Friday, October 31, 2008

Premiership Lightning Frenzy Round

Usually the Premier League plays only one match a week, this week, for some reason, there was also a midweek round, then they played again the following weekend. So 3 games for each team in one week. I'm caught totally with my pants down. Just like Mike Singletary. So, instead of doing a game by game recap, we've got a team by team roundup. First, the Top 10, then the Bottom 10.

1. CHELSEA 8-1-2 +23 GD
A lot of good news/bad news stuff going on for Chelsea.

Bad News- They lost their big showdown at home against Liverpool, their first home loss since I think Def Leppard released "Pyromania".

Good News- They went into pissed off, sending a message mode after that, and thumped Hull City 3-0, and shredded Sunderland 5-0 right after that, getting 4 goals from Nicolas Anelka in those games and moving back into a share of the Premiership lead.

Bad News- They're in some serious financial difficulties right now. The club is in debt 736 million pounds, which is over a billion US dollars. To cut costs they fired most of their scouting staff this week.

2. LIVERPOOL 8-1-2 +8 GD
The Reds win the Ryan Dempster "It's Gonna Happen" Award for shooting their wad too early in the season. Last Saturday's 1-0 win over Chelsea was glorious. The first win by a visiting side against Chelsea in 86 matches. Then, they followed that up with a dismal 1-0 win on a penalty kick over Portsmouth, who were playing their first game under new management. So you're thinking, fine, that's the letdown game. They score in the third minute on Saturday against Tottenham and all is well, right? Wrong, they didn't score the rest of the game, and then gave up first an equaliser on an own goal, and in the 90th minute a goal to Roman Pavluychenko that sent Liverpool home with their first defeat of the Premier League season.

Cristiano Ronaldo woke up the Devils after they sleepwalked thru a 1-1 draw at Everton last Saturday. Ronaldo had a pair of goals in the first half to give United a 2-0 win against West Ham in their midweek match, then got 2 more from Ronaldo on Saturday as United got out to a 4-1 lead against Hull City and hung on to win by a goal. Alex Ferguson wasn't feeling very chipper after that near-disaster though, saying, "We should have won by 10 or 11 and we ended up scrambling for a victory." Should have won by 10 or 11? Who do you think you are, Bill Belichick?

4. ARSENAL 6-3-2 +11 GD
Things were looking good for the Gunners when they kicked off their 3 match week with a 2-0 win at West Ham, especially since they had matchups with bottom dwellers Tottenham and Stoke City up next. Then they let a 3-1 lead at home against last place Tottenham disintegrate into a 4-4 draw, and lost 2-1 at Stoke. As if that weren't enough, they got dissed by Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen afterwards, who said, ""When Chelsea came here, they matched us in the challenges, but Arsenal weren't quite there. That's the difference. They lack that bit of spine you need." Oh SNAP.

5. ASTON VILLA 6-3-2 +5 GD
A good start to the week for the Villains, but a bad finish. They went on the road to start the week and embarrassed Wigan 4-0, came home and handled Blackburn 3-2 at midweek. They couldn't complete the sweep though, which would have put them in third place in the league. They ended the week by dropping a 2-0 decision at putrid Newcastle, who got two goals from Obafemi Martins.

6. HULL CITY 6-3-2 -1 GD
They had Manchester United feeling all bad about themselves when they almost came back to tie after falling behind 4-1 at Old Trafford. The close but no cigar moral victory kind of softened the blow of a 3-0 pounding they took earlier in the week at Chelsea. The two losses kind of sobered things up a little for the Tigers,after a 3-0 win over West Brom at the beginning of the 3 match stretch actually had them tied for first in the league, which is a place nobody thought this team that is just up from the second tier of English football would ever be anywhere near.

7. EVERTON 4-4-3 -4 GD
A very productive week for the Toffees, who jumped 9 places in the standings. They began the week with a pleasing 1-1 draw at home against almighty Manchester United, ended it by getting their first home win of the year, 1-0 against Fulham, and sandwiched in between got a gritty 1-0 road win over Bolton. It was a badly needed 7 points for a team that had just 8 points entering the week.

Boro had a lot to answer for entering the week, coming off of a 5-0 squishing under Chelsea's boots. The healing began with a 1-1 draw at Blackburn, which came tantalizingly close to being a win before Rovers tied it in the 93rd minute. The match proved a springboard to a victory their next time out though, as they defeated all show and no go Man City 2-0 at home. Boro then closed the week with another 1-1 draw, this one at home against West Ham. A nice week's work for Boro, who find themselves in the top half of the table as the season's first act nears its close.

9. PORTSMOUTH 4-5-2 -6 GD
A tumultuous week for Pompey, as they sell their manager Harry Redknapp to Tottenham for 5 million pounds, and drop 8 out of 9 points, with only a 1-1 draw at home against Fulham to offset a 1-0 loss at Liverpool and a 2-1 loss at home to Wigan. The loss to Wigan was a tough one, with the game winner coming in stoppage time. New Pompey manager Tony Adams, in his own words, "kicked a few bottles and went berserk", in the locker room after the game. I'd like to see him and Mike Singletary square off in a "going berserk" contest. My love for you like ticking clock...BERSERKERRRRR.

A 3-0 win over Stoke City featuring a Robinho hat trick gave the impression that maybe this team was finally getting it together. That impression would be really wrong. City went on the road for its next two, and didn't get any goals from Robinho or anybody else for that matter as they suffered twin 2-0 shutouts against less than awesome Middlesbrough and Bolton squads. Says first year City skipper Mark Hughes, ""In the end, we've allowed balls into our box and paid the price." You always pay the price when you allow balls in your box.

And the rest...

West Ham had a dismal week, getting shut out against Arsenal and Man U and managing only a 1-1 draw against Boro. They sink into 11th place.

Stoke City has been red-hot of late. Three victories in their last 4 games has not only gotten them clear of the relegation zone but has them threatening to join fellow newcomers Hull City in the top half of the table.

Blackburn went the whole month of October without winning a match. They had a couple of winnable fixtures last week against Boro and West Brom, and could manage only draws in both of them. They came away from a visit to Aston Villa with a 3-2 loss, so 7 missed points out of 9 sends this side that had aspirations for UEFA Cup play next year plummeting in the standings.

Newcastle stirred from the depths this week to win 2 of their 3 matches, including an impressive 2-0 shutout of a strong Aston Villa side. The good times may not last long though, as rumors continue to persist that their star Michael Owen is soon going to be sold to Chelsea.

Sunderland had an ugly couple of matches following a a 2-1 home win over Newcastle. They got blanked at Stoke 1-0, then got pounded by Chelsea 5-0. Striker Michael Chopra, who is second on the team with 2 goals, has just been loaned to Championship (second division) club Cardiff, so that's another blow to a team that already struggles mightily to score goals.

Fulham held their own this week, thanks to some tight defense. They got a surprising draw at Portsmouth to start the week, thanks to a late goal by American Clint Dempsey. They got two goals from new acquisition Andy Johnson in a shutout win over Wigan, then dropped a closely contested 1-0 match at Everton.

Wigan finally broke a 4 match losing streak that has sent them dangerously close to the relegation zone. The Egyptian Magician Amr Zaki got a penalty kick goal right before half, and Emile Heskey scored in stoppage time to give Wigan a much needed 2-1 win at slumping Portsmouth.

Bolton, West Brom, and Tottenham are the clubs currently sitting in the relegation corner. Bolton may have saved manager Gary Megson's job for one more week with a 2-0 win over Man City, which salvaged 3 points out of the 9 point week. West Brom could manage only a 2-2 draw at home against Blackburn out of its 3 matches. Tottenham, although still in last place, looks revived under new manager Harry Redknapp. They picked up their first win of the season, 2-0 over Bolton, then got an unexpected point in a thrilling 4-4 draw at Arsenal, and closed the week with a memorable 2-1 win at home against Liverpool in a first vs. worst matchup.

1. Nicolas Anelka, Chelsea, 8
Amr Zaki, Wigan, 8
3. Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United 6
Robinho, Manchester City, 6
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Aston Villa 6

La Liga
got off to a slow start, but they have been on a tear as of late. They lead La Liga on the strength of 7 straight victories, including a 6-1 stomping of a good Atletico Madrid club. Barca has scored the most goals in La Liga, and are led by Samuel Eto'o with 9 goals and Lionel Messi with 6. Villarreal is right on Barca's tail, trailing them by only a point, despite having scored 9 less goals. Real Madrid and Valencia trail the leaders by 2 points each, with Valencia boasting the league's top scorer, David Villa, who has 10 goals.

Serie A
Last time we looked in on Italy's top league, there were some unfamiliar teams near the top, and AC Milan was struggling in the middle of the table. Like Barca, though Milan has rebounded after a slow start. Not only are they 7-0-1 in their last 8 Serie A matches, they've given up only 3 goals during that time. You wouldn't expect a team that has Ronaldinho and Kaka in the lineup to be winning with defense while struggling to score, but that's been the case. Surprising Udinese continues to hover near the top, only one point behind, behind a balanced offense that leads Serie A in goals. Internazionale lurks one point behind their archrivals.


Hull City has been the big Cinderella story of the Premiership
, but Germany has an even more surprising team. TSG Hoffenheim is newly promoted this year, and they are not only competitve but they lead the league. They have mixed exciting offense, led by 13 goals from Bosnian Vedad Ibisevic, who 4 years ago was playing for Chicago Fire's reserve team. He may not have been good enough for MLS, but he's lighting up the Bundesliga. Bayer Leverkusen is one point back, led by their new striker Patrick Helmes, who was acquired from Koln this offseason. The league's marquee club, Bayern Munich, is third, four points back. They've righted their ship with 3 straight wins, following a stretch where they had only 1 win in 4 matches.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mr. Football's NFL BCS Poll Thru Week 8


1. Titans
2. Eagles
3. Bucs
4. Steelers
5. Giants
6. Redskins
7. Jets
8. Panthers
9. Ravens
10. Saints

11. Dolphins
12. Colts
13. Vikings
14. Cowboys
15. Chargers
16. Cardinals
17. Bears
18. Bills
19. Packers
20. Falcons

21. 49ers
22. Broncos
23. Texans
24. Patriots
25. Seahawks
26. Jaguars
27. Raiders
28. Browns
29. Chiefs

30. Lions
31. Rams
32. Bengals

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Week 8 NFL

The Line: Ravens - 7 1/2

The Setup:
Baltimore needed a win last week in Miami to avoid a 4 game losing streak and their season becoming an exercise in futility, and they got it. Now they've got a golden opportunity to get back above .500. They face a one dimensional Raiders team. That dimension is the ability to run the ball, which is good for the Ravens, because the Ravens defense has allowed the fewest yards per carry in the league this year.

The Result:
The Dolphins thought THEY were wacky with their lining up Ronnie Brown at QB, well mister, you want to see wacky, look at the Ravens lining up with 2 quarterbacks on the field at once, and Troy Smith tossing a 43 yard pass to Joe Flacco. Now that's wacky. As for the Raiders, they have enough trouble putting one viable quarterback on the field, let alone 2. JaMarcus Russell has a horrible 15 of 33 day, but makes up for it with the nice quote, " “It’s tough out there, man—I promise.”

Final- Ravens 29, Raiders 10
Fantasy Heroes: Joe Flacco QB BAL 23 pts; Demetrius Williams WR BAL 13 pts

The Line: Panthers -4 1/2

The Setup
If any team is a lock to make the playoffs right now, it's the Arizona Cardinals. That seems like a wacky statement, but the rest of the NFC West is horrible, and may not have another team that's going to win 5 games, so when you think about it, the Cards really can clinch this thing with a win this week. To do that, they'll need to be a lot better than they were the last time they went east for a road game. That was when the Jets hung 56 points on them a few weeks ago. The Panthers don't have the luxury of playing in a lousy division. In the NFC South, you've got to win every week to keep pace. They're 4-0 at home this year, and have outscored their opponents 108-33 in those games.

The Result
Anquan Boldin walks into a bar, and the bartender says "Why the long face?" Ahahaha. Seriously, I don't know if its because he just had his whole jaw reconstructed or not, but I never noticed how long that dudes face is before this game. Note that he caught 2 TDs in his first game back, a couple weeks after having his face reconstructed. He's officially the toughest player in the league now.

The Cardinals are making progress, but my God, it is just inch by inch by inch by inch by inch. Today they had a chance to go to 5-2, pretty much salt the division away, and prove they can get a big win on the road against another NFC team that will probably be in the playoffs. For a while, it looked like they would do all those things, they led 17-3 at one point. Then Steve Smith started scorching their secondary, and next thing you know they are 4-3 and on another long, cross country flight home hanging their heads in shame.

Final- Panthers 27, Cardinals 23
Fantasy Heroes: Jake Delhomme QB CAR 21 pts; Steve Smith WR CAR 25 pts; Anquan Boldin WR AZ 18 pts; DeAngelo Williams RB CAR 19 pts; Larry Fitzgerald WR AZ 13 pts; Kurt Warner QB AZ 28 pts

(5-2) BUCS AT (4-3) COWBOYS
The Line: Cowboys -2

The Setup
How can the Cowboys keep losing with all that talent on offense? They lose because they give up a lot of points. They've surrendered over 20 in 5 of their 7 games, and over 30 in 3 of them, including the last 2 in a row. Tony Romo is out again in this game, but the Cowboys need to do something to keep the other team's offense off the field. If they were smart, which it looks like they're not, they would pound the ball on the ground with Marion Barber and take time off the clock to keep that shitty defense off the field. Thing is, that might not work against a really tough Bucs D.

The Result
Wade Phillips took away the remote control from his defensive coordinator, Brian Stewart, and all of a sudden the Cowboys D turns it around and wins a game the team had to have. It was important that Dallas' D come thru, because Brad Johnson is re-defining ineptness at the quarterback position right now. He's Craig Krenzel bad.

The Cowboys will certainly take this win though, and though it seems like they're 1-7, they're actually 5-3, which is not bad for a team who has had all kinds of issues to deal with. That's the good news. The bad news is they've got road games at the Giants and Redskins sandwiched around a bye week, so they ain't out of the woods yet.

Final- Cowboys 13, Bucs 9
Fantasy Heroes: None. Nooooobody. Cowboys Cheerleaders, though, always fantastic.

The Line: Redskins - 7 1/2

The Setup
On the face of it, this should be a blowout win for the Skins. Of course, that's what we said last week when they were at home against the Browns, and they won by a field goal, and the week before, when they hosted the then-winless Rams, and lost. The offense has had problems scoring lately, but this week they face a Lions team that can't stop either the run or the pass, so they should get their mojo back.

The Result
A win for the Redskins, but once again it was a lot more difficult than it really should be given their opposition. The offense is putting up yards, it just is not getting the ball in the end zone. They busted out Santana Moss as a punt returner and got an 80 yard TD from him that turned out to be the deciding score. The Redskins run of fortuitous scheduling is over. Their next 5 games are at home against Pittsburgh and Dallas and the Giants, and on the road against Seattle and Baltimore. If they play like they've been playing the last month they are going to lose a lot of those.

Rod Marinelli was asked after the game why his Lions are such losers, and he said, "
“I don’t deal in couch therapy. I’ll never do that. I’m going to go back and coach them.” Then he went back to the locker room and drew up that play on the chalkboard where his quarterback rolls out 5 yards out of the end zone.

Final- Redskins 25, Lions 17
Fantasy Heroes: Jason Campbell QB WSH 21 pts; Clinton Portis RB WSH 14 pts; Santana Moss WR WSH 22 pts; Calvin Johnson WR DET 11 pts

The Line: Bills -1

The Setup
Buffalo enters a stretch of three straight division games, which will give them a chance to put some more distance between them and the rest of the AFC East. They kick it off today against a Dolphins team that has dropped 2 close ones in a row. The Bills are pretty solid all around, although the running game hasn't been as strong as they would like. That's OK though, because the Dolphins big weakness is their pass defense, where they rank 29th in yards per pass attempt.

The Result
Last year, the Dolphins made a much-maligned decision to use the ninth pick in the draft on Ohio State WR Ted Ginn Jr., who holds the distinction of being the world's tallest midget. After 16 months, this decision finally paid off, as Ginn exploded for 175 receiving yards. This represents 22.6% of all the receiving yards he has ever had in the NFL.

Chad Pennington throws for 319 yards and posts a 117.9 passer rating. Hey, let's compare these two randomly selected QBs' stats thru week 8.

Chad Pennington 69.3 Comp%, 1710 yards, 7 TD/3 INT, 100.5 QB Rating
Brett Favre 68.5% Comp%, 1611 yards, 15 TD/11 INT, 89.5 QB Rating

That was a nawesome move by the Jets to get Brett Favre. Not only did they get a 1 year commitment from a quarterback worse than the one they already had, but they enable that other quarterback to join a team in their own division who would have been completely inept without him, and he'll probably be their quarterback for at least the next 3 years, and haunt you twice a year. That's some great general managing.

Final- Dolphins 25, Bills 16
Fantasy Heroes: Ted Ginn WR MIA 19 pts; Marshawn Lynch RB BUF 15 pts; Lee Evans WR BUF 13 pts; Chad Pennington QB MIA 20 pts; MIA DST 12 pts

(2-4) RAMS AT (4-2) PATRIOTS
The Line: Patriots - 7 1/2

The Setup
I'll give you 3 guesses as to who the Patriots starting running back will be this week. Laurence Maroney? No, out for the season. Sammy Morris? No, he's doubtful. Lamont Jordan? Doubtful. Ben-Jarvus Green Ellis? Whaaaa? So now the Patriots offense is relying on Matt Cassel at QB and Ben-Jarvus Green Ellis at RB. Now throw in that the Rams have beaten the Redskins and Cowboys in back to back weeks, and that 7 1/2 point spread looks mighty tasty. That line opened at 4 1/2 but jumped 3 points after the Patriots beat the Broncos 41-7 on MNF, but, well, the Broncos have been really bad lately. This could be a third straight giant slayed for the Rams.

The Result
The Rams came up short this time, but this team is still making me horny. The defense is playing aggressively and making plays, and the offense has turned loose Donnie Avery, who was the first wideout taken in this years draft, and he is the goods. He's been heating up since Week 4, and sublimated this week with 6 catches for 163 yards and a TD. Avery said after the game, “The numbers don’t count if you can’t get the win", but oh, they count. You just earned yourself a big fat contract from my fantasy team. A tip o' the cap to the Patriots as well, they're 5-2 with a decimated offense, and Bill Belichick is proving that yes, he really is a very good coach even without Tom Brady or illegal peeping tommery.

Final- Patriots 23, Rams 16
Fantasy Heroes: Donnie Avery WR STL 24 pts; Kevin Faulk RB NE 16 pts; Randy Moss WR NE 12 pts

The Line: Chargers -3

The Setup
I don't know whether it's bad luck or ignorance that the NFL scheduled this London game on the same day that Liverpool is playing Chelsea, but whatever. It's going to take away from any attention this game might receive over there. Both of these teams really, really need this game, although the Saints probably need it more since the Chargers play in a pretty forgiving division that's just waiting for them to win it. The Saints are going to have to totally re-design their offense for this one, as they won't have Reggie Bush, who seems to touch the ball 50 times a game when he's healthy. That's going to be a problem.

The Result
Longtime friend of the site Oli Porter was at this game, and he'll be posting about it, so I won't steal his thunder. I will make a note though, that the Chargers have fired D Coordinator Ted Cottrell and promoted linebacker coach and former Bears coordinator Ron Rivera to fill his spot.

Final: Saints 37, Chargers 32
Fantasy Heroes: Drew Brees QB NO 33 pts; Philip Rivers QB SD 33 pts; LaDanian Tomlinson RB SD 24 pts; Deuce McAllister RB NO 14 pts; Antonio Gates TE SD 15 pts; Vincent Jackson WR SD 12 pts; Lance Moore WR NO 15 pts

(1-5) CHIEFS AT (3-3) JETS
The Line: Jets -14

The Setup
It's been an interesting week for both teams. The Chiefs had Larry Johnson getting suspended for spitting water on a woman, the Jets had Brett Favre having to answer for being a woman and trying to jealously sabotage his old team.

The Result
My increasingly delusional mind tells me that Brett Favre has caught wind of my disapproval of the exuberance he shows on every touchdown, as lately it seems like whenever the Jets score he starts to jump up and down and run around like they just beat the Johnny Unitas Colts, and then he catches himself, claps his hands, and runs off the field. This was interesting game, Favre threw 3 picks, 2 of which were really ugly, and 1 of which was returned for a TD, and was getting booed by the home fans.

The zombie Chiefs burst out of their tomb and were hungry for brains, as Tyler Thigpen looked for all the world like a competent NFL QB with athleticism and accuracy. The Jets survive though, thanks to a couple big plays by speedy RB Leon Washington, who had 274 all purpose yards, those purposes being rushing, receiving, and kick returning, and a nicely executed throw and catch by Favre and Lavaeraneus Coles with 1 minute left.

Final- Jets 28, Chiefs 24
Fantasy Heroes: KC DST 13 pts; Tyler Thigpen QB KC 25 pts; Brett Favre QB NYJ 20 pts; Leon Washington RB NYJ 21 pts; Thomas Jones RB NYJ 11 pts; Dwayne Bowe WR KC 12 pts; Tony Gonzalez TE KC 13 pts; Jerricho Cotchery WR NYJ 12 pts; Lav Coles WR NYJ 12 pts

"Hey Herm, Got a Couple Hours? I'd Like To Talk To You About How to Beat the Packers."


The Line: Eagles -9

The Setup
Both of these teams are coming off a bye week, and both of them had important wins heading into those bye weeks. The Eagles are getting a lot of guys back healthy for this one, most importantly Brian Westbrook, but also WR Kevin Curtis who should be taking the field for the first time this year. An interesting stat, Andy Reid's teams are 9-0 following a bye week. So, if the Eagles can successfully lobby the league to make the season 6 months long and play every other week, they should go undefeated every year.

The Result
I'm going to say something that may shock you. Roddy White is the best wide receiver in the NFL today, and I'll tell you why. Last year he had a 1200 yard season with Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, and Chris Redman throwing the ball at him. I don't know how that is even possible. This year, he's third in the league in receiving yards despite having a rookie QB and being the only viable receiving threat on the team. There is nobody better at that position. He's the best. The Eagles win this one entirely because they had Westbrook healthy, which will not last long. On one of his TD runs in this game he looked like he blew out both of his hamstrings despite not being touched by anyone. I think he's OK though.

Final- Eagles 27, Falcons 14
Fantasy Heroes: Brian Westbrook RB PHI 34 pts; Matt Ryan QB ATL 21 pts; Roddy White WR ATL 25 pts

The Line: Texans -9

The Setup
This is the 4th home game in a row for the Texans. What kind of scheduling is that? It doesn't get much easier than back to back to back home games against the Dolphins, Lions, and Bengals, and the Texans can complete the sweep of that gauntlet with a win today.

The Result
At the rate the Bengals are going, by the end of the season they are going to be losing games by 100 points. They look worse and worse every week. Just like me. The Texans are 3-4 now, and in a weak AFC that puts them in the hunt for a wildcard spot. Of course, when you go hunting, you never know if you are going to bag a mighty buck, or get shot in the face by Dick Cheney. I'm thinking for the Texans it's going to be something closer to the latter.

Final- Texans 35, Bengals 6
Fantasy Heroes: Steve Slaton RB HOU 12 pts; Matt Schaub QB HOU 29 pts; Andre Johnson WR HOU 16 pts; Kevin Walter WR HOU 19 pts

The Line: Jaguars -7

The Setup
"Jaguar" is probably actually a Meso-American word, which means it should really be pronounced "HA-gwarrrr". Just thought I would throw that in there. Jacksonville has won 3 out of their last 4, with the only loss coming against a strong Pittsburgh team, so there's really no shame in that. They face a Browns team that has won 2 out of its last 3, and gave the Giants a tough game last week, but yet still has an aura of stink about them. They've given up 181 and 193 rushing yards in their last two games, and that's dangerous against a team that theoretically has a strong running game, although not really in practice so far this year.

The Result
The Jaguars are a nauseating team to watch right now. There is not a team in the league that plays more differently than the way they should play. This should be a Tennessee Titan-esque team that beats you with the running game and defense and it isn't. The defense has been awful, so the team has been getting behind more than they'd like, so they're throwing the ball more than they should. Fred Taylor needs to be getting the ball more than 8 times in a game. They're running the Boise State offense that their offensive coordinator invented and it's ridiculous with this roster. That, and they have a horrible group of wide receivers who aren't getting open, so most of the time they call a pass play, it end up being a check down dump off that doesn't go anywhere. If they continue to play like this for the rest of the year, the whole coaching staff needs to go, because they should be better than this, than losing at home to a Browns team that sucks at everything and is missing their best player.

Final- Browns 23, Jaguars 17
Fantasy Heroes: Jamal Lewis RB CLE 14 pts; David Garrard QB JAX 28 pts; Matt Jones WR JAX 19 pts

The Line: Steelers -3

The Setup
This has been a season where the pendulum has swung over to the side of teams with dominating defense, and here you've got two teams at 5-1 who fit that description. The Giants D did have one slip up two weeks ago at Cleveland though, but tightened things up big time against the Niners last week. On paper, this game should be low-scoring and hard hitting. Which of course means, we'll probably have a 41-40 game that resembles Cirque de Soleil, complete with clowns carrying jars of rainbows.

The Result
Well whaddaya know, a game actually unfolds the way that it's actually expected to. What's next, a talking banana? Interestingly enough, this game seemed to hinge on Pittsburgh's long snapper leaving the game with an injury. His replacement, Pro Bowl linebacker David Harrison, launched a punt snap 5 rows into the end zone seats to tie the game for the Giants, and then the champs scored on the ensuing possession to win it. The Steelers D kept them in this one longer than they should have been, because Roethlisberger and the Steelers' line against the Giants pass rush is a matchup that led to Ben getting pummeled all evening long and throwing 4 INTs.

Final- Giants 21, Steelers 14
Fantasy Heroes: Giants DST 17 pts; Mewelde Moore RB PIT 15 pts; Nate Washington WR PIT 12 pts

(1-5) SEAHAWKS AT (2-5) 49ERS
The Line: Niners -5 1/2

The Setup
A little coaching intrigue here spices up what otherwise would be a dismal matchup. The Niners fired Mike Nolan this week, and replaced him with Mike Singletary. Seattle meanwhile, already knows this is Mike Holmgren's last year, and now speculation is frothing over that Holmgren will take over the Niners next year, which of course, Holmgren denies. So that's all very juicy stuff, but otherwise this should be a horrible, horrible game.

The Result
By now you've all seen the Mike Singletary press conference. If you haven't it's posted below. There's really not a whole lot I can add there except for my opinion that it would have been a great speech to give to the team behind closed doors, but not so much to give to the media and 1,000,000 YouTube viewers. At least, that was my opinion until I heard about what his halftime speech was like, and let's just say he literally was not wearing any pants for it. I'm not making this up. So, amazingly, the press conference was actually toned down from what he told his team. As for the Seahawks, they win by 3 touchdowns despite averaging 1.9 yards per on 28 carries, and having their fullback be their leading receiver. This game was scarier than The Ring, and that scared the shit out of me.

Final- Seahawks 34, 49ers 13
Fantasy Heroes: Seneca Wallace QB SEA 20 pts; Leonard Weaver RB SEA 26 pts; Frank Gore RB SF 15 pts

(3-3) COLTS AT (6-0) TITANS
The Line: Titans -4

The Setup
Tennessee hasn't lost yet, but of their 6 wins only one has been against a team with a winning record, and that team was the Ravens. I don't know how they have a winning record. The Colts hope to have a winning record after this one is over, and if they don't than they can kiss their distinction of being the only champion the AFC South has ever known goodbye. Indy's been getting gashed against the run all year long, and that's what the Titans do best, as the Chiefs found out when the Big Powder Blue Machine hung 332 rushing yards on them last week.

The Result
They kept touting this game as a "MUST WIN" for the Colts, and they didn't win it, so that would mean they are finished. They're not finished though, and this wasn't a must win. They're missing their best defensive player, Bob Sanders, who as much as he's hyped really does make a difference when he's out there, and their offense is going to run so much better when Joseph Addai is back and healthy. Yes, the Titans pretty much clinched the AFC South here. But, if the playoffs started today, the Ravens would be the last team in the AFC playoffs at 4-3, the Colts are 3-4, so they're 1 game back with 9 to play. I think that gap is closeable no?

Finally, this was my first long look at Kerry Collins in hi-def for a while. He must have partied REALLY hard back in the pre-rehab days, because, my God, does he look old. If he grew his hair out and got a peace sign tattooed on his hand he'd look just like Steven Adler does on Celebrity Rehab.

Final- Titans 31, Colts 21
Fantasy Heroes: Chris Johnson RB TEN 14 pts; LenDale White RB TEN 13 pts; Dallas Clark TE IND 21 pts; Peyton Manning QB IND 24 pts

Friday, October 24, 2008

Premiership Week Eight

Open wide for some soccerrrrr!

(3-5-0) MIDDLESBROUGH 0, (6-0-2) CHELSEA 5
Chelsea's still very injured, and they are still not slowed down one bit. They continue to maul every Premier League side put in front of them. This was the biggest margin of victory in an away win for Chelsea in 5 years. I see here that their manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari, has a drink named after him. It's called "The Big Phil", and is made from dark rum and "exotic fruit juices". Gross. 2 goals for Ivorian star Salomon Kalou.

(5-2-1) ARSENAL 3, (2-4-2) EVERTON 1
A lot of stumbling and bumbling lately for the Gunners, with a loss to Hull City and a draw at Sunderland heading into this one. It looked like more of the same when they fell behind 1-0 in the ninth minute, but goals by Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie put Arsenal ahead, and ended the mini-winless streak.

(4-2-2) ASTON VILLA 0, (4-3-1) PORTSMOUTH 0
For every scoreless tie, I give you a term to research on
"Beep Beep Beep," said Little Eugene as he dropped a killer deuce all over Molly and her twin sister. "Now THAT's what I call a dump truck!"

(2-4-2) BOLTON 0, (3-3-2) BLACKBURN 0
Birmingham Booty Call

(2-4-1) FULHAM 0, (2-3-3) SUNDERLAND 0
Boston Lawnmower

(6-0-2) LIVERPOOL 3, (2-4-2) WIGAN 2
As you can see, there were a lot of shnorers in the Premier League this week. This one almost makes up for all of them. Feisty Wigan, and specifically FootFut's favorite player in the whole world, The Egyptian Magican, Amr Zaki, was relentless and twice put Liverpool down by a goal, only to see the equaliser come both times. Then, in the 85th minute, Dirk Kuyt scored his second goal of the game to give Liverpool the win. Particularly heartbreaking for the Latics was that they held a 2-1 lead when Antonio Valencia was sent off after his second yellow card of the match. Says Wigan manager Steve Bruce of The Magician, "He is scary to play against, and he will not understand how he can be on a losing side after a performance like that."

(4-1-2) MANCHESTER UNITED 4, (3-4-1) WEST BROM 0
And so ends Albion's 2 game winning streak. This match was scoreless at the half, but Wayne Rooney opened the scoring, and from there things disintegrated for West Brom. Rooney's now scored in 5 matches in a row. Albion manager Tony Mowbray cries poor afterwards, lamenting "We are coming up against teams that can spend 30 million on strikers." Oh bitch bitch. You need to come to Pittsburgh and watch the Pirates for a month, to learn how to take a small market beating with dignity.

(5-1-2) HULL CITY 1, (4-4-0) WEST HAM 0
Seriously, what Hull City is doing in the Premiership so far makes our little Tampa Bay Rays rags to riches story look like a pile of puke. Hull midfielder Michael Turner had the game's lone goal. Says Hull manager Phil Brown after the match about his team's heroic start, "People were talking about bubbles bursting, but my simple answer to a bubble bursting is to blow another bubble."

(2-5-1) STOKE CITY 2, (0-6-2) TOTTENHAM 1
The Potters get a precious 3 points in this Relegation Derby. This is Tottenham's worst start to a season, ever, as they continue to find themselves lost following the sale to Liverpool this offseason of Robbie Keane, who had been the club's player of the year three times in the last five years. Says Spurs defender Jonathan Woodgate, ""We've just really got to start really working and giving each other a good kick up the a****. Sorry for swearing."

(1-4-3) NEWCASTLE 2, (3-4-1) MANCHESTER CITY 2
City's now 0-2-1 since that 6-0 blowout over Portsmouth a few weeks ago that had them being trumpeted as a real contender for a Champions League spot. They needed an 86th minute equaliser from Stephen Ireland to salvage a point against a Newcastle team that's won only one match all year and played much of this match with only 10 men.

1. Chelsea 20/8/+16
2. Liverpool 20/8/+7
3. Hull City 17/8/0
4. Arsenal 16/8/+10
5. Manchester United 14/7/+8

16. Everton 8/8/-6
17. Fulham 7/7/-2
18. Stoke City 8/7/-5
19. Newcastle 8/6/-6
20. Tottenham 8/2/-7

Top 5 Scorers
1. Amr Zaki, Wigan, 7
2. Jermain Defoe, Portsmouth, 5
2. Fernando Torres, Liverpool, 5
4. Kevin Davies, Bolton, 4
4. Nicolas Anelka, Chelsea, 4
4. John Carew, Aston Villa, 4
4. Robin Van Persie, Arsenal, 4
4. Gabriel Agbonlahor, Aston Villa, 4

This week brought us Matchday 3 of the UEFA Champions League, meaning one cycle of the double round robin Group Stage has been completed. Thrilling!

Bordeaux's 1-0 win at home against CFR Cluj means that the second knockout round berth from this group is very much up for grabs. Bordeaux is 1 point behind CFR, and tied with AS Roma, who fought gamely but lost a 1-0 decision at Chelsea. Chelsea's on top of the group with 7 points and barring some kind of major earthquake or magnetic field shift of the Earth will advance.

Inter Milan asserted control of this group by grinding out a 1-0 home win over Cyprus' Anorthosis, which has been the George Mason of this Champions League season. Well, actually so far more of a Gonzaga, if they get to the knockout round then they'll be George Mason. Werder Bremen got a match tying goal from Hugo Almeida in the 83rd minute that was a big blow to Panathinaikos' hopes for advancing, as the Greek side now trails the group with only 1 point in three matches.

18 year old Bojan Krcic scored a pair of goals as Barcelona flexed its muscles and stomped Basel 5-0 in Switzerland. Barca has a perfect 9 points, and now Sporting Lisbon is a good bet to follow them into the knockout round after picking up a huge 1-0 away win against Ukraine's Shakhtar.

Liverpool and Atletico Madrid were both 6 points clear into the knockout round heading into their match, and are both still firmly in control after tap dancing to a 1-1 draw. PSV salvaged some dignity for the Eredivisie by taking three points in a 2-0 win over Marseille, who is 0-3 in the Group Stage.

A 3-0 blowout was the result of an interesting draw of Manchester United vs. Celtic, thanks in part to a pair of goals by Dimitar Berbatov. Villarreal also solidified its pretty sure chances of making the next round by outscoring Denmark's AaB in a 6-3 slobberknocker that saw a hat trick for Villarreal sub Joseba Llorente.

Olympique Lyonnais was in huge trouble after falling behind 2-0 in a must-win match against Steaua Bucharest, but the French champs quickly tied it, then scored three unanswered goals in the second half to pick up a huge road win that vaulted them into second place in this group with 5 points. Bayern Munich remains in the lead after their star Luca Toni led them to a 3-0 win over his old club, Fiorentina.

Turkey's Fenerbahce hadn't lost at home in European play in 15 matches, but this has been a disastrous Group stage for them, and this match was no different as Arsenal came to the Anatolian Peninsula and drubbed them 5-2. Dynamo Kiev usually makes it to the Group Stage, then exits quietly. Not so this year. They are halfway home to the next round, ensconced in second place in the Group after stunning FC Porto on the road 1-0.

Juventus is struggling in Serie A, but they are on top of their Champions League Group after topping Spain's behemoth, Real Madrid 2-1 in Turin with goals by Alessandro del Piero and Amauri. Russian champs Zenit were supposed to make some noise in this Group Stage but so far have flopped like the Cubs in the postseason. A 1-1 home draw against Belarussian side BATE being the latest failure.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Week 7 NFL

Apologies that I did not get game previews up this weekend. I had a wedding to go to in Indianapolis this weekend, so I was indisposed. You can't miss an opportunity to go to a heterosexual wedding these days, because after Obama gets elected all the weddings will be gay weddings.

I did get to visit the new Lucas Oil Stadium though, home of the Colts. It is quite an impressive building, especially standing as it does next to the soon to be destroyed RCA Dome, which looks like it was built by Bulgarian Communists in 1951. I'll have some pics up later in the week. Of Lucas Oil Stadium, not the Dome.

The Setup
The Bills have had 2 weeks to think about their only loss of the season, a 41-17 demolition at the hands of the Cardinals. That game saw Senator Trent Edwards leave with a concussion, and JP Losman come in and demonstrate why the Bills are so much better off now without JP Losman as their quarterback. Edwards will be back for this one, which is a good thing because the Chargers are coming off their best performance of the year in last week's 30-10 prime time win over New England.

The Result
It was a bad week for LaDanian "Non-Factor"Tomlinson and his ill-fated big toe. Now LT takes his toe to London, where hopefully he can heal it by soaking it in the ancient healing waters of Bath, or buy it a funny palace guard hat or something, that might make it feel better.

Final- Bills 23, Chargers 14
Fantasy Heroes: Marshawn Lynch RB BUF 15 pts; Lee Evans WR BUF 14 pts; Malcolm Floyd WR SD 12 pts

The Setup
The NFC South is up for grabs this year, which I guess, the whole league really is. So that makes this an important game. New Orelans has shown a complete inability to run the ball or stop the run this year, but thanks to Drew Brees has managed to stay afloat, wait, bad analogy, they've managed to tread water, no that's bad too, they've managed to keep their heads above water. Dammit is there any analogy for being .500 that does not involve trying to keep yourself from drowning so I can write something about the New Orleans Saints without offending everybody?

The Result
Ah, it is much easier to make analogies for getting your ass kicked like the Saints did in this game. Shitting the bed, crapping your pants, taking a dump on the field. Yes, most of these involve feces, not floods. The Panthers do a complete turnaround from last week's 27-3 thumping in Tampa, and blow out the Saints 30-7.

The Saints got Marcus Colston and Jeremy Shockey back for this game, but it apparently did not help. Shockey got hurt again, saying about his sports hernia “It’s embarrassing because I have a reputation I want to uphold.” No, no, Jeremy, you are living up to your reputation just fine. You're injured right? See, you're fine. Reggie Bush got hurt too and is going to miss a couple of weeks. The Saints go to London to play the Chargers this week, and unless they win they'll be 3-5 and this season is going to be close to being a lost cause.

Fantasy Heroes: Steve Smith WR CAR 18 pts; Jonathan Stewart RB CAR 12 pts

(3-3) VIKINGS AT (3-3) BEARS
The Setup
This game will be all about how the Bears are able to respond to that 11 second debacle in Atlanta last week, now officially recognized by the Rand Corporation as the most embarrassing loss in the history of losing things, edging out Great Britain's loss in the American Revolutionary War, and John Kerry's loss to George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election.

The Result
There are some things that even the most learned and prescient of NFL know it alls, (and none are more learned than I, Mr. Football), can see coming. One of them is that the Bears, with Kyle Orton at quarterback, a rookie from Tulane at running back, and a cast of randoms at wide receiver, would have one of the most explosive offenses in the league. But here we are. A monumental, fantastic win for half of the Bears. A depressing, disappointing, humiliating performance for the other half. That's not unusual for the Bears, but it's which half is getting humiliated that is different.

Final- Bears 48, Vikings 41
Fantasy Heroes- Adrian Peterson RB MIN 26 pts; Chester Taylor RB MIN 13 pts; Bears DST 24 pts; Kyle Orton QB CHI 23 pts; Matt Forte RB CHI 12 pts; Bernard Berrian WR MIN 14 pts; Joe the Plumber 16 pts; Visanthe Shiancoe TE MIN 12 pts; Marty Booker WR CHI 13 pts; Greg Olsen TE 13 pts; Abdul Aziz Parking Lot Attendant CHI 11 pts

The Setup
Cincinnati is not only 0-6, but they've lost 7 in a row at home to the Steelers. That and they're rolling out Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB again, and Cedric Benson is their running back. I guess at least they can say they don't all have flesh eating MRSA infections, like the Browns do.

The Result
Did you know that Carson Palmer has a brother that is also a quarterback for the Bengals? How cute is that? He even got to play a little after Fitzpatrick fell victim to the 7 sack slaughter rule. Mewelde Moore scores three TDs for the Steelers, and I become more and more disenchanted with fantasy football.

Final- Steelers 38, Bengals 10
Fantasy Heroes: Steelers DST 11 pts; Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT 20 pts; Mewelde Moore RB PIT 33 pts; Hines Ward WR PIT 12 pts; Nate Washington WR PIT 11 pts; Chad Johnson WR CIN 11 pts

(5-0) TITANS AT (1-4) CHIEFS
The Setup
After last week's cavalcade of upsets, there is only one undefeated team left in the NFL. That team is your Tennessee Titans. They had the good fortune of sitting out what turned out to be a very dangerous weekend for a lot of good teams, but now they get their own chance to avoid an upset against a very, very, very bad football team.

The Result
The Chiefs played all 3 of their quarterbacks in this one, and wouldn't you know it, they are all not good. In fairness though, they could have had Len Dawson, Rich Gannon, and Joe Montana alternate series in this game, and the Chiefs still would have gotten killed because they gave up over 300 yards rushing to Chris Johnson and LenDale White.

This is Herm Edwards' third season in KC, and I have to ask myself, where the hell is this thing going? I mean, I love Herm and all, but since he got traded to the Chiefs this franchise just keeps getting worse and worse and worse. Herm's response after his team got repeatedly gashed for runs that could have gone on for 1000 yards had not the NFL decided to make the field 100 yards long, "
“They hit some big runs at the end. Guys not playing their gaps and that’s kind of been our Achilles’ Heel from the beginning to right now. We worked on it all during the bye week and we thought we had some things corrected.” What? You worked on it all week during the bye week, and you still gave up 300 yards? That almost makes me sad.

Final- Titans 34, Chiefs 10
Fantasy Heroes: LenDale White RB TEN 34 pts; Chris Johnson RB TEN 24 pts

The Setup
Oooooo, we have a little bit of animosity built in to this game. Apparently, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said something in defense of his offensive coordinator Cameron Cameron's 1 season stint as Dolphins head coach to the effect of, "He did OK given what he had to work with." The Dolphins have taken umbrage with this comment. Umbrage that they hope to convert into the Ravens' 4th straight loss.

The Result
Unfortunately, the Dolphins and their wacky Amos Alonzo Stagg formations could not avenge Trent Green's concussed brain and stick it to Cameron Cameron and company. The Ravens win, and gave Cameron the game ball afterwards. Cameron says after the game, "When you give your heart and soul to something and it doesn’t work out, some of that pain comes back.”" Holy geez Cameron, get over yourself. I bet Trent Green was feeling pain too in that picture below that happened after you called for him to be lead blocker on a reverse, or he would have if he was conscious. Douche.

Final- Ravens 27, Dolphins 13
Fantasy Heroes- Cameron Cameron Offensive Coordinator BAL 1,000,000 pts; Willis McGahee RB BAL 21 pts; Derrick Mason WR BAL 14 pts

(2-4) 49ers AT (4-1) GIANTS
The Setup
There were alot of WTF games last week, but the WTFest of all for me had to be the Giants getting drilled by the Browns. My only valid explanation for that one was that the Giants were afraid to tackle the Browns because they know everyone on the Browns has MRSA. Tom Coughlin ain't sweatin it though, he says, "
This team will bounce back. I believe that," which is much more encouraging than him saying "I think this team is now spiraling at light speed toward the Clusterfuck Nebula", which is probably more like what Wade Phillips is saying to himself right about now.

The Result
And thus ends the Mike Nolan epoch in San Francisco. Actually, I'm glad they went ahead and did it this week. It sure beats the reports that were on ESPN earlier this week that said something like, "Mike Nolan is expected to be fired after this week's game vs. Seattle." I was surprised they didn't add after that, "Shhhhhhh...don't tell Mike Nolan. It's a secret." If you're going to tell the whole world you're going to fire someone after the next game, why don't you just fire him now? That made no sense.

Anyway, Nolan is gone and Mike Singletary is in for the rest of the year. Mike Singletary. I remember I once coughed in the vicinity of his Domino's personal pizza in the locker room after a preseason game in Miami back in 89. He acted all pissy about it. In hindsight I should have been like, "Hey Samurai, I'm a 14 year old kid who is 3000 miles away from home and hasn't seen his family or friends in a month, I've been working for the last 19 hours and I'm picking up sweaty laundry without any rubber gloves, I know you had a grueling day today with those 3 snaps you put in during this Week 1 Preseason game, sorry I coughed near your precious Domino's pizza. Just puff your eyes out all intense-like and eat it. I'm sure you'll live to tell the tale."

Final- Giants 29, Niners 17
Fantasy Heroes: Giants DST 16 pts; Brandon Jacobs RB SF 18 pts; Josh Morgan WR SF 14 pts

(4-2) COWBOYS AT (1-4) RAMS
The Setup
Not a good time for the Cowboys to have to turn to their backup QB, the justified and ancient Brad Johnson. The Boys lost for the second time in their last 3 starts last week, on a blocked punt in overtime against Arizona, and lost Tony Romo to a broken pinky. The response to that was to make a panic trade for Detroit WR Roy Williams that this franchise is going to regret probably up until the Earth falls off its axis on December 21, 2012. A couple of weeks ago, this game looked like a gimme for Dallas, but in last week's win over the Redskins, the Rams looked like a different outfit under interim coach Jim Haslett than the Ensemble of Lost Souls they were under Scott Linehan.

The Result
It is officially panic time for the Cowboys. They didn't just lose to the Rams, they got beaten badly. I don't remember the Cowboys getting beat this badly since they lost 44-0 to the Bears in 85. Johnson was horrible, Roy Williams didn't catch a pass, and the defense got steamrolled by Steven Jackson, who rushed for 160 yards and 3 TDs. The Cowboys are melting down so spectacularly that the whole thing should be on TMZ. I wouldn't be surprised if Jerry Jones shaves his head and bashes in a car window with an umbrella any day now. Mr. Football's piece of free advice to the Cowboys; Marion Barber is your best player, give him the ball as much as possible and see if he can carry you to one win to break the free fall.
Final- Rams 34, Cowboys 14
Fantasy Heroes: Steven Jackson RB STL 37 pts; Marion Barber RB DAL 18 pts; Donnie Avery WR STL 12 pts; Martellus Bennet WR DAL 12 pts

(0-5) LIONS AT (1-4) TEXANS
The Setup
Mr. Football christens this the first of what always ends up being many completely meaningless games of the NFL season. Both of these teams seasons are over. The Lions season is probably more over than the Texans, but the Texans, they're finished too. Don't kid yourself. I had a conversation at the wedding I went to this weekend with a guy who is from Michigan and was a Lions fan, but has abandoned his team for the Colts. He said he just couldn't take it anymore, and that the team had never won more than nine games in his lifetime. I was like, "What about when Barry Sanders was there?", he said that no, they had never won more than nine games with him either. I know that to be false, but he spoke with such vitriol and hurt about the Lions that I didn't have the heart to tell him that.

The Result
The Lions fall behind 21-0 early in the game, as is their standard operating procedure, and get some points in garbagio time to make the game look closer than it really was. Calvin Johnson did have 2 catches for 154 yards for the Lions though, and Dan Orlovsky managed to keep his exuberance contained within the dimensions of an NFL playing field this week, so I guess that's progress.
Final- Texans 28, Lions 21
Fantasy Heroes: Matt Schaub QB HOU 21 pts; Steve Slaton RB HOU 14 pts; Ahman Green RB HOU 12 pts; Andre Johnson WR HOU 16 pts; Owen Daniels TE HOU 18 pts; Kevin Smith RB DET 12 pts; Calvin Johnson WR DET 23 pts

Ah Yes, With Incompetence Such As This, America Will Be An Easy Conquest

(3-2) COLTS AT (3-3) PACKERS
The Setup
As I said earlier, I spent this weekend in Indianapolis, and visited the Colts' new digs. Being that Peyton Manning has been QB of my fantasy team since 2002, I've developed quite an attachment to the team, so I also spent about 150 bucks on Colts paraphernalia. The fresh faced young lass at the Pro Shop assured me that the team had turned the corner with last weeks' spanking of the Ravens, and it would be like 2005 all over again from here on out. So with all that feel-good Colts mojo, how can they lose this one?

The Result
Immediately following this game, I went outside and hit golf balls off the head of my garden gnome sized Peyton Manning bobblehead I had just purchased. After showing an inability to stop throwing touchdowns last week, when I benched him after 5 weeks of sub-mediocre play, he was back in my lineup this week, and went right back to sucking. He threw 0 TD passes to his team, and 2 to the Packers. Maybe he needs a sixth knee operation, I'm starting to think his staph infection has become sentient and is now inhabiting his very soul.

Final- Packers 34, Colts 14
Fantasy Heroes: Packers DST 16 pts; Dominic Rhodes RB IND 23 pts; Ryan Grant RB GB 19 pts;

(3-2) JETS AT (1-4) RAIDERS
The Setup
It took over a month, but the Brett Favre Circus has revved up once again after seemingly subsiding after he was traded to the Jets. He apparently called his friend Matt Millen before the Lions played the Packers in Week 2, and gave a lengthy dissertation complete with Power Point slideshow on how to beat the Packers. Then he called Tony Romo after he broke his finger last week and told him that he hopes his pinky heals soon, and that if it doesn't he'll be there to retire and unretire and be the Cowboys quarterback next year.

Of course, Brett Favre denied all of this, then kind of undenied it, then started speaking in the third person. I think I remember hearing somewhere that all drug addicts are liars by definition. I also remember hearing once that once you're a drug addict you're always a drug addict. Well, it's documented that Brett Favre was a drug addict, which means he is a drug addict, which means he's a liar, so why does everyone always act so shocked when he gets caught in a lie? Because he's been in Wrangler commercials? Because John Madden loves him? Why?

The Result
Another thing about Favre, does any quarterback put on a bigger show of histrionic disappointment when one of his receivers drops a pass? It's like wacthing Moises Alou yell at Steve Bartman. Just once I'd like to see Laveraeneus Coles or someone start jumping up and down and put his hands on his head when Favre gunslings one 7 feet over his head when he's wide open. How about that? The Raiders win in OT for the first victory of what is sure to be the long and prosperous Tom Cable era. Favre throws 0 TD and 2 picks and posts passer rating of 47.8.

Final- Raiders 16, Jets 13 OT
Fantasy Heroes: Thomas Jones RB NYJ 17 pts; Javon Walker WR OAK 13 pts

"Hey Javon, Want To Know How To Beat the Packers?"

The Setup
A lot of weird stuff happened in the NFL in Week 6. Among those were the Browns pasting the previously unbeaten Giants in prime time, and the Redskins losing at home to a Rams team that was winless and had just fired their coach. Were those performances aberrations? Or a harbinger of things to come? In a world gone insane, only this game holds the answer.

The Result
And the answer is......Browns, still bad, Redskins, still good. Actually, the Browns didn't play all that badly on the defensive side of the ball, if you discount the fact that Clinton Portis gashed them for 6.5 yards per on 27 carries, and the Redskins probably still would have won if they just handed the ball off to Portis on every play. Okay, the Browns actually played pretty bad on defense too then. But the offense, my God. Derek Anderson is a terrible, terrible quarterback. He completed 14 of 37 pass attempts, and has now completed 49% of his pass attempts on the season. That's the worst in the league by far. That was an awesome move by the Browns to give him $24 million guaranteed over 3 years when they just drafted Brady Quinn last year. An awesome move.

Final- Redskins 14, Browns 11
Fantasy Heroes: Santana Moss WR WSH 13 pts; Clinton Portis RB WSH 24 pts

(1-4) SEAHAWKS AT (4-2) BUCS
The Setup
Mike Holmgren's last season in Seattle has been a lost season so far. They upgrade this week from their third string QB, Charlie Frye, to their second string QB, Seneca Wallace. Their starter, Matt Hasselbeck, is away practicing his Bahston accent and his singing of "Dot Commmmmmmmmmm" for those Expedia commercials. We all know though, that it is only a matter of time before Jim Mora Jr. brings in Michael Vick to be his QB when he gets out of jail and Mora is the new head coach. You read it here first. From Mr. Football.

The Result
This was one of the least viewed prime time NFL games in recent history, as it was going up against Game 7 of the ALCS, which was also taking place in Tampa. Nobody missed anything. Seattle's offense was totally helpless and passes for only 73 yards, as the Bucs won easily.

Final- Bucs 20, Seahawks 10
Fantasy Heroes: Antonio Bryant WR TB 17 pts; Earnest Graham RB TB 12 pts; Jeff Garcia QB TB 20 pts

The Setup
For the second week in a row, the Tom Brady-less Patriots are in prime time. Last week didn't go so well. They went to San Diego and got absolutely embarrassed, to the point where you have to wonder now if Matt Cassel is going to last the rest of the season as their QB. The Broncos had a bye week to think about how they've lost 2 out of 3 after a 3-0 start.

The Result
Now THAT looked like the Patriots. Well, sort of. Tom Brady usually doesn't get sacked 6 times like Matt Cassel did, and they didn't break any long pass plays, but the outcome was familiar, a win by 5 TDs. The Broncos look like they're totally disintegrating now. Sammy Morris and something named Benjarvus Green-Ellis combined for 203 rushing yards against them. All you need to do to beat the Broncos by 20 is just run it every time. They are completely powerless to stop it.

Final- Patriots 41, Broncos 7
Fantasy Heroes: Matt Cassel QB NE 25 pts, Sammy Morris RB NE 19 pts; Benjarvus Green Ellis RB NE 12 pts; Randy Moss WR NE 18 pts; Wes Welker WR NE 12 pts

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mr. Football's NFL Poll Thru Week 6

Mr. Football's infallible mathematical model STILL has the Giants on top, even after they got blown out by the Browns. Remember, Mr. Football is looking at the WHOLE season, not just last week.

1. Giants
2. Eagles
3. Bucs
4. Steelers
5. Bears
6. Redskins
7. Panthers
8. Titans
9. Chargers
10. Dolphins

11. Saints
12. Cowboys
13. Ravens
14. Colts
15. Jets
16. Cardinals
17. Falcons
18. Vikings
19. Bills
20. Broncos

21. 49ers
22. Packers
23. Jaguars
24. Seahawks
25. Browns
26. Raiders
27. Texans
28. Patriots
29. Bengals

30. Chiefs
31. Lions
32. Rams

Fine, fine me.

The NFL was doing a good job with fines and suspensions cleaning up the image of the league by getting rid of players not adhering to the personal conduct code. Pacman Jones decided to mess with one of his ghosts and it's game over. But now the fining is ridiculous.

"I think regarding the evolution of football, it's becoming more and more flag football, two-hand touch," Polamalu said. "When you see guys like Dick Butkus, the Ronnie Lotts, the Jack Tatums, these guys really went after people. Now, they couldn't survive in this type of game. They wouldn't have enough money. They'd be paying fines all the time and they'd be suspended for a year after they do it two games in a row. It's kind of ridiculous."

As ESPN NFL analyst Schlereth has stated over and over, there's a mixed message sent by the NFL from the fines. On one hand, you fine players for hard hits, and on the other hand, you have selling DVDs on the impact hits. Beyond the hypocracy, I personally don't want the NFL to lighten up on the big hits. I went to a HS JV game and saw big hits that would have been fined in the NFL.

Soccer is known for being a wuss sport because when players get touched they just fall to the ground and hold their knee. Reality is that this is only prominent in La Liga and the FMF. EPL and MLS is pretty manly and very physical. So, in a lot of respects I like the English game more than the other leagues for the physicality. Similarly, I like the NFL because you can bust a big hit on someone and that's just part of the game. I want to see hits like this (0:16, 0:39, 0:48):

This is football. Don't take this away from me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Premiership Week 7

The Premiership had the weekend off last week due to World Cup qualifiers, which works out good for me, since I was a week behind anyway. So, better late than never, here's what went down in the last weekend of play.

(2-3-2) SUNDERLAND 1, (4-2-1) ARSENAL 1
Hull City's Week 6 win at Arsenal doesn't look as impressive after the Gunners followed that up with another stinkeroo, this time at Sunderland. They needed a 90th minute equaliser from Cesc Fabregas to avoid a second straight loss to one of the Premiership's unwashed masses.

(3-3-1) WEST BROM 1, (2-4-0) FULHAM 0
Albion is a team that seems to shuttle in between promotion and relegation every year, but they've won 2 in a row now, so maybe this time they'll stick around a while. Former Scottish League striker Roman Bednar scored the lone goal of the match.

(2-3-2) WIGAN 0, (3-4-0) MIDDLESBROUGH 1
See, the Premiership is a little like the NFL, sometimes nothing seems to carry over from week to week. Last week, Boro had an embarrassing home loss to West Brom, while Wigan got a huge feel-good home win over Robinho and Man City. This week, Wigan can't score and loses at home to that same crappy Boro team that couldn't win at home against Albion.

After a slow start to this campaign, the defending English and European Champs are definitely back. Rovers had an early scoring chance turned away, and then after that it was all Devils. Wes Brown tipped in a Ryan Giggs shot, and Wayne Rooney added the insurance on a rainy fall afternoon. Says Paul Ince of Man U, "They have some of the best players in the world. Sometimes you just have to hold up your hands and say, "Well done.".

(4-3-0) WEST HAM 1, (2-4-1) BOLTON 3
Wacky goals and wacky results can occur in the sloppy weather most of these matches were played in during Week 7. We had a little of both here. Bolton opened the scoring when West Ham goalie Robert Green had a drop on an easy cross that would embarrass Jerremy Stevens, and the Hammers never got it together after that. The Wanderers pick up their second win of the year in surprising fashion, topping a West Ham team that had been on a roll.

(5-0-2) CHELSEA 2, (4-2-1) ASTON VILLA 0
Here's how good Chelsea is. More than half of their starting lineup is hurt, or about half, whatever, this isn't math class, a lot of people are hurt. They are playing Aston Villa who has been on of the best teams in the league this year, and they just routinely swat them aside. Chelsea is better at soccer than any team in the NFL is at football.

(3-4-0) MANCHESTER CITY 2, (5-0-2) LIVERPOOL 3
Since I seem to be in the mode of comparing Premiership teams to NFL teams, I give you Manchester City, the Philadelphia Eagles of England. Everybody rubs their nipples over them and they have all kinds of scintillating talent, only Arsenal and Liverpool have a better goal differential than they do, and they still find a way to have a losing record. Here they have a chance to make a statement with a home match against one of the Big Boys, and in fact look like they will do just that by opening up a 2-0 lead. But then, Fernando Torres and his enchanted hamstring score 2 goals to tie it, and Dirk Kuyt drives home a rebound of a Torres shot in the 90th minute, and MCFC comes away with a big fat 0. Wah...wahhhh.

(4-3-0) PORTSMOUTH 2, (1-5-1) STOKE CITY 1
Don't send Ringo Starr any more fan mail! This is a serious message! I warn you in peace and love! I have too much to do!

(0-5-2) TOTTENHAM 0, (4-1-2) HULL CITY 1
Hull City is in third place in this here league, and we're almost a quarter of a way thru the season. Says Tigers coach Phil Brown on this newly promoted team's unbelievable start, "It is dreamland." 36,000 on hand, by the way, to watch this abortion of a Spurs team.

(2-3-2) EVERTON 2, (1-4-2) NEWCASTLE 2
There's 2 pretty high profile clubs that look like they are going to be flirting with relegation all year, and Newcastle is one of them. Give them credit here though, they fought back from a 2-0 deficit on the road to get a point that they may verwy well end up needing to stay in the Premiership.

1. Chelsea 17/7/+11
2. Liverpool 17/7/+6
3. Hull City 14/7/-1
4. Arsenal 13/7/+8
5. Aston Villa 13/7/+2

16. Bolton 7/7/-2
17. Fulham 6/6/-2
18. Newcastle 7/5/-6
19. Stoke City 7/4/-6
20. Tottenham 7/2/-6

Top 5 Scorers
1. Jermain Defoe, Portsmouth, 5
Fernando Torres, Liverpool, 5
Amr Zaki, Wigan, 5
3. Gabriel Agbonlohor, Aston Villa, 4
Nicolas Anelka, Chelsea, 4
John Carew, Aston Villa, 4
Kevin Davies, Bolton, 4

And we'll close things out with an update on the other 2 relevant leagues in Europe:

Valencia and Villarreal are tied for first place in Spain's first division, so far edging out glamour clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid. Valencia has been driven by David Villa, who leads La Liga with 6 goals. Villarreal, meanwhile, has won with a suffocating style of play that has surrendered only 3 goals all year.

Barca and Real are lurking in the shadows though, 4th and 5th respectively. Barcelona has reloaded this year in their first post-Ronaldinho season, and is led by Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi, who both have 5 goals. Real has been propelled by a 3 headed scoring monster of Raul, Rafael van der Vaart, and Ruud van Nistelrooy. Don't forget about Sevilla. They're right there in the mix for a Champions League shot, in third place.

Things are a little pazzo in Italy right now. Inter Milan is, as expected, one of the teams on top, but the two teams they are tied with, Lazio and Udinese, are definitely surprises. Lazio has been the highest scoring club in the league, and has been led by a player, Mauro Zarate, who is on loan from a club in Qatar. Given that he's leading the league with 6 goals, and that Lazio has the option to make the loan permanent, he'll probably be sticking around a while. Udinese's been staying on top due to its tough defense.

Further down the table, AC Milan got off to a horrid start, but is unbeaten in their last 4. This is a club that has the much celebrated Ronaldinho and Kaka in the fold, but they've combined for only 2 goals this year. Juventus is in 11th place, has scored 5 goals all year in Serie A, and their manager Claudio Ranieri, who led Chelsea from 2000-04, is under fire.