Predictions? We Don’t Need No Stinking Predictions!

Two teams who play in north Jersey to play each other in the Super Bowl? Such a prediction would make these guys say "OOOOOOWE!"

Two teams who play in North Jersey to face each other in the Super Bowl? Such a prediction would make these wise guys cry, "OOOOOWE!"

Turkey day is still three days away, but like that annoying, unavoidable, over-indulging cousin that invited himself over for the feast, the media itself is snacking on the New York Jets for hors d’oeuvres and finger-swiping the whip cream topping of New York Giant pie before all the trimmings have even hit the oven.

The Jets are not only the focus of the back page in today’s New York Post, but evidently yesterday’s win over the Kerry Collins-led Tennessee Titans was colossal enough for the newspaper’s brass to (Gang) green-light a share the cover as well.

The radio personalities, as well, are rolling in the Jet vs. Giant Superbowl catnip. Mike Tirico, one of the most respected journalists in any genre, discussed the possibility of an all Big Apple Superbowl as his second biggest topic of the day. If it wasn’t for the Donovan McNabb drama, the Super Bowl proposition would have been No. 1.

My biggest problem with the Jets vs. Giants talk (besides the fact that it is now jinxed like a Sports Illustrated cover) is the idea that we’re previewing a championship football game that will be played two weeks before Valentine’s Day. Furthermore, we’re anointing the Jets as AFC Champions, with Brett Favre as their quarterback? Be careful.

Are our memories really that short-lived? Just last season we saw the New England Patriots run the table, and before they even laced up their cleats for their Super Bowl 42 defeat, we wanted to know where they stood among the greatest NFL teams EVER.

In the NFL, its not just about how your playing, but most importantly, it’s when your playing it. The Patriots and Giants both should have taught us football fans a valuable lesson about predictions: you can’t make them until after the conference championship games, and you certainly can’t make them during week 13.

In September, Sports Illustrated picked the Eagles to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 43. Need I say more?

The Jets are clearly one of the better teams in what I believe is a wide open AFC, but unless the Titans melt down and somehow lose their stranglehold on home field advantage for the playoffs, the road to the Super Bowl runs through Nashville.

One of the greatest challenges in professional football is for one team to beat another twice in one season (with the exception of Detroit). The Titans, led by one of the elite head coaches in Jeff Fisher, will have a week to correct what happened yesterday. (For starters, they can decide to show up the next time around.) As for the Jets, they’ll have a week to figure out how they are not going to play like their old self: since 1970, a franchise that always seems to let its fan base down.

There is one thing the Jets and Brett Favre have in common: they cannot be trusted in the playoffs. Like Jet fans almost expect the team to have a let down in a big spot, Brett Favre fans almost expect him to throw interceptions in the big spot.

Can Brett Favre be trusted in the big spot? Take a look at his last two playoff games. Last season, he looked great in the divisional round against Seattle (who they didn’t play in the regular season). He looked great in the regular season game at the Meadowlands against the Giants. But when the G-Men came into Lambeau Field for a rematch in the NFC Championship Game…

The rest is history, not a mystery.

You want a prediction? How about Detroit to beat the Titans on Thursday.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

A name that will live in Jet fan infamy. If Gang Green's season comes down to a kick in '08, Jay Feely may get the nod. Ask Giant fans about his performance in clutch spots.

Doug Brien: A name that will live in infamy for Jet fans.

Fantasy Fumbles

I initially thought of Steve Slaton having a Warrick Dunn-like rookie season.

I envisioned Steve Slaton having a Warrick Dunn-like rookie season. Evidently, that wasn't good enough to keep him.

I drafted and eventually released both running backs DeAngelo Williams and Steve Slaton this season.

Yesterday, both Williams and Slaton ran for well over 100 yards with a touchdown apiece, while making me look like a proud customer of the “Matt Millen Virtual GM Take Home Game”.

I’ve never written about fantasy football, nor do I read what anyone else has to say. I draft one team, and one team only every season because I like the idea of having an investment in someone’s performance. But I’m also a competitor, and I can’t help but notice that my team is fighting for a fantasy playoff spot. Human nature is taking its toll!

So I apologize if I am going to state the obvious, but here we are in week 11 of the 2008 NFL season, where I will already share free advice for next season’s fantasy draft for the purpose of getting the grief out of my system. If you have good football insticts, or you think you are a good evaluator of talent, then follow these two simple steps:

1. Draft based on the future, not last season’s stats: For all of you who drafted Shaun Alexander, Larry Johnson or Derek Anderson over the years, you know what I’m talking about.

2. The season is a marathon. If your team is still driving you crazy by week 10, that might be a good time to shake things up.

I like to think I am an above average team builder on draft day. With the last pick in the first round, here was the opening day lineup I was able to put together:

QB: Tony Romo /RB: Michael Turner/RB: DeAngelo Williams/WR: Hines Ward/WR: Nate Burleson/TE: Antonio Gates/FLEX: Thomas Jones/TOP BENCH PLAYER: Steve Slaton

As opposed to today…

QB: Tony Romo or Matt Ryan/RB: Michael Turner/RB: Thomas Jones/WR: Hines Ward/WR: DeSean Jackson/TE: Greg Olsen/FLEX: Deuce McAlister/TOP BENCH PLAYER: Derrick Ward

It’s amazing how one season-ending injury to a player like Nate Burleson can eventually domino effect the rest of the lineup. I scrambled/panicked to fill a “void.” I thought I saw my team’s metaphorical chair wobbling in week 2. So I made my first mistake. I like DeSean Jackson a lot, and Greg Olsen is going to be a star at tight end, but I should have never traded Antonio Gates for the two youngsters because I needed to fill a spot at wide receiver. After all, starting Nate Burleson was questionable to begin with. In the end, it wasn’t broke, but I felt it needed fixing anyways.

Trading Gates was risky, but letting go of Williams and Slaton will bother me for the rest of the season. I foresaw DeAngelo Williams having a fine season, after all, he was a former first round pick. The Panthers had to give him a shot to start at some point in his career for their own investment purposes. But the former Memphis University star was very slow to start and he was sharing the load with Jonathan Stewart, a flavor of the month running back. Same idea applies to why I let Slaton go. I guess I draft guys with the idea that there is upside, but expected results right away. I didn’t get them, and let that be a lesson learned.

While my new roster that is the “Super Bowl Shuffle” has been surprisingly steady-and will make the playoffs-I don’t expect to be winning any championships.

The Other Dish Best Served This Thursday Night

jackiechilds5

Like Jackie Chiles wanted a piece of the tobacco companies, ESPN may want the same from cable.

So this Thursday night: your bar or mine?

Like most Americans, you are a football fan and cable television consumer, but because a federal judge still hasn’t been able to finalize a ruling in NFL Network v. Cable Television, you won’t be watching the Patriots vs. Jets on your La-Z-Boy.

Perhaps the only way to put an end to this mess is for a third party to come in, shake that good-publicity fanny, make up for firing Herold Reynolds and get some revenge in the process. Of course, I’m calling on ESPN, “The World Wide Leader in Sports”, to show some civic pride. Come down to the level of the billions of Joe Six-Packs over the years who made you into the corporate beast you have become, share a beer, and pick up the tab on these NFL Network games until the judicial mess is figured out.

It may just be an urban legend or a typical juicy internet rumor, but I’ll buy this for the sake of hopeless cable subscribers: According to http://www.SportsBusinessDigest.com, last year ESPN was having the same type of modern day NFL Network dilemma, pressing for one of their channels, ESPNU, to be added to the 500,000 Comcast customers in Connecticut paying the regular package. Nobody in Connecticut saw the game. Having lost the staring contest with Comcast, ESPN decided to air the game on its home station, in western states.

If there ever was a statewide fishbowl in sports, its the pair of UConn’s prestigious hoops programs. Residents of the Nutmeg State don’t miss UConn games. The state essentially shuts down when a UConn men’s or women’s basketball game is being played.

In ESPN’s defense, why should they do any favors for the NFL after the league theoretically put a stranglehold on ESPN’s acclaimed football drama series, “Playmakers”, after just one aired season? Like the blacked out UConn game rumor, this is all hearsay, but its certainly something to think about.

What does ESPN have to lose? They already spend over a billion dollars a year for Monday Night Football. Money certainly isn’t an issue in Bristol, CT. One time, can we see ESPN give the consumer an unexpected gift? (By the way, the 24/7 cycles of World Series of Poker doesn’t count anymore.)

Kurt Warner to ‘Scooter Store’: “Not So Fast!”

So much for the clock striking midnight on this Cinderella Boy's career!

So much for the clock striking midnight on this Cinderella Boy

1999:

Windows ’98 is flying off store shelves everywhere. American Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor, wins the Tour De France. Steven Spielberg wins an Academy Award for Best Director for the war film “Saving Private Ryan”. Texas governor George W. Bush will officially announce he is running for President of the United States. A former grocery bagger turned quarterback, Kurt Warner, comes out of nowhere to lead the St. Louis Rams to a Lombardi Trophy and win the NFL MVP award.

Today:

After consecutive presidential terms, George W. Bush is on his way out of the White House, while the 37-year-old Warner is once again dealing the pig skin the way he was during the Clinton Administration. And thanks to Warner’s MVP-like renaissance season, the Arizona Cardinals control their own destiny in clinching their first division title since 1975.

That’s right: Kurt Warner, 2008 NFL MVP candidate.

Who has played better this NFL season-at any position? With the exception of New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, who is on a last place team, nobody has. Peyton Manning might be having his worst season and the Colts will not win their division. Tom Brady can’t even get off his surgeon’s table right now. Eli Manning has been solid, but the Giants running game mushes that team’s sleigh. Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson and the rest of the underachieving Chargers have a losing record. Denver quarterback Jay Cutler has come back down to earth in recent weeks.

Besides winning, Warner is currently at or near the top of the entire league in many of the statistical categories that we judge a quarterback by: QB Rating (104.2-2nd), Comp. % (69.9-1st), Yards (2,431-2nd), Touchdown passes (16-2nd).

For all Warner has accompished in his career, we so often leave him out of the “best modern day quarterback” conversation. I know I am guilty. For the rest of this season, at least, Warner deserves to be mentioned as a quarterback that can lead a team to glory-just so long he and the first-place Cardinals finish what they started (a 5-3 record at the midway point).