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NFL Teams Policing Themselves
By Andy Benoit, NFLTouchdown.com

Have you noticed something about the NFL Conduct Policy this year? Maybe how, it’s working – masterfully, in fact?

Players are not going to stop getting in trouble – human nature won’t allow it. Any collection of 1,600 young adult males is going to have a few bad apples. (Numbers show that the NFL actually has fewer bad apples than American society on average, if we are to believe the arrests numbers.) But what the NFL Conduct Policy has done is empowered, or coerced, teams into reprimanding their own problem children. We have seen an unprecedented amount of team-issued discipline handed down this season.

Individual clubs have taken the initiative to clean up any messes that arise. And it’s not just about players who get in legal trouble; proverbial head cases have felt the iron fist, as well. Take a look at all the team-issued discipline this season. You’ll notice that ALL of the players listed below are guys who have had cloudy reputations in the past.

New York Giants, Plaxico Burress – suspension

The defending World Champions have discovered that their foundation is stronger than their individual parts – including the talented yet roguish 6’5” wide receiver. The Giants suspended Burress for a game earlier this year after he skipped a Monday meeting. They also benched him in the first quarter of last Sunday’s contest at Pittsburgh after he failed to show up for a treatment on his neck.

New York Giants, Jeremy Shockey – traded

The Giants first came to realize that they could survive – nay, thrive – without some of their narcissistic stars when they made their Super Bowl run while the Pro Bowl tight end was out with a broken leg. Shockey’s reclusive behavior during the offseason, and derisive outburst at GM Jerry Reese in training camp, eventually got him traded.

Kansas City Chiefs, Larry Johnson – benched

Four times in five years the star running back has been accused of assault on a woman (usually at a nightclub). Factor in his sporadic whining and moping and it becomes easy to see why the Chiefs have gotten fed up. Herm Edwards has inactivated Johnson for each of the past two games. This ordeal may not be finished; on Tuesday, Johnson went to New York and met with Roger Goodell. To the running back’s credit, he has publicly owned up to his latest mistake and has acknowledged a need for significant changes in his life.

Pittsburgh Steelers, Santonio Holmes – suspended

The Steelers chose to face arguably the best team in football last week without their leading receiver and most dynamic offensive threat. Why? Earlier in the week, Holmes was stopped by police and admitted to having marijuana in his possession. This was the young wideout’s third run-in with the law since being drafted. Holmes has publicly apologized for the incident, though don’t be shocked if he too winds up meeting with Goodell at some point.

Dallas Cowboys, Pacman Jones – disowned

Maybe we shouldn’t give Jerry Jones too much credit here. After all, he’s the one who traded for Pacman while the cornerback was still suspended. But when the troubled star blew his golden opportunity – 10,000th second chance – by getting into a fight with his own team-appointed bodyguard, the NFL suspended him indefinitely. And the Cowboys organization all but said goodbye. Jerry Jones made it public knowledge that Pacman was entering alcohol rehab and emphasized that it was the NFL’s doing. The owner also admitted to never thinking about the possibility of Pacman screwing up with the very guys hired to prevent him from screwing up.

Indianapolis Colts, Ed Johnson – released

Few Indianapolis defensive tackles have been as good as Ed Johnson, the team’s undrafted rookie sensation a year ago. But that wasn’t enough to convince the Colts to keep Johnson after he was arrested for speeding and possession of marijuana. Although his record had been clean as a Colt, Johnson’s previous character issues – which were what had scared teams away on Draft Day – were enough to punch his ticket out of town.

Cleveland Browns, Kellen Winslow – Benched

The hotheaded tight end spouted off about how the organization did not care about him, and how they told him not to publicly disclose his staph infection. The Browns refuted the accusations, then promptly suspended Winslow for a game (after he met with team officials, the suspension was replaced with a $25,000 fine, which meant Winslow got to keep his $235,294-plus game check). Still, he stayed home when the Browns traveled to Jacksonville.

Carolina Panthers, Steve Smith – suspended

You can set your watch by it: every few years, Steve Smith loses his mind and sucker punches a teammate (remember the incident with Stephen Davis?). This time, the victim was cornerback Ken Lucas, who reportedly was sitting in a defenseless position when Smith attacked him. The Panthers drew headlines for suspending the volatile star for the first two games. Carolina won both, Smith and Lucas have since made nice and all appears to be well.

San Francisco 49ers, Vernon Davis – Ejected

Mike Singletary had likely been stewing about the young tight end all season. It wasn’t until Singletary was promoted from defensive coordinator to interim head before he felt comfortable doing something about it. What he did was send Davis to the locker room after the former first-round pick seemingly mailed it in during the second half of a pitiful loss against Seattle. After the game, Singletary lambasted Davis in a press conference that, by now, you’ve seen at least three or four times.



Posted by Andy Benoit at 10/30/2008 3:01:00 PM

Comments (4)

Midseason "Best-Ball" Draft
On Tuesday night, the RotoWire Staff (and a few friends) drafted a midseason "best-ball" league. We picked 20 players, with 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 2 FLEX (RB/WR), 1 TE and 1 K, no defense, required for starting lineups. There are no add/drops of setting lineups - we strictly use the best combination of players on each roster that fill the starting slots, i.e., whichever players end up doing best on Sunday are retrofitted into your starting lineups.

Scoring is pretty standard (4/6, 20/10), though there's a half point per reception as well. We use team QBs and team kickers.

The league runs from Week 9 to Week 17 and is based solely on total points.

Essentially, it's a good way to gauge how people really value players at the season's midpoint. The results are below.

(Thanks to Scott Pianowski for setting up and commishing the league).

Liss Payne Sandberg Del Don Anestis
1 Westbrook, B Tomlinson, L Portis, C Peterson, A Barber, M
2 Slaton, S Wayne, R Jacobs, B Brown, Ronnie Johnson, Chris
3 Jennings, G Grant, R Boldin, A White, R Moss, R
4 Bush, R Colston, M Ward, H Burress, P Broncos QB
5 Edwards, B Colts QB Eagles QB Gates, A Berrian, B
6 Cotchery, J Harrison, M Avery, D Holmes, S Hightower, T
7 Thomas, P Torain, R Gonzalez, T Texans QB Daniels, O
8 McFadden, D Fargas, J Williams, Roy Royal, E Ocho Cinco, C
9 Mason, D Curtis, K Jones, J Taylor, C James, E
10 Bryant, A Jets QB Jones, M Moore, L McAllister, D
11 Winslow, K Cooley, C Falcons QB Ginn, T Panthers QB
12 Taylor, F Miller, H Smith, S Bears QB Sproles, D
13 Gonzalez, A Browns QB Bruce, I Morris, M Brown, Reg
14 Benson, C Young, S Jones, J Betts, L Hester, D
15 Dolphins QB Jackson, B Bradshaw, A Norwood, J McClain, L
16 Rams QB Green, A Shiancoe, V Niners QB Stallworth, D
17 Seahawks QB Engram, B Titans PK Charles, J Keller, D
18 Lions QB Saints PK Rice, S Smith, L Vikings PK
19 Boss, K Crayton, P Toomer, A Packers PK Walker, J
20 Redskins PK Colts PK Baskett, H Texans PK Booker, M
Stopa Teope Cuozzo Pianowski Burton
1 Lynch, M Gore, F Forte, M Johnson, A Jackson, S
2 Fitzgerald, L Smith, S Marshall, B Turner, M Addai, J
3 Jones-Drew, M Moss, S McGahee, W Williams, DeA Owens, T
4 White, L Saints QB Jones, T Evans, L Johnson, Calvin
5 Graham, E Stewart, J Parker, W Coles, L Lewis, J
6 Chargers QB Packers QB Cardinals QB Bowe, D Houshmandzadeh, T
7 Jackson, V Moore, Mew Welker, W Driver, D Holt, T
8 Walter, K Jackson, Des Chambers, C Ward, D Cowboys QB
9 Galloway, J Faulk, K Washington, L Steelers QB Witten, J
10 Jones, F Rhodes, D Clark, D Williams, Ricky Giants QB
11 Henderson, D Breaston, S Muhammad, M Morris, S Johnson, L
12 Olsen, G Pittman, M Jackson, F Bills QB Smith, K
13 Jags QB Washington, N Scheffler, T Miller, Z Redskins QB
14 Buckhalter, C Fasano, A Rice, R Dunn, W Shockey, J
15 Williams, Reggie Patriots QB Vikings QB Scaife, B Johnson, Rudi
16 Lewis, M Smith, K Lloyd, B Camarillo, G Morgan, J
17 Stokley, B Randle El, A Bucs QB Chiefs QB Carlson, J
18 Chargers PK Lee, D Broncos PK Giants PK Jordan, L
19 Jaguars PK Green-Ellis, B Jones, K Gage, J Cowboys PK
20 Bears PK Patriots PK Bills PK Panthers PK Falcons PK


Posted by Chris Liss at 10/29/2008 2:18:00 PM

Comments (25)

NFL Notes
The Ravens had high praise for JaMarcus Russell after Sunday’s game, but I’m still not quite sure what to make of him. He gets little help from his receivers, but a 50.3 completion percentage is unacceptable. The jury remains out, and it’s definitely too soon to make a call, but I still say the organization blew it by passing on Calvin Johnson…The next time Darren McFadden takes the field, his toe better be 100 percent healed. Rushing back from this injury has done no good…Seriously, what happened to Mark Clayton? And the same could be said about Todd Heap too.

It’s too bad the Cardinals don’t have a defense, because their offense is good enough to win the Super Bowl. Kurt Warner is playing exceptionally well…When he and Jake Delhomme are both healthy, Steve Smith is basically the best fantasy receiver alive…Muhsin Muhammad’s drop in the end zone qualified as one of the worst so far this season…Step aside Edge, time to see what Timmy Hightower can do.

Chad Pennington looks like Jay Cutler compared to Brad Johnson’s arm strength. This Dallas team is in a lot of trouble if Tony Romo doesn’t come back at 100 percent…No matter how good of a job he does taking care of his body, it looks like Terrell Owens is losing the battle with age…Wade Phillips acted truly dumbfounded when reporters asked about a possible QB switch during his Monday presser, wondering why he would replace Johnson after a win. He just doesn’t get it.

Santana Moss and hamstring injuries don’t go well together. Hopefully it’s not serious, because leg injuries are Moss’ kryptonite…Is there any sane reason whatsoever for Detroit continuing to give Rudi Johnson more carries than Kevin Smith? Nice Gosder Cherilus draft pick, Matt Millen…Clinton Portis is on pace to finish the season with 374 carries, so while I’m not recommending trading him at all costs, be aware there’s a real chance he wears down over the second half of the season.

The Dolphins were nothing short of terrible tackling Sunday, but Joey Porter has been a force this season…Jason Peters has been one of the most disappointing players in football this year…The Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams split needs to be more 3:1 than 2:1…Miami hit a home run with the Jake Long pick, and there’s a real chance they did the same with Chad Henne. For someone who no longer looked useful as a head coach, Bill Parcells has sure been a valuable asset to the Dolphins…Looks like I was one year too soon jumping on the Lee Evans bandwagon…In case you weren’t invited, Ted Ginn had his coming out party Sunday, absolutely abusing a hobbled Terrence McGee. He’s actually been much more involved in the passing game over the last few weeks, making him an intriguing pick up. Chad Pennington isn’t an ideal fit for his deep speed (half of Pennington’s throws Sunday looked like they were shot mid-air), but Ginn looks like a playmaker. He’ll probably remain inconsistent, but he’s a sneaky play against the Broncos this week.

It looks like BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ relevance will be short-lived, which is a shame. Fantastic name…Torry Holt has fallen off the planet. The warning signs were there, but no one could have predicted this type of decline…Donnie Avery, meanwhile, looks terrific. Remember when everyone went crazy when the Rams took him over Devin Thomas?

I’ll eat some crow regarding LaDainain Tomlinson, as he looked pretty good last week. The Chargers have a very easy schedule moving forward as well…The only thing less surprising than Ted Cottrell ruining a defense would be Tim McCarver stating the obvious. Seriously, why are two of the worst announcers in the business involved in the World Series?...San Diego sure does know how to draft quarterbacks, as Philip Rivers and Drew Brees have been fantastic this season.

Where did that come from Tyler Thigpen? The Jets’ secondary is bad, but that was still highly unexpected…Those Brett Favre interceptions were horrid. Simply brutal. He’s not playing very well right now, and that team is a fraud…It probably wouldn’t be the worst idea to get Leon Washington a few more touches each week…Larry Johnson is awfully tough when it comes to women. Seriously, your next transgression better involve a male, LJ…For some reason, I’m a big fan of the name Connor Barth.

Roddy White is officially a star. He’s been targeted on more of his team’s pass attempts than any player in football this season…Only health prevents Brian Westbrook from being the greatest fantasy asset alive…Michael Turner is the perfect back to have if you’re loaded with RB depth – he destroys bad defenses and is almost worthless against tough ones. He’s a must-start this week in Oakland…Matt Ryan continues to impress…Thanks for costing me a win ATS refs! What a blown call, looking even worse with no challenges available and only 22 seconds away from it being subject to booth review. Ugh.

Maybe now I’ll finally stop getting “should I pick up Matt Schaub” questions. This Texans offense has a lot of upside…Andre Johnson is on pace to finish the season with 128 catches and 1,765 yards. Some more touchdowns would be nice though…The attempted tackle on Kevin Walter’s second TD catch after he was already on the ground was an embarrassment. The Bengals are a joke.

Shaun Rogers was flat-out dominant Sunday, shutting down the Jaguars rushing attack. Put a fork in Fred Taylor, he’s done…Kellen Winslow isn’t a bad buy-low target right now…Nothing like a looming suspension to get motivated, as that was Matt Jones’ best game of his career…Braylon Edwards has been one of, if not the biggest healthy busts so far this season.

I find it hard to believe Pittsburgh wouldn’t be downgrading by switching back to Willie Parker…Playing without Santonio Holmes, or as Dick Stockton calls him, “San Antonio Holmes,” hurt, but a poor offensive line is a recipe for disaster against that Giants pass rush. Imagine if New York hadn’t constantly stalled in the red zone…Still, Pittsburgh remains the third best team in the league.

J.T. O’Sullivan was awful Sunday. Leading the league in sacks, interceptions and fumbles is quite an impressive trifecta…I guess the Mike Singletary/Vernon Davis situation is uncommon, but was it really that big of a deal?...Nice disappearing act, Josh Morgan…It’s not often a team that gets 1.4 YPC, while their opponent gets 5.2, wins 34-13.

LenDale White is on pace to finish the year with 747 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns. As a proud Chris Johnson owner, I loathe the fat man…Sitting at 3-4, don’t be shocked if the Colts finish 10-6 and in the playoffs. Tennessee is legit, but the team really could use even an average option at wide receiver. To win the Super Bowl, would you take the Titans/Giants/Steelers trio, or the field?

Posted by Dalton Del Don at 10/28/2008 4:06:00 PM
Comments (10)

NFL Touchdown Sunday Snide Remarks Week 8
By Andy Benoit, www.NFLTouchdown.com New York Giants 21, Pittsburgh Steelers 14

Great win for the Giants – they were clearly the better team on Sunday. The New York secondary absolutely stifled the Steeler receivers (you may have noticed Ben Roethlisberger holding the ball for half an hour every time he dropped back). Also, Pittsburgh’s mediocre offensive line could not handle the Giants’ aggressive front seven.

Steve Spagnuolo might be the best defensive coordinator in the league right now. Few dial up blitzes as effectively as him. Sure, he has some stars to work with, but overall, the Giant D is middle of the road in terms of raw talent. Yet it’s performing at an elite level.

Can’t remember the last time I saw a Giants game that didn’t include the announcers beating an Eli Manning storyline to death. Thank you, Kenny Albert and Troy Aikman.

Speaking of the Fox broadcast, did anyone see Pam Oliver botch her report at the beginning of the second half? It might be worth You Tubing (if you have an extra minute or two).

James Harrison sailed a long snap over Mitch Berger’s head for a late game-tying safety. Here’s what I don’t understand: why doesn’t the backup center, or even starting center, handle the long snap duties in emergency situations?

New York has the best rushing attack in football this season. This alone should be enough to finally send one of these starting offensive linemen to Hawaii (I vote for right guard Chris Snee).

Plaxico Burress didn’t get an opportunity to truly stick it to his former team Sunday because he began the game on the bench as punishment for missing a treatment on a neck injury. Ironically, it’s this kind of behavioral garbage that helped make the Steelers Burress’s former team to begin with.

Dallas Cowboys 13, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9

This was a very good defensive struggle, highlighted by two ravenous run-stopping front sevens. For the Bucs, the speed of the defensive line gave Dallas trouble. For the Cowboys, linebacker Bradie James and nose tackles Jay Ratliff and Tank Johnson were big difference-makers.

Terrell Owens had only 33 yards receiving, but he stayed positive afterward. A sign that Owens has maybe grown up – a little – is that he seems to realize the offense is going to be treading water as long as Brad Johnson is under center.

Jeff Garcia is playing at a Pro Bowl level. Few quarterbacks elude the rush and keep their eyes downfield as well as he does. And few can move on from their first read, progress through two more, then come back and hit their first read later in the play.

The formula for beating Dallas is blitzing Johnson and jamming the wide receivers. Tampa Bay did that on Sunday, they just didn’t get any big plays offensively or on special teams.

Cowboys rookie corners Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick had excellent games. Obviously, they must continue to play at a high level while Terence Newman, and now possibly Anthony Henry, sit out. But one concern with both rookies is their level of confidence. It’s bordering on “too high.” Jenkins loves to jump routes, and Scandrick is becoming an all-out tackler. If I’m Cowboys secondary coach Dave Campo, I spend Monday taking both rookies through the film, praising them and then scaring them with foreboding tales about giving up big plays.

After this game I heard Wade Phillips and several Cowboy players refer to the team’s upcoming bye week. One problem: Dallas’s bye is in Week 10. I don’t see any way the Cowboys go on the road and beat the Giants next week.

New Orleans Saints 37, San Diego Chargers 32

Are you like me? When watching this game, did you find yourself thinking, “I wonder if these Brits understand what’s going on.” The Brits had a lot of complicated football thrown at them in this one, including an onside kick and Drew Brees taking a bizarre safety in the closing seconds. (By the way, considering New Orleans was well past the 20-yard-line when they did that, and that it trimmed the lead from seven to five while still leaving eight seconds on the clock, you have to say that was one hell of a stupid decision by Sean Payton).

The Chargers lost, but the good news is they can still win the AFC West (thank you, overrated Denver), and LaDainian Tomlinson appears to be himself again.

Of course, San Diego has to stop somebody. And we’re discovering that without Shawne Merriman, that’s not something they can do.

If the Saints can get a few games above .500, you’ll start hearing Drew Brees’s name loudly in MVP discussions. The way he worked the ball around Sunday without the threat of Reggie Bush was extremely impressive.

Overall, I still don’t like sharing our game with the British. I think any European who attends an NFL game should first have to sign a document acknowledging that football is 1,000 times more complex and exciting than soccer.

Cleveland Browns 23, Jacksonville Jaguars 17

Two organizations badly needed this outcome: the Browns, and ESPN. From a television standpoint, thank God this darling team is still in it.

By the way, at 3-4, are the Jaguars still in it? What’s the deal with them?

Derek Anderson appears to be one of those players who performs well only when he has something to prove. Playing for his starting job again this past week, Anderson was mentally sharper, and thus, less predictable.

Cleveland’s best play call this season came in the second quarter on a fourth-and-one. Anderson play-actioned and rolled right before hitting a wide open Steve Heiden for a momentum-boosting 51-yard-gain.

By the way, speaking of Heiden….Kellen Winslow, didya see the veteran tight end’s solid performance? Didya see his blocking? You think maybe you might shape up now that, you know, it’s obvious this team does not need you?

Don’t drink the Matt Jones Kool-Aid. Yes, the guy had his first 100-yard game of what has been a fairly stellar season, but understand the bottom line with Jones: he’s an ultra-athletic former first-round pick who runs horrendous routes, wastes more motion than player in the game and shows less energy than a hungover Eeyore.

Shaun Rogers is playing like a man on fire right now.

Seattle Seahawks 34, San Francisco 49ers 13

Obviously the story of this game is the press conference held by Mike Singletary afterward. You have to admire the interim head coach’s purity. He’s clearly not a guy worried about his own job status. The rules have been laid down; Singletary can’t preach them in this manner too many times again. What he’s saying is right….it’s only a matter of whether the modern football culture – and specifically, the 49er football culture – can handle it.

If Singletary is using this season as an audition, then he should fire Mike Martz right now. Martz’s offense is a quarterback killer and head coach killer.

Case in point: J.T. O’Sullivan. San Francisco was wise to make the move to Shaun Hill. It’s one thing for a quarterback to not be making plays – it’s another to be giving up plays. With 17 turnovers on the year, that’s what O’Sullivan was doing.

Believe it or not, Seattle is just two games out in the NFC West. Their season is far from over.

I was going to make a joke about the 49ers giving up 116 yards receiving and two touchdowns to Seahawks fullback Leonard Weaver, but after seeing Weaver’s highlights, it would be almost unethical for me to not take the opportunity to genuinely praise the man. Not only is Weaver a very good blocker, he’s become a much nimbler runner. He actually shows a burst.

Houston Texans 35, Cincinnati Bengals 6

It might be time to start thinking about the possibility of a winless season in Cincinnati. The mere thought of that is staggering when you consider the number of talented young players on the roster. But Cincy’s already halfway there and heading into the second half of the season with no quarterback, running game or heart.

Any quarterback controversy in Houston is officially off the radar completely. Matt Schaub was 24/28 in this game for 280 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Schaub’s touchdowns were distributed to wideouts Kevin Walter (two) and David Anderson (one). I wonder…is three touchdown passes to white wide receivers a single-game record in the salary cap era?

It’s great to see Dunta Robinson back and playing well after that horrendous leg injury he suffered last season. Robinson could be a real difference-maker in Houston’s secondary down the stretch.

Baltimore Ravens 29, Oakland Raiders 10

JaMarcus Russell faced a very tough defense Sunday, but it’s time to officially be concerned about his completion percentage. Russell was just 15/33 in this game. It was the fourth time this season that he’s thrown more incompletions than completions.

Now the Ravens are using the wildcat offense, only their wrinkle is that they bring in another quarterback, Troy Smith, for it. What’s odd is that they still leave Joe Flacco on the field, which tells you they have some trick play that involves getting the ball to Flacco outside. In the near future, watch for him to throw a deep pass off a long lateral, much like Chad Pennington did a few weeks ago.

How about Flacco’s line in this game: 140 yards passing, with a touchdown; 23 yards rushing, with another touchdown (an impressive one, I might add); 43 yards receiving (in which he out-positioned the defender for the ball).

The other day I was visiting with someone who, everyone would agree, is a football expert. He said to me, completely unprovoked, “You know who is not a very good football player? DeAngelo Hall.”

Carolina Panthers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23

Steve Smith is playing near an MVP level. For years it has seemed like every week he has an enormous catch-and-run for a touchdown. The one he had in this game involved him stepping out of bounds and the ref, for some reason, ruling that he did not step out (something to do with Smith’s heal).

DeAngelo Williams had a nice game: 17 carries, 108 yards. I’ve been saying the past few years that, in terms of simple playing style, Williams is a quicker, faster version of Emmitt Smith. I love his vision and the way he sets up his blocks.

I’m not buying the Arizona Cardinals. This team is too much like all the other Cardinal teams we’ve seen in recent years. Yes, Kurt Warner and his bounty of star receivers put up huge passing numbers, but it’s often to no avail because the Cards don’t have the running game to balance it out. One-dimensional teams become very easy to defeat once the leaves fall off the trees.

Few people are talking about the Panthers secondary, but it’s one of the best in the league. Ken Lucas is having a very good season, Chris Gamble is always steady as a rock, Richard Marshall is a playmaker and Chris Harris is a fumble-forcing machine. More importantly, the Panther defensive backs are good enough for the linebackers and D-linemen to be aggressive up in the box.

Washington Redskins 25, Detroit Lions 17

Jason Campbell is yet to throw an interception this season. That’s incredible considering the guy is still learning the West Coast offense.

I continue to say this one each week: the Redskins are a different offense when Santana Moss is healthy. We saw again Sunday what his big-play ability can do. The mere threat of those big plays will pay huge dividends against Pittsburgh next week.

It should be a crime for a player as gifted as Calvin Johnson to be stuck in the Lions offense. Have we ever seen so much talent go to waste?

Clinton Portis got an earful from Jim Zorn after the running back checked himself into the game without relaying the information to the head coach. That screwed up the play calls. I understand where Zorn is coming from, but how can any coach yell at a tough guy like Portis for subbing himself for a tough gal like Shaun Alexander?

Miami Dolphins 25, Buffalo Bills 16

Just found out Sunday that Ted Ginn Jr. actually is still alive. In fact, he had 175 yards receiving against the Bills!

Not surprised Buffalo lost this one – this had trap game written all over it. Plus, the Dolphins this year seem like one of those teams that is going to win every time you think they’re about to become irrelevant. Teams like that almost always finish 8-8.

Joey Porter was a monster in this game: four tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. He was misused by Dom Capers last season, and I was one of the many who mistakenly assumed that he was also washed up. Considering Porter’s already tied his career-high with 10.5 sacks, I’d say I was wrong.

The Bills need to get more out of rookie receiver James Hardy. A few times this season Hardy has made a nice play because of his size (which is why Buffalo drafted him), but he has only seven receptions on the year.

New England Patriots 23, St. Louis Rams 16 This marks two very encouraging games in a row now for Matt Cassel. Against the Broncos last Monday Night, the first-time starter tossed three touchdowns. In this game, Cassel led a late fourth quarter scoring drive to claim the victory.

Not ironically, Cassel has gotten Randy Moss and Wes Welker consistently involved in each of the past two weeks.

The next star receiver in the NFL might just be St. Louis’s Donnie Avery. Undersized but overly-quick, the second-round rookie is proving to be a big-play threat opposite Torry Holt. Avery had 163 yards on six catches in this game, which might not say a whole lot considering he faced New England’s porous secondary. But in the previous two games – both Ram victories – he faced very good secondaries in Washington and Dallas and came away with eight critical catches for 128 yards and two scores.

Hate to make a sports bar fan type comment, but this probably would have been a different game had Steven Jackson played.

New York Jets 28, Kansas City Chiefs 24

Brett, if this game weren’t against a JV team, your three interceptions would have produced a loss. And you know it. You lead the league with 11 picks now.

“JV team” is harsh…I don’t mean to trash the Chiefs like that. They gave a great effort on the road. Tyler Thigpen – 25/36, 280 yards, two touchdowns and zero picks – was especially effective (in part because New York had virtually no film on him). Herm Edwards needs to go with Thigpen for the remainder of the season and just see how things shake out.

If Herm signs Daunte Culpepper, that tells you he’s trying to save his job for next season.

You wonder why, facing an atrocious Kansas City run defense, the Jets felt compelled to call 41 pass plays and just 23 runs.

Chiefs rookie cornerback Brandon Flowers has performed well this season. The second-rounder was thrust into the starting lineup in Week 1, then became the No. 1 corner shortly after that. Against the Jets, Flowers recorded his first two career interceptions.

Philadelphia Eagles 27, Atlanta Falcons 14

A healthy Brian Westbrook reminded us all of just how special he is. Westbrook carried the ball 22 times for 167 yards and two scores. He also had 42 yards receiving on six catches. Besides versatility and intelligence, Westbrook is great because he can change his tempo no matter what angle his body is moving. Few players in football have this kind of elusiveness.

The refs blew a call on the Adam Jennings muffed punt (it wasn’t a muff, he never touched it), but that’s a tough call to see. Can’t blame an official there. This is why the NFL added the challenge rule. And this is why Mike Smith will think twice before using up all three of his timeouts before the two minute warning.

Donovan McNabb remains in top form, and now he has his top receiver, Kevin Curtis, back. With L.J. Smith and Westbrook also healthy, and rookie sensation DeSean Jackson ostensibly improving, Philly now has a very dangerous offense.

Lawyer Milloy deserves a hefty fine for his illegal hit on defenseless L.J. Smith. Considering Milloy had a DUI a few weeks ago, the league may want to consider sitting him down a game. This begs the question: does a player’s off-field and on-filed transgressions factor together in the eyes of Roger Goodell?



Posted by Andy Benoit at 10/27/2008 8:15:00 AM

Comments (7)

NYG-PIT: Repeat of Last Season's Playoffs
The Giants won in Pittsburgh in almost exactly the way they knocked off the league's powerhouses on the road in last season's playoffs - with Eli Manning playing a solid, mistake-free game and making all the throws he needed to make, and the defense absolutely dominating in the fourth quarter.

Manning's receivers didn't do him any favors - he threw two perfect balls to Steve Smith (one a 15-yard out) and another a deep ball that was jarred loose when Smith took a hit. Both catches were tough, but certainly makable. Fullback Madison Hedgecock also dropped two - he might be the only player in the league with worse hands than Brandon Jacobs.

But the key was Steve Spagnuolo's blitzing defense and better play by the secondary, the blown coverage on Nate Washington notwithstanding. It's only Week 8, and things will change drastically between now and the end of the season, but this was the type of game the Giants will need to play if they're going to make another run this year.

Wonder what this team would have looked like with a healthy Osi Umenyiora.

Posted by Chris Liss at 10/26/2008 8:24:00 PM

Comments (7)

Sunday Live Blog
What did you do with Plaxico Burress in your leagues? I ended up benching him and starting Lance Moore. Not happy about it - but I can't shake the feeling that he might not play at all.

Posted by Jeff Erickson at 10/26/2008 10:04:00 AM
Comments (84)

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