Week 16 NFL Preview — America’s Team Edition.

Unless You've Got USA on Your Chest, You Don't Qualify.

So, I’m listening to Mike Missanelli yesterday.  It’s one of his worst shows in recent memory.  He’s talking about why Eagles fans still hate the Cowboys and why they shouldn’t because the franchise is no longer “viable.”  He said “viable” at least 3,000 times over the course of a few hours.  It was a mind-numbing exercise.  I’m not sure why I didn’t change the channel.  But, in all this discussion over Cowboys hate, the notion of Dallas being America’s team came up several times.  All this Cowboy hate allegedly wasn’t rooted in the present, but in the glory days of the past where Dallas was the only team you could watch on TV and they piled up Super Bowls.

I’ve always hated the notion of an America’s team.  First, because it is always the team itself assigning the moniker.  The Cowboys.  The Atlanta Braves.  It’s the laziest and most self-absorbed team slogan of all-time.  Secondly, the team is essentially recruiting bandwagon jumpers.  Don’t like your own team?  Come over to America’s team.  It’s safe here.  The entire fan base is populated by frauds.  And to that point, if I was a die-hard member of one of these fan bases, I’d hate the idea of being America’s team.  If I’ve lived in Dallas my whole life and rooted for the Cowboys, I don’t want some mutt in Jersey standing up to take ownership as well just because he feels included.  That’s crap.

The idea is also incredibly antiquated.  Maybe, back in the 1960s or something you could have made the case for Notre Dame being a true “America’s Team,” at least in the sense that most people use the term.  But, this is 2011.  No one has to watch Dallas every week by default.  In fact, today’s coverage in most cases should make your tastes more local.  Unless you have the NFL ticket, the Eagles are the only team you can watch here every single week.  And as unfortunate as that may be, it doesn’t mean you should jump ship to Dallas or whatever flavor of the month you desire.

A new poll crowns Green Bay the most popular team in the country by a wide margin.  Huge surprise there.  13-1.  Defending Super Bowl Champs.  Does this make them the new America’s Team?  If I was a true Packers fan it wouldn’t be a moniker I was in any hurry to adopt.

***

Contraction Special:  Vikings @ Redskins.  

The Redskins are in spoiler mode, but the only thing they could spoil for Minnesota is a shot at the #1 pick.  So, I wouldn’t expect many fireworks from the nation’s capital.  Or, should I say, America’s City?  Anyway, the Vikings have managed to go 2-12, annoy their star RB, and run through a QB carousel that has included Donovan McNabb, Christian Ponder and Joe Webb.  There’s no room for Andrew Luck at that Inn.  Has McNabb signed anywhere by the way?  There’s also just something about the Redskins.  Even when they are playing a decent game it leaves this horrid taste in your mouth.  Grossman stinks, you’re baffled that Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney are the starting wideouts, Shannahan’s always getting way too much credit.  If you hadn’t noticed, I really, really hate the Redskins.  This game is terrible.

The AFC Special:  Raiders @ Chiefs.  

This game has playoff implications.  How sad is that?  It’s hard to keep track of which division in the NFL is the most embarrassing.  The NFC West appears to be off the hook.  Now, you’ve got the AFC West and NFC East trying to figure out how to get a team to 9 wins.  It’s not that the Chiefs and Raiders are the dregs of the league, it’s that at this point in the season they shouldn’t be playing a big game.  Two .500 baseball teams don’t play epic weekend sets in Mid-September.  Bonus points here for the QB match-up.  You’ve got one guy that started the season out of the league and another that started the season on another team in the division.  It’s a cold existence in Tebow’s shadow.  This game?  Also terrible.

Game of the Week:  Giants vs. Jets @ Each Other.  

I actually think the best game of the week could be San Diego and Detroit.  The Chargers are hot and did you see Megatron last week?  But, that game just loses out to the storylines in this New Jersey clash.  So, you’ve got a Jets crowd, but the Giants are playing on their home field as well.  What does that do to home field advantage?  And, which of these teams comes into the game in worse shape?  The Jets got exposed and throttled by the Eagles last week.  The Giants laid a timely turd against Washington.  Let’s shelve the Eli Hall of Fame ballots for one more week.  Neither team can afford to lose this game.  Several other teams have their own playoff hopes tied to the outcome.  You’ve got the Giants receivers talking junk at Revis and last but not least it’s Sanchez vs. Eli Manning.  Should be a classic.

***

Fantasy Busts for Week 16:

I think last week was my worst week of the year for fantasy advice.  Just in time for the playoffs!  Well, you get what you pay for.  Hey, I was right about Matt Stafford–kind of.  The problem is, I try to get too cute.  Anyone can say don’t start Mendenhall against the 49ers.  That’s not helpful.  I’m going to continue to be cute.  Your championship depends on it.

  1. C.J. Spiller
  2. Carson Palmer
  3. Adrian Peterson
  4. Dez Bryant
  5. Beanie Wells

Over/Under Lock of the Week (Record, 7-4…hey now):  Tampa/Carolina over 47.5

 

Week 15 NFL Preview — Is it The Playoffs Yet?

Scenario?

Oh my goodness, is it time for the playoffs yet?  I’m getting impatient. I’m tired of watching Green Bay throttle bottom-feeders in meaningless games.  I’m tired of people acting like Philly and San Diego could get into the playoffs and “make some noise.”  I’m tired, so very tired, of hearing about playoff scenarios.  You know what the only playoff scenario you need to know is?  If on the last day of the season you’ve won your division, or have one of the best 2 records among non-division winners–you make the playoffs!  There’s your scenario.  So, stop wasting your time saying, “Wellllll, Dallas could lose to Tampa, then who knows?”

I understand why people latch onto the scenario, though, because they want their team to make the playoffs so badly.  They can taste it.  They need at least one more week of NFL action to obsess over.  Sure, you’ll watch the playoffs anyway, but it’s not the same if your team isn’t in there.  By the time your wild-card game starts, you’ll be convinced that 9-7 is not a fair representation of your team, and given the right set of circumstances you could beat the Packers in Green Bay.  Stranger things have happened.   I don’t believe anyone really roots against their team.  That whole hoping for the draft pick thing is crap.

I bet if you rounded up some Colts fans you’d find the glee over the #1 pick to be a pretty thin veneer.  There’s really no guarantee that’s going to be a boon for the franchise.  And, the teams caught in the 4-6 win range don’t even have a franchise quarterback to look forward to.  An 0-16 year has to be pretty draining, bruising even to the fan ego.  Sure, you could drum up some excitement for Luck or for the big haul he’d bring in a trade, but you’ve still got a winless football team staring you in the face.  And, it’s not even like you’re watching Luck, knowing he’s yours.  This isn’t the Royals, who have some nice prospects you can go see and dream about the future.  The product on the field right now is complete garbage.  You’d have to think it’d be nice to pull out one win.

***

Contraction Special:  Browns @ Cardinals.

I forgot Seneca Wallace was in the league.  I hope he plays.  Cleveland’s recent QB decisions:  Let’s bring in Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme to compete for the job, and draft Colt McCoy.  Sounds great, you totally deserve an NFL franchise.  Next year you can clean house, bring in McNabb and Chad Henne and draft Kirk Cousins.  It’s called a winning formula.  Cleveland already lost their team once, so you figure if it happened again–they’d be prepared.  I say contract away.  As for Arizona, they’re a little like the Clippers of the NFL minus the creepy, allegedly racist owner.  There’s always an expectation that things are going to end poorly, but there’s no way we’ll ever be rid of them.  The crazy thing is, the Cards are a TD favorite.  If Arizona’s a TD favorite, it’s not a game you want to see.

The AFC Special:  Ravens @ Chargers.  

I have a feeling both of these teams are going to play down a level or two in this game.  You’re going to look up sometime in the 2nd quarter, it’ll be 7-6 with 9 punts and you’ll be flipping through the channels hoping Storage Wars is on.  Philip Rivers jumped out of a plane today without a parachute.  He’ll crash-land Sunday night.  The Ravens are coming across the country, so I’d expect all the inherent troubles of that to rear their ugly head while Joe Flacco continues to sabotage his own career.  Does anyone else think that Flacco has gotten involved with the wrong type of people?  He owes.  Big.  And, he’s throwing games, only he can’t quite pull it off.  The Ravens keep winning, so he owes more, and has to play worse, but that damn Ray Rice!  It’s the only plausible scenario I can come up with in my head.  In summary, I can’t believe they didn’t flex this turd out of Sunday Night.  Hello?  Tebow’s playing the Patriots.

Game of the Week:  New England @ Denver.  

Speaking of which…I think this is obviously the most interesting game of the week.  Especially since Chuck Batch may be at the helm for the Steelers making the SF/Pittsburgh game the worst matchup of 10-3 teams ever.  I’m thinking this could be New England’s revenge for the infamous Shannon Sharpe, “Call the National Guard, We’re Killing the Patriots,” Game.   I don’t think Denver can stop the passing game of New England, and the Pats have to be better on defense than Minnesota.  Right?  Right?  We don’t know, because that Tebow, he’s out there planting the seed of doubt.  He doesn’t do any planting of his own, but he’ll make you wonder about your own team in the 4th quarter.  Bet your ass on that.  The crazy thing about the Tebroncos is that they are even compelling to watch on the ticker.  10-0 Bears 4th quarter.  10-7 Bears.  Uh-oh.  Two minutes left!  Uhh-ohhh, Broncos have the ball back!  10-10!  OT!  Broncos win!  Amazing stuff.

***

Week 15 Fantasy Busts:  

  1. Cam Newton
  2. LeSean McCoy
  3. Larry Fitzgerald
  4. Anquan Boldin
  5. Tony Romo

***

Over/Under Lock of the Week (Record, 6-4…that’s profitable):  Carolina/Houston Under 45.  

Week 14 NFL Preview — Midwest Frowny Face Edition.

What if the Heartland Loses Pujols and Pey-Pey in the Same Year?

Well I know 3-PT just rambled through about a million words on America’s former pastime, but I’ve got to say, that Pujols is some mutt.  Now would I want to stay in St. Louis?  God no, but you’d think “Prince” Albert would have gotten used to it after 10 years.  It always cracks me up when people think athletes are beyond greed.  You know when money doesn’t play a role?  When they’re out of options.  That’s about it.  Otherwise, honor is in the dollar, kid.  That’s Boiler Room.  And, the Angels just went ahead off the deep end.  C.J. Wilson?  Please stop.  He’s awful.  The New York/Boston/Detroit clubhouses just erupted in applause after this singing.  “YES!!!!! We still get to face C.J. Wilson in the playoffs!  All is right in the world.”   If the Angels wanted to get real aggressive, I would have dangled a little Mike Trout package at the Phillies for Cole Hamels.  You talk about a blockbuster.  Anyway, I’m now contractually obligated to get back to the NFL.

***

So, I was thinking the other day if this momentous decline of Donovan McNabb is one of the most embarrassing ends an athlete has ever faced.  It reminds me a bit of Drew Bledsoe, though Bledsoe at least maintained his dignity.  He was ushered out of New England and Buffalo, was terrible at the end in Dallas, but at least he knew it was over.  There was McNabb organizing his release without a team lined up to sign him.  That’s pretty humbling.  To think the Bears are really saying, “No, we’re better with Hanie,” is just remarkable, but then you look at what McNabb has done in the last two years and it makes a bit more sense.  I think it also speaks to Don’s complete lack of credibility as a locker room guy.  You almost can’t bring him in, because if he doesn’t perform or doesn’t beat out Hanie, it’s just going to be a monumental distraction and there he’ll be on national TV making awkward jokes with Rich Eisen.  Anyway, hopefully Donovan can take a hint, and fade away.

***

Contraction Special:  Tampa Bay @ Jacksonville.  

Good luck finding a place of business in Florida open on Sunday.  Everyone will be at the game.  It’ll be like Friday Night Lights.  Gone to State!   Anyone who suffered through Jacksonville on Monday night knows they should never be televised and they likely have the worst offense we’ve seen in the NFL in years and years.  I felt sorry for the die-hards.  There do appear to be a few thousand Jag loyalists who just sit there in disbelief.  The good news is, Jacksonville can just reload on a QB and Gabbert can get familiar with relaying signals from the sideline.  The Bucs are under the radar as one of the bigger disappointments of the year?  It shows how quick you can go from up and comer to basement dweller in the NFL.  I’m worried this might happen to my beloved Megatron next year.  Long story short, don’t watch this game.

The AFC Special:  Texans @ Bengals.  

The transition Houston has made from laughing stock to lights out on defense is pretty amazing.  You have to respect their belief they can win with Yates at QB.  Suddenly a team that was soft, couldn’t be counted on to win a close game, is smothering opposing offenses and grinding out wins with the running game.  That said, I don’t want to watch that happen.  I’m just saying–Good for you, Houston.  Without Andre Johnson and Schaub, the Texans become pretty boring and Cincy will scrap on defense too, so that will only make it tougher.  The Bengals will likely go with one of their Ced Benson 28 for 58 days and struggle to score.  What should be a good game between AFC playoff contenders becomes a snooze.

Game of the Week:  Bears @ Broncos.

It’s hard to believe, but Tebow is the best story this week.  He’s the most interesting thing happening.  First, the Bears bring a legitimate defense to Chicago.  How will Tebow fare against a team playing slightly better than the Vikings on defense?  I’m thinking there will be less blown coverages.  But, will Chicago be able to score?  It’s likely that Tebow will at least be within striking distance in the 4th quarter and then we know–all bets are off.  If the Broncos win and the Raiders get pounded by Green Bay, we’re getting awfully close to Tim Tebow being on the playoff stage.  You have to want to see that deep down.  I think everyone does.  And, the Bears must have this game.  They’ve got a built-in excuse, but this would still be a pretty big collapse, and a tough one to explain to fans when you’re going to war with Caleb Hanie.

***

Five Fantasy Busts for Week 14:  

  1. Mike Wallace
  2. Cedric Benson
  3. Michael Vick
  4. Any Bears RB
  5. Willis McGahee

I’m going to skip the pick-ups list this week.  There’s no one out there.  It’s bleak.  If someone has a question about a player for their playoff match-up, I’d be happy to answer.  Or, if you just want to not make a decision.  That’s a powerful force in fantasy.  I’ll take the blame.   I have about as good a track record as the Talented Mr. Roto, so you know, fire away.

***

I’ve been instructed once again to remind people about D.A. Thursday.  It’s the Browns!  Against Pittsburgh.  I might get wild and take Roethlisberger 16th.  Joe Haden is a beast.  Also, I requested to make this announcement:  Big Dub has officially taken the Steelers (-14) as one of his NFL plays.  Just like I knew he would.  I’ll be glued to the TV set.  My wallet will be glued inside my pants.  Good Luck, Big Dub.

***

NFL Over/Under Lock of the Week (Record: 5-4…yuck):  New York/Dallas Over 48.5

Week 13 NFL Preview — Hire Rob Ryan Edition.

Look at the Luxuriousness.

Well, it’s nice to be back.  I almost checked in on Thanksgiving to congratulate everyone for managing to go a week without picking the Chargers, but I never got around to it.  San Diego is 2-8 against the number this year.  Not easy to accomplish and I imagine Vegas has been making a killing.  Anyway, that’s neither here nor there.  I’m leading off with a coaching suggestion for you Philly people today.  Rob Ryan.  I was reading John Clayton’s mailbag (a mailbag with actual questions–allegedly) yesterday and he said the rising star coordinators aren’t really out there this season.  NFL jobs turn over at an alarming rate, but in the top coordinator jobs there are a lot more Wade Phillips-type guys around than say a Mike Tomlin.

As Clayton was scraping the bottom of the barrel for coaching candidates, the name of Rob Ryan came up and a light bulb went off in my head.  He’d be perfect for Philadelphia.  The Ryan named is beloved here, because before the Eagles figured out how to sustain a level of success, Buddy Ryan cussed and bounty bowled his way into everyone’s hearts.  For a team that never won anything, beating you up was considered a reasonable substitute.  The Eagles were the Broad Street Bullies without the hardware.  Nevermind that Buddy completely ignored the offense, stunted the growth of Randall Cunningham and never won a playoff game.  The man is a GOD!   One of his brash, defensive-minded sons would be the perfect fit to replace the skipping CD that is Andy Reid, right?

Well, maybe.  Rob Ryan had to ruin everything by going and coaching for the Cowboys.  And, as he’s apt to do, started running his mouth about the Eagles.  Suddenly, it wasn’t enough to be Buddy’s son.  An enemy was identified.  Cut your hair, &%$$#!  So, what I’m saying is, I want to see Eagles fans put in this quandary.  Rob Ryan, minus the last 6 months, is  exactly the kind of guy all the windbags want in here to replace the giant Cheeto.  But, has he permanently been tainted by his association with ‘Dem Cowboys?

***

Contraction Special: Jets @ Redskins.  

Oh, the horror.  I was as shocked as anyone that Washington won in Seattle last week.  I don’t understand why these stadiums get all this credit for home-field advantage.  The Seahawks stink.  The Chiefs stink.  They can’t be winning that many games at home.  And, the Jets looked pretty spiffy last week too, but that was against the Bills who can make any team look like those undefeated Houston Cougars.  This game will feature none of that offensive excitement.  It will feature terrible running backs, stalled drives and probably a back-breaking interception (or two).  I was really hoping we could avoid the whole Jets in the playoffs thing this season, so maybe Washington can get lucky.  They’re going to want to win at least 6 games to take themselves out the race for any of the top QBs in the draft.

AFC Special:  Ravens @ Browns.  

Or, Nee-Browns at Browns?  I wonder what I would have done if I was a Browns fan when they left for Baltimore.  Someone leaving you to go to Baltimore is just…well, it’s disappointing and revealing at the same time, but I’m not sure I could have just flipped a switch and hated the team.  Then, they won a damn Bowl and you’d feel like a fraud rooting for them while you’re left with a “new” team and Tim Couch.  All very confusing.  Anyway, the problem with a lot of AFC contenders is that they don’t know how to properly blow out a team to make a game entertaining.  We can count on New England to do this (see last week’s boat race of the Birds), but Pittsburgh, Baltimore and the like have a nasty habit of playing down to their competition.  This one will be an atrocity on the eyes.  Stupid, AFC.

Game of the Week:  Packers @ Giants.

I think every game the Packers play at this point is the game of the week, right?  And, there are some decent games this week.  Atlanta @ Houston is intriguing because of the Delhomme factor.  If I was Houston, I would have just brought in Tommie Frazier and stolen Denver’s offense.  Case closed.  And, there’s also the Lions and Saints, which could be pretty exciting.  I just hung my Megatron ornament on my Christmas tree, but this run to 16-0 by the Packers has me a bit captivated.  They seem to be getting even more deadly on offense.  And, if you saw what New Orleans did to NY on Monday Night–oh, dear.  This game is in NY, though, and some people say it’s Green Bay’s last best chance to lose.  Whatever that means.  I don’t see it, but I think the Giants can keep it a tad closer than last week?  I hope?

***

Five Fantasy Busts for Week 13:

  1. Anquan Boldin
  2. Steven Jackson
  3. Michael Bush
  4. Mike Wallace
  5. Joe Flacco

Five Fantasy Risks if You’re Desperate:

  1. Vince Young
  2. Tim Tebow
  3. Reggie Wayne
  4. Harry Douglas
  5. Shane Vareen

***

Over/Under Lock of the Week (Record, 5-3):  Jets/Redskins Under 38.5  

 

Eagles (Others) Make it Official.

Happier Times.

There were some definitive losses in the NFL on Sunday.  San Diego showed they aren’t even willing to put up a fight in the sub-par AFC West.  The Bills, despite a much better effort, ended any hopes of taking advantage of a strong start to the season.  The Bears showed that life without Cutler could be very trying.  But, most of that was dwarfed by what the Eagles did Sunday.  A quick, 10-0, tease against New England, followed by 50 of the worst minutes of football you’ll ever see.  The defense was torched.  The offense was incompetent.  DeSean Jackson was benched.  Vince Young flashed his noodle arm, and the gluttons for punishment I call season-ticket holders started their official mutiny with a series of, “Fire Andy,” chants.  Andy would claim after the game that he didn’t hear the fans.  Does mean the chants didn’t exist?

I think those enterprising fans on Sunday broke the seal for in-game Reid-bashing, and the rest of the Eagles home slate (thankfully only 2 more games) will feature similar fan reactions the moment the Eagles fall behind.  The season-ending contest against Washington, which will likely be putting a cap on a 5 or 6 win season should be especially venomous–that is if people even bother showing up.  It was a wasted year for the Eagles, who regressed in just about every phase of the game except for those directly involving LeSean McCoy.  About the only debate left is, can the front office eat Andy’s deal if it gets bad enough?  Would they even consider it?  We know the defensive coordinator will fall on the sword again, but how many bullets can a man of Reid’s proportions dodge?

***

I should have looked up the odds on Patrick Peterson returning another punt for the Cardinals.  At least I could have hedged my bets.  Even with his track record the odds must have been pretty high, because no one in their right mind would expect the Rams to allow Peterson to do it again.  Wrong.  I think my relationship with P-squared has gotten off on the wrong foot.  He seems to have a vendetta against me, and there is no angst on my side at all.  I’m just watching in disbelief and hating on his quarterback.  Where is the ,”all he does is win games,” hype for John Skelton?  You talk about no-frills.

***

BCS interlude.  Georgia is the only team that stands in the way of an LSU/Alabama rematch for the national title, and I’m not entirely sure they won’t play that game regardless of the outcome this coming Saturday.  Somehow by blowing out an average Auburn team, Alabama erased any doubt that they deserve a rematch. After watching a bit of college football over the last two weeks, I realize that probably is the game that everyone wants to see, but I don’t understand what happens if ‘Bama wins a tight contest.  That result doesn’t seem fair to LSU.  Doesn’t a perfect regular season earn them the right to play someone new, even if they’re not as good?  Back in the days of NFC dominance, the 49ers didn’t beat the Cowboys or Giants in the NFC title game and then pass on the Bills for a rematch with the same team simply because everyone knew the Bills and the AFC stunk.  Anyway, I’d like to see Wisconsin play LSU.  I know rolling up Penn State isn’t anything special, though PSU’s defense had a pretty good year, but the Badgers are two pretty lucky plays away from being unbeaten and have serious offensive fire-power.   They should roll MSU, and then whoever they play in the Rose Bowl.

***

Here’s a random NFL observation.  How are these borderline awful teams putting together solid defenses while the upper echelon of clubs have trouble stopping scout teams?  I watched a good portion of the KC/Pittsburgh game last night (I don’t know why) and the Chiefs were relentless of defense.  Their offense buried them all day and still they had Pittsburgh in knots, and the Steelers are pretty strong offensively.  Palko turned the ball over 3 times in the span of about 4 minutes and they never broke.  They can cover, they can tackle and they get pressure.  What a concept.  But, they aren’t alone.  Jacksonville, Cleveland, Washington, Seattle…none of these teams are any good on the whole, but you’ll have your hands full on offense against them.  Have they developed these defenses out of desperation?  Do the Packers inherently have less intensity on defense, because they know Rodgers is going to hang 30-35 regardless?

***

Five Fantasy Eye-Pokes, Random Blow-Ups of the Week:

1.  Reggie Wayne.  Does anyone in the universe still own Reggie Wayne?  Wayne was on my can’t cut list for a while, I finally got rid of him and it only took the guy 3 months to have a decent game.  Constantly targeted, soft-schedule, but keep getting out-performed by Pierre Garcon.  Nice swan song, Reggie.

2.  Matt Forte.  Matt Forte owners getting a little nervous?  That workload taking a toll?  Everyone who took Forte was in self-congratulation mode through 9 weeks, but now we can’t pencil in those 20 points a week anymore.  Especially with Hanie at the helm.

3.  Vincent Jackson/Philip Rivers.  Shonn Greene Perpetual Trophy.

4.  Maurice Jones-Drew.  How is this guy still healthy?  How many times did I pass on him and make a knee joke?  And, how is he productive when Jacksonville’s offense has absolutely no other option.  Blaine Gabbert offends your sensibilities.  They went back to McNowCown.  Ugly.

5.  Peyton Hillis.  It wasn’t a good year to draft a Peyton.  I think Hillis owners (if there are any left) had finally come to terms with his horrid season.  But, he’s back, and he got just enough touches and just enough yards that you’ll now be debating whether to play him.  Trouble.

***

Arbitrary, but Definitive Top-10:

  1. Green Bay–They’ll go 15-1.
  2. New England–Everything is Clicking Again.
  3. Baltimore–I guess that was a good win on Thursday.
  4. San Francisco–Re-gress-ion.  REGRESSION!
  5. New Orleans–Only if they win tonight
  6. Pittsburgh–Didn’t impress in K.C.
  7. Houston–I think T.J. Ford is their starting QB.
  8. Atlanta–Could be dangerous come wild-card time.
  9. Oakland–Snag Palmer off waivers.
  10. Dallas–Can’t keep them away longer.

How Low Can You Go?

Happier Times.

The Eagles are a study in finding new lows.  They supposedly had bottomed out already for 2011 on more than one occasion and then came Sunday against the downtrodden Cardinals.  An Arizona team that is utterly incompetent on the road, and was featuring John Skleton at QB.  Their main running threat, Beanie Wells was banged up, and if the Eagles could somehow contain Larry Fitzgerald–the game had the potential to turn into a laugher.

The laughter came, but mostly from Eagles fans who were probably afraid that if they didn’t laugh, they might start to cry. A lot of people had already given up on the season before Sunday, but that didn’t mean they expected to lose to Arizona. That’s different.  Even the most pessimistic fan was probably thinking, “OK, beat Arizona then the Giants can perform the official burial this coming Sunday.”  Not so fast.  No 4th quarter lead is safe for the Eagles.  In fact, the only way I’d be nervous against the Birds is if they didn’t jump out to an early lead.  You don’t want to break the pattern.

The end result yesterday was a new low for Philadelphia teams in my lifetime.  Not in terms of actual talent, results, or anything like that, but the Eagles have become the joke of the city.  It’s been a quick journey.  They’ve burned through all their goodwill, and if you thought things turned ugly in the stands on Sunday, wait for the last few home dates of the year. If the losses keep piling up, it’ll be a controlled mutiny, or at least I hope it will be controlled.  Think about the plight of the Eagles season-ticket holder.  They’ve seen one win in their last 8 trips down to the Linc.  That’s a lot of days centered around football that end in disappointment.

Factor in the relentless and repetitive drone of Andy Reid and Co. after the losses and fans have to be wondering what they’re witnessing.  Has a team ever imploded like this?  It’s one thing to have a terrible owner.  It’s one thing to be burdened by a small-market, to be stuck in a rebuilding phase, but the Eagles are supposed to have everything in place.  Big Market.  Plenty of money, plenty of talent, an owner we think(?) wants to win, and yet there’s nothing present in town among the fans other than a sense of doom.  Might Andy Reid actually keep his job?  How long will the fans be subjected to this particular spectacle.

I’m sure this has happened in other cities, but it’s one of those predicaments that you have to be right here to see.  A national person doesn’t care, or hasn’t taken the yearly beating to the point where they have any perspective.  Oh, the Eagles are having a down year?  Who cares.  I’d love to hear some other examples, but here in Philadelphia, at least this morning, it feels unprecedented.  Sure, the Flyers haven’t won in 35 years, but it at least always feels like they’re trying something new.  It’s wrong, it’s always the wrong personnel, but they’re not afraid to pull a trigger.  The Phillies have been to unprecedented lows in terms of results, but that was with a miniscule payroll and incompetent leadership.  Since they’ve changed personas, they’ve been successful.  And, in the NBA you just have to wait around and hope to get one of 5 or 6 franchise players, so what difference does it make?

The Eagles though have hit this point where the difference between expectations and results has reached historic levels. Throw in no real accountability and a fan base who has finally had enough, and you’ve got perhaps the worst sports season I’ve seen in my lifetime.  It feels but hyperbole, even as I type it, but I’m not sure that it is.

***

Quickly around the League:

1.  Teams are getting exposed.  Buffalo, Detroit, teams of this nature.  The NFL season is a constant boiling down process. In a few weeks we’ll be convinced that only 4 teams can win the Super Bowl.  Meanwhile, the teams like Buffalo, Detroit, maybe Cincy and the like are forced to wonder what to do when they miss they playoffs and don’t have a top draft pick.

2.  Are Denver fans happy they’ve won 2 straight?  I mean, are they really?  Tim Tebow is gonna set records.  Stinky, smelly, putrid record that hopefully no one will ever attempt to break.

3.  Why can’t the Jets figure out the Patriots offense?  Or at least they can’t for 4 quarters.  New England had been shackled by two straight opponents, but they’ve hung about 70 on the Jets this year.  With the Jets’ defense, that doesn’t make a ton of sense.  And, is this the year Mark Sanchez plays like himself in the playoffs?  Assuming they make it…

4.  Why can no one win in Seattle?  Or, why can’t good teams win in Seattle?  I feel like the Rams have a better shot at going in there than the Ravens do.  The Eagles are going to be in a world of hurt for that Thursday game.

5.  If you had to bet 1,000 dollars on the 49ers making the Super Bowl, what odds would you need?  I’m still not comfortable saying the 49ers will even get out of the divisional round, yet there they were winning another game yesterday the way they win games.  Would you rather have a stud defense or a stud QB?  Anyway, SF is 6:1 right now to win the NFC.  I wouldn’t go anywhere near that.  How about 15:1?

***

Five Fantasy Mutt-Faced Dogs and/or Choke-Artists of the Week, Etc:

1.  Baltimore D–How many people needed a RB this week, took a peek at Marshawn Lynch and said–No chance.  Not against Baltimore.  Well, anything is possible in Seattle.  Beast Mode went Beast Mode.

2.  Matt Stafford–What the bleep was that?  Hey Stafford, are you going to be good, or are you going to be hurt/stink all the time?  Time to make up your mind.

3.  Ryan Torain–Is this his 2nd appearance?  3rd?  Why can’t Shanny stop giving this stiff the ball?  Personal, because I was dabbling in Roy Helu like a moron this week.  Thanks for giving Torain 12 for 20 yds in the 1st half, Shanny.  Great coaching.

4.  Cam Newton–A million fantasy owners who thought Cam was going to carry them to glory are suddenly very, very nervous.

5.  Shonn Greene–Just because Grenne should be on this list every week, and it’s been that way for two years now.  Does anyone get started every week and do less?

***

Arbitrary, But Definitive Top-10

  1. Green Bay–Minnesota Should be A Pushover (jinx?)
  2. Houston–The Texans are the beasts of the AFC.
  3. San Francisco–Beating the Giants Don’t Impress Me None.
  4. Chicago–On Fire, much like their Soccer Team.
  5. Baltimore–As long as it isn’t the week after they play Pittsburgh.
  6. Pittsburgh–Can’t Get Rid of Them
  7. New Orleans–No Threat to Anyone, but Decent.
  8. New England–Tommy B Still Not Looking Fully in Sync
  9. Dallas–They Feel Better than NY Right Now.
  10. New York Giants–They Feel Worse than Dallas Right Now.

***

Ok, there’s your Football Monday.  Discuss.  It’s going to be a good week here.  We’ve got the Presidents Cup.  Dust off the Red, White and Blue.  We’ve got the Self-Esteem Check tomorrow morning (someone went 5-0), we’ve got a mailbag (limited question space still available), and maybe if we’re lucky, we can get on Eagles fire some (all) of their coaches watch.

Headed Toward a Rematch?

Big Ben's Having a Quasi-Year.

Side-effect of the NFL’s short season number 318:  We always expect too much out of the better teams.  In almost any other sport a game like the Saints had yesterday would go mostly unnoticed.  You’d raise your eyebrows, chuckle at St. Louis’ fortune and get on with your life.  In football everything is exaggerated.  OH MY GOD!  The NFC is now completely turned on its head.  It all adds to the randomness of the game, that sense that you’ll never really get a handle on what is going on.  If you could take a step back, look at the big picture, you’d say that Sunday wasn’t the Patriots best effort, but both teams are still going to make the playoffs, and let’s see what happens in January.  That’s no fun, though.  You want to immediately crown the Steelers as AFC champions, doubt the Patriots’ defense and question if they can win a playofff game and start talking about a Super Bowl rematch.  We’ll do this until next week when the Steelers will lose, the Packers will get upset, or something else will happen to put us back on our heads.

***

Is Cam Newton headed toward the most lauded 3-13 campaign of all-time?  And, who is starting to feel sorry for the guy? He feels a bit like a Clippers draft pick right now to me, before that Clippers stank settles in on them.  He’s fresh, obscenely talented and still handling the losses pretty well, but how long does that last?  I’d hate to see Cam get bogged down and stop progressing.  I imagine Steve Smith won’t let that happen, but Sunday’s loss was another brutal one.  That’s an instance for me where you just immediately cut the kicker.  Not that kickers aren’t allowed to miss, but how can you even look Mare in the face this week at practice without pummeling him?  It’s got to be bad for morale having the guy around. So, in half a season, Newton’s compiled 2,400 yards passing, 300+ rushing and has 18 combined TDs.  Not too shabby, but Carolina’s 2-6 with a pretty stout schedule remaining.

***

If the Eagles can somehow turn the season completely around, and that’s still a long way off, LeSean McCoy could end up challenging Aaron Rodgers for the MVP if Rodgers can return to earth just a little bit.  First of all, McCoy’s having an amazing year.  He’s on pace for about 1,800 yards from scrimmage and 20 TDs, but along with that, Andy Reid is finally showing a willingness to give McCoy feature back carries.  The last two weeks McCoy has 58 carries for 311 yards and 3 TDs.  That’s uncommon ground for an Eagles running back, and the formula of getting ahead and then letting McCoy take the game over has worked wonders for the Eagles.  McCoy looks fresh and ready to handle the workload.  He carved up Dallas’ highly regarded run-defense and with Vick and the Eagles receivers being constant threats it will be hard for a defense to ever key on McCoy.  He could be headed toward a monster 2nd half.

***

Five Fantasy Eye-Pokes of the Week:

1.  Chris Johnson.  Johnson has officially become a reclamation project candidate at this point.  Tennessee has seen enough.  I can’t believe my eyes.  I was leery before the draft, but never thought it’d get this bad.  Hello, Javon Ringer.

2.  Tom Brady.  Time to light a fire under Tommy Boy, isn’t it?  Just 5 TDs over his last 3 games and while he’s been perfectly fine at QB, we’ve come to expect more.  I talked about Brady being a hammer earlier in the year, and he hasn’t been for over a month.

3.  Steve Slaton.  First, he steals a TD from Reggie Bush (who I’m sure was a popular addition Sunday), but look at that line…5 carries for 7 yds.  If that doesn’t get your rage up for the fantasy season Slaton tanked in 2009, I don’t know what will.

4.  Brandon Jacobs.  Is anyone still holding onto this guy?  God forbid you start him.  I think I know what everyone is thinking, the minute I cut him, he’s going to have one of those random games where he scores 3 times.  Not happening this year.

5.  DeSean Jackson.  Jackson has an ability to look better than his stats at times.  Every time he catches the ball there’s this flash of excitement that activates something in your brain that tells you he’s having a good game.  It could be an 8-yd slant, and you’re thinking, “There’s DeSean–dominating.”  He’s hardly put a game together this year.  Two TD catches, and a total backseat to Maclin.

***

Arbitrary, But Definitive Top-10:

  1. Green Bay–Bye Week Bliss
  2. Pittsburgh–See?  Rematch.
  3. San Francisco–Should be able to hold off the Rams.
  4. Buffalo–Don’t come into Toronto and expect to score.
  5. New England–Surprising Effort after the Bye-Week.
  6. Baltimore–Horrific Start, but found the offense finally.
  7. Detroit–Wins over Tebow barely count.
  8. Cincy–Wins over Seattle Don’t count.
  9. Atlanta–A Lot hotter than N.O. all of a Sudden.
  10. New York Giants–Convincing….ly awful win over Miami.