Monday, October 4, 2010

Week Four Wrap Up

As I clarified two posts ago, I am 25-23 picking against the spread so far this season.

For the week 4 games, I was a sparkling 11-3 against the spread, bringing my season total to 36-26. Here's how it all shook down:


I already wrote extensively about this game, but basically the Lions easily covered the 14.5 spread and I picked the game drastically wrong. Meaning I missed another Lock of the Week pick. Embarrassing. Especially to have been so confident in the demise of my own team only to watch what turned out to be a highly entertaining and competitive game. How did I miss the pick so badly? It can only be attributed to my underestimation of Shaun Hill.

Jets - Bills

Jets were favored by 6 and won by 24. It shouldn't surprise anybody that Rex Ryan ran up the score against the league's worst team. He's a wretched human being.

Buffalo's offense was beyond terrible. They did not convert a single third-down in this game. Not one. They were doubled in time of possession and handed the ball to their #9 overall pick - CJ Spiller - just three times in the game.

Tomlinson and Greene ran for 133 and 117 yards, respectively, and Mark Sanchez had a QB rating of higher than 100 for the THIRD. STRAIGHT. GAME. Look out people, Mark Sanchez is for real. Of the 19 quarterbacks that have thrown 100 passes, Sanchez is the only one who hasn't thrown a single interception.

Bengals - Browns

Of the 3 games I picked incorrectly, this one frustrates me the most. I wanted to take Cleveland, but the line (Cincy by just 3) steered me away. But I felt good about Cleveland, at home, in a desperation game, against the overrated Bengals and secretly terrible Carson Palmer. If the line would have been 5 or 6, I'd have taken Cleveland. I guess that's why they made the line 3.

On Cincinnati's last drive of the game, with 5 minutes to play, down 23-20, on 3rd and 3, in field goal range, Chad Ochocinco committed a detrimental offensive pass interference penalty which pushed them out of field goal range and forced a 3rd and 13 from the CLE 41. It would have been smart to run the ball for 5 yards and set up a 50 yard kick to tie the game. Instead Marvin Lewis dialed up a pass, Palmer got sacked, and the game was over. I have to wonder ... if Ochocinco had spent the offseason practicing football instead of doing the foxtrot, would he have committed that penalty and cost his team the game?

The other Bengals diva receiver, 36 year old Terrell Owens, had the second best game of his career with 10 catches for 222 yards and a score. (The first best game of his career was of course December 17, 2000 - his record-breaking 20 catch, 283 yard game against Chicago which for some reason I remember watching at my Uncle Bob and Aunt Becky's house.)

But the real star of the Battle for Ohio was Browns' running back Peyton Hillis, who amassed 110 yards against a very tough Bengals defense. I don't want to take credit away from Hillis, but really, it's the Browns offensive line who earned this win and made Hillis a fantasy darling for the fourth straight week. Especially Joe Thomas. He's quietly going about his business as the best offensive lineman in the NFL.

Ravens - Steelers

Okay, this is my final wrong pick of the day, meaning the next TEN games I completely nailed. Nothing like a cheating & lying scandal to motivate me to pick like freaking Nostradamus.

This game easily could have gone either way. As expected, it was low-scoring and featured minimal offense. These are probably the two best defenses in the league. Give credit to Flacco for pulling out a tough win on the road against a division rival. Houshmandzadeh finally made a play. Mendenhall had a huge game. Now, Roethlisberger returns to the 3-1 Steelers who seem to be doing fine without him.

Quick tangent about Ruthlessraper's return ...

Pittsburgh has a bye next week, then they get Cleveland at home (win), and then three straight tough games on the road (Miami, New Orleans, Cincinnati). Then back to Heinz Field for New England. You've got to think Ben loses at least 2 of those games, and probably 3. The two games after that are gimmies (Raiders, Bills) but then Pittsburgh goes to Baltimore, hosts the Bengals, and then has the Jets. All that to say ... the schedule gets tougher now that Ben is back. That's why I predicted in August that they'd go 4-0 without him and 5-7 with him. Now that I see how dominant the defense is playing, I think they'll go 7-5 with him instead. But still, we're looking at a 10-6 record at best. Which means, Ben's return isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Broncos - Titans

Titans by 6.5 was a too-high line, as I said, but I didn't expect Denver to win the game outright. It was another inspired effort from Kyle Orton, who is, umm... leading the NFL in passing yards.... yeah... Without Brandon Marshall by the way. Maybe all that hatred towards Josh McDaniels was slightly misplaced. Only slightly.

Side question: As much as Broncos fans have to love the way Orton is playing, doesn't it just make Tim Tebow look like an even worse draft pick? A backup quarterback in the first round?

This game simply came down to mistakes. Tennessee had two costly fumbles (one by Sonic near the red zone, the other on a muffed kickoff at the end of the game) and over 100 yards in penalties. They also missed a 35 yard field goal early in the game. Denver made some mistakes too, but not as many, and they were able to eek out the win despite 8 total rushing yards from the running backs on 17 carries. Yeah - 17 carries for 8 yards. It doesn't look like Knowshon Moreno is going to have any trouble getting his job back once he's healthy.

Falcons - 49ers

ughh..... what a brutal loss for San Francisco.

You probably saw the replay. It was reminiscent of Leon Lett. It was a hideous way to lose. But as badly as I feel for 49ers fans, I can't help but make Nate Clements the ignoble Goat of the Week.

Here's what happened:

Atlanta's down 13-14. They've been trailing all game. San Fran is playing lights-out defense. They're finally going to win their first game. Atlanta has 1 minute and 22 seconds to go 92 yards. First and 10, it's a 5 yard sack. Now, 97 yards to go and about 1:12 on the clock. A few plays later, San Fran's cornerback Nate Clements - a 10 year veteran with 30 career interceptions - picks off an errant Matt Ryan pass at midfield, and he has two choices:

IF he goes down on a knee immediately, the game is over. Atlanta has all 3 timeouts, so San Fran would run, run, run, and then punt with 45 seconds left, leaving the Falcons with 80 yards to go in about 30 seconds with no timeouts. Game over.

INSTEAD, Clements decides to run for the end zone. He's scored on FIVE pick-sixes in his career, but he decides he needs one more. So he starts weaving in and out, pointing his blocks, pretending he's a punt returner. And of course, he's carrying the ball in one hand, like a MORON, and Roddy White chases him down, strips the ball, Atlanta recovers, then goes 60 yards in 1 minute and kicks the game-winning field goal as time expires.

San Fran is 0-4. Thanks to the Goat of the Week, Nate Clements.

Saints - Panthers

This game was WAY closer than it should have been. The line was 13.5, and I almost picked the Saints. But I thought the Panthers' desperation and Sean Peyton's kindness would keep the game close. I didn't expect it to come down to a winning field goal with 4 minutes left.

But maybe this is a sign that the 0-4 Panthers are better than people realize. They run the ball well, their secondary is actually solid, and don't look now, but Jimmy Claussen is efficient and smart. Could they be this years' Titans, who start 0-6 but then make a playoff run thanks to a dominant rushing attack? Let's look at their next 12 opponents-

Chicago, San Fran, St. Louis, Saints, Tampa, Baltimore, Cleveland, Seattle, Atlanta, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Atlanta.

I think it's safe to say Carolina will be an 7-9 team.

The Saints, on the other hand, don't look like themselves. Their offense is not in the top 10 in points or yards. They led the dang league in both stats two years in a row. Drew Brees has been the most accurate quarterback in the league (73%), but his YPA (yards-per-attempt) ranks 15th. Last year, it was 3rd. The year before, also 3rd.

Let's not murder Brees just yet - his QB rating is still above 100 and if Garrett Hartley makes an extra point the Saints are undefeated and we're talking about them going 19-0. But you've got to wonder why they're not scoring more points. They're kicking too many field goals and not scoring enough touchdowns.

Rams - Seahawks

Ugly game in the ugly NFC West, where the Rams now share the division lead. Weird. Seattle just gives no effort on the road. Hasslebeck gained 191 yards on 36 attempts. That's not getting the job done. I'm surprised Charlie Whitehurst didn't see the field in the second half. You can bet he would have if he was a USC alum.

Another efficient game for Sam Bradford -23 of-41 for 289 yards and two touchdowns. He completed at least 3 passes to 5 different receivers. Which makes me ask the all-too-common question: has Matt Stafford EVER done that?

Next week will be (hopefully) the showdown of #1 picks, in which Bradford and Stafford square off for bragging rights and supremacy among the league's young 'stars'. But will that matchup really take place? No. And here's my prediction/ conspiracy theory:

I'm pretty darn sure that Matt Stafford will sit this game out for reasons other than his shoulder. I think he'll willingly let Shaun Hill face off against Bradford, and I think he'll gladly stay on the bench with his damned backwards hat.

Bear with me for a second. I think Stafford wants to sit the game out, because I think he's petrified of the prospect of facing Bradford and looking like a fool in front of his fans. I think Stafford clings to his reputation as "future QB star" and hates the idea of Bradford (not to mention Sanchez) stealing that throne from him. And most of all, I think Stafford resents Bradford for winning 2 of his first 4 games, when it took Stafford all season to do that.

Stafford is a very egocentric person; if you don't know that, you're not paying attention to his nonverbal cues. He loves himself. He's a PR machine. The backwards hat, the playful smile, the go-get-'em attitude. It's all a facade. It's a marketing scheme. It's propaganda for himself. It's a cover-up for the fact that he stinks at football and he's a career loser. Bradford, on the other hand, doesn't do anything except play football. He doesn't take pictures with kegs, he doesn't date bimbos, he doesn't revel in his own magnificence. He just plays great football.

In fact, I just googled Bradford to see what dirt I could find about his personal life. I searched 'Sam Bradford girlfriend' to see if he is involved with a super-sleazy bimbo with oversized plastic breasts like our quarterback in Detroit. And this is the first quote I found:

"Sam Bradford is very religious. He is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at OU, as he has been since high school. He reads the story of David and Goliath before every game...."

Ok, that's actually a little weird ... but that tells you the whole story right there. That explains everything you need to know. Sam Bradford will be a great NFL quarterback. Matt Stafford will not. It comes down to attitude; leadership; moxie; personality; work ethic; toughness; all the freaking IN-TANG-I-BLES.

And you've heard me say this before, but Matt Stafford doesn't have those intangibles. He's the master of faking the intangibles. But he doesn't have them. And that's why he'll willingly sit out the game against the Rams, despite being in capable health. He doesn't want to own up to the fact that Bradford is the future of the NFL, and he's not. Stafford will say outlandish and inspirational things about how badly he wishes he could play, if the team doctors would just let him. He'll make it sound as if the doctors have strapped him to a medical bench and had to forcibly hold him down to keep him from storming the field like a triumphant hero. Jim Schwartz will say the same things, because their careers are eternally linked, and the minute Schwartz admits that Stafford was a mistake, he's out of a job. The Detroit Lions PR Machine will sell the fans on this concept once again: Matt Stafford is an NFL superstar, but he's just too injured to play!

But if he wants to play, he'll play. He's a pro athlete. Brett Favre hasn't missed a game in 20 years. Even when his dad died. Peyton Manning hasn't missed a game in 13 years. Cal Ripken played in 2,632 straight games. You think his shoulder ever hurt once? You think Brett Favre has ever played through a little pain? Stafford could play if he really wanted to. But he doesn't.

And you know what - if he does play, I'll stand corrected. Gladly. Like I've said before, I hope he proves me wrong.

But I'm so confident that Stafford is a chicken-shit jackass that I'm willing to write these past 8 paragraphs and all but guarantee that Stafford sits this game out and continues his undeserved reputation as a 'star' while wearing his freaking backwards hat.

And ... that concludes today's Matthew Stafford rant.

Jaguars - Colts

Even though they snake-bit me two weeks in a row, I didn't hesitate to pick the Jags to cover the 8 point spread. They love playing the Colts. Did you see the way Josh Scobee ran around the field after his game-winning 59 yard kick? He thought he just won 5 Super Bowls simultaneously. I knew Jacksonville wasn't as bad as they appeared. They just ran into some tough scheduling.

That said, I sure didn't think the Jags would win this game straight up. Credit Jones-Drew and Garrard who both played their best game of the season.

Can't knock the Colts offense for this loss. Manning was 33-46 (72%) for 352 yards and two TDs. He threw his first interception of the season, and it wasn't his fault; it bounced off the hands of the backup tight end. Manning now has 11 TDs and 1 pick, 1365 yards, a 69.8% completion percentage, and a QB rating of 112. Through four games, he's the unquestioned MVP of the NFL.

I know the Colts are 2-2, but who else could you give it to thus far? Manning is either first or second in every possible quarterback stat, and playing flawlessly. He's statistically on his way to one of the best seasons in NFL history, and with Clark, Wayne, Collie and Garcon all contributing there's no reason he should slow down. A real quick glance at the schedule tells me that the Colts are winning their next 5 games.

Texans - Raiders

The line was 3.5 which was too low. It should have been much higher; probably closer to 6. Oakland played about as well as they could, but they were just outmatched from a talent perspective. Bruce Gradkowski keeps games close, but a spread of 3.5 was too much to ask.

Last week I wrote that: "For Houston to win, they're going to have to run the ball effectively."

How about 249 total rushing yards as a team, and an average of 6.9 yards per carry? Granted, those numbers are skewed by Arian Foster's 74-yard TD scamper, but still. Getting 80 yards out of Derrick Ward's cadaver is pretty impressive. Whatever that Houston offensive coordinator is doing, it's working; even with their top two receivers (Johnson and Jones) missing the game with injuries and Kevin Walter being reduced to rubble by Nnamdia Asomugha (4 catches, 35 yards), Matt Schaub connected with some dude named Joel 'Salad' Dreessen for 72 yards and a score. Houston is the new Indianapolis. Oakland is a lot like the Lions - creative losers.

Redskins - Eagles

Nailed the upset of the week - Redskins straight-up in Donovan's return. He played an awful game (just 8 completions) but Washington ran the ball for 170 yards against the dreadful Philly defense. Portis ran for 55 on 11 carries; then he got hurt and Ryan Torain went for 70 yards on 18 carries. McNabb chipped in with 39 rushing yards on 5 carries.

Philly fans and people who hate animals were sad when Michael Vick broke his ribs on a 30 yard run in the first quarter. I was extremely happy. And then even happier when the big gain was called back for a holding penalty. Kevin Kolb came in and threw 35 passes for 201 yards and 1 TD to Celek. But most of Kolb's throws went to LeSean McCoy (15 targets, 12 receptions) and the fullback Owen Schmidt (4 targets, 3 catches). DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin combined for 35 yards. Ouch.

As much as I'm rooting for Kolb, he truly doesn't look like a great quarterback in the least. Being benched for an animal-torturing psycho probably didn't help his confidence. Next week he'll lead the Eagles across the country to play in San Francisco against a desperate defense in what's almost certain to be a loss for Philly. I'll tell you right now, San Fran won't be favored because they're 0-4, and no matter the spread, I'll take San Fran as my Upset of the Week. I might double that up as much Lock of the Week. I just don't like Philly traveling 2,500 miles to play on the road with a QB change and not to mention - their defense is horrible! They gave up 250 yards to Jahvid Best, 170 yards to Washington ... they rank 28th in rush defense and will face Frank Gore next week. Just an ugly turn of events for the Eagles. I can't stand anything about Michael Vick, but at this point in the season he is a better QB than Kolb, who appears to be merely a check-down specialist.

Chargers - Cardinals

Dangit, I should have made this the Lock of the Week instead of the dumb Lions game. I said it would be: "31-3 at halftime," and instead it was 28-7. Pretty close though.

Phillip Rivers continues to make Vincent Jackson look expendable. 15-20 for 241 yards and 2 TDs. His QB rating of 148.1 was about as good as it gets. In garbage time the Chargers ran the ball for 180 yards; Tolbert looked better than Matthews but they'll continue to go with Matthews because they understand, unlike Buffalo, that you don't draft a running back in the first round and then leave him on the bench.

For Arizona, the only good news is that the Derek Anderson Era might be over. He was benched early with a QB rating of 23.2 after 14 pass attempts; undrafted rookie Max Hall came in (Hall was a stud at BYU) and didn't do much in the comeback effort. But he really had no chance. We'll see what kind of player Hall can be next week when he gets his first NFL start, against the defending Super Bowl champs. That should be lots of fun.

Arizona gained only 124 yards in this game. Total. They didn't score an offensive touchdown and didn't get a field goal until there were 3 minutes remaining in a 41-7 game. Cardinals QBs were sacked 9 times and the average passing attempt yielded 2.8 yards. Offensively, it doesn't get much worse than that. Hard to believe these pathetic losers were in the Super Bowl 2 years ago.

Bears - Giants

Holy crap was this game fun to watch. For people who hate Jay Cutler (which is ... everybody outside of Cutler's immediate family, and even they are iffy), it was just delicious to watch him get sacked 9 times in the FIRST HALF ALONE! And yes, that's an NFL record.

Regarding the concussion-inducing hit right before halftime ...I have to be honest, I didn't feel bad for him. Normally, when you watch a guy's head slam into the ground and he lays there for a few minutes, you feel really, really bad, even if he' a jerk. But with Cutler, those sad feelings weren't there. I wasn't dancing and laughing and slapping high fives; I'm not a monster. But I also didn't feel a twinge of sadness for him. Only a vague sense of 'he deserved it.'

Anyway, this nasty loss can be blamed solely on Mike Martz, the self-proclaimed 'Mad Scientist.' New York just completely overpowed the Bears' terrible offensive line, and Martz refused to give any help. He just kept sending receivers deep, and Cutler was stupid enough to keep getting sacked. You've got to have check-down options on those plays, but Cutler kept waiting for receivers to get open and he kept hitting the turf before he could throw the ball.

This comes back to Cutler's lack of leadership and his general douchiness. When you hate your teammates and love yourself, you are willing to continually get sacked because you can place the blame on the blockers. After each and every sack, Cutler stood up and gave the stink eye to a blocker. As if they should be able to protect him for 15 minutes in the pocket and keep him from being touched. It's not that easy. Maybe Cutler should take a turn trying to block Justin Tuck and see what happens.

Ugh ... just a distusting football game where one team was so clearly outcoached and outmatched in every way. One of my favorite football blogs sums up the game this way:

So, what have we learned? Mike Martz is still a moron."

Dolphins - Patriots

The Patriots scored 41 points despite only 1 touchdown from Tom Brady. How weird is that?

In fact, they became the only team in NFL history to score on a kickoff return, an interception return, and a blocked field goal in the same game. Miami's special teams coach, whoever he is, should be fired. Miami also had a punt blocked.

Check this out - New England safety Pat Chung (a 2nd round rookie last year) is my safety in my IDP league. In this game he had 4 tackles (1 point each), an interception (5 points), a touchdown (6 points), a blocked field goal (5 points) and a blocked punt (5 points). That's 25 points from my safety. Can't get any better than that.

So on that note, how about a seamless segueway to Week Four of Fantasy Football.

Fantasy Stuff

Not only did I have my best week ever picking games, but I also went a freaking phenomenal 11-1 in my 12 fantasy leagues, despite starting Michael Vick (2 points) in 4 leagues and Jay Cutler (-3 points) in 3 leagues.

How did I do it? For one thing, I played against some shotty competition. But I own Gates 5 times, Wayne 4 times (including a PPR league - 15 catches), and Calvin in 4 leagues as well. Aaron Rodgers helped me out in 2 leagues, as did Mr. Manning, and in one league I picked up David Garrard to start in place of Romo and he had 24 points.

In my IDP league, along with the amazing Pat Chung, I picked up Steelers linebacker Lawerence Timmons who had 15 tackles for 15 points; I needed every one of those points in a narrow victory over Texas Justin, 152-147.

I also gotta give credit to Peyton Hillis and Zach Miller, who I started in 5 leagues apiece.

They sweetest victory was the A league, also known as my Money league. Despite just a total of 4 points from my 3 receivers (Moss, Murphy, and Floyd), I won 89-79 thanks to 40 points from the Peytons (Manning and Hillis) and 26 points from Gates.

I know I said that Peyton Manning is the league MVP through 4 weeks, which is absolutely true, but is it possible that Antonio Gates is 2nd? He's got 24 catches for 386 yards and 6 TDs in 4 games. He's the best receiver in the NFL so far this season. And he's a tight end. He's on his way to a historic season.


Season: 36-26

Lock of the Week: 2-1 (forgot to make a 'Lock' pick for week one, but if I would have it would have been Miami +3 over Buffalo ... so let's just say I'm 3-1)
Lock of the Week: 3-1
Upset of the Week: 3-1
Lions picks: 2-2

Stay tuned for week 5 picks, and some thoughts about the Pistons new owner!

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