This was a momentous football weekend just passed – and no, it’s not just because we had our first tie in the NFL in four years.
For so many weeks this season, we’ve been subjected to the pretty ridiculous notion that the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team was so good, so talented, and was playing so well, they could probably beat one of the weak NFL teams.
The prime suspects for that theoretical humiliation were the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Kansas City Chiefs.
On Saturday afternoon, Texas A&M disabused us of the notion Alabama was somehow invincible on the college level. On Monday night, the Kansas City Chiefs reminded us to never, ever, ever underestimate the potential in any NFL team.
(Speaking of teams getting up off the mat, what’s say we all give a big hand to the Tennessee Titans! Where have you guys been?)
The Chiefs/Steelers game reminds us all that, despite their stumbles in a group, these guys are incredible athletes performing at the highest level of their profession. They are certainly no longer kids just playing a game.
On the prediction front, it’s been a great two weeks going a combined 21-3. It might have been 22 if not for that aforementioned tie courtesy St. Louis and San Fran. By the way, ties get thrown out. There’s no formula for calculating ties in this column. It messes up the percentages.
Now that the bookkeeping rules have been explained, that makes me 89-51 so far on the season for a .636 winning percentage, a jump of 50 points in a mere fortnight.
I’ll probably jinx myself by saying something like “I’m finally beginning to figure this season out,” but oxymoronic phrases like “finally beginning” only show how much oxy my inner moron lacks. (And no, that’s not a drug reference; at least it wasn’t until now.)
On with the show…
Dolphins at Bills – Miami may be reeling but Buffalo has been whipped with the rod (I realize that’s going overboard with the fish references, but some like me are inclined to have a little fun with the Phins).
Here we are in Week 11 and the Bills are playing but their fourth home game? If they win, it’s 2-2 at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and you know it’s a lousy season when you can’t do better than that. The defense remains the major weakness for the Bills and Miami needs something to give their recently struggling offense a break.
So what’s more apt to happen? Buffalo’s offense continues its productive output ala last week’s springtime crappie tourney in Foxboro, but facing a pretty stout defense that just got embarrassed at their own bass angler convention in Tennessee; or the Dolphins’ deep water offense snags a trophy marlin against a defense that all year long as been lake fishing for trout. (And if you say you follow that, you’re one up on the rest of us.)
Short answer: take Miami because defense is more reliable on road trips, especially when you’re headed to the shores of the Great Lakes when the frost begins to settle in.
Jaguars at Texans – Now be serious here. When it comes to an 8-1 team hosting a 1-8 team, who in their right mind (or even left brain) picks an upset? Houston has had its seasons of mediocre football, but this is not one of them. Jacksonville has seldom had a season of lousy football, but this is one of them.
All I can say to Houston is, “Remember the Chiefs!” which certainly doesn’t have the resonance of the Alamo but then this is just football, not freedom.
Bengals at Chiefs – Dear Kansas City…Remember the Giants! No, wait; that should be the Titans. But that’s not right either. They were the Jets, or was that a high school team? Whatever, I do know it was the last Denzel Washington movie I really liked.
Hey Chiefs, don’t forget what happened to New York last week when they waltzed into Paul Brown Stadium and made total fools of themselves before a decently talented but underperforming Cincinnati squad.
You just made a splash of respectability in front of a national audience and the Steelers crowd (which is even tougher), so there’s no sense wasting all that effort now just because you lost a heartbreaker. You’re home now where the fans love you.
Uh…Never mind. Bengals by 10 because KC coughs it up at least twice, and once when it really matters, like on this Monday night just passed.
Jets at Rams – Not even Mark Sanchez wants to do this any more. Who can blame him? Nobody likes a circus when its rings are tarnished.
St. Louis is tough at home, courtesy the Jeff Fisher method. With quality help now in the backfield, Steven Jackson surely has a few great games left in the tank and this is the defense he can obliterate because Danny Amendola is back to give the Rams their deep threat once again. It doesn’t hurt either that the Rams D-line is looking downright scary.
Buccaneers at Panthers – Carolina remains the model of inconsistency this year. Even when they’ve played reasonably well, it has seldom translated into a win.
Tampa Bay has been consistently getting better and better. At 5-4, they have not lost by more than one score. The past month, their offense is blowing people off the field. The defense is still a work in progress, but they’ve been taking advantage of opportunities now they had been blowing with regularity in September. I suggest that as soon as his boy gets fired by USC, Monte Kiffin gets a call to come back to the Gulf Coast of Florida and work some of his magic again.
Even so, when the Bucs were fresh as daisies this year and on the verge of stumbling to a very uncertain 1-3 start, the team they beat was Carolina. There are just too many signs pointing in the same direction for me to go the other way here.
Browns at Cowboys – Boy oh boy! What to make of this thing here? Dallas has one win at home, while Cleveland is winless on the road. Both offenses are a mess, though the Cowboys are more of a mystery as to why that’s so. Neither defense is all that tough, but they have their moments. Turnovers, mental hiccups, play calling gaffes, defensive alignment errors, substitution flubs, clock management issues – I mean, it’s like these guys went to the same school for dysfunctional performance.
(Insert tasteless pharmaceutical product advertisement here!)
Somebody needs to install a pacemaker deep in the heart of Texas. The Cowboys have the kind of players and staff who need to be underdogs, and being constantly paraded around as America’s Team while playing in Jerry’s ornate cow palace means that will never happen.
This collection of players in Dallas would be better if they were meaner. It’s like the late Darrell Royal, pretty well known around the Lone Star State for his football acumen, would say; only angry players win.
Cleveland needs…I don’t know; therapy, I suppose. Better coaching? They probably won’t find much of either in Jerry’s World this weekend. I’m picking the Cowboys here because it’s my default option.