Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Week 15, when everyone gets blown out

Down and Distance went 11-5 in the picks this week. Not bad. Not terribly good, either. I don't know where I got Arizona over Denver, but I totally predicted that Vince Young would lead the Titans to victory over the Jaguars. He just wins!

Dallas 38, Atlanta 28: Many media historians say that TV network news came of age with the JFK assassination, and that cable news did so with the 1991 Persian Gulf War. From watching Saturday's post-game coverage, it appears that the NFL Network views Terrell Owens spitting on DeAngelo Hall as its equivalent of JFK and the Gulf War, plus Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and that girl who fell down the well in Texas.

N.Y. Jets 26, Minnesota 13: We'd all been expecting the Vikings to bench Brad Johnson, but we weren't expecting shitty defense to be the precipitating factor.

Buffalo 21, Miami 0: I've finally figured out where I've seen these Bills before: they're the Green Bay Packers of the early 1980s. Capable of beating anybody, capable of losing to anybody, capable of shutting out an opponent, capable of getting shut out. And never a real threat to make the playoffs. J.P. Losman is Lynn Dickey, Lee Evans is James Lofton, Mike Mularkey is Bart Starr, and Dick Jauron is Forest Gregg. Willis McGahee is both Gerry Ellis and Eddie Lee Ivery. I've seen these Dolphins, too: the Buffalo Bills of the late 1990s.

Tennessee 24, Jacksonville 17: Well, of course. As soon as the Jaguars franchise puts all its eggs in David Garrard's basket, Garrard goes and pees in it. With this game, Vince Young made a run at Garrard for the title of "quarterback most likely to get credit for victories that were achieved in spite of him, not because of him." Also known as the Kyle Orton Trophy.

Chicago 34, Tampa Bay 31 (OT): Devin Hester's fumble on a kick return let the Buccaneers back in the game, and yet you didn't see it anywhere in the highlights. Gee, wonder why. Speaking of media darlings, the Bears defense gave up 21 points in the fourth quarter. In their three previous games, the Bucs scored a total of 19.

Pittsburgh 37, Carolina 3: Turns out quitters really don't win. When you see how Chris Weinke and Brad Basanez have spun their wheels in the absence of Jake Delhomme, you have to ask again why Carolina was so quick to cut Stefan LeFors.

New England 40, Houston 7: Like just about everybody except Jacksonville, the Patriots take a welcome break from their struggles by kicking the shit out of the Houston Texans.

Green Bay 17, Detroit 9: It's just sad to see what's happened to this classic rivalry. It's become just a matchup of two also-rans, whereas not too long ago it was a twice-yearly clash of a perennial league powerhouse and ... well, and a perennial also-ran. It's sad if you're a Packer fan, I guess. If you're a Lions fan, it's just life as you know it.

Baltimore 27, Cleveland 17: Watching former Ravens starting QB Kyle Boller come into the game after Steve McNair's injury, I thought about the 2001 AFC Championship Game, when Drew Bledsoe, who had also lost his starting job, led the Patriots to victory while subbing for the injured Tom Brady. And I thought to myself, "This isn't like that at all."

St. Louis 20, Oakland 0: It's the third time this year the Raiders have been shut out. How bad is it in Oakland? Aaron Brooks is their best hope at quarterback.

San Diego 20, Kansas City 9: Even people who have LaDanian Tomlinson in their fantasy leagues are tired of hearing from guys who have LaDanian Tomlinson in their fantasy leagues.

San Francisco 24, Seattle 14: Here's how the Seahawks finished in the first seven years of Mike Holmgren's tenure: 9-7, 6-10, 9-7, 7-9, 10-6, 9-7, 13-3. Hmm, which one is the fluke? Some may say that this game shows that the 49ers of old are making a comeback. Others (me) say that the Seahawks of old are merely reasserting themselves.

Washington 16, New Orleans 10: In the Washington victory, Ladell Betts once again demonstrated everything that's wrong with the Redskins. Wait: Betts ran for 119 yards and had another 43 yards receiving, so what's the problem? The problem is that when Clinton Portis went down with an injury in preseason, the Redskins panicked and traded two high draft choices for T.J. Duckett. The problem is that Duckett has barely seen the field because Betts has played so well. The problem is that the Redskins threw away draft picks because they had no clue about the talent level of the guy who has been on their roster for more than five years. Still, nice win, Skins!

Philadelphia 36, N.Y. Giants 22: Eagles fill-in QB Jeff Garcia has reportedly said he's playing for a starting position somewhere next year. He certainly played like a second-stringer in Detroit last year, and look where that got him. I'd say something about the game, which I watched from start to finish, but I just don't care.

Denver 37, Arizona 20: It was worth taking a shot on the Cardinals, regardless of the outcome. If I'm Matt Leinart, I'm standing on the sidelines thinking about all the national championships I won and all the starlets I sqwanked in college and wondering how the hell I wound up on Arizona's Souped-Up Scooter to Hell while Jay Cutler -- Vanderbilt alumnus Jay Cutler -- gets to sling it around in Denver.

Indianapolis 34, Cincinnati 16: Despite the 9-0 start, Indianapolis had been having trouble all year because opposing defenses were stacking their coverages to take away the deep passing game, forcing the Colts to rely on short throws and runs. That meant more plays per drive, which meant more opportunities for error, which contributed to the Colts losing three out of four games. Monday night, however, the Colts embraced the new reality and didn't even try throwing downfield. Think the Monday Night Football crew made the connection? Ha. Kornheiser was too busy telling us (over and over) that Colts, who have already clinched their division title, "needed this game more" than the Bengals, who are struggling to make the playoffs as a wild card. Also, Matthew McConaughey was in the booth, which gave everyone up there a chance to indulge their man-crushes.

SEASON: 136-88
(2005 through Week 14: 155-69)

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: W15 = This week's ranking. W14 = last week's ranking. POW = KAPOW-ER centigrade score)

11 Bears 100.001716Seahawks44.04
22 Chargers90.591814Dolphins43.93
35 Patriots90.141918Falcons 42.78
43 Ravens 88.122017Vikings 42.04
54 Jaguars 81.462122Rams 38.52
66 Cowboys 73.302224Titans 32.77
77 Saints 69.032321Panthers32.40
99 Colts 64.742523Cardinals29.21
108 Bengals62.242628Packers 26.28
1110Eagles 60.972727Lions 22.22
1215Broncos54.162829Browns 20.49
1311Giants 51.83293049ers 19.48
1420Bills 49.803026Texans 16.97
1513Chiefs 49.173132Bucs 3.24
1619Jets 48.583231Raiders 0.00
Teams eliminated this week from Super Bowl championship consideration (what?): Saints. 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, Cowboys, Seahawks.

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