Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Week 5 recap, mostly T.O.-free

After two weeks in which I barely kept my head above water at 8-6, I turned in a solid 12-2 this week in The Writers Picks, posted here. Of course, I wasn't the only one at 12-2. And several people went 14-0, so it's not like I climbed in the standings. I could have gone 14-0, too. If, say, Brett Favre had not gone Kurt Warner and fumbled the ball away in field goal range. And if, say, Drew Bledsoe had thrown fewer passes to a) Terrell Owens, and b) Eagles defenders. Then I would have been undefeated, and everyone else would be looking up at me. Now, if you'll excuse me. I have some tile to regrout in the bathroom.

Indianapolis 14, Tennessee 13: The Colts continue to crumble. You can any-given-Sunday this all you want, but a come-from-behind victory over a Titans team that got waxed by Dallas last week is even less impressive than last week's come-from-behind victory over a Jets team that got waxed by the Jaguars this week. Don't let 5-0 fool you: Indianapolis is falling apart. The line on this game, by the way, was Colts by 18 1/2 points. Only the worst kind of sucker would fall for that.

Chicago 40, Buffalo 7: The Bears are the anti-Colts. Both teams are 5-0, but while Indianapolis is eking out increasingly tiny victories over increasingly lousy teams, Chicago is kicking the crap out of all comers, from the defending NFC champions of Seattle to the meandering boys of Buffalo. There are as yet no visible weaknesses. The defense eats children 5 and up for breakfast. The running game is clomping waffle marks into opposing linebackers. Rex Grossman is firing on as many cylinders as you want to give him. And we're getting into the part of the season where Lovie Smith wears that hat so unapologetically. This is the most dominant team the league has had in years. Notice I didn't say the "best" team. It's too early to make that kind of judgment. I said the "most dominant" team. The way they're blowing people into Lake Michigan is incredible.

New York Giants 19, Washington 3: The Redskins are better than this. They have to be. Seeing Eli Manning hang in there and deliver the ball knowing that he was going to get blasted almost makes me want to take back some of the bad things I said about him last year. And last week. (I said almost.) Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora both got a sack Sunday, so we can all shut up about that for a while. It's Mark Brunell -- he's 55 years old. You could sack him from a wheelchair.

Carolina 20, Cleveland 12: This week's least-surprising result.

Minnesota 26, Detroit 17: Purple and fool's gold. This was the first time the Vikings scored more than 20 points this season, no thanks to the offense. You can't count on your defense to score two touchdowns every week, nor can you count on the other team to give the game away in the waning minutes.

New Orleans 24, Tampa Bay 21: At halftime, Fox's Jimmy Johnson declared that when Chris Simms returns, he'll probably do so as Bruce Gradkowski's backup. Maybe so, but jeez. Perhaps we could give Gradkowski more than one TD pass -- and let Simms' body get cold -- before we start bending over backwards with the Tom Brady comparisons. He lost the game, for God's sake.

New England 20, Miami 10: Speaking of the Hollerin' Yokels of Fox NFL Sunday, Terry Bradshaw declared on the pregame: "I never was a Culpepper fan because I thought Randy Moss made him the great quarterback that he was in Minnesota. Without Moss, Culpepper is a just a good quarterback." Actually, without Moss, Culpepper hasn't even been a good quarterback. Without Moss, Culpepper has been the kind of quarterback who makes people in South Florida suggest that Joey Harrington should start for a while. Harrington did start on Sunday, and for about a half he played better than Tom Brady. But only for a half. He'll hold the job until Culpepper recovers from his knee injury (for real, rather than in Dolphins Front Office Fantasy Land), which is the way it should have been back in August.

Kansas City 23, Arizona 20: Having a budding superstar like Matt Leinart taking the snaps is great, but when the clock ticks down to zero, it's the Cardinal on the helmet, not the name on the jersey, that matters most.

Jacksonville 41, N.Y. Jets 0: Watching the Jaguars choke away the game in Washington last week, it was inevitable that they'd come home and take out their aggression on the poor Jets. AP refers to this one as "the worst Jets loss in 20 years." I mean, yeah, it's embarrassing, but is it really worse than that cold January day in Pittsburgh when Doug Brien died? Here's the kind of day it was for Gang Green: Coach Eric Mangini ran quarterback-of-the-future Kellen Clemens out there for the last series just to get his feet wet in what would have been garbage time if the score had been 41-3. But it was 41-0, and the Jags were gunning for the shutout. So Clemens got sacked twice and fumbled the ball away. Welcome to the NFL. Now, kneel before Zod.

San Francisco 34, Oakland 20: The resistible force meets the movable object, and we have our answer: It's better to have a team full of marginal grinders than a team full of talented loafers.

San Diego 23, Pittsburgh 13: No doubt about it, Philip Rivers has made the Chargers "his" team. Meanwhile, his fellow member of the Class of 2004, Ben Roethlisberger, had nowhere to go but down after winning the Super Bowl. And down he goes.

Denver 13, New England 3: Another Monday night shootout. Remember when Steve McNair was going to invigorate the Baltimore offense? Remember when Jake Plummer quit making bad decisions? Regardless, the most important thing about this game is that Chris McAlister's fumble recovery appears to have made the difference in giving me my first-ever (and likely last-ever) fantasy football victory. My team, the Ramshackle Hobos, came into the weekend last in the league at 0-4. Lucky for me, my opponent was also 0-4 and appears to have already given up on his team. I didn't know Randy Moss played fantasy football!

St. Louis 23, Green Bay 20: The upset special once again comes up one or two plays short. One of these days I'm gonna look like a genius, and you're all gonna say you knew me back when. Did I mention that I correctly picked the Ravens to upset the Steelers last year? After three straight narrow victories over the likes of the Cardinals, Lions and Packers, suddenly the Rams -- the Rams! -- are 4-1 and leading the NFC West. My, do cupcakes taste delicious!

Philadelphia 38, Dallas 24: The real shame of the T.O.-returns-to-Philly hoax was that it reduced Donovan McNabb, a decent man and a great damn quarterback, to a kind of grotesque sideshow -- one-half of a song-and-dance number of which he never wanted to be a part. So although I called this game wrong, it was pleasing to see McNabb put up ridiculous numbers (18-of-33 for 354 yards and 2 TDs) while Owens metastasized up and down the Dallas sideline.

SEASON: 49-25
(2005 through Week 3: 46-28)

Down and Distance's exclusive KA-POWER RANKINGS are back for their second year. The product of a simple formula, the rankings have predicted 10 of the last 16 Super Bowl winners. Further, 14 of the last 16 Super Bowl winners finished the regular season No. 1 or No. 2 in the KA-POWER RANKINGS system. Unlike with other, lesser rating systems, no opinion is involved in formulating these rankings. None. Teams are ranked on a centigrade scale, with 100 representing the NFL's strongest team and 0 its weakest. Don't like where your team's ranked? Blame science. (Key: WK5 = This week's ranking. WK4 = last week's ranking. POW = KAPOW-ER centigrade score.)
11 Bears 100.001722Panthers 37.57
22 Chargers 86.221819Seahawks 36.77
33 Ravens 70.461917Redskins 33.21
46 Falcons 63.202020Steelers 28.58
57 Eagles 61.942123Browns 25.55
616Jaguars 61.852225Cardinals 25.32
75 Chiefs 60.202314Bills 24.93
810Patriots 57.772415Jets 24.54
911Broncos 57.18252949ers 24.01
108 Saints 54.882624Dolphins 20.74
119 Colts 54.112728Packers 17.91
124 Cowboys 52.842826Lions 17.45
1312Bengals 46.612927Texans 14.45
1413Rams 45.753030Bucs 9.94
1518Vikings 43.703131Titans 2.69
1621Giants 42.233232Raiders 0.00

No comments: