Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Week 9 postmortem

Damn! I had my best showing yet: 12-2 in my Week 9 picks at The Mirl. The only ones I missed were Panthers-Bucs and Colts-Pats, arguably the two biggest games of the week. A handful of folks missed only one game, and Hater Nation was working on a clean sweep until being upended Monday night. Props to all.

Atlanta over Miami: The outcome wasn't really a surprise. The surprise was Michael Vick's 102.6 passer rating. And according to Vick's postgame comments, that performance precludes all future criticism. So stow it, Dinghy! Speaking of criticism: Earlier in the season, I wrote some very hurtful things about Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown. I can't take it back, but I can declare that he's gotten much, much better. That said, I saw Brown get caught from behind again Sunday, this time by 293-pound Falcons defensive tackle Chad Lavalais.

Kansas City over Oakland: HOLY MOLY. Given the odds, Dick Vermeil made both the right choice and the smart choice, but he didn't make the safe choice, and for that he's earned every syllable of the praise being heaped on him today. Frankly, he'd deserve praise for the call even if Larry Johnson had been stopped. And Oakland? If Warren Sapp and Ted Washington can't stop a 1-yard run to win the game, why are you paying them so much money?

Minnesota over Detroit: When Daunte Culpepper was lost for the season*, the Vikings went from a team with a lot to answer for to a team with nothing left to lose. Compare their situation to the Lions', and this pick suddenly makes sense. The Lions' situation? Imagine you took out an insurance policy on your home. The shingles blow off in a storm, but you don't worry because you've got that insurance policy. So you call the agent, and he comes over, and while inspecting the damage, he starts an electrical fire that burns down the rest of your house. Your house is the Detroit Lions. Work the rest out.
   *On NFL Primetime, Chris Berman said, "Culpepper is out for what looks like 12 months, not just a year." (And he did say "a year," not "the year.")

Cleveland over Tennessee: It's simple, really. When I got to this game, I had already picked seven road teams and six home teams. I figured I should at least even that out. So, faced with two awful teams, I went with the homies. Ta-da!

Jacksonville over Houston: I'm actually surprised more people didn't pick Houston, considering that the Texans are 4-2 vs. the Jaguars, swept them last year and made them look bad in the process. More people should have gone out on a limb. (Don't look at me; I did it last week.) That the Jaguars nearly lost this one, too, after peeing all over themselves last week in St. Louis, does not speak well for Casa Del Rio.

Cincinnati over Baltimore: Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were out, true, but give the Bengals a little credit. This is the sort of game that would be so easy for them to lose. The game featured the first of the day's two Down and Distance Stupid Penalties That Could Have Lost The Game But Ended Up Not Even Making The Highlights: After scoring what should have been the icing touchdown with 6:15 left, Cincinnati's Chris Henry took off his helmet to bask in all the glory that is being Chris Henry. The 15-yard penalty he so richly earned pushed the Bengals back to their own 15 for the kickoff. The kickoff was returned to the Cincy 40, and the Ravens promptly marched to the Bengals' 14. Fortunately for the Bengals, the Ravens offense then came alive, and Baltimore was unable to score despite running eight plays in the red zone.

San Diego over N.Y. Jets: All hail Brooks Bollinger! All curse Martyball's weekly devolution to fourth-quarter Molassesball! This game featured the second of the day's Down and Distance Stupid Penalties That Could Have Lost The Game But Ended Up Not Even Making The Highlights: Not content simply to tackle Jets fullback Jerald Sowell at the Chargers' 6 with less than two minutes left, Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards thought he'd knock him around out of bounds. The penalty gave the Jets first and goal from the 3. Fortunately for the Chargers, Bollinger had already used up all three of his wishes, and the Jets couldn't score despite -- say it with me now -- running eight plays in the red zone.

Pittsburgh over Green Bay: The voters might want to consider Ben Roethlisberger for MVP, because without him the Steelers appear to be a bad, bad football team. But for a missed blitz pickup and a tipped pass, the Packers would have won this one. Today's Recipient of the Craig Krenzel Memorial "Winning" Quarterback Award is Charlie Batch: 9-of-16 for 65 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

Seattle over Arizona: There's no reason Seattle can't gain home field for the playoffs.

Chicago over New Orleans: Figured they would be just "good" enough. Figured right.

N.Y. Giants over San Francisco: If the Giants are wearing uniforms that make them look like the 1983 Patriots, they must be on the road, which means Eli Manning is facing the one team he always struggles against: the Home Team. Nevertheless, I made this my Best Bet based on the following logic: a) Giants 36, Redskins 0. b) Redskins 52, 49ers 17. c) Thus, the Giants had to score more than 10 points in three quarters.

Washington over Philadelphia: Was the T.O. situation a distraction? Doesn't matter. The Eagles were blown out by Dallas and Denver and lucked out against San Diego. They just haven't played well with T.O. Add to that the Redskins' determination to prove on national TV that they're better than they showed against the Giants, and this was D.C.'s day. Joe Gibbs could make it even sweeter for the Burgundy and Gold faithful by either cutting Walt Harris or benching him until he learns the difference between Madden NFL 06, in which you "blow people up," and the NFL, in which you "tackle" them.

Tampa Bay over Carolina: What can I say? I thought it would be a trap game. I didn't think Chris Simms was really as wobbly as people were saying. I thought the Bucs would stiffen up at home. I thought Kenyatta Walker would keep his pants on. I thought, I thought, I thought. There's no "I" in "blowout," y'know.

New England over Indianapolis: Hats off the to the Indianapolis Colts. That was an ass-kicking. My thinking in picking the Patriots went like this: If I picked the Colts and they lost, then I'd feel stupid for having believed all the hype about "This Is The Year" and "If They Can't Win This Time, They'll Never Win." (I fell into that trap when I picked Green Bay to win at the Metrodome.) But if I picked the Patriots and they lost, then I could console myself by saying, "Hey, they'd won 40 times in a row; of course you pick 'em until they lose." Yes, I know that's the kind of playing-not-to-lose mentality that idiots like me climb all over NFL coaches for exhibiting. Sue me. If some GM (Matt Millen?) wants to pay me a couple mil a year, then I'll think outside the box.

SEASON: 86-44

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: WK9 = This week's ranking. WK8 = Last week's ranking. PWR = POW-R centigrade score)
11 Colts 100.001716Raiders 47.01
22 Giants 78.671817Dolphins44.78
33 Bengals 76.231918Eagles 42.93
44 Steelers 74.482021Rams 40.08
57 Seahawks 71.992120Lions 37.19
65 Bears 69.892224Browns 35.37
712Panthers 66.692322Patriots33.78
811Falcons 66.362423Bills 32.72
99 Broncos 65.372525Titans 28.76
1010Cowboys 64.312628Jets 23.12
118 Chargers64.882727Cardinals22.92
126 Bucs 56.632826Ravens 22.55
1315Jaguars 52.042930Vikings 16.78
1414Chiefs 51.543029Saints 12.56
1513Packers 50.653132Texans 2.37
1619Redskins48.33323149ers 0.00

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

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