Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Week 6, now with Retsin!

I have to say, I'd never spent a Monday night hoping that the team I picked would lose. But seeing Arizona thoroughly dominate the Bears for three quarters made me say, "Hey, this would be a really nice story if the Cardinals won." Yeah, well. Get ready for a week of how-resilient-are-the-Bears stories rather than a week of what-the-fuck-is-wrong-with-Rex stories. With Chicago's ridiculous victory, I finished 9-4 for the week in the picks, which doesn't seem like much, but no one did any better, and 16 out of 22 did worse.

Because this is Week 6, Down and Distance has begun tracking the teams that have been eliminated from consideration for the Super Bowl championship. Why Week 6? See our explanation from last year. The upshot is that no team can be expected to win the Super Bowl after losing five games in the regular season. Two teams have proved themselves exceptions: the Patriots and Steelers. So they get eliminated at six losses.

So as this rap is winding down, it's plain to see I forgot my hat ...

Seattle 30, St. Louis 28: In Week 3, the Rams were leading by 2 when the Cardinals turned the ball over in field goal range in the final two minutes. The Rams won to improve to 2-1. In Week 4, the Rams were leading by 7 when the Lions turned the ball over in the final two minutes. The Rams won to improve to 3-1. In Week 5, the Rams were leading by 3 when the Packers turned the ball over in field goal range in the final two minutes. The Rams won to improve to 4-1. On Sunday, Week 6, the Rams were trailing by 6 when the Seahawks turned the ball over in field goal range in the final three minutes. The Rams scored, then the Seahawks scored, and the Rams lost. Give St. Louis credit for being better than some people (me) were willing to admit, but don't give them too much credit. When you're up 21-7 on the defending division and conference champions, you have to slam the door. Referee-Administered Beatdown of the Week: Ed Hochuli tells the St. Louis crowd -- and Rams coach Scott Linehan, who's dancing around like a fool on the sideline -- that the offensive penalty against Seattle did not, in fact, end the game. Nonsensical Faux-Insight Quote of the Week: After Deion Branch caught his second TD on a sweet fade from Matt Hasselbeck, Fox commentator Ron Pitts declared, "They'll say it every time, because it's true: A perfect throw will beat perfect coverage all day long." This appears to be an attempt to adapt the baseball adage "good pitching beats good hitting" to football. The problem, Pitts, is that in football a perfect throw is, by definition, one that beats the coverage. It's like saying, "You know, if you want three points, you should kick the ball through the uprights." Idiot.

N.Y. Giants 27, Atlanta 14: I admit that I loves to make me some fun of the fact that when Michael Vick is in one of his little grooves, he couldn't hit a receiver on the hands even if he had a ruler and a nun's habit. (Does that even make any sense?) But Sunday, he ws not in one of those grooves. Five minutes into the first quarter, he laid a pass right on Roddy White's butter-coated fingers; White not only tipped the ball to Giants DB Sam Madison, he also quit on the play as Madison ran the INT back upfield. About seven minutes later, Vick launched a 65-yard rocket that came down square on the damn palms of Michael Jenkins, who dropped it. With Vick's receivers working overtime to screw him, the Giants eventually took the lead. Jeremy Shockey caught two touchdowns; I'm sure we'll all be sorry for that soon enough.

Dallas 34, Houston 6: In the football equivalent of winning the battle but losing the war, the Cowboys got the ball to Terrell Owens for three touchdowns. Here's why the Texans are the Texans: With 34 seconds left in the first half and the game tied 3-3, Houston had 3rd-and-1 at the Dallas 31. Common sense says you either take a shot at the end zone or you throw a quick out to the sideline to try to get the first down and kill the clock. So long as you don't throw an interception, you can only benefit. Houston's call? Ron Dayne off right tackle for no gain. Houston kicks the field goal -- which is all it would have been able to do even if Dayne had gotten the first down -- to go up 6-3. Dallas promptly scores 31 unanswered in the second half.

Detroit 20, Buffalo 17: A total turkey, this game. The only thing that redeemed it was Roy Williams' touchdown celebration at the end of the first half. After catching a 28-yard TD in the back corner of the end zone, Williams made a beeline for a 5- or 6-year-old kid sitting in the front row, hopped onto the rail fronting the stands, handed the kid the ball and tousled his hair. The kid was wearing Williams' No. 11 jersey. Too cute. The only thing missing was a kitty-cat, though Roary tried to stick his sorry flammable ass in there. In the fourth quarter, CBS put up a graphic purporting to show what a clutch quarterback J.P. Losman is. In the fourth quarter of games this season, it said, he had completed nearly 70% of his passes for 231 yards, 1 touchdown, no interceptions and a 99.4 rating. The graphic left out the fact that in the fourth quarter in Week 1, Losman took a sack in the end zone for a game-losing safety. And that one fourth-quarter TD pass? It came in the final minute against the Bears last week when the Bills were down 40-0. He's like Elway out there!

San Diego 48, San Francisco 19: Probably doesn't make Stan Humphries and Natrone Means feel any better, but there had to have been some longtime Charger fan somewhere whispering "take that" as LaDainian Tomlinson scored his fourth touchdown.

N.Y. Jets 20, Miami 17: What a dog. CBS can send its No. 1 team to the Meadowlands to hype up Jets-Dolphins as a meaningful game, but a dog's a dog.

Pittsburgh 45, Kansas City 7: The Bengals have crumbled. The Ravens, they stumbled. The Browns just bumbled. And Pittsbrugh rumbled! K.C. was humbled. Herm Edwards grumbled. Big Ben mumbled: "So what if I tumbled? It's not like I fumbled." AFC North is jumbled.

Denver 13, Oakland 3: It's always nice to win by 10 points, and Denver has done so each of the past three weeks. But a 17-7 victory over the unbeaten Patriots and a 13-3 victory over the unbeaten Ravens are considerably more impressive than a 13-3 win over the winless Raiders. Something's just wrong in the mountains when Oakland, at 0-5, is the only team to have scored fewer points than the 4-1 Broncos.

Chicago 24, Arizona 23: All week we'd been hearing about how this was going to be an ugly blowout. On offense, we'd see a team move the ball at will and build a big lead. On defense, we'd see them beat the holy hell out of ballcarriers and pressure their opponent's young quarterback into costly mistakes. And for the first three quarters, that team was the Cardinals? Then, in the fourth quarter, when all Arizona needed to do was get a few first downs and keep the clock moving, Dennis Green abandoned the short passing game that had shredded the Bears and instead played the send-Edgerrin-into-the-teeth-of-the-beast-on-every-play card. How was Chicago able to come all the way back? Because Green's play-calling extended the game by a full half-hour. Regardless of all that, what we saw at the Pink Taco was what happens when you get caught looking past an opponent -- any opponent -- in the NFL. You show up on Monday Night Football preening and dancing and flexing your muscles for the cameras and before you know it you're down 20 points -- and you're lucky it's not 30. I've already explained what the lesson of this game for the Cardinals was. You figure out what it should be for the Bears. Probably that they shouldn't let Rex Grossman read about himself in the newspaper anymore.

New Orleans 27, Philadelphia 24: It's not as if the Eagles were ambushed by some fired-up Division I-AA program here. The Saints were 4-1 coming in and had dismantled the Falcons on national television. Remember? That game with all the people talking about the hurricanes? The president's dad flipped the coin? That one. And yet the Eagles gagged lolly for the whole first and second quarters, showed up briefly for the third, then got their asses delivered to them in the fourth. All right, Philadelphia, laissez la panique rouler! During the game, the Fox crew threw up a graphic that was meant, I guess, to demonstrate that the Saints are the league's most woeful franchise. New Orleans is one of only three NFL teams, the Chyron said, never to have appeared in either a Super Bowl or a pre-merger NFL championship game. The others two clubs are Jacksonville and Houston, both of which are considerably younger than the Saints (and the Jaguars have at least been to a conference championship game twice). This was true, as far as it went, but let's look at it another way: How long have fans of each franchise been waiting for their team to appear in a title game? The longest waits, in years:
Steelers 2005 Super Bowl 1
Seahawks 2005 Super Bowl 1
Patriots 2004 Super Bowl 2
Eagles 2004 Super Bowl 2
Panthers 2003 Super Bowl 3
Bucs 2002 Super Bowl 4
Raiders 2002 Super Bowl 4
Texans 2002 Expansion 4
Rams 2001 Super Bowl 5
Giants 2000 Super Bowl 6
Ravens 2000 Super Bowl 6
Titans 1999 Super Bowl 7
Broncos 1998 Super Bowl 8
Falcons 1998 Super Bowl 8
Packers 1997 Super Bowl 9
Cowboys 1995 Super Bowl 11
Jaguars 1995 Expansion 11
49ers 1994 Super Bowl 12
Chargers 1994 Super Bowl 12
Bills 1993 Super Bowl 13
Redskins 1991 Super Bowl 15
Bengals 1988 Super Bowl 18
Bears 1985 Super Bowl 21
Dolphins 1984 Super Bowl 22
Vikings 1976 Super Bowl 30
Colts 1970 Super Bowl 35
Chiefs 1969 Super Bowl 36
Browns 1969 NFL Champ. 36
Jets 1968 Super Bowl 37
Saints 1967 Expansion 39
Lions 1957 NFL Champ. 49
Cardinals 1948 NFL Champ. 58
Ah, the usual suspects!

Tennessee 25, Washington 22: Washington started out looking great, but then, as usual, they filled their underwear as soon as they fell behind. The Redskins, like the Eagles, can't say they couldn't have seen it coming. The Titans very nearly beat the Colts last week -- although nearly beating the Colts doesn't really seem to be as difficult as it once was. What made this one a real huckleberry was that it wasn't No. 1 USA Superstar Vince Young who ran wild on the Redskins, but Travis Henry. Travis Henry! I don't know what's wrong with the Redskins, though everyone else in town seems to. (Brandon Lloyd's theory: Not enough Brandon Lloyd in the gameplan. And he may be right.) It's either too many stars, or not enough stars, or not enough stars in the right places. I'll wait for the local hive mind to weigh in on Redskins Lunch. One post-game caller, though, opined that the 2-4 record is the fault of "all these defensive coordinators they keep bringing in." Has someone told Gregg Williams about these guys?

Carolina 23, Baltimore 21: I'd have picked the Panthers if I'd known Steve McNair was going to get hurt! Heh. Touchdown passes in five-plus games this year by McNair, who was brought in because Kyler Boller sucks: 5. Touchdown passes Sunday by Kyle Boller: 3. The best thing about statistics like these is that you can't tell when they've been twisted grotesquely out of context. Carolina does this to me every year: They come out and crap their pants in the opener, stumble around unimpressively for a few weeks, and then all of a sudden are 4-2. You don't want to say it's all Steve Smith, but ... you don't have to, because I just said it.

Tampa Bay 14, Cincinnati 13: I'm not saying that wasn't a touchdown on the play that got reviewed right at the end, but if there was indisputable visual evidence, I didn't see it. I watched maybe 10 minutes of this game over the course of the afternoon, and it was 10 minutes too many. Pee-yoo. Cincy appears to have peaked. The question in: Has Tampa?

SEASON: 58-29
(2005 through Week 6: 56-32)

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. (Key: WK6 = This week's ranking. WK5 = last week's ranking. POW = KAPOW-ER centigrade score)
11 Bears 100.001717Panthers 45.06
22 Chargers 95.711818Seahawks 44.57
39 Broncos 72.95197 Chiefs 40.24
412Cowboys 70.562019Redskins 38.87
56 Jaguars 70.462124Jets 32.76
63 Ravens 70.452222Cardinals32.60
78 Patriots 65.952323Bills 30.94
85 Eagles 65.382421Browns 30.32
911Colts 61.912526Dolphins 27.42
1010Saints 60.662628Lions 25.99
1120Steelers58.37272549ers 22.57
124 Falcons 55.852827Packers 21.87
1316Giants 54.162930Bucs 19.06
1413Bengals 52.123031Titans 14.32
1514Rams 50.423129Texans 9.52
1615Vikings 50.403232Raiders 0.00

Teams eliminated from Super Bowl championship consideration (what?): Raiders, Titans, Lions, Dolphins, Cardinals.

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