Friday, September 26, 2008

NFL Week 4: The Picks and a Look at the Real Losers So Far

Ravens Face Reality Check in Pittsburgh with Ray-Ray Ready to Play!!!
The NFL is closing in on the end of the first quarter of the 2008 season as most teams will have completed four of sixteen games this week. We'll wait until every team has four games in the book to review the season so far, but there are a few items that deserve advance notice.

The big earthquake in the NFL so far is Tom Brady’s loss for the season in New England. It’s starting to look like the two big AFC powerhouses, New England and Indianapolis are not headed to those 13-3, 14-2, or 15-1 seasons they’ve been able to achieve recently. Perhaps the top AFC team will finish with 12-4. This scenario gives at least a six pack of victories to distribute around the rest of the field, and soon we’ll see what teams are benefitting. Baltimore, Tennessee, Buffalo, and Denver are all undefeated.

Perhaps the second biggest story besides Tom Brady going down in New England is what’s going on at the opposite end of the scale. In the professional sport that does more to promote parity than any other sport, there are a handful of absolutely terrible teams: Detroit, Oakland, Kansas City, St. Louis and Cincinnati. Cleveland might be 0-3, but they were expected to contend and their failure is not the result of the kind of incompetence and baffling blunders that brought the other programs down.

Detroit FINALLY parted ways with GM/CEO Matt Millen. Fans in the Motor City have been screaming for his head for years. Given the high draft picks returning nothing on the field is but one reason for the Lions’ misery. Truthfully, over the long haul, what professional team has been more consistently terrible than the Detroit Lions who have defined mediocrity and losing for fifty years, half a century. Only in 1991, during that entire span, have the Lions ever gone further than the first round. Were it not for running back, Barry Sanders, brilliant career, what would have Detroit fans had to cheer for at all?

Skies are dark in the land of black and silver. Head coach, Lane Kiffen, has been blind-folded with his hands tied behind his back all season long. The ever impulsive owner, Al Davis, hasn’t dumped him yet, but despite having some talent in some areas, it’s pandemonium in the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay. Oakland did beat Kansas City who is also on this list and took the uprising Buffalo Bills to the limit only to lose, but the team is in chaos.

Kansas City is 0-3. Three games, three different quarterbacks start, Brodie Croyle, Damon Huard, and Tyler Thigpen have one loss each. So when does second year powerhouse, Ingle Martin, from Furman start one? Kansas City has been falling apart for several years now. Chiefs’ fans need to see some signs that there is a plan for the future in the games that lie head. They’re a mess.

On the east side of Missouri, find another miserable team, the St. Louis Rams. A team that once boasted the “Greatest Show on Turf” just a little while ago has fallen on hard times. Their defense is pathetic.Their offense did not reach the “red zone” until week 3. No team has scored fewer points or given up more than the Rams. Their answer, blame the quarterback as Marc Bulger sits in favor the oft-injured staggering veteran, Trent Green.

Cincinnati is on the scrapheap too. Should they beat Cleveland, that will help pull them out of this shameful company, but the Bengals are sailing a ship with out a rudder in stormy seas. Coach Marvin Lewis has seldom been able to show his ability as a head coach as his job description has become more that of baby sitter and probation officer. Look at all the Cincinnati players who’ve been in trouble with the law. Chad Johnson continues his self-serving comedy show disrupting any kind of team concept since in his world, there is Chad or Stinko or whatever and the rest of the world. Players openly criticize their talented leader, Carson Palmer. Marvin Lewis will be the fall guy, a sad fate for a good man, but owners don’t fire themselves and few owners have been less willing to invest in the quality on the field. You get what you pay for.

Now for the games. We did a nice job for week one and three. However, on the college end of things, we’ve already lost one, USC getting bombed at Oregon State, so how will we do with the (BOOM, BOOM, BOOM) National Football League!!!

We’ll start with this week’s “Toilet Bowl.” It’s Cleveland visiting the Cincinnati Bengals who are favored by 3 ½. The heck with the odds makers, Cleveland wins this.

Houston visits Jacksonville who’s favored by 7 ½. This one is the Jaguars all the way.

Denver is a 9 point favorite at Kansas City. Just nine points! Denver walks away winning big.

Atlanta visits Carolina with the home team favored by a touchdown. Yes, Carolina will win by at least a touchdown. It was fun writing about the scrapheap and NOT including Atlanta. They’re better than expected but not good enough for division foes up I-85.

Arizona visits the Meadowlands to face the 2 ½ point favored Jets. Brett Favre and the boys will win this one.

San Francisco visits New Orleans with the Saints favored by six. No upset brewing here. The Saints will have San Fran’s number.

Green Bay visits Tampa Bay down by 1 ½ points perhaps largely due to the home field advantage. Still, Green Bay’s good enough to beat the slight odds and win.

Minnesota goes to Music City where they are expect to lose by a field goal to the Tennessee Titans. The Vikings will leave Nashville with an “Achy Breaky Heart” with the Tennessee defense doing the two-step all over the Minnesota offense.

San Diego goes into Oakland where they’re only favored to win by 8 points. It doesn’t take a brain to see the Raiders going down the drain. San Diego covers the spread and wins big. They’re ready to punish somebody for their first two weeks.

Buffalo visits the land of confusion, favored by 8 to beat the Rams. No problem. If St. Louis has cheerleaders, they’d better stay home. They might have to put on pads and fight.

Washington goes to division rival, Dallas, down by 11 ½. The word to our friends down the road is take your ass whoopin’ and don’t get any injuries. The Skins aren’t ready to do battle against the stacked Cowboys in Texas.

Philadelphia is starting to get respect as one of the country’s top teams. Favored by 3 ½, a convincing win on the road against the Bears will prove it.

Finally, our Baltimore Ravens visit the Pittsburgh Pickle Jar to battle the Steelers who are favored by a touchdown on Monday Night Football. Pittsburgh has dominated Monday night for years as if that spot in the schedule makes a big difference. Willie Parker is hurt and whose defense masters stopping the run? Pittsburgh got roughed up in a tough loss to Philadelphia. The Ravens lack of experience on offense with rookie QB, Joe Flacco, will be tested harshly on one of the nastiest home fields in all of the NFL. Special teams could make the difference and the Ravens are a very tricky team in that facet of the game. Still strange things happen on the open end of that stadium when a sure bet field goal might not be. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Bart Scott, Terrell Suggs, and the Ravens defense will run this game relishing a sweet victory on the field named for the company made famous for mustard and catsup.

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