Sunday, October 31, 2004
Okay, this week at the site is going to be tremendous with regards to content. We are going to have the Holiday BOP 25 and Monthly forecasts. Unfortunately, writing the movie stuff has prevented me from doing football analysis this week. I apologize for that. My picks are posted below sans any description of why. Happy Halloween, everybody!
New York Jets
The Jets are my suicide league suggestion.
David Mumpower 12:11 PM
Sunday, October 24, 2004
I am not completely clear on the details but apparently, Jeff Garcia failed to give T.O. A token reach around at some point. Or something like that. Owens continues to rant like a lunatic about it while Garcia dates a Playmate of the Year who is so jealous over him that she beats up any bar skank who buys him a drink. Owens will win the battle but as long as Garcia goes home to Carmela DeCesare, he easily wins the war. All Owens is left to do is bitterly rant and mournfully sing Erasure songs in the show.
(Kim's pick: Philadelphia)
Both teams are wholly inept, but Tampa Bay is getting back the heart of their receiving core, Joe Jurevicius. That is a nice momentum boost. For their part, the Bears are looking for QBs, so if you played any in high school, give them a call. You have got their starter beat.
(Kim's pick: Tampa Bay)
Tennessee has been the death of me thus far, so an upset would not be a shock. The Vikings might protect Randy Moss the same way they shielded Culpepper last season. If so, Marcus Robinson, Nate Burleson and Kelly Campbell all offer fantasy upside. The Vikings offense is potent, so Chris Brown and Steve McNair are going to have to dominate time of possession.
(Kim's pick: Minnesota)
The Jags choked at home in a game they dominated in the first half. Going to the dome where Manning is near invincible makes the results likely to be duplicated.
(Kim's pick: Indianapolis)
New York Giants
As I mentioned in the power rankings, the Lions need a big game from one of Pinner or Jones. They are dead last in the NFL in total offense, and second from the bottom in rushing. Their defense is underachieving thus far as well. It's a credit to Mooch that he has this team winning, but the Giants have a surprisingly potent offense. They should consistently exploit the same secondary Favre riddled last week.
(Kim's pick: New York Giants)
The logical part of my brain says that LaDainian Tomlinson will kill a frustrated Panthers defense that is vulnerable to the run. In addition, the challenges of a 3-4 defense are perfect against a confused offensive line. In the end, though, I just don't think that an overachieving Chargers team is good enough to finish on the road against the NFC champs, even one without Stephen Davis.
(Kim's pick: San Diego)
This is a fun matchup, with the Dolphins defense being a fascinating counter to the mind of Martz. On the other side of the ball, the Dolphins offense is the perfect cure for a struggling but streaky Rams defense.
(Kim's pick: St. Louis)
The Saints gave up 605 yards of total offense last week. It ranks as one of the most embarrassing performances in recent NFL lore. The Raiders have given up almost 200 yards rushing a game the last three weeks. The only shock in this game would be betting the under and winning.
(Kim's pick: New Orleans)
The other afternoon shootout is this one. Dallas has a sensational passing game and little running game. Green Bay's secondary has been killing them since pre-4th and 26. Green Bay's passing is even better than Air Parcells, but the Cowboys are tougher defensively. It won't quite match Colts/Packers 2K4, but it will be a shootout.
(Kim's pick: Dallas)
I hope I am wrong, but the Falcons are going to be decimated by injuries in this game. Their top two defensive tackles are both out, leaving two waiver wire acquisitions to fill the void. The good news is that DeAngelo Hall will finally make his debut, but Priest Holmes should have a field day running up the gut.
(Kim's pick: Atlanta)
Thiis is the coin flip game of the week for me. The Ravens won't have Jamal Lewis, but they have recently unveiled a new weapon. B.J. Sams is the new Dante Hall, scoring return touchdowns in consecutive weeks. For their part, Buffalo finally moved the ball some, and it was against one of the best defenses in the league. Baltimore has reason for a letdown while Buffalo could be riding a wave of momentum. In the end, I have come to the conclusion that Ray Lewis will have his crew motivated to survive the absence of Jamal.
(Kim's pick: Buffalo)
At this point, I am afraid to pick against any New England area teams. I do think the Jets are as likely to end the streak as anyone. If they do win, I promise them the top spot on the power rankings next week.
(Kim's pick: New England)
Jerry Rice was traded from a team that picked #2 in the draft to one with Super Bowl aspirations. His presence will go a long way in giving Matt Hasselbeck a reliable possession receiver as well. The Cardinals will be a dangerous second half team, but not this week.
(Kim's pick: Seattle)
With the ascension of Reuben Droughns addressing the running game, the Broncos can now lay claim to being the most complete team in football. The Bengals are desperate for a win, but they are overmatched across the board here.
(Kim's pick: Denver)
David Mumpower 1:07 PM
Saturday, October 23, 2004
Last week's results were satisfying albeit hollow. My 10-4 result happened to run into Kim's 11-3 performance, meaning that after a bad week, she is right back to normal once more. What a brat. For the season, we both stand at 53-37. That's a 58.9% clip for each of us.
On to the power rankings:
1) New England
Tom Brady won't be forgetting Michael Boulware any time soon. That hit was predatory.
Owens vs. Garcia is the NFL's inept answer to Kobe vs. Shaq.
Manning himself acknowledges their red zone performances have been mediocre.
4) NY Jets
Chad Pennington vs. Tom Brady is a match-up of the two most efficient, selfless QBs in football.
The Broncos new formula for success: John Lynch + Al Wilson = Alligator Arms Aplenty.
6) Minnesota Vikings
New nickname for this team: Daunte's 11. That's also how many TD passes he throws bi-weekly.
Here's hoping the bye week doesn't kill Big Ben's momentum.
I find it fascinating that Rod Coleman showed more mercy to a deer than he has to any QB this season.
9) St. Louis
Martz claims he never listens to criticism but the renewed focus on running seems to directly contradict this.
10) New York Giants
Only two months ago, rumors were flying that MVP candidate Tiki Barber would lose his job to Ron Dayne. If it was a motivational ploy, it was a good one.
Koren Robinson's jersey should have the symbol for poison on it rather than a team number. Nice 15 yard penalty, Einstein.
There are worse fallback options than Chester Taylor. If he gets hurt, I would skip straight to BJ Sams reverses.
If I were voting for MVP right now, Andre Johnson would be my pick. In the clutch, everyone knows he is getting the ball, but that doesn't stop him.
Either Artose Pinner or Kevin Jones needs to stand up. With Rogers gone and Williams gimpy, the running game must carry this team in the short term.
Next season, Antonio Bryant and Kellen Winslow will be dynamic. Long term, this was easily the best deadline deal.
I do not think they are very good, but their record forces a presence in the top half of the draw.
If only they played the Redskins every week...
As inconsistent as a spin of the roulette wheel. The Titans are suddenly desperately thin at wide receiver, too.
19) San Diego
We know where Michael Vick was at crunch time. Where did LT vanish? One guy puts up killer stats while the other one wins. That's why both teams know the Falcons got the best of that legendary trade.
Having Stephen Davis and Deshaun Foster at RB seemed so impressive at the start of the season. I am sure they still look quite athletic in the trainer's room, though.
21) Green Bay
What they wouldn't give to lose in overtime of the NFC championship game this year.
22) Kansas City
Priest Holmes is due for a dominant outing, and he is catching the Falcons defense at the perfect time. Junior Glyph is a nice story, but he is a poor substitute for Rod Coleman.
Beating Miami is hardly impressive but beating anybody feels like an accomplishment at this point. The Bills catch a break with the Jamal-less Ravens, though. 2-4 could be saved. 1-5 would be the ballgame.
The optimist's perspective: they won last week. The pessimist's perspective: they almost choked against a team led by Jonathan Quinn. The realist's perspective: losing Matt Bowen is devastating.
Hang in there, Cards fans. It's almost time for Anquan Boldin to liberate Larry Fitzgerald from the shackles of double-teamed oppression.
Jerry Rice deserved better and Jerry Porter is getting screwed. You can hardly blame Raiders management, though. This emerging young receiving core is a blast to watch.
Small Consolation Award: the Bengals are the most talented of the lousy teams.
28) New Orleans
New Orleans Choke Artists excluded.
29) San Francisco
I would like to personally thank them for Jim Mora. As a show of gratitude, they get a pass on the snark this week.
30) Tampa Bay
The good news for the Bucs is that their schedule makes them potentially upwardly mobile. Plus, with this many free agent signings, a period of inconsistency was always a realistic scenario.
They lost last week, but they gain a spot this week due to their defense.
And honestly, the way the Bears are moving the ball with Quinn, even the Dolphins look better on offense.
David Mumpower 10:33 PM
Sunday, October 17, 2004
David Mumpower 1:36 PM
Last week’s results were encouraging. I went 8-6 while Kim had her worst week in over two seasons. Her 5-9 result reflects some genuinely bad luck. The Minnesota, San Francisco and Seattle games all seemed to be going the other way until the last possible moment. We could have easily swapped results, meaning that maybe my fortunes are on the rise. I choose to look at my one game winning streak as being 1/19th of the way to a New England Patriots-type run.
1) New England
They could easily be 4-2 in eight days but still be just as good a football team as everyone considers them to be. The Seattle/NY Jets run is brutal. The following two weeks aren’t exactly a picnic, either.
Don’t let Terrell Owens’s personal hype fool you. The defensive line is what is carrying them.
They have an Achilles heel on offense. Its name is First and Goal at the one-yard-line.
4) New York Jets
The 49ers game is potential trap game with the prize of ending a New England 20 game winning streak looming.
5) Seattle Seahawks
Recovering from such a brutal home loss will be tough, but it’s hard to punish the Hawks much for last week. For 53 minutes, they were flawless. I blame Koren Robinson’s hands.
6) Denver Broncos
In Mortal Kombat terminology, the Champ Bailey/Clinton Portis trade was a flawless victory.
7) Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben is reminding people exactly why Miami of Ohio had the BCS collectively shaking in their boots last season. He’s not a one man gang yet, but he will be.
8) Minnesota Vikings
Mewelde Moore? Who’s next? Rudy?
9) Atlanta Falcons
Going -4 in turnovers against Detroit was suicidal, but the defense held Detroit to 227 yards despite all the opportunities. As long as the Falcons offense remains mistake-free, their other two phases of the game will carry them a long way.
10) New York Giants
I cannot believe the Giants are in my top ten this far into the season. They have earned the spot, though, and I owe them an apology for my off-season prognostications. This team is rugged.
11) St. Louis Rams
I have dropped them a spot from last week, because they were a ton of Seattle end-game mistakes away from being 2-3 right now.
12) Baltimore Ravens
A safety should not be able to win a game, but that’s exactly what Ed Reed did last week. But we will find out a lot about the Ravens while Jamal Lewis is sitting on the sidelines.
13) Detroit Lions
While the citizens of Atlanta were watching a breathtaking game four of the NLDS, long suffering Lions fans were enjoying a good ol’ fashioned beatdown.
14) Tennessee Titans
48 points against Green Bay got my attention.
15) Houston Texans
They lost the war, but they won a lot of battles in the 4th quarter last week.
16) San Diego Chargers
Shock number two of the early season is that the Chargers offense is great. I have been drinking the Antonio Gates kool-aid for a while now, but it’s Drew Brees that is making the plays on third down.
17) Dallas Cowboys
The Giants pounded them in every facet of the game. Even worse, the Steelers play a very similar style to NY. The Boys are in some early season trouble.
18) Kansas City Chiefs
They are a win away from being right back in the thick of the AFC playoff race.
19) Carolina Panthers
It could get much, much worse from this point on. Kris Jenkins is one of the finest defensive tackles in football, maybe even the best. His absence will greatly diminish the productivity of the NFL’s most lauded front 4.
20) Cleveland Browns
Developing trend: the Browns are winless on the road but undefeated at home.
21) Green Bay Packers
They played terribly last week but so did all the other teams listed from this point down. The Packers should never have let Ed Donatell take the fall last year.
22) San Francisco 49ers
I am doing this partially to reward the 49ers for such a wonderful home comeback last week. I am also doing this partially because the 49ers are screwed from here on out. Julian Peterson’s season ending injury is a body blow.
23) Buffalo Bills
If football were a 59 minute game, the Bills would be 3-1.
24) Jacksonville Jaguars
And the Jags would be 0-5.
25) Washington Redskins
They miss Lavar Arrington the way that John Stamos misses Rebecca Romijn.
26) Arizona Cardinals
I just can’t shake the notion that when Anquan Boldin gets back, this team is going to shock some people.
27) Cincinnati Bengals
Marv Lewis has had seven days to save his season. Last year’s team started out 1-3 as well, so stranger things have happened.
28) New Orleans
No, I don’t really believe them to be this bad. But anyone who loses two straight winnable games to Tampa Bay and Arizona deserves to get slapped around a bit.
29) Oakland Raiders
Who would have thought that Kerry Collins would hurt more than he helps?
30) Chicago Bears
The nice thing about a bye week is that it can’t get any worse. The worst thing about a bye week is that it’s only a seven day reprieve from reality.
31) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Gruden Face is more readily available on Sundays this year than the Simpsons and Malcolm in the Middle combined.
32) Miami Dolphins
Sticking the Dolphins defense with this offense is like putting Veronica Mars on UPN. The brilliance is there but it’s a tree falling in the forest scenario.
This week’s picks:
The glamour matchup here is Vick vs. LT. The game, however, will be determined by whether the Atlanta Falcons defense can force Drew Brees to be make mistakes.
Did I mention the Browns are undefeated at home? It might not last all season, but I think the trend continues at least one more game.
I look at it as a battle of overmatched units. The Dolphins defense overwhelms the Buffalo offense and vice versa. In the end, the x-factor here is the first NFL start of Willis McGahee. Now is his time to shine.
I love the Texans, but Tennessee generally goes into overdrive right around week six.
As bad as the Redskins have been, their defense has been stellar. An underwhelming QB being fed to this defense is not going to be pretty.
Normalcy has to return at some point. Brett Favre is too great a leader to let his team dwindle to this degree.
New York Jets
Suicide league players, here is your selection.
Based on their records, this looks like a blowout the other way. Based on how I evaluate both teams, the Chiefs will dismantle the Jags.
This game makes me nervous but with Foster gone and Davis less than 100%, the Panthers have question marks on the defensive line and in the backfield. That’s theoretically the two strengths of their offense.
The Steelers are very, very good, but Bill Parcells will find ways to make Roethlisberger feel like a rookie in over his head.
The Saints scare me here as they have played so poorly the past two weeks that they are due for a reversal of fortune. But I doubt it.
The Rams are riding a wave of momentum the likes of which may carry a team for a month.
Denver is a juggernaut. Oakland is a team trying to re-invent itself. Next time the two teams meet in Denver, it should be a much more entertaining clash.
That’s right. The streak ends today.
David Mumpower 1:14 PM
Sunday, October 10, 2004
1) New England Patriots
18 straight NFL victories in the parity era makes me wonder if Bill Belicheck has a deal with the devil. But since Tom Brady is the one dating Bridget Moynahan, it's probably him.
2) Philadelphia Eagles
Based on 2004 play to date, they are the best team. They cannot get the number one vote until somebody beats New England, though.
3) Indianapolis Colts
Their discrepancy between offensive and defensive performance is Kansas City-esque. The fact that they are an idjut kicker away from being undefeated helps their argument.
4) Seattle Seahawks
A win Sunday goes a long way in securing their playoff candidacy. A Minnesota-level choke would be required to not win the division if they go up 2 1/2 games after a month.
5) New York Jets
Atlanta has won more games, but the Jets have a more consistent team thus far. Their pedestrian defense seems weak against the pass, but no one has exploited them yet.
6) Atlanta Falcons
Going into the season, if anybody had told you that Vick would be healthy and the team would be 4-0, would you have believed it was the defense carrying them? Don't let it fool you, though. The #1 rated rushing offense is the strength of their game no one has noticed yet.
7) Denver Broncos
They are a mishandled handoff away from being undefeated. They are also only 25th in rushing this year. Defensively, the team is night and day better than last season (particularly against the pass), but they must find a better balance offensively before I can consider them a true threat in the AFC.
8) Pittsburgh Steelers
They are winning with Steelers staples, a stellar defense and a ball control rushing attack. Even Bill Cowher's natural scowl cannot hide the twinkle in his eyes.
9) Minnesota Vikings
I expected their defense to be much improved this year. That might have been overly ambitious of me. And just how many injured running backs can one team swallow?
10) St. Louis Rams
I am convinced this is a good team. If they lose to Seattle, though, it will be time to re-address that evaluation.
11) Baltimore Ravens
Jamal Lewis and an unexpectedly weak defensive line are putting them behind the 8 Ball.
12) Dallas Cowboys
I love this defense so much I am tempted to propose. Unless RaShard Lee can provide adequate support to Vinny Testaverde, though, ithe Cowboys have limited upside.
13) New York Giants
I thought Kurt Warner's shelf life was shorter than the milk in my refrigerator that has yesterday's date on it. Thus far, I am dead wrong. They are THE surprise of the NFL thus far.
14) Carolina Panthers
What worries me most about Carolina is not that they are losing. It's how they are losing. They went from bullies last year to lunch money donators thus far in 2004.
15) Jacksonville Jaguars
They finally looked like a decent team for the first time all season against the Colts. So, of course, they lost that game. Jacksonville should go to 4-1 tomorrow, but I remain unconvinced this team is good.
16-t) Green Bay
These are two biggest underachievers of the season to date. It's fitting that they play each other in a virtual elimination game Monday night. Favre had failed to finish four games coming into this season. He has failed to finish two out of four in 2004. Take a bow, offensive line!
Mooch has them fighting, but the injuries to Kevin Jones and Charles Rogers are key. The erosion of offensive talent forces a mediocre defense into the realm of overexposure. Even the Falcons think they can pass on the Lions.
19) Kansas City Chiefs
Give them credit. The Chiefs faced a must-win situation and they won it. Two more wins would put them right there with everybody else in the middle of the herd.
20) New Orleans Saints
All you have to do is beat the Arizona freakin' Cardinals. How hard is that? But somehow, the Saints manage to give up 34 points to a team who has scored only 25 points in three games. Humiliation Central.
21) Houston Texans
Out of all the teams listed from here down, the Texans are probably the most upwardly mobile. David Carr's 140+ fourth quarter passer rating tells me he might finally be figuring the league out.
22) Arizona Cardinals
Most people are kicking the Cardinals for their offensive failures. Me, I am wondering who the hell their defensive coordinator is. The team is only ranked 25th thus far. Despite that, this was the third straight week that the other team left the field talking about how impressed they were by the defensive scheme.
23) Washington Redskins
Nobody said it was easy, Joe. And the league is riddled with a lot more Clinton Portis-type brats than in the old days. It's good to have you back anyway.
24) Oakland Raiders
Okay, they are only 2-2, but they are close to having a top ten offense and defense as I type this. Consider how low they sank last year, this is an impressive recovery no matter how it works out from here.
25) Cleveland Browns
It's a damn shame they can't start the season over with this 2-2 record and all their guys healthy again. Credit critically derided Butch Davis for keeping them fighting throughout despite their month of woes.
26) Buffalo Bills
Don't worry, Kim. Buffalo is going to get better the more they work Lee Evans into the offense.
27) Cincinnati Bengals
Marvin Lewis just doesn't have the same buzz as last year, does he? The Bengals are like an eclipse. They come around every few years only to disappear again after a brief period of intrigue.
Sadly, this is the highest I expect the Bears to be ranked for the rest of the season. Rex Grossman could have taken this team on a surprising voyage. Jonathan Quinn can only steer them further into toward the iceberg.
29) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Reminder: this team is only 20 months removed from a Super Bowl victory.
Hard to believe now fact: they won with defense.
30) San Diego Chargers
I had this team pegged for 2-4 wins the entire season, so they have already matched the low end of my expectations. Chargers fans seems to have it in for Drew Brees, which is strange since he seems to be a third down hero.
31) Miami Dolphins
I swear that they might have the best defense in the NFL. Unfortunately, they also have the worst offense since WWII Poland. Maybe if they changed their name to the Miami Piranhas...
32) San Francisco 49ers
It seems like they have been in salary cap jail longer than The Simpsons has been on. To their credit, their defense shows a lot of fight. That determination might yet save them (?) from picking first in next year's draft.
On to this week's picks:
They might get the consecutive victories record on Sunday but keep this in mind. Coming off a similar Super Bowl campaign, the 2002 Patriots started 4-0 as well. Then, the wheels came off.
I also cannot shake the nagging doubt that their good luck and Miami's bad luck might create a perfect storm of strange fortunes. But New England just has to win this game, right? Right?
It serves me right for jumping off the bandwagon to have missed last week's game. In hindsight, the extra week of practive only escalated the Vick Boogeyman for Carolina. And hey, guess which team just came off a bye week. Did I mention Detroit is only 6-9 the week following a bye? I like those odds. If you want a surprise fantasy performer for a week, a guy named Artose Pinner is worth a look, though.
I would change this answer if I knew for sure that Duce Staley were out. His presence securing Big Ben is core to the Steelers controlling the game tempo. If the Bus has to do a lot of the heavy lifting, a too-old RB and a too-young QB could key the upset. But Duce Staley has been one of the best free agent signings of the year. I expect him to play through the pain...and excel.
I think that a healthy Vikings offense would be at the very least the best in the NFC. With Kleinsasser out and the team down to their fourth best RB, though, that is a lot to ask of Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper. It helps that Houston's pass defense is shaky, but I can't shake the notion that the Texans will win this game. On a sidenote, if you want to watch the next great receiver in the NFL, he wears Houston jersey #80.
The Giants keep on surprising me with their improved play on both sides of the ball. An conference matchup against Dallas could go a long way in establishing them as a playoff contender. Considering how many of us had written them off as a disaster area, it's impressive that they are even in this position after a month. I think the Dallas defense will prove too tough, though. All the Cowboys need is enough passing production to get Eddie George on the field in the fourth quarter. That's the one time when he remains effective.
The defense has me alarmed but their offense might be the finest I have ever seen. It's like watching a Faberge Egg assembled when Peyton Manning and Co. march down the field.
Remember last week when I said the Saints just needed to not choke against the Cardinals? Being a Saints fan is only marginally less frustrating than being a Shaq fan living in LA. I would like to think they won't choke two straight weeks. They will have to stop Michael Pittman if they want to win, though. All signs in Tampa suggest Gruden is ready to go smashmouth for the rest of the year. Does New Orleans have the stomach for that?
Both of these teams should look into hiring me to rant against them. The more I denigrate their talents, the more they seem to fight back. Byron Leftwich actually looked like an NFL starter last week. That is the first time I have ever thought such a thing about him. I expect him to return to the NFL of first round QB disappointments this week, but the Jags defense should still be enough to suppress the Charger insurgency.
This is my surprise pick of the week. It's not that I think Buffalo is getting better or that the Jets are not a playoff team. I simply see a winless team and an undefeated of similar talent playing a conference game. Strange things happen and Buffalo's offense seems to be finding its identity.
Two straight wins for the Cardinals might be enough to get Dennis Green elected mayor. Well, it would be if they were winning with offense. The Cards find themselves in the same spot the Detroit Lions were in last season. This is a young team that has not won on the road in almost two seasons. San Francisco is one of their best shots of the year, but 15 straight road losses is an impossible stat to ignore.
Before the season, I made numerous comments that I questioned Carolina's offseason moves. A run-reliant offense simply cannot overhaul 80% of its line. To date, they have been as inconsistent as expected. What's shocking, though, is the way the team is being gashed on the ground. The Falcons ran straight over the vaunted Panther line last week. And Denver is due to get untracked rushing the ball. Resistable force meets movable object Sunday afternoon.
Washington is due to cycle up after laying an egg against the lowly Browns. Further good news is that the Ravens have lousy defensively thus far. A re-dedicated Neo-Hogs effort to run the ball is required for both team morale and team success.
Unfortunately for them, they are walking into a hornet's nest. Baltimore knows they have to win this game with their best offensive player about to go away for a couple of weeks. This will be Sunday's fastest moving game as both teams run all day. It will also be the most contentious as Baltimore and DC fans are the sharks and the jets of the NFL. Whatever happened to love thy neighbor?
Simply put, if the Rams do not win this game, they are screwed. A comeback like the one the Packers made against the Vikings in 2003 just does not happen very often. The good news is that Martz seems to be softening on his "I will pass whenever I damn well please" stance. With one of Faulk or Steven Jackson on the field every down, the NFL's mad scientist has a scary amount of toys these days. Plus, the Seahawks receivers still scare me with their inconsistency. Would you rather have their dropsies or Holt and Bruce's consistency every down? Exactly.
With the tragic death of Brett Favre's brother-in-law and the concussion spillover effect from last week, the living legend is poised for another storybook moment. With both teams 1-3, this feels a lot like an early season elimination game. In the end, I just can't expect the miracle from Favre even though I have seen him do it time and time again. Jeff Fisher seems to face these early season turnaround games every year, and the Titans always seem to win them. The Packers were my preseason Super Bowl pick, but right now, their defense precludes that possibility from coming to fruition.
Check Kim's blog to see her picks later this morning.
David Mumpower 1:02 AM
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Kim and I both had coin flip records this week at 7-7. I’m never happy with results like that but with so many upsets flying around and me picking against my Falcons, it could have been worse.
On a site related note, the voting is finished and our newest list is tentatively scheduled to be posted next week. As a warning, we may or may not push that back seven days depending on how comfortable we are with the writing after that period. These are our most popular columns, so the group is much more concerned about perfecting them than they are about rushing to meet an artificial deadline.
On a second site related note. We will be adding a new service to the site by the end of the week in order to boost our advertising revenue. The feature called IntelliTXT is being implemented at the moment and we will try it out for a month to see how much we like it.
Finally, I promised the owner of EZ1Productions.com that I would let people know that the holiday season is starting. Price changes begin on Sunday, October 10th. As I have mentioned before, the game is based upon the popular Mr. Showbiz game of old and it’s a blast to play. So, if you want to sign up for one of the most enjoyable movie-related games on the net, the time is now.
David Mumpower 1:48 PM
Sunday, October 03, 2004
By the way, Kim's picks this week are:
New York Jets
In the future, I think she is going to start posting this on Sunday mornings in her blog.
David Mumpower 1:25 PM
Saturday, October 02, 2004
This week sees an unusual amount of pride games in the NFL. It's at this point when heavily favored teams frequently get upset by struggling teams. The reason why involves the level of professionalism required to make it in the NFL. Quitters don't reach such heights, so a team like Arizona or Buffalo might seem outgunned on paper. Once the game starts, though, parity and pride can wreak havoc on expectations.
Keeping that in mind, the Baltimore/Kansas City Monday Night Football match-up becomes that much more difficult to project. The Chiefs simply cannot be as bad defensively as they have shown thus far. Conversely, the Ravens might be carrying the negativity of a Jamal Lewis plea bargain with them. They could easily have an emotional letdown here or they could use the news as an impetus to pull together as a unit. Either scenario would not shock me. It's the beauty of the unknown.
In the end, I have gone with Baltimore but for an altogether different reason. I have picked the Chiefs to win three times this year, so I am 0-3 just as they are in those games. It's time for a change. Hey, not every decision is based in logic.
My other picks are:
The last time the Patriots headed to Buffalo, their most beloved defensive player was wearing his new Bills uniform. All the talk centered around a changing of the guard with NE seemingly mismanaged by Bill Belicheck and Scott Pioli (ha!) and Buffalo on the rise. Oh, what a difference a year makes. The Pats are on a seemingly impossible streak of dominance in the parity era while the Bills will be happy if Drew Bledsoe can just throw a couple of touchdown passes. How does a team with this much talent at RB, QB and WR struggle so badly? Both the Bills and the Patriots are coming off bye weeks, so some new looks will be unveiled by each. This is a perfect trap game for New England, but I think that is what helps them evade the upset.
Prior to last week, Chicago's starting quarterback's most recent passing attempt in the NFL came in 2001. I genuinely pity Jonathan Quinn for what Jim Johnson is going to do to him. Suicide league players, this is your choice.
Jacksonville might be the most limited 3-0 team I have ever seen. They remind me a lot of the 2002 Arizona Cardinals in this regard. No one remembers it now, but that eventual 5-11 team started the season 4-2 despite their obvious flaws on defense. They talked about playoff aspirations as they headed into showdowns with presumed division powerhouses San Francisco and St. Louis. They wound up with the sixth selection in the NFL Draft that year (which they later traded to New Orleans). The point being that all the talking heads might currently be swearing that Jacksonville for real, but don't believe it for a second. A team averaging 218 YPG of total offense that is 3-0 based on fluke plays in three straight games is pyrite. This week's flavor is the "what happened to them" team of early November. If they beat the Colts, I will have to re-evaluate my postulate. But the Jaguars are not beating the Colts.
My beloved Joe Gibbs stood up and said that Atlanta should make an effort to trade for Michael Vick. For that, I will always be grateful. This season, he is learning what it's like to coach in the salaray cap era. It's going to be a struggle for a man who has never accepted losing. Within two years, the Redskins franchise will be solid again but for now, they are way down by league standards.
Fortunately for the Redskins, they are running into a team that must be on some sort of Voodoo Mafia hitlist. Cleveland traded a second round pick to get Kellen Winslow, Jr. His season ending injury is the latest in an amazing line of first round draft pick woes for the team. 1999 #1 overall selection Tim Couch was a disaster. 2000 #1 overall selection Courtney Brown has been disappointing and now he's out for the year. 2001's #1, Gerard Warren (#3 overall), is out for at least a month and has been only mediocre thus far in his career. 2002 #1 selection (16th overall) William Green got stabbed in the back. Literally. That's five years of upper half first round draft picks with only salary cap savagery to show for it. All things considered, 2003 #1 selection Jeff Faine sounds like a Final Destination sequel waiting to happen.
With the Browns also losing their starting linebacker, they are in over their heads as the Redskins come to town. Butch Davis can go ahead and start packing now. The U-Hauls could be showing up at his door this weekend thanks to the kind denizens of the Dawg Pound.
The Texans are my most disappointing team thus far as I had expected them to pull off the early season ascension which has instead gone to the Jags. Last week's gritty victory against the Chiefs was a nice recovery, though. Andre Johnson's catch was one for the ages. With Domanick Davis and Tony Hollings both banged up, it's hard to figure this team's Sunday performance. If Hollings is able to go as expected, he's a dynamite runner assuming he's 100%. The problem is that he has never been 100% for an entire month in either his college or pro career. As I started typing this, I actually talked myself out of picking them for this reason plus the disappointment of their defense thus far. With Kerry Collins in, the Oakland Raiders offense looks potentially explosive if they can secure the running game. Doug Gabriel, Ronald Curry and Jerry Porter offer the potential to be dynamic. I don't see the Texans stopping them enough. Rich Gannon foolishly taking on Derrick Brooks helmet to helmet might wind up being the best thing that could have happened to the Raiders.
Class, what did the Packers learn last week?
A) How Reggie Wayne's uniform looks from behind.
B) How Brandon Stokley's uniform looks from behind.
C) The entire 7 column in the multiplication table
D) Not to blitz Peyton Manning every down
E) All of the above
Yup, it's E. Fortunately for them, I don't buy the rumors of Kurt Warner's resurgence. A good shot will either concuss him, cause him to fumble or both. The Packers have struggled so far, but I still think they have a chance to be Super.
The nice thing about Big Ben Roethlisberger starting for the Steelers is that it forces the team to focus on the run more. That's more in line with Bill Cowher football anyway. For all the hype that the Bengals had coming into 2004, the fact remained that they are still the Bengals. People forget that Dick LeBeau was being credited with turning the franchise around at the end of the 2001 season as well. Corey Dillon is smarter than he looks. Or acts.
For those of you who don't know me, the Falcons are my team. That means I hope I am wrong here. With Carolina having two weeks to prepare, though, I think that they will be able to overcome the issue of Vick. #7 has owned them over the past 2 1/2 seasons, but I have to think that the game film from the clever Cardinals scheme gives John Fox enough ideas for new wrinkles to sneak a home win. Something to look out for is that Atlanta's play so far this season has mirrored the talent level of the opposition. They played their best against their best opponent, so a struggling Panthers offensive line getting diced by an explosive Falcons defensive line is a distinct possibility.
This win would make the Saints a very quiet 3-1 on the season with a winnable game against Tampa Bay on deck. The fact that it's the Saints makes me fearful of another inexplicable letdown in play, but they generally save those until later in the season. Plus, Arizona just isn't very good offensively at this point. Come on, Larry Fitzgerald. Don't let Roy Williams get all the glory.
Tampa Bay has a lot of veterans on both sides of the ball who will fight with all their might to avoid an 0-4 start. I just don't think they are talented enough on offense or special enough on defense to counter Denver, a team I think is one of the five best in the NFL right now.
New York Jets
Before the season began, I was telling anybody who would listen that Pennington means as much (if not more) to the Jets as Vick does to the Falcons. He's a field general right out of the Joe Montana mold. Their offense has a chance to be as explosive as anybody's in the league over this entire season if Curtis Martin can continue this burst of productivity. I am pretty sure this is a playoff team. I am equally sure that Miami has one of the best defenses in the NFL and are a mirror image to Jacksonville in team structure. That makes this game exactly the sort of trap I mentioned at the start. The Dolphins defense can keep them in football games. The question is if this week's starting running back (they are down to Arena League backups by now) and quarterback (they are down to Ivy Leaguers by now) can do anything to match Pennington. I say no.
San Diego is the least talented team in the NFL and the worst organization as well. Coincidence? Of course not. Steve McNair's presence is irrelevant here as Billy Volek would be the best QB the Chargers had seen in years if he played for them. Of course, it would be fun to watch a man who has spent half the week in the hospital show up and beat San Diego. Stevie Wonder can't breathe yet he's convinced he can play this week. I swear that one of these days McNair is going to petition the NFL to play in a wheelchair.
Poor Mike Martz suffers from an affliction I know all too well. The day to day minutiae are lost on him as he dwells in his little world of potent passing. Trivial things like defense and rushing offense or, for that matter, how to use the Challenge Flag in order to actually benefit your team are lost on him. Even so, I am convinced that just like last year, he will silence his critics by pulling off a win streak over the next month. Three of the four games are Tampa Bay, Miami and this one. The other is Seattle, a team I like but don't love. I think that the Rams are 4-3 at a minimum when we get to November. If they are not, though, the next phase is a run of New England and Seattle at home, Buffalo and Green Bay away (in potential weather conditions rather than the friendly confines of the dome), and Carolina, Philly and the Jets the last month of the season. That means we could have one unemployed offensive genius on the market at season's end. It's only week four, but Martz gets an absurd amount of criticism. The next four games are crucial to his continued employment with St. Louis.
David Mumpower 11:34 PM