Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Week 5: Redemption

Well, that's a little more like it. After last week's history-making plunge to that dark hole at the bottom of the toilet bowl, Down and Distance made a 180-degree turn and went 10-4 in this week's picks. Not great, of course, but better than even and much better than 7-7. Not that anyone went 7-7. And even after last week's disaster, we're still doing only four games worse than the best of them.


Dallas 25, Buffalo 24
How badly does your team have to suck to lose a game in which the opposing quarterback turned the ball over six times, in which the other team hand-delivered two touchdowns and graciously stepped aside and held the door open while you took care of a third one yourself?

Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 0
What did the Steelers show us in this game, ridiculously presented as a "rematch" of Super Bowl XL? They showed us that their early-season dominance (before the hiccup in Arizona) was not solely the effects of the ever-popular Cupcake Diet (Cleveland, Buffalo and San Francisco). I mean, Seattle is supposed to be good, right? Or, at least, "good enough" to win the NFC West year after year ... which might not be so good after all. Still, with all the Steelers starters who were injured, Pittsburgh showed us that they can still go out and kick more ass than a team of ass-kicking ass-kickers. What did the Seahawks show us? Nothing we wanted to see. Nothing at all.

Baltimore 9, San Francisco 7
A couple weeks back, I sputtered and stammered and couldn't come up with the words to describe how unattractive I found the matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the Arizona Cardinals. Ravens-49ers was only marginally better looking forward, and even worse looking back. Would the 49ers have won had Alex Smith been playing rather than Trent Dilfer? Maybe, but probably not. By the way, I think I've nailed down the problem with Smith. It's not that he's an awful quarterback. He's getting better every year. It's that they're not getting anything close to value for what they're paying him. When the crummy Colts had to pay No. 1 draft pick money to Peyton Manning in 1998, they at least got a sure-fire superstar QB. When the crummy Bengals had to pay No. 1 draft pick money to Carson Palmer in 2003, they, too, at least got a sure-fire superstar QB. But when the crummy 49ers had to pay No. 1 draft pick money to Alex Smith, they got an average quarterback. A young Gus Frerotte.

New England 34, Cleveland 17
My wife has been pleading with me to mention something about "Deadbeat Dad Tom Brady." It all has to do with his relationship with baby-mama Bridget Moynahan and the "confusion" over whether their son was named Jonathan Brady or Jonathan Moynahan. Since I don't have anything original to say about Sunday's slow-starting but ultimately predictable beatdown of the Browns by Brady's Patriots, I thought I'd try out some SportsCenter-esque play calls that integrate the Brady-Moynahan saga:
  • "Brady's under pressure, and he throws the ball away like a pregnant starlet!"
  • "The pocket collapses, here comes the rush, and Brady runs from it like it's responsibility!"
  • "There's a lot of motion by the defense. Brady looks like he's changing the play at the line of scrimmage, much as he's changing his story about being an involved father ..."
  • "The Patriots are huddling up now. Brady's giving them the play, his teammates gathering around like spectators in family court."
  • "Brady's going downfield! ... Moss is wide open! ... He hits him for the touchdown! And there's pandemonium on the field! There's no fucking way I'm giving you any more money!"

Arizona 34, St. Louis 31
Obviously, you know what happens next. Now that the quarterback-rotation experiment has ended with Matt Leinart's broken collarbone, and the Cardinals have no choice, the Kurt Warner who got himself booed out of St. Louis and New York will surely make an appearance. Or maybe he's already here: two fumbled snaps in as many weeks.

Washington 34, Detroit 3
N.Y. Giants 35, N.Y. Jets 24
Houston 22, Miami 19
Tennessee 20, Atlanta 13
Indianapolis 33, Tampa Bay 14


Carolina 16, New Orleans 13
Carolina fans, I'm afraid I have good news and bad news. The good news is that your Panthers are 3-2 and are keeping pace with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for first place in the NFC South. The bad news is that the three teams they have beaten are a combined 1-13. New Orleans fans, I have good news and bad news for you, too. I'll start with the bad news. Actually, you already know the bad news, right? So, I'll go to the good news. OK, I lied. There is no good news. Back to the Panthers: If you really are a fan of this team, then the worst part about Jake Delhomme's season-ending injury is not that it means the Panthers won't go anywhere this year. It's that it means the Panthers will once again have injuries to blame for not getting it done on the field. In the past three years, no team in the NFL has shown as wide a disparity between expectations and performance as Carolina. Not to say the Panthers are a bad team; they certainly aren't -- they were in the NFC Championship Game just two years ago. (Then again, the Saints were in the NFC Championship Game last year.) It's just that ever since their surprise run to the Super Bowl in 2003, Carolina has been the fashionable pick to go all the way, and every year they fall short of the mark, and every year they say, "If we just could have avoided injuries ... " It's the NFL, ladies. No one avoids injuries.

Chicago 27, Green Bay 20
You're not a big, sophisticated football analyst like me, so I expect you to miss hidden indicators like this: If you thoroughly dominate the first half of a game, but are leading by only 10 at the break because you can't hold onto the ball and because you give the other team first downs in the red zone with dumbass penalties, then you will not win. (Listening, Buffalo?) If I were a Packer fan, what would have me climbing the walls is not that James Jones allowed Charles Tillman to strip the ball away in Bears territory. It's that on the very next drive, James Jones allowed Charles Tillman to strip the ball away in Bears territory.

Jacksonville 17, Kansas City 7
I don't know what I was thinking with this pick. I was feeling like I'd been too hard on the Chiefs, expecially after their convincing win over the Chargers last week. And, as usual, you can never trust the Jaguars to beat anybody bad or lose to anyone good, so I rolled the dice. Snake eyes.

San Diego 41, Denver 3
I don't know that there's anything to say about the AFC West, except that Oakland is now in first place with a 2-2 record. This game may signal that the Chargers are ready to pull out of their early-season funk. Or it may just signal that the Broncos are falling apart.

SEASON: 48-28 (63.2%)
(2006 through Week 5: 49-25, 66.2%)
(2005 through Week 5: 46-28, 62.2%)

Down and Distance's exclusive KA-POWER RANKINGS are back for their third year. The product of a simple formula, the rankings have predicted 10 of the last 17 Super Bowl winners. Further, 14 of the last 17 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: WK5 = This week's ranking. WK4 = Last week's ranking. POW = KA-POWER centigrade score)
12 Steelers 100.001719Giants 45.26
21 Patriots 99.871816Panthers 44.57
35 Colts 80.191920Ravens 40.16
43 Cowboys 79.342018Browns 35.03
513Redskins 74.502122Bengals 34.53
69 Jaguars 69.902221Chiefs 30.06
78 Titans 65.702328Bears 29.88
87 Packers 62.502417Lions 29.75
94 Bucs 57.682525Jets 25.21
106 Seahawks 54.952624Falcons 24.75
1110Texans 54.762727Dolphins 24.59
1211Eagles 53.73282949ers 18.70
1312Vikings 52.982923Broncos 12.68
1414Cardinals 49.223030Bills 12.62
1526Chargers 47.863131Rams 8.72
1615Raiders 46.853232Saints 0.00
Teams eliminated this week from Super Bowl championship consideration (what?): Dolphins, Rams.

1 comment:

pam said...

Please pass along a big "thank you" to your wife for pointing out what a dead-beat dad Tom Brady is. There are a LOT of us out here who share her view. We support Bridget and admire her for the dignity she has shown despitte all that she has been through. There's no denying that Tom Brady is a great QB, but as a man, he has a LONG way to go.