Friday, September 22, 2006

Bill’s Week 3 Sendup: Rattling Some Sabres

Week 3: Get Thee To Thy Yak-Shaving (aka, I Told Ya Brady Quinn Would Start Tanking)

I was going to open this week’s missive with a li’l progress report on the NFC East, but Matty already did that at the conclusion of Week 2. However, his analysis called to mind a three-legged cat trying to bury turds on a frozen pond, so I’ll take a crack at it myself.

Salaried pundits and lesser bloviators such as myself deemed the NFC East to be the league’s best division top to bottom at the outset of the season, and that’s looking dubious at best at this point. It certainly looks like it’ll be competitive, but, in short, none of these teams are particularly good. I don’t believe there’s an 11-win colossus in the bunch.

Dallas, currently at 1-1, appeared to me to be the best team in the division before the season, and they still do. Their loss at Jacksonville prompted the usual hysteria among Cowboys fans, but it can basically be explained in brief thusly: Drew Bledsoe had a lousy game and Jacksonville is beyond legit. The 12-round TKO of the Steelers – in which the Jags, on both sides of the ball, lined up and shoved Pittsburgh around consistently – tells me they’re going to make quite a few QBs look the way they made Bledsoe look. (See: “turds, three-legged cat.”) Their offensive line can be exploited by a good defense, and Lactatin’ Bill Parcells’ unparalleled “grocery-buying” skills have led him to a first-round pick who is apparently such a dullard that he can’t even get onto the field, but beyond that they’re nearly solvent.

The New York Everybody Wang Chung Tonight Giants, also at 1-1, have looked alternately great and terrible, inspired and aimless. Honestly, I don’t think they’re quite as good as the Eagles, but after last week’s level-3 meltdown by the Eagles, I’m putting ‘em here. Their performance overall last week, taken separately from the actual results of the game, suggest that the Giants are going to get pummeled early and often. They have severe trouble pass-blocking, stopping the run, getting pressure on the quarterback, covering intermediate pass routes over the middle, covering deep pass patterns, kicking field goals, and keeping their fucking mouths shut when things aren’t going their way.

The Philadelphia Eagles, yet another 1-1 team, has certainly played well enough to be 2-0, but the problems that cropped up in that full-scale bridge collapse against the Giants may be even more severe than the nuts-and-bolts issues that plague the New York Liberty Cabbage Giants. In short, they had their opponent completely pistolwhipped and turning on itself and proceeded to commit an astounding series of mistakes that cost them the game – it wasn’t just one tremendous backfire like Carolina’s ill-advised special-teams lateral last week; rather, it was a systematic, almost scripted-looking collapse. (I kept expecting that Okie half-wit Jeremy Shockey to start waggling his pointed index finger around like Hulk Hogan.) Teams with personnel and schematic shortcomings can sometimes play over their heads and win big games; teams that don’t appear interested in paying the price to win… well, uh, they don’t win.

The Washington Redskins, at 0-2 and dropping like Chris Pontius’ pants, are shaping up to be the whipping boy no one expected would exist in this division. I loves me some Clinton Portis just as much as anyone, but his absence is being overestimated among the causes of Washington’s early-season failures. Portis’ absence is behind the following things (and possibly others) on Ye Olde List O’ Problems: (1) Mark Brunell looks positively cadaveric and the coaches don’t feel comfortable starting any other QB, and (2) without Shawn Springs, their cornerbacks can’t cover a godforsaken thing, which has absolutely crippled Gregg Williams’ ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks. (In short, dudes who was goin’ forwards last year is goin’ backwards this year.) Springs will be back in due time, and perhaps Todd Collins or Jason Campbell will get a shot at the QB spot and actually make, like, two or three decent throws a game, but they may be in too deep a hole by the time they can sort it all out.

Now, the quick-pickin’, fun-strummin’ Week 3 predictionicating!

I am the decider – I decide who will win these games.

Carolina at Tampa Bay
-John Gruden is hoping the Redskins’ coaching staff finally gives up on Mark Brunell and cuts him; he’ll be starting for the Bucs the following week.
-Gruden is aging at an unprecedented rate among people who are not heads of state, but is vowing to stay in shape so he’ll end up looking more like Joe Gibbs than Lactatin’ Bill Parcells (aka “The Cartoona”).
Pick: Carolina

Chicago at Minnesota
-Because no work is permitted to be done on Rosh Hashanah, I’m a little shaky on Rex Grossman this week. However, I’m not entirely clear on whether playing NFL football constitutes work, and Sandy Koufax has yet to return my calls.
Pick: Chicago

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
-Carson Palmer’s injured left knee was reconstructed with the Achilles tendon of Julie DeRossi, a 41-year-old organ donor from Houston who was killed when her car was hit at 117 mph by a drunken SUV driver, who is currently serving 5 years in prison. The rest of her body parts have been transplanted into Mark Brunell.
Pick: Cincinnati (short-week disadvantage, vol. I)

Green Bay at Detroit
-Think back to every great thing you have ever seen Brett Favre do. Okay, ready? Was he in a dome, clad in a white jersey, for ANY of them?
OK, now forget them. He sure as hell has.
-This week Matt Millen is gonna show his staff who wears the pants in the Detroit Lions organization: No one! (Waka waka waka!)
Pick: Detroit

Jacksonville at Indianapolis
-Man, how inebriated was Jimmy Smith during that sideline interview Monday night? He could barely keep his eyes open. I kept expecting him to say to Suzy Kolber, “I don’t care if the team is strugg-a-ling, Byron Leftwich is the slowest brotha I’ve ever seen.”
Pick: Indianapolis (short-week disadvantage, vol. II)

NY Jets at Buffalo
-Before this game, Ralph Wilson stadium is hosting a promotional appearance by Bills legend O.J. Simpson, who will be autographing butcher knives, “I'm Sorry I Killed Those White People, O.J. Simpson.”
Pick: Buffalo

Tennessee at Miami
-We’ve secretly replaced the Miami Dolphins with dark, rich Folgers Crystals. Let’s see if anyone notices…
Pick: Miami

Washington at Houston
-After this game, lobbying group for the deaf to drop lawsuit, publicly wish for blindness as well.
Pick: Houston

Baltimore at Cleveland
-Just to provide a visual companion to the Ravens’ game plans over the years, Brian Billick is going to have Ray Lewis haul him onto the sidelines in a rickshaw at the beginning of this game.
Pick: Baltimore

New York Pork Barrel Spending Giants at Seattle
-Why is it that when Eli Manning blindly throws off his back foot into double coverage and the ball is caught, he’s raved about as a gutsy playmaker, but when Jake Plummer does the same thing, he’s verbally throttled as careless?
Pick: New York The Bong-Rattling Bass Of Mel Schacher Giants

Philadelphia at San Francisco
-“Joselio Hanson” has become a household name, which is a bad thing on a nearly incomprehensible number of levels.
-Evidently the FOX telecast missed it, but my Philly insider has informed me that, coming out of a TV timeout late in the third quarter last week at Lincoln Financial Field, Chico Ruiz ran onto the field and stole home.
Pick: San Francisco

St Louis at Arizona
-Borderline illiterate Bill Mass (aka “The Butcher of Oxford”) last week called Larry Fitzgerald “the antithesis of everything you would want in a wide receiver.” No, Billy Boy, a thousand times no: either the word you’re looking for is “epitome” or the receiver you’re looking for is Antonio Bryant.
Pick: Arizona

Denver at New England
-I just figured out the reason for the discrepant media coverage between Eli Manning and Jake Plummer: Joe Buck isn’t calling the Broncos games.
Pick: New England

Atlanta at New Orleans
-It’s tough to bother with subplots when we’re looking at the first game in the Superdome since Katrina made landfall, but do your best to take note of the fact that the Falcons have resorted to running a high-school offense to minimize the noxious impact of Michael Vick’s quarterbacking.
Pick: Atlanta (31 pts.)

Bye week: Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego, Cowboys except for Soul Brother No. 81

Dave Fleming ripped it off of Don Russell, and now I’m ripping it off Dave Fleming: This column was written while drinking Two Rows Route 66 Amber, eating miniature corn dogs from the catering truck, and listening to the empty, unctuous bleatings of marketing executives with at least four different foreign accents.

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