Thursday, November 01, 2007

Life After Coke

So I'm sitting here watching NFL Replay of the Pats-Colts AFCC from last year. A couple of things: I forgot the Colts were down by three with just over three minutes to go and the Pats had the ball. Also, comparing New England's '06 offense to their '07 offense is, well, a waste of time. They're not comparable. Jabar Gaffney, Reche Caldwell and Troy Brown, or the Three Amigos currently hauling in touchdown passes. Like I said.

Whatever, I'm still taking the Colts, and for one reason: spite. I know, it's not original, but how's that surprising? Currently, Indy's defense is ranked 6th (3rd against the pass; 15th against the run), and I'm guessing one of two things happens Sunday: either the Pats will pound the ball early, kinda like they did against the Redskins, or they'll wing it all over the yard, and we'll see how good the Colts' pass-D really is.

By the way, one of the great things about the whole organization being a bunch of a-holes is that the story line this week hasn't been about THE GAME OF THE CENTURY, Week 9 Version, but instead, about how the Pats are a bunch of classless cheaters. In the long run, I don't think the cheater label sticks -- no matter how true it is -- and if New England runs the table, they'll be remembered for ... running the table. Right now, though, it's freaking hilarious.

[Random note: Okay, the AFCC just ended -- Brady throws the pick to Marlin Jackson (he still catches it!) -- and as the RCA Dome is going buck wild, Belichick makes it a point to wade through a field full of flashing cameras, security types, and ancillary team personnel, to make sure he talks to Dungy. And it's more than the limp-wristed handshakes he's often accused. They shared words for about 10 seconds, man-hugged, and the Belichick made his way off the field ... but not before Manning tracked him down. And then Wilbert Belichick busted out the limp-wrister. Solid.]

Here's a question: why do teams hate the Pats so much more than they hate the Colts? I think the answer is obvious -- Dungy is seen as a family guy, unassuming, honest; Belichick is perceived as having none of these qualities. Manning, despite showing up everywhere, is a likable sort; Brady dumps smokin' hot actresses to date super models. He's very easy to hate. Additionally, New England has a roster full of players who, seemingly, either skirt the rules, or are poor sports. Rodney Harrison and Mike Vrabel immediately come to mind. Indy has no such player. Bob Sanders will knock the crap out of you, but unlike Harrison, he's not throwing forearm shivers, or (allegedly) punching guys in the hammy at the bottom of a pile of humanity. Did I miss anything?

Yeah, it's easy to hate the Pats, and cliched at this point, frankly, but I'll say this: once you get over their evil Hobbit of a head coach, and PatriotGate/running up the score/off-field issues, it's hard to fathom how good these guys really are. And not just the weekly beatdowns they administer like Michael Westbrook on an unassuming Stephen Davis, but building the entire roster.

After the Chargers inexplicably (well, inexplicable to everybody but John Harris) gave up a second-round pick for Chris Chambers, explain to me again how the Pats got Randy Moss for a fourth-rounder? Alright, I understand that NOBODY thought Moss would return to his Minny form, but a fourth-round pick? I suppose you could argue that the Chargers panicked, got swindled, and the Dolphins finally caught a break this year. And the Pats, realizing the Raiders needed warm bodies, made the Moss deal between Day 1 and Day 2 of the draft. I can buy all that ... but it's still pretty far-fetched.

More impressive than landing Moss has been the Pats offensive line play. Part of that has to do with Brady getting the ball out of his hands in 0.6 seconds, but there have been plenty of plays where he's been in the pocket for three and four seconds (or at least it seems that way). Compare their line with the Steelers and you'll notice that save Logan Mankins, they don't have any first-round picks. Off the top of my head, I think Matt Light was a second-rounder, Koppen was a sixth- or seventh-rounder, Neal was an undrafted wrassler, and Kaczur was a third-rounder. Contrast that with the Steelers, from left to right: 2nd, 1st, 6th, 1st, 4th. Which means -- to me, anyway -- that it comes down to coaching. Same for the Colts, by the way. They don't have a lot of high-round guys protecting the franchise, but they play well together (save '05 AFCC, of course).

Whatever. This is a long-winded way of saying: Go Colts.

Okay, who's shocked by Colclough-to-the-Browns? Me neither. I mentioned that maybe Romeo wanted a behind-the-curtains look at why the Steelers are so dominating, but I'm pretty sure Colclough can't tell the Cleveland coaches anything they don't already know. Plus, have you seen the Browns defense lately? Gary Baxter has resumed his place on IR, and their pass defense is ranked 31st according to the fine folks at FO. Leigh Bodden ain't walkin' to the other side of that field, people.

ps. I meant to point this out a few weeks ago, but, well, I forgot. Anyway, a new Steelers blog for your perusal: One for the Other Thumb. You know, when I started this here site back in February '04 there weren't any Steelers blogs. Message boards, for sure, but that was it. Internets time is like dog years. Thanks Al Gore!

pps. That guy in the photo, that's Ryan Wilson. Your bad. And by your bad, I mean my bad.