East Coast Offense
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
Liss's People-Eating, Steel-Curtain Monsters of the Midway
Last week I boasted about the strength of my virtual defense in the Yahoo Friends and Family League before facing the league's top point-producing team (Scott Pianowski) on Sunday. And sure enough, we shut it down, roughing up Marshawn Lynch, holding Derek Anderson to just 123 passing yards and locking down his receivers (Plaxico Burress, Bobby Engram and Kevin Curtis) almost entirely. Our virtual offense even chipped in, completely shutting out his defense (Saints). As a result, my team is 8-2, and after Funston's underachieving bunch of superstars lost, this collection of scrubs is the top team in the entire league. Jeff Garcia is still my top point-producer and Frank Gore easily my best running back (Jerious Norwood is second). I feel like I went all in on a bluff, got called and flopped a full house. And once you have the chip lead, who knows?
Brad Evans' team lost, incidentally, and I believe that clinched the Kobe beef and rib-eye burger for me. It's a terrible injustice, given how much better he drafted, but I care about that as much as Shaun Alexander cares about fighting for the extra yard this year.
(No idea if that's true about Alexander, or if he's really hurt, but on Monday Night Football, all the analysts were dumping on him, including Emmitt Smith who said: "When you tackle Frank Gore, you feel it. When you tackle Shaun Alexander, it's like Charmin.")
How to Deal with Death and Loss
Every Sunday, I go to war with nine fantasy teams, a bet on every game, a survivor pick and a rooting interest in the Giants. With that many horses in the race, you can't possibly win them all, so you have to prioritize to remain sane. And priority No. 1, bar none, is Survivor. Because if your fantasy team loses, it can recover. If you have a bad week against the spread, you can bounce back. But in Survivor, once you lose, you're dead, and there is no afterlife, except a Hell for those that can't let go of it. And I'm coming out of that hell about now (Tuesday night) after picking the Saints.
The worst part about it is that we had choices - Seattle and Green Bay, and both won so easily. It's one thing to lose with the only double-digit favorite in a shocking upset - that's like someone hitting a two-outer on the river on you in poker - it happens, and you deal with it. But this - this was avoidable and therefore blameworthy.
One way to deal with it is to detach. Who cares, it's just a football game, and we don't control it anyway. So we were down to the final eight for thousands of dollars, and we let all our readers down? Big deal, real life goes on, right? The problem is the more you detach and gain perspective, the less excited you'd be if you were to win. And in my opinion, the less likely you'll be to win. So I agonize over it. I live and die with every play. I get in a horrendously foul mood when my survivor pick is in doubt, and I spew horrific diatribes against every annoying commercial that comes on the TV, viewing the assumptions therein as personal insults.
(I can't print here what I actually say to the Cadillac ad that begins in a knowing tone: "In today's luxury game..." "Today's luxury game?" What the hell is that? Don't talk to me in a snooty tone like there's some "luxury game" that everyone who has any money knows about. There's no game. You're trying to sell me a car. Don't pretend there's something going on when there isn't. Just make a good product and market it on the merits. My survivor team is about to knock me out for the season, and I've got to listen to your smug tone about "the luxury game!")
Needless to say, it's not always rational, but that's part of attaching yourself to the result of events over which you have zero control. When the thing that I dread most, in this case the Saints losing, comes to pass, there's nothing much to do but agonize for a few more minutes then let it go entirely. It's over, you're dead, you got it wrong, you're an idiot, you screwed up, okay fine, it doesn't matter, who cares, it's done, move on, deal with getting the cover in the late games and some Ws for your fantasy teams. But you're an idiot, you should have taken Seattle. I know, fine, whatever, it's done. The Giants better beat Dallas and shut smug-ass Salfino up. Can't wait to see what he says when the Giants roll. Damn Saints. Should have taken Seattle. Forget it, it's over. Go Giants...
(Some background - one of our writers, Mike Salfino, was super smug in his dismissal of the Giants' chances against Dallas, and I had a very public running debate with him about it...) Of course, the Giants not only lost, but proved him right down to the 11-point margin he predicted (He had 34-23, not 31-20 as he moronically overestimated the amount of field-goals kicked). What's worse, the game extinguished just about any hope a Giants fan could reasonably have that the Giants would win should the two teams meet again.
But who cares? The Giants are just a bunch of dudes I don't know who wear blue, white and occasionally red shirts... And so what if Salfino got the better of it? In a hundred years we'll all be dead.
Now that Adrian Peterson's likely out at least two weeks with a torn LCL, Chester Taylor should carry the full load and benefit from Minnesota's outstanding offensive line. He won't have Peterson's explosiveness, but he should be more than serviceable in the near term and possibly the rest of the season, if the team, realizing it has no chance for the playoffs, keeps Peterson out. It would be ironic, though, if Brad Childress, in an attempt to save his job, put Peterson back in with three games to go, and he tore the LCL completely. This after not using a healthy Peterson enough early in the season, which probably cost them two wins, and put Childress's job in jeopardy in the first place. But Vikings ownership, if they're smart, won't let him.
Maurice Morris had 28 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown Monday night, and also caught three passes for 16 more. Moreover, the Seahawks actually tried to throw deep to him a couple times - a rare bonus for a running back. Shaun Alexander could be back at any point, of course, but there's been speculation, perhaps much of it unfair, that the newly wealthy running back doesn't like getting tackled anymore. Which means he could sit out longer, or force the Seahawks to use Morris due to his ineffectiveness.
We assume D.J. Hackett is owned, but if you watched Monday Night's game, he was the guy Matt Hasselbeck looked for most frequently and in the red zone. With the Seahawks passing more, Hackett could be a top 10-15 receiver the rest of the way.
Mark Clayton had eight catches for 107 yards Sunday, and Kyle Boller's insertion into the lineup for Steve McNair bodes well - at least Boller has the arm to get the ball down the field to the Ravens best playmaker.
Javon Walker should return from a knee injury in the next couple weeks. He's likely to need surgery after the season, and it's unclear how effective he'll be, but he's worth a flier given his size, speed and ability to track the ball in the air.
TJ Duckett could see extra work, particularly around the goal line, if the Lions hold Kevin Jones (foot) out of Sunday's game.
With Isaac Bruce likely to miss time with a sore hamstring, Drew Bennett should start opposite Torry Holt. The Rams love to throw inside the five-yard line, and Bennett has the height to go up and get it in the end zone like he did on Sunday.
Around the League
Beating the Book
We went 8-6 against the spread in Week 10, putting us at 69-67-8 on the year, but we made another bad pick with the Raiders here to drop our record in this forum to 3-7.
Patriots -15.5 at Bills
Call us greedy, but after finally getting one cover against the Patriots, we're going back to the well. The reasoning is simple: Whatever actually happens in this game, you can't say that the line was too small. This is more than two TDs on the road against a team with a winning record. It's also a night game in mid-November in Buffalo, so weather could be a factor. In fact, coming off the bye, fat after their big win against the Colts, this is a major trap game in New England's quest for a perfect season. Back the Bills. This will be a close one.
Article first appeared 11/14/07
Patriots 24 - 20
Surviving Week 11
I thought I was over it when I wrote the "Death and Loss" section, but as I type, clearly I'm not. It sucks not to be writing with an unblemished slate here... Okay here's what we'll do. In three of our four pools last week, we took the Saints, but in one, I noticed that everyone except three teams (9 out of 12) had used Seattle and not New Orleans. I knew they would all take the Saints, so the "pot odds" I'd get if Seattle won and the Saints lost were too good to turn down. I took Seattle, and one of the three who had Seattle left took the Lions, for God knows what reason. Now there are two of us left in that one pool. So I'm going to pretend we took Seattle here last week and move forward accordingly.
This week, we're probably going with the Packers. If we had the Colts available, we'd definitely use them over the Patriots. I really don't like that Buffalo game. But we don't, so we're taking the Packers. (Our other legitimate choice is the Eagles, but the Dolphins are awfully hungry, and Philly hasn't been consistent). The Packers have been able to get the ball down the field, and that shouldn't change at home against the Panthers. Moreover, Carolina's likely sending David Carr or Vinny Testaverde out there, and either will find it tough going on the road against that defense. We give the Packers an 80 percent chance to win this game.
The full article comes out on Thursday morning.
Article first appeared 11/14/07