East Coast Offense
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
Sundays Are for Football
Near the end of the 2000 season when my brother and I had gone 143-99 against the spread and made it to Week 17 in Survivor, he asked me: "What are we going to do with ourselves once the season's over?" He was joking, of course, but only in part. That fall, we had experienced such an urgent sense of purpose and single-minded focus that ordinary post-football life was bound to be a letdown. I wasn't phased, but only because I was in denial - I hadn't even contemplated the offseason. I saw only the glory, and our masterful picks were carrying us inexorably toward it.
In the end, we were offered a three-way split of the $12,000 survivor pool, but we turned it down. We had walked on water and parted the Red Sea more than once already - what was one more week? The biggest favorite available to us in Week 17 was the Lions - a full 10 points over the Bears, but I had misgivings about it. Something wasn't right. Everyone I talked to said we had to pick the Lions - it was obvious. But I was far beyond odds and probability - I was dealing in prophecy. We would take the Seahawks - a mediocre team with a Saturday night home game against the hapless Bills who had to travel across the country on six days rest. Surely Buffalo would mail it in, and we'd be through before the Sunday games even started.
Of course, the Bills kicked the tar out of Seattle for no good reason, and we came away with nothing. But looking back on it eight years ago, the $4000 which I would have split with my brother means little. It was the sense of purpose and engagement - the quest itself that brings us back. And so we're back for another season of trying to vanquish our rivals, crush the Book and cheat death week by week. In the offseason, Sundays are squandered on sleep, time with family and friends and, for some, expressions of religious devotion. But during the fall, Sundays Are for Football. (The link is to my fantasy football documentary of the same title).
Incidentally, the heavily-favored Lions lost on a last-second Paul Edinger field goal the next day... and salvaged what was left of my sanity.
Don't Overreact to Week 1
It's natural to want your drafting brilliance to shine like an atomic blast right out of the gate, crushing your Week 1 opponent and announcing to the rest of the league that your team is to be dreaded and feared. It might happen for you, and if so that's great. But if it doesn't, we wouldn't be overly worried. Looking back at last season here are some of the Week 1 performances that had no predictive value for the rest of the year:
- Javon Walker - 9 catches for 119 yards.
- Marques Colston - 6 catches for 47 yards
- Drew Brees - 191 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT
- Jamal Lewis - 7 carries, 35 yards, 0 TD
- Braylon Edwards - 3 catches 49 yards 0 TD
- Brett Favre - 206 yards 0 TD
- Steve Smith - 118 yards 1 TD
- Chris Brown - 175 yards rushing
- Roddy White - 4 catches for 29 yards
- Tatum Bell - 15 carries, 87 yards TD, four catches
- Lamont Jordan: - 15 carries 70 yards, TD, nine catches 89 yards
- Shaun Alexander - 105 yards, TD, two catches
Of course, Adrian Peterson
went off, and so did Randy Moss
and Tony Romo
- it's obviously better to do well in Week 1 than not. But unless your team is still sluggish through Week 4, it's nothing to get worked up about.
Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady
, New England Patriots
Defensive Player of the Year: Patrick Willis
, San Francisco 49ers
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Matt Ryan
, Atlanta Falcons
Comeback Player of the Year: Chris Perry
, Cincinnati Bengals
MVP: Drew Brees
, New Orleans Saints
DPOY: Justin Tuck
, New York Giants
OROY: Chris Johnson
, Tennessee Titans
Pacman Jones, Dallas Cowboys
Crazy, but Possible
MVP: Jay Cutler
, Denver Broncos
DPOY: Antonio Cromartie
, San Diego Chargers
OROY: DeSean Jackson
, Philadelphia Eagles
CPOY: Antonio Bryant
, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 1 Thoughts
Beating the Book
- Miami in September
Brett Favre was the biggest story of the offseason, and expectations are high in NY after his arrival. But we'd temper ours for Week 1, where the 38-year old quarterback, who missed all the offseason workouts and much of training camp, will be playing in 90 degree heat and humidity. Miami in September can be as difficult to adjust to as Lambeau Field in January.
- Tough Matchup for Denver Passing Game
I like Jay Cutler's chances of emerging as a star this year, but not only is Brandon Marshall out for Week 1 due to a suspension, but Oakland might be the worst passing-game matchup in the league. For starters, they have two all-world corners in Nnamdi Asomugha and DeAngelo Hall, and second, they can't stop the run, so teams can move the ball without putting up big passing stats. Finally, the Raiders probably won't score a lot of points, either, so teams won't be forced to throw. Selvin Young's a good play, though.
- Aaron Rodgers vs. Minnesota
After dealing with all the Favre drama, Rodgers doesn't get to ease into his season. If Rodgers plays well enough to dispatch the team's biggest rival in this key home game, it'll go a long way toward reassuring the Packers they made the right decision this offseason.
- Rookie QBs Starting in Week 1
It's hard to like Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco in his first NFL start, but if you're going to start Week 1 during your rookie year, you can't ask for better matchups than these two have, at home vs. the Lions and Bengals, respectively.
- Arena League Star vs. NFL Europe Star
When the 49ers play the Cardinals, it'll pit Mike Martz' former QB project, Kurt Warner, against his current QB project J.T. O'Sullivan. Warner starred in the Arena League while O'Sullivan was MVP of NFL Europe.
We were 6-10 in this forum last year, but 127-120 on the season overall. Over, the last 10 years, we're 1184-1018 (53.8%, not including ties).
Jaguars -3 at Titans
These are two tough division rivals - we expect a close game with lots of running plays and not a ton of scoring. Under those circumstances, laying three on the road is too much. We'd have set this line as a pick 'em. Back the Titans.
Titans 20 - 19
The full article comes out on Thursday morning.
Surviving Week 1
Don't screw around here. There's but one game that stands out above all the others, and it's the Pats at home against the Chiefs. That's not to say that the Chiefs couldn't win, but of the Week 1 dogs, they're the least likely so long as Tom Brady doesn't aggravate his foot injury. As good as we expect the Patriots to be this year, we really don't know what's going to happen over 17 weeks, so don't save them for later - for now, your only goal should be to remain alive in Week 2.
The full article comes out on Thursday morning.
Article first appeared 9/3/08