Friday, November 05, 2004

A Loser Picking the Winners, Week 9

Just when I thought things couldn't possibly get any worse, I go 5-9 during week 8. For the first time in what has to be days, I'm below .500 and as it stands, I'm currently $560 in the hole (imaginary, of course).

Anyway, here's a look at some of the week 9 matchups and of course the ubiquitous week 9 picks:

Washington at Detroit
Seeing the Redskins at 2-5 (which brings back a flood of Steelers memories from 2003) reminds me of something Joey Porter said almost weekly last year: every game is a playoff game. Of course, he could've stopped saying that after about week 12, and I suspect the same will be the case with the Redskins. What's interesting about this Skins team is that after 2004 they start having some serious salary cap issues and could be a perennial six-win team for the foreseeable future (luckily they traded away most of their near-term future draft considerations for people like Mark Brunell -- Bravo!).

In the meantime, Joe Gibbs has often looked out of sorts on the sideline and his unwavering support of Brunell is both troubling and perplexing -- to say nothing of the fact that it only exacerbates his out-of-sorts image. Couple all of this with the fact that Washington has a bunch of injuries and I'm inclined to favor the NFC North powerhouse (sarcasm here, but just barely), Detroit Lions in this game.

Cleveland at Baltimore
On paper Cleveland really should have no chance to win this game. And in fact, they probably don't have a chance to win on the field either (of course, this same argument could have been made in week 1 too). Well, I'm picking Cleveland anyway; primarily because (a) It'll help the Steelers, and (b) I don't like the Ravens.

Here's one thing I'd love to see in this game but most definitely will not: Jeff Garcia scores a TD and then does the Ray Lewis Dance. I can very easily imagine Ray-Ray recreating the opening scene from "The Last Boy Scout" (in it you may remember, football star Jimmy Dix, played by Damon Wayons, ends up shooting another player -- during the game!) and pulling out his piece from under his uniform and bustin' a cap in Jeff Garcia. Still, you have to admit it would be pretty funny (up until Garcia got shot, anyway).

Arizona at Miami
Just kidding.

New England at St. Louis
Winning on the road against an explosive Rams team without your starting CBs (one of which is arguably one of the best cover corners in the league) and potentially your starting RB makes for a long day if you're Bill Belichick. Now, he beat this Rams team in the 2001 Super Bowl as a 14-point underdog, so at this point nothing would surprise me. Luckily for Belichick, all he may need to do is sit back and watch Mike Martz out-playcall himself into a loss.

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh
I almost forgot about this intra-state game -- especially since none of the national media have picked up on it. Seriously, to hear the media tell it, Pittsburgh will be the best team in the NFL if they win this game. And while no one foresaw the complete and utter success of the "Roethlisberger Experiment," most of these sage-like pundits were picking the Steelers to finish 3rd or 4th in the AFC North (4th? Come on, that's just spiteful). If the Steelers can run the ball effectively, they can kill two birds with one stone. For starters, the Eagles' run defense isn't very good (a bunch of injuries don't help). Secondly, the longer the Steelers keep the ball, the less time McNabb & Co. have to re-enact the Warren Moon run & shoot. Whatever happens, just don't let T.O. score

The Steelers and Ravens don't have their rematch until December 26, but I found this Black & Gold Insider Q & A particularly amusing:

Q: Isn't it ironic the role the Baltimore Ravens have played in the success the Steelers have enjoyed this season? In the final regular-season game last season, Brian Billick played his starters the entire four quarters and even into overtime of a game that had no meaning for his playoff-bound team. What other NFL coach would have done that? If the Steelers win that game they finish 7-9 and probably don't get a chance to draft Ben Roethlisberger. Of course it was the Ravens that knocked out Tommy Maddox and gave Ben his chance. Do you think there is a chance the Steelers would be 8-1 right now with Maddox at quarterback?

Randy Byrd of Erlanger, Ky.

BOUCHETTE: I can guarantee you they would not be 8-1 at this point, but your point is made and it's an interesting one. Not only that, but I believe Baltimore was upset in the playoffs the following week because they kept those players in the whole game. So what you're saying is the Ravens not only delivered Roethlisberger to the Steelers but also made it possible for him to start. I never thought of it that way, but that is correct. We don't know what might have happened had Maddox not gotten hurt, but they surely would not have started Roethlisberger as quickly as the third game. I don't know if they would be 6-1 had Maddox remained their starter. Duce Staley and their defense have played well too, but Roethlisberger surely has meant at least two victories for the Steelers.
Solid. Like I always say, never let a grudge get in the way of doing the right thing. Here are the week 9 picks:

Season: 56 - 56 - 4
Last week: 5 - 9
Earnings to date: - $560

Week 1 picks
Week 2 picks
Week 3 picks
Week 4 picks
Week 5 picks
Week 6 picks
Week 7 picks
Week 8 picks