Every season at this time, half of all fantasy players have a tale of woe to tell. Sometimes it is just a case of our studs picking the wrong week to tank. But sometimes it is a case of out thinking ourselves that lands us in trouble. Case in point:
As Thursday nights game between the Seahawks and 49ers approached, the weatherman was predicting all sorts of horrible things. Torrential rains, and hurricane force winds were the call. Lots of fantasy players made roster moves based on the seemingly catastrophic weather conditions that were coming. I got caught up in it myself, pulling Hasselbeck and starting McNair. By the end of the game I was feeling like quite the smug genius. Hasselbeck scored only 8 points in my leagues scoring system. The weather wasn't much of a factor. But neither were any of the Seahawks. A brilliant move to bench Hasselbeck. Or so it seemed.
Then came Sunday. I watched in horror as McNair came off the field in the first quarter and had a trainer work on his hand. A cut. Before he ever completed a pass. As he put on his headpiece, and Boller put on his helmet the neighborhood was treated to a single, very loud four letter word that described my teams chances at a championship at that moment. A big fat zero at the quarterback spot for the most critical week of the season. McNair, the iron man. The warrior, who has started half the games in his career with his body racked with injuries. Felled by a simple laceration to his throwing hand. A seemingly impossible turn of events, yet all too familiar in my world.
And in answer to the burning question: Yes, that decision cost me a chance at the championship. Hasselbeck's measly 8 points would have done the trick.
Crushing? Yes. Unexpected? Hardly.
Well, at least I was a genius from Friday 'til Sunday morning. But genius is fleeting. Just ask Jon Gruden.
I spent the season admiring Ladanian Tomlinson. He is a guy you can't help but like. He is the antithesis of all the T.O. types in the league, the consummate pro. He does his talking on the field. A great player having his greatest year, in fact THE greatest year in the history of the game. The guy is a flat out winner. But even as a big admirer of Tomlinson, I found myself wishing him a leg cramp, or some other temporary relief from the blows he inflicted on that fateful night in December. Toward the end, he did mercifully pull himself out of the game from time to time. But it was too little too late, as he gashed the hull of my fantasy championship again and again into the night. Two fantasy teams that dominated during the season. Both playing for third next week. And so it goes.
But I was not alone, as with every season there were plenty of players that had their worst or close to worst week of the season at just the wrong time. The list of top 30 players at their positions that tanked on this crucial week is a long one: Holt, A. Johnson, Smith, Roy Williams, Chad ( I need an I.V) Johnson, L.J., C. Taylor, F. Taylor, T. Henry, J. Jones, McGahee, Tatum Bell, Bush, Brees, Bulger, Rivers, Favre, Kitna, Young, Hasselbeck, Palmer, and of course Harrington, who had probably finally convinced someone to give him a start. But worst of all was the dependable Antonio Gates, who had one catch, and was bested by every other tight end that was on most anybody's fantasy roster. Gates was not the trump card in the playoffs this season. A nasty bunch of tankers in week 15 with plenty of pain to go around for everybody. Merry Christmas!!
I will forego gushing over the latest NFC flavor of the week, the Eagles. Two weeks ago I gushed over the Cowboys in this column, and they got hammered by the Saints in their own house. Last week I gushed over the Saints and they got mauled by the Redskins in their own house. Nothing to see here. Move along now.
Terry Bradshaw referred to Coach Mariucci as Marihoochee on national television. And didn't even flinch, nor did anyone on the Fox set, who are all now familiar with his loose interpretation of pronunciation.
I heard Michael Irvin on the Dan Patrick show discussing T.O.'s spitting incident. Most reasonable adults would denounce Owens actions in their entirety and without reservation and be done with it. But not Irvin. Instead, he moved the conversation in DeAngelo Hall's direction. His slant on the issue was that since Hall didn't react violently to the situation, his reputation in the league would be hurt. He let a man spit in his face and didn't do anything about it. Basically he seemed to be insinuating that Hall was a wuss for not retaliating. Irvin's answer would have been to escalate the stupidity, get ejected from the game, and leave your team in a bind. That is the world according to Irvin. Then Irvin went on to say that people in the league won't be taking Hall seriously anymore. If only Irvin could realize that is the same way all of us feel about him as a commentator.
Late Monday the spin on "Spitgate" was that Owens supposedly "accidentally" spit in his Hall's face while he was barking his trash talk. This, after the 35,000 fine was levied. If that is the case, then both players are guilty of "pressing" this issue to their own benefit. Not surprising really. Owens would admit to a double homicide if he thought it would get him in the headlines for a couple of months straight. Now why did I have to say that out loud..............
Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week
Last week I told you the Eagles would beat the Giants straight up, and cashed yet another winner. The record is 6-11, and if you are betting against my picks you are hitting 65%. And the Crazy as Hell pick is on a blistering 79% losing pace since week four. I don't like to toot my own horn......oh who am I kidding, I live to toot my own horn. Which they say causes blindness. But I digress. But the bigger question is why is Vegas continuing to let me run my mouth? When will the bookies unite, and pay off DMD to shut me up? Why are there no investors coming forward to bankroll my picks so we can win some serious money together? Where is Sports Illustrated? Where is ESPN? Isn't it time to move Hammerin' Hank off to the old rummy's home and bring in some fresh young talent with a lower blood alcohol content? I know they don't keep him for his looks, and they damn sure don't keep him for his prognostication skills. Or just to spit on the camera man while he talks. The guy must have photo's of Mickey and Minnie in a compromising position, because half the people reading this could kick his dartboard game picking hide with half the lines tied behind their backs.
I remember I was feeling a lot like this about this time last year. Cocky. Arrogant. Unstoppable. Then came the Steelers in the playoffs. New rule this season. Never bet against a team more than twice in the playoffs. Forget logic. Forget reality. Bet with the streak or not at all. Even if you don't understand it.
Which brings me to the Titans. God love them, they have made me a very happy man over the last couple of months. They are winning outright and covering the spread every week. And yet they continue to be the underdog. This week they are a 4.5 point dog at Buffalo. A four and a half point dog, coming off wins over the Jags and the Colts. It's almost getting comical at this point. It's like a cash grab. Just get in the plexi-glass cubicle and scoop up all the bills you can before they turn off the wind machine. Bet with the streak. Even if you don't understand it. I almost feel as guilty including this in my loss total, as I do collecting from the man on them every week. But if I see money lying on the ground I bend over and pick it up. It's just as natural as taking in air and letting it out. The Titans beat the Jags in a game in which they were totally outplayed. Buffalo won't be near the challenge the Jags were. A nice Christmas gift from book-makers who are usually quite stingy by this time of the year. The Bills shutout of the Dolphins last Sunday was the best possible scenario for those riding the Titans money train. Keep dogging those Titans Mr. Bookmaker. And Merry Christmas to you as well!! My pick: Bills -4 1/2
A few weeks ago I mentioned that this was a tricky time of the season to wager. My advice was to look for those teams that appear to have quit, and bet the farm against them. To me, it looks like the Panthers, Lions and Raiders have all pretty much packed it in. The Panthers and Raiders are playing teams that desperately need wins to stay in the playoff hunt. I haven't looked too deep into those match-ups, but there could be a couple of decent opportunities there.
10) Terrell Owens: So he spit in a guys face? Who among us hasn't got "bugged and frustrated" in the heat of battle and landed a loogie in an opponents face. I'll never forget that one high school debate........ahh those were crazy times........ Truly, it is clear at this point, no matter the level of prosperity. No matter how many servants there are to bow before the mighty T.O. and spread his word, this festering boil on the sphincter of society just refuses to stop pumping out pus. Literally. A selfish, delusional pus pot. Funny thing is, I always figured him for more of a swallower than a spitter.
9) Bears: I hate to piss in the punchbowl, but this team came a whisker away from getting jacked up by the Misery Index darling Buccaneers. And they have allowed two teams with losing records to score 58 points combined over the last two weeks. While the offense seems to be getting back on track, the defense is suddenly looking vulnerable. They gave up 90+ yard touchdown drives to both the Rams and the previously scoring challenged Buccaneers. And the 31 points they allowed to the Buc's represent 1/6 of the points the Bucs have scored all season. I still have a feeling that his number one seed just isn't going to germinate in the playoffs.
8) Seahawks: Maybe we shouldn't read into the last two weeks, which found the 'Hawks choking away games to division powerhouses, the Cardinals and the 49ers. Maybe it is no big deal. They are still 8-6 and two games up on those pesky 'Niners. Probably no reason to worry at all. I mean, the 49ers hold the tiebreaker, and have Arizona this week, and Seattle hosts the killing machine known as the Ladanian Tomlinson. Probably no reason to worry at all..............
7) Falcons: Where did it all go? Weren't these guys 5-2 and being talked up as a Superbowl contender. Remember that, when Mike Vick had turned the corner and was ready to take it to the next level? You have to have a receiver that can catch the ball, and a coach that wants to be there to get that done. And it might help if your secondary wasn't referred to by opposing teams as "Weekend at Burn-ease."
6) Texans: There are 3 teams that have scored fewer points than the Texans. There are 3 teams that have allowed more points than the Texans. That is what I call a balanced team. They are not one dimensional. They suck equally in all facets of the game.
5) Panthers: What an absolutely putrid performance against the Steelers. This team has 6 rushing touchdowns in 14 games, and one of those was a fluke Keyshawn reverse. I remember earlier this season, I tried to trade for DeAngelo Williams in a dynasty league. Now I am trying to remember why. Some of the best deals are the ones you never make. On a side note, did anyone notice that this was a bad year to be named Jake in the NFL?
4) Cardinals: After a 3-1 winning run, which stunned football fans everywhere, along came the Broncos and turned them back into a pumpkin. Meanwhile, speculation heats up again about whether the owners will crown Green's ass once the season is over. Would that really be such a loss for Green if he gets canned? I mean, how much more miserable would he be on a golf course?
3) Buccaneers: It took until week 15 midway though yet another slaughter before Gruden realized his quarterback was having some trouble. In came Tim Rattay, and suddenly the Buc's resembled an NFL franchise. This would have all been just fine and dandy had I not laid 13 1/2 points against this giant turd of a team. This inspiring come from behind near win only instills me with further disdain. Gruden, you picked a hell of a time to wake up.
2) Lions: Before last weekend, the Packers had allowed more points than any team in the league. Yet they held the Mike Martz led Lions offense to 3 field goals.
1) Raiders: When the Rams failed to pull away enough in the second half, Al Davis, er, I mean Art Schell decided to yank Brooks and stick Walters in there, thus virtually insuring the Raiders remain in contention for that number one pick. Al baby, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, you're the greatest!