Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Week 8 postmortem

Wow, what a week! I can't decide which game was more riveting. The contenders:
Chicago 19, Detroit 13 3415
Houston 19, Cleveland 16 276
Miami 21, New Orleans 6 1613
San Francisco 15, Tampa Bay 101615

The Bears-Lions game went to OT, so that can't be it. The Texans-Browns game was ugly but not necessarily noteworthy, even with the Texans getting their first win. The Dolphins scored a safety against the Saints, and that's kind of interesting, unfortunately. So the game of the week, by default, was the 49ers' win over the Bucs. But wait, you say, that game featured the feel-good story of fourth-string Niners QB Cody Pickett leading his team on a scoring drive. That's pretty interesting! But Pickett didn't do anything. He threw one pass and handed the ball off 13 times. That's hardly Dilferrific.

Inexcusable losses by Jacksonville and Tampa Bay dragged me down to 10-4 for the week in my picks, but I didn't really lose any ground in the standings because pretty much everyone else picked the Jags and Bucs, too. What I got right, and what I got wrong:

Cincinnati over Green Bay: Talk all you want about the bizarre ending, but let's not overlook the fact that it was made possible by one of the truly dreadful penalty calls of the season. Packers wideout Andrae Thurman, badly beaten, not only ran right up the back of Bengals DB Ifeanyi Ohalete, but Thurman actually grabbed Ohalete by the arm and spun him around. Yet the official called defensive interference. The only explanation I can come up with: color blindness.

Carolina over Minnesota: I'm just a fool who sits on the couch, but even I know that a cornerback assigned to cover Steve Smith can't give him a 15-yard cushion if the line of scrimmage is at the defense's 13. Game highlight: Vikings backup QB Brad Johnson sacked by Panthers D-lineman Jordan Carstens, my wife's dad's cousin's son. Serious.

Dallas over Arizona: As if there's anything to say.

Chicago over Detroit: Hear that? It's Joey Harrington snickering on the sidelines. Lasting impression from this game: Some players do little chest-pounding routines when they score touchdowns. Some do it when they sack the quarterback or crack somebody's bones with a tackle. The Lions' Eddie Drummond is the only player I've ever seen do it after a fair catch. More than once, too. Orton watch: 17-of-31 for 230 yards, one TD, zero interceptions. Dilferrific Times Two!

N.Y. Giants over Minnesota: I can't believe that anyone -- anyone -- who analyzes football for a living or even as a serious hobby could have picked the Redskins to win this one. (I'm looking at you, Cris Collinsworth.) But even those of us who knew better didn't figure on the debacle that would unfold at Giants Stadium. Biggest losses, in points, suffered by a Joe Gibbs-coached Redskins team (*=Super Bowl):
362005at NYG36-0
351985at CHI45-10
301985at DAL44-14
291983vs. LA*38-9
271985SF 35-8
Finally, a word to the blowhards fogging up my TV screen: Wellington Mara was a great man, a visionary and a pioneer, but the Giants didn't win this week because he died. The Giants won this week because he and his family built a better team.

Denver over Philadelphia: The Broncos still can't put anybody away, but fortunately the Eagles put themselves away. Twice. The wife has a theory about why the Eagles lost: the fruity serif typeface on the uniforms.

San Diego over Kansas City: The Chargers just had to get LaDanian Tomlinson back to doing what he does best. Throwing touchdown passes.

Houston over Cleveland: I've submitted this proof to the American Mathematical Society: 1. The Texans are indeed horrible, yet no one thought there was any realistic shot they'd go 0-16. Ergo: 2. The Texans have to win sometime. 3. The Browns were 2-4 and haven't been getting any better. Ergo: 4. If the Texans couldn't win this game, they couldn't win any game. Ergo: 5. The Texans win. QED.

New England over Buffalo: Apparently Tedy Bruschi played. Apparently his wife was in the stands. Bruschi had a great game, but the coolest thing he did? Totally blew off Suzy Kolber's postgame interview attempt. This game featured the Down and Distance Ego Implosion Play of the Day: With 21 seconds left and leading by 5, the Patriots were forced to punt. Bills returner Roscoe Parrish could have downed the ball in the end zone to give his team a couple shots from the 20 with, say, 15 seconds left to play. But Parrish sought to "make something happen." After chewing up all the remaining time running in circles, he stepped out of bounds at his own 15.

Pittsburgh over Baltimore: Yee. Not too impressive there, gang.

Tennessee over Oakland: For the second time in two weeks, I thought Oakland was nothing special. For the second time in two weeks, the Raiders won. And yet I still think they're nothing special. Just like Pacman Jones!

Jacksonville over St. Louis: In the first seven weeks of the season, Jacksonville faced the toughest slate of opponents in the NFL, if not the toughest actual schedule. Their opponents in Weeks 1-7 went 64-32 (.667) last year, and five of them made the playoffs. And yet the Jaguars emerged from that brutal stretch 4-2. From Week 8 on, their schedule is one of the easiest in the league: opponents that last year went 60-84 (.417) -- including San Francisco, Cleveland and Houston twice. So what better way for the Jags to kick off their title run than to go into St. Louis and crap their own diapers? St. Louis' starting quarterback and top two receivers were injured, so if the Rams were going to win, they'd have to do it with the running game, defense and special teams. Luckily for them, a) Jacksonville was surprised Steven Jackson got the ball so much, expecting that the Rams would feed Eric Dickerson; b) overblown Jacksonville wideout Ernest Wilford couldn't hold onto the ball, killing the Jags' last rally; and c) even with eight blockers, the Jaguars couldn't protect their punter from a six-man rush. As for the Rams: That snipping sound is Mike Martz being cut loose.

Tampa Bay over San Francisco: Suppose Jon Gruden wants Matt Leinart? It's about the only thing that would make sense out of this game.

New Orleans over Miami: Two more teams going nowhere. And taking their time about it, too.

SEASON: 74-42

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? (Don't you know I'm loco?) 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: WK8 = This week's ranking. WK7 = Last week's ranking. PWR = POW-R centigrade score)
11 Colts 100.001720Dolphins46.64
210Giants 72.531812Eagles 44.12
34 Bengals 71.98199 Redskins43.80
43 Steelers70.762018Lions 41.42
55 Bears 70.202121Rams 38.93
62 Bucs 69.302222Patriots37.70
76 Seahawks68.302323Bills 31.75
87 Chargers64.022426Browns 28.96
914Broncos 63.592525Titans 28.35
1013Cowboys63.532627Ravens 25.84
118 Falcons63.282724Cardinals24.12
1216Panthers59.932828Jets 19.44
1311Packers 53.942929Saints 9.63
1415Chiefs 49.213030Vikings6.46
1517Jaguars 47.72313149ers 2.69
1619Raiders 47.303232Texans 0.00

Eliminated from Super Bowl consideration (what?): Texans, Titans, Packers, Saints, 49ers, Jets, Bills, Ravens, Browns, Vikings, Cardinals

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