Other than the status of the Dolphins/Steelers game changing every three hours, there really isn't a lot going on in the National Football League that we don't already know. What few notes there are as follows:
Mark Brunnel is playing Monday night. I'm still picking them.
The Browns are 'scaling back' their offense now that Winslow is out. Plans to punt on second down delayed until week 4. Suggs not expected to play either.
Michael Bennett is returning to practice and will probably play in Week 5.
I wasn't too pleased to wake up this morning to see that Boise St. played like a high school team on Friday night, but with Arkansas controlling the second half against Bama, and Wisconsin holding a 10-0 lead against Penn State's third string quarterback, I'm feeling a little more confident.
I am officially disappointed in ESPN's Podolsky though. He was pretty much right on last year with the thursday and friday games, and also with some of the smaller matchups, but 2004 has not treated him well so far. He occasionally has good insights but I don't think I'll continue to give him the print time that I have. It's also more than likely against some law to reproduce his picks like I am.
The Texans/Chiefs line is down to 7.5 now. I guess that's considering Priest won't play or that he may be limited. But watch people hammer that thing like crazy at 12:50 when they annouce that he will start. Then go Texans.
Something else that bothers me is the Saints getting 7 at St Louis. Am I missing something? 7 points is a lot. The same can be said for the Falcons giving 10 vs the Cards. Arizona sort of hung with New Enlgand on the scoreboard cause the Pats kept missing opportunities. But this Cardinals team doesn't have any quit in them.
Take advantage of the Friday specials. Things don't change too much before game time. Except the line and if it changes for your benefit, there's probably not a good reason.
With that out of the way, I will say that I can't seem to wrap my head around this week's games. I have picker's block. But here's what I do like:
Boise St. vs BYU (-21.5) - I like this line at 20.5 instead. I'd buy it down if I was ever going to actually wager on it. But I agree with those that say Boise St. has something going this year. And I remember watching BYU and Duke a few weeks ago because it was on INHD. They looked boring, even in hi-def.
Wisconsin vs PSU (-3) - Here's another one I'd be buying down. This one I'd go to 2.5. A lot of this game will depend on how effective Badger RB Davis is (if he plays). Penn State's LBs are always solid and they are usually tough against the run, but from what I saw last week, Wisconsin has some good options at RB after Davis. And in the end, I don't think PSU has enough experience to break this road losing streak yet. See yesterday's post about this.
Arkansas vs Alabama (-5.5) - I don't think either team will be able to control the game on the ground offensively, and so with Bama QB Croyle out for the year, I'll take the R'backs at home.
Bucs at Oakland (+3) - Going with another bad Florida team on the road on a Sunday night. At least the Fish covered last week. I'm thinking the Bucs will here too. I'd buy it at 3.5 and hope these two defenses keep it up. Who knows, the Bucs may even win one. Gruden strikes me as the kind of guy who gets a lot of motivation out of revenge.
Skins vs Boys (-1) - Washington to win at home? Joe Gibbs? -1? The Sports Guy sums last weeks' Washington/Giants game up best here by saying it's like when you're playing Madden and the computer does everything it can to make you lose. After a week of real practice, hopefully Ramsey will understand which color jersey he needs to throw the ball to.
Texans at Chiefs (+9) - Obviously, Priest Holmes' availability plays a lot into this. But I like Carr on the road, where he seems to really be allowed to throw the ball around. Is it possible that Kansas City can start the year 0-3 and 0-2 at home? Tough to say, but at +400, it's worth a shot. If Priest ends up not playing, you're loving it. And even if he does, +9 is easy to buy to +10.5 and almost guarantee a sure thing. Dominick Davis has a lot in common with Quentin Griffin and DeShaun Foster.
UPDATE: So, I've really learned something. I should just pick college night games and pro day games cause I can't seem to get anything else right. So it shall be done.
Everything seems so status quo today on the football side. A good thing since I'm relatively busy. Nonetheless...
One of the reasons I picked the Bears to upset the Packers in week 2 was because of how well Green Bay played on Monday night. I read so much about how they were motivated to show everyone that they were still a good team, and that they were playing the defending conference champs, and how ready they were to play... I figured there was no way they could match that intensity against the Bears. Chicago would be a team with lots of new parts, and easy to underestimate. Turns out that's what happened. So I started thinking, does appearing on Monday night have an affect on the following week? So I looked back to 2002 and 2003.
Here's a chart of outcomes for teams who played the week following a Monday night game.
PMW = Previous Monday Night Winning Team. PML = Previous Monday Night Losing Team.
Now this raises some interesting points. First, let me just add that there should be a margin of error of +/- 2 games on account of the fact that I've been doing six other things while adding this up and creating the html for the table shown above. There's also a baby singing nearby.
Second, the only real conclusion I can make about the affect playing in Monday night games has on the succeeding week's performance is that there is none. That the MNF victors have fared well (21-10) is probably moreso because they are just good teams and will win more than they lose (how's two out of three sound?). The MNF losers are currently hitting exactly .500 in my little experiment. It is also noteworthy to talk about the large discrepancy between the results from 02 and 03. I think, more than anything else, this is a supporting fact that playing on MNF has no predictable affect. I'll probably keep this in the back of my mind as the 04 season plays out. Just to see what happens to this model on a 3 year table.
Rich struggled again last week, going 5-5. But he hit some good points along the way. I'm still buying. There aren't too many big matchups this week. Here's his link if you're an ESPN Insider.
Kent State -7
Bowling Green +1.5
Boise St. -21.5
V Tech -9
Ball State +3
Oregon St +7.5
UPDATE: Chris Fowler's column (INSIDER link) has some notes about this unspectacular weekend of college football. He calls is "Step-Up Saturday" in reference to a handful of teams that need to prove whether or not they'll be playing for their conference title.
Penn State is 1-8 in their last 9 away (0 for last 6). They've lost their last four Big Ten openers. Fowler also points out, however, that "something's gotta give" here since Wisconsin hasn't played well in conference games on the whole, especially those at home.
How bad was the Iowa loss to ASU? Fowler:
The Hawks gained a first down on their first play, then didn't get another until the fourth quarter! They had a total of 11 yards on offense and found themselves down 17-0. Iowa ran just 46 plays, ASU 80, and the Hawks had more punts (eight) than first downs (six). It was mind-boggling. Why Andrew Walter threw deep midway in the fourth quarter, up 37-0, I have no idea. It didn't sit well with the Iowa camp.
Now that's bad. The game is in Ann Arbor, and even though the Wolverines don't look that strong either, it's hard to say that Iowa can turn things around so quickly. What has happened to the Big Ten?
Add Rocco Baldelli to your list of players who you can get cheap next season. He's finally showed some consistent power since returning from the DL. 5 of his 15 HRs have come in September. And then there's Lou's take:
You really don't have to be bulky to hit the ball out of the ballpark. I don't think Hulk Hogan could hit 25 homers.
Jason Christiansen has a sign on his locker reading "15 days and counting." That's how many days it's been since he's pitched in a game. There doesn't seem to be any animosity to it, however. Manager Alou credits it to this:
Something like that goes in cycles.
3B Scott Rolen missed his 11th consecutive game with a strained upper calf and bruised left shin, but should see action before the playoffs. Tony La Russa:
He'll play that last week of the season
Yesterday John Smoltz won the Braves' Roberto Clemente Award. And then he gave up 4 hits and 5 earned runs in one third of an inning.
39,863 attended the Giants game last night. 15,659 in Miami. 8,588 in Tampa. 3,839 in Montreal. The sum of the latter three: 28, 086. Milwaukee almost drew that much by themselves (25,675).
Brad Radke had his next start moved to Saturday. Expect them to start resting Santana for the playoffs too.
Oswalt will make his next start. Matt Clement won't.
Andres Galaragga started last night in the place of struggling Darin Erstad.
Nomar is supposed to return tonight.
The Brewers are 17-45 since after the break. They've lost 27 games in the standings during that time.
Jeff Kent may be thinking about retiring. Or maybe he's just a big baby. Don't let the mustache fool you.
Going against the Cards tonight might be a wise choice. They probably won't let any pitchers go deep into a game and Ben Sheets has been tough all year at home. Given that I just wrote that the Brewers have only won 17 games out of their last 62, maybe going with them isn't such a good idea. But I have no idea what the line is. If it's a longshot, it's probably worth it.
John Clayton pointed this out during his 'Inside the Huddle' segment. Michael Vick's first half numbers through two games:
PFBW has their Whispers out. Not a whole lot of info that would be useful for fantasy stuff. But ESPN makes it part of their Insider package when you can just go to PFBW directly and get it for free.
Jamal Lewis/Ravens news here. PFBW talks about how Cleveland went with a 4-4-3 to help slow the running game but they played that last year too when Jamal ran for 800 miles against them. The difference in production seems to be that teams facing the Ravens aren't collapsing in as much on defense. So much of Jamal's yards last season came on those long TD runs. But this time around, he basically had the same day against Cleveland except he didn't break those 3 or 4 tackles that would spring him for touchdowns. When you put 8 in the box and you miss tackles, there's usually no one deep to stop a big play if someone makes a mistake. It just seems that the Ravens aren't executing, Jamal included. They've got the Bengals in week three.
This entire AFC West page is useful. (Link will only be current until 9/27)
I didn't watch Larry Fitzgerald's first NFL game. But this says he played well. From what I saw in week two against the Pats, I'd agree that he's got incredible body control and agility, to go along with great depth perception.
Speaking of depth perception, anyone see Keyshawn Johnson knock Luke McCown's hail mary pass on Sunday? It was like he was playing madden and went right to the spot where the ball was supposed to land.
Here's an article about Bill Cowher's reaction to the whole QB dilemma. The Steelers are definitely looking for someone. Neil O'Donnell has turned them down.
Jets GM says Lamont Jordan won't be traded. Many teams have tried to get him, most notably the Raiders.
Rookie WRs are always inconsistent and usually fade in the weeks you need them most. But if you want to feel closer to their lives, here's Kerry Colbert and Michael Clayton.
Patrick Ramsey is starting this week. Maybe next. But man was he just awful against the Giants.
Kleinsasser may be out for the year. Rosenthal too. Two real blows to the Vikings' run schemes. Wiggins is out for 2-4 weeks. Meet rookie TE Richard Owens.
Jeremy Shockey admits the new Giants' offense requires more from him than stretching defenses. May the over-rated chants resume.
Coach Vermeil loves Priest Holmes. Loves him. He'll let Holmes open gifts on Christmas Eve, have dessert without vegetables, and play without practicing.
Warrick Dunn, on his way to a career season, may now lose time to injury.
Dimitri Young has been hitting well for the last month, but after looking further into it, many of those games were on the road where he's hitting near .300 this season. At home, he's just a .260 hitter this season. Next thursday the Tigers go to Tampa to finish the year with 5 games at the Trop. Dimitri doesn't have great numbers there though. It would be nice to see the Young brothers playing against each other, but I don't think that's gonna happen.
Need a Third Baseman? Mark Lamb has been hitting .300 for the last month. He's at .358 at home, where he'll be for the end of the regular season, starting next Monday.
If for some reason you still have Julio Lugo in your lineup, drop him. He's been terrible at home all year long and the DRays are all out of away games. I would say try Alex Cintron at Coors, but his career numbers there are worse than the season he's having. Maybe he'll be better this time around though. If you need a SS, stay with Coors and try Luis Gonzalez. No, the other Luis. Out of the Box likes Russ Adams. I've never seen him play (He's with the Blue Jays) but he was the 14th overall pick in 02... for whatever that is worth.
Juan Rivera is playing well. He was part of the package to Montreal in the Javier Vazquez deal.
There's a free article over at Baseball Prospectus about the wild card format.
Tampa is getting a glimpse of fall weather. 72, partly cloudy, windy and with low humidity. "How could I possibly be expected to handle school on a day like today." Whole lota things happening:
Man did Quentin Griffin drop the ball. But even more so, these Jags are some lucky football creatures. They're 2-0 and haven't really done anything right but stop the run. But as soon as Martin Gramatica misses an extra point that should beat them, I'm holding off on the Superb Owl discussion.
Deion Branch got banged up on Sunday and David Givens came in and dominated the second half. But according to this, Branch tried to come back in and play but Belichick probably didn't think Arizona was the best place to have his starting receiver re-injured.
Here's an injury roundup from Sunday. Man is it long.
David Terrell is acting like the old Randy Moss. Except for, you know, the 1500 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Dolphins' defense did everything they could to win that game Sunday night. Feeley gave the Bengals their only touchdown. And Chris Mortensen reported on Monday Night Countdown that a majority of the team supports Fiedler. I can't imagine that Feeley brought anything to the Bengals game that Fiedler couldn't. Except maybe for that 7 point INT.
Anytime you hear a pop, it can't be good. Duece McAllister says so. People are picking up Aaron Stecker and KiJana Carter. They are, as some say, SGL's. Stop Gap Losers. None are replacements, just plug-ins. Duece is out four to five weeks.
Eddie Kennison is out. Johnny Morton is afraid to get hit. Dante Hall has the hands of a running back (he is). Tony Gonzalez still can't run full speed. And now Priest Holmes is gimpy. Oh, and this Chief's defense is still not so good.
There was something interesting about watching Chris Brown and Edgerrin James in the same game. To me, they both have a similar rushing patience. They also both tend to struggle in short yardage situations. Most recently, we saw Edge in the Patriots game and Chris in week 2. Here's a local story about Chris. But man did Edgerrin look great on a handful of long plays. Too bad he has a second degree hamstring pull. Rhodes will probably start week 3.
This is a nice read about Chicago's running versus the Packers' D.
The Bills looked terrible again. Deer Bledsoe may finally recognize he was being blitzed sometime mid-week. But he thinks they are better than this. So does this guy. What the hell do they know?
Jason Witten may have broken his jaw again. But this time it's not so bad? Bill Parcells probably has his name in ink somewhere on his body.
This is the last stop for the 2004 Cleveland Browns express. Everyone off.
I've stopped reading Peter King as much as I used to. But sometimes he pulls out some stuff that can't be found elsewhere. This dirt about Parcells and the Pats is the latest.
When he came to the Eagles, Jevon Kearse talked a lot about being moved around the field in order to make it hard to scheme protections against him. But on Monday night, he didn't need to do anything but line up opposite Mike Rosenthal (who recently signed a long contract extension) and whoever that backup RT was that couldn't go seven minutes without a penalty. As big and talented as the Vikings' line is, they sure did have all kinds of problems with the Eagles blitz packages.
TO's big TD catch definitely was not a catch. Not only did he never have possession, but the ball hit the ground and he was out of bounds by the time he stopped playing hot potato with the ball. If anything, it was pass interference by Winfield, but a touchdown was it not. Al Michaels made a rare good comment by stating that the replay rule should let you not have to get the challenge in before the extra point. Or, if you're a coach and you see the other team 's linemen sprinting to get ready for the kick, maybe there's something up...
UPDATE: Man, that's a lot of stuff. And more is happening:
I heard this on the radio today while I was getting lunch. Rich Eisen was talking about it so I was waiting to see it in print. If any of you are thinking about playing Rothlisberger, you may want to reconsider. There doesn't seem to be muc will to rebuild in Pittsburgh.