Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

NFL Week 12 in Review: Playoff Edition

The playoff picture actually got a little murkier this past week with a lot of losses in the contender field. Because of this, I have copied over the tiebreaker rules for wild card teams. Hopefully it makes sense.

Three or More Clubs
(Note: If two clubs remain tied after third or other clubs are eliminated, tie breaker reverts to step 1 of applicable two-club format.)
1. Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2. The original seeding within a division upon application of the division tie breaker remains the same for all subsequent applications of the procedure that are necessary to identify the two Wild-Card participants.
2. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
Of course I am more than excited to present the picture as it currently stands below. Basically, this is probably far more interesting than reading my pithy comments about how the week went below. At least it interests me more...

AFC Current Playoff Picture:

Division Leaders:
New England: 6-5 (vs NY Jets)
Cincinnati: 8-3 (at Pittsburgh)
Indianapolis: 11-0 (home field advantage... vs Tennessee)
Denver: 9-2 (first round bye... at Kansas City)

Wild Card:
Pittsburgh: 7-4 (vs Cincinnati)
Jacksonville: 8-3 (at Cleveland)

First Round Games:
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, winner at Denver
Jacksonville at New England, winner at Indianapolis

Still Alive:
San Diego: 7-4 (vs Oakland)
Kansas City: 7-4 (vs Denver)

I did take Buffalo out of the picture. They are 4-7, tied with Miami (who I refuse to put in this), and New England has some easy games coming up, including this week's rumble with the Jets. Perhaps I stick them in later, but I'm not buying it now. Anyways, the results of the week only enduced one change. Last week Cincinnati was playing at Pittsburgh, this time it is swapped. You could ask why Pitt got in over San Diego and Kansas City. Well, my friends, this would be why I copied the rules above. In my understanding, in a three way tie you first eliminate one of the divisional teams (San Diego or Kansas City). San Diego beat Kansas City in their first meeting, so the advantage goes to them. Pittsburgh then beat San Diego, so Pitt gets the wild card berth. Speaking of the Steelers, man they need players to stay healthy. Sheesh. The biggest game of the week, of course, is the Cincy-Pitt duel. Winner takes all in the division and clinches a playoff berth. Loser gets to duel with San Diego/Kansas City. Those wild card teams also have to be cautiously optimistic about Byron Leftwich going down for Jacksonville. Still, since the Jags play nothing but fluff (Cleveland? Come on!), I wouldn't get my hopes up that much. The Colts will be 12-0 after this week. The other huge matchup is the Denver-KC brawl. If Denver wins, they pretty much clinch a first round bye. If Kansas City loses, with the type of schedule they have they are done. Seriously, what a murderer's row! Denver, Dallas, NY Giants, San Diego, Cincinnati. The schedulers did not do them any favors. San Diego gets what should be a breather this week to try and continue their four game win streak. Still, both of those teams need to focus on running the table to get in.

NFC Current Playoff Picture:

Division Leaders:
Dallas: 7-4 (at NY Giants)
Chicago: 8-3 (first round bye... vs Green Bay)
Carolina: 8-3 (vs Atlanta)
Seattle: 9-2 (home field advantage... at Philadelphia)

Wild Card:
NY Giants: 7-4 (vs Dallas)
Tampa Bay: 7-4 (at New Orleans)
Note: NY Giants have a better conference record

First Round Games:
Tampa Bay at Carolina, winner at Chicago
NY Giants at Dallas, winner at Seattle

Still Alive:
Atlanta: 7-4 (at Carolina)
Minnesota: 6-5 (at Detroit)

Two changes this week... first, the 5-6 Redskins have been dropped. Those injuries finally caught up to that offense. Second, Carolina nabbed the #3 seed from Dallas, which sets up two inter-divisional wild card matchups, just like last year (Seattle-St Louis, Minnesota-Green Bay). How would you, as a Hawk fan, like to know you would play either NY or Dallas? I wouldn't be excited about either. Regardless, there will be some shake-ups next week. That NY-Dallas game is enormous for both teams, one of whom will have a two game losing streak to deal with. That Atlanta-Carolina game is huge for both teams, but especially for Atlanta. If the Falcons lose, they will not only have five losses, but four conference losses, tied for worst with Minnesota among contenders. Not a good way to get into the playoffs. Tampa Bay has the easiest game of the week, although both Chicago and Minnesota also should coast. Going to Philly for a Monday Night game means a tough matchup for Seattle, even against a beleagured Eagles squad. It sure is nice, however, to write that "home field advantage" up there. Still, if we lose and Chicago wins they will have home field. The schedule favors us (Philly, SF, Tennessee) while Chicago has a tougher road (Green Bay, Pitt, Atlanta). A 12-2 record going into that duel with Indy would sure be nice to think about. Meanwhile, the Vikings continue to creep up on the field and actually have the easiest remaining schedule of anyone (Detroit, St Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Chicago). They could legitimately go 4-1 and finish at 10-6. I'm not sure, but 11-5 might be needed to join this party.

Let's see what happens!

posted by Gavin @ 2:31 PM  0 comments

NFL Week 12 in Review

This was most definitely not a good week to be a kicker. Just about every big game hinged on what kickers could or couldn't do. Speaking of which, just about every big game fully lived up to the hype as well, making for perhaps the best week of football this year so far. On to the show!

Thansgiving Day:
Atlanta 27 at Detroit 7

Thankful For: Atlanta finally getting exposed as NOT the best team in the NFC
Thankful Pick: Detroit
I'm thankful Steve Mariucci was fired after an abysmal performance that frankly was caused as much by his mishandling of the talent as anything else. I was wondering why Kevin Jones wasn't shining. Apparently it's because even if he has a good run he doesn't get a chance at another for two quarters in favor of his fumbling backup. I was wondering why Joey Harrington wasn't succeeding. Apparently it's because his receivers drop everything near them and his coach didn't have his back at all. Note to Lions fans... Jeff Garcia looked awful. Stick with the kid. This team needs a disciplinarian to get them in line. They have too much talent to put up performances like this. I should give some props to Atlanta. You played some inspired football on both sides of the ball, even if Mariucci ran straight into your strengths. Let's see what happens when you take on Carolina.

Denver 24 at Dallas 21

Thankful For: Being able to root against the Cowboys for the last fifteen years
Thankful Pick: Denver
This was a fantastic game. Both teams showed why they are playoff contenders. I'm more impressed with Dallas' defense each time I see it. If they could only get Julius Jones to run like last year they would really be in business. In fact, Dallas' offense is starting to stall rather frequently. Terry Glenn isn't open down the field as often. Jason Witten just plain isn't getting the ball enough. I would be concerned if I was a Cowboys fan (which by the grace of God I am not). I thought Denver was going to run away with this one, but they seem to have an inability to put their foot down when they grab the lead. I'm becoming more of a Broncos believer, as that 9-2 record in the tough AFC West indicates.

Sunday:
Carolina 13 at Buffalo 9

Thankful For: Picking McGahee over Peyton Manning and learning humility in the process
Thankful Pick: Carolina
Yet another game that Carolina almost blew against a weaker team. How many is that now? They need to start being truly concerned about their lack of a running game, because it is hamstringing their offense. Jake Delhomme is getting the tar beaten out of him because opposing pass rushers are teeing off. Buffalo also did a good job of triple teaming Steve Smith and forcing Delhomme to actually throw to other people. Now if the Bills could only score, they would have had an easy victory. Basically, Chicago is a far better team than Carolina, and I never thought I would write that.

Baltimore 29 at Cincinnati 42

Thankful For: Easy games to pick
Thankful Pick: Cincinnati
Colin mentioned Chad Johnson's touchdown celebrations, and that "putting the ball" one with the goal post was pretty darn cool. Man that offense is scary good. They made an albeit underperforming Baltimore defense look awful. There was just no way the Ravens could match the points the Bengals were putting up. By the way, was that Jamal Lewis gaining over 100 yards? Really? He can do that?

San Francisco 22 at Tennessee 33
Thankful For: Not having to watch any of this game
Thankful Pick: Tennessee
These two teams at least made it entertaining for the fans who paid money to watch that crap. That's all I can say.

New England 16 at Kansas City 26

Thankful For: Larry Johnson's 31 fantasy points for my team last week
Thankful Pick: Kansas City
Kansas City has to be a little upset that they can beat a team that bad and yet are fighting for their playoff lives, while New England's closest competition is 4-7. This game wasn't as close as the score indicated. Kansas City dominated every facet, even on defense. New England still can't run the ball (the loss of Corey Dillon this year cannot be understated), their receivers are still dropping the ball, and their defenders can't do anything against anything. Yet, do you pick against them in the playoffs? It's time to start the questioning...

Cleveland 12 at Minnesota 24
Thankful For: The years of laughter I will have received thanks to the Love Boat
Thankful Pick: Minnesota
And the Vikings are now 6-4. Go figure. The last few years it was the other way around... start 6-0, end 8-8. The Vikings are only one game out of the wild card, and although they need some help, the schedule favors them. More in my playoff picture post. Regardless, their defense is gelling, especially with the emergence of Darren Sharper, who looks like he's gained about four steps. Kevin and Pat Williams are dominating the line of scrimmage, and Brad Johnson is not making mistakes, just like Brad Johnson. Frankly, I wouldn't want to play this team right now. They are on a roll.

Chicago 13 at Tampa Bay 10

Thankful For: Someone FINALLY exposing the Chicago Bears' offense
Thankful Pick: Tampa Bay
The Chicago Bears had one touchdown drive... of one yard. They were up 10 in the 4th quarter and if Tampa's kicker doesn't miss a 29 yard field goal they blow that lead. They cannot score. Cannot move the ball. This is the favorite in the NFC? Tampa's offense moved the ball more effectively than indicated, with over 300 yards of total offense. If Chris Simms had gotten some actual blocking, they would have scored a lot more. Unfortunately, his tackles got worked all game. The Bears deserve recognition. They deserve applause. They might even deserve a first round bye. To call them "favorites" is in my mind ridiculous. Still, this was a fun game to watch. These teams both wanted this game badly and played like it. Alex Smith was an absolute fiend. Field position and special teams were exciting and necessary. This was darn good, well coached football, and I'd watch these teams play again in a heartbeat.

San Diego 23 at Washington 17

Thankful For: A clearing playoff picture
Thankful Pick: San Diego
Speaking of fantastic games, here was another one. The finish was out of this world, and the Chargers had to be excited that the breaks went their way for once. Stymied by that good Redskins defense for much of the game, LaDainian Tomlinson finally goes 31 yards for the tying score, the Chargers stuff Brunell and that hurting offense, and they get the ball back with 1:30 left and a chance to win the game. Drew Brees promptly throws that interception. What a terrible decision that was. Utterly inexcusable. The game seemed over. Then the holding call. A good call... clear penalty. Then the miss. Then the Hail-Mary that was far too catchable. Then Tomlinson breaks the long run for the touchdown in overtime. I love football in November and December. Teams play with emotion and desperation for 60+ minutes. These were two desperate teams. To all those Joe Gibbs-haters out there... give him another year to tune his offensive line and get his receivers healthy. The Redskins will be back in 2006.

St. Louis 33 at Houston 27

Thankful For: Shutting up Tory Holt this year.
Thankful Pick: St. Louis
Another FANTASTIC finish. I may hate the Rams, but I still love to see comebacks like this (just not against Seattle). Ryan Fitzpatrick threw some amazing balls for a rookie quarterback in his first game. He showed poise and excellent touch on the deep routes. If I was the Rams, he's my backup quarterback now over Jaime Martin, and I start grooming him to possibly replace Bulger if he keeps getting hurt. Seriously, a 10 point comeback in 2 minutes? Un-freaking-believable. I love it. From a fantasy perspective, you have to love Kevin Curtis. No catches until overtime until that 50 yard touchdown catch. That's going from 0 points to 12 in 10 seconds.

Miami 33 at Oakland 21

Thankful For: Not having Randy Moss on my team and not having Norv Turner coach my team
Thankful Pick: Oakland
As Colin wrote, Oakland does the opposite of what you think they're going to do. An impressive win on the road in Washington is matched by an incredibly unimpressive loss at home to Miami. This loss puts me more than any on the Fire Norv Turner bandwagon. Losses like this show a loss of direction and a lack of improvement. Kerry Collins has reverted to form as well, which sure doesn't help. Put in Tuiasosopo! Miami, you played hard, Nick Saban has you playing the right way, you just need a quarterback. Was that a Ricky Williams sighting? He's starting to find his legs...

Jacksonville 24 at Arizona 17

Thankful For: Arizona's inevitable late-season rise, giving hope and allowing all prognosticators to pick them AGAIN next preseason
Thankful Pick: Arizona
Well, if not for a last minute interception, perhaps Colin's upset pick comes true. His upsets aren't right often, but they are usually close. Good NY Giants quality moral victory. Jacksonville has to be thanking their lucky stars they play crappy teams with David Gerrard (hope I spelled that one right), who is a pretty decent backup quarterback. The Jaguars can coast into the playoffs, although their reward will be getting zero home games, which is not a recipe for success.

Green Bay 14 at Philadelphia 19

Thankful For: Not having to hear about T.O. the past week
Thankful Pick: Philadelphia
This was a game that lived up to the billing. Two bad teams playing out the string. Still, 180 yards of rushing for Philly? Umm... if I was a fan, I would be asking where THAT was earlier in the season. I knew they could do it, they had the same offensive line. Brett Favre is just dropping back and throwing it up for grabs. I'm hoping he returns if only to put up real statistics.
NY Giants 21 at Seattle 24
Thankful For: My team stepping up when they needed to
Thankful Pick: Seattle
9-2 = respect.

New Orleans 21 at NY Jets 19
Thankful For: Saints that do not come from heaven
Thankful Pick: New Orleans
Sorry Mike Nugent. Better luck next year.

Monday:
Pittsburgh 7 at Indianapolis 26

Thankful For: The unintentional comedy of one Tommy Maddox
Thankful Pick: Indianapolis
I honestly believe this would have been a far different game in two weeks. Pittsburgh is just getting healthy and were exploited by an Indy team on a roll. Still, the Steelers couldn't get any kind of a running game going at all. I'm curious how the game would have turned if Jeff Reed doesn't miss that 40 yard field goal, which would have tied the game at 10. At that point the Steelers may have been able to focus on the run more. Just a thought.

The Scientific Method had a fantastic week himself, ending up at 12-4.

posted by Gavin @ 10:47 AM  0 comments

Oops!


So, remember when I was a little mad that everyone was claiming that the Seahawks actually lost on Sunday when they won? And that the Giants dominated us?

Yeah. About that.

Turns out that NFL officials called Holmgren to inform him that not only were one of the Giants touchdowns a result of an incorrect call, but BOTH OF THEM WERE!!!

Jeremy Shockey? Both feet were not down.

Amani Toomer? That first foot's heel WAS on the white line.

Wow. Those were, by the way, the only two touchdowns scored by ELI THE MAGICIAN AND HIS TRAVELLING ORCHESTRA during the entire course of the game.

But, hey, they did dominate us. That is true.

Just so you know that we can rip on a Seattle sportswriter about this as well, I give you the inestimable John Levesque, who never met an argument he couldn't somehow mangle. Today's entry is on the use of instant reply in the NFL. Let's read the genuis at work.

"Never mind that, in hindsight, the NFL says the referee goofed twice. The official stats say the Seahawks-Giants overtime game on Sunday lasted three hours and 51 minutes. Coincidentally, that's roughly how long it took to rule on the five plays challenged and reviewed during the game."

Translation: Never mind that at least two HUGE plays were incorrectly decided by instant replay. The real crime here is that instant replay made the game long. Because Lord knows that "60 Minutes" fans can't wait those extra fifteen minutes. Levesque continues to describe the botched calls, ending with the reversal in overtime of Shockey's catch.

"To describe the 16-yard differential as huge would be to say Donald Trump has no ego. It was enormous, humongous because two incomplete passes by Manning followed, forcing Jay Feely to try a 54-yard field goal. His effort fell short. Given the wretched day Feely had -- he missed earlier from 40 yards and later from 45 -- there's no guarantee he would have made one from 16 yards closer. But with a first down at the 20, it's likely Manning would have moved the Giants a few more yards before having to call on Feely."

So Levesque has just made a convincing argument for the need for instant replay. The overturned Shockey catch in overtime was huge. The Giants would have probably won if that call had not been overturned. Playoff seedings and the entire NFC playoff picture would be different right now. And yet....

"Either way, the replay system remains deeply flawed if a coach has to lose a timeout because the guy upstairs is slow on the uptake. And what if Holmgren had been fresh out of timeouts?
"That was a little bit scary there," Holmgren said Monday. "That should have been done a little bit sooner." Better yet, how about not at all?"


Um.... what? Why would that be better?

"Sunday's five reviews probably consumed 10 to 15 additional minutes. Not a lot in the overall march of the universe. But enough to make the pace of a nationally televised NFL game fall somewhere between snail-ish and tortoise-like."

You are arguing, John Levesque, that it is better to have the game run 10-15 minutes shorter and end with an incorrect call. That is what you are arguing. That is about the stupidest thing I have heard since Skip Bayless saying that the kicking game should be abolished so that teams can't just settle for field-goals, they can only score touchdowns.

"What's more, two review decisions that were rendered on the field -- both involving Giants touchdowns -- were later deemed at the league office to be incorrect, and Holmgren was so informed Monday. So replay and review extends the game, sometimes robbing a team of essential momentum, and the calls aren't necessarily the right ones anyway. Why bother?"

Because not ALL the calls were incorrect, numbskull! The overturned call in overtime WAS correct! It changed the outcome of the game! Do you not see this? Do you not care? Would someone rather be watching "Desparate Housewives"?

"Holmgren might argue that, without review, the Seahawks lose Sunday's game, It's a valid point, but, then, the Seahawks emerged victorious only because the Giants blew three chances to win it. Holmgren will also tell you that hoping for salvation from the officials is a dumb way to play the game. In Nemmers' defense, he's under enormous pressure to make a decision in 90 seconds on each challenged play. The league office, on the other hand, has all the time in the world to second-guess him."

Yes, in Nemmers' defense, he is under enormous pressure. And, yes, it sure did seem like he was calling his wife under that hood for her to tell him the correct call as she watched the game on her huge HDTV, or whatever that one commercial is about. But, Johnny, when you say that the Seahawks emerged victorious ONLY because the Giants blew three chances to win, you're talking out both sides of your mouth on this one.

"Nevertheless, the thinking behind replay and review is to make sure a controversial call is the right call. Yet, even with super slow motion and digital imaging, it remains a subjective exercise that, in different hands, can yield different outcomes. Turns out one man's incontrovertible evidence is another man's reasonable doubt."

Turns out one man's attempt at journalism is another man's toilet paper.

"We're stuck with replay for at least three more seasons. But if the NFL's competition committee, of which Holmgren is a member, really wants to make the game more accessible, enjoyable and entertaining for the fan, it will eventually realize the old way is the preferred way, and instant replay only makes the game longer, not necessarily better."

So, you believe that the game will be more accessible, enjoyable, and entertaining for "The Fan" (whoever that is), if instant replay is abolished and more games are decided on poor calls. You want us to go back to the phantom touchdown days of Vinny Testeverde. Fantastic. Wow. Um, keep up the good work, ok?

Gavin: My favorite part of the Monday Night Countdown broadcast had to be their "Jacked Up" idiocy where they all scream at the camera on hard tackles. The #2 hit was Marquand Manuel's decleating of Jeremy Shockey on that first "touchdown". They all gasp at the hit and then Tom Jackson said something to the effect of... "Did he have both feet down?" So even idiots just looking at the hit could tell that was an awful call.

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:09 AM  0 comments

Monday, November 28, 2005

Seahawks 24, NY Giants 21 (OT)

This is usually the post where I am supposed to recap the game and talk about how everyone did....

I can't do that.

Well, I can give a short answer: Most everyone did not play that well, and yet we won. We had an 8 point lead with 3 minutes left. The whole game might have been different if Engram doesn't fumble that ball when we were up by 7 and driving in the second quarter. The NY Giants are one of the best teams in the NFC, and, worst case, we would have lost by three.

Shorter answer: We won, and are now 9-2. The NY Giants are now 7-4.

Best answer: I can't watch enough of that clip during Feely's first miss where Jeremy Shockey is ALREADY starting to gloat on the sidelines, realizes that the kick hasn't gone in, and turns away in absolute shock. What a jerk.

Here's why I can't talk anymore about this game. We still (STILL!) are getting no respect from the media outside of Seattle.

Every week we talk about how, if we manage to win this week, that will finally be enough for people to start rating us highly. Every week we think if we beat Atlanta, if we win at St. Louis, if we beat Dallas, if we beat St. Louis at home, or if we beat the Giants, that will finally earn us the respect that has not been given us since the preseason picks came out.

We were picked to finish from 6-10 to 8-8. The Cardinals were supposed to rock our world. Notice that when we crushed the Cardinals in Week 3 the story wasn't about how good we were, but how disappointing the Cardinals were.

We have lost two games. One was at Jacksonville, the first game of our revamped defense. Matt looked terrible, we didn't give the ball to Shaun, and we still had a chance to win until Matt threw another one away late. The second was at Washington, where the goalpost "got in the way" of us winning as time expired. Besides that, we have beat all comers, the last seven coming without our best wide receiver, the last four coming without our emotional defensive leader, and the last two coming without our veteran linebacker.

Here are a smattering of quotes heard about the Hawks after our win:

Monday Quarterback (ESPN): They don't compliment the Hawks at all, but instead talk about how the Bears are the most complete and consistent team in the NFC. That is, frankly, ridiculous. Sure, I don't want to play the Bears on the road in the playoffs, but can a team really scare you when they can't score more than 13 points a game?

Monday Morning Quarterback (Peter King): In his Fine Fifteen, he jumps the Giants OVER the Seahawks, ranking them now 6 and the Hawks 7, claiming that the Giants, "make the biggest jump of the week, and they jump over Seattle, because of the flukiest day of a reliable kicker's life. They outplayed Seattle (490 yards to 355, 151 Tiki Barber rushing yards to Shaun Alexanders 110) in the Seahawks' lovely new home." You want to throw out stats? How about this one, genuis? The Giants, with their 490 yards, scored 21 points. The Seahawks, with their 355 yards, scored 24 points. The Giants had 16 penalties. Does a GREAT team commit 16 penalties in one game? The Giants had a first touchdown given to them (no, I don't believe that Shockey had possession) and a second touchdown that was one of those catches that only happens against Seattle (I swear, no one makes that catch outside of Madden). Besides all that, as a Seahawks fan, I know ALL TOO WELL that beating the team statistically means absolutely JACK SQUAT if you don't get a win. That's been my life as a fan. You can be damn sure that, if the Seahawks had massively outgained the Giants, and still lost, that they would not be ranked ahead of the Giants the next day. Eeergh.

John Clayton: "In perhaps the strangest game of the season, the Seahawks beat the Giants in overtime Sunday 24-21 even though they were outplayed, outhustled and outgained by a Giants team that is better than most folks on the West Coast imagined." Sigh. Whatever.

Clark Judge: "I don't care that Eli Manning and the New York Giants lost. Sunday's game against Seattle was another defining moment in the career of a quarterback destined to be extraordinary. Manning not only rallied the Giants to a tie with just under two minutes left, he twice -- no, three times -- had them in position to win. It wasn't Manning's fault the Giants lost another road game; it was kicker Jay Feely's. Manning did what he had to, which was set up the potential game-winning field-goal attempt. And he did it three times. So he's 1-3 outside of Giants Stadium this year; that will change." You know what, Manning did play well. But is that the #1 story in this game? NO IT IS NOT!!!

Random NFL Exec: “Run down the roster and it looks good,” an NFL executive said when asked about the Seahawks. “No big holes, good offensive line, solid quarterback, decent defense. But …”

The executive hesitated.

“They’re not going to hit you in the mouth. They don’t play tough. They’re not nasty. I don’t think anybody is afraid to go to their place and play. I know they haven’t lost at home this season, but it’s not because it’s some gritty, tough place where it’s hard to play. They’re just on a nice roll." So we're not tough enough? We're not nasty enough? What in the world does that even mean? No one is afraid to come to Seattle, a place that, outside of Foxboro, has been the toughest place to play since 2003? If they aren't, maybe they should be!

The MAIN HEADLINE on FoxSports.com: NO RESPECT DUE, talking about the Seahawks. That is the main banner headline? That we shouldn't get any respect after beating the Giants? Really?

Howie Long: Not impressed with anything about Seattle, but REALLY impressed with those Giants, who, "are improving on both offense and defense."

Alan Grant, Brian Murphy, and Patrick Hruby on Page 2, responding to the question of who wins if the Seahawks and Giants meet again in the playoffs: "Giants. Easily." "Giants. The Pacific Northwest makes teams soggy." "Anyone with Tiki Barber on their fantasy team."

The Daily Quickie: "Wins on Sunday were supposed to serve as "Prove It" moments for the Seahawks and the Bears. But only one proved they have the stuff actually to win the NFC.Seattle got lucky: Three straight shanked game-winning field goals by the Giants? Seahawks fans who consider that proof of anything but Jay Feely choking are fooling themselves. For now, Seattle's inside track to home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs signals only that this will be its most painful playoff implosion yet."

Adam Schein: "So much was shoved down our throats Sunday about the Seahawks' quest for respect. Broadcasters wondered aloud about the East Coast bias.

Enough already.

Seattle is a very good football team, strong in all phases, and a Super Bowl contender especially if it gets home-field advantage throughout in the postseason.

But you can't forget Seattle blowing a 21-13 fourth-quarter lead with a few minutes to go. And this isn't about geography getting in the way of the Seahawks' quest for respect.

All we can say is that Seattle is in the mix with Chicago, Carolina, Dallas and New York for the best team in the NFC. Perhaps Tampa and Atlanta, too." Hey, Adam? Who won the ballgame? Who WON the ballgame? Again, who WON the ballgame?

Basically, here is the media's take on this game:

1. Eli Manning is really good

2. Jay Feely really screwed up

3. The Giants gave one away

4. The Bears are the best team in the NFC

5. The Giants statistically blew the Hawks out of our building

6. Oh yeah. The Hawks might end up getting home-field advantage in the NFC.

Am I bitter? Absolutely, and only because I don't remember another 9-2 team that is treated with as little respect as the Seahawks. The media will go ga-ga over the Bears, the Bengals, the Chargers, the Cowboys, the Patriots, the Giants, the Steelers, but there is no love for the Seahawks. The only positive story written about them all YEAR was by John Clayton after the home win over the Rams. I really don't understand this whatsoever, and it burns me.

That's why I can't write anything about this game. I am speechless because of the total and utter lack of respect given us by the media. Ridiculous.

If you want a good recap, go to The 12th Man. If you want to, like me, stew over this, leave a comment.

posted by colin_hesse @ 8:54 AM  10 comments

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Holiday Note

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who read the Crushed Optimists!

Of course, by "all of you", we actually mean the friends and family who make us feel like our opinions really matter.

Anyways, blessings to all of you on a day of relaxation and warmth. Happy Thanksgiving as well to our troops serving abroad. Our prayers are with you.

posted by Gavin @ 6:01 PM  1 comments

NFL Week 12: Hawks vs NY Giants

New York Giants: 7-3
2005 Away Record: 1-2 (Note: they do have a second "road" win, which came at home against the Saints. I'm not counting it.)


Offense:

Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck (2357 yds, 12 TDs, 7 INTs) vs Eli Manning (2320 yds, 18 TDs, 9 INTs)
These are two very similar clubs. Just take a look at these numbers. Sure, Eli Manning has a few more touchdowns, but we also have this touchdown machine named Shaun Alexander. That probably has taken a few away from Hasselbeck. Frankly, that means we can run the ball in the red zone, which New York has had some problems doing, especially on the road. Eli is about a year ahead of where I thought he would be in his growth curve. He is generally making solid decisions, cutting down on his mistakes. Still, he is still struggling on the road, having issues with hostile environments. Even in San Francisco it took a luck play at the end of the first half for him to find a comfort zone. His performance will dictate this game. Hasselbeck is due for another huge performance, having taken a back seat the past few weeks, even against St Louis. It is in games like this where Matt seems to step up his game a few notches, and if we quit telling him to force deep balls to anyone not named Darrell Jackson we will have fewer three-and-outs. Simply because of the road struggles of Manning I've going to be a homer here. Advantage: Seattle

Running Back: Shaun Alexander (1229 yds, 19 TDs) vs Tiki Barber (967 yds, 6 TDs)
This is a tale of two running backs who have drastically cut down on their fumbling issues. Shaun has fumbled twice and we have recovered both. Barber has fumbled once and it was lost. Both hope to continue that trend on Sunday. Tiki continues to impress me. His small frame belies the type of punishment he can absorb. His playmaking ability (he also has 285 receiving yards) has made him one of the top backs in the NFL. Yet with all his strengths no one not named LaDainian Tomlinson can touch Shaun Alexander this year. I would say that Shaun had his first game where he wasn't able to put the opposing team away on the ground, but since Holmgren for some reason decided to throw it 30 yards down the field on every play I have to cut him some slack. Shaun continues to bust big runs, continues to block well, and continues to simply get the ball in the end zone. I'm curious if we might not unveil some screen passes, which have really been taken out of our arsenal this year to get Alexander out in space. The Giants have an athletic and aggressive defensive line and screens could be a good way of taking advantage of that. Advantage: Seattle

Receivers: Seattle (230 receiving yards/game) vs New York (220 receiving yards/game)
Man, do we miss Darrell Jackson now. We really need his ability to create space down the field and open up holes in the zone for Engram to sit down in. We are just getting killed at times, especially with our inability to throw deep. While I do sound a little doomsday-ish, since we still have the #1 rated offense in the league, it is starting to wear on me. Engram is finally back and healthy, which does make a big difference. We need Joe Jurevicius to be in the game and catching balls. We definitely need Jerramy Stevens to show up and exploit the number of men stacked to stop Shaun. New York has a legitimate franchise receiver in Plaxico Burress, who has taken his promotion from second tier status in Pittsburgh extremely well. Amani Toomer is an off-on type player, but if both are cranking this is a dangerous squad. Of course, perhaps the most dangerous player is Jeremy Shockey, who will present a huge matchup problem with our rookie linebackers. Advantage: New York

Offensive Line: Seattle (160 rushing yards/game, 16 sacks) vs New York (125 rushing yards/game, 19 sacks)
Our offensive rushing stats get more impressive each game. Maurice Morris is averaging almost 6 yards a carry, for crying out loud. These are seriously Madden numbers at this stage, and it is what separates playoff teams from pretenders. The Giants can get rushing droughts and often depend on Tiki breaking a couple 30+ yarders each time out to pad their stats. Their pass protection is drastically improved over a year ago, which does coincide with Manning being able to get the ball out quickly. Our sack total, after jumping up quickly the first few weeks, has stagnated since, yet another reason why this offensive line continues to dominate the opposition. They will have quite the matchup this week, especially on the outside. Sean Locklear has managed some tough defensive ends this year well, including Leonard Little. If he can take Michael Strahan down, we will be thrilled. Advantage: Seattle

Defense:
D-Line: Seattle (103 rushing yards/game, 34 sacks) vs New York (90 rushing yards/game, 23 sacks)
A few thoughts about the New York Giants defensive line statistics above. Last week the San Francisco 49ers, owner of one of the worst records in the game, had 21 sacks. New York, with Michael Strahan (7.5 sacks) and Osi Umenyiora (8.0 sacks), can generate nothing up the middle. This is a problem against Seattle, because this week's "Walter Jones Invisibility Award" goes to Umenyiora. Good luck seeing him make any plays whatsoever. Second thought about the rushing yards allowed. That's pretty impressive... until you look at who they've played. I see only three teams who can actually run the ball. San Diego and Tomlinson ran for 195 yards against the Giants. They corralled Clinton Portis in that Wellington Mara game. Finally, Denver and their vaunted rushing attack (Mike Anderson) went for 120 yards. This tells me that a good offensive line can definitely push the ball up the gut on the Giants. For Seattle, Rocky Bernard (7.5 sacks) is one of the most pleasant surprises of the season. With Marcus Tubbs finally back and healthy we will have as good a rotation of defensive tackles as there are in the league. Shout out to David Terrill for Colin's sake on that one. We let San Francisco and their third string back move the ball down the field in the second half. That was poor. Can't let that happen again. When it comes to rushing the passer, Bryce Fisher and Grant Wistrom will have to step it up. Our defense hasn't allowed a 100 yard rusher this year. Time to keep that trend alive. Advantage: Seattle

Linebackers: Our linebackers looked like rookies last week, consistently playing out of position, especially on running plays. Personally, I just don't feel that they got up for the game well. Jaime Sharper probably won't be back for this game, so we will again rely on our youth. As I wrote above, Jeremy Shockey presents a huge challenge for them. Leroy Hill has the speed to stay with him, but does he have the smarts? We would prefer to use him as a blitzer. Hill's speed will also be crucial in covering Tiki Barber out of the backfield. Lofa Tatupu will be a critical player in stopping the run, if the tackles are able to take up the blockers he will. The Giants love Antonio Pierce (84 tackles). No player is within 15 tackles of the premier middle linebacker. If we can bottle him up, the other linebackers could have issues stopping the run or in covering short and intermediate routes. Advantage: Push

Secondary: Seattle (213 receiving yards/game, 9 INTs) vs New York (237 receiving yards/game, 12 INTs)
Look, New York doesn't have a great secondary. Their corners are too small to press our receivers, which means that New York won't be able to play "Dallas" defense against Shaun. Their safeties are fairly mediocre. Still, after how abysmal our secondary played last week there is absolutely no way I'm giving us an advantage. Kelley Herndon is just getting the tar beaten out of him on a weekly basis, and Marcus Trufant makes about two extremely bone headed decisions each game. We need them to step it up against the tall physical wideouts that the Giants have to offer. Will they? We hope yes. If it's last week, no. Advantage: New York

Special teams: I could punt better than Tom Rouen. Advantage: New York

Prediction: These are two very equal teams. Here's a statistic for you. The Giants have scored 281 points and allowed 184. We have scored 272 and allowed 187. That's pretty darn similar. Both teams need this game badly. The Giants need to prove that they can win on the road against a team not named San Francisco and can keep pace in the NFC East. The Seahawks can clinch the NFC West and have the easiest route to home field advantage in the playoffs, regardless of national attention finally being given to them. Seriously people, they have the best record in the NFC. Could you please look at them? This is absurd. Anyways, back to the contest. Whoever is able to corral the other team's offense wins this one hands down. I wouldn't bet against Seattle, hungry after not playing to their potential last week. Those are dangerous teams to play. The Giants couldn't put away a bad Philly team at home last week. Hawks will take this one... by 10.

posted by Gavin @ 1:45 PM  0 comments

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Scientific Method, Week 12

Thanksgiving Edition!

We're going to take a step back from the hypotheses this week and concentrate on something I am thankful for with each game.

And yes, it seems like every sports writer does this exact ploy ever single year. So I have no creativity. Guess what? I'm a social scientist. We're all about having no creativity.

Gavin has done an excellent job looking at the important games for this week. I will highlight those as well, because there are a few that will decide whether teams are still in the playoff hunt come Monday morning.

Last week: 9-7

Overall record: 89-71

Thansgiving Day:
Atlanta at Detroit

Thankful For: Atlanta finally getting exposed as NOT the best team in the NFC
Ah yes. The Michael Vick experience was supposed to catapult the Falcons to the Super Bowl this year. Of course, both Gavin and I picked the Falcons to get to the playoffs as well (only to lose to Seattle in the first round). Anyway, Atlanta gets two great weeks from Vick as an actual pocket-passer, and they lose both games. At home. Meanwhile, the Lions are one of those teams that you can't predict. You can only hope to be on the right side when the final whistle blows.
Thankful Pick: Detroit

Denver at Dallas

Thankful For: Being able to root against the Cowboys for the last fifteen years
Strength will go at strength in what should be an excellent game. The Broncos run the football. The Cowboys stop the run. The Cowboys pass the football. The Broncos have an excellent pass rush. Can Plummer survive another week without making a crucial mistake? I think he will, and, actually, feel that Denver will run away with this one. Pound it up the middle against the 3-4, and take advantage of the rooks playing defense, freeing up Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie for a few deep balls.... should work.
Thankful Pick: Denver

Sunday:
Carolina at Buffalo

Thankful For: Picking McGahee over Peyton Manning and learning humility in the process
The self-proclaimed "Best Running Back in the NFL" disappeared for yet another game this season. At this point, there are several running backs I would take over him, including LT, Shaun, Tiki, Larry Johnson, Mike Anderson, Jackson, and, of course, Edge. Meanwhile, the Bills' defense has been extremely disappointing. It didn't matter whether Losman or Holcomb played during the Chargers' game. They still would have lost because they simply could not stop Brees.
Thankful Pick: Carolina

Baltimore at Cincinnati

Thankful For: Easy games to pick
Well, Baltimore had their game of the year last week against Tommy Maddox, but Cincy will be mad and out to prove that they can still beat bad teams, at least. Cincinnati has to learn to beat good teams at home, because, until then, I don't know why people are paying so much attention to them. Sure, they will make the playoffs, but they sure won't make any noise there. I do like Chad Johnson, though. He steps up and makes plays. He actually backs up what he says, and his touchdown celebrations are my personal favorites, especially the Riverdance.
Thankful Pick: Cincinnati

San Francisco at Tennessee
Thankful For: Not having to watch any of this game
So, has San Francisco suddenly become a good team with a powerful running attack, superior passing attack, and pressing defense? Has Tennessee found an offensive line? Answer to any and all of those questions, of course, is a resounding "NO"! Of course, one team has to win this game. So.... um.... it'll be.....
Thankful Pick: Tennessee

New England at Kansas City

Thankful For: Larry Johnson's 31 fantasy points for my team last week
Larry Johnson, at this point in time, is better then Priest Holmes. There, I said it. Kansas City's offense looked just great last week (true, against Houston). The Pats have won two in a row, against Miami and New Orleans, and are once again being toted as a "Team to Beat" in the AFC. GAH!! They barely beat Miami (should have lost). They barely beat New Orleans (at home!). They haven't been able to stop opposing offenses all season.
Thankful Pick: Kansas City

Cleveland at Minnesota
Thankful For: The years of laughter I will have received thanks to the Love Boat
Well, if Mewelde Moore is the real deal, Minnesota can actually have an offense they can be moderately proud of. A win here, coupled with a Bears loss, and the Vikings are right in the playoff picture. That sounds exciting. I'm all about exciting. By the way, Cleveland beating Gus playing on the road isn't a great win.
Thankful Pick: Minnesota

Chicago at Tampa Bay

Thankful For: Someone FINALLY exposing the Chicago Bears' offense
If any defense can shut out the Bears offense, it is Tampa Bay. This is the battle of the top two defenses in the NFC, if not the NFL. That will mean turnovers and some low scores. The difference maker is a healthy Cadillac Williams. A great game by him takes all the pressure off of Chris Simms. It's about time that Kyle Orton loses a game for the Bears. He's not having the greatest of years. Plus, this would, at the very least, cause people to stop filling up the Bears in the Supe Bowl bandwagon.
Thankful Pick: Tampa Bay

San Diego at Washington

Thankful For: A clearing playoff picture
A loss for either team and they are out of the playoff chase. San Diego will have five losses with five games left to play. Washington will have six losses, and it will take at least 10 wins to get into the playoffs this year. This might be the biggest game of the week. San Diego IS a great team, but their inconsistent fourth quarter play ensures that, if this game is close in the waning minutes, Washington will have all the momentum on their side. Will the game be close? No.
Thankful Pick: San Diego

St. Louis at Houston

Thankful For: Shutting up Tory Holt this year.
Who's mentally tougher now? The Rams are now 4-6, Marc Bulger is injured again, and their defense still can't stop anyone. Of course, this injury might be a great thing for the team, because it will cause them to, once again, rely on Jackson, which is what they should have been doing all season long. I don't know when they will finally understand that, but it sure won't be this season. Fortunately, they are playing Houston, who just plain suck.
Thankful Pick: St. Louis

Miami at Oakland

Thankful For: Not having Randy Moss on my team and not having Norv Turner coach my team
Seriously. This team annoys me. They basically do the opposite of whatever I pick them to do, Since I'm always right and the smartest person of all time, that means that the Raiders are always wrong. That being said, the Dolphins have really irritated me because they always try to be a passing team when it is apparent that they are a running team. Thus, people like Ronnie Brown are disappearing due to lack of use.
Thankful Pick: Oakland

Jacksonville at Arizona

Thankful For: Arizona's inevitable late-season rise, giving hope and allowing all prognosticators to pick them AGAIN next preseason
This is my upset pick of the week, which, as usual, always seems to involve Jacksonville. Arizona, however, played a very nice game last week at St. Louis, even seeing the running game become a part of their offense. Kurt Warner had protection, and that meant big plays for Boldin and Fitzgerald. Jacksonville's offense seems to be on an upswing, but I like the defense of the Cardinals to, somehow, take a bite of the Jags. Not a loss that should happen, but what the hey... Thankful Pick: Arizona

Green Bay at Philadelphia

Thankful For: Not having to hear about T.O. the past week
Just after I wrote this, the news came down that the suspension was upheld, thus making T.O. the news AGAIN. So I'm not thankful for anything here, except that this does mean that T.O. really is done for the season. These are two teams that are absolutely done as far as playoff positioning goes, but both teams are well-coached and will play with a lot of intensity. Brett Favre might be able to take advantage of the injury to Lito Sheppard, and Mike McMahon and Brian Westbrook might be able to take advantage of a sub-par Packers defense.
Thankful Pick: Philadelphia

NY Giants at Seattle
Thankful For: My team stepping up when they needed to
Gavin will talk more about this, but I like this team too much to pick against them now.
Thankful Pick: Seattle

New Orleans at NY Jets
Thankful For: Saints that do not come from heaven
Sorry, but I can't write about this game.
Thankful Pick: New Orleans

Monday:
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis

Thankful For: The unintentional comedy of one Tommy Maddox
Big Ben should return, but Indy is on an absolute roll right now, while the Steelers are showing multiple cracks in the armor, even in that vaunted defense. The revolving door at running back is stopping the Steelers from developing a true identity on that side of the ball. Peyton Manning is incredible. The ride does not stop here.
Thankful Pick: Indianapolis

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:30 AM  0 comments

Best Game I've Ever Seen?


No. 8 Gonzaga 109

No. 12 Michigan State 106

Three Overtimes.

Clutch shot after clutch shot.

Maurice Ager hits a long three as time expires in regulation to send it to overtime

Adam Morrison is simply incredible, scoring 43 points

Paul Davis can't miss from the line

Same with J.P. Batista

Huge inside play. Huge outside play.

This is a game that simply can't be described. If you were lucky enough to watch it, you know what I am talking about. Until now, the best college basketball games I had seen were the Kentucky-Arizona NCAA championship game and the Gonzaga-Arizona 2OT thriller in the NCAA tournament a few years ago.

But I simply have never seen a game played at that high of a level for that long of a time. No team had a lead of over three points after about 8 minutes left in the second half. That's about 23 game minutes of back and forth basketball. That's unbelievable.

Now if only Gonzaga can play like this in the tournament this year.....

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:14 AM  0 comments

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

NFL Week 11 in Review

This was a great week if you liked close football. Many games went down to the wire, and the playoff implications are starting to create some cool situations. Next week the stakes will really be raised, but this week was yet another where science can't always win, even if Colin did bounce back from a sub-par week.

Tampa Bay 30 at Atlanta 27
Hypothesis: Every quarterback has a team he sucks against
Scientific Pick: Tampa Bay
Michael Vick did end up throwing for 300 yards but, as Len Pasquarelli wrote so eloquently, he has this penchant for fumbling if a defender so much as breathes on him. This time it really cost him. Still, this loss should be pinned on Atlanta's defense. Vick was finally able to put up significant points against the Bucs defense, but Atlanta was unable to stop Carnell Williams and company. Giving up 30 points to Tampa Bay at home is inexcusable. If Atlanta loses at Detroit on Thanksgiving they are done.

Carolina 3 at Chicago 13
Hypothesis: In a battle of great defenses, go with the team with the better offense
Scientific Pick: Carolina
To quote Colin, "Everyone needs to stop slurping the Bears. They haven't beaten ANYONE of any note." Now, I'm not entirely sure what "slurping the Bears" entails, but they have now beaten someone of note. In fact, I still can't believe this game. 8 sacks by a team's defensive line? Unbelievable. Here's my problem with jumping fully aboard the Bears' bandwagon. They were still only able to score one touchdown and that one came off of an interception return. When they have to play a good team on the road, I don't see them winning. Still, Baltimore won a Super Bowl, so it can be done. Carolina has to be disappointed with this result. A third loss at this stage was unfortunate with two games against Atlanta still to come.

Miami 0 at Cleveland 22
Hypothesis: Blah. IF a certain team sticks with the run, the better running attack will win
Scientific Pick: Miami
Every time Romeo Crennel gets a win out of Cleveland I'm more impressed with him. Cleveland is simply playing the right way, disciplined football. Reuben Droughns is running with authority, and he doesn't get hurt like the last three/four feature backs in Cleveland. With some additional offensive line help and maturation of playmakers like Braylon Edwards and the Browns could make some noise next year. As for Miami, this game is a giant step back in their rebuilding process. It is obvious that they need a quarterback, which has been true ever since Dan Marino left. Until then, they will never be competitive on a weekly basis.

Detroit 7 at Dallas 20
Hypothesis: Bad quarterbacks don't play well two weeks in a row
Scientific Pick: Dallas
The Scientific Hypothesis sure picked this one correctly. Joey Harrington did not play well two weeks in a row. In fact, he was pretty mediocre. At the end of the day, I would be more disappointed if I was Dallas. Sure, Julius Jones finally ran for close to 100 yards, but Drew Bledsoe couldn't get anything going and they were only able to put up 20 points at home against a fairly porous defense. And yet, Dallas is now the "best team in the NFC". Go figure.

Jacksonville 31 at Tennessee 28
Hypothesis: There is a least one big upset in the NFL every week
Scientific Pick: Tennessee
This feels like about the third upset pick in a row that Colin's had that ended up going against him at the end of the game. Again, Jacksonville pulls out a game they shouldn't. This season they have eked out wins against Houston and the Jets. They are going to make the playoffs... can they play up to the competition they will find?

Arizona 38 at St. Louis 28

Hypothesis: Go with the team that hasn't given up
Scientific Pick: St. Louis
Apparently the team that had given up was the Rams, because they came out with absolutely nothing defensively or offensively. Then Marc Bulger goes down yet again (will he ever have a healthy season after Martz killed him?) and any hope for a comeback was lost. At this point these are two beaten teams who are barely competitive. We should have the division wrapped up shortly.

New Orleans 17 at New England 24

Hypothesis: Just shut up and pick the right team
Scientific Pick: New England
If I was New England, I would be disappointed I only won by seven against a Saints team that has given up and sucked on the road. New England will win their division only because of how awful the rest of the teams are. This is a two game win streak that pundits will start rooting over but shouldn't. The Patriots have a lot left to prove.

Philly 17 at NY Giants 27
Hypothesis: Every year, at about this time, a good team completely falls apart
Scientific Pick: NY Giants
That good team which completely is falling apart is Philadelphia, who don't have any identity offensively and are starting to spring leaks everywhere defensively. They let Eli Manning and that young offense destroy them. Brian Westbrook can't be a focal point of an offense. He is too small. While Mike McMahon made a few good plays, he is clearly not enough to move this offense down the field on a regular basis. They will still win a few games this year, in fact they will win a few games against NFC East teams, but it is time to start planning for next year.

Oakland 16 at Washington 13

Hypothesis: Time to stay away from Norv Turner
Scientific Pick: Washington
This is why Norv Turner is such a frustrating coach for fans. After throwing up an absolute stinker at home to Denver, the Raiders play with heart on both sides of the ball in beating Washington on the road. How do you pick that? Basically, Oakland is one of those teams that if I was a contender I wouldn't want on my schedule, because they will be a spoiler. As for Washington, they are one loss away from counting themselves out of the playoff hunt. At some point the injuries at wide receiver will take its toll, teams will triple team Santana Moss, and the Redskins simply won't be able to score.

Pittsburgh 13 at Baltimore 16
Hypothesis: It doesn't matter who's playing quarterback for the favorite
Scientific Pick: Pittsburgh
This was not a smart hypothesis on Colin's part. It does matter who is playing quarterback if that person is Tommy Maddox... on the road... against Baltimore. The Ravens came that close to beating the Steelers at Pittsburgh, so this win shouldn't be incredibly shocking. What is shocking is Pittsburgh's inability to consistently put up points. I'm starting to doubt a bit about them, but am willing to withhold judgment until after the Indianapolis game with Ben Roethlisberger.

Seattle 27 at San Francisco 25

Hypothesis: Go with the team with the incredible disparity in talent
Scientific Pick: Seattle
Games like this happen. The cool thing about this Seattle team is this is the first game we've almost blown to a really bad team. Contrast that to Jacksonville. We are a strong team, and we'll be around to the end.

Indy 45 at Cincinnati 37

Hypothesis: It usually takes a year for a team to make the leap
Scientific Pick: Indy
And now the true Indianapolis team shows itself. All offense, no defense. Still, at the end of the day it is a 10-0 team. I'm almost hopeful they're still undefeated when they head to Seattle in a few weeks. As for Cincinatti, they have had two games at home to step up and they've lost both of them. While they can claim moral victories in both losses, at the end of the day they were both losses. They really do remind me of the Seahawks from the last couple of years. Their defense is just not good enough to beat upper echelon teams.

NY Jets 0 at Denver 27

Hypothesis: Go with the running attack against the horrific rushing defense
Scientific Pick: Denver
I don't have anything to say about this one. The Jets are done. I'll be surprised if they win another game this year.

Buffalo 10 at San Diego 48

Hypothesis: Pick the team with the most to prove
Scientific Pick: San Diego
Colin called this one right. Even if the Bills looked good against Kansas City, they were just as awful against San Diego. The Chargers knew they had to win, knew that they are one loss away from being out of the playoffs, and played like it. Every AFC contender is hoping that the Chargers will slip up one more time and not have to play them come the postseason. Who wants to face Drew Brees, Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson? The defense is starting to come together as well. I still like the Chargers, and can't wait for the game against Denver coming up soon.

Kansas City 45 at Houston 17
Hypothesis: Pick against the ESPN announcers and whoever scheduled this game
Scientific Pick: Kansas City
Sunday Night Football has been awful all year. This game was no exception.

Minnesota 20 at Green Bay 17
Hypothesis: Hall of Famers step up at least a few times a season
Scientific Pick: Green Bay
What is up with Minnesota? They are now square in the playoff hunt with scoring only one offensive touchdown in three games. Their defense is actually starting to play well, especially up front with Pat and Kevin Williams. Fans have to be wondering where that's been all season. Brett Favre is forcing the ball way too much, but everyone not named Donald Driver is dropping the ball, so you can't blame him a ton.

The Scientific Method ends up doing a fairly decent job, going 9-7. Back to mediocrity!

posted by Gavin @ 3:20 PM  0 comments

Monday, November 21, 2005

NFL Week 11 in Review: Playoff Edition

Now that we're 10 games into the season and the Hawks are doing well, it's time to start looking more closely at the playoff picture. Only six games remain for positioning and most races are still wide open. Let's take a look at it all.

AFC Current Playoff Picture:

Division Leaders:
New England: 6-4 (at Kansas City)
Pittsburgh: 7-3 (at Indianapolis)
Indianapolis: 10-0 (home field advantage... vs Pittsburgh)
Denver: 8-2 (first round bye... at Dallas)

Wild Card:
Cincinatti: 7-3 (vs Baltimore)
Jacksonville: 7-3 (at Arizona)
Note: Jacksonville has the better conference record, so they are the current higher seed

First Round Games:
Cincinatti at Pittsburgh, winner at Denver
Jacksonville at New England, winner at Indianapolis

Still Alive:
Buffalo: 4-6 record, still just two games back of New England (vs Carolina)
San Diego: 6-4 (at Washington)
Kansas City: 6-4 (vs New England)

Take a look at the above. The playoff picture is really almost final except for a few stragglers. Barring a huge collapse, Indy already has home field advantage wrapped up with a three game lead. There are a few huge games this coming week, of course with the headliner being the Pitt-Indy affair. If Pitt loses, Cincinatti will more than likely claim the top spot in the AFC North by virtue of their home game against Baltimore. The other huge game that I'll spot below as well is the Denver-Dallas Thanksgiving game. Denver has a tentative one game lead for that first round bye and still have plenty of road games against divisional opponents. They need to win this one. The "Still Alive" category is rife with difficult games. Buffalo takes on Carolina in a must-win affair. I'll take them off this list if they lose. San Diego and Kansas City as well will be taken off the list if they lose, because a 6-5 team in the AFC West will not make the playoffs, especially when you're trying to catch Cincy and Jacksonville. Speaking of the Jags, they will again have an easy opponent in Arizona, although the Cards showed some life. Basically, the six playoff teams could be decided in the next two weeks.

NFC Current Playoff Picture:

Division Leaders:
Dallas: 7-3 (vs Denver)
Chicago: 7-3 (first round bye... at Tampa Bay)
Carolina: 7-3 (at Buffalo)
Seattle: 8-2 (home field advantage... vs NY Giants)

Wild Card:
NY Giants: 7-3 (at Seattle)
Tampa Bay: 7-3 (vs Chicago)
Note: NY Giants have a better conference record

First Round Games:
Tampa Bay at Dallas, winner at Chicago
NY Giants at Carolina, winner at Seattle

Still Alive:
Atlanta: 6-4 (at Detroit)
Washington: 5-5 (vs San Diego)
Minnesota (seriously!): 5-5 (vs Cleveland)

The NFC picture might be even clearer than the AFC when it comes to the top seven. Washington has a really difficult game against San Diego. The winner is still in the race. The loser is out. Atlanta, suffering through a rough two game losing skid, still has two games against Carolina on the schedule, which makes their Thanksgiving day affair at Detroit huge. I look for them to win and remain on the list. Every team has a difficult game, with two absolutely huge NFC games. Seattle-NY and Tampa Bay-Chicago are both must-see affairs. I look forward to seeing how everything turns out after that. Wierdly enough, Minnesota probably is more in the race now than Washington. Brad Johnson might be turning their fortunes around, and they have the easiest game of all the contenders next week!

Basically, in looking at these results so far the playoffs are shaping up to be gigantic affairs. I can't believe the types of first round games we are looking at so far. Quite a departure from the mediocrity of the past couple of years. We'll continue to take these snapshots each week for the rest of the season.

Also, if my seeding is off, sue me. I'm pretty sure I'm right.

posted by Gavin @ 9:07 PM  0 comments

Seahawks 27, 49ers 25

There are some days when you remember why, as a Seahawks fan, you are doomed to heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and the need to indulge in a Fat Tire (or two) on various Sunday afternoons.

This was one of those days.

Let's get real here. This wasn't all the fault of the Seahawks. The 49ers started to play extremely well. Ken Dorsey was playing as well as he ever had in the NFL, reminding me why he was an extremely good quarterback at Miami. Brandon Lloyd always seems to turn it on against us. I remember the game (what, 2 years ago?) where he almost singlehandedly kept the Seahawks out of the postseason the last game of the regular season. I thought he would turn into a superstar that day. So did the Niners, who felt that they could get rid of T.O. because they had another #1 receiver in the wings. Well, he has mostly disappointed, but the type of catches he was making on Sunday were unbelievable. Honestly, how many one handed catches can a human being make in one game?

Maurice Hicks found gaping holes and had the speed to take advantage of said holes, running up 83 yards and a TD on only 11 carries.

The whole "winning with backups" notion that some members of the media are playing is ridiculous. Dorsey (18/29, 249 yds, 1 TD) is the best of the three Niner quarterbacks. Hicks could very easily be the best of the three Niner running backs. He is definitely better then Barlow, and could be better then Gore. And Lloyd (7 rec, 119 yds, 1 TD) is the #1 receiver.

Now, honestly, how did those Seahawks play?

Offense:
Matt Hasselbeck - 19/31, 233 yds, 1 TD
Shaun Alexander - 24 att, 115 yds, 2 TD
Bobby Engram - 6 rec, 93 yds
DJ Hackett - 6 rec, 67 yds, 1 TD

This was a story of two halfs (AGAIN!!) for the Seahawks offense, which is why I'm grouping everyone together. The 4th quarter especially was terrible. Look at these lines....

Drive 1:
1-10-SEA36 (14:11) S.Alexander up the middle to SEA 35 for -1 yards (T.Hall, A.Carter).
2-11-SEA35 (13:36) M.Hasselbeck pass incomplete to J.Stevens (B.Moore).
3-11-SEA35 (13:29) M.Hasselbeck pass to J.Jurevicius to SEA 45 for 10 yards (M.Adams). Caught at SEA 44.

So we try Alexander once, lose a yard, have Stevens drop a ball (he dropped a few this game, by the way), and have Jurevicius run a 9 yard route when we needed 11. That's just stupid, and played right into the 49ers hands.

Drive 2:
1-10-SEA41 (10:45) S.Alexander left tackle to SEA 45 for 4 yards (M.Adams).
2-6-SEA45 (10:12) M.Hasselbeck pass incomplete to D.Hackett (B.Thornton).
3-6-SEA45 (10:06) M.Hasselbeck pass incomplete to D.Hackett (J.Peterson).

This drive is even worse from a play-call perspective. We have a 2nd and 6 and don't hand the ball to Alexander again on the possession. That's, frankly, ridiculous. Holmgren needs to reconsider his play-call philosophy at this stage.

Drive 3:
1-10-SEA31 (7:46) S.Alexander up the middle to SEA 33 for 2 yards (B.Moore, R.Fields).
2-8-SEA33 (7:03) M.Morris left end to SEA 38 for 5 yards (M.Douglas).
3-3-SEA38 (6:27) M.Hasselbeck pass incomplete to B.Engram.

Once again we have a 3rd and short. We have been making these with the running game all game long, but once again Holmgren decides to go with the passing game and it doesn't work. Now, obviously, this doesn't all lie with Holmgren, as Hasselbeck was admittably bad in the 4th quarter, bringing to mind the fact that all those 4th quarter comebacks in previous years were the fault of BOTH sides of the football. Sure, the defense couldn't stop them, but the offense couldn't stop the bleeding either.

We need to give the ball to Alexander in these situations. Three times. Again and again. That is our strength, and we need to play off of that. Sure, we can mix in a play-action every now and then, but Shaun needs to be the focus.

Basically, that 4th quarter scared the beejeebers out of me, and I almost blame the offense more then I blame the defense.

Speaking of....

Defense:
Michael Boulware - 7 tackles
LeRoy Hill - 7 tackles, .5 sack
D.D. Lewis - 8 tackles
Lofa Tatupu - 6 tackles, .5 sack
Rocky Bernard - 5 tackles, 2 sacks

Who do I blame in this game?
In no particular order....

Kelly Herndon - Wow. You do play in the NFL, remember? Because that was a terrible performance. You were out of position virtually the entire game.

Marcus Trufant - You did not make me proud to be wearing your jersey. When are you going to wake up and play to your potential? Brandon Lloyd took you behind the shed.

Grant Wistrom - These are not All-Pro tackles you were going up against, yet once again you were nowhere to be found, collecting 4 tackles and no sacks. At some point you have to play to your talent level, unless you are at this point, in which case your contract is absolutely ridiculous.

Ray Rhodes/Josh Marshall - Whatever schemes you came up with for this game really did not work. Whatever in-game changes you came up with during this game really did not work. Basically, nothing you did worked in this game. It took a great play by Rocky Bernard to close this game out, because Morton was wide open in the end zone. Back to the books, guys. Back to the books.

Special Teams:
They suck. Even Brown missed a field goal, albeit a 50+ attempt. Tom Rouen makes my teeth hurt.

Next week is huge against the NY Giants. A win might actually get us some respect in the eyes of the pundits the way that Chicago's win over Carolina is, all of a sudden, vaulting them into "Best Team in the NFC" category.

We need to get to Eli early and often. I am fine to let Tiki roam a little, because it now seems like the Giants rise and fall on Eli's shoulders. Their defense is playing well, but this is not a great team on the road, and we need to take advantage of that.

Early Happy Thanksgiving to all!

posted by colin_hesse @ 2:57 PM  0 comments

Saturday, November 19, 2005

NFL Week 11: Hawks at San Francisco

San Francisco 49ers: 2-7
2005 Home Record: 2-3


Offense:

Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck (2124 yds, 11 TDs, 7 INTs) vs Ken Dorsey (40 yds, 0 TDs, 0 INTs)
I'm going to state this here at the onset... this will not be an extensive preview. The 49ers have nothing really of note. Take this quarterback preview for example... Matt Hasselbeck is on a roll, and both of his interceptions last week shouldn't have happened. On the other hand, we have Ken Dorsey. Ken Dorsey. Anyone remember how much fun it was to watch Dorsey play quarterback last year? He takes his mighty 40 yards in to do battle with the Hawks. Advantage: Seattle

Running Back: Shaun Alexander (1114 yds, 17 TDs) vs Kevan Barlow (482 yds, 2 TDs)
Kevan Barlow has to be considered one of the bigger disappointments of the past few years for San Francisco. He was given the keys to the offense last year, promptly stunk up the place. Then he "rededicated" himself in the offseason, said he was more explosive, and then has promptly stunk up the place. It's only a matter of time before Frank Gore takes his place, as Gore actually can pick up chunks of yardage on running plays. Here's the major problem... when you have no quarterbacks that can do anything you become a running team. Then when you can't actually run you become a mediocre 2-7 ballclub. For Seattle we have Shaun Alexander. Wonder who might be better? Advantage: Seattle

Receivers: Seattle (230 receiving yards/game) vs San Francisco (101 receiving yards/game)
Were the 1992 Seahawks this bad offensively? Only 101 yards through the air a game? This has a lot to do with the other major disappointment in the past two years, one Brandon Lloyd. Now we have to give them some credit... if Ken Dorsey was the quarterback for the Hawks our stats wouldn't be quite so gaudy. Still, 101 yards is simply pathetic. We are one week away from hopefully having Darrell Jackson back. Until then, Bobby Engram and friends can have fun slicing this defense to shreds. Advantage: Seattle

Offensive Line: Seattle (161 rushing yards/game, 15 sacks) vs San Francisco (98 rushing yards/game, 25 sacks)
Here's a wierd stat. Last week against the Rams we met an offensive line averaging 101 rushing yards/game and had given up 24 sacks. Do the Rams really have a worse offensive line than the 49ers? Answer: no. Remember, the 49ers don't pass the ball much at all, so there are far fewer sack opportunities, and with all those rushes they still can't crack 100 a game. That is not a good offensive line. Now their best lineman is out for this game. Not a good sign. Seattle continues to roll offensively on the backs of our studs up front. They continue to get better and better. I like that we didn't give up a sack last week. Advantage: Seattle

Defense:
D-Line: Seattle (102 rushing yards/game, 30 sacks) vs San Francisco (117 rushing yards/game, 21 sacks)
The 49ers started off the year well on their defensive line, getting consistent pressure on the quarterback and plugging the gaps against the run. Then they got tired and have been consistently worse since then. The nose tackle, Anthony Adams, is too small to take up enough blockers to let the linebackers run free. Bryant Young is still a warrior, but he is an old warrior and should be on a team that only uses him as a situational rusher. For Seattle, Marcus Tubbs should be back and healthy. In his stead Rocky Bernard had another solid game. I think what I love about our pass rush right now is that it is a complete effort. The pocket is being collapsed by all sides. Would we honestly believe that we could have 30 sacks at this stage with Grant Wistrom only having two? The strength of this group is just one of many pleasant surprises. Advantage: Seattle

Linebackers: Well, if there's a strength to this 49ers squad, it's their linebackers. Julian Peterson and Andre Carter are two fast solid outside linebackers. If they can get consistent pressure on Hasselbeck our offense could sputter. The middle linebackers are slightly below average, but do a decent job plugging holes, as evidenced by the mediocre (but not terrible) rushing yards against this defense averages. We will still be without Jaime Sharper, although we plugged the hole well last week with Leroy Hill and DD Lewis. I'm a little afraid of that youth on the road against a huge underdog. Veterans may be able to focus better on this game than our rookies. I'm not concerned about Lofa Tatupu, but if there's a place for pessimism it's here. Advantage: San Francisco

Secondary: Seattle (211 receiving yards/game, 9 INTs) vs San Francisco (280 receiving yards/game, 8 INTs)
The above statistic is one of the most pathetic things I've ever seen. 280 yards allowed a game? That means that no matter who they are playing the quarterback is having a huge 300 yard day. Now they are without Tony Parrish. Wow. Our secondary did a fantastic job last week against St Louis and we need them to do the same against the 49ers. Remember, they've had a couple of good games at home, against the Rams, Cowboys and Bucs. We need to take away any hope they have of moving the ball down the field. Advantage: Seattle

Special teams: Our special teams are still absurd. The 49ers have one offensive weapon, kicker Joe Nedney. I always give this to the opposing team and see no reason to stop now. Advantage: San Francisco

Prediction: The only concern I have about this game is that it's on the road. San Francisco, as I wrote above, has played fairly well in the friendly confines. We have to use Shaun Alexander as a battering ram, sucking time off the clock and taking any hope away. These are games like against Houston that we must win. Hawks by 15.

posted by Gavin @ 2:09 PM  1 comments

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Scientific Method, Week 11

The Scientific Method is a tad late today, because I was out doing the Christmas shopping for the better half. We'll see if the shopping was a success on Christmas, but it was fun for the most part, except for one store where the salesperson was INCREDIBLY overbearing to the point where I had to duck out just to escape her relentless sales pitch for some board game or something.

The Seattle Seahawks rule. I just thought I would say that, and this is one of those in-between weeks where the Hawks don't have a big game (I mean, we still need to win, big time, but it's not like we're playing the Rams) and there really aren't as many games on the schedule that interest me.

Early Thanksgiving will come with an 8-2 record on Sunday, playing hard for home-field advantage in the playoffs. Our standing amongst various pundits has rocketed to where we are considered to be the 2nd best team in the NFC, under only Carolina. I can live with that. Carolina has been playing some rock-solid football, and I would much prefer playing them at home then at Carolina. However, I still remember Carolina almost blowing it against Brett Favre on Monday night. They certainly did not look like a championship team at that point, and they recently have been playing an incredibly puff-piece schedule. That begins to change this week against the Chicago Bears, who have been playing an even MORE incredibly puff-piece schedule.

On to the picks!
Last week: 6-8

Overall Record: 80-64

Tampa Bay at Atlanta:

Hypothesis: Every quarterback has a team he sucks against
The Tampa Bay defense has had Michael Vick's number ever since he came into the league. He struggles every single time, and has for years. Even though Chris Simms will not continue to play out of his mind like he did last week, I actually have to go with the Bucs in this game. Warrick Dunn might prove me wrong, but I'm giving the Bucs defense the benefit of the doubt in this one.
Scientific Pick: Tampa Bay

Carolina at Chicago:
Hypothesis: In a battle of great defenses, go with the team with the better offense
Let's see. Both teams have terrific defenses. Carolina has Steve Smith, Stephen Davis, and Jake Delhomme on offense. Chicago has Kyle Orton, Muhsin Muhammed, and a hurt Thomas Jones. Who has the better team? By the way, remember John Fox? Yeah, he's pretty good, and he's a better coach then Lovie Smith. Everyone needs to stop slurping the Bears. They haven't beaten ANYONE of any note.
Scientific Pick: Carolina

Miami at Cleveland:
Hypothesis: Blah. IF a certain team sticks with the run, the better running attack will win
I have a third road team in a row winning here, mostly because I am liking the Miami Dolphins rushing attack more and more. Of course, Nick Saban has shown an alarming capacity to forget he HAS a great running team when he gets to crunch time, but I like what I see there. Meanwhile, Cleveland has finally figured out that they have no talent. I expect Romeo Crennel to get the job done there and turn the team around, but it sure won't take place this year. A nailbiter, but Miami should ground this one out.
Scientific Pick: Miami

Detroit at Dallas:

Hypothesis: Bad quarterbacks don't play well two weeks in a row
Let's see. Joey Harrington against a blitzing, ball-hawking defense. Hmmmm. This is still Joey Harrington, not the second coming of Steve Young, remember. He had one good game. He usually has one good game every year. And this WAS against the Arizona Cardinals, who have perhaps the most disappointing defense outside of the Jets this year. Parcells will be ready for this one.
Scientific Pick: Dallas

Jacksonville at Tennessee:
Hypothesis: There is a least one big upset in the NFL every week
I'll be honest. I didn't see much of a chance for any kind of upset this week, but this one is a possibility, so why not? Steve McNair is still the quarterback down there, and Chris Brown is finally healthy, so that Titans offense should be able to pick up some yards even against a good Jacksonville team. The Jags have not been playing well on the road, losing to the Rams and Jamie Martin, while Byron Leftwich just can't play with any sort of consistency and Fred Taylor is still hurting. Matt Jones isn't ready to be a #1 receiver, and the Titans pass rush is actually quite good.
Scientific Pick: Tennessee

Arizona at St. Louis:

Hypothesis: Go with the team that hasn't given up
I watched most of Arizona's game against Detroit last week, and they look like a team that has given up on this season. I admit I gloated over their defeats earlier in the season, but now it's just sad, and that defense is a GREAT disappointment. They were talking top-5 before the season, but instead they can't stop anyone, and Clancy Pendergraft just can't devise any new schemes to disguise the fact that all his talent is injured. St. Louis is even healthier then they were last week, and should throw the ball all over the field.
Scientific Pick: St. Louis

New Orleans at New England:

Hypothesis: Just shut up and pick the right team
New England will finally win two times in a row for the first time this year as they play New Orleans, a team that has no identity and is also playing out the string. Tom Brady will dice the opposing defense, while Aaron Brooks will rack up the yardage but also rack up the picks. The interesting aspect about this game, especially if Corey Dillon doesn't play, will be the complete lack of a running attack on either side. This might be Heath Evans vs. Aaron Stecker. Ouch.
Scientific Pick: New England

Philly at NY Giants:
Hypothesis: Every year, at about this time, a good team completely falls apart
Listen, Andy Reid will have this team ready to compete for the NFC title again come next year. But they are done. The T.O. situation has taken a ton out, plus they now have a devastating injury to Donovan McNabb, thus putting McMahon in at quarterback and needing to rely on a bad rushing attack. You better believe that Tom Coughlin has been spewing spittle all week in pushing his team to win this game after they completely bombed against the Vikings. The Giants will be 7-3 heading into the showdown at Seattle.
Scientific Pick: NY Giants

Oakland at Washington:

Hypothesis: Time to stay away from Norv Turner
I did it last week. I trusted in Norv Turner to get the job done against the Broncos, egged on in no small part by Gavin. Well, I'm sick and tired of trusting Norv Turner, and I vow to never listen to Gavin again. Seriously, I don't know how in the world the Raiders still haven't figured out their identity as a team 9 games into the season. They win when they hand the ball off to Lamont Jordan. They still don't seem to understand that. Expect Joe Gibbs to school his counterpart in this game.
Scientific Pick: Washington

Pittsburgh at Baltimore:
Hypothesis: It doesn't matter who's playing quarterback for the favorite
Can't we just pretend that Baltimore doesn't exist as a team right now, so that we don't have to talk about Kyle Boller anymore? Speaking of disappointing defenses, I have no idea what happened to the vaunted Ravens defense, but they are playing about 10 times below their talent level. I know that Tommy Maddox will play, but I expect him to actually throw the ball about 10 times while Staley and Bettis ram the ball down the throats of the Ravens. Don't watch this game. Please. For both our sakes.
Scientific Pick: Pittsburgh

Seattle at San Francisco:

Hypothesis: Go with the team with the incredible disparity in talent
In Shaun we trust.
Scientific Pick: Seattle

Indy at Cincinnati:

Hypothesis: It usually takes a year for a team to make the leap
The Bengals are still trying to get that swagger to them, telling the world that they are a superior team. The Colts are firing on all cylinders, as Peyton Manning's numbers have begun to rise the last few weeks. I like the Bengals, but I just see the Colts as a little better in every facet of the game, from the running attack to the pass rush to the quarterback position.... This will be an excellent game to watch, and Cincy might have a chance if they get off to a hot start, which they did not do against the Steelers.
Scientific Pick: Indy

NY Jets at Denver:

Hypothesis: Go with the running attack against the horrific rushing defense
Another huge disappointing defense. The Jets were ALSO supposed to be top-5, but runners have been gashing them all season. Denver plays out of their minds at home, and a victory here would get them to the 8-2 mark, 2-3 wins away from a postseason berth. The Broncos will be ready to play.
Scientific Pick: Denver

Buffalo at San Diego:

Hypothesis: Pick the team with the most to prove
J.P. Losman is returning to start for the Bills, but the real story here is whether the Chargers will remain in the playoff hunt. This is a team that has perhaps the most overall talent in the entire NFL, and yet they are struggling to make it as a wildcard team. A win here would put them at 6-4, perhaps only 1 game behind the Jags if they do end up losing to the Titans. A loss here would put them as much as 3 games behind the Broncos, and they might as well start planning for next year at that point. The Bills looked impressive against the Chiefs, but this is the NFL. Teams can look plenty good one week and suck the next.
Scientific Pick: San Diego

Kansas City at Houston:
Hypothesis: Pick against the ESPN announcers and whoever scheduled this game
Do I have to analyze this game? This is just terrible. Whoever scheduled the Texans for multiple Sunday Night games should sit in the corner with a dunce cap. I don't care if you thought they might win 8 games this season, there is no way that team should be on prime-time multiple weeks. I really think the NFL should have a bigger say over what games get on prime-time, especially Sunday night, because the overall schedule on ESPN has been a joke.
Scientific Pick: Kansas City

Minnesota at Green Bay:
Hypothesis: Hall of Famers step up at least a few times a season
I finally gave up on Green Bay last week, and they stepped up and beat the Falcons behind the running of Gado, a graduate of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. Obviously Jesus is on the side of the Packers at this point, and even more obviously the Prince of Darkness is on the side of the Love Boat, so that leaves me picking the Pack. Favre hasn't had a Hall of Fame game in several weeks.
Scientific Pick: Green Bay

posted by colin_hesse @ 3:46 PM  0 comments

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Five Things Colin Was Wrong About

We like to have a little fun on this site ripping people like Pete Prisco for being morons, especially when it comes to the NFL, the Seahawks, and the Arizona Cardinals.

It's time to be able to take it as well as dish it.

I present to you the top five NFL teams that Colin was incredibly wrong on:

5. The Washington Redskins
Raise your hands if you thought that Mark Brunell was going to be an offensive stallion for the 'Skins. Anyone? Bueller? Well, I definitely wasn't there, and, in fact, I spent my preview mostly talking about how Patrick Ramsey was at least better than Brunell. My conclusion on the offense: "They were pathetic, and they probably will remain pathetic."

Actually, Colin, you were dead wrong. Surely you should have been able to see Santana Moss become a top-5 receiver in the NFL, with an offensive line suddenly able to protect Brunell and open at least a few holes for Clinton Portis. That, along with another good season from the defense, has catapulted Washington into the playoff hunt. They might not make it, but they have definitely proven me wrong already.

4. Green Bay Packers
What I said: "This offense has the ability to get back to the postseason......" What I should have said: "This offense will lose virtually everyone to injury except Brett Favre, and he will characteristically try to do too much and fling up about 5,000 interceptions.

Seriously, this can't be the last year for Favre. And for those people who insist that Aaron Rodgers should be playing right now, think for a moment. Are you ready to bid adieu to perhaps the greatest quarterback of the last decade? Do you never want to see him again? I'm not there yet, not until it's embarrassing to watch him try to play, and he's definitely not there yet.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It remains to be seen just how wrong I was with this team after two horrible losses and a luck win against the Redskins. But that defense has gelled together once more, cementing Monte Kiffen as a Hall of Fame candidate as a defensive coordinator. I predicted them to be in full rebuilding mode this season led by an inconsistent Brian Griese and an injured Cadillac Williams.

I got 1/3 of that prediction right, namely the injury to Cadillac. Joey Galloway has also been a revelation this year, taking over playmaker duties from a slumping Michael Clayton. Jon Gruden has showed me something this year, but I still expect this team to miss the playoffs, if barely. If they can beat Atlanta this Sunday, however.....

2. New York Jets
Let me just count the ways that I was wrong on this team.
-- The offense will open up
-- The defense looks incredible, possible top-5
-- Possibly the second best team in the AFC
-- Mike Nugent will make an impact
-- The defensive line remains strong

Apparently, like Gavin wrote at the time, the heat was getting to me in Phoenix, because none of those predictions came close to being true. Pennington sucked when he was "healthy" and was sidelined muy pronto, the defense is letting running backs gash them constantly, Curtis Martin looks 48 years old, Mike Nugent is terrible, and they might be the second-worst team in the AFC after the Houston Texans.

1. Denver Broncos
I was part of the herd that saw Mike Shanahan as washed up, done, and the anti-genuis after he brought the Cleveland Browns defense over and drafted Maurice Clarett in the 3rd round. I picked them to finish last in the AFC West, actually, due to Plummer, a horrific defense, and no real talent.

Well, shucks. That was a tad off, now wasn't it? Jake Plummer has looked pretty darn good, the running game has looked phenomenal, and the defense has been solid if not spectacular. At this point they are sitting pretty at 7-2, with a nice road win over the Raiders last Sunday.

So... five teams. Five mistakes. Five reasons never to pay attention to anything I write.

Booyah.

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:34 AM  1 comments

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Mariner Offseason Overview - Atypical Rant Edition

I'm going to jump off Colin's earlier post and angrily mutter to myself about the problems facing the 2006 Seattle Mariner squad already this offseason.

Problem #1: Howard Lincoln
Problem #2: Howard Lincoln
Problem #3: USS Mariner

Note: the last one is a joke, unless the Mariners follow through and sign Jacque Jones and Kevin Brown. Then I'm writing those fellows a nasty letter for them to promptly ignore, since they're way more important than I am.

The M's ended up with 69 wins last year, an improvement of 6 games over last year's mark and, wierdly enough, our pythagorean win-loss record last year. This means they still have 13 wins to go in order to hit the .500 mark, and 21 wins to go to hit playoff respectability. That seems like a large hurdle to overcome.

One quick way to narrow the gap is using the engineer's favorite tool... fuzzy math. Our pythagorean won-loss total, based on runs scored/runs allowed, should have been 75-87, which means that for the second year in a row we drastically underperformed. Basically, we were again an unlucky club. 75 wins would have been a 12 win increase and we could have more optimism.

Another way to consider this gap as narrowing is knowing that we aren't giving major numbers of at-bats to the following: Wilson Valdez, Miguel Olivo, Bret Boone, Willie Bloomquist. Simply take away these jokers and our offensive numbers look a lot better.

Again, we won't have to deal with Ryan Franklin or Aaron Sele as starting pitchers.

The problem now becomes... how to replace these jokers and close the rest of the gap?

The answer... we don't know. That has to drive stat gurus batty, but it's true. We may be able to bring in enough talent through trades and free agency to feel assured about that .500 record, but to think playoffs we are going to need substantial improvements from our young position players.

Here's our lineup at this point...

RF Ichiro!
CF Jeremy Reed
LF Raul Ibanez/Mike Morse
1B Richie Sexson
2B Jose Lopez
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
3B Adrian Beltre
C Yorvit Torrealba
DH Ibanez/Morse

We do have one significant hole, that same LF problem that's been driving us nuts for years. We need left handed power. We know it, USSM knows it, Bill Bavasi knows it. I see a few possible solutions out there. Jacque Jones should not be an option. He batted .240 last year. What a great addition to our lineup THAT would be. Brian Giles would be my target. He is aging but has great plate discipline and would love swinging for our right field porch. If we have to go to the trade route, I would target Carlos Delgado (who has friggin' murdered us for years) or even Jim Thome (more for a dedicated DH). For either of those to make sense the trading team would have to eat much of the salary in those bloated contracts, but we could actually hit some home runs beyond Sexson, which would be nice.
Jeremy Reed needs to step it up next year, when we see how that wrist injury really hampered his production. Ichiro has to bat .330 to truly be productive... last year wasn't that great for him either, no matter what his complaints about team effort.
Adrian Beltre has to step up as well. We need something close to what his projected effort was for last year, not the 5 percentile he hit.
I would like to give Lopez and Betancourt another year, especially because what's out there aren't significant upgrades.
Finally, however great Kenji Jojima might be, he's not worth standing in Jeff Clement's way. Give Torrealba a year in the sun before he steps aside. That leaves us with a lineup of:

Ichiro
Reed
Giles
Sexson
Ibanez
Beltre
Lopez
Torrealba
Betancourt

That's not a bad lineup, with speed and power.

Now to the pitching, a problem all in itself. Basically, our starting pitching sucked. It sucked hard. We will have a full year of King Felix, which in and of itself will register a marked inprovement, as will the return of Rafael Soriano to our bullpen. Here's what we have so far.

Starters:
Felix
Piniero
?
?
?

Relievers:
Guardado
Sherrill
Soriano
Mateo
Putz
Atchison
Harris

As you can see, we have the makings of an excellent bullpen next year, so no need to overpay (except what we already did for an aging closer whose shoulder is falling off). What to do with that huge starting pitching gap? That will define whether or not we're a contender next year or not. It sucks that I have even penciled in Piniero. I have to make it clear that I don't really like anyone in free agency. They all have huge warts and none are worth the kind of money being thrown in their general direction. Still, Kevin Millwood and Matt Morris at least have track records of success. AJ Burnett does have the most talent, but as Lookout Landing pointed out, he's a huge injury risk to go with the attitude and consistency problems. I'm not sure he's worth it. Then just sign Moyer for one more year, keep him at home and we have...

1. Felix
2. Millwood
3. Morris
4. Moyer
5. Piniero

and we have something closer, albeit still poor.

Look, these are just my thoughts. I don't like what's out there, I don't see us making many moves, and I don't see us competing in 2006. Go team.

posted by Gavin @ 1:17 PM  0 comments

 


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