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

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