Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Week Two Wrap Up

8 teams are undefeated: Miami, Pittsburgh, Houston, KC, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Chicago and New Orleans.

And 8 teams are winless: Buffalo, Cleveland, Dallas, Minnesota, Detroit, Carolina, St. Louis, and San Francisco.

Here are some observations from week two.

First, my picks.

I was 8-8 against the spread, but it was a weird week.

I nailed my Upset of the Week (Pitt over Tenn) and my Lock of the Week (GB over Buf +13) and also picked the Rams-Raiders, Jets-Pats, and Fins-Vikes to perfection.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong about the Cardinals-Falcons game, or the Panthers-Bucs game, or the Bears-Cowboys. And I was WAY off on my Jags-over-Chargers pick.

I technically picked the Lions-Eagles game correctly, but the Philly defense got lazy and let Detroit climb back and cover the spread. More on the Lions game in a second.

Overall, I’m 17-15 against the spread through two weeks. I’m happy to be above .500. It’s been a ridiculous start to the season. Did I mention that Tampa Bay is undefeated while Dallas and Minnesota are winless?!?


Okay, let’s break down the Lions’ latest lesson in creative losing. This week was called the “Go Up 17-7, Then Give Up 28 Consecutive Points, Then Come Back To Within 3, Recover An Onside Kick, And Lose A Heart-Breaker to a Quarterback Who Just Spent 2 Years in Prison and is Coached By Marty Mornhinweg.”

Apparently, Michael Vick (or just ‘Mike’ as the announcers affectionately called him) likes to torture Lions as well as dogs. He was downright excellent in this game. Unsackable. Uncontainable. Freaking electric.

And he actually used his arm more than his legs. He evaded the pass rush with such ease and tormented the Detroit secondary by making them cover receivers for about 8 seconds on every play, instead of the 3 seconds they’re used to. When a quarterback has 7 or 8 seconds to run around before he throws the ball, the secondary is screwed. Especially a secondary as bad as Detroit’s.

However, let’s give credit where credit is due. The Detroit defensive line played as good as they could have. They outplayed Philly’s offensive line, knocked Jason Peters out of the game twice, sacked Vick five times, and forced two fumbles (both recovered by Philly). Ndamukong Suh led the way with 8 tackles, including a vicious sack where he threw Vick down by the neck (without drawing a flag) and then stepped on his chest and yelled “I love puppies you mother-f**ker!!!”

But despite the best efforts of Suh, VandenBosch and Turk McBride, the Lions’ linebackers just weren’t good enough to contain Vick. And he made them pay. We really could have benefited from having DeAndre Levy in this game. Vick had 21 completions to 8 different Eagles and ran the ball 7 times for 37 yards. Detroit surrendered 400 yards of offense once again and now ranks 30th in total defense; the only teams behind us are Washington and Houston, who each gave up 400+ passing yards against one another in an overtime shootout.

When Detroit was on offense, it was all about Jahvid ‘Rookie of the Year’ Best. He was just way too good. At one point Crazy Keith called me and said “You sure that isn’t Chris Johnson wearing a Lions jersey?” For realz. The guy has insane speed, shifty little moves, and something no Lions’ back has had in 13 years – vision. He follows blockers with patience, he waits for his holes, and he explodes.

Okay, okay, this is the part where you say, “Yeah, but isn’t Philly’s defense pretty much terrible?” Well … yeah. They did get worse this offseason by adding Ernie Sims and Ellis Hobbs. Sims couldn’t even get himself motivated to play at Ford Field against his former team. His career is as good as done. Expect him to be out of the NFL as soon as next season.

But let’s talk about Best some more. He was UNREAL in this game. 230 yards of offense and 3 touchdowns. Speed around the edges and power through the middle. Grinding each yard to get first downs. He’s a smart player with instincts and a really good receiver out of the backfield. He had 9 catches and would have had 11 if Shaun Hill didn’t lob the ball over his head twice.

Speaking of Hill, he completed 25 of 45 passes (56%) for 335 yards and 2 TDs. He also threw a terrible INT in the first quarter and another really bad one in the third quarter to Hobbs. Both of the INTs were intended to Calvin, but were simply bad throws.

Despite the interceptions and the sometimes errant passes, Hill played well enough to keep the Lions offense moving. He wasn’t afraid of the pass rush. He stayed in the pocket and actually went through his reads. He checked down a lot, but only because Calvin was double-teamed and Burleson was on the sidelines. (Remember when we signed him to a huge deal in March and I predicted he would get hurt during week 4? Looks like I was two weeks off).

Hill had a QB rating of 75.7 in this game. Last year, Matt Stafford topped that mark in only 3 of his 10 starts. (5 times his QB rating was under 50). Hill threw for 2 TDs and 300+ yards. Stafford only achieved that feat once – the famed Cleveland game. Hill’s average yards-per-attempt was 7.44. Last season, Stafford topped that number in just 2 of his 10 games.

Here’s the point – Hill may not be great, he might not even be very good, but he’s better than Stafford. In his first start as a Lion, Hill had a better game than Stafford did in 9 of his 10 starts. (But wait, Stafford was a rookie, give him a chance, blah blah blah). Bull crap. Sam Bradford’s a rookie. So far, through two games, he has a 57% completion percentage, 210 yards per game, 5.6 yards per attempt, 1.5 TDs per game, 2 INTs per game, a QB rating of 69.5, and two losses by less than 4 points and 2 points.

In Stafford’s first two games … he had a 51% completion percentage, 177 yards per game, 5.2 yards per attempt, .5 TDs per game, 2.5 INTs, a QB rating of 41.5, and two losses by 18 and 14. In other words … worse. In every capacity imaginable.

In fact, over the course of the season, Stafford had a completion percentage of 53.3%, 226 yards per game, 6.01 yards per attempt, 1.3 TDs per game, 2 INTs per game, a QB rating of 61, and a 2-8 record, with seven of the eight losses by double digits.

So to summarize, Sam Bradford, who has played in just TWO games as an NFL starter, is already better than Matt Stafford. Are you surprised? If Bradford hadn’t stayed in college for his senior season, Detroit would have picked him #1 overall instead. And we would have won 4 or 5 games last year. And we’d be 2-0 right now. But whatever. Keep loving on Stafford you bunch of idiots. The guy looks great in a backwards hat.

I hope the separated shoulder keeps Stafford out for 6-8 weeks and Hill plays really well. Then, and only then, will people start to realize what a bust Stafford really is.

Because here’s the real point of the matter. Anytime anybody talks about Matt Stafford, they use this exact same line, verbatim, no matter what. Ready? Here it comes:

“Put (insert name of star quarterback) behind that sad excuse for an offensive line, and he’d be horrible too.”

To which I always reply: “No! That’s wrong. That’s not true! We actually have a pretty good offensive line. And if we had Peyton Manning (or Drew Brees, or Tom Brady, etc), we would be in the playoffs every season. It’s not a blocking problem. It’s a QUARTERBACK problem.”

Drafting a boob-loving, keg-drinking party boy and paying him $72 million dollars is NOT the answer, Detroit fans! He wasn’t a winner in college. Why would he be a winner in the NFL, where you can’t just rely on raw skills, you need to have intangibles like leadership and toughness and intelligence? Stafford is great at faking those intangibles, but so far, he’s yet to show that any of them are real. (But what about the Cleveland game!? He’s so tough!) SHUTUP about the damn Cleveland game! It was ONE GAME! And we would have lost that game if not for a pass interference call on a hailmary! And even if Stafford was 50/50 for 900 yards in that game, it was still just ONE damn GAME! We went 2-14 last season. We were the worst team in the NFL. Stafford had a worse QB rating than every single quarterback in the NFL except for the one in Oakland who was addicted to codeine. Shut up about the damn Cleveland game already!

Did you watch the Lions-Eagles game? We have a very solid offensive line. Yes, Backus is below average. Yes, Cherilus can’t pick up blitzes. Yeah, Peterman’s not great in pass protection. But they aren’t the worst line in the NFL. They probably aren’t even worse than Philly. I wouldn’t trade offensive lines with Pittsburgh, or Minnesota, or even San Diego. Those are good teams with successful quarterbacks.

Stafford needs to stop allowing people to blame the offensive line. He needs to learn to step up in the pocket. He needs to watch film and understand blitzes and develop eyes in the back of his head. That’s what sets Peyton and Drew and Tom apart from the rest. That’s what made Michael Vick so dang unstoppable. They know the pass rush is coming. They know the exact moment to step up and throw the ball. Stafford doesn’t.

And even so … he was only sacked 24 times last season. That’s less than 19 other quarterbacks. Aaron Rodgers was sacked twice as often and still threw 30 touchdowns. It’s not an issue of sacks. It’s not an issue of blocking. It’s not an issue of the offensive line. It is an issue of accuracy, decision making, poise in the pocket, and preparation. Those are all quarterback issues.

Hill didn’t have great accuracy, but it was okay; he made very solid decisions with maybe 2 exceptions; he was remarkably poised in the pocket and went through his reads quickly; and you could tell he was prepared for the Philly defense and ‘took what the defense gave him,’ to use the cliché.

If I had to assign grades for the Lions-Eagles game, I’d give the offensive line a solid B+. They only gave up two sacks on 45 passing attempts. They helped the Lions gain 450 yards of offense. They gave Hill enough time to make his reads and throw the ball. Guess what? They do the same thing for Stafford each and every week. And he doesn’t go through his reads as quickly, and he throws stupider and less accurate passes. He ISN’T AS GOOD as his dang backup.

It’s not an offensive line issue. The next person who tells me that Tom Brady would have gone 0-16 behind the Lions’ offensive line is going to get a karate chop to the neck. It’s bull. Brady would have gone 11-5 and made the NFC Championship game. Good quarterbacks make offensive lines look good. You really think Jahri Evans is an All Pro guard if he’s on the Lions?? No! He’s average. He’s mediocre. But stick him on the Saints and Drew Brees makes him the highest-paid O-lineman in history.

What if Jeff Backus was Peyton Manning’s left tackle? Wouldn’t he (Backus) be a 5-time Pro Bowler? I’ll answer that for you – Yes! He absolutely would. Quarterbacks make offensive lines look good; not the other way around. Matt Stafford stinks, he’s always stunk, he always will, and he has nobody to blame but himself and his silicon-boobed girlfriend.

…Alright. That was today’s Stafford rant. On to the rest of week two.


I thought the line was too high at 6.5 But Atlanta demolished the Cards by 34 points. Third-string running back Jason Snelling had 36 fantasy points. Just a brutal game for Arizona.

Implications: We still don’t know anything about Atlanta. They got beat by a good team on the road, and destroyed a bad team at home. They look very 8-8 to me right now.

Arizona is worse than we thought. Ken Whisesnhunt’s job is in jeopardy if they go 5-11 or worse. Which they might.

Vikings - Dolphins

Don’t panic Vikings fans. Yeah, you’re 0-2 and Favre looks horrible. Yeah, the Packers and Bears are both 2-0 and the playoffs already look like a fading dream.

But guess what – next week you host the Lions. Which means you’re technically 1-2, and what better way for Favre to get back on track than by playing the team he’s beat 25 times, including 7 in a row. Adrian Peterson should get 200 yards; Harvin should get 100; and touchdowns all around for Camarillo, Berrian, Shiancoe, and maybe even Toby Gerhard. Nothing like the Lions’ defense to remedy an 0-2 start.

For Miami, the best part of the 2-0 start is that they were both road games. They now have a full game lead in the AFC East, and they’re going to need it with games against the Jets and Pats looming (both at home). If they win those two games, they’re basically in the playoffs.

Packers – Bills

My prediction of 56-3 was a little off, but 34-7 was basically the same thing. No need to talk about the Packers offense; they’re unstoppable. Let’s talk about Clay Matthews. Last week he had 3 sacks and gave Kevin Kolb a concussion. This week – 3 more sacks and held Buffalo to basically zero offense. He’s got to be considered the early favorite for defensive player of the year.

The worst thing about this game for the Bills was the fact that CJ Spiller only ran the ball 1 time for 3 yards. What a waste of a draft pick if they’re going to platoon him along with Lynch and Jackson. My prediction that the Bills will go 0-16 is looking more and more likely. Now the only question is whether Jake Locker or Andrew Luck will be the pick at #1 overall.

Kansas City – Cleveland

I would say “who cares,” but Kansas City is off to a 2-0 start in a crummy division, so do they have to be taken seriously? Well, their next three games are San Fran, Indy and Houston. If they go 0-3 in those (which they probably will), then they’re done. But if they win one, or even two of those games, they are definitely a playoff sleeper. Keep your eye on them.

I wonder if any team has ever started 2-0 before with a quarterback who had a rating of 55.8, just 244 passing yards in two games and an average of 13 completions per game?

As for Andy Szymas’s sleeper pick this season (Cleveland), an 0-2 start to teams that combined for 7 wins last year is not a good omen. Eric Mangini is on the hottest of hot seats right now and rightfully so. Cleveland needs to use the Wildcat more.

Chicago – Dallas

Really Dallas? My Super Bowl pick is starting to look idiotic. Both of their losses are self-inflicted and Wade Phillips is yet another coach who’s job is in mortal jeopardy.

Speaking of which, Lovie Smith has the Bears off to a 2-0* start and has Jay Cutler looking decent. Excluding games against the Lions, this was the first time Cutler has thrown 3 TDs and no INTs since 2007. He only has one pick through 2 games after throwing 26 last season. Expect that to change next Monday night when the Bears host the Packers.

Tampa Bay – Carolina

What the heck? How is Tampa Bay 2-0?

My only conclusion from watching this game is that Carolina sucks a lot worse than I thought they did, especially Matt Moore. His completion percentage and QB rating so far are both less than 42. He must have learned a lot from Jake Delhomme.

Here’s a thought, Carolina – give Jonathan Stewart more than 8 carries. He ran for 1,110 yards last season and a 5.1 average. He would have torn Tampa to shreds if you gave him the ball 20 times.

I’m still not giving any love to Tampa. Their next 3 games are Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and New Orleans. They’re 2-3.

Cincinnati – Baltimore

I’m very glad I didn’t watch this game. 6 field goals. Very little offense. 15 total punts. Yuck.

The Ravens defense has been dominant so far this season (no touchdowns allowed) but their offense isn’t keeping up. Just 150 yards for Joe Flacco and 4 INTs. That’s nasty. I’m really regretting drafting him in my fantasy league. Wait, what? I drafted him and then traded him for Aaron ‘MVP’ Rodgers? Oh yeah. Sorry Andy.

Pittsburgh – Tennessee

I don’t usually take any joy in a Pittsburgh victory, but I’m very, very glad they kept Sonic the Hedgehog from getting 100 yards and extending his streak to 13 games, one shy of Barry’s record. The Greatest Running Back of all Time doesn’t have nearly as many records as he should and this is one I’d like to see stick around for a while. Now it’s safe for another season at least.

Any questions about Troy Polamalu’s health are officially answered. He has reclaimed his spot as ‘best defensive player in the NFL.’ And teammates James Harrison and Lamar Woodley are both in the top 10. It’s just too much talent on one defense. They forced 7 turnovers, had 4 sacks, gave up 46 total rushing yards and made Vince Young look like he had no business being an NFL quarterback.

What we learned: Pittsburgh will be in the playoffs this year. Definitely.

I wouldn’t panic if I were a Tennessean. They’ll be fine. They still look at least 8-8ish.

Denver – Seattle

I’m glad Denver won so Seattle doesn’t go to 2-0, but other than that, not very interesting. Knowshon Moreno had a nice stat line: 118 total yards and a TD, and Kyle Orton shredded a very bad Seattle secondary. His favorite target was rookie Demaryius Thomas with 8 catches. Last week it was Brandon Lloyd. Next week it’ll probably be Jabbar Gaffney. Whatever.

Seattle got one step closer to Charlie Whitehurst’s coming out party. Hasselbeck had 3 INTs, two of which were thrown deep in Denver territory. Both of these teams stink.

Oakland – St. Louis

Speaking of two smelly teams. Jason Campbell got benched for playing horribly for a second week in a row, and Bruce Gradkowski came in and won the game for Oakland. I can’t decide what’s more pathetic: only beating the Rams by 2 at home, or losing to the Raiders period. It’s not very often that both teams are pathetic.

I’ve already talked about Sam Bradford. He had another decent game in another close loss. He’s the real deal. He just needs a few weapons around him and a better defense. And Steven Jackson getting just 3.9 yards a carry against Oakland is kind of an eyebrow-raiser. Is Jackson getting older and slower, or is this Raiders front 7 pretty decent? Maybe both?

Houston – Washington

The game of the week, with a combined 927 passing yards and a 17 point comeback for the Texans. Very dramatic. I wish I would have watched more than just the last 5 minutes.

Matt Schaub continues his assault on the league with 497 passing yards and 38 stinking completions. Don’t look now, but he might be making a case for league MVP. And Andre Johnson, my first round fantasy pick in the B league, went for 158 yards and a score. Who needs Arian Foster?

Washington fell to 1-1 thanks to a classic ‘ice-the-kicker’ tactic in overtime which actually worked. Graham Gano nailed a 52-yarder as Houston called a timeout, and then when he kicked it again he missed it 20 yards to the right. Houston got the ball, Schaub threw a 30 yard pass, and it was over.

Gary Kubiak outcoached Mike Shanahan. Yeah, you read that right.

Jets – Patriots

When I picked this game, the word I used was yucky. And that’s exactly how it played out. Trash-talking, taunting penalties, a big game from Mark Sanchez … just yucky in every way. I really, really, really don’t like Rex Ryan. I’ve never seen a coach with a more dislikeable presence on the sidelines. He really makes it so that the game is all about him. It’s like he’s posing for the cameras all the time. Ugh.

But did you see that Randy Moss catch? I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a better football catch in my life.

San Diego – Jacksonville

Typical game where the good home team beats down the crappy road team. This is what San Diego has to do to win the AFC West. Beat the crap out of bad teams, especially at home. Their offense is missing two key players and ultimately that’s going to be their downfall, but maybe they can go 9-7 just by beating up teams like Jacksonville.

This might have been the worst game of David Garrard’s career. Four interceptions, and no touchdowns until it was 38-6. Remember that weird 2007 season when Garrard only threw 3 picks the whole year, and like 20 touchdowns? Yeah, those days are long gone. He’s no longer a very good QB. I don’t even think you can call him average anymore.

And holy crap Maurice Jones-Drew! 40 yards and a fumble? This was San Diego you played against, not Baltimore! What kind of sad performance was that from Mo-Jo?

Huge game for Rivers and Gates. Ryan Matthews got hurt after 26 yards and a fumble (helping Jahvid Best’s ROY case) and Mike Tolbert came in and got 95 yards and 2 TDs. He’ll be popular off the waiver wire this week.

With the other three teams in their division all looking playoff-worthy, Jacksonville might be destined for a 3-13 season. And that means one of the first round QBs (Luck, Locker, Mallet) will probably be a Jaguar next season.

Indy – NY Giants

I had the pleasure of watching this game almost entirely from start to finish. And I say pleasure because it was perhaps the greatest quarterback of all time playing an utterly perfect game. Not only was Peyton 20 for 26 for 255 yards and 3 TDs, but he called all the plays, didn’t make any mistakes, and dissected a very good defense effectively and ruthlessly. His play can only be described as ‘perfect.’

Little brother Eli wasn’t as good, with just 13 completions (only 3 in the first half!) and three turnovers. But he was tormented by Freeney and Mathis all game long and rarely had more than 2 seconds to deliver the ball downfield. The Giants offensive line was bad … really bad. And stubborn coaching by Tom Coughlin, who refused to give the tackles any help, led to one of Eli’s worst pro games.

Everybody should be very, very scared of the Colts when they’re at home.

New Orleans – San Francisco

I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch any of this game. I don’t have cable, and I didn’t feel like going anywhere last night. But I did watch the highlights and skim through the play-by-play. And here’s what I thought …

Brees had another flawless game. 28/38 for 250 yards and 2 scores …He’s pretty much the Peyton Manning of the NFC and his consistency is scary. His counterpart Alex Smith was 23/32 for 275 and 1 score, plus 2 INTs. Smith’s favorite target was Frank Gore with 7 catches, and Josh Morgan also caught 6. Michael Crabtree had just 1 reception.

Reggie Bush is having a rough week. First he lost the 2005 Heisman trophy for being a cheating scumbag. Then he fractured his fibula while trying to recover a muffed punt, and will be out for at least 6 weeks. Yikes. Next the NFL will probably make a rule forbidding players to flip into the end zone, and he’ll be out of a job completely.

San Fran played okay and covered the spread, but when you lose the turnover-differential 4 to 0, you’re not going to win. Patrick Willis had 9 tackles and a sack, but it wasn’t enough. Brees is just too good, and so far he’s survived the Madden Curse through two weeks against two tough defenses. Let’s see how long he goes.

Fantasy Picks

They were so bad that I don’t even want to talk about it. But I did win both of my main leagues, as well as 7-3 in the 10 other leagues. The Morgan Massacre scored 207 points in ESPN league 5, thanks to Aaron Rodgers, LeSean McCoy, Knowshon Moreno, Calvin Johnson, Malcolm Floyd, Dustin Keller, and the Steelers D. I also have Ndamukong Suh in that league and he led all DTs with 11 points this week.

By the way, guess who leads the NFL in fantasy points after 2 weeks of football?

Not Chris Johnson. Not Aaron Rodgers. Not AP. None other than ….

Jahvid. Freaking. Best.

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Stay tuned for week 3 picks …

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