Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Week 10: Everyone's a loser

Well, now this is strange. In your typical week this season, I manage to predict all the gimme games correctly and whiff on the difficult matchups. In Week 10, however, I got most of the gimme games wrong -- as did nearly everyone else -- but was perfect on the tough matchups. I have no idea what I'm doing anymore. Wait, yes I do: At one point I had lost or was behind in nine of the 10 early games, and I actually started rooting for my picks to lose. From that point on, I was unbeatable. Next week I start charging $100 to root against your favorite team.

We're still waiting for our baby boy to show up, so let's make this quick.

San Diego 49, Cincinnati 41: First thirty minutes: Bengals 28, Chargers 7. Final thirty minutes: Chargers 42, Bengals 13. Can't anybody finish?

Baltimore 27, Tennessee 26: First twenty minutes: Titans 26, Ravens 7. Final forty minutes: Ravens 20, Titans 0. Can't anybody finish?

Philadelphia 27, Washington 3: Hey, someone finished! The Redskins learned the hard way, yet again, that when you "find a way to win" that doesn't involve outplaying the other team -- as they did last week against the Cowboys -- it's indicative of exactly nothing. The locals have been howling for the Jason Campbell era to begin but, really, would it make any sort of difference? Probably not. Hey, Campbell's starting next week!

Indianapolis 17, Buffalo 16: The Colts are going to need shovels if they continue playing down to the level of some of these opponents, but "it is what it is." For the second straight year, Indy is 9-0. But while in 2005 they won those games by an average of 14 points, this year they're winning by an average of 7 (take out the Texans game, and it's down to 5). Hell, even the stiffs on the '72 Dolphins won by 15 a game.

Denver 17, Oakland 13: I've never seen a good game that ended 17-13 or 27-10. This was no exception. Denver was supposed to win, but God, not like this.

Dallas 27, Arizona 10: This week's least surprising result.

Seattle 24, St. Louis 22: Hoo-boy. Four straight losses for the Rams. That'll learn me to say that St. Louis could take back the division.

Pittsburgh 38, New Orleans 31: The Saints are definitely for real, and they'll be playing in January as a result. The Steelers are definitely sloppy and unfocused, and they'll be home in January as a result. But in this game, a close match that went back and forth all afternoon, the difference was the Saints making the kinds of mistakes (hold onto the ball!) that have killed the Steelers all year. I picked the Steelers to win, but not like that.

Chicago 38, N.Y. Giants 20: Forget the 108-yard missed-FG return by the Bears' Devin Hester. This game was already over by then. In ended late in the first half, in Chicago territory. The Giants had the Bears backed up, 3rd-and-22 from their own 28. New York was this close to staking its claim as the team to beat in the NFC. Then Thomas Jones, just trying to gain a little more room for a punt, gains 26 yards. Big Blue goes Big Brown all down its leg, and the momentum moves to Chicago.

Carolina 24, Tampa Bay 10: Well, I should think so.

Houston 13, Jacksonville 10: David Garrard: All he does is win! As much as the Texans are capable of owning anyone, they own the Jaguars. In five years in the league, Houston has swept a season series three times; twice, it was against the Jaguars. They've shut out an opponent just once: the Jaguars. They've won a game by 20 points just twice: both times, against the Jaguars. They're 6-4 against Jacksonville, 15-48 against the rest of the league. The Texans stink, and the Jaguars are their leedle beaches.

San Francisco 19, Detroit 13: Taking nothing away from the 49ers, who are clearly improving -- after all, in the past couple years, they couldn't even be counted on to beat bad teams -- but who in Detroit thought that Jon Kitna was going to be the answer? What was the question? Forget I asked.

N.Y. Jets 17, New England 14
Miami 13, Kansas City 10
So which is more surprising: the Dolphins' two-game winning streak, considering their level of play in the first half of the season, or the Patriots' two-game losing streak, considering they hadn't dropped consecutive games since 2002? Well, the Pats' losses were to rivals, both recent (Colts) and traditional (Jets), and you just never know what's gonna happen in rivalry games. The Dolphins, meanwhile, beat the Bears and the Chiefs. Despite what happened in 1985, before any of us were even born, there is no Dolphins-Bears rivalry. Sorry. Maybe Miami caught Chicago sleeping. It happens. But you'd think that the Dolphins' surprising win would have given the Chiefs a heads-up, but with a Herm Edwards-coached team, you never know what you're going to get. Moving on, the idea of Joey Harrington winning two straight is at least as surprising as Tom Brady losing two straight. So in the final analysis, I guess I'll go with the Dolphins' streak as the more surprising.

Cleveland 17, Atlanta 13: Here's a two-game streak that isn't terribly surprising: consecutive putrid performances from Michael Vick. On Sunday, he was 16-of-40 for 197 yards, 1 TD and two interceptions. Plus, he fumbled the ball away with the game on the line without even being touched. Vick had two good games in a row before tanking vs. Detroit and Cleveland, so maybe that's it for the year.

Green Bay 23, Minnesota 17: I think this is three straight Vikings-Packers games that I've blown.

SEASON: 86-58
(2005 through Week 10: 94-50)

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: W10 = This week's ranking. WK9 = last week's ranking. POW = KAPOW-ER centigrade score)
11 Bears 100.001721Panthers 36.08
22 Chargers 80.501816Vikings 36.06
33 Patriots 73.311918Rams 34.72
45 Jaguars 69.552020Dolphins 30.93
54 Ravens 68.972122Jets 29.71
67 Cowboys 68.542223Packers 29.49
710Eagles 68.172325Browns 26.14
86 Broncos 67.862424Lions 23.64
99 Colts 62.172526Bills 22.64
108Giants 53.692619Redskins 20.96
1111Saints 52.832732Texans 14.78
1212Chiefs 45.932827Cardinals9.03
1315Steelers44.36292949ers 8.99
1413Bengals 41.153028Titans 3.88
1514Falcons 41.083131Raiders 1.41
1617Seahawks37.613230Bucs 0.00
Teams eliminated this week from Super Bowl championship consideration (what?): Bengals, Vikings, Rams. Teams previously eliminated: Raiders, Titans, Lions, Dolphins, Cardinals, Redskins, Browns, Bills, Texans, Buccaneers, 49ers, Steelers, Packers.

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