Saturday, October 20, 2007

"You can't fire me! I don't work in this van!"

The One-Third(ish) of the NFL Season Recap

Greatest NFL Uniforms Ever, Bar None: The Chargers powder blue unis from the Air Coyrell era (see left). I thought they'd retired these bad boys, but I'm happy to report that they're back...for at least one game this year. Memo to Chargers: wear these every week! It's not like you're going to play any worse than you already have.

Rule that Needs to be Changed Immediately: last-second timeouts called by coaches on the sideline. In Week 2, Sebastian Janikowski, the Raiders kicker, made a 52-yarder to win the game, only to have the FG negated by a last-second timeout by Mike Shanahan. Janikowski then missed the do-over kick, costing his team the gamell them on FG. (Though they did get payback in Week 3 against Cleveland, by doing the exact same thing against the Browns and winning as a result). This came up again at the end of the Week 5 Monday Nighter, when Dallas's game-winning FG was negated by a last-second TO by Buffalo coach Dick Jauron. Happily, Polk made the second kick, ensuring the win for the Cowboys.

1. Taylor's wish: A kicker misses the last second FG, but gets a reprieve due to the opposition calling timeout, then making the follow up.
2. My wish: the reverse (make, timeout, then miss) in a super-important game. I'm kind of torn here, since I would hate to see something like this mar a big playoff game, like, say, the Super Bowl. But I'd probably be willing to accept a tainted Wild Card match-up for the sake of getting rid of this ridiculous rule.

Actually, screw that. You're telling me they can't get all the owners to vote on this one during the season? Hell, David Stern increased the length of the first round of the playoffs from five games to seven (so the theory goes: in an effort to ensure that the struggling-but-clearly-the-league's-best-team-as-well-as-the-biggest-TV-draw-going L.A. Lakers didn't crap out early in the playoffs, costing the NBA untold millions in marketing dollars) just prior to the All-Star Break a few years back. Why hasn't the NFL done the same?

The quick and easy solution is to make it so that in the final minute of a game, only players on the field can call a timeout. That way, if you do want to try a last-second icing, it'll at least cost you one player's effort. And if he doesn't call the TO in time, so be it--you're screwed.

Overreaction of the Year: Look, I, too, wish that Cameragate hadn't happened, but, boys, chill the fuck out (see Peter King's Week 2 MMQB column, as well as Gregg Easterbrook's shrill TMQ rant, where he drops the word "Nixon" ten times in five paragraphs--dude, we get it. It was a stupid move on Belichick's part. But, seriously: you want to make him ineligible for the Hall of Fame? The fuck?? I thought the Brookings Insitute was supposed to be reputable...). Happily, Easterbrook was later slammed by ESPN's Ombudsman, which is always embarrassing/wildly entertaining (it really is the grown-up equivalent of being yelled at by a crossing guard, isn't it? You know you shouldn't feel bad, but good luck not getting upset.)

Enduring Hilarious Subplot: Peter King being in
love with Brett Favre. I don't even really have a joke here. I just think it's funny. I mean, they actually text each other.

Subplot That's Just Plain Annoying: the whole "aren't the Patriots running it up a bit too much against their opponents?" Belichick is actually fielding questions about this during press conferences. Am I missing something? Is this not a professional football league? Here's a tip: you know what you can do to not lose to the Patriots by 21 points [their average margin of victory thus far]? Play fucking better.

Absolutely Ridiculous Stat That is, Somehow, Actually True: The Lions are now 0-21 all-time against the Redskins in Washington.

The Much Ado About Nothing Award: I actually like Brett Favre and I think his resurgence is one of the truly interesting stories this season, but let's face facts: through Week 6, Peyton Manning is only 138 touchdown passes behind Favre. Is there any chance that he doesn't shatter this record? (See also: Rodriguez, Alex and Bonds, Barry.)

Worst Ads: Budweiser's "salute" to NFL fans. These make me angry every time I see them. Like the Jets fan referencing Super Bowl 3 (sorry: III). Like the Dolphins fan referencing the perfect season which--news flash--happened 35 fucking years ago. Arguably, the one with the Cowboys fans is the least egregious, as they are talking about a dynasty from roughly a decade ago, but even that is borderline. Put it this way: I consider myself a die-hard Tigers fan, and I consider the 1984 World Champion squad to be one of the best ever (they started 35-5! Won the AL East by fifteen games! Dropped one playoff game!), to the point where I had a framed copy of the '84 team picture up on the wall in my office when I was in grad school. But, if you ever hear me mentioning the '84 sqaud as a reason to root for the current team, you have my permission to shoot me in the face. You know why? Because those two teams, now 23 years apart, have, aside from their uniforms (and even those have changed) have absolutely nothing in common. If I ever met any of those fans--honestly, dude, Joe Namath's grandson might be too old for the NFL--I would laugh and laugh (and laugh) at them. (I'm fairly certain that Bud handed this ad campaign to a company that had no football knowledge but, to compensate for this, promptly went out and bought a football almanac. "Quick, Johnson, flip to the facts and figures section. I don't want to lose this account!")
I'm eagerly awaiting the spot where some bird watcher, Audubon guide in hand, critizes the timidity of the cardinal, only to have an Arizona fan burst out of the bushes and exclaim: "oh, you don't like the Arizona Cardinals, eh? Perhaps this is because you've forgotten that, as recently as ten years ago, we won a playoff game? Or maybe you don't realize that we have the newest stadium in the NFL. Cardi-nals. Cardi-nals!" (Also: "You mock the Houston Texans? How dare you!? It must have slipped your mind that Houston happens to be in Texas--I mean, look at their nickname, Geography Wizard!--only the most populous state in...the entire country. Tex-ans! Tex-ans!")

[Because I can't stop and I just saw this one: there's now a Cleveland Browns ad. Note: this is a team that has never even participated in a Super Bowl and, indeed, hasn't won a championship since 1964. This is a team that didn't even exist for five years in the 90s!! Impossibly, the--I assume--psychotic Browns fan approvingly sites the fact that they haven't won a championship since the Super Bowl started, almost like he's proud of it. Yeah, we love football, but we loved it when it was pure. It's gotten too commercial now. It used to be about the grammar...

Fantasy Football Resurgence: After opening a combined 1-7 in my first three weeks in my fantasy leagues, I went a combined 5-4 in the next three weeks. Say, that's really not that impressive at all, is it? Damn. Well, I've reeled off three wins in a row in the one league I'm paying for to get to 3-3. Still not amazed? Hmmm. I'll get back to you...

Game of the Year: Buffalo vs. Dallas (Week 5). Runners-Up: ummm...Denver vs. Buffalo (Week 1), Indy vs. Tennessee (Week 2), Cincy vs. Cleveland (Week 2), Chicago vs. Minnesota (Week 6). I had to look most of those up--what is up with the dearth of good games this year? It's a little disconcerting.

Sixteen Games To Get Legitimately Excited About (Note: Some don't even involve the Pats or the Colts): Week 7: Jacksonville vs. Indy; Week 8: Washington vs. New England, Denver vs. Green Bay; Week 9: Indy vs. New England (game of the year), Dallas vs. Philadelphia; Week 10: Dallas vs. NYG, Indy v. SD; Week 11: Detroit v. NYG (if only because my Lions will be revealed as frauds here...unless it happens sooner); Week 12: yikes!; Week 13: Dallas vs. Green Bay (on a Thursday no less!); St. Louis vs. Atlanta and Miami vs. NYJ (horrifying little mini-tournament for, arguably, the four worst teams in football. If St. Louis and Miami don't win their respective games here, they could both go winless, something that this--again, arguably--tougher than going undefeated); Week 14: San Diego vs. Tennessee, New England vs. Pittsburgh; Week 15: Seattle vs. Carolina; Week 16: Denver vs. San Diego (the Monday Night game...and Denver should still be steaming from the 41-3 drubbing they took from SD back in Week 4.); Week 17: New England vs. NYG.

One-Third MVP: Tom Brady. And it's really not very close at all. I could see Peyton Manning and Randy Moss possibly being in the discussion, but it's Brady's to lose (which [spoiler tag] he won't) at this stage.

This Cannot Be a Good Sign: 44-year old Vinny Testaverde started for the Carolina Panthers last Sunday. His respectable numbers (20 of 33, 206 yards, 1 TD, no INTs) have more to do with Arizona's rather porous defense than anything (on his lone TD pass, which was a 60 yard bomb to the incomparable Steve Smith, the Cardinals cornerback simply stopped defending after 30 yards) but this raises a bigger point: where the hell are all the good QBs?? Did you know that the Cardinals--willingly--offered to pay Tim Rattay to play QB for them? It never ceases to amaze me how, in a league that has 96 QBs on its roster (32 teams x 3, though some teams actually only hava one backup), only a dozen or so are competent. Which is another way of saying: 7 out of every 8 quarterbacks in the NFL are basically terrible.

I thought I'd look up some draft stats on this subject. From 2002-2006 (I didn't include the 2007 draft, since most of the QBs there haven't had a chance to distinguish themselves), 71 quarterbacks were drafted. Of those 71, here are the ones I'd consider adequate or better: David Garrard (2002); Chris Simms, Carson Palmer, Byron Leftwich, Kyle Boller (2003); Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub (2004); Alex Smith, Jason Campbell (2005); Vince Young, Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler, Kellen Clemens (possibly) (2006). That's 14 (or about 1 in 5) quarterbacks having "made it," with roughly triple that number no longer in the league at all. That strikes me as pretty weak. More on this another time...

Fantasy Killers: Shaun Alexander, Larry Johnson, Rudi Johnson, Steven Jackson, Drew Brees, Lee FUCKING Evans (note: I hate you, Lee Evans), Hines Ward, Marc Bulger, Vernon Davis, Devery Henderson, Joe Horn. Thanks for showing up, guys. I hope I'm wrong about LJ, since I traded him straight up for Brees three weeks ago.

Fantasy Sleepers: Derek Anderson, Jason Witten, Dwayne Bowe, and Devin Hester. Funny, I envisioned this list being more substantial.

Projected Records:
AFC East: New England (16-0), Buffalo (5-11), NY Jets (3-13), Miami (1-15)
AFC North: Pittsburgh (13-3), Cleveland (9-7), Baltimore (8-8), Cincinnati (7-9)
AFC South: Indianapolis (14-2), Jacksonville (10-6), Tennessee (10-6), Houston (6-10),
AFC West: San Diego (11-5), Denver (9-7), Kansas City (7-9), Oakland (5-11)

NFC East: Dallas (12-4), NY Giants (11-5), Washington (10-6), Philadelphia (6-10)
NFC North: Green Bay (11-5), Detroit (8-8), Minnesota (7-9), Chicago (7-9)
NFC South: Tampa Bay (10-6), Carolina (9-7), New Orleans (6-10), Atlanta (3-13)
NFC West: Seattle (9-7), Arizona (7-9), San Fran (5-11), St. Louis (2-14)

Note: Initially, I had New England going 15-1, losing to either Indy or Pittsburgh. But screw it, I'm rolling the dice. I think they can do it (unless Brady dies or something...).

First Round Byes: NE, Indy, Dallas, Green Bay
Wild Card Round: Pittsburgh over Jacksonville (WC), San Diego over Tennessee (WC), Washington (WC) over Tampa Bay, Seattle over NY Giants (WC)
Divisional Round: NE over SD, Indy over Pittsburgh, Dallas over Washington, Seattle over Green Bay
Conference Finals: Dallas over Seattle, NE over Indy
Super Bowl: New England 45, Dallas 24


RT Murphy said...

Kyle I certainly hope you realize Kyle that all of these players would fall before the iron fist of the invincible Iron Man.

Zap it up, zap it up, zap-zap-zap it up, Iron Man.

I really had nothing more salient to say. I don't know football too good.

Kyle Wasko said...


Call me crazy, but I'm actually really excited to see that movie...

Mark P said...

Actually, I don't think Iron Man would lose to New England right now. Pats 45, Stark 12

[/Bill Swirsky Superfan voice]

Kyle Wasko said...

Just wanted to point out that I nailed all 12 playoff teams. That's right, I'm awesome.

Mark P said...

You also had Seattle going over Green Bay in Green Bay, so let's not suck each other's popsicles quite yet, gentlemen.