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Commentary From the Edge - Week 16
Kevin Ratterree
December 20, 2005
After the Patriots showed the world they can still lay an ass whoopin' on, and the Colts inevitable coming apart at the seams, the playoffs seemingly look a lot more interesting.  We buried the Patriots at mid-season, but they are like a frickin' vampire.  They might look dead, but they can still suck the life out of you if you catch them at the wrong time.  Oh boy.  Here we go again.
I have to say hat's off to the Chargers physical beatdown of the Colts.  They had a mission.  They executed that mission exactly as planned.  It wasn't even a contest.  But let's not get carried away.  The Chargers remember were coming off an embarrassing home loss to the Dolphins (the team that barely held off the Jets this week at home) and the Colts were fresh off wrapping up home field throughout the playoffs.  The Chargers were playing for a meal that may save them from starving to death, while the Colts were playing for a hunk of cake for desert.  No thanks, I'm full.  Check please.
The Colts next goal is to pray that nobody gets injured over the next two weeks, and for someone to knock off the Patriots before they arrive on their doorstep again in January.  Is somebody writing a script for this stuff?
But fear not Colts nation.  Though destiny will surely push the Patriots in your direction yet again, they will be as a man bringing knives to a gunfight.
Whoever said that bitching doesn't accomplish anything?  It worked for Muhsin Muhammed.  After waiting almost an entire season for an opportunity to catch a pass, he blew up on the sideline Sunday night late in the 1st half.  Grossman magically appeared for the second half and granted Moosh's wish for a catch-able pass.  Then he quickly granted the wish for a second time a few plays later at which point Muhammed dropped the ball.  Still a few plays later Muhammed left the field with an injury.  That's like a guy that spends his life looking for a woman, and then finds one at the exact moment of the onset of impotence.  It's heartwarming stories like this that keep me going.
The Jacksonville Jaguars while seemingly shafted last year with a brutal schedule were the best team not to make the playoffs.  This year, with a strength of schedule that wouldn't get them a BCS bid they are cruising their way to the playoffs.  But picking off the 49ers at home by one point is not a ringing endorsement for a contender.  The Jags will enter the playoffs ill prepared for the level of competition they will face.  They look like a first round bye bye team to me, and in an ironic twist will be keeping more exciting, plausible contenders from making the post season. 
I guess most of you still hanging around the Huddle are probably going to be involved in Championship games next this week.  Best of luck to all of you.  I hope the Huddle has been helpful to get you where you are.  Tough year.  I made Championship game in half my head to head leagues, and look entrenched in 3rd place in the Huddle writers league against some of the best in the business.  That's about as much success as I could have hoped for I suppose.  Savor the moment fellow winners.  This is what it has been all about. Can you smell it?  Smells like victory.  It's good to be King, if just for awhile. 
Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week:  I am embarrassed.  I am humbled.  A am a broken man.  Another devastating correct pick last week brings the overall to 4-7.  The Cowboys performance in Washington was the most pathetic thing I have seen since I inexplicably found myself staring at a Loverboy reunion concert.  (However the image of a 50+ year old beer bellied Mike Reno singing "The Kid is Hot Tonight" will remain chillingly alive in my mind long after this Cowboys game is pushed out of my memory)  Now onto this week.  At this point in the season wagering on games is almost as difficult as it is the first week or two.  I would advise against it.  Save your play for the playoffs.  Keep that powder dry.  Because the next 2 weeks are going to be Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.  There will be teams that quit.  Playoff contenders will play tight.  Teams out of the running will play loose. There will be personnel moves based on getting a look at players for evaluation.  There will be playoff teams trying to coast through the next two weeks.  Way too many variables to get a good handle on anything.  But, who am I kidding.  You are going to have some action, so rather than go through some deep soul searching for a game where I see a distinct advantage, I am going to simply pick a game out of a hat.  Let me reach in it. 
The Cleveland Browns are 7 1/2 point underdogs at home for the Steelers.  The Steelers are fresh off a road trouncing of the Vikings, and appear to have their legs under them. The Browns meanwhile have been competitive, and managed to beat the Raiders in Oakland last week on a last second field goal.  Still though it seems like an easy decision here to lay the 7 1/2 and figure the Steelers to put the Browns away easily like they did the Vikings last week.  I'm not falling for it.  Despite the Steelers recent successes, I don't trust this team laying more than a touchdown on the road.  Look for the Browns to find a way to keep this game close as has been their M.O. lately.  The pick:  Pittsburgh -7 1/2. 

Misery Index

10) Lions:  When fans from other sports, in other cities begin cheering for the firing of a GM, you know he has touched a nerve.  And a lot of nerve he has I must say.  Takes a huge contract extension before the season, then when his team turns out to be paper lions he throws the head coach under the bus.  Matt Millen is well liked in NFL circles, but probably one of the most hated men in all of sports from a fans perspective.  Being a nice guy doesn't get you a championship.  And hiring a friend is a slippery slope.  What seems obvious to most of the population is seemingly invisible to the Lions ownership.  Millen has failed miserably as a GM.  He would have been canned by any other franchise in the league by now.  All of us should be so lucky to have such a softie for a boss, accepting of mistake after mistake, and wasting company money like you had a printing press for it in the basement.  I wonder how much of a Christmas bonus Millen will get this year.  He was fine as an analyst on ESPN.  And that is where he belongs.  Lions fans are doing all they can to make that happen again.  Matt, a wise man named Clint Eastwood once said, "a man's gotta know his limitations."  Good words to live by.
9) Falcons.  Late in the 4th quarter at Soldier field, and needing two touchdowns, the Falcons were 4th and 2 in their own territory.  After runs up the middle had been stuffed all night long, the best Mora and his crew could muster was a run up the middle?  How about a fake handoff, and maybe let that quarterback make something happen with his legs?  A quick play action pass.  Surprise them with a long bomb.   Hell, even a flea flicker would have made more sense than a play which has not worked all night, and got stuffed for a loss on the previous play.  A run up the middle.  Stuffed again. Moronic beyond belief.  Cold weather really affects the old noggin' more than you would think.  Hey Coach Mora, It's called a hat.  Look into it.
8) Cowboys:  The only good thing I can say about the Cowboys game was that I had the good sense to bench Terry Glenn for my fantasy playoff game.  A season saved.  The same cannot be said for this team that picked one hell of a time for a nice nap.  At least now we won't have to hear Parcells raise a big stink about the fact that the Giants got an extra home game.  It wouldn't have mattered to the Cowboys anyway as it stands now.  Especially with a road game at Carolina this week.  Blow taps for this bunch and bury 'em with their boots on.  They would have wanted it that way.
7) Packers:  When the Packers play on Monday Night Football and it means absolutely nothing except John Madden's undergarments will be under constant strain for 3 hours, that is a sad testament to the state of the team.  It would have been interesting to see what this team may have accomplished if half the opening day lineup weren't on crutches.  Now the yearly Brett Favre retirement watch can kick into high gear.  He can't really walk away like this can he?  I know he loves to play the game.  I think he still wants to play.  But the situation is not favorable.  It's like standing at the craps tables all night get, and you keep reaching in your pockets for more money, and more money, and more money.  At some point you just have to push yourself away from the table, cause you know it ain't gonna get any better.  
6) Saints:  When Todd Bowman (or is it Bouman........oh who gives a rat's arse) can't bring your team back to life, I guess the situation must be hopeless.  Mike Ditka said it best on ESPN Sunday Countdown.  "The ownership knows nothing about football."  And that shows on the field.
5) Raiders:   For a guy labeled an offensive genius, Norv Turner sure has produced nothing and already worn out his welcome.  Al is having special gallows constructed and after week 17 it's off with his head at midfield of the Black Hole.   There are whispers that the Raiders may be interested in bringing in Culpepper.  Well, let's see.  Culpepper has been successful in the NFL largely in part to his ability to run the ball.  And now teams are going to line up to grab the guy coming off a season ending injury that will in all likelihood diminish his skills as a runner.  Yep, that sounds like a Raider move.
4) Titans:  The Seahawks came to town expecting to show up, throw a couple of TD passes and coast back home with a W.  The Titans had other ideas, and gave the high flying 'Hawks more than they wanted.  But you don't end up here by almost losing.  You must lose.  And the Titans have been quite consistent in that area.  We expected them to be awful, and they have not disappointed.
3) Jets:  I realize there are many Jets fans out there that feel somewhat dissed about the Jets position in the Misery Index.  Some of you feel they are being slighted.  After all, they are every bit as pathetic and miserable as the two teams below them.  I know that.  The Jets may very well be the worst team of the season, and I appreciate the fine effort.  But when you get right down to it, the Jets have reached this low point largely in part due to injuries.  Much more so than the other contending teams.  They bulked up in the loss column, but much like the 'roiders out there, the gain isn't so pure as if they were just awful despite relative health.  But the Jets still have a long shot to win this thing.  If the Reggie Bush bowl should somehow end up in a tie, I'm afraid I would have no choice but to award the Misery Index crown to the Jets.  I'm thinking this is maybe not such a long shot after all.............
2) 49ers:  While still annoyingly competitive at times, this team in the end has been about as bad as we could have hoped for. I was thinking this team might go winless.  But they won two games.  They are over-achievers.  But with a loss to the Texans next week, they can still wrap up the Misery Index title.  They aren't the worst team of all time like I thought they might be.  But they still have a shot at being the worst team this season.  It's down to one game for all the marbles.
1) Texans:  Well, just when the drama for the Misery Index crown looked like it couldn't get any more interesting, the Texans finally screw up and win a game.  They had a chance to win this thing going away.  They held their own destiny in their hands.  And pissed it all away.  A must lose game for the Texans in the season finale.  It's all on the line now baby.