East Coast Offense
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
God Bless Los Angeles
As an east coast native, it's easy to find fault with LA - the traffic, the unsightly strip malls, the pedestrian-unfriendly streets that require you to drive everywhere - but while I watched the Pats-Ravens game at a bar on Monday night, all was redeemed.
I was drinking some light beer (cut me some slack, it was a Monday) and having a bite to eat, when an incredibly cute actress pulls up a stool next to me and starts chatting with the super hot bartender. A moment later, an even hotter bartender walks in, exchanges a kiss with the actress and walks behind the bar. The actress turns to me and says, "I just kiss every hot girl who walks in here." I smile and say incredulously, "You think she's hot?" I assume she knows I'm joking - you could fry an egg on the girl she just kissed.
The game is on a giant plasma to my right, and I have to look over the actress's head to watch it. And it's a good game, and I'm doing my best to pay attention to it when the actress and the bartender she kissed start talking about the movies they've been naked in. "I had to show my ass in The Kiss," the bartender says. "I couldn't believe it when they cut it out of the trailer." The actress says that she showed her bare chest as a corpse in "The Lodger," but they weren't her real breasts - they added some fake ones to make them look bigger. At that point, I say to the actress: "Can you please shut up - I'm trying to watch the game, and you two are killing me!" She gives me a sideways glance, and the two go into more detail. At that point, the other bartender, no slouch in her own right, joins the conversation, and I'm surrounded... I keep my focus on the game as best I can, but it's difficult, and I end up talking to the girls for a bit.
Then with 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter, the TV switches to the show "Chuck," and I'm off my stool and at the manager's station within seconds demanding they change it back. He tells me that a VIP at the restaurant directed that episode of "Chuck," and they promised him they'd put it on. So I've got a real problem, now - I can't miss the end of what might be the Patriots' first loss of the season, but at the same time, I'd rather drop dead than leave.
The bartender tells me there's a bar two doors down that'll have the game, and why don't I just leave my tab open and come back. I realize that's what I have to do, but before I leave she says, "If you don't come back and settle up, I'll string you up by your faux-hawk." "I would like that very much," I tell her. "Can we make an appointment?" She says, "I bet you would." And I'm off.
I watch the rest of the game two doors down, return to the bar, and, miraculously, my seat's still empty. I need to get home and get some work done, so naturally I order another beer. The actress is now complaining to me about her needy ex-boyfriend who wouldn't give her any space. I tell her I need to start dating kindergarten teachers - actresses are way too cold. She says if she weren't an actress, she would have been a teacher. I tell her I didn't get enough nurturing in kindergarten, then I finish my beer, pay my tab and write down my phone number. I tell her - "If you call it, I promise I won't answer. It'll give you the sensation of space..."
I'd give her a 10 percent chance of actually calling - but it was a great game (the one on TV, not my lame one).
Two Sleepers Who Can Win You the Title
It's all well and good to make the playoffs, but a huge part of winning the championship is getting players who are hot at the right time. Two players who could get the requisite opportunity over the next few weeks are Calvin Johnson and Jerious Norwood.
With Roy Williams out, the Lions will look to Johnson - they have to. Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey are nice secondary options, but Detroit will need to throw downfield, and Johnson's the guy they'll need to get the ball to. In fact, despite all the hype about a Johnson/Williams tandem in the preseason, it seemed that the two got in each other's way. How could the team justify giving Johnson the looks he needed when they already had a prototype superstar on the same team? They looked Johnson's way on Thanksgiving, and he dropped too many passes, but this is the No. 2 overall pick we're talking about - they're not going to give up on him. The Lions are desperate right now, and they're going to need to see what they have. Moreover, Johnson's finally got some experience under his belt, and he appears to be over the back injury that hampered him for much of the season, i.e., this is the first time he's been healthy and relatively experienced. I wouldn't drop Steve Smith for him just yet, but in a three-receiver league, Johnson's the kind of player who could go off and make the difference. Of course, it would be nice if the Lions protected Jon Kitna a bit better.
We've been touting Norwood for a year and a half now - and have little to show for it. But Bobby Petrino's in experimental mode already at quarterback, and he's indicated that Norwood will get more work going forward. The thing is, he doesn't need all that much. Like Maurice Jones-Drew, Norwood's capable of doing a lot without many carries, though it's far less likely that he'd get the majority of the goal-line work. Still, if you made it to the playoffs thanks to a couple good weeks from Maurice Morris, Chester Taylor or Derrick Ward and are looking for a replacement at the flex, Norwood could make the difference. Also, John Hansen, who writes the Stock Watch column, declared Norwood the biggest reach of our Yahoo! Friends and Family draft when I took him in the third round - of course, that was when Warrick Dunn was supposedly out for the entire preseason with a signifcant back injury - but so far Hansen turned out to be right. Hansen also declared Larry Johnson, who I drafted in the fourth round of our 2005 draft, the biggest reach, and Johnson almost single-handedly won me that league. One more reason I expect Norwood to go off in Weeks 15 and 16, after my first-round bye.
It's slim pickings this week, but DeAngelo Williams could get more work after a strong showing in Week 13. Like Atlanta, Carolina should be in experimental mode, but we wonder whether John Fox is as open to it.
Luke McCown could have value for another week against Houston if Jeff Garcia's unable to go. McCown made good decisions for the most part last week, and he's a good bet to add some rushing yards.
Leon Washington's worth a look if you're stuck for a flex - the Jets could let him play a little bit more like they did last week.
Justin Gage has been surprisingly consistent the last four weeks with no less than 64 for yards in any game and two touchdowns over that span.
With D.J. Hackett out, Nate Burleson becomes the Seahawks' only real downfield and red-zone threat. He produced last week as the team's No. 3 and is worth a look if you just lost Roy Williams or were waiting in vain for Marvin Harrison.
Around the League
Here's the note on David Carr from the RotoWire:
Carr (fragile psyche) was demoted to third-string behind Vinny Testaverde and Matt Moore in Carolina's home game last Sunday, the Charlotte Observer reports. "I don't know that I wanted to expose him to here at home, definitely yesterday and we'll kind of weigh that as we move forward," head coach John Fox said. "Anytime you don't have success, it has an effect on you mentally. I still have confidence in David Carr. I still think he has good things to offer. I don't think it's gone as well for him or for us as we'd all expected. That doesn't mean to say that it won't moving forward either." When a quarterback is being shielded from a hostile home crowd, you know it has been a bad season. Carr probably will not be with the Panthers next season, nor will he see much more action this season.
This was a former No. 1 overall pick, who's been pummeled so much, he can't function as a quarterback. I have no idea why the Panthers are sticking with Testaverde over Moore, though - maybe Moore will be the next Derek Anderson. Even if he's not, Vinny's not going to be on the next Panthers' playoff team.
Beating the Book
We went 8-8 against the spread in Week 13, putting us at 92-91-9 on the year, and we were right about the Cardinals here last week (thanks to the refs missing the clear force-out of Kellen Winslow in the end zone), putting our record at 4-9 here. This week, we're going to do something a little nutty - see below.
Steelers +10.5 at Patriots
We've been going against the Patriots all year, and until the last few weeks, had been taking a pretty severe beating. We knew the bookies would get some of that mindless money back - every bubble has to burst at some point. But after two close calls against mediocre teams, the Patriots still opened this week as 13-point favorites over the very solid Pittsburgh Steelers. Of all the madness - including a 20.5-point line on the road - this had to be the most insane. And even the Pats-worshipping public was on to it as 92 percent of the money went on Pittsburgh. After all, if the Pats can barely beat Philly at home, surely Pittsburgh's going to stay in the game against them. As a result, the line quickly dropped to 10.5 - (and probably someone in Vegas was fired, if not killed). And crazy as it sounds, we're going to lay it. The worry here is that the Pats are tight, but I think playing one of the top teams in the league will actually be a good thing for them - a chance to re-establish themselves after losing standing in the public eye. After New England blows out Pittsburgh, it'll be time to take the Jets plus-30 - and with the money line - in Week 15.
Article first appeared 12/4/07
Patriots 33 - 17
Surviving Week 14
We're still kicking ourselves for switching from Tennessee to Denver at the last second - I would have won my pool outright as the other remaining guy lost with Washington. But hindsight's 20/20, and we also considered Philly, so we're not going to lose too much sleep over that.
This week's a bit easier, and we're going to go with the Jaguars over the Panthers. While Jacksonville often lets teams stay uncomfortably close, this is a team that slugged it out on the road with Indy a week ago, and they should be able to handle their business at home against a spotty Carolina team led by a 43-year old statue at quarterback. We give the Jaguars an 80 percent chance to win this game.
The full article comes out on Thursday morning.
Article first appeared 12/4/07