Tuesday Morning Self-Esteem Check.

Great Pumpkin > Monday Night Football.

It doesn’t look like anyone is going to get away in NFL Pick ‘Em.  This is the ultimate horse race and it always rewards those with the best closing speed.   We’ve trimmed about 10% off that gaudy 71 percent winners figure that was leading the race a few weeks back.  That was probably unrealistic to maintain, especially when double-digit favorites are out there losing outright.  If I was half the writer Rick Reilly was right now I’d say something like, “Talk about Mischief Night.” Anyway, Monday night has been a graveyard for favorites too.  Big Dub has been weaving his way through the bye-weeks with the best results, but personally, I can’t wait for the full slates to kick back up.

NFL Pick ‘Em Standings:

  1. Big Dub:  23-14-3
  2. JCK:  23-16-1
  3. Kraft:  19-17-4
  4. Grossy: 20-18-2
  5. Nichols: 16-22-2

The “Is That a King Size Milky Way,” Pick of the Week:  I had the faith in the home team, but picking against the Cowboys doesn’t deserve a prize.  Picking the Cardinals on the road on the other hand?  That takes something.  Call it courage, call it foresight, call it an incredible distrust in the Unibrow, but Kraft took Kevin Kolb on the road against one of the best defenses in the NFL.  I don’t think Kraft envisioned Arizona’s first half explosion, but he was right about the Ravens’ offense being terrible–at least for a while.  By the time Baltimore woke up, they were just trying to scrape out an ugly win.  A double-digit cover was a pipe dream.

The “I Was Brushing Snow Off My Car in October,” Awful Pick of the Week:  One of my favorite things to do with this section is highlight people who talk themselves into the wrong pick.  We’ve been doing this for three years now. It’s not like we don’t pay attention to football, or don’t notice certain recurring themes.  Take me for example, a few weeks back I went against the Saints on the road as big favorites (win).  The Saints haven’t been a reliable road cover against bad teams in well over a year.  They are terribly inconsistent, and on the road often look like a 6-10 team .  I know this, but they score 84 points against the Colts one week and it wipes my mind clear.  I say, normally I don’t like the Saints on the road, but…NO BUT!  You don’t like the Saints on the road!  That’s it.  The reason you don’t is because they do things like lose to St. Louis.


D.A. Standings and Summaries:

The good news is, Tim Tebow is going to continue to start.  The bad news is, there was no way we could match the magic of last week.  In a more general sense, the teams that fell to 3-5 need to start thinking about a rally here.  There are only 4 playoff spots and we’re down to six weeks left.  More than one more loss, and you could be looking at a high draft pick in week one next year.  

D.A. Standings:

  1. Neckbeards and Codeine:  6-2
  2. JCK:  5-3
  3. Kraft: 4-4
  4. Fake Chow: 4-4
  5. Team Horse Face:  4-4
  6. The Shiva Cry:  3-5
  7. The Slop Jocks:  3-5
  8. Eli Esses D:  3-5

Team Horse Face Ends Losing Streak with 54.75 to 20 Win over The Slop Jocks.  

I don’t keep track of such things, but I have a feeling that Blaine Gabbert, from the time he took over the Jaguars to the end of the year, will be the highest D.A. scorer per week.  There’s almost no danger in taking him.  The Jags don’t throw enough for him to pile up yardage, he’s got no receivers and he’s just not that good.  He racked up another 35.75 points this week and helped DC end a long drought.  The Slop Jocks lost at chance to win a shootout with Alex Smith’s (-1 point) effort.  I think Philip Rivers might be replacing Smith on some draft lists in week 9.  

Neckbeards and Codeine Roll On with 23.5 to 13 Win over Eli Esses D.  

Eli Esses D isn’t out of it yet, but they’ll certainly need a win in week nine.  Their modest winning streak came to an end at the hands of the regular season leader.  For Dub, Matt Hasselbeck was just too good a quarterback on Sunday (-8 points) to make a serious run.  Neckbeards relied heavily on the 2nd half performance of Kevin Kolb.  His inaccuracy and his ability to stay out of Arizona’s 1st half surge allowed him to put up 26 points in a close loss.  The outcome highlights the importance of losing the game.  If the Cards had pulled this one out, it would have been a much closer game.  

Kraft Erupts for a Convincing 68 to 8.25 win over The Shiva Cry.  

BK is never afraid to roll the dice.  When I saw him take Ben Roethlisberger with his 2nd pick I was a little surprised, but I guess he thought with John Beck (33 points) on his side, he could afford to take a risk.  He needed a big score, but Big Ben was not the answer.  He picked apart New England’s secondary for too many yards.  Kraft dubbed Tim Tebow, “The Right Leg of God,” this week and he was certainly heavenly in D.A. terms.  The guy can’t execute basic tasks that you need to do as a quarterback.  His Broncos teammates don’t do him any favors, either.  Tebow’s massive 50 point total was the only bullet Kraft needed on Sunday.  

Fake Chow Ends JCK’s Winnings Streak in a 19.25 to 12 Nail-Biter.

This one came down to Monday night.  For much of the game, it looked like Matt Cassel was not going to deliver the goods for Fake Chow, but in the 2nd half his incompletions piled up, and he mixed in a couple of interceptions.  He was well in the clear.  Then the game goes to OT and Cassel ventures into penalty yardage, but not far enough.  There were no stand-out efforts in this game, and JCK’s team of Ponder/Feeley didn’t live up to the hype or expectations.  Not nearly enough turnovers, and Feeley pulled off the improbably upset against the Saints with 31 points.  That’s a 10-point swing.  JCK remains in 2nd place overall, but he’ll have to start a new winning streak next week. 

3-PT D.A. of the Week:

Giving this to Tebow almost feels like kicking him while he’s down, but I have no choice.  First he put up 50 points, but also I don’t want to lose perspective on how bad he is just because he’s bad every week.  Yeah, Charlie Whitehurst stunk and got benched and Gabbert and Kolb were their usual selves, but Tebow just kicks it all up to another level.  If he hadn’t had a couple of good drives late against the Dolphins, this would be two weeks running for the Gator.  I have to wonder, is Kyle Orton really this bad, and is John Fox sorry he took the job?  I know there are only 32 spots available, and it’s hard to turn one down, but now he’s out of the Luck race and committed to Tebow for another week.  Yikes.  P.S., Brady Quinn must be powerful bad.  


The Cardinals Will Have to Soldier On Without Tony LaRussa.

The Pre-Genius Years.

Tony LaRussa went out on top.  An admirable move.  I say that without my usual tinge of sarcasm.  Lost in my vitriol for LaRussa is the fact that he is a competent manager that has guided winning teams for a long time.  You could attach a bit of the Phil Jackson argument to him.  LaRussa’s never really saddled himself with the biggest challenges–at least not after that first World Series–but, the Cardinals aren’t the Yankees and you can’t just rely on one player in baseball.  In the stat, 3 World Series titles in 33-years, it’s the long tenure that is more impressive.  You could easily argue he should have won more.

What you’ve got to admire about LaRussa, especially toward the end is that he was built up to the point where he was almost impossible to fire.  Who was going to have the balls to can him?  Like you could do better?  That’s the perception that was created by the media and it gave him that stature and also created the backlash from his haters, like yours truly. On the bad side you’ve got a guy who is responsible for a lot of the “over-managing” that people hate and think makes baseball more boring, but on the positive side, I’m sure the fans of his team never went into a big series worried about getting taken advantage of by the opposing skipper.

I read an article right after the Cardinals won talking about their chances to repeat.  It was all contingent on both LaRussa and Pujols returning.  I think the Cardinals would rather have Pujols, but LaRussa’s exit might make it that much harder to bring Albert back.  The 3-time MVP seemed especially fond of old Tony.  Of course, he could probably name the replacement if he signs with the Cards.  His cousin or someone might be managing the Cardinals next year if they can keep him away from the Cubs.

Maybe the Cardinals could get Ryne Sandberg.  I bring that up, because I wanted to touch briefly on the fans’ obsession with Ryne Sandberg in Philadelphia.  Sandberg has become the most valuable commodity in the organization according to some people. They want him as the bench coach.  They want him as the hitting coach.  They want him in there for Charlie right now. They are absolutely terrified that he’ll end up in Chicago, or with another team.  It’s one of the more remarkable things I’ve ever seen.  People are equating losing Ryne Sandberg, the AAA manager, to losing Ryne Sandberg the player. There are actual, “Here we go again,” articles out there about Sandberg fleeing for the Cubs, just like he did when he was a prospect stuck behind Mike Schmidt.

I don’t want to discredit Sandberg’s managerial skills, but this is one of the more ridiculous reactions I’ve ever seen in a city that is prone to them.  Sure, Sandberg has had his share of success as a minor league manager.  That makes him no different from say, John Russell (who the Phillies once lost to the Pirates).  Is anyone ruing that?  And, while Sandberg could go to the Cubs, or the Cardinals and win a World Series, it’s equally likely that he’ll be unsuccessful.  Or, Mickey Morandini, another former 2nd baseman, could end up managing the Phillies in a few years and make Sandberg and Charlie Manuel look like dolts.  We have no idea.

If Ryne Sandberg eventually manages the Phillies it will not change the course of history.  We will not then go back in time and keep Sanberg the player and win the ’81 and ’83 World Series.  This attachment to Sandberg, like he’s a lifetime Phillie is really remarkable.  It’s time to get over the trade.  Sandberg never won anything with the Cubs, the Phillies have finally turned the corner to respectability, the guy is a future big league manager (somewhere).  Let’s treat him as such, and not as a 20-win infusion or a world series guarantee.  Frankly, I’d be more worried about losing Pete Mackanin.  There’s a guy Charlie leans on and has a rapport with.  Manuel’s staying, so might as well keep his guys, and have him in the best position to make the right decisions.  We don’t need a year of promote Sandberg from bench coach rumors if the Phillies start out 10-10 or something…


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.

Ana Hickmann…

...Puts the 2 N's in Winners.

They’re calling for snow tomorrow.  Inappropriate.  I played golf in shorts a few days ago.  It’s still, by a nose, only October.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, winter.  I’m sure the cold temperatures will put a bit of a damper on your more revealing costumes, or at the very least make sure the people working the coat check are nice and busy.  Good news is, things should be cleared out for the Trick-O’-Treaters.  Like you could stop them.  Hope everyone gets to siphon off some good candy from a kid, or can indulge in their own extras.  Here’s my Halloween candy rankings from last year, if you care to revisit one of our finer posts.   Anyway, enough about candy.  I’m distracted.  Let’s talk about something equally sweet: Winners.  Another terrible NFL slate, let’s slog through the muck…

JCK:  Record, 22-12-1

  1. Carolina (-3.5) over Minnesota
  2. Jacksonville (+9.5) over Houston
  3. New Orleans (-14) over St. Louis
  4. Cincinnati (-3) over Seattle
  5. San Diego (-3.5) over Kansas City


Big Dub:  Record, 19-13-3

Dub’s Full Analysis, as usual. This time it sheds some light on his confidence regarding the Cowboys Pick.

Minnesota (+3.5) over Carolina.  Carolina’s run defense blows.

Pittsburgh (+3) over New England.  New England’s defense blows against the pass.

Dallas (+3.5) over Philadelphia.  Philadelphia’s defense just flat blows across the board.

Buffalo (-6) over Washington.  I don’t care if the game is in Tokyo.

Houston (-9.5) over Jacksonville.  Didn’t Tennessee lay an after beating Baltimore?  Same thing happens to the Jags.


Kraft: Record, 17-14-4.  

Detroit (-3) over Denver.  The perfect Rx for a team coming off two losses…Denver.  If this Tim Tebow thing continues much longer, Gross is going to have to get back to the drawing board and come up with D.A. scoring for the run game.

Arizona (+13) over Baltimore.  After that Monday night showing, and weeks prior, Baltimore just doesn’t have an offense. Unless they win this game 14-0 with 2 defensive TDs, I like the 13 points.  Joe Flacco needs a Trent Dilfer costume for Halloween.

New England (-3) over Pittsburgh.  Pittsburgh allows like 50 yards a game rushing.  New England says great, we’ll just spread you out and throw for 450.  And, you can’t stop us.  I really hate Pittsburgh, can Hines Ward please retire?

Dallas (+3.5) over Philadelphia.  This hurts, especially since I hate Dallas more than any other team.  But, let’s be honest, Dallas is talented.  They can run the ball effectively (which is the Eagles biggest weakness) and their defense knows how to stop Philly’s offense, evidenced by the last couple of years when they have dominated Philly’s horrendous offensive line. Get Antone Davis off “The Biggest Loser,” and throw his ass in there on DeMarcus Ware.

San Diego (-3) over Kansas City.  Stop the madness.  Phil Rivers steps up and has his first normal game of 2011.


Grossy:  Record, 18-15-2.  

New Orleans (-14) over St. Louis.  Normally New Orleans terrifies me in road games like this, but St. Louis is really in bad shape right now.  Mr. Heather Mitts is still starting.  Their offense isn’t good enough to put pressure on the Saints (who should run wild like they did last week against Indy), and Drew Brees was insane last Sunday night.  He’s been accurate all year and last week we saw what can happen against a bad team when he limits mistakes.  Too many weapons in New Orleans.  Rout City.

Baltimore (-13) over Arizona.  Have I seen the Ravens play offense?  Unfortunately, yes.  I think they were bad enough last week to realize they’ve been going at it wrong for a couple of weeks here.   Also, the Jags were tough on defense.  The Cardinals on the road will not be.  What is constant is the performance of the Ravens defense, who will shut down the Beanie-less running game and make Kevin Kolb look like a poor man’s Timmmm Rosenbach.

New England (-3) over Pittsburgh.  This will be Bill Belichick’s friendly reminder that the Steelers aren’t that good.  The Patriots blew Pittsburgh off the field last year with their offense, and the exact same thing is going to happen this time around.  Sure, the Steelers will score some points.  Go ahead and feel good about Mike Wallace, but they’ll be chasing the beast.  The Pats have had a bye-week, it’s just not a good spot for the Steel City.  Also, the Steelers best win is against the Titans.  For reference.  The team that lost a billion to 7 last week.

Philadelphia (-3.5) over Dallas.  I think I’m too close to this one listening to Philly talk all week, but the Monday night game is not an option it’s so putrid and involves the Chargers on the road, so this is my 0-5 safety net.  I think Philly has talked themselves into Dallas being better than they are.  Dallas has their own problems.  Let’s not get carried away with DeMarco Murray.  That was the Rams.  Ryan Torain was supposed to gash the Birds for 220 yards, too.  Dough Boy’s post-bye record has to mean something and to keep the theme going, Dallas’ best win is a loss.  To New England.  If the Birds were in serious trouble, the line would have dropped.

Detroit (-3) over Denver.  I’m terrified that Stafford won’t play the whole game, but a spite pick is a spite pick, is a spite pick.  I think they’re still 2-1 this year.  I’d have to check the records.  You can get however jacked up you want about Tebow.  That was a once in a career type miracle.  Fact remains, the Broncos would have been losing 15-0 to Hofstra last weekend.  All Timmy’s pre-game cheerleading led to the worst 3 quarters of football I’ve ever seen.  Detroit knows it has to get back on track.  Ndamakong Suh calls for the cart early and often.


Commissioner’s D.A. Top-10:

  1. A.J. Feeley–You saw Painter against NO, right?
  2. Matt Moore–Official Name Change, to “Sack/Fumble” Moore
  3. Kevin Kolb–Skelton!
  4. Tim Tebow–Secret: Denver has no plays.
  5. Seattle/Whiteknuckles–Play Dan McGwire, who cares.
  6. Colt McCoy–S.F. ain’t any easier than Seattle.
  7. Blaine Gabbert–Off tackle right, off tackle left.
  8. John Beck–Go Leafs, Go.
  9. Curtis Painter–Bounce Back week.
  10. Andy Dalton–Seattle’s a house of horrors.


All right, that’s it everyone.  Get your D.A. Picks in.  Enjoy Halloween.  Gorge yourself.  Send in pics of any classic costumes you see.  I think there’s some type of clock adjustment too.  Look alive.  See you Monday.

Did That Actually Help?

Darren Oliver's Age Caught Up to Him...10 Years Ago. He also Blew the Game Last Night.

I’ve got to say, I’m a little surprised at how many Phillies fans were up watching game 6 of the World Series last night.  Is that how we distinguish baseball fans from Phillies only (possible bandwagon) fans?  The social networks were lighting up with a lot of “wows,” and things of that nature.  The game did step outside the boundaries of normal, though.  I’m sure a few non-baseball fans were drawn in by the spectacle.  The Cardinals were down to their last gasp twice and down by 2 runs in both of those occasions.  The Rangers immediately put a dagger in after their first comeback with the 2-run Hamilton bomb.  That’s when Darren Oliver struck.

I was trying to go bed.  It was an odd night.  The Flyers lost, 9-8 after trailing 6-2 at one point and then leading 7-6.  All of that is almost impossible.  I coined the term “Seive-Galov” to illustrate the Flyers’ defensive woes.  But, there I am, letting 9 goals finally leave my system and the Cardinals are having this amazing comeback, part I.  I watch Feliz blow it and then Josh Hamilton finds that missing power stroke.  Considering the Cards had the bottom of the order coming, I thought that was it.  I engaged sleep activities, but left the game on.  I wasn’t going to watch a celebration.  Next thing I know, D-Ollie has given up hits to Descalso and Jay back-to-back.  Didn’t think that was possible.  From there, it just got odd, with the bunt, and the intentional walk, but the point is, the Cards tied it again, 9-9.

That comeback, I think, finally deflated the Rangers.  They were out of any competent pitchers and David Freese did his Kirby Puckett thing, which allowed Joe Buck to rip off his dad’s home run call.  I’m sure Buck will say it was a tribute, but he’s done it before, with slightly different wording.  Something like, “We’ll see you Monday Night,” instead of “We’ll see you tomorrow night.”  I guess if you don’t have anything of your own to say, you might as well rip off someone famous.  If at any point tonight Buck launches into, “And, look who’s coming up.  All year long they looked to him to light the fire, and all year long he answered the demands, until he was physically unable to start tonight–with two bad legs.  The bad left hamstring and the swollen right knee.  And, with two out, you talk about a roll of the dice…this is it.”  That’s when we’ll know that Buck has officially mailed it in.  I’m picking on him, because he said last night that Jaime Garcia could hit since the Cards were out of position players.  The only problem was, Garcia started the game.  That’s Buck’s detached spaciness in a nutshell.

Getting back to the game, I think it’s good that some Phillies fans watched a portion of the game, because you have to start getting over it at some point.  If you want to take the whole winter, wait until spring training, that’s fine.  You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.  But, last night’s game was one of the more memorable World Series games ever played, if you could push out personal feelings and just watch the baseball, I think it would help you get a little bit closer to that point where you remember that you do watch sports to be entertained and not to literally live and die.


Week 8 NFL Preview — Open Challenge to the NFL.

Emeril Suggests Kicking it Up a Notch.

You know what I’m tired of?  Apologizing for the NFL.  I’m tired of pretending to be amused by the horrific level of play.  It may be great for D.A. Fantasy Football, but it’s not funny.  Not really.  Bad play is like a virus, or a stink bug infestation and the NFL isn’t doing a damn thing about it.  A while back you had your Bengals, your Browns, your Cardinals and a stray team here or there and that was the bottom of the barrel.  Now, half the teams in the league with winning records are unwatchable.  How many teams do you get excited to see?  These awful slates of games aren’t the exception–they’re the norm.

Ask anyone and they’ll say that something is missing in the NFL this season.  Is it the quarterback play?  To me there are two types of offenses in the NFL.  The one led by a ridiculous QB (four/five teams at most) and then some wildly boring, vanilla atrocity.  Did you see what the damn Browns did last week?  They gave Hardesty about 90 carries like he was Jim Brown.  They could have played 10 quarters and he wouldn’t have hit 100 yards, but there were the Browns running it into the line of scrimmage every play on their way to a 6-3 win.  And, if they pass the ball, be prepared for a dizzying array of 6-yd patterns.  How about Denver? Did Foxy steal a middle school playbook to give to Tebow?  It’s a joke.

Is it the rule changes?  Are we protecting too many people?  Are the defenders handcuffed?  Is this kick-off rule finally proving to be the disaster everyone thought it would be?  I wish I had an answer for what was going wrong, but week after week I watch the football games and become less inspired.  Will we ever get to the point where people stop watching the NFL simply because it is the NFL?  It’d take a long time, because people are conditioned to think the NFL is the premium product when it comes to sports entertainment, but how many kids have sat down in front of at TV this year and been captivated by what they saw?

I always fear the NFL’s arrogance, the trust they have in their monopoly.  I just want people in the league office to realize their product stinks right now.  Yes, Mr. Goodell?  Two-thirds of your teams are a joke.  Most teams can’t or don’t know how to play defense.  There is a grave problem with QB play and development.  Why are Sanchez, Flacco, Ryan, Bradford, and Freeman regressing?  Your prime time games are a complete joke.  I don’t believe you can’t flex out of a Colts/Saints game if the Colts are 0-6.  That’s crap.  You’re the NFL.  You can do whatever you want.  Stop force-feeding the public this dime store, outlet grade horse bleep.  Get a clue now while there’s a still a chance to fix what is going on.


Contraction Special:  Bengals @ Seahawks.  

Oh, lordy.  The Bengals are 4-2!  Great.  They’re unwatchable.  We get the added bonus of Cedric Benson serving his suspension this week so Bernard Scott gets the call.  I love how he was a hot pick up in fantasy this week.  The guy’s a back up for a reason.  The Seahawks are killer against the run and have a good defense period.  Get ready for 5.6 points out of the Scott-train.  And, the defenses are really the story here.  Both teams will lock it up, Dalton and White(Akili Smith)hurst won’t be able to move the ball and we could be headed toward another 6-3 thriller.  Maybe 5-2.  Who knows. The over/under is 38, which almost seems too easy.  As always, I feel for the fans.  Cincy has to pretend they like Andy Dalton and Seattle knows last year was a fluke and they still don’t have a QB.  Keep buying those tickets, though.


AFC Special:  Chargers @ Chiefs.  

Here we go.  Monday Night Football.  My question is, what did ESPN do to the NFL to deserve these games?  The league spreads themselves so thin.  Promising games to Fox, CBS, NBC and there’s nothing but scraps left for the Worldwide Leader and they eagerly slurp them up like it’s a nice mid-rare filet.  This game is for AFC West supremacy (because let’s be honest, the Raiders are sunk with CP), but the Chiefs still look terrible.  That was the least convincing 28-0 win in the history of the sport last week.  And, we all know the Chargers can’t be trusted.  The worst thing about this game isn’t necessarily that the teams aren’t that great–but it’s that you know, or at least have a feeling that it’s going to be very sloppy.  Fewest back-breaking pick6s wins.  The AFC West, ladies and gentlemen.


Game of the Week:  New England @ Pittsburgh.

This is a bit of a lay-up.  The Cowboys/Eagles game could be very good, but either of those teams could also implode at any moment.  The best part is that the team who wins will have an insufferable fan base for near future.  Eagles fans will be walking around like their 7-0 and not 3-4.  And, god bless them for that.  But, this Pats/Steelers game is good for one reason–and that’s there should be a ton of points.  And, quality offensive play, not slop.  The Steelers never really have much luck stopping New England even when their D is stout, so this year should be a free for all.  And, New England probably won’t be able to contain the Steelers’ passing game either.  These teams hooked up in prime time last year and I think Gronk and Company went wild.  If Pittsburgh can keep it a bit closer, it’ll be the best game of the year so far.


Five Fantasy Busts:

  1. A.J Green
  2. Knowshon Moreno
  3. Tim Tebow
  4. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  5. Bernard Scott


Five Fantasy Adds if You’re Desperate (And, we’re getting real desperate this time of year):

  1. Antonio Brown
  2. Seahawks Defense
  3. Jake Ballard
  4. Christian Ponder
  5. Roy Helu


Over/Under Lock of the Week (Record: 3-1–ooh la la):  Browns/49ers Under 38.5

Lindros (Possibly Entire Legion of Doom) to Reunite in Philly.

I’ve got to admit that I wasn’t too excited about the Winter Classic coming to Philadelphia.  The New Year’s Day, outdoor hockey game is always worth catching on TV, but it is likely to be an impossible ticket.  In fact, I don’t even think they’re having any kind of sale to the public.  By the time the Flyers take care of their people, the Phillies season ticket holders have their lottery and everything else, all the tickets will be on the secondary market and will cost a fortune.  I’ve resigned myself to watching from the couch and hoping that it doesn’t rain.  I feel like the media would somehow spin that as being the fault of the fans.  I guess worst case scenario is it snows and someone hits John Tortarella in the eye with an ice-ball. Someone keep an eye on Bobby Clarke…

But, a week or so ago I heard there was going to be an alumni game the day before and Eric Lindros might be coming back to suit up for the Flyers’ alumni.  He was attempting to reunite his former line, The Legion of Doom, and maybe create some magic against the retired NY Rangers stiffs.  It became official today that Lindros will be playing in the game, and John LeClair is going to join him.  Renberg has been a little elusive apparently.  He’s back in Sweden and “isn’t easy to get a hold of,” but hopefully he can round out the line and the Flyers will have a proper reunion.  The news hit me with an unexpected wave of nostalgia.  I think I was transported back to being a teenager for a second and I got all excited about the Alumni game like it was a big deal.  I guess it is a big deal in some ways, because I hope it gives Philly the chance to give Lindros the proper send-off.

Lindros is unquestionably one of my favorite athletes of all-time.  He came at the perfect time for my fandom.  I was old enough to know what was happening and still young enough to cast some athletes in a mythological light.  I was too young to really see Mike Schmidt’s prime and maybe even too young for Barkley’s best Philly years as well.  Lindros was hands down the most dominant natural talent I’ve ever seen play for one of the city’s teams and since he left, with apologies to Allen Iverson, no one has even had a sniff.  I think the years have made my Lindros memories even fonder.  While some people dogged him, or turned on him because of how he left town, I think that just made me more committed.  I now think I remember Lindros being better than he actually was, which is fine with me.

I remember listening to the arbitration ruling on the Lindros trade in my kitchen.  We had this somewhat shoddy clock/radio that was attached to some cabinets and I don’t think we ever used it (Music in the kitchen!  Or, not).  Anyway, that’s where I listened to the report on whether we’d get Lindros or he’d end up in NY.  The way I remember it, the decision was read aloud and it went on for several minutes.  They didn’t just come out and say, “Flyers.”  They laid out the whole case in this legal jargon and I was just searching for any indication that the Flyers had received a favorable decision.  When it was official, I couldn’t be happier, and I certainly didn’t give a damn about Peter Forsberg.

And, I still don’t give a damn about Peter Forsberg to be honest with you.  He might have won Cups in Colorado and he may have been a brilliant player in his own right, but I’d never trade Lindros’ best years for anything–a Cup included. There’s no guarantee the Flyers would have won with Forsberg (we didn’t have Patrick Roy, after all), and Forsberg wouldn’t have gotten the FU/WACH/WF Center, etc. built.  And, he wouldn’t have fit in as well in this city, and we would have missed out on peak Lindros, which was a short window, but a hell of thing to witness.

The guy is easy to criticize.  He never learned how to play when he wasn’t the bully.  He spent his whole life steamrolling people and when he got to the NHL–it eventually caught up to him.  There’s some truth to that.  One thing I always remember about Lindros is that after he scored, in the celebration–he’d often be a head taller than the rest of the guys on the ice.  It was like big brother scored and then the rug rats came circling around to congratulate him.  And, it was that size, that style cultivated in juniors that probably cost him the career he should have had.  But, I don’t think we’ll ever see a player with his skill level be asked to also do the physical work that he did ever again either.

The concussion is a hot topic in hockey and you need no other poster boy.  Lindros was equally likely to give one as he was to suffer one, especially early in his career.  And, playing his early years with that target on his back he never backed down.  He’d fight, he’d run you over, and then he’d score on you.  The point I’m trying make is, the guy was an unbelievable hockey player.  If you like Giroux, or liked Jeff Carter, or Richards or JR when he was here for a minute–these guys weren’t even in the same ballpark.

It is a shame the Flyers and the Legion of Doom never quite got it together.  In that strike shortened year of 94/95 when the Legion of Doom was formed Lindros was 21, Renberg was 22, and LeClair was 25.  They combined for 176 points in the 48-game regular season.  Lindros had 70 in 46 games.  Pretty remarkable stats, but they were rarely as healthy as they were that year after ’95, and it just never happened.  But, it was great time to be a Flyers fan, and we’ll get to remember that one more time during the Alumni Game (New Year’s Eve?).  That’s the one I’d like to have tickets for.