Friday, October 22, 2010

phootball phriday: jets bye week edition

my team's on vacation, so the best games this weekend are nebraska @ oklahoma state, and lsu @ auburn.

"stayin' alive" was recorded at 103 beats-per-minute, and it is the tempo that a white audience has the easiest time dancing to.

Friday, October 15, 2010

phootball phriday: be nice to your neighbors edition

ravens @ patriots
can the patriots win without randy moss? they've sort of been doing it for almost a year, so i don't see why not. but the schedule looks tough, and defensively this patriots team is not as good as we've come to expect from belichick. overall, the team is full of young players, and with eight picks in the first four rounds of next year's draft, i fully believe that belichick is building his next super-team, which may take shape a few years down the line. baltimore is an interesting test to see how competitive new england will be this year. the ravens, having already beaten the steelers (without roethlessberger) and the jets (without an offense), could do a lot for their reputation by beating the patriots (without moss). but i wouldn't go putting this team in the super bowl yet: their one loss was in week 2 to the hapless, terrible cincinnati bengals, and this does not look good on a resume. in that game, joe flacco threw four interceptions, and the ravens scored only 10 points for the second time in a row to open the season. since then, they've really picked up their offense, averaging 24 points over the last three games. give ray lewis and that defense three touchdowns and a field goal, and they'll win every time. i like the ravens in this game, as the patriots will probably need a couple weeks to get used to life without moss. but until joe flacco shows more consistency, and convinces me that that four INT performance against cincy was a fluke, i would view any super bowl predictions with a healthy dose of skepticism.

lions @ giants
speaking of healthy doses of skepticism, the giants. as i write this, the giants are number one in the nfl in yards allowed. this is the same team that, all of three weeks ago, gave up almost 70 points in two games. so what happened? well, the bears came to town, and my prediction of mike martz having a field day against a witless giants defense was slightly off the mark. the giants racked up ten sacks in the game, knocking out two quarterbacks. osi umenyora and justin tuck look, once again, like guys who won a super-bowl not all that long ago. but i won't jump off my "giants suck" bandwagon, not at the moment at least. this is a team that gets frustrated when things don't go their way, and when the giants get frustrated, they seem to loose lopsided games. top-flight teams don't loose by three scores to the titans. the giants seem to be ready, at the drop of a hat, to stop trying; if adversity strikes again, i won't expect them to get back up. adversity may come to town in the form of the lions. in spite of the fact that everyone understands how much better today's lions are than the 0-16 team of two years ago, detroit still found themselves with a gnarly losing streak they needed to break. and break it they did, with a 38-point win over the also-up-and-coming rams. shaun hill has been lights out filling in for matthew stafford, and javhid best, much to my whatever-the-opposite-of-surprise is, is an early rookie of the year candidate (but he'll probably loose it to bradford). at 1-4, the lions come into jersey desperate for a win over a contending team. with the nfc north looking all screwy and injured, a win over the giants could put detroit right in the middle of things, so go with the lions, who need it more. on the other hand, if the giants get another ten sacks, then maybe -- just maybe -- they might not totally suck.

oakland @ san francisco
ah, the niners. what a fucking disaster. if a team is widely picked to make the playoffs, and not infrequently picked as a super bowl contender, they probably shouldn't get blown out by seattle and kansas city. san francisco lost those two games by a combined score of 61-16. their other three losses were excruciatingly close, and all to teams that should be playoff-bound (saints, falcons, eagles). each of those three games could have been wins, had it not been for san francisco's multiple devastating mistakes on both sides of the ball. and that's just why the niners suck so far: if you fuck up really bad nine times in a game, you can kiss it goodbye. it seems like you can count on just that many monumental fuck ups every time the niners take the field. i haven't seen their discipline moving in the right direction and i don't expect it to be transformed in the space of a week. the raiders, meanwhile, are enjoying relatively good times. it really says a lot about how awful oakland football has become that a 2-3 start feels like a winning record. the raiders do look a lot more poised than they have been in the recent past. they haven't been out of a game since their season-opening debacle against tennessee, but neither have they notched a convincing win yet. of course, their big city rivals have yet to notch even an unconvincing win, so the raiders should really be heading into this game as favorites. it exhibits the power of preconceptions that they're one touchdown underdogs. there's no doubt that san francisco matches up well against oakland, especially with the injury to bruce gradkowski. with five division games in the second half of the season, a niner resurgence is not impossible; the team that's currently winning their division is starting a late-round rookie at quarterback (a mormon, no less), so the mountain to climb is not terribly steep. i think the niners beat oakland, and rattle off two more wins before their bye, getting them out of the basement. but i'd still go with oakland to cover the spread.

jets @ broncos
are the jets the best team in the afc?
no. the steelers are much better, and the colts still need to be regarded as the class of the nfl.
but. are the jets playing the best football in the afc RIGHT NOW?
absolutely. everything's falling into place. first, sanchez is five games in and hasn't thrown an interception yet (anyone who watched him last year is really struggling to believe this). second, the running back tandem of ladanian tomlinson and shonn greene is the best in the league. third, the jets defense is terrifying. and fourth, they have the best turnover differential in the entire league. add it all up and you get a team that looks pretty tough to beat right now.
the broncos have a lot of injury problems at half-back, and as a result they have the fourth-worst rushing offense in football. if this jets defense doesn't need to worry about the run at all on sunday, pray for kyle orton. barring a collapse by sanchez (which is utterly terrifyingly possible), or some sort of transcendent tim tebow miracle, i don't see any way for the broncos to win this match-up. my call: jets win by eight hundred million billion.

p.s. drew brees and the saints are obviously suffering the madden curse.

p.p.s. colt mccoy will get his teeth smashed in at pittsburgh, but when all is said and done, he and bradford will be the best quarterbacks to have come out of last year's draft.

Friday, October 1, 2010

inaugural phootball phriday

redskins @ eagles
for kevin kolb, the combination of sucking for one half and bumping his head real bad proved fatal. michael vick is back and looks prepared to exceed his best seasons in atlanta, where accuracy issues held him back. the new vick is just about perfect. he still has absurd speed for a quarterback, and when evading tackles he looks like a cross between barry sanders and carl lewis. what's most impressive, though, is the fact that he hasn't thrown an interception yet, and seems to have developed the ability to move around in the pocket to extend a play. with the speed weapons the eagles have, this makes vick more or less impossible to gameplan against. but if there's anyone who knows how to stifle andy ried's offense, it's donovan mcnabb, and this would be why you don't trade your all-pro quarterback inside your division. the redskins blew a big lead in week 2 to the texans, and followed that performance up by letting sam bradford get his first win. suddenly, the season-opening triumph over the cowboys feels pretty far away. with green bay and the colts up next, a loss this week could send washington reeling. things would really get interesting if the redskins started 2-0 in the east, but don't count on it. michael vick is the best player in the nfl. eagles by a hefty margin.

niners @ falcons
i'm going to cover two of the teams that i was wrongest about in my preseason round-up. the niners clearly top that list. san francisco was a chic pick to win the west, and i'll admit that i jumped on a bandwagon. week 1 was an embarrassment for san francisco, getting demolished by their much less talented division rival in seattle. apparently, technical difficulties prevented alex smith from getting the plays on time, which meant pete carroll's defense had the drop on them every single snap. a 31-6 final makes that scenario plausible. in week 2, the niners came within a hare's breath of beating the defending super bowl champions. if they had avoided any of three fluke turnovers (a frank gore fumble and two tipped interceptions), they could have won the game. even though they dropped to 0-2, the niners looked like they were ready to turn the season around. but last sunday was deflating, a 31-10 loss to the chiefs, and following the loss, san francisco fired their offensive coordinator.
while i'm sure five days of practice will be more than enough time for the quarterbacks coach to turn things around, the falcons actually beat the saints. with a physical run game, and one of the best receiving tight ends of all time, atlanta will win this game, and ultimately take the nfc south. as for the niners, all's not fucked. if they can beat either the falcons this week, or the eagles next week, there might be eight wins for them in the remainder of the season. oakland, carolina, tampa bay, and denver are all winnable games, and the nfc west is still a division without a single good team. those of us on the bandwagon just have to hope that they can turn their offense around, maybe - i dunno - try giving the ball to crabtree.

ravens @ steelers
every season, this is one of the most fun games of the year. the steelers are off to a 3-0 start WITHOUT A QUARTERBACK! pittsburgh's defense is once again, the best in the nfl. they're giving up 11 points a game! they forced 7 turnovers against tennessee! holy fucking shit! it's a good thing anquan boldin got his touchdowns in last week, because they'll be quite a bit harder to come by on sunday. flacco will get hit hard, and ray rice won't get shit. but baltimore can win without offense as well. they're a top tier defense except for their secondary, and don't expect charlie batch to test that secondary, because charlie batch sucks (hanging 38 on tampa bay is more a sign of a pulse than of talent). this will be a close, low-scoring game, and anyone who thinks they know who's going to win is deluded. it'll come down to which team can make the big play on defense. personally, i believe in troy polamalu, the best defensive player in the league. but if ray lewis or haloti ngata forces a big fumble in the fourth quarter, i wouldn't be surprised.

bears @ giants
here's what i said about the bears just before week 1: "holy shit, the bears suck ass." along with picking the niners to win the west, picking the bears to finish last in their division, behind the lions, is starting to look a little foolish. it certainly didn't look foolish after week 1. as j-temperance said, "i watched megatron win that game," and indeed he did. the serendipitous season-opening win was followed by a win over the cowboys (who may have started slow out of the gate, but are still one of the better teams in the nfc). in that game, jay cutler made mike martz look like a genius, and the bears incorporated all of their best weapons. last monday, helped out by eight thousand green bay penalties, the bears pulled out a last second win. so, 3-0. and their next four games are really fucking soft: giants, panthers, seahawks, redskins. the bears could go into their bye week at 6-1, maybe even 7-0. it'd be quite a feat for a team that pretty much lost to the shaun hill-led lions.
the giants? a soft game? why yes, the giants play like a bunch of foreskins in blue shirts. they've lost their last two game by a combined 43 points. the future looks bleak. detroit, seattle, and jacksonville should still be wins, and you can expect them to eek out a division win or two, but the giants don't stack up against the league's better teams. while i don't think chicago is one of the league's better teams, the giants were in the habit last year of making bad teams look good, and making mediocre teams look invincible. the bears come in confident, and the giants are about to start unraveling. and the jersey turnpike will shed a tear.

bonus pick that doesn't count if i'm wrong: pats will beat the dolphins in miami on monday night.