The election returns are in, and the Colts are the best team in all of football. They have now slain the dragon twice in a row, and stand as the only undefeated team. And it all looks so familiar. It's the regular season. The Colts are 8-0, and the '72 Dolphins have their corkscrews out in anticipation.
And it is impressive. They are just carving people up on both sides of the ball now. They look unstoppable. Yes my friends, we have seen this movie before. And if you want a foreshadowing of the events of the future you need look no further than the Vinatieri missed field goals on Sunday. Foreshadowing my friends. It's the perfect script, like Groundhog day, lived out over and over again. Oh no Colts. You will not make me believe this season. I have tasted your fire too many times.
Just in case you were wondering, the Colts are going to the Superbowl. I know damn good and well that I don't believe what I just said, but I thought I'd just get it on record just in case. America can't get enough of the same old story.
The week of reckoning finally arrived. Week 8 had its share of upsets but week 9 was a really wild ride for the survivor pool crowds. Just when I thought the season couldn't get any goofier that the Raiders winning two games in a row, the next week the Bears winning streak ends at 7 at the hands of the mighty.......Dolphins?
The 1-6 Dolphins take down the undefeated Bears in their own house. That's like the dorkiest kid in school bagging the prom queen. And if you haven't been paying attention to the trends in the NFL over the last 10-20 years, a game like that would shock you. But in today's NFL its just par for the course.
The good news across fantasy football this week is that the dreaded bye weeks are finally over, and we can get down to it now. Everybody on an even field, mano a mano. Lets get it on!! It's that time of year fantasy brethren. If you have run in you, this is the time to make it. 4 weeks left in most regular seasons, so just in case you haven't noticed, it's crunch time. Trade deadlines are approaching in some leagues, so this is about the time you want to buy or sell for the second half. Just remember every season produces some surprising second half players, and you will probably need one of them to end up on top of your league. I am reminded of the legendary Billy Volek /Drew Bennett late season push that catapulted me to a league championship.
Who will this years guys be? Injuries will determine that to some degree. The injury replacement player is often the beneficiary of a second half run, so look among the leagues decrepit and terminally injured their talented back-ups for your prospects. Also look upon the scrub teams of the NFL that may give younger players a look. Unless you are in a pretty deep league, guys that aren't on rosters right now will put up some numbers in the second half.
One of the biggest questions concerns quarterbacks. This has been the year of transition for quarterbacks. There has already been significant turnover at the position due to injury and performance, and now we move into the "audition" phase of the year where some downtrodden teams will give next years potential QB's a look see. Guys like Brad Johnson and Mark Brunell top my list of those most likely to be benched late in the season.
Garrard has evidently supplanted Leftwich. Garrard is ok I guess, kind of like McNabb ultra-Lite. I will say this though. He is getting some pretty good opportunities, and he is putting the ball in the end zone. You could probably do worse than to have him as a back-up. Unless they drop a couple of games in a row, at which time Leftwich might magically be healed and shoved back onto the field. But most people seem to have dropped Leftwich, and that is probably the best move. The Jags want to see if they can save 3 mil a year on a QB next season (or some other ungodly number), and it seems they may have already decided to move in a different direction.
Damon Huard is also a question right now. Out of nowhere, he has bullied his way into the hearts and minds of Chiefs fans, and he is putting up good fantasy numbers on a weekly basis. With Trent Green about ready to say, "Put me in coach, I'm ready to play" a lot of people are speculating that Huard should keep the job since things are going so well for the Chiefs. I've heard strong arguments from both sides, but the only vote that counts is Herm Edwards. I wish I could give you some inside information about how this will go, but the only thing I have to go on is my gut feeling, and it tells me that Herm turns the reins over to Green. I don't necessarily agree with that. I say stay the course. But I guess that's why I am just a fantasy football writer, and not a head coach. I can afford to be wrong. At least once in a while.
I have a question. Are you still starting Cadillac Williams? Because I think it's about time to blow taps on that one. Luckily, I have him in only one league (there but for the grace of God........) Last week he was outscored by Pittman.
And if I bench him, I know he'll finally go off. But at least his trade value will spike up for 10 seconds and maybe I can move him. Anybody looking for a second half player?? And he may be. But I sure don't see any movement in that direction. I could say, "it has to get better." But I can't even seem to convince myself of that. So I sure won't try to convince you.
The really bad news is that I own Cadillac in a dynasty league, and about the only thing I can do is go down with the ship, and pray for a miracle next season. I never saw it coming I tell ya..............
Vinatieri just can't stop trying to win the hearts of Pats fans, even in a different uniform. Those misses were almost poetic. And seemed perfectly fitting somehow.
Attention Tony Kornheiser: WE DO NOT CARE ABOUT WHO YOU HAVE ON YOUR FANTASY TEAM. Especially when you make player moves based strictly on being able to say on the air that you have so and so playing for your fantasy team.
And what in the wide world of sports were the Raiders doing in a third prime time game? How in the hell did they deserve one, let alone two, or God forbid three? I mean who in their right minds thought before the season that the Seahawks / Raiders would be a great game for prime time. Do you have to have a college degree to work in the league office? I'm just wondering. What are the qualifications to hold the job that decides those matters? I'm sincerely interested. I want to help. Does the league have that banjo boy from Deliverance tied up in the back room making scheduling decisions? Because that is the image that pops into my mind.
Believe it or not the Raiders are scheduled for one more prime time game, albeit a Saturday night game. The Raiders. Predicted in last place in their division. Four prime time games. Shut out twice on Monday Night Football. Un-freaking believable. Keep feeding us the blowouts. We just can't get enough.
Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week
Say what you want about Double Secret Probation. It works. I threatened to shut down this dog and pony show if I missed last week. I actually threatened to fire myself from this segment. But no such luck. My pick was the Steelers -2 against Denver. Pittsburgh, who so vexed me during last season's playoff run, has reversed field and provided a virtual boon during their early season swoon. The man giveth. The man taketh away. And so it goes. So I move back to .500 at 5-5. But I'm on a nice 2-5 run after a typical early season "period of adjustment". I'm off Double Secret Probation. Everybody's happy. Except the man. He's starting to sweat. But who gives a rats ass about him. Onward and downward.
Some of you may wonder how the Crazy as Hell pick works. It seems confusing to some. Why do I build up one team and then pick the other? Why do I want my pick to be wrong? What is the meaning if this ridiculousness? What's the big deal about picking one game? Look, I'm no genius at this stuff. That should be clear enough. I'm just like a lot of you, I watch the games. All of them. I don't live in Vegas and have connections with big time professional gamblers. I don't charge $29 for isolating the best play of the week. And then scream at you over your radio to call my number. I don't spend hours of tireless research into tendencies and probabilities trying to find the minutest statistical anomaly. Yet somehow, every season I usually end up on the right side of the ledger when it's all said and done. And I have never paid $29 for the isolated best play of he week. But I'm pretty sure the advice I dole out here is about as accurate as the stuff you get from fast Lenny. And it's practically free! And worth every penny I might add. So don't ask why, just climb onboard. It's a wild ride.
This week the trend junkies will be salivating over the Dolphins hosting the Chiefs. On the surface, taking Kansas City and giving up a single little point seems like the play here. But the trends suggest otherwise. The road team has won only twice out of the last 14 games between these two teams. And if that doesn't scare you off this game, the Chiefs are 5-10 ATS in November. That is a lot of supporting evidence against a Chiefs win. Couple that with the fact that the Dolphins just remembered they were an NFL team, and handed the undefeated Bears their first loss at Chicago, and this game looks like one to avoid altogether. The wise guys will probably be all over Miami in this game, with their precious trends in their back pockets. But this is the Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week, and this is right in my wheelhouse. I say buck the trend. The fact is that the Chiefs are the better team here, and I fully expect them to win this game. My pick: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. This is just too much of a homer pick. Nope. I just can't do it.
And that really sucks because I really hate the rest of the games on the board. Keep your money in your pockets this week. The trend the last couple of weeks has made a hard turn toward the underdogs. And that's how I would generally lean again this week. You want a crazy as hell pick? You got it. The Houston Texans roll into Jacksonville as a 10 1/2 point underdog. Jacksonville is fresh off a dismantling of a similarly inferior Titans team. The Texans are off yet another loss. Garrard has righted the ship, and the defense is mowing down opponents. I can't think of one good reason why you would consider betting the Texans in this game. Except the fact that for whatever reason, the Texans have given the Jags all they could handle over the last 5 seasons. As a matter of fact the Texans are 9-2 ATS during that span. And the Texans just gave the Giants a hell of a game up in Jersey. I hate betting on a crappy team like the Texans. But I hate even worse being on the wrong side of a lopsided trend. (except when it involves the Chiefs of course) Keep in mind the Texans thrashed the Jags 27-7 at home just three weeks ago. And now they are double digit dogs? Wow. Reminds me of a mammary challenged woman with no bra. Two mini points. (all her own sittin' way up high, way up firm and high) My pick: Jaguars -10.5
10) Titans: Well, all I had to do was mention in my column last week that I was just waiting for the Titans to have a real turd of a game, since it was overdue, and they delivered with a 37-7 thrashing at the hands of the Jaguars. While this team might be competitive at times, they just aren't going to win much. Jeff Fisher meanwhile is probably spending his spare 15 minutes a day checking into condo's in the Dallas vicinity in anticipation of his next job, working for an owner that wants to win, almost as much as he wants another face-lift. Fisher is no doubt already beginning to think about how he will have it worded in his contract that he has final say over all free agent wide receiver signings.
9) Cowboys: These old cowpokes just can't seem to get all the way up in the saddle. And now the dad-blamed Giants are a runnin' off with the division. Grab the rope, it's that city slicker Parcell's fault! String him up! If he'd started Romo from the start we'd be 7-1 right now. Whoa. Slow down there Cowboy fans. This game illustrated the things that are wrong with the Cowboys that Romo can't fix. T.O. is turning out to be some prize. I mean, the only thing funnier than a guy getting paid 10 million dollars a year to catch footballs that falls asleep in meetings, is that sleepy guy getting a 15 yard penalty drawing national attention to his questionable work habits. But even funnier than that is Sleepy's tendency to drop passes at the most critical times that cost his team wins. I can't wait to see what owner steps up to the plate to give this fool more money to bring his jackass act to their town next season.
8) Bungles: Here we go again. Hello old friends. How was life on the other side of the Index? We missed you. Chad looks about ready to cry. Housh slams his helmet to the ground and screams "why". Rudi keeps blocking while passes fly. Carson thinks his receivers are ten feet high. The only happy person in town is the bail bond guy.
7) Falcons: I don't exactly know why a team like the Falcons, with the record they have, belong here in this dungeon of defecation. But when the owner is on the field, and crawls in the head coaches ear for the last five minutes of a game, the situation must be dire. A week ago Mike Vick was ready to turn that page and lead this team to the promised land. But against the long time Misery Index favorite Lions, the Falcons blew chunks. I want to believe that this was just a fluke. The Lions had been so close to putting together a good game all season, they were just primed to bust out. Rested, and fresh off a bye week. The Falcons just found themselves at the wrong place at the right time. That's what I want to believe. Not sure I'm buying it, but this is how I am selling it to myself.
6) Cardinals: At 1-7 and with the Cowboys coming to town this week, this looks to be the high water mark for the Cards in the Misery Index. For Cardinal fans, the bye week was like when you wake up in the middle of the night while you have the flu, and are having fever dreams. You get up, drag your ass to the fridge, gulp down a glass of water, and then shuffle back to bed. But when you go back to sleep you go right back into the fever nightmares. And you want to wake up, but you can't. And the nightmares seem to go on and on forever. You've had your glass of water Cardinal fans, now it's back to bed with you. Lots of Nyquil.
5) Raiders: It was nice to see the Raiders didn't let a nationally televised game end before they showed the world what they are really made of. I mean, nothing caps off getting jacked up twice on Monday Night Football like kneeing your opponent in the groin. It was very fitting to see a Raider player racking someone up. That's a feeling Raiders season ticket holders must know well. Getting shut out twice on Monday Night Football during the same season is a record that will stand until the end of time. So, the season hasn't been a waste after all.
4) Texans: Mario Williams finally bested Reggie Bush in the headlines in week nine. Unfortunately, Bush's team continues to best the Texans in the standings, along with most of the rest of the league.
3) Browns: A game effort against the AFC powerhouse Chargers. Since it was one of the late games, and there were only three, I got a good long look see at the Browns. And I have a verdict on Charlie Frye. Right now he looks like Harrington Jr. He stares down his receivers like gawking teenage boys hiding in the weeds at a nude beach. He is going to get his receivers killed one by one. And soon he will have none left. Other than that, and the fact that they can't run block, or pass block, everything is a-ok.
2) Buccaneers: In a week when several Misery Index regulars took a week off from suck-dom, the Buc's actually managed to ratchet it up a bit. Nice job Succaneers, I'm glad to see that some teams take their place in the Misery Index seriously. Why should the Steelers get all the glory? Tampa wants theirs. Apparently Gruden has decided they have no chance of running the ball, and he has put the weight of the team on the shoulders of a rookie quarterback. That isn't working out so well. To make matters worse, the defense is every bit as inept as the offense. Some teams that start out bad, manage to bounce back. I can't envision an scenario where that happens here. Pull up a chair Tampa Bay fans. Lay your season to rest Cadillac owners. This is really happening. And it's going to keep happening.
1) Steelers: Steelers poster boy Jerome Bettis announced to a national audience that the team is done. And Joe Thiesman thinks they are about to go on a run. That is the final kiss of death I would imagine. The have fumbled, bumbled, and stumbled their way to a 2-6 record. They are every bit as cursed right now as they were blessed last January. Silver lining seekers can point to Ben Roethlisberger and his magic gloves. He nearly doubled his fantasy production for the year with a 400 yard passing game. And in between the critical mistakes, he actually looked pretty good. And Willie Parker had a nice day for his owners as well. So I guess the point is that at least they aren't totally useless. But close. They certainly are a shell of the team that managed to catch every break possible between last November through February. The mojo well has run dry. And we can all see clearly see how thin the line is between champions and buffoons.