After taking 2 years off from fantasy football, I was worried about coming back and being a chump. Given the last pick in the draft, I was very worried I'd be the clown in the league. Fortunately, I have the coveted no. 1 waiver spot all year. Thanks to some stupid draft picks ahead of me, I landed Rudi Johnson at number 12. Mr. McNabb has carried me this season, and my only complaint is with Ronnie Brown. While I have benched the Deuce all season, that might end soon if Ronnie Brown can't put up points. It's not Ronnie, it's Daunte Culpepper. Culpepper can't pass a lick, and this means other teams can stack the box. It also means that the Dolphins can't convert third downs. Drives stall and 3rd down is usually 3rd and long not 3rd and short. Ronnie has had games with fewer than 10 carries, and that is NOT what Nick Saban wanted (should have signed Drew Brees). I'm starting him this week because Rudi has it off, but if he does not improve, I'm going to have to switch him for the Deuce (who I drafted 3 rounds after Reggie Bush).
BEARS -10 over Bills
The Bears dismantled the Seahawks and the 4 wide, 3 wide, whatever offense. Hasselbeck had as low as 4 points in some fantasy leagues (5.75 in mine). This is a top tier QB, perfect for the west coast offense and he could not move the ball on the Bears. JP Losman will not pick them apart. He might get a bomb by them as the Hawks did have two dropped bombs as the Bears secondary had problems handing off a receiver to the next man in the zone. Think about how deep the Bears defense is, a rookie started at free safety last year for them and played very well, 3 INTs. He has been replaced by a rookie. The score will be 24-7, and I hope Bernard Berrian has one deep TD (yeah a waiver wire pick up).
PANTHERS -8 over Browns
I am surprised the Panthers do not use more 3 wide sets with Keyshawn, Steve SMith and Colbert. I think Colbert could be an effective slot receiver for them to complement the big posession WR in Key and the speed threat with Stevie. As long as the Panthers have a healthy Kris Jenkins, I trust their D-line. I do not see Charlie Frye having a good game this week, maybe a garbage time TD to pad the stats.
Lions +7 over Vikings
The Lions can score. They have the tools. I think Kitna can do just enough for them. I also think they are cursed for never giving Barry Sanders a competent QB and pushing him out of the game early. This will be a low scoring affair, and 7 points is a lot for the Vikings terrible offense to cover. Bly should do enough to keep Troy Williamson from striking deep, and Minnesota's defense is good enough to force Kitna to beat them rather than Kevin Jones pound it in on them.
Dolphins +10 over Pats
The points are too high for this match up. No matter the team's records, the games are always close. The Pats will do enough to win, and give up a late TD for the cover. I just hope it is Ronnie Brown on a swing pass for 6. Notice who is the leading receiver for the Dolphins? Ronnie Brown. Culpepper isn't using the "good" WRs of the Dolphins, and has to check down or panic and dump it off. This is a desperation game for the Phins as well, and they will be playing with a huge sense of urgency.
Rams +3 over Packers
I mentioned Barry Sanders above. Here's something scary to think about. The Packers passed on Barry Sanders for Tony Mandarich. I know Mandarich was going to be the next John Hannha, but Barry Freakin' Sanders was available. The best college RB since Herschel Walker. A backfield of Sanders and Favre would have won an extra Super Bowl or 2, uhh 3. I can't believe the Packers are favorites. Didn't the bookies watch MNF? Favre was leaving WRs out to hang. I'm benching Donald Driver in favor of Greg Jennings because I don't know how many shots Driver can take like he did on Monday night. How horrible would it be for Favre to go down and Rodgers to step in and lead them to a respectable finish? Wouldn't that force his retirement, instead of the hemming and hawing?
SAINTS -6 over Bucs
The Bucs can't stop the run (30th in the NFL), and the Saints have two quality RBs to throw at them. I am predicting a big game for Deuce and Reggie. Sean Payton will give Deuce 20-25 carries and Reggie 10-15. I can see him using the run game to wear the Bucs old defense down, and give Brees a rest. Sean P will want to use Deuce and Reggie to allow Drew's shoulder a breather. He can't keep hoisting up 40 passes a game. Have you seen the Bucs depth chart on D? A lot of guys still leftover from the Super Bowl....from 4 years ago.
COLTS -18 over Titans
Peyton is going to go for 400 yards this game. I think he enjoys beating up on the Titans now for the hurting they put on him earlier in his career. I sincerely dislike Vince Young, and nothing warmed my heart last week more than seeing him flail around versus the Dallas defense. Mr. 6 Wonderlic came to play as he ran sideways a lot, threw into triple coverage, misread blitzes. It was fantastic. I can't believe they have given up on the season already and thrown him to the wolves. How lazy was Billy Volek this offseason? Young reminds me of a less spectacular Mike Vick. I don't see him making the adjustment well to the NFL, and he will be out of the game by age 30. If Norm Chow can turn him into a serviceable "quarterback", it should get him a head coaching job.
Skins +5 over GIANTS
These are two teams going in different directions (yeah, it's week 5). The Giants are sniping at their coach, and the Skins are putting in the hours and working hard. The Giants do not play well coming off of the bye, and the Skins have Clinton Portis back. It's simple: get a top 5 RB back in the lineup, and your offense improves greatly.
Soon I am going to do a review of Lavar Arrington's last year at Penn St., and write about how he should have won the Heisman in '99. That year was a good year for the award be up for grabs by a frosh (Mike Vick for that amazing freshman year he had) or a defensive player (Lavar), and his senior year was just that special. Who won it in '99? Ron Dayne for the lifetime achievement of running over 5 foot 8 Big ten defensive backs. Sorry if 2000+ yards in the big ten is so special, why didn't Larry Johnson win it his senior year? The Heisman is an embarassingly poor award as far as selection. Such a distinct honor should be given greater consideration than "Uhhhh, who's the QB on the national champ?" The era of '89-'03 might be the worst 15 year stretch of winners: 3 great pros, Eddie George, Carson Palmer and Ricky Wiliams (make it 4, Charles Woodson). The stretch from '74-'88: Barry Sanders, Vinny Testaverde, Tim Brown, Bo Jackson, Flutie, Mike Rozier, Herschel Walker, Marcus Allen, George Rogers, Billy Sims, Early Campbell, Tony Dorsett.
CARDINALS +3.5 over Chiefs
The Cardinals are a good home risk. I like the premiere of Matt Leinart versus a KC defense. Teams can throw deep on the Chiefs, so Fitzgerald and Boldin should be open. Here's something I do not like about the Chiefs: the run up the score on weak opponents. They act like a college team at times. I like when good teams spank them, and put them in their place. Sadly, they always seem to find a way into the playoffs where they get beaten like schmucks because they can't play D.
JAGS -6.5 over Jets
Jags defense, meet an offense that can't run and can't throw deep. Feast upon them.
49ERS -3 over Raiders
Raiders blow an 18 point lead to the Browns. 49ers get blanked by the Chiefs. Tough call, but I am going with the home team. I think Randy Moss is tanking on purpose to get an in-season trade. A big name in-season trade has not happened since Eric Dickerson went from the Rams to the Colts.
Cowboys +2.5 over EAGLES
Westbrook, Sheppard, Hood, Jevon Kearse and Stallworth are all questionable or worse. Sheldon Brown is going to play, and it looks like Michael Lewis is cleared to play after getting knocked on queer street on MNF. Why do I type this? I think that's too many men out for the Iggles versus the Cowboys offense. Can the Boys pick up the blitz? I think so. I think they pick it up enough for Bledsoe to get the ball to his playmakers. The one thing I hope Bledsoe is going to look for is for the fake out blitz look. The Skins did it to him last year at the end of the season; show blitz and drop 7 men back. It made him dump passes off early. I think the Iggles D-coordinator is just going to keep coming with the blitzes until they knock Bledsoe around and make him gun shy. On the other side of the ball, I just don't think McNabb can beat the Cowboys D all by himself. Stallworth and Westbrook need to play to give their offense a shot to win. I am not going to talk about TO. Lord have mercy on his sould for what will happen to him and be yelled at him this weekend.
CHARGERS -3 over Steelers
I can't believe Marty pissed the game away for the Chargers. The quote from Bart Scott of the Ravens "I'm glad he stuck with his gameplan, because that Rivers kid could play" is perfect for how Marty does not trust his players to execute. You do not go into a shell in the 3rd quarter; this is not high school football. I do not see this being a worry this week. The Steelers have to put up points for me to consider them a threat to the real AFC contenders. Here's a question: how did Najeh Davenport's career spiral so fast out of control? How did he get the back to back injuries and miss out on his payday? I thought 3-4 years ago, he was going to get paid big bucks to be the no. 1 back for another team. A few injuries later and it's all gone. Freaks me out because he is 10 months older than me.
BRONCOS -4 over Ravens
This game is not as even as the spread show.s The bookies think Denver is only a 1 point favoriate excluding home field advantage. No way. The Ravens have no rushing attack. Jamal Lewis is done. His tip toe act was ok when he had that great acceleration at age 23-24; he's lost a step with that prison stint and age. Yeah, 27 and he has lost a step. Doesn't it freak you out that he is in his 7th year and only 27. I wonder how he will be remembered because he does have that sick 2066 yard season under his belt. Will he be revered for having such a quick step for a bruiser or will he be a warning to young kids about throwing away your talent and mixing with the wrong crowd? I vote warning. He was just removed from the 2000 yard season and was lucky to sign a 3 year deal with his own team. The NFl should collect stories like Jamal's and Mandarich's in a behdin the music format and show it to high school seniors and college players. Don't use 'roids (Mandarich), leave your drug dealing homies behind (Lewis), have a heart and try (both Mike Williams-es).