Sunday, November 26, 2006

Top Three Shocking Things About Week 12

Snow in Seattle in November?

Before the snowfall, the total precipitation in Seattle for the month reached a near-record 15.08 inches. The all-time record for precipitation in a month in Seattle is 15.33 inches in December 1933.

Be that as it may, the NFL week was split up between the six unlucky teams having to celebrate Thanksgiving on a football field, preparing or recovering from a football game, and the rest of the league playing at regularly scheduled times, making it a weird NFL week to begin with. Now those six teams, all having had an equally small number of days to recover from Week 11, will go forth into Week 13 with more rest, several days in fact, than the teams they will be facing. A half-bye week so to speak. We'll be keeping an eye on those for next week but for now:

Giant Collapse

You hold a 21 point lead and all the cards against the Tennessee Titans and a rookie quarterback and what happens? You blow it. Blow it miserably.

The Titans and Vince Young concocted the biggest foruth-quarter comeback in franchise history, 24 points in the final 9 plus minutes to come from behind and finish a dramatic upsets victory, 21 of which Young had a hand in recalling that NCAA Championship of only a year ago against the USC Trojans. It doesn't turn the Titans into Titans and it doesn't knock the Giants from the playoff picture (it should considering this miserable flop and all the growing question marks called Eli over Philip Rivers in the NFL draft are you kidding me now sort-of-question marks.

As one of a pack of 6-5 teams remaining the Giants aren't done for but let's hope that military mindset muppet Tom Coughlin is out the door before Tiki - falling out of the playoffs after this sort of disaster is just the stuff that's needed to send him packing.

Redskins Win

Is this shocking only to me? Are Joe Gibbs' Skins not dead? Did they not roll over and play dead the last several weeks following that amazing comeback against the Cowboys? Are the Panthers not the team that comes roaring back in the second half of the season after a slow start to clinch a playoff berth with weeks to spare?

So what the hell was going on?

Well Jake Delhomme's inconsistency, a poor running game made this an ugly sort of game. But it was more a Redskins game, a Joe Gibbs game - 10 first downs via the rush and only 5 via the pass. Safe football - the kind you need to play when you've got a QB starting only his second NFL game.

Something to think about next year - The Panthers are 1-7 against the Redskins, and 0-5 in Washington.

Ravens Extinguish Any Vestige of Hope In A Steeler Repeat

"That's probably the hardest I've ever been hit in my life. I didn't see the guy coming," Roethlisberger said. "He hit me clean, hit me front side and I just kind of remember my head hitting the ground."

Hard to imagine a worse 10 months than those 10 months following Ben Roethlisberger's Super Bowl Championship. At least in football anyway. Meteoric rise, stupendous stumble, near-dead in a motorcycle crash, constant injury, press making fun of your injuries, questioning your talent, more injuries, miserable performances, etc. Now the defending Super Bowl Champs are out for the count, TKO'd by their division rivals, the bandwagon everyone will soon be jumping upon, the Baltimore Ravens.

It was Pittsburgh's most lopsided defeat since a 37-7 whipping by Dallas in the 1997 season opener. So, Bill Cowher probably can't retire now. Not after this kind of performance. Rushmore head has something to prove now and so does Roethlisberger. Was last season merely a dream sequence he is constantly and painfully waking up from?

It was the second time this year that the Steelers were shut out; the last time Pittsburgh was blanked at least twice in a season was in 1989.

Randon Thoughts

Michael Vick used both hands to deliver a gesture and flashed an angry look toward the handful of fans remaining in the Georgia Dome following yesterday's game. Those who hung around booed the home team loudly after its dismal 31-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints with good reason.

Vick has since apologised agonisingly but should he bother? What's wrong with a gesture of frustration at a season spinning down the drain? Should he flip off his teammates? His coaches that he's softly killing? His own alter ego? Why not the fans, convenient scapegoats? Why not do a little flip-you-all-off-muthafuckahs dance in the endzone the next time you score? Just to make up for it, of course.

If you're interested, a brief sporting history of bird-flipping.

More QB news means Jay Cutler is set to become the league's next Tony Romo and the excitement in Denver must be palatable knowing that they are finally rid of Jake Plummer once and for all. Think about it - at the season's start Young, Cutler and Matt Leinart were all slated to take over for lame duck QBs and now they've all made it. Romo is not a rookie in the traditional sense of the word, but he's certainly making up for lost time.

If Cutler has as much impact on the Broncos as Romo has had on the Cowboys, is it possible the two could meet in the Super Bowl?

After the way this season has played out, anything is possible.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Are you ready for some foo'bowl?

Well, it ent celebrated over here on the otherside of the pond scum but happy Thanksgiving to all yea readers celebrating the harvest festival, remembering the Pilgrims and the Indians (Pilgrims allegedly from around here, the East Midlands...) and getting ready for the slaughtering of great turkey meals with stuffing and cranberries and mashed potatoes, and lots of bread rolls, corn, and pumpkin pies and mince pies, yum yum and of course, overdose of football.

It appears from our scheduling that this year the NFL is getting bigger than ever with an unprecedented THREE games in one day, as if anyone will be staying awake to watch them after eating all that food!

Over here, we'll be staying up all night watching The Ashes where at the minute, it's tea time in Brisbane.


Quote Du Jour San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson should change that "LT" moniker to "LTD." -Don Pierson, Chicago Trib, soon to be former owners of the Cubs - why else would they be spending so freely?


Miami (-2.5) At Detroit - Former Lions first-round draft choice Joey Harrington returns to face the club he quarterbacked into oblivion from 2002-2005. With a change of venue he's suddenly looking as if he belongs. Pick: Miami

At Dallas (-11) Tampa Bay - Bucs rookie Bruce Gradkowski versus the latest fad in Quarterback gadgets, the Cowboys four-year vet Tony Romo. What we say here is that the Boys are on an emotional let down after knocking off the Colts and plus they didn't even look so great doing it, the Colts just looked really bad. Pick: Tampa Bay

Denver (-1) At Kansas City - The Chiefs have won five of the past seven second meetings between the clubs. Pick: Chiefs


Jacksonville (-3.5) At Buffalo - You could go by the logic that the Jags can't beat (twice) the Houston Texans and the Bills just beat the Texans in Houston (once) thus the Bills should be heavy favourites but not much has been logical about this season to date and the Jags defence looks occasionally brill. Pick: Jacksonville

At NY Jets (-5.5) Houston - The Jets are a team who has beaten the likes of the New England Patriots in New England but have been shut out twice already this season. Chad Pennington, one rotten display after another, will be auditioning for his job again soon but Texas, this ent Jacksonville. Pick: Jets

At Baltimore (-3) Pittsburgh - In six of eight games against Pittsburgh, Ravens RB Jamal Lewis has been held to below 70 yards. And the Steelers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher since last Thanksgiving weekend. That means Steve McNair has to do it on his own. Pick: Pittsburgh.

Cincinnati (-3) At Cleveland - In Sunday's 24-20 loss to Pittsburgh, the Browns twice moved the ball inside the Steelers 20-yard line, but failed to score a touchdown both times, settling for field goals by Phil Dawson. A week earlier, the Browns were 1-of-6 in the red zone at San Diego as Dawson kicked six field goals in a 32-25 loss. Pick: Bengals

At Minnesota (-6.5) Arizona - This is the first meeting between Arizona and Minnesota since 2003, when the Cardinals won 18-17 after scoring two touchdowns in the final two minutes, including the final six points as time expired. That loss ended the Vikings' four-game winning streak in the series. The Cardinals haven't won at in Minneapolis since 1977, when they were known as the St. Louis Cardinals. Pick: Minnesota

At St. Louis (-6) San Francisco - Loser of five in a row against winner of three in a row...Since falling behind 41-0 in the first half against the Bears on Oct. 29, the 49ers' defense has allowed only three touchdowns in the last 14 quarters. Pick: San Francisco

At Atlanta (-3) New Orleans - Wheels are coming off both of these teams' bandwagons and fast. Harmony beats acrimony. Let's keep the Falcons out of the playoffs! Pick: Saints.

Carolina (-4.5) At Washington - Might it be the easy thing in the world to just pick against the Redskins the rest of the season whilst Joe Gibbs and his Jesus Machine go slowly slinking off into the night? Pick: Carolina.

At New England (-3) Chicago - How many weeks in a row can the Bears win on the road against quality teams? How many times will the Patriots blow it at home this season, negating the homefield advantage? Pick: Patriots.

At Indianapolis (-12.5) Philadelphia - I'd pick the Colts because they're going to have something to prove and the Iggles have just been decapitated (and amputated) but the Colts stink at home and the Iggles might pull together, misery loves company. Pick: Eagles.

NY Giants (-3.5) At Tennessee - Tiki Barber, playing the logic man to Tom Coughlin's mindless discipline man, said Wednesday the coaches abandoned the running game after he was limited to season lows of 10 carries and 27 yards rushing. It marked his fewest yards since Nov. 30, 2003, when he was held to 20 against Buffalo. "We got away from it early and never got back to it because we felt like we weren't executing or finding any type of rhythm, but we never got back to it," said Barber, who entered last weekend as the NFL's leading rusher. "I felt insignificant for the first time in my career - I should say this season - and it was frustrating."
Pick: Giants

At San Diego (-10.5) Oakland - On its face this looks like the turkey killing of the week. The Chargers are now famed for their comebacks and massive offence. The Raiders are well...have scored only seven offensive touchdowns and were shut out in the second half last week for the fourth time this season.
Pick Chargers

Monday Night Football

At Seattle (-7) Green Bay - Oh, isn't this a great saga, the Brett Favre 251st miraculous comeback from injury. He doesn't have much of a choice this week as the backup Aaron Rodgers went down with an even worse injury, a broken foot. Four of the five previous times Favre has not been able to finish a game because of injury, he has come back to win the following week, in some cases playing lights out. Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren was around for the most memorable of them - a five-touchdown performance against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 12, 1995, when Favre had his sprained ankle taped so tightly it looked like he was wearing a cast. Through the years, Favre has consistently answered the bell and then rung it with authority following an injury. In the five ``game-afters,'' he has completed a cumulative 61.4 percent of his passes for 1,244 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions, good for a passer rating of 97.5. Pick: Packers.

Last week: 10-6
Season to date: 76-79-4

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ashes Build Up Begins...

"Kylie Minogue took over half England’s team hotel and was lying poolside the other day, but most of the guests were more excited to see Michael Vaughan among them. Will he play? He looks fit! That’ll stick it up em! They whispered as they got stuck into their Fosters (yes, it appears your average Pom has embraced the beer Australia rejects)."


Meeps of a Dying Coach

Asked what else fans have to look forward to over the next six games -- four of which are at home -- Redskins Coach Gibbs said:

"I think our fans are what I feel good about. Our fans always make the right decisions. I don't think there's anything that makes us better. I never try to coach up our fan base. They're normally ahead of me. I don't make predictions and try to tell someone here's a rosy picture or anything else. You try to work as hard as you can. You don't know where this is going to go. It's week to week. It's year to year. That's what the NFL is. You have to make it happen, and if you don't make it happen you're in for hard times."

Surely the fans don't feel so good about Gibbs or the Dreadskins by this point.


If you include the field goal that he missed for Indianapolis in the playoff loss to Pittsburgh, Cowboy kick-misser Mike Vanderjagt has missed six of his last 18 attempts. A pretty poor conversion rate, considering he entered the season as the NFL’s very best all-time at 87.5 percent

via - Czar's blogs and:


Bengals defensive tackle Sam Adams has been playing pretty well the past two games. Asked why he’s playing better, Adams responded by saying: "I feel a lot better. I feel like I changed sexes."


"I feel like I’m a different human being," Adams said.

Different human being sure but you feel like you did WOT?

"Changed sexes," he said. "I’m a different human being right now."

Maybe he means changed species.


O! The Miseries of a McNabbless Philly!

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Tony Romo, the new Peyton Manning?

Oh, go'won, you know you want me to note the bloody Colts being knocked from the ranks of the undefeated by the Cowboys as "shocking" but was it really? Not only I, but many others had predicted just this sort of thing. Why? Because the Colts aren't that good, that's why. Nor are the Bears. And THAT, Al Michaels, you smug little bastid, is why bloggers change their mind like players and real analysts about these teams. Neither is what you would call "Super".

In fact, I predict now that neither of these two teams will win the Super Bowl, that some darkhorse candidate rising from below and beyond to surprise us.

1. 49ers 20 Seattle 0 at the half: That the final margin ended up closer is no consolation for the Seapigeons who allowed the 49ers to win their 3rd straight game of the season, almost as unfathonable as the Raiders winning two in a row. This means the 49ers are in the playoff hunt, a mere game away from the Seahawks and first. What made this initially shocking was that this was the game both Alexander and Hasselbeck were to come back and whom better to exploit than a dodgy 49er defence? As it turns out Alexander had only 37 yards on 17 carries, rustier than imagined and Hasselbeck merely dressed, didn't see any action. Still, kudos to the 49ers in their rise from the dead. Frank Gore's 212 yards rushing was a new team record and further cheers to 49er coach Mike Nolan and his spiffy sideline suit.

2. Good Bye McPhilly Season - What this proves is that the Iggles don't need some evil Terrell Owens karmic voodoo to end both Donovan McNabb and the Eagles' season prematurely. But look at it this way: the team I had pegged for the Super Bowl can now afford the greatest excuse of all for not winning: Our franchise QB is lost for the season. Is there an Earl Morrell waiting in the wings? Sadly, no. Just more Jeff Garcia and AJ Feeley and a string of losses to close out the season. With this injury, McNabb has suffered as many season-ending injuries as season ending chokes. McNabb had surgery for a sports hernia and missed the final seven games last season when Philadelphia finished 6-10 a year after going to the Super Bowl. McNabb also sat out the final six regular-season games of the 2002 season with a broken ankle before returning for the playoffs. The Eagles were 2-5 with Mike McMahon filling in for McNabb last year and went 5-1 with Koy Detmer and Feeley starting the last six games in '02. Next up on the hit list - The Indianapolis Colts.

3. Down Go the Horseheads - Ok, I know I just said it wasn't all that shocking because really and truly, this team is no great team puffing up their regular season record and beginning a history of humiliation that goes back to the Patriot heydays but even though it isn't as shocking as the Bears losing to the Dolphins, it's still newsworthy simply for the fact that Peyton Manning looked mortal, getting outplayed by Tony Romo throwing two interceptions in one game after just three all season. Tony Romo, mate. I know they've been singing his praises since preseason but to get outplayed by a rookie making his what, 4th start of his career? Hmmmm.

Random Notes

Marty Ball Gone Wild

Will the Chargers be the newly annointed favourites now that they've made yet another thrilling comeback? The Chargers have rallied back from 17-point deficits in their last two games, the first time in NFL history that feat has been accomplished. You have to wonder what an AFC Championship game between the Chargers and Colts would be like - the highest scoring finale in history? Not so fast. Like the Chargers, the Ravens have also won their last four on the trot and hey, the Dolphins, with three in a row, are making a revival.

Meanwhile on the downside, the Vikings have now lost 4 games in a row and the Rams have lost 5 in a row. The Falcons have also lost three in a row and although the Redskins have only lost 2 in a row, they'd struggle to beat the Cardinals at this point in the season. Time to say goodbye to Joe Gibbs and begin the countdown to which guru's reputation can be tarnished by a run at the Redskins?

Saturday, November 18, 2006


The Fall of the Mighty Horseheads?

This week the death of most beloved horse in the UK, Desert Orchid foreshadows the demise of the last NFL unbeaten team, the Indy Colts.

BALTIMORE (-3½) vs. Atlanta - Ravens Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis was a guest coach and motivational speaker at the Poets' early evening practice as a result of a winning essay written by Dunbar senior James Bailey. Bailey entered a writing contest sponsored by the company that makes vitaminwater, an enhanced-water drink, in which he had to describe, in 52 words or fewer, how his high school team would benefit from a visit by Lewis. Now Lewis is out for this game due to back surgery. You do the maths. Pick: Falcons.

HOUSTON (-2) vs. Buffalo - One Read QB JP Losman has started 17 games in his career for the Bills and is 4-13 in those starts. Pick: Houston.

Chicago (-4) vs. N.Y. JETS - The Bears are among the league leaders in point differential (272-120), while New York has somehow given up substantially more (207) than it's scored (177) through nine weeks, even with a winning record. Pick: Bears

NEW ORLEANS (-3½) vs. Cincinnati - Coach Marvin Lewis locked Bengals players out of the Paul Brown Stadium players' lounge Monday because the room was not cleaned. Lewis re-opened the door Wednesday. Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said he would clean it, Lewis said, but didn't. "So we locked it," Lewis said. The room is furnished with a large-screen TV, a couch and several over-sized reclining chairs. It also has video games, two poker tables and a pool table. Pick, Bengals.

DALLAS (E) vs. Indianapolis - Peyton Manning was named the league's most marketable player in a survey conducted by Sports Business Journal, and The Indianapolis Star reported his "Q" score — measuring name identification and receptiveness — ranks higher than popular NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. in several marketing polls. Even so, Manning has been criticized for overexposure. Pick: Cowboys.

MIAMI (-3½) vs. Minnesota - Daunte Culpepper says his heart and soul are willing, so he would love to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. But the Dolphins' quarterback is out for Sunday's game against his former team because his surgically repaired right knee won't allow it. Pick: Dolphins.

New England (-6) vs. GREEN BAY - This is the Patriots first visit to Lambeau Field in 27 years and they are 21-3 in games when the temperature at kickoff is 34 degrees or colder. Forecast for Sunday: Mostly cloudy during the morning then becoming mostly sunny. Highs around 40. Pick: Packers.

KANSAS CITY (-10) vs. Oakland - Trent Green is back as Kansas City's starting quarterback, 10 weeks after a brutal head-snapping hit knocked him unconscious with a severe concussion. Since being knocked out by Cincinnati's Robert Geathers on Sept. 10, the 36-year-old Green slowly has worked his way back. Initially, he could not even drive a car, but several weeks ago he was allowed to resume limited practice. Pick: Raiders.

Pittsburgh (-3) vs. CLEVELAND - Since returning in 1999, the Browns are 1-6 vs. the Steelers in Cleveland and were embarrassed last year, 41-0. Pick: Steelers.

CAROLINA (-6) vs. St. Louis - As he addressed the team Monday after a bitterly disappointing loss to Seattle, coach Scott Linehan took a survey. "If anybody in this room had a perfect game, you can get up and walk out," Linehan said. "If any of you feel like you did everything perfect, that gave us the perfect chance to win the game, then you don't need to be in this room." Wow, what a motivator. Pick: Panthers.

PHILADELPHIA (-12½) vs. Tennessee - The Eagles will be collecting cans of non-perishable food at the game Sunday. Bins will be set up at entrance gates throughout Lincoln Financial Field. Members of the Philadelphia Eagles Woman's Association also will be on hand to collect financial donations. All food and money collected will be turned over to Philabundance, an organization that works to overcome hunger and malnutrition in the Philadelphia area. Pick: Titans.

TAMPA BAY (-2½) vs. Washington - Jason Campbell wore No. 17 during his years at Auburn. When drafted by the Redskins, the quarterback wanted to continue wearing his number. Small problem, though: Doug Williams wore No. 17 when he led the Redskins to a Super Bowl title. So, before asking the equipment manager for the No. 17 jersey, Campbell first placed a call to Mr. Williams. "It's just a matter of respect, because this guy has done it, won it all here in D.C.," Campbell said. "I just wanted to ask Doug and make sure it was cool to wear his number. (Now) it's an opportunity to wear 17 and carry on that tradition.". Pick: Bucs

ARIZONA (-1½) vs. Detroit - The 1-8 Cardinals are currently No. 1 on the NFL's board for the 2007 draft and the 2-7 Lions are at No. 2. The Cardinals have had one winning season since they moved to Arizona in 1988, but they've never been this bad since they arrived in the desert. Their 1-8 record is their worst start to a season since 1978, and they haven't gone 1-9 since World War II. Pick: Detroit.

Seattle (-4½) vs. SAN FRANCISCO - Jerry Rice will get his own video tribute of honour at halftime of this game and teammates from Rice's three championship teams are expected to be on hand, including Brent Jones, Roger Craig, Steve Young and possibly, Joe Montana. Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh, who disclosed last week he is battling leukemia, also hopes to attend. Pick: Seattle.

DENVER (-3) vs. San Diego - "To be honest with you, one thing I can say about Coach Schottenheimer is that he philosophizes and uses his diagrams correctly and his quotes," Bronco Kennard Lang remembered about Chargers coach Marty Shottenheimer. "There's no telling what he might say. There's one thing I remember the most that he said -- 'Before you make a decision, you control it, but once you make it, it controls you.' Pick: Chargers.

Monday night

JACKSONVILLE -3 vs. N.Y. Giants - Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich will undergo surgery on his injured left ankle on Tuesday. Pick: Giants.

Last week 8-8
Season to date: 66-73-4

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Top Three Shocking Things About Week 10

gracias a Pro Football Talk

Yeah, there's still the chance something shocking will happen out of the Carolina-Tampa Bay MNF matchup (more shocking than the lopsided nature of good games for Al Michaels and John Madden's Sunday Night Football versus zzzz games for MNF?) but we'll push on nonetheless with those games that have happened up to now.

Jets over Patriots in New England - This is immensely exciting (or is that shocking) for Jets fans not only because it puts the kabosh on Bill Belichick's haughty disdain for Jets coach Eric Mangini who has gotten more out of this team than humanly possible, but also because it ends an amazing 57 game streak wherein the Patriots hadn't lost consecutive games. Aaaaand, if you're counting, it ends the Jets' 7 game losing streak against the Patriots and puts them within a game of the division lead. Not only that, this was such a brilliant game because of the mud and rain. Never would have expected such a performance out of the 30th ranked defence in the NFL but the The Sack of Tom Brady deserves a photo:

2. Chargers Strike Back - It wasn't all that hard to imagine at halftime, down 28-7, was it? After all, as the announcers pointed out whilst the teams exited the field at the half, the Chargers are the highest scoring team in the NFL. Still, this one one of the most exciting games of the season in a season of exciting games.

Granted, it tied the biggest comeback in franchise history. Total net yards, Bengals 545, Chargers 430. Total points Chargers 49 Bengals 41. Quite a massive display of offence and passing. But here's what was funniest. Philip Rivers, the Chargers' first year starting QB had the wit to note: "We didn't panic," Rivers said. "We didn't point fingers like some teams around the league do." - and of course, the finger pointing Bengals lost another, this one the most demoralising of the season and will send them to the rubbish bin for 2006. My only complaint was that the game was not played on turf.

And let's not forget LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for four touchdowns and became the first player in NFL history to score 15 touchdowns in a five-game span. Jim Brown, Tomlinson's idol, had 14 over five games in 1958. Are the Chargers for real? Well, a defence that surrenders 41 points to the Bengals might make you wonder.

3. Bears Regain Domination - Again, probably not the most shocking event of Sunday but the margin of victory and the fact that this not only strengthens the Bears for the NFC title run but simultaneously hammered down the Giants hopes with injury after injury leaving this a badly wounded team who aren't likely to get up off the mat fully for the rest of the season.

- (Brandon Jacobs brings us one step closer to humping the football after scoring a touchdown. Let's see - T.O. has already slept with it and BJ is now pregnant with it...what is this, the PG version? Who will be man enough to go and hump the football already?)

And within this surprising margin of victory, especially considering the Giants looked early to be able to dominate, the 108 yard return by Devin Hester of a failed field goal which tied the NFL record set by another Bear nearly a year ago (13th November 2005 by Nathan Vasher) - what are the chances of that?

Perhaps the most shocking thing about this game was Al Michaels' sudden rant about blogging and how "blagging or blogging, however you call it" produces such disdain for Michaels because "one week the Bears are great, the next minute they stink now what, they're going to be great again?" - yeah, dickhead, it's only the bloggers who can't make up their minds about the Bears. What about the city of Chicago, douchebag? What about the Bears themselves? For the record, the Bears are officially back to favourites although the Eagles will beat them should they face each other in the playoffs. In fact, that's my dream NFC Championship game, Philly @ Chicago. I seem to vaguely the Fog Bowl back in 1988.

Random Notes

1. Pro Bowl Injuries - Orlando Pace, Tony Gonzalez, Clinton Portis and Troy Polamalu, all of whom have played in the Pro Bowl, were sidelined in a Week 10 that was filled with injuries. Pace had the worst and will miss the rest of the season. Of course, the Rams, Chiefs and Redskins were all bound to disappoint anyway so these injuries are likely only another excuse in seasons which will not result in playoffs. The Steelers, with two games remaining against the Ravens following this week's must-win victory over the Saints, still have a fighting chance and Troy and his unspecified head injury would be a big loss.

2. The Chiefs and Falcons, both with their own history of post-midway choking, predictably lost in upsets, the Chiefs to the suddenly resurgent Dolphins and the Falcons to the Browns.

3. After their near-debacle against the Bills, it is now four home games in a row that the Colts have been either tied or trailing at intermission.

4. After the Chicago Bears' halloween hideous coloured uniforms a few weeks ago, the Cardinals' red on red number ranks as one of the ugliest combinations of the season.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


So now that everyone has played at least 8 games, i.e. the halfway point of the season it is every media outlet's unwritten law that an evaluation must be done about the first half leading into the second half. Sports Amnesia's evaluation is that the NFL has done the impossible - blended the theme of parity (so many teams having the possibility of a postseason appearance,) with the theme of domination, i.e. another season, another second half question of whether or not the Indianapolis Colts can go through the regular season without a loss.

One can't necessarily point out anymore that the Colts are unbeaten solely for finding themselves in one of the weaker divisions in the league. Not solely for the Jags looking playoff-bound but also for having defeated both the Broncos and the Patriots pretty convincingly. The only thing left to mock the Colts for is that they haven't won the big games yet in the postseason, haven't even ventured into the Super Bowl under the guidance of Manning (isn't it funny that even though Manningis the only QB in the NFL with a brother also playing QB in the NFL, we don't have to point out which Manning when we're talking about domination) and Tony Dungy. So let's let that one rip long and loud - sure, you're undefeated, Colts. But you were undefeated last season at this point and didn't make the Super Bowl. So what?


1. New Orleans Saints (6-2): Frankly, I didn't think they could rise above their schedule, (I had them finishing 4-12, d'oh!) which included having to play Atlanta, Carolina and Tampa Bay twice each, a tough call for anyone. They've shown resiliancy both at home and on the road and the question now is whether or not they can hold it all together down the stretch. Maybe the second half means they won't surprise anyone - i.e., no one is pointing to New Orleans on the schedule and marking up an easy win any more, but they will still make the playoffs and hopefully, they will have the chance to host a playoff game so we can have another massive build up of post-Katrina coverage.
2. New York Giants (6-2) - I confess, especially considering their opening schedule - v. Indy, at Philly, at Seattle coming out of the gate. The Week 2 victory over the Eagles saved their season, no doubt and this week they get to host the Bears, who are licking their own wounds after losing to the Dolphins, facing a long line of injuries. This is a military-tough team coached by a guy who is bound to be the first guy everyone wants out, coup-style, if things turn sour. And the second half is no better in that they've only got one game that would look easy on paper. I had the Giants pegged to finish 9-7 which would mean losing 5 of their last 8, not an impossible task considering the injuries and the schedule ahead.
3. Arizona Cardinals (1-7) - Yes, I had these muppets going 11-5 this season in part because I knew it was only a matter of weeks before Matt Leinart took over from the Jesus Freak and in part because they had a lame schedule but not necessarily lame talent. I take it all back, of course. Coach Green is a fat pig with a fat temper who clearly can't coach any team that doesn't have Randy Moss scoring 20 TDs a year for it. It didn't seem possible a few years back, but Green has actually made this franchise worse than it was before he took over.

As for my Super Bowl picks, well Eagles against the Colts is still valid but solely if the Eagles are able to use their bye week to figure out whatever mysterious malady ailed them the last three weeks leading up to the bye week. Merely looking ahead to the rest? They can still win their division and considering they figure to look to open the second half strong, the Dreadskins are about to get a pounding. Look forward to the Super Bowl preview in three week's time.

Now onto the week's picks.

Baltimore (-7) vs. TENNESSEE - When Steve McNair walks out of the tunnel at Louisiana Pacific Field in Nashville, he will do so for the first time as a member of the visiting team. Actually, "LP Field" as its affectionately known as, did not exist during McNair's nine seasons in Tennessee, so really this is in effect, his first time, despite spending the first 11 seasons of his career with the Houston/Tennessee franchise. Nonetheless, given the mediocrity of the opponent and the incentive of returning home, McNair might actually prove a point (that he was worth restructuring the contract for, naaaah). Pick: Ravens.

INDIANAPOLIS (-12) vs. Buffalo - More reunions. This time it's Marv Levy and Bill Polian facing each other after years of happiness and success. "We still haven't played our best ball," Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney said this week. "Think about that. Some teams are peaked already." Think about that indeed. And think about the fact that this team is human and they are bound for some emotional let down after consecutive weeks against the Broncos and Patriots on the road. Ordinarily one might imagine a three touchdown difference but I'm banking on the unpredictable. Not a Bills victory mind you, but a loss within reason. Pick: Bills.

N.Y. GIANTS (-3) vs. Chicago - Wow, one week hero's of the world and compared to the 1985 Bears and the next week - well, even those 1985 Bears lost to the Dolphins so in a sense, this is deju vous all over again. Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher has a sprained big toe on his left foot - suffered in the final minutes of last week`s 31-13 loss to Miami - and is listed as questionable. The Bears lost all seven games they played without him in 2004. Oh yeah, and the Griese Watch continues. Pick: Giants.

ATLANTA (-7½) vs. Cleveland - The Falcons are 5-3. But they just got beaten by a one-win team, which is what happened last year as they lost six of their eight final games. Pick: Cleveland

MINNESOTA (-5) vs. Green Bay - Minnesota defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, who have been the center of attention all week for the Packers offense, were the talk of the Green Bay locker room for a different reason after practice Friday. In comments published Friday, both of the Williamses criticized the Packers' reliance on the controversial cut blocking in their zone-blocking scheme. “They're just cowards,” Pat Williams told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Put that in the paper. They're just plain cowards, so I ain't really worried about it. They're just (going to) show up Sunday, we're going to show up Sunday and see what happens.” Pick: Packers.

JACKSONVILLE (-10½) vs. Houston - The last time the Houston Texans won a road game was in the Jaguars' last non-playoff season. In fact, the Texans' last win on the road was in Jacksonville and it caused the Jaguars to miss the playoffs. Five of the Texans' 20 wins in franchise history are against the Jaguars. Pick: Houston.

Kansas City (-2½) vs. MIAMI - The home team has won 8 of the last 10 games of this series. You can ponder the Dolphins let down following their shocking victory over the Bears or you can chose to remember last season that the Chiefs had a dramatic, come-from-behind win over the Oakland Raiders last season to get to 5-3 at the midway point and then went on the road and completely bumbled their way into a 14-3 defeat at the hands of the lowly Buffalo Bills. History repeats? Pick: Miami.

PITTSBURGH (-5½) vs. New Orleans - One of these weeks, they keep saying, we'll see the Ben Roethlisberger "of old", the preconcussed Big Ben. “Stats are just stats. That’s all they are,” said Steelers center Chukky Okobi. “If you want to look at statistics, look at turnovers.” The Steelers, of course, have turned the ball over an NFL-high 24 times. The Saints have turned it over 13 times. Pick: Saints.

NEW ENGLAND (-10) vs. N.Y. Jets - Bill Belichick v Eric Mangini, blablabla. Jets' defence is ranked 31st out of 32 teams, the Patriots are coming off a humiliating loss. With their bye week, the Jets had two weeks to prepare for this game. The Patriots have won every game they've played against division opponents and already beat the Jets once by a touchdown in NJ. So what does it all mean? Bill Belichick is still made at Eric Mangini and whilst some of the luster has worn off the Patriot magic, it's still Tom Brady facing on the NFL's worst defences. Pick: Patriots.

San Diego (-1) vs. CINCINNATI - Bengals players, instead of united after losing four of five, are openly second-guessing the play calls and their collective toughness, losing their cool during games and grousing afterward about how things have turned out. Pick: Chargers.

DETROIT (-6) vs. San Francisco - The San Francisco 49ers intend to replace dingy Candlestick Park with a state-of-the-art stadium _ and now they want to do it in Santa Clara. After years of planning for a stadium in the city that has been the franchise's home for six decades, owner John York officially changed his club's focus Thursday from Candlestick Point to this Silicon Valley suburb 30 miles south of San Francisco. Yeah, like that matters. Pick: Detroit.

PHILADELPHIA (-6½) vs. Washington - Number one ranked defence on the one hand, number 30th ranked defence on the other hand. The flukey victory over the Cowboys notwithstanding, this has romp written all over it. Another step by Gibbs to the coaching past. Pick: Eagles.

Denver (-7) vs. OAKLAND - Ok, enough about the Raiders already. They've had their raison in the sun, now go back to mediocrity so we can get back to the game of making fun of how bad they are already. Pick: Denver.

Dallas (-6) vs. ARIZONA - Pat Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2004 after quitting the Arizona Cardinals to join the U.S. Army Rangers, is scheduled to be honoured by the team this weekend. During a ceremony at halftime of Sunday's game against Dallas, the Cardinals will induct Tillman into the University of Phoenix Stadium's Ring of Honor. Ring of Honor? Arizona Cardinals? If they wanted to honour him they would let a different team have the honours. Pick: Cowboys.

SEATTLE (-5) vs. St. Louis - I hate to say it because I hate the Seahawks but of the Rams three game skid, coach Scott Linehan said "I wouldn't call it a downward spiral. I'd say we've had three setbacks. Played three pretty good teams. I would say that would probably factor into it. We just haven't played well enough. We've got to defend our home turf, and we haven't done that the last two times we played at home." Nor the road, my friend, nor the road. Pick: Seattle.

Monday night

CAROLINA (-9) vs. Tampa Bay - Monday night's game at Carolina begins a stretch of three games in 11 days, a packed scheduled faced by only three previous teams in the past 28 seasons. After playing Carolina, Tampa has six days to get ready to host Washington at 1 p.m. on Nov. 19, then will have three off days before playing at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. The best any of the three previous teams who played three games in 11 days did was a 1-2 record by the '90 Redskins and '94 Bills. The '80 Seahawks went 0-3. Pick: Tampa Bay.

Last week: 4-10
Season: 58-65-4

Monday, November 06, 2006

Top Three Surprising Things about Week 9

1. Bears Not-So-Impressive - I was certainly not the only one badly fooled about this hyped juggernaut. Granted, no one was taking the offence too seriously but most of us figured the defence would carry the day, especially against the dollops of underachieving Dolphins they were gathered against. Yes, now in hindsight we can point out that Rex Grossman is no John Brodie but perhaps we've all been blinded by the fact that he has played 8 games thus far without getting himself injured. The shocking thing was the Bears defence, letting Ronnie Brown run all over them like that. But six turnovers, well, no defence overcomes that kind of ineptitude. And now the best part, a smashmouth match to follow at Giants stadium. Can we officially begin the Brian Griese watch?

2. Last play of the game, Dallas at Washington - In the psychodramas of weekly football, Bill Parcells' soft touch kissing contest following last week's ridiculously simple victory at the Panthers should have been a sign that bad things were to follow. I just didn't suspect they would follow against the hapless Redskins who seem to have developed losing to their arch rivals into a science. Blocked field goal attempt, face mask and successful field goal attempt with no time left on the clock though, that was a finish to reckon with, even in the paen of wild Cowboy-Redskins finishes. It doesn't mean the Skins are a team to be reckoned with nor that Joe Gibbs is likely to turn his jesus skills back to NASCAR but for one play anyway, this was a helluva game. The Cowboys can lick their wounds on the Cardinals next week whilst the Redskins have to travel to Philly to face the angry and rested Iggles.

3. And Now we'll never hear the end of the greatness of the QB with the historic postseason choke - So Peyton and the Boys are 4-0 on the road against teams who are collective 22-10. Not bad at all. But hang tight, it's still the regular season. And as for his counterpart, some of the hagiographic lustre is wearing off Tom Brady it appears. Still, what does it all mean? That the Colts will go 16-0? That Peyton is a shoe-in to win the Super Bowl? Hardly. Let's remain comfortably sceptical about this one until February. It is an impressive run for the Colts who are now what, 23-2 in the regular season over the last two seasons but their Achilles Heel is the postseason and until the games really start to matter, they haven't proven a bloody thing.

Random Thoughts

If I hear or read one more gushing advertisement for the mobility of Tony Romo I swear I'll puke blood. Just for the record, Michael Vick is a mobile QB. After six and a half weeks of the statuesque Drew Bledsoe a quadraplegic would look mobile by comparison. Just because he doesn't stand there waiting to get hammered into another concussion like his teammate doesn't make him mobile.

On TO's pretending to fall asleep in the endzone on the football after scoring, nice one but he'll never be Chad Johnson. Especially from a guy who alleges sleep disorders that cause him to fall asleep during team meetings, this is funny. Especially when he drops a sure feckin touchdown pass like this is the first game of his life. Let's see him hump the football next time he scores. Let's see him hump the football and then see the football start producing little footballs out of wedlock. Or let's see him mime an overdose. Now THAT would be funny.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it."
-- Salvador Dali

Heading into the latest bye week, the four teams who had yet to have a bye week (namely, the Carolina Panthers, NY Jets, Philly and Arizona,) held a combined 13-19 record. All were on losing streaks; the Cardinals, a farcical 7 game losing streak since their opening game victory, the Iggles, mysteriously on a 3 game losing streak against allegedly inferior opponents, the Jets having lost one - that breathlessly incompetent blown call that would have allowed them to at least tie - and the Panthers, like the Iggles, having lost mysteriously twice in a row to allegedly inferior competition.

The inferences to draw from it on the one hand is that they roll through the first half, (although in the case of the Cardinals, they might be best served having a bye-season rather than merely one week,) fairly exhausted picking up some opponents along the way who have had a least a week off to rest and relax unlike themselves - on the other hand, the distance between their bye week and the end of the season is alot shorter perhaps giving them something of an edge going down to the final weeks of the season if they are fighting for playoff spots.

Is it in this plastecine NFL world of parity, fair that the bye weeks are staggered? Could the entirety of the footballing world not themselves enjoy a week off at the halfway mark, just after week seven or eight with all teams equally having bye weeks simultaneously rather than giving an edge on way or another to one team or another simply because greed does not allow for a full schedule off, no football to sell?

For another week it won't matter but remain mindful of the Jets, Eagles and Panthers, three of the last four to have their bye week who will thus be moving into the final weeks of the playoff push feeling perhaps more rested than a counterpart that had a bye week all the way back in Week Three.

This week:

Atlanta (-5½) vs. DETROIT - Michael Vick is desperately trying to make the argument that he is more arm than leg, more cerebral than instinctive, by passing his way through the weeks rather than running. With the odds so strongly against a QB surviving on his legs alone this is a smart move ahead of a long boulevard of career-ending concussions. Being mobile yet not living on mobility alone is a good career move. The Lions are coming off a bye week but when you're 1-6 going into it the motivation to return at all must be a struggle. Key stat: The Falcons are fourth in the NFL in turnover differential with a plus-eight while the Lions are tied for 24th at minus-four. Pick: Atlanta

BALTIMORE (-3) vs. Cincinnati - With the Steelers having achieved new heights of absurdity by losing to the Raiders, this division is now wide open and this particular matchup, pivotal. Chad Johnson, the man with the mouth and the mohawk of Ocho Cinco fame, has 772 receiving yards and six touchdowns in his last seven games of this series. Paranthetically I might add my shock and awe at the sudden command of the Spanish language by sportstwits who condescendingly point out that Johnson is spelling the numbers out rather than the number as a whole as if they are all suddenly Spanish scholars themselves. Word to sportswriting chumps: leave the translating to linguists and let Chad be Chad. Jamal Lewis, the Ravens' offensive juggernaut, has run for three of his nine top career games - against the Bengals: 186, 180 and 135 yards - The Ravens are 34-10 in 44 games where the veteran has exceeded 100 yards. Pick: Baltimore.

WASHINGTON (-1½) vs. Dallas - The Kissing Bandit Bill Parcells, leads this series against the Jesus Loving Gibbs with 14 victories in 22 career matchups. The Redskins have disppointed all season long as they have for at least a decade or longer and playing their arch rivals with an habitually outmatched coach in a coaching rivalry spanning decades themselves, the Skins are not likely to pick up where they left off in say, the 80s anytime soon. Pick: Cowboys.

BUFFALO (-3) vs. Green Bay - "Nearly 61% of the betting public is on Green Bay as the +3 underdog. While that may not sound all so impressive, Green Bay has been mostly ignored by the gambling public in recent weeks with some opposing teams getting over 80% of the action." so sayeth gambling911 anyway. Pick: Buffalo.

N.Y. GIANTS (-13) vs. Houston - It's a tough job for Tom Coughlin, the general of time and space, to convince his team that the Texans are a team to be wary of. This has "upset" written all over it. Except for the fact that this season, Texan QB David Carr has fumbled nine times and lost five of them, which has contributed to Houston’s minus-nine turnover differential, which is tied for the NFL’s worst. Somehow the words Sage Rosenfels
are even less compelling in a Texans world with no QB controversy having no good QBs to argue about. Pick: Giants.

ST. LOUIS (-3) vs. Kansas City - Coach Herm Edwards said Friday that Trent Green will suit up for the first time since sustaining a severe concussion that has kept him out of action since the season opener. Green has yet to be medically cleared for full contact work, and Edwards said he will not play against the Rams even though he could do so as the team's inactive third-team quarterback. So why make him suit up then? Edwards said he was suiting up Green just to let him get back in the rhythm of preparing for a game prior to his return in the next few weeks. Right. The rhythm of suiting up. If Green needs a week to practice getting dressed how many weeks will he need to actually play a game? Pick: Rams.

CHICAGO (-13½) vs. Miami - All the usual rubbish converges on this game. Bears, undefeated, 1986, Dolphins only team to go all season undefeated, Dolphins only team to beat the Bears back in '86 blablabla ad infinitum. This is one very strong and indimidating team against a woefully underperforming team with a rookie QB running the show. So let's not bother skipping through the garden of hidden metaphors. I'm not jumping on any bandwagons just yet but there is something rhythmatic about watching opponents look pathetic and farcical week after week. Pick: Da Bears

New Orleans (-1) vs. TAMPA BAY - Was the wizard finally exposed, the fraud revealed, the nekkid Emperor shown for all his warts and freckles? The Saints looked like well, the Saints are supposed to look in their loss last week at home, the first loss at home all season in that mystical post-Hurricane domed stadium haunted by the ghosts of refugees. Howver, the Bucs are resurgent themselves these days and just imagine who you would have taken without hesitation at the season's onset if you'd been told Saints AT Tampa getting only one stinkin point. Ah the world of what ifs and back whens are certainly fascinating. The Saints won't begin a tailspin of decline back to their appropriate level of mediocrity just yet but they aren't far from it. Give them another 8 weeks and they'll have cocked the whole thing up. Pick: Tampa Bay.

JACKSONVILLE (-9) vs. Tennessee: The Tennessee Titans Wednesday suspended cornerback Pacman Jones for Sunday’s National Football League game against Jacksonville over a pair of off-field incidents. Jones is facing another misdemeanour assault charge, the second incident this year in which he accused of spitting on a woman. "This action is not a result of our belief that he (Jones) was guilty or not guilty as far as the last incident was concerned, but rather it is a result of an accumulation of poor decisions that he’s made over his career here," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said like what, beginning with joining the Titans to begin with? Pick: Jacksonville.

Minnesota (-6½) vs. SAN FRANCISCO - This is really a contest between two teams coming off embarassing losses against far superior teams. The Vikes were dissected on MNF tv by the Patriots and the 49ers fell behind to the Bears 41-0 by the end of the first half last week. The 49ers only two victories this season have come at home and with the Raiders suddenly winning a few games, a loss here could mean the 49ers might be considered the worst team around the Bay area. Pick: San Francisco.

SAN DIEGO (-12½) vs. Cleveland - Oh, mighty fluke victory for the Browns aided by bogus call against the Jets that Sports Amnesia is still feeling bitter about. The football gods giveth but they also taketh away and the Brownies are going to have their game taken away by the Merriman-less Chargers. Meanwhile, they have a suspect run defence against one of the NFL's top rushers. A simple formula of who pounds who. Pick: San Diego.

PITTSBURGH (-2) vs. Denver - Yeah, let's get on the Steeler death bandwagon whilst there are still a few available seats remaining. Last week might possibly have been their most humiliating loss in franchise history which is all the more reason why they aren't likely to get embarassed at home this week. Call me sentimental, but this is a game which is dominated by emotion and the Steelers have something to prove. Pick: Steelers.

NEW ENGLAND (-1) vs. Indianapolis - I will be impressed by Peyton Manning's allegdly unstoppable offence when he doesn't lead it down a path of righteous choking in the postseason. Until then, I don't foresee a Bears-Colts Super Bowl. Not by a long shot. Ladies and Gentleman, gush at will about the offence but the Colts have no defence. What else explains this offensive outburst by the Broncos last week that was lost in the gushing about Manning? Pick: New England.

Monday night

SEATTLE (-7½) vs. Oakland - Someone, somewhere along the line is going to stop making fun of the Raiders but it won't be any time soon. That they have found themselves to some degree, the beneficiaries of good fortune after half a season of being mocked and finding themselves the butt of jokes, is suprising but their good fortune increases as they face these Seahawks decimated by injury and still led by a wide receiver playing QB. Pick: Raiders.