Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eddie Utah Tuesday Edition

I Was Right
The Falcons' two wins were against the Lions and the Chiefs. Next, they head to Green Bay, host Chicago, then play at Philadelphia. They could easily be staring at 2-5. They scored zero points in the second half against Carolina.
Shaky Camera Technique: With 2:45 left in the second quarter of the Browns at Bengals game, one camera followed the football as Ryan Fitzpatrick’s pass was picked off by Eric Wright, who zig-zagged this way and that, then headed forward at full-speed before fumbling the ball backwards about 7 yards. Note, I probably wouldn’t have picked the Bengals had I known that Carson Palmer would be inactive. Also, it was nice to see Chaz Cinco (nickname courtesy of Bill Simmons) just hand the ball to the official after scoring his first touchdown this year.
The Vikings had more first downs and more yards, but apparently home-field advantage was enough to cause four Viking turnovers, which was the difference in the game.
Things definitely went black for the Raiders in the fourth quarter (in spite of their white uniforms), when they allowed 25 points.
The Cardinals were definitely out of sorts in allowing 6 Brett Favre touchdown passes and dropping the ball all over the field (I’m looking at you Kurt Warner).
The Ravens may have covered thanks to a great first half by Flacco and their offense. But Roethlisberger’s slippery effectiveness in the second half prevented them from winning the game. Also playing a role was John Harbaugh’s decision not to challenge Flacco’s throw to Derrick Mason in the end-zone in the first half that was ruled an incompletion. It looked to me like he had the ball secured with two feet dragging. Where do I apply to be the Challenge Trigger Man for some of these NFL teams? (I’m looking at you Mike Holmgren and Brother Reid.)

I Was Wrong
The Broncos defense is bad. If the offense isn’t droppin’ forty points, they will struggle.
The Texans played a very good game, winning the time-of-possession battle and gaining more yards and first downs than the Jaguars. David Garrard was back to being efficient and this game was essentially decided on a coin-toss.
Trent Green escaped Week 4 without a concussion and the Rams actually looked like a real NFL team for three quarters. Of course, just when Rams fans were getting hopeful, Green threw a INTD to Jabari Green. (INTD is my new abbreviation/acronym for an interception returned for a touchdown—see note to Bill Simmons below.)
I was wrong to mention that Aaron Rodgers had yet to throw an interception this year. Naturally, he threw three against Tampa on Sunday. Several turnovers by Tampa kept the Packers in the game even though the Bucs dominated the Packers rush defense.
The Saints defense may have allowed 312 yards on the day, but they were tough when it counted, picking off two O’Sullivan passes in their own end-zone. Great efficiency in the red-zone J.T.
I thought the Cowboys would just be too good for the Redskins. Bill Simmons had his doubts about Jim Zorn. (See note below.) Of course we were both wrong. This was probably the cleanest (Washington had zero turnovers), toughest game of the week and the Redskins grinded out a win in Big D.
I was wrong about the Eagles, in large part due to a coaching mistake by Andy Reid. That “beautiful picture” Madden kept slobbering over like the Faith Hill pregame intro was indeed beautiful, but not in the way he meant. To me, the overhead shot clearly showed the ball crossing the plane of the goal line on the fourth down play near the end of the fourth quarter. Andy Reid should have challenged.

Email to Bill Simmons
Dear Bill:

A couple of things. First, we've added the following to our list of things you've been wrong about: Jim Zorn. Tell Cousin Sal to suck it. Second, I really don't mind the "pick-six" all that much. And while the TINT isn't bad, I just came up with my own new acronym: I-N-TD! [in my best Gus Johnson voice]

Yours truly,
Eddie Utah

Email to Peter King
Peter King: "6. I think if I had a spare spot on my fantasy team, I'd claim Ryan Torain, injured rookie Denver running back. Just do it. You'll thank me when you win your league."

Peter, you are a fantasy idiot. Denver hasn't had a solid fantasy RB since Portis.

Plus, (1) I’ve never heard of Ryan Torain, (2) he’s INJURED, (3) Mike Shanahan likes using about 8 running backs, and (4) there’s this little secret about Fantasy Football that I think I realized about two years too late. The secret? The majority of NFL teams splitting carries amongst at least two running backs significantly decreases their value. While I haven’t done any hard analysis to support this yet, wide-receivers seem to be the most valuable position nowadays.

Good Play-Calling 101
With 2:43 left in the first quarter, Cleveland lined up for a 56-yard field-goal. But it was a fake! Not a fake trying to get a first down, but a fake field-goal punt, which, with no one back to return the punt, was downed at the seven-yard-line.
Facing a fourth and one from the Cardinals 40-yard-line, Eric Mangini dials up a deep ball instead of the unpredictable run up the middle. Later, with 2:00 remaining and the Jets up 48-35 facing a fourth and five from the Arizona 24-yard-line, the Jets dial up an aggressive touchdown pass to keep the heat on, even though they held a two-score lead.
With 7:03 left in the second quarter, Washington had a first and goal from the eight-yard-line with the score tied at seven. After two Clinton Portis runs, rather than beat their collective heads into the wall, Jim Zorn calls a pass on third down which results in a Campbell to Randle El touchdown.

Bad Play-Calling 101
With 6:50 left in the First Quarter of the Broncos at Chiefs game, the Chiefs had a first and 10 from the Broncos 12. They gained eight yards on a Larry Johnson run. Then, predictably, they run two more plays to Johnson, the Broncos stop them and the Chiefs settle for a field goal.
Bad Personnel decision #1—down 21 points with 0:32 left in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals still have their starters in the game when and Anquan Boldin’s head gets sandwiched between two defenders running at full-speed, and he then flops to the ground unconscious. Bad Personnel decision #2—on the very next play, Warner throws to their other Pro-Bowl receiver, Larry Fitzgerald. Both Warner and Fitzgerald are inexplicably still in the game, which for all intents and purposes, has been over for several minutes.
With 10:00 left in the fourth quarter, with a first and goal from the Ravens four-yard-line, Mike Tomlin called three straight rushes. Result: field goal.
With 1:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, Baltimore decided to play for overtime on the road, even though they had plenty of time to drive down the field and get in position for a winning field-goal. As TMQ would say, the football gods disapproved and the Ravens lost in overtime.

Impressive Power Plays
With 4:05 left in the first quarter of the Vikings at Titans game, a great block by fullback Ahmard Hall lets Chris Johnson walk in the endzone. His offensive line is opening up holes and he is hitting them quickly.
With 8:15 left in the second quarter of the Broncos at Chiefs game, Denver Fullback Spencer Larsen tackled Dantrell Savage with the loudest, most vicious hit of the weekend.
With 7:29 left in the third quarter, immediately following a Jay Cutler interception, Champ Bailey stays low on a tackle of Larry Johnson and follows-through, finishing the tackle, up-ending Johnson and causing a fumble.
With 4:02 left in the fourth quarter, Le’Ron McClain overpowered Lawrence Timmons, who initially hit him at the three-yard-line, for a game-tying touchdown.

Sweet Picks
With 7:37 left in the third quarter, Derrick Johnson made like Tony Gonzalez and snagged a Jay Cutler pass with his hands—leaning, reaching, and fully-extended.
Two plays later, after Champ Bailey caused the above-mentioned fumble, Jay Cutler threw another pick, this one to Brandon Carr, who was also fully-extended in mid-air, when he caught the ball with both hands.
With 4:21 left in the first quarter, the 49ers Takeo Spikes made an awesome, leaping, one-handed interception of a Drew Brees pass.

Eddie’s Observations
Justin Gage, Matt Jones, Kevin Walter and Lance Moore all looked impressive to me at wide-receiver this weekend.
Tennessee bottled up Adrian Peterson pretty good.
JaMarcus Russell’s passes looked zippy and accurate, but he held the ball too long on several plays and threw the ball away on a fourth-down-and-five with 1:17 left to go in the game with his team down by three. Why not throw it up for grabs in that situation?
Damon Huard really makes you wonder why the Chiefs started that other guy last week.
Matt Schaub looked clutch in leading his team down the field for about 50 yards for the tying field goal in regulation versus the Jaguars.
In overtime of that same game, Garrard threw the ball to Jones a full two seconds before Jones turned around. Nice samepagedness.
FUMBLE! Both the Browns at Bengals game and the Broncos at Chiefs game featured multiple turnovers in three plays. In the Chief
With 12:38 left in the fourth quarter of the Broncos at Chiefs game, Clifford Russell did what looked like a handspring while returning a kickoff. He sprained his neck on the play, so maybe it was more of a head-spring. He’s hopeful of returning to the field soon.
Tip #16 on How to Get Fired, by Lane Kiffen: Send your kicker out to attempt a 76-yard field goal.
Defensive Halves of the Week: The Raiders held the explosive Chargers offense scoreless in the first half (if only things didn’t go black in the second half) and the Panthers held the Falcons scoreless in the second half (if I could pick, I’d go with the second half).
The Cardinals were inside the ten-yard-line twice in the first quarter and came away with zero points.
The corner covering Laveranues Coles was still laying down about thirty yards upfield when Coles caught his first TD pass with 7:19 left in the second quarter of the Cardinals at Jets game.
I may be going crazy, but I could have sworn that I heard the “Cooooooo” cheer for Chris Cooley in DALLAS?! Or were those “Booooos?”
What the hell is going on with Tony Kornheiser’s hair? Bad comb-over on top, sides shaved, and long in back. A comb-over mullet?
I don’t like Mike Tirico’s stuffy and conclusory tone. He announces first down throws as if he’s analyzing game tape rather than announcing something that’s happening live.
I loved seeing Ben Roethlisberger gets flat-tired with 3:48 remaining in the half.

Isn’t that Special
Onside opportunity of the week: With 2:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, Denver’s Matt Prater kicked a perfect lob into the hands of Spencer Larsen, but Larsen was unable to hold on.
Special Teams Trickery of the Week: With 5:41 left in the third quarter and the Jets leading by a score of 34-15, Neil Rackers pretended to walk back and line up for the kickoff, but abruptly turned around and kicked an onside kick, that the Cardinals recovered.

Lame Officiating
With 13:41 remaining in the second quarter, an excessive celebration penalty was called on Steven Jackson for throwing the ball to fans and then jumping up and taking their pats on the back. Why penalize such a sorry team for one of the few moments they had to celebrate? It’s not like he was grandstanding or anything—he was just giving a little love to the fans.

He Said/She Said
Jim Haslett, after being named Rams interim coach: “This is not really the way you want to become a head coach, at somebody else’s expense,” Haslett said at a news conference to announce the move. “I feel for him and his family.” Wait a second--isn’t that the way all coaches become head coaches (except in the case of an expansion team)? At the expense of somebody else?
Suzy Kolber, quoting Mike Tomlin on the Steeler’s attitude at halftime on Monday night: “I’m not sure I can say this on TV, but he said, ‘we were pissed off.’” Well Suzy, you just said it. And as far as I’m concerned, you can say whatever the heck you want. Her voice could convince me to buy Washington Mutual stock. She is definitely the MVP of my Diane Lane all-star team.
John Madden, describing the buffet prepared by Mama McNabb (which made him much more excited than the Eagles at Bears game): “I had-I had so much food on my plate that the guy had to say, ‘can you move your thumb please?’”

Week 4 picks: 7-6, Season: 28-31
Eddie IN THE MONEY Superpicks: 3-1, Season 8-2

Sunday, September 28, 2008

An Eagle Eye View of Week 4

Since the Seahawks are taking the weekend off, I thought I’d relax a little myself, take in a movie and mix in my review with my week 4 NFL preview. In Eagle Eye, Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) is guided to Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) by a mysterious woman named Ariel, who somehow knows his every move and communicates through his cell phone, the cell phone of a stranger who happened to be sitting next to him on the subway, electronic banners and random video screens. Jerry and Rachel are then coerced and threatened into carrying out Ariel’s bidding. The FBI is after Jerry as a suspected terrorist while Rachel’s son is being held hostage (though he doesn’t realize it).

Falcons at PANTHERS
Jerry happens to have an identical twin who was recently killed while serving as a member of a super-secret military operation named….Eagle Eye. The Falcons also have an identical twin that routinely gets killed in the line of duty. This twin reared its ugly head in Week 2 in a blowout loss to Tampa Bay. While the “good” twin exacted a certain measure of revenge in Week 3, “the brother with lead shoes” is no match for the Panthers in Carolina. Pick: PANTHERS -6.5 over Falcons.

Browns at BENGALS
Our friends Jerry and Rachel soon find themselves together in a Porche Cayenne. With the FBI, led by Billy Bob Thornton, in full pursuit, Jerry and Rachel are able to escape thanks to the help of Ariel, who is able to timely turn all of the right stoplights green and manipulate the computer systems of the FBI cars, as well as the navigational system of the Porche. This may sound like an exciting action scene, and while it may have had some potential, the director unfortunately chose to utilize the maddening shaky camera technique. You know, where the big screen is filled with very brief flashes of screeching tires, jarring crashes and shattered glass. And the screen is so big, there’s nowhere to divert your eyes. You just hope it ends before your head starts throbbing and you vomit into the next row. Browns and Bengals fans can definitely relate. Cleveland had an offseason filled with the anticipation of a promising season and a return to the playoffs. Cincinatti’s hopes may not have been as high, but they certainly weren’t looking for an 0-3 start. Luckily for us, we can divert our eyes by changing the channel. Pick: I have no trust in Romeo until he shows me something (like Brady Quinn, maybe?) BENGALS -3.5 over Browns

Vikings at TITANS
Eagle Eye soon finds Billy Bob barking orders and belittling subordinates as he strolls through FBI headquarters. At one point he whines about how his eyes keep getting worse and PDA screens keep getting smaller. A younger colleague offers to change the font size on his handheld. Billy Bob responds, “No, I’m talking about paper—you know, like in olden times?” Thirty-seven year-old Gus Frerotte knows; as does thirty-five year-old Kerry Collins. I think these teams are pretty evenly matched: both had good running games; both have one quarterback who is athletic but inaccurate and another who is more accurate but old; and both have tough defenses. When in doubt, go with the home team. Pick: TITANS -3 over Vikings

Broncos at CHIEFS
As Billy Bob continued to pursue Jerry and Rachel, he became increasingly frustrated with the inability of his agents to corral the suspects. At one point he made a threat that Herm Edwards ought to be making: “You’re going to be demoted to something that requires touching shit with your hands.” While Larry Johnson did have a positive game last week, they still couldn’t keep pace with the Falcons. It will get ugly versus Denver as the Broncos will have a fun time playing against the Chiefs shitty team. Pick: Broncos -10 over CHIEFS

Chargers at RAIDERS
Billy Bob soon figures out that Jerry and Rachel are getting a lot of electronic help. As he questions a security company about their surveillance tapes, he stops them when they get to the part where Jerry and Rachel should appear and says, “don’t tell me—everything magically went black.” Things have definitely been going black for the Raiders but there’s nothing magical about it. Against the Bills, things went black with about eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, when Buffalo went on to score 17 straight points. This week, things will go black a little sooner against a revitalized Chargers team. Pick: Chargers -7.5 over RAIDERS

Texans at JAGS
It turns out that Ariel is using Jerry and Rachel, among other pawns, to steal a special crystal the size of large diamond pendant. These little crystals can blow up an area the size of a football field. Five foot seven Maurice Jones-drew is another small package that can really blow up a football field. Houston and their 27th ranked rush defense could be in for a long day. Pick: JAGS -7 over Texans

Bills at RAMS
Jerry and Rachel eventually figure out who the mysterious Ariel is and also figure out that they need to stop a “POTUS Triple 1,” a threat to the president. With Trent Green starting for the Rams this Sunday, his offensive linemen might as well start yelling “POTUS Triple 1” for their commander-in-chief right now. The line for this game is high. It should be higher. Pick: Bills -8 over RAMS.

Eagle Eye Assessment
Overall a solid movie. Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan both provided some solid acting. And I love Michelle Monaghan’s natural good looks. She was a very believable single mom who didn’t look like she just walked off the set of Dr. 90210. Billy Bob’s character wasn’t much of a stretch—he was essentially being himself—but entertaining nonetheless. The plot didn’t require an inordinate suspension of scientific or logical sense. It won’t win any Oscars, but a fun, entertaining couple of hours. Rating: 7 Stars (out of 10)

The Rest of Week 4

Cardinals at JETS
When I made the Jets one of my Superpicks, I didn’t realize that the Cardinals were spending the whole week on the East coast. So essentially, the Jets, having just returned to New Jersey on Monday night/Tuesday morning, should be experiencing more ill effects of multiple time zone travel than the Arizona team. Add Brett Favre’s injured ankle to that, and the Cardinals suddenly become a more popular pick. However, I’m sticking to my guns here. I still think the Cardinals will be a little out of sorts from more than a week away from their homes, families, wives, girlfriends and regular beds. Pick: JETS -1 over Cardinals

Packers at BUCS
Sixty-seven pass attempts and 400 yards don’t mean a whole lot to me if you also throw three picks, but that fact that Tampa didn’t give up a sack in those 67 attempts is pretty impressive. This game will feature the strong line play of Tampa’s offense versus a motivated Green Bay defense that was torched for 453 yards against Dallas last week. However, the difference will be in the quarterback play of Aaron Rodgers, who has yet to throw an interception this year. Pick: Packers +1 over BUCS

49ers at SAINTS
Both of these offenses are playing very well and cranking out yards and points. And I don’t see the Saints defense putting up much more of a fight than the Detroit defense did last week. I want to pick the 49ers, but after a couple frustrating games versus Denver and Washington, the Saints simply need this game more. And needier teams have a tendency to win more games. Pick: SAINTS -4.5 over 49ers

Redskins at COWBOYS
Washington heads to Dallas after a couple of close home victories. Unless Dallas really lets up after a big win in Green Bay last week, Washington will have trouble keeping this one close. New Orleans and Arizona could end up being good teams and even playoff teams—but they are not the Cowboys. Pick: COWBOYS -11 over Redskins

Eagles at BEARS
It looks like Westbrook won’t be playing for the Eagles, which means a lot more passing for the Bears defense to defend. If they get lit up for 400 yards again, this game will be a blowout thanks to Philly’s defense. Matt Forte and Kyle Orton can look forward to a tough day. If the Bears are able to clamp down on an Eagles offense sans Westbrook, they could keep the game low-scoring and relatively close. Regardless of how the game unfolds, I see Philly prevailing. Pick: Eagles -3 over BEARS

Ravens at STEELERS
The Steelers had a real rough time last week against the Eagles defense. Things don’t get any easier this week with the number one ranked defense coming to town. Add the absence of Willie Parker (Rashard Mendenhall will start in his place) and the hurting Ben Roethlisberger, mix in a well-rested Ravens team, and you have the makings of a second-straight loss for the Steelers. Pick: Ravens +5 over STEELERS

Eddie IN THE MONEY Superpicks: PANTHERS -7 over Falcons, JETS -1 over Cardinals, Broncos -10 over CHIEFS and Bills -8 over RAMS (Last week: 3-0, Season, 5-1)

Week 3 Picks: Bill Simmons: 10-6, Sports Gal: 9-7, Eddie Utah: 7-9
Season Standings: Sports Gal: 24-22-1, Bill Simmons: 23-23-1, Eddie Utah: 21-25

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

NFL Week 4: B.S.ing the Sports Guy

Before we hit the week 4 lines, a few quick notes on week 3:

I was Right
  • about all three of my Eddie IN THE MONEY Superpicks (FALCONS -4 over Chiefs, TITANS -5 over Texans and EAGLES -3 over Steelers)
  • about the magic that Jim Zorn is working on Jason Campbell
  • to doubt Jon Kitna and Romeo's Browns
I Was Wrong
  • to think that Tom Brady's magic had rubbed off sufficiently on Matt Cassell
  • to believe that the Packers had as much firepower as the Cowboys
  • to doubt the Seahawks' (or any other team's) ability to rout a pathetic Rams team
Defensive Stat of the Week: After the Panthers scored a touchdown with 9:55 left in the second quarter, the Vikings held them scoreless for the rest of the game.

Some Stupid Questions
  • How did Jake Delhomme not see the unblocked corner blitz of Antoine Winfield coming from his non-blind side? (Result was a Vikings Touchdown.)
  • How did the Lions score as much as they did versus the Packers in Week 2?
  • Is the Jag's running game that good or the Colts defense that bad?
  • Why was Houshmandzadeh (and his 12 for 146 and a TD) on my bench?
  • Why aren't more NFL teams rockin' the single-wing?
  • Could the drama in Oakland be scripted any better?
  • Will J.T. O’Sullivan stop being so accurate? Provided he gets enough protection and/or doesn’t get too beat-up, Mike Martz + accurate passer = lots of points (not good for a Seahawks fan).

On to Week 4. Last week I made slight improvment in my weekly attempt at predicting the lines better than Bill Simmons or Cousin Sal. Can I keep it up this week? Here's the season standings: BS 19, CS 17, EU 5.

Falcons at PANTHERS
Blowout win, blowout loss, blowout win, blowout ... I see a pattern here for the Falcons.

BS: PANTHERS -8.5 CS: PANTHERS -8.5 EU: PANTHERS -7.5 Actual: PANTHERS -7 Score: BS 0, CS 0, EU 1

Cardinals at JETS
Two east coast games in a row for Arizona won't bode well.

BS: JETS -2.5 CS: JETS -1 EU: JETS -3.5 Actual: JETS -3 Score: BS 1, CS 0, EU 2

Browns at BENGALS

Two winless teams fight for Ohio. Should we invite THE Ohio State University?
BS: BENGALS -3.5 CS: BENGALS -3 EU: BENGALS -3 Actual: BENGALS -3.5 Score: BS 2, CS 0, EU 2

Vikings at TITANS
Two journeymen go at it.

BS: TITANS -5.5 CS: TITANS -1.5 EU: TITANS -2.5 Actual: TITANS -3.5 Score: BS 2, CS 0, EU 3

Packers at BUCS
BS: BUCS -3 CS: BUCS -2 EU: BUCS -1.5 Actual: BUCS -1 Score: BS 2, CS 0, EU 4

49ers at SAINTS
Does the 49ers offense even need the pourous Saints defense to make them look good?

BS: SAINTS -7.5 CS: SAINTS -7.5 EU: SAINTS -4.5 Actual: SAINTS -6.5 Score: BS 3, CS 1, EU 4

Texans at JAGS
BS: JAGS -8 CS: JAGS -8 EU: JAGS -6.5 Actual: JAGS -7.5 Score: BS 4, CS 2, EU 4

Broncos at CHIEFS

BS: Broncos -7.5 CS: Broncos -10 EU: Broncos -10 Actual: Broncos -9.5 Score: BS 4, CS 3, EU 5

Bills at RAMS

Trent Green with a horrible offensive line? Yeah...that sounds like a great idea. Over/under for Green's next concussion is about 1/2 a quarter.
BS: Bills -4.5 CS: Bills -6.5 EU: Bills -13 Actual: Bills -9 Score: BS 4, CS 4, EU 5

Chargers at RAIDERS
Norv will be chuckling all the way back to San Diego.

BS: Chargers -8 CS: Chargers -6 EU: Chargers -6.5 Actual: Chargers -7 Score: BS 4, CS 4, EU 6

Redskins at COWBOYS

Throw the numbers out the window for this rivalry.
BS: COWBOYS -9.5 CS: COWBOYS -10 EU: COWBOYS -9 Actual: COWBOYS -13 Score: BS 4, CS 5, EU 6

Eagles at BEARS

The final score of this one should resemble a baseball game.
BS: Pick 'em CS: Pick 'em EU: Eagles -2 Actual: Eagles -3 Score: BS 4, CS 5, EU 7

Ravens at STEELERS

BS: STEELERS -3.5 CS: STEELERS -7.5 EU: STEELERS -6 Actual: STEELERS -7.5 Score: BS 4, CS 6, EU 7

WINNER-WINNER! Taste it Bill Simmons!

Eddie IN THE MONEY Superpicks: PANTHERS -7 over Falcons, JETS -3 over Cardinals, Broncos -9.5 over CHIEFS and Bills -9 over RAMS (Last week: 3-0, Season, 5-1)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why So Belligerent?

I attended three different football games this weekend, at three different levels of competition--high school, college and pro. Interestingly, the high school game provided the most drama on the field, while the college and pro games provided the most drama in the stands. Arizona at UCLA was a yawner--literally. I yawned...and then I dozed, as UCLA never seriously threatened.
Refreshed after a Rose Bowl Nap
The nearby fans, however, made a few entertaining, if not serious, threats. In a successful display of obnoxiousness, an illegally inebriated UCLA fan accused an Arizona fan of being "drunk," "throwin' out bad words," and "beatin' up kids." I was amused by the creativity of the last accusation. Security, however, was not amused, and this fan's game ended a little early.

Subtract a couple Brett Favre interceptions and a failed 3rd quarter fourth-down conversion and the Jets-Chargers game may have ended a little more dramatically (even though bettors who had the Chargers +8 or over 45.5 were perfectly happy with the dull, high-scoring game). The real action was in the stands, where a couple of hoodlum Charger fans, one of which thought it clever to wear an Aaron Rodgers jersey, did their best to annoy Jets and Chargers fans alike. Drunken chants of "Favre sucks!" were mixed with senseless and illogical taunts towards Jets fans.

Behind the hoodlums sat a big bald man who sported large arms and several tatoos. He took issue with the hoodlums' antics when they started pointing at his son. He cocked his fist and threatened the hoodlums with several fake half-punches. Unfortunately for the surrounding fans, and inspite of cheers to the contrary, he never made good on such threats, perhaps for the benefit of his son's remaining time at Monday Night Football. Things finally calmed down after a Qualcomm Stadium employee threatened the three with ejection. Sadly, with less than two minutes left in the game, "things" on the field had calmed down much earlier.

These two upstanding fans politely ignored the ridicule from Chargers fans.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

High School Choke Job

After attending a high school football game two weeks ago, I came up with the following fundamental rule of high school offensive strategy: Offenses, in general, should not throw anything but high percentage passes—nothing over 10 yards—unless the receiver is wide open by 20 yards or more on a blown coverage.

Friday night, 900 miles away, this rule was proved out once again. I arrived at La Canada High School with about 4:30 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Spartans down by three. They soon recovered a fumble in the Glendale Dyanmiters’ territory. They slowly made their way towards the end zone as I made my way towards the press box. When I arrived at the press box, the Spartan offense had arrived at the 4 yard line with a first-and-goal. Obvious strategy here was to run 3 times and score or kick the tying field goal. La Canada was smart enough to run twice before attempting a third down pass play that was fortunately not intercepted. Then, apparently lacking faith in their linebacker/kicker, they went for it on fourth down and scored. I grabbed the mic from Mo$ and announced the score: La Canada 21, Glendale 17.

The time-keeper was impressed with my voice until it became obvious that that voice had clearly jinxed the home squad. With 1:29 left in the game, the Spartans seemed to have a great chance at their first victory of the season. And now, my fundamental rule of high school defensive strategy: Spend 80 percent of your practice time teaching fundamentals. Glendale took the ensuing kickoff to the 50-yard-line on the strength of numerous missed tackles by the Spartans. One play later, with 1:15 left in the game, Glendale called a screen pass. At least five Spartan players stood about five yards downfield from the receiver. All of them touched him, but none of them wrapped up and tackled him. Result: Touchdown Dynamiters. Glendale 24, La Canada 21.

Even though the situation seemed bleak, the Spartans still managed to return the kickoff to the 40-yard line. A couple well executed short slants and/or screens and a few lucky runs and there’s an outside chance to tie the game on a field goal. Instead, coach calls a 20-yard Hail Mary which falls straight into the hands of the Dynamiters middle linebacker for a pick-6. Glendale 29, La Canada 21.

As the players walked off the field, the respective bands of each team provided one additional rule of high school football: Bad fight songs lose games. The Glendale fight song was a peppy, upbeat song that closely resembled the fight song of the Helena High mighty Bengals. The La Canada song was a slow, sleepy excuse for any sort of fight. It more appropriately would have been heard in a funeral procession. Of course, given the result of the game, perhaps that was the idea.

The HHS Bengals, averaging 279 rushing
yards per game, clearly understand the
fundamental rule of high school offensive strategy.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Itinerary for a Weekend of Football

I have a tough weekend starting tomorrow. I'll be working hard all weekend. A recruiting golf event tomorrow. High School football tomorrow night. Monday Night Football with Brett Favre on Monday night. And, why yes--I am looking forward to working the weekend for the first time in my life. In anticipation of the arduous weekend ahead, Mo$ has prepared a draft itinerary to keep us on task:


8:30 pm - Eddie Utah flies into Burbank

9:00 pm - Eddie Utah arrives at the game. While making his way through the bleachers, Eddie Utah feels like a dirty old man at least three time before arriving at the press box.

9:05 pm - Eddie Utah wrestles the mic away from Mo$ and with 3:00 left in the game, La Canada will be losing 35-6 and attempting the XPA until EU yells "HEY" over the mike and ducks under the desk whispering to the scoreboard operator to ask if anyone saw him.

9:30 pm - 12 am - After getting a bite to eat, we attend the church dance with Basketball Coach, Basketball Coach's Little Sister, and anyone else who came to the game. Eddie Utah gets 2 phone numbers and Mo$ gets 0. Mo$ listens in when a girl asks what EU does for a living and compares it to Moke's performance from visits past.

12:30 am - Eddie Utah and Mo$ get ready for bed. EU has brought his own towel and Mo$ has only limited him to 1 roll of TP for the entire trip. Mo$ is banished to sleeping on the floor


7:00 am - If Mo$ is feeling it, he goes on a 12 mile run

10:30 am - Go to Lucky Boy and get breakfast burritos

10:45-11:30 - Pick up a friend and some girl Eddie Utah picks up at the church dance to go to the Arizona/UCLA football game at the Rose Bowl.

12:45 pm - The friends we go with are already sick of us and begin checking their watches.

3:00 pm - Tour of Avery Dennison Campus. Eddie Utah is amazed at how big the fish are.

3:30 -6:00 pm - Personal/Meditation time

6:00 pm - Eat Pastrami Sandwiches or go to the fair to watch Jessica Simpson.

8:45 pm - We get kicked out of the concert after Eddie Utah pulls out his "Carefulllll, RoMo has UnderWOOD" sign.


9-11 am - Eddie Utah turns on TV and checks his fantasy football team. Mo$ could care less about his team

11-2 pm - Church
3-6 pm - Lifting/Hit golf balls & putting contest

6-9 pm - Watch Sunday Night NFL game or go do something with church people.


8:00-2:00 pm - Mo$ goes to work.

9:00-1:59 pm - Eddie Utah wakes up and snoops around Mo$'s room looking for anything scandalous. He settles on reading one of Mo$'s Hulk Hogan or Randy Savage books.

2:00-4:00 pm - Drive to San Diego.

4:00 pm - Toss the ball around with Brett Favre in pre-game warmups.

5:00-9:00 pm - Watch the game. Eddie Utah takes notes feverishly. 9:00-11:00 pm - Eddie Utah drives home as Mo$ is sleepy


Mo$ takes Eddie Utah to airport.

And, of course, this is a mere taste of the real debauchery that is sure to ensue. I'm sure you all can't wait.

Boys Will Be Boys (EXPLICIT)

My favorite part from the excerpt on deadspin.com:

On the night following the team's arrival in Tempe, Switzer and a slew of assistant coaches and players attended a Super Bowl party beneath an enormous outdoor tent. Switzer and Larry Lacewell, the Cowboys' director of pro and college scouting (and the man whose wife Switzer once slept with), downed shots until both were stumbling around like kangaroos atop surfboards. Silver was minding his own business when he turned and spotted Switzer furiously kicking with his right foot. "What the fuck are you doing?" Silver asked. Upon stepping closer, Silver saw that Switzer was actually booting Lacewell, who was trying to urinate beneath a wood deck. "Barry was getting Larry to piss all over himself," says Silver. "Urine everywhere." Done harassing his friend, Switzer stumbled to the dance floor and began hyperactively shaking his body—a la Pee Wee Herman. Nearby Emmitt Smith was grooving the night away, showing off the moves that, a decade later, would make him a champion on Dancing With the Stars, when he caught a glimpse of Switzer. "Emmitt can't believe what he's seeing," says Silver. "He just stops and stares at Switzer, and his jaw drops. He just gets this look on his face that I can only describe as 'Oh my God, my coach is fucking crazy!'"

Week 3 NFL Picks, Notes and B.S., Cousin Sal

Clearly I should not have changed my Eddie IN THE MONEY Superpicks since my preliminary picks went 3-0 and my final-final picks only 2-1, although 2-1 is still “in the money.” Before getting to the picks and the lines with Bill and Sal, let’s take a look at the current standings:

Week 2 Picks
Sports Gal: 9-5, Bill Simmons: 7-7, Eddie Utah: 6-8

Season Standings
Sports Gal: 16-14, Eddie Utah: 14-16, Bill Simmons: 13-17

Two games back. Time to step it up. And why is that Sports Gal so smart? My money’s on her beating Bill for the third straight year.

Line Predictions (Week 2 and Season Standings)
BS 10, CS 10, EU 2 Way behind here. Gonna need some big weeks. Let’s get going with Week 3:


Cardinals at Redskins
Jim Zorn has worked his magic on Jason Campbell. Is the Cardinals defense better than the Saints defense? If this turns into a shootout, I don’t see Washington winning.
BS: Redskins -3.5 CS: Redskins -3 EU: Redskins -3.5 Actual: Redskins -3.5 Score: BS 1, CS 0, EU 1

Chiefs at Falcons
The Falcons were fairly competitive against the Bucs last week. Some guy I’ve never heard of is starting for the Chiefs.
BS: Falcons -4 CS: Falcons - EU: Falcons -6 Actual: Falcons -4
Score: BS 2, CS 0, EU 1

If you didn't attend Coastal Carolina University, you probably haven't heard of this guy either, especially since the school's football program started only 5 years ago. But he's starting for the Chiefs this Sunday. Will he have as much fun with the Falcons defense as his seems to be having with the skeleton?

Bengals at Giants
In spite of retirement and injuries on the defensive line, these guys are still getting to the quarterback. Still waiting for Houshmandzadeh to score me some fantasy points.
BS: Giants -12.5 CS: Giants -10.5 EU: Giants -8.5 Actual: Giants -13.5
Score: BS 3, CS 0, EU 1

Dolphins at Patriots
BS: Patriots -14.5 CS: Patriots -13.5 EU: Patriots -9.5 Actual: Patriots -13
Score: BS 3, CS 1, EU 1

Texans at Titans
A vote of confidence from coach Jeff Fisher will help Kerry Collins have a big game.
BS: Titans -7.5 CS: Titans -6.5 EU: Titans -8.5 Actual: Titans -5
Score: BS 3, CS 2, EU 1

Panthers at Vikings
My apologies to Tavaris Jackson. After watching the full Vikings-Colts game, he was actually much more accurate than I would have expected. The only times he wasn’t accurate were when the Vikings were in the red zone and in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. I love those qualities in a quarterback. Apparently Brad Childress does too, as Gus Frerotte has been named the starter. BS: Vikings -2.5 CS: Vikings -5 EU: Panthers -2 Actual: Vikings -3.5
Score: BS 4, CS 2, EU 1

Raiders at Bills
BS: Bills -8.5 CS: Bills -8.5 EU: Bills -6 Actual: Bills -9.5
Score: BS 5, CS 3, EU 1

Bucs at Bears
BS: Bears -3 CS: Bears -4 EU: Bears -4.5 Actual: Bears -3
Score: BS 6, CS 3, EU 1

Saints at Broncos
BS: Broncos -4.5 CS: Broncos -5 EU: Broncos -5.5 Actual: Broncos -4
Score: BS 7, CS 3, EU 1

Lions at 49ers
In spite of Jon Kitna’s nearly 30,000 passing yards, Mike Holmgren made the right decision in getting rid of him. He knew, as was demonstrated on Sunday, that Kitna can be counted on to throw one or two costly interceptions every game. I think Kitna’s a great guy—he just throws too many picks.
BS: 49ers -3 CS: 49ers -3.5 EU: 49ers -6 Actual: 49ers -3.5
Score: BS 7, CS 4, EU 1

Rams at Seahawks
Koren Robinson has reversed his jersey number from 81 to 18. Will that help reverse the direction of the Seahawks’ season?

BS: 'hawks -10.5 CS: 'hawks -10.5 EU: 'hawks -8.5 Actual: Seahawks -10
Score: BS 8, CS 5, EU 1

Steelers at Eagles
BS: Eagles -3.5 CS: Eagles -3 EU: Eagles -3.5 Actual: Eagles -3
Score: BS 8, CS 6, EU 1

Browns at Ravens
Romeo, as TMQ has pointed out, you really need to stop coaching like such a sissy.
BS: Ravens -4 CS: Ravens -3 EU: Ravens -4.5 Actual: Ravens -2.5
Score: BS 8, CS 7, EU 1

Jaguars at Colts
These two powerhouses of seasons past are suddenly looking mediocre.
BS: Colts -6 CS: Colts -7 EU: Colts -3.5 Actual: Colts -6
Score: BS 9, CS 7, EU 1

Sunday Night Football

Cowboys at Packers
Romo v. Rodgers, part I. This one could be as high scoring as Monday’s Cowboys-Eagles game.
BS: Packers -2.5 CS: EU: Cowboys -3 Actual: Cowboys -3
Score: BS 9, CS 7, EU 2

Monday Night Football

Jets at Chargers
Mo $ and I will be in San Diego for this one. The line may change at the last minute, depending what kind of shenanigans we get into before the game. By the way, why the hell has no one mentioned the laws of physics with respect to Philip Rivers' fourth quarter fumble in last week's Bronco's game? I understand that Ed Hochuli was standing behind Rivers, but he should have been able to figure out...if no one touches Rivers, and the ball goes 3 feet backwards as he attempts to throw, it is physically impossible for that to be considered a forward pass. I'm a little surprised that not even TMQ made mention of that. See below for my email to TMQ.
BS: Chargers -6.5 CS: Chargers -7 EU: Chargers -7.5 Actual: Chargers -9
Final Score: BS 9, CS 7, EU 3

I sorta get the feeling that these guys have been doing this for a while…but hey, I improved from last week.


REDSKINS -3.5, FALCONS -4, GIANTS -13.5, PATRIOTS -13, TITANS -5, Panthers +3.5, BILLS -9.5, BEARS -3, BRONCOS -4 (and take the over, no matter what it is), Lions +3.5, Rams +10, EAGLES -3, RAVENS -2.5, Jaguars +6, PACKERS +3, CHARGERS -9

Eddie IN THE MONEY Superpicks:

FALCONS -4 over Chiefs
TITANS -5 over Texans
EAGLES -3 over Steelers
Email to TMQ
Dear TMQ:
I am a little surprised that I didn't hear this from you: Why hasn't anyone considered the laws of physics with respect to Philip Rivers' fourth quarter fumble? His attempted forward pass landed four feet behind him. How is it physically possible for that to be considered a forward pass?
You're still the man.
Best regards,
Eddie Utah (EddieUtah.blogspot.com)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

K-Rob Comes Full Circle

The Seahawks’ latest wide-receiver signing is a former first round draft pick…of the Seahawks. Koren Robinson, who was cut by the Seahawks four years ago after repeated bouts with alcoholism has now been sober for over two years and Tim Ruskell is giving him a second shot based on thorough research that included testimony from Mike Holmgren and Matt Hasselbeck. The Seahawks believe Robinson when he says that his family (a wife, 2 boys and a girl on the way) and devotion to God have helped him grow up and turn his life around.

Most of my memories of Koren’s time with the Seahawks involve me screaming at the television and wishing that I could show him how to properly catch a ball with his hands. The 2004 season when he and Darrell Jackson had that contest to see who could drop the most balls had to include some of the most infuriating moments for a Seahawks fan. I think Koren understands:

"I want to apologize to my fans up here in Seattle, and apologize to Coach Holmgren and my teammates…I was selfish…I wasn’t looking at me being a role model. I wasn’t looking at the great opportunity I had. I wasn’t thinking about the people who would give an arm and a leg to be in my shoes. I wasn’t looking at that. I feel like I’ve righted my wrongs. I’ve prayed for this, and I’m happy I have another opportunity to come up here and play ball."

Well, he didn’t mention anything about the dropped balls, but I’m going to go ahead and assume that he was apologizing for those too. And Koren, because these are such desperate times for the Seahawks, I accept your apology.

Yesterday I talked about how the Seahawks could really use a top-notch Pro Bowl receiver. Could Koren be that guy? He has been named to one Pro Bowl, albeit as a kick-returner. Perhaps this new opportunity will allow him to more fully realize his potential. And I'd definitely love to see that. But even if he doesn’t catch a single pass, it’s still a great story--a recovering alcoholic has overcome his addictions by turning to God and turning to family. He should be celebrated--whether he's scoring touchdowns or not.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Anyone Seen a Pro Bowl Wide-Receiver Lately?

Quick! Name the last Seahawk wide-receiver to make the Pro Bowl. Deion Branch was a Super Bowl MVP…before he joined the Seahawks. Darrell Jackson was leading the NFL in touchdown catches a few years back…before he got hurt (again) and missed the last three games of the season. Still thinking? What about Joey Galloway? The Seahawks traded him away for two first round picks (Shaun Alexander and Koren Robinson) after Mike Holmgren’s first year coaching the Seahawks. However, in spite of his celebrity and publicized holdout, Galloway never made a Pro Bowl. Then of course there’s Mr. Seahawk, Steve Largent, who made the Pro Bowl seven times, the last time being after the 1987 season. Two years later, in Largent’s last season, he helped the only other Seahawk wide receiver to ever make the Pro Bowl. If you haven’t thought of him yet, it’s somewhat understandable, given the mediocre Seahawk era in which he played. The answer is Brian Blades, who was also named All-Pro in 1989. And though he had a solid 11-year career, he never again made the Pro Bowl.

It has been nearly twenty years since the Seahawks landed a wide-receiver in the Pro Bowl. Lately, the Seahawks have only been landing their wide-receivers on the IR. It was bad enough in Week 1. Missing (#1) Deion Branch, (#2) Bobby Engram and (#4) Ben Obomanu, you could see the frustration growing on Matt Hasselbeck’s face with each pass dropped by Courtney Taylor and Logan Payne. In my mind, he finally said, “Screw it. I’m throwing to Nate Burleson every time.” Matt might as well have stomped on Nate’s knee. A few plays later, Burleson (#3) goes down with a torn ACL. Welcome to the IR.

In Week 2, after the Seahawks cut Jordan Kent, they came at the 49ers with wide-receivers Logan Payne and Courtney Taylor, plus Seneca Wallace, the backup QB, Michael Bumpus from the practice squad and Billy McMullen straight from the street. Obomanu and Burleson must have been begging for some company in the training room because on only the second Seahawks drive of the game, and first play of that drive, Logan Payne (6) made a great jumping catch, but gets hit in the knee as he comes down. Torn MCL. Right this way to the IR. Oh, and don’t forget that Seneca Wallace (7) is gone for at least a month after hurting his calf in pre-game warmups. Are you kidding me?! Out of the Seahawks’ top seven wide-receivers, only one is healthy.

After watching the 49ers game on Sunday, you get the feeling that the Seahawks don’t have “it” this year. What is “it?” You can define “it” in a lot of different ways, but right now, for the Seahawks a Pro Bowl wide-receiver could definitely make the difference for the Seahawks and give them what (it) they need. The Giants have Plaxico Burress; the Patriots have Randy Moss; the Cowboys have Terrell Owens. Elite teams seem to have a top-notch, Pro Bowl wide-receiver. If the Seahawks want to be one of the elite teams and get back to the Super Bowl (without 28 TDs from their RB), they’re going to need to find another Pro Bowl wide-receiver.

Week 2 NFL Journal

I thought it'd be fun to track my thoughts while flipping back and forth between all the early games this past Sunday:

12:15 p.m.: Walking home from church, noticed that Green Bay, one of my Eddie Utah IN THE MONEY Superpicks is up 21-0.

12:40 p.m.: So stoked. Had early church this morning and now looking forward to sitting on the couch and watching football for the next 8-10 hours.

12:42 p.m.: Notice the dancing robot “doin’ the bull dance, feelin' the flow. Workin' it, workin' it.” Mr. robot followed that up with the worm. Why? Why? Why?

12:45 p.m.: The Peyton Manning sourpuss face has appeared.

1:01 p.m.: I’m thinking now would be a good time to trade for Peyton Manning or Reggie Wayne.

1:02 p.m.: Just saw a score by Reggie Wayne. Curses!

1:04 p.m.: Three spontaneous laterals within 5 minutes?! This is what happens when you don’t let NFL players celebrate touchdowns.

1:20 p.m.: Vikings fan uses arrow to push Vinatieri field goal wide right.

1:22 p.m.: Dan Dierdorf points out that the fans don’t show Tavaris Jackson a lot of love when he misses an open receiver. Dan, if he didn’t do it about 10 times per game, maybe the fans would let up a little. That guy is not accurate. I don’t think his career as a starting quarterback will last any longer than three years.

1:29 p.m.: Chiefs Superpick is not looking good. Washington still alive. Detroit is worrying me.

1:37 p.m.: Not happy with Green Bay’s punter. Right through the wickets. Uggh.

1:51 p.m.: Really worried in Detroit. Tie game, pending extra point. I see a Green Bay two-point win.

1:57 p.m.: A dropped pass just cost me the Packers Superpick. Packers up two.

1:58 p.m.: Nevermind. Thank you Jon Kitna! Touchdown Packers, up 9. With 3:31 left in the game, let’s see if Rod Marinelli is smart enough to go for a field goal first, since they need two scores.

2:07 p.m.: Jon Kitna throws a pick-6!! I love that guy!!

2:09 p.m.: Jim Zorn is hugging people. Washington Superpick is in the books.

2:15 p.m.: The Forty-Niners can’t handle downing a punt on the one-yard-line. Doh! In spite of the Seahawks decimated receiving core, I like their chances.

2:18 p.m.: First play of the Seahawks second drive and they lose wide receiver number 5. Doesn’t look good. Are you kidding me?!

2:23 p.m.: Big play Babs picks up a blocked punt and runs it for a first down. Love that guy. He is so heads up.

2:37 p.m.: Guitarist Craig Terrell ends up with a fumble that bounced around and touched at least 5 Seahawks and scores a touchdown. His celebration? Air guitar, of course.

2:49 p.m.: J.T. O’Sullivan is getting a hole in the seat of his pants sewed up.

2:54 p.m.: Just learned that Seneca Wallace was hurt in warmups. What did we ever do to deserve this?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Week 2 NFL Picks

I’ve been spending way too much time reviewing tax returns this week, especially in the last two days. Time that would obviously be better spent analyzing and discussing this week’s NFL games. Since that didn’t happen, here are my picks for this week (home teams in caps): CHIEFS -3.5, Titans +1, Colts -1.5, REDSKINS +1, Packers -3, PANTHERS -3, Giants -8.5, JAGUARS -4.5, Falcons +7, SEAHAWKS -6.5, Dolphins +6.5, JETS (pick ‘em), Chargers +1, BROWNS +6.5, COWBOYS -7.

Eddie IN THE MONEY Superpicks: Packers -3, REDSKINS +1 and CHIEFS -3.5. (I updated my mid-week picks based on way too much 1120, which is 10 times worse than 420.)

Last week: 8-8, Superpicks: N/A.

Season Standings
Eddie Utah: 8-8
Sports Gal: 7-9
Bill Simmons: 6-10

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

B.S., Cousin Sal

Let’s get right to it. Big-timers Bill Simmons and Cousin Sal both guess the point spreads for each NFL game each week. I’ve done the same. Let’s see if I can hang.

Patriots at Jets
Brady-less Patriots are still a better team, in spite of the Jets improvement.
BS: Patriots -3.5
CS: Patriots -2
EU: Jets -1.5
Actual: Jets -2.5
Score: BS 0, CS 0, EU 1

Raiders at Chiefs
Who caressssss.
BS: Chiefs -3.5
CS: Chiefs -3.5
EU: Chiefs -3
Actual: Chiefs -4
Score: BS 1, CS 1, EU 1

Bears at Panthers
Both looked to be in 2005 form last week. At least the Bears don’t have to worry about Steve Smith this week.
BS: Panthers -4
CS: Panthers -5
EU: Panthers -3.5
Actual: Panthers -3
Score: BS 2, CS 1, EU 2

Giants at Rams
Giants get an early bye week.
BS: Giants -8
CS: Giants -8
EU: Giants -6.5
Actual: Giants -9
Score: BS 3, CS 2, EU 2

Saints at Redskins
In spite of being beat soundly by the Giants, I think the Redskins will be competitive in most games. Jason Campbell will only get better the more time he spends with Jim Zorn.
BS: Saints -1
CS: Saints -2
EU: Saints -2
Actual: Redskins -1
Score: BS 4, CS 2, EU 2

Packers at Lions
Aaron Rodgers definitely surprised me, as did the Lions and their ineptitude versus the Falcons.
BS: Packers -6
CS: Packers -3.5
EU: Packers -6
Actual: Packers -3
Score: BS 4, CS 3, EU 2

Bills at Jaguars
The Bills look solid and the Jaguars have injury problems on the o-line. Pick ‘em.
BS: Jaguars -3.5
CS: Jaguars -5.5
EU: Pick ‘em
Actual: Jaguars -6
Score: BS 4, CS 4, EU 2

Colts at Vikings
Peyton Manning won’t stay rusty for long; and Tavaris Jackson will never be Peyton Manning.
BS: Colts -3
CS: Vikings -1
EU: Colts -4
Actual: Colts -2.5
Score: BS 5, CS 4, EU 2

Titans at Bengals
The Titans will sack Carson Palmer cinco to ocho times.
BS: Titans -3.5
CS: Bengals -3
EU: Titans -3
Actual: Bengals -1
Score: BS 5, CS 5, EU 2

Forty-Niners at Seahawks
With Seneca Wallace playing wide receiver, two quarterbacks are better than one.
BS: Seahawks -4
CS: Seahawks -7.5
EU: Seahawks -2
Actual: Seahawks -8.5
Score: BS 5, CS 6, EU 2

Falcons at Buccaneers
Are the Falcons that good or the Lions that bad?
BS: Buccaneers -7
CS: Buccaneers -7
EU: Buccaneers -4
Actual: Buccaneers -9
Score: BS 6, CS 7, EU 2

Chargers at Broncos
Vegas worries about another slow start for the Chargers.
BS: Pick ‘em
CS: Broncos -3
EU: Broncos -4.5
Actual: Chargers -2
Score: BS 7, CS 7, EU 2

Ravens at Texans
Still need to watch the Ravens week 1 game.
BS: Texans -1
CS: Texans -3
EU: Ravens -1
Actual: Texans -4.5
Score: BS 7, CS 8, EU 2

Dolphins at Cardinals
The Dolphins look improved.
BS: Cardinals -6
CS: Cardinals -6
EU: Cardinals -4.5
Actual: Cardinals -7
Score: BS 8, CS 9, EU 2

Sunday Night Football

Steelers at Browns
A let-down alert for the Steelers and a bounce-back focus for the Browns are in effect for this game. Vegas doesn’t care.
BS: Steelers -3.5
CS: Steelers -3.5
EU: Steelers -3
Actual: Steelers -6
Score: BS 9, CS 10, EU 2

Monday Night Football

Eagles at Cowboys
Eagles come off their extra bye week and run into a tough Dallas team.
BS: Cowboys -6
CS: Cowboys -5
EU: Cowboys -5
Actual: Cowboys -7
Score: BS 10, CS 10, EU 2

Apparently the rookie cannot hang with the big-timers just yet. Wow, they dominated me. At least I wasn’t shut out. Let’s see how I do next week when I have a chance to watch all of the games. And based on my predictions and the Vegas actual, here are a couple of my Eddie IN THE MONEY picks:

Packers (-3) over LIONS
Bills (+6) over JAGUARS
Titans (+1) over BENGALS

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Eddie and the Money, Week 2

Tonight I planned on creating a podcast so that I could beat Bill Simmons at one of the other games he plays (badly), which is to guess the lines of each NFL game this week and try to do better than “Cousin Sal.” Unfortunately, it turns out that making a podcast isn’t as simple as I hoped it would be. So until I have more time on my hands (3 more days of full-time tax consulting!), I’ll do it the old fashioned way. My group of friends doesn’t have a “Cousin Sal” but we do have Mo$ and Cousin Louie. Unfortunately, neither was up to the task tonight. They need a lesson on priorities. So first, some comments on week 1 and then my line predictions for week 2.

I Was Wrong
  1. I underestimated the Bengals’ intelligence. They are fully aware of how bad they are.
  2. My hatred of the Steelers clouded my judgment in picking Houston to cover. Pittsburg looked good. Houston did not. But on a positive note, Andre Johnson still caught 10 balls for 112 yards.
  3. Tennessee is better than I realized.
  4. The Lions made that rookie look good.
  5. Matt Hasselbeck can’t throw to himself.
  6. The gap between the Cowboys and Browns is significant.
  7. Why did I talk myself into changing my Packers-Vikings pick?

I Was Right
  1. The Jets covered, but let’s see them against a real team.
  2. Based on my trade of Tom Brady for Joseph Addai last week, you’d think I had a crystal ball.
  3. The Saints and Reggie Bush are ready for a rebound.
  4. Ditto for Jake Delhomme and the Panthers.
  5. The Rams still don’t care.
  6. I’m just happy the Cardinals and Forty-Niners are in the Seahawks’ division.
  7. Al Davis is on death’s door…and Mike Shanahan still hates him. And that Eddie Royal looks like this year’s Marques Colston.

Thank you Captain Obvious
"He was in a lot of pain. When you hear a scream, you know that," Kansas City safety Bernard Pollard said of the hit that landed Tom Brady on Injured Reserve.

And now, on to the week 2 games and my prediction for the Vegas lines:

1 p.m. EDT Games

Saints at Redskins
In spite of being beat soundly by the Giants, I think the Redskins will be competitive in most games. Jason Campbell will only get better the more time he spends with Jim Zorn. Saints -2.

Bills at Jaguars
The Bills look solid and the Jaguars have injury problems on the o-line. Pick ‘em.

Colts at Vikings
Peyton Manning won’t stay rusty for long; and Tavaris Jackson will never be Peyton Manning. Colts -4.

Packers at Lions
Aaron Rodgers definitely surprised me, as did the Lions and their ineptitude versus the Falcons. Packers -6.

Titans at Bengals
The Titans will sack Carson Palmer cinco to ocho times. Titans -3.

Raiders at Chiefs
Who caressssss. Chiefs -3.

Bears at Panthers
Both looked to be in 2005 form last week. At least the Bears don’t have to worry about Steve Smith this week. Panthers -3.5.

Giants at Rams
Giants get an early bye week. Giants -6.5

4 p.m. EDT Games

Forty-Niners at Seahawks
With Seneca Wallace playing wide receiver, two quarterbacks are better than one. Seahawks -2.

Chargers at Broncos
Vegas worries about another slow start for the Chargers. Broncos -4.5

Ravens at Texans
Still need to watch the Ravens week 1 game. Ravens -1.

Falcons at Buccaneers
Are the Falcons that good or the Lions that bad? Buccaneers -4.

Patriots at Jets
Brady-less Patriots are still a better team, in spite of the Jets improvement. Jets -1.5.

Dolphins at Cardinals
The Dolphins look improved. Cardinals -4.5

Sunday Night Football

Steelers at Browns
A let-down alert for the Steelers and a bounce-back focus for the Browns are in effect for this game. Vegas doesn’t care. Steelers -3.

Monday Night Football

Eagles at Cowboys
Eagles come off their extra bye week and run into a tough Dallas team. Cowboys -5.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Week 1 NFL Picks

Bengals (-2) over RAVENS
The Bengals cannot possibly finish above .500 with Ocho Cinco still creating drama and an undermining owner bringing back Chris Henry. That’s enough bad karma right there to doom their season. But in week one, Cincinnati forgets about all their issues and wins on the strength of superior quarterback play (Palmer versus the rookie Flacco).

Jets (-3) over DOLPHINS
The Dolphins have a new coach, a new quarterback and a 31-year-old starting running back (who I nevertheless hope has a big season). The Jets improved their O-line (Alan Faneca), their D-Line (Kris Jenkins) and you might have heard they also have a new quarterback. As much as Chad Pennington would love to beat his old team, it’s not gonna happen. Favre’s magic carries the Jets through at least week 1.

Chiefs (+15.5) over PATRIOTS
In 2004, Peyton Manning set an NFL record with 49 touchdown passes, yet the Colts failed to win the Superbowl. In 2006, they figured out how to run the ball and won the big game. Last year, Tom Brady broke Manning’s TD record and the Patriots routinely beat double-digit spreads. This year, Tom Brady hasn’t yet played and the Pats didn’t even win a pre-season game. Plus, I don’t see the Spy-gate anger carrying over through the off-season. So New England will chill out after remembering that regular season wins don’t really matter. They’ll still win a lot of games, but won’t be running away with them and going for it on fourth down with 20-point leads.

Texans (+7) over STEELERS
Young Shanahan and a Denver run-blocking scheme, plus improved QB play will help Houston improve on last year’s 8-8 record. Whether or not they win tomorrow, they will keep it close.

Jaguars (-3) over TITANS
I’m surprised this line is so low. I love the way David Garrard takes care of the ball (18 TDs and only 3 INTs last year) and their defense is solid. Add the bitter memory of losing to Tennessee in last year’s opener and I see a big win tomorrow.

Lions (-3) over FALCONS
Three point favorites against a rookie QB?!! Tooo eeeeasy… Not to mention a new head coach and a career backup starting at RB. Plus, who’s going to cover Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson with DeAngelo Hall in Oakland? One win down, 9 to go for Jon Kitna and the Lions.

Seahawks (+1) over BILLS
Seattle traditionally starts off slow. Don’t’ expect big numbers from Matt Hassel beck and the offense until at least week 4. But do expect solid, if conservative, coaching. If they could, the Seahawks would win by ½ a point. They won’t win big, but they’ll win.

SAINTS (-3) over Buccaneers
New Orleans gets back to their 2006 form by beating the 2007 NFC South Champs. In a pretty evenly matched game, home0field in the Superdome is enough for an ATS win or at least a push.

EAGLES (-8.5) over Rams
Superior line-play by the Eagles keys a blow-out. Steven Jackson gets comfortable with a new contract and struggles with an o-line that, because of so many injuries last year, barely knows each other.

BROWNS (+6) over Cowboys
Cleveland keeps it close at home.

Panthers (+9) over CHARGERS
Nine points is too much for Jake Delhomme, Tommy John and a bounce-back Carolina team. Even without Steve Smith, the Panthers will keep it close.

Cardinals (-2.5) over FORTY-NINERS
J.T. O’Sullivan wishes he had Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald to throw to.

Vikings (+2.5) over PACKERS
Adrian Peterson beats a defense with a hurting A.J. Hawk and Jared Allen helps the Minnesota defense keep Aaron Rogers in check in his first start.

Broncos (-3) over RAIDERS
I refuse to ever bet against Mike Shanahan when he’s facing Al Davis. I’m pretty sure Mike will still hate Al even after he dies.

Note: I will escape from the evil grasp of full-time tax-consulting in a little over a week. I am very much looking forward to having the extra time to focus on football.

Blame the Kicker!

After BYU blocked a 35-yard PAT to seal a 28-27 win over the University of Washington, the only thing I heard commentators talking about was the appropriateness of an unsportsmanlike penalty on Jake Locker. I’m guessing if it was your team and your QB, you would think the penalty was bogus. If your team benefitted, then rules are rules. But why did no one choose to focus on (1) the inability of the Washington field goal unit to kick a straight-on 35-yarder, or (2) the clutch block of the PAT by BYU? Think about it this way: If your team only has to kick a 35-yard field goal to take the game into overtime, and the kick is from right in the middle of the field—not from either hash, then your field goal team better damn-well make that kick, right? And if they don’t, are you blaming anyone but the field goal team and the kicker? I say no. The way BYU pushed back the UW line on the PAT, I don’t think the PAT result would have been any different if it was a traditional 20-yarder. So give it a rest on the celebration, the ref and the call. Blame the kick, credit the block.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Reconsider Strategy: Accurate High School Quarterbacks in Short Supply

One play by Danny Tuai was enough to make the difference for East High on Friday night. After struggling for most of the game and even leaving the game at one point (unclear whether he was benched or injured), Danny was finally able to hit a receiver in stride in what was, in reality, a last gasp heave with under two minutes left in the game and trailing 10-7. While the American Fork Cavemen did him a huge favor by failing to cover Matt Price on the play, Tuai nonetheless deserves the credit for doing what he was unable to do for most of the night—deliver an accurate pass.

The victorious outcome should not, however, encourage the East High coaches to keep calling so many pass plays. After both East and American Fork started the first quarter with successful, run-dominated drives which led to a 7-7 tie, both teams seemed to treat the rest of the first half as a passing experiment. (Pssst: There’s a game going on—see if maybe you can win it…) In spite of some great catches by Senior Captain John Webb, the East High passing game failed to produce anything but punts and interceptions in the first half. After a Caveman interception by Mitch Harrison, a Tuai pass to an offensive lineman, and a dropped interception by #8 of American Fork, which would have been an easy touchdown, I was seriously asking: Where’s the run game?

Not that the Cavemen passing was much better. (Plus, is there a more appropriate nick-name for a run-oriented team? I say no.) American Fork’s only touchdown did come on a pass to Spencer Maglebee, but it was also the result of a blown coverage that left #46 wide open after East failed to get to the Caveman quarterback on an all-out blitz.

As if I myself were in the locker-room at half-time, both teams brilliantly came out pounding the ball. Six run plays in a row led to a Cavemen field-goal. East answered with a 15-play drive that included 12 runs. On one pass, Tuai completed a simple slant. On another, he missed a wide-open Ryan Shipp. Even though the drive resulted in no points, I felt changing strategy to a variety of runs and simple pass plays gave the Leopards a good chance of winning the game.

The next Cavemen drive ended after a 2nd-and-8 pass attempt resulted in a sack and a 12-yard loss. After the last successful, run-dominated drive, why pass? Two running plays had a much better chance of picking up the first down. East answered right back by throwing an interception, this one by Tuai’s short-lived replacement.

With the ball on the East High 18-yard-line and a 3-point lead, American Fork seemed to have the game wrapped up with 6:40 to play in the fourth quarter. Common sense clearly pointed towards three run plays to run down the clock, if not score a touchdown or field goal. But what do the Cavemen do? They abandon the run after losing 3 yards on the first play. A third-down complete pass brought them to the 16-yard-line, but instead of attempting a field-goal, the Cavemen call a fake, which (surprise, surprise) doesn’t work.
This set the stage for Danny Tuai’s heroics. Before the game-clinching pass, East’s 10-play drive actually included 3 called runs, 2 QB scrambles and one high-percentage out-route. The clock was ticking and East had barely crossed mid-field when they called a time-out with 1:42 left in the game. Two plays later, Matt Price was inexplicably left wide-open and Danny Tuai amazingly put the ball in his hands. “The encounter was a victory, but I think I’ve shown it as an example of what not to do.”

Thursday, September 4, 2008

First Annual First Half Predictions

Rather than making a feeble attempt to accurately predict the Super Bowl winner, I’ve decided that it makes a lot more sense to predict the first half of the season and then make second half predictions. I plan to discuss my thoughts in more detail, but wanted to at least post my win-loss projections before the season officially gets underway tonight. I also like the Giants -4.5 against the Redskins—I’m definitely beating Bill Simmons and his wife this year.

AFC East
New England 6-2
New York Jets 4-4
Buffalo 3-5
Miami 2-6

AFC North
Cleveland 6-2
Pittsburgh 5-3
Cincinnati 2-6
Baltimore 2-7

AFC South
Jaksonville 6-2
Indianapolis 6-2
Houston 6-2
Tennessee 3-5

AFC West
San Diego 6-2
Kansas City 6-2
Denver 5-3
Oakland 3-5

NFC East
Dallas 7-2
New York Giants 6-2
Philadelphia 6-2
Washington 3-6

NFC North
Chicago 4-4
Detroit 3-5
Green Bay 3-5
Minnesota 2-6

NFC South
New Orleans 7-1
Carolina 4-4
Tampa Bay 3-6
Atlanta 1-7

NFC West
Seattle 7-1
Arizona 4-4
St. Louis 1-7
San Francisco 0-8