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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Commentary From the Edge - Week 9
Kevin Ratterree
November 1, 2005

Let me begin this week by first making a disclaimer whereby I state that I have nothing against Tedy Bruschi, and his instant "legendary hero" moniker he is currently sporting.  That being said.............

The build up of hype leading up to Tedy Bruschi taking the football field was nauseating.  This story couldn't have been bled any drier if Jesus himself had been scheduled to appear during the game at halftime to anoint him.   Hey, I am as happy as anybody about a guy that has more money than he can ever spend in this lifetime, and 3 Superbowl rings, living a life of fame and fortune, with a hot wife and probably drives a car that cost more than my net worth, putting on a football jersey and playing a game.  My life is now complete having just witnessed the event.  I had been losing sleep at night worrying about Bruschi and the Patriots, but when he took the field the weight of the world was magically lifted from my shoulders and the darkness turned to light.  

It's a good thing the media hyped this event properly or I might have missed the significance of this event which evidently falls in somewhere between the first successful heart transplant and the moon landing.   

Finally after days of media pontification on the subject, the epitome of idiotic comments on the subject when Mike Patrick uttered this gem early in the game, "Everybody is rooting for Tedy Bruschi to succeed, probably even the Buffalo Bills."   Yeah.  Right.  Just like I hoped someone else would win that Powerball jackpot.  But I guess we shouldn't be too hard on Patrick.  It takes a comment of monumental stupidity to stand out in a broadcast booth that launches idiotic statements like the pyro-tech launches the last barrage of  fireworks during the July 4th finale.

While I am on the subject of annoying television antics, I have a great idea for the powers that be in charge of football games and sports broadcasts in general.  Take your "in game" interviews and stick them in the orifice of your choice.  These pointless tidbits are a sure cure for boring on-field play.  It seems almost every time they break away from live action for one of these tedious interviews, something exciting happens on the field.  Nothing takes the kick out of a big play like watching it at half screen size while some person I have no need to hear from drones on about a subject I could care less about.  Fluff.  Good for stuffed animals.  No place for it in football broadcasts.  It's fine for fantasy columns however.

I am hearing the ESPN and Fox pundits starting to say the words Jake Plummer and MVP in the same sentence.  Are things really that bad?  Hell, I'd split it between Tatum Bell and Mike Anderson before I'd give it to Jake.  Everybody is buying in hard to the Broncos.  While I have to admit (painfully) that the Broncos have been much better than anticipated, but in this league it's just about this time when everybody starts jumping on the bandwagon that the wheels fall off.  So just for all of you drinking the orange Kool-aid about now, don't get caught up in the hype.  I've said it before, and I will say it again.  Jake Plummer will never play in a Championship game and even if he does he will most assuredly find a way to lose it.  Your team is not going to the Superbowl with Jake Plummer driving the ship.  It's a silly notion so don't even let yourself think it.  You'll thank me in the end.  Jake Plummer?  MVP?  (chuckle) Yeah......okay.

The big tight end showdown between Gonzo and Gates was everything you would expect.  Gonzo went off.  Gates went off and a half.  Right now having Antonio Gates in your starting lineup pretty much puts a stranglehold on your league as long as the rest of your team is decent.  And if you also drafted Steve Smith by some quirk of fate you can start Gates, Smith and 4 slugs and still win.

If you think you know who will emerge from the NFC this season you are some kind of genius.  The online sports service I visited did not even offer odds for the NFC Championship, only the AFC.  When the odds-makers throw their hands in the air and close down the windows, the only sure bet is that it's wide open.

A sad moment this Sunday.  Dick Enberg was announcing the Jaguars game, and on a pass play where Jimmy Smith became the 10th all time leader in receptions, Enberg had called a completion to Jimmy Jones.  How good it must feel to attain such a lofty position in football history, and people in the business still get confused about who you are.  Maybe Mr. Jones should hold out next season, or rub his old hide on the goalpost after every touchdown.  That gets their attention. 

The John Madden unfortunate choice of words for the week  "....and then he busted it out there to the A-hole."  What?

I have to give a giant thumbs down to the lax Cincinnati security staff.  The latest installment in "idiot fan runs onto field" was a little too scary for my taste.  Favre handed him the ball like he was yet another new teammate he hadn't met yet.   Maybe the next guy is looking for more than a football and a night in jail.  I heard this moron was selling his autograph on the internet on Monday.  Whether that is true or not I think everybody should be lining up to give this enormous jackass $10.  I think I speak for most everybody when I say that we truly admire a jerkwad that helps pave the way for more barriers being put up between the fans and the athletes.  I think we need to introduce the word "felony" to these worthless pieces of crap that run onto the field.  That way, we'll know that the person running out there is serious, and we just shoot them on sight.  Now that would be great television, and free up more oxygen and space on the planet for the rest of us. 

We've all seen the soccer scene.  And it's obscene.  Let's not go there.

The Rams are living a charmed life despite losing most of their offensive stars to injury.  After a very questionable victory over the Saints, and a seemingly miraculous victory over a superior Jaguars team, the Rams are right back in business.  But how?  No Bulger.  No Holt.  No Bruce. No run defense.  No "offensive mastermind."  Yet their new head coach, despite looking like Mr. Whipple, seems to be getting along just fine without Martz' calling in plays from his hospital bed every 15 minutes.  Mr. Whipple called 31 runs and 21 passes.  A win as a 4 1/2 point underdog.  Huh.  Well I'll be damned.  Mr. Whipple is 2-0, and he can squeeze as much Charmin as he wants to right now.

Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week:    Chalk up a win for the Crazy as Hell pick.  Hey, it had to happen,  The football gods were finally onto my little trick.  Maybe it was the fact that I was shamelessly blabbering about how I had beat the system.  The football gods are not big fans of being taunted.  Check.   Let us always remember that.  In any case, I realize that even the best among us cannot lose them all.  So onward and downward we go.  Did I mention that I broke my own rule about betting on or against the Steelers?  There are certain teams that you just shouldn't bet on.  Among those for me are the Steelers, Saints, Patriots, and a few others that I can never remember until after I place a bet on them.  Never break your own personal rules of betting.  Check.  Okay I think we are ready to roll now.  I'm 1-3 and swinging for the fences.  The Patriots come off a win in a game in which they were thoroughly outplayed.  A sure sign that there is still some magic in that old silk hat they found.  This next Monday night they host the Colts who come off a bye.  We all know the history between these two teams.  Peyton Manning has beaten Belichick only once if memory serves me correctly, and that damn sure wasn't at Foxborough.  Despite the fact that the Colts have been rolling along and are the NFL's only undefeated team, you just can't help but think Belichick will foil Manning again, somehow, some way.  He always does.  This game means more to the Patriots than it does the Colts as far as the standings go.  The Pats need this win badly, and for the Colts a loss would be a minor inconvenience on their way to the championship game.  Yet, with all that, the Colts are a 3 1/2 point favorite in a stadium they never win in.  Just because they are the most complete and balanced team in the league?  But still, you would have to be a fool to pass up the Pats at home getting points.  Yeah, I'll buy that.  Everybody know the home underdog is one of the best bets in all of football.  Right?  But all that being said I can't get around the fact that the Pats look tired, uninspired, and just plain sloppy.  I think they are in line for a huge beat down at the hands of a superior team.  Therefore my choice for the Crazy as Hell pick is the Patriots +3 1/2. 

Misery Index

10)  Daunte Culpepper owners:  He certainly wasn't a bargain this year being picked in the 2nd to early 3rd rounds of fantasy drafts, but it still has to hurt.  This year is turning out to be pretty brutal on the injury front, and the Culpepper injury is another big one.  When you draft a quarterback early, you had better be right.  Those who drafted Culpepper this season were not.  Last year's performances by Culpepper and Manning made some of us change the way we think about drafting quarterbacks, and it is having tragic consequences for those drawn into the hype.  It's one season ending injury a week lately it seems, so at this point your best chance of winning a fantasy championship may be to be the one lucky enough not to lose any starters, no matter how mediocre they may be.  It is the new fantasy football version of parity.  Fantasy football is getting more realistic all the time.

9) Ravens:   Brian Billick was brought here when he was the flavor of the year for "offensive geniuses," yet he is fielding a team that has scored fewer points than any team in the league.  By a good margin I might add.  Finally in the Pittsburgh game Billick realized that including Chester Taylor as a big part of the offense might be a good idea.  I knew he would catch on eventually.  It worked.  Would have been nice 2 or 3 losses ago.

8) Lions:  The bad news is the Lions lost their big chance to take the division lead after an overtime loss to the Bears.  The good news is that they are in a division with the Vikings and Packers, and the 3 wins they have will probably be enough to hold off those teams in the standings for quite some time.  The really bad news is that Harrington will without a doubt be forced back into the starting role.  Garcia won't survive more than a couple of more games running for his life the way he did against the Bears.  I listened to Terry Bradshaw last Sunday comparing himself to Harrington with his early career struggles.  Bradshaw seems to think Harrington will emerge somewhere else and do just fine.  Bradshaw has maybe had too much to drink, or a concussion or two too many.  And with 4 divorces his judgement is questionable at best.  I would imagine Harrington has played that Bradshaw love-fest bit on his Tivo a few hundred times and may actually start to believe it.  I knew Terry Bradshaw.  I watched Terry Bradshaw play.  Mr. Harrington, you are no Terry Bradshaw.

7) Browns: A loss to the previously winless Texans is like striking out when you try to pick up the ugly chick at the party.  The one everyone else has had.

6) Eagles:  Broncos 255 yards rushing.  Eagles 79 yards rushing.  You don't have to look much further than that.  But if you did dig a little deeper you might also find a quarterback whose physical limitations are hurting his team.  This team as a whole looks like some sick NFL version of Jeckyll and Hyde.  They hold Tomlinson to 7 yards rushing, then the next week get busted up for 255 on the ground by the Broncos.   They go scoreless for a half and then run off 28 points in the next.  The NFC East which the Eagles have used like a punching bag en-route to an unprecedented string of titles, suddenly looks like the toughest division in all of football.  And right now the Eagles are not markedly better than any of them.  They might not even be as good.  That's what the standings would suggest.  A loss to the Redskins this week puts them in last place by themselves.  They are 2 point underdogs to a team that was just shut out by the Giants.  Wow.

5) 49ers:  Boy, talk about your over-achievers.  I pegged this as the team most likely to go winless this year, yet they have now chalked up not one, but two victories against teams with records .500 record or better.  They have all but blown their chances for the first overall pick.  With so many putrid teams, the 49ers just aren't that special after all.    

4) Vikings:  Finally, the big hurt.  After a glorious come from behind victory over the worst team in football just a week ago, the Vikings lost Culpepper and along with him any hope of a late season revival.  Remember those innocent carefree days just a short 2 months ago.  When Randy Moss wouldn't be missed.  Nate Burleson was going to be a top 10 receiver.  The only obstacle between the Vikings and a Championship was having Dawber for a coach.  Former owner Red McCombs is looking more and more like a genius every day.  And the fans who stood and cheered their team after the Loveboat scandal are looking more and more like martyrs. 

3) Saints:  Meanwhile the 14 fans that want football back in L.A. are looking at the Saints and the Vikings, and thinking maybe San Diego isn't too far to drive.  But the league is intent on cramming one of these disen-franchises into the big time.  Here's hoping it isn't the Saints.  The Los Angeles Saints?  Even a holier than thou title like that probably couldn't pull this organization out of the dumpster.  The owner is already honing his camera man punching techniques for the big move to tinsel town so I guess he already knows it's going down.

2) Texans:  I knew the home game against the Browns was going to be a tough test, and I must say the Texans failed miserably.  Winning the game, and throwing away a perfectly legitimate shot to run the table.  As if that isn't bad enough, now the Packers are giving them a serious run for the number one draft pick and the Misery Index crown.  I don't know what else to say.  This isn't funny.  I can't be happy about this.  My dreams are shattered for yet another season.  Thanks a lot Texans. 

1) Packers:  I happened to be watching Packers / Bengals game when the nut job ran out onto the field, and a startled Favre handed him the football.  Favre thought, hey what the hell, give him the ball and see what he can do.  When you are down to your 5th or 6th running back and receivers, you can't be too picky.  With the improbable Texans and 49ers victories this week, the Packers are propelled to the bottom of the misery index, and in line for the first draft pick next year.  Looks like they will have several options for positions to fill with that pick. Just close your eyes and point.