Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Week 13: RIP Sean Taylor, 1983-2007

After 12 weeks of scratching and clawing, Down and Distance has reached the top of the standings in the blogger picks league. Whether this is a product of my legendary football acumen or the fact that about a third of the participants have dropped out remains to be seen. Still, a 12-4 week is not at all shabby.


Green Bay 37, Detroit 36
Yet another example of why an NFL team should never take its foot off an opponent's throat. The Packers led by 22 with 13 minutes left to play, they let up on the gas, and within seven minutes of clock time, the Lions had turned it into a one-score game. Green Bay pulled out the win, but they were lucky. Once you switch it off, you don't always get it switched on again. I watched this game at my wife's uncle's house, with a bunch of Vikings fans. I'd forgotten that there are people in the world who hate the Green Bay Packers. Even though I grew up in Minnesota, I never minded the Packers -- probably because during my childhood, the 1970s and '80s, they were never good enough to hate. At various times the Bears, Lions and Buccaneers all served as the biggest threat to the Vikings in the NFC Central, but Green Bay never did until the 1990s.

Indianapolis 31, Atlanta 13
A game against the Falcons is always good for what ails you, spiritually. It doesn't do shit to get you ready for Jacksonville, however.

Cleveland 27, Houston 17
The Texans are really gaining speed as they slide back down the bell curve. Hey, 7-9 won't be so bad ... until you remember that that's where they were three years ago, the last time they were poised to take the next step.

Seattle 24, St. Louis 19
When mantaining your longtime grasp on the division depends on ancient journeyman Gus Frerotte fumbling a fourth-down snap for the Rams at the same time ancient journeyman Trent Dilfer has his best game in years for the 49ers, then it might be time to blow it up and start over.

Tampa Bay 19, Washington 13
Not two days later, the Redskins would learn what it really means to suffer a heartbreaking loss in Florida.

Chicago 37, Denver 34 (OT)
I keep waiting for the law of averages to catch up with Devin Hester. I figured he was like Dante Hall. Remember how Hall was all the rage for like a year and a half, and then everyone started keying on him during kick returns, and you pretty much never heard from him again? I thought that would happen with Hester, and I think I will continue to be proven wrong. I watched both of his touchdown returns on Sunday, and while you hear a lot about his speed, that's not what makes him the best kick/punt returner in the league. It's actually his field vision. Not only does he know where everybody is, he knows where they're going to be when he gets to their part of the field. That's also why he's not as good on offense as he is as a returner. As a wide receiver or flanker, he never has all 11 guys on the opposing team spread out for him they way he does on a kick.

San Diego 32, Baltimore 14
Oh, this looked like a good one back when the schedule was coming together. These teams were a combined 27-5 last year. But then the Chargers fired their coach, and the Ravens didn't fire theirs.

New England 31, Philadelphia 28
Yes, A.J. Feeley played very well, but let me ask you this: If Donovan McNabb had been the Eagles' quarterback against the Patriots, and his second pass of the game had been intercepted and run back for a touchdown, and his second-to-last pass of the game had been picked off in the end zone when his team was in position for the tying field goal, what do you suppose they would be saying about him this week?

Pittsburgh 3, Miami 0
If you told me that this game was going to be played in conditions so mucky that all the yard lines would wash away and punts wouldn't even bounce when they hit the ground, I would have said, "Oh, man, I have got to see that." Yet in reality, it was three hours of the most wretched football you'll see all season. After 59 minutes and 40 seconds, the score was still tied 0-0. Once you get to that point, you actually start rooting for the game to end in a tie n regulation and for it to remain scoreless in overtime. Because then you could say you watched the only 0-0 tie since the NFL started playing overtime in the regular season in 1974. (Prior to then, it only did so for playoff games; that's why you see so many ties on team records up to 1973.) But the Dolphins and Steelers couldn't just give us that, and with 17 seconds left, Pittsburgh hit the "winning" field goal, and we have a 3-0 final score that makes the game seem far more interesting than it really was. OK, now for Tony Kornheiser: Coming into the game, it was obvious that he was going to spend the majority of his time talking about two things: Miami's 0-10 record coming in, and the return of Ricky Williams to the Dolphins after a 1 1/2-year, weed-induced exile. First, the 0-10 record. Look, we can all see the standings. They print them in the newspaper and various places online. We don't need to be told over and over that Miami has yet to win a game. What would have been nice would be some intelligent discussion of why a team that for the past 10 years had a been a fair-to-middling squad suddenly saw the bottom drop out. Such as the fact that the defense, once very spry and very good, got very old very quickly. Or the fact that the team has preferred to acquire "established" quarterbacks -- viz. Brian Griese, Gus Frerotte, A.J. Feeley, Daunte Culpepper, Trent Green -- rather than just draft one and develop him has finally caught up with it. That would have been too thought-provoking for the Monday Night Football crew. Next, Ricky Williams. You just knew that the second Williams stepped on the field, Kornheiser was going to start reading whatever essay he'd draw up for the occasion, and you weren't disappointed. TK immediately rehashed everything: the drug suspension, the abrupt retirement, the return, the other drug suspension, the season he played in Canada. We know all this, Tony. When ESPN first acquired the Monday night package, the network made all sorts of noises about how it was going to tailor its broadcasts for the core ESPN audience: the serious fan. Yet through Kornheiser and his weekly remedial history lessons, MNF continues to assume its viewers don't know shit about shit. To Tony's credit, he did point out that many people consider pot-smoking a relatively victimless crime, and that marijuana is hardly a performance-enhancing substance. And he and Ron Jaworski both mentioned that, in the eyes of other players, Williams' far greater sin was quitting football -- quitting on his teammates, and leaving his team in the lurch -- right before the 2004 season. As they jawed about this, I thought: Wouldn't it be nice if they took some time to discuss what it would take for a guy to shed the "quitter" label, which to an athlete is far more damaging than the "druggie" label? Because there's a guy still floating around in the NFL whose experience almmost directly mirrors Williams': a high-first-round pick who became the face of his franchise before declining into substance abuse, quitting on his team and getting drummed out of the sport. That guy is Kerry Collins. And what he did was acknowledge his alcoholism, get sober, keep his mouth shut, work hard and be a model teammate. Next thing you know, he's playing (though not very well) in the Super Bowl, and he's still pulling an NFL paycheck as Vince Young's backup and mentor. Kerry Collins -- a mentor! So it really is possible to shed the quitter label. But of course we didn't hear anything like that, because there were jokes to be made about doobies. It was especially interesting, too, because during the game there was a commercial for Coors Light that showed NFL Films footage of coaches acting like assholes on the sidelines. In one clip, a New York Giants coach is ranting and raving about whatever. I wasn't able to focus on who the coach was (Jim Fassel, I presume), because behind him on the sidelines was a player whose face had been blurred in the ad. When you see that in an ad, it means the person in question didn't give permission for their image to be used. It never happens in ads for official sponsors, though, which means this player probably specifically asked that his face not appear in a beer commercial. The player's jersey number was 5. It was Kerry Collins.

Jacksonville 36, Buffalo 14
New Orleans 31, Carolina 6
Dallas 34, N.Y. Jets 3


Oakland 20, Kansas City 17
This week's Game-I-Didn't-Watch-a-Single-Down-Of. I mean, yeah, I didn't expect the Raiders to win, but I can't say I'm terribly surprised. I wouldn't be surprised if the Chiefs lost to Notre Dame at this point. Or to the Merchant Marine Academy. It's not that they're bad, necessarily. It's that you can never count on them to be good.

Cincinnati 35, Tennessee 6
Well, Chad Johnson feels comfortable enough to act like a jackass again, so the Bengals must be getting this thing turned around. It's not really the fact that Cincinnati won that was noteworthy -- the Bengals are one of those teams who can beat anybody and lose to anybody -- but rather the magnitude of the victory.

Minnesota 41, N.Y. Giants 17
Remember the 2000 NFC Championship Game, when the Giants beat the Vikings 41-0? OK, now remember the game two years ago when the Vikings scored touchdowns on a punt return, a kickoff return and an interception return to beat the Giants 24-21? And then on Sunday, the Vikings ran back three interceptions for touchdowns to rout the Giants. I understand that it usually takes a while to even the karmic scales, but man, shouldn't it be close to done by now?

San Francisco 37, Arizona 31 (OT)
The Cardinals can beat Pittsburgh, and can lose to the 49ers. This is a team with a lot of work yet to do. And as much as I love him as a fellow Iowan, I have to say that if you asked me before the weekend which quarterback would fumble in his own end zone in sudden-death overtime, I'd have probably said Kurt Warner. Sorry.

SEASON: 119-57 (67.6%)
(2006 through Week 12: 107-69, 60.8%)
(2005 through Week 12: 118-58, 67.0%)

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: W12 = This week's ranking. W11 = Last week's ranking. POW = KA-POWER centigrade score)
11 Patriots 100.001714 Lions 35.16
22 Steelers 84.221816 Texans 32.65
33 Colts 81.261912 Titans 32.58
45 Cowboys 74.032018 Redskins 29.64
54 Packers 73.162121 Bears 29.05
66 Seahawks 60.282222 Raiders 24.95
77 Bucs 58.402325 Chiefs 20.66
89 Jaguars 55.002427 Broncos 17.09
911Chargers 50.342523 Ravens 17.08
1010Eagles 43.882624 Panthers 13.36
118 Giants 42.222729 Dolphins 7.95
1217Vikings 41.492826 Jets 6.91
1315Browns 39.532928 Bills 6.49
1413Cardinals 37.123030 Falcons 5.15
1519Saints 35.853131 Rams 0.86
1620Bengals 35.703232 49ers 0.00

Teams eliminated this week from Super Bowl championship consideration (what?): Titans, Lions. Teams previously eliminated: Dolphins, Rams, Jets, Falcons, Bengals, Texans, Raiders, Bears, Vikings, 49ers, Broncos, Cardinals, Eagles, Ravens, Chiefs, Panthers, Saints, Bills, Chargers, Redskins.


sbergus said...

I'm glad to see that I wasn't imagining the blurred out face in the Coors Light commercial. I'm also glad to see that someone who noticed had the presence of mind to take notice of other details, like the jersey number.

I had assumed that there was a good story (good as in entertaining, not heat-warming) behind why they blurred out a player’s face and you proved me correct!

PCS said...

Yeah, I've been a Kerry Collins fan ever since the week before Super Bowl XXXV, when he went before the press and said, "Ask me anything you want about my drinking, but do it now, because I'm never going to talk about it again." And he took all their questions, answered them forthrightly, and didn't make excuses. To me, that's what it means to man up.

Anonymous said...

So, I'm really excited about tonight's game. As a huge Packers fan I'm really hoping for some kind of miracle blowout. It sucks that we have to play in Dallas, its a difficult place to play at and I think Favre has never won in Dallas... has he? Today might be the day, its like watching the old packers team again and Favre is better than ever. I just took NFL odds on the Pack +7 points which I think is a sure winner. GO PACKERS!!!

sbergus said...

While watching Monday Night Football, I saw the Coors Light commercial again, I didn't see the begining of the ad, so I don't know if it was the same version which was previously discussed or not.

What interested me was that there was another blurred face. This one on a Kansas City Chiefs player wearing number 89.

I couldn't find anything that was similar to the story of Kerry Collins, in fact the only notoriety I could find related to the number was Andre Rison being charged for using bad checks.

Does anyone have any insight into this blurred face?