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Commentary From the Edge - Week 6
Kevin Ratterree
October 11, 2005

A bacterial infection finally accomplished what a litany of mind boggling coaching decisions could not.  Mike Martz is no longer trolling the sidelines calling for a 50 yard pass on 1st and 10 with 1:12 on the clock and a 3 point lead .  Let's get this out of the way: I wish Mike Martz and his family all the best, and a speedy recovery.  Now, what will be the repercussions of this somewhat rare mid-season coaching move?  The people panicking the most are Mark Bulger owners and to a lesser extent the Rams receiver owners.  And that panic may be appropriate.  Nobody is fixated on passing like Martz.  But, before you hit the eject button, keep in mind that the system is still in place.  That will not change.  The main difference will be the play-calling during the course of the game.  It is possible that the new head coach may have a bigger love affair with clock management than than with mis-placed 50 yard bombs.  In any case, it will be real interesting to see how this season shakes out for the Rams.  I think a majority of Rams fans have seen enough of Martz bewildering in-game decisions, so we will see how the system (which is good) performs under new command (which has been a chief cause weekly loud cursing in living rooms across the St. Louis metro area).

The big Wheel of Fate landed on Deuce McCallister this week.  A first round selections in most fantasy drafts McCallister was putting up respectable numbers despite the Saints woes this season.  This is one of those injuries (like the Javon Walker injury in week 1) that will alter the course of your fantasy leagues.  Losing a first round fantasy pick is brutal.  But in the end may be a better fate than the first round bust pick that kills your season slowly week by week.  At least McCallister owners can move on with plan "B".  Here is hoping that plan B is not Antwain Smith or Stecker.  Smith is a few years beyond effectiveness, and Stecker can't stay healthy.

For some, the plan "B" may be Ricky Williams.  In most leagues of 10 or more Williams was drafted in the second half of the fantasy draft and has been clogging up a roster spot on teams across the country.  And now the suspension is over.  Time for the big Wheel of Fate to spin for those of the Ricky "buy and hold" persuasion.  Hey, the Saints need a running back!  Wouldn't that be ironic?  But it probably won't happen.  Ronnie Brown has magically come to life in the weeks preceding Ricky's return, but I'm not so sure Saban will want to part with such a potentially valuable commodity to his struggling offense.  Regardless of what happens it may still be a few weeks before Williams is of much value to any fantasy roster no matter what happens.

Vinny and the Jets hung the first loss of the season on the Buccaneers.  A week ago Testy is sitting in his rec-room watching Sportscenter in his boxers huffing down a box of Cheez-its.  Gets a phone call.  Changes his boxers.  Shows up on the Jets doorstep.  "I'm home!"  He grabs a playbook, tries to absorb a handful of plays, runs a few practices, takes his Geritol, then trots out there and pulls off a victory against the previously undefeated Buccaneers.  Does it get any better than that?  Hey, he's no Drew Bledsoe.  But then again he is every bit as good as the lower echelon of quarterbacks in the league.  And his arm doesn't know it is 42.  Vinny is going to be like Blanda.  He's never going away.

And speaking of Bledsoe, let's take a minute to give the man some props.  If you heard his name uttered in your fantasy draft this year you may have hacked up a lung laughing.  But look at his fantasy numbers.  He is right up there with the leaders.  And though nobody still seems to be taking him seriously as a fantasy QB, at some point you have to give in and recognize what he is doing.  Right now he is as good a fantasy starter as there is.  Fairly consistent too.  In my scoring system he has logged 24/ 18/ 32/ 14/ and 28 points last week against the mighty Eagles.  That's good stuff.  I snagged him off the waiver wire to be a backup in one of my leagues a few weeks ago.  And I am not ashamed to admit it.  I am still having a hard time believing what I am seeing, But you can't question the results.

I also had a hard time believing Keyshawn sticking his foot long finger in Drew's grill during the game, and splattering his face with Key mouth juice.  Apparently Bledsoe may have suggested that Key should write a new book called Just Hold on to the Damn Ball.  Keyshawn went off.  That looked like a scene from the Jerry Springer KKK episode.  Key was bulging the eyes, and waving around the foot long wand, and stamping his feet, and holding his breath.  Let's be real.  Drew tried to show "leadership"  by reminding his receiver to concentrate.  But Key did not want any of it.  After all, Bledsoe keeps tossing touchdown bombs to "his little buddy from New England"  while Key is still looking for that 10 touchdown season that he and only he himself still feels he is capable of.  How very sad.  Some people just can't stand prosperity.  Malcontents do what malcontents do.  Besides, with all the T.O. bullcrap, and Moss mouthing off about puffing the chronic, Key just isn't the "bad boy" he used to be.  We're glad Bledsoe could be there for you Key.  You finally made Sportscenters intro.  Keyshawn, in our minds you are still the biggest Johnson of all.

Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week:  We are off to a perfect 0-1 start to the crazy as hell pick.  I think I may be onto something here, so pay close attention.  The bookmakers tightened up their numbers last week and almost every game on the board was a 3 point spread.  Yet even if we throw out the ridiculous Green Bay / New Orleans final score of 52-3, the average margin of victory last week was almost a whopping 9 points.  Very few bettors caught a break simply by taking points.  If you weren't on the winning team, you probably lost.  So, taking that into account the game that interests me most this week is the Rams at the Colts.  The opening line is 13.5 points in favor of the home team.  Every fool that ever placed a bet knows that you just don't lay 13.5 points on an NFL football game.  Right?  College? Definitely. Pro's?  No no.  But listen to this.  The Rams are 1-4 against the spread this season.  The Colts are 3-2 having covered three of the last four.  The Colts offense is rolling now.  The Rams defense and special teams are in the dumpster, and the head coach is watching the game from a hospital bed.  The Colts have allowed the fewest points in the league at an astonishing 29.  Okay, are you sold yet?  There is nothing to suggest that the Colts don't rear up and leave hoof-prints all over the Rams and their paper mache' defense.  And Tony Dungy will have no qualms running up the score on a team so capable of the quick strike.  Therefore, with all signs pointing to a Monday Night massacre, I have no choice but to pick the Rams to cover the 13 1/2 spread in this game, and quite frankly I won't raise an eyebrow if they win it outright.  Rams +13.5.

Misery Index

10)  Deuce McCallister owners:  Right now I feel a lot better about the fact that he was snatched from in front of me in all my fantasy drafts.  A special thanks to all the guys who took that bullet for me.  A rare moment of zen.  This Bud's for you.  I feel your pain. 

9)  Saints:  This bunch was on the receiving end of a whole lot of built up frustration from the 0-4 Packers.  You had to see this one coming though.  Not a shocker that the NFL's version of the Road Warriors run out of gas in Lambeau.  But 52-3?  Now Deuce McCallister is toast, Joe Horn is doing lot's of talking but not much playing, Donte Stallworth is still the magician that disappears for entire games at a time, and this is set up to be the worst season in a long history of losing seasons for this seemingly cursed franchise.

8)  Ravens:  This is a team in self-destruct mode.  When you have more penalties than completed passes, your fate is pretty much sealed.  What's worse, is that this putrid performance will lead some misguided fantasy players to hold hope for the Lions offense.  No, the Lions offense is not that good.  The Ravens defense is just that bad.  Now, repeat after me.  I will never draft a defense in the 6th round ever again.

7)  Eagles:  Nobody in the NFC is really stepping up to challenge the Eagles in the hearts and minds of football fans. But it has to be a little un-nerving to Eagle fans to think about the fact that the Eagles have got their asses thoroughly kicked in 3 of the last 4 halves they have played.  Suddenly the favorites don't look so invincible and one wonders if they will even get the opportunity to lose yet another championship game.  And more importantly, at what point would Terrell Owens consider punching a man with a sports hernia?

6)  Falcons:  This last Sunday was to be the Falcons moment in the sun.  Or metal halide / sodium vapor as the case may be.  Having knocked off the Eagles, the Falcons needed only beat the wounded Superbowl Champion Patriots at home to take their place as the front-runner in the NFC.  Maybe they didn't get their best shot without Vick, but the Falcons offense was not the reason they lost.  Back to the drawing board.

5)  Rams:  At 2-3 the Rams are a mess.  Their wins came against the Cardinals and the Titans, and both of those games came right down to the wire.  How do you think they will do on the road against the number one defense in the league next Monday night?  With a suddenly thrust into the limelight interim coach?  Their schedule gets easier later in the year, but will it matter by then?  I'm thinking no.

4)  Packers:  Finally sweet relief.  At the bye week the Packers have the identical record to this time last year at 1-4.  Favre is proving that he is just as good as ever, and I swear there is a big "S" on his chest if he tears off his jersey.  But a comeback similar to last year seems unlikely at best.  After the bye they are at Minnesota, at Cincinnati, home for Pittsburgh then at Atlanta.  If Favre leads a revival against that gauntlet he will need to trade in his "S" for a tunic and crown of thorns. 

3)  Cardinals:  If the Cardinals spend much more time in the Misery Index, I will have to start charging them rent.  The thing that strikes me however is the fact that losing Warner has done nothing to slow down the passing attack.  I wonder what would have happened if the organization taken effective steps to improve the running game (besides picking yet another running back bust).  And let somebody else take on the risky proposition that is Kurt Warner.

2)  49ers:  The good news is that they held the Colts to a respectable number of points.  The bad news is that the defense will have to hold opponents to less than 7 points to actually win another game.

1)  Texans:  What can you say positive about this team?  They scored 20 points against the Titans which almost matched their previous total for the season.  Domanick Davis is finally putting up numbers, but Andre Johnson is shaping up to be the bust fantasy draft pick of the year.  This week a trip to Seattle, and then Indianapolis at home so an 0-6 start looks like a lock.  The perfect season will be seriously tested on October 30th when they host the Browns.  That may be a tough game to lose, but we will be keeping the faith.