Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday Morning Kick returns

Holy schniekes! The wildest weekend of the year in football, pro & college, just wrapped up with the Bears matching the NFL record for the longest scoring play in history and that was after they completed the longest run on a 3rd & 20+ yard play since 1999.

It was that kind of day in the League, one that saw 18 of the 30 teams in action pile up over 300 yards of offense, with six amassing more than 400 yards each and two teams put up an astounding 500+ yards of offense in a 60 minute NFL game. Throw in the fact that 5 teams scored over 30 points and two scored over 40, both in the same game, and it was basically a Fantasy Football Geek's wet dream come true on Sunday! Let's get right to it:

Chargers 49, Bengals 41 ***GAME OF THE DAY***
MY PICK: Bengals 28-24
Just your run-of-the-mill NFL contest, where both teams combined for almost 1000 yards of offense and the winning team came back from a 21-7 halftime deficit by racking up 42 second-half points. This game will have the FFG's chatting on the message boards for years over the mind-boggling stats put up by both teams: Total Yards: Bengals 545, Chargers 430. Quarterbacks: Palmer(CIN), 31-42, 440 yards, 3TDs; Rivers(SD), 24-36, 377 yards, 3TDs. Cincy receiver Chad Johnson: 11 catches, 260 yards (team record), 2 TDs. San Diego RB LaDanian Tomlinson: 158 total yards, 4TDs. I mean it goes on & on, just as the game seemed to in the crazy 2nd half. San Diego scored touchdowns on 6 of 7 possessions after halftime to turn what looked like a Cincy laugher into one of the sorriest games in the history of the Bengals franchise. The game wasn't won until Rivers, who has blossomed after the departure of Drew Brees, guided the team to a score with just under 8:00 to go by pushing a shovel pass for 5 yards to his tight end on a rollout, and the biggest comeback in Charger franchise history was complete. "He was on the sideline saying they were going to need to score more than 28 points to beat us. What more could you ask for in a leader?" San Diego's Antonio Gates said of Rivers after the game. This is they type of game that championship seasons are made of, and also one that can fracture a team and get a coach fired.

Jets 17, Pats 14
MY PICK: Pats 34-16
The Hooded Genius barely acknowledged his former assistant coach, current Jets head coach Eric Mangini, all week leading up to this game; in fact he wouldn't even refer to the kid by his name. And after it was over their postgame handshake was more fleeting than a Paris Hilton romance. Which begs the question: did Belichick know that his former protege could get the best of him on this day? Hard to make a case otherwise as the youngest coach in the NFL beat the wise old 3-ringed master in a game played in horrible conditions in Foxborough. The game plan by Belichick was curious, to say the least, for the second week in a row. Last week against the Mannings New England ran 35 pass plays and 33 runs despite the fact that Indy was one of the worst teams at stopping the run. This week, on a muddy field in a driving rain he had Tommy Boy throw 37 times, albeit some were short dumps, but they only ran the ball 25 times. Corey Dillon ripped off a 50 yarder and finished with 98 yards, but only had 11 carries. His backfield partner Lawrence Maroney only had 12 touches for 37 yards. What gives, 'cause I don't get it? Wouldn't you try to pound the ball on the ground if you possessed two great runners and the conditions were more suited for hurricane chasing than football? The Pats have now lost consecutive games for the first time since 2002, against these very same Jets, and now the New York (5-4) only trail the Pats (6-3) by one game in the suddenly crowded AFC East race.

Bears 38, Giants 20
MY PICK: Bears 21-17
The bandwagon is filling up again now that the Bears have notched an impressive come-from-behind win on the road against a team that many were calling the best in the NFC. That distinction will most likely fall to Chicago again after the Bears overcame a 13-3 2nd quarter deficit behind the inspired play of QB Rex Grossman (18-30, 246 yards, 2TDs, 1 INT.) Grossman & the Bears offense was inept early on, and the depleted Giants defense, playing without sackmaster Michael Strahan among others, was roaming the field and harassing Grossman relentlessly. Playing in a driving rain a wind (nice day along the Eastern Seaboard- it was 76 & sunny here today) it looked like Chicago would go into the half trailing by 13-3. But with just under 2:00 to go in the half the Bears offense suddenly got rolling, aided greatly by a 26-yard run on 3rd & 22 by Thomas Jones,the longest run for a 1st down on 3rd & 20+ yards since 1999. That play sparked the Bears to a barrage of 35 points, none more memorable than a nice little jaunt by rookie Devin Hester. When a New York drive stalled at the Bears' 34, Feely came out to attempt a 52-yard field goal. In a monsoon (nice call, Coughlin.) The kick ended up about 10 yards short, where Hester fielded it like a punt, which is what it became. After a 2-second delay in which Hester claims he saw the Giants walking off the field, he burst out of the end zone, raced up the right sideline, picked up a couple of blocks, and scored what would be an NFL record-tying 108 yard touchdown. Ironically Hester shares the record with teammate Nathan Vasher, who pulled off the exact same feat nearly one year ago to the day, November 13, 2005 against the 49ers. That's the kind of karma that wins championships my friend. The Giants meanwhile look like just another one of the middle of the pack playoff squads, which is what they are despite a load of talent (anyone see Shockey tonight? oh, 1 catch for 15 yards-nice.)

Mannings 17, Bills 16
MY PICK: Mannings 37-11 Explain to me how Indy makes the Pats look silly in their house on national TV and then come home and nearly shit the bed against the Bills. Well it nearly happened as the Mannings rolled up 384 yards of offense yet could only manage 1 touchdown pass, 1 touchdown run, and 1 field goal for all that yardage. Relying on short, accurate passes and the surprising emergence of a rushing attack (148 yards) Indy methodically carved out a lead against the staunch Buffalo defense, then held on for dear life as Bills kicker Ryan Lindell missed a 41-yard FG with just over 6 minutes to go that would have given them the lead. So Indy becomes the fist team to start back-to-back seasons 9-0, and although many of them have been of the less-than-impressive variety like this one, a win is a win in this league, and until someone knocks them off they are the odds-on favorite to choke in the postseason.

Steelers 38, Saints 31
MY PICK: Steelers 26-20
The Pittsburgh showed the hearts of a champion, finally, today against a pesky Saints team. Amid stories of in fighting, suspensions and players not giving their all the reeling Steelers picked themselves off the doormat of the league by overcoming a 24-17 halftime deficit after they had taken an early 14-0 lead, only to see it squandered away after Reggie Bush's first rushing touchdown of the season. That dazzling, Heisman-like 15-yard run & roll into the end zone gave the Saints a 17-14 lead, and the Steelers of a week or 2 ago may have folded right there. But behind the sturdy running of sweet Willie Parker (22 carries, 213 yards, 2 TDs) and the confident and mistake-free passing of A-Ben-dicitis (17-28, 264yds, 3TDs) the Steelers looked like the team that rattled off 7 straight victories last year on their way to the Bowl win. The Saints will be kicking themselves for blowing this one: they not only wasted Bush's first career rushing TD, but they also squandered 517 yards of offense and another spectacular performance from the tandem of QB Drew Brees (31-47, 398yds, 1TD) & WR Marques Colston (10 catches, 169 yards.) They might as well wrap up the Rookie of the Year trophy for this kid; he now has 869 yards & 7 TDs after 9 games and has made the return of injured receiver Joe Horn a moot point. Joe, take out your celly and call your agent- you & your 34-year-old gimpy groin will be playing elsewhere next season.

Browns 17, Falcons 13
MY PICK: Falcons 34-23
What an embarrassing turn of events under the Georgia Dome yesterday for the once-feared Falcon team-losing to a 2-6 Browns team and being held to 1 touchdown. A few weeks ago the Dirty Birds were the toast of the league, recording wins against Pitt & Cincy to earn a 5-2 record while riding the arm, not the legs, of QB Mike Vick. Two weeks and 2 terrible losses later (they lost to the Lions last week) the Falcons look like what they always are: a potentially dangerous team that is incredibly erratic and one that might never find an identity under the guidance of the talented but fallible Vick. For the second straight week Vick put up meager passing numbers (16-40, 197yds, 1TD, 2INTs, 1 fumble lost) after pundits were hailing him as the second coming of Johnny Unitis after two weeks of solid passing stats for the normally running QB. Although he did rush for 74 yards, and Dunn ran for 73, they could not overcome Vick's turnovers and costly penalties. So now the falcons are looking at a 5-4 record and an absolute dogfight to make the playoffs out of the packed NFC South. The winner of tonight's Tampa Bay/Carolina game will either be tied with or only 2 games in back of the sliding Falcons. Things aren't going to get any easier with a trip to Baltimore next week and a date with the division-leading Saints after that.

Ravens 27, Titans 26
MY PICK: Ravens 19-10
"Won't you help to sing, these songs of freedom, cause all I ever have...redemption song...redemption song..." That is the tune that Ravens QB Steve McNair had to be singing after guiding his new team to a come-from-behind 1-point victory over his old team Sunday. McNair was unceremoniously dumped by the Titans in the off season, and embarrassed by the way he was treated after 11 seasons, a trip to the Super Bowl and a league MVP with the team. He was locked out of the building, treated rudely by ownership and traded without so much as a thank you amidst talks of racial discrimination. In other words, it was ugly. But on this day McNair would get his revenge, although he is much to classy to call it that. The Ravens were dead in the water early and fell behind by 19 points, 26-7, in the second quarter thanks to a Vince Young (250 total yards, 1TD, 1INT) touchdown and 2 other rushing scores. That's when McNair started to go to work; he finished the half with a 30 yard TD pass and led a 60-yard drive that led to a FG that cut the lead to 26-17 at halftime. In the fourth quarter McNair piled up most of his numbers (29-47, 343yds, 3TDs, 2INTs) while guiding the Ravens on 2 scoring drives, the final one culminating in an 11-yard touchdown to another former Titan, Derrick Mason, with 3:00+ to go for the winning margin. The Ravens are now 7-2 and in the driver's seat in the AFC Central, and it's all thanks to this redemption season for Air McNair.

*San Fran 19, Detroit 13 MY PICK: Detroit 24-15
*Miami 13, Kansas City 10 MY PICK: Miami 23-20
*Green Bay 23, Minny 17 MY PICK: Minny 17-14
*Philly 27, Wash'ton 3 MY PICK: Philly 28-21
*Houston 13, Jax'ville 10 MY PICK: Jax 29-13
*Denver 17, Oakland 13 MY PICK: Denver 24-3
*Dallas 27, Arizona 10 MY PICK: Dallas 21-20
* Seattle 24, St. Louis 22 MY PICK: St. Louis 26-23

My record for the week: 8-7. But hey, it was a crazy week, so I'm happy to be over .500 going into tonight's Monday Nighter. The Bucs take on the arch rival Panthers, and a preview of that game is coming up.
I wonder what kind of zany plays and eye-popping numbers we'll get in that one.
I can guarantee one thing- the Bucs will not put up over 500 yards of offense. Bank on that.

No comments: