Thursday, September 30, 2010

Anquan Boldin Is Out Of Touch, And So Are We

So I'm reading my advertising network's e-mail newsletter of tipped stories from Blogfrica, and I see a note about Baltimore Ravens WR Anquan Boldin talking to Edward Lee of the Baltimore Sun about misconceptions of NFL life. Here's the, um, money quote.

Q: Is that the biggest misconception that people have about football players, that everyone is a millionaire?

A: Yeah, I think so. The crazy part about the NFL is the disparity between pay. You have some guys making $350,000 and then you have some guys making $10 million a year. But the general public doesn't understand that just because I'm in the NFL, that doesn't mean that I'm making millions upon millions. Nothing is guaranteed, and they don't factor in taxes. If you get a $10 million contract, you might get a little bit more than half of that after taxes. I think that's a big misconception among fans.
Now, I'm not going to take Boldin too far into the woodshed on this. For one, he's one of the best players on my fantasy keeper team, and has been for three years now. If anything, it shows just how far into a bubble NFL guys are, and why athletes should be seen, and not heard. But it's not just athletes. The simple fact is that the more money you make in this country, the more out of touch you become with people who are undergoing real hardship.

If Boldin had really wanted to discuss misconceptions about NFL life, he could have talked about how he almost died on the field for no reason in that Jets blowout a few years ago, and how the job isn't always fun, glory and hot and hotter running groupie sex. You might remember the play in question:

Note the conditions of the play. The Cardinals were down three touchdowns with 35 seconds left to play in the game, which means that there was no tactical advantage to the play being made. Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn't relieved of duties, or ever really chastised, for putting his valued resources in harm's way for no reason. (Compare that, say, to the howls of anguish that a baseball manager receives for letting a guy's pitch count rise.) And for that, the man was incapacitated for weeks, had metal placed in his *face*, and had his life flash before his eyes. Not exactly something that I'm going to face on my 7 to 7, today or ever.

And yes, Boldin's made tens of millions of dollars playing a game, rather than building things of intrinsic worth, bettering the plight of others, taking care of kids, making lasting art or a thousand other "better" things. No one should begrudge him this. He's really good at something that millions of people aspire to be good at, and he's only gotten to be that good at it through relentless amounts of work -- work that, independent of talent, few of us have the single-mindedness to pursue to this extent.

He risks career-ending injury every day, and when that injury comes, the contract is not guaranteed. He'll stop making money, and transition to a retirement that will last the rest of his probably shortened life, with very little that can take up the slack. That's the Faustian bargain that players make, so bitching about the money they make is very small beer indeed. Besides, if they didn't make it, the owners would, and as fans, we always have the option of just not paying for tickets and merch. So let's move on from that.

No, my problem is what the reaction to this will be, and that it's actually going to create traffic for a blog that did, let's be blunt, nothing of any merit whatsoever with the content. They pulled the money quote from the newspaper piece, linked to the story, then posted the knee-jerk "populist" opinion that Boldin's an out of touch jerk. Golf clap, sirs. That must have taken, well, seconds. And the use of at least one thumb. Probably the one you don't suck on. Would it have killed you, at least, to show a moment of wit, rather than the tired indignation?

I'm also not real thrilled with my ad network for spiking this, to be honest. The way Blogfrica works is that there are about 10 to 20 of us who have, through the grind and occasional moments of breakthrough, consistent high traffic that we can make a little coin from. Then there's another 500 to 1,000 of us who do the work consistently, but have erratic usage. Something hits the fancy of an editor at a tip service, and we're off to the races. Or, in my case, the store, to buy groceries. Yes, things have gotten that tight. It's been a joy, the day job. But I digress.

For the past couple of weeks, FTT has been doing the same thing it's been doing for the past 3.5 years and 2,800+ posts -- lists that try to make with the funny, and analysis that goes a little deeper than that. Either you like it or you don't; that's not my issue. But when a consistent source of traffic, such as my network, goes weeks without throwing you a bone, you notice. Especially when it's doling out the treats to a site that just did the Blogfrican equivalent of picking its nose and showing us the result.

Anyway... none of this is bringing the funny or the analysis, and for that, I apologize. But if I seem a little testier than usual, I think you can see why. After all, I don't have Boldin's millions, or the Midas touch of bitching about Boldin's milllions...

Top 10 trade destinations for Carmelo Anthony

With the looming spectre of "The Decision II: Electric Boogaloo" in front of them, Denver is entertaining trade offers for star forward Carmelo Anthony. Where might he go, and why?

10) Philadelphia. The Sixers have supposedly offered up Andre Iguodala in trade, and after his team player shtick at the FIBA Championships, that just might be enough. Philly is clearly desperate for a star caliber player, and might even take Melo as a rental without a contract extension, because, well, they are just that stupid and desperate. It also helps/hurts that if he goes here, he's not that far away from his B'More homies. Stop snitching!

9) Dallas. One of these days, Mark Cuban has to actually get the shiny prize, doesn't he? For a team that lavishes its players and resides in a warm-weather state with no income tax, you'd think the Mavs would be better at the free agent game. I doubt Melo works here, because I don't think his usage works well with Dirk Nowitzki, and I also don't see the Mavs having enough to offer in trade. But they've certainly got an owner that's willing to break the salary cap if need be.

8) Boston. A team that's not willing to roll the dice on talent, and they have to know that they are getting too long in the tooth to challenge the other powers in the East for much longer. A Paul Pierce and spare parts move would gut the heart out of the franchise and cause much wailing and gnashing of teeth. It would also be the right thing to do, at least on the court. Off it, where Anthony gets to hear how he's not the warrior Pierce is from perpetually aggrieved Boston Fan? Not so much.

7) Chicago. A bit of a wild card, in that they might just want to see how things go with the Rose-Noah-Boozer triumvirate for a while, seeing how that's a nearly perfect complement of inside, outside and transition benefits. Too bad that Luol Deng turned into such a void; he'd have made for an interesting trade chip. Of course, if Deng hadn't turned into dung, they wouldn't be interested in Melo in the first place.

6) LA Lakers. This franchise is too smart and too cutthroat to think that Ron Artest is a long-term benefit, and a reasonable alpha dog like Melo could add years to Kobe Bryant's life by giving the Lakers the ability to dial down his minutes. Denver might be dumb enough to take the ticking time bomb that is Andrew Bynum, and this is a franchise that just plain gave away Marcus Camby a few years ago for salary relief, so you never know. And if you are Melo, you have to love the idea of going to LA, because for the past 40 years in the NBA, top talent has done exactly that and gotten paid off with rings. Sigh.

5) Cleveland. There's no real chance that they have enough to offer, or that Anthony would have any interest in coming here after the ownership failed to land LeBron James and then committed PR Suicide in the aftermath... but imagine how hard the Rebound Love would be. They'd kiss his butt for the next three years, regardless of won-loss record. You'd read how the town just appreciates him so much, and it's not as if the franchise and area isn't used to devoted worship of its star player. True, you'd never win a ring. But maybe the abject and joyous worship of a state would be worth it. Besides, there are a few players on this roster that he could work with, and it is the lesser conference...

4) Portland. New GM Rich Cho replaces the well-regarded Kevin Pritchard at the behest of meddling and meddlesome owner Paul Allen, and he's certainly got some chips to trade and the interest in making a splash. With brittle center Greg Oden haunting the dreams and practice facilities for What Might Have Been (yes, they certainly can imagine Kevin Durant in the laundry), there's still expiring contracts like Andre Miller and Joel Pryzbilla if the Nuggets are looking for cap relief. So what if Melo doesn't quite fit into the roster's primary need, which is for Oden to fulfill the franchise's dreams, if not his destiny? He'd fill up the box score and make them an entertaining fraud. You know, kind of like Allen.

3) LA Clippers. The most delusional franchise in the Association -- and yes, that is hard when the Knicks, who you will notice didn't even make this list, because the shocking and hidden truth is that no one cares that they suck and have sucked for a decade now -- honestly thought they were in the running for the LeBronathon, so why wouldn't they go hard for Melo? As always with the Clips, there are tradable assets that could have actual careers if they can only escape this vortex, and for a one-year rental and the ability to see if he can be the one to make the Clips relevant, Melo might give it the old college try. And hey, if he tries, Baron Davis might as well!

2) New Jersey. So what that they say they are out of the race? That's just posturing to try to make the deal simple and manageable again. Since the new owner takeover, the Nets have lost in the lottery, hired retread retard Billy King to do something GMish, brought in little talent beyond pick Derrick Favors, and moved to Newark. In the immortal words of franchise embodiment Derrick Coleman, whoop de damn do. They need Melo bad, to fill seats, help finish the new arena in Brooklyn, and convince the non-existent fan base that the new boss actually gives a damn, and has some small clue as to what he's doing. I still think Melo could wind up here, really: they need him the most, and he'd be a bigger star -- much bigger -- than Amar'e Stoudamire. (Of course, that probably says more about my poor opinion of Amar'e, but so be it.)

1) Houston. Ah, the under the radar franchise that just does everything right, and is ready to step up to the plate with an actual star. The return of limited minutes Yao Ming, the emergence of young point guard Aaron Brooks, the quiet winning ways of Shane Battier, Kyle Lowry, Chuck Hayes, Luis Scola and Kevin Martin... there's just a tremendous roster of quality supporting cast players here, and all of it, with the exception of Yao, is pretty cheap by NBA standards. But Moneyball doesn't really work to win championships, especially in the Association, so it's time to upgrade to a top 10 level player. Melo would enjoy the income tax advantage, the warm weather, the quality supporting cast and the fact that the rest of the roster would be more than willing to cover for him defensively on the nights when he didn't want to go full-out on both ends of the court. He'd also give them a playoff assassin and end of the shot clock guy, which is the only thing that the Moneyball approach doesn't get you. If he goes here, and Ming can actually give them a full year, they could finally break through.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Top 11 reasons why MLB needs to expand its playoff schedule

This week, Mistake For Life Bud Selig put forth the proposition that MLB needs to allow more teams to the playoff party, seeing how there has been no real drama to September this year, and how the sport allows the smallest percentage of teams to make the post-season of any of the majors. But as always, we dig deeper to give you the real reasons.

11) For once, they want to do the dumb thing before the NFL does

10) The sport needs more meaningful games in more cities to create the potential of more stirring big fall crowds, like we've seen for contenders in Tampa and Atlanta

9) If more teams make the post-season, that helps to deflect notice of how the teams with ridiculous payroll advantages are always there

8) A best of five first-round series is much more exciting than a month of do-or-die and scoreboard watching that we used to have before the wild card

7) The current schedule of games, where some small market or Western team gets shafted by having multiple day games, isn't ungainly enough

6) With the entire sport tied down to pitch counts and innings limits, adding more workload is a clear win

5) We haven't had a barely .500 team make the post-season in far too long

4) Extra weeks tacked on to the end of the year can't possibly blow up in the sport's face by having games played in ridiculously cold weather

3) MLB just does so well in head-to-head ratings matchups against pro and college football

2) When you add in extra weeks at the end of the year to the World Baseball Championship at the start of the year, we get the game nearly year-round, and that's worked so well for golf and tennis

1) By expanding the schedule, we ensure that the conditions are perfect to finally end the scourge of performance enhancing drug abuse

Week 4 NFL Picks: Armageddon Soap Opera

This week, the picks column, along with everything else in the greater Philadelphia area, is being co-opted by the Vick-McNabb Eagles-Redskins game. Will Philly Fan boo Donovan? Will McNabb bring forth terrible vengeance? Will Vick rise to the occasion and dominate the game? How will Andy Reid scheme to stop the QB he knows better than anyone? And will Fox cover every single part of this until you are ready to squeeze out your own eyes and ears from the sheer maddening repetition of it all?

The rule, as always, is simple: if you really want to enjoy the NFL, you need to limit your exposure to it. Paying any attention to timewaste like Philly Fan's reaction (um, it's a football game, who the hell cares), or the personal nonsense of who says what and how so and so feels... well, look. The game's good enough for us, right? I'm pretty sure that I'd be watching this game if there were no names or numbers on the jerseys. So we'll just, you know, deal with the games.

And the sharper-eyed among you will notice that there are a few less of them this week, as we're already into the bye. I'm done complaining about this innovation of modern NFL life, since the end effect -- more football over a longer amount of time -- is beneficial, mostly because it gives us one less week of having to care too much about baseball. So, um, there's that.

And with that... on to the picks!

San Francisco at ATLANTA (-6.5)

I'm disturbingly interested in picking the Niners here. The talent on the roster just doesn't say 0-4, and after firing offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, I'm thinking there will be a dead cat bounce. The Falcons may also be feeling very full of themselves after last week's win in New Orleans; they were a missed chip shot field goal away from gagging it up, despite dominating the lines. There's every possibility of a letdown here.

Except that... QB Matt Ryan is actually really good, and the Niners just made Matt Cassel look competent. The Niners have not been a good road dome team for a while now, and the Falcons are going to enjoy a real home field advantage. If they had simply made a few more plays in Pittsburgh in Week One, we'd be talking about them as the best team in the conference, especially given the strength of schedule they've faced. I think they struggle early, the Niners don't take advantage, the home team wears them out, and we get some full-scale sideline blow-up between head coach Mike Singletary and some random target. Michael Crabtree, you might want to avoid the coach in this one.

Falcons 31, Niners 17

NY JETS at Buffalo (+6)

So much for that .500 Jets season that I was predicting. One hard-fought win in Miami, the week after punching the Patriots in the mouth, and that Week One wipeout against Baltimore is forgotten. Buffalo has historically been a very tough place for the Jets to play, and they did show a pulse on offense last week in New England, but there's a mile of difference between the Jet defense, even if it's not at full strength, and the Patriots. The Jet special teams are also not prone to giving up the big plays that the Bills need to stay close, and while they might sleep on the Bills, you kinda can.

Jets 24, Bills 16

CINCINNATI at Cleveland (-3)

How bad have the Bengals looked, especially on offense? So bad that the moribund Browns are a home favorite, despite one of the worst QB situations in the league. That's how little QB Carson Palmer is regarded right now, and that's correct. He's horrible. And whichever team has to use their QB more will lose this game.

If you enjoy 1970s style football, this is the game for you. Between Cedric Benson and Peyton Hillis, you'll see 80 carries or more, with few of them going more than 5 yards. The Browns have an edge with PR Josh Cribbs and the home field, and the fact that Bengals coach Marvin Lewis keeps managing the game as if he's got a passing game is worrisome. In the final analysis, I'm going with the Bengals because I like their defense more, but honestly, this will just be a case where the team with the fewest turnovers wins.

Bengals 20, Browns 16

Detroit at GREEN BAY (-14.5)

Oh, you poor Lions. You were just a thoroughly attainable red zone garbage score from a perfect sneaky cover on the road in Minnesota last week. Then, the Packers were going to show Jay Cutler who is boss, and you'd catch the Pack at home, fat and happy with a 3-0 record. You'd free up speed back Jahvid Best for some plays, show that you are well-coached if not exactly well-heeled, and continue to solidify your status as a marvelous hedge bet for point spread bettors.

Now? You get one angry Packers team, who just gift-wrapped that MNF game against the Bears, in the cauldron of unhealthiness that is Lambeau. Plus, Best is hurt. Let's just say that I don't like the Lions' chances of giving this one a lot of drama. Finally, the Packer wideouts deliver on their pre-season promise.

Packers 38, Lions 17

DENVER at Tennessee (-7)

Two fabulous frauds. The Titans come in with a win on the road in New York against the Giants that the home team could not give away fast enough. The Broncos moved the ball up and down the field at home against the Colts, but couldn't score in the red zone, and that's starting to look like a real problem. The Titans didn't do much on the road but accept gifts freely, and QB Vince Young is not giving them much of anything right now. So give me the big road dog to keep it close. That much, they can do.

Titans 20, Broncos 17

SEATTLE at St. Louis (+1.5)

Wow, can't this game go to a bye? Watching these teams is like being sick and sober, in that you get to really think hard about what's in front of you, and hate it. I like the road Seahawks because I don't think the Rams can handle prosperity, or sixty minutes without starting RB Stephen Jackson. But the only win in this game is not to watch it, because taking the Seahawks in any road game prompts the sick.

Seahawks 23, Rams 20

Carolina at NEW ORLEANS (-14)

A very similar game to the Lions visiting the Pack, in that the road dog was going to cover until the home team lost a winnable game and will now look to relieve some frustration. QB Drew Brees is going to get his fantasy owners off the ledge in this one, and QB Jimmy Claussen on the road, in a dome, against a defense that's good at provoking turnovers? If the Panthers aren't close enough to run the ball, this one's going to be a wilding.

Saints 38, Panthers 13

Baltimore at PITTSBURGH (-3)

Big Ben's absence could not be going any better for the Steelers, who are lapping the field when it comes to scoring fantasy points on defense this year, and are starting to look like the league's only potentially dominant team. With the resurgent defense leading the way, the Steelers are getting great contributions all over the roster. Plus, there's this: the Ravens, outside or WR Anquan Boldin, have been mostly MIA on offense this year, and do-everything RB Ray Rice looks to be compromised by injury in this game. For once, Baltimore won't lose this game on their own mistakes, and the Steelers will end the No Ben segment of their schedule unblemished.

Steelers 24, Ravens 20

HOUSTON at Oakland (+2)

I've been watching Texans games far too closely this year, having gone all-in on them in my head-to-head fantasy league. When they play teams that get after the QB, they struggle, because while the running game is better than last year's nightmare, it's still not that great. (Why? Because RB Arian Foster is, shh, fumble-prone. Ask the people who watched him in college. The Texans are pretending this problem doesn't exist, because they were so crushed by it last year during Steve Slaton's year of losing everything.) Two years ago, the lack of protection in the passing game wasn't such a problem, because WR Andre Johnson was 100% and dominating on everything that came his way. This year, he's just good, rather than the best player in the game at his position. It's such a delicate mechanism, really.

Anyway, the Raiders should have won the game several ways from Sunday last week in Arizona, with gutty QB Bruce Gradkowski making multiple do-or-die plays in the clutch, only to be taken out by K Sebastian Janikowski's shocking failure at the gun. This game will be close -- the Raiders have too much talent on the lines, and heart with Gradkowski, for it not to be -- but in the end, I think they get out-coached in a battle of men who don't win a lot of games that way. I also like the Texans' other weapons at WR to pick up the slack for Johnson this week.

Texans 27, Raiders 24

INDIANAPOLIS at Jacksonville (+7)

How bad was Jaguars QB David Garrard last week? So much that you have to think that discard QB Trent Edwards, acquired on Tuesday on waivers from the Fish At The Table Bills, could be playing in this game, and early. When the ownership is on record as saying that they aren't convinced in your work ethic, that's a Rubicon that you don't cross. Garrard has skills and might be OK in a better coaching situation, but with head coach Jack del Rio swirling the drain in his own Why Did We Extend You conundrum, loyalty to the QB that's swirling with him should not be expected.

As for the Colts, another year, another breakout WR. Unfortunately for me, this year it's named Austin Collie, while I had gone all-in on Pierre Garcon. A few years ago, it was Brandon Stokely. One of these years, it'd be nice to see QB Peyton Manning do that trick with someone who sucked somewhere else -- Hank Baskett turned his lonely eyes to you, Peyton -- just so we have one more reason to think the guy is the best who has ever played the position. In the regular season only, of course.

Colts 31, Jags 17

WASHINGTON at Philadelphia (-6.5)

Independent of the QB sideshow, there's this: the way to beat the Reid Eagles when they are on defense has been to have an effective running game and feed the TE. No one knows this more than QB Donovan McNabb, of course, but the Skins fail on that first part, with the usual Mike Shanahan Committee Work providing little so far this year. Starter Clinton Portis is looking pretty spent, the old frauds (Willie Parker and Larry Johnson) have been run off, and the new names haven't really jelled yet. The rest of the Skins offensive situation just isn't a good match up for them. WR Santana Moss is the kind of guy that CB Asante Samuel makes big plays on, and there really isn't another target here that should have a big game. So unless McNabb can make plays with his legs -- fairly unlikely at this stage in his career and against a defense that runs well -- or rack up 150 yards to Fred Davis and Chris Cooley, it's hard to see the Skins sustaining drives, or converting them into scores in the red zone.

On the other side of the ball, the Eagles are still a little too boom-busty, especially against good defenses, and sadder than spilled ice cream in short yardage. But QB Mike Vick has been deadly in the red zone. So the overall mix is for Green, but not for the full cover, which also ties in to the historical way these games go down. Besides, McNabb will bring his "A" game.

Eagles 28, Redskins 23

Arizona at SAN DIEGO (-8)

Are the Chargers running the same script as past years -- big hole early against a paper tiger division opponent (this year, it's looking like the Chiefs, rather than the Broncos), stirring mid-season comeback, followed by a home playoff loss that everyone has to pretend to be shocked by? If so, count me on board, as I can use the wins. The comeback begins this week against the worst 2-1 team in NFL history, your Arizona Football Cardinals. Last week against the Raiders, they benefited from a staggering amount of penalties, only to answer right back with their own, particularly crippling pass interference calls being the piece de resistance.

Adding to the woes for the Cardinals is that quality second WR Steve Breaston, who has racked up nice numbers somehow with QB Derek Anderson under center, is out for the next month following meniscus surgery on a knee. So now WR Larry Fitzgerald is the sole focus for the opposition, and that sound you heard was all of Fitzy's roto owners trying to convince themselves that this is good news, since it must mean every pass will be throw to their man. Anderson's over-under on picks for 2010 should be 40 by now...

But if you like the Cardinals to cover, here's one reason why: they can return kicks, and I'm not sure anyone on the Chargers can make tackles in special teams. That's a leading indicator, by the way, of a roster that's on the down slope. AJ "Lord Of No Rings" Smith, your work is nearly complete!

Chargers 34, Cardinals 16

Chicago at NY Giants (-3)

Wow, I'm really starting to hate both of these teams. The Bears escaped MNF with a home win and an inordinate amount of turnover-saving flags. The NFC's only 3-0 team still looks like something that will get their QB concussed, but the defense is back to proud professional levels, and they do tend to catch the clear picks that you throw to them.

The Giants are just a world of mess right now, with the lines acting like sputtering bullies who have started to take damage in a fight they expected to win easily, and don't know what to do now. This week, they will get a little bit of their swagger back, because even their weak pass rush will get to Cutler a half dozen times, and QB Eli Manning's pattern is to usually bounce back from terrible games with competence. Had he just been competent in the red zone last week, New York wouldn't be in such fine fuss.

Giants 24, Bears 20

New England at MIAMI (Even)

This MNFer is the second straight week in which the Fish host a division rival that looks shaky, and will probably win anyway, just to spite me. Miami could have easily taken last week's game against the Jets, but a critical slip by a CB got DUI WR Braylon Edwards loose for one of the least karmically satisfying moments in years.

So, anyway. I still like the Dolphin line play, still think that the Pats can be pushed around by a stout line, and still think that the Dolphins can hold the ball for 40 minutes in this game. And maybe the Pats' secondary is so bad that QB Chad Henne can have the rare back to back good game for a mediocre QB. But this is a shaky one.

Dolphins 24, Patriots 17

Week Three: 7-9

2010: 21-22-5

Lifetime: 277-269-16

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Visiting Laundry Etiquette 101

Last night I went to the Bears-Packers Monday night game with Papa Truth. It was his first time to Soldier Field and I figured what better way to introduce him to Bears football than with a game against the hated Packers, on a Monday night, where everybody has been drinking all day. Oh, and my season tickets are up high in the North end zone where I would describe the fans as “Blue Collar Enthusiasts.”

The thing to note with Bears-Packers games is that you get a fair amount of visiting laundry at Soldier Field. With the close proximity to Green Bay and a fair amount of Wisconsin transplants in Chicago there is usually about 20% Packers fans at these games. It makes for increased amusement during the games. And with both teams 2-0 going into it, people were pretty fired up. Walking up the concourse to our seats there was a Bears fan following a Packers fan yelling “Packers Suck. Packers Suck. Packers Suck.” All while pointing at the Packer fan. My poor dad, new to these surroundings, figured they were together. I had to explain that this fan made the poor decision to wonder off by himself, and the two guys were not together. He enjoyed this immensely and got pumped up to grab our seats.

For the most part Bears fans are pretty decent to visiting laundry. They will throw in a couple of verbal jabs here and there, but will leave you alone for the most part if you follow some basic visiting laundry etiquette. If your team makes a great play and you want to get excited – you can do so without a beer or pizza being launched at you. And I’m pretty sure no fan at Soldier Field has induced vomit on visiting laundry. Yet.

So let me set the stage of our seating vicinity. There are some pretty good regulars in my seats. Mostly males ages 30-50 with the occasional wife dragged along (with friend in tow of course). My row last night had the regulars. Typical Chicagoans with the SNL parody accents armed with brats and Miller Lites. Behind us was a group of 8 guys – 4 in Bears laundry, 4 in Pack laundry. In the row in front were 8 guys in their early 30s. Fraternity brothers from Wisconsin who had taken advantage of the night game and got their drink on early. They were “happy” but not belligerent. Three rows in front of me were the regular loud 20 something group of guys. About 10 of them. They are loud the entire game. About 10 minutes before the game started a group of 8 arrived. Appeared to be two families that came to the game together. All Packer fans. Two moms, two dads – around early 50s. Two teenage daughters and two sons who appeared to be teenagers, but were drinking beers, so early twenties but looked like they should be in high school. Now the problem with the two guys wasn’t that they were wearing a Matthews and Rogers jersey with Packers hats, but for some stupid reason they had small Packers towels on their heads under their hats. They already decided to break Visiting Laundry Etiquette by drawing undue attention to themselves. They got a few verbal jabs thrown their way before the game, but were smart enough to shrug them off. The one in the Matthews jersey was about 6 feet and 150 pounds and the Rogers clad lad unfortunately had a Bieber hair cut. Prime targets.

And then it began. On the first play from scrimmage, the Pack stopped the Bears run for a lost and the poor kid in the Matthews jersey (who we will refer to Matthews for the rest of this) chose poorly. He stood up and turned to all of us, pointed at us and yelled “All night long Mother F**kers! All night long!” It was like throwing meat to a pack of wild dogs. The verbal barrage started and didn’t end for 5 minutes. I can’t even write 95% of what was yelled back at him (although I did laugh at the “Hey Nancy, take your boyfriend Bieber and wait in Mommy’s car til the games over”). The 7 fraternity brothers had a target for the rest of the evening and every Packer fan within ear distance was happy as they didn’t have to worry about any abuse for the rest of the game. The mark had been made, and they were saved.

The worst thing that could have happened to Matthews was that the Packers went up 10-0 early. This only strengthened Matthews bravado and was as judicious with letting middle fingers and f bombs fly like a sailor on shore leave with his money. Another rule of Visiting Laundry Etiquette is don’t work up the drunk locals with profanity and middle fingers. It’s just bad form and you run the risk of really upsetting drunk guy. I blame the kid’s dad at this point – he should know better. Keep your kid alive is probably rule number one for him at that point.
Skipping ahead to the 4th quarter – momentum had shifted to the Bears and the barrage of verbal abuse increased on Matthews, only to have him get more angry and loud. Even the Packer fans behind us were agreeing at the Class A douchery being displayed by Matthews. The fraternity brothers were reliving their glory days from college by just killing this kid all night. Matthew’s buddy Rogers hadn’t looked up or said a word since the second quarter. He clearly wanted to be anywhere in the world but in his seat at that point. Another Visiting Laundry Etiquette rule broken – don’t be a huge tool so it gets to the point where everyone with you wants to be invisible.

And the final Visiting Laundry Etiquette rule broken by Matthews, and the biggest in my book happens. After Robbie Gould kicks the winning FG with 8 seconds left, Matthews grabs his buddy Rogers and starts to head to the aisle. Verbal taunts are flying at him, wrappers, a pretzel, and the last drops of people’s beer. If you are going to be a jackass at a visiting stadium – TAKE YOUR MEDICINE LIKE A MAN. Again, I kind of blame his dad on this one. Man up and take it. And if he stays til the end he doesn’t get beer and wrappers tossed on his family – not a lot, but still who wants that?

Heading out of the game 50,000 fans (take out the 10,000 Pack fans) were yelling “Packers Suck” all the way to Michigan Avenue. There were a lot of handshakes, pat on the backs and “Great game” shared between Bears fans and Packer fans. A great night and a great game shared by those who followed the Visiting Fan Etiquette. So for all the Visiting Laundry out there – go on the road, wear your laundry and root hard for your team. Just don’t be Matthews.

Top 12 rationalizations for conflcted Eagles fans in the Michael Vick Era

I feel your pain, Eagle Fan who thinks kindly of dogs. Now that we're 2.5 games in and fully committed to the Mike Vick Era, you are torn between your lifelong need to root for the laundry, appreciation for Vick's ridiculous talents and high production, and disgust for his past misdeeds. So for the benefit of my fellow sufferers, as a public service, here's why it's OK to move past the guilt and embrace Vick without reservation. At least until he loses a game. Then we'll boo his felonious ass.

12) I have it on good authority that most NFL QBs are, in fact, not people you want to meet or allow into your home

11) As his parenting experience shows, prolonged exposure to Andy Reid can redeem any felon

10) While what Vick did was wrong, the dogs that were used weren't very cute or cuddly, and are therefore less deserving of protection

9) The reason why Vick behaved so badly before is that when your top wideout is Brian Finneran, you just start to think that the normal rules of life don't apply

8) As Steve Young's signing with the USFL's LA Express showed, being left-handed and mobile causes extremely poor life decisions for QBs in their 20s

7) When Nike gives popular black athletes endorsement dollars, they coat them in a thin layer of Pure Evil that, thankfully, wears off over time (There's hope, Tiger!)

6) Since the last 50 years of the Eagles employing QBs that aren't convicted federal felons hasn't resulted in a championship, it's time to try something new

5) It's not as if the rest of the world doesn't hate Philadelphia already, or that they can hate the town more for using Vick

4) Vick's fans are clearly better Christians than his detractors, since they are showing the virtues of forgiveness and judging not lest ye be judged

3) By embracing Vick over Kevin Kolb, Eagle Fans can continue to stick it to the racists in the fan base

2) Seeing how no one needs to meet athletes, live near, share a workspace with, buy a jersey honoring, listen to an interview with, or in any way interact personally with, who Vick is off the field is really not terribly relevant to our lives

1) When you sign a deal with the Devil, sometimes you cash in before having to pay the price

Top 10 reasons why the Bills cut Trent Edwards

After winning the starting job in training camp, and being arguably good enough to lead the team for their first two full games and serve as the backup for a third, the Bills cut QB Trent Edwards today. As always, FTT has the inside reasons why.

10) If the team had kept him, they would have had to sign his time card and give him medical benefits

9) The team is so shocked that he didn't have any trade value, they couldn't even look at him anymore

8) This just in: an organization that drafts a RB in the first round when that might be the only position on the team that's a strength might not be all that bright

7) Once you go with a Hahvahd man, it just seems so lowbrow to keep a Stanford guy around

6) The finally heard this song, which has been up on YouTube for only 12 months

6) The fact that he has a 14-18 record as a starting QB, and that record will be much better than what anyone else on the roster will achieve, just depressed them too much to keep him around

5) If Edwards wasn't released, deep threat WR Lee Evans was threatening to go into Operation Shutdown

4) It's one thing to inflict Edwards on the people of upstate NY, but when you foist him on the good people of Canada, that starts to reach the level of international incident

3) With Edwards, Buffalo was the only team in the NFL to use the Wildcat as a way to improve their deep game

2) As the CJ Spiller Experience shows, the Bills use the preseason merely to jerk their fans and fantasy owners around

1) It's all part of an elaborate plan to bring back J.P. Losman, and failing that, Jim Kelly or Frank Reich

Monday, September 27, 2010

Top 10 takeaways from the Phillies' fourth straight NL East crown

10) Upon further review, no one in town thinks that Cliff Lee is better than Roy Halladay, assuming, of course, that Roy doesn't suck in the playoffs

9) The fact that you've probably heard more about people getting tased at their games this year really should tell you something

8) Between the Blue Jays playing a "home" series in Philadelphia and Nationals Park acting as Philly South, the team played the most home games in MLB history

7) Not to demean the accomplishment, but this division hasn't exactly been filled with model franchises or competent humans

6) By trading for Halladay and picking up Mike Sweeney this year and Matt Stairs before, they are doing everything they can to share the playoff experience with dispirited veterans

5) At this point, John Lannan and the Nationals should just change their names to Red Klotz and the Generals

4) The team has their most wins in September since the 1983 Wheeze Kids, which is oddly unsettling, given how that season ended

3) Since the team keeps winning every year without resorting to steroid users or head cases, they are becoming increasingly hated by the town's sports talk radio industry

2) This further cements the fact that this is the best era ever to be a Phillies fan, and it's really not even close

1) If the Phillies just do this for another five or six years, and win 2-3 more World Series, this might be a baseball town again

Fancy My Idiocy

One of the things that I like to do on the blog is give information to the people who play in my poker home games. For the rest of you who don't play, I apologize for the following bit of jargon and degeneracy, but you knew what I was when you came here, so...

I'm at Harrah's Chester last Friday night, having finally secured a seat -- in a freaky coincidence, the exact same seat as the last time I was there -- after waiting for 90 minutes. They really need to expand the size of that place, and fast. Anyway, I'm up a little, getting no cards but playing tight and making a few successful bluffs from position since I'm playing maybe one out of every ten hands. In the big blind, I'm dealt 7-6 suited, and I'm happy to check it against three limpers in the big blind, since I'm a middle stack at a table filled with people who make me nervous. It's one of those games where you don't get too cute, because everyone here looks like a lifer, and you've got the feeling that any advantage you might have on the table is luck. And frankly, money's not real great right now (click on more ads, please), so I'm not getting too loose with my chips.

The flop misses my flush draw and puts two diamonds on the board, but I do catch bottom pair with no straight draw. It's checked around, again to my happiness, and the turn is highly interesting... because it gives me two pair, but also completes the diamond flush draw. I minimum bet the turn, and get raised an equal amount by the button for about half of the pot. The other two players fold. I think it over, and get the following:

a) If my opponent did hit the flush, he might have a baby, and could be bluffed out if another diamond hits the board. Given his past play and his pre-flop limp in early position, that's the hand I'm putting him on -- a baby diamond flush. If he had a big one, he would have checked my raise, and hoped to keep one of the other two players in the hand.

b) If the board pairs or the river is one of the remaining 6s or 7s, I'll have a house against his flush, and should be able to get paid. Potentially for a lot.

c) Given his betting pattern, he could easily have a missed draw here, or hit his Ace-Rag low kicker, which means I'm actually ahead in the hand. That's the fun part of limping from the big blind; it's just tough for someone to put you on a hand.

d) The price is only about a tenth of my stack, and my gut is telling me to see the river. Stupid gut.

So I call, and the river is another 6, which gives me the boat. It's not quite the nuts, but it's as close as I'm going to see tonight, and there really is no hand that I can put him on that is taking the pot. Do I check it and hope to trap a big bet, overbet it and try to look like a thief? Or just try to look like I've hit trip sixes (The Hand Of The Beast), and that I'll pay off his flush.

I'm thinking way too fast about all of this. And I'm certain that he'll raise, and don't love the check-trap option... so I minimum bet it again. Then I watch with disgust as he just calls the $5 chip, turns over his baby flush and nods happily at my full house, since I'm saved him an awful lot of money that he would have called. Worst $50 I've ever made, really, and the kind of "won" hand that makes you feel worse than, say, a good lay down.

In that moment, I know everything else that's going to happen the next hour of my life at this table: cold cards, missed flops and slow bleed as the Poker Gods punish me for my Fancy Boy Play Syndrome. of trying to find a middle way against a good player when the only play is push or trap. I should have just taken my chips and left at that moment, really. And it's one more painful lesson for later, which is...

When good things happen to you, don't overthink them, or assume that the world is doing advanced calculus with you. Had I the ability to replay the hand, I should have gone for a pot-sized bet, which probably gets called. Hell, maybe even a full shove gets called there, and this blog would be much, much happier.

But instead, I won my middling pot, and ended the night with a middling payday. I'm trying to be OK with that, given how it extends the casino visit winning streak to four, and adds a little more to my best year ever on the felt. Nobody plays perfect, after all. And as always in poker, your biggest opponent is that fish in the mirror, the one I have to shave every morning...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

NFL Week 3: You Crap The Bed

It's time for the NFL game show that is the omega of every week -- You Crap The Bed! You all know how the game works. We give you, the couchbound watcher of the nation's most popular sport who is in no way paid to make NFL decisions, the opportunity to out-think the men on the field. And this week, we're brought to you by Super Colon Blow, the breakfast cereal for people who are disturbingly concerned about their fiber intake.

Now, let's all play the game!

1) You are Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. You are leading 10-0 on the road in Carolina, at the end of the first half. In that half, your weak link QB, Carson Palmer, was 10 for 24 with 2 picks and another that should have happened. Palmer was, in fact, so bad that comments about his play led off halftime show highlights for out of town markets. He's clearly the only reason why this game was at all close, as your defense held rookie Panther QB Jimmy Claussen to 1 of 5 for 14 yards, with 1 pick and 2 fumbles, at this point.

After a Claussen fumble, you have the ball with 18 seconds left in the first half at the Panther 27. You are leading 10-0, and you have no time outs left. Do you:

a) Try for a put-away touchdown by having Palmer belch up a jump ball into the end zone to top WR Chad Ochocinco

b) Go for the end zone, but try oversized rookie WR Jordan Shipley, since he's got a height advantage, and did bring in a Hail Mary in Week One against the Patriots

c) Run a quick crossing route out to experienced possession WR Terrell Owens, so that your field goal attempt isn't so long

d) Try something unexpected with a draw or toss to speed back Bernard Scott or starter Cedric Benson, giving either man the instruction to, no matter what, get out of bounds, or

e) Have Palmer throw it short to rookie TE Jermaine Gresham, because rookies always have the presence of mind to get of bounds with no time left on the clock, and are in no way prone to thinking they can run through everything in an attempt to be the big hero

If you choose (e), congratulations... You Crap The Bed! And you've won 22 utterly meaningless passing yards for Palmer and Gresham, and another 30 hard minutes of football against a home team that was clearly ready to roll over and die. But luckily for you, Claussen provided his very own Super Colon Blow in this one, so you are still 2-1 and very much alive in the very frisky AFC North, despite having a QB that has a hard time going through airports, due to the large metal fork in his back. That's one spotless crap!

Now, we'd like to welcome back two of our favorites on You Crap. Without these men, we're really not sure we'd even have a show. So without further ado...

2) You are Chargers coach Norv Turner. On the road in Seattle, you've managed to tie the game at 20 on an Antonio Gates touchdown with 6:39 left. You are tied despite committing 11 penalties for 83 yards (6 and 51 more than your opponent), turning the ball over five times, and not having your starting RB or MLB, mostly because you are outgaining your opponent by a nearly 2 to 1 margin. Seahawks kick returner Leon Washington has a 101-yard kickoff return for a score, nearly broke another one in the third quarter, and is the only Seahawk, outside of field goal kicker Olindo Mare, to put up points since the end of the first quarter. Do you:

a) Squib it, since those rarely come back all the way, and the way your defense is playing right now, only a big special teams play is going to beat you

b) Try an onside kick, since it's the last thing the Seahawks are expecting, and if it works, you'll put their exhausted defense right back on the field

c) Just kick it out of bounds, because as we've previously mentioned, Washington is just about the only guy that looks like he could beat you in this game

d) Seriously, do anything imaginable, including but not limited to kicking it straight sideways into the crowd, but don't let Washington beat you

e) Kick away as if nothing that has happened in the previous 53+ minutes could have any impact on your thought process, because dammit, your kickoff coverage team should be able to do the job

If you choose (e)... well, you could only be Norv Turner. And your sheets are so permanently fouled that it's a wonder you don't just sleep in a hammock over a trough. And you've won the human interest story of the week, as the league's media gets to talk about how wonderful it is that Washington has manageed to recover from his gruesome injuries to take advantage of your kind idiocy. You've also won your second loss of the year, which means that you are a full two games and the head to head tie-breaker behind the Chiefs, so maybe you'll finally achieve your five-year mission of making the Chargers miss the playoffs. Congratulations!

And now, our other Hall of Fame bed crapper...

3) You are Eagles coach Andy Reid. With four minutes left in the first half, you have 3rd and 2 from the Jacksonville 26, and a 7-3 lead over the hometown Jags. Your offense, to this point, is comprised of one big bomb from QB Mike Vick to WR Desean Jackson, and the Jags scored on their last possession. Your offensive line continues to be the weakest part of your offense. Do you:

a) Rollout Vick on third and see if he can get the corner and the first down

b) Give the ball to starting RB LeSean McCoy, seeing how he's your best ball carrier

c) Try Jackson on another deep ball, since one killshot touchdown might put the Jags down for good

d) Use a half dozen other fairly effective options, including but not limited to WR Jeremy Maclin, WR Jason Avant, TE Brent Celek, WR Riley Cooper, or even FB Owen Schmidt

e) Try any of the above, but if you don't convert, send K David Akers out to get back your three points and prevent a momentum swing, or

f) Run reserve RB Mike Bell on third down, and again if you don't make it on fourth, because there's no way the Jags would anticipate you being stubborn, or the offensive line being ineffective in power situations, because it's not as if that's a hallmark of the Eagles in your era

If you choose (f)... well, once again, there's no way you aren't Andy Reid, and we don't even want to consider the chemical consistency of what you've shared with the world for years now. But the nice thing about Being Andy is that your team is so used to Bed Crappery that it's able to shake it off, at least against terrible teams, and wind up winning this game comfortably, with only David Akers' fantasy owners getting bent out of shape. Well done!

Well, that's all we have time for this week. Be sure to come back next week to see exactly who has Crapped The Bed! Good night, everybody!

Top 10 NFL Week 3 Takeaways

10) The first play that Brandon Jacobs was on the field ended with a pick, the second in a brawl, and as the Giants commited multiple idiotic unsportsmanlike penalties and turnovers in a remarkably ugly home loss to the Titans, it's fair to say that he's infused them all with his warrior spirit

9) If the Ravens want to be considered as a big-time defense and Super Bowl contender, they really shouldn't be giving up 144 yards rushing to the immortal Peyton Hillis

8) Not only does Bill Belichick hate you and your fantasy football team, but as the use of eight different runners shows, he's actively trying to end the game entirely

7) After two weeks of utter uselessness, CJ Spiller scored two touchdowns against the Patriots, mostly to make his (former?) fantasy owners finish the suicide attempt

6) The most shocking part of the Niners 31-3 loss to Matt Cassel and the Chiefs is that it actually diminished their chances to win the NFC West

5) The Saints overjoyed every NFL fan who hates that whole Icing The Kicker timewaste by having their blocked field goal disallowed, leading to the Falcons' game-winner

4) Fox's Jimmy Jackson appeared on camera with a rasping and ill voice, which made the quality of his braying jackassery poignant

3) Garrett Hartley is learning that multiple 40-yard field goals to win a Super Bowl don't mean a whole lot much when you miss game winners in the following year

2) San Diego showed that you can lose to a terrible team when you have nearly 250 more yards of offense, if you just give up multiple touchdowns on special teams, have three times the amount of penalties, turn it over 5 times, fail repeatedly in the red zone, and just generally embrace your inner Norvness

1) The Raiders and Cardinals combined for 4 turnovers, 18 penalties, 227 penalty yards, insane play-calling, overwhelming stupidity and three missed field goals, the last two possible game-winners, in a game that, sadly, someone had to win

Eagles - Jaguars Diary: The Defense Spays

> A hot day in Jacksonville is worrisome, but really solid blocking on the opening kick gets KR Ellis Hobbs loose for 46 yards up the sideline, and the Birds start at the Jags 44. QB Mike Vick to TE Brent Celek for 4; Celek wrestling for a little more. Vick on the Wildcat for 3, and I kind of hate that play if Vick really is the season-long starter, but so be it. Jag Fan makes a little noise on third, and Vick and WR DeSean Jackson can't connect on an open crossing route off pressure; sad. Punter Sav Rocca is said to have the best hang time in the NFL this year, which is news to me, but his punt is fair caught at the Jag 9. Keep sticking it to me, Aussie.

> The Jags run RB Maurice Jones-Drew into the line for little on first. MJD gets 17 on a cutback where LB Ernie Sims couldn't get off a hold; it's the longest run of the year for Team Teal, and that mark won't stand for long in this game. Boom-bust gets a few on first and stuffed on second. Third and six sees QB David Garrard from the gun, and he gets it backup RB Rashard Jennings on a leak route for the first, despite pressure. Hoo boy, this defense wastes its athleticism...

> Jennings for a couple to the left. Second and 8 sees a nice double sack from DEs Darryl Tapp and Juqua Parker, and Garrard takes a serious hit from the combo. Third down is a screen to MJD that S Quentin Mikell smells and stops, and it's 4th and 19. This defense could be good if they ever grow up and learn their roles. Short punt checks up, and the Eagles will start at their own 29.

> RB LeSean McCoy on the first down run for 6; it was almsot that in points, as he's tripped breaking into the secondary. Shotgun handoff for two to Shady. Vick rolls for the first, and the offsides is declined; that just looked easy. Short gain on first, and Vick can't make four men miss on; terrible work by the offensive line, yet again. Third and 16 is usually a give up play, but Vick from the gun has time and Jackson, and that's your garden variety 61-yard TD for DJ. Wow, wow, wow. DJ might have set a record for the amount of time celebrating the score before actually making it. Eagles 7, Jags 0, and I do enjoy rooting for a team that doesn't just pack it in on third and long.

> K David Akers puts the ensuing kickoff in the end zone, and the Jags take it back to the 22. Very quiet stadium right about now; it'll be curious to hear the crowd's reaction if Eagle Fan starts to make themselves heard. The Jags open in the gun, and Garrard scrambles for 8; I'd love to see the home team lose patience in the running game. MJD for five and the first. Hobbs jumps a slant route for an incomplete, and it looked like Garrard got outguessed as the defense showed a corner blitz from the other side. MJD for a couple, and it's 3rd and 8. From the gun, Garrard misses WR Mike Thomas, as defensive pressure didn't quite get there. The punt is taken by WR Jeremy Maclin at the 16 on a fair catch. If the Jags are going to stay in this game, either Garrard has to step up his game, or Vick will have to bring down his.

> First down is confusion as Vick misses Maclin. RB Mike Bell on good power to the left for 9. Third and 1 is a quick out to FB Owen Schmidt, and it moves the chains with a relatively high degree of difficulty. McCoy for four as the defense has to respect the end-around. From the gun on second, Vick's try for a crossing route to Shady is tipped at the line; that wasn't crisp. Third from the gun sees Vick throwing into four men, two white and two teal, and DJ isn't going to concuss himself on Celek for the first. Wise move, really. Rocca's 53-yard punt only gets 12 yards of net as the punt coverage team gets pancaked.

> From the Eagles 43, Teal's got some momentum. Garrard gives to MJD off the gun for three. After the quarter break, Garrard has a man in the end zone and open, but can't connect. Phew. Third and long from the gun sees the QB try to run into a blitz, and MLB Stewart Bradley cleans up the mess for a three and out and no field goal attempt. Nice series by the defense, strongly aided by poor play by Garrard, but at least they pressured him. Andy Reid gets the customary wasted time out done early; nice to see the man's still consistent in some ways.

> Right now as I write this, the Giants have lost, the Cowboys have won, and the Reskins are down two touchdowns to the Rams in St. Louis. Which means Green might be the best team in the NFC East, and lo, the division is not looking good right about now. But you take what you can get.

> Odd punt where DJ signals for the fair catch, then picks it up off the bounce and gets a flag for his efforts; he also kind of blocked the gunner, so oh well. First down from the 5. Vick has all day to throw from his end zone and misses Maclin, and that's a little worrisome that the accuracy seems to be off right now. Second is a fullback dive to Bell which gets a yard. On third, Vick in the end zone is hit while throwing for an incomplete, and against three rushers, that's real sad work from the interior line. Rocca's punt is fielded at the Jag 38 for a 57 yard kick, and brought back 11. Rocca's earning his kibble today.

> MJD pinballs for 12 by running to the right on a left side run blitz. They give it to him again for four up the gut, and that's getting worrisome. MJD for 2 to the left, running through tackles on blizes; very, very worrisome. Third and four at the edge of figgie range is from the gun, and Garrard connects with TE Marcedes Lewis to move the chains on a physical mismatch. Lewis makes a nice catch, and if he brings his A game, that's a load of trouble.

> On first, Garrard is nearly picked on a middle crossing route, and really should have been. Ugly flip to MJD results in a loss of seven; another unforced error by the QB. On third, the QB is tentative and should have been picked by CB Asante Samuel. A 51-yard field goal attempt is always good against my team, and so is this one. Eagles 7, Jags 3, and absent the TD throw to DJ, the QBs are not covering themselves in glory here.

> The kickoff team is called for an illegal wedge, and the field position is weak again, starting at their own 6. Nick Cole goes out for Reggie Wells on the line, so Reid rolls Vick out and connects with DJ to move the sticks, but the Jags challenge the ruling. If it's not, it says more to DJ being nonchalant with the feet, and it doesn't look like enough to overturn, as there's no real good camera view of the play. You have to love the Fox B team, and how the game is played differently for minus markets... and the play stands. From the gun on first, McCoy takes a checkdown for five. DJ on a drag route is shifty for 25; wow. Vick almost connects with Maclin as the defense starts to look shaken by Vick's mobility. On second and 10, the QB takes it himself and powers for nine, but it comes back on a hold. I'm really not thrilled by Vick's willingness to take punishment, or by the line's inability to block *or* avoid holding calls. Second and 20 is a give to McCoy that doesn't work. On third and long, old friend S Sean Considine hits Maclin early for the easy flag, and that moves the sticks. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy a team that doesn't turtle up on third down? Maclin stays down for a while, but walks off.

> From the Jags 36 and the gun, Vick holds it forever, and McCoy can't catch it off his fingertips. The O-line is getting mashed. Trickery to DJ gets nine, and he just looks like he's playing the game at a different speed than everyone else. On third and two after a timeout, Bell gets the ball for a yard as Eagle Power remains a misnomer at best. Fox analyst John Lynch praises the Eagle run blocking in 2010, which means that he hasn't been watching the same team the rest of the world has. On fourth and one, rather than take the 43 yard field goal attempt to make it a 7-point game again, Reid's going for it, and we are on You Crap Alert. A toss to Bell takes forever and is ruled short, so Reid challenges. Kind of an automatic challenge, really, and there is some hope of an overturn... and it's denied. Jags ball, and Andy extends his lifetime lead in You Crap The Bed moments. Gahhh.

> With four minutes left in the half, MJD gets a yard, and the defense needs to step up and stop the momentum change. From the gun on second, Garrard tries MJD on a hot read screen, and LB Akeem Jordan drops back nicely in coverage to tip it and break up the play. Third and long from the gun is a slow out to WR Mike Sims-Walker, the Jags' first completion to a wideout today, and it moves the sticks. Huge play on a lot of levels, really.

> Garrard to Thomas on a wideout screen for eight. Garrard avoids pressure and rolls for three yards and a first, and the Jags o-line takes a 15 yarder by spearing DT Broderick Bunkley, and that's the two minute warning. From the gun on second, Garrard's pass is tipped by DT Trevor Laws, and that penalty is looking big right now. Third and long is a Laws sack, with a holding call declined, and a loss of 12. If only Reid hadn't, you know, wasted two timeouts. Fourth and 29 has the clock not running for some reason, and the punt is taken back to the Eagle 47. With 97 seconds left in the half, Vick will have a shot to add to the lead.

> The Jags bring jumping pressure on first, forcing an incomplete; just an odd looking play. On second, Vick escapes to get it to McCoy for a hard yard. Clock running, and DE Aaron Kampmann is having a day here. From the gun on third with a minute left, Vick finds Celek for a 21-yard seam route, and the TE staggers off after punishment from Considine. Vick tries backup TE Garrett Mills on first and throws it out of the end zone for safety. 29 seconds left, no timeouts, from the 30. Vick to Maclin for an out, and he doesn't get out of bounds. Vick spikes it with 12 seconds left from the Jags 16. End zone or nothing has to be the play here, and from the gun, Vick shows great patience to come back to Maclin for the score. Tremendous play by Bick, and how he's got the confidence in his line to give him eight seconds of time there, I'll never know. Vick avoided the secondary blitz and makes a simply huge play to end the half. 14-3 Green.

> An odd squib kick is pushed out of bounds by the Jags, and that was nearly the world's best onside kick. Garrard sits on it, Jag Fan boos, and that's the half.

> The Jags start the second with Garrard taking 10 on a controlled scramble. MJD nearly breaks a big one, but Bradley gets an arm and loops him down after 7 yards. Pressure on second forces an overthrow, and DE Trent Cole nearly gets him on third. Garrard massages his wrist and heads off, and the Jag punt doesn't quite check back enough to stay out of the end zone. Nice physical work from the defense there.

> Vick from the gun on first hits Celek in the hands, but the TE's poor drop history shows up again, and it's nearly a pick. On second, Vick hits DJ in stride on an out, but he doesn't get the feet down on another play that seemed a little nonchalant. Third down is a throw to Maclin for 8, and Considine barely touches him for the three and out. Gunner Demetri Patterson crushes the returner as Fox notes that the Eagles were the top team in the NFL last year in punt coverage. You learn something new every day, really...

> The Jags' best play of the day is a 23-yard cross to Sims-Walker; no pressure and a good ball from the QB. Parker makes a wish on Garrard on the next play, and he just owned the tackle there. Second and 19 is a shotgun out to Lewis as Samuel sniffs the TAInt, but wraps up instead for a three yard gain. Third and 16 from the gun sees Garrard smashed as he flips it, Favre-style, to MJD, but the defense takes him down, too. The defense looks like they are having fun, but I'd like to see them get more rest. Eschewing the wisdom of letting the ball bounce inside his five, new punt returner Jorrick Calvin takes it back to the 18. Nice athleticism and all, but the only way the Jags are winning this game is from Green mistakes, so I'd rather he let that bounce, really...

> Shady McCoy draws for 18; nice run. They do it again for two, and there's actual clock running here. Innovative! Second and eight sees trickiness crushed for a sack, and four linemen were at the QB there. Not exactly a great line here. From the gun on third and 15, DJ drives us all crazy by dancing around the sticks and not quite getting the first. I love this man, but that was terrible. A delay of game flag happens before the punt goes off, and Green is just handing out gifts right now. Rocca's punt goes out at the Jags 28, and there's another gift. Shades of the Detroit game here...

> MJD boom busts for a 5-yard loss. From the gun on second, Garrard is nearly picked on another telegraphed pass; nice reaction by rookie S Nate Allen, who I'm starting to really enjoy. Third down is that Samuel pick that we've been waiting for, and that's his first of the year. A late flag for taunting on Hobbs pushes the field position back, but the way Garrard is playing today, I'm not sure it's going to matter.

> From the Jags 45, Green goes for the kill shot and gets it with ease, as Vick hits Maclin in stride down the left sideline for pure lightning. Honestly, NFL life rarely looks this leisurely, and that's our old friend Considine getting roasted on the perfect throw from Vick. It's 21-3 Eagles, and Life Is Good.

> A hold cuts the Jag return, and with 20 minutes of time left in this game, we're looking fairly close to over. MJD for a few, then Garrard navigates sacking traffic for a few more. On third, MJD is bottled up, and that's a three and out and Fox's cue to start disparaging Garrard's commitment to his profession. Calvin dances a little more, and it's clock killing time.

> On first, backpedaling, Vick just lofts it 50 yards off his back foot, and DJ runs under it for the catch. Good, Lord. Vick to Schmidt and who needs clock killing when you can just pad your numbers? He takes a Considine blind side sack, and there's no need to see more of that, really. Celek in a convoy screen moves the chains, and the TE seemed to enjoy the hit at the end of that. McCoy for three to the right, and Green now has 220 more yards than Teal, on one more play. From the gun, Vick escapes pressure and takes it on for the score, and yes, that was vintage. If I'm Reid, I give Kolb the fourth quarter. Eagles 28, Jags 3, and about the only person not liking this in Eagle Nation is the guy who was counting on a ton of field goals from Akers. In the red zone the last two weeks, Vick has been absolutely deadly.

> Akers puts a kickoff out of bounds with an offsides, and Green might be kind of checking out mentally at this point. MJD for a loss, and he's got 59 yards in 3 quarters. Not exactly terrifying. Garrard goes deep and gets a flag on Hobbs, who stays down after losing contain on reserve speed wideout Tiquan Underwood. Garrard tries Sims-Walker in the end zone, but it's defended well. Jennings for a draw for four. From the gun on third, Garrard is unbearably tentative on a hot read, and it's nearly a pick for CB Joselio Hanson. On fourth, Teal goes for it, and from the gun, Garrard misses Wilford on a touch pass, and the near-pick means nothing, since the ball is turned over on downs anyway. Garrard is just one maddening mess of a QB, really.

> Vick goes out again, and gives to McCoy for a loss of a yard; I don't like either of these players being out there at this point. Vick bootlegs for a few. On third and 8 from the gun, Vick has time but throws his worst ball of the day. Teal might have gotten away with some PI. Rocca's punt is taken by Thomas to the 37, and the only thing Vick could do better in the last two games is take more time off the clock with a fourth quarter lead.

> MJD draw for 5, and this is just about fantasy points now. They do it again for 3 on second down. If Jag Fan hasn't left by now, he really just dislikes his home life. Third and two is dropped by Sims-Walker off pressure, and the WR really didn't look like he cared that much about it. They go for it on fourth, and MJD shows the pride to fight for, and get it. I don't know why you play him at this point, but there's a reason why people love this guy.

> MJD for 10, and after the play is over, Teal takes a late hit o-line penalty to back them up 15. The fourth Eagle sack of the day goes to Cole. Garrard scrambles for a few, and it's third and 10. The fifth sack of the day is also Cole's. Of such things are Pro Bowls made, really. Calvin finally lets a punt bounce into the end zone, and with just under 8 minutes left, Vick will return. His fantasy owners must love Reid, really.

> McCoy for 12 and that showed some talent. Vick calls time rather than take a penalty. We get footage of Jaguar Mascot stuntwork; what ever. McCoy for a yard, then five more. Celek can't move the sticks, and that's a punt. Rocca's had a nice day, and it continues with a 47-yarder with no return.

> MJD on a shotgun draw, and they have 26 yards total passing right now, subtracting the sacks. Wow. Lewis is tackled by five men for five yards. MJD converts. Three minutes left until this one is over. Pressure from Cole and a tipped ball that stays down. Kolb warming up but the defense doesn't get off the field. The two minute warning happens after a short cross to reserve WR Kasim Osgood, who you might remember from Charger special teams. Then again, you might not.

> Garrard fakes Laws and moves the sticks on a scramble. Jailbreak rush forces an out to Sims-Walker, who is suplexed down for a loss. Tipped ball forces third and 11. Parker with yet another sack, but he jumped early. Garrard converts third and six to the other TE Zach Miller. Allen with a Dawkins-esque flying sack, and that's the team's... I can't count that high. Garrard pads the numbers on a throw to Underwood, and that is that. Your final is Eagles 28, Jags 3.

The Eagles suddenly look like the best team in the division, and the schedule, assuming that the Redskins can be overcome following their road loss to the Rams, looks quite palatable until the weather turns cold. Especially if this defense is the real one.

Top 10 Week 3 NFL Ad Questions

10) How do the Southwest baggage handlers do their jobs and still have time for delusional police activity?

9) Why does Allstate think that Tommy Gavin's angry brother throwing himself off roofs will make me want to use their service?

8) Are "prescriptions that start in the sea" indicative of a doctor that is, in fact, not human?

7) Does using Vaseline's skin lotion make you run long distance by choice or need?

6) Shouldn't Dick Vermeil be crying in his Coors Light ad, since he's pretty much crying in all of his other footage?

5) Are Bank of America's new ATMs solely designed to help their sleaziest customer grift $20 from their clueless friends?

4) Can't the Sony 3-D flattening technology be used for a better use than making Peyton Manning and Justin Timberlake spoon?

3) Can I buy a washing machine from Sears without enduring interpretive dance?

2) How much did Apple pay Cake for the rights to overplay "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" to the point where everyone will hate the song and band?

1) When the Domino's Pizza guy says that cheese sticking to the roof of the pizza box can't happen, is he upset about the customer service, or baffled as to how the substance that they substitute for cheese has adhesive properties?

Top 10 New Endorsement Partners for Fantasy Football

In the day job, I work in advertising, which means that I get to / have to read columns like this one, in which a fairly out of touch ad guy notes how the game is popular (gasp!), hits a good demographic (still), and is underused for advertising concerns, because, well, it is. So let's brainstorm up a few new tie-ins, beyond the Toyota avatar generator for Yahoo, the Geico sponsorship of the ESPN game and podcasts, Southwest covering a pick'em game, or how "Get Him To The Greek" is on all of the Web pages that I open tonight. Because the game is just starving for advertisers!

10) AFLAC presents the Bye Week. The supplemental insurance for inadequate worker's compensation is the perfect partner for those crippling weeks in your H2H league where your start quarterback or tight end is on break, and you have to make an unwelcome decision to cover the point shortfall with some detestable scrub. If Gilbert Gottfried can cash a check from it, can it be all bad?

9) ADT Home Security fantasy handcuffs. Brandon Jackson, Mike Tolbert, Jason Snelling and Correll Buckhalter are dying to cash any kind of endorsement check, so let's get them woodenly mouthing platitudes for the home security system that covers your prime asset in a way that gives you cold sweat nightmares. The only thing worse than having coverage is to need it.

8) The Jaguar Overreach. Did you draft a promising rookie with world-class speed, only to see his questionable offensive situation and/or crippling other problems turn the pick into a season-defining mistake? You'll feel so much better about things when Jaguar looks kindly on your middle aged crisis and CJ Spiller pick by sponsoring... The Overreach. Sure to impress the ladies!

7) PosturePedic Sleepers. So named because they seem utterly essential when you are considering them, a moment of grown-up joy when the deal is made, and then a lifetime of overpriced regret when you realize that mattresses are mostly springs and air, and that 90% of all sleeper picks are just next month's free agent gristle. I'm sleeping tight with Kansas City's Dexter McCluster, who is eligible to do nothing for me at wideout or running back. Sleep tight!

6) White Castle Trade Acceptance. Like lycanthropy, White Castle is best experienced biannually while stoned, and so are the comically ridiculous trade offers that you receive when you start the season slowly. To the guy that offered me Browns RB Jerome Harrison so that I could have both ends of that two-headed disaster, having spent a late pick of Peyton Hillis... have a sack of White Castle. It will, soon enough, turn into your offer.

5) BP Trade Offer. When life gives you lemons made of solid platinum, and then you somehow squeeze them into bitter acid that you use to drip into the eyes of your enemies, it's time for the BP Trade Offer. Here, you use your waiver wire position to claim the Brandon Jackson claim over the owner of dead RB1 Ryan Grant, then trade the guy to him for his top remaining player, and laugh yourself stupid as Jackson is, well, Brandon Jackson despite the lovely opportunity now afforded to him. With the move, you continue to rack up huge profits and live in luxury, while taking on all of the hate that's possible in your universe. It's BP-tastic!

4) 3M Bubble Wrap Bubble Finish. For the taking it way too seriously types, or the small minority in the geek world that plays for crazy money, 3M is proud to sponsor the intervention where the just out of the money finishing team has their wrists wrapped in bubble wrap to make the suicide attempt less successful. If you've ever lost a H2H matchup from negative yards from your QB taking kneel downs at the end of the game, 3M is there for you!

3) Brewdog Trash Talk. The makers of the world's highest alcohol beer (their Tactical Nuclear Penguin brew clocks in at 32% alcohol by volume, which is roughly 3000% more than Coors Light) would be proud to sponsor your wildly over-the-top, possibly violence-inducing trash talk. Why just stop at insulting a man's team when you can bring up what his mother did for recyclable empties behind the dumpster, before her second shift work in Congress? Brewdog helps you bring the wood! And seizures, and blackouts.

2) The Big Suck Out from Oreck. When your vacuum can pick up a bowling ball -- because, Lord knows, that's just the kind of thing you are probably sucking out of the carpet on a daily basis -- you just have a certain sense of security and power that's unmistakable. Along with, say, watching your kicker hit a 50-yarder on Monday Night for the win, both for his team and yours. Immortalizing your freakish luck would be the same folks who advertised their machines as having "the cleaning power of a Category 2 hurricane," because nothing is better than Hurricane Clean.

1) Twilight Sucked Out. And finally, for that life-draining defeatist feeling that comes to just about everyone that engages in this sucker bet, it's the sparkly vampire movie franchise that's got money to burn. It's the perfect match, because just like the movies, life slows to an inexorable crawl in the weeks where it all starts to go into the weeds, until you long for the sweet embrace of a death that won't come. Enjoy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

In Any Trade Involving Willie Green, The Team Trading Willie Green Wins

This doesn't really merit much of a mention, but the Sixers moved Willie Green today. And no one outside of Philadelphia will notice, but Lord in heaven, Sixer Fan will. And for one of the few times in Willie's life here, cheer.

You see, Green is the perfect embodiment of why this franchise has been almost always irrelevant since Allen Iverson was one of the five best players in the world. (In other words, the very early part of the 21st century.) Drafted by Seattle in the second round of the 2003 draft class, he came to the Sixers in what has to be considered a remarkably minor coup, in that Green had an NBA career, and the cash and body that the Sixers traded for him did not. And for the next seven -- yes, seven -- seasons, he played for no good reason at all.

Looking for explosive offense off the bench? Look elsewhere; Willie is a career 9.4 points per game guy, in 21.8 minutes of floor time. Need an efficient scorer to take advantage of secondary opportunities or clean up the garbage? Willie shoots 42% from the floor. How about someone who can stretch the defense from downtown? Willie will belch them up for you at just under 32% for his career.

But wait, there's less. The rebounds per game are comical (1.9). The assists per game aren't much better (1.7). He doesn't pick up steals (.8). He doesn't shoot particularly well from the line (75.2%), so you can't send him out there to ice a game when you have the lead. (I know, I know -- any franchise that is giving Willie 20+ minutes a game is not holding many leads. And lo, they have not. But humor me.) He's obviously not very much of a defensive player outside of the counting numbers, since the team has never won a ton of games with him playing a prominent role, or a playoff series. All in all, the franchise is 60 games below .500 during the seven years that he was in the laundry.

It goes farther than that, really. Green is listed at 6'-3" and 191 pounds. He was never notable for being fast, or tough, or heady, or anything beyond, at the very best, ordinary. And for year after maddening year, for teams that were for the most part going absolutely nowhere, Green would get minutes. Last year, Jrue Holliday was the only reason to watch this team, and for the first half of the year, he sat and watched Green. The club traded for Jodie Meeks from the Bucks, then sat him so they could play Green. They brought in Allen Iverson for his final sad act... and still gave Green minutes.

One of the few joys of bad teams is that they normally turn the personnel over. Losing with fresh names on the laundry is one of those inalienable benefits; the old bodies just do not sell tickets or excite anyone. And today, years and years and years after no one beyond Green wanted to see him... he's gone, along with marginal big man Jason Smith for Darius Songaila and rookie forward Craig Brackins.

I have no idea if neither player is of any use. But at least it'll be with a different name on the laundry.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Top 10 reasons David Stern told Gilbert Arenas not to talk about his gun incident

10) Stern would allow it, but Gilbert's team is now called the Wizards, and not the Bullets

9) It would just irritate the 14 people who are interested in the 2010-11 Wizards season

8) The resulting publicity might might cut down on the jersey sales for new Hornets guard and gun buddy Javaris Crittenton

7) It will make the NBA's next public relations disaster seem fresh and new

6) Stern really doesn't want to see Gilbert become that big of a rap superstar

5) There's clearly no reason to talk about this, when his shooting finger pantomime says it all

4) By not discussing it, he makes his blogging much more suspenseful, assuming All-Father Stern allows that

3) As a distant and false public figure, he makes for a much better role model for children

2) The commish has a real problem about Arenas talking about guns without an endorsement deal

1) By not talking about it, and having the not talking about it reported on the front page of ESPN, it's sure to go away real fast

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Top 12 reasons why the Chargers didn't trade Vincent Jackson

Despite a wildly protracted holdout and the pleas of millions of Charger fans, fantasy football players and the fans of possible trade partner teams, not to mention the increased amount of suspension for staying put, the Chargers refused to move malcontent #1 WR Vincent Jackson by the deadline, when his value is presumed to be higher. FTT, as always, has the real reasons why.

12) Malcolm Floyd and Legedu Naanee haven't disappointed enough fantasy football owners yet

11) The team didn't really feel much pressure to make a deal, since their fans are incapable of staying upset for more than ten minutes

10) It's all an elaborate stunt by Charger GM A.J. "Lord Of No Rings" Smith for a reality television prank show

9) It's very, very important to prove to the rest of the roster that money is more important than wins, and that All-Pro production will not get you any additional consideration

8) When you play in the AFC West, you really don't need all of your weapons, or a majority of your limbs, to win the division

7) The Redskins refused to give up three Mike Shanahan 1,000 Yard Rushers From Nowhere to be created later

6) Having a very good deep threat was undermining everyone's appreciation for Norv Turner's genius

5) Minnesota refused to throw in extra picks and a year's supply of Wizzinators

4) As the first two games have shown, the Chargers have no flaws or areas to upgrade

3) Just couldn't be without his smiling face in the locker room, and want to personally supervise those extra three games of suspension that he'll receive for remaining a Charger

2) In addition to high draft picks, the Seahawks refused to throw in Ichiro, the Space Needle, and their secret special coffee that gave owner Paul Allen cancer, thereby allowing them to actually make trade offers in the first place

1) By denying access to his biggest weapon, the Chargers are looking to give QB Phillip Rivers more of a chance to show off his calm under fire leadership skills

Top 10 trade destinations for Kevin Kolb

This isn't taking long at all, is it? You'd have though that the man did something untoward. Or that the NFL is filled with the same kind of vulture dynamic that you find in your fantasy league.

Let's get this out of the way quickly: there is little real chance that the Eagles would move Kolb in the regular season. Trades don't generally happen very often in the NFL for the simple reason that organizations are control freaks, and coaches don't generally go for brand new situations with players that they do not know. Michael Vick is always an injury risk, Kolb's value isn't exactly at high tide right now, and with the NFC East in what appears to be a weakened state, there's no way Andy Reid and Co. are going to war with Mike Kafka as the #2 man.

But then again, I never thought the man would have reversed course on The Face of The Franchise in 24 hours, either. We're well beyond the usual event horizon in the dotage of Reid.

So let's round up the usual suspects and see what's possible...

10) Dallas. What, you are not enamoured of the Eagles filling the QB depth chart of every divisional rival? Cowboy Kolb is an extreme long shot, which is why the Cowbots are ranked 10th, but hear me out. Kolb is originally from Texas, and if this year's Cowboys continue to fumble and stumble despite a surplus of offensive weapons, maybe Jerruh Jones takes out his terrible wrath on everyone... even that star-shtupping, beret-loving, Cabo-going QB, Tony Romo.

Impossible? Not particularly. While Romo has the big PR, he's currently 17th in the NFL in QB ranking, behind people like David Garrard and Chad Henne. He might actually be, you know, not that great. Even in the non-playoffs. And if the Cowboys don't make it, mostly due to the failures of an offense that has plus wideouts, tight ends and running backs?

Well, stranger things have happened. Such as Romo getting the gig in the first place, given his low pedigree...

9) San Francisco. To say that the Bay Area has issues at QB is to understate the case to the point where you could have, well, issues. Smith won't be the worst #1 draftee ever -- JaMarcus Russell and David Carr have that covered -- but he's clearly seen as the weak link in what should be a glorious return to division dominance for Mike Singletary's bunch of winners. This is made even more likely by the fact that the Niners only have Smith on the hook for one more year of contract. If the Niners somehow don't win the West and a home playoff game, maybe they move for Kolb to replace Smith.

8) Carolina. While I have no doubt that Kolb would get whiplash from going from the most pass-happy club in the league to one that seems to be trying everything to make sure two RBs get full-time touches, you'd have to think he'd be an upgrade here. And since Jimmy Clausen wasn't that high of a pick or that big of a contract, you could easily see Kolb here as part of a spirited QB competition with the Golden Domer. But if this does happen, it will probably go down with the next coach, because Carolina has to be tired of Jon Fox's act by now.

7) Buffalo. Oh, I hate to have to even think of sending anyone to be the QB to this forbidden wasteland of bad football, but people with steelier eyes than mine tell me that the Bills are starting Ryan Fitzpatrick now, and that guy was barely athletic enough for the Ivy League. The Bills have some reasonable defensive secondary guys that could come over in a deal, and if we've learned anything about the league by now, it's this: you can never have enough DBs who can cover. Failing that, any pick from the Bills comes very early in the round...

6) Cleveland. Yes, I know -- they signed Jake Delhomme for ridiculous money, brought in Mike Holmgren's special pet Seneca Wallace to throw the back-up TAInts, and have prospect Colt McCoy to carry the clipboard for the ManMensas. But what if Holmgren realizes that his QBs, well, stink? Even Delhomme has to know he's stealing money by now. Wallace has never really progressed beyond a fading slash prospect. This team still needs wideouts even more than QBs, but Kolb would at least give the town some hope, and that line would keep him relatively clean.

5) Oakland. With the Jason Campbell Era already looking to be over, Al Davis has to be setting his wandering and barely functioning eye to new personnel, and Kolb has the kind of accuracy that could make even hands-free track stars look like wideouts. He'd fail here, of course, because this franchise is doomed to double-digit loss years for as long as Davis is alive... but it's not as if the NFL doesn't have turnaround years for even terrible franchises. Eventually.

4) Cincinnati. A bit of a shock to see the high perceived star power of Carson Palmer on this list, but anyone who has watched the Bengals play for the last year and a half knows that the former Pro Bowler is now the weakest link. If Cincy has another year like the last one -- a playoff team done in by its lack of an effective passing game, despite what seems to be a credible line and weapons -- maybe they start thinking about turning the page with someone new. So long as they don't send over Terrible Owens in trade...

3) Kansas City. There may be no player in the NFL -- and perhaps the history of the NFL -- who is more overpaid than Matt Cassel. (Six years, $62.7 million, signed a little over a year ago. No, seriously.) In watching him this year, he just seems indecisive with the ball and his movements, lacking in arm strength and the owner of questionable decisons. And the Chiefs are downright frisky now, with a strong running game, solid special teams and an emerging defense. Currently, we know one thing for certain, and that is that if you drafted Dwayne Bowe or Dexter McCluster in your roto league, Cassel is killing you. And soon enough, the Chiefs.

2) Arizona. The most obvious QB hole in the league right now, and a need that is so dire that you'd have to think that they might make such an over the top offer as to overwhelm even the usually cautious Eagles in mid-season. Arizona has no chance -- none -- of winning the division again with Derek Anderson or rookie QB Max Hall, and anyone with eyes can see that. With WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston, they have some of the elements that made them explosive and a Super Bowl participant not so very long ago... but only with an accurate trigger man at the helm. The run-first offense that was prepared can't work when the QB is no threat. Of any team where Kolb could go to, Arizona might make the most difference in 2010.

1) Minnesota. And then there's Brad. The 2010 work of Brett Favre has looked for all the world like the last days of a hostage situation, and while the Vikings head coach might profess his undying affection for Tarvaris Jacson, it's hardly a move that the fan base will accept, or that anyone with eyes will welcome. Kolb would make a lot of sense here, especially in 2011, when the presumed return to health of WRs Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice would give the Vikings some lightning to go with the thunder of RB Adrian Peterson. And it's not as if Childress is adverse to dealing with Reid.

Now, if only they had an offensive line. But then again, if it got too bad, maybe they'd just bench Kolb for a more mobile backup...

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