Monday, December 31, 2007

Epic Drop: Top 10 Reasons Why Marv Levy Is Stepping Down

Your list is here, and it's chock full of old age jokes that I'm still young enough to make. (Barely.)

Besides, who can resist another opportunity to crack on Kevin Everett?

We Should All Find Opportunities To Be So Abundant

The next time you hear some honk talking about the incredible level of play in the National Football League (making sure to spread those six syllables out for a good 10 count)... remember this.

Chris Weinke is employed, and got a start today for the Niners. (To be fair, they were working with QB #4 for the year.)

He lost, of course, which now makes his career record a rousing 2-18. That makes him a fine option for Coach Hitler (the sobriquet is courtesy of the late and unlamented Kevan Barlow), who is now 16-32 in his three seasons, and delivered the following rousing quote post-game.

"I do have a contract. The speculation is what it is."
Why yes, Coach. And so is your record.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled fluffing.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

16 and My Oh Face

A quick five points from tonight's Festival of Fun...

1) In the first half, when a Patriots DL did not get called for an eye poke and Bryant Gumbel questioned whether it was, in fact, the right call... because it did not look intentional... I had to give him the Mass Ter Mind golf clap, because I was unaware that eye pokes needed intent now for penalties. You learn a lot from the NFL Network, you really do.

2) What is it with NFC East teams and the inability to manage the clock in the last few minutes of a game against the Patriots? My theory is that Coach uses his Incredible Hypnotism Mind Power to distract them.

3) If you are game planning against the Giants, is there a reason why you ever not give Fredo Manning a blitz? No one, and I mean no one, has ever been better at running backwards, soiling themselves, and turning an incompletion or five yard sack into a fifteen yard killer.

4) If you ever wondered if God is on the Patriots side... consider the fact that Sam Madison does a solid job on Randy Moss for most of the night, then gets hurt just when the team needed the kill shot score. (That, plus the refs. We own it all.)

5) As happy as I and all of the other Mass Ter Minds are, the failure to cover the spread was very, very disturbing. Not enough to limit the hour-plus long orgasm during the 22 unanswered points in the second half, but enough to make it less than perfect. Sad, really -- they were so close from making it. Oh well, there's always next year.

The United States of Apology

This item from the wires caught my eye, and also got a lot of play from Yahoo, who posted it to the front page today. (Yes, it's officially a slow day. But anyhoo.)

Texas A&M officials are angry over a yell leader's reference to Penn State coach Joe Paterno needing a "casket."

According to the Dallas Morning News, Texas A&M interim president Eddie Davis and athletic director Bill Byrne apologized to Penn State for the comments.

According to the newspaper, the yell leader took the stage during a pep rally, grabbed a microphone and said, "Joe Paterno's on his death bed. And someone needs to find him a casket."
Now, three quick points.

1) The twerp in question isn't a University spokesman.

2) He was booed by the crowd. Good on ya, A&M Fans.

3) Paterno didn't seem to give a damn. Here's his reaction:
"I think everybody's got to take things with a grain of salt," Paterno said yesterday. "It's some young guy up there, and he's trying to be funny - maybe he's accurate, I don't know."
So no harm, no foul. The twerp was sent home. End of show... oh, wait. Joe Pa's not done.
"I don't particularly care about it," he said. "My mom used to say to me when they called me a wop walking down the street, 'Sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never hurt you.' "
Quick, someone apologize to the Italian Americans! Paterno used the word "wop"!

If the NBA season ended today...

My Sixers would only miss the playoffs by half a game! (Yes, I know it's hard to read. Click on it and it gets bigger. Then come on back, please. I get so lonely.)

Yes, I am posting this out of fear that this is the High Water Mark. But still, very nearly exciting, isn't it?

Masstermind Time Savings

As a public service for all of my fellow Patriot Fans (who can be referred to in the Glorious Kollektiv as Mass Ter Minds), please feel free to use either of these rationales after tonight's Pats-Giants game.


YEAHHHHH, FREAKIN' PATRIOTS! You have to love the way in which Coach showed his genius by getting the perfect season. With the bye, you don't want to get your guys too out of practice, so it's absolutely freaking awesome that they got the Perfect Season out of the way before the Perfect Post-Season. WE'RE GOING 19-0, BABY! SUCK ON THAT, REST OF THE WORLD THAT INEXPLICABLY HATES US!


YEAHHHHH, FREAKIN' PATRIOTS! You have to love the way in which Coach showed his genius by resting his starters and giving up the perfect season. With the way the NFL is with injuries, you don't want to risk your top guys, so it's absolutely freaking awesome that they got the extra week off before the Perfect Post-Season. WE'RE GOING TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL, BABY! SUCK ON THAT, REST OF THE WORLD THAT INEXPLICABLY HATES US!


Why fill up the bloghole with this? Because if you come here often enough, you clearly need to think more like me. And this is what I think: guitar + anger = goodness, and when you add in talent, you get extra goodness.

I would put this on my alarm clock in the morning, but Rocking That Hard every morning will probably take years off your life. Not to mention adding way too many more kids to the equation. (At just under four minutes, it's perfect, really.)

Does $1,000 an hour get you the rough stuff?

Miami point guard / turnstile / turnover machine / streakless shotoer Jason Williams on recent trade rumors:

"We're like some high-paid prostitutes anyway in this league. They just use and get rid of us whenever they want."
The Miami Sun-Sentinel than notes that Williams is in the final year of a contract that pays $8.9 million this season.

So, doing the math... Jason makes just about $1,016 per hour; let's call that $1,000 even, for simplicity sake. Seems high to me, but I'm a married guy, and haven't ever been in the market, let alone for a big tall tattooed love child like White Chocolate. So, whaddya say, ladies or men on the other team... is he worth it? (I suppose we can open this up to Heat fans who'd just want to spend the hour in degradation games, but the only basketball player I've ever felt that strongly about is Armon Gilliam. Armon, if you're reading this, I'd still like to see you eat dog food in a Sixers jersey from the year of the Barkley trade. It would bring a kind of closure.)

Once again, college football fails to overwhelm me

First Jebus wins the Heisman, and now Wolverine Fan needs to pose and adorn his cat. Someone tell me again why anyone watches this? (Oh, right, because too many markets don't have pro football, and will take any weak substitute. I keep forgetting.)


Apropos of nothing, the single line that I've written in over 600+ posts on FTT this year is. "Won't Anyone, For The Love of God, Blow a Mathlete." And here, for the first time, is someone else who gets that reference.

Thank you, good night, and God bless.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Epic Drop: Top 10 Future Jobs for Kevin Everett

Your list is here... and why yes, I *am* going to hell. The things I do to entertain you people, really.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"Hey, Cubs Fans. Read between the lines."

Actual unretouched photo from Mark Prior's press conference announcing his signing a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres.

Merry Christmas, Truth....

NFL Picks, Week 17: The Worst Weekend In NFL History

Seriously, if you're betting this weekend's games, you are out of your mind. Come back in a week and clean up on Wild Card Weekend. I seriously considered tabling this column, or having someone else write it... but then I realized that I'm still in the running, somehow, for the championship in my picks league. (Unlike some people, I make picks every week. Go Persistence!)

Fantasy is over, at least for any league with any kind of sense. The playoff picture is almost entirely wrapped up. Golf dates await. The off-season beckons. You're betting on the relative pride of players on teams that have shown none, or the competence of backups. It makes more sense to throw money at pre-season or the Pro Bowl, for heaven's sakes. I'm also ill, so the writing in this column isn't going to wow you, and the P key on my laptop is behaving badly, so there's bound to be typos. I also have little shot at even finishing at .500 against the spread. Waah, waah, wahh!

Now, with all of that said, and with the readership of this column at an all time low... on to the picks!

* * * * *

New England covering 14.5 against the GIANTS. You have to admire the Patriots for making 16-0 as boring as possible. I'm counting on the Giants back-ups being as gutless at home as their starters, and the stadium being 50-50 for Boston fans, with a huge number of Giants fans cashing out for the Patriots payoff. (Though there is something to be said for the Giants spoiling the perfection, since they are no real playoff threat.)

MIAMI as a 3-point underdog against Cincinnati at home. Are we really supposed to take the Bengals as a road favorite against anyone? The Dolphins will be playing for a job, the Bengals will be playing for pride. Or, um, nothing. (Can you tell that I'm a little bitter about Chad Johnson's big championship week performance? I bet you can.)

PHILADELPHIA covering 7.5 against Buffalo. The end of the year has turned into a pleasant little feel-good story for the Eagles, who are looking at a fully operational Donovan McNabb and dreaming of what might have been. As for the Bills, I'm hoping that they bring Kevin Everett to the game, and that he leaves in disgust at halftime.

Seattle as a 3-point road dog in ATLANTA. This is a pure confidence pick in Seneca Wallace, who is six inches of height from getting the David Garrard Best Back-Up QB Award. Besides, it's hard to imagine the Falcons have any kind of pulse right now, let alone a heart.

CHICAGO as a 2-point underdog against New Orleans. Watching the games last week, it was striking to see the late-season pride of NFC teams that were going nowhere (Chicago, Philly, and even Carolina, to a small degree). Against a Saints team that crapped the bed at home in a must-win situation, I'm expecting some feel-good moments for the Chicago home fans.

Carolina covering as a 3-point favorite in TAMPA BAY. A sheer case of a home team playing their scrubs against a road team trying to save the job of their coach. Matt Moore not looking terrible also has something to do with this, as does the Bucs' absolute fold job in San Francisco last week.

San Francisco as a 10-point underdog in CLEVELAND. The Browns actually have nothing to play for, and Shawn Hill has shown what the Niners would have looked like with mild competence... well, that sound you heard was Frank Gore's fantasy owners gnashing their teeth. (Though the guy that owned him in my league beat me senseless with him.) In a game with nothing to play for, I like a low point spread.

GREEN BAY covering 3.5 against Detroit. Many people are getting sucked into taking the Lions here, as Kitna will play against backups and the Packers looked bad on the road in Chicago. Me, I remember many months of absolutely gutless road performances by this Lions team, and expect a repeat.

Jacksonville as a 6.5 point dog in HOUSTON. Let me get this straight... one of the hottest teams in the AFC that's going to the wild-card weekend against a blah team is just going to roll over? I'm not seeing it. The Jaguars' basic game plan is so vanilla, so run it up your face, and even if they give the ball to Greg Jones instead of Fred Taylor or Maurice Jones-Drew, that's a good back. They're going to spend this week doing what they've done for most of the year -- punching people in the mouth.

San Diego as an 8-point favorite in OAKLAND. The Chargers actually have something to play for here (the #3 seed, and the ability to avoid the Jags and Patriots part of the bracket). They also have the mild revenge of Norv Turner sticking it to his old team. Finally, the Raiders are playing JeMarcus Russell in this one, and he has shown absolutely no evidence that he's an NFL QB yet. I love the Chargers here, as part of their whole Late Season Surge To Over-Confidence In The Playoffs.

Kansas City as a 6-point dog in NEW YORK. If you can write more than 50 words about this one, you need professional help. Give me the Chiefs to cover the big number, and Tony Gonzalez to continue his last great season as a fantasy TE.

ARIZONA covering 6 against St. Louis. One of the ways you get to be the Cardinals, and miss the playoffs every year, is to be surprisingly competent at the end of the year, so that you overestimate your talent, sabotage your draft pick, and make sure that your schedule for next year is a little tougher than it has to be. That makes them a lock this week.

WASHINGTON covering 9 against Dallas. Who saw this coming -- the Skins, without Campbell, without Taylor, with Joe Gibbs having incontinence issues and not knowing the rule book... and they are one of the hottest teams in the league? Dallas has nothing to play for here, and more importantly, no Terrell Owens. The Skins get the 6th seed and official Dangerous Team Status with a big win at home.

Minnesota covering 3 at DENVER. Two teams that could not have looked worse last week, so I'm just going with Adrian Peterson dragging his mates to a win. It also helps that the Vikings need this one, though of course they needed last week, too. If there were a Lack of Confidence game of the week, this would be it.

Pittsburgh covering 3.5 at BALTIMORE. Over at the Carnival ten days ago, I wrote that Ravens Fan has had the worst year of any NFL fan. They've done nothing since then to change that opinion, other than give Brian Billick a vote of confidence to make sure that next year will stink as badly as this one. If any of the Raven QBs are on the roster next year, that's an indictment of the general manager; the same goes for Billick.

INDIANAPOLIS as a 6.5 point home dog against Tennessee. I like this Titans team; they are kind of a poor man's Jaguars, albeit with more standout defensive players, given that they have Bulluck and Haynesworth. I just don't like them covering this many points against the Colts, even when the Colts are playing their second-string. The crowd and PA will still be loud for the home team, and Jim Sorgi is better than you think.

Last week: 6-10
Year to date: 111-118-11


From the Associated Press...

Internet auction sites that allow customers to buy and sell sports tickets have seen a surge in ticket sales for the game by Giants fans, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported for Tuesday's newspapers.

"It looks like it's on pace to be one of our top 25 events for all time. It's definitely one of our hot sellers," Joellen Ferrer, a spokesman for Internet auction site StubHub, which specializes in tickets for events, told the newspaper. "Although it's meaningless to the Giants, it's still going to be a great game to watch."
As I noted in a picks column a few weeks ago, the existence of Road Field Advantage is a growing phenomenon in the NFL, and a huge point as to why attendance at NFL games is at near-capacity.

Now, how should we take the individual decision of Giant Fan to cash in on this bonanza, rather than go to the game and root hard for the Giants second-stringers to stay in it against the Patriots first-string... in 45 degree weather with no rain...

Well, I'd probably roll on my team, too. (Let's face it: once you've cross the Rubicon of fantasy football, you've already had your team allegiance go into Le Toilette.) But that doesn't mean you won't get hated on by fans from other fan bases. BOO, GIANTS FANS, BOO!!!

Epic Drop: Top 10 Reasons Why The NFL Network Caved Over Giants-Patriots

Your list is here, and as someone who was going to get the game due to my kind of proximity to NYC, I'm annoyed that they did. I was counting on spending my Saturday night giving play-by-play updates to everyone who didn't have the game... especially if, like anyone with a functioning brain, they didn't give a damn about it. Anyway, click and enjoy!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Apropos of Nothing, FTT and James Brown Teach You How To Dance

I'd learn these moves myself, but I'm afraid that I'd become *too powerful* as a Sex Machine.

An FTT Public Service For MLB Writers

Dear MLB Hacks and Ink Stained Wretches,

At FTT, we're aware that you've got a lot on your hands with the recent Mitchell Report. How dare that bastard make you read over 400 pages without a quick and easy appendix list of who's dirty and how much? The nerve. Don't they realize that you've got a free food bar to crush under the gravitational pull of your elastic waistbands?

So if you're stretched for time, feel free to cut and paste the following lede for your next MLB Roider story. As a blogger, I don't expect credit or professional courtesy, so feel free to steal with abandon. And good luck on reading that report -- it's really, really long, and has no pictures!

* * * * *

Player Name Here, a prominent member of Most Recent Team, were named as steroid users by Clubhouse Snitch in Federal Report Name.

Player Name Here has categorically dismissed the Clubhouse Snitch allegation as false in the past. However, now that the story has reached the level of a federal investigation, and Player Name Here has clearly learned his lesson from Barry Bonds staring down the gun barrel of a federal indictment for perjury, he's now electing to clear all future communications through his agent, legal firm, and parents.


In a related story, Player Name Here has stated that despite his past years as a fluent speaker of English, he will now only communicate in his native Spanish, so as to avoid misstatements.


Clubhouse Snitch has stated that Player Name Here "always had a supply of amphetamines, dopamines, steroids, HGH, caffeine and Ovaltine." The affidavit also states that Player Name "boasted openly about how many drugs he was going to take, and how if you didn't take at least as many as he did, you must not want to be in MLB very much. Also, that your father liked men."

In response, Player Name said that while he never knowingly ingested any performance enhancing drugs, he is asleep for nearly a third of his life. During that time, rival ballplayers who wanted to destroy his career and livelihood could have injected him with any number of foul things, as he is a very sound sleeper and trusting soul who loves this country very, very much.

The commissioner of MLB, Bud "What, Me Worry?" Selig, had no comment at press time.

- 30 -

(You're welcome, scribes. Now, have another pig in a blanket on me. They're tasty with mustard.)

I'm Not Prepared For The Sixers To Be Relevant Again

Saturday night, the Sixers picked up their 11th win of the season, riding a big fourth quarter comeback and a game winning shot at the buzzer by lead dog Andre Iguodala to a win in Memphis. Coming a night after a surprisingly competitive 5-point loss at home to the startlingly competitive and cooperative Los Angeles Lakers, the team is now 6-6 in December, and just a game out of the last playoff spot in the East.

(By the way, you have to love the Sixes play-by-play guy going off for a game-winner in December. Yes, we're kind of hungry for a decent team here, really.)

If they can beat Miami on Wednesday and survive an upcoming six-game Western road trip (it starts tolerable with Sacramento and Seattle around the surging Blazers, before the auto-losses against Utah, Denver and the Lake Show kick in)... well, shoot, this is the East we're talking about here. While the top end has Boston, Detroit and Orlando to make everything seem a lot more balanced with the West than in past years, the bottom rungs of the playoff ladder are still a complete clusterf***, enough so that even the Knicks keep telling themselves that they aren't out of it. I could easily see 38 wins getting in.

More importantly, the way that the Sixers are playing actually has glimmers of this strange emotion that I'm not sure I'm familiar with. Let's check good old "the feeling that what is wanted can be had, or that events will turn out for the best..." yes, that's it! I think it's a Navajo word: hoap, or some such thing. Yes, hoap. With Sam Dalembert seemingly giving a damn, Reggie Evans doing what he will do, Andre Miller giving the team an edge by being an actual point guard (I'm not in love with him, but seriously, he's probably the first actual point that the team had since Eric Snow, and the first that you had to defend since Johnny Dawkins pre-surgery)... well, they resemble a basketball team! Light the candles and slaughter a hog! (Please note that any team where Iguodala, a classic Pippen type to someone else's Michael, is your best player... is a team with no real threat to go anywhere. But at this point with this franchise, and 0-3 playoff run against a high seed would be just fine, really.)

Having noticed this brief burst of competence, I'm sure that they'll go 0-for-6 on the West Coast trip, and that AI will torch them for 50 in Denver, the way that Charles Barkley used to ritually sodomize Armon Gilliam in this post-trade years when he was a Phoenix Sun. And just like in that trade, my Sixers fandom has taken many, many months to come back to any kind of awareness... but it's there, men. Go .500 on the West Coast swing, and we'll talk.

We Interrupt Our Painful Grieving Process To Pule For The Money You Fined Us During Our Desertion

In a stunning display of avarice, New York Knicks point guard and lead cancer Stephon Marbury is appealing the $195,000 fine that was levied on him during his November Desertion.

Now, we deeply understand the desire of Starchild to spend as little time as possible around the Knicks while still cashing his breathtakingly large checks. In November, this required a bizarre AWOL trip; now, it just involves a "take as long as you like" recuperation from the grief over his father's death. The team also has Starchild's back here and will waive the fine, as the tragedy has helped Starchild emerge to the coveted title of Only Knick Entity That Does Not Evoke Rancid And Constant Booing. (David Lee is said to be jealous, and his parents are said to be nervous.)

But really, honestly, what is 195 large to the Starchild? That's just over 1 percent of his annual salary, not counting endorsement dollars. If you bailed on your company for the better part of a week, causing intense media scrutiny and awkwardness, due to a problematic relationship with your manager... well, I'd think that a 1% fine would be a heck of a lot more preferable to the alternative, which would be the pink slip that nearly everyone involved with the Knicks in any way so deeply deserves.

I, for one, am really hoping that this has to go to some kind of court action, because as we all know, the Knicks are a lot more entertaining in a legal court than they are in a basketball one... and besides, the public role of sympathetic figure just doesn't fit the self-described best point guard in the NBA. (Salary aside, I can rattle off fifteen that I'd rather have, because, um, the game involves defense along with offense.) Fight on, Starchild! Dad would have wanted you to get paid for not working!

The Spurs Will Retire You

Last Saturday night, the Spurs retired Avery Johnson's #6 jersey, as a way to thank him for his ten years of playing service to the team, and his role in the 1999 championship over the Knicks. (You can read about that series in Phil Jackson's upcoming book, "Things That Happened But Do Not Matter, Because I Said So.")

There is, of course, one glaring problem with putting the Little General up in the rafters, along with George "Iceman" Gervin (damn, now *that's* a nickname), Johnny Moore, David Robinson and Sean Elliot... and that's his current job, as the head coach of the hated rival Dallas Mavericks.

Seriously, Spurs Fan, what the hell? Johnson's Mavs may have no stomach for dealing with Nellieball in the playoffs and look for all the world like they left their heart in Oakland, but they match up better with you than any other team in the West... and you're putting their coach in your rafters? Either the organization thinks so highly of him that they want to make sure he'll jump over once Gregg Popovich is finally ready to move on, they don't see the Mavs as a serious threat, or they think that the job that a head coach does is so minor, so lacking in impact, that they can just disregard the gig.

And that's all I have to say about that. Any Spurs fans out there that want to let me know what the deal is, I'd appreciate it.

The Giants Should Be Down With The Clown

With their win in Buffalo, the New York Football Giants, because their is only one Giants franchise in New York and that has been true for over 50 years, but people feel like they need to say this just like they need to say National Football League... now have a completely meaningless game against the Patriots in Week 17.

Given that they will not have a bye, and will most likely have to win three road games to get to the Super Bowl, where they could meet the Patriots... well, why on earth should the Giants put out any kind of effort in this game?

Seriously, G-Men... start freakish fat QB Jared Lorenzen. Run a pre-season vanilla package of inside runs to Reueben Droughns. Make the most anticipated game in the NFL Network's history a complete travesty. Stink it up on purpose in your home stadium, rather than with effort, the way you usually do. Give the Patriots another unofficial asterisk.

(And if, heaven forbid, you actually win with Lorenzen -- good grief, what a fantastic moment that could be for your future salary cap. Fredo makes big paper.)

Kevin Everett? You're Fired.

Does pointing out that the Bills record in games with emotional sightings of no longer paralyzed teammate Kevin Everett is now 0-2 make me a bad person? The first was that SNF game against the Patriots, where the team gave up 55. Today, they lost going away, after taking an early 14 point lead, to a Giants team whose QB turned the ball over repeatedly while putting up numbers that made Giants fans long for Kyle Orton or Tavaris Jackson.

Next year, the Bills really need to choose better for their motivational mascot, is all I'm saying. Everett's not cutting it, and needs to go. Results matter, Limpy.

The hottest team in the NFC... isn't going to the playoffs

Today in New Orleans, the Eagles got their second straight road win as an underdog, winning 38-23 in a game that they more or less controlled after a wild, back and forth first quarter. The eternally embattled Donovan McNabb accounted for 300 yards (263 throwing) and threw three touchdowns with no interceptions.

Seriously, who in the NFC is playing better than the Eagles right now? They beat the Cowboys in Dallas a week ago; the Cowboys then struggled with a bad Panthers team and lost Owens to injury. The Packers, the #2 seed, got absolutely punked by a Bears team that started Kyle Orton. The #3 and #4 seeds, Tampa Bay and Seattle, lost to the Niners this week and the Panthers last week, respectively. The #5 seed is the Giants, who somehow keep wining road games without any kind of production from their quarterback. The sixth seed right now are the Redskins, who are, seriously, riding Todd Collins right now.

Maybe this is all an indictment of the NFC, or the proof that the Reid Eagles just aren't clutch enough to man up when it really matters. But to my eyes, Number Five has done more than enough in the past two weeks to earn the job for another year... and if the team can actually get some production out of the TE spot, and maybe (yes, we dream) a true #1 WR (Chad Johnson? Larry FitzGerald? Yes, please), and a true third cornerback...

Well, it all looks a lot better than it did a few weeks ago. And if they had somehow not gagged up the Bears game, or the Seahawks game, or the Packers game... they'd be an extraordinarily scary wildcard team. As is, thanks to the freakishly resilient NFC East, where 8-8 looks like it's going to get you last place, they should also get a pretty cushy schedule. Suddenly, standing pat doesn't look quite so bad, really.

Epic Drop: Top 11 Fantasy Football Losers

The list is here, and as you've noticed, we use all parts of the buffalo here at Five Tool Tool.

But if you really want to make me feel better, you'd buy a T-shirt right about now. Before my tears ruin them all...

Sunday, December 23, 2007


In the final installment of an update that you could not possibly care about, the Shooter Mom's team went down to defeat tonight behind a relentless onslaught of injuries (Parker, Colston) and our opponent putting up one of his best weeks of the year, despite having what seemed like bad matchups.

I knew we were in trouble when Willie Parker busted his leg, but there was a point in the third quarter of the late games where we were up 10 points... but that's when Matt Hasselbeck (our QB) stopped throwing touchdowns and Josh Brown (the opponent's kicker) started making figgies. Then the inconvenient Frank Gore, who suffered mightily is his bad matchup against the Buccaneers to the tune of 132 yards and a touchdown, took it the house. Despite the heroic efforts of the Titans defense, that was the ballgame, and Clinton Portis in the SNF game just piled it on.

Only a bitter, bitter man would point out that if we had gotten Najeh Davenport's production, and had Colston get, say, 100 of the 289 yards that Drew Brees threw for... we'd have won. But if my aunt had testes, she'd be my uncle, and this also assumes that Parker would have actually scored touchdowns, which as we all know, he wasn't allowed to do this year. GAH.

In other news, the picks also stunk today, and the Eagles winning just means that their draft pick will be worse next year, and it's raining and I have to work despite being off. Waah, waah, waah!

We end up the year up $250, which will buy an awful lot of malt liquor. But damn, that's a lotta scratch to be leaving on the table... (waah! waah! waah!)

Epic Drop: Top 10 Gift Ideas for Bitter Eagles Fans

Your list is here, and I'd happily take any of them, really. But you know what everyone else really wants? Five Tool Tool T-shirts. What a thoughtful gift idea!

You Just Hate To See This

In the very likely event that you don't get the NFL Network and/or don't watch ESPN unless forced to, you might have missed the news out of Carolina that the Cowboys lost Terrell Owens tonight to a high ankle sprain -- a remarkably similar injury to the one that kept him out of two out of three Eagles playoff games in the year that he decided to not destroy the franchise.

Especially as an Eagles fan, it's sad to see TO get hurt just before the playoffs. Combine this with the loss of starting center and Albert Haynesworth dance floor Andre Gurode, QB Tony Romo's thumb woes (which we hear is entirely the fault of girlfriend Jessica Simpson, as Romo is said to use the thumb to bring her to constant climax, and therefore spare himself from the shame of conversation), the suspension of Roy Williams for continuing to break the rule that they made for him, and the failure of cocktease WR Terry Glenn to get back on the field... well, it just makes you sad, really, to see a team have a great year (the 'Boys 13 wins this year is a franchise high), then start to crumble at the end.

This one, on the other hand, is just plain funny. It's like someone just told him a joke or something. And it allows us all to see him smile, and we all just to love to see him smile. Especially in moments like this. Warms the heart and soul.

And the video of the play? Well, that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish. On the one hand, you get to see him wrench it in real time, which is nice.

But on the other, he gets up afterwards, rather than ride off on a cart that bursts into flames, killing all involved. I'm not asking for much, really.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Epic Drop: Top 11 Reasons Bill Parcells Took The Miami Job

Your list is here, and all snark aside, I'm happy for the Dolphins to have achieved their dream signing of a broken-down big name who could no longer win in the NFC East. I'm sure this will all work out fine.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

NFL Picks, Week 16: Into The Meaninglessness

Welcome to the portion of the NFL schedule where two strong but opposite forces face the weary and wary degenerate gambler. On the plus side, we know these teams better than we will ever know them, with a wide and deep knowledge base composed of a 14-game track record. At this point in the season, if you've been paying strong attention, you really do have a decent sense of who will do what... but then the opposite and compelling variable kicks in, which is determining which teams have quit on their coaches, or are playing kids that aren't really better than the veterans, but will give the coaches some idea of what they have before the upcoming draft.

There's also this: home field advantage at this point in the game is highly speculative. Good teams tend to have fan bases that travel, bad teams tend to have fan bases that will gladly sell tickets to try to pay off their investment. Listen to the crowd at the Steelers at Rams game this week, or Cowboys at Panthers. I guarantee you it will have a third of the crowd going the other way.

This leads to strong point spreads and stronger swings, with games getting out of hand and the sense that you have to be a psychologist to give yourself a chance at a payday. Take, for instance, the Seahawks. We know they bully teams at home and that, talent-wise, they look to be the clear #3 team in the conference. Following a bad road loss to a bad home team (Carolina, week 15), you'd normally expect them to have a huge bounce-back laugh riot against the cover-your-eyes Ravens. But maybe they crap the bed again. Maybe the Ravens pull Boller in the first quarter and ride the novelty of waterbug QB Craig Smith to a rage-infused cover after being the only team in the world to be bad enough to lose to the Dolphins this year.

Or the Bengals. Up until last week, you could make the case that this disappointing group of proto-convicts had been the victim of a bad schedule, more than their own inadequacies. So what happens when they go on the road against a flat-out terrible Niners team? They lose to a third-string QB, and Carson Palmer looks like he'll never be the guy he was before the knee injury. And so on, and so on.

You can certainly make the case that until the playoffs, there really isn't much sense in picking these games and putting real money down. And then you look at the lines, and hey, this isn't all that different than usual, and I really like X in the Y game... and anyway, it's what we do. (Besides, I'm still in first in my picks league, which is an indictment of the people in that league, really.)

And with that rousing call to arms, on with the picks!

* * * * *

Pittsburgh covering 7.5 at ST. LOUIS. Consider this game a public and probably early referendum on rookie Steelers coach Mike Timlin (CHECK). His team is actually better on a fast track, given his boom-or-bust RB (Willie Parker, the worst fantasy performance ever for a guy that's in contention to lead the league in rushing yards), his dependence on the passing game for big plays, and his speed over size defense. Last week saw his team get punched in the mouth repeatedly by a Jaguars team that looked for all the world like they were the real Steelers at home. This week, they go against a Rams team that they should just tear apart. And despite my lack of faith in these guys away from home, I'm picking them to do just that.

Dallas covering 10.5 at CAROLINA. Another big road favorite coming off a bad loss at home, needing a big win against a bad team. It's a trend or something. I'm excited about this one, because with Marion Barber making the Pro Bowl despite getting less than a dozen touches a game, maybe they'll finally see what he can do with 25 or 30. Besides, with Romo's thumb banged up and a dominant offensive line, that would be the, um, smart play...

Oakland covering 13 points at JACKSONVILLE. Not so much a trap game as a trap cover. Oakland's been frisky under Josh McNown the last few weeks, and gave Indy all they could handle until late. Yes, the Jags will run for 200+ yards against them, but the funny thing about big rushing days is that they don't always translate into big point wins. If this line was 9.5, I'd go with the home team, but 13 is just too much.

Kansas City as a 4.5 point dog in DETROIT. I like the Chiefs defense a little, and after the el foldo that God did on the Lions this year, I think Ford Field is nice and quiet. Hey, is there still time for a rousing Fire Millen protest, or did we miss that this year? It's amazing what six wins buys you in the Motor City.

INDIANAPOLIS covering 7 in Houston. Time for the Colts to start imposing their will on lesser teams, and Peyton Manning gets rid of the ball too fast for Mario Williams to take over this game. Also, Andre Johnson's career numbers against the Colts are terrible, and the Texans won't stay close unless he reverses that. He won't.

NEW ORLEANS covering 3 against Philadelphia. Thanks to the Bears collapse in Minnesota, this game is meaningless for the Eagles. The last time that Donovan McNabb played a meaningless game for the Eagles is... at some point in the past that I'm not going to look up right now, because crying would be embarrassing and all. A problem for the Eagles in this game is that Reggie Bush might play, and the Eagles make him look better than he is... and Takeo Spikes, who finally was starting to look good the last few weeks, is done for the year. Brees will screen when he isn't finding Marques Colston, who is just the kind of big WR (Burress, Owens) that can just wipe out the Eagles secondary.

BUFFALO as a 3-point dog against the Giants. Fun fact: who has the third-best road record in the NFL? It's the Giants, who have managed to have the defense crank it up nicely to cover for the ever-shrinking Eli. So why am I taking the Bills, who lost their remaining chance at the post-season in the snow in Cleveland last week? Because I just can't imagine the Giants continuing their road mastery, especially with Jeremy Shockey done for the year. I can't wait to bet against this team in the playoffs, I really can't...

Green Bay covering 8.5 at CHICAGO. Would the Bears still be playing relevant football if Brian Griese had been under center last week, instead of Kyle Orton? Probably. Is the Bears defense officially in Pride Mode now (finally!) after stepping up and mostly stopping Adrian Peterson last week? Maybe; it sure helps when Urlacher is allowed to run all over the field. Will any of that matter against a Packers team that's been blessed by the gods this year, and even seems to have lucked into a decent back in Ryan Grant? Not especially. Count on Favre to work with a short field and for Bear Fan to spend most of the second half dreaming of high draft pick QBs and/or Donovan McNabb...

Cleveland covering 3 at CINCINNATI. Has there ever been a bigger false dawn than the Bengals? They draft a QB at number one and an acclaimed defensive coach, and they look like the new lords for a little while... and then those mean old Steelers punk them in a playoff game, the QB gets hurt, the coach can't control anyone in the locker room and the defense sucks eggs through a straw. It's as if the DNA of those uniforms reasserted itself after a brief but spirited fight against Not Sucking. Last time these teams played, it was a shootout: this time, a shooting.

ARIZONA covering 10 against Atlanta. Which team has had the worst year for its fans this year? Miami is officially out of contention once they got a win. Philadelphia. Baltimore and Cincy all expected playoffs and got played. The Jets and Niners had hope and got crushed. The Lions had a false dawn before God turned against them. And then there are the 28 remaining Falcons fans on the earth, six of whom are wearing Free Vick shirts, while the other 22 are too beaten down to say anything about it. Let's just say it's not just the coach that quit here. I think I'd give a high school team three points on the Falcons, and the Cardinals are 7 points better than that. I think.

Tampa Bay covering 6 at SAN FRANCISCO. This line shrank by a point during the week, mostly because no one respects the Bucs' talent (no Pro Bowl picks, and no one howling that they got screwed, though you could certainly make a case for Ronde Barber over Al Harris). With recent wins over the Cardinals and Bengals, the Niners are fooling people into thinking they don't stink; they do. Expect the Bucs to befuddle third-string QB Shaun Hill and putting 8+ in the box to shut down Frank Gore. Meanwhile on the other side of the ball, Jeff Garcia Will Have His Revenge... and you know things are going bad for the Niners when there best story this year is that their punter could be the first guy ever to have a net punting average of over 42 yards. (And that's why they pay me the big bucks to write this column: the punting knowledge.)

New York Jets covering as an 8.5 point dog in TENNESSEE. The Jets looked frisky, especially in the secondary, in the messy weather last week in New England. The Titans will also not have the luxury of knowing which QB to prepare for, and while their defense will probably make enough plays for them to win, it won't be pretty. I like the Jets to cover with honor here, as the Titans continue their sad march to an utterly predictable first-round playoff exit.

NEW ENGLAND covering 22 against Miami. Now that the Dolphins have their win, they join the ranks of a half-dozen team in the 16-game regular season era with a single win to their names. Unlike last week's slopcast against the Jets, the weather isn't expected to be a monumental issue in this game, which means that it's time for Tom Brady and Randy Moss to torture all of those people who had them in their fantasy leagues with a taste of what might have been.

SEATTLE (no line) over Baltimore. We touched on this in the opening. With Kyle Boller at the helm for the Ravens, I'm having a hard time seeing how the road team can win in Seattle, especially when their secondary has been toasted and roasted for the better part of the year. The year can't end fast enough in B'More.

Washington covering as a 6.5 point underdog in MINNESOTA. I'd really like to go with the home team here, but good grief... did anyone else see Tavaris Jackson in the MNF game? He redefines horrible, and he won with some numbers, thanks to some long runs after the catch. His footwork is awful, his decision-making is atrocious, he's not accurate, he gets hurt easy... just what, exactly, is the reasoning behind making this a second round pick? If I were a Vikings fan, I'd be pining for Brooks Bollinger. Or maybe just a direct snap on every play to Purple Jesus. I like the Skins to stick around and for Todd Collins to make just enough throws to cover the spread.

SAN DIEGO covering 8.5 against Denver. The last time these teams played, the Chargers broke out the buckets of confetti and unicycles, and that was in Denver. This game is in San Diego, and it's on MNF, which means it's legally required to be devoid of drama. Look out world, the Chargers are officially on the Norv's False Confidence Roll!

Last week: 5-11 (I deserved this after the Anal Leakage theme, right?)
Season to date: 105-108-11

"This is minutiae. This is embarrasing."

Actual quote from today's NY Times coverage of the Stop Isiah protest outside the Garden last night. You have to love New Yorkers, you really do -- who else would break out that kind of vocabulary? One suspects they'd have had a bigger turnout for a Save Isiah movement from the sports blogosphere. It'd be a cold, cold winter without him.

Meanwhile, have an early Christmas gift from the good folks at Inside a collection of Isiah's greatest hits! They're all here -- assurances about the genius of Don Chaney, Herb Williams and Larry Brown, his gushing praise for all-time Knicks like Nazr Mohammed, Malik Rose and Eddy Curry, his absolute falsehoods about never taking the coaching reins, and much, much more. Perfect for every Grinchy Knick Fan on your list!

Epic Drop: Top 10 Reasons Why MLB Fan Loyalty Is Dropping

Your list is here, and it involved actual research and all. That, and snarkiness and hate. Plus, hey, photo from!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Update That You Could Not Possibly Care About... Stays All-In

In the further adventures of the Shooter Mom's first fantasy football season, this just in from League Elder Commish, our opponent in the championship round... he offered to split the pot, rather than go with the 80-20 split that it is right now.

The Shooter Mom, who you have to realize by now is much, much cooler than yours, turned him down. I could not be more proud, really...

Pour A 40 On The Ground For The Punter That Ain't Around

Sad news out of Denver today, where the Broncos have decided to cut ties with Gangsta Punter Todd Sauerbrun, the one-time steroid ringleader and Devin Hester Enabler. (And yes, I know what you are thinking -- why on earth didn't they do this after The Hester Game? Probably because he was cycling in some nasty 'roid rage, or maybe because they didn't want to risk not having a veteran idiot presence in a playoff run.)

Here's a fun fact: Sauerbrun was making $1.3 million a year with the Broncos, and probably has the numbers to get another gig somewhere. Besides, let's face it, if you were ever going to have a terrible teammate on an NFL team, he might as well be a kicker. It's not like they are part of the team in the first place, and if they stink, it's easier to toss him out the door if you know he's a dirtbag.

Anyway, if you are in the Denver area tonight, keep your eyes out for a mad guy with a propensity for kicking. Better safe than sorry, really.

Pot Meets Kettle

The most remarkable thing about this, really, is what took him so long. Ladies and gentlemen, Pete Rose on the Mitchell Report.

"I never thought anybody would make me look like an altar boy... I've been suspended 18 years for betting on my own team to win. I was wrong ... but these guys today, if the allegations are true, they're making a mockery of the game."
I never thought I'd say this, but I agree with Pete Rose completely.

And with that, I'm off to bed, because on the day that the world ends, you really should greet it with a good night's sleep.

Most Valuable Shiny Person

I'm not going to go into too much depth on this, because it's something that's hammered at by the bowel movement that shows up on Tuesdays and has corn in it over at the World Wide Lemur... but here's a fun trivia question. Name the two offensive linemen ever to be named Most Valuable Player in the National Football League. (Boy, I felt just like Ron Jaworski there, breaking out the full three word presidential assassin name.)

Give up? That's wise, given how neither of these guys probably played in your lifetime. They would be Pete Retzlaff, an Eagle TE in 1965 when the Maxwell Club decided to keep the Uppity Jim Brown in his place and vote for the local white man... and the immortal Mel Hein, who put the Heiney in the center position for the New York Football Giants in 1938.

So here's the gist, folks... in the nearly 70 years that they've been giving these things out, and for the last 42 years, no offensive lineman has ever been the most valuable player in the league. Not in 1982, when Mark Moseley, a straight ahead kicker for the Redskins, won it. Not in 1988, when the voters decided that Boomer Esiason and Randall Cunningham had to have it. Not in 2002, when Rich Gannon dinked and dunked his way to the hardware. And not in 2005, when Steve Hutchinson cleared the earth for Shawn Alexander's MVP award. Boy, Alexander's done a lot since Hutchinson left.

Stop calling it the MVP. Call it the Best Skill Player. Then also, the Best Line Player. How hard is this, really?

The Most Magical Time Of The Year: Snub Time

My fellow Tools, is there a dumber recurring story in sports than Who Got Snubbed For The All Star Game? Honestly, unless you are the player in question and are out money from a performance bonus, there is no reason on earth why anyone should care.

The Big Snubs this year, according to the World Wide Lemur and the overly made up Mike Golic and Mark Schlereth (HD here is doing *me* no favors), is Marques Colston in the NFC, and Fred Taylor in the AFC. As Colston's owner in a fantasy league, I am absolutely THRILLED that he got screwed (and yes, he did -- Torry Holt?); I have Big Dreams of him absolutely cuckolding Drew Brees, who the opponent has. Throw every ball to him, Drew! Teach those Pro Bowl voters a valuable lesson! As for Taylor, as good as the numbers are, he's a committee guy. Maybe Addai is too, realistically, and maybe we just shouldn't send RBs to the Pro Bowl at all thi syear, really... and GODDAMIT, NOW I'M KNEE DEEP IN THE DUMBNESS!

Look, it's very simple: anyone who is snubbed in an All-Star Game almost *always* gets in, because it's much better to be named than to actually have to go and play. If you really care about this, you are twelve or an idiot, and in either case, you should probably grow up.

(And in a rare moment of actual sincerity here, kudos to the voters for sending Sean Taylor. He really did deserve it this year, too.)

Epic Drop: Second Verse, Not The Same As The First

The thrilling conclusion is here. The scary part for me with this post is that over half of the roles were submitted by the Shooter Friends, who clearly have even less of a life than I do. My sports talk radio was limited to Jim Rome on the West Coast for his opening hour as part of my commute, and while he's painful on television, he's not that bad on the radio. (Though the Clones really do wear on you after a while.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Epic Drop: Top 20 Sports Talk Radio Callers

Your list is here, and it's the first of a two-part series, because the hate, she just grew and grew and grew. Blame Kyle Orton and the Bears for not being able to give me one more week of relevant Eagles football, but I'm still kind of confused how the Vikings eliminate the Eagles tonight, when they could both still finish 8-8 and the Eagles beat them in the head to head match up... and no, that it not a request for someone to tell me why it is that way. I've already moved on to my post-season bitterness.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Pats Make The Web Go Round

Don over at With Malice asked me, along with a bunch of other swells, to weigh in on just how good the Patriots are. Click, read, then rest assured that I said all those things to help Coach motivate the team. When you're a Masstermind, you always have to be looking ahead.

Please also note that this is the first time that FTT has posted in Japan, which means we now own that country as well. Antarctica will be ours!

Um, one small question for the football pundits

If the Dolphins had such wonderful character and we all feel so good about them not going winless... um, why did it take 14 weeks for any of that character to show up?

I get that it had to be an incredible relief to not go into the history books as the very worst football team in NFL history, and it's nice to see the Brian Billick-led Ravens take one more bucket of confetti on the head.

But with the very real exception of Jason Taylor, is there a single player on this team that you would want to see on the roster of your favorite team? Isn't the owner (Wayne Huzienga) a reprehensible human being? Isn't the coach still wildly in over his head, starting with his downright bizarre idea that Reggie Brown and Jesse Chatman were equivalent talents, and that the frisky Cleo Lemon needed to sit down and watch the Weinke-riffic John Beck... and that the organization spent a high pick on a player (Ted Ginn Jr.) that doesn't project beyond fourth WR and marginal punt returner?

Congrats on the win and all, but it's one win, at home, against a team that has redefined beating itself. It's also a week before the Patriots eviscerate you, assuming that the good Lord doesn't favor you with another talent-leveling Nor'easter. For an organization that was a perennial challenger for most of the past 30+ years, taking the Special Olympics standard of Gosh They Try... should not be acceptable. Honest.

The Update That You Could Not Possibly Care About

In the Shooter Mom's league, we held on for a tight win in a low-scoring affair in today's Final Four battle.

How close was it? Close enough that the overtime miss of Matt Stover was the difference (our opponent had him, and it's an idiot league that penalizes hard for missed field goals). If we had lost, I'd have been cursing Chad Johnson and his lack of clutch fingers (that end zone drop in the fourth quarter cost us at least 10 points), and my own faith in the Bengals defense to come up with any kind of presence against those terrible, but obviously not terrible enough, Niners. I'd also like to thank the Giants, and specifically Plexico Burress, for coming up small in the SNF game. For the first time in my life as a football fan, Plex gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Next week, we play the #2 seed and league commissioner, who has his Elder Knowledge working for him... but we've got Willie Parker on a fast track against a bad Rams team, Matt Hasselbeck at home against the DOA Ravens, Marion Barber and an angry Cowboys team against the Panthers, Chad Johnson at home against the Browns, Marques Colston to cuckold his Drew Brees against the Eagles, and the Titans defense at home against the very friendly Jets.

Is this where I reveal that a big part of my draft prep was to be cocky enough to pick for strong Week 16 matchups? Nah... you'd have to have an Elder Mind for such chicanery. Let's just say that we like our chances, and hope we have your support. (And our fellow owners money.)

How seriously are we taking this? Actual conversation from earlier tonight...

Me: "After this year, with me taking you to Lambeau and helping you get to the championship, I don't want to be hearing any more about that whole pain of childbirth thing."

The Shooter Mom: "Absolutely. We're square."
Someday, she'll have her own blog. Or sports-talk radio show.

Epic Drop: Top 10 NFL Losers

Your list is here, and after a full and fun day of NFL football, I can't stop smiling from thinking that the Eagles may have helped make the Cowboys take a trip to Lambeau in the NFC playoffs. And while it's still crazy to even think about it, there really could be an 8-8 wildcard team... and that team would have a road game against those not completely terrifying Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Well, it's just nice to have non-meaningless football for another week, is all I'm sayin'...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Week 15 NFL Picks: I Shut 'Em Down

We come, finally, to the point in the season where the end is in sight, and lo and behold, what's this?


1) Five Tool Picks 100
2) Six Pack Sports Nation 97
2) DCScrap 97
4) BD 95
5) Tokai Tanuki (with malice) 93

Yes, my fellow Tools, on the strength of my finest week of the season in last week's slate of games (11-5 ATS), I have jumped to the lead position in the Epic Carnival pick'em league. Once again, I am your king, a position that I've achieved strictly on merit. I was so pleased by this development, I gave myself a Five Tool T-Shirt, which is just about the best Christmas gift anyone could hope to receive, really.

As your new king of pick, I promise to continue to deliver the kind of benevolent tyranny that you have come to expect from the Five Tool Empire, along with the most persistent pick column in the whole sports blogoshere. That, plus the rousing loss that led off the week (screw you, Texans!), should give you complete confidence in my picks for the remainder of the weekend.

Now, on to the picks!

* * * * *

Cincinnati as an 8-point favorite in SAN FRANCISCO. Should a 5-8 team be an 8-point favorite on the road against anyone? Yes, when that team is a Bengals squad that actually had a hard schedule, against a Niner squad that has quit harder than the Knicks. If Coach Hitler's dad hadn't died earlier this year, one would have to suspect he'd have gotten the axe for this train wreck. If you've got Bengals and managed to get in your fantasy league playoff anyway, here's where your persistence pays off.

TAMPA BAY as a 13.5 point favorite against Atlanta. Good grief, how can a Buccaneer team that's built to win in an unimpressive fashion possibly be carrying this many points? Because they're playing a Falcons team that wouldn't be a good bet to win in the SEC right now. Even if you buy the idea that Chris Redman's recent yardage competency is for real, and that the team will show some "up yours" spirit following the Bobby Petrino backstabbing, and that the Bucs just aren't that good.... heck, it's still a 17 point game, especially given the Bucs' good home field advantage. But not exactly a comfortable one.

Tennessee covering 4 against KANSAS CITY. This Titans team is still not as nearly as dangerous as they looked a few short weeks ago, back when hope still existed for Vince Young, and Albert Haynesworth and Chris Hope were both presumed to be healthy again by the end of the year. Now, it's just Haynesworth, but luckily for the Titans, the only receiving threat that Brodie Croyle can find is Tony Gonzalez, and he won't go for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Seattle covering 7.5 points in CAROLINA. Can this Seahawks team win its sixth straight on a cross-country trip? So long as Carolina is starting its current crop of QBs, yes. Matt Hasselbeck has never been hotter, and the time off even made Shawn Alexander look good last week. Don't look now, but this Seahawks team is looking like its peaking for the playoffs, and while they don't look like much of a threat on the road, a hot QB can do a lot.

ST. LOUIS as a 10-point underdog against Green Bay. Do I really think that this Rams team can knock off the #2 seed in the conference? Not really, but Brett Favre's history in domes isn't very appealing, the Rams may get the magic of Marc Bulger back for this game, and in any event, they'll have a fairly healthy Stephen Jackson to keep things close. This Packers team really isn't as good as their record, and it wouldn't shock me terribly if they don't make it to the NFC Championship Game. In any event, I'm looking for a home team cover here.

Baltimore covering 3.5 against MIAMI. Kyle Boller has, just as he has for everyone else, betrayed my trust in him... but against this jaw-droppingly bad Dolphins team, they won't need the offense to actually score any points. In a game with little else going for it, I'm looking for Willis McGahee to make the difference. Watching this one for anything but camp or fantasy league value should be worth immediate entry into Gamblers Anonymous.

NEW ENGLAND covering 23.5 against the Jets. How on earth has this line gone *down* since its 24-point open? Who is rushing to bet the Jets to cover the spread, other than people who are thinking that the weather will play a ridiculously strong factor? I'm sorry for anyone who is holding out hope that the impossible will happen and redeem the Jets' utter misery of a season, but this Patriots team just spent a week devising how to emasculate a third-string safety on live television. How do you think they'll react to an entire team managed and operated by the people that they blame for their PR woes? Seriously, I'm not sure there is a number that I'd not take the Patriots at here.

NEW ORLEANS covering as a 3.5 point favorite against Arizona. Just the kind of game that should make you go for the road dogs -- they play a similar style, they have a defense that gets after the quarterback, and Warner keeps them close or better in every game -- but Drew Brees knows what to do against a raw and young defense, and the Cardinals have their DNA to fight against here.

PITTSBURGH covering 3.5 against Jacksonville. Lost in the bitterness of the loss in New England last week was that the Steelers were missing Holmes and Polamalu, both of whom could be back for this home game. It's a big game in terms of seeding and clinching the division, and despite QB Ben Rothlisberger being banged up and Aaron Smith being out for the year, I just don't trust David Garrard to win a tough road game.

Buffalo covering 5.5 against CLEVELAND. A battle of two up and coming young teams that should both feel good about their years, and a game that really looks like it will come down to a last-minute field goal in either way. The loser is likely out of the running for the final wild card spot, which would certainly point towards the home team... but this Browns team does not get key stops, and in December weather, that's not good. Now that the Bills have finally given JP Losman the kick to the curb, I like the road team to cover, if not win.

OAKLAND covering a 10.5 point spread against Indianapolis. Another case where I think the number is just a little too high. The Raiders don't stop the run, so I'm looking for the Colts to grind out a workmanlike win with a lot of Addai and Keith. For the Raides, expect a little boost from a few series of JaMarcus Russell, and a slow Bay Area track to keep the score close enough.

SAN DIEGO covering as a 10 point favorite against Detroit. This Lions team is in free-fall, and the Chargers have made their late-season run to an undeserved reputation of playoff potency. But when you've got a team that's creating a false wave of momentum, this kind of home game against this type of opponent is the perfect fall guy for a 20+ point win.

DALLAS covering as a 10.5 point favorite against Philadelphia. It's clown time in Big D, with Terrell Owens as Head Globetrotter and big numbers from Jones and Barber. For the Eagles, expect early and often and gutless from the defense, wideouts that seem to get less open with more time rather than less, and an absolute no-win situation for Donovan McNabb. The Eagles are still mathematically alive in the NFC, but after last week's gutbuster against the Giants, they can't get through the airport with the forks in their backs. The big shame of it all is Brian Westbrook, who is having an even better year than last, for nothing.

NEW YORK GIANTS covering 4.5 against Washington. A confidence-free pick, given Eli Manning's breathtaking record in big games, but I just can't pull the trigger for Todd Collins in a road game. Look for a slow but steady ground game for the Giants wearing out a Redskins team that has to be ready to break down after the Taylor tragedy.

MINNESOTA covering as a 10-point favorite against Chicago. There's a reason why Kyle Orton is a third-string quarterback, and why he's never threatened to take the job of Rex Grossman or Brian Griese; he's even worse than either of those guys. On the road in a loud dome, against a Vikings team that has been very opportunistic on defense against bad offenses. This Bears team counts as one, and this will be yet another week where the Vikes look like a good dark horse in the wild card round.

Last week: 11-5
Season to date: 100-97-11

Epic Drop: Top 10 Signs Your Top 10 Writer Is Drunk

Your list is here, and all I can say is, (1) office holiday parties are a bitch, and (2) Do Not Hassle the Hoff.

Now, go get me some coffee, will ya? Jeez, and close the freaking blinds already...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Quick pre-Week 15 pick

Denver as a 1-point favorite over the TEXANS. Yet another fantastically entertaining Thursday night game from the NFL Network, this one from a pair of teams on the playoff bubble. I'm going for the Broncos under simple faith from Jay Cutler; I'm just not prepared to live in a world where the Texans are an actual playoff contender.

Much more later, but not before the game starts, so there ya go.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Epic Drop: Top 10 Least Compelling NFL Storylines for the Rest of 2007

Your list is here, and I, for one, will remain riveted by that Crosby-Gostkowski battle. I bet Coach Belichick just kicks a dozen field goals against the Dolphins, just so the Patriots can have that record, too.

WIN OR DIE!!! - Today In Isiah

Actual quote, as reported by the NYT...

To me, it’s win or die. And I literally mean death. I don’t mean walk away. I mean death. That’s how I approach it. And we got a job to do here, we’re going to get it done. I’m confident we got the right players, I’m confident we got the right people, and we’ll dig our way out of this.”
You know, I was going to go into a whole bit about how somewhere, Ray Rhodes is nodding, having had his home invaded and his family raped and murdered by his failure to hold on to the Eagles' job... but really, it's too much. Trying to add and amplify the Isiahanity is like salting salt, or turning it up past 11. He's beaten us all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Epic Drop: Top 10 Real Reasons Why Bobby Petrino Quit on the Falcons

Your list is here, and I'd say more, but I just got a contract offer from another blog, so I'm off like a prom dress. Don't wait up.

(I keed, I keed....)

The Knicks That Can Be Understood Are Not The True Knicks

You know, I think I've completely missed on what the true meaning of Isiah Thomas's regime has been to the Knicks. All this time, I thought it was just monumental incompetence, fueled by arrogance and utter, utter cluelessness... and the fact that the media kind of empowered all of this by actually getting excited when he brought in more big-name big-money no-defense players (it didn't work with Marbury... but now they've got Steve Francis! OK, that didn't work, but now they've got Zach Randolph!) was just part of the show.

But when I caught today's post-mortem, I'm not so sure. Check it out (NY Times excerpt).

Thomas apparently had heard enough. Late in the game, he could be seen debating some fans sitting near the court. One of those fans, Mara Altschuler, was so enraged by the discussion that she sought out reporters after the final buzzer.

He said it’s the fans’ fault because they don’t have a good sixth man,” said Altschuler, who has season tickets near midcourt. Her family has had the seats for more than 40 years, since the old Garden, she said.

Thomas was evasive when asked about the argument.

“I was just trying to make sure that we kept the team together and we stayed focused on what we were doing, in trying to win a basketball game,” he said. “Our fans are great. They support us and they show up and we’re glad they’re here.”

Asked again if he had argued with the fans, Thomas gave an almost identical response. A team spokesman cut off his postgame interview after only five questions.
Maybe, just maybe, Isiah is actually a performance artist, and this whole thing is kind of an Andy Kaufman skit gone really, really long. Or a psychological experiment, kind of like a Milgram study, where the test isn't what's going on in the games, but the stands.

Because, um, I can't really tell why you'd think it was advisable to go get into it with the paying (and in NYC, very, very, very highly paying) customers. Especially considering how there probably aren't going to be very many of them relatively soon, and the ones that are there seem to be ready to light you on fire, because they just don't understand the scope of your genius.

Yeah, that's got to be it -- Isiah is actually a very brave, very avant-garde performance artist. The next time you see him, when he's wearing nothing but a beret and slapping himself with meat as part of a greater pastiche of criticism against the factory farm-like nature of the NBA Draft, remember that you read it first on this very blog. I, for one, will be nodding my head slowly, in the affirmative, glad for the opportunity to bear witness to this... this... well, I am but a humble sports blogger. I fear that I do not have the words.

As for yet another home loss, this one to a Mavs team that's just kinda there right now... I didn't quite get it, and will have to study more of the subtext over the weekend. But it is, no doubt, *brave* work. Pray continue, Isiah. Your fearlessness is an inspiration to us all.

Later, Suckers: A Masstermind Nightmare

1:04pm EST, Sun., December 16, 2007, Foxboro, MA

The Patriots are ready to take the field and start their game against the Jets, but Jets coach Eric Mangini is waiving his team off the field. A sideline reporter for one of the networks runs over to investigate the reason why, and Mangini takes the microphone and addresses the camera.

"Give me that. Thank you. Now, put me into the Jumbotron so all of these people can see me. Now."

He waits for several awkward minutes. Patriots fans boo, but withot particular venom; they are too confused as to what is going on, and curious to hear what on earth Mangini has to say.

"I have several announcements to make. First, this will be the last game I ever coach in the National Football League."

Deafening applause. Mangini smiles, waves, but there is steel in his eyes.

"The reason why is that I have, through a large network of associates, bet an inordinate amount of money on my team to cover the spread in today's game. A spread that started this week at 24 points, and is now the largest amount in NFL history."

Shocked silence. Even Patriots fans wouldn't have suspected Mangini of such an action.

"To ensure that I and my associates cash in on those bets, and to further tarnish the Perfect Season that all of you seem to feel is your birthright, I am, as my last act as Head Coach of the New York Jets, forfeiting this game.

By NFL rule, this game will go in the books as Patriots 1, Jets 0. Please note that this means that if your team goes undefeated, my Jets will go down in history as having the smallest margin of defeat. You also don't get to see Tom Brady or Randy Moss set the single-season touchdown record. As a matter of fact, you don't get to see much of anything. Hope that tailgating was worth it to you."

A helicopter arrives over the bowl of the stadium, landing near Mangini.

"Now, if you will all excuse me, I'm going to go home to my money -- more money than any of will ever see in your lifetime. And if you had money on the Patriots today to cover the spread, some of that money is yours. Oh, sorry. Was yours.

Later, suckers."

The chopper fades into the New England sky. Across America, Mangini's action gets the following reaction:

And we all, a football nation united, wipe away tears.

Epic Drop: Top 10 Tips For Spreading BS NBA Rumors

Your list is here, and yes, it was sprung by Yet Another Story of how the Nets have to trade Jason Kidd (Britney Rant Defender Voice on) RIGHT NOW (off). They don't, He Ain't, and you can all go back to your candlelight vigils for the other trades that Just Have To Happen (those would be Jermaine O'Neal, Andrei Kirilenko, Shawn Marion, Kobe Bryant...)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Epic Drop: Top 10 Signs The Ravens Were Not Ready To Play Tonight

Your list is here, and you have to admire John Madden trying to ignite a quarterback controversy after seeing two minutes of Troy Smith... or was that from seeing 58 minutes of Kyle Boller? (He, um, might have a point.)

I'm going to add this thought here because it's just too soon, really, to give it a life of it's own. With the Eagles being all but eliminated, who do Eagles fans root harder against in the inevitable HorrorBowl of Possibly 19-0 Patriots against the TO Told You So Cowboys?

The answer, of course, is Kill Yourself, and the Patriots, in that order, just to keep Owens from having a ring...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Simple Moment That Would Make All NFL Games For The Rest Of Time, Much, Much Better

Star WR goes out for a pass.

The pass is incomplete.

Star WR mouths off to referee that he was held or interfered with.

Referee listens for a few seconds, then drops a flag.

Star WR claps hands, thinking that he has been rewarded for his diplomatic efforts.

Penalty is... 15 yards, unsportsmanlike conduct, Star WR.

I guarantee you that if this happened, say, in the first half of every single game in the NFL over the course of a weekend...

That we'd see an incredible and wonderful reduction in Star WR Mouths Off moments.

Whaddya say, NFL? Consider it your Christmas gift and get-even for the theft of Saturday football and the existence of NFL Network.

Meanwhile, In The Shooter Mom's League

Some of you might possibly remember, though probably not care, about the Shooter Mom's first ever fantasy league. Unlike my main league, we have happy news to report: she's 10-3, in first, with a bye. No other team was better than 7-6. She's also become abhorrent to the Shooter Sister for rooting against Donovan McNabb when we went against him in the Dolphin week. When it comes to money, you don't want to be against the Shooter Mom. Bad things happen. (We've got a good team that's been lucky, and we've made a lot of good week to week moves to keep the roster productive. Anyway, back to the point.)

With the bye wrapped up and a little time on my hands, I offered up some suggestions for the league's considerations on the message board. Not dictates, not demands, not even all that rude. (Yeah, it was hard. But these are people my mom works with, after all.) They were:

1) Moving to Yahoo (having played both there and CBS Sportsline, there's a ton of reasons to ditch the latter)

2) Extending add/drops beyond late October (seriously, my roster is frozen with Fat And Injured And The Root Of All Evil Ced Benson, who I'd pay to drop, even if it means not adding anyone back)

3) Having a TE, rather than just the ability to play a TE in the flex position

4) Going to fractional scoring

5) Not penalizing for missed field goals (seriously, you're down 3 if a guy somehow fails from 65)

6) Having sacks not count as much as fumbles and picks, and

7) Cutting the roster sizes down (currently we start 8 and bench 12)

The very charming public response from the Commish included this (unchanged with one exception, emphasis mine) pearl.

"Some of the rules changes you proposed are NOT going to happen we have been doing this league for 8 years and no way will I let a first year team owner have a little influence of how the league is run. You can feel free to join Yahoo if you wish. I talked to (old owners whose names have been withheld) about some of the rule changes. It is up to youy, If you are invited back next season you need to follow along the program. Thanks."

Now, I am, as many FTT readers know, a Sensitive Soul... but did anyone else feel a sudden chill in the room? I must have bad windows or something. Because I'd hate to think that Commish is a little bent that their plan to take an older woman and fantasy newbie's money (and we're not talking chump change) doesn't seem to be working out. Because I'm not sure why you'd need to go for the public smackdown, and the Council Of Elders Will Decide Only Play...

But I shan't say anything more, for fear of Not Being Invited Back. Plus, of course, my need to Follow Along The Program.

After all, the Shooter Mom and I know very little compared to The Elders, as witness by our 10-3 record despite owning only one player in the top 20 (yay, Matt Hasselbeck! And thank you, Rex Grossman, for getting hurt, so that Sole Possible Backup Brian Griese could actually be useful).

Playoffs for us start next week. Wish us luck, won't you? For Mom's sake.

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