Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Week 14: Two TDs down, one FG to go

A 10-6 record in the picks this week doesn't look too hot on its face, but it was better than most. Nearly everyone picked Indianapolis, New England, Seattle, San Francisco, Dallas and the Jets to win. But I'm surprised at how many also expected the Lions to beat the Vikings and Baltimore to lose in K.C.

Pittsburgh 27, Cleveland 7: The Browns weren't going to win in any event, but had their receivers been able to hold onto the ball, they might have been able to last past the first quarter.

N.Y. Giants 27, Carolina 13: The Unfulfilled Expectations Bowl. I said before the season even started that the Panthers would regret cutting Stefan LeFors for Chris Weinke. And look what happened. Weinke's now 1-15 lifetime as a starter.

Philadelphia 21, Washington 19: On the "Blitz" segment of ESPN's SportsCenter, bald idjit Chris Berman said that when it comes to the Eagles' current QB, there's a simple truth: "Jeff Garcia wins." Except, of course, in Cleveland (3-7 as a starter) and Detroit (1-5). In this game the Redskins had 20 first downs to the Eagles' 14, outgained Philadelphia 415 yards to 263, and held the ball for 15 minutes longer. So why did they lose? Because they're the Redskins.

Tennessee 26, Houston 20: Vince Young's incredible game-winning scramble for a touchdown in overtime spared his coach, Jeff Fisher, from scrutiny for his weak-kneed game management at the end of regulation. On fourth-and-2 at midfield with the score tied and less than a minute on the clock, Fisher elected to punt and play for overtime. You've put your season on Young's shoulders, but you won't put the game in his hands? It's a good thing Tennessee won the coin toss in OT.

Cincinnati 27, Oakland 10: The Raiders intercepted Carson Palmer three times, which increased Palmer's INT total for the year nearly 40%. It was the first time Palmer had been picked thrice since 2004, when he was functionally a rookie. And yet you'll note that the Bengals still won by three scores. That's because giving the ball to the Oakland offense is like giving the Glengarry leads to Shelley Levene: "To give them to you is just throwing them away."

Minnesota 30, Detroit 20: Earlier this year the Lions gave up 201 yards and a touchdown pass to Brad Johnson's 38-year-old arm. There's no shame in that. Sunday, the Lions gave up a touchdown run to Johnson's 38-year-old legs. Shame? Someone ought to get publicly flogged for that. The guy's even older than me, and I'm ancient. He hadn't run for a TD in five years.

Baltimore 20, Kansas City 10: Kansas City fans will likely holler for the return of Damon Huard. It's easier than facing the truth.

Atlanta 17, Tampa Bay 6: If you can't win the game yourself, it helps to have a division opponent who'll just hand it to you.

San Diego 48, Denver 20: For one quarter (the third), Jay Cutler looked like John Elway, then he went back to looking like Jake Plummer. A young Jake Plummer.

Chicago 42, St. Louis 27: Who cares that Devin Hester returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, making the difference for the Bears amid another shaky performance by their defense? The important thing, according to the Monday Night Football crew, is that Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman didn't shoot any of his teammates in the face. All the Bears' problems are solved! Judging by the crowd shots and the noise in the Edward Jones Dome, the Bears continue to "travel well," as they say in college, but man, are their fans an ugly lot. If I saw one more waxy, red-faced fuck in a Brian Urlacher jersey dumping another 18-ounce beer over his triple chin, I was going to turn off the TV in disgust. But Joe Theismann ("Torry Holt can make those plays, and he does make those plays") chased me away just in time.


Miami 21, New England 0
Jacksonville 44, Indianapolis 17
The Manning-Brady debate takes an interesting turn: They both suck! Which loss was the ugliest? Seeing as how the Dolphins have been giving the Patriots fits for years (remember?) and also how the Colts have been allowed to skate with a rep for always "finding a way to win" against the Jaguars, I'll go with Indy's embarrassing ass-kicking in Jacksonville. It was a total meltdown, and it was totally inevitable. Both these teams were thoroughly outcoached, but only one would say so publicly ... and it was Bill Belichick who did the admitting.

Green Bay 30, San Francisco 19: Man, this was like watching those great Packers-Niners duels of the mid-1990s, when they were slugging it out for NFC dominance. I mean, you had Brett Favre out there slinging it around. And you had ... Well, you had Brett Favre out the slinging it around. And they were playing at Candlestick. And it was Sunday. Hey, look: Balloons!

Buffalo 31, N.Y. Jets 13: The road to the playoffs was laid out in front of the Jets, and they immediately slipped on dog feces. And they did it at home. Against the Bills. Maybe the Jets got caught looking ahead, but to whom? The Vikings? The Raiders?

Arizona 27, Seattle 21: Heh.

New Orleans 42, Dallas 17: The Cowboys were the quasi-official team to beat in the NFC for exactly seven days. New Orleans wrested the front-runner's sash from Dallas with a convincing Sunday night victory, but the Saints wore it for just a day, before Chicago put away the hapless Rams and were declared cured by conventional wisdom.

SEASON: 125-83
(2005 through Week 14: 145-63)

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: W14 = This week's ranking. W13 = last week's ranking. POW = KAPOW-ER centigrade score)
11 Bears 100.001719Vikings 44.82
24 Chargers 85.571820Falcons 44.26
33 Ravens 84.241914Jets 43.54
46 Jaguars 82.572021Bills 42.18
52 Patriots 79.012117Panthers 42.07
65 Cowboys 70.262222Rams 32.59
78 Saints 68.632323Cardinals32.18
89 Bengals 65.982426Titans 29.68
97 Colts 59.202524Redskins 29.66
1011Eagles 56.372627Texans 25.08
1113Giants 54.472728Lions 23.91
1215Steelers54.042829Packers 23.66
1312Chiefs 51.142925Browns 22.00
1418Dolphins49.96303049ers 15.88
1510Broncos 47.603131Raiders 7.30
1616Seahawks45.523232Bucs 0.00
Teams eliminated this week from Super Bowl championship consideration (what?): Cowboys, Seahawks. Teams previously eliminated: Raiders, Titans, Lions, Dolphins, Cardinals, Redskins, Browns, Bills, Texans, Buccaneers, 49ers, Steelers, Packers, Bengals, Vikings, Rams, Jets, Eagles, Falcons, Jaguars, Giants, Panthers, Chiefs, Broncos.

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