Okay, now seriously. Can we put to bed the talk about the Falcons being among the NFL elite. I don't care if the savior himself came down and pointed at the Saints before the game. The Falcons weren't even in the building. I mean if you are playing a division game for first place, you might want to show. But no. The offensive line spent all night yelling OLE', the few passes that were thrown in the vicinity of receivers were dropped. Warrick Dunn (you remember him, the leagues leading rusher) played the invisible man. Mike Vick was throwing to ghosts. He couldn't complete a pass to save his life. And despite his passing woes, he waited until the game was out of hand to take a serious run at running. Falcons apologists will chalk this up to the electric atmosphere and popular sentiment and that 'Nawlins mojo working against the Falcons. Almost like a Hollywood script. The return of the conquering heroes in a world where they are far and few between. That is the popular storyline this morning. But lost in the bigger story was a highly touted team that was ill-prepared to win, or even compete, in a big game in a high pressure situation. And that might come in handy around playoff time.
In a side note, the Saints are going to the Superbowl this year. I'm not sure if I really mean that or not, but I thought I would get it on record just in case. America just can't get enough of a feel good story.
Will the real Donte Stallworth please stand up? Oh, wait a minute, that is the real Donte. Great games followed by a disappearing act. Yeah, I know he was an injury scratch. But it doesn't matter the reason. Stallworth is all about disappointment for his fantasy team owners. I was confused by what I saw from Donte in the first two weeks, and started to question the validity of my opinion about him as fantasy team poison. But this weeks last minute scratch has my universe suddenly making sense again.
Shanahan did it again. Just when he had us convinced he was going to give us a full blown RBBC, he suddenly decided his team sucks that way and gave the rock to Tatum. If you are a Mike Bell owner, don't abandon all hope. While Tatum may indeed be the best running back option, I'm not convinced he fits into the "work-horse" role. The team works better with one back, without the alternating series buffoonery. But I just have a feeling Tatum will need lots of help as the games roll by. Denver does a bunch of running, and he can't do it all. That being said, if you drafted Mike Bell with the intention of being in your lineup every week this is not good news, and you should panic accordingly. But please, don't try to convince us that you are surprised. And please don't drop Mike Bell in a large league. If Tatum puts the ball on the rug a couple of times the Rat could strike again.
Now is the time to start making serious moves for trades. Whether your team is in the dumpster or not, this is about the right time to abandon ship where need be. We've had 3 weeks to evaluate what we have seen. Ladies and Gentlemen: Place your wagers.
If you are the owner of one of the vaunted Arizona Cardinals offensive stars, you might want to stock up on antacid. It looks like Leinart is going to get his shot earlier than expected and all bets are off for your fantasy players. This is the situation I warned about in my Players To Avoid column, and it comes frighteningly early in the season. While Warner was not injured, it was only a matter of time before Leinart took over, because Warner was dodging bullets all 3 games he started, and was an injury waiting to happen anyway. I guess Denny likes Kurt, and wants him to keep his spleen. Maybe Leinart can prove more elusive than Warner, and the offense will actually get better. It's possible. But if you are starting any of these guys you have to be at least a little bit uncomfortable. Ladies and gentlemen: Place your wagers.
Steve McNair discovered Mark Clayton this weekend, and Clayton snagged just about everything McNair threw his way. (8 catches for 11 attempts) He was catching quick slants across the middle at will and though he didn't break one Sunday, you can see it coming. I have this guy stashed on all my teams this year. He belongs on someone's roster in your league. If he is available you might want to stash him away before he has a break-out game.
Donovan McNabb discovered Reggie Brown with Stallworth sidelined. He was targeted 12 times with only 5 catches. Move along. Nothing to see here.
Roscoe Parrish of the Bills made the most of his 4 passes. He caught them all for over a hundo and a touchdown. I'm not telling you to go jump on this guy, but lets face it, Peerless Price? Lee Evans? Josh Reed? That isn't a trio that can't be cracked. Of course with Losman doing the throwing.......well, maybe hold off on Roscoe for now. Unless you just like having a guy named Roscoe in your lineup. And I can't say as I blame you if you do.
I casually mentioned a few guys in last weeks column that I thought were going nowhere. And in my predictable, foot in mouth style, some of them performed much better than they had previously. Cadillac finally found the end-zone, as did Burleson. Considering the ever worsening situation in Tampa, I'm going to stick with the Caddy downgrade. But with the situation changing in Seattle over the last 24 hours, I'm liking Burleson's chances of being worthy of a fantasy roster spot more than I was a week ago. The 'Hawks weren't running well before S.A. went down, so there may well be an epic aerial display in the Great Northwest for the next 13 weeks with plenty of pigskin for everybody. Plus when you factor in D.Jax injury history, and Branch's lack of preseason action (which is often a precursor for injury- c'mon, you know it is), Burleson still may be in line for nice numbers. Someone dropped Burleson in my Dynasty league late Sunday morning and I scooped him up. If you bailed on him last week you might think about giving him another look.
Hey, did you guys hear about the NFL replay......on Tuesday, and Wednesday? Man, I love the NFL network, but the fact that they show that insipid commercial 2,000 times a day is a high price to pay for the privilege of round the clock football. And I have a question about that commercial. I recognize most of those guys doing the funky lip synch. C.J., Gonzo, Shockey, Portis. I know all those guys. But who is that big fat tub of goo in the black uniform? Was there a casting call to fill the role of "washed up has-been"?
Speaking of washed up has beens. It's time.
Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week
Well, I think it is perfectly clear now that I simply don't know what the hell I am talking about. I'm 3-0 for the season, and there is no way to mask my shame. If I had a shred of decency I would put an end to this absolutely worthless waste of bandwidth, and fill the space with something more meaningful, like perhaps the letter 'A' typed over and over again for a whole paragraph. But as you know by now I do not have a shred of decency, not even a sliver. Nor do I have any intentions of releasing myself of this weekly self abuse. I started this giant ball of dung of a segment, and I'm going to roll it all the way down the hill. I'll type. You play it the way you like. Let's just say I'm "streaky." I'm sure you can find a way to make this thing work for you, even though it has gone horribly wrong for me.
I was very confident in last weeks pick, and I am even more confident this week. Look, this time I'm serious. No more screwing around. The Colts have spent the first 3 weeks brutalizing the league as they are prone to do until the playoffs start. The Jets have been a pleasant surprise starting out 2-1 and atop their division as well. Now we all know damn good and well that the Colts are far superior to the Jets in every way. For instance, Peyton Manning can throw the ball much further than Pennington's top range of 20 yards. And even though Joseph Addai and Rhodes are nowhere near the level of Edge James, they are far superior to Barlow and Blaylock. The Colts defense is among the best in the league and their receivers are second to none. There is simply no way in hell that the Jets win this game. And normally I do not like to bet on teams that I do not think have a chance to win the game outright. But the Colts will be outdoors in possibly unfavorable passing conditions. The Colts are on the road in a hostile environment. And the Colts are 1-3-1 against the spread in their last 5 games against the Jets. The Jets are 9 point underdogs at home. A 9 point home dog? Oh man, how can you possibly lay 9 against a 2-1 home team? Are you serious? My pick? Colts -9
10b) Lions: Okay, the Index is getting a little crowded. And in all fairness this team deserves to be ranked much higher. But I see something working here despite their weekly tendency to lose. These guys are Misery Index pretenders.
10a) Giants: If this game was a measuring stick as to how far the Giants are from contending for the NFC crown, I think we might need to use two sticks. Don't let the relatively close score fool you, the G-men got their ass handed to them. I think we can all agree that the NFC East may be the "toughest" division, there is little doubt they are a far cry from being the "best" division. Coughlin tried to send a message to his team by benching Plaxico for doing what Plaxico does. The message was, "we don't want to win this game." After the game Shockey was busy being Shockey, telling reporters that the team got out-coached. I've got news for you Shock. Vince Lombardi couldn't have coached you out of the 42-3 hole you dug yourselves. Shut your yap. Block when they tell you block. Catch the ball when they throw it to you. Try to keep the rest of the guys on the team from dozing off in between plays. And try to make it through 4-5 games in a row without getting injured.
10) Patriots: I don't feel so good about putting teams with winning records in the Misery Index at this point in the season. But when you look in the face of Tom Brady, and you watch the listless, lifeless offense just going through the motions, it all just looks miserable. They won two games, but those victories were like perfume sprayed on a turd. They could easily be 0-3 right now. The loss to the Broncos seemed very telling. This team just isn't going to hang with the crowd at the top this year. Old, tired, and uninspired is no way to go through life son.
9) Steelers: Much like the laundry room in a women's prison, muffs ruled the day in Pittsburgh. The defending world champs backed up a Monday night stinkfest against Jacksonville with a slightly less putrid performance at home against Cincinnati. The only difference is that the Steelers could have actually won the game against the Bengals, but unfortunately the special teams coaching staff neglected to mention to the players that you should not attempt to catch punts with your facemask if at all possible. So now our champs are looking up from 1-2 at two 3-0's in their division. Which puts them squarely looking for a wild-card spot at this point. And the odds of them going through the playoff gauntlet on the road like last year? About as likely as an officiating crew missing nearly every critical call for an entire game.
8) Texans: The Texans managed to make Mark Brunell look like a legitimate starting quarterback in this league. Meanwhile Carr is still getting sacked more than a desperate actress in Hollywood.
7) Browns: An 0-3 start might be crushing to any other fans than the Browns. To them, it's like a comfortable old shoe. The good news is that Braylon Edwards and Charlie Frye are clicking a little bit, and they came a whisker away from nearly snatching a game from the Ravens. The bad news is that they are averaging less yards per carry than Ron Dayne's NFL career average. And there is no category in the standings for nearly snatching.
6) Cardinals: Well I hate to say it, but I have no choice. Same old sorry ass Cardinals. Oh yeah, they are a prettier package. Tucked away in a nice squeaky clean stadium that the owner should have built for his franchise over 25 years ago. They have a fancy high powered offense, with big time fantasy studs. They have conned people into filling the place every game. But in the end, they are still the Cardinals we know and love. The loveable losers. Warner spent the day fumbling and throwing to the wrong colored jersey's (Your guys are red now Kurt). But later in the game both teams played hot potato with the ball. In the final minutes, the Rams gave them the game on a silver platter, and the Cardinals took a crap on the platter. All they had to do was run clock and put it in the hands of their sure footed kicker. But no. Warner fumbled the snap in the red-zone. All they needed was a field goal to win the game. With only a minute and change on the clock. Nope. Now Warner looks to be getting the hook, and the Cards will go with the rook. Same old sorry assed Cardinals.
5) Chiefs: Does anybody notice what I notice? Since the Herm Edwards show came to K.C., Pennington looks like Pro Bowler, the Jets are 2-1 and won a game at Buffalo for the first time in 8 years on Sunday. And they are scoring lots of points. They are excited, and they are fun to watch. Meanwhile the Chiefs starting quarterback was injured, the team can't score points and can't win games. And watching them is like taking a handful of Nytol. Probably couldn't get a conviction on that flimsy evidence, but I'm willing to grant a hearing.
4) Dolphins: Culpepper matched up against Kerry Collins on Sunday. And though the Dolphins "won", Culpepper was the second best quarterback on the field, just like every other game. That my friends, is a sad testament to this giant among men we used to call "Stud" just a few short years ago. Right about now, I'm willing to bet Harrington would be an improvement. How soon will Saban come to that conclusion? Hopefully before you go hari kari over your Chris Chambers pick. The Texans are up next so the 'Phins may get pushed out of the Misery Index due to circumstances beyond their control.
3) Titans: The Titans lost a crucial early season Misery Index showdown against a similarly putrid Dolphins team. Unfortunately for the Titans, as bad as they are, and as bad as we expect them to continue to be, the Raiders and Buc's are still the class of this ranking of the rank. But do not despair. The field is crowded, but I'm sure the Titans will find a way to distance themselves from most of these other so called losers as the season plays out.
2) Buccaneers: The Panthers understood the importance of Sunday's elimination match against the Buc's. I say elimination match because the game featured two teams that had resembled elimination for the first two weeks. The Panthers game plan was to get a big lead and then bust up Chris Simm's spleen. Then they fumbled the ball a few dozen times to give the Buc's a false sense of hope, and try to lure Simms back out to the field so they could rough up his spleen some more. Simms went to the hospital after the game after bravely playing without a spleen for the second half. Hey, a spleen is a spleen. But football? Fuhgetaboutit. Meanwhile, far far away, Brian Griese ate a hot dog on the sidelines while he watched his new team go 3-0, as the reaper came calling for Tampa Bay's season on this any given Sunday. The downtrodden pirates find themselves on a 17 week walk down the plank, and fans can only shake their head in disbelief.................. "Aaaaaaargh" doesn't even begin to describe it.
1) Raiders: Well, this definitely is not the year of the pirate. No Raider Nation, your team does not get a pass from the misery index just because they were on a bye. While it is true that you did not lose, but the Buccaneers did. And the Buccaneers quarterback left his spleen on the field. And the Buccaneers are on the verge of asking the for Jeff George's phone number, or calling the Bears and asking them to do a "do-over" on the Griese deal.. All quite miserable but not good enough. If you need proof that the Raiders belong here, they are 2 1/2 point underdogs at home this week against an 0-3 team. Does it get any worse than that? I think a team will have to actually lose TO YOU to pass you on the Misery Index. Either that or if Al Davis turns over ownership of the team to someone that does not take the advice of sock puppets for his football decisions, well then we can consider moving you to number two. Until then you are the biggest number two in the league and this is where you shall stay.