Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Week 11 recap

With the byes now behind us, we're back to 16 games per week, which means we can judge performance in the picks with the same scale we use to judge a team's performance in the regular season:
  • 16-0: impossible
  • 15-1: unbelievable
  • 14-2: improbable
  • 13-3: remarkable
  • 12-4: commendable
  • 11-5: admirable
  • 10-6: acceptable
  • 9-7 and below: wait till next week
For the week, Down and Distance was an admirable 11-5, thanks to two gut-feeling calls: Baltimore over Pittsburgh and Cleveland over Miami. So I feel a little better after last week's wipeout. A couple QB notes before we get rolling: Though Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer are popping eyes all over the place with their big fat numbers, the MVP discussion should start with Tom Brady. Sunday's game wasn't his best, obviously, but he's all his team has left, and the Patriots are still 6-4. And I'll say this again: Ben Roethlisberger should be considered for the simple reason that the Steelers can't accomplish anything with anyone else at QB.

New England over New Orleans: Tom Brady and Heath Evans and not much else ... and yet it was still more than the Saints could handle. This one's for the ol' Navy coach. Unbelievably, it took the Patriots 11 weeks to win back-to-back games.

Baltimore over Pittsburgh: How could anyone pick 2-7 Baltimore to beat 7-2 Pittsburgh? I explained the reasoning last week, and the game played out almost exactly as expected.

Cleveland over Miami: Miami's crummy on the road. Does anyone need more of an explanation? Interesting move in this game: Halfway through the second quarter, with the Browns shutting down the Dolphins, Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel decided that what his team really needed was a quarterback controversy.

Jacksonville over Tennessee: The Jaguars need to quit beating crappy teams by a touchdown or less.

Dallas over Detroit: Billy Cundiff, the only Drake alumnus in the NFL, returned to the Cowboys after an injury that kept him out for the first 10 weeks of the year (and also necessitated the gruesome Jose Cortez experiment). Cundiff hit a team-record 56-yard field goal as the Cowboys cruised. Two bits, four bits, eight bits, a dollar / All for the Bulldogs, stand up and holler. Arf!

New York Giants over Philadelphia: Tom Coughlin must be trying to teach some kind of larger life lesson by continuing to give Brandon Jacobs the ball in goal-line situations. He certainly can't be doing it to get touchdowns. Last week the Eagles were all but finished. This week, they're just finished. And Terrell Owens wouldn't have made a difference.

Denver over New York Jets: Best Bet. Duh.

San Diego over Buffalo: Duh II. Chargers are hoping Antonio Gates wasn't seriously injured in the third quarter when his team was already leading by four touchdowns. You gotta keep playing hard, but ouch.

Indianapolis over Cincinnati: The most entertaining game of the year, hands down. Remember all that talk about the Colts' anemic offense? Or, for that matter, the Colts' impenetrable defense? Seems so very long ago. For a team that got 37 points scored on them, the Colts can hold their heads up: The burden was all on them to win their first "real" test, and they did. And for a team that got 45 points scored on them, the Bengals can hold their striped heads up, too: Indy looked like it was about to run away with this one, and Cincy reeled 'em back in.

Seattle over San Francisco: Losses by both Carolina and Atlanta in the early games made this a must-win for Seattle. If the Seahawks are going to make a Super Bowl run, they're going to need home-field advantage. Why? Because when they go on the road, they do things like nearly lose to San Francisco.

Kansas City over Houston: Word up. Larry Johnson sets the Chiefs' single-game rushing record, and we hear the awesome '80s name Barry Word for probably the last time. Are the Texans dispirited? Halfway through the second quarter, Houston WR Andre Johnson fumbled when Chiefs safety Greg Wesley popped him after a 5-yard gain. Neither Johnson nor any other Texan tried to get the ball back. Yeah, they're dispirited. A half-empty stadium can't help, either. The Los Angeles Texans? On an entirely different matter: In the fourth quarter, the ESPN broadcast team started making poop jokes. I didn't need to know that Paul Maguire farts when he eats chili. I really, really didn't.

St. Louis over Arizona: Can't feel bad about missing this one. The Cardinals win at random, and you'll never get anywhere by picking them. Kurt Warner, playing his first game in St, Louis since the Rams ran him off, played his best game anywhere since the Rams ran him off. The 3-7 Cardinals have found their quarterback of the future, I guess. The Rams, whose usual uniforms are among the NFL's sharpest, came out in a regrettable all-blue ensemble Sunday. They looked like a WAC team, and they played like one.

Carolina over Chicago: Well, the Panthers clearly can't win tough games on the road, especially when their quarterback keeps turning it over. They really needed this one, but they couldn't deliver. Fortunately, Atlanta also lost.

Atlanta over Tampa Bay: Well, the Falcons clearly can't win tough games at home, especially when their quarterback keeps turning it over. They really needed this one, but they couldn't deliver. Fortunately, Carolina also lost.

Washington over Oakland: I think the Redskins saw Norv Turner on the field and lost by reflex. After last week's shootout in Tampa, I was wondering when we were next going to see the Official Final Score of the Washington Redskins. And there it is: Opponent 16, Redskins 13.

Green Bay over Minnesota: The Vikings took another step in their inspired quest to nail down the 16th pick in the 2006 draft. The Packers' defense helped out by being utterly unable to tackle, cover kicks, cover receivers short, cover receivers long or defend even uncatchable passes without grabbing on like a pervert on an escalator. The Packers' offense helped out by abandoning the run, dropping the ball when they did run and (over- or under-)throwing downfield on every play, triple coverage be damned. Will Brett Favre come back next year? Why would he want to? Why would the Packers want him to?

SEASON: 105-55

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: W11 = This week's ranking. W10 = Last week's ranking. PWR = POW-R centigrade score)
11 Colts 100.001718Raiders 47.42
27 Bears 81.961824Browns 45.20
38 Broncos 81.781917Eagles 43.74
44 Giants 81.542022Patriots 43.09
59 Chargers 79.582120Lions 40.45
63 Steelers 78.662223Rams 38.30
75 Seahawks 78.112319Dolphins 37.13
86 Panthers 76.082425Titans 32.46
92 Bengals 74.372526Cardinals31.53
1010Cowboys 73.002621Bills 27.58
1111Jaguars 66.762727Vikings 24.99
1212Falcons 63.372830Ravens 17.86
1316Chiefs 60.602929Saints 14.19
1413Bucs 59.673028Jets 6.46
1514Packers 56.96313249ers 4.91
1615Redskins50.653231Texans 0.00

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

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