Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Week 10 postmortem

I got punished for hubris this week. Unfortunately, the people of Philadelphia, Washington and New York had to suffer along with me. Or maybe they were the hubristic ones, and my suffering was the side effect. Whoever's ultimately responsible, I went 8-6 in my picks. Three NFC East teams lost in the final minutes; one NFC East team won in the final minutes. Guess which three teams I picked. It's shite like this that shows the utter futility of gambling.

CORRECT PICKS
Jacksonville over Baltimore: And how bad do you have to be to make the Jaguars look like an offensive juggernaut? The Ravens are now 2-7, and it says here that they'll play the Houston Texans in Week 13. If the Ravens were to, say, lose that game, they'd have a leg up on the Texans for the No. 1 draft pick. I'm just saying. And Kyle Boller threw three interceptions in his triumphant return. Also just saying.

Chicago over San Francisco: The word "stupid" is both overused and underused. It's overused in that people are quick to declare things "stupid" simply because they don't understand them. A particular genre of movies or music, maybe, or a certain kind of comedy. It's underused in that people try to come up with fancy, four-dollar expressions when a simple "stupid" would suffice. With that in mind, let's talk about the orange "alternate" jerseys that the Bears wore Sunday. They were stupid. This was the first of several games this week that one team tried doggedly to give away. Or, rather, one person: Chicago punt return "specialist" Bobby Wade, who fumbled four times. Fortunately, the 49ers were even less prepared to win than the Bears were, and the one time a kick wound up in the hands of a Bear other than Wade, Nathan Vasher scored the longest touchdown in NFL history.

New England over Miami: Odd-numbered game. Patriots win.

Indianapolis over Houston: On the first play of the second quarter, the Colts lined up to go for it on fourth and 1 from their own 35. Peyton Manning's head fake and a shift by the Indy receivers were enough to pull the Texans offside. Manning can nail you to the wall without even snapping the ball. You know, it would have been easy to make this my Best Bet: best team in the NFL vs. the second-worst. But I'm trying to mix these up a bit ... and I get killed for it.

Carolina over New York Jets: Yeah, I thought that was Brooks Bollinger under center for the Jets. It was kind of hard to tell last week.

Denver over Oakland: Jake Plummer's line vs. the Raiders: 16-of-22 for 205 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Denver's running game is allowing Plummer to be the best quarterback he can be, rather than the quarterback he was told he should be for the first eight years of his career. That quarterback would throw 50 passes a game, complete maybe half of them for 300-plus yards, and have more interceptions than touchdown passes. Like Kerry Collins did vs. the Broncos.

Seattle over St. Louis: Another 165 yards and three TDs. One of these days, the national sports commentariat is going to have to wise up about Shaun Alexander. The Seahawks won the division with this game, and I repeat: There is no reason Seattle can't win home field throughout the playoffs.

Pittsburgh over Cleveland: If you'd have told Steeler fans when the season started that in Week 10 their starting quarterback would be Charlie Batch and the backup would be Tommy Maddox, they might have burned their tickets. Yet despite having to play them both, Pittsburgh still won going away. Says as much about the Browns as the Steelers, but a good team must win this game.

INCORRECT PICKS
Arizona over Detroit: What is my problem with these two teams? I keep thinking both of them can win, and neither ever does, unless I pick against them, in which case they're unstoppable. Much-maligned Lions quarterback Joey Harrington had a nice game and said afterward: "You complete [passes], and people tend to keep the boos in their pocket." Which was kind of sad because the home crowd is just going to boo him again on Thanksgiving.

New York Giants over Minnesota: A funny thing happened to New York on the way to the first all-Manning Super Bowl: I made them my Week 10 Best Bet, and they let it go to their heads. The Giants are certainly persistent. They tried again and again to give the game to the Vikings, and though the Vikings politely declined, the Giants wouldn't take no for an answer. They fumbled the ball inside their own 30 twice in the first six minutes. When that didn't work and the score was still 0-0, they tried turning it over in the Vikings' end. That brought results! Whenever it looked like the Vikings were in danger of falling behind, Eli Manning would obligingly throw the ball to a purple hat or the Giants' kick coverage unit would take a play off. This was a total team effort. Other tidbits from the game:
a) This contest had the Down and Distance Vaguely Horrifying Broadcaster Exchange of the Day: Fox play-by-play man Kenny Albert noted that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf was a big Giants fan who once followed Lawrence Taylor into a men's room to get an autograph. Color commentator Brian Baldinger responded: "I'm glad that it was just an autograph that he went in there for." Why would he think that's OK to say?
b) It also featured the Down and Distance Uncomfortable Broadcaster Pillow Talk Exchange of the Day: As the camera panned over the crowd to a woman holding a sign that read, "I'm Single and (Heart) the Giants," Albert said to Baldinger: "I think she's looking for you." Baldinger: "I'm not available." Albert: "That's not what I heard." It just made me feel dirty.
c) Here in the D.C. area, as the Giants lined up for a 2-point conversion to tie the game inside the two-minute warning, Fox cut away to Tampa and the scoreless Redskins-Bucs game. One word: Heidi. Thank goodness for the dish.
d) Manning capped off his perfectly awful day by throwing over the middle with 10 seconds left, no timeouts and field goal range within reach. Do something like that, a damn fool is what you are.

Kansas City over Buffalo: Oh, great. Another lesser-of-two-evils Buffalo quarterback controversy.

Atlanta over Green Bay: Unlike the 49ers and the Vikings, the Packers were able to hold on to their game the first time the Falcons handed it to them. After all the blood that was spilled this week over perceptions of disrespect of the Falcons and their fans, wasn't it just inevitable that the Filthy Birds would fumble the ball six times?

Washington over Tampa Bay: Last week, Vermeil; this week, Gruden. Next week, Jim Haslett goes for it on fourth and 12 from his own 20 in the middle of the third quarter. I've seen the replay a dozen times, and I think Alstott was down before breaking the plane. But guess what? Doesn't matter what I think, and it doesn't matter what Channel 4 here in D.C. thinks. The game should never have come down to that play. The Redskins went soft when it counted, and they paid for it. Speaking of which ...

Philadelphia over Dallas: You can pinpoint the exact moment when the Eagles lost this one: 8:02 left in the game. That's when Philly took over the ball with a 13-point lead and abandoned the aggressive style it had played to that point. The offense went timid, the defense went soft, and suddenly Dallas was back in it. Then, once the Eagles had surrendered all momentum, they tried to be "bold," and Donovan McNabb threw the season into the hands of Roy Williams. How many times do we have to watch teams lose fourth-quarter leads before coaches learn that "gutless" isn't a winning strategy?

THIS WEEK: 8-6
SEASON: 94-50




POW-R-'ANKINGS FOR WEEK 10
Down and Distance's exclusive POW-R-'ANKINGS are the most accurate assessment of team strength available on the Internet, Ethernet, ARPANET, Aqua Net or any other -net. Honed by master mathematicians, lauded by football enthusiasts, the formula behind them predicted 10 of the last 15 Super Bowl winners, and 14 of the last 15 Super Bowl winners finished the regular season No. 1 or No. 2 in the POW-R-'ANKINGS system. Get it? Do you read me? Are you ready to party, Toronto? Unlike with other, lesser ranking systems, no opinion is involved. None. It's hard-core science screaming to be heard in a parlor full of charlatans. Poseurs! Teams are ranked on a centigrade scale, with 100 representing the NFL's strongest team and 0 its weakest. (Key: W10 = This week's ranking. WK9 = Last week's ranking. PWR = POW-R centigrade score)
W10WK9TEAMPWRW10WK9TEAMPWR
11 Colts 100.001719Eagles 43.59
23 Bengals 77.571817Raiders 43.13
34 Steelers 76.351918Dolphins 42.83
42 Giants 75.642021Lions 42.38
55 Seahawks 75.272124Bills 38.76
67 Panthers 75.002223Patriots 37.49
76 Bears 72.882320Rams 37.08
89 Broncos 68.932422Browns 32.14
911Chargers 65.962525Titans 29.00
1010Cowboys 64.632627Cardinals23.39
1113Jaguars 63.642729Vikings 21.45
128 Falcons 61.792826Jets 14.36
1312Bucs 55.822930Saints 12.42
1415Packers 53.643028Ravens 12.21
1516Redskins48.393131Texans 2.79
1614Chiefs 48.35323249ers 0.00

Teams eliminated this week from Super Bowl championship consideration (what?): Eagles, Rams. Teams previously eliminated: Texans, Titans, Packers, Saints, 49ers, Jets, Bills, Ravens, Browns, Vikings, Cardinals, Dolphins, Raiders, Lions.

1 comment:

Rich Lanthier said...

I think there is only one thing to say: Baldinger... Say it as you would reading it the first time - then giggle! It explains a lot.

The only good thing about watching that Redskins game was it sure as hell was more fun than any game from last year...

Try saying that for the HORRIBLE Ravens game! YEESH! Ugh that, was, well, to quote a junior high kid: "GROSS!"

Finally, the Minnesota game was about as bizarre as those field goal attempts at Soldier Field...

r