From Football

Pre-Playoff Pondering

Yup, real proud of myself for that alliteration, here’s hoping it distracts you from my general lack of literary talent. So the 2010 NFL regular season is over, and what a season it’s been! Over two months ago I wrote a post about the wackiness of this NFL season, marking the first time since 1970 that a team hasn’t reached 4-0. Thirteen weeks later and it’s indisputable that the greatest fan experience lies in the NFL. All 17 weeks were exhilirating, and even the NFC West couldn’t shove us back from the edge of our seats. Thursdays, Sundays, Mondays…and we wanted MORE. Not buying it? Take a look at these stats (yes I actually calculated these on my own and yes I need a hobby):

  • Teams went 127-129 covering the spread at a meager 49.6%, demolishing us all in pick’em.
  • Out of 256 games, 90 were upsets (winner had the lower record) and 44 were played between teams with the same record. Here I’ll do the math for you – that’s over 50%.
  • 103 games (40%) were decided by less than one touchdown, and 161 games (63%) were decided by less than two touchdowns.
  • Not a single team rested their starters in Week 16, every game mattered.
  • Only two teams (Jets and Eagles) rested their starters in Week 17.

It’s been a damn good season with some damn good football, and pigskin fans everywhere are salivating for the playoffs kickoff tomorrow. So without further ado, my wild card weekend picks:

Colts over Jets – Peyton at home in the playoffs is another level, and the Colts run D has significantly improved. I think resting in Week 17 will end up throwing Sanchez off his game a bit in an offensive shootout where he can’t afford a single misstep. The last time the Jets took a week off they returned to a nasty shutout. I don’t usually quote others in my posts (unless it’s Rex Ryan profanity), but Simmons literally took the words out of my mouth. “The Jets spent the offseason building their roster for this game specifically — if they blow it, they’d be remembered as the biggest collection of frauds and posers in recent New York sports history. And this is a city that has the Mets.” Scared? Petrified.
*Interesting matchup: Colts passing game vs. Jets secondary (Revis/Cromartie/Coleman)

Saints over Hawks – This needs no explanation, it’s a JV-Varsity scrimmage.
*Interesting matchup: Saints running game without Chris Ivory vs. Hawks run D that isn’t awful

Ravens over Chiefs – The Chiefs’ success (7-1) at home is entirely misleading, here are the teams they beat: Chargers, Browns, Niners, Jags, Bills, Cards, Hawks, Broncos, Rams, and Titans. Exactly ONE of those teams has a winning record. Baltimore will demolish them.
*Interesting matchup: #1 running game vs. #4 run D (i.e. Jamaal Charles vs. the formidable Ravens D line)

Packers over Eagles – How pumped are you for this game? This matchup is literally drool-worthy. The Eagles have been highly inconsistent, and the Packers have looked great recently. Vick will be under a lot of pressure, and I can see a meltdown similar to the Vikings game when he had no time in the pocket and threw some pretty awful passes. Rodgers has a great oline in front of him, giving him plenty of time to throw against an inconsistent secondary.
*Interesting matchup: Eagles passing game vs. Woodson and the Packers secondary

Let’s do this – PLAYOFFS BABY!

In the words of Ludacris…

What’s YOUR fantasy? Cue back button for those of you who ended up here thanks to a massive search engine fail…sorry man. For those of you still with me, it’s time for a long overdue fantasy football post. I’ve been playing fantasy for a few years now at an average of 4-5 leagues per year, and I’m far from an expert on the subject. In fact, this is my official disclaimer for those of you who started playing fantasy before the Internet existed when results came via snail mail – you know more than me. So instead of scoffing in fantasy elitism, I invite you to join the discussion…

Which brings me to the purpose of this post. Fantasy football is a game. WE are the owners, GMs and commissioners of the NFL. We don’t have a dictator coughROGERcough telling us what rules to follow. I’ve been in both standard and customized leagues, and it’s time to revolutionize the standard. Just because the NFL allows ties in an awful set of overtime rules doesn’t mean you have to suffer as well! (Confusing McNabb further is a small price to pay for such freedom) Your league settings don’t let you get rid of kickers? Start a petition and wage war against such tyranny! Break the chains and take control of your fantasy! (yes, pun intended.)

Now that I’ve reached my exclamation point quota, here are my recommendations to optimize your fantasy football experience:

Revis Island
gimme my 0.9 points!

1) Allow decimals for scoring
9 yards should not equal 0 points. I’m confident that we’ve all made it past 3rd grade math (right?) and can comprehend partial points in scoring. There’s no reason to maintain standard scoring when all it does is perpetuate ties and infuriate those of us who own receivers stranded on Revis Island.

2) Eliminate “Points Allowed” from standings
I understand we’re trying to simulate the NFL, but Points Allowed has to be the most ridiculous stat in fantasy. You have absolutely NO control over your opponent’s score, except for coincidental cases of your defense going up against their QB. Points allowed shouldn’t even take up column space in a standings table, much less have any sort of tiebreaker impact.

Jay Cutler
I…I don’t understand.

Wes Welker
all I want is to be appreciated.

3) PPR
Receivers are one of the more frustrating players in fantasy football, and are severely devalued in standard scoring leagues. Easy fix? Update your scoring to PPR. It adds value to slot receivers like Welker who are key players on their teams but don’t do much for you in fantasy. PPR leagues also force you away from the RB-heavy draft strategy by giving you a lot more high-scoring receiver options. The NFL is a pass-happy league and it makes sense to adjust the way you play fantasy accordingly.

4) Kill the kickers! With pitchforks and torches!
…or just send them to Dallas, the hellhole for kickers. (Anyone else having visions of Jerry Jones as a Death Eater greeting kickers with open arms? No?) Despite the love-hate relationship most fans have with their kickers, I’m only talking fantasy here, so you can un-wield your weapons. WHY do we still have kickers in fantasy?! There is zero strategy involved in drafting and playing kickers, and those of you who stupidly drafted a kicker before the last round in your draft either agree now or are just too dumb to be playing fantasy. It’s the only position that’s decided purely on luck, and any self-respecting fantasy player would rather focus on their impeccable tactics than spend an hour trying to determine whether Brady’s offense will deliver enough to warrant sitting Gostkowski. So let’s take the plunge and bid farewell to the most aggravating position in fantasy!

Jerry Jones
Nick Folk
tonight…you die.

Al Davis
MORE DRAFTS! MOOOORE!!!!

5) Playoffs baby!
Playoffs are the most anticlimactic experience in fantasy football. Instead of being rewarded for drafting well and working the waiver wires, you can end up losing the championship because the Colts rested their starters for the real playoffs. No one should win their league because they grabbed Peyton’s backup off waivers. My ultimate solution? Have a playoffs draft. Your current roster got you this far, now it’s time to re-strategize and prove your skills in a fair setting. Hold a draft the week of the playoffs with all NFL players on the board, and eliminate bench positions to spice it up. It’ll be the most exciting part of the season, and people out of the playoffs might actually watch the draft and follow the results.

This list is just a start, post your fantasy football fantasies below!

Wacky Sundays

You call yourself a football fan? Wake up, we’re witnessing a historical NFL season! Week 5 marked the first time since 1970 that an NFL team hasn’t reached 4-0, and the lack of front-runners has made Sundays pretty damn awesome. There’s an excitement in the air that’s been severely lacking the past few years, and almost every division race is wide open. In honor of this momentous occasion I’m bringing back my dheerja.com-patented Wack Factor Power Rankings. The small number of you who haven’t memorized my posts word-for-word may need a refresher on the Wack Factor. Totally understandable, it happens to the best of us.

The Wack Factor Power Rankings are NFL division leaders ranked by level of “wackiness”, determined mostly by variation from preseason favorites. Here are my Week 6 rankings:
1. Kansas City
2. Washington
3. Chicago
4. Atlanta
5. Arizona
6. Houston
7. NY Jets
8. Baltimore
Note: consider this my official I-told-you-so! on the Chiefs call in my preseason predictions.

The Wack Factor Power Rankings are informative, but the real beauty is that the division leaders picture really just scratches the surface of the madness going on this season. Wackiness galore!

NFC East: This division race has been exciting for a while, but did anyone think the Skins would actually play a role in the competition they bottomed out the past two years? The Eagles are hanging on for dear life with their injury battles, and does anyone know what the hell is going on with the Giants offense? Dallas is second in the league in yards per game and hasn’t lost by more than a touchdown, yet they’re 1-3 and their hopes of a home Superbowl are quickly slipping away. Come on Boys, you knew it was over when Kim dumped Miles. You better hope she hates Jessica Simpson enough to rebound with Romo and resists her bad-boy urge for Vick. Never cross a Kardashian if you want a ring!

NFC West: Moment of silence for Niners fans. We feel your pain. At 0-5 in the NFC West you’re past the bottom rung of the ladder, you’re tunneling to China at this point. But you know what’s REALLY crazy? I still think the Niners will take this, and not because “Jed York” sounds so similar to “New York Jets” that I’ll listen to anything he says. They lost to New Orleans, Atlanta, and Philly by three points or less – heartbreaking losses to the defending champs, the team winning their division over the defending champs, and a team out for blood in one of the closest division races in the league. They have Oakland, Carolina, and Denver next with a pretty easy schedule after the bye. They’re gonna do it. Oh and can Niners fans please stop chanting for Carr? Do you realize how bad David Carr is? And then there’s Arizona. From the above rankings the biggest question is why Arizona is so wacky when they won their division the past two years, including one Superbowl run. Two words: Kurt Warner. Two more words: Matt Leinart. Last two: Max Hall. The NFC West might belong in Canada but it’s still shocking that the Cards are in the lead with the QB roulette they’ve been playing.

NFC North: Injuries make this division race more competitive than it looks. Mike Martz’s offense places the Bears’ success in Cutler’s hands, and without him they could easily lose key games in a tough schedule. Green Bay is riddled with injuries to Rodgers, Finley, Matthews, Lee, Martin, and Pickett, and they face the Dolphins, Vikings, Jets, and Cowboys before the bye week. The Vikings are impossible to predict. Brett Favre is the most agonizing player in the NFL, and Monday Night’s game was the perfect example. Playing like a rookie for the first half, he did a complete 180 after his 500th touchdown, and immediately started blatantly clutching his elbow so when he eventually threw the game-deciding interception he would have an excuse for retirement #216197 next year. Everyone hates him so much I don’t think a single person was excited for him after the milestone touchdown, including his family since we all know he’s a dirty, guilty old man. Simmons compared Randy Moss to the crazy girl you’d never marry, Favre is the cougar who’s REALLY good at what she um “does”, but gives you an STD every once in a while. Combine those two and I really have no idea what happens. There’s a great ring analogy somewhere in there but I think I’ve said enough.

NFC South: The Falcons coming out of nowhere to beat the reigning NFL champs, combined with Tampa Bay’s surprising and inexplicable success raises the wack factor of this division considerably. The Saints are trying to remedy their injury situation and it’ll be a close race with Atlanta, but I strongly believe in the Madden Curse and its season-ending powers. Come on people when are you gonna BELIEVE!

AFC East: Everyone knew this would be one of the closest divisional races in the league, so the wackiness is relatively low. This division is going to come down to head-to-head matchups between the Jets, Pats, and Fins. It’s easy to call this ending as it is now with the Jets taking it all, especially with their 3-0 divisional record, but a closer look raises some interesting points. The Jets dominated New England at home and barely won a nail-biter at Miami, while New England crushed Miami in Florida. It’s tough to win at Gillette, and the Pats could beat both the Jets and Fins at home. The AFC East title is still up for grabs between these three teams, and each game promises to be a headliner. At least everyone can bond over steamrolling the Bills! Woo!

AFC West: I’m sorry, what? The Chiefs are winning their division and the Raiders, Chargers, and Broncos are tied at 2-3? Wait no, the Raiders win the tiebreaker and are in second? What is going ON?! Unfortunately this is just bad football and whatever team comes out on top isn’t making it out of the first round of the playoffs, but it’s fun to root for the Chiefs and Raiders out of compassion for their remaining fans and hatred for Philip Rivers the d-bag. Seriously, it must suck to be his teammate. This is the wackiest division in the NFL right now and I love it.

AFC North: The Ravens were a trendy Superbowl pick, so their success is probably the least surprising. The Bengals are a total mess, but the Ravens-Steelers race is going to be awesome, and the loser between the two should end up taking a Wild Card. Good football by two well-rounded teams.

AFC South: Four 3-2 teams is really pretty to look at, and it makes me shiver in excitement to watch all FOUR of these teams duke it out to the finish. What’s interesting is that each team has extreme strengths and weaknesses that balance out enough to throw the division race wide open. Houston is 5th in the NFL in rushing yards and run defense, but dead last in passing defense. The Colts are 4th in passing yards, but a lowly 28th in rushing yards and 29th in run defense. Jacksonville is 4th in rushing yards, but 26th in passing yards and 29th in passing defense. The Titans are 6th in rushing yards, but 27th in passing defense and 28th in passing yards.

2010 NFL season overall wack factor: 8/10
Here’s hoping it gets even better, cheers!

Are you ready for some fooooootball?

In the spirit of Rex Ryan, it’s time for some damn* FOOTBALL! Preseason purgatory is over and the real 2010 season kicks off tonight, featuring a marquee matchup with the Vikings vs. Saints at the Superdome. I won’t keep you frantically waiting any longer, so here are my fashionably late picks for this year’s crazier-than-ever NFL season.

NFC East: GIANTS
Probably the toughest division call to make, but the Giants are way underestimated this year. Barring any injuries, both their offense and defense will be the most consistent in the division. The Eagles could be explosive with the success of Kolb and some great young receivers, but they can just as easily crash and burn. Shanahan will turn the Skins around but it won’t be this year, especially if McNabb is already somewhat injured and Haynesworth is well on his way to the infirmary. And I still have no faith in the Cowboys. Superbowl in a home stadium…ha.

NFC West: NINERS
NFC West? Who? What? Aw cute they think they belong in the NFL…
With a Warner-less Cardinals the Niners hold their fate in their pants…HANDS! I meant hands! Damn you Singletary. Alex Smith is the biggest and possibly only question on this team, and regardless there is absolutely no reason they should lose the title to the Seahawks, Rams, or Cards. I don’t even think there’s a time frame for how long those teams will take to rebuild. Don’t we all wish we could coast to the playoffs via the NFC West?

NFC North: PACKERS
As long as last year’s o-line issues are sorted out, this offense is as drool-worthy as a bacon explosion. (Will someone get Rex a napkin?) Favre is severely lacking receivers with Rice out and Percy with migraines that are probably symptoms of some STD. Berrian is way too slow and untalented to handle the gunslinger. The Bears might be the surprise of the division, depending on the success of Cutler with Knox and Aromashodu under a Mike Martz offense, but Cutler’s interception-prone hands could easily take it the other way. Things are slowly looking up for the Lions, but “Best is the BEST” chants have already gone from cute to annoying.

NFC South: FALCONS
I’m really skeptical of the Saints repeating their success, and I still love the Falcons. I think Ryan’s going to have a breakout season and prove everyone wrong, and with a healthy Turner this offense can take the title. The defense is stronger than the Saints, and will take advantage of a pretty easy schedule. Carolina and Tampa Bay aren’t coming close to either of those teams.

AFC East: DOLPHINS
I just cried a little inside. I can’t help being a pessimistic Jets fan, and don’t you dare judge me for it. I hate the ridiculously high expectations that I’m convinced were spawned by the Hard Knocks producers, and I hate that they’ve turned us all into giant drama queens. Curse you HBO! Our defense is going to dominate again this year, and I know all our opponents are cringing at the thought of a healthy Kris Jenkins addition to our already formidable defensive line. Unfortunately I’m cringing just as much at the thought of our offense trying to carry us into the playoffs. At best Sanchez is a decent game manager, at worst he’ll throw away the season. The loss of Alan Faneca is going to seriously hurt us at left guard, and both Ducasse and Slauson have the potential to give up way too many sacks. That hit on Brady is flashing before my eyes. I think we’ll have a rough start and finish strong, but not soon enough to take the lead in what could be the closest divisional race in the league. The Pats D is going to be their downfall from first this year, and I see the Dolphins being the most consistent team in the division. Their running game is solid and the Henne-Marshall combo has explosive potential. Oh and everybody welcome the next 2008 Lions and 2009 Rams…the 2010 Bills!

AFC West: CHIEFS
Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, Dwayne Bowe…Charlie Weis can do this. They have an easy schedule that can grab them a close finish in first over the Chargers, who I think are overrated. The Broncos aren’t doing anything – Kyle Orton sucks, their receivers suck, and don’t get me started on Brady Quinn or Tebow, savior of the NFL. It’ll be interesting to see how Campbell fares on another team, even if that team is the Raiders, but regardless he’ll be an upgrade from JaMarcus. The Raiders will get there eventually, maybe Disney can sign Al Davis to play Ursula’s husband in The Little Mermaid III and he’ll be lost in animated land forever!

AFC North: RAVENS
Love everything about this team. I want to hire Ray Lewis as a life coach, can you imagine waking up to him yelling at you every morning? Ed Reed out is a blow to the defense, but it’ll still be dominant, and Joe Flacco could be a sleeper MVP pick with a solid set of receivers. Palmer is going to self-combust this year while Ocho and TO tear each other apart, and I don’t see the Steelers recovering from a Big Ben-less four weeks to win a highly competitive division. I think the Ravens will take it all the way.

AFC South: COLTS
Oh Peyton we can never doubt you. The Texans with Schaub could have a great offensive year, but it won’t be enough to topple the Colts from their reign. I can’t see a single reason why the Colts won’t coast to the top of the division, the season will really start for them in the playoffs.

It’s the greatest time of the year, football is here!

* dheerja.com is a kid-friendly, mother-approved site. As much as I love Rexy, he didn’t survive the censor.

It’s been a long summer.

Even a month of fútbol couldn’t alleviate the most depressing 6 months of the year for football fans. Yup that’s right, 6 months. Us pigskin fiends have it rough.

But that’s not to say it hasn’t been an eventful offseason. Thankfully our friends on the NFL payroll haven’t disappointed when it comes to criminal activity, diva behavior, and general debauchery. Not to worry Mothers Against Degenerate Athletes (MADA), you still have Tim Tebow to uphold the ridiculous concept of NFL role models!

Before we get to the upcoming season, here’s a breakdown of this year’s drama-filled offseason, complete with visual aids.

DELINQUENTS

Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger
Of course Big Ben makes the top of this list. It’s easy to forget that he’s only 28 with the maturity of a Duke lacrosse player. This is his second sexual assault charge, and it’s pretty hard to discredit. Sorry Steelers fans, Hines and Polamalu are all you’ve got left as the good boys team. It’ll take more than sending Holmes to the Jets to bring your team karma back up to Tebow standards.

Santonio Holmes
I think we’d all be shocked if Santonio didn’t end up on this list every year. Drugs, abuse, and assault, he has the disorderly trifecta. After he most recently threw a glass bottle at a woman’s face, I’d advise the Jets Flight Crew to resist their bad boy urges and stay away. Stay far away.

Santonio Holmes

Vince Young

Vince Young
First of all Vince, I know you’re going through a rough time (or wasn’t that last year…), but paying strippers to make you feel better about yourself is only a temporary solution. I suggest you talk to Ricky Williams about the healing power of yoga. On the same note, assaulting those who speak ill of Texas can easily be replaced by a stint at the gym with an Oklahoma punching bag.

Vincent Jackson
Sadly DUIs seem to be as commonplace as holdouts in the NFL. Vincent Jackson is creating a dangerous combination of the two, suspended for 3 games after his second DUI conviction, and holding out for a better contract knowing he has to sit out anyway. Let’s hope this doesn’t become a new negotiation strategy.

Vincent Jackson

Michael Vick

Michael Vick
He might not have technically done anything wrong, but he’s clearly not trying to improve the kind of company he keeps. His co-defendant was shot in the leg outside a club, and Vick was suspiciously there but not involved. Hm. In the meantime, this is still available to show your support.

Cedric Benson
Getting a big head over there with your second coming huh Cedric? Or did you forget that Hard Knocks is with the Jets this year? Either way, punching a bartender in Texas is not the way to handle your new success, especially in the birthplace of your career. I understand you’re feeling a little left out with the Ocho-TO show in town, but violence is not the path to attention. You don’t want to be sent back to the Bears now do you?

Cedric Benson

DIVAS

Brett Favre

He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named
Surprise surprise. Madonna could learn a thing or two from the queen bee of divas. You know it’s bad when an offseason filled with injury speculation, Vikings players flying to Mississippi, and a dramatic Minnesota arrival is considered relatively quiet. For a good 5 minutes I thought I was watching a replay of the O.J. car chase, but no, it was just the 24/7 Favre Feed. This guy disgusted me when he punched the entire town of Green Bay in the nuts by signing with the Vikings, and at this point he’s graduated from Bravo to MTV reality show status. Move over Jersey Shore, he’s back…again.

Darrelle Revis
Enough is enough. This is Chinese torture for Jets fans, possibly worse than last year’s week 16 playoff scenario. Is he seriously using Nnamdi’s contract as a standard? That contract was written by a SEA MONSTER! Feed him well, stick him in Loch Ness, and you can get him to do anything. Especially if you have a great 40 time. Revis is undoubtedly the best player on the Jets, and arguably the NFL’s best defensive player. He deserves to be paid well, but the Jets are offering him a great deal. At the end of the day he’s a player on a Superbowl-contending team. If this holdout extends into the season, he loses all my respect.

Darrelle Revis

Albert Haynesworth

Albert Haynesworth
$100 million with a $21 mil bonus and he still acts like a diva? Haynesworth hasn’t played all 16 games since 2002 and is grossly out of shape for a professional athlete, yet somehow he manages to have issues with everything. He complained about the switch to a 3-4, didn’t show up for OTAs and workouts, and the clincher – he failed the easiest conditioning test and then whined to the world about having to take it. Thank god Shanahan is ripping him a new one, it’s about time someone did.

Dez Bryant
I guess someone had to fill T.O.’s diva slippers. He makes a few stellar catches in practice and suddenly he’s too good to be rookie hazed? Carry the damn pads and learn a little humility. That ego is only gonna get worse when he’s on a diva-breeding team like the Cowboys. Pretty soon he’ll be bawling his eyes out behind blinged out shades at a press conference. So please, start out humble because as much as we all love drama, we love football more.

Dez Bryant