Wednesday, November 28, 2007

There are many words to describe what Lance Thomas is doing to Brian Butch in this photo, but I don't think "defends" is one of them. Dick Vitale must have consulted on the captions.

Anyway, I'm picking Green Bay tomorrow, if you haven't guessed....

Friday, November 23, 2007

We'll move on to the rest of this week's picks shortly, but first, a rebuttal of Chris's last rebuttal (a re-rebuttal?), specifically concerning the sub-topic of wide receiver contact rules.

I originally said:
There are plenty of other high-class organizations out there, so it's a poor argument by TMQ. However, Chris, I don't believe you can honestly tell me that bringing up an argument to the rules committee in the offseason about them enforcing an already-existing rule is at the same level of "poor sportsmanship" as willfully breaking a rule to gain a competitive advantage (no matter how small that advantage might actually have been).

And then Chris said:
First of all, it was not an already-existing rule. The rules for wide receiver contact were changed after those meetings to the current system where no contact with wide receivers is allowed beyond 5 yards. Before that, contact was allowed so long as the ball was not in the air.

Before you go making such an authoritative statement on this matter, Chris, I'd like to see some reasonable source (even a obscure internet source) indicating that the rules were in fact changed, as opposed to enforced, because I really don't think they were. It may shock you, but even outside the New England universe, many fans have been affected by the interpretation of the rules governing cornerback play, and have been forced to keep close tabs on the situation. To the best of my understanding, the narrative actually went something like the following:

  • For many years before the incident in question, the rules for contact before the ball was thrown were basically the same as they are now. You were allowed to shove any offensive player around as much you wanted within five yards, and after five yards, you were still allowed to make contact as long as you didn't impede the progress of the receiver.
  • By the early 2000's, many teams (not just the Pats, but the Packers as well, who have long been one of the biggest bump and run teams in the league) were taking advantage of the fact that the officials tended to be pretty lax on the five-yard rule, and generally let DB's redirect WR's as long as the ball wasn't in the air, in which case the regular pass interference rules would go into effect.
  • After the Patriots used a game plan that prominently featured downfield shoves (which were technically illegal at the time), the Colts complained to the league
  • The following year, the league announced it would more precisely enforce it's existing rules. In reality, the only thing that was now being enforced more than before was the "5 yard" part, which is why it my have looked to the casual observer like a new rule.
It's hard to find any real evidence online because search results get obscured behind the most recent Colts-Pats interference controversies, but in a few minutes of googling I was able to find this article which seems to agree with my points.

Does this version of the events paint new New England in a poor light? Not at all. Does it make the Colts look like crybabies and sore losers? Yes. But the Colts' point was technically correct (the best kind of correct) and there's no rule about not complaining about rules enforcement, so I don't think you can compare it to a situation where someone's trying to force a rule change. Even if that was the case, I think the argument stills boils down to: which is worse, cheating or complaining? And at least for me, cheating is the winner there. To bring back your basketball analogy, if I played pickup against a bunch of guys who complained every time they lost, it would be annoying, but I'd love coming back the next week to try to beat them again, especially if they managed to get the rules slightly tweaked. If I played against guys who willfully cheated, I just wouldn't show up the next week.

OAK at KC. I've heard that this is a big rivalry game. Yeah, and so is The University of Vermont vs The University New Hampshire... KC.

SEA at STL. We'll start hearing about how Seattle is "legit" after they win here, which, of course, is beyond laughable. SEA.

TEN at CIN. Tennessee's record is starting to catch up with their talent level, and Cincy seems like a team that will win a few because they're basically out of the race (Marvis Lewis thrives under non-pressure). CIN.

HOU at CLE. I haven't seen a single minute of the Browns this year, so I feel completely unqualified to dismiss or extol them. If only the folks at ESPN had the same scruples. CLE.

MIN at NYG. Did anyone notice Chester Taylor's performance last week? Maybe AP isn't twice as talented as everyone else in the league... NYG.

WAS at TB. I can't believe this horrible matchup actually has significant playoff implications. TB.

NO at CAR. Fun fact: David Carr was healthy enough to start last week, but Vinny was still given the nod. David, welcome to Tim Couch territory. I hope your long, luxurious hair will help console you. NO.

BUF at JAX. This is EXACTLY EXACTLY EXACTLY the kind of game the Jags normally blow, but I've done well fighting the urge to go against them for an upset special this year, so I'll let things slide. JAX.

BAL at SD. Best comeuppance story of the year: Brian Billick in Baltimore. SD.


DEN at CHI. I'm just praying that free-agent-to-be Rex Grossman does well enough the rest of this year to convince the Bears management that he is the solution, not the problem. CHI.

PHI at NE. Really came close to going upset special here, but I couldn't tell if it was coming from my mind or my gut. NE.

MIA at PIT. Not this week, Miami. PIT.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The thanksgiving slate this year is pretty boring, so I'll make the obvious picks and save the good stuff for the weekend. GB, DAL, IND.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

As I mentioned here last week, I was lucky enough to go to the Packers-Vikings game last week. While the players were warming up, I decided to run a bit of an experiment, by pointing my camera at Adrian Peterson and taking a picture. Based on what I've been hearing, I was worried that my poor little image sensor stood no chance of capturing the glorious light reflected from his heroic figure. Expecting the camera to explode in my hands, I took the shot. Shockingly enough, he showed up on the preview screen a second later, just like all the other players.

I should have known right then that this would turn out to be the best game ever. I honestly think this was better than our last Super Bowl win. Just consider the factors:
  1. The score itself - not just a blowout, but a shutout, the first ever vs. the Vikings
  2. The victory against the Packers' most hated rival
  3. The perfect fall weather
  4. Being part of a regular-season Lambeau attendance record
  5. Being able to watch the opposing team's ridiculously overhyped star player get totally shut down
  6. Being able to watch one of my most-frequently-mentioned football pick predictions come true as, surprise surprise, Adrian Peterson had to leave with an injury.*
  7. Being able to watch Vikings fans, who probably accounted for 20% of the stadium attendance, quietly cover their jerseys and sulk away, because of factors 5 and 6.
  8. Witnessing an "everything's going right" crazy touchdown in garbage time (where two Vikings collided with each other going for a sure interception, followed by the ball bouncing directly into the hands of a waiting receiver)
  9. Witnessing an ex-player who's well known for talking %@#! about his former team getting regularly embarrassed (and being one of the colliding Vikings I just mentioned) - Darren Sharper
  10. Witnessing a fantasy breakout performance by a deep keeper candidate I picked off waivers - Ryan Grant
Outside of the Packers beating the Pats as a 3-TD underdog in the superbowl, I can't think of a much better scenario. See below for pics, including some of the somewhat-destructible Peterson.

I'll respond to Chris's latest volley in our Pats discussion some other time, so let's get on to picks:

TB at ATL: Wow, what a bad way to start off. I'm all for parity, but this is it's ugly side. TB

AZ at CIN: And the yuck continues. Neither of these teams seems remotely capable of winning this game. AZ

NYG at DET: Evidently Kevin Jones' foot is acting up again, which will give Mike Martz all the justification he'll need to implement an all-pass gameplan. NYG

CAR at GB: If I said that I actually remember the first time Favre and Testaverde matched up, would that make me old? GB

KC at IND: Indy's in big trouble, but they get a break against the least talented offense in the AFC. IND

OAK at MIN: Based on what I saw at last week's game, approximately 80% of Minnesotans have bought at least one Adrian Peterson jersey in the last 2 weeks. Way to express your individuality, guys. MIN.

MIA at PHI: I don't get the impression that the Fins are destined for 0-16, but they're not going to do it in Philly. PHI

SD at JAX: The Chargers have played like crap every time they've faced a strong, physical defense on the road, and there's no reason to expect things will change here. JAX

CLE at BAL: Despite recent circumstances, and despite what Vegas says, I'm still not sure Baltimore at home over Cleveland can ever be classified as an upset special, Chris. At least not in this decade. CLE.

NO at HOU: Any game involving Houston gets a big leg up in the race for GIDCAOTW. NO

PIT at NYJ: Jets games aren't as fun to comment on as they used to, because I don't have Pennington to pick on anymore. PIT

WAS at DAL: I know everyone looks at this game and sees one of the NFL's greatest rivalries, but all I see is a matchup between the NFL's jerkiest owners. DAL

STL at SF: I have never seen a worse MNF performance than the one the Niners put up last week. Never. If you can't beat a bad St. Louis team after being nationally embarrassed, you're beyond hope. SF

CHI at SEA: Speaking of which, every time I get a chance to watch a Seahawks game, the only part that usually interests me is watching Mike Holmgren's facial expressions, because he usually looks like he's attempting to digest a live weasel. SEA

NE at BUF: The official downer game of the week, as the feel-good Bills get mercilessly mowed down. NE

TEN at DEN: Mike Shananan, I hope you're getting well acquainted with this thing called "comeuppance" - it will continue to follow you until you get fired 3 years from now. TEN

* Easy there, fellas, I didn't say I was happy that Peterson got hurt, so you can keep your "schadenfreude!" comments to yourself. Boy, those Germans have a word for everything...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sorry, but I'll be going to the abbreviated format again this week, as Lisa and I were fortunate enough to be given some Packers tickets for this week's game against the Vikings, and I've run out of time before we have to head off. I should be extra grateful to be able to go to this game in particular, because (according to the national media) watching Adrian Peterson in person will be analogous to experiencing a purple-tinted version of the Second Coming.

DET at AZ: AZ. Upset special

Saturday, November 03, 2007

I know this is a serious run of nothing-but-football posts, but I've run into a couple Tecmo Bowl items too good to pass up. SI had a link to the following Tecmo-ized version of the Packer's overtime victory a few days ago and I had to share it:

And, because we're on the topic, here's an clip from a few years ago, when a last-second touchdown by a horrible Cardinals team knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs and the Packers in - this audio is from Vikings radio, if you haven't guessed...

So, on to picks...

SF at ATL: Everyone's been disappointed that Alex Smith and Vernon Davis haven't turned into a spectacular duo this year. However, they have the excuse of being injured, which means that we'll have to wait at least another year or so before people realize they just plain suck. However, SF.

CIN at BUF: Wow, before the season began, who would have thought that Buffalo would actually go into this game as a mild favorite? BUF.

DEN at DET: The full list of teams the Lions have beat to this point: Chicago, Minnesota, Tampa, Oakland. Will people please stop paying attention to these dopes? DEN.

CAR at TEN: I have to give it to The Onion for having, far and away, the best Vinny Testaverde joke I've seen this year. TEN.

GB at KC: No comments necessary. GB.

SD at MIN: Adrian Peterson's combined stats over the last two games: 32 carries, 133 yards, 1 TD, 1 catch for 12 yards. And this is before he gets hurt. Obviously the next NFL superstar. SD.

JAX at NO: Get onboard the spectacular Quinn Gray train now, because you haven't seen anything yet - one of these games he's going to attempt upwards of TWENTY passes! JAX.

WAS at NYJ: At least Kellen Clemens has two working arms. However, WAS.

AZ at TB: I could have sworn that Arizona was 1-6 at this point. Upset Special, I guess... AZ.

SEA at CLE: This game will be a great statement as to just how pathetic the NFC west is. How else can you explain a fourth-tier AFC team beating a team that basically is being handed a division title? CLE.

NE at IND: ... NE


DAL at PHI: Teams the Cowboys have beaten: Giants, Dolphins, Bears, Rams, Bills, Vikings. Upset Special II. PHI.

BAL at PIT: Hmmm.... I'm having a great deal of trouble caring about this pivotal AFC north matchup.... PIT