Monday, October 31, 2011

The Depths of the Madden Curse

What once was reserved for a single player, the Madden Curse has seemed to out done itself this year. Whether it’s the new CBA or Al Davis’ death, something has taken the curse to the next level. Let’s take a look at all the strange things that have happened.
We’ll start with the man of the hour: Peyton Hillis.

I’ve followed the Peyton Hillis saga for a long time now. I remember him running for 300 yards on 20 consecutive runs up the middle against my high school team. I remember him threatening to transfer after his sophomore year because they wanted to move him to Linebacker. I remember him threatening to transfer after his junior year because we were giving the ball to Darren McFadden and Felix Jones instead. I remember rumors of a “quota” system, which made sure that Peyton got a certain number of touches each game.

So it’s no surprise to me when Peyton decides to start sitting out football games because he doesn’t think he gets paid enough. As Chris Johnson showed, anytime you have a chance to pay a running back after having a career/unrepeatable year, you have to do it.
But usually that’s when Madden leaves these guys alone. They miss a few games, have a terrible fantasy season, start misbehaving, and essentially disappoint.
But how do you explain the rest of these?

Peyton Manning/Sean Payton – One Peyton apparently wasn’t enough. The other two famous Pe/ayton’s had to fall as well. Manning’s injury essentially ended their season and made Curtis Painter the star of late night football this year. Sean Payton was bold enough to try to play through the pain, and look what happened (with that game essentially handing Andrew Luck to, you guessed it….the Colts. To replace Manning.) This is out of control.

Darren McFadden and Felix Jones – The curse also made it’s way to Peyton’s college teammates. Darren’s having an incredible season, but they’ve ruined this season, and the next 5 seasons with possibly the worst trade of all time. Felix Jones on the other hand can’t stay healthy, and plays with Tony Romo. Poor kid.

Tim Tebow – Finally, the curse seems to have landed on our dear friend Timothy Tebow. I guess the Madden gods wanted to make sure we’d never see a white fullback on the cover again. Despite his comeback win against the Dolphins (because he’s the only QB that could ever come back against the Dolphins), he proved once and for all that he’s the absolute worst quarterback in the history of football. Looks like God doesn’t care about football afterall.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Chicks dig not wearing sleeves...and knee braces.

300 is a great movie. Everyone who watches it wants to relate to the Spartans, but they have few outlets to prove their toughness. Standing outside in cold weather without a jacket is one of the few remaining outlets. However, we are, in fact, not Spartans. Based on a particularly subjective cost-benefit analysis, playing and watching sports underdressed in bad weather is a poor method of proving toughness.

There is a cost to both athletes and fans for being underdressed: being uncomfortable. Warmth is on the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, right next to sex, food, and sleep. Living without something on the bottom of the pyramid is tough, and it doesn’t make sense for a rational human to deprive himself of a fundamental need by choice. Further, being cold hurts on-field performance and makes one more prone to sickness.

The more interesting side of the analysis is the lack of any benefit for almost everyone that does it. Flexibility in cold weather gear is no longer an issue. If you’re a defensive lineman and playing without sleeves helps you play with a sense of urgency and desire to make the other team go three-and-out on every possession, then go for it, but looking tough to intimidate your opponent is a dubious motive without benefit. However, a few athletes monetize their toughness with endorsements, but endorsements and linemen don't have much of a history. For the fan and non-professional athlete, despite their beliefs of what impresses girls, the benefit is all in personal satisfaction, and it is likely that the cost outweighs this benefit.

For all of the people that don’t like wearing a shirt when it’s cold out, it turns out there is a way they can actually get monetary benefit out of it. They could stop using air conditioning and heating, save hundreds in bills, reduce their carbon footprint, and date someone who cares about the environment. If there is so little personal cost to being cold that they can do it with minimal benefit, they should do it when there actually is a benefit as well.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Man Possessed: Is Al Davis’ Spirit Occupying Darrius Heyward-Bey?

On October 8th, 2011, long-time Raiders owner and NFL innovator Al Davis passed away at the age of 82.  His greatest accomplishments include helping to guide the AFL towards a merger with the NFL, winning three Super Bowls (XI, XV, and XVIII) and defying all odds by living as a skeleton long after his blood had evaporated and organs dried up.  Arguably his greatest defeat was the drafting of Darrius Heyward-Bey 7th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft.  After a less than historic college career, Heyward-Bey decided against returning to Maryland for his senior season, running a blistering 4.3 40-yard dash during the NFL Combine but falling behind other receivers (Jeremy Maclin and Michael Crabtree, among others) on the draft boards of many NFL general managers and draft “experts”.  But collecting speed had always been a hobby of Al’s, and on draft day the Raider’s owner made Darrius a Raider faster than anyone could say "Heyward-Bey".  

Sadly, Darrius was not an instant success in the Raider’s offense, entering this season with a Yards Per Game average of less than 20.  This means that, although he would’ve led the NFL in receiving in 1920, by modern day standards his output had been less than stellar.  While unfortunate, his struggles were not unexpected, and the vast majority of the football establishment appeared to have left him “for dead”.  But not Al Davis.

On October 9th, the day after Al Davis died, Heyward-Bey exploded against the Patriots with 99 yards receiving and his first touchdown of the year (tying a career high for touchdowns in a season).  He has followed this game with two consecutive games with at least five receptions and 80 yards receiving, a bright spot amidst an increasingly dark outlook for the Raiders season.  What has changed to make this possible?  We know that Darrius is no faster, stronger, or more well endowed with names on names on names.  The only measurable difference is the absence of one skeletal man in his life – Al Davis.

It seems fair to say that Al Davis has dabbled in the dark arts, and equally fair to propose that Al Davis would seize any opportunity to prove naysayers wrong yet again.  What better opportunity than to occupy the body of Darrius Heyward-Bey?  In one fell swoop, Davis took over a body that has speed, strength, and more surnames than he ever had, and gained the chance to stick it to his detractors one final time.  It’s not as though having Kyle Boller or Old Carson Palmer throwing the ball has ever resuscitated anyone’s career, and Heyward-Bey’s sudden emergence can’t just be chalked up to performance enhancing drugs – Darrius’ only problem was his hands, and could the fastest player on the Raiders take amphetamines to improve his coordination?  Wouldn’t his heart explode?

Ultimately without the help of professionals, it will be impossible to determine whether or not Darrius Heyward-Bey has been possessed by the spirit of Al Davis.  But when Heyward-Bey starts slicking his hair back, wearing glasses on a chain and talking like a real New Yorker, don’t be surprised.

Joe Silvestro is a regular contributor to Sports Casual, check back every Funday Friday for his witticisms concerning the Wide World of Sports.  Email him at

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On Like Ndamukong

In honor of the XFL's 10 year anniversary, I think it's only right that we honor the greatest idea in XFL history: the scramble.

The coin toss is boring and outdated. Why should we use luck to determine who gets the ball first? Let's make them earn that decision. After thinking of the possibilities, I decided to rank the top 5 potential matchups in the scramble.

(honorable mention players: Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, Ray Lewis, Suggs, Suh, Ware, Peppers, Blount, and LeBron James)

5) Chris Johnson vs. Desean Jackson - We'll finally get to know who really is the fastest player in the NFL. Only downside, this will probably be over in about 4.25 seconds, and neither player likes contact. Here's hoping for a photo finish.

4) Darrelle Revis vs. an average NFL receiver - I just want to see how long it takes the receiver to get off the line. Revis may just jam him for a few hours, until the receiver gives up and Revis can just walk to the ball.

3) Vince Wilfork vs. Haloti Ngata - I vote that for this one, we have them start on opposite sides of the ball and we give both of them a running start. I actually have no idea how this one will end, but it's safe to say that the ball would be in severe danger for this event. So many possibilities, even Bill Belichick won't know what's going to happen.

2) Eli vs. Peyton Manning - If I were commissioner of the NFL, I would make it a rule that brothers would have to compete in this. Especially when both are slow and white. This might take forever, and every dirty trick will be used. Eventually, both players would forget about the ball and just start fighting. Maybe, Curtis Painter and Curtis Painter's hair would even tag in to get a few punches in. Maybe this one should've been number 1.

1) Ed Reed vs. Troy Polomalu - I probably should've chosen two linebackers for this, since they tend to be the most vicious players in the NFL. But something really intrigues me about this matchup. These two improvise more than any other player in the league, and that's why we watch. We don't want to see the game go the way it's planned. We want to see something never seen before. We want to see a future Top 10 play. We want Larry Bird deciding to only shoot with his left hands, because he's bored. Ed Reed and Troy Polomalu would be such a great battle. I can't believe we're wasting our time with a coin toss.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Year Of The Kicker

Forget all the talk about this year being the "Year of the Quarterback." Curtis Painter, Matt Moore, John Beck, Charlie Whitehurst, and Kevin Kolb would beg to differ. No, this year is all about the man with the golden boot.

Going into week eight, there are five guys who have made 100% of their field gold attempts. 19 kickers have a long of 50 yards or more. When offenses cross the 40 yard line, coaches can feel confident that they have secured three points (unless, of course, one of the aforementioned quarterbacks turns the ball over).

Josh Scobee is the best player on the Jaguars' roster. He's 14 for 14 this year and 5 for 5 from 50+ yards. And lest we forget the Raiders' big leg. Oakland had better get Sebastian Janikowski back soon, because he is absolutely killing the ball. He's 12 for 13 this year and 5 for 6 from 50+ yards. Of course, one of those long-distance field goals was a 63-yarder, tying the NFL record. (It would have been good from 65).

Kickers have been doing more than just driving the ball straight and far. Check out this big hit from Neil Rackers, if you haven't seen in already.

Why are we seeing so many long field goals in the NFL this year? Many fans will attribute the increased kick power to widespread use of HGH. They may very well be right. But I'd rather look the other way on that one. Let's chalk it up to better training and conditioning and simply enjoy watching the ball sail through the uprights.

It's up, and it's GOOD.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Man, The Legend, The Machine

With game 5 of the World Series recently underway and the baseball season nearing completion, there are just a few quick baseball related issues that I have to get off my chest.

This is not a best of 3 series. Yes, I understand that when two teams are tied 2-2 in a 7-game series, one may look at the remaining games and conclude that you only need to win two of the next three to win the title. THIS DOES NOT MAKE IT A 3 GAME SERIES. Anybody can look at the series scores and see for himself that both teams remain two games from elimination. Even those of us who have majored in social sciences can still recognize that 7 minus 4 is 3. I can understand that an announcer would want to make a reference to this fabled “3 game series” as a cute way of varying up his commentary, but stop saying it every other goddamn sentence. This is making ESPN and Fox even more un-watchable.

That was enough of a rant, now on to the heart of this article. Albert “Motherfuckin’” Pujols. The man, the legend, the machine. It is impossible to praise him enough. As if ten straight seasons of unparalleled excellence and remarkable consistency were not enough, he had to go ahead and affix his name to a whole assortment of postseason records. With his 3-homerun performance in game three, Pujols engraved his name even deeper in the record books. The feat was enough to tie him with both Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson as the only men who have hit three homeruns in a World Series game.

Furthermore, he is now in the mix for a number of other records for a single postseason. While a few games still remain in this postseason, Pujols has already racked up 23 hits (only 2 behind the leader), 45 total bases (only 2 behind the leader), 7 doubles (good for first place all time), and 16 RBIs (only 3 behind the leader). (All numbers courtesy of BR) With several games left, one has to believe that several of these records are within his grasp.

The question now becomes, how do you reward someone for these accomplishments? While Pujols had a bit of a “down” season this year by his standards, hitting below .300 and with fewer than 100 RBIs for the first time in his eleven year career. While this was an off year for him, he still managed to walk more times than he struck out, and he still belted 37 homeruns, good for third in the MLB. Over the course of his career, he has reached base 42% of the time, while hitting just over 40 homeruns per year. He also holds an on-base plus slugging percentage roughly 70% higher than the league average during the same time. Meanwhile, he managed to pull out a sneaky World Series win back in 2006, putting his team on his back and silently carrying a team that did not have any other real star power. All of this means that his payday this offseason will indeed be monstrous.

He is probably the best professional hitter since Ted Williams, with leadership skills and consistency to boot. How does a team put a price tag on that? In a bigger market, his proven ability to bring in wins could demand another record, this time not in hits and walks, but in dollars. When St Louis makes a bid for his services, he will have to ask what his legacy and integrity mean to him. He should think hard about this one, and come up with an exact dollar amount. Because odds are that there is a team willing to pay for his integrity and give him a generous signing bonus on top of it. I sympathize with the protesters down on Wall Street, but there is a whole new tier of earners. If people are this upset with the 1%, I can't imagine how pissed they'll be when they familiarize themselves with "Pujols money." The man is his own tier.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tweets of the day

Here are some of the best tweets of the day from around the NFL. Enjoy!

Faux John Madden: Dez Bryant just did the LeBron powder toss for his TD celebration. It doesn't add up though because Dez scored in the 4th quarter

Faux John Madden: This was such a great week to start Kyle Boller in my points per incompletion fantasy league.

Faux John Madden: It's early in his career, but Christian Ponder is really developing good chemistry with Charles Woodson.

Bill Simmons: Kansas City's offense is trying to get off the field as quickly as possible so Palmer can get the ball back. This is the game of the year.

Sportspickle: Dolphins 6, Broncos 0. I'm losing a lot of respect for Tony Sparano with the way he's running up the score.

Darren Rovell: Dollars made per rushing yard today: Arian Foster ($269/yard) vs. Chris Johnson ($42,483/yard)

Faux John Madden: Love the shot of Dolphins fans cheering like crazy as Denver FG goes through to win the game #SuckForLuck

Matthew Berry: Hahaha RT @2p2TrollCat: @MatthewBerryTMR Raiders just offered their remaining picks in 2013 and their No.1 pick in 2014 for Donovan McNabb.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Suck for Luck

I remember when I used to root for a team that was out of
playoff contention by week 7, but those days are gone. Fitzmagic.

Andrew Luck said he thinks “it’s stupid. Simply Put” that NFL teams would lose on purpose to draft him. Well, Andrew, I think it’s stupid that you passed on 30 million guaranteed to get an education that will prove meaningless. You’re already too famous to get a job based on merit. I hope you took out a huge insurance policy. Despite Luck's public opinion, "Suck for Luck" is the only way a hardworking American would approach this situation.

The NFL has a few socialist practices necessary to keep competitive balance. The system of central planning and redistribution of income includes a reverse order draft, sharing national revenue equally, and sharing parts of traditionally local revenue, like tickets sales and playoff revenue. You can’t put the most American of Americans in an exploitable situation and expect them not to exploit it. The bottom dwellers of the MLB know how to play the system, so why can't NFL teams do the same?

From the fan’s perspective, each season is Super Bowl or bust; only one city has a parade. Once the Bills can’t make the playoffs (week 8 in 2010), I start rooting for them to lose all of their games to get a better draft pick and hopefully be better the next year. The best case scenario is that they lose very close games to very good teams; it makes it easier to be optimistic next year. The players can get in on it too, and then just blame God for their poor performances. God, Stevie, whomever, thank you for Marcell Dareus.

People that don’t understand the concept of how losing could be beneficial (little kids just aren't quite able to understand it yet) argue that it’s not worthwhile to lose on purpose because it might not work out. Yes, it’s possible that Luck could be the next Ryan Leaf. It’s also possible that a pair of aces is outdrawn by 2-3 offsuit; you take your chances with aces against 2-3 offsuit because it has enormous expected value- it is profitable in the long run. There could be a 10% chance that Luck is a complete bust, but the very high probability that he is a franchise quarterback makes it worthwhile to lose to draft him.

As often as teams stick to the status quo of trying to win every game, doing everything you can within the rules to improve your situation could be the better move. Beyond losing for a better draft pick, if you do well enough in the regular season to lose on purpose to influence the playoff field, take advantage of it. It won’t always work out, and people will judge on results even though it was the right move. An 80% chance of winning your quarterfinal is more attractive than a 60% chance, but you look dumb if you lose on purpose and then lose like you’re expected to 20% of the time. Certainly, a 90% chance of Luck being the next Peyton Manning is more attractive than a 100% chance of Chad Henne being terrible. There is no jinx to choosing your destiny: Sweden’s ice hockey team lost on purpose in their last round robin game of the 2006 Olympics to play Switzerland in the next round. Do you know what happened to the team that suddenly got everything they always wanted? They lived happily ever after, with CDs made out of gold.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quarterback Carousel

It's been a wild week on depth charts around the NFL. While no teams have hit the proverbial panic button quite yet, many are close. Of the teams that have struggled in the past, some are struggling still, while others are looking to make a playoff push. Either way, basement-dwellers of previous years are looking to secure more wins this season and are shaking things up at the QB position.

Denver Broncos (Tebow in, Orton out)

As far as I can tell, this is a win-win. Broncos fans finally get to see the quarterback they've been clamoring for, the man with the plan, the Messiah. The other 31 teams will certainly welcome the new era of futility that is about to begin in Denver. The Dolphins will get their first win of the season on Sunday, but no one in Denver will care because Tim Tebow will break down and cry at the press conference.

Washington Redskins (Beck in, Grossman out)

Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place. Rex Grossman is (lest we forget) and former Super Bowl starting quarterback, but his propensity - nay, insistance - to generously donate possession of the football to opposing teams is certainly hindering the Redskins' attempt to finally be relevant. On the other hand, Washington is trading in a QB who has thrown 46 career touchdowns for a guy who, despite being in the league since 2007, has thrown just 1. Oh, and did I mention his 3 INTs and 6 fumbles? In a weird way, it almost makes Skins fans miss Jason Campbell.

(Wow, great segway.)

Oakland Raiders (Palmer in via trade, Campbell broken in half)

With Jason Campbell on the shelf for the foreseeable future, Oakland decided to make a splash and trade for "retired" quarterback Carson Palmer. The idea was a good one, but the price that Oakland paid is exorbitant. The Raiders are giving up at least and first- and second-round draft pick, AND they are still on the hook for Palmer's salary ($7.44 million of prorated money this year, $11.5 million next year, $11.5 million in 2013, and $13 million in 2014). Can't even blame Al Davis for this one (too soon?). All Oakland really needs is a guy who can throw slants and screens and hand the ball off (a guy like, say, Jason Campbell). Let's hope the Raiders make a playoff run this year, or the trade will be a huge mistake.

Minnesota Vikings (Ponder in, McNabb out)

Who cares, really. This season is over for Minnesota. This move will probably mark the end of McNabb's time as an NFL starter, which is quite sad, given his impressive body of work. Ponder has a lot to prove as the 2011 Draft reach, but it will be hard to learn about the quarterback when the rest of the team is struggling so much.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Super Bowl Shuffle

For all you current and future gamblers, let's run down the best Super Bowl bets at this point in the season. I wrote this article a few days ago, and I refuse to use the updated odds because then I have to rewrite the entire article. So, I apologize if the numbers have changed.
Let’s immediately take out every teams that have no chance: Arizona, Carolina, Cleveland, Denver, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Miami, Minnesota, Seattle, St. Louis.

Now remember, the key is to look for the best values. The team you pick doesn’t necessarily need to win the Super Bowl. They just need to get close enough where you can start hedging and guarantee some money coming into your bank account. With that said, I’m taking out the three teams with the highest odds (New England 4:1, Packers 5:2, and Baltimore 7:1), because I just don’t like getting that little return on what is a long shot for every team at this point.

Before I get to my rankings, I want to point out things I’m looking for.

Quarterback play: The average fan will split quarteback into two groups: those who can win a Super Bowl, and those who will never win a Super Bowl. The first group is made up of Brady, Rogers, Big Ben, and few others while the second is made up of Jason Campbell, Hasselbeck, Chad Henne, Kyle Orton and hundreds more. However, I think there is a third group that no one ever talks about: Quartebacks who are capable of getting hot for a few months and stealing a Super Bowl. Think Eli Manning. In order to find the most value, I look for these high-potential inconsistent quarterbacks.

Dominant pass rusher: If you’re going deep into the playoffs, you’re going to play against the top QBs. Everyone knows the best way to beat those types of QBs is to get pressure on them. Clay Matthews was just as valuable as Aaron Rodgers last postseason.

Running backs are overrated: Yes, you do need a threat in the running game, but an average running game will suffice. Star running backs just don’t seem to ever win Super Bowls.

Let’s get on with the rankings. In reverse order.

(Just missed the cut: San Franciso 15:1 – potential 1st round bye, but I have strict rule to never bet on Alex Smith)

5) Philadelphia Eagles 20:1 – These odds would be better, if it weren’t for Philadelphia being so hyped in the pre-season. I don’t really like their team, but there is no denying the talent. I think they actually matchup really well with the Packers and Saints with all of their cornerbacks. The way to beat the Eagles is to hit them in the mouth and run it right up the middle. Brees and Rodgers like to spread it out a bit more, and don’t have the most intimidating rushing attack. I’m skeptical of the Eagles even making the playoffs, but if they do, I think they are a very dangerous team. Also, Trent Cole (when he gets healthy) is an absolute beast.

4) Houston Texans: 20:1 – Edit: I forgot Mario Williams is out for the season. This is now a terrible bet. Let's roll the dice on St. Louis at 1000:1 odds.

3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 40:1 – Josh Freeman has an incredible amount of talent, and for some reason only plays like it in crunch time. I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I’m a believer. I actually put him in the “will win a Super Bowl” category. They certainly have issues, but out of all the teams I thought could conceivably win, they had the longest odds. Blount is my type of playoff back (not a flashy guy, but converts those crucial 4th and 1s and 3rd and 2s). Think they’re D is pretty solid. If we played this season 40 times, do the Bucs pull out one Super Bowl? I say yes, and they would do it as a wild card team.

2) New Orleans Saints 12:1 – My Super Bowl favorites. Secretly the best offseason with the additions of Sproles and Kreutz while suring up that defensive line. I think Sean Payton is the best playcaller in the game (and the toughest!), I still love Mark Ingram, they have a star in the making at tight end, and the defense is a lot better than you think. What concerns me? I actually worry a little about Drew Brees. He was spectacular in their Super Bowl run, but I think he’s taken a step back since then. He definitely didn’t end the year strong last year, and he’s had a few shaky performances this year as well. If he gets it together (I think he will), then I think 12:1 is a steal.

1) Dallas Cowboys 30:1 – This is not a joke. Seriously. Stop laughing. The Cowboys have serious talent. They have the best receiver duo in the NFL (with Wes Welker/Aaron Hernandez being the only argument I’ll listen too) in Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. Arguably the best defensive player in the NFL in Demarcus Ware and a defense that did a surprisingly great job against the Pats. An improving offensive line with a rookie tackle who will only get better as the year goes on. I like Felix Jones more than most (yes, I’m biased). Jason Witten is as solid as they come. Jerry Jones has been relatively quiet for once. So what’s the issue? How are these odds so long?

The Romocoaster. I bashed this guy for years. I grew up in Arkansas where everyone loved the Cowboys, so I passionately rooted against him. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see someone fail. All the arguments that are made against him were my arguments I made for years. So I get what you’re saying. But be honest….weren’t we saying all these same things about Eli before he won? That he threw interceptions at the worst moments? That he may have thrown for a ton of yards, but he just couldn’t make the important plays when it mattered most? Has the hate on Romo gone too far? Do the Cowboys really have the same odds as the John Beck-led Redskins and the Matt Ryan-led Falcons, and worse odds than Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mark Sanchez, and Eli Manning (his type don’t win Super Bowls twice. Plus, look at that Schedule). Why are we so sure Joe Flacco can win a Super Bowl? Are you telling me that if we played this season from here on out 30 times, the Cowboys wouldn’t win once? Sure they would lose several of them in horrific fashion, but not every time. I think the Romocoaster is the perfect nickname, because it reminds us that he does have the potential to play at an extremely high level. If he can just stay high enough for long enough in January, then I can bet the house on the Patriots to beat the Cowboys in the Super Bowl, and I'll guarantee that I win some money either way. Win-Win.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It Is High, It Is Far, It Is... Caught By the Second Baseman

This was a weekend of mixed emotions around the NFL. While everyone enjoys watching Rex Grossman get pulled at the half after delivering one of his patented 4 interception games, it is always painful to watch the Fitzmagic fall short. I am currently on edge because my gritty fantasy squad of "Revis Saves" is currently trailing its matchup by 0.25 points, and need Plaxico Burress (it's a deep league) and Calvin Pace (OK, it's a REALLY fucking deep league) to combine for more than 0.5 points. However, last night was ultimately salvaged by the Cardinals win over the Brewers in game 6 of the NLCS. It's not that I'm a Cards fan, I am merely a fan of teams that clinch on the road. I watched the crowd in Milwaukee sit in stunned silence for a good 10 minutes last night, and thoroughly enjoyed the cutaway shots to small children openly weeping at their bloodied and beaten corpse of a team. And so I'm going to put the roller coaster football weekend aside for a moment to discuss that other sport that's going on right now (No it's not hockey, and fuck you for even thinking it).

One month ago, it seemed as though all the big market teams were going to cruise through the season and were destined to meet in the playoffs. A World Series matchup of the Phillies and the Yanks / Red Sox seemed inevitable then, and many fans are still scratching their heads over the quick turnaround. While the number one (Yankees) and number two (Phillies) spending teams managed to buy enough wins to reign over their respective conferences, both these teams were shocked in the LDS by underpaid underdogs. Of the four teams that advanced to the LCS, the Tigers spent the most, standing in at 10th in the majors. Of the two remaining teams, the Cardinals are 11th and the Rangers are 13th.

While teams like the Yankees and the Sox always seem to have enough wins to advance to the regular season (except for this year), the postseason is a different story. The team that won it all last year did so with terrible free agent acquisitions. The 2010 San Francisco Giants managed to win it all when their 4 highest paid players were: Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand, Edgar Renteria, and Pat Burrell. Overcoming massive blunders like those is quite the feat. Their 4 highest paid players from last year: didn't make the postseason roster, was designated for assignment and subsequently released earlier this year, and are Edgar Renteria and Pat Burrell.

This year's teams didn't make blunders as costly as those, but they did manage to win with low-cost moves, and smart, savvy decision-making up top. The St Louis Cardinals managed to solidify the middle of their lineup by bringing in a washed-up Lance Berkman, and secured the back of their rotation after trading away a budding young star in Colby Rasmus for Edwin "How is he pitching this well" Jackson.

However, it's the Rangers' moves that have impressed me the most. After bringing up a stable of young pitchers through trades and their farm system, they decided to go all in on offense. After the 2010 season, they were sitting pretty with a very potent offense. Instead of being complacent, the Rangers set goals and achieved them. By pursuing Mike Napoli and Adrian Beltre, the Rangers created a lineup that does not have a weak spot from the 1 to the 9, and these two additions managed to combine for 62 home runs and 180 RBIs (despite Napoli's injury-plagued season).

No analyst would have predicted a Cardinals-Rangers World Series back in March, but I'm glad to see that parity endures. It's impossible to predict which direction the league will move in the upcoming years, but this has been the year of the small(er)-market teams and I, for one, am glad to see it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Notes around the NFL

Panthers at Falcons

Cam Newton finally had a pretty bad game, throwing three interceptions. The Panthers have to be ecstatic that it took this long for Cam to have a bad game…Michael Turner is an absolute beast, rushing for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns, but it was the way that he was using the truck stick and running people over that looked so impressive…What’s up with Roddy White? He’s been a tremendous disappointment this year after his amazing season last year.

Indianapolis at Cincinnati

The Bengals are a respectable 4-2 after beating the Colts, who maintain pace for the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. I haven’t gotten to see the Bengals play very much, but this kid A.J. Green looks special. At 6-4, 207 pounds, could Green be the next Calvin Johnson?

San Francisco at Detroit

This was the game of the week, as San Fran moves to 5-1 after beating the previously unbeaten Detroit Lions, who are now 5-1 as well. Frank Gore rushed all over the Lions, totaling 141 yards while Jahvid Best rushed for a grant total of 37 yards. San Francisco had 5 sacks while the uber-talented pass rushers of the Lions only totaled 2 sacks. It’s clear who won the battle of the trenches in this game, and the winner of that battle normally wins the game.

St. Louis at Green Bay

At this point, you have to wonder if Green Bay is going to lose this season. Granted, they beat a winless Rams team, but it just doesn’t appear to be any answer for Aaron Rodgers and his bevy of receivers, even if they can’t run the ball.

Buffalo at New York Giants

As I mentioned last week, when the Giants don’t turn the ball over, they can be as good as any team in the league. They beat a very good Bills team with a field goal very late in the game. Eli Manning looked good and Ahmad Bradshaw backed up his talk of wanting more carries by running for 104 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh

Is Jacksonville better than we thought, or is Pittsburgh just very inconsistent? After taking a 17-3 halftime lead, the Steelers allowed 10 unanswered points to make it a close 17-13 game. Rashard Mendenhall came back from injury and rushed a more than respectable 146 yards. While Big Ben didn’t throw 5 touchdowns like last week, he didn’t have a single turnover.

Philadelphia at Washington

The Eagles bounce back with a win against a division rival. Let’s be honest, this was probably a must win game for the Eagles; they couldn’t afford to go to 1-5. And yet, I’m still surprised they didn’t play better. They scored 20 points in the first half but didn’t score a single point after halftime. Andy Reid took my advice and finally let LeSean McCoy carry the team, letting him run the ball 28 times. McCoy running the ball leads to victories and a healthy Michael Vick.

Cleveland at Oakland

Do you know what a Pyrrhic victory is? Oakland won the game, but Jason Campbell got injured. Now that Jason Campbell is out for the rest of the season, I think it's safe to say that they have little to no chance seeing as how they have to start Kyle Boller (believe me, I know). In other news, I love it when teams do fake punts/fake field goals. Good for Oakland, who successfully turned a fake field goal into a touchdown.

Dallas at New England

Tom Brady did it yet again, throwing a touchdown pass with 22 seconds left to win the game. This was the first game in 13 games that the Patriots have been held to under 30 points, so perhaps everybody should watch the game film and see what the Cowboys did to disrupt that offense.

New Orleans at Tampa Bay

I’m confused. Wasn’t Tampa Bay the team that got beat by the 49ers 48-3? And now they beat the Saints and are 2-0 in the division? Will the real Tampa Bay Buccaneers please stand up?

Houston at Baltimore

This game was a lot closer than the score indicates. Houston was only down by 5 points with the ball pretty late in the game, but the Ravens pulled it out. My love/hate relationship with Joe Flacco continues. To a person just looking at the box score, you’d think Flacco had a good game, passing for over 300 yards and completing 20 of 33 passes. You just have to watch him in order to understand how much he can suck at times. He continues to hold on to the ball too long and pretend like he’s Ben Roethlisberger. I'm very happy to see Anquan have a very good game; I’m sure that he’s been very frustrated during his time in Baltimore where games of 8 catches and 132 yards are rare, whereas they were pretty common when he was in Arizona. The truth is, he’s one of the best receivers in the NFL; Joe Flacco just needs to get him the ball and make the passes. Ray Rice had another ho hum day of 161 yards of offense.

--Adam Janet

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Elephant In The Room

For all the die-hard fans, for everyone with jerseys hanging in the closet waiting to be worn, for all the people who swore next year is our year, I'm sorry. I know it hurts, but it's time to talk NBA lockout.

How Bad Is It?
It's bad. Bad Bad Leroy Brown bad. So bad, it's worse than a romance in which Lady Gaga wants both your psycho and your vertigo stick. So bad, Michael Jackson's estate just released a remix of his 1987 hit, titled Bad: The NBA Lockout.

It's that bad.

As it stands, David Stern has already cancelled the first two weeks of the season, from November 1st through November 14th. The commissioner has stated that he expects at least six additional weeks to be cancelled - including the traditional Chrsitmas day games - with Tuesday as a hard deadline for taking such action.

In my [hardly professional] opinion, NBA fans need to say a few meaningful words, lower this season into the ground, kick some dirt over it, and pray that the 2012-2013 season doesn't suffer the same fate.

Why Is It So Bad?
Any lockout or strike starts and ends with the age-old motivation: money. Sure, there are other issues, but those things tend to fall into place once leagues figure out how to divide the loot. In recent years, NBA players have received 57% of all basketball related income through salaries and other benefits. For a league that brings in roughly $3.7 billion, that means a split of about $2.1 billion for players and $1.6 billion for the owners.

The owners, citing (among other things) the fact that 22 teams are (by their accounting standards) losing money, entered the lockout looking for a 50-50 division of BRI. Players have given 53% as an absolute minimum. Here's where things get really bad: now that the players have said no to a 50-50 split, owners are pushing for a higher percentage of the cash. That is, owners are trying to give the players less than 50% which means the NBA is moving in the wrong direction.

What Happens Next?
For now, it seems both sides are content to play the blame game. The players want to make the owners look like avaricious slimeballs who are depriving us all of our sacred basketball. The owners, led by Commissioner Stern, are doing everything they can to make it seem like the season will start up as soon as the players stop being unreasonable. Neither side, it appears, is that interested in getting a deal done.

What Should I Do As A Fan?
I hope you like college basketball, because it's going to be a long winter.

Friday, October 14, 2011

In Defense of James Harrison: Is He the NFL's Meanest Man, or Most Misunderstood?

According to Sports Illustrated, this past week NFL players voted James Harrison the “meanest player in the NFL”.  Garnering 35% of the vote, Harrison was the runaway “winner” of a poll in which all questions asked remain secret, including how they were phrased and whether or not they dealt with both on- and off-field issues.  Instead of jumping to conclusions or taking SI’s word at face value, let’s examine how James Harrison’s conduct could be viewed as “mean” or misconstrued in that manner.

On the Field
Last year James Harrison was fined a total of $100,000 by the NFL for various methods he employed to take down his opponents – in other words, he was just doing his job.  But shouldn’t everyone involved with football seen this coming?  Harrison was often suspended for similartypes of plays in high school and college – in other words, he is a model of consistency.  The fact that there are literally dozens of Youtube videos roughly named “James Harrison’s Greatest Hits” would suggest that rather than alienating fans of professional football his style of play has made him an ambassador of the game (bringing his work into the homes of doctors and psychologists).  To accuse him of dirty play for hitting opponents in the head is like accusing Michelangelo of using too much gold when he painted – artistic license exists both in SisteneChapels and in sports.  It’s not as though Harrison wants to hurt people; a tackle is a tackle, whether you go for the legs or try to snap the larynx.  

Off the Field
Off the field, James Harrison has stirred controversy with repeated encounters with law enforcement, and a willingness to speak out against the NFL and its commissioner.  But how much do we really know about these incidents?  We know that he has assaulted his girlfriend, but what if she had just beaten him in Scrabble, or turned off his Xbox Live account?  To take something as complex as simple assault out of context is to disregard the legal principles this nation was built upon.  Similarly, are his assertions that Roger Goodell is a “thief… crook… devil… dictator…” really that unfounded?  Goodell stole weeks of training camp from the players this past summer, has supreme executive authority in the NFL (even Hitler has to deal with unions, just ask Hank Williams), and while occult science is still in its infancy we cannot rule out the possibility that Goodell is the Antichrist, medically speaking.  Perhaps James Harrison is not a mean villain, but instead a beacon of light and truth toiling beneath the despotic rule of Commisar Commissioner Goodell.

Ultimately, most of us will never have the honor of meeting Mr. James Harrison in person (or if we do, not remember it due to post-concussion syndrome).  But when evaluated in a reasonable, non-biased manner it quickly becomes clear that the story of whether or not Mr. Harrison is mean is much murkier than “35%”.  So shame on you, Sports Illustrated, for reporting survey results with no real facts involved.  Shame on you, NFL players, for voting out of fear and jealousy –that’s exactly what the terrorists want you to do.  And shame on you, Roger Goodell, for manipulating the media against James Harrison… and for being the Antichrist.  Nobody likes an Antichrist.

Joe Silvestro is a regular contributor to Sports Casual, check back every Funday Friday for his witticisms concerning the Wide World of Sports.  Email him at

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why I hate Tim Tebow

Whenever I tell people I hate Tim Tebow, I usually get one of three responses (paraphrased, obviously):

“Why? Because he’s a winner and you just hate people who are successful?”
I love Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, and several other winners. Nice try.

“Why? Because he’s a Christian?”
I’m a Christian. And I wouldn’t care if he was preaching any other religion either. I respect anyone who takes their religion seriously.

“Why? Because he played for Florida?”
Ok, maybe this one’s sort of true. Whatever.

But with the Tim Tebow era set to begin (again) in Denver, I thought I’d give you Teblow haters out there some ammunition. Good luck, and God speed.

1) Tim Tebow should have been flagged for taunting almost every single game in college. What you miss in that video is the announcer saying something similar to “That may be the first mistake he’s ever made.” Really? He does that stupid gator chomp to his opponent every single game. Why is he getting a free pass?

2) Tim Tebow lies. Sorry, Timmy. You’re not fooling anyone.

3) Is Tim Tebow the first player ever to show leadership skills? Was Colt Mccoy not a great leader and a winner in college? And he can throw the ball! Wow, no wonder he was on the board way past Tebow in the NFL draft.

4) Is it just me, or does this guy love the attention just a bit too much? It’s fine that he announced that he was coming back, but did he have to do it a second time at the basketball game just to get more cheers? They loved you and want you back. We get it. And then you had to go ahead and make a documentary? Stop it. Please.

5) At least try to be a little original.

6) Watch ESPN this week. No one else gets this much attention. As sports fans, we want to see greatness. We want to see history rewritten. We want to see what we thought was impossible. We don’t want to see a 3rd string QB go 11 for 26. So stop trying to convince us that we should.

7) Academic All-American in college. Twice. Guess they don't measure intelligence for that award.

With that said, I'm happy that he's getting a chance to play. He'll finally get to prove how terrible he actually is.

And if by some miracle, he starts playing well and starts winning championships...well, then God help us all.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Unbreakable" Records

Gretzky's 50 goals in 39 games has been tabbed an "unbreakable"
record by people who don't have access to a dictionary.

With the claim that neutrinos can break the speed of light, all records are fair game. People frequently throw around words they don't understand, like "impossible" and "never," especially when talking about sports. After checking the dictionary, I found that "impossible" isn’t the same as “unlikely to happen within your lifetime.” I’ll break down different types of records and why they are breakable.

Single-Season Records and Career Records

Most of these records appear the safest for the near term (Cy Young’s 511 career wins, Gretzky’s 92 goals in a season, Gretzky’s career points, Jordan's career ppg, Pete Roses’s 4,256 career hits, etc). The 4 major sports leagues have changed considerably since these records were set, and the current state of each league appears to not be conducive to anyone breaking these records. The decrease in the skill level gap between the best players and the worst has decreased as access to sports has increased, making the stars stand out less on the scoresheet than they did previously (or maybe we’re just waiting for the next great star). Would a 25 year old Wayne Gretzky be the best player in the NHL right now? Is Michael Jordan better than Kobe and LeBron? These questions are debatable, but would Gretzky or Jordan put up the same kind of numbers in today’s leagues? No. I'll let the naysayers know that Gretzky in his prime is struggling to stay on pace to put up 50 goals in my heavily simulated NHL12 season.

Even though the records appear unbreakable at the current time, structural changes happen in leagues that could blow-up the record books. The NHL could try to increase scoring through a rule change, or the NFL could make a rule that makes it much harder to defend against the pass. Potential future changes in medicine could bring about structural change as well: what if pitchers could pitch 130 pitches every other game? In addition to structural changes, league-wide trends can alter the context to break records. Dan Marino’s 48 TD passes in a season appeared untouchable for a long time; that’s not the case in the current pass-heavy NFL. Most importantly, the world has a while left in its lifetime, and a lot can happen in that time. Hopefully, we’ve only seen a small part of the major 4’s lifetimes, and their continued existence will allow ample opportunity to break all current records.

Single Game Records and Streaks

These are the most probabilistic, but often thought of as "the most unbreakable." DiMaggio’s 56 game hit streak gets a lot of attention. A .300 hitter has about a 76% chance of getting a hit in any game, assuming 4 at-bats per game. Assuming 4 at-bats per game, and ignoring the quality of the opposing pitcher, the probability of a 76% chance event happening 56 times in a row is roughly one out of 5 million. But that’s just any sequence of 56 games, so any player has (career number of games – 55) sets of 56 games. Even with 30 teams with 8 players (9 in the AL) trying to get a hit every game, this record could last a while, easily through our lifetimes.

The late Derrick Thomas holds the NFL record for 7 sacks in a game. If a top D-lineman has a 1/40 chance of recording a sack on a given pass play, and plays against 30 pass plays per game, the probability of any D-lineman with that probability of recording a sack who plays against that many pass plays per game is a little less than one out of 100,000. A player with a higher chance of recording a sack would be more likely to break the record, especially against a team that loves to throw the ball, but has a terrible offensive line.

The conclusion here is that these records are breakable in the current context of the leagues (although a player who hit .400 would be much more likely to break DiMaggio’s streak), but these records could last a while.

Longest and fastest

Unless the record can’t be broken (like a 100 yard rushing TD in the NFL), it will be broken. The longest distance play records are more a product of limited opportunities than being unlikely to occur-the probability of throwing a 100 yard TD pass could be around 1%, but teams rarely run a play from their goal line. Other records in this category are quickest goal off a face-off in the NHL, where these records could only be broken if measurement was in smaller denomination than seconds.

I think the more interesting “unbreakable” records are in the Track and Field, swimming, and fastest pitch category. These records are very breakable within our lifetime. Is Usain Bolt the fastest human ever? I think you can make argument that he is, based on the size of the current population and advances in nutrition and training. However, someone will break his record. There is no concern over the league structure of track and field and there is no threat from rule changes. With improvements in nutrition, Bolt could probably break his own record. The world population is growing, the percent of the population with access to proper nutrition and sports is increasing (well, I hope this is true), and sport technology continues to improve. Many track and field events, sprinting in particular, also benefit from an enormous pool of contenders because nearly everyone tries it.

The best part about claiming that records could be broken in the future? I can never be proven wrong, unless the world ends.

Monday, October 10, 2011

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong: The Hank Williams Story

As we take the time to reflect back on the wild batch of NFL games this past weekend on today, day 8 of the PHWJE (Post Hank Williams Jr. Era) several things have become increasingly obvious. From a guy who “knows a little about” sports blogging too, this is what has jumped out at me so far:

  1. Despite what Roddy White may say, the Falcons were not the better team last game, and they were not the better team last year. While the Atliens put up a good fight on Sunday Night Football, the better team came away with the win. The repeat of last year’s divisional matchup was far closer than last year’s debacle. During the first half, the Falcons put their talent on display and managed to keep Rodgers at bay. However, by the end of the game, I’m sure that many in the Georgia Dome were having flashbacks to the 48-21 drubbing back in January. But hey, 25-14 is progress.
  1. “The Dream Team” put together another stellar performance up in Buffalo. Their elite gunslinger was smart with the ball, and their coverage was really able to contain that explosive Eagles’ passing attack. Wait, what’s that? “The Dream Team” was a moniker invented to refer to the Eagles? As in, the Philadelphia Eagles? As in that one and four team that is currently sitting in 4th place in the NFC East? Well I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I sleep I always dream about Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson. (However, I’ve also been told that I have full conversations about menial chores in my sleep, so I may not be an authority on the matter.) Things are so good up in Buffalo that Fitz is even starting to make Harvard look cool! While most people still agree with Jack Donaghy's assessment that a Harvard degree is only proof that Fitz is “smart and superb at masturbation,” his awesomeness has somehow made everything associated with Fitz seem slightly more awesome. The Fitzmagic has been great, so enjoy it while it lasts.
  1. The San Francisco 49ers have really turned things around. The only team with a 2-game lead in their division dominated the upstart Bucs from start to finish. While many analysts were picking the Bucs as a team on the rise, sure to build on the successes of a 10-6 season and challenge some of their divisional powerhouses, this was a game that was never even in reach. Alex Smith found the end zone on the fourth offensive play, and the Niners never looked back. While many were ranking the 49ers as early favorites in the suck for Luck sweepstakes, the slew of statement games that have propelled the Niners to an early four and one record begs a different question. If the Niners clinch the NFC West before Thanksgiving, then will the Associated Press get in on the action and hand Jim Harbaugh the Coach of the Year Award before Christmas?
  1. Eli Manning is terrible. Really, truly terrible.
  1. The Tim Tebow era has finally started in Denver! It was full of magnificent glory and hope before the San Diego heathens (Chargers) had the gall to squash the beautiful moment in its tender infancy. After doing the unthinkable andfinding a way to make Knowshon Moreno look like a competent NFL player,Tebow was unable to connect with Brandon Lloyd on the ensuing 2-point conversion that would have knotted the score. On the following Chargers’ drive, the Horseman of the Apocalypse himself was able to run 3 minutes off the clock and put the game out of reach. While skeptics may say that Tebow has already used up all of his Jesusmagic (note: the image to the right is merely an artist’s rendering of Jesusmagic, and may not in fact be the real thing), I think there’s still plenty left in the tank. It’s obvious that Jesus loves Tim Tebow, or else he wouldn’t have sent him to play for a team that is one mile closer to heaven than the rest.

And now, the moment you have all been anxiously awaiting. Before Hank Williams was banished from this dimension to the desolate wasteland of Shreveport, Louisiana, he recorded his final song on a piece of paper. He rolled up this paper and placed it in a bottle before setting it afloat. This past weekend, I was stumbling down the coast on a scavenger hunt to collect as many Native American arrowheads as I could, when I cut my foot open on this very bottle. As I rolled around on the floor in pain, I frantically searched for something to soak up the blood, and so I used this very piece of paper to stem the geysers gushing from my foot! Several hours later, the bleeding was beginning to slow, and so I unrolled the parchment to discover the last song Hank had ever written. No other copies of this song exist, but I have chosen to share it with you, my trusted reader.

It's twenty eleven, and oh what a sight:
Muslims in the White House sure give me a fright.
He might not be a towelhead, but don't be fools,
This President is bringing Sharia Law to schools.
While you're all on your couch watching TV,
Socialists are taking over our country.

Don't let them do it
Go grab your guns
So come on, get ready
I mean get ready
Are you ready for some lynch-mobs?
Yeah, some motherfuckin' race wars!!
So let's all get armed and strapped to the teeth,
Armed revolution is coming tonight.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Notes around the NFL: Week 5

Philadelphia’s “Dream Team” loses yet again, continuing this season’s nightmare.

What is going on with the Eagles? The Buffalo Bills dispatched the Eagles 31-24 in Buffalo, marking Philadelphia’s fourth straight loss. The only team the Eagles have beaten is the lowly Rams, who still have not yet won.

What am I missing? Or maybe more importantly, what is Andy Reid missing?

I watched the entire game today and, despite the close score, the Eagles were dominated. Fred Jackson ran all over them for 111 yards and a touchdown. Ryan Fitzpatrick was extremely accurate going 21/27 with 193 yards and a touchdown. The Bills forced 5 turnovers, 4 of which were interceptions.

I know the league has changed drastically in the past few years, and Andy Reid has a history of being very pass-oriented, but for the life of me I do not understand why the Eagles don’t run more. LeSean McCoy is one of the best backs in the NFL, and he only ran the ball 11 times, but at an impressive 7.3 yards per carry for a total of 80 yards. Not only is running the ball incredibly effective for them, it also protects Michael Vick from getting hit.

Also, where has Brent Celek gone, and why isn’t he part of the game plan anymore? This was a guy who was easily one of the best tight ends two years ago, catching 76 balls for 971 yards with 8 touchdowns. Ever since Michael Vick took over at quarterback, his numbers have significantly diminished. Seeing as how he can still be a very productive receiver and an effective security blanket for the quarterback, not to mention his 6 year/33 million dollar contract, I would think that he would be more of a focus. Perhaps tight end routes take less time to develop than WR routes, and so that might also help prevent Vick from taking too many hits.

What happened to the excellent secondary the defense was supposed to have, and why isn’t that helping their run defense and pressure? While giving up only 193 yards isn’t too bad, Fitzpatrick going 21/27 is a pretty high percentage, and there seemed to be very little pressure on him throughout the game. He was only sacked once.

Lastly…the game ending the way it did just added insult to injury. You had to figure that the Bills would try to draw the Eagles offsides, and the Eagles’ lineman fell for it. Shame on you

Other notes around the NFL:

1) It seems like Indianapolis is destined to win the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. If that’s the case, it’d be incredible that they would be lucky enough to have a superstar quarterback playing for the team for 30 years.

2) Adrian Peterson continues to make the case that he’s the best runningback in the league. Did you see some of his runs today? He looked quite impressive. He should get 25-30 touches a game. Anything fewer than that is a travesty.

3) Is there a team more inconsistent than the Giants? When Eli Manning doesn’t throw 3 interceptions, they’re one of the best teams in the league. When he does….well….they lose to Seattle.

4) Pittsburgh is back in business. Big Ben finally stayed on his feet as Tennessee only had one sack and one quarterback hit. Ben responded by throwing 5 touchdowns. They looked pretty impressive.

5) Even though Carolina lost a close one to New Orleans, I keep on waiting for Cam Newton to have a bad game and look like a rookie. At this point, I think we can all stop anticipating such a performance. This guy’s for real.

6) Cincy is quietly having a very good season. Even with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton leading the charge, the team is now 3-2. AJ Green looks like a monster thus far, having one of the better rookie WR seasons I can remember. Combine a pretty good offense with their sneaky good defense, and this team might be a force for the next several years.

7) Great emotional win for Oakland. Houston had a chance to win it, but Michael Huff picked off a pass in the end zone with no time remaining. Interesting that Oakland still was able to beat the Texans despite not having a great day running the ball.

8) San Francisco absolutely clobbered the Bucs. I wasn’t able to watch this game at all….but 48-3 seems pretty inexplicable. What’s gotten into Alex Smith. 3 touchdowns without any interceptions? Perhaps we should consider erasing the bust label? Nah….he still has it until he leads the team into the playoffs.

9) Tebow takes over in the 2nd half for Kyle Orton. A lot of people in Denver and Florida are happy. Tebow gave the team a spark, almost completing a miraculous comeback. However, I don’t think much is going to change in Denver Tebow is not going to be a good NFL quarterback, and Denver doesn’t have a good team regardless of who is playing at quarterback.

10) Good news for the Jets: Shonn Greene ran the ball hard and effectively. Bad news: Jets suffered their 3rd straight loss and now sit at 2-3. The offense looks abysmal.

--Adam Janet