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UCLA's quarterback clearly has the talent to succeed as an NFL starter. The question is whether or not he can avoid enough mistakes to become a superstar.

30 Nov 2005

Scramble for the Ball: Playoff Smackdown

by Al Bogdan and Vivek Ramgopal

Vivek: With five weeks left to go in the 2005 NFL season, we are pretty certain of a few things.

  1. The Colts will be the top seed in the AFC.
  2. The Packers' streak of 13 straight seasons without a losing record and four straight playoff appearances are done.
  3. There is only one franchise QB on a New York team.
  4. Some team will miss the playoffs because of a costly penalty at the end of the game in Week 17.
  5. The Patriots aren't what they once were, but Tom Brady can still win a game any given week.
  6. Matt Millen is the worst general manager in the history of football.
  7. Dick Vermeil will still cry regardless of the result of the game.
  8. Jeff George will be on some GM's speed dial within the next few weeks.
  9. Hulk Hogan is due for his semi-regular pit stop in the WWE.

Sorry about the random wrestling reference, but it seemed appropriate on the heels of last weekend's Survivor Series. All you long-time Scramble for the Ball readers know that we have gently massaged WWE mentions into columns of past, but we apologize for our slacking this year. In a stretch to make it up, we're incorporating a wrestling theme for Scramble's look at the playoff contenders. We'll also throw in some bold predictions while we're at it to double our chances of getting something wrong.

Al: Far be it from us to run a reference too deeply into the ground: we'll award each team a finishing move based on its likelihood of making the playoffs and that move's relative effectiveness. Here are the rankings we'll be using:

Doomsday Device -- No one ever kicked out of the Road Warriors' double team finisher. A hapless victim was placed on top of Animal's shoulders while Hawk climbed to the top rope and leaped off to deliver a flying clothesline. You were lucky if the worst that happened to you after the Doomsday Device was losing the match. The unlucky ones, like the immortal Henry O. Godwinn, suffered a broken neck. These are teams who are locks to make the playoffs.

Stone Cold Stunner -- Steve Austin's modified front facelock into a jawbreaker would usually mean the end to his opponent. But there were rare occasions when just one stunner wouldn't get the job done. Against a midcard opponent on an episode of Raw, the Stunner always ended the match. But against The Rock in a Wrestlemania main event? One stunner wasn't going to get the job done. Sometimes another stunner or two would lead to a win, but on rare occasions even that wouldn't lead to a pinfall. These are teams that we're pretty sure are going to make the playoffs, but could get knocked out if a few things break in other teams' directions.

Figure Four -- Whooo! To be the man, you've got to beat the man! And how Ric Flair used to regularly beat his opponents was to entangle their legs into a figure four leglock until the opponent was screaming in agony. Unfortunately, Flair has gone to that well a few hundred times too often, and it's rarely enough to make an opponent submit anymore. These are teams at the borders of playoff contention. If a team is either in or out because of an arcane tiebreaker, odds are this is the ranking they'll get.

The Worm -- Easily the worst finishing move of all time. There's nothing devastating about someone doing a break dance across the ring followed by a simple forearm shot across the opponent's chest. These are teams that have no shot at making the playoffs.


Seattle Seahawks (9-2)

Current Position: NFC West Leader
Remaining Games: @ PHI, SF, @ TEN, IND, @ GB

Al: The Seahawks clinch their division with another win or a Rams loss. With their upcoming schedule, Seattle should go at least 4-1, if not 5-0. If the Chargers don't give the Colts their first loss of the year, I think Seattle will be the team to do it. The Colts' biggest strength on defense, their stellar defensive line, will be neutralized by one of the best, if not the best, offensive lines in football. Doomsday Device.

Bold Prediction: The 14-2 Seahawks get knocked out by the Giants in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Vivek: Not even a Doomsday Device finisher can knock the Seahawks off their perch atop the NFC. If the Texans could have fielded an onside kick last week, we would be looking at a division champion crowned after only 11 games.

Bold Prediction: Shaun Alexander breaks Priest Holmes' single season touchdown record of 27.

Chicago Bears (8-3)

Current Position: NFC North Leader
Remaining Games: GB, @ PIT, ATL, @ GB, @ MIN

Al: Yes, the Vikings are still hanging around two games back, but at a minimum, with two games left against the Packers, Chicago should get to ten wins. That will be enough to hold off the Vikings because the Bears' victory over the Panthers will likely give Chicago the advantage in the common opponent tiebreaker over Minnesota.

The tiebreaker proceeding won't get that far, however, as the Bears run the table until resting their starters in Minnesota in Week 17. Doomsday Device.

Bold Prediction: Super Bowl Champs. They have the one defense in the NFC that has a shot at stopping Indianapolis indoors.

Vivek: Doomsday Device. My tag team partner is right on point. Those two games against the Packers will be enough to hold off the Vikings, even if they drop the other three.

Bold Prediction: The Bears knock off the Panthers (again) in the second round of the playoffs before falling short of the Super Bowl.

Bolder Than That Prediction: The fame and success gets to Kyle Orton's head, as he starts wearing a headband and sunglasses and then challenges Steve McMichael to a match in the squared circle.

Dallas Cowboys (7-4)

Current Position: NFC East Leader
Remaining Games: @ NYG, KC, @WAS, @CAR, STL

Al: This week's game on the road in New York is a must win if they want to hold off the Giants for the NFC East. Like the Von Erichs, these Dallas ‘boys won't have much success plying their wares up north.

That would leave Dallas a game behind New York with four games to play. Let's say Dallas wins both its home games and splits their road games, finishing at 10-6. The Cowboys would need the Giants to play below .500, or go .500 while losing the right games to give Dallas a tie breaker advantage based on either division record or common opponents.

Even if they don't win the division, however, 10-6 should be enough for Dallas to win the wild card. I'm predicting that three teams will finish in the NFC at 10-6, with the tiebreaker coming down to the “strength of victory� tiebreaker -- the combined winning percentage of all the opponents that a team has defeated. The Cowboys' victories earlier in the year over San Diego and New York should be enough to hold off the other teams that I think will be tied with them for the final wild card spot. Figure Four.

Bold Prediction: The Cowboys select a defensive back named LaMarcus in the 2006 draft.

Vivek: Doomsday Device. A win this weekend against the Giants could essentially clinch the division for the Cowboys, and I think that is how the game will play itself out. The Cowboys' four losses have come by a total of 16 points, and the team should make it to 10 wins on the season. Drew Bledsoe is having the finest season of his career because he is not flinging the ball around 40+ times per game. The Cowboys do not need Bledsoe to show off what is left of his arm: only 22 percent of his pass attempts are for more than 21 yards, compared to numbers in the high 20s in years past. Not coincidentally, Bledsoe is completing a career-high 64 percent of his pass attempts.

Bold Prediction: Bill Parcells is ousted from the playoffs by his former quarterback's son.

Carolina Panthers (8-3)

Current Position: NFC South Leader
Remaining Games: ATL, TB, @NO, DAL, @ATL

Vivek: Doomsday Device. Carolina by far has the hardest schedule left out of any playoff contender in the NFC, so they will be playoff tested come Week 18. The Carolina defense carried the team for the third consecutive game and has been getting to the quarterback better than any team in the last six weeks. Defense will give this team the NFC South title.

Bold Prediction: DeShaun Foster becomes a top fantasy play for the rest of the season.

Al: I have the Panthers splitting their games against Atlanta, and winning on the road against the Saints and at home against Dallas. Those three wins should be more than enough to get South title. Unfortunately for Carolina, 11 wins won't be enough for a first round bye. The Carolina offense is not good enough to score on the Bears defense in Chicago, or outscore the Seahawk offense in Seattle, meaning the Panthers do not make it out of the divisional round of the playoffs. Stone Cold Stunner.

New York Giants (7-4)

Current Position: NFC Wild Card
Remaining Games: DAL, @PHI, KC, @WAS, @OAK

Vivek: Stone Cold Stunner. Want to know how badly those missed field goal attempts at Seattle hurt? The Giants could have been in the driver's seat for the top seed in the NFC playoffs, but now they are tied for the last wild card slot. A win on Sunday would have given the G-men the most wins in the NFC, a tiebreaker against the Seahawks and a one game lead on the Cowboys heading into Sunday's matchup. Still, the Giants should finish the season with a 3-2 record, just barely enough for the playoffs in the highly competitive NFC.

Bold Prediction: Eli Manning outguns former New York quarterback Kerry Collins 350 yards to 320 yards in the season finale, assuring the Giants of the fifth seed in the NFC.

Al: Take this with a grain of salt or two because of my Giants bias, but New York is going to beat Dallas at home this Sunday and virtually lock up the division title. True, the Giants are on the road for three of their last four games, but all three games are against teams that are falling apart. Even if New York keeps up its yearly tradition of losing in Philadelphia, the Giants can beat the Chiefs at home and win out on the road to finish at 11-5. Stone Cold Stunner.

Bold Prediction: Brandon Jacobs doesn't have another carry inside the five-yard line this year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4)

Current Position: NFC Wild Card
Remaining Games: @NO, @CAR, @NE, ATL, NO

Al: With two games against New Orleans left on the schedule, Tampa is going to have to try very hard not to finish with at least ten wins. All they need is one game out of the remaining three where Anthony Davis and Kenyatta Walker don't let the opposing defensive ends run right around them like they did against Chicago. Ten wins likely only puts the Buccaneers in a tie for a playoff spot. If my projected three team tie happens, the Bucs should hold on for the number six seed because of the strength of their victories. Figure Four.

Bold Prediction: Cadillac Williams wins the offensive rookie of the year award after he puts up big numbers with three games against New Orleans and Atlanta.

Vivek: Stone Cold Stunner. I was calling for Jon Gruden to pull Chris Simms after his first two starts, in which he looked completely lost with the pro game. I will be the first to give him some credit back, as he has thrown for 250 yards in three of his last four games and has had only one pass picked off. Tampa Bay will have the Falcons on their tails until the last week of the season, but an easier schedule will make the difference.

Bold Prediction: See Bold Prediction for Dallas

Atlanta Falcons (7-4)

Current Position: Tied, Second NFC South
Remaining Games: @CAR, NO, @CHI, @TB, CAR

Al: Atlanta is likely the odd team out from the NFC South. The Falcons' strength on offense this year, like it was last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, has been its running game. The Falcons get to face three of the top six run defenses in the league in four of their last five games. Atlanta needs to win three of their last five to get into the tiebreaker mix, but with the strength of their team neutralized I don't see it happening. Figure Four.

Vivek: Michael Vick has suddenly become an effective pocket passer while T.J. Duckett and Warrick Dunn continue to anchor one of the best running games. Another thing that the Falcons have going for them is the fact that they can win on the road (4-1), which will be a mental boost against Chicago, Tampa Bay and Carolina. The bad news is that the Falcons still have to play Chicago, Tampa Bay and Carolina (twice). Unless they win three out of those four games, it looks like Vick's improvement will be for naught. Figure Four.

Bold Prediction: Michael Vick has an 88.0 passer rating for the last five games of the season.

Bolder Than That: The Falcons, looking to equal the Panthers defense, sign former Georgia linebacker and WCW Heavyweight Champion Bill Goldberg.

Minnesota Vikings (6-5)

Current Position: Second, NFC South
Remaining Games: @DET, STL, PIT, @BAL, CHI

Al: So if the Falcons aren't a part of my three-way dance for the NFC Wild Card, who do I predict to be the third 10-6 team? That's right, the Vikings. The Minnesota defense has been steadily improving all year, lead by Darren Sharper and his six interceptions in the past four games. The Vikings should have no problem dispatching the Lions, Rams, and Ravens if they can keep up this pace. They're going to lose at least one game, however, to the Steelers and/or Bears. Tiebreakers won't be too kind to Minnesota because of the weak opposition they beat to get those ten wins. Figure Four.

Vivek: Too little, too late. Nine wins is attainable, but the Vikings need a collapse by the Bears to take the division. The playoffs are slipping out of that Figure Four leg lock.

Bold Prediction: We won't be hearing anymore Party Boat jokes after the Vikings win this week.

Washington Redskins (5-6)

Current Position: Third, NFC East
Remaining Games: @STL, @ARI, DAL, NYG, @PHI

Vivek: Joe Gibbs' conservative system has been exposed in November, as the Redskins have blown three straight fourth quarter leads. With the lead, the Redskins prefer to run up the middle when Clinton Portis is best suited to get outside and turn the corner against opposing defenses. I'm not saying that a team has to pass in order to be aggressive, but calling short inside runs is far from aggressive. The Redskins will need to win out in order to make the playoffs, so Worm.

Bold Prediction: Jason Campbell sees his first dose of NFL action in Week 15 against the Giants.

Bolder Than That: Lavar Arrington leaves the Redskins after the season to pursue a career as a driver for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Al: The Redskins will be lucky to finish at .500 with three division games and three road games remaining. Mark Brunell has been battling calf and groin problems for the past month, which has really hurt the Redskins offense. After blowing their game on Sunday against San Diego, the Redskins have no chance of sniffing the playoffs. Worm.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

Current Position: Fourth, NFC East
Remaining Games: SEA, NYG, @STL, @ARI, WAS

Al: If Philadelphia could somehow beat the Seahawks this week, you never know what could happen. Seattle, however, will likely run over the Eagles defensive line, as everyone else has this year, dashing what little playoff hopes Philadelphia has left. Worm.

Bold Prediction: Mike McMahon plays well enough over the next five games to earn himself a starting job somewhere next season.

Vivek: The Worm isn't going to cut it for the Eagles this year, as they miss the playoffs for the first time since 1999 (coincidentally the last year that McNabb wasn't the full-time starter.)

Bold Prediction: The NFLPA finds a way to get Terrell Owens on the field for the final games of the season, but two wins at the end are not enough to top the .500 mark.

Bolder Than That: Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb kiss and make up after the season, and do a Campbell's Chunky Soup commercial together.

St. Louis Rams (5-6)

Current Position: Second, NFC West
Remaining Games: WAS, @MIN, PHI, SF, @DAL

Al: It shouldn't be that tough to beat the Texans. Worm.

Bold Prediction: Mike Martz finds himself on the Rams sidelines again by the end of the year, but is hauled away by security after he runs in from the stands to get there.

Vivek: Bold Prediction: Marshall Faulk will be in a different uniform next year.


Indianapolis Colts (11-0)

Current Position: AFC South Leader
Remaining Games: TEN, @JAC, SD, @SEA, ARI

Al: Doomsday Device. The playoffs and #1 seed really aren't in question. The big question is whether the Colts will run the table. Like I said earlier, I think the Seahawks end Indianapolis' streak on the road, but like just like when Kevin Nash ended Bill Goldberg's 173-match unbeaten streak, Seattle may need some outside interference to get the job done. A white Christmas in Seattle, or at least a rainy one, may slow down the Colts' offensive weapons and their speedsters on defense enough to let the Seahawks pull the upset. 15-1 ain't too shabby.

Bold Prediction: Edgerrin James wins the MVP after he outshines LaDainian Tominson in the Colts-Chargers Week 15 matchup.

Vivek: Doomsday Device. The '72 Dolphins will be waiting a while to open that bottle of champagne, as this Colts team will come closer to perfection than any team in recent memory. With Byron Leftwich most likely done for the year, the Colts should make it to Week 15 without a blemish. There are already calls for Tony Dungy to rest his stars in order to protect them for the playoffs, but what the Colts could accomplish is too special. The Colts need to show the rest of the league that they can win on the road (at Seattle) and then they can build an insurmountable lead through one half before pulling starters against Arizona.

Bold Prediction: Just like Curt Hennig, this team will be ... perfect.

Denver Broncos (9-2)

Current Position: AFC West Leader
Remaining Games: @KC, BAL, @BUF, OAK, @SD

Al: Doomsday Device. I see Denver going 4-1 the rest of the way, losing only the final game to the Chargers after the Broncos have already locked up the #2 seed. None of the teams they will be facing can stop the run effectively enough to make Jake Plummer do something stupid to cost the Broncos a win.

Bold Prediction: The Broncos rest their starters against San Diego in Week 17, propelling the Chargers into the playoffs. Millions of trees are killed by the countless newspaper columns criticizing Mike Shanahan for destroying the integrity of the playoff race by playing backups against a team fighting for the wild card.

Vivek: What a rush for the Broncos fans. I didn't envision any of the imported Browns (most notably Gerard Warren) having as big of an impact as they have had so far. This team should finish with 12 wins and a first round bye. Doomsday Device

Bold Prediction: Ron Dayne will lead the team in rushing for one more game this season.

Cincinnati Bengals (8-3)

Current Position: AFC North Leader
Remaining Games: @PIT, CLE, @DET, BUF, @KC

Al: A win over the Steelers would lock up the division, but even without that, the Bengals' schedule is easy enough that they could win their last four games and take the division title anyway. The only team the Bengals will face over those last four games that has even a mediocre run defense is the Chiefs, who can't stop anyone from throwing the ball, unless those balls are thrown four feet over a receiver's head. Doomsday Device.

Vivek: Doomsday Device. Do you think the Texans keep looking at Carson Palmer and wondering what happened to their number one overall pick?

Bold Prediction: Odell Thurman is named Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Bolder Than That: Chad Johnson will make an appearance on the next season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars in order to prepare some 2006 end zone celebrations.

New England Patriots (6-5)

Current Position: AFC East Leader
Remaining Games: NYJ, @BUF, TB, @NYJ, MIA

Vivek: The Pats will easily take another division crown, but the competition within the AFC East is nowhere near what it has been in years past. With a 4-1 finish within reach, the Pats will end the season with a record that surpasses their actual performance on the field. Injuries to the entire secondary, the practice squad secondary, and the defensive backs for Brockton High School have proven too much for even Bill Belichick to overcome. Once the playoffs hit, it will be a Rude Awakening for New England. Doomsday Device.

Bold Prediction: Someone that most fans have never heard of and who was not on the roster to start the season will come up with a game-changing play each week.

Al: I'll go one better and give the Patriots five straight wins to finish the season with an 11-5 record. Doomsday Device.

Jacksonville Jaguars (8-3)

Current Position: AFC Wild Card
Remaining Games: @CLE, IND, SF, @HOU, TEN

Vivek: The Jaguars' playoff chances are slipping away like a man who has just had the Figure Four reversed on him. Or even more accurate, someone just slapped the ankle lock onto the Jags, specifically Byron Leftwich. The Jaguars were probably the quietest eight-win team in the NFL this season, and were ready to make a move in the AFC with a weak remaining schedule. Now without Leftwich and possibly Fred Taylor for the stretch run, ten wins looks like the most realistic projection in a conference where a team needs 11 wins to make it into the playoffs with a Wild Card.

Bold Prediction: The Jaguars fall flat without their two best offensive weapons and lose to two of the three games against Cleveland, Houston and Tennessee.

Al: I like Cleveland's chances of pulling an upset this week, but those last three games are too easy for Jacksonville not to make the playoffs at 11-5. Stone Cold Stunner.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4)

Current Position: AFC Wild Card
Remaining Games: CIN, CHI, @MIN, @CLE, @DET

Vivek: How big does that 24-22 win in Week 5 against the Chargers look right now? That tiebreaker against the Chargers is the only thing giving the Steelers the last playoff spot in the AFC right now, but that could all change come Monday night against the Bengals. A win at home on Monday would vault the Steelers over the Bengals and into the third spot and home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs. A loss, however, could help three AFC West teams make it into the playoffs. The Steelers have a Figure Four lock on the playoff spot

Bold Prediction: The Steelers lose at home to the Bengals and never recoup their season.

Bolder Prediction: The entire city of Pittsburgh is so distraught over the loss that all restaurants stop selling the Roethlis-burger in favor of the St. Pierre Sandwich.

Al: If Pittsburgh goes 11-5, I don't think they'll make the playoffs. They'll drop one of the next three to fall to five losses. The Steelers don't do well in any potential tiebreaker situations, except heads up against San Diego, because of Pittsburgh's loss to Jacksonville and their poor conference record. Figure Four.

San Diego Chargers (7-4)

Current Position: Tied, Second NFC West
Remaining Games: OAK, MIA, @IND, @KC, @DEN

Vivek: While I think that the Chargers will make the playoffs, they need some help, most notably from Cincinnati this coming weekend against Pittsburgh. This is why the Chargers have a Figure Four hold on a playoff slot in my mind. LaDainian Tomlinson ended his week with a 41-yard touchdown run and should keep that momentum going for the rest of the season. LT will continue his march toward becoming the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.

Bold Prediction: The Chargers knock off the Broncos (who are resting Jake Plummer and the rejuvenated Ron Dayne) in the season finale to clinch the final playoff spot in the AFC.

Bolder Than That: After the season, Antonio Gates pulls an LT and wrestles at Wrestlemania 22.

Al: San Diego can get into the playoffs even if Pittsburgh beats the Bengals. All they need is for another team to finish at 11-5 with both them and the Steelers to eliminate Pittsburgh's head-to-head tiebreaker advantage. Even though they wouldn't make the playoffs if the season ended today, the Chargers are a Stone Cold Stunner for me.

Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)

Current Position: Tied, Second NFC West
Remaining Games: DEN, @DAL, @NYG, SD, CIN

Al:Toughest schedule remaining in the league, whether ranked by DVOA or opponent's winning percentage. It's not unrealistic to think the Chiefs could lose out and actually finish with a losing record. Expecting a team at 7-4 not to win another game the rest of the season may be a bit extreme, but Kansas City won't be a favorite in any of their remaining games, unless the Bengals have their playoff position locked up in Week 17 and rest their starters. With so many teams projected to finish with 11 or 12 wins, very little will be settled before the season is over, however. Worm.

Vivek: Ah, some contention here. The Chiefs were a preseason pick of mine, and I'm sticking with them, probably too much because of last week's win against the Patriots. They will need some tiebreaker help, but can make it in. Figure Four

Everyone Else in the AFC (4-7 or worse)

Al: Worm. If you can't get to 11 wins, you're not making the playoffs in the AFC. Where did all the parity go?

Lessons Learned From Week 12

Lesson 1 -- No Kicker Should Ever Be Drafted Early …

Vivek: … unless he can hit 90-percent of his 60-yard field goal attempts. Has anyone else noticed the drastic increase in the number of missed field goals under pressure? Neither studs out of college nor undrafted rookies demonstrated any sort of consistency this year. Take a look at the Jets' Mike Nugent, who has failed to erase memories of Doug Brien. Or 2000 first-round pick Sebastian Jankowski, who has suddenly regressed to his inconsistent form of past. The drafted and undrafted kickers (Jay Feely, Matt Bryant, John Hall) are going to have the same result through the full course of a season.

Lesson 2 -- Anyone Really Can Run the Ball Behind Denver's Offensive Line

Al: If there was ever an offensive line built for Ron Dayne, it's one that makes holes so big even he can't miss them.

Lesson 3 -- Devoting an NFL Column to a Wrestling Theme is a Sign of Creativity Block

Vivek: Sure, it was a stretch, but admit it -- you had fun with a trip down wrestling memory lane.

Keep Choppin' Wood Award

Vivek: Jay Feely is the easy pick for the obvious reasons and at times I can be Captain Obvious, but I'll point out another worthy candidate: Casey Rabach. After Shawn Springs intercepted a Drew Brees pass, a holding penalty on center Casey Rabach voided a Clinton Portis rush to the 25-yard line. The Redskins never recouped any of the penalized yards, forcing a 52-yard attempt by John Hall instead of a very makeable 42-yarder. One missed field goal, an Antonio Gates reception, and a hand off to LT later and game over.

Al: There are too many Giants worthy of this award this week. Besides Feely, you have the left side of the Giants offensive line, Luke Petitgout and David Diehl, who combined for nine penalties on the day. Frank Walker somehow managed to have two consecutive false starts while lined up as part of the punt coverage team. It is amazing that the Giants were somehow able to stay in the game at all after giving away 114 yards to the Seahawks on penalties.

Scramble for the Ball Mailbag

Send your fantasy football questions each week to scramble@footballoutsiders.com, or fill out our contact form.

Nikki from Boston is one of the many fantasy owners who is a bit unnerved after Byron Leftwich's ankle injury.

Is there any reason to hold onto Leftwich? I have Vick as my starter, but would feel better with a good backup just in case. Mike McMahon, Chris Simms, Brooks Bollinger, Gus Frerote and Kyle Orton are out there.

Vivek: Leftwich is out for at least four weeks, which would render him unless for the rest of the fantasy regular and post seasons. Since his debacle against the Jets, Vick has become a good pocket passer for the first time in his career and a good fantasy option. You always have to worry about one hit taking him out though, so grab Simms. Simms faces four weak pass defenses (New Orleans twice, New England and Atlanta) the rest of the way, so he might be a viable fill-in.

Kyle: This week, I've got a Hugh Hefner sort of problem: so many beautiful options I don't know which two to take. Over the course of the season I've amassed a veritable stable of RBs, and I need advice on which two might have an extra edge this week out of D. Davis, T. Jones, S. Gado, Ru. Johnson, and R. Droughns. Right now I'm leaning towards Davis and Jones based on opponent.

Al: I'd start Rudi Johnson over Davis. Johnson has been a top ten fantasy back this year, while Davis has been a huge disappointment running behind the awful Texans offensive line. Droughns against the Jaguars defense would be a better play this week than Davis would.

Adam: Who gets the start -- Drew Bennett @ Ind, or Derrick Mason v Hou? Also, dropping Randy McMichael for Ben Watson killed me this week -- should I bring him back?

Al: Start Mason. Even Kyle Boller should be able to throw the ball against the Texans. Pick McMichael up now if it's not too late. He should be an every week starter at tight end.

Loser League Update

Here are your Loser League All-Stars for Week 12:

QB: Joey Harrington, DET: 3 points (66 passing yards)
RB: Patrick Pass, NE: 2 points (26 rushing yards)
RB: Marion Barber, DAL: 2 points (28 rushing yards)
WR: Antwaan Randle El, PIT: 0 points (2 catches, 5 yards)
WR: 7 players tied with 1 point

And believe it or not, Jay Feely did not finish as the lowest kicker. He was worth one point because he made an extra point and two field goals to go with his three misses.

K: Jeff Reed, PIT: -1 point (XP, missed FG)

This week's best team had not one, not two, but THREE of those one-point wide receivers: Mark Clayton, Antonio Bryant, and Dennis Northcutt. Only two of the counted in the 24 points scored by "pass interference," which also features an all-suck backfield of Kevan Barlow, DeShaun Foster, and Jamal Lewis.

Best Bets

Al: (1-2 last week, 19-13 overall)

SAN FRANCISCO +3.0 over Arizona

How are the Cardinals favored on the road against anyone? This Kurt Warner bandwagon is running a bit too fast for my tastes. The 49ers haven't been bad at home, with wins against St. Louis and Tampa and close losses to Seattle and Dallas.

Tampa Bay -3.5 over NEW ORLEANS

I'm not sure why oddsmakers are still factoring in a home field advantage for the Saints when they have no home field.

CLEVELAND +3.0 over Jacksonville

There's a little too much David Garrard hype going around for my liking. Yes, he had a nice game in relief for Byron Leftwich, but it was against Arizona. The Browns have been solid at home, winning three of their last four. Their offense revolves around the juvenated Reuben Droughns, who should have a nice day against the surprisingly mediocre Jacksonville run defense. For all the press that Marcus Stroud and John Henderson get, you'd think the Jaguars would rank higher than 17th in our rushing defense rankings. As long as the Trent Dilfer/Charlie Frye rotation doesn't throw too many interceptions, I like Cleveland's chances to pull off an upset.

Vivek: (4-0 last week, 18-22 overall)

For those of you wondering, Al and I did not mix up our picks last week.

Tennessee +15.0 over INDIANAPOLIS

If the line was two touchdowns, I would stay away from this game. That single point makes a whole lotta difference.

Houston +8.0 over BALTMORE

The Ravens have no business giving eight points to anyone. I doubt the odds makers would favor the Ravens by eight against the Maryland Terrapins. David Carr and Andre Johnson should build on last week's momentum.

KANSAS CITY +1.5 over Denver

This is completely gut versus any sort of analysis of the statistics. Probably some bias on my part to keep my preseason title contender alive.

Seattle -4.0 over PHILADELPHIA

The Eagles have dropped four in a row when they are the underdogs.

Posted by: scramble on 30 Nov 2005

97 comments, Last at 06 Dec 2005, 3:20am by CaffeineMan


by yunzer (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 1:28pm

So if the Dolphins take the AFC East, then that's the equivalent of NE getting beat by Scotty 2 Hotty?

by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 1:38pm

That's possibly the most bizarre thing I've read today. Actually, no, the Roscoe Parrish being scared of snow story was more bizarre. But it's the most bizarre Scramble for the Ball I've read. Although I've only read it since like week 6 or something, so I'm sure it's nothing to your true regulars.

by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 1:51pm

"That tiebreaker against the Chargers is the only thing giving the Steelers the last playoff spot in the AFC right now, but that could all change come Monday night against the Bengals. A win at home on Monday would vault the Steelers over the Bengals and into the third spot and home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs."

The Steelers are on Sunday this week. Not Monday. They were on Monday last week, which is why I've only stopped shaking and vomiting in terror today...which is Wednesday.

by CoreyG (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 1:57pm

Where'd the idea come from that Vick can't take a hit? Brian Dawkins' spear of him in the 2002 playoff game is one of the most vicious I've seen in a while and that didn't knock him out. Neither did the head-on collision with the Eagle's DT (I forget who) in the 2004 playoff game.

by JG (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 2:02pm

It's not that Vick can't take a hit, he can take a hit with the best of them. It's that he has, in the past, had a tendency to take a lot of rather awkward hits due to the marvelous way he jukes around trying to avoid them. Those awkward hits always seem more likely to get someone injured than a head on collision.

by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 2:26pm

A couple of things:

this might be the best Scramble ever.

Mr. Perfect and Ravishing Rick Rude were friends in high school? (click on Curt Hennig) My mind has been blown.

Joe Gibbs had the gall to say that Rabach played his best game so far as a Redskin on Sunday. I know it was just one play, but come on.

I wonder who "Steve" was sent to entice.

I'm a little less optimistic on the Bengal's chances, given that from here on out they primarily play teams that rely on the run. They should beat Buffalo and Cleveland, but I'm not so sure about Pittsburgh and Kansas City.

Finally, a question: out of Delhomme, Brunell, and Garrard, who's worth starting this week?

by CoreyG (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 2:28pm


That's a good point but it just seems weird to mention that immediately after a sentence talking about how he has finally become a good pocket passer. Maybe the point was that you never know when he'll revert to his scrambling, rushing, juking ways and risk the leg or arm injury but in the context given it seems like an unsupported, subjective knock on a player from a site where you don't expect such things.

by Sep (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 2:34pm

Did any other Pats fans have the problem of who to root for on this past Monday night? A Steelers loss could have meant more to play-off seeding for the Pats, but I HATE seeing the Colts win. It seemed like a match-up between the A's and the Yankees, and you're sitting in the Sail Loft bar on the North End with your Sox hat on. I ended up pulling for the Steelers, just like I always ended up pulling for the A's.

by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 2:39pm

Um, "I see Denver going 4-1 the rest of the way, losing only the final game to the Chargers after the Broncos have already locked up the #2 seed. None of the teams they will be facing can stop the run effectively enough to make Jake Plummer do something stupid to cost the Broncos a win." and "The only team the Bengals will face over those last four games that has even a mediocre run defense is the Chiefs, who can’t stop anyone from throwing the ball, unless those balls are thrown four feet over a receiver’s head."

Chiefs are currently #2 in run defense according to DVOA. Their pass defense is bad (#21) - but improving, last year the saftey is nowhere near enough to the wr to make those INTs. I don't think the high ranking of the run D is just due to the weakness of the pass D.

The game with DEN will come down to the Chiefs' ability to stop Plummer and the bootleg, which has killed them every time the Broncos have needed a 1st down or short yardage TD the last few years.

I believe DEN will lose this weekend, but their playoff chances come down to one thing: at some point, with the Arrowhead crowd roaring, Jared Allen will beat the OT on a speed rush and level Jake Plummer (see Allen's game vs. the Redskins). If Plummer gets up, the Broncos go to the playoffs. If he doesn't, DEN's season lies there broken on the ground (unless the alchemist can turn Bradlee Van Pelt into gold).

by solarjetman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 2:39pm

I wouldn't be so quick to anoint the Broncos with the second seed. The Broncos of the past 5 years consistently play worse in extreme temperatures (either hot or cold), and that night game in Buffalo is going to be frigid. If that game is in Denver on a Sunday afternoon the Broncos win easily, but I'll be shocked if it's not a 13-10 type affair with turnovers making the difference. The Broncos also still have to play KC and SD on the road, and those will be very tough games. KC and SD have tough enough schedules that 11-5 could still win the division, but that wouldn't beat out a 12-4 North champion for the 2 seed.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 3:15pm

It doesn't make a lot of sense to say that the Vikings will either lose to the Steelers or the Bears, and thus miss the playoffs, while maintaining that the Bears will have the division won prior to season's last weekend. If the Vikings do beat the Steelers, and still have a crack at the wild card on that last Sunday, while the Bears have the division wrapped up, a Vikings victory wouldn't even be an upset.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 3:23pm

Also, the Vikings have to be the biggest Panthers' fans outside of the Carolinas for the rest of the season, since two wins over Atlanta, and one each over Tampa and Dallas would help their playoff chances considerably.

by Jeremy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 3:40pm

"With the lead, the Redskins prefer to run up the middle when Clinton Portis is best suited to get outside and turn the corner against opposing defenses."

Actually, against the Raiders, the Redskins didn't run the ball enough. In the second half, they called only five runs. Consequently, against SD, all they did was plow into the line, when passing occasionally would have helped.

If Washington runs the table (and they may be favored in all 5 games), they would win all divisional tiebreakers and have a 10-2 conference record. Stranger things have happened.

by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 4:00pm

re: "There is only one franchise QB on a New York team."

That's a bold statement. Personally, I don't think Pennington will ever again even approach being the player he was 2002.

by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 4:03pm

What is John Malkovich doing in that last frame?

The Run D is actually the Eagles strength on defense this year. By DVOA, they have the 9th best run defense, and the second best rating in Defensive Adjusted Line Yards. However, their passing defense is completely average, so the Seattle game could be won by Hasselbeck picking apart a Lito-less secondary.

Even if they beat the Seahawks, the least improbable way the Eagles make the playoffs is if Dallas and New York collapse, going 2-3 the rest of the year, and the Eagles win the rest of their games. I'm an Eagles fan, and probably optimistic, so I think the two game road trip could both be wins for the Eagles, if Bulger isn't back in week 15. However, the only way the Eagles win against Seattle, New York, and Washington is if their opponents beat themselves. I can see Washington collapsing in Philly in week 17, but a Seattle win only happens if they really do play 50% on the road, and the Giants aren't going to beat themselves on special teams again, so as of 1:53 PM on November 30th, I'm calling it: the Eagles end the season 8-8, and obviously miss the playoffs entirely.

Also, the odds of Terrell Owens playing another snap for the Eagles are the same as Kurt Warner in Arizona in 2006 being the second coming of...Kurt Warner in St. Louis in 2001.

by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 4:06pm

Ok, sorry for the double post, but actually the Cowboys’ four losses have come by a total of 13 points - 1 more point than the Chargers' four losses which so many commentators love to go on and on about. But I can't argue with the sentiment!

by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 4:07pm

Why is Steve from Room 312 hitting on Lex Luthor?

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 4:23pm

Re #9: I believe DEN will lose this weekend, but their playoff chances come down to one thing: at some point, with the Arrowhead crowd roaring, Jared Allen will beat the OT on a speed rush and level Jake Plummer (see Allen’s game vs. the Redskins). If Plummer gets up, the Broncos go to the playoffs. If he doesn’t, DEN’s season lies there broken on the ground (unless the alchemist can turn Bradlee Van Pelt into gold).

Plummer's the second hardest QB in the league to sack, behind only Manning. I find it hard to suggest that he's any more likely than every other QB in the league to get injured on any given sunday. In fact, I would contend that he is far LESS likely to get injured on any given Sunday. He's attempted every single pass attempt for the Denver Broncos over the past 2 seasons (I'm pretty sure he's the only player in the league who can make that claim), and he gets hit less than pretty much anyone else.

Re #10: I wouldn’t be so quick to anoint the Broncos with the second seed. The Broncos of the past 5 years consistently play worse in extreme temperatures (either hot or cold), and that night game in Buffalo is going to be frigid. If that game is in Denver on a Sunday afternoon the Broncos win easily, but I’ll be shocked if it’s not a 13-10 type affair with turnovers making the difference. The Broncos also still have to play KC and SD on the road, and those will be very tough games. KC and SD have tough enough schedules that 11-5 could still win the division, but that wouldn’t beat out a 12-4 North champion for the 2 seed.

I agree that all three of those games you listed are LOSEABLE games; however, what do you think the odds are that the Broncos lose all 3? Even if you give the other team a 50% chance of victory, which I think is far higher than reality (especially for Buffalo), then there's only a 12.5% chance that Denver finishes 11-5.

I'd say the odds of Denver getting the #1 seed are actually better than the odds of Denver getting the #3 seed. Either way, both are possible, but definitely not likely.

Also, if you think that turnovers will make the difference in Denver/Buffalo, you would think that would favor the team #1 in the NFL in fewest giveaways, #2 in the NFL in turnover margin, and who hasn't lost the turnover battle since week 1 at Miami.

by BillT (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 4:36pm

Holy crap, this column was awesome.

by kyle (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 4:38pm

thanks for answering my question, guys. good article.

by Chris Cox (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 4:42pm

Nice predictions. I have some freely distributed software available here that forecasts the various playoff races. The predictions are based on the strength of teams, remaining scheduled games, and NFL tiebreakers. It gives the probability of each team qualifying for each of the six playoff seedings in its respective conference, division finishes, probability of making the playoffs with x wins, and draft pick order. You can also do conditional probabilities of various scenarios by specifying the outcomes of games not yet played. Hope some people find it interesting.

by Chris Cox (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 4:43pm

Click on my name to go to the web site.

by JMM (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 4:47pm

The 8 teams listed for the AFC play 7 games among themselves. When you look at who plays whom, how the 7 "certain losses" get distributed will make it interesting. Jax "only" plays Indy, Pitt "only" plays Cincy and NE plays no one on the list. San Diego and KC each have 3 games with teams on the list, the others have 2 each.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 5:01pm

NF #15:

"However, their passing defense is completely average, so the Seattle game could be won by Hasselbeck picking apart a Lito-less secondary."

Losing Lito was the best thing that happened to the Eagles defense all year. Just watch.

With his manner of playing (high risk to produce interceptions), he is frequently the target of throws, and they are frequently completed and completed for TD's.

Rod Hood is probably a better coverage cornerback.

Is Seattle's 3rd wideout up to beating Matt Ware or Quentin Mikell?

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 5:03pm

BlueStarDude #16:

Yeah, but the Cowboy's 7 wins have been nothing like the blowouts the Chargers have pasted on the Giants, Patriots, Raiders, etc.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 5:10pm

Kibbles and MRH:

The only question this weekend with KC/Denver is how much will Trent Green or Larry Johnson or Dante Hall cough up the ball, and can Denver capitalize on it?

I'm pretty confident we'll see another Plummer interception, but as long as it is just one, Denver should be able to overcome it.

0-1 KC Turnover - KC wins
2 KC Turnovers - tossup +/- a FG
3+ KC Turnovers - Denver wins

by Vince (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 5:22pm

[quote]Bolder Than That: The Falcons, looking to equal the Panthers defense, sign former Georgia linebacker and WCW Heavyweight Champion Bill Goldberg. [/quote]

Actually, Goldberg used to play for the Falcons.


by Vince (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 5:23pm

Sorry about that formatting. Forgot which board I was posting on.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 5:24pm

Re: #8

Before the weekend began I was in the same "who do I root for Monday?" situation that you were in. However, with SD and DEN winning and with NE coughing up yet another hairball against a good team (NE is 2-5 vs. winning teams, with the last win coming against a Schaub-led Atlanta), it was clear by Monday evening that the Pats have no hope of being anything better than the #4 seed (assuming they don't completely collapse and miss the playoffs). Since NE's playoff position was set, that left me free to root against the Colts.

Which reminds me -- I'm rooting for the Bengals to win it all since I'm not deluded enough to think the Patriots will be anything other than one-and-done this year (does that mean Kraft will put out a One Game to Ignonimy DVD this year?)

by michael (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 5:48pm

re #9

Nothing in pro football is more overrated than the Arrowhead crowd. The KC fans are great tailgaters, not-so-great as fans. The only way the crowd will be roaring is if the Chiefs are already winning by a comfortable margin. People often act as though KC is the NFL equivalent of St. Louis, ie a town stuffed with knowledgeable, passionate fans. Not true.

by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 5:59pm


I'd hardly call winning a game in the playoffs, when many of the key starters in the Super Bowl are out because of injuries, ignonimy.

Of course, if they win the AFC East with an 8-8 record, they deserve the World's Largest Midget Award.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 6:10pm


I think the only reason that's true is because the defensive line wasn't getting as much pressure as they used to. I'm not nutty enough to think that it's the lack of Corey Simon that's causing this - I think it's the loss of Simon and Burgess, and the fact that Patterson wasn't playing quite as well as people thought he would. Losing McDougle hurt too.

I don't think Sheppard's style of play is a real detriment, so long as there's serious pressure on the quarterback - in other words, so long as the QB doesn't have time to properly set and throw deep.

I think it's a pretty safe bet that the Eagles are probably going to pick up another DE or DT in the draft next year. And as I just realized, there's one from real near by which fits the mold almost perfectly. Hmm.

by TheWedge (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 6:29pm

Re: #32

Maybe I'm dumb but who are you talking about?

by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 7:00pm

"Holy crap, this column was awesome."

Seconded. I'm not a pro wrestling fan but I have to respect the quality of the tie-in to this article. Best collection of links in an article ever.

by bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 7:15pm

Pats Fan and Sep, Why do Pats fans hate the Colts? The logic escapes me. (And rooting for the 2005 Bengals, which is just an update of the 1999-2004 Colts, seems a little disingenuous; especially with Carson Palmer's well-publicized admiration/envy/emulation of Manning.) I mean, cats don't hate mice, dogs don't hate cats, and with the exception of one year, Yankee fans don't hate the Red Sox--they pity them, scorn them, abuse them, ignore them, assume they'll fail, etc. Now the other way I can see--hating a team that has beaten you in every meaningful game over the past six years or so. But hating a team that your guys always beat seems just... pathetic. Kicking a guy when he's down, only BECAUSE he's down.
I am a long-suffering Colts fan and think it was perfectly justified to hate the Pats until this season. I didn't even feel that way about the Steelers who had similar dominance since 1984! The Colts lost the AFC championship on the last play of the game to the Steelers. Grrr.

What's so hatable about the Colts??? The fact thast they build the team from within the system instead of Steinbrenner-like getting in free agents seems pretty admirable. The fact that they are consistently one of the youngest teams in the NFL (this year they are 3rd youngest) yet have been to the playoffs 5 of the past 6 years seems pretty inoffensive. They have an understated coasch and NO TO-like bigmouths, nor even a Chad Johnson hotdog. And they're a small market team with all the corn-fed, blue-collar, low-budget stuff that goes along with that.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 7:16pm

Actually, I mixed up positions of people, so ignore that. :)

Now that I think about it a bit more, they probably will go for a DT rather than a DE early on, as Trent Cole is playing very well, and plus you'd hope to get McDougle back soon as well. Probably will have to wait until the end of the season to see.

by tom (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 7:21pm

Andrew, the nickel spot is up in the air, but I think it's Mikell, despite Favre picking on him last week; Johnson has talked about wanting to evaluate him a bit more, and much as they might not want to admit it, the Eagles coaches seem to be casting a bit of sly look across their younger players, trying to work out how things shake out for next year. Oh, and, about sheppard, what Pat said...

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 7:26pm


I cannot tell you how many times this year I've yelled at the TV when the opposing QB had forever to pass: "You're supposed to not suck!"

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 7:57pm

Never mind Chad Johnson, the guy who should really be appearing on the next season of Dancing With the Stars is Matt Leinart. I hope somebody at ABC at least made a phone call.

by The Cartoonist (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 8:20pm

RE: #17

That's clearly not Lex Luthor in his pimp jacket...It's um...er...a freshly shaven Tony Dungy? (Jeez, don't blame me, blame the guy who draws "Gil Thorp"!)

by ABW (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 8:34pm

Re: 35

Well, the Patriots and Colts were old AFC East rivals. There's some justification for dislike right there. Speaking as a Pats fan though, I personally have very little animosity towards the Colts. Most of my football hatred is directed towards the Dolphins, the Jets, and the Raiders(but who doesn't hate the Raiders). The Steelers I have no particular like or dislike for. I actually kind of admire the Steelers(when the Patriots aren't going to Pittsburgh to win an AFC Championship) for their style of play and the chin of their coach, which reminds me of the "Old man of the mountain" in New Hampshire.

I occasionally root for the Bengals, cause it takes real men to wear tiger-striped leotards, and I think Chad Johnson is funny.

by bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 9:09pm

RE #41

ABW, speaking of "the chin of the coach," man, that guy does spray the spittle on the sidelines, doesn't he? But I have never seen a more regular-guy, straight-shootin', classy approach to a post game press conference than on Monday night. He didn't belittle his own team, he didn't make the Colts out to be invincible, he was clearly unhappy but managed a few jokes. A very different demeanor than the maniac on the sidelines we all love. Dungy was, of course, bland by comparison, but that's pretty much to be expected. I like Cowher a lot more after seeing that.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 9:39pm

Re: #35, #41

Patriot fans also have a specific dislike of the Colts in recent years, because of widespread predictions that the Patriots had no chance of stopping the Colts juggernaut. It's not fair to blame the Colts for the predictions of people like Pete Prisco, but a whole lot about fandom is less than rational.

That fact that this year's prediction was correct, doesn't make it any better.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 10:17pm

Indeed, Dallas will try to corner the market on the name "Marcus" and its variants. It's all part of Tuna's plan to... uh... have a team full of guys whose names are confusingly difficult to turn into acronyms. Yeah.

As for the Colts/Patriots thing, I would say it's a sign of respect. I didn't dislike the colts until last year, really, and I think the reason for that is that I didn't view them as a threat. I'm doing the same thing with the Bengals now. I used to root for them, even though they were in our division, because they a) sucked, b) weren't the browns and c) didn't used to be the browns. I think you get that sort of perspective when you're successful for a while.

That said, I hate the Pats now after liking them during the Bledsoe era. Losing two AFC championship games to the same team at home is just too embarassing.

by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 10:35pm

Re #18 I don't think he's likely to get hurt, just likely to get hit this week. Your point about his being hit less often than anyone but Manning is plausible - I haven't seen numbers on "hits" but DEN is 3rd best in Adjusted Sack Rate (thru week 10) according to FO. Of course, they were 3rd last year and Plummer got sacked six times at Arrowhead. NE is 2nd this year and they gave up three sacks last week. If the Broncos can avoid playing from behind, Plummer won't get sacked much if at all. Otherwise he will. I wonder how much of Plummer's success in avoiding sacks is due to the line, how much to his mobility, and how much to their playing with a lead?

He’s attempted every single pass attempt for the Denver Broncos over the past 2 seasons (I’m pretty sure he’s the only player in the league who can make that claim), and he gets hit less than pretty much anyone else.

Green has not thrown every pass for the Chiefs in 2004-5. Collins has 5 attempts(4 in garbage time in the DEN-KC game in Arrowhead last year) Green has started every game for KC since he came there in 2001 while Plummer missed several games in 2003... after getting hurt in the Broncos game at, well, you know, Arrowhead.

Frankly, Green gets hit a lot - far more than Plummer. The Chiefs would be at least as bad off with Collins as the Broncos would be with Van Pelt. I doubt if Plummer will get hurt, but backup QB is the one siginficant weakness I see with the Broncos this year.

Re #30 - Arrowhead is not as tough a place to play as it was in the 90s mostly because the Chiefs D has not been as good.

Still, since I'm picking on the Broncos let's look at their record against the Chiefs in the Vermeil era:

5-0 in Mile High (whatever corporate name it has) and none of the games have been close (Broncos have won by an average of 2 TDs).

1-3 in Arrowhead. Chiefs have outscored the Broncos by seven pts a game. The only loss they blew a big lead and lost in OT.

Overall in those 5 years, the Broncos have been better than the Chiefs: DVOA splits 50-50 on the 2001-2004 seasons and rates DEN better this year. In 2003 the Broncos might have been better overall if Plummer and Portis hadn't gotten hurt for a number of games. But I think there is still a signifcant advantage to playing at home in Arrowhead. Overrated? Perhaps. But still an advantage.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 11:14pm

Re: #35

What’s so hatable about the Colts???

Polian and his whining, mainly.

by Adam (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 11:37pm

It should be noted that the Steelers-Bengals game is on Sunday. Not Monday.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 12:12am


Last year, Philly gave up 19 passing TD's. Sheppard gave up 5 of them, Brown 1, Hood 2, Dawkins 2, Lewis 2.

OTOH, Sheppard took 2 back the other way.

Sheppard had 118 passes thrown towards him and Brown had 117, so it wasn't a lack of targeting or opportunity. Sheppard allowed 61% to be complete, Borwn 48%, Hood 58%, Dawkins 42%, Lewis 36%.

You are right that Sheppard can be an asset with a pass rush, but Philly doesn't have much this year.

As far as needs on the D-Line for the Eagles, I think they definitely need another D-End. Kearse, Cole, and McDougle is just 3. Kalu is done. For D-Tackles, they have Walker, Patterson, Rayburn, and Thomas. Grasmanis is done. Thomas is getting old. I'll take one of each please!

Patterson is playing quite well for not even being a starter. The biggest disappointment is Rayburn shrinking to invisibility with his injuries this year. Considering what Simon has done in Indy, I wouldn't expect him to have done anything for the Eagles. I wouldn't expect Burgess to have either, since his natural side is the same Left End position that Kearse occupies. I bet Burgess is succeeding more because he is playing Left, like he did in the playoffs in Philly in 2004.

Fortunately, with a poor record this year, the Eagles will pick between 15th and 25th this year, which should produce good picks in rounds 1-3, and the free agent losses of Mayberry, Burgess, Simon, etc. should give some nice compensatory picks.

I see a need for drafting a DE (possibly a free agent too), DT, big RB (or a free agent like Najeh Davenport?, Duce Staley if cut?), OLB to push Jones, CB to replace Dexter Wynn and push Ware, and the usual group of additional O-linemen.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 1:15am

I will be incredibly disappointed if the Bears don't crush the Packers. GB has humiliated Chicago by beating the Bears 11(!) straight times in front of its home crowd. (10 straight in Soldier Field and once in Champaign)

Last year GB waltzed in, got up early, and then waxed the Bears offense to the tune of 9 sacks.

Payback time.

I don't want a victory. I want carnage. I want to see the Mike Sherman "Ummmm, what do I do NOW?" face.

I don't care that GB is undermanned. That this team is no longer a worthy adversary. That barring its QB there is not a single player on either side of the ball who could be termed BETTER than its Bears counterpart. Not one.

Destroy them.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 2:08am

No, honestly, NFCCF, tell us how you really feel.

by Steven Cummings (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 2:11am

Bold Prediction: Shaun Alexander breaks Priest Holmes’ single season touchdown record of 27.

Given his current pace I don't see how this is bold. This is the exact record occurred likely to me even a few weeks ago.

by paytonrules (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 2:38am

I want to see the Mike Sherman “Ummmm, what do I do NOW?� face.

You mean the one he makes when he forgets to write L and R on his shoes?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 3:10am

I really am tired of the Packers, and do not actively dislike the Bears, but the schadenfreude-seeking part of my being recognizes that this would be one of the more dispiriting losses in recent NFL history. That it would give the Vikings, if they beat the Lions Sunday, a really good chance of playing for the divison crown on the last weekend of the season, since a Vikings win over the Bears would then result in Minny having the better divisonal record, also makes such a prospect quite enticing.

That said, I expect the Bears to win 31-3.

by Reno (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 3:25am

Most of the instances have already been pointed out by other posters, but the main thing this column left me with was the impression that its writer's don't look at the statistics on the site that they're writing for.

Granted, Al & Vivek's commentary has always generally been of the knee-jerk variety that's often criticized so heavily by others on this site, so maybe they're writing for a different segment of the audience. But I really feel like I learned absolutely nothing from this article save the name of Ric Flair's finishing move. I've always thought Scramble was a little mediocre, but after this one I'm just going to start skipping to the Loser League update and ignoring the rest.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 3:47am

Re #41: Do the Patriots fans still hate the Broncos, or did having a year off from the series cool that one off a little bit? Or maybe it's the fact that Elway's been retired for 6 years now?

Re #45: I wonder how much of Plummer’s success in avoiding sacks is due to the line, how much to his mobility, and how much to their playing with a lead?

Playing with a lead is a big help, but the majority of the responsibility lies with Plummer himself. I've always said that the biggest problem with Denver's undersized line and fancy run-blocking schemes is that there are no fancy pass-blocking schemes. You still have to go straight up and beat your man in pass blocking, and since the line is undersized, it's below average at pass blocking. It gets pushed around more. That said, Plummer's mobility in the pocket is very Elway-esque, and even more, he's so dangerous on the bootleg that teams are forced to honor that. A lot of times you'll see DEs that could run in and get pressure, but if they did they'd lose containment, and so they hesitate and stay back to keep Plummer from breaking the pocket.

The evidence of Plummer's ability to avoid sacks are all in the numbers. This season and last season, when Plummer attempted every pass, Denver finished 3rd in adjusted sack rate. In 2003, when Plummer missed 5 games, Denver finished 11th. In 2002, without Plummer, Denver finished 26th.

by ammek (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 5:06am

In reply to Mr. Freak: as a Packer fan, I am quite concerned at the possibility not just of a loss in Chicago (that's near-certain), but of a shutout. The game just has all the hallmarks of a shutout: reversing the 11-loss streak, a great D, a terrible O, a coach who has the Packers' number (umpteen wins with the Bucs; 2001 playoffs with St Louis; first career head coaching win); momentum. I expect Favre to throw a good many picks, and if you're lucky, Sherman will toss Aaron Rodgers into the pile, which will be like watching one of those tag team bouts where one of the faces turns heel and it turns into a three-on-one massacre.

It almost pains me to say it, but I like this Bears team a lot - Orton excepted. I don't see them winning the SuperBowl, though; it only needs a couple of Orton's turnovers to be returned for TDs in a game (he's been lucky so far) and Chicago would be playing from behind. That's gotta hurt.

GB is actually better on the road the last couple of years than it is at Lambeau, so the Christmas game could be even more lop-sided. Still, at least the Lions are coming to Wisconsin soon...

by DeanofAll (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 9:11am

I tried so hard to get something out of this article. could only finished half of it, sorry. well, at least now i don't ever have to read anything you write about football because i now know that you 2 probably played more dungeons and dragons than you have football. ahh, great insite lmao

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 10:01am

The Vikings are a mirage. They have some talented players on the defensive line, and a quarterback who knows his limitations. That can keep you in games, but you can't consistently beat good teams with such a limited number of positives.

I have refrained from much commentary on the Lions for the simple reason that they are the most boring team in the division if not all of football.

You KNOW that Detroit is going to fail to block people. You KNOW that Detroit only seems interested in playing hard 1 out of every 3 games. You KNOW that Jason Hanson is a heckuva kicker. And if your kicker is your team highlight then you KNOW you have problems.

I laugh at the Green Bay fans who want Rodgers in at quarterback. Favre avoids 2-3 sacks a game because of his pocket presence. Those guards and center would do more good if they just fell down. At least that way a lineman might trip on his way to the quarterback. Does Whittaker have some sort of medical condition or is he just completely out of shape? Because he starts out a game fine but by the end of the first half he is grabbing nonstop as he has lost a step. He looks TIRED. Flanagan is hurt and can't move. Wells is a scrapper but right now doesn't know enough to handle good tackles. He's better than Klemm but that is the equivalent of saying he is better than a pile of dog sh*t. Oh wait, a defensive tackle might slip on the dog sh*t. Klemm was the sorriest sack of skin I have seen on the Packer offensive line in a decade. If Ted Thompson signed that guy while sober then Green Bay is doomed.

Are these guys (Sherman/Thompson) too proud to pick up the phone and ask Ron Wolf to help? As I listed in a response some weeks ago the guys still contributing (if you will) to this team are all Wolf draft picks or acquisitions. My gosh, the guy wasn't perfect (Terrell Buckley anyone) but he sure as h*ll wouldn't put a douche like Klemm in a position where he could legitimately get the franchise killed. It's like Thompson decided he wanted to perform a test of just how nible Favre really is. "Guy thinks he's so great? Let's see him stay upright with THIS guy blocking."

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 10:15am

Well, what took me a game to figure out has finally seeped into the cranium of Mike Sherman. From the Journal Sentinel:

When Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman announced Wednesday that he was replacing rookie right guard Will Whitticker in the starting lineup, it officially closed the case on the long, drawn-out guard ordeal.


Photo/Mark Hoffman

Will Whitticker won't start, but Mike Sherman said Whitticker would probably play this week.

Related Coverage
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"The Packers are guilty as charged of failing to replace Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera.

Whitticker's benching in favor of veteran Grey Ruegamer comes just three weeks after left guard Adrian Klemm was replaced by Scott Wells and gives the Packers two different starters than they had coming out of training camp. The decision to sit Whitticker was made early this week after Ruegamer performed adequately in spot duty and Whitticker continued to struggle against Philadelphia on Sunday."

Struggled? STRUGGLED??? That's kind.

Ruegamer is just a guy. But like Wells he will put up a fight all game long. He's feisty. That can offset the physical limitations.

What folks fail to realize is that blocking is about EFFORT. I know that may read as rather simplistic but a lot of players just don't try hard every play. So if you are one of those who DO you have an edge even if the guy across from you is more athletically gifted.

WW was pretty obviously a guy who coasted through high school and college on being bigger than most of the folks across from him. The NFL was a rude awakening.

Shame on Sherman and Thompson. It's like Thompson had some evil plan to insure the end of Favre's career. What is he, some kind of Mr. Burns?

"I will hire terrible employees. I will create impossible expectations. This person who thinks himself a "star" will become incredibly frustrated, lose his ability to do the most basic tasks, and leave in disgrace.


by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 10:16am

Somebody who knows more edit that stuff. Sorry. Didn't see that in time.

Good grief. I'm old and now I look it.


by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 10:40am

Kibbles (#55 )--
Do the Patriots fans still hate the Broncos
This particular Patriot fan never did. When the Broncos were consistently beating the Patriots in the playoffs, my particular feeling was that they were playing for the honor of who would get thumped by the NFC champs in the SUperbowl, so it never bothered me that much.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 12:22pm

Yes, Freak, the Vikings are exposed against good teams. However, three of their five remaining games are against bad teams. Pittsburgh isn't all that great if Big Ben doesn't play, or underperforms. That leaves Chicago on the last weekend of the year, which is all that I have hoped for since the Vikings got on a roll; that the last game against Chicago be for the division title. If the Bears manage to fall on their face in one of their two games against the Packers, and the Vikings beat the Lions this Sunday, that can happen. I must admit, I did not expect the Bears to sweep the Panthers and the Bucs, so I originally didn't think I'd solely be rooting for a monumental upset engineered by Favre, but that is what I am left with now. I actually will root for the Bears against the Falcons (not that a Bears victory isn't expected in that game), since it will improve the Vikings wild card chances.

The last five weeks really could be a lot of fun.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 12:31pm

Freak, do you agree with me that Favre's performance this year may one of the greatest quarterbacking jobs in service to a hideous team in recent history? I have resisted Favreophilia up until now, while recognizing his strengths, but, ironically, I have really admired his efforts this year. Yes, they have only won two games, but they should be getting slaughtered, and instead are in every game deep into the fourth quarter.

by jebmak (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 1:00pm

The reason that I hate the Colts is because I want an over/under of about 10 in every game.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 1:48pm


Favre has been a contributing factor to several of those losses of late. He has become impatient and made truly awful decisions.

If Favre had played just ok against the Eagles Green Bay wouldd have the won the game. Yes, the special teams were horrible and the defense gacked at the end. But if Bf manages the game correctly the Packers put 21 points on the board pretty easily.

The Cincy game was there to be had with a solid performance. After a good first half he collpases in the third quarter. though granted, several of the picks were flukes. But both interceptions by O'Neal were dreadful decisions, especially for someone of his experience.

Similar with Tampa Bay.

A few things that are fairly obvious. First, he trusts nobody but Driver. Even Ferguson is regarded with suspicion. With Franks out I would say the number two guy is Donald Lee (of all people). Second, Chatman, Thurman, etc. are NFL Europe quality receivers. It is STUNNING that Favre is able to get these guys the ball because they get NO separation, they have poor hands, and they don't fight for position. Finally, his offensive line (as I have written about repeatedly) is abysmal up the midddle. Tauscher/Clifton are excellent. But the core stinks.

So part of me agrees that Favre has been d*mn amazing at times. But the frustration is mounting and as the game progresses you can see it in his performance. MDS mentioned that Favre is "giving up" on plays and while that's harsh I have to agree to some degree. I think he throws the ball sometimes in an act of disgust/desperation for SOMEBODY TO MAKE A PLAY.

The fault is Sherman's. He needs to show some leadership and sit the man down and explain that he cannot win the game on his own. That he needs to be patient and make the plays he can make and put the onus on others to do something when called.

Even though by the play-calling you can see that Sherman expects Brett to turn straw into gold.

The decision to repeatedly throw deep against the Vikes was mind-boggling. Favre has never had good precision on his deep throws, none of the receivers have real deep speed threat capability, and the line is taxed keeping Aunt Jemima from getting in Favre's face much less Pat Williams. But sure, let's have him throw it downfield instead of working the ball against a suspect defense.

and the total give up on Gado to begin the second half completely abdicated any chance of getting a running game. As shown in 2 of 3 games Gado can run. Yes, he struggles to hold onto the ball. But GB has lived with Green putting the ball on the ground X times a year in return for the big plays. Gado is their only chance to go to the house on a single play. Taking him away from Favre was telling the QB to do it on his own.

GB's collapse has truly been a TEAM effort.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 2:42pm


"the total give up on Gado to begin the second half"

They didn't give up on him, he got STUFFED by Philadelphia after the 1st quarter where he had gone 75 yards on 9 carries, gaining just 36 yards on 17 carries in the last three quarters, and 14 yards and a lost fumble on 2 passes.

Samkon Gado carries and passes (p) by series.
1st Quarter (9 carries in 18 plays)
0 of 3 plays
2 of 3 plays: 6, -1
2 of 3 plays: 18, 33T
2 of 3 plays: 2, 2
3 of 6 plays: 8, 1, 6
2nd Quarter (9 carries, 1 pass in 20 plays)
6 of 13 plays: 1, 5, 1, 8, 0, 1
4 of 7 plays: 4, 3p, -1, 7
3rd Quarter (6 carries, 1 pass in 16 plays)
2 of 5 plays: 2, 1
2 of 4 plays: 1, 11p (fumbled)
3 of 7 plays: 13, 0, -9
4th Quarter (2 carries in 12 plays)
2 of 6 plays: 0, 2
0 of 6 plays

The 4th quarter result is mostly from not having the ball much of the quarter, and trying to play catch-up on a 2 minute drill at the end. You'd hardly hand off in such a situation to a running back who had been gaining just 2 yards per carry that past 43 minutes of the game.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 2:50pm


If it wasn't clear I was referencing the Viking game where Sherman yanked Gado from the lineup after his fumble.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 2:51pm

Well, sure, he has made some awful decisions, but playing with awful receivers and crummy interior pass protection will do that, especially when the run defense is also bad.

I am amazed at how often a qb in his mid thirties evades what appears to be a certain sack. That ability provides the only shred of chance, however slim, that the Pack has to be competitive against the Bears.

by gripweed (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 2:52pm

I totally agree with your Denver assesment and the prediction of an AFC North team getting the first round bye. That first round bye will be determined by the Pit-Cin game this weekend. There's alot riding on that game because not only does the winner have a good shot at playoffs and first round bye, the loser is perilously close to failing to make the playoffs at all.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 3:36pm


The main problem with lauding Favre's play at this point is the number of interceptions, which you can't really pin on anyone except Favre. Yah, his receivers might be bad - well, he shouldn't throw to them. Regardless of what Joe Theismann says, an interception is far, far worse than an incomplete pass. "We're behind, I have to make a play, I think I can make this" is really, really bad. There're only one real time an interception is forgiveable, and that's at the end of the game (when trailing, and it's fourth down).

by Gonzo (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 3:41pm

Re: #63

"Freak, do you agree with me that Favre’s performance this year may one of the greatest quarterbacking jobs in service to a hideous team in recent history? I have resisted Favreophilia up until now, while recognizing his strengths, but, ironically, I have really admired his efforts this year. Yes, they have only won two games, but they should be getting slaughtered, and instead are in every game deep into the fourth quarter."

Yep. . .Favre might throw 30 TD passes again this year. And you know what? Even if he does, there's a very good chance that he's still going to have more turnovers than TD passes.

That would be a pretty historical season if he were to pull it off. If he keeps locking onto Donald Driver and nobody but Donald Driver on 2 out of every 3 plays the rest of the year, I'm sure he'll accomplish it.

by Gonzo (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 3:45pm

Oh. . .and on the subject of "Worst Wrestling Finisher of All Time," my vote would have to go to Kerry von Erich's "Tornado Punch" that he used as the Texas Tornado back in the late 80's. . .or, as Bobby Heenan used to call it, the "Greco-Roman punch to the head."

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 3:52pm

I would disagree with the contention that the quarterback is solely responsible for all interceptions.

In Favre's case nine of his interception total can be attributed to the failures of those around him.

Examples are receivers who don't make the proper break or allow a pass to bounce of their hands with a defender catching the ricochet.

I am at a loss how a quarterback can be held accountable for a timing route pattern going awry when he places the ball where it's supposed to be but the receiver doesn't complete his assignment correctly.

That being written the remaining interceptions are not only Favre's responsbility but in multiple cases DIRECTLY contributed to defeat. Not that any interception doesn't but in these cases the impact was immense.

Case in point was the INT to end the Eagles game. Plenty of time, his favorite receiver open on the sideline, and he pitches it into the end zone.

Dumb and ruinous.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 3:59pm

Gonzo, there isn't a quarterback in the league who would look better than Favre does with this collection of talent. Again, I 've avoided Favreophilia in the past, like last year, when he still had a serviceable offensive line and receivers. This group sucks, and yet they aren't getting blown out.

Pat, unless you are commmitted to winning games 13-10, which this defense cannot accomplish, ya' gotta throw to the receivers you have. If they tried to win games 13-10, I suspect they would be losing games by a larger margin.

by JonL (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 4:11pm

Oh, wow. Speaking of the Texas Tornado and Summerslam '91, I remember the opening match was the Texas Tornado, the British Bulldog, and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat against Power and Glory and the Warlord. It wasn't a great match but it was closer to what wrestling is now, a bunch of people running around the ring without any concern for tagging in/out.

hey, who else remembers Irwin R. Shyster? Whatever happened to truly goofy wrestling personas like him and the Repo Man?

I also remember ads for a 900 number you could call and hear messages from the Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth before they got married in the ring. Even then I knew 900 numbers were a scam.

it's getting dusty in here...

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 5:24pm

I am at a loss how a quarterback can be held accountable for a timing route pattern going awry when he places the ball where it’s supposed to be but the receiver doesn’t complete his assignment correctly.

If you've got a receiver who's prone to do that, you don't throw it to him if there's a chance of an interception. Yah, you're going to end up stalling drives a lot. But you stall them just as fast with an interception.

It's a little too simplistic for the QB to just say "hey, I did my job, he screwed up." Yah, but Favre threw the ball. He should be starting to realize who's not trustworthy.

(There are QBs who do this. It's the main reason why McNabb rarely threw to Mitchell.)

I'm not suggesting that any QB should go interception-less, but I do think that QBs should take some responsibility for almost every single interception.

I should also note that I said that you'd be hard pressed to pin the number of interceptions Favre's thrown on anyone except Favre. If you've got 10, okay, maybe they're not the QB's fault. But Favre's got nineteen now. You definitely can't blame nineteen interceptions on the receivers.

ya’ gotta throw to the receivers you have.

Favre is completing enough passes that they'll score fine. He just needs to throw it away more. He also needs to learn which receivers he can trust, and get the receivers that he can't trust fired.

by Al (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 5:29pm

Let the record reflect that I didn't start playing Dungeons and Dragons until college.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 5:43pm

This is my issue with posters. In post 73 I specifically wrote this passage:

"That being written the remaining interceptions are not only Favre’s responsbility but in multiple cases DIRECTLY contributed to defeat. Not that any interception doesn’t but in these cases the impact was immense.

Case in point was the INT to end the Eagles game. Plenty of time, his favorite receiver open on the sideline, and he pitches it into the end zone.

Dumb and ruinous."

I believe it is quite clear that I am not absolving Favre from any blame. I just happen to believe in a TEAM game that all players have some level of responsibility. And some cases others bear the brunt of the blame. In the remaining cases I believe Favre is the primary if not the ONLY culprit.

And in response I read this:

"should also note that I said that you’d be hard pressed to pin the number of interceptions Favre’s thrown on anyone except Favre. If you’ve got 10, okay, maybe they’re not the QB’s fault. But Favre’s got nineteen now. You definitely can’t blame nineteen interceptions on the receivers."

It's rather exasperating to have to continually re-state a point.

I would also point out that I addressed how Favre clearly DOES NOT trust multiple receivers because he CLEARLY understands their limitations. (Post 65: he trusts nobody but Driver. Even Ferguson is regarded with suspicion. With Franks out I would say the number two guy is Donald Lee (of all people).) But because his coaching staff keeps calling plays involving these individuals as the primary, they fail to get open, then Favre has little choice but to check down, throw the ball away, or take the sack. Being of a mindset of needing to always make a play Favre is not good at ACCEPTANCE.

Favre is weighing the risk/reward and he is failing math class.

Because in the past with guys just a tad better these plays worked.

But again, and again, and again some more I will STRESS FOR EVERYONE READING that Favre MUST either check off or throw the ball away when possible.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 5:48pm

It’s rather exasperating to have to continually re-state a point.

Actually, I was the one who was restating a point. I was just clarifying that I wasn't saying that I was saying it was his responsibility for every one - just that you'd be hard pressed to blame 19 interceptions on anyone but the quarterback. You had said previously that you didn't see how a QB could be blamed for a receiver running a wrong route. I don't quite agree with that, but that's not what I was saying in the first place.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 6:06pm

Re #69: The only way that the Pitt/Cin game goes a long way towards determining who gets the second seed is if Cincy wins. If Pitt wins the game, Denver's got the #2 seed wrapped up with a nice little bow.

Why? Well, if Pitt wins, then both Cincy and Pitt have 4 losses to Denver's 2. Even worse, both Cincy and Pitt would have 4 CONFERENCE losses to Denver's 1. Since neither team played Denver, the first tiebreaker is conference record, which Denver would own. So basically, if Pitt beats Cincinatti, then either team would need to go undefeated in their remaining 4 games, AND would need Denver to go 2-3 in their final 5 games. That means the AFC North would need Denver to not only drop games against lower-rated San Diego and Kansas City teams, they would ALSO need Denver to drop a game either at home against Oakland or Baltimore, or on the road against Buffalo. That's a pretty tall order, hoping for a team that went 9-2 against the 5th hardest schedule to go 2-3 against the 10th hardest schedule with a first round playoff bye on the line.

Even if Cincy wins against Pitt this weekend, they're still a game back and Denver still has a better conference record, so in the event of a tie, Denver still gets the #2 seed. Basically, they still would need to go undefeated and hope for Denver to go 3-2. That's a lot of hoping for a team that went 9-2 a harder schedule than the one they're left with.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 6:36pm

I guess my point is that quarterbacks aren't robots, and I'll stick to my assertion that damned few QBs in the NFL, if any, would be as competitive with this dreck as Favre has been.

by NF (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 6:54pm

About Patriots-Broncos relations: Currently, Patriots fans should take a shine to the Broncos on the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" principle, as the Broncos have been trounced by the Colts in the first round of the playoffs in two consecutive years.

And even better, Jake appears to have shaked off his moniker, making it less depressing to root for him.

by gripweed (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 7:18pm

I stand corrected, or sit corrected. Pretty clear as it's laid out there. Although you are percentage-wise spot on, there is something in me that doesn't buy Denver's lofty perch. I can see them slipping up at least once and very probably twice. Their dvoa numbers do not back me up though, sad to say. Thanks for setting me straight.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 7:55pm

Kibbles, I don't know if Patriots fans hate the Broncos, but I sure do. If you'd like to see any more irrational vitriol, just ask.

I must take exception to listing "The Worm" as the worst finishing move of all time. Obviously nobody would ever be hurt or even the least bit intimidated by it, but how many other moves could we say that about? Is it really any less intimidating than "The People's Elbow", or Tully Blanchard's old Slingshot Suplex? And since Too Cool was totally a joke to begin with, why can't their finishing move be ridiculous? I always enjoyed them, if for no other reason than hearing Jim Ross try to sound dignified while discussing the exploits of Grand Master Sexay (a name most likely used by Bud Bundy at some point). I would much rather watch "The Worm" than the "Stinkface" from Rikishi any day.

Has anyone else ever put someone in a Figure Four? It can be tough to get them in it without help or a distraction (or beating them to a living pulp first), but it's definitely worth it. From what I've heard, it's quite painful and I'm a bastard or something. I highly recommend doing it if you get the chance. Really, it's just a glorified ankle lock or knee barre, but being able to shout "Whooooo!!!!" while your friend is screaming bloody murder is just priceless.

by MAW (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 8:12pm

Am I crazy for considering starting Kurt Warner this week instead of Carson Palmer (who's #1 in points in my rather standard league)?

Warner faces SF, Palmer faces Pittsburgh.

by gripweed (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 9:56pm


Yes. You are.

by Björn (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 12:31am

I have a healthy man-love for Kibbles. Every time someone tramples the honour of Denver, Sir Kibbles sets them straight. Fight on, champion!

by Adam B. (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 12:46pm

Answer and Question:

85: Stick with Palmer, though it's close. But a number of recent QBs (EManning, for one) haven't had great days v SF, though Josh McCown did in Arizona's other game with SF. The reason why I might go with Warner is that you know that Arizona can't run, so they'll have to throw . . . but Cinci's touchdowns are coming by air this week. Stick with the stud.

Q: Is there any reason to still hold onto Michael Clayton in a non-keeper league, headed into the playoffs? Am thinking of taking a flyer on Roydell Williams for my bench as a possible winner of the annual Patrick Jeffers Memorial Award.

by David K (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 2:17pm

I know the stats don't back me up but am I crazy or can anyone else see San Diego running the table going 12-4 to win the division? Denver could go 3-2 missing out due to defeats at the Chiefs and San Diego? San Diego are red hot right now, Denver never finish the season well I think it could happen!

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 2:25pm

Before the Denver onslaught begins in response to David K:

Hines Ward, TJ WhosYerDaddy, or Eric Moulds this week? Any preferences as which one of the three?

by jimmo (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 3:01pm

Kibbles in 3, 2, 1...

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 6:14pm

By the way:

No one's been talking about the big fantasy news of the week - the return of Alex Smith to the 49ers, which is sure to shake up the Loser League stats!

Am I the only one who stuck him in their Loser League team on the hopes (justified, mind you!) that Orton is consistently bad enough that it was no big risk having Smith on bye for three weeks?

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 7:05pm

Re #89: I know the stats don’t back me up but am I crazy or can anyone else see San Diego running the table going 12-4 to win the division? Denver could go 3-2 missing out due to defeats at the Chiefs and San Diego? San Diego are red hot right now, Denver never finish the season well I think it could happen!

It's certainly possible, and San Diego has an advantage because they're the only team fighting with Denver for seeding that Denver doesn't have an overwhelming tiebreaker advantage against. Denver's biggest strength is that it has 2 fewer conference losses than Pitt or Cincy, but a tie with San Diego would be settled with DIVISIONAL record, and if San Diego beats Denver, they've both got 2 divisional losses (and all of Denver's losses would have come against common opponants, which would give San Diego the tiebreaker edge).

The problem is that San Diego needs to have 4 things go its way to win the division. First, it needs to beat Denver. Second, it needs to beat Indy. Third, since Denver is pretty much unbeatable at home this season, San Diego would need Denver to lose this week on the road against KC. Fourth, San Diego would need to beat KC in KC, as well. Let's say that each AFC West team has a 50% chance of winning each key divisional matchup (pretty realistic, I think, since they're all very good and the better team is always the road team). Let's also give SD a 50% chance of winning in Indy, too. Suddenly, the chances that San Diego pulls out the AFC West are .50 x .50 x .50 x .50, or 6.25%. I'd say their real chances are even lower than that, since I don't think they have a 50% chance of winning in Indy.

Again, it's POSSIBLE that San Diego or KC could steal the AFC West still, but Denver is a better team, and Denver has a drastically easier schedule (KC is #1 in remaining schedule strength, and SD is #2). Cincinatti and Pittsburgh both have easy enough remaining schedules that they could theoretically hang tough with Denver for the #2 seed, but the problem there is that Denver's guaranteed to hold the tiebreaker over either team. Jacksonville has a quality enough team, and it certainly has a cupcake enough schedule (easiest remaining) to compete with Denver, but the problem there (aside from missing their QB), is that either they can get a first round bye, or Indy can, but not both- so even if Jacksonville DOES pass Denver, they still have the first round bye. And besides, Denver owns the head-to-head against Jax.

Again, it's POSSIBLE for Denver to not get a first round bye at this point, but the odds are STRONGLY against it, especially if Pittsburgh wins this week. If Cincy pulls it out, then they can give Denver a big run down the stretch for the bye, but even then, Denver will have a one game lead AND the tiebreaker.

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 8:35pm

#90 (Tom Kelso): Housh or Ward. Moulds, no way.

Re: Pats Rivalries

The Dolphins have always been the main rival to me, although attending college in NY in the '80's meant any good feelings I had towards the Jets got squashed. I had no long history with the Raiders so have no strong feelings there, although I remember the Phantom Roughing The Passer Call and throw it at Raider fans when they throw the Tuck Rule Game at me. I disliked the Broncos mostly because the Pats always had to travel to Mile High and they had problems beating them, but the dislike was short-lived. I don't dislike the Colts per se, certainly not the players. What I dislike is Polian's whining and his stumping in front of the competition committee. Offense is already out of balance with respect to defense in my opinion. I'm no fan of the pre-'78 rules, but the "point of emphasis" was unnecessary since balance has been tipped towards offense for a while now. The game is starting to look as bad as basketball, people flopping all over the place and looking over at the ref for the call just because they don't catch the pass, then throwing a tantrum when they don't get the call.

by David K (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 9:09pm

Cheers Kibbles for the very well structured response, there is some love out there for the Chargers then however small there percentage chances. You did not mention Buffalo in the responce but even I can see Denver going 2-3 would be really stretching the argument.

by MRH (not verified) :: Mon, 12/05/2005 - 5:46pm

The game with DEN will come down to the Chiefs’ ability to stop Plummer and the bootleg, which has killed them every time the Broncos have needed a 1st down or short yardage TD the last few years.

Except the Broncos ran Anderson up the gut on 4th and 1 and failed. So that was wrong. Chiefs had a lot of trouble w/the bootleg when Pluummer kept it although he did throw an INT on one though. Chiefs still need to learn how to stop that play.

I believe DEN will lose this weekend, but their playoff chances come down to one thing: at some point, with the Arrowhead crowd roaring, Jared Allen will beat the OT on a speed rush and level Jake Plummer (see Allen’s game vs. the Redskins). If Plummer gets up, the Broncos go to the playoffs. If he doesn’t, DEN’s season lies there broken on the ground (unless the alchemist can turn Bradlee Van Pelt into gold).

Well, he got a TD out of BVP. Plummer took the hit I predicted - although it was Johnson not Allen comming untouched. He got hit hard in the ribs and had his shoulder and head hit the ground. Got up uninjured so DEN looks like a playoff team still. Heckuva game.

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Tue, 12/06/2005 - 3:20am

Well, this is the designated fantasy thread, so I just need to pop off here: This fantasy rookie has just clinched a playoff berth. Thanks to this bizarre blowout of Philly by Seattle. My two opponents for the wildcard spot just got taken out. One of them had Seattle's defense, which scored 48 points in my league! Thanks to the fantasy people on this site and the DVOA crew in general.