Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to pay our last respects to the NFL season. It was laid to rest on Sunday when the Colts blew a 10 point 4th quarter lead. We witnessed the moment it died when Peyton Manning had the ball stripped on a 3rd and 10 as the Colts were driving down the field. When that ball hit the ground, the season just heaved a big sigh and it was over.
I mentioned last week in my blog that we would find out more about the Colts in that game than we would the Patriots. But I’m not sure it turned out that way. The Colts forced the Patriots to their style and pace of play. The Colts dictated the lines of scrimmage most of the game, Manning slowly ground out some points even with most of his receiving corps on the sidelines. They did exactly what they wanted to do in that game. The Colts had the Patriots set up like so many of their opponents this season. But they couldn’t close them. And we need closers.
When Manning was forced to trust Moorehead to keep drives alive the way he has trusted Marvin Harrison all these years, and Moorehead didn’t come through, that was it. The Colts played the game they needed to play, they just didn’t have enough chess pieces or ludicrous enough officiating to pull it off.
The Patriots are the team we really learned something about. They win no matter what. End of story. I hate them. The Colts punched the schoolyard bully in the nose but they shook off the blood and landed a haymaker. They are going to win the Super Bowl. They may not lose a game. If they didn’t lose that one, I don’t see which one they do lose. They played their worst game of the year against the best team, they got jobbed on some horrible alleged penalties, and they still won. Case closed.
The Colts were 65-0 with a 10 point or more lead in the 4th quarter in that building. And that building just became obsolete as a vehicle to drive to a championship.
Unless the Devil decides to renegotiate the contract, the Pats are hooked up. Oh the pain.
But lets give the Colts some credit here. They did cover the spread. And that’s the opening spread the closing spread, and every spread in between. And that had not been done against the Pats yet this season. So aside from pissing away the repeat Super Bowl thing, they also pissed off a whole slew of gamblers that had taken note of the Patriots absurd point differentials and 8-0 ATS. Let me post this. Patriots against the spread 8-1. There. They did lose something this season.
I was all set up to be morbid after what happened in the game, but strangely enough I was placated by a 5-0 type day in fantasy, and a 5-0 type day against the number. Kicking my leaguemates ass all day, and kicking the man’s ass all day really has a way of softening the blow of life’s little catastrophes. I’m not sure, but I think that is why fantasy football and point spreads were invented in the first place. I think I will lead with that at the Thanksgiving table this year. Wait a minute, I lead with that stuff every year. Never mind.
As a closing comment on the game, I thought Belichick was particularly chilly in his greeting of Dungy after the game. For Belichick, he didn’t want to hear whatever it was that Dungy tried to say to him as Belichick barely exchanged eye contact swiftly walking by. But what got me was the smirk on his nasty smug face after he passed Dungy. Belichick is filled with hate. You can see it in his eyes. He is ate up with it, and he is on a mission to make sure everyone feels his pain this season. Break out the party balloons. Lucifer is going to the Super Bowl.
Well at least I can put all of that ugliness out of my mind now and just concentrate on my fantasy teams. Yeah. Now I can just sit back and wait until week 16 when I will probably play the guy with Moss and Brady. But I digress. Until then, its just about my teams. They are finally hitting their stride, and not a moment too soon.
Lee Evans: The ultimate lesson in patience. Oh yeah. Maybe I was right about Evans after all. If only I had the common sense not to put him in the lineup until week 8. This guy littered the waiver wires of leagues with smaller rosters a month ago.
Bobby Engram: I picked up Engram in a couple of leagues off the waiver wire early on and he is paying huge dividends. I only wish I had been able to snag him in all my leagues. Call him old. Call him a 3rd receiver. Call him a role player. Paint it any way you want it, Engram is a flat out stud in PPR right now.
Westbrook: Carrying a couple of my teams. But will he be there at the end when I need him most, and the Eagles season is long over? Maybe not. But he is trying his damnedest to get me there.
Vernon Davis: Finally, he is staying on the field for whole games and the quarterback is actually getting him the ball. Yeah, this is more what I was expecting.
Greg Jennings: Another guy that I drafted who languished to start the season. Two weeks in a row with TD bombs from Favre. I wonder how many people found him on the waiver wire before he started tearing up the league?
Patience is big in fantasy football. I still have trouble with patience. I kept all of those players I drafted but gave up on others too early. I had Ryan Grant lined up on most of my fantasy rosters a month ago. Dropped him right before the Packers realized they had a problem, and Grant was the solution. I gave up too early. That one hurt. I managed to get him back in two leagues.
Fantasy football is a lot like the stock market, especially this season. It is one thing to be able to see into the future, but entirely another to be patient enough to profit from it.
Patience is an acquired taste. You have to get beat down enough times by lacking patience to truly appreciate its value. Of course patience only matters if you picked the right players to begin with. There is a fine line between patience and stupidity.
Brett Favre is also paying dividends on my fantasy teams as well. Easily one of the best draft picks this season so far.
And how about those Packers? Two road wins against AFC West opponents. The schedule makers bent the Packers, but that two week road trip through AFC hell convinced me. The Packers are for real.
I think it is safe to say Adrian Peterson is for real. He looks like he could re-write the record books. And he already has a good start. After 8 games he has more rushing yards than anybody in NFL history over the same time. And he already owns the record for the most rushing yards in a single game. And this guy wasn’t even the starter for most of the season. Just plain sick. The Beast.
Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week
Talk about sick? I blasted the man with both barrels last weekend. I went 23-5 against the spread with my picks. It’s official. I am an idiot savant. Probably only half right about that, but anyway the record is now 5-5 after hitting on Cleveland last week. Every gambler has hot streaks and cold streaks. Sometimes mine are extreme.
I remember a trip to Vegas several years ago, where I allowed myself a very modest gaming allowance of a thousand dollars. I started playing $5 craps when we got there, and I played $5 craps all weekend, as the casinos slowly ground down my stake. After a long weekend where I just couldn’t buy a break, finally I woke up after my usual 3 hours of sleep in Vegas on Sunday morning, I had only a $20 bill left. I held that $20 bill up to my wife and said, “with this, I am going to get all my money back.” She played the good wife, looked at me with pity, then patted me on the shoulder and said, ”Ok honey.”
After eating breakfast with our traveling companions, we started out for one last trip down the strip. I stepped up to a craps table, got ahead $20-$30 or until I lost a hand, and then off to the next casino. I started winning, and I didn’t stop. Up and down the strip we traveled, I was calling out “yo’s” and hitting them. I was calling out hard 8’s and hitting them. I was taking full odds on pass line bets. By the time we made the loop and got back to our hotel, I had $980 in my pocket. Then we grabbed the rental and took a trip to the dam to make sure my money stayed in my pocket.
It was an amazing little comeback, but fairly typical for me. Streaky as your window after that homeless guy washes it with a dirty rag. But the thing to note is that I envisioned the event. I played “hit and run” leaving tables with whatever profit I could muster. And most importantly, I managed to keep the money in my pocket. And if you have ever been to Vegas, you know that leaving with what you came with is a victory in and of itself. I expect to win every time I gamble. But walking out the door with the money is the trick. Oh yeah, and don’t get rolled on the way home. That is pretty important too.
If you aren’t in the middle of such a winning streak maybe you would like me to shut up about ancient history and get to the damn pick! Okay! The record is 5-5. Let’s roll.
Buffalo plays on the road at Miami this week, and find themselves a surprising 3 point favorite. That hasn’t happened much lately considering they are on a 5-14 streak on the road. But then again, they have rarely had the opportunity to face a team as talent deprived as this one. The Dolphins are 1-4 ATS at home. Buffalo is 5-0 ATS and seems to have turned things around. The Bills defeated the Dolphins at Miami in week 2 last season 16-6. This could be the same type of game. Dolphins +3
10) Chargers: Excuse me? You were 4-3, you were back on track. You were going to Minnesota to play a team with basically one offensive weapon. You walked in like you owned the place and then got jammed for 300 yards by that one offensive weapon you were supposed to stop. Now at this point I would usually make some kind of a Norv Turner joke, but I’m not going to make any Norv Turner jokes today. Norv takes care of that on a regular basis without my help. Now they are 4-4 and guess who is coming to town next week. Yep, the Colts. And they won’t be in a losing kind of mood.
9) Bears: How about the NFC North? A shift in the balance of power? Green Bay, Detroit, and even Minnesota now putting a beat down on the AFC West and the league in general. There is a party going on and Chicago wasn’t invited.
8) Eagles: Suffered the indignation of having T.O. come back with his new “feel good” team. All is not well with the former team of the prodigal son. At this point, the only successful plays for the Eagles involve Brian Westbrook. That is all well and good, but Westbrook touched the ball 30 times in that Dallas game. His knees may pay the ultimate price for the ineffectiveness of McNabb and the rest of the team. Meanwhile Andy Reid is going through offspring induced hell, and faced the public humiliation of having his home called a “drug den” by a judge. That statement is hard for me to believe. A pastry shop or a snack shack I would buy. But drug den? Not so much.
7) Broncos: Boy you hate to see something like this happen to Shanahan. The Rat is caught in a trap. Watch him wriggle. Watch him squirm. Watch the smiling faces of all the fantasy players he has burned.
6) Raiders: The Raiders are 2-6. They have lost 4 in a row. Yet, they are only 2 games out in the AFC West. How sad is that? Almost as sad as that fact is the fact that Culpepper’s putrid play actually has fans clamoring for McCown, or any quarterback that doesn’t try to turn the ball over 5 times a game. Meanwhile, in a dark room, an old man in a jump suit watches film of the Raiders in their heyday. With all the people that ever crossed him digitally removed. As a paid assistant wipes the tears from the rims of his ridiculously large sunglasses.
5) 49ers: Losing Gore for a game would have been devastating for the 49ers last season. This season, we hardly even notice when he is gone. This team sucks with him, and sucks without him. They suck against Drew Brees. They suck against Joey Harrington. They suck at home. They really suck on the road. Just about any way you slice it, the 49ers suck. Norv Turner’s departure ruined the ‘Niners and the Chargers in one fell swoop. And you might say that sucks.
4) Bengals: Before Chad Johnson was carried off the field with an injury Sunday, he had a critical drop on a 3rd and long late in the 4th quarter. The Bengals were up 21-19 at that point and looking to drive the field and put the Bills away. Instead, Johnson dropped a ball thrown right to him. He heard footsteps. He could have sealed the deal. But he didn’t. The Bengals punted and it was all downhill from there. Aside from all that, the Bungles continued to commit ill timed penalties and blown coverages to keep Bills drives alive. They are unfocused. Undisciplined. And undeniably the worst team in their division, and a Carson Palmer and Housh injury away from being the worst team in all of football.
3) Jets: As we find so often, you can change the quarterback, but it doesn’t necessarily change the results. With Clemens at the helm, the Jets are like a car with a shiny new paint job. But underneath it is loaded with rust and bondo, and an engine that is missing on 3 cylinders. They have a pit stop this week to prepare for their upcoming humiliating losses to Pittsburgh and Dallas.
2) Rams: The bye week had to be sweet relief for these winless wonders. The Rams still have games against the Falcons and 49ers, so a perfect season will not come easy. But still very possible. The Rams are the poster child for what can happen when every member of your starting offense gets injured. And I’m not sure how they will fix that before next season. The Rams aren’t just some novelty act here in the Misery Index. They are a contender.
1) Dolphins: The Dolphins are not quite as fortunate as the Rams. The schedule does not look kind. They have a home game against the Jets in week 13 that could ultimately decide the Misery Index Championship. But that is their toughest test. In any case, I feel blessed to have two such spectacular examples of failure duking it out for the Misery Index crown this season. Two winless teams at this time of the year? This almost makes up for the Patriots.