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Commentary From the Edge - Week 12
Kevin Ratterree
November 21, 2006

The NFL which had run so close to suit for most of the season, has really taken a hard left turn over the last 3 weeks.  The underdogs have risen up and killed the survivor pools, and turned the NFL upside down.  Now things are back to normal.

Three wins in a row have the 49ers in rarified air, completing the trifecta with a win over division leading Seattle.  Not only have they escaped the weekly Misery Index, they are 5-5, a game back of the Seahawks, and in the hunt for the NFC West title.  Huh?

The Bills have won two games, and came a whisker away from clipping the Colts since McGahee's injury.  Coincidence?  Probably.  But I do find it interesting all the same.

The Cowboys looked destined to play second banana to the Eagles and Giants a month ago, but have now won 3 of 4 including a convincing win over the previously undefeated Colts.  And with McNabb's season ender and the Giants now racked up with injuries, the Cowboys with Romo at the helm look to be frontrunners.

McNabb's injury will have major impact in many fantasy leagues.  That goes without saying. Any time a top five player in points goes down, the balance of power shifts.  So what does the McNabb owner do now?  In the leagues I am in the waiver wires are picked pretty clean at this point in the season.  Garcia will be available, and if Reid decides to go that route, he could put up some decent fantasy numbers from time to time.  In Philly, Westbrook is the other cog that keeps the wheels turning.  And dump-off and screen passes thrown to Westbrook have a tendency to end up in the end zone.  But Garcia won't drive your team to a championship.  He's a gamer, but it's hard to get much done when you can't see over the linesmen's heads, and you are constantly getting passes batted back in your face at 95 miles per hour.  And he might not even be the starter.  This is a huge blow for McNabb owners, who up until this point had made one of the best decisions in fantasy drafts this year.

The bad thing is that most owners that have McNabb probably find themselves closer to the bottom of the waiver wire order than the top.  And in deeper leagues someone will likely block your attempt to add McNabb's replacement.  Here's hoping you had a good backup on your roster to begin with.

For the Eagles, this would be an opportune time to incorporate Buckhalter more into the offense, and I would look his way if I was a fantasy owner looking for depth at running back going into the playoffs. 

Joey Harrington is leading the resurrection of the Dolphins.  There, I said it.  Don't try to pretend it isn't happening, because it is.  Again. Here come the Dolphins.  If only somebody could convince this team to play a few games before November gets here, they might get somewhere.  Harrington is benefiting from having a bit more time from his offensive line than he was used to in Detroit, and having more than one receiver that actually can catch the ball.  He is still the old Harrington, but he looks different playing with a team that has a prayer.

Mike Vanderjagt is sporting the look of a choker.  He missed two against his former team on Sunday.  And if my gut is correct, he will miss two that will cost the Cowboys a trip to the Super Bowl somewhere along the way if given the opportunity.   The "liquored up idiot kicker" recently admitted that he was an idiot for making his comments about Manning a few years ago.  He denied being drunk.  So to recap, idiot - yes.  Liquored up - no.  Or so says the idiot.

Do you get the feeling it just isn't going to happen for Aaron Rodgers?  And that Favre will be the Packers quarterback for the next ten years?

There are 6 teams in the league with more than 6 wins.  Five of them are in the AFC. 

In the event of an interception, Plaxico Burress apparently has crossed tackling off his list.

Okay, now this whole Devery Henderson thing is starting to really urinate me off.  I start him.  He gets nothing.  I bench him, he goes ape-shiite.  I'm guessing that if Colston is out for any extended time Henderson needs to be starting every week.  This week he is matched up against the Falcons.  Rotowire advised last week that Henderson should not be owned on any fantasy teams.  Luckily I don't believe everything I read.  But you must feel like a perfect ass if you sent him to waivers last week, even more so than I do for benching him Sunday.

Colston owners could definitely use Henderson over the next couple of weeks to say the least, but once again, if you have Colston on your roster you are likely closer to the top of the standings than the waiver wire order, even if Henderson is available in your league.  Life is hard at the top.

Injuries to critical players couldn't come at a worse time than right now, because trade deadlines are passed in many leagues.  The first half of the season was relatively quiet on the injury front.  Eerily so, except the Shaun Alexander injury, the first half was relatively crash free for fantasy owners for the first time in a long time.  Go figure that the injuries start piling up right about now.  Those fantasy Gods, they'll lull you into a false sense of security and then towel snap you right in the grapes.

Speaking of nuts, you'd be nuts to bench any receiver or quarterback that is playing against the Bengals.  Drew Brees just had a top six game all time against them, and I think they can be relied on to pump up fantasy stats right through the playoffs.  Right now the Bengals are the perfect storm of weak defense, high powered offense, and nothing to lose.
Dear Chad Johnson:  What we were looking for when we drafted you was 20 points every game.  Not 6 points followed by a couple of 45 pointer's.  I mean, don't get me wrong, we'll take it.  But could you spread them out a little better down the stretch?   Level it out a bit.  By the way, I told you it was the Mohawk causing the problems, you lost it and look what happened.
Last week a lot of people were starting to wring their hands over the Colts wrapping up home field advantage too quickly, and the customary week 16 half game for the starters.  But hold everything.  The Ravens and the Chargers are now just a game behind the Colts for the number one seed, and it is possible that the Colts may have to battle to the end to secure it.  I wouldn't bet the farm on it, but it certainly looks a lot more possible now than it did a week ago.

Coat and tie on the sidelines?  It worked for Lombardi, but that was the 60's.  It just doesn't seem right now.  I mean, I am watching the games, a remote in each hand, sitting in my cushy chair wearing sweats and an outdated Priest Holmes jersey that has been banished from the public eye.  I don't want to look at a dude on the sidelines choked by a suit and tie during my comfort time.  Plus, Del Rio looked a little too mafia for my taste.  Take it away.

On Monday Night Football, Joe Thiesman said, "This should be either an incompletion or a catch."  We're glad you are there for us Joe.

Well, it's finally here.  Thursday night football, and the unwelcome return of Bryant Grumble into my living room.  At this point, it looks hopeless to stop this tragedy from happening.  I have denied it and tried to wash it from the cesspool of my mind.  But now it is upon us.  A reality.  Oh the humanity.  I will be spending the next 48 hours sticking pins in the throat of a little Bryant Grumble doll I have constructed out of petrified moose dung.  The incantation is laryngitis ....laryngitis ..... laryngitis.

Crazy As Hell Pick of the Week

The sweet smell of success is suffocating me.  The record is now 5-7.  But 2-7 over the last nine and at a 78% losing clip.  Onboard yet?  Lots of interesting games this week.  The first one that caught my attention is the Bears and Patriots.  The Bears have been struggling offensively, but managed to shut out the Jets on the road last week 10-0.  The Patriots had been struggling, but righted themselves with a sound 35-0 beatdown of the Packers at Lambeau.  Two teams meet that are both coming off dealing shutouts.  How often does that happen?  The Bears are a 3 point underdog on the road.  This is only the second game they have not been favored, and are 3-2 against the spread on the road, while the Patriots are a surprising 1-4 ATS at home.  It would appear that taking the Bears plus the points is the play here.  But this is the best opponent the Bears have faced all season, and I would be very leery of playing this one the way it looks like you should.

Another interesting game is the Saints at the Falcons, with the home Falcons the traditional 3 point favorite.  Look, I have learned over the years to try to avoid betting on or against the Saints.  They will break your heart.  But I won with the Bengals against them last week so I am feeling lucky.  I really don't think the Saints are a great team, but they are better than the Falcons at this point.  The Saints have been good on the road against the spread at a 4-1 clip.  And who can forget the thrashing the Saints gave the Falcons on national TV in week 3.  The Saints will blast the slumping and wounded Falcons again. The crazy as hell part is that the Saints don't win at Atlanta, and haven't since 2001.  But they will this time.   Falcons -3

Thanksgiving bonus pick!  I just can't resist this.  With a full slate of games on Thursday this week, I can't leave you high and dry.  I love to get a nice hit on the Thursday games and play with house money on Sunday.  I'd love to tell you to take the Chiefs +1.5 against the Broncos, since the Chiefs are so tough at home.  But as you know I am a Chiefs fan, and I don't want my homeristic views to cloud my pick in a public forum, nor jinx the Chiefs in any way.  Even though it is true that the Broncos are 12-33 at Arrowhead all time, and the Chiefs are a 1.5 point underdog at home.  Jake Plummer's job is on the line, and we all know how well he performs in the clutch.  I'm not going to tell you to bet on the Chiefs in this must win game.  Draw your own conclusions.  Do what you must do.

How about the Cowboys game against the Buccaneers?  The Cowboys are 11 point favorites.  That's probably about right.  Doesn't strike me as a great bet either way though.  Gun to my head?  Cowboys, but not feeling great about it.  So through the process of elimination, we come to a game that may resemble elimination.  The epic battle which will become known as the "Joey-bowl".
That's right sports fans.  The schedule makers have given the stumped announcers of the annual "yawn-fest" know as the Lions Thanksgiving day game a storyline they can sink their teeth into.  The banished golden boy Harrington comes to town touting a fish on his helmet, and even more surprisingly, a 3 game winning streak, which is something playing for the Lions organization never afforded Harrington.  The Lions come fresh off a loss to the lowly Cardinals in the desert dome.  I don't know what it is about the Dolphins, but they love to start playing football when November comes rolling around.  The Dolphins are on a 3 game winning streak and 3-0 against the spread during that run.  Other than that, betting on the Dolphins in this game looks like a bad move on paper.  They are 1-4 against the spread on the road.  The Lions are 3-2 ATS at home.  And despite all that, the Dolphins are actually a 2.5 point favorite.  It looks like a suicide bet.  But they are begging you to take the Lions plus the points.  Don't do it.  The Dolphins have taken out the Bears, the Chiefs and the Vikings in the last three weeks, and those teams are much better than this one.  Big bad Joey is coming with a silver platter full of crow.  A perfect holiday humiliation for Millen and the gang.  In the immortal words of Flounder, "Oh boy, this is going to be great!"   My pick:  Lions +2 1/2

Misery Index     

10) Giants:  The Giants looked to be in the drivers seat in the NFC East a couple of weeks ago, but back to back losses have them tied with the Cowboys for the division lead.  A first place team on a two game losing streak to playoff level teams hardly seems deserving of a spot in the Misery Index.  But the Cowboys resurgence under the direction of Romo has to be alarming, especially considering the Giants ineffective offense, injury situation, and upcoming showdown with the 'Boys  in week 13.  The good news here is that 9-7 will probably get you a playoff spot in the NFC, so the dream lives on.

9) Eagles:  When you get jacked up by the Titans in your own house, that is a bad day.  When your starting quarterback goes down for the season in the progress, that is a tragic day.  They are now 5-5, face a rough schedule, and are now in 3rd place in their division.  They probably need to go 4-2 to make the playoffs, and they probably need a miracle to do that.  With Westbrook, the Eagles can remain competitive, but I can't imagine Garcia leading you to the promised land.  And as an added bonus, the Colts are up next.  We will get to see real quick how the Eagles stack up minus McNabb.  I am leaning non-optimistic.

8) Redskins:  Well, Campbell was about as productive as Brunell.  He did not impede the non progress of this team in any way.  The bigger question now is will Joe Gibbs join disgusted season ticket holders, and come back for yet another season of disappointment and failure.

7) Raiders:  This team has turned out to be a total fraud.  They looked for all the world like they were destined to win the Misery Index championship early in the season, but now have won two games, and just barely escaped Arrowhead with a loss. The good news from this game is that Lamont Jordan was lost for the season, thus no longer tempting those unfortunates that drafted him to actually put him in the starting lineup.

6) Texans.  Allowed J.P. Losman to pass for 340 yards.  Lee Evans burned them for two 80 plus yard receptions.  Toasty.

5) Falcons:  Now on a three game losing streak, looking up at the Saints and the Panthers in the standings.  The banged up defense made Jamal Lewis look like the version that rushed for 2000 yards in a season.  The loss to the Ravens could have been even worse.  Early in the game Mora decided to go for a 4th and 1 in his own territory which failed.  The Ravens didn't cash in on the opportunity thanks to a rare Matt Stover miss, but that decision did display an unwarranted confidence in his team that Mora might want to re-think.
4) Rams:  The Rams have turned out to be the correct answer (along with the Vikings) to the question we asked a month ago:  Which of the "surprise" teams will turn back into a pumpkin.  Actually, more like a squash, because that's what other teams have been doing to them.  What we saw during the first half of the season was an illusion.  The Rams are on an ugly 5 game losing streak, culminating in their first shutout in nearly a decade.  I think they peaked a little bit early.  The really bad part is that the division is starting to look like it could have a 9-7 champion, and the Rams won't even sniff that.  Rams, it looks like you picked a bad year to suck.

3) Vikings:  The losing continues.  Harrington has now spanked Chicago and Minnesota on successive weeks.  Note to Vikings:  Brad Johnson is barely an adequate quarterback WITH decent receivers.  Without them, he is post-knee injury Daunte Culpepper.  Its too bad they play in the NFC, where even they aren't out of the playoff picture yet.  So they must continue with this charade of trying to compete this season, instead of letting Tarvaris Jackson take some needed lumps like all the other rookie quarterbacks are doing.  Because that is about  the only thing left to be gained from this season.  There will be no pillaging this year.  But the season ticket holders will continue to be violated weekly.

2) Cardinals:  Well, that settles that.  I crowned their ass and look what happened.  We found a team even more pathetic than them.  Hard to believe but true.  I bet that won't happen again.

1) Lions:  About now, I suspect that Kitna knows how Joey Harrington managed to look so bad for so long in Detroit.  This team is now basically Roy Williams and the 3rd and 4th string offense that Martz had in St. Louis, and a black and blue guy heaving them the ball that spends most of the game in a full sweat from trying to outrun the myriad of rushers his offensive line pretend aren't there.  When you lose to the Cardinals, you know where your place is.  And it's right here.  Like so many times before.  And just in time for their yearly showcase in front of the nation for Thanksgiving.  Having the Lions on Thanksgiving day is a tradition.  I'm so excited I could just defecate. And if I eat early enough in the day I just might.  An extra long one to avoid watching the Lions do the same thing on the football field.  If only I wasn't such a miserable football junkie, I would probably turn to the Three Stooges instead, which is similar to the Lions, except in black and white. But I won't.  God help me I won't.