Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Noodle in a Haystack












I'm feeling a little CRAZY this week, so lets have some fun with INSANE prop bets.

First up, the coin toss:
My info has heads getting even money, with tails laying -105. Seems easy enough to me, I'm going with value. One mortgage payment on heads it is.

Seahawks and Steelers are both listed at -105 to win the toss. This one seems like free money to me. Seattle can't seem to win the coin flip between sunshine and rain, why should heads or tails be any different? 3 Mortgage payments on Pittsburgh.

Both teams are laying -115 on receiving the opening kick. This one is a steal for the Steelers. Even if Pittsburgh loses the toss, the Chin is going to go for the onside kick. 4 Mortgage payments on this one.

First score of the game: TD is -145, while anything else +115. How can anyone not like a safety or FG with these odds? 3 Mortgage payments on this one.

Will there be overtime? History says no, but +850 says yes. one mortgage payment on this one.

Thats all for this week. Lucky for me, all these are can't miss. Remember folks, always wager responsibly.

Monday, January 30, 2006

NUFCED by wikkidpissah

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
I was gonna fill this Taint Week space with a lameass Peter King-type "Things I'd like to see" column with items like "No matter how distinguished their sporting careers, I'd like to see all commentators exhibit the ability to communicate in a language other than Ebonics before they are hired" but then I'd have to thin out the racist implications with a PC qualification and include some Bill Walton reference like, "It would also be nice if they were able to converse in more than the overstatement of Deadhead stoned revelation" so I thought "screw it" and decided to use the time to recognize what got us to this point and outline the direction in which we'll be heading. Cool - I think I just broke my longest-sentence record. Let me begin by stating how proud I am of our contributing editors - we have provided daily content for almost five months with but a handful of exceptions and more column space than the entire Fanball staff in that time. More than that, these excellent people have proved my contention that an entire sports season can be covered in full with abundant irreverence and willful ignorance of the 40 time of Samkon Gado or how many times Fred Taylor pulls his groin. That the size of our audience has yet to meet that of our talent and commitment is unfortunate, but shouldn't detour our course. Thank you to Creekie - when your burgeoning talent finds its true outlet, we shall all be in for a treat; Sir Rufus Wetboat - offering you a column as a courtesy for being our tech admin proved to be my best decision of the season, for you are becoming a columnist with whom any pro would have to reckon; Jimed, your service to our country is an inspiration, to your readers a boon, to me a blessing; Ahem - even the most rogue organization needs one grownup and your class and calm have kept the ship righted; though now departed from our ranks, without Archer on our team at the start, I never would have given this a try; and our newbies: Noodles - when you agreed to fill our final opening, I knew I'd struck the balance to make this a going concern and you proved me right; and Professor - by stepping in on short notice to replace Archer for the most demanding column we offer, you did us great service and, with your growth into the job, made our hopes brighter. My gratitude and affection to you all.

Now, the future. We will continue to offer regular, if not daily, content throughout the offseason. Mr. Ellipsis and I are pretty big baseball fans and may have something to offer in that regard. Creek and the Professor (good sitcom title) are sports omnivores and will weigh in as the inspiration strikes (highlighted by the young'un's Mel Kiper impression, of course). This, plus Jimed's vacation in Kuwait, leaves an abundance of open column space. Should any of our readers imagine themselves blogmasters, now is the time to find out. One can either make completed submissions for consideration at wikkidpissah@yahoo.com or contact me at that address for my help in developing your take on things. Please remember that point-of-view and taste-for-absurdity counts more at LOCKERROOM than talent or experience. All inquiries will receive a response.

Your humble columnist shall return next week to review the Steelers decisive 27-14 victory in SBXL. Til then - play hard.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

WETBOAT'S PRE-SUPER BOWL WEEKEND MUSINGS


Benvenuto di Neve e di Gliz voi a Torino.

THE TORINO 2006 WINTER OLYMPICS EDITION

On this, the first weekend without football since the beginning of September (preseason games, my friends, DON’T count), my thoughts turn to what will transpire in February. Swimsuit issue? No. Dreary midwinter snowstorms? No. Valentine’s Day? Well, yeah, but that’s between me and my girlfriend. This year, we will witness the quadrennial snow spectacle that is the Winter Olympics. I’ve been hooked on this winter carnival since the USA hockey team’s “Miracle on Ice” victory at Lake Placid in 1980

The XX Giochi Olimpici Invernali start on February 10th, five fat football-free days since the Lombardi Trophy is awarded to the winning NFL team at Ford Field. Located in Torino (or Turin, if you're not associated with NBC and its fascination with Italicization), this edition of the Winter Olympics is shrouded in speculation, mystery, and wonder. Even the origin of the name, “Torino,” punningly enough, is a bit cloudy.

The name “Torino” (which, by the way, is home to the Fiat car company) comes from the Celtic “Tau”, which means mountains. In Italian, this name literally means “little bull,” which unfortunately is what the NBA basketball team looks like right now, 17 ½ games behind the Central Conference-leading Detroit Pistons. Ben Gordon, Chris Duhon, and Kirk Hinrich have been spotted wandering around the Vittorio Veneto square in a daze.


Der Österreichische Astronaut, Franz Klammer, schusses down the slopes above Innsbruck in 1976.

Since 1976, when I watched the Klammer Express scream down Mount Patscherkofel with utter abandon (see this videoclip) on the way to a gold medal in the Innsbruck Games, I’ve made it a point to watch almost every Olympic skiing event. Sure, the World Cup skiing events are more important to professional skiers, but I almost never watch them.

There’s something special about seeing an underdog beat the pants out of Olympic favorites and brag about their victory, as Bill Johnson did with his infamous “millions” comment after his 1984 Olympics gold-medal performance. Not that it helped Bill down the road, as he fell into a life of injury and disrepute. Tommy Moe went one better at Lillehammer in 1994, as did Leonhard Stock in 1980 and the Mahre twins’ one-two punch in 1984.

Will Bode Miller piss off everyone and his dog? Already, Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong, and the whole SADS organization (Skiers Against Drunk Skiing, that is) are lined up against him. Even Alberto “La Bomba” Tomba, the suave hard-partying Italian who charmed his way through the Calgary and Albertville Olympics, said of Bode, “Don’t win too much.”


The deserving young upstart on the right won’t follow in her sister’s footsteps thanks to the not-so-clutch performer on the left.

I admit, I’m one of those fellas who watch figure skating. I know, this doesn't rank up there with the other sports football fans love to watch, like NASCAR, hockey, basketball, or even pro wrestling. But when I'm with my girlfriend and we happen to be watching a sport she likes, for some reason, I find myself entranced by the grace, danger, and elegance of figure skating with its triple lutzes and quadruple axels. Of course, I've always looked at this sport a bit differently since Tonya Harding hired a hitman to whack Nancy Kerrigan’s knee, thus forever sealing the plaintive “Why meeeeee?” phrase into the annals of American white trash history.

Already, I’m furious with the USOC’s decision to let Michelle Kwan perform in Torino, despite an injury that kept her out of the nationals, where the top 3 finishers traditionally go on to the Olympics. I have an incredible amount of respect for Kwan’s talents and her place in American skating as its senior ambassador, with her 5 world and 9 national titles, but if she strikes out twice in the Olympics, she’s not ready for the big stage and doesn’t deserve a third chance. Thanks to the USOC, Emily Hughes, the younger sister of 2002 gold medalist Sarah Hughes, won’t strut her stuff on the ice. Unless Kwan or any of the other two starters are sidelined by injury in the runup to the Olympic event, Hughes will have to settle for staring at her older sister’s Olympic gold medal. I’ve always thought that the Olympics were a wonderful stage for young upstarts to ascend to stardom – just ask Emily’s older sister.

All a waste of time, as the U.S. skating team does not have any real favorites, and could find themselves frozen out of the medal podium for the first time since I don’t remember. If there aren’t real favorites on this team, let the rooks have their chance. ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz……


This picture needs no caption.

Mike Eruzione, Jim Craig, Buzz Schneider, Neal Broten, Dave Christian….unnh, huh? Hello? Was I sleeping? Is this 1980? No? Damn, I was just dreaming about them AGAIN.

With apologies to the third-world nations who were unfortunate pawns in the long-simmering Cold War between the two post-WWII superpowers, the drama between the USA college hockey team (COLLEGE, my friends, not AMATEUR and not even PRO!) and the professional Soviet Red Army hockey team has always been my most memorable storyline of any Olympics event. I was skiing in Vermont, one hour from Lake Placid, when word darted around the ski lifts that the American brats had beaten the invincible Soviets of Vladislav Tretiak, Boris Mikhailov, and Vyacheslav Fetisov! Standing in line at the ski lift, I was like, huh, what? For a country beaten down by Vietnam, the Iranian hostage crisis, soaring oil prices, and a general “malaise” (as Reagan liked to say about these years), the USA hockey team’s victory truly lifted our spirits in incalculable ways.

In this day and age, where the gaps between the rich and poor are so stark this even shows up in foreign policy, you’ll never see the likes of this again. The favorites are the Finns, Czechs, Swedes, Canadians, Russians, and Americans. Basically, it means that any hockey team that isn’t white won’t even win.


Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards -- Britain's best ski jumper.

Finally, this isn’t an article about the Olympics when I don’t make my paean to the competitive spirit of the individual, regardless of his or her relative competence in any sport. In recent years, the Olympics have lost their proletarian flavor, as more and more professionals join the Olympic village, and muscle out the amateurs who are otherwise not qualified to compete internationally. This is unfortunate, because, no matter how incompetent they are, they deserve a spot on the Olympic stage simply because they are the BEST players in their sport for their home countries. Remember Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, who made the 1988 British Olympic team as the country’s first ski jumper and, in a writer’s words, “soared like a brick into the hearts of Olympic fans across the world”? Although he was just a plasterer from Cheltenham, Eddie’s inelegant ski jumps, his dead-last showings, and even a crash on his last run at the Calgary Games earned him admiration and respect from his British peers – simply because he had the guts to risk himself in a dangerous sport (not to mention he looked adorable in those Coke-bottle glasses). His interview after one of his ski-jumping exploits is one which, in my mind, is forever a classic:

Announcer: How do you feel?
Eddie (with an aw-shucks grin): I feel great. I broke the British record.


Go faster, higher, stronger, like Eddie.

AND now, back to regularly scheduled programming. Jerome Bettis on Media Day in his hometown will bring tears to my eyes.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Weekly Mock

1 Houston- Reggie Bush RB USC

After his senior bowl performance, this pick could be D'brick, but more than likely will be Bush, or a trade back. Vince Young is a hot name at this spot right now, but I'm pretty sure Kubiak realizes how great Bush would be in the Denver zone blocking scheme.

2 New Orleans- Matt Leinart QB USC

I'm sure Sean Payton will want to bring in a new QB, and Aaron Brooks doesn't deserve to be kept around. New Orleans is Leinart's best chance to succeed with Duece and Joe Horn there.

3 Tennessee- Vince Young QB Texas

Even with how much I like Billy Volek, it looks like the top 3 is set. Vince Young will likely take the same route to starting that McNair did, sitting the bench for a while, before slowly taking over.

4 New York Jets- DeAngelo Williams RB Memphis

I think the Jets are going to trade up. And if they do trade up, it will be for Reggie Bush. In this mock, with no trades taking place, I'll pencil in DeAngelo Williams. I was pretty even between him and LenDale white, but it seems everyone is talking about how great he was in practice this week.

5 Green Bay- Mario Williams DE NC St.

Tough pick, as I think A.J Hawk is just as likely a pick, but I don't think they will be able to pass up Williams. He and KGB would create quite the pass rush, and again, if a team needs defense, I don't think they can pass up Williams.

6 San Francisco- A.J Hawk LB Ohio St.

The 49ers will be taking the top defensive player available, and after Williams, it's Hawk. Losing Julian Peterson will hurt this defense a lot, and drafting an OLB to replace him would be ideal, but as long as they got a top defensive player, they'll be happy.

7 Oakland- Haloti Ngata DT Oregon

I think they may end up trading up to the #3 spot, to get either Leinart or Young, but if they stay at #7, they'll take Ngata. It's still a little too early for Cutler, so we'll give them the best defensive player available, and a guy who will give Sapp and Washington a breather, and eventually replace them.

8 Buffalo- D'brickashaw Ferguson OT Virginia

They would rather have Ngata, but they do need a LT, and even though D'brick will go higher than this, without trades, this is the best I can do for you.

9 Detroit- Winston Justice OT USC

I think Justice is overrated, and would take Scott and Winston over him, but it seems everywhere I look, he's a top 10 pick, and the 2nd OT taken. The Lions probably do need a QB, but with Garcia and Orlovsky, I think they can afford to take one later on.

10 Arizona- Jay Cutler QB Vanderbilt

I still think Cutler in the top 10 is a reach, but the Cardinals can afford to take the time for him to become a premier player. I don't think they'll go running back, only because of how foolish they would look. They can wait around for a tight end, as I'm sure one of the better ones will fall to the 2nd round.

11 St. Louis- Chad Greenway LB Iowa

They signed a couple of veteran LB's last year, and it didn't work out, so I think they'll try to bolster that unit through the draft. Although, it's tough to see them passing on offense with new coach Scott Linehan.


12 Cleveland- Demeco Ryans LB Alabama

Built up their offense last year, so I assume this year they'll be drafting defense. Could see them going with Huff here, but I think they end up with a LB at this pick if Ngata doesn't fall.

13 Baltimore- Michael Huff S/CB Texas

BPA, and they could use a young defensive back. Would be interesting to see if they took a chance on LenDale White here.

14 Philadelphia- Jon Scott OT Texas

I'm about 90% sure we'll go OT in the 1st round, and even though I personally like Eric winston more, I can see us going with Scott because he can play both tackle positions, and Andy loves versatility in his o-lineman.


15 Atlanta- Ko Simpson S South Carolina

Another team that I think could take White, but it seems like they're going to take someone to help out the secondary. If Ko waited a year or two to come out, he would be a top 10 pick, but I'm sure the Falcons are happy he's around for their pick.

16 Miami- Jimmy Williams S/CB Virginia Tech

To me, the biggest problem for the Dolphins this year was their secondary. Williams falling for some reason I haven't discovered, and the Dolphins need help at both CB and safety.

17 Minnesota- LenDale White RB USC

I'd bet somebody trades up for White before he gets this far down the board, but in this mock, he falls into the waiting arms of the Vikings. They need a true, starting running back, and quit all this foolishness with Moore, Bennett, Fason, Smith, and whoever else they have hiding on the bench.

18 Dallas- Eric Winston OT Miami

I guess it's set in stone that the Cowboys will be taking a LT with theit 1st pick. Winston is a guy I still think is a top 10 player, and he could end up being the biggest steal of the draft.


19 San Diego- Darnell Bing S USC

I had a tough time passing on Santonio Holmes with them, but I think they go with need first, and take Bing. They can still pick up another 1st round pick to get a WR by trading one of their QBs.

20 Kansas City- Santonio Holmes WR Ohio St.

As bad as their defense is, they've needed a true #1 WR for some time. The offense was good (but predictable) last year, and Holmes will give them another dimension.

21New England- Richard Marshall CB Fresno St.

Hot rumor because of the Pat Hill-Bill Belichick connection. Makes sense to me.

22 Denver (f/WAS)- Mathias Kiwanuka DE Boston College

Denver does need a pass rusher, and even though Kiwi will probably go higher, I have him going here. And yes, it's taking everything I have from giving Denver a TE causing njx to attack me through my computer.

23 Tampa Bay- Tamba Hali DE Penn St.

Rice is getting old, and I've never been that impressed with Spires. Looking at their roster, the Bucs don't have any glaring holes (other than QB of course). I think they'll end up going with the best defensive player available, and it happens to be Hali.

24 Cincinnati- Brodrick Bunkley DT FSU

After not taking Travis Johnson last year, I think they definately have to go DT in the draft. I have Watson over Bunkley, but for the Bengals, Bunkley is the better fit.

25 New York Giants- Tye Hill CB Clemson

Keeps rising up boards ala Fabian Washington last year. Was considering McNeill for the Giants here, but after the week of practice Hill had, it sounds like he'll be a 1st round pick.

26 Chicago- Vernon Davis TE Maryland

Kind of suprised I had him fall this far, but the Bears will do nicely to have a nice dump off option for Grossman who can get yards after the catch.

27 Carolina- Gabe Watson DT Michigan

With Buckner near retirement, and Kris Jenkins' injury problems, Watson is a smart pick, and he could go even higher after this week. Had a hard time not giving them Maroney.

28 Jacksonville- Antonio Cromartie CB FSU

The Jags showed last year they aren't afraid to take a chance in the draft, and if Cromartie wasn't hurt, he would have been a much higher pick.

29 Denver- Chad Jackson WR Florida

The Broncos make out pretty good in the 1st round with Kiwi and Jackson. Obviously they do need a young WR who can play alongside Lelie when Smith retires. I think Jackson does work his way into the 1st round.

30 Indianapolis- Laurence Maroney RB Minnesota

Even with James back, I think this a good pick. Edge ran the ball a ton this year, and they could use a RB like Maroney who can take some of the load off. Plus, better safe than sorry.

31 Seattle- Manny Lawson DE NC St.

Could come in and start ahead of Bryce Fisher. May not last this long anymore.

32 Pittsburgh- Claude Wroten DT LSU

Need a DT for when Kimo retires. Have seen a couple mocks that have Martin Nance to Pitt, which I had a hard time not doing myself. It comes down to Wroten being a better pick for the future.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

By The Numbers - Conference Champ Week

It’s time for a look at the numbers for the conference championship week (#20). If your name is Jake, step forward and be paddled. The Panthers stumbled on the way to XL, and the Broncos bumbled their way to the offseason. Who’s the top fantasy performer in SB history?

The Two Jakes

References to Jack Nicholson aside, I missed out on the confluence of factors on two QBs named Jake to late to realize that the Panthers and Broncos were doomed from the beginning. Between Jake Delhomme and Jake Plummer, we have the makings for fantasy disaster.

Mr. D was harassed mercilessly by an underrated Seahawks defense. He was 0 for 6 with 2 picks before he completed a pass. A late TD and 196 passing yards later, Delhomme totaled 3 fantasy points, the antithesis of his 23 fantasy points from the week before.

Mr. P finally turned in one of those breakdown performances that his supporters have feared all season. Mike Greenberg predicted it on his Friday morning show before the game, but I didn’t believe it. The line is indisputable, though – two INTs, two fumbles combined with a teaser 3rd quarter TD pass, 223 passing yards and 30 yards rushing to equal 3 fantasy points for Plummer (seem familiar?).

Fantasy players everywhere will take note of these performances and pick Matt Hasselbeck and Ben Roethlisberger long before either Jake next year – will they be right to do so?

The Good News

Shaun Alexander was the top fantasy play of the week, with 152 rushing yards and two TDs (19 fantasy points). Seems that knock on the head from last week is a forgotten memory now …

Cedrick Wilson and Hines Ward vs. Darrell Jackson and Jerramy Stevens was a fantasy draw, with good results for any owner (18 fantasy points for each duo). The unstoppable Steve Smith was finally stopped, but even on a bad day he collected 6 fantasy points on a punt return. Can you say #1 WR in most fantasy drafts next year?

What was that I was saying about John Fox being the next head coach to rack up his first SB win? Er, sorry John, that will have to be Bill Cowher – unless the Stillers decide to choke in Detroit City (click click BOOM) …

Best SB Fantasy

Which players had the best fantasy performances ever in a Super Bowl? By position:

QB - Joe Montana in XXIV (5 TDs, 297 passing yards = 35 fantasy points)
RB – Terrell Davis in XXXII (3 TDs, 157 rushing yards = 25 fantasy points)
WR - Jerry Rice in XXIV (3 TDs, 148 receiving yards = 25 fantasy points)
K - Don Chandler in II (4 FGs, 3 XPs = 16 fantasy points)

Monday, January 23, 2006

NUFCED by wikkidpissah


Time for another drive down Nostalgia Lane. Yeah, I know, we were there just last week, as I shared my Seattle football memories. If you come along this time, though, I promise I’ll take you to Isaly’s for a chipped ham sandwich & a cone. Then maybe down to the Strip for a rap & a tap. For Pittsburgh is my sports home-away-from-home.

My mother, her brother Bob & I are the only rabid sports fans on either side of my family. When my uncle got a job teaching at the University of Pittsburgh, it broke up our little clique but it opened to me my first chance to see sporting events outside of Boston. Uncle Bob had two daughters and a son who was...well...he grew up to be an award-winning choreographer and director of the movies “Chicago” and “Memoirs of a Geisha”...you can guess what kind of sports fan he was. That made me Bob’s sports son so, in the two weeks each summer I got farmed out to the Steel City, we watched game after game together. Now, even at sixties’ ticket prices, a game a day at Forbes Field was too costly for an associate professor. Fortunately, Uncle Bob’s office, on the 17th floor of the Cathedral of Learning (the tallest school building in the world and, at one time, the tallest building outside New York) offered a clean, though distant, view of the Pirates at play below. So each day my Aunt Anne would pack us a basket with a transistor radio, binoculars and some cucumber sandwiches and send us on our way for some low-cost fandom. Then, Three Rivers – first weekend I went there (and, though beautifully situated, it always looked to me like a spaceship at the ready to evacuate Planet Earth in the wake of a catastrophe) I saw Roberto Clemente’s 3000th hit and last game. And, when I was on tour in the music biz as a young man, I’d always schedule a stop to Da Burgh to see a Pirate or Steeler game with Uncle Bob. He’s retired and moved away now, but I called him after yesterday’s game and he was as
happy as he’d be were he there.


















Isn’t it fortuitous that, the season I start a football blog, the conference champions are teams of whose locales and fans I have some intimate knowledge. Let’s have a look at the rather one-sided games which parented that coincidence:

PGH 34 DEN 17
The formula holds up – the team whose defense kicks ass and offense don’t suck has to be your favorite to make it to the dance every time, no matter how offense-oriented a season has been...The key to this game was how many times the Denver D let the Steeler O off the hook on 3rd & long. The Pats were a good 3rd-down team during their run, but they didn’t have to go so far as often as Pgh...Did John Whisenhunt just win the Raiders’ HC job in that game or what?! G’ahead, take it Johnny – Al “Gollum” Davis can’t live forever. He’s prolly just waiting for us to finally bomb Osama’s cave so he won’t be the slimiest piece o’ shit in Hell...The Broncos are Albuquerque’s “home” team, so I’ve seen every game of Snake’s Denver career. He’s been a lot better than I thought and was a big reason they made it this far, but there’s one thing he just can’t do – come from behind. He did an admirable job escaping the Steeler rush in the 2nd half, but his decision-making with a sizable deficit to make up is always just terrible...Only bad thing about this game was that Hines Ward’s TD-cancelling penalty on Bus’ 2nd run to the goal kept me from winning Fanball’s Deathmatch.

SEA 34 CAR 14
I don’t know if Fox miked the game differently for the Conference Championship, but that was the loudest sports crowd I’ve ever heard on television. As I alluded to last week, I’d rather try to make myself heard at Ozfest than at the old Kingdome games, but the joint was REALLY rockin’ for this one. I mean, 4th quarter, ahead a million-to-three and it as defeaning as at the kickoff...I called for NGoings to be the Cats’ starter on a couple of occasions this season but, the way the Seahawks salivated over having only him to stop makes me wonder...Never mind six feet, is Tatupu even 5’ 10”? I don’t think so – he looks like the world’s fattest point guard in the huddle...I guess Little Stevie Wonder CAN be defended from scrimmage...Have you EVER seen a special-teams blocking-related penalty flag picked up before? Do you reeeally think the Conference Championship is the time to start with that?! Only “Skating with Celebrities” is lamer than the postseason officiating this year.

Speaking of figure skating (I think that’s the first time I’ve ever said that), I sure hope NBC doesn’t get Super Bowl coverage as part of their new TV deal with the NFL. That network becomes sooo skate-mad once winter arrives (channel-surfing during commercials last week, I saw their skaters weaving between gymnastics displays as some American Idol also-ran sang patriotic songs – possibly the gayest moment in the history of broadcasting) they’ll try to find a way to put a Bus or Manning on blades at some point. Although it would be fun to see Jagger & Richards do a Lutz at halftime. Play hard -

Sunday, January 22, 2006

WETBOAT'S CHAMPIONSHIP FOOTBALL WEEKEND MUSINGS


Practice safe sex at Super Bowl XL.

Da da da da dadada da da da da.....

it's now down to 4 teams, the Steelers, Broncos, Panthers and Seahawks! The question is which of these teams will head into Detroit, and what plotlines will run thick for the next two weeks.

Here are the possible permutations:

Steelers vs Seahawks: The All-Mustache Super Bowl. Cowher vs Holmgren, two of the most veteran coaches in the league. Da Bus vs Shaun. Already, the NFL is salivating at the prospect of Extra-Large Bettis in the "XL" Super Bowl.

Steelers vs Panthers: The All-Wildcard Super Bowl. The first Super Bowl in which both teams started their playoffs as wildcard teams. Befitting this wildcard image, Steve "Stevonne" Smith runs his mouth on Media Day and Da Bus retaliates with a few words of his own.

Broncos vs Seahawks: The All-Unsung Super Bowl. A few years ago, who would've thunk that unsung quarterbacks Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Plummer would be in the big dance? Or that the entire Broncos defensive line used to be the ENTIRE starting line for the Cleveland Brownies the year before? Or that it would actually be SEATTLE in the Super Bowl? Seattle is never associated with championships -- the last one was the Seattle SuperSonics' NBA championship in 1979.

Broncos vs Panthers: The All-Boring Super Bowl. Pitting Denver's no-name offense and defense against the Panther's no-name offense (with the exception of Steve "Stevonne" Smith) and defense. A Super Bowl advertiser's nightmare.

And heeeeeeere's my prediction: The Broncos vs the Seahawks! My sentimental favorite is the Steelers, but they will run out of gas in their tank once they roll into Invesco Field. The Panthers have the guts and the playoff experience to make it difficult for the Seahawks, but the Hawks' home advantage and rainy weather will prevail.

The sad part of this weekend is that I will not be able to see any of these games today. There's a family event going on this weekend, and 20 family members have flown into NYC. I must run off for a bagels and lox breakfast with the clan, and then give them a tour of this great town. So, until then, enjoy the games!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

CHAMPIONSHIP DEGENERATES CASH GRAB

Hello from the shores of the outer banks. Well, I'm in Virginia & haven't recieved any news of my loadout to Kuwait day yet. I have a few minutes & thought & would share my latest plan to grab a few bucks.
Last week I went 1-1 against the spread for a loss of $110.00, this week I plan on doing a little better.
The season totals are 35-33-2 against the spread for a profit of $2790.00

This weeks selection

Tough numbers for this weeks games, with the home teams each spotting 3.5. A good number in my oppinion, but I think the .5 in the lines just might be enough to sway some action on the dogs.
Those that have read my drivel all year know I love taking points. & this week is no exception.
I am taking A stout Pittsburgh team to win outright. $330.00 says Pitt +3.5 brings home the bacon.

Carolina on the other hand has a flip flop season, no runningback & rely too heavily on Steve Smith. $220.00 says Car + 3.5 get back to the superbowl.


Take care everyone, as I have no Idea when I can get back around these pages.

Professor Ellis D Trails Championship Game Syllabus



What a wild weekend from the perspective of the referees. To err is human, but to complete disregard is abhorrent and inexcusable.

This week’s Colts game brought me back to my childhood. I recalled an experience that I had buried among the many heartbreaks that my city has so fruitfully given me.

I was 13 and was going to an Eagles game with my Uncle. We didn’t have much in common other than Football and that was a lot considering my father was less than a sports enthusiast. It was week 4 and I was looking forward to this game, as the Eagles were 1-2 and were in need of a win, but the Colt’s were 0-3 and looked poor to say the least. As you can deduce, I felt confident.

Jack Trudeau was on his way out with Jeff George backing him up and Eric Dickerson on the downside of his career, making his final pro bowl the year before in 1989. They had the juggernaut, Albert Bentley taking the load, Ha Ha. The Eagles had Randall, Byers, Barnett, Williams, Keith Jackson, one of the earliest RBBC that I can recall with Sherman, Toney, Sanders, hell even Robert Drummond, and a sick defense that was still getting better.

I remember the Birds took the early lead after the they stalled a drive at the five and had a couple of strong opportunities to score. This would come back to haunt them later in the game. Toward the end of the quarter, Jack Trudeau hit Jessie Hester from the 5 as the Colts took the lead. I thought, of course they could get it in from the five and we couldn’t. Randall and his gang wiped away my melancholy with an awesome second quarter. Cunningham first hit Keith Jackson with a touchdown from just inside mid-field and the Eagles were flying. He threw another TD a couple of drives later to Arkansas Freddie Barnett, I don’t remember how far, but I do remember the catch was awesome. It was halftime and I was thoroughly enjoying a 17-10 lead after Indy scored a field goal just before the quarter ended.


During the break, I thoroughly enjoyed my soft pretzel with mustard as my Uncle was trying to hit on this drunken lady some seats down from ours. She smelled like a sponge soaked in week old Yeungling Lager. I didn’t care my team was in control, or so I thought.

Anyway, the third quarter was underway and before I knew it the lead was now 20-10. I remember being happy that the field goal by the Colts at the end of the half was now erased. Then, as I was counting down the minutes to victory, they drove down the field on us. Just when I thought that we would hold them to a field goal, Bentley breaks off a TD that was thirty yards or something. I was pissed. I remember screaming curses that my uncle was completely unaware that I even knew. The rest of the game was a struggle.


Neither team could muster any offense and I just wanted the game to end so the Eagles could take their win. With about five minutes left in the game, the Eagles drove down to the Colt’s ten, but again all they could get was a field goal, up by six. The Eagles stopped the Colts on their next drive and all they had to do was get a first down to end the game. One first down. That’s it. Simple, right, NO!! They were forced to punt back to the Colts with 1:06 left. I will never forget that. Indy had the ball on their own 25. NO problem, right, again NO!! Jack FUCKING Trudeau drove the shitty colts down the field against the absolute worst prevent defense I have ever seen. Prior to this drive, my uncle was convinced the game was over. We were making our way around the inner ring of the Vet as to get closer to the exit while still watching the end. As we moved, so did the Colts. We were not believing the ineptness that our defense was showing us. We ended up stopping to watch the final few plays of the game right behind the handicapped section. It came down to one final play. 6 seconds and they were down 6. They needed a touchdown and we had Eric Allen. We were golden. Nope. Jack FUCKING Trudeau hits Bill Brooks with no time remaining to take the game. I was so fucking mad that I kicked whatever was in front of me. It just happened to be an Eagle fan in a wheelchair. I screamed so much and with such a fury that I couldn’t go anywhere for almost an hour. I had so much pent up rage stemming from my colorful childhood life, that it all just came out in a wave. I hated the Colts for a long time after that. Eventually, I moved on as a football fan, but anytime there is a deciding play at the end of an Indianapolis game, i.e. Harbaugh’s pass going through the WR’s hands at Pittsburgh, I just can’t help but go back to that painful day in Philadelphia

These are the final games leading up to the Superbowl in Detroit. This is the closest the Lion’s fans get to see a Lombardi Trophy in their town. There should be some good matchups this week and I for one cannot wait to see how the survivors of “refs rule weekend” come out and play.

CAR @ SEA
Carolina made the vaunted Chicago Defense look like a high school team. Someone needs to check under Steve Smith’s Jersey, I think he might be a robot. He is insane. I could only imagine what he could do with a WR on the other side that even had a smidgen of talent. It’s a shame that De’Shaun broke his ankle. Hopefully he can come back at full strength next year. Seattle on the other hand, played a different game. They survived their game, despite losing the MVP of the league very early. Washington was not able to capitalize on some mistakes, but the Seattle defense played well. This week, Carolina brings their road show into Seattle and will try to do their part in making it a 5 seed vs. a 6 seed in the SB for the first time ever. Two wildcards could possibly be playing for the title. This proves beyond any doubt that our league has changed. This one is going to be a close one. Both teams are hungry and I think the intangible of being at home will help Seattle in this one. Those fans have been there for that team through some bad players and they will be ready on Friday.

Jake Delhomme – He is playing his best football of the season at just the right time. He has done well against teams with strong pass defenses and now gets to face the weakest of the three. In this day and age, it is pretty meaningless. Jake the joke could show up too.
Nick Goings – If the line opens up holes like they did against Chicago, then Nick Lachey could run through Seattle.
Steve Smith – He is the top WR in the league. Randy Moss, Hah! Terrell Owens, too bad his mouth out sizes his talent. Chad Johnson, he comes close. He is a robot. He could do anything he wants on the field. No one can cover him. At least CJ has TJ lining up on the other side. Smitty could have a coat rack on the other side and still catch 150 and 2 TD’s.

SA – He is a super player, but will his bell being rung interfere with him running on a Carolina defense that is flying high. TJ was averaging some 5 yards per carry, but the Bears had to abandon the run, for they couldn’t stop the Panther offense.
Matt Hasselback – He played like a leader in the wake of losing his anchor last week, but can he orchestrate a super bowl contender. Holmgren is banking on it.
Darrell Jackson – He is back to playing at the level we have all gotten accustomed to over the past few seasons. He can be the difference maker.


PIT @ DEN
Pittsburgh pulled of the improbable. Wait, Peyton has a 3-6 playoff record. He doesn’t seem to handle the pressures of playoff football. Maybe he was looking forward to playing a team he does well against instead of the Patriots. Tony Dungy needs to be in control. I know that Peyton is the man and all, but Manning should have called a timeout and spoke to his coach. Just sending the players off the field is just wrong. Denver beat the Patriots thanks mostly to the refs. Some might say it’s justice for the calls that went their way so many times in the past. Now, we have a game that few predicted in the early part of the year. Denver was dealing with Maurice “I prefer jail to the gridiron” Clarett and Pittsburgh almost had to let Randel El quarterback a game, eewww. This should be a battle in the trenches. Two teams that predominantly rely on the run to achieve success and it may come down to how many mistakes their respective QB’s make in the clutch. Pittsburgh needs to come out like gangbusters to have a chance. Their defense is strong, but the toll of playing three road games takes it toll. They were involved in an emotional roller coaster against Indy and in the end there were some saying that they got lucky after completely out playing the “unbeatable” Colts. It would be hard to get that going again repeatedly on the road for anyone. Denver seems poised to make the big dance. They are disciplined, and focused and as long as Jake doesn’t force it, which he hasn’t done this season, they should be off to SB Xtra Large.

Ben R. – He is an extremely efficient passer. He has does what it takes to win, while growing so much in only his second season. I just think it’s too much for a 23 year old to go into the mile high city and beat the Broncos to go to the superbowl. Maybe I’ll be wrong.
Jerome Bettis – You can bet that this guy wants this game more than anything other than a win in the following game. He will play his hardest that his body will allow. You know his arms will be clutching that ball with a ferocity after his Pisarcikesque play on the two against Indy.
Willie Parker – Fast Willie needs to utilized much in the way he was versus the Colts. He can take those screens and go all the way. Denver needs to stay in their lanes and not over pursue.
Hines Ward – He is one of the best Wide Receivers in the league, too bad this week he faces Champ Bailey. He will get his fantasy points, but no scores.
Jake Plummer – He finally realizes that he doesn’t need to put up big numbers to win, but is certainly capable of doing so. He should do this week what Peyton should have done last week, dump off the passes to combat the pressure put on by Pitt’s defense. This will allow Denver to set up the run and thus the play action.
Mike Anderson – If the Broncos get near the goaline, he will get them across the stripe.
Tatem Bell – If I had this guy in a keeper league, I would be licking my chops. He could get a couple big runs if the defense isn’t careful.
Rod Smith – I’m banking on him having a big first half in order to have choice of players in SuperBowl Deathmatch.

After this we will be down to two and Superbowl X-tra Large will be at hand. Another year of over priced commercials that don’t ever live up to the hype. All eyes will be on the halftime performance and we might get a nipple slip from Keith Richards, as he is so beyond repair that I could see him not being able to dress himself, but still play that guitar like most of us breathe.

As always, go with your gut and don’t look back.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

By The Numbers - Divisional Week

It’s time for a look at the numbers for the divisional playoff round (Hey 19). The Panthers continue what now appears to be their inexorable march to the XL championship, and everyone that figured SA was money ended up in the fantasy red …

Waiting to XL(I)

99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer … how soon does the 2006 NFL season start?

Anybody have Jake Delhomme in the office QB pool? He passed for over 300 yards and had three TD strikes, netting a tidy 22 fantasy points (damned INTs). As for the rest, here’s the QB breakdown for last weekend:

Hasselbeck – 215 yards, 1 TD + 1 rushing TD = 17 fantasy points
Roethlisberger – 197 yards, 2 TDs, 1 pick = 13 fantasy points
Manning – 290 yards, 1 TD, 1 phantom pick = 11 fantasy points
Brady – 341 yards, 1 TD, 2 picks = 8 fantasy points
Brunell – 242 yards, 1 TD, 1 fumble = 8 fantasy points
Plummer – 197 yards, 1 TD, 1 pick = 7 fantasy points
Grossman – 191 yards, 1 TD, 1 pick = 7 fantasy points

Jake is definitely playing the best QB of the remaining four. Ben’s biggest play of the day was a tackle! Too bad most FF contests don’t count IDP stats …

Steve Smith was joined by Mike “The Marine” Anderson in the two-TD club, but Smith still wins the top fantasy slot with 23 fantasy points, thanks in large part to that fabulous receiving yard total (218). Once again, John Kasay did his takers proud with his 3 FGs and 2 XPs (oops, missed one). With the three hottest offensive players going and a kick-ass defense, can their be any doubt that John Fox will be the next head coach to rack up his first SB win?

Let’s give a special shout-out to Shaun Alexander, who disappointed fantasy players everywhere with his negative 2 fantasy points performance. That’s what happens when you go down in an early heap right after you fumble! At least he gets style points for his rendition of the “Go Team! Fight!” cheer … Sadly, my Redskins simply could not take advantage of the gifts presented by the Hawx and finally succumbed to their own limitations. Here’s to XLI …

War Torn

As has been mentioned here at LOCKERROOM earlier, our beloved Southie Savant (aka jimed) is leaving today for a year to fight for freedom and democracy. My own politics aside, I just want to take the opportunity to thank him and his compatriots for putting their lives on the line for all of us. Come back healthy and whole, Jim, and send us the occasional dispatch from the other side of the world. We’ll keep everyone else informed and entertained, though with fewer probes and abductions …

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Noodle in a Haystack


There are moments in sports that will be remembered forever. Carlton Fisk willing his home run fair, Franco Harris snatching the immaculate reception out of the air, Jordan drilling a buzzer beater over Ehlo. As a fan, these are the moments you live for, this is why you watch. Over the years, I have seen each of these moments replayed hundreds of times, but nothing could prepare me for seeing the next finish that will be etched in to our collective memory forever, especially since my team found itself on the wrong side of history.

As I watched it all unfold from my seat in the upper deck of the Hoosier Dome, it seemed surreal. Following a season of unparalleled success, the Colts came out looking more Gary Hogeboom than Peyton Manning. Superbowl dreams were all but over by the time Troy Polamalu picked Manning with under 6 minutes left to play. The crowd was shuffling towards the exits when the first Miracle happened; the call was dubiously overturned by replay. It was a stunning and uplifting turn of events; hopes that had been dashed just moments earlier now seemed plausible once again. In what seemed like an instant, the Colts had scored a TD and a 2 point conversion, and followed that up with defensive stand.

After 3 and a half quarters of lackluster play, just 82 yards and 2 and a half minutes separated the Colts from redemption. With Peyton Manning and 3 timeouts, I felt this game was in our grasp. It quickly turned ugly again as Manning was pressured relentlessly, finding himself in the grasp of Joey Porter and James Farrior on a 4th down play.

Crushed by this turn of events, but always looking for of hope, I said to a fan in front of me that we still had 3 timeouts. Little did I know that the Colts wouldn’t have to take even one of them to get the ball back.

Staring dejectedly across the stadium to the east endzone, I saw with my own eyes a moment that is sure to join short list of unforgettable moments mentioned above. With a minute and twenty seconds remaining, the normally sure handed Jerome Bettis plowed straight ahead in to the pile where he was met by Colts linebacker Gary Brackett. As the balled popped loose, my sliver of hope had turned in to a legitimate opportunity, an opportunity that was improbably scooped up by Colts cornerback Nick Harper.

As Harper came barreling down the field towards me, the endzone and history, there was no time to think about how unbelievable it was that a man who had been stabbed less then 24 hours before was now scampering towards what looked as though it could be a 96 yard touchdown. I stared in amazement as the crowed roared louder than anything I had ever heard in my life. Even as Harper was brought down by desperate reach by Ben Roethlisberger at the Indianapolis 42, my body still tingled with anticipation of the inevitable. With a minute remaining, there was no conceivable way that my beloved Colts would not at least get this game to overtime.

In just 2 plays, the Colts managed to move the ball 30 yards to the Pittsburgh 28. On second and short, Manning went for the whole thing. Reggie Wayne seemed to have a step on Bryant McFadden, but the rookie CB came up with the biggest play of his life, reached out and tipped the ball away just before it reached Wayne in the endzone. After a 3rd down incompletion, the moment of truth had arrived. Mike Vanderjagt trotted out to try a 46 yard FG that would make or break the Colts dream season. A kick through the uprights would send it to OT, while a miss would send us all home unsatisfied.

As Bill Cowher burned a timeout to ice the most accurate kicker in NFL history, I suddenly found myself in the mold of a religious man. Unable to clearly see if a kick is wide or true from our vantage point, I stared only at the ref after the ball was away. Holding hands with fellow fans in the stands, it seemed like an eternity waiting for the signal to come from the refs. All I could tell was that it had plenty of distance.

When the signal came, I slumped down, no good. I stood there in a daze for a moment, trying to comprehend everything I had just seen and felt. The human body is not meant to go through such a series of emotional swings, and I was drained as a result.

As I walked out of the stadium, I felt conflicted. As a Colts fan, I was crushed, but the football fan within me knew that I had just been lucky enough to witness one of the most amazing finishes in the history of the sport. Its tough knowing that even if I live to be 100, I’ll likely never see a better game than the one that ruined my teams dream season. I know one thing for sure, I’ll never look at the Fisk homer, the immaculate reception of the Jordan fist pump again without thinking of the other side of the coin. History celebrates the winners of the classics, but the pain of losing one will be around until the end as well.

Monday, January 16, 2006

NUFCED by wikkidpissah

I’m among those who believe pro football to be best enjoyed at home. You can have your facepaint & tailgates - gimme the bigscreen & BarcoLounger anytime. And, the more action to trace, the better. In fact, I think I developed my multitasking football tastes because the Patsies of my youth NEVER sold out in time for the local blackout to be lifted (believe me – the Patriot Nation is about as old as all those post-Soviet nations named Stan), so I was left to watch whatever alternatives the networks coughed up with a Pats-tracking ear on a transistor radio. Yeah, I went to a couple of games as a kid (one at Fenway Park, where they put up a grandstand in front of the Monstah in left field) a few more as a young man when I had a pass to the press box at Schaeffer Stadium (more on that some other time) but I never developed a real taste for it. I even went to Super Bowl X in Miami but, except for Staubach being intercepted in front of me to end the Cowboy comeback, all I remember is a lot of jumping around and a headache from the noise and jostling. So, as you can see, I could be counted among those not a fan of the live football.

Until, that is, I met my late wife’s best friend Shelley and her husband Dave. They had moved back to Dave’s home of Gig Harbor, Washington about the time I met my Mary. Once a year, we’d go up to the Sound to use their neighbors’ Seahawks ticket. Honest to god, when we’d go up on Friday, they were already well into their pre-game excitement mode. Sunday morning, we’d meet half the town in a mini-mall parking lot to board a chartered bus for the 90-minute drive to the concrete behemoth, the upholstered latrine that was the Kingdome to watch Chuck Knox’s crew of Fumblin’ Dave Krieg, Curt Warner, Largent & Co. (including the immortal Mike Tice at TE) ply their wares. Now, here in Albuquerque, we have what is reputed to be the loudest sports venue, the Pit, in the country but, compared to those Kingdome crowds, it’s as quiet as a three-shake trickle. Combine that rollicking acoustic nightmare with some pretty decent play and Seattle being the notorious home of the Wave, and you got yourself a football experience that I imagine can only be beat at Lambeau in January.

Why do I bring this up? Because my wife has been gone for almost a decade, and these ‘Hawkfan moments when Mary would, only then, trade in her spiked heels & martinis for a ballcap & a brew, were among the sweet early moments of our courtship. Which means that those events feel like they occurred in distant centuries of memory, yet they are all more recent than the last Seahawk playoff victory. I couldn’t be happier for the Seattle fans – the match of any I’ve seen – and I hope my old friends Dave & Shelley were there to enjoy it. Aaaah – nostalgia just ain’t what it used to be. Let’s take a look at the action before the officials come in and rule that this is not a column:

SEA 20 WASH 10
Somebody has got to tell Coach Gibbs what century we’re in. He has now completed two years in the modern NFL without realizing or seeing the need to utilize the shifts, receiver groupings or disguised picks that every other freaking coach sees as vital to having any semblance of an offense. Except for his H-back stuff, he’s still using the “you-cut-at-the-second-sewer-and-he’ll-run-down-to-the-phone-pole patterns that have been obsolete for a decade. That, and the lack of a competent second wideout, makes the real Moss’ season that much more impressive...Never been much of a Hass fan, but he looked very Favrish out there (for those who have forgotten, that’s a good thing) in his generalship this week. Add in the return to form of DJax and the ‘Hawks have a lot better chance than I originally thought.

DEN 27 NE 13
So much for that inevitability thing...Brady has been such a machine that it is truly odd to see him look tired and disoriented out there. Of course, swimming upstream against such a raging current of official incompetence will do that to one...I was philosophical about the interference penalty (bothered more by the lateness of the flag than the call). After all, the Pats were due for some karmic retribution for how important to the dynasty have been Ty Law’s many unflagged infractions through the years. But, all I can say about the call on Champ’s fumble (beside it obscuring the fact that his int. & return were only the second best play of the game – wasn’t Watson incredible?) is that I’m glad Isaac Newton is not a football fan, else his gravespinning send the earth off its axis. For those of you unfamiliar with the Second Law of Motion (momentum), let me fill you in. Were Bailey to have dropped the ball straight down from two feet out of the zone running at approximately 18 mph, momentum alone would have carried the ball into the end zone. That means that there would have to be a stark reversal of the direction of the ball to keep it from going through the zone, impossible not only due to Watson’s angle of approach but to Champ’s hip obstructing the only path by which that could have occurred. Class dismissed...Hoping for a blizzard for the Pittsburgh game, aren’t you? Just ain’t the postseason without at least one Weather Bowl.

PGH 21 IND 18
Got rust? Beyond the fact that it has always bothered me when a team puts in a scrub game when families have coughed up good money to see them play, the Colts’ slow start out of the box should convince any for good & all that a team with a playoff bye shouldn’t even THINK of benching their starters til comfortably into week 17. As much as talent and gameplanning, timing & precision are the keys to successful play, and constant live reps are the only way to be sure of keeping that a-going...Whoda thunk when it happened, that Saturday’s interference call would be only the third worst call of the weekend? The league needs not only to reconsider what constitutes possession (much as they redefined the tuck rule) but, also, whether to consider some kind of independent supervision/arbitration to keep calls from having such impact on important games... Holy Pisarcik, Batman - was the Steelers' decision to go for it late as stupid as it gets?... No way do I let P-Man send my punt team off the field. He either calls a timeout or that don’t get done...Another case of the immovable object beating the undeniable force come playoff time...Sorry, Noodles – dunno if this was your first live playoff game, but you deserved better. Now that your boys understand you can’t take time away from kickin’ ass & takin’ names to micromanage scenarios, next year is theirs for sure.

CAR 29 CHI 21
Prop bet of the week: What kind of odds do you think you would have gotten against this game being the highest-scoring of Division Weekend? I really can’t figure it out – the Bears are getting beat up, the only thing worse than their execution is their playcalling. They get a weird, cheap TD toward the end of the half and then it’s like both teams met in the tunnel at the half and said “Wouldn’t it be great if we pretended to be Chiefs vs. Rams the rest of the way.?”...Is Little Stevie Wonder the most exciting player in football? Smitty comes into Chicago and makes the best defense in football look like Bert the Cop trying to handcuff Clarence the Angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

And then there were four. My pre-playoff call was for a Pgh 23 Car 3 Super Bowl. Even I thought it looked kinda stupid when I said it. Aha – stupid like a bank...never mind.

Before I go – this is the last of my columns before our pal Jimed trades in his civilian status to help us secure democracy in the Middle East. Here’s hoping that you never leave Kuwait and come back safe and soon – but not before cashing in with the best floating casino in the Arabian theater. God bless, buddy. Play hard.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

WETBOAT'S DIVISIONAL WEEKEND MUSINGS

CONGRATULATIONS, PLANNB23, ON WINNING THE FIRST SQUISHYSCHOONER CHALLENGE!

For being the first person on the Fanball boards to spell "Kimo Von Oelhoffen" correctly, Plannb23 receives an all-expenses paid round trip to the nearest local supermarket.* To honor Kimo Von Oelhoffen's Hawaiian-German-Portuguese heritage, PlannB also receives a dinner of Jagerschnitzel with chorizo sausages and macadamia nuts.**

*All costs incurred during the trip are the responsibility of the Squishyschooner Challenge winner.
**LOCKERROOM cannot guarantee the prompt delivery and/or freshness of the food to be delivered.



ACL! PART I


The Cincinnati Bengals are used to early offseasons anyway.

Speaking of Von Oelhoffen and Carson Palmer, oooooooof! Anyone think Kimo, with that roll into Carson's leg, singlehandedly gave the Steelers two guaranteed wins in the AFC North next year?

It useta be that, 30 years ago, an ACL injury was never called an ACL injury, or just "ACL!" It was a “serious knee injury” and that was all people needed to know. In this information age, football fans are so starved for little details about players' injuries that a simply termed "injury to a body part" isn't enough to placate the voracious appetites of their beer-besotted brains. It must be "anterior cruciate ligament," "medial collateral ligament," "posterior cruciate ligament", "acromioclavicular joint," or whatever medical term brainy sports trainers could come up with. A Bill Belichick-type injury announcement, or lack of it, wouldn't have raised eyebrows 30 years ago.

The first time I ever heard the name "vertebrae" was when I was a kid on vacation in Cape Cod with my family in August of 1978, and the medical analysis of Darryl Stingley's injury was splashed across the sports pages of the Boston Globe. The headline said, in large letters: Stingley prognosis: 'Ominous.'

Yes, it was also when I learned those two words: "prognosis" and "ominous." I took every opportunity to tell my parents what I thought of everything that week: "The weather is ominous!" "The prognosis of the ocean is not good!"

But anyway...

Today, when we hear "ACL!" we know exactly what it is. Not simply “knee injury” or even “ACL injury.” When Chris Berman screams “ACL!” this sets off alarm bells everywhere. When a star football player goes down, his injury gets about as much coverage as the injury President Reagan suffered during an assassination attempt.

*Sigh*. This stuff is a real posterior hematoma.


ACL! PART 2


Bill Gramatica's dance rates a 2.9.

I did some rather unscientific research on football players who suffered ACL injuries in the past, and came up with an interesting pattern about their recoveries. Here's what I came up with:

RUNNING BACKS
Jamal Anderson: Did reasonably fine for 1-2 years, before he was replaced by Duckett.
Jamal Lewis: Back to his old self. Prison may have done him worse.
Willis McGahee: Back to his old self, so far.
Edgerrin James: Back to his old self.
Terrell Davis: Was never the same.
Robert Edwards: Done. He's the perfect example of why the Pro Bowl shouldn't be played.
Ki-Jana Carter: Was serviceable as a 2nd or 3rd backup, but has since retired.
Correll Buckhalter: Showed promise after his ACL injury, but another injury may have done him in.

WIDE RECEIVERS
Sylvester Morris: Done, after a promising rookie season with the Chiefs.
Cliff Russell: Redskins' 3rd round pick in Spurrier's first year, he had the fastest times of any WR in the draft. He's not showing much since the injury, and is probably done.
Michael Westbrook: Done.
Wendell Davis: Done. He singlehandedly started the demise of the Vet.

QUARTERBACKS
Trent Green: Back to old self, and can run just fine.

Among running backs, the rate of recovery from an ACL injury is roughly 50/50. As far as I know about wide receiver ACL injuries (and please correct me if I’m missing any other WR’s), the rate of recovery among WR’s is just terrible. Are you listening, Javon Walker and Braylon Edwards?

The jury is still out on quarterbacks. I only know of just one QB who suffered an ACL injury and that was Trent Green. (Again, fill me in on any other QB's I missed.) It's very hard to say how well, or how completely, quarterbacks can recover from ACL's. Compared to RB's and WR's, quarterbacks have other tangible physical assets and are less reliant on their legs. This season has been quite unusual with two star quarterbacks going down with ACL injuries: Daunte Culpepper and Carson Palmer. Before their injuries, Culpepper and Palmer had fairly equal production levels during their best years. Culpepper's production, unlike Palmer's, was due in a greater part to his legs, so his chances of returning to his old self after an injury like this is far less likely.

But, whether you're a QB, RB, or WR, it all comes down to attitude, discipline, and motivation when rehabbing from a devastating ACL injury. If what they say about ACL rehabs is more mental than physical, then those who possess more mental courage and fortitude will be the ones who are most successful at recovering from their injuries. That's why I like Palmer's chances, but am not so sure about the chances of the following players who suffered ACL injuries this season: Walker, Edwards, Kellen Winslow, and Deuce McAllister. Out of those four, McAllister can recover well if his mind is into it. Given the record of WR's recovering from ACL injuries, there's great reason for pessimism, no matter how hard Walker and Edwards can try to rehab their way to their pre-ACL level. As for Kellen Winslow, his name spells B-U-S-T. Anyone who takes daredevil spins on a motorcycle and yells "It's war out there, motherfucker" can't be trusted to be mentally disciplined about rehabbing from an ACL injury.

No, I don’t cover kicker ACL injuries. But, as anyone knows, there are two, and only two, ways that kickers sustain an ACL injury: a bold play, or just plain stupidity. Joe Nedney, as a kicker for the Tennessee Titans two years ago, made a daring tackle on a kickoff return, and paid for it with a torn ACL that ended his season. On the other hand, Bill Gramatica of the Arizona Cardinals enthusiastically celebrated a meaningless field goal by doing the Argentine version of the typical touchdown celebration, which I believe entails a lot of jumping up and down. Tore his ACL and, just like that, the Dancing Gramaticas were history.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Las Vegas All-American Bowl Preview (By Creek)




This saturday (aka today), will mark the beginning of the post post-season for college football fans, and NFL fans who want to get a look at some of the deeper talent in this years draft. The Las Vegas All American Classic kicks off at 4:30 EST, and features some talented players (Note: disregard the heading on the link. Rosters are current) who could be playing for your team come next year. So, I figured I'd take the time to write about some of the guys I have an opinion on.




East Team

Brett Basanez QB Northwestern

Big Ten offensive player of the year, who is a threat running and passing. Has 28 total TD's (21 passing, 7 rushing), and lead the Wildcats to big wins against Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan St., and Iowa. Ended the year 3rd in total offense. Isn't good enough of a passer to be a starter at the next level, but I've been wrong before.

Chris Barclay RB Wake Forest

Small guy, but has proven to be capable of carrying the load in college. Had a great game early in the year against FSU that I saw. Haven't seen him on many boards.


Quadtrine Hill RB Miami

Not really big enough to be a fullback in the pros, but has great hands, and protects the passer. Also is a great teamate, and a source who attended the Miami Hurricane's awards banquet told me, he was the team's senior leader, and even won an award for it. Could catch on somewhere as a 3rd down back, but likely will be regulated to NFL Europe.


Dennis Roland OT Georgia

Monster of a person, and an excellent pass blocker. Known as "Bambi" when he arrived at UGA for his slender frame, he's beefed up, and has all the tools to be a top O-lineman.


Troy Reddick OT Auburn

Not the best technique, but is a mauler, and an underrated right tackle prospect. Has helped block for a great running game his whole career. A guy who could jump after the combine, if some O-line coaches think they can "coach 'em up."


Daid Castillo C FSU

Best known for holding up the gator head in Gainsville after beating Florida one year, that started a massive brawl, but known by my buddy Big Jon and I as David "injured once a game" Castillo. I'm not even exaggerating, every game, he went out with something, but he usually came back in. Still, if I'm a GM, that makes me shy away from him.


Charles Sharon/Steve Sanders WR Bowling Green

Sharon and Sanders were a dynamic combination, and I'd like to think one of them will get a chance in the NFL. Sanders how the more potential of the two, but Sharon has proven to be successful day in and day out. Sanders scored more TD's, Sharon had more catches. Between the two, I'll take a chance on Sanders.


Willie Reid WR FSU

Not much of a receiver, but as you saw in the Orange Bowl, he is a solid return man. I doubt he gets drafted, as there are players who are just as good returners, but much better receivers.


Willie Evans DE Mississippi St.

Finished 3rd in the country with 15 sacks, but isn't ranked very high on most boards. I have him in the 5th-6th round range, based on his production in college. One of the guys I'm REALLY going to be watching.


Brandon Guillory DE/LB Louisiana-Monroe

Compared by some to DeMarcus Ware, as far as how he could be used in the pros. Great athlete with speed and size, but playing at a small school obviously hurts his stock. Probably wouldn't work in a 4-3 scheme, but could flourish in a 3-4.


Pierre Woods DE/LB Michigan

Was going to be a star, before voodoo curse was casted upon him. Still has the ability, and had a better year last year, than he did in his god awful junior year. I bet someone takes a chance on him ala Cato June.


Leon Williams LB Miami

All Miami LB's can play in the NFL. Should be drafted, and will prove in this game, that he deserves to be drafted.




West


Justin Holland QB Colorado St.

Great pocket passer, and a guy who would be getting much more attention in a weaker draft class (like last year's for instance). Has a great arm, but makes poor decisions from time to time. Potential will be too much to pass on for a team in the 4th or 5th round.


Terrence Pennington OT New Mexico

One of the more underrated schools in terms of NFL talent, is New Mexico, and Pennington is part of a talented O-line. Has great size, but it may not be enough to get him drafted.


Aldo De La Garza OG Texas A&M

Owns the school record in the bench press (490lbs), and quite frankly, scares the crap out of me. Shouldbe drafted on intimidation factor alone.


Jovon Bouknight WR Wyoming

Superb return man AND receiver. Will get drafted somewhere because of his speed and potential. Saw him against Florida, and he was very..."meh."


Nick Reid OLB Kansas

Big 12 defensive player of the year, and 1st team all Big 12. Very good linebacker, who should be rated higher based on production. Will likely be an early day two pick.


Freddy Keiaho OLB SDSU

Same thing as Reid. Will likely be an early day two pick. SDSU has een producing some good linebacker talent as of late, and the trend continues with him.


Jimmy Cotrell MLB New Mexico St.

One of my big sleepers. He's great against the run, and was the best player I saw in the Sun Belt conference this year. Proved all the college teams that passed up on him wrong, and will likely do it to the NFL teams that pass up on him too.


Cletis Gordon CB Jackson St.

Small school guy, who I have yet to get a look at. This will be very important for him to see if he is just as good against tougher competition. Very anxious to see what he can do.


You can always TIVO this game, and watch the playoffs. I know I will, because THATS... How I roll.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

PLAYOFF PAYOFF DEGENERATE GAMBLERS DIVISIONAL WEEKEND

Howdy folks.
This will be my last entry till I get recalled to active duty next Wednesday. I should be heading out to Iraq/Kuwait in early March.
This has been a fun column to write, but very trying in the first 10 weeks, when I was down $2200.00. Since then I have been on a meteoric rise to the tune of $2920.00 for the good.
Last weeks 3-1 record pushed my season totals to 34-32-2.
I advised a play on Pittsburgh last week. Correcy
I advised on the cin/pit over last week. Correct
I advised a tease on the Pats & the under. Correct.

Bad read on the Giants killed my moneyline parlay, but I still made $640.00 last weekend.
Hope to do it again.

The Picks

Carolina gets no respect because of Chicagos D. Last I checked, you needed to score more points than your opponant at the end of the game to garner a win in this league. Carolinas D is no slouch & Chicagos offense sucks. I am risking $220.00 on a Jeckell & Hyde Carolina team, getting 3 from a Chicago team that couldn't spell TD, if you spotted them the "T"

Indy/Pitt. The over/under is 47.5. I think you could set it at 50 & still get decent play on the over. Risking $330.00 the the goombas misjudged this game badly. Take the Over

Teaser special. 6 point variety & not a recommended play, but @15-1 odds, it is worth a try.
$20.00 to make $300.00--------
SEA-3.5 & Over 35.5
NE +9 & over 38
PIT +15.5 & over 41.5
Carolina +9 & over 24.5



I really like Pittsburgh against the number, but have a sinking feeling that a super fluke goes against them. I think if they play Mistake free football & play TOUGH SMASHMOUTH, KILL'EM football, they win outright. Indy is ripe for the picking. They have had 5 weeks rest & I think it will show.

Happy Hunting & Allah Akbar

The Professor's Playoff Syllabus Part 2


I spend the better portion of my day in a haze of paperwork and madness. For some time now, I have been partaking in Anger Management Sessions. Don’t worry there was no encounter with the authorities at 2:00 in the morning at Jack in the Box. I was not court ordered due to spazzing out in line at grocery store, in which frozen meat is flung at the cash register because the jerk in front of me wants to pay with pennies. Also, to what you may think, I do not carry sewing shears for those oh so pleasant mornings without coffee.

I am in fact an amiable individual. I like to watch football and drink some brews. I love my wife, but there are some things in this damn world that makes me want to jam a fork into the eyes of each moron I come into contact with.

People will never cease to amaze me. I guess that is one fact I must learn to live with. I could be at the bank or at the dry cleaner and I just happen to come across Joe Jackass. Maybe it’s a guy acting belligerent about 5 cents or somebody that feels that they are so damn important for the reason that they are made to wait just a little bit too long. They also ramble on certain forums about how great and talented they are, only to show the true ineptitude they possess. You know who you are. (NS,BL)

I just want to grab these people and inform them that life is too damn short to be consumed with the most trivial bullshit. I want to tell them that where they are allows them to have the luxury of waiting. Most of all, I want to watch these cretins as they burn for eternity. HELLFIRE!!!!



Again, I am a cheerful guy, Every now and then these scathing salamanders slither themselves into my existence and I am sickened by what I see. Anger Management has taught me some things about how your mind escalates during confrontation. I have learned that it is not the situation that makes you angry; it is your thoughts about the situation that make you angry. I needed a damn shrink to tell me this.

Anyway I would like for everyone to be patient and understand that you cannot have everything you want. You just can’t. Even you silly fucks in California.

I moved to the Golden State almost two years ago and have come to the realization that the people out here are not just merely ignorant, but dense as well. I grew up in Philadelphia where we had culture and American History was shoved down our throats almost daily. Annual school trips to Betsy Ross’ house and Independence Hall gave you a sense of being apart of the growth of this country. In California, I get a sense that people are disconnected from anything in regards to America. People in LA feel as though they are above others and are owed their share of the pie seemingly without any knowledge of how this country was founded or the men that made that happen. I wouldn’t be surprised if a response to who was Thomas Jefferson was the guy that was married to Weezy.




West Coasties say that people from the east are “back” east, implying that they are back in time, if somehow Californians are futuristic in their outlook on life. Quite the contrary, these people couldn’t be more backwards than hicks in the woods of Alabama making moonshine themselves.

If you try to have a conversation with someone, well just forget it. They look at you like you have a green monkey on your head blowing snot bubbles. Maybe since I just got out of anger management my outlook is somewhat skewed as many of my previous columns’ connotation may suggest.

I just want to be able to eliminate the abundance of unawareness that floods the populace. However, I have more than begun to see that any attempt is no more than futile and no less than impossible. You may say that my viewpoint is cynical, but I say it is realistic.



I look forward to simple pleasures to distract me from the world around me. One being reading the sports section in the bathroom. Watching football. Drinking a Yuengling Lager from the bottle. I love that feeling you get as you fall asleep when you are about as comfortable as you can ever be. Most of all, I appreciate the chance to give my loyal pupils one more shot at succeeding at fantasy football.

This brings me to the current week’s playoff games. There are four matchups this week that all happen to be rematches of regular season games.

Saturday, January 14

WAS @ SEA 4:30pm
Washington had 120 yards of offense and was able to win against Tampa Bay. Seattle watched that game at home like the rest of us. Mike Holmgren finally figured out how to win. Give the ball to SA. Brunell’s run has come to an end.

Mark Brunell – His tank has run out of gas. Marky go bye-bye.
Santana Moss – He should get some yards in a futile attempt at a comeback. Too little too late.
Clinton Portis – Southeast Jerome needs to have the game of games in order to give Washington a glimmer of hope. Too bad.

Matt Hasselback – He won’t win it, but he won’t lose it either. He has been waiting for the opportunity to repay his fans for the overtime debacle in Green Bay.
Shaun Alexander – The MVP gets his chance to walk the walk. He had 98 yards in a loss to this team when the skins were streaking early in the year. You know this guy is ready to play right now.
Darrell Jackson – He didn’t even appear on the injury report this week, which is good news for Seahawk fans, but they have had great play from the backups this year so it really doesn’t matter.

NE @ DEN 8:00pm
New England took on a noticeably undermanned Jaguar team last week. Jacksonville should build on this season, but were no match for the more experienced Patriot team. In New England’s last 7 games they played only three teams that were formidable opponents. Miami and Kansas City and Tampa. The record 1-2. Some will say that they lost to Miami in order to play Jacksonville in the first round. Be that as it may 2 wins against the Jets and wins against Buffalo and New Orleans do not impress me. Denver has only lost two in their fifteen games and both of those were on the road. Jake Plummer has finally learned to play within the system and has shown it with only 2 interceptions at home. They have had an extra week to get healthy and prepare and don’t forget the guy coaching against Billy B this week has 2 Superbowl rings of his own. This is the best team that New England has faced in a while and the final score will show it. I don’t think this will be a blowout by any means, but it will be a win for Denver.

Tom Brady – He is undefeated in the playoffs. Inevitability says that he is due to lose. Unfortunately for him that is not why he will lose this week. Denver just has the better team and the better matchups.
Corey Dillon – I wouldn’t count too much on Corey this week.
Deion Branch – I will say that he id due for a good game.
Troy Brown – He could play offense and defense again. Whoopee!

Jake Plummer – As I stated before, he has finally succumbed to the Bronco’s system. He realizes that he doesn’t have to do everything. He has matured exponentially this season.
Tatem Bell – His style of running is a great play against the New England schemes. I predict they will over pursue and he will get some big plays.
Rod Smith – He is one of the most consistent players in the league. He is better than Jimmy Smith and gets less credit.

Sunday, January 15

PIT @ INDY 1:00pm
Pittsburgh blew past divisional rival Cincinnati last week and the debate is whether or not they could have had the same outcome if Carson didn’t blow his knee out. My point is it doesn’t matter and the Steelers do not need the distractions. Indianapolis is geared up for the run at the Superbowl with the only question being, can Peyton put his playoff woes behind him? You know he’ll be rooting for Denver on Saturday. I wonder if the Patriots do win on Saturday, will that be on his mind while playing on Sunday? Interesting.

Ben R. – He will have much the same game that he did last time he made the trip to Indy and I don’t want to hear shit about how it was his first game back from injury. He is a professional football player. Indy’s defense will control him.
Willie Parker – Will he be shutdown? Yes
Hines Ward – He will always get his yards and may even get a score on a pass from Bettis.
Jerome Bettis – This should be his final game of a great career.

Peyton Manning - No one can pick apart defenses like Peyton can. Did anyone hear what Joey Porter said about Indy's offense? He was like, There would be no way they could beat us if they just line up and come at us. They have to always do those audibles and try to trick us. What a dumbass.
Edgerrin James - He put up over a hundred in the last game and I see no reason why he won't do it again.
Marvin Harrison - He has had a week to fully heal and we might even see a replay of the opening snap of the previous game.
The Dome - So Bill thinks they pump sound into the dome to bring up the noise level. That's cool.

CAR @ CHI 4:30pm
Carolina showed me something last week with their performance in New York. I honestly did not expect the pure domination on both sides of the ball. Chicago has been in this position before. In 2001, they were 13-3 and looking to dominate the Eagles and the Birds showed up and beat them. Lovie Smith won’t let this happen. He has that defense playing at the level of the Bears of two decades ago. This one will be low scoring just as the one earlier in the year was and Chicago will pound Thomas Jones. If you don’t like punts, don’t watch this one. On the other hand, if you love defense, then this one should be a good one.

Jake Delhomme – He was sacked eight time in the previous outing, so you can be sure that there will a lot of three step and throw plays. You can bet the Bears will be ready for that.
Deshaun Foster – He put up 151 against the Giants. He’ll be lucky to get 15 yards this week.
Steve Smith – He had something like 10 catches for 160+ yards in the loss to the Bears earlier in the year. This tells me one thing. He will catch a lot of balls. He will gain a lot of yards and the Panthers will lose.
Panther’s Defense – They played well in the last game, but the last game Kyle Orton was QB. I know it’s Rex Grossman, but it’s still an upgrade.

Rex Grossman – As long as he doesn’t make stupid mistakes, ala Eli Manning, this game will be won on the ground and with defense.
Thomas Jones – He rewarded the Bears giving him the load this year with a great season. He should continue to play strong.
Mushin Muhammed – He caught a touchdown pass against his old team last time they played and was able to get one from Grossman in week 16. You know he’ll be primed to go against the Panthers in the Playoffs.
Chicago’s Defense – I haven’t seen a D this punishing since the EAGLES in the early nineties and they pummeled offensive players.

This will take us to the Championship Games and I have
Denver @ Indianapolis
Chicago @ Seattle

There were three road winners last week and that won’t happen again. It’s just the mediocrity of today’s NFL. Good luck to all and if your teams are still alive, I want to say screw you the EAGLES are the best. No, I’m just kidding. I hope you all have a great time getting drunk and either making love or beating your better halves.

As always, Go with your gut and don’t look back.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

By The Numbers - Wildcard Week

It’s time for a look at the numbers for week 18 (that’s the wildcard round, boys and girls). Not much in the way of fantasy football to pick from, but we’ll suffer along. With the NFL regular season over, I’ll dabble in the NBA numbers now and then (or whatever else catches my eye).

The Beast Won’t Die

Only 8 months to go until the start of the 2006 NFL season …

If you’re still playing any kind of fantasy football, shame on you – I just hope you had Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger for your QB. Each had 3 TDs, 200+ passing yards and no mistakes, for totals of 22 fantasy points. That kind of play wins championships …

Steve Smith was the only two-TD scorer of the week, so he wins the top non-QB fantasy slot hands down (16 fantasy points). Who was number two? That’s right, a kicker! John Kasay had a nice mound of 12 fantasy points with his 3 FGs and 2 XPs.

It was ugly from a fantasy perspective, that “offense” of the NY Giants. Eli Manning managed negative 4 fantasy points with his three picks, and no one else showed up for work either. The Redskins’ offense turned in a similar stinker, but they have Gregg Williams (and his $8M) to thank for another week of football. Remember my pre-season prediction about the Seahawks? It’s coming this week, at the hands of my beloved Gibbs!

Is it just me, or were they dropping like flies last weekend? With Carson Palmer and Chris Henry hurt on the same play, the Bengals’ playoff chances went the way of the dodo. Teammates of Renaldo Wynn have a new meaning for double-jointed – did you see that replay? My theory on the Sean Taylor spitting incident goes like this: check the grassy knoll, get out the DNA kit, look for the troll. My bet is the flag came out when the ref got hit on the rebound ...

Hoop-la

I know virtually nothing about fantasy basketball, but that won’t stop me from talking about it. My Wizards-heavy fantasy team has finally started to develop some consistency, especially after I got rid of most of the Wizards players! Gilbert Arenas is a nice player, and Antawn Jamison has started to revive his game. However, neither is a top-10 performer of late. It’s all about the role players, baby. Fantasy basketball teams are a lot more work to manage, with the constant injury rotation and 82-game schedule. I’ll consider myself lucky to make the top-tier playoff bracket in my 12-team H2H league. Thankfully, there’s no money involved …

You can talk about Kobe Bryant all you want (four 45+ point performances in a row, interrupted by a 2-game suspension) and LeBron James seemed an obvious number 1 draft pick with his seven 30+ point performances in a row, but Yahoo says the best all-around game belongs to Shawn Marion. Look at his numbers for the last month:

FG % = .538
FT % = .744
3 PTs = 19
Total Points = 333
Rebounds = 193
Assists = 27
Steals = 25
Blocks = 28
Turnovers = 22

What do they mean? Damned if I know, they just looked good …

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Noodle in a Haystack

Last weekend I went 3-1 picking the wild card games, but I'll go ahead and downgrade to 3-2 for failing to predict that wild card weekend would be such a snoozer. I've been hyping myself up for months waiting for the playoffs, but the first weekend left me very unsatisfied. Two blowouts, a game between 2 teams that couldn't score in a whore house and finally a game ruined by a major injury in the opening minutes. Ah well, at least now we can let the real fun begin.

Saturday, January 14, 2006
Washington at Seattle
On paper, Seattle is the best in the NFC. Too bad they don't play the games on paper though, as Seattle found out last time these 2 squads met. A heavey dose of Shaun Alexander and an efficient game from Matt Hassselbeck should keep the Seahawks from needing a Josh Brown FG at the buzzer this time. Look for the suddenly productive Jerramy Stevens to have an impact on this one at some point, he has really been developing nicely over the last month and should be on fantasy radar for next year.
Seattle 27
Washington 16

New England at Denver
This one looks like the game of the weekend. Denver has been solid all year long, but Shanahan's boys have choking mightily in the playoffs since Elway rode off in to the sunset.
Contrast that with the Patriots, who have looked shakey all year, but re-emerged last weekend looking like the playoff juggernaut they we have come to expect them to be.
Ultimately, I think this one comes down to quarterbacks, and you should know better than to think I'd ever take Jake over Tommy boy. One guys makes mistakes, one guy doesn't.
New England 31
Denver 23

Sunday, January 15, 2006
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis
You all know by now that I'm a Colts homer, so I'm not going to pretend to be objective about this one. I'll be there and I'll be loud. Big Ben is going to wish he never opened his mouth and accused us of piping in sound.
Colts win.

Carolina at Chicago
Carolina was the one result I got wrong last week, but as I mentioned they're a Jekel and Hyde kind of team. Last week I picked the ugly Panthers to show up and they didn't. This week I'm picking the good Panthers to show up.
The Panthers D made Eli Manning look like a confused little boy, and I fully expect them to do the same to an even less experienced Rex Grossman.
The only thing that can stop Carolina is Carolina.
Panthers 27
Bears 13

There you have it folks. I can't believe I pulled off a winning record last week, but I'll be back to eat my humble pie when it all come crashing down. Until then, watch out for bumper cars and don't take any wooden nickles.