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Commentary From the Edge - Week 13
Kevin Ratterree
November 27, 2007

The most merciful moment in NFL history occurred Monday night when the clock hit zero. That was the worst game in the timeline of organized sports. The Steelers, the Dolphins, the coaches, the cruel bitch mother nature, and most especially the groundskeepers at Heinz combined to make Monday Night Football the television equivalent of a root canal, a colonoscopy, a spinal tap, and a catheter insertion all at once. A great big thanks to all of those involved that made it happen.

Could someone pass me the salve?

Mike Tomlin in the presser said that the game was a test his teams character. For me, the game was a test of my gag reflex and ability to stay awake under heavy sedation.

There are only so many Monday Night Football games in a lifetime. I will remember this one. And that makes me sad.

Sunday night, the Eagles duplicated the Colts feat of making the Patriots look mortal. Wow. That was a stunner. Especially considering that AJ Feeley was leading the charge. What the hell is it with Eagles replacement QB’s? McNabb injuries seem to be directly related to the rebirth of dead quarterback careers.

So how did that happen? How did the Eagles hang with the greatest team in NFL history? I mean how did it happen besides the fact that I had money bet on the Patriots. How did AJ Feeley almost jack up Goliath? For awhile there I thought we were all on Candid Camera or something.

I’m going to chalk it up to a bad night for the Patriots, and the game of a lifetime for Feeley. A lot of people take for granted that these great teams will just roll over everybody like a Mike Vick dog fighting conspirator. But the NFL season is long. It is hard to get it up each and every single week. Every team, even the great ones play at least a couple of bad games every year. Almost all of them lose at least one of them.

And even below average quarterbacks play out of their minds sometimes.

The Patriots looked sleepy and confused. The Eagles looked confident and sure of themselves. The Eagles had a perfect game plan and nearly perfect execution of that game plan. I don’t know which of those situations were less likely, but both came together at the same time. The game was a fluke. An unlikely convergence much like that of Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett.

This week, AJ Feeley will probably head back to the bench leaving Eagles fans wondering “what if” with a different guy besides Jeff Garcia for awhile. The Patriots will turn back into the killing machine we have come to know, and will take out their frustrations on the hapless Ravens.

But the remaining “good” teams the Pats will face do have a new found hope, and some very valuable film to watch. The Patriots showed vulnerabilities in a few areas, but unfortunately there are few teams in the NFL that have the chess pieces to take advantage of the weaknesses the Pats displayed in their worst game of the year.

The most entertaining thing about the Sunday night game was my mental image of that the ‘72 Dolphins bunch, with corkscrews at the ready, and the champagne glasses all lined up on the counter, then they had to put them away again. The fact that the Eagles gave them a momentary feeling of hope, only to have it crushed in the end made it all worthwhile.

Forgive me reader for I have sinned. It has been one week since my last confession. As it turns out, I am the reason Frank Gore had such a disappointing season so far. How did I arrive at such a conclusion? Simple. I benched him last week.

That’s right. In my keeper league. The guy that I traded away Brian Westbrook and his injury worries to keep, and expected to lead my team to fantasy glory. I benched him. It was the only decent thing for me to do.

After all, with so many of you suffering out there after hearing idiots like me tell you to draft Frank Gore this season, it was just only right that I should take the bullet.

I mean, the situation was hopeless. Gore has been banged up and ineffective. Very ordinary. Very disappointing.

But I know this scenario like I knew the top of my fist as a teenager. I bench him. He goes off. It almost never fails.

Someone had to take the bullet. Why not me? I mean, just because my team was teetering at 6-5 and going up against the division leader, with this game the only the remaining hope of possibly catching him. Why wouldn’t I choose this week to drop Gore to the bench? The 49ers stink. I thought to myself. The Cardinals will get up early on them, forcing them to abandon the run. Gore will be useless. Why even put myself through the torture of letting him disappoint me yet again? Nope. I have rode this train far enough.

Sometimes I wonder exactly how much lead based paint I may have been exposed to as a child.

But there is a happy ending to this tragic story. As it turns out, benching Gore didn’t matter in the big scheme of things. I received a thorough ass kicking. Having Gore and the extra 30 points he would have got me wouldn’t have made one bit of difference between a loss and a win. I couldn’t have possibly submitted a lineup that would have won.

So I didn’t lose because I was an idiot. I lost because my team is inferior to the competition. There, I feel much better now.

Speaking of inferior to the competition, it is time for a weekly report card for ESPN’s resident 6 figure fantasy guru. Not exactly a banner week for Mr. Berry again. I don’t mean to cook this guy every week…yeah right, who am I kidding. If I am torching myself I am damn sure going to flame someone getting filthy rich doing this. Fire up the grill.

As you may know, the ESPN expert numero uno reads 3 fantasy start/ bench questions each Sunday morning. He picks the letters. He answer them on the air. 1) C. Palmer or Eli Manning? Guru said Manning. Wrong by 8 pts. 2) Kolby Smith or Droughns? Smith. Right, but come on Matthew, A fresh rook against the tired Raiders, or Droughns against the defense nobody bothers to run against. Kind of a softie there don’t ya think? 3) Hackett or Marshall? He picked Hackett. Wrong by 12 pts. One out of three ain’t bad. That is, if you are a hack like me.

Before the games started and the Fox network went around the league to check in with the announcers of each game like they always do. When they got to JC Pearson in St. Louis, Pearson had added a new wrinkle to his schtick. He actually used a kids Operation game (complete with battery working the buzzer) to point out where the players injuries were. Note to Pearson. If you are going prop comic, you had better be good. And you need to ask yourself, do you really want to compete with Carrot Top?

The best television moment I saw last weekend was a sideline shot of Mike Holmgren during the first half of their game at St. Louis. The Seahawks offensive and defensive lines were getting bulldozed all over the field for most of the first half. At one point Hasselbeck got sacked by half the Rams team. The camera panned to a red faced Holmgren screaming into his headset, “F…,F…, F…!!” It’s golden moments like that, you probably won’t see repeated on a game replay that make the Ticket worth the price.

Crazy as Hell Pick of the Week

The record is 7-6-2. Yet the exercise in futility continues. I just came off my worst week of the season, yet went 1-1 in this section. Go figure. Unfortunately this week looks like another rough one. At this time of the season I start to look for the cream to rise to the top, and the pretenders to fall off to the wayside. A game that fits that profile is the Chargers at the Chiefs.

But I’m not going to pick that game. Sure, the Chiefs just got jacked by the Raiders at home, it would be easy for me to tell you to take the better team here. But the fact that the Chargers are horrible on the road this season, and that the Chiefs screw me over every time I bet on or against them won’t allow me to tell you that the superior Chargers will cover the 4 point spread. 

No, If I am going down, I’ll go down in flames. We have a Thursday night NFC showdown. This is a big one. Lots at stake in this game. If the Packers win at Dallas, they will all but assure home field advantage through the playoffs and vise versa. Plenty of motivation for Dallas to make sure there will be no January games on frozen tundra for them.

But pardon me for being stunned at the spread. 7 points? You have to be kidding me. Let’s look at reality. Green Bay is 5-0 ATS on the road, and undefeated on the road. Here are the teams they played on the road: Detroit, KC, Denver, Minnesota, NYG. Not murderers row, but no cakewalk.

The Cowboys have been good ATS at home at 4-2. One ATS loss to New England (which we will consider null and void), and the other was a 6 point win against the Redskins just a few weeks ago. Green Bay beat the Redskins at Washington by 3.

I’m not going to tell you that the Packers are going to win this game. I doubt they will. But I don’t doubt they will to the tune of 7 points. The Packers lost one game this season, and that was by 7 points. I’m getting a 10-1 team that has been rolling people up and I am getting 7 points. Uh, yeah I think I’ll take my chances.

Cowboys -7

Misery Index

10) Broncos: Mike Shanahan is one of the most respected coaches in the game. His team was poised to jump back into the playoff race. Unfortunately Shanahan was apparently not aware that the Bears without Devin Hester are basically the Dolphins. Kick the ball away from him, and the Broncos cruise to victory. It sounds so simple. But it must be more complicated than it seems. I thought rats were intelligent.

9) Ravens: Five game losing streak. Note to Ravens ownership. Billick is not a Supreme Court judge. He may be replaced at your will. Now, will you? Please? Haven’t both he and the fans have suffered enough?

8 ) Lions: After a brutal three game losing streak, the Lions now need to go 4-1 to live up to Jon Kitna’s preseason expectations of 10 wins. Kitna has 14 TD passes, and quite a distance off the pace of 50 that the Lions ever optimistic quarterback was dreaming of. And the elusive playoff game the fans were allowing themselves to dream of is in serious jeopardy. The Lions have a one game lead in the wild card race over a whole bunch of similarly average teams, some of which have much easier schedules than the Lions. The good news is that the Lions have a chance to do something they haven’t done in a long time. They have actually set their fans up for disappointment. Expectations are hell. Just ask my wife.

7) Panthers: Remember the old notion of home cooking being a good thing? The Panthers are 0-5 at home. The only thing they are roasting at home are the chestnuts of those faithful enough to lay down hard cold cash to witness the carnage. This team has been schizo during Fox’s entire run as head coach. One year they are great, one year they suck. One week they are good. One week they suck. Good one half. Lousy the next. This year they have changed it up: Good on the road. Suck at home. Nice.

6) 49ers: It was amazing. The 49ers actually looked like a football team against the Cardinals. Even more amazing, they actually won. I’d sure like to know that was going on between Alex Smith’s ears as he stood on the sideline and watched Trent Dilfer doing the things the 49er are paying Smith to do. Frank Gore and Vernon Davis sure seemed to take to the change. Looks like it’s back to the drawing board for the 49ers in the never ending search for a quarterback.

5) Redskins: When you dominate the 2nd half of a reasonably close game, you should win. Especially when you limit the opposition to ZERO first downs in the last half. How can you manage to lose that game? I guess the same way you manage to overpay year after year for the wrong free agents. It happens. After watching the ‘Skins flounder on offense I was reminded of how depressed I was when OC AL Saunders left the Chiefs. I am pretty much over all that now.

4) Chiefs: Come on man. You can’t do that. You let Culpepper and the Raiders come in and jack you up in your own house? How can you look yourself in the mirror after that without blowing chunks? Suddenly Arrowhead seems “dirty.”

3) Falcons: When you are paying legal currency to two of the worst quarterbacks in the league, that is not a good thing. Particularly after you just jettisoned Schaub and took a big write down on the huge investment you had in the superstar gone wrong. This situation couldn’t have turned out much worse for the Falcons if they had planned it out. A virtuoso in putridity. A living breathing evolving disaster. And the Mike Vick legacy lives on.

2) Rams: Well, that was a quick trip back down to the cellar. Their loss last week wouldn’t have been so bad if they hadn’t dominated the Seahawks until halftime. Late in the first half the Rams had a first and goal at the one. Penalties and a weak offensive line backed them up, the Seahawks held them out of the end zone and the Rams were forced to kick a field goal. The Rams went to sleep for a couple of quarters after that. Only to spring to life at the end of the game, drive the length of the field, and fumble the snap on a 4th and goal at the 1 as time expired. Now that is what the Misery Index is all about.

1) Dolphins: Did you ever know that you’re my heroes? Fate gave you two games on legendary horrible fields this year but even those equalizers were not enough to trip up the dream season. The Dolphins have lost six 3 point games this season. The mark of a truly bad team is the ability to lose the close ones.

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