Monday Morning Pancakes

From the 10/8/05 Pancakes Column, following a 171 yard receiving game for Terrell Owens in a win over KC:

“”All the commentaries and all the analysts, they’re saying this and that about me,” he (TO) said. “It gives everybody the perception across the country that I’m a negative person, that I’m a disruptive teammate. It doesn’t bother me. Whatever they say they can say. Because the only people that really matter to me is my family. I’m the one who’s having the last laugh. Where are all these T.O. bashers?”

My rebuttal- You behaved yourself for one month, and have put up good numbers against three of the worst defenses in the league. You’ve got a long way to go before you’re in gloating territory. My calendar has November 7th circled as the day your headphones go back on and you and McNabb are strangling each other again. That’s the day you wrap up a 3 game stretch against San Diego, Denver, and Washington. Mkay?

Okay, so I missed by 2 days, he was suspended indefinitely on November 5th. I’m not perfect.

WEEK NINE

(6-2) FALCONS 17, (3-5) DOLPHINS 10

Whattsamatta You?
Falcons QB Michael Vick threw for 228 yards and hung 17 points on the Dolphins, then lorded it over everyone like he had just threw for 400 yards and led a perfect 2 minute drill to win the Super Bowl. Marino, I mean Vick, told reporters after the game, “People say I can’t throw the ball from the pocket. I had to show them. From here on out, I don’t want to hear that question — if I can throw from the pocket.”

How About?
Falcons’ WR Brian Finneran was the primary beneficiary of Vick’s Johnny Unitas-esque pocket presence, catching 8 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. Dolphins’ running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combined for 119 yards on 22 carries.

I’m A Genius (From Friday’s Column)
“The Falcons are the better team, and they’ll use a combination of a strong running game and an opportunistic defense to grind out a win.”


Vick’s 228 Passing Yards Evoked Images of Dan Marino…To Vick, Not To Me

(3-5) VIKINGS 27, (3-5) LIONS 14

Whattsamatta You?
The Lions could manage only 58 rushing yards in this game against a Vikings defense that was giving up 138 rushing yards per game coming in. The Lions remain winless in Minnesota, a trip they make annually, since 1997.

How About?
With Daunte Culpepper out for the season, the Vikings made a bigger commitment to the run, and it worked. Michael Bennett rushed 18 times for 106 yards, and the Vikings carried for 164 yards as a team.

I’m a Moron (From Friday’s Column)
“The Lions need to run the ball effectively, and use their defense to create good field position in order to win. I think they’ll be able to do that against the Vikings, and come out of the Metrodome with a win for the first time in 8 years.”

(5-3) CHIEFS 27, (3-5) RAIDERS 23

Whattsamatta You?
The Raiders have now lost to the archrival Chiefs 6 times in a row. They are 2-13 against their own division going back to 2003, and 3-17 on the road during that time.

How About?
The drama that took place in the waning minutes of this game? Raiders WR Randy Moss, who had sat out pretty much the whole game with injuries, came off the bench to catch a seven yard TD pass with 2 minutes remaining in the game to put the Raiders ahead. The Chiefs then drove down the field to the Raiders 1 yard line.

With time for only one more play, Chiefs’ coach Dick Vermiel elected to eschew a game tying chip shot field goal for a handoff to Larry Johnson, who made Vermiel look like a hero with a 1 yard TD run. If Johnson doesn’t make it in, the Chiefs lose, and Vermiel cries. Or maybe he cried more because they won. I don’t know, either way he cries.

I’m a Genius (From Friday’s Column)
“The Raiders were able to go toe to toe with the Chiefs (in Week 2) for 3 quarters, but then their offense just kind of petered out once the Raiders abandoned the run. They’ve made more of an effort to balance their offense in recent weeks, but it’s not going to be enough to get them a win here.”

(3-5) BROWNS 20, (2-7) TITANS 14

Whattsamatta You?
Titans QB Steve McNair completed only 18 of 41 passes. He’s not the team’s future quarterback, and it’s time for the Titans to hand things over to Billy Volek for the rest of the season and see if he is.

How About?
Browns’ RB Reuben Droughns was arrested for drunk driving earlier this week, but he blew a 5.8 on Sunday, as in 5.8 yards per carry en route to 116 yards rushing. He also caught 4 passes for 73 yards.

I’m a Moron (From Friday’s Column)
“At this point, the Titans seem like a little more of an NFL caliber team than the Browns, at least offensively they do. I think the Browns are due for a whuppin, so this week seems like as good a time as any.”


Running Against the Titans D is Much Easier Than Saying the Alphabet Backwards

(6-2) PANTHERS 34, (5-3) BUCS 14

Whattsamatta You?

Cadillac Williams averaged 2.6 yards on 11 carries, and lost a fumble. I am not a mind reader, but maybe Jon Gruden is thinking to himself now that it may not have been such a great idea to give him the ball 50 times a game for the first month of the season. Hindsight is 20/20 you say. I say, look what I wrote back in Week Three:

“How About?
Cadillac Williams carrying the ball THIRTY SEVEN times. I got Week Seven for the over under on this kid hitting the wall or getting injured.”

How About?
Panthers WR Steve Smith continuing to absolutely tear it up? He followed up last week’s 200+ yard performance with 5 catches for 106 yards and a TD this week. The Panthers’ defense also came up big in this game, sacking Chris Simms 5 times and forcing 4 turnovers.

I’m a Genius (From Friday’s Column)
“Throw in that they (the Bucs) are 2-10 against their own division since 03, and have lost 4 straight against Carolina, and it’s pretty obvious who is going to win this game.”

(7-2) BENGALS 21, (2-6) RAVENS 9

Whattsamatta You?
The Ravens quarterbacks, Anthony Wright and Kordell Stewart, combined for more rushing yards (66) than their starting running back Jamal Lewis had (49). Brian Billick is a very stubborn coach, and it’s proving his undoing this year. He refused to pull the plug on Kyle Boller and get a better starting QB going into this season, and now he refuses to give Chester Taylor more carries in response to Lewis’ struggles.

How About?
Billick had no choice but to turn to Stewart when Anthony Wright left the game in the 3rd quarter with a sprained ankle. Stewart rushed 3 times for 30 yards, and had a pass thrown to him on a trick play.

I’m a Genius (From Friday’s Column)
“Cincinnati will do what they do: force turnovers, capitalize with points, and win.”

(5-3) JAGUARS 21, (1-7) TEXANS 14

Whattsamatta You?
David Carr was sacked 6 times. David, I want to help you. Please do the following:

1. Grab a handful of that big pile of money the Texans gave you
2. Go buy yourself some instincts.

I can’t understand why this guy sucks so much. He looked so great throwing 80 times a game against Rice and San Jose State???

How About?

Byron Leftwich was perfect in the second half, completing all 11 of his pass attempts for 162 yards and a touchdown.

I’m a Genius (From Friday’s Column)

“When these teams last met, Byron Leftwich passed for 35 yards, Domanick Davis ran for 150, and the Texans shut out the Jags 21-0 to sweep the season series. But that was last year, and this year’s a lot difference. The Texans have the worst run defense in the NFL, and Fred Taylor is going to run all over them.”

“This year’s a lot difference”???? Wow, that’s some great writing. I sound like I just got off the boat from Lithuania.


A Much Needed Win For the Jags

(5-4) CHARGERS 31, (2-6) JETS 26

Whatsamatta You?
There’s a reason the Chargers look at times like they far and away the best team in the league, but yet are only 5-4. Their defense is weak when it matters most, at the end of games. They’ve lost in the closing minutes 4 times this year, and it almost became five yesterday when the great Brooks Bollinger led the Jets back from a 28-13 deficit to within 3 yards of the game
winning touchdown.

How About?
Sometimes it just looks like LaDanian Tomlinson plays in a different league than the guys trying to tackle him. He had 153 yards of total offense, and 4 touchdowns.

I’m a Genius (From Friday’s Column)

“The Jets were able to hold LaDanian Tomlinson under 100 yards twice last year, and may be able to do it again this year. But the Chargers can beat you a lot of other ways, and the Jets can’t beat you any way right now.”

(5-3) BEARS 20, (2-7) SAINTS 17

Whatsamatta You?
An announced crowd of 32,000 trickled into 93,000 seat LSU Tiger Stadium. 20,000 of them came with the intent to assassinate Saints owner Tom Benson. The other 12,000 had passed out in the stands after Saturday night’s LSU homecoming game and were just waking up.

How About?
Bears’ RB Thomas Jones left the game with injured ribs, but backups Adrian Peterson and Cedric Benson stepped up to play vital roles in bringing home the win. Benson carried 14 times for 79 yards, and Peterson had 58 yards on 6 carries, including 1 for a touchdown, and a nifty 36 yard carry.

I’m a Genius (From Friday’s Column)
“The Bears have shown this year that they know how to win, the Saints have shown they know how to lose, so the outcome should be good for the Bears.

BEARS 20, SAINTS 17

Yes, I hit this game right on the head. I am like one of those people in Minority Report that lay underwater, a prisoner of their visions of the future.

(6-2) SEAHAWKS 33, (2-6) CARDINALS 19

Whatsamatta You?
Dennis Green’s decision to bench Josh McCown in favor of Kurt Warner didn’t go over very well on the field or with the Cardinal fans. Warner was booed throughout the game, was sacked 4 times, and threw three interceptions. The Cards are now 0-4 with Warner as the starter, and 2-2 with McCown.

How About?

The Cards are happy they don’t have to see Shaun Alexander again until next year. Alexander rolled over the Cardinals for 140 yards the first time these teams met this year, and this time he was even better, rushing for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s my NFL MVP so far, and he’s going to get a LOT of money this offseason.

I’m a Genius (From Friday’s Column)
“The Cards beat Seattle in the desert last year in a game that saw Alexander rush for only 57 yards, and Matt Hasselbeck complete 14 of 41 passes, and throw 4 picks. This looks like a different Seattle team though, and it’s a different Arizona team. Arizona won that game largely because Emmitt Smith ran for 106 yards. The Cards couldn’t get a 100 yard rusher this year if the other team played with 7 guys. Seahawks roll again.

SEAHAWKS 33, CARDINALS 16″

I predict the Seahawks to score 33 points, and they score 33 points. My God, am I good.


If You’ve Got 2 Quarterbacks, You Don’t Have One

(6-2) GIANTS 24, (2-6) NINERS 6

Whatsamatta You?
The Niners have enough trouble when they have 11 guys on the field, but they had only 10 for the game’s first game from scrimmage, and the Giants capitalized for a big gain on a pass to Jeremy Shockey.

How About?
Despite the seemingly lopsided final score, this was another game performance by Mike Nolan’s Niners. They trailed only 10-6 heading into the 3rd quarter. Nolan came in with the intent of remaking the team as a defense-oriented unit. They are making progress toward that. They held the Giants to only 93 yards rushing on 32 carries.

I’m a Genius (From Friday’s Column)
“Even if you throw out that SF is starting its 4th string quarterback, you still have the fact that the Niners are the only team in the league giving up more than 300 passing yards a game. The Giants hung 36 on a Redskins team that is still the #1 pass defense in the league, so you can do the math here.”

(6-2) STEELERS 20, (1-7) PACKERS 10

Whatsamatta You?
Brett Favre sucks. How can you not beat the Steelers with Samkon Gado as your featured running back? He should retire.
I’m just kidding. Seriously though, Samkon Gado? I’m pretty sure I have his Star Wars action figure somewhere in my parents’ attic.

How About?
Steelers RB Duce Staley hadn’t carried the ball in a game since last January, but he stepped in for the injured Willie Parker and Jerome Bettis to rush for 76 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

I’m a Genius (From Friday’s Column)
“Favre will give it everything he has, like he does every week, but it is very very hard to win if you can’t run the ball effectively at the end of the game. The Packers can’t do that, the Steelers can, and that’s why Pittsburgh will escape with a victory.”

(5-3) REDSKINS 17, (4-4) EAGLES 10

Whatsamatta You?
Eagles’ RB Brian Westbrook celebrated his new 5 year contract by averaging a little over 1 yard on 17 carries. When the Eagles faced a make or break 4th down and 4 at the end of the game, Westbrook wasn’t even on the field.

How About?

The meltdown the Eagles are in the midst of?

Who could have seen this coming? Who….who……seen this coming….who….could have…

From the 8/5/05 Pancakes Column:

“Last I checked, since he (TO) came into the league, by my count nine out of the nine Super Bowl Champion teams have somehow managed to do pretty well for themselves without having him on their roster. Nineteen out of 20 Super Bowl participants somehow managed. You could even say 20 out of 20 because TO didn’t play in the Eagles’ playoff victories over Minnesota and Atlanta last year.

Owens is going to be 32 this season, and was seriously injured last year. Ten guys had more receiving yards than he did last season, among them such luminaries as Drew Bennett and Donald Driver. Granted, that is because he played less games, but in the NFL, games played is as important a stat as any. He’s a bad teammate and the Eagles rolled through the NFC playoffs last year without him. He does not warrant all the drama he brings and attention he demands. This has nothing to do with the fans liking him or not liking him, it has everything to do with winning the Super Bowl. Right now I think the Eagles have a better chance of achieving that without him and his bullshit than they do with him and it.”

But…I’m Still a Moron (From Friday’s Column)
Team A has won 4 straight division titles, and you don’t do that without knowing how to beat the teams in your own division when the chips are down. And, most importantly, Team A has won 7 in a row against Team B. I take Team A, the Eagles. Unless TO, who is listed as questionable, doesn’t play. Then all bets are off.


The Eagles are a McMess

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOOOOBALLL????? MONDAY NIGHT
(7-0) INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT (4-3) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
9:00 PM Eastern, ABC

The Storyline

This is it. The Super Bowl in November, the game the Colts have been waiting 10 months for. Peyton Manning is 0-75 lifetime against the Patriots, and in order for the Colts to be officially anointed the best team in the world by Chris Berman, he must first exorcise his demons and defeat the evil genius Bill Belichick.

Key Questions

This is the biggest, most hyped Monday Night game since???

The closest I can remember is a game way back in Week 13 of the 1990 season. The defending champion 49ers, who were 10-1, took on Bill Parcell’s NY Giants, who also came in with a 10-1 record . The Niners won a classic defensive struggle, 7-3. The Giants won when it counted though, going back to Candlestick in January and winning the NFC Championship game against the Niners, 15-13.

Which just goes to show you, that two months from now, nobody will remember who won this game tonight, nor should they. I promise you Peyton Manning will sleep well at night if the Colts win the Super Bowl, whether or not they ever have to beat New England to do it.

What do the Chicago Fire and New England Revolution have to do with this game?

Maybe a lot, actually. Yesterday, these two MLS franchises played the second leg of their playoff match at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. The match left a good portion of the middle of the field a muddy mess, and the field conditions could have an adverse impact on the passing games of both teams. This means that both offenses may need to rely a little bit more heavily on their running game, and since the Colts’ Edgerrin James has been exponentially more effective than the Pats’ Corey Dillon this year, that’s advantage Colts.

HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
The real question here isn’t how Peyton Manning will do against the Pats’ defense. The Pats’ defense isn’t anything special anymore, and I’m pretty sure he will do OK against the league’s 25th ranked pass defense.

The thing that will determine who wins this game is if the Pats’ offense can go blow for blow with the Colts against a much improved Indy defense. I’m going to say no, they can’t.

The Patriots haven’t been able to run the ball effectively this year, and that means they’re going to have to throw. If the Colts are able to pin their ears back, and use Tom Brady for target practice, then Peyton Manning will get his enchanted win against the Patriots in November that really doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of the season.

COLTS 27, PATRIOTS 21

First Half MVPs

Colts
Edgerrin James, RB- There are a lot of candidates on the defensive side of the ball (Cato June, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis), but the Colts are still an offense-based team, even though on that side of the ball, they have played not to lose so far this year. They haven’t lost, and Edge is the biggest reason for that. The conservative game plan they’ve used is based on the ability to run the ball effectively, and James has rushed for an NFL leading 801 yards, and 7 TDs.

Patriots
Tom Brady, QB- If the Patriots make the playoffs this year, it is all, and I mean ALL, thanks to Brady. The league has finally caught up to the Pats, but Brady has kept them on top of the AFC East. He’s turning into Brett Favre for the new millennium.


Two Future Hall of Famers Face Off Tonight

IF THE PLAYOFFS STARETD TODAY
The following teams would be in:

NFC
1. NY Giants (NFC East Champs)
2. Seattle (NFC West Champs)
3. Atlanta (NFC South Champs)
4. Chicago (NFC North Champs)
5. Carolina (Wildcard)
6. Washington (Wildcard)
1st Round Matchups
Washington at Atlanta;
Carolina at Chicago
Bye: Seattle, NY Giants

AFC
1. Indianapolis (AFC South Champs)
2. Cincinnati (AFC North Champs)
3. Denver (AFC West Champs)
4. New England (AFC East Champs)
5. Pittsburgh (Wildcard)
6. Kansas City (Wildcard)
1st Round Matchups
Kansas City at Denver
Pittsburgh at New England
Bye- Cincinnati, Indianapolis

Okay that’s it for Week Nine! I’ll see you back on Friday for a preview of Week Ten.