Saturday, December 31, 2005

Week 17 Prediction

As the holidays are upon us, I will limit my predictions to one game this week, the one I will be attending: 5th row of upper deck, 50-yard line. (Perhaps my percentage this week will be 100%)

Bengals 17, Chiefs 30

Even though technically the Chiefs are still alive for the last wild card spot, I've already begun looking back on the season. Although I really wanted them to make the playoffs, especially because that might keep Vermeil around a little longer, they aren't a good enough team - especially on the road - to beat the Steelers, Pats, Broncos, or the Colts. I see the Colts a mortal lock to go to the Super Bowl, so what would a wild-card berth have meant? Most likely a first round loss. That said, this season was pretty darn good, great wins, great plays, great performances, highs and lows, but always exciting.

I hope Chad Johnson scores and does something bananas. And I wouldn't mind seeing Dante take one to the house. But overall I am pretty confident with the Chiefs at home (with this game being played in January their December home winning streak will stay at 18 for a long while).

And I love the playoffs, regardless of who's playing. Plus fantasy will have a clean slate. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

All I want for Christmas is...

a Chiefs playoff spot. But that's about as likely as OJ getting SI's Sportsman of the Year. (I'm not sure why I threw in an OJ joke, but Merry Christmas.) Seriously depending on the Lions to beat the Steelers on the road is not a good feeling. And I'm not even sure how the San Diego/Denver game applies to the Chiefs-Steelers tiebreakers, but who cares.

Also the holidays, have meant a leave of absence from the internet, and thus no SportsCorner. Here are some backordered Week 16 Prediction recaps. Also, I started watching the Alamo Bowl with Michigan down 4 and 4 minutes remaining. Just in time to see a no-call of pass interference on 4th down, and the craziest play since Cal-Stanford. Great stuff.

The actual scores are on the left, with my predictions on the right in italics. Correct picks are in bold, with games reading Visitor, Home.

Falcons 24, Bucs 27 Falcons 17, Bucs 20
Bills 37, Bengals 27 Bills 10, Bengals 31
Cowboys 24, Panthers 20 Cowboys 17, Panthers 24
Lions 13, Saints 12 Lions 10, Saints 21
Jaguars 38, Rexans 20 Jaguars 14, Texans 13
Giants 20, Redskins 35 Giants 17, Redskins 21
Steelers 41, Browns 0 Steelers 20, Browns 14
Chargers 7, Chiefs 20 Chargers 27, Chiefs 28
49ers 24, Rams 20 49ers 14, Rams 17
Titans 10, Dolphins 24 Titans 17, Dolphins 23
Eagles 21, Cardinals 27 Eagles 13, Cardinals 16
Colts 13, Seahawks 28 Colts 17, Seahawks 20
Raiders 3, Broncos 22 Raiders 3, Broncos 23
Bears 24, Packers 17 Bears 16, Packers 7
Vikings 23, Ravens 30 Vikings 17, Ravens 13
Patriots 31, Jets 21 Patriots 24, Jets 3
This Week: 11-5
Total: 30-18
Fantastic week that could have been even better without that lame-o roughing the kicker penalty that scewed the Panthers. No analyst on ESPN did better than me, and only Jaws tied me. So this week against the ESPN guys I went 7-0-1. Nice.
Only 1 out of the 8 picked the Chiefs to win (as I did) and I was the only one who thought that the Cardinals could beat the tired Eagles in Zona. Go figure.
Pick of the Week: Raiders/Broncos. Only off by one point, and considering the odds of a team scoring 22 points, I did as good as could be expected. (I'm a firm believer in picking realistic scores - and would never ever pick a team to score 22).
Also has there ever been a less convinving 11-4 team than the Jags. No way do they win a playoff game. Not that I'm bitter.

Friday, December 23, 2005

American History 101: Football

Football franchises have always had identities. But through time, these can evolve or devolve, if you will. Teams move, new teams get created, old teams disbanded. Players retire, new ones replace them. New coaches bring new ideas, and if you're getting a new coach, it's usually because you're trying to get rid of a losing feeling.

For decades the Steelers have been known for defense, and it's still their foundation. The Bill Walsh West Coast offense helped San Fran move the ball year after year. But if you just started watching football recently, SF might seem like the cellar team of the league. Which brings me to my point. Especially in this day of free agency and parity, teams can go from winners to lose, and rewrite their identites.

I imagine someone, perhaps they heard about fantasy football, and this is their first season watching the NFL. San Francisco and Green Bay are in contention for the worst record. The Bengals, Colts, and Patriots are the top AFC contenders.

Even for me, it is still weird to see that the Browns and Bengals were serious Super Bowl contenders in the 80's, considering that for all of the 90's they have been a laughing stock.

Here's a look at the final standings from 2004, 1999, and 1994. Heck, the league has grown from 28 to 31 to 32 teams in those increments.

San Fran went from #1 seed in NFC and Super Bowl Champs in 94 to #1 draft pick possibility.
In 94, the Rams were last in their division in LA. 5 years later they won the Super Bowl in St. Louis.
In 99, the Pats were last in their division. 5 years later they have won 3 Super Bowls.
In 99, the Eagles were last in their division, 5 years later they have been to 4 NFC championship games.
The Jags weren't in the league in 94. By 99 they were the #1 seed in the AFC, and (this can't be right) beat the Dolphins 62-7 in the playoffs. The Jaguars?
In the past 4 years, the AFC West has been won by 4 different teams.
Also in 94, 4 of the 6 NFC playoff teams was from the Central. Only the Bucs didn't make it.
The Redskins went from last in 94, to first in 99, to last in 04.
In 94 the Oilers went from last, to a Super Bowl appearance in 99 as the Titans. Then back to last in 04.

The point of all of this is that it is really hard to maintain a winning team. It is hard to keep good players on offense and defense at the same time. With so much parity, you really have to respect what New England has done. Also, if your a Lion's fan, and even though they were 3rd place at every increment, you can have a little hope that franchises do get turned around. And if you're a Bears fan:

1998 Rams were last in their division - 1999 Rams win SB.
2000 Pats were last in their division - 2001 Pats win SB.
2004 Bears were last in their division...

Merry Predictions Week 16

Falcons 17, Bucs 20
Bills 10, Bengals 31
Cowboys 17, Panthers 24
Lions 10, Saints 21
Jaguars 14, Texans 13
Giants 17, Redskins 21
Steelers 20, Browns 14
Chargers 27, Chiefs 28
49ers 14, Rams 17
Titans 17, Dolphins 23
Eagles 13, Cardinals 16
Colts 17, Seahawks 20
Raiders 3, Broncos 23
Bears 16, Packers 7
Vikings 17, Ravens 13
Patriots 24, Jets 3

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Predictions Review Week 15

Week One: 11-5
This week: 8-8
Total 19-13

The actual scores are on the left, with my predictions on the right in italics. Correct picks are in bold, with games reading Visitor, Home.

Bucs 0, Patriots 28
Bucs 17, Patriots 23
Chiefs 17, Giants 27 Chiefs 31, Giants 24
Broncos 28, Bills 17 Broncos 20, Bills 12
Cardinals 19, Texans 30 Cardinals 17, Texans 13
Panthers 27, Saints 10 Panthers 20, Saints 17
Jets 20, Dolphins 24 Jets 9, Dolphins 16
Eagles 17, Rams 16 Eagles 13, Rams 16
Steelers 18, Vikings 3 Steelers 20, Vikings 23
Chargers 26, Colts 17 Chargers 24, Colts 28
Seahawks 28, Titans 24 Seahawks 23, Titans 17
49ers 9, Jaguars 10 49ers 7, Jaguars 14
Bengals 41, Lions 17 Bengals 20, Lions 10
Browns 9, Raiders 7 Browns 14, Raiders 17
Cowboys 7, Redskins 35 Cowboys 24, Redskins 14
Falcons 3, Bears 16 Falcons 10, Bears 13
Packers 3, Ravens 48 Packers 16, Ravens 10

I predicted the Rams scoring, and was only 4 off for the Eagles.
I was off by 6 on the total score for 49ers-Jags and 10 for the Falcons-Bears.

8-8 this week ties the worst analyst on ESPN this week. Overall I am only better than Joe Thiesmann. Lame.

Monday, December 19, 2005

NFL Draft Preview

This might not happen, but this is what I would like to see:

The Texans best player is a RB. They'll be obligated to take Bush #1, but really they need massive help. Carr isn't that bad. Trade the pick. Bush is a great player, he belongs on a franchise with a history of winning. Bush to SF.

1. San Fran: Reggie Bush

So who needs a QB? About 20 teams come to mind... But really the Saints, Jets, Ravens, Dolphins.

Lienart to New York. Star Power. Jets trade up a few spots, give Houston some picks and an OL, get a star.

1. San Fran: Reggie Bush
2. New York: Matt Lienart (from Houston)

The Saints could be in San Antonio and they need a QB. Maybe someone who can run...

1. San Fran: Reggie Bush
2. New York: Matt Lienart (from Houston)
3. New Orleans: Vince Young

Houston can't trade Reggie Bush away, so they need to get out of the #1 spot. The 49ers need Reggie Bush, so they need to get out. Look for San Fran to throw the rest of the season away. If anything can save Alex Smith's career, it's REG-GIE!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Playoffs? Don't talk about... Playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs?

No, I'm not kidding. Let's talk about the real deal. Playoffs.

(If you're ever in a bum mood about the performance of your favorite sporting team, try listening to Jim Mora rant about the woeful Saints of the mid-90's. Fantastic. Always cheers me up.)

The Bears finally put in Grossman just to see if he could fare better than Orton.

The results:

Grossman9/16930td1int
Orton2/10120td0int

Granted, Grossman did throw a pick. (Didn't Orton throw 5 in a game this year?) But if you watched his arm, it is much better. He has confidence throwing the ball, defenses will have to respect that, opening up the running game. And with longer drives, that helps the defense even more by controlling the clock and letting them rest. (Unless you think that the Bears D played so well, with the intent on scoring themselves, because they knew their offense couldn't score. But that's another debate.)

I will play Devil's Advocate for one minute: Often replacement QB's find success because the other defense relaxes thinking this will be easier, or they haven't studied film on this QB. If Grossman regains the starting position, then he needs to have success with a team that has prepared for him, before he can be appointed Savior. And before people start talking about the Super Bowl.

But now that Devil's Advocate is over, the Bears are a legitimate Super Bowl team. They can get a bye, and home field until the NFC Championship. With Grossman keeping the other team honest, the Bears can score just enough to beat anybody at home. That puts them in Seattle, with a 50/50 chance of getting to Detroit. The Seahawks are real good, but what happens if Hasslebeck needs to score in the 2nd half and he forces one. The Bears defense wins the game and punches a one-way ticket to the Motor City. (Actually, they should probably go for the round-trip ticket. I wouldn't want to stay in Detroit that long. Scary.)

He's the part where I praise myself. I was calling for Grossman 2 weeks ago, when everyone was caught up in "Orton's 8-game winning streak." Let me reiterate: Chicago won 8 games in a row, not because of Orton, but in spite of him.

Moving on.

AFC Wild Card Predictions:
Patriots d. Jaguars
Bengals d. Steelers

AFC Divisional:
Colts d. Patriots
Broncos d. Bengals

AFC Championship:
Colts d. Broncos

NFL Wild Card:
Bears d. Redskins
Panthers d. Bucs

NFC Divisional:
Bears d. Giants
Seahawks d. Panthers

NFC Championship:
Seahawks d. Bears

Super Bowl
Colts d. Seahawks

Fantasy Playoffs

In my first fantasy draft league, I had outperformed all expectations. After a 14-week regular season, I won my division and scored the most points in the league with 1444. After stumbling to 4-4, I needed to win out to make the playoffs. I did just that riding a 6-game winning streak to enter the playoffs. Also, it should be noted that I did land the first overall pick (Tomlinson) but traded for studs Manning and Larry Johnson. I also picked up Thomas Jones to complete my lineup with Larry Fitzgerald and Crumpler.

In the first round of the final four playoffs, I was favored by 12, with a projected score of 99-87. The #2 scoring team was also heavily favored, possibly setting up a fantastic finish to my first fantasy league.

Scranton (9-5) vs. Hoagies (10-4)

Larry Johnson was huge with 29, but LT got shut down by the Colts. He finished with 7 points. Manning only scored 15, losing 4 points on 2 INT. Going into the Sunday night game, I was down 72-87, with Crumpler and Falcons D remaining. Scranton had finished as expected with 87.

The Bears D shut down Crumpler limiting him to 1 point. And the surprise return of Grossman cut the Falcons D scoring to 11.

Final Score: Scranton 87, Hoagies 84

If I had really been paying attention, I should have started the Jaguars D against the woeful 49ers. They actually scored 14 and would have tied the game. Or if Manning hadn't thrown 2 picks, or if instead of my Seattle kicker getting 4XP, he could have gotten 2 FG. But ultimately the ultra dependable possible MVP of the NFL, LT scored 7. 8 less than Thomas Jones rotting on my bench. But how could I have benched my #1 pick? At the end of the day, I had a good run, built a strong team, and it just didn't turn out the way I would have liked. But I had fun along the way. Until next year...

Chiefs: Embarrasing

Coach Vermeil: “That was a good old fashioned butt-whipping. They got after us and whipped us soundly in every way. They out-coached us; they out-played us; they out-everythinged us. We were that far out of the football game. I don’t if it was ever quite as close as the score indicated. If someone sets an NFL career rushing or a career rushing record what we thought was a real sound defense…well, we weren’t worth a damn. I wasn’t worth a damn, nobody else was worth a damn."

Now for the Chiefs to make the playoffs they MUST:

Win both of their last games (at Arrowhead vs. Chargers, Bengals)
The Steelers must lose one of their games (Browns, Lions)

It doesn't look good.

Friday, December 16, 2005

10 Reasons to Get Rid of Soccer

1. 0-0 games. I've seen more action in tough actin' Tinactin. Why play for 2 hours to have a game decide by a penalty kick?

2. Drunken hooligan fans. Here in America, we wait until after win to get rowdy and riot - not in the middle of the first half.

3. Nascar Uniforms. I've seen jerseys with so many sponsors I thought Kraft was playing Nabisco in the Cookie Cup.

4. Throw-ins? Let me get this straight, you can't touch the ball with your hands, unless you are out of bounds. Who thought that rule up? 10 euros says it wasn't an American.

5. Weather cry-babys. I've never seen a soccer match in the snow. If you can't handle the extreme weather, maybe that's why you're playing soccer.

6. World Cup Yawn. The "biggest" soccer event only happens every 4 years. What are soccer nuts supposed to do between them? Also, I use the term biggest loosely because it's soccer.

7. Yellow cards, red cards. If you hit someone, you get a penalty. I'm sure David Carr would rather play soccer.

8. GOOOOOOOOOOOAL. Lame announcers. Nuff 'said.

9. Did I mention low scoring? Across the pond, we Americans like to watch scoring.

10. It's soccer. No one cares about soccer. It's boring. It might have been nice in 1934, but we have better sports now. Get a clue!

Soccer Challenge

I was challenged to get people riled and call me a stupid American. I will make comments that I don't believe and aren't that intelligent. Let's see what happens.

NFL Predictions Week 15

With playoff hopes on the line, this week's matchups seem a lot closer than last week. Also with no college football to compete with, there will be 7 nationally telivised games this weekend!

Bucs 17, Patriots 23
Chiefs 31, Giants 24
Broncos 20, Bills 12
Cardinals 17, Texans 13
Panthers 20, Saints 17
Jets 9, Dolphins 16
Eagles 13, Rams 16
Steelers 20, Vikings 23
Chargers 24, Colts 28
Seahawks 23, Titans 17
49ers 7, Jaguars 14
Bengals 20, Lions 10
Browns 14, Raiders 17
Cowboys 24, Redskins 14
Falcons 10, Bears 13
Packers 16, Ravens 10

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Big Night in the NBA for Illini

Out west, the Rockets trailing Warriors by 3 with 5 ticks to go. Head inbounds the ball in the front court to Yao, who passes it back to Head. As Luther had done so many times in Assembly Hall, he lets a rainbow fly and they're headed to OT. Rockets go on to win by six. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

In Utah, Deron didn't have a stat-studded night, 9 points and 9 assists. But he did get a nice highlight on SportsCenter, as they showed him running the floor and assisting Kirilenko. On the second look at the play, they slow it down and show how Kirilenko wanted the ball behind the arc, but Deron lead him to the basket for an uncontested jam. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Predictions Review

In my first week of predicting scores, I went 11-5. Good, but not great. The actual scores are on the left, with my predictions on the right in italics. Correct picks are in bold, with games reading Visitor, Home.


Bears 9, Steelers 21 Bears 10, Steelers 13
Browns 20, Bengals 23 Browns 10, Bengals 28
Texans 10, Titans 13 Texans 9, Titans 13
Colts 26, Jaguars 18 Colts 24, Jaguars 17
Patriots 35, Bills 7 Patriots 20, Bills 10
Raiders 10, Jets 26 Raiders 24, Jets 7
Rams 13, Vikings 27 Rams 13, Vikings 23
Bucs 20, Panthers 10 Bucs 17, Panthers 24
Giants 26, Eagles 23 Giants 31, Eagles 10
49ers 3, Seahawks 41 49ers 7, Seahawks 31
Redskins 17, Cardinals 13 Redskins 14, Cardinals 17
Ravens 10, Broncos 12 Ravens 6, Broncos 24
Chiefs 28, Cowboys 31 Chiefs 27, Cowboys 24
Dolphins 23, Chargers 21 Dolphins 16, Chargers 30
Lions 13, Packers 16 Lions 10, Packers 13
Saints 17, Falcons 36 Saints 13, Falcons 21

What's better than the record, is how accurate the points were predicted. The Titans and Rams performed as expected, both at 13. I was only off by one for the Bears and Chiefs.

Best Games Predicted (total point diff.)
Texans-Titans (1)
Colts-Jaguars (3)
Rams-Vikings (4)
Lions-Packers (6)
Redskins-Cardinals (7)
Chiefs-Cowboys (8)
Bears-Steelers (9)

With predictions like those maybe I should stick to betting over/unders instead of picking winners.

Note: compared with the experts at ESPN, my 11-5 was not that great. But my percentage for this week, ties the 2nd best percentage overall with Hoge, trailing only Salisbury. Perhaps one week is not enough data to perform accurate comparisons...but until we have more weeks of data- I am officially a better football mind than Theismann, Jaworski, Schlereth, Allen, Mortensen and Golic.

Friday, December 09, 2005

NFL Predictions

SportsCorner celebrates it's 50th post with some really bold predictions.

Bears 10, Steelers 13
Browns 10, Bengals 28
Texans 9, Titans 13
Colts 24, Jaguars 17
Patriots 20, Bills 10
Raiders 24, Jets 7
Rams 13, Vikings 23
Bucs 17, Panthers 24
Giants 31, Eagles 10
49ers 7, Seahawks 31
Redskins 14, Cardinals 17
Ravens 6, Broncos 24
Chiefs 27, Cowboys 24
Dolphins 16, Chargers 30
Lions 10, Packers 13
Saints 13, Falcons 21

Bold Predictions

With Sunday's Chiefs-Cowboys matchup featuring 2 teams with wild card spots on the mind, the Commish dons his Nostradamus hat:

Green 1 TD, 1 INT
Bledsoe 2 TD, 2 INT

Johnson 120 yards, 2 TD
Jones 70 yards, 1 TD

Cundiff misses a 4th quarter field goal that ensures a Chiefs victory.

Chiefs 27, Cowboys 24

Although really those could be way off. I mean, maybe instead of throwing 2 picks, Bledsoe throws 1 and loses a fumble on a Jared Allen sack. It's hard to be sure.

Monday, December 05, 2005

NFL QotD

"I'm over 1,000 yards. That's my highlight of the day. It's out of my hands. If I called the plays, I'd have 60 carries.'' - Willis McGahee, following a 24-23 loss to Miami, after leading 23-3.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

6 Degrees of Kyle Orton

How would you feel about your team if you saw they only gained 188 yards, with 49 passing yards, controlled the ball for 25 minutes and committed 2 turnovers? Then what if I said your opponent had twice as many yards and almost 3 times as many first downs?

You'd probably be feeling pretty good, because I'd be asking about the 2005 Chicago Bears who just won their 8th straight, beating their biggest rival and preventing a HOFer from entering the endzone.

How could they possibly win with such lopsided stats? A defense that comes around once every 20 years or so, that can dominate another team while still giving up good numbers. It's hard to completely prevent another team from gaining yards when your offense is so terrible.

And make no mistake about it, Orton and the entire "offense" are terrible. 0 for 10 on 3rd down conversion. Which just makes the defensive performances so impressive. When the offense can't stay on the field, it should wear a defense out. When an offense moves the ball so poorly, it oftens drains the momentum of the defense. But this Bears D forcers turnovers and scores points at crucial points, at the ends of both halves today.

Which reminds me, I am so sick of hearing how great Orton is, that he should be MVP or rookie of the year, or that he is "leading the team to victory." Today they showed a graphic: "most wins by a rookie qb." Generally I am against giving the teams w-l record to represent a qb's record. (ex: Bledsoe is 4-0 against the Redskins.) You should never say that about any other player on a football team (Vanderjagt is 1-6 lifetime at New England) or in any other team sport (Pujols is 12-4 against the Cubs this year). So why do people say that about QB's? Because we envision Montana and Elway driving the team to victory and think that the leader of the offense must be responsible for the entire team's performance.

This echoes back to the argument of Marino vs. Super Bowl winning QB's & Peyton vs. Brady. It's a team sport. And unlike other team sports, Marino couldn't exactly play defense either. So somehow Trent Dilfer is going to be ahead of him on the QB food chain because Marino couldn't get a ring. I understand winning championships is everything. I'm glad people think rings are more important than stats. But since we know defense wins championships, how can you disrespect Marino with stuff like "He never won the big one." Well, if by "he" you mean the Miami Dolphins never won the big one, then that's true. But it sure wasn't the QB's fault.

Look I love Brady. And he's shown he's clutch time and time again. If I was building a team to win the Super Bowl this year, he's #2 on my list. But #1 has got to be Peyton. I don't care that Brady has the hardware. Manning's better. That's no knock on Brady. But it's a team sport. It's not Manning's fault that while he's throwing 49 touchdowns, he's defense was trying to match it. But once the defense starts playing well, everybody is ready to proclaim Manning the best QB of all time.

But this all started with Orton. And the fact that he stinks. He's got the lowest passer rating in the NFL. And whenever he throws the ball more than 5 yards downfield, you just kind of wince. Even if you're like me, and you don't care about the Bears, it's almost like a drunk driver doing 60 floating across the hashmarks. You can't take your eyes off it, but you have this feeling that this can't end well. And when the ball harmlessly falls 10 yards overthrown, you kind of sigh thinking, that turned out pretty good.

Let me repeat that, he has the lowest passer rating in the NFL. Joey Harrington is performing better and he's getting benched. Aaron Brooks is performing 17% better, and people are calling for his head. A fellow rookie by the name of J.P. Losman is performing better. And yet "Orton for RotY", "Orton for MVP". If the Bills had the Bears D, would that make Losman the Rookie of the Year.

Also, in case you were wondering if Orton's stats were hurt by the Bears' run first mentatlity, Roethlisberger has thrived in his first 2 years in a similar system, with a passer rating currently 3rd in the league, and over 50% better than Orton's.

The fact that the Bears have been able to carry such a miserable QB to 8 straight wins is beyond impressive. But it doesn't make Orton's shitty throws smell any better.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Just thinking

Is there a rule that says you have to hike a field goal straight back?

If the ball is lined up on the hash marks, couldn't the holder line up a little bit more centered? It might be too hard to catch for a right-footed kicker, if the ball was originally on the right hash, but other than that, couldn't it help out the kicker?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

How things change in the NFL

If you played Madden '06 right now, they would have all the correct starting lineups, ie: Randy would be in silver and black, but it wouldn't know that Jamal Lewis post-prison isn't the same as Jamal Lewis pre-prison. It probably wouldn't have Larry Johnson capable of being a star back. TO and McNabb would be playing. And it would have Culpeppy coming off a fantastic year and rated nearly as high as Peybaby. And that's just changes since the start of this season.

So you can imagine going back to the 2005 rosters as I did in NFL 2k5. Manning, Roethlisburger and Rivers all rookies. The game doesn't know that Roethlisburger is pretty good out of the gate, Eli has developed nicely, and Rivers hasn't developed at all on the bench. In fact the game thinks that Maddox is as good as Big Ben and that Rivers is better than Brees, so he is starting on opening day.

But it's not just rookies. The game has Michael Bennett rated higher than Shaun Alexander. Travis Henry better than McGahee. Faulk better than Jackson. The Packers look loaded with Favre, Green, Driver and Walker all studs.

It started with Randy and TO, but I made all the trades I could follow at the skill positions, and edited values to represent the current depth charts. It's weird to so how much things can change in just a year. You wouldn't believe how much I had to add to Chad Johnson's dance rating.

Rivarly Weekend

Keep your Michigan-Ohio State, go home Auburn-Alabama, USC-Notre Dame who?

When I want rivalries I'm going to the NFL this weekend. There are 5, count them five, huge divisional games on Sunday. 4 of the 5 feature the top 2 teams in the division facing off, with all 8 teams racing for a playoff spot. The other game features the most historic of rivalries with the Pack coming to the Bears home cage. Granted this year the Packers aren't in contention for the playoffs, but it should still be a great game, and does matter to both the Bears and revival of the Vikings. Consider the last 13 times Favre rolled into Soldier Field, 12 times he left with the W.

Cowboys at Giants: Both teams tied at 7-4 atop the competitive NFC East. Manning-Manning Super Bowl on the line.

Falcons at Panthers: Vick's record against Carolina: 5-0. But Panthers are a game ahead in the standings and at home, if they lose Sunday, the rematch on January 1st could be trouble.

Bengals at Pittsburgh: Bengals up a game, but already got embarrassed at home by the Steelers. If they get swept, it might be time to start thinking about a wild card spot. Which could come down to the final game of the season against another team fighting for the same spot. I'll be there to ring in the new year at Arrowhead.

Donkeys at Chiefs: A lot to look at in this game. On Monday Night in Week 3 the Chiefs had a chance to go into Denver and take a commanding 2 game early division lead. Instead they got winded and embarrased and got taunted by Champ Bailey as not playing hard. The Chiefs haven't forgotten that. What should the Broncos remember: Chiefs vs Broncos at Arrowhead in December are 16-1. The Chiefs haven't lost to anyone at home in December since '96. And of course a win for KC would make that New Year's game even more intriguing...

I can smell the barbecue already.