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Unconventional Wisdom - Week 11
Fritz Schlottman
November 17, 2006


New England at Green Bay

This is the easiest pick of the week.  The Patriots are 4-0 straight-up and against the spread on the road this year and the Pats are coming off back-to-back home losses for the first time in what seems like forever.  The Packers are off a big, road win over a divisional opponent (Minnesota) and have won three of their last four games?  How could you ask for a better spot for New England?

Looking at the stats, everything looks to be going the Patriots way.  New England scores an average of 30.3 ppg. on the road while allowing 10.8 for a net margin of 19.5.  The Packers, on the other hand, score an average of 19.5 points and give up 24.3 for a net of -4.8 ppg. at home.  Which team do you want?  I thought you’d say that.

This should be a big rushing game for New England’s runingbacks.  The Patriots are averaging a very solid 141 rushing yards per game on the road.  When the Patriots can run the ball on the road, they keep the opposing offense off the field.  As a result, home opponents are averaging less than a field goal in the first half against New England’s defense.

A great situation and great numbers put me on the Patriots this week.


Oakland at Kansas City

Yuck!  This may be one of those games where the first team that scores wins.  Both offenses are in a world of hurt right now.

The offensive lines are a complete mess.  For KC, TE Tony Gonzales is likely out for the game which is always bad news for fantasy owners.  G Brian Walters will miss his second straight game because of a knee injury and T Kevin Sampson is out as well.  Missing these three starters last week, the Chiefs scored a whopping 10 points against the Miami Dolphins last week while giving up three sacks.  The game was 26 minutes old before KC has a first down (five straight three-and-outs will do that, you know).  That’s not very good, especially as QB Trent Green will be playing his first game since suffering a severe concussion.
Oakland’s offensive line is no better.  They can’t block anybody.  The Raiders are last in the NFL, averaging 229.7 yards per game and just 131.7 yards per game passing. They've penetrated the opponents’ red zone only 17 times and they've scored seven offensive touchdowns in nine games.  Oakland quarterbacks have been sacked 44 times, last in the NFL and 15 more times than the 31st-ranked team.  And WR Randy Moss is just a turd for quitting on his own team.  Whoever starts at quarterback this week for OAK (Walters or Brooks) will be running for their lives.

The winner of this game will be the team that makes the least amount of mistakes.  Given that, neither team is going to take a lot of chances.  Expect a very low scoring and painful game.

Buffalo at Houston

Houston is a bad team that is playing better and Buffalo is just a bad team.  The Bills are keeping in games with smoke and mirrors.  The Buffalo defense has hung on for dear life in a home victory against Green Bay two weeks ago despite being out-played, and last week BUF got a road cover at Indianapolis in a game were the Colts were clearly looking ahead. Sooner or later the loss of RB McGahee is going to bite Buffalo in the butt.  It didn’t bite the Bills last week because the Colts defense can’t stop any runningback, but is an obvious letdown spot, I bet the Texans defense can hold the “A” Train in check.

Houston isn’t a great shake either.  The Texans have scored 17 points or less in six of their 9 games.  Surprise, surprise…this look like another one of those games where the first team to 17 wins.  Not exactly must-miss TV and not a very good spot for fantasy owner either.  It’s time to bail out if you have better fantasy options.

Washington at Tampa Bay

RB Clinton Portis is out with a broken hand, the Redskins finally make a switch at quarterback signaling the end of their season, and everyone in DC wants anyone associated with this train wreck lynched at the nearest tree.  And you thought you had problems this week.  This Redskins franchise, favored to win the NFC last spring, has seen their best chance to regain some of their lost glory go up in flames.  As if it couldn’t get any worse, the ‘Skins are looking salary cap hell right in the eyes.  So Skins’ fan can say a fond farewell to the playoffs for the remainder of the decade.  Bye-bye.

As low as the Redskins have sunk this week, the Tampa Bay Buc’s are right there with them.  Tampa Bay can’t run the football and as a result, the team relies on an untested quarterback to move the team down the field, with completely predictable results.  To make matters works, the Tampa Bay defense got old in a big hurry, and now that once proud defensive unit can’t stop opposing teams if their lives depended on it.  Struggling on offense and not being able to stop the other team from scoring is a bad thing, by the way.  The Buccaneers may as well get their own rebuilding program started early as the Buc’s are not going any where near the Super Bowl any time in the future either.

Both of these teams are dead and buried this season.  As a result, I expect a very lethargic game this week.  Once again, look for other options rather than starting players for either team.