Let’s get this out of the way. Last week’s sickening Patriots tribute in this slot did not slow them down a bit. The Patriots have survived the final hurdle to glory. They have withstood the curse of being glorified in this column. You can’t ignore that.
Belichick, apparently annoyed by pundits and would be pundits such as myself knowing him as “The Cheater”, is giving the NFL a giant middle finger, in the form of “no mercy for the weak” playcalling policies. Laying to waste opponents and making the owners of Brady and Moss unstoppable in fantasy leagues. A wrecking ball through the NFL and fantasy leagues alike.
Tom Brady and the boys played pitch and catch against the fish, and it was brutal. Like a cat toying with a mouse. Belichick has the pedal to the floor all the time. They were up 35-7 with 1:21 in the first half, and they were still running the two minute drill. Winging it.
Belichick thought he could give his backup QB some time in the 2nd half. It turns out the guys name is Matt Cassel. That didn’t last long. One screw-up, then it was back to Brady and back in control. Belichick is going to lock up every season record and single game record he can along the way, and if he sniffs 19-0, it’s on.
The Patriots finally have what he Colts, and all great offenses of the recent past have had. That 3rd receiving option that really opens up the offense and kicks it into high gear. Moss and Stallworth get the pub, but Wes Welker is just an important cog in this machine. They have caught up with the Colts in the offensive explosiveness category. The Colts need Harrison, Wayne, Clark, and Anthony Gonzalez to beat the Pats, and they need to be hitting on all cylinders when they meet. And Colts fantasy owners would be all for that.
The Colts have to feel relieved though that the football world has already anointed the Patriots as the de facto undefeated champions. Nobody is speculating about a Colts 16-0 season. The Colts have taken a back seat to the Pats in the publicity wars and Tony Dungy wouldn’t want it any other way. The Colts are “quietly” an undefeated team in week 8 of the NFL. Even as Super Bowl champions they find themselves as the “yeah but” team. Maybe we shouldn’t count them out just yet.
There was a very good and interesting interview with Keyshawn and Chad Johnson on Countdown. At one point Key, addressing trade rumors asked Chad if maybe after this season he might be asked to “take his act on the road.” CJ looked thoughtfully and said, “act?”
The focus of the interview was Key railing on Chad for his celebrations, and CJ defending himself. CJ said that was just who he was. CJ can’t help what people’s perception of him is. Key asked him why there have been no celebrations lately, and CJ said, “what is there to celebrate?” The interview was very good in the context that you knew these two had know each other for awhile, and felt comfortable slicing each other verbally. The best quote belonged to CJ: “You’re a different Johnson.”
It was about that time that Key jumped out of his chair and decided the interview was over. Gotta give CJ a T.K.O. on that one.
After the interview aired the guys in the studio kicked it around. Emmitt Smith proclaimed that “Chad being propped up like an escape-goat.” And Emmitt said some other stuff that I translated as he blamed the Bengals defense for their problems, not CJ.
The consensus agreed that the Bengals problems are far deeper than Chad Johnson’s antics, but the point was brought up that those kind of antics only sell well when a team is winning. And that is true. A guy that gets cocky during your fantasy draft is one thing, but when he is 1-6 he probably isn’t doing much talking. And if he is, he is an idiot.
Then later Keyshawn started babbling about being responsible for talking Steve Smith out of doing crazy end zone celebrations in Carolina. Thanks Key. We’re glad you could be there for us. Meshawn, setting the NFL’s youth straight. Big Daddy Meshawn.
Did you realize that Sundays matchup between the Lions and Buccaneers was the only game that day between teams with winning records? And the Lions actually won? Does that seem right? Is this whole season just a very long Twilight Zone episode?
It sure seemed like the twilight zone to Addai owners that watched Kenton Keith get the first goal line carry Monday night. Welcome to our world Addai owners!
The happiest guy in the league this week has to be Chris Chambers. It will be interesting to see what he can do now that he is off football's version of death row. Hell, he may actually even try. It worked for Moss.
As a Chiefs fan, I can tell you that nobody is more surprised than me to find them at the top of the standings. They have a winning record. But in reality it is probably just a house of cards. They beat a San Diego team that was on the skids, and they beat 3 teams that are anchored in the Misery Index. They have a bye this week, rumblings of a running back controversy in the locker room (as bizarre as that may sound), and then they come back to a second half schedule that is far less kind than what they have faced so far. While I am proud of the team’s efforts so far, I think this week in first place will definitely be the high water mark. The Jets and Raiders are still on the schedule though, so they will most assuredly win 6 games this year, and that is twice what I thought they would do. So hats off to the Chiefs on their great season. It was fun while it lasted. Herm’s teams might suck most of the time but they almost always overachieve. And that is something. Not enough, but something.
Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week
Finally a loser last week. Sweet relief. And to think I almost killed this section of the column. Still, the record is only 4-3 so we have a long way to go before we are in the money. I won’t waste much time here. I have two games this week that I think both present trend value. The Titans (v. Raiders) have been great against the spread the Patriots (v. Redskins) have been perfect , despite the fact that Vegas has been tagging the Pats with huge numbers every week.
Don’t make this more difficult than it is. The Raiders are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games, and one of the 2 was against the Dolphins. The Titans despite 2 straight ATS losses before last Sunday, are still an impressive 11-3 against the number. There seems to be some confusion with the books on this game. I think it opened at 9, then moved to 7, and now it is off the board with my source. But I am going to assume it settles back at 7. The question is probably about the starting quarterback, but it doesn’t really matter. VY can rip them up, and Collins might have a bit of an axe to grind with his old team as well. In either case I like the Titans to shut down the running game and win this game comfortably, and I fear for the life of Daunte Culpepper.
The Patriots are once again a ridiculous 16 point favorite at home against the Redskins. The Redskins are a pretty good team this year. But they face the unenviable task of going against the Spanish Inquisition at their own torture chamber. The Redskins are a weak 2-4-2 ATS both overall and on the road. I'm playing with fire here admittedly. But I will have to get burned before I take my hand out of the cookie jar. Cookies are good.
My picks: Raiders +7 Redskins +16
10) Eagles: What can you say? They let Brian Griese drive the length of the field in less than 2 minutes. This once proud defense, this once proud team. Bamboozled by the slow and elderly Mushin Muhammad. And with that devastating loss the window slams shut.
9) Bengals: By halftime Paul Brown stadium was like a mausoleum. The seats were full but the team had drained the life out of their hometown fans. Just like old times. At that point the coaching staff remembered something in their scouting reports about the Jets being unable to stop the run. The team hitched up to Kenny Watson, who led them back from the dead. Unfortunately Watson’s hero status may be short lived with games coming up against he Steelers, Bills, and Ravens.
8 ) Cardinals: Apparently Warner and the coaching staff didn’t like the team’s odds with Rattay against the Redskins, so Warner wrapped up his damaged wing and took the field. I guess a one armed Warner beats a two armed Rattay. Warner gutted it out, but showed flawed judgment when he threw and interception that was run back for a touchdown. Warner found himself in the middle of the wreckage of players that all met a the pylon as the defender scored on the errant pass. As bad as that moment of judgment was, the coaches decision to let a wide receiver throw for a game tying two point attempt in the closing minute was even worse. Warner knew the team needed this game. Apparently the person in charge of that crucial last play call did not.
7) Vikings: Just when we were ready to crown Peterson the “next big thing” the rug got pulled from under us. 12 carries? In a game against one of the NFC’s best? A game in which you had a chance to go 3-3 for the season? You let your star running back stand on the sideline? You were close enough throughout the game. Playing keep away from your best player was probably not the best plan. Exactly what are you saving him for? Vikings fans were so excited last week when it looked like Peterson was going to save the season. Childress turned a cold shower on that honeymoon, instead opting to try and will Tarvaris Jackson to glory. Childress brought a knife and a gun to a gunfight, but chose to use the knife. In other news, Childress last week ordered his assistant to take his car to the muffler shop to get the tires changed.
6) Jets: Pennington played well enough to keep Clemens off the field for the whole game. But when crunch time came? Interception run back for a touchdown. Of course, that wouldn’t have been an issue if the Jets defense had been able to stop the run at any point in the game. This defense is bad enough that I think they deserve a nickname. Jets D, I dub thee “The Treadmill Defense.”
5) Raiders: A few weeks ago Raiders fans were feeling it after Daunte Culpepper walked all over the still winless Dolphins. But it seems like a long time ago in a far away place now. Culpepper thought he proved the Dolphins wrong, but since then he has been proving the Raiders, and everybody that jumped back on his bandwagon wrong.
4) Falcons: Leftwich did exactly for the Falcons what he did as a starter for the Jaguars. He got injured. Meanwhile Harrington continues his role as the NFL’s version of Rasputin. He isn’t going away any time soon. If anything, his job security is growing stronger with the average skill level of NFL quarterbacks deteriorating weekly. And while the Falcons season slowly slips into oblivion, Jerious Norwood stands dutifully on the sideline. Petrino fiddles while Atlanta and disgruntled Norwood owners burn.
3) 49ers: It was a good week for the 49ers offense. 224 yards. It was the second game they topped 200 yards offensively. Right now you have to wonder who Norv Turner’s change in address hurt more, the Chargers or the 49ers. Leaning toward the ‘Niners. This team scores about as much as Carrot Top in a redneck bar.
2) Rams: During the Rams/Seahawks game I saw SA try to reverse his field when cornered behind the line. It was sad. Like watching a rusty old dump truck slamming in reverse, slowly grinding backwards, then lurching forward in granny gear. But the very fact that Alexander would even try such a move at his advanced age speaks volumes about the Rams. How low are the Rams? They are 3 point underdogs at home against the Browns this week.
1) Dolphins: The good news? The team has scored 59 points in the last two weeks. The bad news? They have given up 90. In the last 7 days they have lost their only two legitimate offensive weapons in Chambers and Brown. And now comes London. Nothing cheers up a team down on their luck like a transcontinental flight to a rainy, foggy city, where your pathetic brand of football will be on full display for a whole new audience of horrified fans. This team is not just a monumental disaster, it is a monumental disaster for the NFL in their attempt to go global. We knew this team was going to be bad. The people in NFL marketing couldn’t figure that out? Yeah, those European soccer hooligans need to lay down some serious cash for this game. They will be drunk on their ass and trashing the place by halftime when it becomes apparent how bad they got ripped off.