Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Week 7 without honor or humanity

This week's gruesome 6-7 showing in the picks makes perfect sense when you understand that no one in the NFL wants to stand out this year. Last season, the Steelers won a Super Bowl championship by futzing around until every game became a must-win. So now everybody wants to stay on the bubble as long as possible. Thus, I lost three games on last-second field goals, one game on a boneheaded end-zone interception, and two games in which allegedly top-drawer teams rolled over for stiffs. And I also picked Arizona to win. That one's entirely on me.

Denver 17, Cleveland 7: How good are the Broncos? For the fourth week in a row, exactly 10 points better than the opposition. It's what they call "playing to the level of the opponent." Cleveland does it every week, too, except they lose.

New England 28, Buffalo 6: In Week 1, these two teams played in Foxboro, and the Pats barely eked out a 19-17 win. Now, suddenly the Patriots are 5-1, and the Dick Jauron hire continues to pay Buffalo exactly the kind of dividends you would expect.

Green Bay 32, Miami 24: Like I'm proud of this.

N.Y. Jets 31, Detroit 24: The Jets have already matched their win total from 2005. With the Steelers falling to pieces and the Dolphins DOA, what's to say the J-E-T-S couldn't slide into the No. 6 playoff spot in the AFC? They still have the Browns, Texans, Packers, Bills, Dolphins and Raiders to look forward to, so just beating the crappy teams on the schedule would get them to 10-6. If they can take one from the Vikings, Bears or Patriots, suddenly they'd be 11-5.

Indianapolis 36, Washington 22: Yes, Peyton Manning had a huge game, but before we get too excited, let's notice that in the box score, in the space for the visiting team, it says "Washington." These guys lost to the Titans last week. The Titans! Down and Distance isn't big on "conventional wisdom," but we live in Washington, where everybody else swears by it. And the local conventional wisdom holds that "in the offense, you gotta get the ball to your playmakers." With that in mind, some stats -- TD passes thrown to James Thrash: 1. TD passes thrown to Antwaan Randle El, Brandon Lloyd and Santana Moss combined: 0. It's a red herring, sure, but everyone else in town will be dining on it.

N.Y. Giants 36, Dallas 22: Hey, what's going on with that Tiki Barber guy? Haven't heard much about him lately. Why did I pick the Giants on the road here? Because the Cowboys are being consumed from within. Bill Parcells pulling Drew Bledsoe after one interception was the second-least-surprising thing to happen in this game. And he least surprising thing? Tony Romo throwing three interceptions after replacing Bledsoe. No, he actually isn't the answer. You didn't know that?

Tampa Bay 23, Philadelphia 21: Donovan McNabb throws a career-high five touchdown passes, but only three of them to his own team, as the Buccaneers "beat" the Eagles the same way the Bears "beat" the Cardinals last Monday.

Cincinnati 17, Carolina 14: In his career, Jake Delhomme had never turned the ball over inside the opponents' 10 yard line. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The Bengals could win the AFC North by default.

Atlanta 41, Pittsburgh 38 (OT): And the Steeler bandwagon throws a rod after just one week. In the first half alone we saw both how Pittsburgh rolled to two decisive wins this year -- by moving the ball at will -- and how Pittsburgh chalked up three embarrassing losses -- with all kinds of mental errors. Yet they were still ahead by three, until Ben Roethlisberger broke something else.

Kansas City 30, San Diego 27: On the way to 8-8, you're going to win a couple good ones here and there, especially when you can catch the Chargers sniffing their shorts for a half.

Houston 27, Jacksonville 7: Wow. Not even close. Suddenly the Jaguars' loss to Washington doesn't seem like such a fluke.

Minnesota 31, Seattle 13: Wow. Not even close. Suddenly the Vikings' win over Washington doesn't seem like such a fluke

Oakland 22, Arizona 6: This time the Cardinals tried spotting the other team a 14-point lead in the first quarter, and yet the result was the same. Behold the power of the red bird: Arizona has forced 11 turnovers in their last two games, and still lost both times.

SEASON: 64-36
(2005 through Week 7: 64-38)

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 is ranked? Blame science. (Key: WK7 = This week's ranking. WK6 = last week's ranking. POW = KAPOW-ER centigrade score)
11 Bears 100.001717Panthers 35.09
22 Chargers 81.171819Chiefs 33.96
33 Broncos 72.651918Seahwaks 27.69
47 Patriots 69.532021Jets 27.52
56 Ravens 65.802120Redskins 25.25
69 Colts 58.182228Packers 19.67
78 Eagles 56.392322Cardinals 18.07
84 Cowboys 54.572425Dolphins 16.07
910Saints 54.48T2524Browns 15.64
1016Vikings 51.89T2526Lions 15.64
1113Giants 50.972729Bucs 14.05
125 Jaguars 50.652823Bills 11.70
1312Falcons 46.622931Texans 10.73
1411Steelers46.26302749ers 10.39
1514Bengals 45.223130Titans 0.84
1615Rams 42.633232Raiders 0.00

Teams eliminated this week from Super Bowl championship consideration (what?): Redskins, Browns, Bills. Teams previously eliminated: Raiders, Titans, Lions, Dolphins, Cardinals.

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