Saturday, October 08, 2005

A Loser Picking Winners, Week 5

Better Late than Never Edition

Good thing I put off Friday's post until after the Red Sox game. Yeah, that didn't work out too well, but as Countertorque points out, baseball is stupid and boring anyway. And if it wasn't before Friday, it certainly is now. More on the Sox later -- probably sometime next week. Now it's time for me to do something Tim McCarver only wished Deion Sanders had done: pick a sport, preferably football, and stick with it. So, from this point forward it's all Steelers, all the time. (OK, that's not really true. In fact, it's a blatant lie. UNC starts up in a few weeks, and unless the Red Sox are dissolved, I'm sure I'll have the occasion to talk about them too. But in the meantime -- when I'm not actually talking about the Heels, or the Sox, it'll be all Steelers, all the time. Yeah, that's what I meant.) Enough with the silliness, let's get to it.

... First of all, my apologies to our Jewish brothers and sisters who are celebrating the Sabbath and can't really do important stuff like read this site. Unfortunately, my laziness had everything to do with not posting something in a timely fashion on Friday (well, laziness and my job, but mostly laziness), but I aim to make up for it here. And not only that, but since the Steelers don't play until Monday night/Tuesday morning, you won't miss anything important (at the very least, you won't miss anything; whether it's important or not is certainly debatable).

... So Tommy Maddox is injured, huh? My first thought was, "Hmmm, he must've fallen out of bed, or maybe his arm fell asleep and he accidently slammed it in a door or something."

(Before I continue with this, let me give a big CPW Shoutout to Rob Rossi, a two-time-in-one-week winner. On Wednesday, I pointed out that Rossi gave maybe the worst interview since Chris Farley interviewed Paul McCartney, but apparently that wasn't good enough. In today's Tribune-Review, Rossi dutifully reports on the Maddox injury, but without the aid of a press guide or access to the internets, he spells his name "Maddux." It's not a just world when I'm actually saying to myself, "Sheesh, maybe Joe Bendel isn't that bad." Bendel is that bad, but the lesson here is if you're going to suck, make sure your co-workers suck more.)

Update (Sunday, Oct. 9):
More CPW Chicanery ... Apparently, Rob Rossi is trying to set some sort of record for CPW. After already getting a mention in this post, and last week, Rossi goes for the trifecta in his latest, ahem, Q & A in Sunday's Tribune-Review. Here's the lead paragraph:
Max Starks is big -- so big that he towers over Big Ben. Think about that! And consider this: That tattoos he has on his right and left shoulders would probably stretch across a normal person's back...
Once again, solid work by Rossi, and I didn't even get into the fact that he actually thinks Big Ben is the biggest person on the planet (think about that!), or his generous use of the exclamation point (!) . He's able to get two whole sentences into his latest masterpiece before dropping the ball on the whole subject-verb agreement thing. Rossi, here's an idea. Here's another one: stop it. Just stop the madness. (OK, that's really it with the CPW stuff ... until, I suppose, Rossi pens another column.)

Anyway, The Maddox injury highlights two things. First, like the Jets had to learn the hard way, backup QBs are pretty important. And the only thing better than having a good backup, is having two good backups. With Maddox doubtful for Monday night's game, Charlie Batch is now behind Roethlisberger. My buddy Andy prefers Batch as the #2 guy anyway, and I tend to agree with him. Especially when you consider that there was a chance that the Steelers might keep St. Pierre over Batch coming out of camp. But given that New York is starting 41-year-old Vinny Testaverde, and their backups are named Bollinger and Kingsbury, I'll take Maddox or Batch and not make much of a fuss about it.

In the same story, Gerry Dulac mentions that the Bus will be the #2 back behind Willie Parker and Duce will probably be deactivated.
Running back Jerome Bettis, who hasn't played since his calf was injured in the third preseason game against the Washington Redskins, will play against the Chargers and probably be the No. 2 back behind Willie Parker.

That means Duce Staley, who missed the entire preseason and the first two games of the regular season, could be deactivated against the Chargers.
Huh? When did this happen? And more importantly, what does this mean long-term? I don't think Duce is hurt (at least any more than usually's the case) so this seems kind of curious. Still, whether it's Jerome or Duce, you're basically getting the same thing. Seeing that the Chargers have struggled to stop the run (except against the Pats, who can't run against anybody) and the pass, I'm guessing we'll see Pittsburgh run the ball 75 times -- 25 each for the three backs that dress. And that's fine by me.

... I mentioned after the Pats game that it looked like the Steelers game plan was to avoid big plays. And they did, making New England string together a bunch of long drives. Of course, the usual cadre of commentators, writers and bobbleheads were quick to jump on the Pittsburgh defense as being porous with their linebackers being particularly dreadful in coverage.

Yeah, good call on that one. Here's how Ike Taylor and Deshea Townsend explained it in yesterday's Post-Gazette:
"No big plays," said cornerback Ike Taylor. "That's the key to try to give our offense some good field position. With coach [Dick] LeBeau, because he's been a cornerback, he really emphasizes and stresses -- no big plays."

"We always talk about making a team go the long way," cornerback Deshea Townsend said. "We have enough playmakers on defense. If somebody is going to have a 12- or 15-play drive, at some point we're going to make a play to stop the drive. The way to make it easier for the offense is to give up 50 or 60 yards on one pass. That takes away from an opportunistic defense."
[Quick Aside Alert] Herb Simon, won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1978 even though he wasn't trained as an economist. If the phrase "thinking outside the box" was invented because of Simon, it could've been. Academics, especially social scientists, love to model things. This usually means a bunch of complicated equations used to explain some social phenomena like why people commit crimes or how people make decisions. When Simon would sit in on these discussions, he would invariably raise this question: "Why don't you just ask them?" It sounds straight-forward enough, and it's just crazy enough to work. [/Quick Aside Alert]

Here's my long-winded point: Asking people why they do things is usually the first step in finding out why something happened. And given that reporters don't usually use social science models (some, ahem, seem to prefer to just make stuff up), it's probably more important that they (in this case) ask Steeler defenders what the game plan was for stopping the Patriots. And once armed with that knowledge, it reduces the probability they'll incorrectly report the story by something like 50 percent (or so we hope).

Anyway, what do you think the Steelers defense will try and take away from the Chargers? Anyone in the media want to venture a guess? I'll give you a little hint, it won't be stopping Reche Caldwell from beating them deep.

... Earlier this week I mentioned that Roethlisberger almost ended up at Duke and the implications involved in such a bad decision. Anonymous left two of the funniest comments on the issue here and here. Just in case you needed another reason not to like Duke.

Now, on to the picks ...

Last week I rolled off four wins. That's not good. I think part of my problem is that I'm not really picking games so much as picking the teams I want to lose no matter the spread or who they're playing. For example, here are my thoughts going into game-picking mode:

(1) Always pick the Steelers. There's nothing worse than picking against your team, hoping they win by four and a half or more, but are bummed when they win by only three. That's just dumb.

(2) Always pick against the Pats. I'm tired of seeing them win Super Bowls -- usually at the expense of the Steelers.

(3) Always pick against the Ravens. Except when they're playing the Pats. I, under no circumstances, can hope the Ravens win. Ever.

So using this strategy -- at least against the spread -- makes gambling a really dumb idea. But hey, dumbness hasn't stopped me from doing a bunch of other stuff, so here goes:
NO GB -3.0 NO
Season: 25 - 35
Last week: 4 - 10
Earnings to date: - $1350

Week 1 picks
Week 2 picks
Week 3 picks
Week 4 picks