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The Profit

Did you hear that? That's what all-encompassing, all-around failure sounds like.

Never mind that two of my losses last week were by a combined one point. Never mind that another game ended as a tie when Dallas won by exactly three. None of that matters. And do you know why? Because I still lost NINE other games (which you may or may not have realized by now). That's right, a 12-loss week. Now normally, a writer would hide behind something after a 12-loss week. They'd say something about the lock of the week coming through. Or perhaps they'd go seasonal on you and bring up their above-.500 record to date on best bets. I, however, will not go that route. I cannot go that route. And why not? Because I wouldn't feel any better about it. I just endured perhaps the worst football week of my life in every aspect, and I'd like to share.

As some of you may be aware, my "real" job consists of my viewing various sporting events in order to determine highlight packages for several networks. These networks use the highlights in their nightly news packages. I basically sit in a room with twenty other people, all of us watching games, for hours on end. (I know, it sounds made up - but it's not.) So anyway, I'm usually in a good mood heading to "work", because it isn't work, see? This past Sunday, I settled in at around 12 or so to watch my two games - Colts/Jags and Dolphins/Chargers. I was feeling pretty good. My big money fantasy team - led by Carson Palmer, Larry Johnson, Steven Jackson, and Chad Johnson - would open the playoffs this week with some very solid matchups. My other fantasy team (my "main" league, if you will) was also coming down the home stretch. Luckily for me, it's a points-based league and I was up by a ton with only four weeks to go. The Chargers were obviously going to roll over the Dolphins of course, putting them that much closer to a repeat playoff spot. On a secondary level, the guys at work had San Diego in their One-and-done pool, and if they could get through this week it put everyone that much closer to a $10K payout. If only the day ended as promising as it began. And finally, yours truly had had several bounce-back weeks in a row not only in picking games for the column before you (and finally appearing smart), but also doing well in my weekly pools because of bonuses and such. After all, I was 7-1 on my best bets the two weeks prior. Oh wait, I said I wasn't going to bring up the positives. Sorry.

So yeah, I don't have to go into detail about how poorly Palmer/Jackson/Johnson played. I don't need to remind anyone about the Charger loss (compounded since my opponent had Chris Chambers…and is a Dolphins fan). And in my main league, I'm certainly not going to bring up the fact that the second place team sported the following lineup: Brees, Alexander, Gado, Harrison, S.Smith, Heap, S.Graham - slicing my once seemingly insurmountable lead in thirds. Nope, I'd never bring that up. By 7:15 at night, I was predicting that I was going to definitely die in a fiery wreck on my way home, because that's just the kind of day I was having. And the one constant, the thing I can always rely upon - my Sunday night cheeseburgers - well that went out the window as well because I simply couldn't. I felt so jinxed that I fully expected to develop either colon cancer or mad cow disease within five minutes of finishing my food. As it turned out, I had some chicken cutlets and I'm not lying when I tell you it is an absolute miracle that I'm not writing to you with avian flu. Perhaps it's the miracle I need to turn my season around. After all, it was quite successful (these picks notwithstanding) up until about a week ago. I'll take the fact that I avoided bird flu as a big positive step in the right direction. I can feel my luck turning already, as a matter of fact.

Yup…those, my friends, are the famous last words of any true gambler.

On to the picks…

Source: Yahoo.com

DENVER (-9) at BUFFALO
Well, I'd like to say something about how the presence of Kelly Holcomb this week will enable the Bills to hang around, but the truth of the matter is that I think Tatum Bell will rush for 200+ yards and score several times and the game won't be close at all. PICK: Broncos

NEW ENGLAND (-4.5) vs. TAMPA BAY
It may not be the best or most accurate way to predict games, but I'm going with the notion here that the AFC's middling teams are much better than the NFC's second tier guys. PICK: Patriots

NEW YORK GIANTS (-3) vs. KANSAS CITY
This is a bit peculiar in the sense that there isn't a ton of difference between Dallas and the Giants, yet Dallas was favored by the same 3 points last week against the Chiefs - with the big difference being that Dallas was healthy. The Giants, while they have all of their offensive talent, are banged-up defensively. Both Antonio Pierce and William Joseph will sit out this Sunday's affair, and if last week's effort against Philadelphia was any indication, the G-men may have a real rough time trying to contain Larry Johnson. Although I didn't have much faith in the Chiefs as recently as a week ago, with the turn of events in the health of the New York run-stoppers, as well as the overall dominance of the Kansas City ground game, I think they can go into the Meadowlands and emerge victorious. Sure, the Chiefs are typically crap on the road, and I'll be the first to tell you that - but they didn't look too shabby last week, did they? PICK: Chiefs

ARIZONA (-1) at HOUSTON
After seeing the end of last week's game against Tennessee, I'm taking any and all teams with a small spread from here on out. Houston will not bother trying to win a close game, because they're purposely losing. Definitely. PICK: Cardinals

CAROLINA (-8.5) at NEW ORLEANS
Alright, well that "one game" the Saints had in them didn't happen last week. You know what? Todd Bouman is actually a pretty decent QB. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I'd rather he quarterback my team than Aaron Brooks over the course of a season. Then again, I'm not big on guys who think complete and utter failure is funny. I think Bouman rallies the team to actually have a game this week. Of course, the Panthers' propensity for playing down to the competition helps that angle along as well. I think Carolina wins, but it'll be a tight one. PICK: Saints

INDIANAPOLIS (-7.5) vs. SAN DIEGO
A week ago, I predicted the Colts to lose their first game of the year. Truth be told, I said to everyone that they would lose either last week or this week - prior to the Seattle game. Now I realize the Chargers put on an awful performance a week ago. I'd like to say it was solely due to looking ahead to this week's matchup, and that may very well be the case. But I'm not taking San Diego based on their hunger against the Colts. Nor am I one of the fools betting weekly against the Colts due to some inane "law of averages". The reason I'm taking San Diego is because A) They will at least cover, and B) They really can match up with Indy. I know what you're going to say, that if Gus Frerotte picked them apart then what will Manning/Harrison/Wayne do? I'm not saying they'll be shut down - no one can do that - but they can score with anyone in the league, Colts included. Not only that, the defensive front is one of the best pass rushes in the league, and the dominant run defense has held similar runners to Edgerrin James (LaMont Jordan, for example) in check all game long without sacrificing in the passing game. The key will be to keep the Indy receivers underneath. If they can force the Colts to attempt a bunch of short stuff, it will work. Reason being, you can be physical with the Colts. Let's face it, the San Diego DBs can't cover anyone, but they can bump at the line. That, coupled with an intense pass rush, combined with an inability to throw up top, could keep the Colts' explosive offense from exploiting the defensive backs too much. Of course, all of this is moot if someone misses even one bump at the line and Harrison takes off for 75 down the sideline, but it at least sounds good in theory. PICK: Chargers

JACKSONVILLE (-15.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO
This is undoubtedly the toughest call of the week for me. That doesn't mean I'm going to spend a ton of time on it, because every stat I find is going to tell me that the Jags should win 48-6. It's more a gut feeling than anything. And be assured it has nothing to do with David Garrard at QB for the Jags. I've always been a big believer in him, and I love what he's doing with his first extended look. That said, I don't know that Jacksonville is going to go crazy this weekend in the scoring column. Although honestly, one could make the argument that I don't know much of anything at all after a 3-12 week. Whatever, when in doubt go with the winner. Have you noticed I have like 17 of those kinds of rules. When in doubt, go with the desperate team…When in doubt, go with the team that has the better QB…when in doubt, go with the team that doesn't have Joey Harrington on it. I'm sure I've contradicted myself somewhere along the line there, and I'm probably doing it again. Oh well. When in doubt, contradict yourself. PICK: Jaguars

MIAMI (-8.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS
Miami is heading in the right direction. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. Apparently, Vegas knows it as well. PICK: Dolphins

OAKLAND (-3) vs. CLEVELAND
After seeing what the Browns were able to accomplish defensively against Carson Palmer and the Bengals a week ago, I shudder to think of what they might do to Kerry Collins and the Raiders this week. Yet even with that knowledge planted firmly in my brain, I still can't get it out of my head that Collins plays well this week. Think about it. He's playing solely for money at this point, because Oakland is going to cut him and his only saving grace may be to get hot over the season's final three games. The team is going nowhere, so the pressure to succeed as a team is relieved somewhat. And finally, Collins is a longtime veteran in the league who was by far NOT at the root of the team's issues when he was benched. You think he might want to go out and prove some people wrong. Now tread carefully, because his name is still Kerry Collins. But I've got a good feeling about him this week. PICK: Raiders

SEATTLE (-7) at TENNESSEE
Much like San Diego last week, I can definitely see Seattle looking ahead to next week's matchup with the Colts. The difference here, of course, being that the Dolphins are a quality team while the Titans are pretty much a disaster. PICK: Seahawks

SAINT LOUIS (-3.5) vs. PHILADELPHIA
Teams like the Eagles, who have enjoyed a great run of success, typically have at least one big game in them during their down year. Now I don't know if that's actually scientific because I didn't look it up and I'm not going to - but this late in the season, I'm turning as lazy as the Rams defense. Teams like those Rams, on the other hand, stink. That IS scientific. PICK: Eagles

BALTIMORE (-3.5) vs. GREEN BAY
Much like last week against Detroit, I still like Brett Favre against a bad opponent. And make no mistake - the Ravens are a bad opponent. Sure, Green Bay stinks too, but at least they're interesting. They've got storylines, and some offense, and Gado, and Favre, and all that. The Ravens have nothing. Their offense is terrible, the once-proud defense is dreadful, and its coach has been out of it since pretty much sometime in May. I can see Billick a month from now, pulling a "Steve Martin in The Jerk", wandering the halls and grabbing stuff that reminds him of his glory days to take with him after he's canned.

"…and this picture of the 2000 Super Bowl team…and that's all I need…all I need…and this Super Bowl ring...this picture of the 2000 Super Bowl team and this Super Bowl ring…and that's all I need…and safety Ed Reed…that's it, this picture of the 2001 Super Bowl team and this Super Bowl ring and my safety Ed Reed…and that's all I need..." PICK: Packers

BEST BETS

CHICAGO (-3) vs. ATLANTA
This is a joke, right? Somebody's idea of a silly prank? The Bears, who had their eight-game win streak because of - God forbid - a loss at Pittsburgh…against the chronically underachieving Falcons, who only won last week because they were playing the NFL equivalent of Kevin Federline. I am really baffled by this line. Chicago has thoroughly outplayed opponents all season long, and if there's one aspect of Michael Vick's game that is still sorely lacking, it's his ability against speed defenses. I frankly can't see any reason Atlanta should even be in this game. PICK: Bears

CINCINNATI (-7.5) at DETROIT
No, no, no, no, no. Romeo Crennel and the Browns did NOT show the rest of the league how to stop Carson Palmer and the Cincy offense. Keep in mind, Romeo had a fair amount of success against this guy named Manning for years, and the rest of the league never caught on. Listen, it was one bad game - that's it. The Bengals are a dominant offensive team. And the Lions are so disgustingly awful that you might be able to take the decimal point out of this point spread and still have people betting up the Bengals' side. PICK: Bengals

PITTSBURGH (-3) at MINNESOTA
You know, I might consider picking the Vikings in this game if they were any good. But come on, does anyone think that Michael Bennett and Brad Johnson have even a remote chance of hanging around with one of the AFC's better teams? Oh, and that Pittsburgh is fighting for their playoff lives with each week? As if Cowher isn't insane enough, now he's probably on them even moreso to remain focused. Meanwhile, Mike Tice sounds like Artie Lange in press conferences. Which would be great if Tice were a fat comedian. Turns out he's not, though. He's actually a head coach of a real-life NFL team. I wonder if he knows that. Seriously, do you want to be the guy who lost money trusting a Tice-led team against a Cowher-led team in December? I can see it in January maybe, but not December. PICK: Steelers

WASHINGTON (-3) vs. DALLAS
No. The Redskins won't win. Dallas is hungrier, better, and want revenge after what happened early this season the last time these two met. If you haven't done so already, you can call me crazy. But I think Dallas has a lot of fight left in them, and the Redskins look like they are just about to roll over for the year. PICK: Cowboys

LOCK OF THE WEEK: Cincinnati Bengals


LAST WEEK

  • OVERALL: : 3-12-1
  • BEST BETS: 1-3
  • LOCK OF WEEK: 1-0

SEASON TOTALS

  • OVERALL: 99-104-5 (48.8%)
  • BEST BETS: 29-26-1 (52.7%)
  • LOCK OF WEEK: 6-8 (42.9%)
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