East Coast Offense
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
The Book Giveth, the Book Taketh Away
We've had a rough go of it against the spread the last three weeks, and while Sunday wasn't exactly a bloodbath, we were 6-7 through the afternoon games with only Pittsburgh-San Diego left to finish out. We needed the Steelers minus four and a half bad.
When the Pittsburgh had the ball inside the 10-yard line down two in the last minute, I was begging the Chargers to do the right thing and let Willie Parker score the touchdown. It was San Diego's only chance to win the game (other than a missed chip-shot field goal), and I prayed for Norv Turner to be smart enough to give the go-ahead. Of course, he didn't, and in truth I didn't deserve it because if Turner were smart enough to let Parker go, then Mike Tomlin should be smart enough to order a Brian Westbrook-style kneel-down. In fact, I was lucky that both were stupid rather than both smart - at least this way I had a chance.
So you can imagine my elation when Parker broke free inside the five and barely squirted into the end zone for the score. What joy to see bad beats avenged by a such a stroke of dumb luck! But there was a flag on the play, and after cursing the refs for calling the usual ticky-tack b.s., I saw the replay, and it was about as legit as holding gets.
Unconcerned with whether the Steelers even made the field goal and won the game, I muted the TV and picked up my laptop to see how my fantasy teams fared in the afternoon. Win, win, win, loss, win, win, likely win, likely loss. I thought about how good a fantasy year I'm having, but how beating the Book is more important to me.
At that moment I looked up. There was some commotion on the screen. I unmuted it and saw the replay. No, it couldn't be - but yes, it happened - the greatest play in the history of the NFL! Troy Polamalu, as if possessed, comes barreling through, slapping the ball out of the Chargers' hands, scooping it up and smashing his way into the end zone. It was beyond heroic.
I picked up the phone, dialed my brother.
"D, the craziest s*** I've ever seen in my life just happened. The best play in the history of the NFL!"
"C, I can hardly hear you, I'm at the Knicks game."
I shouted it to him, only faintly sure he comprehended. He seemed pleased, but didn't quite grasp the enormity of it. "Wait, I yelled - they're reviewing it - but it'll hold up, no forward lateral." The ref signaled touchdown, and I said: "Yep, touchdown! That's friggin sick!"
I let Damon go, and there was some discussion by the announcers about how there's never been an 11-10 game, and apparently there won't be now. It was like 11-10 marked the coming of the apocalypse**, and Polamalu singlehandly saved all of humanity. Then the announcers wondered what to do about the extra point, since the field was mobbed, and abruptly and for no apparent reason*, the refs changed their minds - it was a forward lateral after all. Game over, 11-10, just like that.
I called Damon back, but mercifully, it was too loud for him to hear.
* I thought this at the time and still believe it that the real reason the refs overturned the call was that they were panicked over not being able to arrange a proper extra point, and decided it was easier just to disallow the touchdown altogether. Whatever bogus explanation they made and retracted after the game didn't add up.
** If and when the end of the world does come, I have little doubt it will happen quietly and for a stupid reason just like in that game.
Romeo Stops the Bleeding
Not only did the Browns win Monday night, but unlike last week, Romeo Crennel actually managed the clock well down the stretch. When Buffalo got into field-goal range, Crennel used his timeouts on defense, preserving 38 seconds should Rian Lindell's field goal have been good. I criticized Crennel for being in a similar situation against Denver last week and failing to use his timeouts, so I have to give him credit for getting it right. (Of course, it's obvious, but coaches get it wrong all the time).
Things to Take Away From Week 11
Buccaneers -9 at Lions
The Lions haven't won a game yet, but they've covered two of the last three and four of the last six against the spread. Tampa Bay is a tough, opportunistic team, but they're far better at home than on the road. Back the Lions who keep it close.
Buccaneers 20 - 17
We were 6-10 in this forum last year, but 127-120 on the season overall. From 1999-2007 we're 1184-1018 (53.8%, not including ties).
The full article comes out on Thursday morning.
Surviving Week 12
We got by with the Panthers last week, but almost all the big favorites won, except for the Eagles who tied. Someone asked me what the rule is on a tie, and I told them - it's whatever you've worked out in advance. Otherwise, there's no fair way to resolve it.
This week, we'd take the Steelers in the unlikely event they're available to you. If not, then it's really tough, as I don't like the big road favorites (Bears and Bucs) much, I don't love Dallas at home against a 49ers team that might have turned the corner, and I don't trust Denver whose defense might keep Oakland in the game. If pressed I'd probably go with the Bucs because they're well coached and should create some turnovers. We give the Steelers an 84-percent chance to win the game and Tampa Bay a 74-percent chance. We reserve the right to change our minds before the full article comes out Wednesday night.
Article first appeared 11/19/08