in the face of the insufferable Mark May.
The pick: Notre Dame 34, Pitt 30

#10 Iowa at #11 Ohio State
Losing last week, coupled with an injury to their QB, and this one is becomes the least intriguing game between two highly ranked teams maybe ever. The Rose Bowl committee rooting hard for Ohio State to avoid an Iowa-Oregon matchup.
The pick: Ohio St. 20, Iowa 6

#16 Utah at #4 TCU
Pulling hard for TCU to make as much of a mess for the BCS Commies as possible. The Horned Frogs should be fine here, because it's usually a random late-night game at a school like San Jose St. that derails their perfect season.
The pick: TCU 38, Utah 27

Stanford at #9 USC
Don't think it'll be tough to get up for USC after a huge win over Oregon, especially with a guy like Jim Harbaugh leading the crew. But can they play well for 2 weeks in a row? If you're watching this game, be prepared for plenty of references to the iconic Cardinal upset from a couple years ago. And speaking of Harbaugh, does a win here guarantee him the Michigan job after they fire Rich Rodriguez next month?
The pick: USC 29, Stanford 13

Michigan at Wisconsin
Does the aforementioned Rodriguez have a chance to save his job? If so, he needs a win here and then over Ohio St. He won't get it.
The pick: Wisconsin 23, Michigan 16

Auburn at Georgia
Have we figured out why only Georgia home games are described as being played "between the hedges" when like 5 SEC stadiums have the hedges?
The Pick: Georgia 31, Auburn 30

Penn at Harvard
With both undefeated, this one's for the Ivy title. What's amusing is that YES is airing the Yale-Princeton game and will probably label it the Ivy Game of the Week. Does recent bad Philly karma extend to the Quakers?
The pick: Penn 15, Harvard 9

Amherst at Williams
Gameday decided to pass this year, but NESN (Doug Flutie doing color commentary!) will be there as always for The Biggest Little Game In America, Vol. 124. The hated Lord Jeffs come to Williamstown at 7-0 and looking for their first outright NESCAC title ever. But Amherst hasn't won at Weston Field since 1985, and the last time they showed up at 7-0, the Ephs beat 'em 23-20 in OT back in 2001. (Quick anecdote: yours truly was carrying a clipboard in that one as like the 6th string QB. When we scored the winning TD in overtime, we all rushed the field, only I got tripped up and got pancaked by my buddy, who was checking in at about 3 and a quarter spins at the time. Smooth.) Williams has the high-powered offense, Amherst the stingy defense. But there's a reason the Jeffs have never managed to win a conference title: as The Blade would say, they're a bunch of gaggers. Go Ephs.
The Pick: Williams 17, Amherst 16

Thursday, November 12, 2009

They Are Who We Thought They Were: NFC West - Week 10

Arizona Cardinals (5-3, 1st)
Last week:
Def. Chicago 41-21 on the road
We thought: Schizophrenic. Similar to last year, only now they win on the road and play crummy at home.
They are: A good team who had a bad week. And major props to Ken Wisenhunt for the Denny Green crack, even though the sportswriters in the media room seemed hesitant to laugh.

San Francisco 49ers (3-5, 2nd)
Last week:
Lost to Tennessee 34-27 at home
We thought: Needed to be ready to play against a rejuvenated Titans team.
They are: Tough, more entertaining, but need to start winning. Four real tough losses have them in some trouble. Vernon Davis could be huge again on Thursday night against the terrible Bears D.

Seattle Seahawks (3-5, 3rd)
Last week:
Def. Detroit 32-20 at home
We thought: Possibly in trouble against an occasionally pesky Lions team.
They are: Lucky to get that 3rd win.

St.Louis Rams (1-7, 4th)
Last week:
We thought: Are both the Giants and Steve Spagnuolo wishing he was still calling the defensive plays in Jersey?
They are: Whatever.

They Are Who We Thought They Were: NFC South - Week 10

New Orleans Saints (8-0, 1st)
Last week:
Def. Carolina 30-20 at home
We thought: Carolina usually plays them tough, and on a short week, the Saints would struggle.
They are: Nearing the point of needing a loss. It won't come this week in St. Louis, but a loss prior to a Monday Nighter against New England wouldn't be the worst thing. Still the favorite for home-field.

Atlanta Falcons (5-3, 2nd)
Last week:
Def. Washington 31-17 at home
We thought: Anyone else think that we may have anointed Matty Ice a bit too soon? He'll probably be a good pro someday, but he's not there right now.
They are: Vulnerable. Sloppy second half against the 'Skins got a little scary there. If Carolina shuts down Michael Turner this week, can we declare the Curse of 370 back in play again after a two-week vacation?

Carolina Panthers (3-5, 3rd)
Last week:
Lost to New Orleans 30-20 on the road
We thought: Lose to Buffalo at home, smoke Arizona on the road...basically a microcosm of a difficult-to-figure-out league.
They are: A tough out. Playoffs are nearly impossible with 5 losses already (although a division win vs Atlanta makes things somewhat interesting), but they won't quit. Rough schedule against teams that stop the run coming up, which could mean they need Jake Delhomme to throw more. At the very least, that'll be entertaining.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7, 4th)
Last week:
Def. Green Bay 38-28 at home
We thought: Brilliant move to go with the throwbacks, combined with starting the 1st round draft pick QB. Probably the only way to get the fans excited.
They are: Still stink, despite the win. And the majority of their remaining games are on the road, plus 2 with the Saints. At least Tampa fans don't need to switch over to the Lightning just yet.

Fantasy Fix: Week 10 Matchups

The Fantasy Fix analyzes tonight's Bears-49ers matchup...

Plus, other Week 10 matchups...

Also, here are Rotoworld's Week 10 Fantasy Rankings.

Baseball: Nats Don't Hire Valentine

Good news from Washington: the Nationals have hired Jim Riggleman to be their manager, signing him to a one-year deal.

Not gonna get into why this is a lame hire for the Nats, but haven't we learned that the same re-tread hires of guys who never had much success anywhere (in any sport) rarely work out?

What's significant here is that Bobby Valentine is still a free agent. Meaning he's still available for the Mets to give him a shot at round 2.

(Note: I don't consider Bobby V a re-tread because he's proven to be a good manager in several places, had the Mets in the World Series in 2000, and was basically forced out because he and then-GM Steve Phillips couldn't stand each other. And, um, I think Phillips is out of the picture.)

Of course, if the Mets were to change managers anytime soon, it would mean that something bad happened. And as a fan, I'm not really interested in seeing anything next year if it doesn't involve a playoff berth.

So maybe the Mets can struggle out of the gate, Manuel and Minaya get canned, Bobby V gets hired, the team goes on a crazy summer run, snag the Wild Card, and we'll stop there and not get greedy.

(That's like a fantasy football scenario, where a guy you own is playing your favorite team, so you pray for him to do well but your team still wins.)

One condition though: Bobby, if you're ever managing the team again, you're not allowed to dye your hair. Deal?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

They Are Who We Thought They Were: NFC North - Week 10

Minnesota Vikings (7-1, 1st)
Last week:
We thought: It's become clear that Favre really wanted no business playing for the Jets last year. Even when his stats were good, he had that blank look on his face, like he didn't know the plays and didn't care to. Now he seems engaged, excited, and I think I just talked myself out of a Favre cold-weather collapse.
They are: If you're just interested in advancing in your suicide pool, Minny is hosting Detroit this week.

Green Bay Packers (2nd, 4-4)
Last week:
Lost to Tampa Bay 38-28 on the road
We thought: Heading to Tampa should've been a nice antidote after a rough Favre-dominated weekend. But then we heard the Bucs were wearing the Creamsicle jerseys...
They are: Possibly fraudulent. Other than opening night against the Bears (more on them in a second), this team continues to lose close games. Do we blame Mike McCarthy? Aaron Rodgers? We can definitively say that Rodgers holds the ball too long.

Chicago Bears (4-4, 3rd)
Last week:
Lost to Arizona 41-21 at home
We thought: On paper it was an intriguing game, and that was before all the inevitable Denny Green references.
They are: Frauds, particularly the defense. Just weird to see them get gashed like that (suppose not having Brian Urlacher doesn't help). Jay Cutler can only do so much.

Detroit Lions (1-7, 4th)
Last week:
Lost to Seattle 32-20 on the road
We thought: After finally getting a win and then playing the Steelers tough, these guys seemed like they were showing some signs. And against a mediocre-to-bad Seahawks team, win #2 didn't seem out of the question.
They are: Ah, the pitfalls of playing a rookie QB. 5 INT, a blown 17-0 lead, and a late pick-six for the impossible cover. Thanks God these guys play on Thanksgiving each year.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

They Are Who We Thought They Were: NFC East - Week 10

Dallas Cowboys (6-2, 1st)
Last week: Def. Philadelphia 20-16 on the road
We thought: You really have to love the national media sometimes. A steady stream of "Let's see if Romo can play well in a big game for once" stroylines. This set up 2 scenarios: 1) Romo plays poorly, leading to him getting hammered for playing poorly again in a big spot, and 2) Romo plays well, leading to the significance of the game getting downplayed, and Romo needing to win a playoff game to prove himself to the critics.
They are: We got option 2. Whatever. The 'Boys lead the division, the QB is playing well (because he's, you know, a good player), the defense is being overlooked a bit, and Miles Austin can't be covered right now.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-3, 2nd)
Last week: Lost to Dallas 20-16 at home
We thought: Least shocking stat of the weekend: Brian Westbrook has never played all 16 games in his 8-year career.
They are: Thankfully, Andy Reid gave everyone something to talk about after the game. Because if he hadn't made 2 or 3 questionable decisions, we'd just be grumbling about what a boring, crummy game it was.

New York Giants (5-4, 3rd)
Last week: Lost to San Diego 21-20 at home
We thought: Sure, the secondary has been bad. But the Giants haven't been doing the things that gave them their identity the past few years: a kick-ass line that could run the ball on anyone, and a ridiculous four-man pass rush that terrorized QBs. A fired-up Meadowlands crowd could definitely get those two facets of their game fired up.
They are: Early in the year, the Giants were getting interceptions on balls that deflected off a receiver's toe. Now, their holder is muffing snaps, untimely holding penalties are turning would-be clinching TDs into just-enough-to-lose FGs. So karma doesn't appear to be on their side. That and the whole shaky o-line, no pass rush thing.

Washington Redskins (2-6, 4th)
Last week: Lost to Atlanta 34-17 on the road
We thought: The Falcons were a safe bet for suicide pools this week.
They are: You know it's a bad year when the highlights of the season are your injured tight end's online reality show, a former player hanging out in the middle of the woods to do a YouTube rant on how much the organization sucks, and the most buzz is generated by a ban on bringing signs into the stadium.

They Are Who We Thought They Were: AFC West - Week 10

Denver Broncos (6-2, 1st)
Last week:
Lost to Pittsburgh 28-10 at home
We thought: Still skeptical despite a 6-0 start, a lopsided final score in Baltimore didn't help matters. The defense is tough, but seems like a team that needs to have most or all of the breaks go their way.
They are: Not a team that can fall behind a blitzing Steelers team and hope to come back. A couple weeks ago, you might've felt safe giving the West to the Broncos. Now, it feels safer to call the Chargers the favorites. But cupcakes like Oakland, KC, and maybe Washington should help Denver sneak in.

San Diego Chargers (5-3, 2nd)
Last week:
Def. NY Giants 21-20 on the road
We thought: Dangerous but not trustworthy. A Giants blowout or a Chargers comeback - neither would have been surprising.
They are: Zero production from Tomlinson, and still not sure about that run D, but Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson are suddenly becoming indestructible. Still kind of shocked that a Norv Turner team executed a two-minute drill so well.

Oakland Raiders (2-6, 3rd)
Last week:
We thought: Jamarcus Russell felt he played well over the bye week.
They are: Of course the Raiders were one of the first teams you heard expressing interest in Larry Johnson. Of course they were/are.

Kansas City Chiefs (1-7, 4th)
Last week:
Lost to Jacksonville 24-21 on the road
We thought: At the time, getting only a 2nd rounder for Matt Cassel seemed a bit weak for the Pats. Now? Maybe they got a steal.
They are: Bad team, might be able to put up a fight at home. Not a real good representation in the 50th anniversary of the AFL, huh?

They Are Who We Thought They Were: AFC South - Week 10

Indianapolis Colts (8-0, 1st)
Last week: Def. Houston 20-17 at home
We thought: The spread may have been a bit high, but losing at home to the Texans seemed out of the question. Peyton Manning wouldn't let that happen.
They are: Worried about the lack of a running game or impressed that they seem to be able to pull out any kind of win? Maybe a bit of both, but slanted towards the latter. Once went a whole season in Madden (Vinny T and the Jets) without running once, so pass-heavy teams can win titles. Excited for Sunday night, particularly if Manning doesn't get skittish.

Houston Texans (5-4, 2nd)
Last week: Lost to Indianapolis 20-17 on the road
We thought: While pundits wondered if the Texans had closed the gap between themselves and the Colts, we were mainly concerned if Ryan Moats would emerge as the definitive back for the Texans, and how regretful not bidding high enough on him would prove.
They are: We still don't know if Moats or Steve Slaton will be the featured guy moving forward, and most likely it'll change week-to-week. Fantasy owners will be furious about this. Anyway, as a Jets fan, glad they caught the Texans early on before they got on a little roll. An off week and three divisional games (Titans and Colts at home, Jags on the road) kick off a very managable schedule. We'll hold off on the P-word for now.

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4, 3rd)
Last week: Def. Kansas City 24-21 at home
We thought: If you're calling the plays for the Jags, how could you possibly defend giving Mo-Jo his first carry of the game in the 2nd quarter? And after an 80-yard run on that first carry, how could you possibly defend giving him only 8 more touches the rest of the game? Answer: you can't.
They are: The only thing more lifeless than the Jacksonville crowd (45,546) was anyone after the game who bet on the Jags and saw a 17-point lead with 2:32 remaining turn into a Chiefs cover.

Tennessee Titans (2-6, 4th)
Last week: Def. San Francisco 34-17 on the road
We thought: They got some life after finally getting a win and the hope of a VY resurgence. Other than that, 5-11 or 6-10 seemed likely.
They are: Going on the road and beating a Niners team that couldn't afford to lose tells us that a) the Titans aren't all that bad, and b) Jeff Fisher is still a good coach. Whether he would have benched Kerry Collins without a nudge from the owner might not matter now. Can't just show up to beat the Titans now.

They Are Who We Thought They Were: AFC North - Week 10

Cincinnati Bengals (6-2, 1st)
Last week: Def. Baltimore 17-7 at home
We thought: Vegas had them +3 at home to a team they had beaten only a few weeks ago, and we took the Ravens. Despite the mangling of the Bears and an off week to prepare, things tend to even out in the AFC North.
They are: Despite the lost bet, couldn't have been happier about the outcome. And was even more delighted that drafting Ced Benson continues to turn into one of the savvier fantasy picks this year. That being said, we still don't like them next week in Pittsburgh. We do, however, love Chad Ochocinco's specs.

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2, 2nd)
Last week: Def. Denver 28-10 on the road
We thought: Count us as one who, when the Steelers were at 1-2, didn't buy into the post-Super Bowl hangover theory. That's long gone now, regardless of what happened on Monday night in Denver. Felt like a game they'd win, because dink-and-dunk doesn't get it done against Pitt (usually).
They are: Super Bowl contenders? Sure. Impressive that, for a team that supposedly couldn't run the ball, they did it pretty well on the road against a tough D. Do opposing defenses start to scheme against the Roethlisberger Jailbreak Scramble Chuck It Downfield now or do they wait until the offseason?

Baltimore Ravens (4-4, 3rd)
Last week: Lost to Cincinnati 17-7 on the road
We thought: The second half spanking of the Broncos in Week 8 sold us on the Ravens, who arguably could have / should have won all 3 games that they lost. They were gonna go into Cincy and get some revenge for the last-minute loss back in October.
They are: The record says .500, and part of us still wouldn't want to face them in a big game. But at what point do you stop excusing the losses and start realizing that maybe they're not elite? They should get back on track in a Monday Nighter in Cleveland, but we'll get our answer in subsequent weeks when they host the Colts and then the Steelers.

Cleveland Browns (1-7, 4th)
Last week: Bye
We thought: Are the Cleveland football offices more or less depressing during the bye week than in normal weeks? Can't decide, and actually, don't care at all.
They are: The next Patriots? The Mangenius seems to think so.

Fantasy Fix: Making Moves Week 10

Today on the Fantasy Fix, a big picture look at schedules and matchups as we head towards the Fantasy Playoffs. Finally time to sell on Matt Forte? Buy low on Anquan Boldin? Now's the time.

They Are Who We Thought They Were: AFC East - Week 10

New England Patriots (6-2, 1st)
Last week: Def. Miami 27-17 at home
We thought: After two blowouts (albeit against winless teams), the Pats were re-kindling (bad) memories of the 2007 team. Tom Brady was starting to look more comfortable, Wes Welker can't be covered, and with a week to prepare, there was no chance the Dolphins would win at Gillette. Maybe it'd be close, but the Pats weren't losing.
They are: In a lot of ways, it was a vintage Pats win - probably a B- effort against a good team, and even though it was close, there was never much doubt to the outcome. A two-game lead in the division is probably good enough at this point, although a loss this week at Indy might make things more interesting. Don't think they lose though, and terrified that they'll be peaking right around playoff time.

New York Jets (4-4, 2nd)
Last week: Bye
We thought: Even when they have a decent team, it's still fun to make the "At least the Jets didn't lose last week" jokes. As entertaining as some of Rex's new attitude has been, it was actually a nice to not have to listen to any of those guys this week.
They are: The Jets don't have a bad schedule in the second half. New England on the road could be bad, but Carolina and Atlanta at home, and with any luck, Indy and Cincy will be resting for the playoffs in those final two weeks. Even looking at things optimistically, 9-7 seems inevitable.

Miami Dolphins (3-5, 3rd)
Last week: Lost to New England, 27-17 on the road
We thought: Tough, well-coached (2-pt conversions aside), nasty o-line. Winning in New England was a lot to ask for, even though we were kind of rooting for it.
They are: Regardless of their record, the Dolphins will be a tough out the rest of the way, and with three straight winnable games, they could easily be 6-5 heading into a Week 13 rematch against the Pats at home (right now scheduled for SNF on NBC). No shock that a last-ditch 4th down attempt late in the game Sunday was intended for Ted Ginn, who did his best Misty May in defelcting it away.

Buffalo Bills (3-5, 4th)
Last week: Bye
We thought: Thousands of fantasy owners everywhere must've been relieved they could put T.O. on their bench and not have to worry about him finally breaking out in Week 9.
They are: Maybe the Bills aren't that bad? Should've beaten the Pats on the road. Played New Orleans and Houston tough at home before crumbling late. Back-to-back road wins against the Jets and Panthers. But then there was a throttling in Miami and an indefensible 6-3 loss at home to the Browns. They're not good, but definitely not gawd awful.