Friday, October 26, 2007

Week 8 Spread 'em: In-N-Out Challenge

First off, apologies for the lack of posts in recent weeks. My desktop is fried and won't be fixed for another week or so. I'm stuck working off my crappy laptop in the meantime, and since I associate that with my real job I try to stay off it as much as possible. But there is plenty of stuff in the works for when I get the desktop back up and running again.

Durden and I are, for the first time this season, both coming off respectable weeks. He was 9-5 and I was 8-6 and also correctly predicted that a kicker would kick 8 field goals last week. Unfortunately, I went with Matt Stover and not Rob Bironas.

Week 8 has some interesting story lines, but no one cares about those. Next week, the Colts beat the Pats and the following week the Chargers beat the Colts and the '72 Dolphins get to pop some champagne. I guess we'll pick games this week anyway.

click clack...

Cleveland @ St. Louis +3
I can't believe I actually said, "Wow, the Browns are only giving three to the Rams?!" Which screams of a Rams victory, but I'm not listening.
Pick: Browns -3

Durden: First, a note from a recent ESPN journal entry of Steven Jackson’s: Have a great week, everyone. And hold tight to me in your leagues. You may be seeing me sooner than you expected. (Great! Because I was expecting an effective Steven Jackson in Week 1, but to accelerate that expectation by negative 7 weeks would be AWESOME!)

And now, always take the Browns when the opposing coach is talking like this: "Maybe I'll go call the coach at Rutgers and get some of his plays. Maybe that's what I need to do. ... That's a great idea. That's what you ought to do. You ought to watch TV and just get plays, and we'll do that." -St. Louis Rams coach Scott Linehan when asked by a radio reporter at yesterday's press conference if he would call trick plays to jump start his slumping offense.
Pick: Browns -3

Detroit @ Chicago -5
Meh, the Bears have no business giving five points to a team that's ahead of them in the standings, and 2-0 in the division already. But, after Philadelphia cheated and turned off Brian Griese's headset, he said "Eff You", called his own plays and brought Chicago the length of the field to victory… on the road. You can't bet against that man this week! At least wait 'til the Lions pick him off three times before turning on him again.
Pick: Bears -5

Durden: I was caught off guard last week by the Lions getting away from the pass, but it made sense as the Bucs are far worse at defending the run, and it worked out. Sure, it helped that Jon Kitna’s dad hooked them up with some key fumbles and a field goal miss, but hey, that’s how God rolls. No such worries this week though, because the Bears have struggled against both the pass and the run, in large part due to injuries. Therefore, I expect the Lions to revert back to Tank Johnson football – guns a blazin’, baby.
Pick: Lions +5

Indy @ Carolina +7
There's no such thing as a trap game if David Carr is the opposing team's QB. I think the Colts will be looking ahead to the Patriots, so they may only win by 13. In related news, how many people have to talk about the Colts flying under the radar, before they aren't flying under the radar anymore? It's always great when every media outlet is a week late on a potential story like that and all the stories come out within a couple days of each other. This just in, the defending champs are still great!
Pick: Colts -7

A couple of things you could look at are the Panthers coming off a bye, and the Colts playing on short rest. Then when you’re done, you can stop wasting your time. There’s no way the NFL is letting Vinny or Carr come remotely close to ruining Pats @ Colts next week.
Pick: Colts -7

NYG @ Miami (London) +10
Ah, I remember when I heard about the London game, it being a "home" game for the Dolphins and how annoyed I was at that. "This better not cost them a playoff spot!" The good old days… Anyway, I'd feel better about the Dolphins chances if giant robotic Jason Taylor lined up on defense for them. Even though you could make a legitimate argument for not throwing John Beck to the wolves with this mess of a team, I'd like to see him after the bye week regardless of whether or not the Giants D-line eats Cle Lemon this week.
Pick: Miami +10

I get what the NFL is doing here, it’s just stupid. As if their season hadn’t been enough, Miami now loses a home game to London, and people over there are forced to watch them play. Whatever happens in London, stays in London! Speaking of London, here’s Channing Crowder joking around about it – or is he? Sadly though, I think any wild card introduced to a match-up can only benefit the Dolphins, but a decimated defense and no Ronnie Brown is too much to overlook.
Pick: Giants +10

Oakland @ Tennessee -7.5
The Titans are coming off their first win in franchise history without Vince Young at QB, so that should give them some added confidence in case he can't make it through the full game this week. I expect a defensive struggle, and the Raiders to keep it close.
Pick: Raiders +7.5

I’m pretty sure this is the most surprising line of the week. The Titans just proved they’re woefully inept in the red zone, and almost let Sage Rosenfels complete a 25 point, 4th quarter comeback. These Raiders may not be good, but they’ve managed to stay in most games.
Pick: Raiders +7.5

Philadelphia @ Minnesota +1
The two Eagles wins came against awful pass defenses (Lions ranked 30th, Jets ranked 26 th). Minnesota is dead last in defending the pass and they only have one thing to game plan against on offense. Sure, Adrian Peterson is an animal and his touches might be increased with Chester Taylor being bothered by injuries, but the Eagles are solid against the run (ranked 8 th) and Minnesota, barring defensive touchdowns, can't beat them any other way as long as Tarvaris Jackson is throwing the football.
Pick: Eagles -1

The few things I’ve read about this game suggest that the Vikings should go with Kelly Holcomb at QB, because he’s very familiar with the Eagles. It’s not bad logic, except that it means the Eagles are also very familiar with Kelly and whatever few strengths he may actually have. Truth is, I just don’t have a great feel for this game but I have a hard time believing the Eagles are a 2-5 team.
Pick: Eagles -1

Pittsburgh @ Cincy +3.5
It took a couple weeks, but I finally believe that the Bengals are actually as bad as they've shown us so far. Even so, their schedule is pretty weak the rest of the way, and it wouldn't be shocking if they gave false hope to their fans and went on a little winning streak. But it won't start this week.
Pick: Steelers -3.5

Durden: Maybe it was just the “brutal” 35 degree weather, but Big Gay Ben was TERRIBLE on Sunday night before the Steelers realized he really just shouldn’t be throwing further than 10 yards down the field. He was lucky to only have 2 of his passes picked off in the first half, yet those likely made the difference against the Broncos, as Pittsburgh was not too bad otherwise. I think they’ll bounce back just fine against a bad, banged up Bengals team that appears to be a mess right now. Finally, I wanted to show you all that classy, civilized Steeler fans do exist. Unfortunately, this is all I could find.
Pick: Steelers -3.5

Buffalo @ NYJ -3
Um, I haven't picked many home teams yet. So, there's that…
Pick: Jets -3

Maybe this would’ve been a better London game, since the Giants are actually playoff bound. Anyways, now that the Jets are 1-6, my guess is that teams will stop videotaping them from the sidelines. Fortunately for them, I think that and the home field advantage should be enough to double their win total for the season.
Pick: Jets -3

Jacksonville @ Tampa Bay -4
The Jacksonville defense is excellent, but their inability to hit the playmaker button and force turnovers will continue to haunt them. A short field would significantly help and offense that will be without David Garrard and possibly MJD. While I don't think Quinn Gray can possibly be as bad as he was in relief last week (and Tampa is certainly not Indy), I'm still not ready to take him on the road.
Pick: Bucs -4

Before the Garrard injury, these teams were almost much mirror images of each other, with their D and ultra-conservative offenses keeping them in games. Not surprisingly, the AFC team in this case is better, but not when you replace Garrard with Quinn Gray. Words can not describe how bad that guy was against the Colts, and anyone that saw him play, knows what I’m talking about. Gray and a banged up MJD should equal bad times for the Jags.
Pick: Bucs -4

New Orleans @ San Fran +3
A matchup of two 2-4 teams (truth be told, the Niners should be 0-6 as anyone who saw their two wins can tell you). One was America's Team just a year ago, and the other was the favorite sleeper amongst the "experts" this season. Alex Smith is back at the helm for San Fran, but he may be without Darrell Jackson due to a quad injury. It's certainly more exciting to take the sexier Saints, but the truth is both these teams are bad, so I'm going with the home team and the points.
Pick: Niners +3

Durden: The Niners at home off the bye are enticing, but Alex Smith and Frank Gore less than 100% behind a line that’s been bad, do not inspire much confidence. Maybe the Saints should’ve looked better than they did against Atlanta, but I think they’ll win their 3rd in a row and flirt with playoff contention for a few weeks before they miss out.
Pick: Saints -3

Houston @ San Diego -11
It was tough to see Sage Rosenfels and the Texans "ROBBED" (oooooh) of a miraculous comeback win by Bironas and the Titans last week. Another loss, more injuries to deal with and now they have to face the new America's Team. By now, we all know that if there's anything that can save southern California and lift the people's spirits in the wake of the latest wildfires, it's professional football and the San Diego Super Chargers.
Pick: America's Team -11

Durden: Katrina Jr.? It’s unfortunate what’s going on out there, and it simply does not help that George Bush doesn’t care about white people. Yes, I know Norv Turner already has a big enough obstacle heading into games (himself), and this probably didn’t help much. However, I’m still taking them in my own Survivor Pool, and I feel confident that they’ll take care of business. Pick: Chargers -11

Washington @ New England -16.5
Mazzone: I don’t think the Pats are susceptible to a “trap game”, but the Redskin defense should be good enough to cover.
Pick: Redskins +16.5

Durden: The Patriots have only beaten a team by less than 20 once all season. The Redskins may be the most respectable opponent they’ll face to date, but Washington’s secondary did not finish the game as healthy as it started, and that’s enough for me to pick the Pats to cover yet again.
Pick: Patriots -16.5

Green Bay @ Denver -3
Brett Farve is fresh off a bye week where I’m sure he took home the Fed Ex air player of the week award and won another spot on the horse trailer for his performance watching the Colts/Jags game. The defeat of the Steelers was almost an impressive win for the Broncos before they fell apart and had to eke out a last second victory. I’m still not sure what to make of them, but I know I’m sick of a severely average Packers team winning games, so…
Pick: Denver -3

Durden: Anyone else suspect that John Madden will conveniently overcome his fear of flying to be at this game for his beloved Brett? I hate to say this, but Madden or not, I think we all may be in store for some of that “magic” on Monday. Of course, by magic, I just mean I think the Packers will beat a Denver team who hasn’t put together consecutive good games yet. We all know how the media will spin it on Tuesday morning though…
Pick: Packers +3

Friday, October 19, 2007

Week 7 Picks: Spread'em Challenge

A late night and long drive back to San Diego from the Home Depot Center last night is responsible for the picks being late, so let's cut right to the chase.

Last week, Durden reclaimed the three games I had stolen from him and upped his lead back to six. Onto this weeks picks.

Click clack.

Arizona @ Washington -8
Mazzone: Durden always jokes about Leinart and Warner being held together by paper clips and rubber bands. Now it's true. "Cardinals QB Kurt Warner has settled on a combination of tape and a brace to hold his injured elbow in place and says he's feeling good about being able to play Sunday at Washington." I think the ‘Skins win, but with both teams trying to run out the clock from the opening kickoff I think the Cards could keep it close.
Pick: Cardinals +8

Durden: You know the saying about how DBs would be WRs, if only they could catch? Well that would’ve applied to the Redskins last week, except their WRs weren’t much better. Those that watched know that Washington should’ve beaten the Packers. Will they bounce back? Will they overlook the Cards in anticipation of the Pats next week? These questions, an offensive line decimated by injuries, no Shawn Springs, and God giving Arizona back both Warner and Boldin, make me think the win won’t come so easy for Washington on Sunday.
Pick: Cardinals +8

Atlanta @ New Orleans -8.5
Mazzone: You can’t feel good about either pick here. Each team has only put together one good game. But of the Falcons 5 losses, only two have been by more than 7 and one of those was to a significantly better Giants team last week. Falcons tend to play bad teams close, Saints haven’t proven they don’t completely suck yet. So, give me the points.
Pick: Falcons +8.5

Durden: I was all set to take the points, but the Falcons had to go and start Byron Fatwich. Between that, and the Dolphins trading Chris Chambers, it appears the race for the #1 pick in the 2008 NFL Draft is officially on (leave it to the Rams to rush Bulger back). Anyway, I’ll pick the Saints coming back against the Fatwiches on short rest, especially since they helped make me look good last week.
Pick: Saints -8.5

Baltimore @ Buffalo +3
Trent Edwards for starting quarterback! Even with him at the helm, Matt Stover’s Ravens should win this one comfortably behind 8 field goals.
Pick: Ravens -3

Durden: It would appear that Willis is a prophet and DID know what he was talkin’ bout! As reviled as he is in Buffalo for those dickish comments (among others), it appears the Bills are now looking into his suggestion. Too bad they never looked into actually getting the man some help, but unfortunately for him, his current offense isn’t much better. I made it a point to detail the Ravens’ problems on their offensive line, and if you watched Sunday, you saw why. Boller and McGahee took the beating of their lives against the Rams, and there’s no reason to expect much better on Sunday.

Injuries are really piling up for Baltimore, and we’ll find out how they handle it on Sunday. All signs are pointing towards them being without the following players on Sunday: the entire OL, Pryce, Ray, McAlister, Heap & McNair. While they’re trying to dance around the issue, it’s pretty clear they’re hoping to get past Buffalo and get these guys three weeks of rest in time for the Pittsburgh game, as well as a brutal remaining schedule in general. I do think the Ravens can leave Buffalo a win, but these type of strategies have a way of biting teams in the ass. I’ll take the good guys with fingers crossed.
Pick: Ravens -3

Minnesota @ Dallas -9.5
TPS has been talking up Purple Jesus since the getgo. After last week, that won't be necessary anymore. Unfortunately, we don't know if it's enough for Major Dad to force feed him the ball or continue to give the chairman, Chester Taylor, the bulk of the touches. Regardless, there's no way Dallas lets Adrian Peterson do what he did to the Bears last week, and Tarvaris Jackson is still pathetic.
Pick: Cowboys -9.5

Durden: I gotta stick with what we’ve been preaching as far as Dallas is concerned, which is: if you can’t beat them through the air, you’re d-u-n. Props to AD for his historic game last week, but it’ll be interesting to see how he follows that up against a Cowboy team who should come back strong after losing to New England. Of course, given the Vikings’ awful pass “attack,” he may not get a chance to do much. Dallas may not get much out of MBIII this game, but look for AT LEAST 3 Romo TDs, 2 TO TDs and 2 Tarvaris INTs.
Pick: Cowboys -9.5

New England @ Miami +17
Mazzone: I've spent all week trying to talk myself into this one. I'm not quite there yet, but by Sunday I should be able to convince myself that the Dolphins will pull off the upset of the century, of the week.
Pick: Ronnie Brown +17

Durden: Here are a couple of quotes that help to explain why/how dismal this season has been for the Dolphins.

- "The season is not half over," first-year coach Cam Cameron said. "My experience is that when you get completely sick and tired of the feeling we have right now, then things will change." (just let us know when you guys are COMPLETELY sick and tired, Cam Cam)

- "It's another step in the right direction, to be able to beat a team that everybody says you're supposed to beat," Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel said. "I talked to the guys all during the week about not underestimating these guys or taking them lightly. To be able to come out and get this win against a team that you're supposed to beat, that's a plus. You've got to be able to do that in this league." (when Romeo Crennel doesn’t need a coin flip to figure out that the Browns are SUPPOSED to beat you, something’s going horribly wrong)

Back to this game though, I’m not picking against the Patriots until they slip up. You were warned that last week’s Patriots game was overhyped, and sure enough, it was. Remember, it’s only a big game in October if Derek Jeter’s hitting into double plays.
Pick: Patriots -17

San Francisco @ Giants -9
San Francisco gives up a lot of sacks. The Giants sack the quarterback a lot. I may not be a football expert, but I know that means Trent Dilfer is in for a long day. I said 6-2 before the bye wasn't out of the question after the slow start by the Giants. It's looking likely, and by season's end they'll be one of the top two teams in the NFC, the media will catch on and we'll hear some Super Bowl contender talk for Eli and company. And it won't be unrealistic.
Pick: Giants -9

Durden: Anyone else tired of this season’s Willis Reed? Plaxico Burress said after Monday night's game that his ankle was so sore on Sunday that he feared he might sit out against Atlanta. It’s been the same story for weeks now, yet he’s still OK to high step his way into the endzone when given the chance. Either Plax is fibbing, or his will alone at this point is good enough to cover the spread. Fortunately for the Giants, it won’t matter with Dilfer behind center for the 49ers.
Pick: Giants -9

Tampa Bay @ Detroit -2.5
I've given zero respect to the Bucs all season, and I can't think of a good reason to start now. Roy Williams should find the end zone twice this week.
Pick: Lions -2.5

Durden: "I learned from Bud Grant that every coach needs three things -- a loyal dog, a faithful wife and a heck of a quarterback. Finally, I've got a guy giving me good, consistent play.'' -Jon Gruden, apparently with a loose interpretation of the word “wife”

Look, I love red-headed QBs as much as the next guy, but come on. The Bucs aren’t that good and we know this. Mike Martz off the bye and at home, should lead to a nice day for the Lions’ offense, as well as Calvin hopefully reminding us that there’s another stud offensive rookie.
Pick: Lions -2.5

Tennessee @ Houston +1.5
Mazzone: Slowly, Houston is slowly getting its offense back from injury. Meanwhile, Vince Young may be out and the Titans have never won a game without Vince Young.
Pick: Texans +1.5

Durden: Not much to say about this game, and hopefully I’ll see even less of it on Sunday. The Titans D is for real, and it’s hard to take the Texans too seriously without Andre, not to mention they made the Jags’ offense look like New England’s last week. Houston’s going to have to do a better job of getting to the QB than they’ve been doing recently to have a shot.
Pick: Titans -1.5

Kansas City @ Oakland -3
Mazzone: If Herman Edwards keeps this up, we may have to start giving him credit for being more than just a motivator and time management specialist. Since I’m not ready to do that…
Pick: Raiders -3

Durden: If the Chargers were in any other AFC Division, there probably would’ve been reason for concern at some point. Luckily for them they’re the Seahawks of the AFC, which means they can (and probably will) all but beg a division rival to take the division, to no avail. Are you excited for this matchup yet? I think I’m going with the team who has the better offense and defense, but I know I’m definitely going with the points.
Pick: Chiefs +3

New York Jets @ Cincy -6
Even if I didn't loathe the Jets, I can't pick them to cover with Pennington bear being prominently involved. Big day in store for Chad Johnson – the second best receiver…on his own team.
Pick: Bengals -6

Durden: Teams must be dying to play the Jets at this point. If there was somehow any doubt that their trip to the playoffs last year was a joke, it’s certainly been removed by now. You guys still aren’t looking to bench or trade Pennington, really??

I’m taking the Bengals, and want to take this opportunity to recommend this article. Definitely check it out.
Pick: Bengals -6

Chicago @ Philly -5
Mazzone: Talk about two unimpressive teams. The Eagles did not look good against the lowly Jets last week, and the Bears couldn’t figure out how to contain the Vikings only weapon – even choosing to kick off to him with the game on the line. East coast bias has me inclined to believe the Eagles are the more likely of the two to “still be good”.
Pick: Eagles -5

Durden: Was anyone else surprised by Philly not putting a beating on the Jets last week? There’s no shame in a 9 point win on the road, and Akers did miss 2 FGs, but I really thought the Eagles’ offense would be good for more than just one TD. I suppose it also helped that Thomas Jones was able to single-handedly keep the Time of Possession close. Whatever it was, I’m going to go with Philly again and continue picking against the Bears. Hopefully we’ll hear some good O-VER-RA-TED chants coming out of the Linc, because people need to stop slurping on Chicago.
Pick: Eagles -5

St. Louis @ Seatlle -9
Mazzone: So far, I’ve had a hard time figuring out when the good Seattle team is going to show up instead of the bad one. Last week, I realized it’s quite possible the good one has been a figment of my imagination this whole time.
Pick: Rams +9

Durden: I’ve made it well known that I hate the Seahawks. They’re impossible to figure out, and insist on underachieving. I was all set to pick against them for the rest of the season until last Sunday afternoon, when I saw the most pathetic thing I’ve seen in a long time. Losing 22-3 late in the 4th quarter to the Ravens, and with Marc Bulger warming up, Gus Frerotte throws yet another incomplete pass on first down. Frerotte starts to come off, but instead of putting in Bulger, St. Louis opts to put in a WR under center. As I’m getting excited to see what kind of trick play they have in store, the Rams kneel out the clock. What?!?!

Scott Linehan, you are a female dog.
Pick: Seahawks -9

Pittsburgh @ Denver +3.5
Mazzone: The Broncos have no business keeping this one close, but there’s only one ROCKtober! Catch the fever!
Pick: Denver +3.5

Durden: Easy money. There’s just very little to like about this Denver team, and I’m more inclined to respect the Steelers off the bye than the Broncos. I expect Above-Average Speed Willie Parker to run wild for 150+ yards, but struggle to score a TD, as per usual. No worries for Pittsburgh though, there are plenty of vultures on that offense.
Pick: Steelers -3.5

Indy @ Jax +3
This is a much bigger game for the Jags than the Colts and there should be some extra energy on prime time. David Garrard is being called a great "game manager", which is one of the most retarded phrases in football, but I'll rant about that some other time. Truth is, he's just been a solid quarterback. MJD finally has the running game going a bit, and the Jags are looking legit. If Peyton and the Colts didn't have two weeks to prepare for this one I'd like the Jags a lot more, but even with a loss here I don't think this is the last you'll hear from them.
Pick: Colts -3

This week, on “Everyone Forgets This But…,” it’s time to remind readers that everyone forgets this but, the Colts are a different animal at home. To be fair though, while it hasn’t been easy, Indy’s already beaten divisional rivals on the road twice which is something they didn’t do once last season. However, Jacksonville is looking legit and forget about Marvin Harrison being iffy, Tony Ugoh is the real X-factor. If he’s banged up, it could be just enough to slow down the Colts and give the Jags a serious shot to win. Maybe I’m just excited to be excited about a MNF game again, but give me the points.
Pick: Jaguars +3

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Chambers to Chargers

When rumors of Chris Chambers being on the trading block surfaced in the preseason Durden and I discussed possible destinations that might make sense.

There were a handful of teams that could have benefitted from acquiring Chambers (Vikings, Chiefs, etc…), but we settled on the Chargers being the logical choice for a plethora of reasons. So, while I’m surprised at when the deal went down, I’m not exactly shocked that it happened.

Despite statements from the organization saying otherwise, barring an extremely successful season by him and the Dolphins it was clear that this was going to be Chambers’ last season in Miami.

I’ve long been a Chambers apologist, expected big things from him, and was thrilled when they locked him up with a long term deal. Unfortunately, the truth is he wasn’t living up to his price tag and it was time for the Dolphins to cut him lose.

He’ll be 30 next year and Chambers has never put together a full season since being drafted in 2001. Even his best year (2005: 82 catches, 1118 yards, 11 TDs) was completely skewed by a ridiculous last 6 games (43 catches, 620 yards, 6 TDs). Aside from that he never surpassed 1000 yards despite being one of the most targeted receivers in the NFL.

In fairness to Chambers, everyone should be well aware of the difficulties he faced on lousy Dolphin teams. New head coaches, rotating coordinators and WR coaches, countless double teams, terrible supporting casts (James McKnight, Derrius Thompson, Dedric Ward, David Boston, to name a few), and one subpar QB after another brought in to over throw and under throw him several times a game. And while he’s had his fair share of inexcusable drops, he’s also made quite a few spectacular catches...he'll literally (and by literally I mean figuritively) jump out of the stadium and remarkably, ALWAYS comes down in bounds.

In the end, I think this is one of those rare trades that seems perfect for both teams. Chambers has the opportunity to take the Charger offense to a whole new level. Dolphin fans have always thought he’d make a superb number 2 receiver, which is essentially what he’ll be with Gates getting most of the attention. He gives Rivers another legitimate veteran option and should help to move the chains without having to completely burn out LDT by the time the postseason rolls around. And if the opposing team sleeps on him, he can still beat them deep, or even pull off a big run on an end around/reverse.

The addition of Chambers puts the Chargers offense a notch below the elites (New England, Indy) and right with the Cowboys. They’ve got the offensive line, and weapons all over the place. It’s up to the coaching staff to turn ‘em loose and it’s up to Rivers to execute – he’s obviously the key to it all. If that happens, and I think it will, we’ll have another serious contender in the AFC by seasons end.

Meanwhile, the 0-6 Dolphins were clearly going nowhere. They already drafted Chambers' replacement in the Ginn Family, but need to get younger and better (particularly on defense), so the draft pick makes sense. Chambers’ time had come and gone and his value wasn’t going to get any higher over the course of the season. At one point there were some pundits saying he’d be traded for a fourth rounder, or possibly released outright. So, to get back the 2nd rounder they used on him, 6 years after the fact, is not bad considering Chris Chambers was not going to be the guy to turn the team around over the last two+ seasons of his contract.

Now, they’ll get a good look at Ted Ginn and Derek Hagan, and they added another first day draft pick. It’s no secret that success in the NFL comes from nailing your draft picks and keeping them with you. Well, that and cheating. But since the NFL has cracked down on cheating, and Shula is no longer on the rules committee the Dolphins have to try the draft pick route.

Thanks to the Ricky Williams trade, as well as a few other poor decisions (Feeley, Culpepper, etc…), the Dolphins had been light on draft picks in recent history. So the demise shouldn’t come as a total shock. When you lose guys to free agency, retirement, suspension, injuries, and just plain get older without any upper echelon young talent to replace them, you’re going to struggle. This regime actually seems to get that, and is trying to build through the draft. All TEN draft picks made the roster and quite a few have shown some potential. You’d have to go back almost ten years for the last time the Dolphins even had that many picks, let alone all of them making the roster.

It’s way too early to know how long it will take to turn around the franchise but we should get a better idea by the end of the season just by taking a closer look at the recent draft picks. If Mueller and Cameron can prove to be solid talent evaluators then this thing could get turned around rather quickly.

The good: Vernon Carey has finally come around, Ronnie Brown has proven to the masses what I already knew, Channing Crowder should be a staple of the defense for years to come, Samson Satele has looked solid in his debut season. You know things aren't great when a punter is listed under “the good”, but Brandon Fields has a leg on him and looks like he should be pretty good. Of course, they let Donnie Jones go, who’s been nothing short of the best.

The bad: Jason Allen has been given his last chance and will be out the door if he doesn’t show anything at FS the rest of the way. Travis Daniels is in the same boat as Jason Allen, and it’s sinking fast. Matt Roth has shown his motor, but nothing else. If he can’t find ways to get to the QB with Jason Taylor opposite him, there’s reason for concern. Hopefully increased playing time will do wonders for Derek Hagan. Because so far all we know is he’s not that fast, his routes are iffy, and he has hands like feet, but other than that he’s great…

The ugly: Only one draft pick from the years prior to 2004 is still on the Dolphins roster (6th round pick in 2003, Yeremiah Bell, and he’s never made it through a season healthy).

The unknowns:
There are others, but the most important ones are…

John Beck – I feel good about Beck being successful, unfortunately if we get to see him at all this year it will be against the tough part of the Dolphins' schedule. It will be interesting to see how Cameron handles him.

The Ginn Family – The last couple weeks we saw why we were going to enjoy watching this kid return kicks. Now, if only we could eliminate the holding penalties so they don’t get called back. He’s also shown some big play potential in the passing game. I’m less down on him than I was prior to the draft (I wanted Willis, would have settled for Okoye), but he still has quite a bit to prove.

Rodrique Wright – I liked him in college and thought his shoulder injury was a blessing in disguise for the Dolphins. Hopefully, he turns out to be a 7th round steal. He’s shown some flashes, but has a ways to go.

Lorenzo Booker – Reports of his greatness during camp appear to be exaggerated as he hasn’t been awarded a chance to prove himself on Sundays despite the Dolphins’ struggles. Even so, the praise was coming from coaches, veterans, media, pretty much anyone that caught a glimpse. So, there might be something there. Best case scenario: Warrick Dunn

Glenn Dorsey – Whoops, I’m getting ahead of myself here.

So, for all the criticizing that's been handed down over the last few years to the Dolphins front office (and rightfully so), it appears they got this one right.

I'm a Chambers supporter and I hope he finds success in San Diego. In fact, I'll be sporting his Miami Jersey when i head to the Chargers/Ravens game next month. At the same time, this is a move the Dolphins had to make, so I applaud and respect that they actually pulled the trigger. Now, let's hope they grab the right guy in next years draft.

Yep, with 10 games to play in this season I'm already pondering next season's draft. Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2007 Miami Football Dolphins!

One for the road...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Spread 'em: Week 6 In-N-Out Challenge

My .500 record last week was good enough to cut Durden’s lead in half, to three cheeseburgers. Let’s hope that’s a sign of things to come and I’ve finally righted the ship.

This week’s story lines include:

**Donovan and the Eagles coming off their bye. McNabb can take comfort knowing that it’s not just white quarterbacks that the members of the media give preferential treatment to. I’m also anxious to see if he can find his receivers when they aren’t wearing powder puff blue and yellow.

**The Ravens giving more points than they scored all last game.

**Kellen Winslow telling Joey Porter he's an angry man that needs a hug.

**Deuce Davenport is in the news again, unfortunately it doesn’t involve a closet or a girl’s laundry basket this time.

**Trent Green is alive…sort of.

**The Saints needing a miracle...or a tragedy, to help turn their season around.

**Durden and I picking 5 of the 13 games differently.

**Oh, and there’s a game in Dallas that’s supposed to be pretty big.

So, here we go…Click Clack

Bengals @ Chiefs +3
I’m sure Chad Johnson is trying to figure out a way to upstage the TO/Moss battle. Hopefully he has something spectacular in store for his TD celebration this weekend. The Bengals can’t play defense and the Chiefs have a few guys that should be able to take advantage (Bowe, Gonzalez, LJ). Arrowhead is a tough place to play, but I think Carson and friends know they need this one and will find a way to light up the scoreboard.
Pick: Bengals -3

Tough game to start with, as I think both teams have had at least some bad luck with their schedules. Honestly, no one’s really got either team truly figured out. Give me the points and the home team, against a Bengals team without Willie Anderson, Jonathan Joseph and (maybe) Rudi Johnson.
Pick: Chiefs +3

Texans @ Jags -6.5
Mazzone: The Jags find a way to dominate time of possession despite the fact that their running game is the worst in the NFL at converting 3rd/4th down and less than 3 yards. They also have a league high 34% of their running plays “stuffed”, resulting in either no gain or negative yardage on first down and on downs two through four, plays resulting in less than 1/4th of the distance needed for a first down. The good news is that the Texans are near the bottom at stuffing the run and stopping 3rd/4th and short running plays, so the Jags should have an easier time of it on Sunday.
Pick: Jaguars -6.5

Durden: I want to talk about how the Texans D is pretty good, but it let up 19 points to Miami last week. I want to talk about how every Jaguars game is close because of their vanilla offense and stifling D. Most of all though, I want to complain about another spread being too high. Then I’m going to pick it anyways, and still be pissed when I’m wrong.
See? - - - > Pick: Jaguars -6.5

Dolphins @ Browns -4.5

Mazzone: I’m excited for this one. The Dolphins passed on Brady Quinn as part of their plan to land John Beck in round 2. Now it’s time for Quinn to try and extract revenge. With Trent Green concussed again, all eyes will be on Quinn vs. Beck. The Ginn Family should have a bigger role with Hagan out, as well... What’s that?

Derek Anderson?…Cleo Lemon? Really?!
Oh, ok, never mind…
Pick: Ronnie Brown +4.5

Durden: Add fortune teller to the list of Jason Taylor’s many talents: "He'd better not get hit. One big hit, and he could be scrambled eggs." –Jason Taylor (speaking this summer about Trent Green). The real story being overlooked though, is Ted Ginn finally shutting up his critics. Who would have guessed that Ginn in just Week 5, would give this Miami team its biggest, most important play of the season? Well, his botched reverse play was just that, as it led to Trent Green’s concussion. You don’t exactly hear anyone pushing for Green to come back soon, do you? That will be looked back upon as a turning point for a team that was going nowhere fast, but in the meantime, I expect the Dolphins to at least keep it close again this Sunday.
Pick: Dolphins +4.5

Vikings @ Bears -5.5
Mazzone: The Vikings are clearly here solely for our entertainment. They brought us the love boat, the original whizzinator and now WWE in the locker room. Supposedly, Erasmus James threw a punch then Chester Taylor took a chair to James and put him out of commission for at least this week. The scuffle has been confirmed, the details have not yet, but I'm rooting for the chair rumors to be true. As if that wasn’t a bad sign in itself, Tarvaris Jackson likely returns to the lineup for the Vikings. You know what that means…
Pick: Bears -5.5

Durden: Difficult to like much about the (1-3) Vikings on the road, but they’ve at least been in every game they’ve played in. We know the Bears won’t be able to run on them, and I just don’t see Griese pulling away from them at any point through the air. This, combined with the Bears still being banged up on D, and it’s suddenly easier than I thought it would be.
Pick: Vikings +5.5

Eagles @ Jets +3

Mazzone: It’s a spell off! The J-E-T-S JETS! JETS! JETS! vs. E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles! The winner is the first one to correctly spell chrysanthemum. Since McNabb is well spoken (you know, for a black QB), and Pennington is spouting off things like this, "You hear the saying, 'More is better,'" Pennington told Newsday. "Well, sometimes less is better", I’m going with the Iggles. If you prefer logical football reasoning: Eagles are 8-0 under Andy Reid after a bye, the Jets pass D is ranked 25th and is nearly identical to the Lions D that McNabb shredded earlier in the year with the exception that that Jets don’t pick the ball off like the Lions have.
Pick: Eagles -3

Durden: The Eagles come right back to Giants Stadium after the bye, and I think they’ll be more than ready for this Jets team. Thomas Jones is already complaining about a lack of touches, but you’re not going to beat this Philly team on the ground. Fortunately for the Eagles, we know the Jets’ air attack has been awful while Pennington’s been under center. I also anticipate that two weeks was enough for Philly to address its pass protection issue, though getting to the QB isn’t really a strength of the Jets’ either. Then again, what is really?
Pick: Eagles -3

Rams @ Ravens -9.5
Mazzone: The Ravens offense has scored five touchdowns in 20 quarters of football. Their wins have been by 7, 3, and 2 points against the likes of the Jets, Cardinals, and 49ers. The defense is still solid, but not spectacular, like it once was. To nobody’s surprise, McNair is going to try and play hurt. To everyone’s surprise, even I think the Ravens might be better off with Kyle Boller at the helm. I wonder if the Ravens realize how important these next two games are before their week 8 bye. Weeks 9-17 have this to offer up, in order: @Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, @San Diego, New England, Indianapolis, @Miami, @Seattle, Pittsburgh. Ouch.
Pick: Rams +9.5

Durden: More easy money for anyone interested this week, as this Ravens team being the biggest favorite in any week is simply absurd. If it wasn’t bad enough that McNair continues to be the QB, injuries have now decimated the offensive line and it is now the youngest starting line in the league, with an average age of 23 and no more backups! The next youngest line in the league is Arizona’s, whose average age is 26. Steve McNair, what’s wrong with the offense? Is it your weak arm that’s led to only THREE 20yd+ completions??

"There are a lot of possibilities," said McNair, who has more turnovers (five) than touchdown passes (two). I think that's the thing that people look at. They want to see this explosive offense instead of seeing the fact that this team moves the ball down the field at their own pace."

Pick: Rams +9.5

Titans @ Bucs -3

Mazzone: Last week, Vince Young couldn’t even lose when he tried to and now you’re going to give him points?!
Pick: Vince Young +3

Durden: The Bucs proved last week that their “strong” start was just a function of their weak opening schedule. They’re a team that can be run on by anyone, and the Titans offense will be more than happy to oblige, after an awful performance last week. Tampa’s weak offense would’ve struggled against a solid Tennessee D with Petigout, Cadillac and Pittman, but now they’re really up against it without those guys.
Pick: Titans +3

Redskins @ Green Bay -3.5
Mazzone: I don’t hate Brett Farve, I swear. I just think we should spend more time talking about his pain killer addiction and his refusal to be a mentor for Aaron Rodgers. Or maybe the interceptions that cost them the game last week? Or how he cheated on his wife with John Madden? Anyway, going into Lambeau without Santana Moss (might play) and Randle El (doubtful) would be bad news for Jason Campbell. The poise everyone’s been raving about (myself included) will be tested. Farve’s child-like love for the game and sheer determination should be able to will the Packer defense to rattle Campbell.
Pick: Green Bay -3.5

Durden: Anyone else excited to watch the Packer bandwagon go down in flames?? Maybe it’s out of spite, but I really do think it’s about time that teams figure out they can just wait out Favre mistakes. This game will be close, but I expect Washington to run on Green Bay and finally get Favre to the INT record.
Pick: Redskins +3.5

Panthers @ Cardinals -4

Mazzone: "I felt like my grandpa Monday. I felt like my dad today. Hopefully I'll feel like my 7-year-old son by Sunday," David Carr said regarding his injury. I’m not sure what to make of that, does his son wear dainty white gloves too? Well, if Carr is unable to go, it means Grandpa Vinny could get the call. Sure, the Cardinals aren’t exactly sitting pretty at QB, but with Jon Kitna’s Lions on a bye this week there’s no reason to think God won’t be in Kurt Warner’s corner.
Pick: Cardinals -4

Durden: God is a woman, and her name is Brenda Warner. Matt Leinart should’ve known better, and the Cardinal offense will finally be led by the better QB on the roster, on a full-time basis. On the other sideline, Steve Smith may actually kill Vinny Testaverde before halftime. Seriously.
Pick: Cardinals -4

Patriots @ Cowboys +5.5
Mazzone: I’m sure you’ve heard enough about this game by now. So I’ll leave it at this. The line opened at 4, moved to 5.5, and it’s probably not done going up. I wouldn’t mind if I was wrong, but this looks like free money.
Pick: Patriots -5.5

Durden: Much to the dismay of the national media, I think Romo’s MNF performance is conclusive proof that he is actually not the lovechild of Tom Brady & Brett Favre. The media was however helped out by Nick “Queer as” Folk and the Bills, who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and provide us all with an overhyped battle of unbeatens this Sunday in Dallas. The truth though, is that it’s too early in the season for the AFC to be embarrassing the NFC, and I really don’t think it’s fair. I’m not the only one who thinks so either, right Nate? "We've got a little place over here where we're running some whores in and out, trying to be responsible, and we're criticized for that" – Cowboy OG, Nate Newton.

Whoops, sorry. It’s already been a bad week for quotes involving legendary Cowboys, but like the late Jimmy Valvano once said, “if the quote works, use it.”
Pick: Patriots -5.5

Raiders @ Chargers -10
Mazzone: The Raiders have beaten the Dolphins, the Browns, and played the Broncos close. They ran for over 185 yards in all three games. Not coincidentally, those are the three worst teams at stopping the run. So, now the Raiders have had a bye week to prepare for a team that’s actually shown some semblance of being able to stop the run, but they’ll likely be without LaMont Jordan. This week will go a long way in showing if Lane Kiffin’s running game is legit or just the product of porous defenses. I’m going with the latter.
Pick: Chargers -10

Durden: Wow, I just realized that people have already knocked the Ravens spread lower than this game’s. Of course, I’m not sure the Chargers should be the most heavily favored team right now either, but at least they have a pulse on offense with LDT and Gates. They probably are back on track now, but I gotta see it again to believe it.
Pick: Raiders +10

Saints @ Seahawks -7
Mazzone: Archie Manning’s not walking through that door, fans. Deuce McAllister’s not walking through that door, and Hurricane Katrina’s not walking through that door.
Pick: Seahawks -7

Durden: Every week’s a guessing game with these Seahawks. Instead of trying to guess on them though, I just think it’d be fun to go with the Saints already playing the role of spoiler! On a more serious note, I do think that Reggie Bush will have a strong game, while Seattle struggles on offense without Branch. Give me the points.
Pick: Saints +7

Giants @ Falcons +3.5
Mazzone: NFL Schedule makers 1 – Mazzone 0. I’m taking a hiatus from publically criticizing the prime time matchups after last week, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it. Here's this week's token Peta reference.
Pick: Giants -3.5

Durden: As promised, another scintillating MNF showdown! This one has all the makings of Giants vs. Eagles, as the Falcons have lost both of their starting tackles. The over/under for Osi sacks is 2.5, but that’s subject to change once Fatwich enters the game.
Pick: Giants -3.5

As always, bet safely and BELIEVE IN FOOTBALL

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Kurse Watch (Fantasy Focus)

The Kurse came off Drew Brees' bye and re-announced its presence with authority. Deion Branch out for a couple weeks, Shaun Alexander's fullback retired, Drew Brees crapped the bed...again, and the very injury that Kurse watch predicted in the beginning of the year, and reiterated last week, happened. The Kurse went through Cadillac Williams and knocked out Michael Pittman for a good portion of the season. So, here are this weeks rankings with some bonus comments at the end.

Start planning your retirement.
Drew Brees. It's all over, and I personally apologize to all Saints fans. My brother says he hates Drew Brees, but he only has himself to blame. He should have drafted all Patriots, then he might have had a chance.

Quick, fake an injury!
Shaun Alexander. He's already been severely average. He's playing with a broken hand. His fullback was just forced to retired due to a spinal injury. All not good signs with the kurse running out of targets.

1-2, he's comin' for you...
Travis Henry stays right here this week. I think we all agree that it's only a matter of time at this point.

Safe...for now
Deion Branch! Nice job suffering that "minor" injury in order to avoid more serious damage.

I'm a Survivor!
Randy Moss had an off day, but it's not enough to remove him from this spot. Also, Braylon Edwards is very close to joining him here.

We could be in the midst of the most destructive year in the history of the Kurse. It's not pretty, and shows no signs of letting up, but let's finish up with something a little more positive...

Maybe it's the celebrations, or the endearing "me first" attitude, but I've always been partial to WRs. I always pay special attention to them and here are some observations on a few of the young (3rd year in the league or less) potential breakout WR's over the next season or two:

FYI, this is more "Who's Next", than "Who's Now" so don't expect to see Braylon Edwards/Marques Colston types.

-Dwayne Bowe is a man. I didn't see this coming, and I have a hard time complimenting anything about the Chiefs, but he's far and away the best rookie wide receiver right now (apologies to The Ginn Family), and he would be even if Calvin Johnson was healthy. I'm not simply basing this off of his one huge game against the Chargers, watch him play and you'll see it too. He catches everything, demands the ball, and has a blend of size, strength, and speed that would remind you of Luke Staley.

-Brandon Marshall: He's another one that looks to be pretty solid. He's got the measurables and is in a better situation than Bowe, but Cutler hasn't exactly been the dream QB many pegged him to be. As far as talent/ability goes, I see him as more of a #2 and put him behind Bowe. But his fantasy value is probably similar , maybe even slightly higher, because Denver should end up being less inept on offense than KC and Javon Walker is never on the field to take looks away from him.

-Santonio Holmes: He proved, at least for one week, that he could be a number 1 guy. He was pretty consistent and productive throughout most of his rookie season as well. I wasn't sold on Holmes when he came out, but I certainly think Pittsburgh is getting the most out of him for their offensive style. I'm not sure I'd want him as my #1, or how successful he'd be somewhere else, but in Pittsburgh, as an afterthought to most defenses - perfect fit. A significant upgrade talent wise over Randle El in that same role.

-Vincent Jackson: He finished strong last season and a lot of people were excited about his potential coming into his third season on a loaded Chargers team. His numbers are decent so far, but I have trouble taking him seriously for a number of reasons. First, he even says he's out there to run block more than anything. Second, I've seen him drop too many catchable balls over the last season+. Third, the Chargers just don't throw to people not named Antonio Gates that often. So, what you're getting right now is probably the best you can hope for. About 4 catches for 60-75 yards. If he gets a TD and/or breaks 100 yards, consider yourself fortunate for the week.

-Roddy White: He's had some atrocious drops over his first three seasons, but is making the most of his chances this year. Believe me, I watched Joey Harrington over throw Chris Chambers countless times, so while the number of receptions is discouraging (aside from the Carolina game), I'm sure it's not entirely his fault. That being said, he struggled mightily his first two seasons, and it could be tough for him to flourish in that offense, without a QB. I'd stay away from him this season and next until the Falcons showed some stability and he showed some consistency.

-Demetrius Williams: I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Williams is the real deal. It's almost to the point where I'm even wanting Kyle Boller to start just so there's someone that can reach Demetrius (from his knees even!). If the Ravens had an offensive line that could buy just a little time for a capable QB to throw downfield, their offense would make a much bigger jump than awful to adequate. They have a group of weapons that fit nicely together in Williams, Mason, Clayton, Heap, McGahee, but they're all being wasted right now.

Others I'm keeping an eye on, but want to see more of:
Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jacoby Jones, Sidney Rice, Ted Ginn Jr., Calvin Johnson, Anthony Gonzalez, Robert Meachem, and of course - Chad WOLFEGANG Jackson! Chad was my next big thing at WR coming out of Florida, then he got stuck on the Patriots and tore his ACL. I'm still rooting for him, but it's not going to be easy.

Here are some that I think cannot be successful in their current situations:
Reggie Brown, Devery Henderson, Troy Williamson, Matt Jones, Brandon Jones, Derek Hagan

That's all for now, maybe some baseball tomorrow before the weekly NFL picks on Friday.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Week 5 NFL Notes

The other day, Durden and I were trying to think of some past RBs that we could compare to Brian Leonard. By that, we mean white, of course. The first name that came to mind for Durden was Luke Staley. Though he was white, I wasn't sold on that comparison until I read the Lions official website about Staley.

"Second-year running back who was making a favorable impression in training camp as a rookie before sustaining a knee injury and having season-ending knee surgery… Placed on Reserve/Injured August 19, 2002… Will compete for the backup running back spot behind incumbent James Stewart… Blessed with the perfect blend of size, strength and speed… Originally drafted by Lions in the seventh round (214th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft."

After reading this I felt sheepish that I didn't remember Luke Staley as the ideal athlete.
I won't make that mistake again and Luke Staley will certainly re-appear in this blog in the future.

But for now, here's a little trip around the NFL...

-The Chargers were flying around on defense and let Gates/Tomlinson do the work on offense as they should, but I'm one of few who isn't ready to declare them "back" just yet. They certainly did their job and capitalized on Denver's mistakes, but I have to believe there won't be too many teams giving the game away in the first quarter and then giving up like the Broncos did.

-Ronnie Brown is on pace for 2300 yards from scrimmage and about 16 TDs. His team's on pace to go 0-16

-The good news for Matt Leinart is that he's not involved in the QB carousel anymore. The good news for us is that we get to watch Kurt Warner try to shimmy out of a sack and fumble three times next weekend.

-I've gone from Eli Manning supporter in his college days to Eli Manning apologist since he was drafted. I'm not a Giants fan by any means, but I did tell my brother I thought they should do whatever it took to draft Eli. Another Jekyll and Hyde performance on Sunday was frustrating, but at least it came against the lowly Jets. If Eli shows any consistency, they're as much a Super Bowl contender as anyone in the NFC.

-Redskins looked great. The Cowboys should be the least comfortable of any remaining undefeateds, even after they take care of the Bills tonight. I still think the NFC East is up for grabs.

-Trent Dilfer looked like his old Super Bowl winning self this weekend. Heck of a pass for the TD though, and the celebration made it even better.

-The Patriots are taking all the attention away from the Colts, but they're just as good and I'm definitely looking forward to week 9. I'm in the minority that think the Colts might even be a little better than the Pats.

-Vince Young single-handedly won another football game (20-33, 157 yards, 3 INTs).

-The Seahawks are probably going to annoy their fans all year depending on which team shows up each week. Take nothing away from the Steelers though, they're legit.

-I'm back to hating the Browns after that debacle of not covering the spread. They had several opportunities late in the game to cover and ice it.

-It was nice to see the fun Brett Favre show up last night with those timely INTs to blow the game for the Pack.

-I'm glad I'm not a Saints fan.

Friday, October 5, 2007

I'm told there's only one October...

And aside from that minor detail of the Mets not being involved, it's been pretty solid so far.

The Phillies have been throttled at home by the Rockies, and it was none other than KazMat and his googly eyes doing the damage in game two. Beautiful thing.

The Yankees are down 0-2, which is fantastic, but it's obnoxious that they are blaming their game two loss on bugs. For an idea of how bad it was, just ask the person manipulating Joe Torre's corpse...
"You could see them when you looked," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. But could you taste them when you looked?

Another favorite quote from one of the many articles about the bug invasion.
" With bugs sticking to his muscular, sweaty neck, Chamberlain threw a wild pitch in the eighth that gave Cleveland the tying run. Three innings later, the Indians won it."

"I played in the Dominican Republic with [Carmona] last winter, and there were bugs 10 times that size flying around that field,'' Garko said. "Those bugs scared me to death. They were enormous.
"It just shows what kind of guy he is. It doesn't matter if it's raining, it's hot, it's cold or there are bugs. He just goes out there and pitches his heart out.''


But enough about the bugs, this time could be much better spent blaming A-Rod, if you ask me.

Aside from his striking out 3 times and leading the Yankees in men left on base, he also had the gall to just stand by and watch as Travis Hafner's single fell into right-center field.

So, to recap, he went 0-4 with 3 K's, left 3 men on base, let Vizcaino pitch instead of getting out of the jam himself, didn't track down Hafner's dink into right center, and most importantly, he couldn't keep the bugs of Joba's "muscular, sweaty neck".

Just an awful night for A-Rod, I'm looking forward to the offseason speculation of where he'll end up. I'd be ok with him playing second and batting 5th for the Mets. I'm sure he'll go for it.

...and Manny just walked off, good stuff.

Hopefully, both the Phillies and Yankees end up with as many postseason wins as the Mets. I think the Phillies are as good as done, but the Yanks have a shot just because Paul Byrd and Jake Westbrook will be a welcomed sight after Sabathia and Carmona. Even A-Rod should be able to hit them.

Lastly, this is either a picture of Arod seeing the sweat on Joba's neck and offering to lick it off, or he's trying to figure out if everyone is talking about him while not letting him in their circle of trust....

Spread 'em: Week 5 of the In-N-Out Challenge

Durden and I both split last week (7-7), so he kept his six cheeseburger lead with a record of 29-27-6.

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, and the season’s already a quarter of the way through. So no messing around this week, straight to the picks…

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints -3
Mazzone: I feel like every week I find myself saying, “if the Saints don’t win this one, their season is OVER”, and while that doesn’t make any sense after the first week of thinking it, I’m still saying it. We better see a lot of Reggie Bush and DeShaun Foster, mostly because both are starting for my fantasy team this week. Also, there is positive news for the previously cursed Brees later in this post. Combine that with Kris Jenkins saying his Panthers don’t have any heart, and David Carr being at the helm…
Pick: Saints -3

While both teams have underachieved, you would think the Saints would be the team with internal turmoil, but it’s the Carolina locker room that appears to be shook up. This isn’t me going with New Orleans, it’s me going with the home team coming off a bye.
Pick: Saints -3

Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs +2.5
Mazzone: The Jags haven’t played well coming off bye weeks under Jack Del Rio, and the Chiefs are fresh off two gutsy comeback wins. I really don’t feel good about either of these teams the rest of the season but with a half point in the line, there must be a winner.
Pick: Jags -2.5

Khalif Barnes is not a model citizen, and he almost literally drove that point home recently. This is not part of the plan for teams with early bye weeks such as the Jags, who now head to KC without Barnes and Meester on their offensive line, against a stout Chiefs defense. Even worse for them, the Chiefs offense may have actually woken up last week and plus, Eddie Kennison is still a threat in the National Football League…just ask him. "Eddie Kennison is still a big threat in the National Football League.” Kennison told the Kansas City Star.
Pick: Chiefs +2.5

Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins -3.5
Common sense would say that if it’s a high scoring game the Lions would win, and if it’s a low scoring game you might want to take the points. But, common sense has me 6 games behind in this competition. The Redskins have the secondary to matchup with the Lions, but they could struggle on offense if Moss is unable to go. I’ll take the home team, fresh off their bye, and pray I don’t get burned by that half point.
Pick: ‘Skin to win -3.5

Another home team coming off a bye, the Redskins not only have as much talent in their secondary as anybody to match up with the Lions pass game, but they’ve had the extra time to figure out how to contain it. I’m going to go with Washington in spite of their pathetic collapse against the Giants. I’m also going to go with Washington because the Lions showed last week they could be held in check, if only for three quarters. I don’t know how it happened, so I’ll let Rod Marinelli (kind of, but not really) explain it: "This game was probably like me -- ugly," Marinelli said. "It was also like me because it was a fight."
Pick: Redskins -3.5

Atlanta Falcons at Tennessee Titans -8.5
Vince Young may very well “just win football games”, but not typically by 9 points. Joey Heisman has been playing respectable football. Mike Vick is going to PETA meetings. The Falcons seemed to be turning things around, and I was all set to pick them. Then, I saw this video and couldn’t pick a team with a mascot that would break their own cheerleader’s spirit – on her birthday, no less. Then I watched it again, and I laughed, but still decided to go with the Titans.
Pick: Titans -8.5

Durden: Bobby Petrino, the Falcons' first-year coach, picked up his first NFL win on Sunday. He wore a white cap -- after going without anything on his head the previous week -- in hopes of changing the team's fortunes. "I'm not superstitious or anything," he said. "But I was changing it up until we got a win. You'll probably see the white hat for a while." No Bobby, we won’t. I’ll take any team that gets 2 weeks to prepare for Yoey Harrington and the Falcons.
Pick: Titans -8.5

Ronnie Brown at Houston Texans -5.5
Mazzone: My boy attempts to become just the second running back ever to gain 200+ yards from scrimmage in three straight games (Walter Payton). Houston’s offense is pretty banged up, but how healthy do you have to be to hand the ball off and watch your running back go? The Dolphins are allowing an astounding 199.2 yards per game on the ground. The last time anyone came within 25 yards of that was in 1987 (Falcons 182.3 ypg). If the Texans can limit Ronnie Brown, it’s probably over. If not, there’s hope, albeit very little, unless the defense gets its act together.
Pick: Ronnie Brown +5.5

We know technology is amazing, but check out what it can do for Jason Taylor: "You can Google all the negative emotions and they're all there for me." Jason Taylor told the Miami Herald following the loss to Oakland. Don’t worry though Dol-fans, I’m here to tell you what Joey Porter wants to tell you. The Texans WILL NOT cover on Sunday – I guarantee it.
Pick: Dolphins +5.5

Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers -6
Mazzone: There’s nothing quite like hyping up a regular season game as revenge for a championship loss. It will be interesting to see if Tomlin can get his team to rebound, and care about this game as much as those revenge-seeking Seahawks.
Pick: Seahawks +6

You want to crown the Steelers? Go ahead and crown their asses, but Pittsburgh is exactly who we thought they are, and Arizona did NOT let them off the hook!" Everyone forgets this but, the Seahawks were robbed of the Super Bowl just two seasons ago! I may have doubts about this Seattle team playing up to its potential, but I have faith that the Football Gods will at least throw them some breaks this time around. Sorry Pittsburgh, they can’t all be cupcakes.
Pick: Seahawks +6

Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots -16
Mazzone: I’ve had a complete change of heart with regards to the Browns from the beginning of the season. Not just because they’re playing better, but because it’d be such a great story if Brady Quinn was never able to beat out an over achieving Derek Anderson and was mired on the bench again next season. Braylon Edwards claims they match up well against the Pats, and with the Cowboys on deck this game screams “TRAP GAME” for the Patriots…just kidding, they’re nearly invincible right now...but I’m going to inexplicably take the points anyway.
Pick: Browns +16

Durden: The juices will be flowing on Sunday, and I’m not just talking about Rodney Harrison being back. Romeo Crennel returns to New England for what should be an ass-whoopin, though I have a feeling Belicheat may take it easy on him. It’s not strong enough though, as the Patriots haven’t won by less than 20 points yet, and I’m not picking the Browns to break that streak.
Pick: Patriots -16

Arizona Cardinals at St Louis Rams +3.5
No Anquan Boldin hurts the Cards, but no team is more ravaged by injuries on offense than the Rams. As much as the Cardinals are beatable, and the Rams have to win one somewhere, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I advocated betting on Gus Frerotte minus an offensive line and Steven Jackson.
Pick: Cardinals -3.5

I refuse to take this platoon at QB seriously. Warner and Leinart are essentially the same QB: pocket passers who couldn’t beat Christopher Reeves in a foot race. So pick the better one and get on with it! Anyways, they head to St. Louis to face a Rams team that isn’t even worth talking about. Hopefully Fox preempts all Brenda Warner shots with a fair warning.
Pick: Cardinals -3.5

New York Jets at New York Giants -3.5
Mazzone: Wasn’t the Giants season done after week two? Now you could make a strong case for 6-2 before their bye. Thomas Jones and the Jets haven’t had a run longer than 12 yards all season (and they already played the worst run D in the NFL). Also, Jets fans cheer dead babies (scroll about 3/4ths of the way down on the link).
Pick: Giants -3.5

Durden: Chad Pennington said, "It's tough not to get happy feet, it's tough not to try to get rid of the ball earlier because of what's happened in the previous plays. That's the hardest thing." It’s not going to get any easier against an aggressive Giant defense, and I also expect the Giants to not struggle much on offense.
Pick: Giants -3.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts -10
Mazzone: [Insert Caddy in the garage/car’s a lemon joke here] I’m excited to see more reruns of Earnest goes to the End Zone, but I’m also still hoping someone exposes the Bucs as the frauds I believe them to be. Who better to do that than Peyton Manning?
Pick: Colts -10

Durden: While I still maintain that the Colts are a “different animal” at home, you can’t ignore the injuries they suffered last week. In addition to losing Rob Morris and Bob Sanders, they could also be without Marvin Harrison and Joseph Addai. I still expect the Colts to win, but I do think the Bucs can keep it close.
Pick: Bucs +10

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos -1
Mazzone: Ironic that the same week a $3,000 billboard is unveiled encouraging Ricky Williams to play for the Broncos, their starting RB is busted by the NFL for smoking weed. Selvin Young’s 15 minutes of fame begin now. He can thank the curse for potentially ending yet another career.

And even though I don’t feel that good about the Chargers, I just feel like the curse may have changed targets from Brees to Keith's Broncos players. Travis Henry is injured and soon to be suspended. Jay Cutler’s not only hobbling, but the curse may even break up his parents, talk about unprecedented.
Pick: Chargers +1

The Broncos may have just lost Travis Henry, but it’s actually the Chargers’ season that’s up in smoke. Denver hasn’t been able to stop the run, but that shouldn’t keep Rivers and San Diego’s offense from failing to take advantage. I’m really not much more confident in the Broncos right now, but I’m done waiting for the Chargers to show us something. Hey, at least Merriman found the right time to turn the Lights Out on their season. MAR-TY! MAR-TY!
Pick: Broncos -1

Baltimore Ravens at San Francisco 49ers +3.5
49ers porous run defense (130 yards per game allowed) has to find a way to stop McGahee while the Ravens (71 ypg) should be able to handle Gore, but have to find a way to stop…Trent Dilfer? Even so, they’re both unimpressive teams so I’m going with the home team, the points, and the best player in this game (Gore).
Pick: Niners +3.5

Durden: The 49ers should be in trouble, as the Ravens can stop the run and SF doesn’t have the speed/talent outside to help Dilfer get rid of the ball quickly. The Ravens should be in trouble because their QB is Steve McNair, they lead the league in penalties, and their defense continues to give up big plays. Baltimore badly needs to rebound from the embarrassing loss to the Browns so I can try and forget about last week. San Fran could probably use a rebound too, but I really don’t care.
Pick: Ravens -3.5

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers -3.5
Mazzone: Kurt Warner clearly got Brett Favre in touch with the Devil this offseason. So, now they’ve worked out a deal and every one of us is forced to put up with it the rest of the season. Fantastic.
Pick: Packers -3.5

Durden: Sometimes I wish I was a WR on the Packers, so that when Favre tried to pick me up, I could kick him in the face. Brett didn’t care about the record so much (the one that’s the sole reason he’s playing), that he went to the stands to celebrate with his wife and family, during the game. With that said, there was a tie this week for disturbing Favre-ism.

1a) ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli: “As he hiked up his pants on Sunday evening -- one leg at a time, it should be noted, for those Green Bay fans who believe their future Hall of Fame quarterback is a Superman in shoulder pads -- Brett Favre tore off the button on the waistband, and the pair of khakis slid all the way down to his knees.”

1b) Packer WR, Greg Jennings: "He makes us go, as he goes, we go. He puts the buzz in every one of us."

Sorry, but if I have to read this crap, then I have to bring as many people as I can down with me.
Pick: Packers -3.5

Dallas Cowboys at Buffalo Bills -10.5
Who’s psyched to re-live that one sided rivalry from the early 90’s?!?! NFL Schedule-makers, you fail. Dallas 52 – Buffalo 17 sounds familiar.
Pick: Cowboys -10.5

Best offense in the league meets the worst defense! Whose idea was it to put Buffalo on MNF??? I don’t know either, but it’s probably the same person whose idea it was to give us Giants @ Falcons next week. Well, at least the Cowboys will put on a show for us, and there is no way TO is held quiet two weeks in a row - most certainly not on Monday Night Football.
Pick: Cowboys -10.5

Bet safely, and always believe in football.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Kurse Watch - Week 5 Fantasy Focus

I was thinking about talking some baseball playoffs, but there's not a heck of a lot to be said - certainly nothing you won't read elsewhere a million times. The pitching was phenomenal, and the teams with the better pitching won. I was surprised to see Carlos Marmol play the goat for the Cubs though, he's got nasty stuff and I'd kill to have him in the Mets bullpen.

So that's that, onto the Kurse watch...

Mostly good things coming from the Gecko camp this week. It seems the Kurse may have taken week 4 off. With Drew Brees on a bye, team Gecko won their fantasy matchup and Keith went to Giants Stadium to see his team beat the Eagles. During which, he also witnessed his favorite play in football (Donovan McNabb getting sacked) a record number of times. And at the end of the day, Brian Leonard was still standing. That being said, week 4 was not without it's casualties and week 5 is certainly not lacking for story lines.

Start planning your retirement.
A bye week is not enough to move Drew Brees out of this spot. He should be grateful he's still in one piece, and pray the Kurse has moved on.

Quick, fake an injury!
Brian Leonard. Ok, so you survived the first week, but look at your offensive line. It's missing three starters, you're QB is out with broken ribs and his replacement is best known for slamming his head into a wall. Oh yea, and the RB ahead of you on the depth chart is out with a torn groin. You'd be pretty much screwed WITHOUT the curse, so it might be wise to limp off the practice field this week.

1-2, he's comin' for you...
We got two sitting here this week.

Travis Henry has rushed for 128 yards or more in three of his four games this season. And the one game he didn't, he found the end zone to make up for it. But, he's seen hobbling around the practice field these days with all sorts of ailments and you know Shanny won't wait to make Selvin Young, or some other guy he picks up off waivers this week, the next big thing.

Michael Pittman makes the list for the second time this year. Last time he was here after Caddy got banged up and I jokingly mentioned the Kurse has become so evolved it's going through people just to get to Keith's players. Well, Caddy is now done for the season, maybe for life, and Pittman will have a bigger role. Oh, and Keith is starting him this week. Michael, those footsteps you hear are not Dwight Freeney''s far worse.

Needless to say, I'm giddy about having Earnest Graham on my bench. It shouldn't take long for the Kurse to make him an even more viable option.

Safe...for now
Braylon Edwards - 375 yards and 4 TDs in four games? With Derek Anderson throwing the ball? Ravens, Steelers, Raiders defenses involved? I'm almost sold...

I'm a Survivor!
Randy Moss - Durden put it best sometime during Moss' weekly field day, this time on Monday Night. The Raiders should be forced to forfeit their #1 pick for trading Moss to the Patriots for a 4th rounder.

This week's NFL picks will be up Friday morning.

As for the MLB Postseason, I don't have much rooting interest (aside from rooting against the Phils and Yanks), but I wouldn't mind seeing something like this:

Rockies sweep Phillies
D'backs over Cubs in 5
Sox over Halos
Indians sweep Yanks (ARod 0 for the series)

Indians over Sox
Dbacks over Rockies

Dbacks over Indians (Byrnes and Valverde played a big role in my fantasy baseball championship this year, I owe them this much)

And if 'Zona could do it while scoring less runs than their opponents in the postseason as well, that would make it even better.