I am a gambler. I bet on football games. So do many of you fellow fools I’m sure. And when I bet on games I take a lot of things into account. Match-ups. Records. Historical spread data. Situational spread data. Tendencies. Motivation. Injuries. The weather. The alleged competence of a head coach. As a gambler, you have to account for a lot of possibilities.
And I have won and lost in amazing ways over the years. But I have to say, losing because a head coach decides to go for a 4th &1 at his own 29 yard line is one of the more Sandusky-esque experiences of my gambling career. If I wasn’t so wrapped up in my own misery, wondering how the wife is going to feel about our upcoming Ramen noodle diet, I would really feel bad for the Falcons players and fans. And yes, even their idiot head coach.
Whenever I see something like this happen (a moronic coaching decision) it amazes me. I mean, if you are going to try something like that, you had better be 100% certain you can convert. You’d better have a clever play-call. Smith did not.
You are a foot away from the first down. You have a young healthy quarterback that has to do little more than fall over the top of or crawl between the legs of his center. Not a particularly clever play, but how often does it fail? I don’t have the numbers and I don’t even know if Elias does, but just from my personal observations of watching 40 years of football it seems that the QB sneak is among the highest odds for success in an odds-against situation. Especially true against a defense that is not particularly stout, like say the Saints for instance.
So anyway, as I have said many times before, gambling is a fool's paradise. It made a fool of Mike Smith, and he made one of me. A normal person might brush this off, or maybe wise up and swear off gambling altogether, but they would get over it. I’m not going to get over it. I’m still holding a grudge from the Steelers/Seahawks Superbowl fiasco. Oh, no. I hate Mike Smith’s guts. Instantaneously and indefinitely. Sorry Mike. I f’ed up. I trusted you. You may have just as well come over to my house and stole some stuff. Hey coach, you want to violate my wife, drink all my beer, piss on my furniture, and kick the dog while you are at it?
But Smith isn’t the only buffoon of the week in the head coaching ranks. Harbaugh gave Ray Rice 5 carries against the Seahawks. This must be some real difficult stuff to comprehend so let me help you. Your best player is not Joe Flacco. Not even close. Why do you feel compelled to make this below average QB the centerpiece of your offense? Do your put the mashed potatoes in the middle of your table for Thanksgiving? And put the turkey on the rickety folding table over in the corner?
Numbers don’t lie. Joe Flacco is 26th in the league with a QB rating of 75.6. He is 31st in the league in completion percentage at 54.8. And that despite the fact that Ray Rice was the target on 66 of his 361 attempts. Flacco is completing just over 50% of his passes to players other than Rice. For the game, Flacco had 29 completions in 52 attempts. The Ravens ran the ball 12 times, and two of those were Flacco flush-outs.
Now that is one balanced offensive attack. 53 passes and 12 runs. Smells like victory to me. Hard to believe they didn’t win. Now, some may say I am blaming the wrong guy here. The OC is Cam Cameron. He is calling the plays. He’s the one that apparently thinks Flacco is Aaron Rodgers. Newsflash Cam: Flacco is not Aaron Rodgers. More like Aaron Brooks, only without the running ability.
But Harbaugh is the head coach. He could stop the madness, but he won’t.
Ray Rice showed more touch on his touchdown pass than I have ever seen from Flacco. Sad.
And despite the fact that Ray Rice is being horribly underutilized in the Ravens offense, he is still hanging with the fantasy leaders. I can only imagine what kind of a season he would be having if he was the featured player instead of the purple Herman Munster.
Rice is the lynchpin of one of my struggling redraft teams that have been chronicled in this column. I told you last week that team had moved into “miracle territory” in the standings with two weeks left. I am happy (and a bit stunned) to report that a couple of the upper crust teams had disastrous weeks points-wise. Hard to tell how it will all shake out, but I am within 30 points of sneaking into the top 4 in the league and therefore possibly qualifying for the playoffs.
For all my miscues with my redraft teams, one decision I made a few weeks ago has allowed me this opportunity. I was the high bidder for the Chicago Bears defense on waivers. Somebody got impatient, or in a pinch, and dropped them. They went off for 31 points in week 10, and put me in a position to make an improbable (unthinkable just a few weeks ago) playoff run. A special thanks to Matt Stafford for giving me a one week extension on fantasy life.
But here is the really beautiful part. Despite my fine showing points-wise this week, I was not the top scorer in the league. That would be the team that I played against. Yes, I lost again. My team is 3-7. And it is now entirely possible that I could make the playoffs as a 3-8 team. Wow. That would be epic. Oops. Do I need to send Jim Rome a royalty for using that word?
So, here I am again, dragged kicking and screaming back into contention. I have buried that team multiple times in my mind. Anybody would have. At one point I was 1-4 and dropping like a stone out of points contention. But now the dust has settled and my teams consistency through the bye weeks has bought me an opportunity to pull off a stunner.
Never give in! Neva, neva, neva!
I’m not allowing myself to get too worked up just yet. A big part of my team’s consistency has been Mike Wallace and more recently Antonio Brown. Both on bye’s of course. I’ll be without 2/3 of my WR corps for this critical week, and my other receiver is Stevie Johnson coming off two games with a total of 5 catches and 14 fantasy points.
As if that wasn’t enough to ground my enthusiasm I will need to apply some Miracle-Gro to my sack to grow my stones big enough to start Philip Rivers at Chicago. Or I give the uninspiring 60 million dollar man, Ryan Fitzpatrick a start at Miami. Yeah, probably that. Urgh. Seriously, if I pull this off whoever’s spot I take in the playoffs might need professional counseling.
That’s all I really ask for playing fantasy football. The opportunity to transform another human being into a Prozac huffing basket case.
And as an added bonus, Matt Schaub who starts at QB for both my dynasty and keeper leagues is out indefinitely. So at this moment my fantasy existence is shackled to Harvard boy. The mountain man. Throwing picks and racking up negative points. That’s my boy.
Julio Jones can’t stay on the field for my dynasty team. That trade I made for Victor Cruz is looking like a possible season saving deal. I’m short on receivers because I have decided that Vincent Jackson is no longer startable. I just can’t do it anymore. “Can’t do it.” He's had 2 great weeks, one good week, and a bunch of turds. I’m going to trade him. A week too late I know. The play in the end zone of last Thursday night’s debacle against the Raiders told me all I wanted to know about Jackson as a player. He isn’t one.
I only pray that there is one soul in my league, just one, still under the delusion that he is. Because that poor misfortunate soul is about to own him. I’ll take a bottle of Massengill for him. Once douche for another.
Update! Wow, that was pretty fast. I dumped VJax already as I was writing this. Ben Tate. Backup running back. Perfect. Love it. I’m as happy as a little girl with a new Justin Beiber CD. Tate takes up the slack of the Texans losing Schaub and his role increases down the stretch as the team efforts to keep Foster fresh for the playoffs. Well, maybe not. But I don’t really care.
I don’t know who the hell I’m going to start at receiver this week, but I am damn sure it won’t be Vincent Jackson. A master stroke in a matter of minutes. Tumor removed. Boom!
That is what I tell myself now. When VJax and Rivers unexpectedly go off against the Bears this week after benching and trading them? My self loathing reaches a whole other level. Just in time for the holidays. So that’s nice.
Oh the life of the gambler…
Bonehead Play of the Week: I had one of those last minute inspirations Sunday morning that always seem to shoot me in the ass. I reasoned with myself. Kevin, I says, “The Texans are going to run, run, run all day long on those poor Succaneers. It’s an Arian Foster/Ben Tate kind of day. Why not give Ryan Fitzpatrick a shot against Dallas? They’re nothing special, and let's face it, it could be a shootout! Right?” Well, yeah, it was for one team. I had to sit there and watch Schaub throw a couple of long ones while Harvard boy was tossing tip drills for the Cowboys secondary. That was likely my last chance to use Schaub this year. since he is now toast. And now I’m stuck with Fitzpatrick and no plan B. Boy that went to hell faster than Bin Laden. Crap! Pass the Prozac.
10) Vikings: Maybe you guys should go ahead and take that move to L.A. Think of it this way Vikes fans. You could still follow the team on the Direct Tv. And if they get moved to a different division, preferably one without Aaron Rodgers, maybe they could win then. I’m just thinking out loud here. Just think of it as “taking one for the team” my good Minnesotan’s.
9) Cardinals: I have to tell you, this mini-win streak with Kolb sidelined does not look good for Kolb. It looks bad. Lady Gaga close-up bad. Oh, it could just be a coincidence. The Rams and the Eagles REALLY suck though so lets not make too much of this. No reason to get too excited and prematurely eject them. Never a problem with that close-up of lady Gaga pressed in your memory…
8) Rams: Yeah, you didn’t lose. But as stated previously, you still really suck. I’m going to stand by that. Pretty firm ground I’d say.
7) Redskins: Well, the Rat has gone through all his running backs, and all his quarterbacks, and he still hasn’t found anything that works. And even when he does, he changes his mind the next week. Where the hell are John Elway and Terrell Davis when you need them? It all seemed so easy then. Back when little Kyle was still pooping his pants….oh, not quite that long ago ..oops sorry. My bad.
6) Panthers: Okay, now Tebow has already won as many games as Cam Newton. That’s just wrong.
5) Eagles: Just in case anybody had any lingering doubts the Iggles put them to rest with a gutless home loss to the Cardinals. Maybe they shouldn’t let that Wilford Brimley fella coach the team any more.
4) Chiefs: I hesitate to even put the Chiefs in the Index, since Cassel may have played his last game in a Chiefs uniform. And it has become apparent the Scott Pioli was the steady oar in the personnel waters up in New England, so maybe the team will finally get that elusive quarterback. I mean, that is the logical thinking man’s view in this situation. However, being a long-time Chiefs fan, I am fully prepared for the next biggest over-hyped bust they can possibly find. Hey, you feed a rat a piece of dog-poo every day for a long time, the rat expects nothing but more dog-poo.
3) Jaguars: Did you really think I was going to reward you for whipping those dead horses up in Indy? It’s just a shame that you caught the Ravens on one of their “road game meltdown’s against teams that suck” and now the Colts. You could have given the Colts a run for their money this year I think. So close. So close. But you’ve blown your big shot now.
2) Browns: It wasn’t just that you lost to the Rams at home. It was the brutal way in which you did it. See, now you are stepping up. Now you are acting like you want it. You’re not going to get it, because let’s face it, the Colts are a cadaver. But I applaud your efforts and reward you for style points nonetheless.
1) Colts: Hello. Is there anybody in there? Just shout if you can hear me. Is there anyone at home?