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Commentary From the Edge - Week 12
Kevin Ratterree
November 22, 2005

This season is turning out like so many lately, where there is no "it" team in the NFC.  I can't get onboard with any of these contenders, if you want to call them that.  The Panthers have a fatal flaw, and that is basically one statistical category called Yards Per Carry.  They can't run against a decent defense, (yet Stephen Davis inexplicably still gets the most carries) and Delhomme, Smith, and the defense cannot float this team into the promised land.  They are not worthy of a Championship game. 

The Bears while opportunistic on defense and sporting the best record in the league, just don't have the firepower offensively to be considered a serious contender, but then again, wait a minute.  The whole point of this rant is the fact that none of the teams in the NFC are worthy of being called Champion, so I guess you can't completely discount the Bears.  Not this year.  But they do have 4 road games staring them in the face versus only 2 homers.

The Eagles are gone.  The Rams are gone.  The trash pile got bigger this Sunday.  The Falcons are fading.  The Buccaneers are fighting back, but do any of us really believe in that team?  Really?

Do any of us seriously believe that Mike Holmgren can lead Seattle to a Superbowl?  Come on people, wake up.  Seattle is the best offensive team in the NFC but I'll bet my left walnut that the Walrus sinks the ship at some point someway, somehow.  They just about got jacked up in San Francisco as a 12 1/2 point favorite by playing 'take a big lead and hold on for dear life.'  Don't discount their ability to crap their pants at any given point.

I'm sorry Seahawk fans.  I just report the news.  I'd love to see Seattle go to the Superbowl.  I like Shaun Alexander, and many of the players.  Hell, I even like Holmgren.  (I suppose) I just think he has a logjam in his head when he is on the verge of success.  Brett Favre is the only person that has overcome that.  It's the same kind of thing that Marty Schottenheimer has.  Deep seated fear of success.  Very debilitating.

The Cowboys geriatric crew and stable of RBBC's being talked up for the big game?  Are we feeling real strong about a team that rarely has the luxury of ending the game on a kneeldown.  They need a closer.  They need a coach willing to step firmly on the neck of his opponent when he has them down.  Listen for the snap Bill.  Parcells just can't.  Just like Holmgren.  You want coaches with killer instinct?  Colts, Broncos, Bengals.  (Of course, when I say Colts I am really saying Manning since he is his own coach apparently)

Giants you say?  The team that was projected by most to finish around .500 or under?  It could happen I suppose.  That certainly would make all the TV people fall over themselves with Eli v. Peyton.  Let's save that one for next season, when Eli may have a prayer.

I think Seattle is the only team in the NFC that can match up offensively with the Colts.  And they should be headed to the Superbowl with the talent they have.  They would get smoked by Indy about 53-17, but that is probably 7 points more than the Bears would score against the Colts.

I'm looking at a bunch of teams at the NFC and I am thinking this.  The following teams from the AFC will mash any contender from the NFC in the Superbowl:  Colts, Bengals, Broncos, Chargers and probably a couple of other teams on a good day.  You don't believe me?  We have a perfect example coming up on Thursday.  Let's watch the Broncos buck the Cowboy's on national television.  A great clash of the titans.  I don't think the 'boys can hang.  I think it could get ugly.

In any case, the Superbowl is shaping up to be Rocky against Apollo Creed, but this ain't no movie.  I'm so excited I could just defecate.  If you are planning on betting on the Superbowl you might want to place your bet now for the AFC team minus whatever the points currently offered are, because the Colts will be favored by 14 when the time comes.  Make it a Christmas present to yourself that you can't open 'til February.  Of course, if you are one of those self destructive types thinking you will bet on the NFC team and the points wait until just before kickoff when the number hits 16.  It's never too early to start estate planning.

Remember the before our drafts this fall when we were actively debating Steve Smith or Andre Johnson?  Little did we know how futile the debate was.  Also futile was the Julius v. Kevin question, but in a different way.  Both sides wrong.  Reggie Wayne or Burleson?  Oh boy.  TKO.  Every decision so critical, and never so dramatically as this season.

Nothing creates self loathing more than drafting a horrible fantasy team. So with that in mind, Thanksgiving time upon us, a time to reflect, with the regular season portion of fantasy football winding down.  Some acknowledgement for those responsible for putting a crash and burn on our fantasy teams this year.  Killing our dreams and foiling our perfectly diabolical plans.  They made us pull out our hair and reach for the Tums.  They made us utter those words we utter every season, "Maybe I should quit playing this game", when deep down we know we don't really mean it.  Ladies and gentlemen I present:

The (incomplete and unabridged) Fantasy Football Hate List

Terrell Owens:  There is little question on this one.  T.O. quested to take the art of cornholio to a whole new level.  And took down a franchise, it's fans, and fantasy teams across the land.  While sporting a sports hernia, McNabb had a constant pain in his front, while T.O. was a constant pain in his rear.  Clearly the most widely hated player in the league right now.  I would advise fantasy players that rode the Owens Express not to hate on Owens though. Be a man.  When you bet against the sun coming up, you just have to pay the man at daybreak and nod your head.

Jamal Lewis:  Drafted in the first round of many fantasy drafts, but has been a bust of Anna Nicole Smith proportion.  It turns out that a stint of eating prison food in an 8 x 8 is not conducive to success on the football field.  How could we not have guessed that.  He looks done at the age of 25.  Of course, we all knew going in who his head coach was.  And his starting quarterback.  I guess maybe we should hate ourselves as well on this one.

Michael Clayton:  Never has the term sophomore slump held more true.  Rookie year = good.  2nd year = great?  Nope.  2nd year = Invisible Man.  Oh, how many times have we seen it before, yet it always surprises us.

Cedric Benson:  Here is another running back picked in the first few rounds.  Those that gambled that the contract holdout would not kill his season got their chips raked.  Thomas Jones say, "Cedric Who"?

Pontiac Williams:  After starting the season with a bang, Cadillac has required more owner maintenance than a 1971 Ford Maverick.  Which leads me to comment at this point about drafting rookie running backs.  It seems to be riskier than it used to be.  The way the game has become so specialized is pushing fantasy football into a different direction.  For every LT there dozens of Arrington's.  You have to guess right, and apparently this year the correct guess for rookie running back was Ronnie Brown who is currently around 20th performance scoring points for running backs.  He is the only rookie back to perform well (so far) in relation to his fantasy draft position.  I don't like those odds.  Remind me of this conversation next year when it's my turn to draft and Reggie Bush of the Texans is still on the board.

Kevin Jones:  Here's another guy that played "gotcha" with unsuspecting fantasy owners this year.  A strong finish in his rookie year forecasted a huge year, and someone in most leagues took the bait around the end of the first round.  This will help you in the future.  If you are thinking about drafting a player with a silver and blue helmet, make sure he has a star on it.

Julius Jones:  On second thought, scratch that star thing I was talking about.  Little did we know J.J. is not suited to be an every down back.  The correct answer for this years biggest fantasy question of the preseason.  Which Jones?   And the correct answer was Thomas, otherwise known as none of the above.  Why are we so stupid?

Domanick Davis:  When you draft a good player playing in a bad system, I guess you should expect the axe when it falls.  A solid mid first rounder that has played more like a 4th rounder.  A fantasy team killer.  I tell you this as I have told you before.  The first round of a fantasy draft is the most perilous, because there is little to no chance that your first round player will exceed his drafted position production.  Look at all the first round disappointments this year.  After the big 3 of Edge, S. A. and LT2, you've got Priest Holmes (out for season)  McCallister (out for season) D. Davis underperforming and hurt.  Manning (looking like a relative value at this point)  Jamal Lewis, Julius Jones, Randy Moss, all vastly underperforming their drafted position.  Unless you have a top 3 pick next year, just remember the real draft begins in round 2......kind of.

Andre Johnson:  Maybe there is something in the water down there in Texas that leads to sophomore slumps.  A lot of shrewd devils drafted Johnson in the 4th round this year, hoping for 2nd rounder production.  They got waiver wire scrub performance.

Culpepper and McNabb:  I hate to say I told you so, but I nailed this one in the preseason.  Did not feel good about them.  I was right.  It happens.  Don't miss next years column!

Corey Dillon:  The only thing worse than having a player out for the season, is having one terminally injured, with a team that is more secretive with information than the CIA.  Dillon was yet another first to early second round bust.  Absolutely brutal.

Ahman Green:  The inury list goes on and on and on and on............

Lee Evans:  Looks like we overestimated Evans, and underestimated the quarterback that was throwing him the ball last year.  Oops.  Watch out for those pure speed guys.  They gotta have a quarterback.

I have noticed a few of the other writers have been throwing in tidbits about some forms of entertainment you might enjoy outside of football.  (Yes, I hear that is possible)  Well, I have a bone I'll throw ya'.  This tip is for the worst show in the history of television.  I mean absolutely the worst.  Okay, let me give you the scoop on 'Confessions Live'.  I have no inside knowledge of the complex development that surely preceded this gem.  I'm just telling you what I think I see, not stating facts.  All I know is that it is a syndicated show showed up one Friday night on one of the local "low rent" television stations.   It is based out of Little Rock Arkansas.  And it appears to me that a guy who seems of possibly questionable character, but a bank account full of money decided to launch his own TV show.  Starring himself.  Sitting in a chair in front of a camera.  With leather loafers and no socks.  Ego literally running out his ears.  And a piece of what passes for eye candy in Arkansas sitting in the chair next to him.  Between them is a phone.  And that telephone is the receptacle of the ramblings of any drunk moron that is within reach of a dial tone.  As the title of the show might imply, the "premise" of the show is that callers get on the air and confess their dirty little secrets.  A large portion of the show is drunk hillbilly losers calling in to tell the eye candy girl how hot she is.  And most of the rest thinking they can beat the 10 second delay somehow with the barnyard euphemism of their choice.   Between that, and the inane chatter coming from the mouth of the host, the sporadic and inevitable technical problems that lead to the host yelling at his crew live on the air, this show should go down as the all time worst.  It isn't available in too many markets, but if you have a chance around 11:00 CST on a Friday night, you should try to catch a few minutes of it.  If you are unlucky enough to find it, let me apologize in advance for even bringing it up.   

Crazy as Hell pick of the Week.  After a devastating correct pick last week the Crazy Pick stands at 2-5.  I got cocky.  I'll admit it.  I knew the danger of being correct with the Bears +3 but I still stuck my neck out there.  That's ok.  Back to safe ground and back to a wrong pick this week.  As previously stated in this column the AFC's dominance over the NFC is like that of a Pit Bull over a Poodle.  We have a chance to prove that theory this Thanksgiving.  On the surface, this looks like a great game between the Cowboys and Broncos.  But for all the Cowboys have accomplished we have not seen the Bill Parcells Reunion Roadshow against the likes of the Broncos.  The Cowboys are living on the edge every week, while the Broncos have been mowing over the competition with regularity.  Convincingly.  The disparity between the top powers in each league is pronounced boldly by the oddsmakers with the road team Broncos favored by 1 point.  This would be basically a pick'em game in most cases, except the fact that the Cowboys make a habit of taking every game right down to the last play.  That one point could be critical.  But I think on the short week, I lean toward the team that is younger.  And I definitely lean toward the team from the AFC.  Therefore I am confidently and without reservation picking the Cowboys +1.  Have some pumpkin pie on me.  On this Thanksgiving I am thankful for generous spreads on both games for 2 road teams that should win handily.  I only hope it isn't all a cruel Turkey Day Surprise. 


10) Steelers:  Without Big Ben behind center this team looks more like one of the NFC pretenders.

9) Rams:  It is becoming clear that the problems on the field are just the tip of the iceberg.  It appears that just maybe the ownership is happy with the one championship they got, and the organization is crumbling from within.  Kind of like a micro-waved bunny.

8) Panthers:  This team plays some ugly football on the road.  Jake Delhomme looked more like the Cardinals era Jake Plummer against the Bears.  These two teams may well meet again, which does not bode well for the Panthers if the offensive line can't figure out how to kep 4 man fronts off their quarterback.

7) Redskins:  Here is an interesting statistic that I heard today.  After 25 games as head coach Joe Gibbs has the same record as did Steve Spurrier.  Just thought I'd pass that along.

6) Bengals:  Taken to task by Peyton and his wrecking crew.  A good old fashioned offensive slugfest.  And the Bengals just couldn't hang.  And that's where you are at.  Maybe next year.

5) 49ers:  This team continues to defy the odds.  There seemed little doubt that the 'Niners would easily be the worst team in the league this season.  Hell, I already inscribed their name on the Misery Index trophy and sent it to them back in August.  But there they were Sunday with a chance to rally from a deep deficit to clip the Seahawks.  This team isn't very good.  But they sure don't quit.  They are barely fit to sit on this list. This may be my final warning.

4) Dolphins:  As Mr. Mackey would say, "Having a football team without a good quarterback is bad.....mmmkay?"

3) Eagles:  And all the NFC teams take a deep breath.  It's up for grabs now.

2) Jets:  In an ordinary season, the Jets would have a real shot at the Misery Index crown, but the Texans just won't give up their stranglehold on futility.  But the Jets are sure in there trying.  And you have to like that.  They are going to take this lying down.

1) Texans:  You have to raise a stench that could peel wallpaper to hold off the likes of the Jets and the Dolphins in the Misery Index.  This team is like an elephant fart on chili night.