Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NFL Homage: Week 9

Peter King, long-time Sports Illustrated writer, has a column titled Monday Morning Quarterback or MMQB. This is speculative hearsay as I have never read it. But that is the rumor. Similarly, Gregg Easterbrook, short-time ESPN.com author, has a column titled Tuesday Morning Quarterback or TMQ. This is factual, as I have seen the links to it, but have never read it. Supposedly TMQ is an homage to MMQB where, in both, the author summarizes the goings-on of the previous NFL week of games. Well, in the Sports Pinata, each week I will be writing a post about the previous slab of games, call it an homage to an homage as I am copying the idea, but as I have never read either man's work, don't know if I will be copying ideas. Let's hope not. On to week nine.

We had our first coaching casualty of the season. And the way some of the "bad" teams are playing, it might be the only one for a while. The Bills, Browns, and Lions, three of the worst teams in the NFL by record, are all playing very well even if the win-loss doesn't indicate it. The Cowboys, on the other hand, are not playing well. Hence, they fired their coach. It was long overdue. This team has flat-out quit. They looked so bad on Sunday night, NBC wished they were airing an Outsourced rerun instead of the debacle that was a football game.

It also made the Packers look like Boise State, running up the score when it was really just too much better than their opponent to have the score not get run up. The Packers, through no fault of their own really, embarrassed the Cowboys. Another team running up the score to apparently increase their BCS ranking in the minds of the human polls was the New York Giants. They dismantled Seattle in every phase of the game, even neutralizing Seattle's best weapon: kick returner Leon Washington.

After such AFC dominance for the first half of the season, just in the last couple weeks alone, the Giants, Packers, Saints and Falcons all made cases for the NFC being right up there with the top five from the other conference.

The other story of week nine was overtime. Three games went an extra session, all miraculously really. The Vikings were already filling out the paperwork to fire Brad Childress when they made a dramatic comeback to force OT. The Jets too were down and out until Matthew Stafford got hurt and the Lions gave up a double digit fourth quarter lead. But perhaps the most important overtime victory came out of the AFC West. The Raiders, led by Jacoby Ford's play, forced OT with a buzzer beating field goal and then won the game with another Janikowski field goal. The Chiefs' division lead shrunk very quickly, and with the Chargers strong play recently, that title might not be decided until the last week of the season. Who knew the AFC West would be an exciting race!

What was not exciting in week nine was the play by some of the stars of the NFL. Here's this week's lineup of 'stars who sucked.'

Quarterback - Matt Schaub. By this time, you know him well. He's been the Sports Pinata's starting QB many times in 2010. No wonder the Texans have fallen off. What was supposed to be a stepping stone season for Schaub has turned into a mini disaster. Arian Foster is the only thing keeping the Texans afloat right now. Andre Johnson is banged up, and that has added to Schaub's struggles, but another outing of single digit fantasy points and no touchdowns thrown is just plain bad news.

Running Back - Matt Forte and Thomas Jones. What a day for running backs. None of the top half dozen guys produced poorly. A bunch of byes aided the lack of stars coming up small. Yet Matt Forte did. Saved slightly by a two-point conversion, Forte ended with just 61 total yards from scrimmage and no touchdowns. Against what was supposed to be a weak opponent, Forte didn't take advantage. And neither did Thomas Jones. The two best running offenses were facing each other in the Raiders - Chiefs week nine game. However, only one head of the Chiefs' two-headed running back attack showed up. Jones ended with just 2 fantasy points (32 yards and a fumble) in what was shaping up to be a tremendous season for him. He still may reach 1,000 yards rushing, possibly joining teammate Jamaal Charles in doing so.

Wide Receiver - Miles Austin and Calvin Johnson. You know him, you love him, he's Miles...no, no wait. You only love him if your opponent started him this week. He's been so wildly inconsistent people have started calling him The Weatherman, he is the one and only Miles Austin! Okay, I made up the weatherman nickname, but boy has it been frustrating to own Miles Austin. He was penciled in as a top five receiver for this season and has only lived up to it maybe three weeks all year long. Gaining 1 single fantasy point in week nine seems like a norm now rather than an aberration. Calvin Johnson, fortunately, is still loved in the hearts of his owners. In fact, they probably feel bad for him putting up only 1 fantasy point himself this week. They feel bad because he faced Darrelle Revis. Johnson will be glad the Jets aren't on their schedule again.

Tight End - Jason Witten. Tight End King Antonio Gates was hurt. He did not play in the Chargers' week nine game. Therefore, there was no reliable tight end anywhere in the league. Some sucked, some didn't, but no one could be counted on. One of those tight ends who sucked was Jason Witten. He gained 44 yards. He was also part of what might be the most poorly played game of football in my lifetime. The Cowboys were so bad, so lethargic, so uninterested, let's just say I am very glad my New York Giants are playing them next game.

D/ST - Jets. Can I throw the Cowboys on here again? No, that would just be piling on. Instead, the Jets, who many consider the best defense in football, put together a mediocre outing in a game they could easily have lost. Sure Darrelle Revis shut down the Lions' best player but the rest of the defense totaled two sacks and forced no turnovers, for a measly two fantasy points.

Any fantasy owner under .500 right now should probably be looking towards next season (and read my blog post detailing what steps to take). For everyone else, start whittling down your roster. Solid bench players don't help you come playoff time when there are no more byes to plan around. The ideal team heading into the later weeks is one with tremendous starters and no wasted depth.

This has been week nine's NFL homage to an homage.

(Same image used as previous NFL Homage posts)

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