Sunday, September 30, 2007

Everything falls apart...

"Let's get F'd up and die... I'm speaking figuratively of course," but what a brutal day.

It took all of 36 pitches from Tom Glavine to know the Mets were out of the playoffs. There's really nothing worth talking about with regards to the collapse, it is what it is, it's over, it's awful, and we're stuck with it forever. Hopefully it can be rendered a little less relevant with a World Series in the near future...


On top of that, barring an absolute miracle, the Dolphins season is over after just four weeks. This isn't terribly shocking, but it also wouldn't have been a big surprise if they had three wins right now. I wouldn't mind getting a good look at Beck sometime soon.

Maybe it was because of the circumstances of the day but it seemed like football as a whole was uninteresting today. Just another week further cementing the fact that there are maybe three really good teams and everyone else is a complete crapshoot from week to week.


Oh well, let's go around the league real quick before I get back to moping.
Let's start with the best and work our way down. Along the way I'm going to point out everything I got right and nothing that was wrong to make me feel a bit better about this depressing sports day:

The Colts fell behind 10-0 early, lost Marvin Harrison after 1 reception for 8 yards and it didn't phase them one bit. You pretty much have to play a perfect football game to beat the Colts right now. They make you pay for every single mistake and they don't make many of their own.

Cowboys struggled mightily early on against the Rams and still demolished them. The Rams are a complete mess right now and with all the injuries there is little hope. As for the Cowboys, sure they haven't really played anyone all that great, but they win convincingly. Also, they won't have to really play anyone to make it to the Super Bowl (the Packers?! give me a break). If they stay healthy, it's going to take Romo absolutely shitting the bed in a playoff game to keep them out of the Super Bowl. Called this blow out in the weekly picks.

Everyone's favorite gunslinger broke a record today, but not the one TPS was rooting for. Packers moved to 4-0, but the Vikings hung around for awhile and had their potential game tying drive halted by a missed pass interference call which resulted in an interception. Even so, Green Bay looks like a playoff team. Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson (my preseason rookie of the year pick) looks like a man-child. His ROY trophy has already been engraved.

Steelers stumbled today in Arizona as I had a hunch they might (see weekly picks). Pittsburgh fans probably aren't too concerned, nor should they be. They are fine, especially with the Ravens/Bengals/Browns failing to impress.

The Seahawks played much better today. Hasselbeck and Branch clearly have some chemistry. After Branch didn't catch a single pass in his first game, he's had 20 catches for 329 yards in his last three. Julian Peterson made a statement against his former team as the 49ers are proving me right so far and look to be a year away from being taken seriously.

An NFL record 34 point fourth quarter by the Lions moved them to 3-1 and puts the Bears season at risk. Urlacher claims it isn't over yet, but looking at the injuries and the QB play (Griese did his best Rex Grossman impersonation) it's looking pretty dismal for Da Bears. If they could replace their offensive possessions with 4 punts to Devin Hester they'd have a better chance.

Another big win for the Giants. It wasn't pretty on offense but the same defense that looked out of its league weeks one and two has been impenetrable the past two games. This game helped to prove the curse took the week off with Drew Brees on a bye. Keith (Giants fan) and his friend (Eagle's fan) were at the game and my brother's favorite play in football has long been "watching Donovan McNabb get sacked". Just when you're ready to stop believing, football pulls you back in, eh Keith? He also won his fantasy matchup against an 3-0 team. Truly bizarro world in sports today.

The Chargers are in trouble. Today's loss was absolutely embarrassing. They couldn't even put the Chiefs away at home after building a 10 point lead and getting LDT over hundred yards by half time.

I didn't catch much of the Browns/Ravens, but from what I've read it looks like the blame has to go on the red zone offense and the vaunted Ravens D. The Baltimore offense held the ball, moved the chains, and piled up yards but couldn't punch it in. Logic would tell me the red zone play calling wasn't adequate since the offense seemed to be executing otherwise. I'll check with Durden for more details on this one, but it might be time to be concerned if you're a Raven fan. Steve McNair threw 53 times, really?!

Joey Heisman learned what can happen when you don't turn the ball over in leading the Falcons to the upset win. Another upset called by yours truly.

David Carr can no longer "still be good". He was brutal despite his pretty white gloves, but I'm still not taking the Bucs seriously. The biggest story in this game is the devastating injury to Cadillac Williams. It could be career threatening.

It was annoying to see Culpepper score 5 TD's on the Dolphins, especially since he didn't do a damn thing. No, really, look at the numbers: 5 pass completions for 75 yards, 7 rushes for 28 yards. That's it. Unfortunately, the Dolphins D made LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas look like Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen. At least Ronnie Brown hasn't made me a liar. They finally get him touches the last two weeks and he produces (418 yards, 4 tds in last 2 games).

I mentioned to Durden how I liked Trent Edwards, so it was good to see him come up with a nice game, especially against the dumb Jets. Nothing else to say about this one as the AFC East is a complete joke, aside from the Patriots - of course.


So, another week in the books, another fantasy football win to build on, and I won both fantasy baseball championships as well. Unfortunately, none of that really eases the pain...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Aaaaaaaand we're baaaaaaaaaaaack

Wow... nearly speechless after a picture perfect day for the New York Mets.

Heading into this game, I was extremely nervous for the first time all season - and not just because of the circumstances and how poorly the Mets have played.

Last night, I was woken up at 4am when I heard a bit of a crash/boom from across the room. I woke up and glanced around, but everything seemed to be in order. Then, as I went to shrug it off and go back to sleep I caught it out of the corner of my eye... My Endy Chavez bobblehead doll had snapped at the cleat and fallen. There' was no explanation. Endy hadn't been touched since the day I took him out of the packaged months ago. It was symbolic of the last couple weeks, as there was no explanation for the Mets falling apart. I felt sick to my stomach knowing the Phils were in first and I'm up at 4am staring at a microcosm of the current state of the Mets just a few hours before a possible elimination game. Fortunately, it wasn't a bad omen after all.


I'm not sure how many times we'll hear "momentum is only as good as the next days starting pitcher" over the next 24 hours, but it probably won't be enough after what John Maine did today (especially compared to Adam Eaton).

The fans we're alive, the bats woke up, the benches cleared, and Maine had no hit stuff in the biggest game of the season to date. Simply amazing.

Tip of the cap to Matt Chico and the Nats who held up their end of the bargain with help from some Philly miscues. And to Tony Gwynn's son who, ironically, kept the Padres from clinching a playoff spot with a 2-out game tying triple off Trevor Hoffman in the bottom of the ninth.

So, the Mets are alive and well with one game to go.

As for momentum, here are tomorrows starting pitchers and their numbers in their last 3 starts...
Tom Glavine: 0-1, 17.2 innings, 22 hits, 12 earned runs, 4 BB's, 7 K's (Mets 0-3)
***Has faced Florida twice this season: 0-0, 11.1 innings, 18 hits, 6 ER, 2 BB's, 8 K's (Mets 0-2)

Jamie Moyer: 0-1, 18.1 innings, 17 hits, 9 earned runs, 10 BB's, 9 K's (Phils 1-2)
***Has faced Washington twice (both in April): 1-0, 10 hits, 5 ER, 7 BB's, 10 K's (Phils 2-0)

Brett Tomko: 2-0, 18 inngins, 15 hits, 7 earned runs, 3 BB's, 14 K's (Pads 3-0)
***Has faced Milwaukee once: 0-1, 5.1 innings, 8 hits, 5 earned runs, 1 BB, 5 K's

Also, Dontrelle Willis is 11-3 with a 2.49 ERA in 18 career starts against the Mets -- including 5-0 at Shea Stadium.


So, what's it all mean? Absolutely nothing.

If you haven't figured that out by now then you haven't been paying attention to this last month of baseball. Your guess is as good as mine, but it's going to be a hell of a ride. Needless to say, my Endy Chavez bobblehead sits where it fell, and there will be no attempts to fix it just yet.

LET'S GO METS!!!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Spread 'em: Week 4 of the In-N-Out Challenge



With last week’s 7-6-3 record, Durden moved to two games over .500 for the season (22-20-6). As severely average as that is, it’s good enough for a commanding and embarrassing six cheeseburger lead over me. Fortunately, the season’s 17 weeks long, and I’m reminded of a quote from a very wise man. “It’s not a race, it’s a marathon!” EXACTLY.


Between the Mets, Dolphins, and my pick’em record, I was barely able to muster up the energy to get through these picks. Hopefully Durden will pick up the slack with regards to the entertainment value…


So, the bye weeks are upon us, and none too soon for the kursed Saints. I’m anxious to see what happens. Does the kurse take the week off? Does it find a new target (temporary or permanent)? Do the Saints somehow come out of their bye week 0-4? Only time will tell…

As for the teams that are playing, here’s your ticket to free money...

Oakland Raiders @ Miami Dolphins -4
Mazzone: The Miami defense thought this week was a good time to hold a meeting to try and solve the crappiness. Travis Daniels claims they have, “Everybody got together today and had our talk and we know what we've got to do…We're going to be clicking on all cylinders.” Nice of them to take the time to sort that out, I feel much better now. Joey Porter’s guaranteeing victory, “Write it how you want to write it. We will win on Sunday.” While Cam Cam said we might get a look at Cleo Lemon this week…on special teams. “…I say everybody is available. Now, is Cleo Lemon going to run down on a kickoff? He might, but we're going to do whatever we think we need to do to win a football game.” Who the hell knows.
Pick: Dolphins -4 (planning a game preview for Saturday)

Durden:
I'm really not big on players making stupid guarantees, but I'll let Mazzone touch more on that in his Dolphins' preview. The real storyline for me is Daunte returning to Miami, and while I think he could be capable of pulling out a win on Sunday, it would really add salt to the already painful wound that was last week's loss for Dol-fans. I won't be rooting for that, and I really don't feel strongly enough about either team here, so I'm just going to stick with the (TPS) home team.
Pick: Dolphins -4

Houston Texans @ Atlanta Falcons +3

Mazzone:
I have a bad feeling about this one. Aside from DeAngelo Hall, the Falcons almost looked like a professional football team last week. Due to injuries, the Texans best offensive weapon is now a 4th string WR with a dislocated finger, never a good sign. I know most are expecting a big day, but I’m worried Schaub could be in for a dogfight (too soon?) and may try to do too much in his return to the ATL. I still think the Texans are in it for the long haul, but they could trip here and need to get healthy on offense. In related news, Vick is doing everything he can to get back to football ASAP.
Pick: Falcons +3

Durden:
I really do think the Falcons are due for a surprise win or 2 before their bye week. That's not exactly going out on a limb though, since any win for them would be a surprise at this point. I'd also like to think the Football Gods cut Falcon fans some slack here and let them at least beat Matt Schaub, but I just can't pick Yoey Harrington. Plus, I gotta give Houston some credit for hanging tough against the Colts last week.
Pick: Texans -3

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns +5
Mazzone: I ALWAYS get this game wrong. Over the last three years, I’d guess I was 0-6 against the number when these two teams play. In my defense, those games were quarterbacked by the likes of Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright, Steve McNair, Derek Anderson, Jeff Garcia, Charlie Frye – if you can figure those f#@*^&s out then you are a better man than I. Conventional wisdom tells me to just take the points and the home team, but since I’m always wrong on this game…
Pick: Ravens -5

Durden:
I hate the Browns more than any other team, with only the Steelers even coming close. Instead of really getting into that though, I'll just leave you with a couple of recent quotes that will let you know where my head's at, regarding my pick.

- "That's what it smells like," Bart Scott said. "It's on a landfill that's toxic, and I think it gets to some of the fans' heads a little bit. They struck up the lake and put it on a landfill, and all of the algae and stuff is coming up through the end zone. "We're going to take some soil samples. Before I go out there and play on the field, I usually put some hydrocortisone on to make sure that I'll be straight when I hit the ground. They have a lot of staph infections out there.

- "Offensively, we couldn't get untracked," coach Romeo Crennel said. "Defensively, we couldn't stop them. They threw it, they ran it. We couldn't stop the run no matter what front we happened to be in. We were out of position a lot."
Pick: Ravens -5

Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions +3
Mazzone:
The focus will be on the QB change, where the Sex Cannon was moved to the bench in favor of Brian Griese, but the bigger problem going forward for the Bears will be the lack of healthy bodies on defense. Mike Brown’s on injured reserve along with Dusty Dvoracek, starting corners Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman are both out this week (what do they plan to do against Martz’s 5 WR sets?), Urlacher, Briggs, and Alex Brown are all nursing injuries. In the past, it wouldn’t be a big deal to give some ailing players the week off with the Lions coming to town, but these aren’t your father’s Lions! I try to like Roy Williams but every time he opens his mouth he makes it damn near impossible.
Pick: Lions +3

Durden: Unlike Roy Wiliams, the Lions' defense is far from stingy. Hell, Bob Griese could probably suit up and do some serious damage on Sunday. However, the Bears' secondary (and defense, overall) is decimated with injuries, and that is especially bad news going on the road against the Lions' potent aerial attack.
Pick: Lions +3

Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings +2
Mazzone:
I’m gonna let Darren Sharper’s comments in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel handle this one for me:
“Former Packers safety Darren Sharper said the Vikings are well aware that quarterback Brett Favre has a good chance of breaking an NFL record inside the Metrodome.
"Yeah, he does," Sharper said. "He's three away."

Sharper, of course, was referring to the all-time NFL interception record Favre is closing in on, not the all-time touchdown mark. Sharper picked off Favre last year for the first time in a 9-7 loss at Lambeau Field and would like nothing more than to add to Favre's career total of 275.

"The interception record? That's the only record I'm thinking about," Sharper said.”

I couldn’t agree more, in fact, I’m hoping that third INT gets returned to the house so I can make jokes about Fav-ruh breaking the INT and TD records on the same play.
Pick: Vikings +2

Durden:
Similar to the Lions in Week 1, the Packers won't be able to run on Minnesota, but they probably aren't planning on doing much running either. You can think the Vikings stand a chance this Sunday, or you can think like Packer LB Nick Barnett: "I thought we could be 3-0. I think we could be 16-0." By the way, here's the latest of Favre-ism (courtesy of Sean Salisbury): "He's got the guts of a burglar." Gotta go with the Pack again, but please, wake me when this dream start of theirs is over. Pick: Packers -2


TPS LOVES (read: loathes) people gushing over Favre.

St. Louis Rams @ Dallas Cowboys -13
Mazzone: Most of the offensive line is incapacitated, or at the very least, banged up. Marc Bulger is playing with broken ribs, Tory Holt with a bum knee, Steven Jackson is out with a torn groin and Brian Leonard is on Keith’s fantasy team. The Cowboys have already proven they can put up points, while the Rams are 29th in points scored and don’t play much defense either. Outside of just having a hunch, or thinking Jacque Reeves is lining up at all 11 defensive positions, there’s no real reason to think this one won’t get ugly in a hurry.
Pick: Cowboys -13

Durden:
I have an angry plea for Nike, on behalf of many fantasy owners: STOP SHOWING THE STEVEN JACKSON COMMERCIAL. The next time he hurdles over anybody this season, will probably be the first. In related news, the 2007 St. Louis Rams are dead to me and they shouldn't stand a chance at Dallas, especially with an injury list that seems to be growing exponentially.
Pick: Cowboys -13

New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills +3.5
Mazzone:
The Bills are a complete mess, but this video is encouraging as it shows Kevin Everett’s fighting spirit has lead to astounding progress in his recovery…
Pick: Jets -3.5

Durden: The Bills are another team that has just been crushed by injuries. The difference between them and the Rams, is that the Bills never had a chance to be good in the first place. Maybe it's a sucker bet, but I don't see how the Bills should be getting anything less than 7 against non-comatose teams.
Pick: Jets -3.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers -3
Mazzone: Say what you want about Tampa (and I have), but Chucky has this team playing some football despite a lack of talent. Combine that with the fact that there’s a good chance the guy on the right could be at QB for Carolina and it’s tough to like the Panthers. But, I’m really stubborn and refusing to buy into the Bucs, so…
Pick: Panthers -3

Durden:
Ironically, a man known to some as Delhomo, may have drawn the ire of Village People fans everywhere. Jake, on coming out (of last week's game, not the closet): "It was just kind of bothering me a little bit," Delhomme said. "I didn't want to be macho." Unfortunately for Carolina, his backup has been seen exploring his femininity as well. I'll go with the team whose QB at least pretends he's a manly man's man.
Pick: Bucs +3

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers +1.5
Mazzone:
I have nothing to say about this one as both teams are uninteresting and playing poorly, but are somehow 2-1. However, I do have an amusing article on dirty and racist race horse names.
Pick: Seahawks -1.5

Durden:
Apparently, it's true that teams in the Northwest are completely ignored, because Seattle is a team that Keith has quietly been sabotaging since they reached the Super Bowl. Can anyone else explain how a team who has only bolstered an already talented roster (in a weak division/conference), has managed to actually get worse since they were robbed of the Super Bowl trophy?? Alexander and Branch have been two of Keith's best players, but instead of laying low, he snatched up their Defense this week. Still, I think the Kurse gives him a break this week, yet the Seahawks will keep this one far more interesting than it should be against an inferior 49er team.
Pick: Seahawks -1.5

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Arizona Cardinals +6
Mazzone:
TPS has been saying all along that the Steelers won’t get tested ‘til about midseason. While that should be the case, if there was ever a let-down game in the works it’d be right here. This game means a lot more to Whisenhunt and Grimm than it does to Tomlin. The Cardinals haven’t been terrible (11th in total offense/14th in total defense), they just can’t put a full game together. Maybe a little extra motivation and preparation, along with home field advantage, will be what they need to make this one interesting.
Pick: Cardinals +6

Durden:
When I cited Brenda Warner's love for God in Week 1 while discussing Jon Kitna's potential this season, due to his similarly fanatical faith, it may have actually woken up the Warners. Maybe nobody deserves to even be in the same sentence as the Warners when it comes to loving God. I mean, since then, Kitna's suffered a concussion that required a miracle to heal and the Cardinals have created a platoon situation at QB. Dear Tiny Jesus, in your golden fleece diapers with your tiny, little fat balled up fists, please make the damn Steelers lose for once. Ah, who am I kidding? God punishes Arizona for not giving K-Dub the start.
Pick: Steelers -6

Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers -12.5
Mazzone:
I went to war with the Chiefs in my survivor/suicide pool last week. To show my appreciation for their comeback win, I’m giving them 12.5 points this week. Which is generous, because without it, they’d probably end up with 3.
Pick: Chargers -12.5

Durden:
This game is as good as any for the Chargers offense to break out. I really think the line is too high here, but if San Diego does indeed go off, it won't matter against with the Chiefs' miserable offense.
Pick: Chargers -12.5

Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts -9.5
Mazzone:
Hopefully Javon Walker, John Lynch, and Jay Cutler are able to play at close to full strength, otherwise it could be a long day. But, I do think the Broncos are better than they’ve shown and they have the DB’s to be able to keep Peyton in check… as much as you can keep Peyton in check, anyway. If you’re not sold on the Broncos, here’s an article about Peyton Manning and his boyfriend.
Pick: Broncos +9.5

Durden:
While the Broncos are as equipped to handle the Colts' pass game as well as anyone, and should be able to run well on Indy, I'm simply tired of Denver letting me down. In spite of their 2-1 record, I still think they're far better than they've shown, but they're going to have to prove it first. The Colts have been in some close games themselves, but they're a different animal at home.
Pick: Colts -9.5

**Note: We never see each other’s picks/write-ups until they are posted. The similarities in this one are uncanny, and yet we picked different teams, go figure.


Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants +2.5
Mazzone:
McNabb is coming off his perfect game, and the Giants off a stellar comeback. Has the Philly offense turned the corner? What about the Giants defense? It’s a critical game for both teams. A Giants win would turn the season around in a hurry as they’d be 2-2 with a schedule that shows five very winnable games (Jets, @ Falcons, 49ers, Dolphins in London) heading into their week 9 bye. What I don’t know is how effective B-rabbit will be with ailing ribs, if he plays at all. I also don’t know if McNabb will be able to find Curtis without the Non-hetero uniforms being on display. What I do know is Drew Brees is on a bye this week, and my cursed brother is a Giants fan that will be going to the game, you do the math.
Eagles 19- Giants 17 on the leg of David Akers 4 FGs including the game winner as time expires.
Pick: Giants +2.5

Durden:
People said McNabb wasn't likely to be criticized after last week's performance, but I don't get it. Isn't he still black? Anyways, I'm actually going to be at this game and am very excited about it. Was Eli ever that injured to begin with? Regardless, he, Plax and Ward have really been the only Giants who have impressed me thus far, but if Manning has been throwing with a separated shoulder, he deserves more credit than he's gotten. For my own sake, I hope it's a close one but I would be surprised if the Eagles didn't win. This isn't to take away from New York's victory last week, but as much as the G-Men fought back, the Redskins were really pathetic in rolling over.
Pick: Eagles -2.5

New England Patriots @ Cincinnati Bengals +7.5
Mazzone:
Good coaches win. Great coaches cover.
Pick: Patriots -7.5

Durden:
After last week's game, Carson Palmer said he was "very disappointed not to get the ball back because we were going to take the ball down the field." Chad Johnson cockily added: "We could beat them on anything we wanted to beat them on." This was apparently on anything except in the game itself. Of course, I don't know why they bother explaining it because we probably just don't understand. It's probably only because I'm not capable of "understanding" the Bengals, but I see more of the same from the Patriots on MNF.
Pick: Patriots -7.5


Enjoy the games, bet safely (against me), and always believe in football.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Strength to Be There?

Durden had a busy couple of days so the NFL picks won't be posted until Friday afternoon.



In the meantime, here's my running diary of the Mets game last night:
-(first pitch)Alright, Let's go baby!
-(rest of the night) UuuuuuuuuuuuuuughcoooomeonareyouseriousIfeelsickajsdlfka
sighwhatthefthiscantbehappeninguuuuuuuuuuuuugh

Well...at least the bullpen showed up?

“There’s two choices: Roll over and start making vacation plans for the offseason, or battle like hell and win this thing,” Mets third baseman David Wright said. “We still feel like this is our division.”

At least we have pitchers who've been here before and come through.

It doesn't have to be pretty. Just...get...in.

Friday
Byung-Hyun Kim (FLA) vs. Oliver Perez (NYM)
Tim Redding (WAS) vs. Cole Hamels (PHI)

Saturday
Chris Seddon (FLA) vs. John Maine (NYM)
Matt Chico (WAS) vs. Adam Eaton (PHI)

Sunday
Dontrelle Willis (FLA) vs. Tom Glavine (NYM)
Jason Bergmann (WAS) vs. Jamie Moyer (PHI)

Is it all burning to the ground?

I guess we're gonna find out. It's time to see how far we've come...


BEEP BEEP BEEP....That’s the sound of the Mets trying to back into the postseason.

There’s not a whole lot to you can say about the recent 5-10 record and the feeling of despair hovering over this team.

By now, everyone is aware of the trials and tribulations of the Mets pitching, especially the bullpen. It feels like it’ll take a complete game shutout just to get a win. Except they don’t have a starter that can get past the 5th.

Last night’s debacle, combined with a Phillies win, closed the gap to one game.

So, the season comes down to four games in four days.

Proving that it takes more than one or two solid seasons to change the mindset of a historically demoralized fan base, a good number of Mets fans are spending their time trying to figure out which relievers to sign in the offseason, what it will take to land Johan Santana, and who’s going to replace Willie Randolph.

Personally, it's never been my style to give up like that, and I’m praying the Mets come through to let me atone for MY mistake last season.

As partial season ticket holders last year, my friends and I were entitled to one NLDS game, two NLCS games (1 and 7), and one World Series game (game 4) at Shea. Prior to the playoffs, I was forced to make a decision regarding a business trip: schedule it during the NLCS and hope there’s no game 7, or schedule it during the World Series and try to talk my way out of it (would have been extremely difficult at the time) if the Mets made it. I took it for granted that the Mets would steamroll their way through the National League, so I banked on there not being a game 7 in the NLCS.

Ever since that roller coaster night; watching the game alone in my hotel room, calling my friends for every big moment just to hear the crowd, and then not speaking to them for a week after Cardinal killer, Carlos Beltran, struck out looking with the bases loaded to end the season, I’ve been counting down the days until this postseason so both the Mets and I could redeem ourselves. They should have won, and I should have been there.

Since that day, my desktop background has been what should've been the image of the postseason, the defining moment in the championship run for the Mets…

I sleep with Shea stadium hanging over my head.














I wake up with the ’86 Mets on the nightstand to my left…















and right…



















And all day long while I work I’m reminded of what could have been…

















So, on the cusp of the biggest night of the season to date, I watched the Mets 1986 DVDs, and then the 2006 DVD.

Remembering being in the stadium last year for the grand slams, the come backs, the stifling bullpen, the walk-offs, the double play at home plate, everything...

I remembered how I thought last year’s team was invincible, and so did they...

“Nothing is impossible… If we believe, we can do everything.”
- Carlos Beltran

“It really doesn’t matter what the score is. If we’re behind, we’re gonna win the game.”
– Tom Glavine

I remembered that, even without that aura, this year’s team is STILL the most talented and best overall team in the National League.

I remembered how the Cardinals finished last season 3-8 and the Tigers 0-4 (against Toronto and KC) before meeting in the World Series a few weeks later.

I remembered the Phillies are still the Phillies.

Then, I looked at the pitching matchups for tonight.
Pedro Martinez (NYM) vs. Joel Pineiro (STL)
John Smoltz (ATL) vs. Kyle Kendrick (PHI)


And I believed, because... Ya Gotta Believe.

LET’S GO METS!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Has the Kurse gone too far?

If you aren’t up to speed on the Kurse of Keith (KoK), it’s highly recommended that you skim the following four posts before proceeding to read about how badly Keith got KoK blocked this week.


Intro to the Kurse
Kurse Watch 1
Alexander's Mysterious Injury
Kurse Watch 2

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
“I don’t even know what to say. I mean, this is ridiculous.”
- Keith

That was my brother’s Yahoo! Smack talk on this somber Tuesday morning, and that pretty much sums up the feeling of everyone who’s been around the Kurse of Keith.

By now, you know the history of the Kurse and the names it’s taken out in the past (Shaun Alexander, Steve Smith, Deuce McAllister, Priest Holmes, just to name a few), and you know what it’s done to Drew Brees and the Saints this year.

If you recall, on opening day Keith was ready to shred all history of the Kurse. He was optimistic and proclaimed “Drew Brees is going to score so many fantasy points that he’s going to break stat tracker!” We all know how that turned out.

So, put yourself in Keith’s shoes for a minute. Here we are in week 3. You’re 0-2 (thanks in large part to Brees), and the Kurse has clearly established itself. The last time you had positive words for Brees in your smack talk was a complete disaster. You’re leading your fantasy matchup 98.48 to 95.59 and you still have Brees to play. Your opponent has Chris Brown. Even if Brown finds his way to the end zone (he didn’t), you would still likely have the upper hand as long as Brees didn’t totally implode (he did).

Even so, the obvious approach is to lay low, expect the worst, and just hope you are fortunate for once and eke out a win somehow, right? Well Keith, ever the King of Wishful Thinking, offered up the following smack talk throughout the day on Monday.


That line from Keith prompted this Gmail chat exchange before kickoff where I, too, tried to talk myself into Keith winning, before coming to the realization that he didn’t have a prayer.

5:09 PM Durden: I think Keith doesn’t understand the kurse
5:11 PM Mazzone: why not?
5:12 PM Durden: haha, he’s talking about a win being
in sight
Mazzone: yea, but he wins a few games a year and even made the playoffs once, in spite of the kurse…
(thinking…thinking…)
5:13 PM Mazzone: but damn, you have to figure Bre
es for negative points tonight, no?
Durden: well, that's what I’m saying...if I’m Keith, I do not think a win is "in sight" until I actually see it

So, while the train wreck that ensued was not exactly a surprise, it was still painful to watch. So much so, that I turned away at half time and left NFL.com game cast and Durden to update me on the happenings. It was especially brutal for me, even though I wasn’t involved in the fantasy matchup, because I had seen this before.

Last year, I had a sizeable lead in a matchup going into MNF and I started Rex Grossman over Matt Leinart in the “They are who we thought they were!” game. The Sex Cannon lost me the matchup with this line: 14 for 37, 144 yards, 4 INTs, 2 sacks, 2 fumbles. I told Durden after just two Saints offensive possessions that it felt like that night all over again. Brees’ line wasn’t as bad as Sexy Rexy’s, but it will still make you cringe: 29 for 45, 225 yards, 4 INTs, 1 sack, 1 fumble.

To make matters worse, my brother's fantasy matchup was going back and forth all night. With 5 minutes left in the game Keith took the lead on six consecutive Drew Brees completions. Only to see the 7th pass attempt of the drive result in an interception, putting him behind again with just three minutes left. Believe it or not, the good news was that the pick went to the house so, instead of the Titans killing the clock, Brees would get the ball back with one last chance to salvage a win for team Gecko.

This time, Brees rattled off five consecutive completions and Keith had regained the lead with a mere 1:25 to play! When Lance Moore dropped the next pass it seemed like a minor setback to the average person, but those of us who know Keith and the Kurse, knew better. That drop signaled the beginning of the end. And on the next play, Brees’ pass found the Titans KEITH Bullock for the 3rd time in the game. Bringing new meaning to the Kurse of Keith and providing a fitting end to the night, as that 16th incompletion and 4th interception dropped team Gecko to 0-3.

It truly is amazing, and if you aren’t a believer by now then you’re just being stubborn. So, without further ado it’s this week’s Kurse Watch, with an interesting developing story line NOT involving Drew Brees…

As always, adjust your rosters accordingly…

Start planning your retirement.
Drew Brees’ family, friends, pets, teammates, high school classmates… At this point, no one is safe. Just ask Deuce McAllister who tore his ACL trying to haul in a Brees pass. It’s the second time McAllister has fallen victim to the Kurse.

Quick, fake an injury!
It might be too late for Lee Evans (occupied this spot last week), who has 5 catches for 29 yards on the season, but it’s not too late for Jay Cutler. Jay - Drew Brees is on a bye this week, and you’re Keith’s backup QB. Do yourself a favor and tweak a hamstring in practice. Or maybe, sprain an ankle?

1-2, he's comin' for you...
A little background on this one: Everyone in our fantasy league is from New Jersey, Keith completed grad school at Rutgers and owns a #23 Scarlet Knights Jersey. Long a fan of Brian Leonard, Keith drafted him this year - only to have to cut him after the first couple weeks. Naturally, SJax goes down after Keith cuts Leonard.

Fortunately for Keith, not so much for Brian, team Gecko added Leonard to the mix off waivers this morning. This IMMEDIATELY sparked a “FREE BRIAN LEONARD” campaign in our league chat. No one is excited about the impending doom hovering over the Great White Hope from New Jersey. Here’s a copy of what’s transpired so far:
________________
Poor Brian Leonard

Posted by: Dave (White WRs/Black QBs) Sep 25 1:29pm
On a day that should be so exciting for Brian Leonard, he suffers the misfortune of being picked up by Keith. Any chance of Brian stepping in for Steven Jackson and performing well has now gone out the window. Keith, I know that you love some Brian Leonard, but sometimes when you love something, you have to let it go. Let Brian go. It's his only chance of becoming a player in the National Football League. If you keep him on your roster, he will surely be cut prior to next season after disappointing with a 1.2 ypc average and at least 7 fumbles lost. Things can only be worse for him if you decide to play him, as a career ending injury is sure to follow. So Keith, I ask you, as a fellow fan of Brian Leonard, the Great White Hope for Running Backs, LET HIM GO, Please, let him go.

Re: Poor Brian Leonard

Posted by: Rory (BoobieTassles) Sep 25 1:40pm
I second Dave's heartfelt plea.

Wow

Posted by: durden (Makin It Reign) Sep 25 2:14pm
I've never encountered something like this as commish before...is this a FREE Brian Leonard campaign?!

Do t-shirts need to get made?

Re: Poor Brian Leonard
Posted by: Mazzone(Tropical Storm Chris) Sep 25 2:14pm
I didn't want to be the first to say it but Durden and I talked about this after hearing of SJax's injury. The initial hope was that since Keith cut Leonard he would be penalized by the Kurse in that Brees would do just enough to win last night so Keith couldn't get Leonard in waivers...

Since that didn't happen I've already begun mourning the upcoming Brian Leonard injury. Terrible news.
________________

So there you have it, Brian. We’re all rooting for you, but be careful, be very very careful.


***Update*** There are rumors coming from an anonymous source close to the situation that Keith is attempting to trade Brian Leonard before the weekend in hopes of saving his career. I’ll keep you posted.


Safe...for now
Shaun Alexander: You know it’s bad when the person appearing under “Safe for now” is a running back playing with a broken wrist. 300 yards and 2 TDs isn’t Shaun Alexander-like, but it’s not terrible with a broken wrist and we’re not going to give up on him just yet as he seems determined to beat the Kurse.

I'm a Survivor!
Randy Moss: On his way to 17 consecutive weeks here.


I have nothing left to say. I can’t even really blame Keith if he doesn’t believe in football anymore…

Monday, September 24, 2007

He said what?!

If there were any non-believers in the Kurse going into tonight, there are no more or certainly won’t be after tomorrow. I will cover the details in the Wednesday weekly Kurse watch, but it’s not going to be pretty. Along the same lines of watching Rex Grossman, it’s hard for me to find humor in it anymore. It makes me a little sick to my stomach just thinking about the latest chapter in the Kurse of Keith…

On a brighter note (at least for me), those of you that enjoyed my fantasy football disaster last week that brought a name change from Hurricane Chris to Tropical Storm Chris (zero touchdowns in my starting lineup and only two TD’s on my total roster of 15 offensive players) will be disappointed to hear that this week offered up a much different scenario, as expected.

I couldn’t even find room in my lineup for all my studs, as the same 15 offensive players accounted for 19 TDs, a two point conversion, and a boat load of yards en route to being the highest scoring lineup in the league for week 3. Back in biz!

If Archie Manning had a sense of humor he would have tried to kiss Suzy Kolber like I had hoped. But, since he didn't, I don’t have anything else to share about the game until tomorrow's Kurse watch. So, here are some fun quotes from around the sports world this week, but first we'll kick it off with a non-sports related personal favorite...


"I was in a casino. I was standing by the door, and a security guard came over and said

'You're gonna have to move. You're blocking the fire exit.'

As though if there was a fire, I wasn't gonna run. If you are flammable and have legs, then you are never blocking a fire exit...

You can write that down and put a dash in front of it, and put my name at the bottom."
-the late Mitch Hedberg


“I’m just going to strike out a lot,” he said. “I always lead every league I’m in in strikeouts, so I figure if it’s the major leagues, at least that’s the best league. It’s better than leading the Pacific Coast League.”
- Jack Cust
After playing in just 118 games and striking out 154 times, most in the American League


"I didn't get to the quarterback. I suck right now. So there. There's your headline.''
-Jason Taylor
After, well, sucking for the third straight game..


"This decision lacks integrity, and it lacks ethics.''
- Daryl Johnston after Dallas signed troubled defensive tackle Tank Johnson.
Oh really?! Should we remind DJ of some of the guys he has to thank for his Super Bowl titles?


"Brett Favre will be 38 in October... October 10th should be a national holiday, by the way."
-Chris Berman
Not realizing how sick everyone is with regards to the polyandrous relationship he, John Madden, and the rest of the media have with Brett Favre.



"Here's the concern -- in our society now, so many things come up on Web sites and Internet," Edwards said. "First of all, I don't even have the Internet. I wouldn't even know how to use it."
-Chiefs Head Coach Herman Edwards
Suddenly everything makes sense. I imagine something like this… “So many people are focused on managing the clock these days. I don’t even know how to tell time.”


"The best way I can describe it is it felt like somebody bungee jumped off my right nut."
-Ken Griffey Junior describing his recent abdominal injury
Ouch.


"The thing that makes me laugh is what so many players and coaches have said about us having their plays. Like the Eagles saying we knew everything that was coming in the Super Bowl because we ran so many screens. Give me a break. Of course we ran all those screens! They blitz on every down!''
-Tom Brady
I hate the guy, but that’s a valid argument.


And finally, this exchange happened in OVERTIME of a huge game, and we have the mind boggling video to prove it.
Mike Patrick: I’ve got an important question.
Todd Blackledge: "Go ahead."
Patrick: "What is Britney doing with her life?"
Blackledge: "Who?"
Patrick: "Britney!"
Blackledge: "Britney who?"
Patrick: "Spears…What's she doing with her career?"
(laughter)
Blackledge: "Why do we care at this point? …Is she here?"
Patrick: “I don’t think so.”
Blackledge: “Is she a football fan?”
Patrick: “Oh, I’m sure she is.”…Georgia from the 25…Stafford want’s it aaaallll, TOUCHDOWN!



Sunday, September 23, 2007

Vegas Flexes its Muscles (week 3 roundup)

I’m told the house always wins. And unless you’re a fan of heart attacks, today was great reinforcement for why you shouldn’t bet on sports. Here’s a recap of some of the day’s biggest gambling events, before getting into some news and notes around the league.

Jacksonville 23 – Denver 14:
This game had to be responsible for at least one gambling related death today. The over/under ranged from 36 - 37.5 points depending on where you place your bets. The score was 20-14 with over 12 minutes to play. Those with the over were feeling great. That was until the Jags put together a 6 minute drive only to see Maurice Jones-Drew fumble at the Denver 2 yard line. All of the sudden those with the under were alive again and those with the over were sweating. Denver couldn’t get the offense going and failed to convert 4th down from inside their ten. So, with two minutes to go Jacksonville would surely punch it in from the 4 making all over bets winners, right? Not a chance, the Jags were stuffed three straight times from inside the five and on 4th and 1 from the one, elected to ice the game with a FG. Final total score of 37.

NYG 24 – Washington 17:
This was another brutal one on multiple levels. For those with the ‘Skins at -3.5, 4, 4.5, you were feeling good up 17-3 at the half and had hope throughout the game. Unfortunately, each play of the second half probably felt like slow twist of the knife into your stomach. The other part of this double whammy for the betting world was that the over under was set at anywhere from 40-42.5 depending on your sports book. Oh, and the game ended with the Redskins having first and goal from the 1 yard line of the Giants, and getting stopped four straight times. Final point total, 41.

Seattle 24 – Cincinnati 21:
The line was SEA -2.5, -3, -3.5. It’s never fun for gamblers when there’s a safety involved, but at least it came early enough in the game. This one was a heart breaker for other reasons.

The game winning TD came with a minute to go but there was still hope for those who bet on Cincinnati… or the over (ranging from 48-50 points). A last gasp drive by Carson and company for the game tying FG would ensure overtime and the “over”, as well as keep both teams chances of covering alive. That is, until the Bengals fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Seattle recovered at the Bengals 33. But wait, they had 3 time outs so Seattle would have to try and move the ball, and maybe find the end zone or be forced to try a FG if the Bengals stopped them. After a run for no gain and a Bengals time out, Shaun Alexander broke off a 20 yard run to the Bengals 13-yard line… one play too late. Down to only two timeouts, Hasselbeck was able to kneel out the clock and end the game.

Oakland 26 – Cleveland 24:
The line was OAK -2.5, 3, 3.5. A Cleveland TD with three minutes to play made or broke this bet depending on which side you were on. Oh, and if you picked the Browns to win outright then you were certainly devastated when the game winning field goal was negated by a last second Lane Kiffin time out, only to see the re-kick get blocked and Oakland come away with the win.

Kansas City 13 – Minnesota 10:
Depending on your sports book the line was KC -3.5, 3, or 2.5.

NY Jets 31 - Miami 28:
The line was NYJ -3.5, 3, or 2.5. A Dolphins TD with one minute to play made the difference.

Indianapolis 30 – Houston 24:
It took a conversion on 4th and 9 late in the fourth quarter to keep a Texan drive alive that ended with a touchdown to cut the lead to 6. The line on this one was Indy -5.5, 6, 6.5.

Dallas 34 - Chicago 10: over/under was 41.5.
With the Cowboys icing the game and just trying to wear down the clock, Marion Barber III broke off a 54 yard run to the goal line, and subsequent 1 yard TD run to push the point total from 37 to 44.

Baltimore 26 – Arizona 23:
Baltimore was up 26-3 (covering the 8 points) and in complete control in the fourth quarter before falling apart for the second straight week and winning by a mere field goal.

Other notes from around the league:

-What’s more likely… 16-0 Patriots or 0-16 Dolphins? Coaching and defense (or lack thereof) killed Miami yet again, while New England coasted with 35 unanswered points after falling behind Buffalo early.

-Matt Schaub and the Texans definitely struggled at times today, but they still managed to keep it a game with the Colts. They did so without their best player (Andre Johnson), and after losing Ahman Green (knee injury early in the 2nd quarter), Jacoby Jones (separated shoulder in the third), Seth McKinney (sprained knee in the 4th), and Cedric Killings (taken to the hospital after suffering a serious neck injury on special teams like the Bills Kevin Everett).

-Public displays of affection in Philly this weekend: Kitna was hooking up with Roy Williams all over the place. But the bigger story was that Donovan McNabb and Kevin Curtis must have taken their Cialis before the game because they hooked up 11 times (221 yards and 3 touchdowns)!

-I know someone in the top five was pretty much obligated to take Larry Johnson in their fantasy draft, but you couldn’t have felt good about it at the time, and it has to be even worse now. I see maybe 4 games where you can optimistically hope for something out of him that’s worthy of a top 5 pick. Not good business.

-How about Eli Manning and the Giants showing a little moxie to comeback in Washington.

-Tony Romo is the white Donovan McNabb. This is a good thing for Cowboys fans, because if you remember the only thing keeping McNabb from winning the big one a few years back, was that he was black.

-In other Cowboys news, can we stop pretending Julius Jones should be a significant part of the offense? MBIII is a beast.

-I really hope Calvin Johnson’s injury isn’t bad (and I don’t think it is). Not only because I like him, but also because I want Adrian Peterson to win the ROY fair and square.

-Durden was excited for this Yamon Figurs character all offseason, even more so after finding out he was faster than Devin Hester. Now we know why he was excited.

-Even I want Brian Griese to replace Grossman, and I don’t like the Bears. It’s just too painful to watch Grossman right now. As I said last week, it’s not even funny anymore, just sad.

-Steelers in the midst of the longest bye “week” in the history of the NFL, and it’s not scheduled to end until about Week 7.

-And finally, I’m going to save you the trouble of watching sports center.
Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Week 3: Miami Football Dolphins @ New Jersey Jets

Initially, I had planned to do a lengthy analysis/write up about this game and how I'm from New Jersey but loathe the Jets and their fans.

I thought of talking a little about the resistable force (Dolphins front seven) going up against the moveable object (Jets offensive line).

Or how the Miami run defense that's worst in the NFL will be without arguably its most important run stopper...and how if the run defense were actually good, the pass defense would probably be among the worst.

Then again, I could mention how the Jets offense is questionable, and I'm not simply alluding to the injuries (Pennington, Cotchery, Jones, to name a few).

What about how Pennington Bear and the Jets have owned the Dolphins lately, especially in New Jersey?

I considered continuing my plea for Ronnie Brown to get a legit shot by explaining how he averages 4.6 yards per carry and the Dolphins are 6-2 when he gets 20+ carries.

Then I remembered how the numbers, the records, and talent on either team are rendered meaningless when these two rivals play, so I briefly toyed with the idea of recapping some of the historic games. But that's already been done in far more detail than I ever cared to do...here. Besides, absurd comebacks (Monday Night Miracle) and "epic" battles seem to happen regularly in sports these days.

That being said, there is one game in this rivalry, better yet... play that transcends all the typical great moments. A single play that hadn't been pulled off before, and hasn't been done since. A play that capped off a miraculous comeback in front of 75,606 people (the largest home attendance mark in Jets history), and sent the Jets franchise into a tailspin. This play was pre-direct tv, pre-internet blogging boom, and yet every single one of you knew exactly what I was talking about before you finished reading the first sentence. That probably says enough, but I can't think of any reason to hold back on the Jets...

The Jets were 6-5 at the time and seemingly headed to 7-5 (leading 24-6 in the fourth quarter) before they were blindsided by Marino. They would end up losing the last 5 games of the season, finishing 6-10 . The following season the Jets would lose 52-14 on opening day in Miami and go on to finish an NFL worst, 3-13. Which, of course, was followed by another NFL worst 1-15 season. To recap: The Jets were 6-5 prior to the defining play, 4-33 in the two plus seasons after it.

Whenever I find myself questioning my belief in football, I simply turn to these videos and all faith is restored...

For Jets fans beautiful memories of the fake spike, click here.

video


"Everybody said if Marino was going to be around at that time, they'd take Marino. Obviously the Jets know something that, you know, the people up here don't."


So, the Dolphins may be 0-2, playing poorly, and showing little signs of life, but none of that matters in this game. Besides, things could always be worse...we could be the F'in Jets.

BELIEVE IN FOOTBALL, BELIEVE IN THE DOLPHINS...
F THE J.E.T.S.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Week 3: Spread'em Challenge

Well, we both struggled last week , but still had some money making gems for our faithful readers. Durden hit his two team parlay for the second straight week (Packers/Pats) and though I fell short on my animal style parlay (Houston/Miami both to win outright), I did give you a couple upsets winners (Cards/Texans).

In the end, Durden squeaked out another 1 game win with a record of (7-8-1). That puts him at 15-14-3 while I sit two games back at 13-16-3, but I’m a notoriously slow starter…as far as you know.

Besides, I don’t know how you expect us to do well picking games with all the “cheating” going on. I heard some team’s (even teams with really really bad defenses) are now designing plays intended to cause sacks and turnovers. Goodell has to put a stop to this immediately.

Without further ado, onto the Week 3 picks…


Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans +6
Mazzone:
The animal is out with an injury and Peyton and the Colts are coming off a rare subpar week. If the Texans pull this off they’ll make a believer out of Durden and everyone else. I’ll be rooting for it, but it’s going to take a near flawless performance and I don’t think they’re there just yet. This looks to be a small bump in the road for the Texans party bus.
Pick: Colts -6

Durden:
There are two things here that I will stubbornly continue to ignore this week: the Texans' undefeated start to the season, and the Colts practically insisting on playing their opponents close in divisional games. In fact, three of the Colts' four losses last year were on the road against their divisional rivals. The Colts will cover though, and if there was any doubt, Andre Johnson's injury should put that to rest.
Pick: Colts -6

San Diego Chargers @ Green Bay Packers +5
Mazzone:
Fresh off their blowout loss in Cheater Bowl ’07, people are giving the Chargers offense a pass because they played two tough defenses. That’s a lame excuse, and unless they plan on playing the Browns, Giants, and Raiders in the post season they might want to find a way to score on good defenses. The Packers will pose another test this weekend, and if the Chargers offense fails this one, it’s time to be seriously concerned about their Super Bowl potential.
Pick: Chargers -5

Durden: I guess when you're about to break the all-time INT record, you deserve the attention that Favre's getting. Meanwhile, the defense is actually winning them games while he's all but being begged to not lose them. The plan's working so far, and assuming Brett sticks to the script, I see them keeping this one close and possibly even winning (especially if Jamal Williams can't go for the Chargers). You'd think Rivers and the Charger offense would be due to break out any week, but it won't be against this defense. Pick: Packers +5

Minnesota Vikings @ Kansas City Chiefs -3
Mazzone:
I hear Larry Johnson’s been getting a bad rap lately. ZING! Anyway, I was sold on the Chiefs in this game all week, but now with Tarvaris Jackson looking like he won’t be able to play, I’m actually a little concerned. Jackson going into KC after last weekend’s performance was easy money. He would have tried to do too much and turned the ball over some more. Bollinger/Holcomb might be better suited to go into that environment and manage the game (that thought looks a lot worse in print than it did in my head, but it’s not like the Chiefs have a superhero at QB either). In a matchup of two crappy teams, I’m taking the home team and the most proven player (LJ).
Pick: Chiefs -3

Durden:
I heard the other day that this game was expected to be a defensive struggle. In this case, that's a nice way of saying that everything about this game is going to be a struggle for everyone involved, including us at home. Do yourself a favor and stay away from this one, but take the points if you're feeling brave. It really says a lot when you pick the team who doesn't know who its starting QB will be, doesn't it?
Pick: Vikings +3

Detroit Lions @ Philadelphia Eagles -7
Mazzone:
It’s a classic battle… The revered white QB trying to turn around a franchise (with the help of God) against the ridiculed black QB that’s singlehandedly destroying his team. The Eagles have been here before, and I’m not ready to call McNabb “DUNovan” just yet, but 7 seems like a lot when a team that’s shown us nothing is playing a team that’s brought us miracles. I like the Eagles to win, but the Lions to keep it interesting...and if they don’t, these Eagles jerseys certainly will.
Pick: God +7

Durden: Allegedly, this line was originally -10 but was adjusted with the Lions having the racial advantage at QB. In spite of that, I like the Lions to cover (and quite possibly win) as their passing game should be too overwhelming for a banged up Eagle secondary. Let's face it, we might see a very creative interpretation of defense in this one from both teams. Westbrook may not even play, and McNabb has looked too shaky for me to feel good about Philly's offense in a shootout.
Pick: Lions +7

Buffalo Bills @ New England -16.5
Mazzone:
We’re about two weeks away from the Pats game not having a line and Vegas not taking bets, a la college cupcakes playing a powerhouse. J.P. Losman is pleading with the coaching staff to open up the offense earlier in the game, so look for a couple more of their signature hail mary attempts to Lee Evans this week. They probably won’t work though. So, I’m not sure how the Bills are going to score, but I’m not ready to give 16.5 to any divisional opponent this early in the season.
Pick: Bills +16.5

Durden: This week's Andrew Meyer Game! Here are the Bills, just trying to innocently put together another woeful season, and now they have to head to Gillette and play the Belicheats? Do they really deserve that? What did they doooo?! Just one request for Bill Belichick: DON'T TASE THEM BRO!!!!
Pick: Patriots -16.5

Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets -3
Mazzone: Cam Cam is a lot like Tom Tom…except I’m not sure if he knows where he’s going, or how to get there. I know even the greatest head coaches had rocky starts and you have to be patient in a situation like this. But that doesn’t mean the poor clock management and questionable play calling isn’t excruciatingly frustrating. Ronnie Brown’s done well against the Jets in the past. For the love of God, give him the ball more than 11 times. If you’re not a Dolphins fan but have seen their games the past two weeks, it’s tough to bet on them right now. I’m forever biased and even though the Dolphins could cost me this competition in the end...
Pick: Miami Football Dolphins +3
(Plenty more coming on Saturday’s game preview with a little something extra for ‘Phin Fans)

Durden:
Another "defensive struggle?" I expect Mazzone will have plenty to say about this one, so I'll keep it simple. Zach Thomas may not play Sunday, so I'll give the edge to the Jets. (Yes, that's a cop-out because we all know that no one ever knows what's going to happen in these games.) Plus, I owe Jerricho Cotchery and his hands for last week!
Pick: Jets -3

San Francisco 49ers @ Pittsburgh McBeams -9
Mazzone:
I’ve always had a man crush on Frank Gore, and think the Niners are a year away from being dangerous in the NFC, but anyone who has watched their first two games knows that they probably deserve to be 0-2. They also just lost Manny Lawson for the season with a torn ACL. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh hasn’t even broken a sweat.
Pick: McBeams -9

Durden:
Honeymoon's over for the 49ers. Vernon Davis is already voicing his displeasure with the offense, and they just lost a key defensive playmaker for the year, in Manny Lawson. This should really hurt their chances of disrupting Big Ben and the pass game, along with their chances of keeping this one too close. Look for the McBeams to roll, and I'll say it again, this should be a weekly theme until the Bengals and Ravens have a chance to say anything about it later this season.
Pick: Steelers -9

Arizona Cardinals @ Baltimore Ravens -8
Mazzone:
I thought this line was going to be less than a touchdown and I was all set to take the Ravens. Since seeing it at eight, I’ve gone back and forth quite a bit. Ultimately, I’m thinking Leinart still makes too many questionable decisions for the Ravens defense to not capitalize more than once.
Pick: Ravens -8

Durden:
I hate to say it, but while I felt good about the Ravens winning last week, I wouldn't have liked them by much more than a TD. Sure enough, the defense allowed it to become a nailbiter, before pulling it out late. I know the Ravens feel good about this game because they're going with they're going with their 2nd best QB this week (see: Steve McNair). I feel good about them winning too, but the Cardinals are even better than the Jets on both sides of the ball. This one will be too close for comfort.
Pick: Cardinals +8

St. Louis Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers -4
Mazzone:
It’s going to take a lot more than one win at home over the Saints for me to buy into the Bucs. Despite the offensive line being a mess, the Rams destroyed the Niners on both sides of the ball. They were up 13-7 midway through the third quarter and marching easily down the field when Tory Holt had the ball knocked loose at the Niners seven yard line. In the most unfortunate of bounces, it headed toward the endzone, hopped just by Isaac Bruce (standing at the one), and out of the end zone for a 49ers touchback. On the ensuing possession, Frank Gore took off for a 43 yard TD run to give the Niners the lead. A Dante Hall fumbled punt late in the fourth was responsible for the game winning SF field goal. Despite all that, the Rams still had a chance to win when Jeff Wilkins came up inches short on a 56-yard FG with a minute to play (he had already nailed a 53 yarder earlier, with ease). Top if off with their underachieving star runningback throwing a tantrum on the sidelines, and I think the Rams are ready to let out their frustrations this week against the Bucs. Getting four points is just gravy.
Pick: Rams +4

Durden:
What am I doing picking the team who lost its first 2 games at home? Call it a hunch, but Steven Jackson is due and this Rams team has to win at least a handful of games this year. This is one of them.
Pick: Rams +4

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Denver Broncos -3.5

Mazzone: Maybe I should be, but I’m not scared off by Denver seemingly lacking that killer instinct against inferior teams. The Jags won’t score more than 10 points without a defensive touchdown.
Pick: Broncos -3.5

Durden:
Earlier this season, I alluded to the loss of Brad Meester as being noteworthy, yet I thought that Jacksonville would be able to get by. Well, his injury apparently was significant because the Jags have actually struggled mightily on the ground. Unfortunately for them, there's no reason to believe they'll be able to take advantage of a run defense that is seemingly the Broncos' only weakness. Their hope lies in the Broncos barely winning their first two games against weaker opponents, despite owning the best offense in the league, as well as the top pass defense. However, I see Denver finally putting together a complete victory and the Jags continuing to frustrate whoever gets frustrated when the Jags don't do well.
Pick: Broncos -3.5

Cincinnati Bengals @ Seattle Seahawks - 3.5

Mazzone: We’re about to find out what happens when two teams who tend to play at the level of their opponent play each other. The crazy Browns loss aside, I just can’t see Marvin Lewis in a boot/on crutches anymore and feel confident in the Bengals. Besides, the ‘Hawks defense is better, and they don’t lose at home (30-7 since 2002, including postseason).
Pick: Seahawks -3.5

Durden:
Since last year, I've been waiting for Seattle's defense to really step forward and make a statement. It won't happen this Sunday against a potent Bengal offense, but combined with their notorious home field advantage, it should be able to do just enough. The Seahawk offense is better than anything the pathetic Cinci defense has seen this year, and that should make the difference in this one.
Pick: Seahawks -3.5

Cleveland Browns @ Oakland Raiders -3
Mazzone:
No sense wasting the unlimited space I’m allotted on this blog to talk about this game, so…Remember this? Watch the whole thing and enjoy.
Pick: Raiders -3


Durden:
When you're the Cleveland Browns, any game followed by a win is a trap game. Does anyone see the Browns going over .500? How about Derek Anderson putting together consecutive impressive outings?? Me neither. The Raider offense will be having some fun on Sunday.
Pick: Raiders -3

Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons +4
Mazzone:
Going against my Texans, Durden slept with the Panthers last week and is lucky he didn’t come away with more than just a loss. But, the Falcons are no Texans and you can’t possibly expect Joey Heisman to play better now that Leftwich is looming.
Pick: Panthers -4

Durden: Yoey.
Pick: Panthers -4

New York Giants @ Washington Redskins -4
Mazzone: The Giants are obviously in shambles, the Redskins are rolling, and who knows how long Elisha Nelson Manning is gonna be able to stay in the game.
Pick: ‘Skins -4

Durden:
Gutsy game last week by Eli, who played far better than I expected him to for the most part. The Giants just aren't catching many breaks this season, and I expect more of the same against the Redskins. If this game is close, it's only because Washington is overly conservative on offense again, despite having the weapons to open things up.
Pick: Redskins -4

Dallas Cowboys @ Chicago Bears -3
(Sunday Night Football)
Mazzone:
With the Cowboys playing better right now and getting three points you’d think this would be a sure thing. But, at home on Sunday Night Football the Bears defense is going to be amped up, and Romo hasn’t gotten dirty yet this season. You already know how I feel about the Cowboys defense. I think the Bears will rattle Romo, force a couple turnovers, and then it’s just a matter of whether or not Rexy can keep from screwing it all up.
Pick: Da Bears -3

Durden:
The Bears defense is solid, but the Cowboys offense will be up to the task on Sunday night. None of that will matter though, because it's going to be the same story all season for Dallas. If you can't exploit their secondary and make them pay for it, you're going to get outscored. Rex Grossman is good at getting outscored.
Pick: Cowboys +3

Tennessee Titans @ New Orleans Saints -5

(Monday Night Football)
Mazzone: I’m 0-2 when picking against Vince Young and I’m 0-2 picking the Saints and not respecting the Kurse’s impact on Drew Brees. Easy decision.
Pick: Vince Young’s +5

Durden:
I'm hesitant to go against the Saints, because the last time I went against them on MNF (vs. Atlanta), I wasn't able to enjoy their feel-good win as it eliminated me from my own Survivor pool. It's payback time though, and who better to help me avenge my loss than my boy V Diddy?? I still have no explanation for what the Titans are doing but it's going to be the Rose Bowl all over again, with Young leading an inferior team to victory over Reggie Bush.
Pick: Titans +5

This week’s Double-Double features Durden going AGAINST his own team:

Durden: Colts -6, Cardinals +8

Mazzone: Broncos -3.5, Rams +4


Enjoy this week's winnings, and always believe in football...