Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Week 9: Glad that's over

I didn't think we could do better than last week's 11-2 showing. Lo and behold, Down and Distance went 12-2 in this week's picks. At 88-42 on the season, we're just two games back of the leader in the picks league, our old buddy Eric Mirlis of


New England 24, Indianapolis 20
I am not overstating matters one bit when I declare, in all seriousness, that there is absolutely nothing left to say about this game.

Tennessee 20, Carolina 7
Vince Young: 14-of-23 for 110 yards and 2 interceptions. Sometimes the Madden cover jinx is about a player getting injured. Sometimes it's about a player's development coming to a halt.

New Orleans 41, Jacksonville 24
Despite shitting their pants for the first four weeks of the season, the Saints are now one game out of first place in the NFC South. Considering how the Buccaneers are barely squeaking out wins over teams with mideason free-agent pickups at quarterbacks, and how the Panthers and Falcons have had to start midseason free-agent pickups at quarterback, it's not too much of a stretch to call them the favorites in the division. Meanwhile, the Jaguars move a step closer to oblivion. And to Los Angeles.

Buffalo 33, Cincinnati 21
We're all glad that Chad Johnson is OK, that he was taken off the field on a backboard only as a precaution. But maybe a brush with mortality will shut his goddam mouth, at least until the Bengals win another game.

Tampa Bay 17, Arizona 10
Ugly all around.

Detroit 44, Denver 7
Every once in a while, I find myself watching a game for no particular reason and can't pull away. This was the one for Week 9. I kept coming back to it. It was hypnotic. I'm not about to declare the Lions good or anything, but boy did they lay an ass-whipping on the Broncos. I don't care that Jay Cutler got hurt. Denver's strength is supposed to be the running game, right? And their billion-dollar secondary got torched, again. Which reminds me: Last year, it was a joy to see Joey Harrington, then with the Dolphins, come back to Detroit on Thanksgiving and beat the Lions -- specifically cornerback Dre Bly, who'd blamed Harrington for everything that was wrong with the team the year before. Sunday, Bly, now with the Broncos, came back to Detroit and ... got his ass kicked by the Lions. Sometimes karma is gentle, and sometimes it carries a monkey wrench.

Washington 23, N.Y. Jets 20
A question frequently heard around Washington the past five years: What's it gonna take for the Redskins to score more than 20 points? Eight extra minutes of clock time, apparently.

Green Bay 33, Kansas City 22
Early in this game, the Packers did something good, and a cheer rose up from the crowd, and either Joe Buck or Troy Aikman referred to all the Packer fans who had traveled to Kansas City to see their team. What, is this college football? Do the Green Bay Packers "travel well"? Those aren't people who came down from Wisconsin for the game. By and large, those are Packer fans who left Wisconsin a long time ago (or never lived there in the first place) and now live in and around the K.C. area. Wherever the Packers play, there's usually a healthy contingent of green-clad fans in the stands. The Bears enjoy the same sort of thing, as do the Cowboys and, especially, the Steelers.

Atlanta 20, San Francisco 16
About eight months ago, this looked like it was going to be good.

Cleveland 33, Seattle 30 (OT)
Last week, people were just saying it in jest because the Browns were playing St. Louis. But now it's for real: The Browns really have become the Rams. They're even beating the Seahawks!

Dallas 38, Philadelphia 17
We Americans like our side shows, but we only like them for so long. Which is why Paris Hilton walked out of jail and off the face the earth. And why no one cares what O.J. Simpson did in Vegas, despite the valiant efforts of Larry King and the rest of the bottom-feeders. (Larry King. He's still alive? I thought he'd died ... or at least retired to Texas to do circle jerks in a cave with Ross Perot.) And it's why no one outside Dallas or Philadelphia could have possibly cared less that Terrell Owens was returning to Lincoln Financial Field. Few stories in sports are more over than T.O. The guy is a fantastic talent, no doubt. If his teammates have patience for his bullshit, then great, because the rest of us ran out more than a year ago. Should he act up again, our response will be a shrug and a "what else is new?" And yet ESPN will still be camped out at Valley Ranch.

Pittsburgh 38, Baltimore 7
This week's dead horses flogged by Tony Kornheiser: Ben Roethlisberger had a motorcycle accident and an appendectomy last year. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is young. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is black. Ravens coach Brian Billick is supposedly a quarterback guru but has yet to develop a QB in Baltimore. Here's what's really interesting: The night before, during the Cowboys-Eagles game, Al Michaels recited a very Kornheiseresque litany about the tribulations of the Dallas franchise over the past decade -- the rotating quarterbacks, last year's heartbreaking playoff loss, Bill Parcells' retirement, the hirings of Jason Garrett and Wade Phillips, etc. And yet it wasn't annoying. That's because when Michaels tells these stories, he assumes we already know them. He's reminding us of things like the botched snap in Seattle that ended Dallas' 2006 season, or the sad Ryan Leaf experiment of 2001. Kornheiser tells stories like he just discovered them through research at the Library of Congress. Bleah. To make matters worse, Kornheiser missed the one big story of Monday night's game, which was the emergence of Steelers linebacker James Harrison as a much-more-than-adequate replacement for overpaid, overrated, overexposed asshole Joey Porter, who took the money and ran to Miami, where he's working his magic for the 0-8 Dolphins. It was left to Ron Jaworski to go on and on about Harrison, because Kornheiser doesn't do linebackers. He only does quarterbacks and head coaches and maybe flashy receivers. Which is fine if you're just a dumbshit blogger but unacceptable if you're sitting in the MNF booth.


Minnesota 35, San Diego 17
Thus far this season the Vikings have demonstrated that they have one, and only one, weapon: Adrian Peterson. So at this point, for a team not to stack eight, maybe nine guys in the box against Minnesota, with one of them a full-time spy on Peterson, is just gross negligence. What, do you think the Vikings are going to beat you through the air? The dumbest thing the Chargers did on Sunday was knock Tarvaris Jackson out of the game. IT's not like anyone's afraid of Brooks Bollinger, but next to Jackson, he's like Fran fuckin' Tarkenton back there. Anyway, there are a number of reasons to celebrate Peterson setting the all-time single-game NFL rushing record with 296 yards against San Diego. Here's one: Back in January 1983, I watched on Monday Night Football as Tony Dorsett of the Dallas Cowboys ripped off a 99-yard run against the Vikings. It set the NFL record for the longest run from scrimmage, a record that can be matched but will never be broken. So much attention was paid to the run -- the highlight still shows up on TV from time to time -- that it overshadowed the fact that the Vikings won the game, 31-27. In Sunday's game, San Diego's Antonio Cromartie set a similarly unbreakable record with a 109-yard return of a missed field goal. Missed field goal returns are flukes, events that say more about the mental lapses of the kicking team than about the skill of the returner. Nevertheless, this play might have established a Dorsett-like performance, had Peterson not set a bigger, better record and ensured that if anyone ever talks about Cromartie, they'll also have to talk about Peterson -- and point out that the Vikings won. There's still enough residual Minnesota fanhood in my soul for that to make me happy.

Houston 24, Oakland 17
An indefensible pick, considering that I sleep next to the biggest Sage Rosenfels booster this side of Maquoketa, Iowa.

SEASON: 88-42 (67.7%)
(2006 through Week 9: 76-52, 59.4%)
(2005 through Week 9: 86-44, 66.2%)

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)
11 Patriots100.001724Saints 43.09
23 Steelers 96.611816Cardinals41.18
32 Colts 87.951922Texans 40.89
44 Cowboys 73.502020Raiders 38.07
55 Packers 67.212117Panthers 37.49
610Titans 65.582219Chiefs 37.37
78 Giants 62.092313Ravens 36.26
87 Seahawks 58.332426Bills 36.18
96 Chargers 56.612523Bengals 34.52
1012Bucs 55.872625Bears 33.28
1121Lions 52.592728Jets 25.14
1214Vikings 52.402830Falcons 23.65
139 Jaguars 49.322927Dolphins 23.63
1411Eagles 48.07303149ers 11.95
1515Browns 46.023129Broncos 11.52
1618Redskins 44.433232Rams 0.00
Teams eliminated this week from Super Bowl championship consideration (what?): Broncos, Cardinals, Eagles. Teams previously eliminated: Dolphins, Rams, Jets, Falcons, Bengals, Texans, Raiders, Bears, Vikings, 49ers.

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