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21 Oct 2009

Scramble for the Ball: Keepin' the Faith

by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz

Unfortunately, The Titans Can Neither Awesome Nor Sexy

Tom: The Titans' season is now essentially over. It's going to be rough keeping the faith through an atrocious season.

Mike: I've been somewhat blessed. The Steelers have had only one truly awful season in the past 15 years or so. On the other hand, the Pirates haven't had any respectable seasons in that timeframe, so I definitely understand where you're coming from. I don't imagine the Titans to be bad for as long as the Bucs have been, but eventually you just become numb to the pain.

Tom: This looks like it will be the third really bad season for the Titans this decade, after the 5-11 campaigns in 2004 and 2005. I kind of lost interest a little after the previous big year-on-year drop-off, when the then-Oilers went from 12-4 to 2-14 in 1994. I was a displaced fan with a team on the move, with no Internet to make it easy to read the local paper.

Mike: The Internet has really been a boon for us cheapskate out-of-town fans. I couldn't imagine having to drag myself and the wife to a sports bar every weekend to have some idea of what's going on with my team. I'm not sure we even could, actually, since she's a Browns fan and I'm a Steelers fan. We'd be at either a Steelers or Browns bar, where one or the other would be relatively unwelcome.

Tom: Just be glad you're a fan of a team people like. Rooting for the Oilers was a lonely experience in North Dakota. I'd get shunted to the single TV off in the corner that they deign to change to that one game nobody else wants to watch.

Mike: Thankfully, that's an experience I've never had. Honestly, I've only ever watched one game in a sports bar. Amusingly, it was the Steelers getting destroyed by the Titans last year.

Tom: We'll have to get together at some point next summer and go to ESPN Zone in Chicago and ask to watch the Pirates-Astros game, only to see them consult their sheet and say "Hmm, we didn't quite plan to have that game on any of our TVs."

Mike: Wait, they had all of those TVs, and didn't plan on showing one of the games on any of them?

Tom: After we asked, they agreed to switch one of the dozen or so in the bar area to it.

Mike: How gracious of them.

Tom: Oh, we were quite touched. This is my fourth year in a row with Sunday Ticket, thankfully, so you can find me most every Sunday afternoon on my couch.

Mike: Oh, there was a second time! It didn't occur to me immediately because it's college football, but we did go to the ESPN Zone with my sisters and their husbands to watch OSU-Michigan when they were last in town, a few years back. The place is stupidly expensive, but the food's pretty good.

Tom: If I made it through all of last year's meaningless and deathly dull Week 17 game against the Colts and yesterday's game (even the parts after everybody watching over the air got switched), I can make it through anything.

Mike: I imagine it's a lot like watching one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league throw three interceptions in a Super Bowl you know the team could have won.

Tom: Ignoring 1999, Marty Schottenheimer probably has a better postseason record than the Oilers/Titans franchise since I've been paying attention.

Mike: There's something strange about sports. Aside from generally being misanthropes, neither of us are any sort of crazy fan. We're both reasonably objective and somewhat detached. Yet still, we agonize over all of this.

Tom: Marty's 5-13, the Titans franchise 1987-2008 (minus 1999) is 5-12. I'm reasonably objective and somewhat detached while writing about the games, but I'm still jumping up and down and screaming while the plays are happening.

Mike: Even after, though, we can break down a game, we can talk about the strengths and weaknesses of our teams, but we also can go back to where we were watching and how crushed we were when they lost certain games. Games we had no affect on whatsoever.

Tom: I guess after years of fandom I've learned how to sublimate my emotions. Football is too darn interesting; it'd be a shame to make your enjoyment of it a slave to your emotions.

Mike: I think there's room for both. You need to have passion, or it just isn't fun. You also need to be able to joke about it, accept that it's all a game, and poke fun of your team and your fanhood.

Tom: Oh, absolutely. And sorry, Mike, we're not giving Keep Chopping Wood to "everybody who plays for the Titans," because it just isn't that interesting. Much as they may deserve it.

Mike: I actually have a theory about the New England-Tennessee game. There were some strange artifacts in the feed that I saw for highlights and replays. The only reasonable conclusion, of course, is that there is a vast Belichick/CBS/NFL conspiracy afoot. That our only evidence of such conspiracy is some pixelization on a TV feed from a game played in lousy weather is just proof that the conspiracy is incredible in its breadth. How else could they cover things up so effectively?

Figure 1: Clear Waggle Right

No, the Titans were not undone by their poor play, but by New England's secret weapon. It is both cunning and diabolical, and no team can stand against it. It relies heavily upon the element of surprise, however, so secrecy is of the utmost importance. In Figure 1 we see about as important a play as could possibly exist in a game where one team beats the other 59-0. This is a pretty straightforward play for the Titans, a play-action pass with Scaife lined up left as H-back. The right flanker runs a go, which should give the tight end lined up right (Alge Crumpler) some space to run a simple waggle to the sidelines. Vince Young fakes the handoff to Chris Johnson, then moves into a bootleg right, looking for his first target (Crumpler). The Patriots bring a crash blitz, with a stunt by the left outside linebacker and defensive end, which cuts through the Titans' line. Young is already moving, so he's not caught, but he is pushed toward the sidelines. Scaife throws a chip block on the defensive end, then disengages and runs an out to give Young an outlet. Interestingly, the free safety bites on the play fake, while the strong safety only takes a step up in containment, then reads the waggle and quickly reacts. The right outside linebacker sees the H-back running across the formation and stops his rush to cover the outlet. Crumpler's route looked like it was going to be a waggle-and-go, but either Vince Young wasn't on the same page as his tight end or Vince Young is just not good at throwing the football, because he horrifically underthrows it. The strong safety in the meantime had moved into good coverage on Crumpler and was easily able to adjust and make the interception. What could have been a good opportunity for the Titans (free safety biting, inside blitz against a play-action with bootleg) turns into a disaster due to some heads-up defensive play and a hint of pressure.

Figure 2: Someone Call Jeff Goldblum

That's what everyone would have you believe, that New England's pass rush is once again fearsome, and its secondary playing smart football with good fundamentals. The truth, however, is far more sinister. It has come to my attention that the entirety of New England-Tennessee's broadcast was, in fact, a Madden simulation broadcast with extra static on top to make it look like the real thing. Through unnamed sources, your Scramble writers have in their possession the actual game tape of the Titans-Patriots game. Fed up with his aging secondary, Belichick has turned to the terrifying power of nature to subdue his foes (Fig. 2). Here we see the Titans lined up in the same formation, single-back with an H left. At the snap, the Patriots unleash their secret weapon, and all the Titans flee in terror. Vince Young heroically diagnoses the defense, and throws the ball to the sidelines, as a means of distracting the beast and allowing his teammates the opportunity to escape. It may have been an interception, but it's an interception that gave his men precious time to escape this game alive. For that heroism, Vince Young, your Scramble writers salute you!

Tom: Hey, Vince Young is 18-12 as a starter in the NFL for a reason, Mike. He just wins games saves his teammates from horrible deaths. What more could you ask from a quarterback?

Mike: My first thought for Keep Chopping Wood was actually Joe Girardi, but I doubt the editors would let me get away with that. He really deserves it, though.

Tom: Eh, baseball. Anyway, it's going to be a frustrating season watching the Titans, but I'm a fan, and that's what die-hard fans get to do, especially if they have to write about them.

Fantasy Football Update

Tom: Well, I continue to suck in two out of my three leagues. I'm closing in on being decent, but just not quite managing it. I started Hasselbeck over Rivers in both leagues where I have both of them, and that cost me a win. It's not benching Drew Brees, but it's still a lapse in judgment.

Mike: Will actually has some insight into the whole Hasselbeck situation, and it's really not pretty. The word is that they're injecting painkillers directly into his fractures, which sounds outlandish and crazy but is apparently true. All that gets him to the point where he can play through extreme pain.

Tom: That sounds extraordinarily unpleasant. I think it's time for me to make the same decision with Hasselbeck you did with Romo, and just sit him.

Mike: From what it sounds like, Hasselbeck isn't going to be able to produce like you need your quarterback to do. Rivers is no slouch, though.

Tom: In my other league, I managed to overcome starting Jason Campbell in place of Peyton Manning.

Mike: Wow. That's ... actually really impressive.

Tom: I had Welker, Zach Miller and Green Bay Defense, which were all strong contributors. Plus, my opponent had roster issues and ended up starting two players on bye. He did have Maurice Jones-Drew and Ryan Longwell, however, so he had the fourth-highest score in the league.

Mike: I made a big mistake in cutting Green Bay out of my backup defense spot. My opponent picked them up immediately, and then almost beat me with them this week. Minnesota is still excellent, but it was nice to have the option to, say, sit Minnesota against Pittsburgh and play Green Bay against Cleveland this week.

Tom: I'm playing waiver wire roulette with my defense in one of my leagues, the same where I had D'Qwell Jackson as my individual defender. That's actually a frustrating league -- I'm seventh in points, almost sixth, but 10th out of 12 in the standings.

Mike: Two years ago I ended the year with third place in points and 10th out of 12 in the standings. It can be incredibly frustrating.

Tom: I'm just glad that I'm doing very well in one league, 5-1, second place, and third in points.

Mike: And you get Peyton back in that league, that's good news.

Tom: That's the league that's two running backs, one wide receiver and one flex. I drafted I think five running backs and three wide receivers. That was heavier on running backs than most people went, but I think it's worked out pretty well for me.

Mike: Having a deep bench is always good, as is planning your byes well. I can give you an example of poor planning in Figure 3. Big fun.

Figure 3: This Can Only End in Tears

Tom: I wonder, though, if you're not better off planning all your byes at the same time -- is it better to be 100 percent in 15 games and 50 percent in one or 80 percent for four and 100 percent for 12? My pre-draft thinking was definitely focused on spreading out bye weeks, including both within positions and among positions. So if I drafted Rivers with a Week 5 bye, I wouldn't want to draft, say, Greg Olsen since the Bears also have a Week 5 bye. Having three of five running backs on bye, sure, maybe you avoid that, but I'm not sure caring like I did was a good idea.

Mike: I'm not a fan of essentially just throwing a game. There are so few games, and most bye weeks are spread out at least semi-randomly for each team. By spreading them out you're not really disadvantaging yourself over the course of the season, but if you have all of your stars go out the same week, you're almost assured to lose. Even with my bye week hell coming up, I still have most of my stars available.

Tom: You're probably right. How'd you do this week?

Mike: Another highly successful week, although it ended up being a lot more close than I had hoped. I won the Yahoo! league despite pathetic performances by Moreno (4) and Vikings Defense (2) and an actually counterproductive performance by Nate Washington (-2). Fortunately, Roethlisberger (28), Colston (24) and Slaton (21) all came through for me.

Tom: What, you weren't counting on one reception for -22 yards?

Mike: Sadly, the ouija board was busy saying "yvan eht nioj" to give me accurate information regarding the weather and Tennessee's general ineptness. The CBS league went very well, despite me forgetting to switch out Gaines Adams in the wake of his trade, when he was very obviously not going to play. Julius Jones and A.J. Hawk did nothing for me, but on the upside, negative yardage doesn't hurt you in the CBS league. Since it's a PPR league, Washington actually gave me three more points than he did in the Yahoo! league, a good illustration of how important minor changes in league scoring rules can be. Again, Ben Roethlisberger proved to be a huge asset. Picking him up as my backup in both leagues was a great move. He's kept my team afloat when Romo fell apart, and between him and Rivers I'll never have to worry about quarterback in the Yahoo! league.

Tom: Curse you, Hines Ward, for outperforming Santonio Holmes. Again.

Mike: Sadly, there's not much you can do about that. Ward and Holmes are essentially No. 1-A and No. 1-B at this point, so you have to take the good with the bad.

Tom: Yeah, I just have drafter's remorse.

Mike: Randy Moss put up a great performance in the CBS PPR league, perhaps the best barring Colston. Moss gave me 38 points. My opponent just couldn't answer that, and I won 189.5-169.5.

Tom: He only put up 35.60 points in the PPR league I'm in.

Mike: Yardage scoring difference, I imagine. Minutiae that turns into wins and losses.

Tom: He wasn't even the top scorer in that league, though. Brady put up 49.67, Ray Rice 38.50, Schaub 35.97, Jones-Drew 38.30. Lots of high scorers this week.

Mike: Yeah, almost everyone in the Yahoo! league were over 110. The league average is somewhere around 90.

Tom: In the league I'm second in, I had the second-highest score last week, with 88 points. That same 88 points would have placed me seventh in scoring this week.

Mike: At this point I've clawed my way up to second place in the Yahoo! league. I'm still on top of my division in CBS, but am now roughly 30 points behind the leader in the other division. Thirty points isn't a whole lot, and I actually gained a game on the No. 2 team in my division, so all in all it was a good week.

Staff Fantasy Update

by Bill Barnwell

Doug (3-3) 137, Bill (5-1) 48

Oh lord, was I massacred. Doug got 30 points from Drew Brees (as penance, I played Brees in both of my fantasy leagues this week), 30 from Ray Rice, and got 17 or 18 from Owen Daniels, Sidney Rice, and Steve Slaton. Meanwhile, I didn't have a single player over ten points and got an impressive -5 from the Giants defense.

Elias (3-3) 133, Aaron (2-4) 117

Aaron, the hard luck loser this week, got 20 points from the Patriots defense, but only eight from Philip Rivers and a lone point from Dustin Keller; Elias had seven players in double figures, paced by DeAngelo Williams' 29.

Vince (4-2) 115, Sean (1-5) 77

Sean remains the league leader in points scored and, yet, remains in last place in the Virgil Parks Division. Vince pretty much won thanks to his combination of Tom Brady (39) and Randy Moss (30).

Rob (3-3) 85, Will (2-4) 48

Will's team was the first to enjoy two players with negative numbers this year, with LeSean McCoy at -1 and Mark Sanchez at an impressive -8.

Ian/Al (3-3) 102, Pat (4-2) 76

How do you win when your quarterback (Matt Hasselbeck) throws up a donut? Well, you get 33 points from Maurice Jones-Drew, and ten or more points from five other guys. (Starting Hasselbeck against Arizona and leaving Carson Palmer on the bench against Houston seems ... curious) Scramble Emeritii also left the Broncos defense on the bench.

Mike (2-4) 82, Vivek (4-2) 64

The upset of the week saw Mike overcome the previously division-leading Junkyard Dogs, even though Brandon Jacobs went down with an injury and Rob Bironas did not score. He can probably thank Jim Zorn, who benched Vivek's starting quarterback, Jason Campbell.

At Least It's Better Than "Batz"

Mike: I like how the music is soft and reassuring. "Don't worry, humans. The umbrellas are your friends. There's nothing wrong here, nothing wrong..."

Tom: After all, they have the woman sitting on the seat in the corner office at the same time Langhorne Slim is singing "I won't desert you." When she is quite clearly alone. I sense a simpatico soul.

Mike: Yes. The umbrellas will take care of her. There's nothing to fear...

Tom: Yes, protecting the things I care about, and covering up my car windshield so I can't see anything.

Mike: It's OK, your friends the man-eating swarm of umbrellas will make sure you stay on the path. The path to whatever terrifying camp they have established to prepare us all for the slaughter.

Tom: Just like the buzz droids at the beginning of Episode III protected Grievous' ship from Skywalker and Kenobi.

Mike: So what you're saying is that somewhere out there, humanity is being rescued by an umbrella version of R2-D2?

Tom: The umbrellas finally make their way to their destination, then try to insinuate themselves into the very fabric of the thing they're trying to protect. It's the ultimate lock-in strategy to prevent you from changing insurers: "Want to switch to State Farm? Say good-bye to your roof!"

Mike: They must be the product of some horrible experiment.

Tom: Remember how friendly the old Traveler's umbrella was? The one that flew lost kids to their destination and could be used as a ferry across the river? It was like the sanitized version of the Brothers' Grimm fairy tales, and now we're getting the version that has Cinderella's mother dancing to death in hot-iron shoes.

Mike: Ah, so this is Umbrella II: Now It's Personal? Or ... oh, now I get it. A secret government agency saw The Birds as a cautionary tale of our near, doomed future, and so began a classified project to create swarms of vicious umbrellas. Since pidgeons and umbrellas are, of course, natural enemies.

Tom: This project inspired by Henry Jones.

Mike: Naturally. So, in secret, they create hordes of the things, until one day something goes horribly wrong, with terrible consequences. Of course, at the pitch I imagine they had multiple endings. If the studio wanted a comedy, they could have done Bird and Umbrella, and the meeting would have hilarious consequences. If they were marketing it to Japan, they could have called it Legend of the Umbrellas, and I won't go into what sort of consequences that would have.

Tom: I suppose using it to try to get people to buy your insurance is better than using them to obtain utter worldwide domination.

Mike: Well, it's a process. Step one, sell insurance to house. Step two, use insurance-based leverage to take over a city block. Step three, use that influence to take over a slightly larger city block. And so on and so forth until humanity learns how to harness the birds to do their bidding and defeat your umbrellish hordes.

Tom: You're reminding me of why I'm such a big fan of Lord Acton's dictum.

Mike: I think much more pertinent is the Evil Overlord List.

Tom: Ah, I have discovered our fate for exposing Travelers' sinister plan: "If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature."

Mike: Well, crap. We should have gone ahead with that food column plan. This is all Barnwell's fault.

Tom: I'll remember to bring brownies next week.

Loser League Update

Kicker: You get shut out as a team, and your kicker doesn't get any points, even if he has range out to 55. Rob Bironas and Jason Hanson will confirm that.

Wide Receiver: How's the Terrell Owens experience working out for the Bills? Also with 1 point were Michael Jenkins, Jerheme Urban, and rookie sensation Percy Harvin.

Running Back: Chester Taylor and Beanie Wells each had surpassed the eight-carry threshold to avoid the penalty this week but still couldn't accumulate 30 yards rushing. 2 points for them.

Quarterback: Poor Kerry Collins, -7 gross yards passing and an interception for -4 ties him with Jake Delhomme's Week 1 disaster, but doesn't even earn him low honors this week. That goes instead to Mark Sanchez and his fantabulous -5 points. The Bills may be bad, but they're still a big step up from the Pac-10.

Maybe Westbrook Took His Bucket?


Colbert Award: When you have one of the league's top teams and are playing one of the league's worst teams, boldness is not typically an ingredient in your coaching decisions -- at least early. Nobody told Andy Reid this week, though. Down 10-3 (which probably should have been 17-3 thanks to a marginal pass interference penalty negating an interception return for a touchdown), Reid sensed his team needed a wake-up call and went for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 29 in the middle of the second quarter. McNabb converted it on his own, and the Eagles drove down the field to marginal field-goal range. McNabb was then sacked on third down and Reid bypassed a 53-yard field-goal attempt. Well, the drive didn't work out, but it's the thought that counted.

Keep Chopping Wood: Having ruled out various members of other leagues and "everybody on the Tennessee Titans," the choice for Keep Chopping Wood is quite clear. Kerry Collins' 2-of-12 passing for -7 gross yards and an interception would probably be good for last in DYAR most weeks, but not this one. It was those five interceptions helped Mark Sanchez break the -200 DYAR threshold, as the Jets became the first team since the merger to rush for more than 320 yards and lose the game. Maybe Pete Carroll was right when he suggested Sanchez should've gone back for his senior year.

Mike Martz Award: When you have one of the league's top teams and are playing one of the league's worst teams, boldness is not typically an ingredient in your coaching decisions. Instead, you make an uncreative game plan that hammers on your opponent's biggest weakness. With the Oakland Raiders, that weakness is rush defense. Naturally, if you're Andy Reid, you drop back to pass five times as often as you hand the ball off to the running back, and get your quarterback sacked six times in the process. Oh, and you also call a time out with 2:02 left in the game when you need a third-down stop, giving the other team the option of passing or running with no penalty. Be bold and be smart, but if you have to pick one, be smart.

Scramble Mailbag

Matthew Kennerly: Bowe (@SD) and Michael freaking Crabtree (@HOU) are slated to be my starting WRs this week. Mark Clayton, J. Maclin and E. Bennett are among the FAs. Help, please.

Tom: I was down on Bowe from where KUBIAK had him, and the Giants game suggests that you can take him out of the game if you really try. San Diego is 26th against the pass, and 5/74/1 and 6/109 in the past two weeks have certainly been reasonable starting wide receiver numbers.

Mike: San Diego has no pass rush, which means their generally good corners just get left out to dry.

Tom: I'm not sure I'd go with "generally good," but I guess that's a fair assessment given the level of cornerback play. But yes, the lack of pass rush should give Cassel time to throw the ball, and Bowe's a good target.

Mike: The real concern is, can Cassel actually do it? He has hardly been impressive.

Tom: The past two weeks says he'll at least throw the ball to Bowe. It's about production of that player, not overall team quality.

Mike: True, and this is Norv we're talking about. He'll probably use this week to introduce his new "inverted" defense, where the defensive backs play on the line and the defensive linemen line up in coverage. As for team versus individual production, if Steven Jackson has taught us anything this year, it's that you can't necessarily separate the two.

Tom: Not completely, no, but I can't ignore how the matchup looks.

Mike: Yeah, I'd stick by Bowe.

Tom: Baltimore's on bye this week, so Clayton's not a very attractive option. Maclin's going against the Redskins, Bennett against the Bengals. Looking at the splits against different receivers we see that the Bengals have some odd splits -- ranked No. 3 against No. 1 wide receivers, No. 25 against No. 2 wide receivers, and No. 32 against other wide receivers.

Mike: Actually, going against the Bengals with a No. 1 may be more attractive now that Odom is gone, because with less of a pass rush double-teaming the No. 1 in coverage is much less effective. It's kind of a shame, because the Bengals have been really exciting this year, but I get the feeling that their defense is going to fall off a cliff.

Tom: Maclin's the kind of guy who could get open deep and win you a game on his own with a couple of touchdowns, or you could see him in the Loser League with two catches for 13 yards. We've mentioned before that consistent production is the key to winning.

Mike: Yes. Unless you have no other options, I can never advise guys like Maclin. It might work out for you, but if it does, it's always dumb luck.

Tom: Another option, if they're available, would be Collie or Garcon, as the Colts are taking on the Rams and, I'd imagine, will be throwing the ball with success.

Mike: Against the Rams, however, perhaps running with success. They may get drunk on this strange and new feeling.

Tom: I'm starting to feel like Peyton getting 300 yards has become something important. Five straight times to start the year. Thinking of guys beyond the ones he listed, I just can't go with Crabtree in his first game, even if he might end up starting.

Mike: If they're available (big if), I'd go with Lassie in a PPR league and Garcon otherwise.

y Myran: I need to start two of these running backs: Matt Forte, Thomas Jones (sat him last week, doh!), Marion Barber and Rashard Mendenhall. Leaning towards Barber against Atlanta and Jones against Oakland. Is Barber healthy after that bye week or is Choice going to steal carries and scores again?

Forte has been a bust as my top pick, but he does have a Cincinnati team that just allowed Slaton to get back on track. Mendenhall is studly, but he is going to run against that wall in Minnesota and he's not catching catching his way to victory like Ray Rice.

Mike: This is an easy choice. Mendenhall will be crushed by Minnesota's line. The Steelers' o-line is awful at run blocking, and he won't have a chance.

Tom: You watch the Stillers more than I do, so I'll take your word for it, although Mendenhall should be an attractive option going forward with Parker now officially No. 2.

Mike: Going forward, yes. Just not this week.

Tom: Watch the injury reports for Barber, but both he and Felix Jones may be back.

Mike: That presents its own problems, however, as I get the feeling that Choice is going to be getting a significant number of carries; Dallas has gone from duet to trio, and that's fantasy death.

Tom: Thomas Jones against the Raiders should be a good start.

Mike: Clearly. It really comes down to Forte or Barber.

Tom: The Bengals have at least shown signs of non-greatness in rush defense this past week, so Forte should be a good option.

Mike: I guess, but the Bears' o-line is really, really bad.

Tom: Barber's a good start only if he gets a touchdown. I feel like you're playing burner wide receiver-style roulette with him.

Mike: True. all right, I'm convinced. Forte and Jones, although don't expect too much from Forte.

Tom: I think you're undervaluing him a little, but I agree those are the two you start.

drobviousso: I need to pick two of Westbrook (@ Wash), DeAngelo Williams (vs Buf), and Thomas Jones (@ Oak) [and I guess Choice (vs Atl), but he's clearly #4]. I was shocked to see Washington was #4 vs the run, but they are #17 vs RB passing. I'm expected to win this week, so I'm looking for the highest minimum here, not highest potential. I'm leaning Williams and Westbrook, since Jones is kind of up and down, but he's got the better match up ...

Tom: If the key to success in fantasy football is matchups, this seems almost too easy. Buffalo is ranked No. 28 in rush defense DVOA, and just gave up 300 yards in rushing to the Jets. Oakland is ranked 26, and everybody except the Eagles have just pounded the ball against them with success.

Mike: The Eagles probably could have. They just, for some reason, chose not to.

Tom: You don't get genius points for running the ball. Westbrook's a fine player and all, but the matchups are so in your favor with the other two guys.

Mike: Agreed.

Tom: Now watch as Oakland has a defensive resurgence and the Redskins completely quit this week and roll over.

Mike: If we knew how games would go, we would be millionaires.

Tom: Why settle for millionaire when you could be a trillionaire?

Send us your questions at scramble-at-footballoutsiders.com. Please refrain from sending poor, sick or huddled masses. Our offices are far too small.

Posted by: Mike Kurtz and Tom Gower on 21 Oct 2009

31 comments, Last at 01 Sep 2010, 8:50am by uggs online


by Anonymous908752345 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/21/2009 - 6:35pm

I feel safe in saying that alot of the redskins success against the run came when Haynesworth was playing against the Giants. Now that he's gone, I think it's safe to say that people can run against them.

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/21/2009 - 6:42pm

Tom, Mike - I find it amusing that you'd have to debate for 'Y Myron' why barber may/may not be a good play ('Jones now healthy, Choice a solid carry-stelaing option) with lines like "Barber's only good for you if he scores," when there was an article just posted on FO indicating that Atlanta is leading the league in Red Zone DVOA.

Having said that - thanks for pulling the veil from New England's secret weapon. Is that Junior Seau?

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/21/2009 - 7:12pm

"Fed up with his aging secondary, "

I know its a satire piece, but do people still think the Patriots' defense is old? Its almost entirely guys under 27 right now.

The "aging secondary" is a pair of 23 YO cornerbacks (wilhite and butler) a 25 year old safety, and a 26 year old safety.

by nat :: Wed, 10/21/2009 - 8:03pm

That's what they want us to think!

I, for one, welcome our new short-armed defensive back overlords.

by Faux Lombardi (not verified) :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 3:45am

Springs and Bodden are still listed as the starters on the Pats website. 34 and 29. Do you reall ythink Wilhite and Butler have won those jobs?

Also: 55.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 10:10am

The Pats website is the website of the Patriots insider newsletter. Its not anything official.

Bodden and Wilhite are the real starters, with Butler pushing everyone. Bodden is what, 27?

by ABW (not verified) :: Wed, 10/21/2009 - 7:31pm

Those of us who read the comic that you grabbed the dinosaur image from are very happy to see it get referenced.

by Snowglare :: Wed, 10/21/2009 - 7:59pm

This is true.

by Salur (not verified) :: Wed, 10/21/2009 - 8:51pm

I will third the comment. Great comic.

by Emptyeye (not verified) :: Wed, 10/21/2009 - 10:41pm

And 4thed! Also loving the TV Tropes link and the Reid image.

by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 10/21/2009 - 8:04pm

Knew I recognized that dinosaur from somewhere.

by Bobman :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 12:01am

I don't, but love the title of that chart.

by jebmak :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 10:27am

Where in the world is it from? I recognize it, but can't place it.

by dmb :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 11:06am

Dinosaur Comics (www.qwantz.com).

by Snowglare :: Wed, 10/21/2009 - 8:05pm

How are fumbles scored in LL? The rules say "-2 points for each fumble or interception," and given FO's stance on fumble recoveries being random, I thought that meant any fumble would be a -2. But that would take an extra two points away from both Collins and Sanchez. Are fumbles only penalized if the other team recovers the ball?

Also, I'd like to throw in an honorable mention for Julius Jones, who pulled the penalty this week by gaining 5 yards on 5 carries and no catches. Seattle's commitment to the run and the commitment of anyone to Julius Jones are why he'll earn a place in the Loser League Hall of Mediocrity.

by Bobman :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 12:08am

As a Pirates fan who had a very enjoyable 1989-1991 (my Colts generally bit, so whatever) I suggest you adopt an AL team. I lived in NY and hated the Mets, plus Yankee Stadium was a short subway ride away, and if I ever wanted to speak to any members of my family in the summer, I better pick up the Yankee habit. So as the Pirates plunged into irrelevance in the early 90s, I bought season tix packages for an equally irrelevant Yankees team. (I should look up the winning % of the Pirates/Yanks/Colts from that era, just to prove how loyal/stupid a fan I am.) Yankees were sad, that is, until the arrival of Torre.

Moral of the story: when (if) the Yankees start to seriously fade, I'll know a Pirates resurgence is imminent.

by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 3:03pm

Look for the Pirates to be great for the next two weeks, then.

by JMM* (not verified) :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 9:04am

Maybe "Swagger" is a "0/1" digital variable. If both teams have it, it cancels with no advantage. If a team doesn't have it, they get blown out 59 -0.

by Steph :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 9:31am


I cordially, and respectfully invite you to be a Texan fan. Know that is difficult for an Oiler fan who stuck with Bud after the move, and it being in-division. And of course, it is no guarantee of more success.

However, at least you don't have Bud as your owner of your team which is an all time recipe for heartache and soul-eating despair. Starting the season wearing the Oiler throwbacks was certain to curse the Titans worse this year. It is best to let the Oiler derrick be relegated to history--Bud cursed the franchise.

I know you are likely going to stick with your team anyway, but I'd thought I give you the offer. Being a fan of Bud's team is not an easy thing to do. The real majority of old school Oiler fans, the ones that actually remember Earl, Luv Ya Blue, Run and Shoot, Stagger Lee(!), etc--those fans now root for the Texans. And the Texans honor a ton of those players--they are called Texans Ambassadors and come to Texans events and sign autographs for those people who actually remember them playing. The Texans had a Luv Ya Blue reunion with Bum Phillips, Elvin Bethea, Dr. Doom etc a few years ago--it was awesome.

If Earl rejects the Titans as holding Oiler history, well maybe it is okay for you to change your allegiance too.


by DMC :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 9:46am

Let's have a throwback game where the Titans and Texans both wear Oilers jerseys and fight it out for the rights to the franchise's history.

by Dice :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 11:51am

Almost enough to make me want to root for the Texans.

Is poster drunk?? - Raiderjoe

by DMC :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 9:38am

No, I wasn't drunk but think of the possibilities. Throwback Browns (Ravens) vs. Browns or Cardinals (St. Louis) vs Cardinals or Colts (Ravens) vs. Colts.

Maybe it's something they can schedule during the upcoming lockout as a promotional scheme.

by jebmak :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 10:23am

Why be a trillionaire when you can be a Gazillionaire?

Disclaimer: I never played this version, but I loved the original back in college.

by Independent George :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 10:29am

Is Jason still cartooning? I miss seeing his stuff in Scramble.

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 12:06pm

It was mentioned in a previous Scramble that Jason will be at most an irregular contributor this year.

by zlionsfan :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 11:31am

Certainly there are differing levels of misery, and it may not help to know that some franchises are worse off than your favorite franchise, but I think some of Tom's reaction may be due to high expectations.

The Titans are coming off a season in which they won more games than the Lions have ever won in a season. (Of course, it was the third time Tennessee managed that, so it may have seemed like old hat.) Ten years ago, they won as many playoff games in one year as the Lions have won in the last 55, and they played in one of those Super Bowl things the NFL seems to have in March or whenever.

And if things do bottom out and the Titans don't record a win this season, well, Mr. Ford has this to say: "First."

I don't mean to minimize what you're going through, Tom, and certainly I'm grateful to follow sports teams from a city that has had much more than its share of success over the last 25 years (especially if you throw in other leagues like the USFL, Arena League, and WNBA) ... but there are some of us who've been watching general ineptitude for much longer. And after all, right now it doesn't look like your team is even the worst in the league ... sigh ...

by dmb :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 12:27pm

Whenever I hear a fellow Washington fan allow themselves to start using hyperbole, I point out what Lions fans have had to suffer through. Followers of the Lions and the Clippers are the two fanbases that have had my sympathy for years. (I'm a Pirates fan, so it would be weird to give myself sympathy; otherwise, they'd probably be on that list, too.)

by Jerry :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 5:52pm

While the Pirates' last 17 years (and counting) have been awful, the 1990-1992 teams were genuinely good. And those of us who remember the '70s have good Pirate memories. Steelers, too, of course.

by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 3:11pm

How's this for misery - I've been an Eagles season ticket holder since I got a job out of college. My brother got Phillies tickets when they got the new ball park. What a dope says I, as the Phills have sucked forever and the birds are good every year. Flash forward to a World Series win, another on the way, and I'm still waiting for the Dear Leader/Coach for Life to stop having mid-season brain farts against the crappiest teams on the schedule.

by Tball (not verified) :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 11:58am

You're going to be surprised by a Redskins rollover? I'm predicting a roll over by Washington. I've read in a few places the wild success had by teams in their first game back from their bye. What I'm not reading is how many teams have chosen to role over in the weak before the bye. Tennessee. SF. Detroit. Arizona. Atlanta. Seattle Dallas needed OT over KC, as did Jax over the Rams.

Overall, teams starting a vacation are 8-10, but the 10 losses are by 214. Baltimore is the only team to lose and cover against the spread. Only 3 underdogs (11 of the 18 teams about to enter a bye have been underdogs) starting a vacation were able to cover the spread (Miami, Denver, Baltimore). SF is the only team favored in the week before their bye to fail to win.

Washington, TB, and KC, all have to be roll over candiates. NE and TB are facing off and both heading on a bye. Cinci will host the Bears before the bye. Pittsburg is the other bye team, favored hosting Peterson, Favre, & Associates.

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