Sunday, October 7, 2007

NFL Week 5: Failing to Cover

Two things have been bothering me this year. First off, the rules preventing the quarterback from actually playing football have got to go. With the added emphasis on late hits and leading with the helmet, defenses have to play two-hand-touch. There's no doubt that the NFL installed these new rules to prevent their starting quarterbacks from missing a snap, but it is completely ruining the game. The quickness of the game doesn't allow players to make the decisions necessary to pull back on their hits, so teams are basically penalized for not getting to the quarterback quick enough. The last I checked, everybody on the field is a football player, and should be treated like such. On Sunday, Trent Green suffered a concussion on a block, and Matt Leinart fractured his collarbone on a legal hit. This tells us two things: anyone at anytime can get injured and quarterbacks that do not get hit are more susceptible to injury. Even when they are sacked, quarterbacks don't take hard hits; it's more like getting hugged while falling down. Let the players play.

One other thing before we get to the games. What is with this new trend of fake reverses? More and more I am seeing coaches draw up a play where the running back runs up the middle while a receiver runs behind him faking the reverse. I have never seen this play net more than two yards. It doesn't work, it never did work, and it never will work. All it's doing is driving the corner to the middle of the field, which is prime position to make a play on the runner. And while I see this more, pump fakes and play actions are getting called less. Those are proven keys to success, but get thrown to the back of the playbook to make room for fake reverses and wide receiver screens.

By the way, I'll always do my NFL recaps on Sunday night or early Monday morning. This is for two reasons. For one, I don't want to be accused of ripping material off of other writers. Since most writers wait until Tuesday morning to write their pieces, I'm safe. And due to the fact they don't come out until Tuesday, this gives you something to read on Monday. The Monday night games will be mentioned if it's good, which it usually isn't. I'm changing the format, so the actual scores will be in bold, my guess in italics.

Carolina at New Orleans, 16-13, 24-28
It's officially safe to give up on the Saints. They couldn't beat a Carolina team lead by David Carr and Matt Moore. Though give it up for Carr, who played through pain to get the victory. He said after the game, and I quote, "It was by far the worst pain I've ever felt in my life". Considering the beatings he took in Houston, that says a lot. Also, I really like Sean Payton's idea to hold a mock funeral to bury last season's accolades, which reminds me a lot of what Boise State did this year. Apparently, it doesn't work on millionaires either. I had New Orleans covering the -3, they lost by 4.

Jacksonville at Kansas City, 17-7, 10-17
The score should've been 17-0, but Herm Edwards couldn't allow a shutout at home. Well, as far as I'm concerned, the Chiefs scored 0. It's probably time to bring out Brodie Croyle, who scored the last second touchdown while an ailing Damon Huard was on the bench. Right now, Oakland is leading the AFC West with a 2-2 record, but the Chiefs shouldn't worry about making the playoffs; they won't do any damage. Time to think about the future. When you're netting 10 rushing yards at home, things have got to change. The Jags won by 10, and I had Kansas City covering the + 2 1/2, which is the same amount of days away from Larry Johnson choke-slamming Mike Solari.

Detroit at Washington, 34-3, 16-27
I was shocked by this game. New Orleans is the only team that came off a bye week and didn't win, which is a stat I will keep an eye on. The NFC is full of mediocre teams on the rise, while the AFC is full of good times on the decline. If the Skins can play defense like this all season, then they will definitely get a Wild Card. On the other side, the Detroit defense couldn't stop a team with Jason Campbell at quarterback and their best receiver not playing. That's not good. It might work if you can put up 30-40 points a game, but they didn't. Let's see what they do in two weeks, once they come off a bye. I had Detroit covering the + 3 1/2, which is more than they actually scored.

Atlanta at Tennessee, 13-20, 17-21
Hey, I got one right! This game was typical of both teams; Atlanta played surprisingly close but lost, and Tennessee allowed it to be close but won. I think the Madden curse is drunk, as it accidentally hit teammate Pacman Jones instead of Vince Young. Well, I'll give it time. And right when I thought Joey Harrington was coming alive, coach Petrino threw in Byron Leftwich. This was dumb, to say the least. College coaches should really stay in college. I had Atlanta covering the + 8 1/2, and they only lost by 4.

Miami at Houston, 19-22, 14-30
The only thing I learned about Houston is this: they aren't as good as everybody thought. And with Trent Green suffering a likely career-ending concussion, the Dolphins could possibly go 0-16, which would be funny, since they are the only team to go 16-0. I also give a thumbs up to Miami coach Cam Cameron, who decided not to call the last second timeout to ice Kris Brown's field goal. Brown hit the 57 yarder, but I still like the call. And did anybody else see that Miami kicker Jay Feely was wearing gloves? You are in Houston, and you never, ever touch the ball! Why are you wearing gloves? I had Houston covering the - 5 1/2, and they disappoint me, yet again.

Cleveland at New England, 34-17, 35-20
While I had the score close, the line was -16, I had a 15 point win, and the final was 17 points. This is why I don't gamble on humans; a 10 point game with under a minute to play, New England runs a fumble recovery back for a touchdown, covering the spread. Ouch. The bigger picture here is that Cleveland played the Patriots better than anybody else, and they shut down Randy Moss. Are they for real? Possibly, but Pittsburgh is running away with the North. I am now 1-5 this week, by the way.

Arizona at St. Louis, 34-31, 28-10
The Cardinals might have received a blessing in disguise with Leinart being out. They can make the playoffs, and for this franchise, that is the most important thing. Warner gives them the best chance to win, which is a little frightening when you consider Leinart is the future. And what was up with the Rams? Marc Bulger and Stephen Jackson go out, and they put up 31? Arizona's defense isn't that bad, either. At least they're showing signs of improvement. I had Arizona covering the - 3 1/2, and they won - by 3!

NY Giants at NY Jets, 35-24, 24-17
While these two New York teams were playing, so were the Yankees, who beat Cleveland. At least half of the state is happy today, so that's nice. What are the chances that Eric Mangini is lamenting his ratting out of Bill Bilichick, squandering the opportunity to cheat himself? I say around 90%. I thought the Giants were quietly getting better, and they are. Eli is playing better, and so is the defense. Their wins over Washington and Philadelphia might give Dallas a run in the East, if Little Brother can keep from dishing out his annual second half collapse. I had the Giants covering the - 3 1/2, and they covered on the home...or....nevermind.

Tampa Bay at Indianapolis, 33-14, 17-14
The Colts aren't getting the publicity due to New England's dominance, but they are an outstanding football team. They have a great offense, they play defense and they have good special teams. Watch out. Even without Marvin Harrison and Joseph Addai, Manning put up 33 points on a good defense. Even the good NFC teams have trouble just hanging around with the great AFC teams, which shows you why the AFC Championship is the real Super Bowl. I really liked it when Indianapolis used their first pick in the draft on Ohio State's Anthony Gonzales, and he led the way today with 7 catches for 71 yards. I had Tampa covering the +10, and they lost by 19.

San Diego at Denver, 41-3, 21-13
I hate LaDainian Tomlinson. Every time I watch him run, it seems like he heads for the sidelines at all cost, giving up yards so he won't get hit. Plus, he whines, which I hate. And while everybody proclaims "San Diego is back!" this week, he'll be giving the interviews and taking all the glory. But I digress. Denver could easily be 0-4, and Jay Cutler's house would be egged if it weren't for the Rockies doing so well. Their defense gets worse every week and Mike Shanahan seems to be losing his mind. Still, in this division, they could still make the playoffs. We really need to trade the AFC West to the NFC for the East. I had San Diego covering the +1, and they barely squeaked out the 38 point win.

Baltimore at San Francisco, 9-7, 14-10
I'm not surprised the networks didn't show this game. They're pretty good on identifying the blowouts, as I got the Denver and Indianapolis games. Although, it couldn't have been that good of a game, since Trent Dilfer threw only 29 times and Frank Gore ran only 16 times, a total of 45, while Steve McNair threw 43 times. The Ravens had the ball for 38 minutes, and still only amassed 9 points. Can we just crown the Colts, Steelers and Patriots as division champs now, and get it over with? I had the Ravens covering the -3 1/2, and surprise! They didn't.

Chicago at Green Bay, 27-20, 9-27
I cannot believe the Packers lost this game. They were dominating Chicago, and then coughed it up at the end. Green Bay's defense was playing good ball until tonight. The Bears' defense wasn't, but they played well enough at Lambeau for the win. The only thing I enjoyed while watching this game was hearing Al Michaels and John Madden's discourses, where they continue to state the obvious and guess wrong on reviews. It's quite entertaining. What is weird though, is hearing Michaels talk about football. I just can't imagine this guy sitting at home and watching the games. He seems like the kind of guy who spends most of his time drinking bad wine while typing rude things in adult chat rooms, surrounded by thirty cats. I had Green Bay covering the -3 1/2, but then again, I thought Rex was playing.

I went 4-8 this week. That's pretty bad. I'm not too upset though, since there were a few one point misses and 1/2 point misses. That makes me 12-14 on the season. Again, this is why I don't bet on humans.

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