Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Week 8: The sins of Spurrier, repaid

This makes me feel a little better: 11-2 in this week's picks. Things are really tightening up, as there are nine of us within three wins of the lead. Neato.


Indianapolis 31, Carolina 7
The Colts start slow again and pull away late. Sure, it works against the NFC South, whose teams start slow and finish slow. For the Patriots, however, "starting slow" means scoring a field goal on the opening drive before reeling off three unanswered touchdowns by the time the first quarter is out. Thirty-one points ain't going to cut it.

Pittsburgh 24, Cincinnati 13
Wasn't it cool how Steelers-Bengals games briefly meant something again, because both teams were good at the same time for the first time since, like, the early '80s? Good times.

N.Y. Giants 13, Miami 10
When the commissioner dreamed up the idea of sending two NFL teams to play a real game in London, I don't suppose he envisioned jet-lagged players slopping their way to a 13-10 finish, in the rain, on a soccer pitch that was coming apart less than five minutes into the game. Neat robot, though.

San Diego 35, Houston 10
Last week, Texans backup QB Sage Rosenfels came in for the injured Matt Schaub and brought Houston back from a four-touchdown deficit to take the lead. This week, Texans backup QB Sage Rosenfels came in for the injured Matt Schaub and brought Houston back from a five-touchdown deficit to ... a four-touchdown deficit. And on the last weekend of October -- what a perfect time to turn back into a pumpkin!

New England 52, Washington 7
Signs of excessive violence, literally overkill, on the body of a murder victim indicate that the killing was highly personal -- that is, not a random or cold-blooded act. This may help us explain what happened to the Washington Redskins on Sunday. I hope to God it does, because if this sort of carnage were inflicted cavalierly, it would suggest that there's a madman on the loose. At this point, it's becoming scary what the Patriots are capable of. Washington had a top-10 defense, and New England just kept stabbing it, pushing the knife in all the way to the handle, twisting it, ripping out little chunks of soul. What explains it? Well, remember how before the game we heard about how Tom Brady had beaten every team in the NFL except the Redskins? He's only played them once before, in 2003, and the result was a 20-17 loss in which Brady threw three interceptions. The Patriots wouldn't lose another game for a full calendar year, but for that year, they heard over and over that the last coach to beat the Patriots was Steve Spurrier. That's the kind of humiliation that drives you not only to kill a man, but to rape his ear canals beforehand and take a hammer to his body afterward with such ferocity as to leave no piece larger than a deck of cards. If you prefer, here's a stat: The Patriots have outscored their opponents by 204 points. Only two other teams in the league have scored more than 204 points total, and just barely (Dallas with 227 and Indy with 224).

New Orleans 31, San Francisco 10
After three straight wins, it's tempting to say the Saints are back to their 2006 form. I prefer to think they're back to their 2000-2004 form: beating bad teams, losing to good teams, and splitting the difference with the teams in the middle.

Green Bay 19, Denver 13 (OT)
I'll take it, but let's just say that Green Bay can't count on another team fumbling a snap on the 1-foot line (other teams' unforced errors are non-predictable), while it probably can count on its own players taking more stupid penalties at the 1-foot line (lack of discipline is predictable).

Philadelphia 23, Minnesota 16
Cleveland 27, St. Louis 20
Tennessee 13, Oakland 9
Buffalo 13, N.Y. Jets 3


Jacksonville 24, Tampa Bay 23
This close to giving up on the Buccaneers.

Detroit 16, Chicago 7
A quarterback wins two games in three weeks by leading his team on game-winning drives in the final minutes. Then he goes out and throws three interceptions in the end zone, costing his team the game. If you're Brett Favre, a 17-year veteran with a history of winning games with guile, they call that "the risks you have to accept when you have a gunslinger out there." If you're Tony Romo, a relative newcomer with a history of winning games with guile, they call that "evidence of the confidence that could make this kid great with a little more experience." If you're Brian Griese, a 10-year veteran with a history of losing his job to assorted flavors of the month, they call that regression to the mean. Actually, that's what they call it for any Chicago quarterback. Somewhere, Rex Grossman is laughing. Oh, wait, he's right there behind Griese. And Kyle Orton's next to him, also laughing.

SEASON: 76-40 (65.5%)
(2006 through Week 8: 70-44, 61.4%)
(2005 through Week 8: 74-42, 63.8%)

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: WK8 = This week's ranking. WK7 = Last week's ranking. POW = KA-POWER centigrade score)
11 Patriots 100.001714Panthers 40.93
23 Colts 91.35185 Redskins 40.89
32 Steelers 86.971920Chiefs 39.65
44 Cowboys 67.652021Raiders 38.27
56 Packers 63.602124Lions 37.86
611Chargers 63.232217Texans 36.47
77 Seahawks 60.252322Bengals 35.21
88 Giants 59.742427Saints 33.46
910Titans 58.852523Bears 32.03
109 Jaguars 56.452629Bills 25.96
1112Eagles 56.312726Dolphins 22.74
1213Bucs 51.492825Jets 22.55
1315Ravens 48.362928Broncos 20.11
1416Vikings 43.143030Falcons 17.44
1519Browns 43.11313149ers 8.54
1618Cardinals 41.873232Rams 0.00
Teams eliminated this week from Super Bowl championship consideration (what?): Bengals, Texans, Raiders, Bears, Vikings, 49ers. Teams previously eliminated: Dolphins, Rams, Jets, Falcons.

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