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Week Fourteen Postmortem

December 14th, 2004

You see, this is why I fucking hate weeks like week fourteen. Too goddamn many giant spreads. Means what? Means you know there’s gonna be a few upsets straight up, but you can’t for the life of you figure out where. And it’s even worse trying to pick against the spread, because what the fuck are you supposed to do? You look at the numbers and they tell you all the favorites should cover. Except you know they’re not all gonna cover, because they’re not all gonna win. And, in truth, probably only half of them will cover. But there’s no saying which half. So you guess. Me, I mostly guessed wrong. I was 12-4 picking straight up (no big accomplishment in a week like this — I picked conservatively; there were three upsets and I missed every one of them), but only 4-12 against the spread. Here’s a list of excuses.

Chicago (-7) at Jacksonville
I said: Take the Jaguars and give the points.
The final was: Jacksonville 22, Chicago 7
So what happened? I said Bears quarterback Chad Hutchinson, who had a big day in his debut in week thirteen, would struggle against the Jaguars D and he did. Chad threw for 212 yards, which ain’t terrible, but he had no touchdowns and he gave up two turnovers, which ain’t good. The good news for Chad is that his Bears host the Houston Texans, who have trouble stopping the pass, this week, so he might turn things around yet.

Cincinnati (+11) at New England
I said: Take the Patriots and give the points.
The final was: New England 35, Cincinnati 28
So what happened? It’s hard to prepare for trick plays, like fake field goals. And it’s all but impossible to prepare for a veteran quarterback you’re not supposed to face and who hasn’t taken a snap all season. Fortunately for the Pats, no one could ever prepare to stop a quarterback who can throw perfect passes while sitting on the field.

Cleveland (+11.5) at Buffalo
I said: Take the Bills straight up, the Browns with the points.
The final was: Buffalo 37, Cleveland 7
So what happened? Seventeen net yards of offense, that’s what happened. The Browns managed 17 net yards. Not for one play. Not for one series. Not for one drive, one quarter, one half. For the whole fucking game. Seventeen yards. If this were really the Browns — which, of course, it isn’t — Paul Brown would be spinning in his grave. Seventeen yards. There’s no accounting for that kind of incompetence.

Indianapolis (-10.5) at Houston
I said: Take the Colts and give the points
The final was: Indianapolis 23, Houston 14
So what happened? I said to ignore all the talk about how the Texans play good teams tough when they’re at home. I said Colts QB Peyton Manning would shred Houston’s suspect pass D and put up four, if not five, touchdowns. I take it all back.

New Orleans (+7) at Dallas
I said: Take the Cowboys straight up, the Saints with the points.
The final was: New Orleans 27, Dallas 13
So what happened? I didn’t think it mattered that the Cowboys got away with one in their Monday night win over Seattle coming into this game. I figured the Saints defense was bad enough that they’d lose no matter how not good the Cowboys really are, though I figured the New Orleans offense would score a bit. I was right about one of those things.

NY Giants (+10) at Baltimore
I said: Take the Ravens straight up, the Giants with the points.
The final was: Baltimore 37, NY Giants 14
So what happened? It wasn’t that I thought the Giants would keep it to within three or anything. I figured the Ravens would win by seven. I was thinking maybe 20-13 or something. I just didn’t think the Ravens had a 37-point game in them. I wasn’t counting on the Giants to give the ball away six fucking times. The good news for Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who looked awful, is that he’ll be facing the Steelers’ notoriously soft D this weekend, which should help him … wait, what’s that? you don’t say? … oh, umm, never mind that last bit. Sorry, Eli.

Oakland (+7.5) at Atlanta
I said: Take the Falcons and give the points.
The final was: Atlanta 35, Oakland 10
So what happened? What do you think happened? Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins completed all of 50 percent of his passes. And Falcons running back T.J. Duckett scored every third time he touched the ball (literally). That’s what.

Seattle (+7) at Minnesota
I said: Take the Vikings straight up, expect a tie vs. the spread.
The final was: Seattle 27, Minnesota 23
So what happened? I forgot about the Vikings’ traditional December meltdown. And Vikings coach Mike Tice apparently forgot that Randy Moss isn’t a fucking quarterback. Thanks for the reminders, Seahawks (I guess).

Miami (+11) at Denver
I said: Well, actually, I guess I didn’t say anything, but I implied you should take Denver and give the points.
The final was: Denver 20, Miami 17
So what happened? Dolphins quarterback A.J. Feeley managed to go a whole game without throwing a touchdown to a opposing DB, which is almost miraculous. In fact, Feeley only threw one interception all day, and both of his fumbles were recovered by his own teammates. Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer, meanwhile, hit two Dolphins defenders. And one of Denver running back Reuben Droughns’ two fumbles went to Miami. That kept it closer than it ever ought to have been. I hope the Patriots are watching tape of what can happen when you don’t take a team like Miami seriously just because they suck.

N.Y. Jets (+6) at Pittsburgh
I said: Take Pittsburgh straight up, the Jets with the points.
The final was: Pittsburgh 17, NY Jets 6
So what happened? I figured Jets running back Curtis Martin would have a decent day and would keep his team in the competition. And while Curtis didn’t have an awful day (24 carries for 72 yards; three catches for 35 yards), especially considering how tough the Steelers D is, he sure didn’t do well enough to offset New York quarterback Chad Pennington’s three interceptions. And, unlike Pittsburgh running back Jerome Bettis, Curtis didn’t throw any touchdown passes. So there you go.

Detroit (+9.5) at Green Bay
I said: Take the Packers and give the points.
The final was: Green Bay 16, Detroit 13
So what happened? You know, I’m not sure. I said it wouldn’t matter that Green Bay’s defense had been giving up serious yards, and it sorta didn’t. Detroit had only 228 net yards (156 of them from one guy, running back Kevin Jones), which is pretty average as this season goes. Trouble was, the Packers only managed 301 net yards themselves. And, more important, the Pack’s offense kept stalling out in the red zone. And you just don’t cover nine-and-a-half-point spreads when you have to settle for field goals three quarters of the time.

San Francisco (+7) at Arizona
I said: Take the Cardinals and give the points.
The final was: San Francisco 31, Arizona 28
So what happened? You know what? Maybe 49ers fans are right; maybe running back Kevan Barlow really does suck. Maurice Hicks rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown in Barlow’s absence. And the Niners would have run away with this thing if their defense hadn’t collapsed in the last 20 minutes of regulation. Or maybe there’s something weird going on where the 49ers must always beat the Cardinals 31-28 in overtime (this game marked the second occurrence of that result this season). I suppose it could just be that.

St. Louis (+6.5) at Carolina
I said: Take the Panthers straight up, the Rams with the points.
The final was: Carolina 20, St. Louis 7
So what happened? I’m not sure what made me think the Rams, with Chris Chandler under center, would be able to keep up with the resurgent Panthers, but I’m looking into it. Chandler went 16 for 29 for 243 yards with one touchdown, and six picks. Chris might have a better day against Arizona’s D this week. Or he might not. One way or the other, the Rams’ season is pretty much cooked.

Tampa Bay (+5.5) at San Diego
I said: Take the Chargers straight up, the Buccaneers to cover.
The final was: San Diego 31, Tampa Bay 24
So what happened? With four minutes remaining and the game, which had been close throughout, tied, Chargers inside linebacker Donnie Edwards picked off Buccaneers quarterback Brian Griese and ran 30 yards for a touchdown. Three plays later, Griese, who’s starting to look like his old self after getting off to a good start with the Bucs, coughed the ball up at the Tampa Bay 28. Griese got his team down into scoring position once more before the game ended, but couldn’t close the deal. A field goal, followed by a failed on-side kick, kept the margin at seven. Oh, well.

Philadelphia (-9) at Washington
I said: Take the Eagles straight up, the Redskins to Cover
The final was: Philadelphia 17, Washington 14
So what happened? The ‘Skins still have a damned good defense and a mostly awful offense. The Eagles still have a damned good offense and an inconsistent defense. And when you put those things together, this is what you get.

Kansas City (+2) at Tennessee
I said: Take the Titans to win, the Chiefs with the points.
The final was: Kansas City 49, Tennessee 38
So what happened? “It’s a coin toss, really, so do what you like,” I said. “Me, I’m going with the home team to win it by a point. (Oh, and Priest or no Priest, I’m betting the over. Way, way over.)” With a minute and 39 seconds left to play, it looked like I’d picked it right straight up, wrong against the spread. With 32 seconds left to play, it was looking the other way around. And with eight seconds left, it was a done deal. What can you do? I got the over/under bit right, though. So that’s something. And, considering the way Denver played against Miami Sunday afternoon, you’ve now gotta think the Chiefs have at least an outside shot at fucking up the division rival Broncos’ playoffs hopes, which would be nice (said the Raiders fan, feeling miserable as all getup and desperate for company).

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