When CBS canned Deion Sanders from the pre-game show, I thought 'Wow 'dats a relief'. Not that I waste much time on the CBS pre-game show anyway, but I figure if you don't have to hear his blathering even for a few minutes a week, dat would be a good thing. Imagine my horror when dat pimp daddy showed up on the set of the NFL Network for Gameday. Why must everything I like in life be ruined? Why can't I just have a modicum of joy in my life without some ill-advised dip sticks figuring out a way to screw it up? Is there a media supercomputer center zeroed in on finding people that piss me off, and pushing them in front of television camera's? I'm anxiously looking forward to Deion losing his job to T.O. 4or 5 years from now. The sad thing is, television will find a way to make me look back on the Deion era fondly.
On the other side of the coin Marshall Faulk is doing great on the NFL Live, considering it's his first job in the business. He doesn't yell. He knows how to pronounce "that" and all the other words in the English language. He is smart and very well spoken. I can understand what he is saying. And he doesn't have his nose up T.O.'s ass, riding his publicity freight train like dat other guy. Most importantly, he doesn't annoy me in any way, or needlessly try to draw attention to himself as he is providing the viewpoints and information that I am there for in the first place. He is a breath of fresh air, so I'm sure the Network will find a way to get rid of him in short order.
One more item concerning the NFL Network. Take those cheesy little ricochet sound effects out of your programs. If I want to play a video game, I will play one. Playing unnecessary noises is fine for casino slot machines, trying to distract me as I play craps, but they have a good reason for that. They want my money. If you want my money, can the kid stuff.
Did you see the biggest tool in all of broadcasting defending T.O.'s screaming tirade at his offensive linemen and coaches? On Monday Night Countdown Michael Irvin angrily shouted down Tom Jackson, while defending T.O.'s right to act like a jackass. When will ESPN pull the plug on this clown? What does he have to do? Physically slap someone on the set? How long before that waste of human flesh pisses off Tom Jackson to the point that he resigns. Irvin needs to get his nose out of T.O.'s crack, stop acting like he's on crack, and shut up and let people finish their sentences once in a while. Irvin's manlove for Owens has accomplished what I thought was impossible. I actually hate Irvin more than I did yesterday. And I hate ESPN for continuing to let Irvin torture his cohorts and the viewing audience. Deion Sanders would actually be a welcome improvement, and that is a sad testament.
The survivor pools have proved very buoyant through the first 5 weeks. Only the very riskiest picks have backfired so far, while the consensus picks have all come through. Unbelievable. I am still alive in all of the contests I entered, which is a clear indication that it is just way too easy a game this year. I am usually out by week 3. The problem seems to be that there are just too many bad teams to pick against. Tennessee came close to blowing out a huge chunk of players on Sunday, but came up short. Everything is just going too smoothly so far. I have to think that there is an epic day of reckoning coming soon.
There was also a weird circumstance in pick 'em pools this week. People that played the favorites ended up with no losses. No underdogs won outright, and that almost never happens. In today's NFL, the expected is now unexpected, and tends to confuse us.
The Joey Harrington era has begun! Never thought I would type those words again. But the fact is that the Dolphins looked like a better team with Harrington under center. Yes, he still broadcasts his passes. Yes, he still locks onto a receiver and seems incapable of going through progressions. Yes he did throw 2 interceptions and no touchdowns. But in all fairness, one of those interceptions was tipped by the receiver into the arms of a defender, so I give Harrington a mulligan on this game. After all, the 'Phins were on the road at a tough house, and Harrington only found out that he was starting on Saturday morning. Saban says Joey will start until Culpepper is "healthy". On the surface this might appear to be a situation where Saban really is committed to Culpepper, but I suspect Culpepper will only regain his "health" after Harrington has a 4 pick game. Harrington isn't all that good, but he isn't Culpepper bad. And just in case you are wondering, Wes Welker seems to be the guy he seems to like to throw to......... a lot!!
You can't hold down the great ones for a whole game. Larry Johnson looked like Ron Dayne on slimfast for the biggest part of four quarters, but with the game on the line, he came through with an awesome 80 yard catch and run down the sideline. Antrel Rolle finally yanked him to the ground by his facemask. And as Johnson laid motionless on the ground, I made a few calls to gather up a posse and some rope, but the mission was aborted when Johnson came to his feet and walked off the field. Let the NFL take care of Rolle. He came dangerously close to being the most hated man in the fantasy football world. Fine that dirty yanker!
I would like to register a complaint. In the Huddle writers league I drafted a great team. (I know, that's what everyone says) I have as yet to see them all in the starting lineup at once. Steve Smith and Housh missed the first 2 weeks. Westbrook was a scratch in week 4 for zero points. Warner got yanked after 5 points in week four. And Roy Williams spent Sunday on the sideline after a stinger on his first and only catch. It just doesn't matter how good you are on draft day, if the fantasy Gods want to spit on you, no umbrella will save you. I'm driving a Porsche in quicksand. I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here though, so I'll just shut up now and try to take it like a man.
The first season ending injury has still not struck after 5 weeks, but Shaun Alexander got some company on fantasy team benches when Larry Fitzgerald pulled his hammy Sunday. It looks like 2-5 weeks off for Fitz, and a major hurt to fantasy teams that didn't make a buy and hold play on Bryant Johnson. For those without Fitz on their roster that made a buy and hold play on Johnson, KA-CHING!!
I picked up Noah Herron in my dynasty league several weeks ago. Ahman Green gets hurt. Morency puts the rock on the ground a couple of times. KA-CHING!! I have been biting my tongue about Herron up until now, I don't make a habit of spouting off about 3rd string running backs on bad teams. But everyone saw what he can do on Sunday. The cat is out of the bag. Herron has game. He is still a little raw. He might not take the job this year, (then again he may), but if you are in a dynasty league I would make him top priority on waivers this week, unless you are in my league in which case you are S.O.L.
Hey, when did touchdowns become outlawed in Denver?
Last year the Bears were a novelty act. Not enough offense to seriously make a run at it, but a sick, sick defense. They dominated their weak division and won 13 games due almost entirely to their defense. Nobody is taking the Bears lightly now. People are starting to mention the Bears in the same sentence with the term 'undefeated season". The offense is for real, and even the most skeptical among us have finally gripped that concept. But let's pull back the reins on the undefeated season talk. It just isn't going to be done. Probably ever again. It is nearly impossible for any team, no matter how good, to keep up the level of intensity the Bears are at right now for a full 16 game schedule in the NFL. Someone will reach up and bite them. And before we anoint the Bears as the Champions let's keep in mind that they are still just one Grossman injury away from returning to a novelty act. And that isn't exactly a longshot.
Even with the Bears fast start, the biggest surprise of the year has to be the Saints. But I guess we should have seen it coming. It's simple math. Take the 3-13 Saints from a year ago. Subtract one boneheaded quarterback. Add one level-headed quarterback. Subtract one unsuccessful coaching regime. Add one "once in a generation" running back. Bingo. We have a winner. That was easy enough. The Saints have actually been forced to start a waiting list for season tickets. In a related story, Hell just installed an ice skating rink.
Another surprise is the Rams sitting atop the NFC West at 4-1. Funny story. An old friend of mine in St. Louis that called me in August, to ask my "expert" advice about the Rams. My friend is not a betting man by nature, but he saw the futures odds on the Rams winning the NFC this year, and was very interested in making that long odds bet. Like any good friend would have done, I tried to steer him clear of making this unnecessary donation to the bookmaker. I think the phrase, "not a chance in hell" was my first and repeated response. I averted the disaster, and he did not place the bet. Hey, what are friends for?
Crazy as Hell pick of the Week
Rack up another loss and I am now at 3-2 after my embarrassing 3-0 start. Pardon me if I don't do cartwheels. Last week I commented on the ridiculous 19 point opening spread in the Titans/Colts game. But the bookmakers hit it about right, and the line only moved 1 point down through the week. So a small majority of bettors had a nice juicy Titans dog. As for my pick, I said the Giants would easily cover the spread over the Redskins, and they did indeed. That spread moved 1.5 points upward through the week, so I wasn't the only one that saw it coming. I guess that wasn't such a crazy as hell pick after all. But at 3-1, I didn't feel like getting too cute. This week I do.
As I look at the spreads I see several interesting numbers. The first ones that grabbed my attention were the Cardinals a 10 1/2 point dog at home against the Bears, and the 49ers are a 10 point home dog against the Chargers. Oh, the favorites are so tempting here. The home teams are obviously outmatched in both contests. But as any NFL gambler will tell you, the home dog is traditionally one of the highest percentage bets. And while I cannot make my mind create a scenario where either of these home dogs pulls off an upset, there is no way in hell I would lay those kind of points against two home teams, unless we were talking Raiders of course. The betting public wants to put their money on the road favorites in these games. The books know that. That's why they made the numbers so uncomfortably high. You go ahead and play those favorites if you want, but I have been burned going down that road enough, that I have finally learned my lesson. I think I would like to make a teaser bet on both of the home dogs. I know, it makes absolutely no sense. I flies in the face of everything we have seen thus far. But in today's NFL, it seems just about right. It makes no sense, and that's what makes it so right. That day of reckoning I was talking about may be upon us. The favorites are due for trouble, and I'm putting my chips on the table for it happening this weekend. It is overdue. Monday Night football. Matt Leinart's coming out party in front of a national television audience. Against the brutal Bears defense. Oh yeah, it reads like a Hollywood script. Don't place your bets early if you are following my advice. The spread is likely to go up even higher between now and Monday night, and you might get 12 points if you hold out until just before game time. Ah, what the hell, I'm picking both games. My picks: Chargers -10 and Bears -10.5
10) Yankees: Yeah, I know this is a football column. And I couldn't give a rats ass about baseball. But I never grow tired of watching Goliath get jacked up.
9) Colts: Well, this is a first. A 5-0 team in the misery index. What the hell is my problem? A bigger question might be, what the hell is the Colts problem? They needed a late 4th quarter rally to put down the Titans? At home? Yeah they won, but they looked like horsecrap doing it. And while their running game is improving, their run defense is still horsecrap. They will rock and roll their way to a division title and probably a first round bye. But it all comes crashing down when they meet a team in the playoffs that can run the ball effectively. You don't win Superbowls if you can't stop the run. That is just a stone cold fact. Don't even get caught up in the hype. This team is doomed to fail.......again. Horsecrap.
8) Cowboys: The loss to the Eagles was devastating, especially considering Bledsoe tried to force the ball to T.O. for a game tying touchdown at the end of the game, and it was intercepted and run back the length of the field. But the underlying story was T.O.'s ranting on the sidelines. At his offensive linemen, and at his coaches. It was vintage T.O. Jerry Jones got himself a facelift and married the stripper. You don't marry the stripper. You watch the stripper. You admire the stripper's work. You fantasize about the stripper. You can even take her home for a night if you get lucky. But you don't slip a ring on her finger. Because most of them are a wreck, and once you marry one, all their problems become your problems. And T.O. is a walking social disease, that will soon corrupt the entire team. And the only person that is surprised by all this is Jones. Because you can tell your friend not to marry the stripper, but he won't listen. He is convinced he can change her if he just loves her enough. But he can't. This thing is going to blow up just as sure as the stripper will do all your friends. It is just a matter of time.
7) Dolphins: Saban showed Culpepper the pine on Sunday, and trotted out Harrington. Huge improvement. But same sad result. But watching the game, you got the feeling like the Dolphins had a chance to win, which has not been the case this season. The bad news is that when you start Harrington, and it improves your team..........well, this joke just writes itself.
6) Cardinals: They blew the lead late. Leinart led them down the field with a chance to tie. Rackers, wide right. This is the mark of a losing team. When everything else goes right, the guy that is a sure thing blows chunks. Good teams find a way to win. Bad teams find a way to lose. This just in: The Cardinals are a bad team.
5) Steelers: We could easily pass off this gruesome start to the season to several factors. Big Ben just isn't the same model we had become accustomed to prior to his experiments in flying, car eating, and organ detachment. The boy just ain't right. And the schedule has not been kind either. Maybe they miss Bettis and Randle El more than they thought they would. And I could sit here and come up with excuse after excuse for this downtrodden champion. But I am not a Steelers fan, and making excuses is their job now.
4) Buccaneers: Oh so close. Gradkowski looked respectable, and his mobility really helped his team in his professional debut. But the division champs are still looking for that elusive first win. This team is not as bad as they have looked. If they play the rest of their games as well as they played Sunday, they will get some wins. Would it help if I said they were the best winless team in the league? I'm not going to say it, but I just wondered if it would help.
3) Lions: Built up and held a 17-3 lead into the 4th quarter. They cemented the game with a kick run back for a touchdown. Called back on a penalty. Two plays later Kitna was sacked and fumbled. It's amazing how a team can look so good throughout a game and piss it all away, but these are the Lions. Kind of like that big red ball coming up over the horizon every A.M., and the rain shower that comes after you was your car. Some things just can't be explained. They just are what they are. And the Lions remain a giant pile of are.
2) Titans: They didn't win a game, but they did make for a very tense day in the survivor pools. Not much moral victory in that I suppose. But after giving the Colts all they could handle for 60 minutes, it now seems entirely possible that this team will actually dent the left column of the standings......someday. And as a bonus, even if they only get the 2nd overall draft choice next year, it will actually be like a number one since the guy drafting ahead of them is likely to mistakenly blurt out the name Napoleon Kaufman right before the clock expires.
1) Raiders: They aren't the only winless team, but they are the only one with a legitimate chance of finishing the season that way. It's still early but I can barely contain my excitement about this team. I'm not convinced they could beat THE Ohio State right now, let alone any team in the NFL. The Texans are about their last real shot a ruining this thing and that game is way down the line. I have had my heart broken before, but thanks to the enormous ineptitude of this organization from top to bottom (especially top), I am actually starting to let myself believe that this is actually going to happen. Sometimes, life is good. God bless you Al Davis. Because of you, my dream may not be impossible after all.