Thursday, September 8, 2011

Week 1: Austen Goes Benedict

Austen swallowed pride for a guy that did the same.
The excitement was in the cell phone wave that filled the air tonight as Austen and Stally congregated for the Week 1 draft picks.  With Stally getting the first pick in the season draft, it was Austen's opportunity to kick off the weekly picks with the top choice.

In this system, each person's first pick will be worth eight points, the second pick will be worth seven and on down to the eighth and final choice being worth just one.  While Austen showed stern criticism for Stally's first overall pick of New England as his choice of Super Bowl favorite, the Patriots favorable opening week match up and the eight points they could provide couldn't be ignored by the devout Patriot hater.

Week 1 Picks

Austen (Eight-Point Pick) - New England over @Miami

Austen: Despite my hatred for the Patriots, they are at least an organization that can be admired, besides that little cheating scandal that I will never let Stally live down. The Dolphins on the other hand are a horribly run organization and has one of the most uninformed and obnoxious fan bases on the face of the planet. This matchup is simple: Tom Brady vs. Chad Henne. It is a simple choice and that's why this is my lock of the week.

Stally: Oh, you're still hanging your hat on that jaywalking ticket?  I'm sorry, but it's not like they video taped your practice or tapped into your headsets.  Stealing publicly displayed signs is a commonly implemented practice in baseball and I always think it's such a joke when a pitcher gets mad that the guy on second is tipping "fastball" or "curve."  Likewise, I think it's a joke that teams like the Jets or Eagles want some losses reversed for games they think they were videotaped.  Heck!  Put Rainman up in the balcony, give him a pair of binoculars and I guarantee he could tip every single play; that's how public the play callers are with their signs...One other thing that's a joke: the Miami Dolphins.  This game was the easiest choice.

Stally (Eight-Point Pick) - @San Diego over Minnesota

Stally: I was bummed Austen sold out his New York allegiance for the Patriots pick.  They were clearly the hottest choice at the dance.  San Diego at home against a subpar Minnesota team was a distant consolation prize but definitely one with which I feel comfortable taking home from the party.

Austen: The only way the Vikes come away with a W in this one is if Percy Harvin get a couple of good kickoff returns. Adrian Peterson is a beast, but that offensive line is the weakest it has been during his time in Minnesota and the Chargers defense is a lot better than people give them credit for. AP will need to have a huge game as well for this one to even be close.

Austen (Seven-Point Pick) - Philadelphia over @St. Louis

Austen: As I said in our last post, the Pats and Eagles might be my two least favorite teams in the NFL, but I don't let that get in the way of reality. The Rams should be much improved, but a young quarterback facing off against 3 Pro Bowl cornerbacks and having to keep up with the Eagles high powered offense will be too much for this young Rams team to handle.

Stally: I'm picking the Rams; I'm doin' it!  I think Philadelphia's read a few too many newspaper clippings about themselves, and I think this young St. Louis team is flying a little to far under the radar.  They have big weapons in Steven Jackson and Sam Bradford and at home in St. Louis, I think they pull off Week 1's  biggest shocker.

Stally (Seven-Point Pick) - @Kansas City over Buffalo

Stally:  Kansas City is a frustratingly middling team and, as I pointed out after the choice (on the phone), investing your biggest dollars in the AFC West doesn't usually bring a lot of return.  That said, you don't usually lose a lot of money when you bet on Buffalo to lose.

Austen: I am not high on KC this year, so I can see this being an upset. If the Bills can stop the run with newly resigned Kyle Williams and the best rookie of 2011, Marcell Dareus, they have a good chance to beat the Chiefs, especially with Matt Cassel's injury.

Stally: KC should bring back Trent Green. He was underrated.

Austen (Six-Point Pick) - @Houston over Indianapolis

Austen: I knew Stally wanted this one badly so I snatched it up before he could get to it. Despite my long past of criticizing Peyton Manning, this team does not have much of a shot without him. The Texans are a constantly improving team and Kerry Collins has only had two weeks to learn a very complex, pass oriented offense. This game could be ugly fast.

Stally: Funny that you were the guy that drafted Indianapolis over Houston on the season and then used six-confidence points in Week 1 to reaffirm my belief that I stole the division winner after you foolishly selected the Colts.  You're right about one thing: I picked Houston to win this game long before Manning got hurt and I would have loved the six-points for the Texans with the next pick.

Stally (Six-Point Pick) - New York-G over @Washington

Stally: This was the third consecutive pick about which I wasn't overly excited.  I don't like the Giants anymore than I like the Chiefs, less in fact.  That said, I expect Washington to be really bad this season!

Austen: Rex Grossman actually looked pretty good at the end of the season last year. The Giants defense has at least 4 starters out of this game, and even more if you include quality backup players. I still think the Giants win this one, but playing on the ten year anniversary of 9/11 between the two cities that were hit the hardest during the attacks, emotions will be running high. Don't be surprised if a lot of fights break out and a few starters get ejected from this game. Its a heated rivalry that now has some extra heat.

Austen (Five-Point Pick) - Tennessee over @Jacksonville

Austen: Remember in my last post all the disparaging things I had to say about the Jags? Well things got worse once they released their starting quarterback David Garrard and anointed Luke McCown as their starter. This was simply a move that saved them a ton of cash, about $9 million to be exact. McCown has started 7 games in 7 seasons and there's a reason for that: he's not very good. Plus, I'll take a healthy and rested Chris Johnson over MJD with a knee injury any day. This could very possibly be a blow out.

Stally: Now, there's a Josh McCown too, right?  Which one's worse?  I think the Titans are halfway decent.  You told me in our Season Preview, I was mistaken, but here you seem to a concur with my sentiment.  One thing we can agree on: the Jags aren't gonna be any good this year.

Stally (Five-Point Pick) - @Green Bay over New Orleans

Stally: Austen loves New Orleans almost as much as he loves Green Bay, so I'm sure he doesn't mind having me give him the Saints for five points.  I'm not as high on them though and I'll take the Super Bowl champs at home on the night they raise the banner.  I'd prefer it was December in Wisconsin, but I still like the Pack in any weather.

Austen: The Packers will be hard to beat in any weather, but the Saints are one of the few teams with enough quality cornerbacks and safeties to cover all of the Packers offensive weapons. They also have the best offensive line in football, which should be able to slow down the Packers intense pass rush enough to allow Drew Brees to do his thing out there, which is put up a ton of points.

Austen (Four-Point Pick) - Atlanta over @Chicago

Austen: The Falcons had the second best record in football last year. I would feel much better about this game if it was in Atlanta, but it is still too early in the season for Chicago's weather to be much of a factor against the Falcons' passing game. The Falcons' defense should be even better than last year and they are playing against the worst offensive line in football.

Stally: Again!  Another thing I was criticized for in the Season Preview that you now agree with a few days later: stating the Falcons would be better than last year.  It's getting to the point that every team you pick is one I picked in the preseason for the same reasons you denounced at the time.  In the case of this game, Atlanta and Chicago had several things in common last year.  Both won their division.  Both earned first-round byes.  Both were beat at home in the playoffs by the Packers.  Other than that, the Bears weren't on the same level as the Falcons last season and won't be this year.

Stally (Four-Point Pick) - @Cleveland over Cincinnati

Stally: While the Browns don't excite me one bit, Cincinnati is expected to be downright awful.  I'll take mediocre at home against abysmal; that's worth four points.

Austen: I got the Browns in the season draft and I cannot see them losing to the Bengals. For the sake of this blog however, maybe the Browns underestimate Andy Dalton's skills a bit and he surprises them with some deep throws. If the Bengals young defensive line can slow down the Browns rushing attack, maybe this game gets interesting.

Stally: Stick to your motto: Nobody slows down Peyton Hillis, not even the color of his skin!  (According to Austen, at least, don't quote me on that.)

Austen (Three-Point Pick) - @New York-J over Dallas

Austen: Again, my strategy of waiting to get the Jets in later rounds works because of Stally's inability to put his biases behind him. Like the Giants, the Jets are playing on 9/11, but have the advantage of being at home. Since this is a Sunday night game and the Jets usually play up to their audience, especially Mark Sanchez, I see them having a decently easy time with the Cowboys. It also helps that it looks like the Boys will be down their top two corners, which was already the weakness of their team. Could be a big game for Plaxico Burress against his old rivals.

Stally: Ok, first of all, I picked Dallas to win this game, so thanks for offering me three points for a team I would have chosen anyway.  Second of all, the notion Plaxico Burress is just going to come out of the big house and take it to the house, isn't merited.  Comparisons to Michael Vick are far fetched.  First, Vick didn't start a game until into his second season back out.  Second, a quarterback has a lot more control over his game than an aging wide receiver.  Third,l Vick was 30 last season, Burress is 34 now.  If  I'm going to march out some big, 34-year-old target, I'd offer Randy Moss a contract; he's always been the better of the two, always!

Stally (Three-Point Pick) - @San Francisco over Seattle

Stally: In a tough year as a 49ers employee last year, this was one of the few games that I remember with a smile.  Alex Smith (yes! Alex Smith) put up big numbers, Dashon Goldson brought a pick back to the house, everything clicked for San Fran in a rout of Seattle.  I think the Seahawks are worse now than they were then, so I'm cautiously sticking my neck out for my old squad.

Austen: Stally's neck is out and its about to be chopped off. This is his first pick that I completely disagree with. I think the 49ers will be much worse this year than last, especially on defense. They cut Nate Clements and let Aubrayo Franklin walk in free agency and did not find a replacement for either. Alex Smith looks terrible and Michael Crabtree might miss this game. On the other hand, the Seahawks have improved everywhere except for their quarterback situation, which I must admit could be the downfall of this game. Either way, I see the Seahawks victorious in this one.

Stally: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning; quarterbacks win championships.  If Seattle wants to win, they'll need to start by improving there, not end with it.

Austen (Two-Point Pick) - @Arizona over Carolina

Austen: I do not necessarily believe in the Cards, but I do believe in the Panthers losing almost all of their games this year. The Cardinals will be able to run all over the Panthers, insuring that Kevin Kolb will not lose this game for them. On the other hand, Cam Newton's cocky attitude will not last long after he turns the ball over three times in the first half. Don't be surprised if you see Jimmy Clausen or Derek Anderson (yea that Derek Anderson who was awful on the Cardinals last season) playing some quarterback before this game is over.

Stally: The more I think about, the more I realize that Arizona is a steal this late.  They were so bad last year that on both occasions when the 49ers beat them, I thought, it could be worse, we could be the Cardinals.  But, I think I'm holding an unfair prejudice.  As I just mentioned, quarterbacks are paramount in the NFL.  I'm not going to sell the farm on Kolb, but he's at least competent enough to just toss the ball in Larry Fitzgerald's direction (who I just felt bad for last year) and let Fitz take it from there.  I'm not sure Arizona is going to be the team to feed Newton his lunch, but he'll definitely get plenty of servings of humble pie during the loss-filled 16-game debacle.

Stally (Two-Point Pick) - @Denver over Oakland

Stally: While most of my picks haven't put a smile on my face, this was the first one where I actually had to debate if I was even going with the correct team.  In the end, the choice lay in the Bronocs being the home team and the belief that with last year behind them and John Fox in the saddle, they were probably the better team...maybe.

Austen: There's a reason the Broncos lost twice to the Raiders last year, they are a terrible team with very little talent. They have not drafted well in a decade and it shows on their roster. Speaking of drafting poorly, the Raiders have taken the cake lately in that department, but their crazy free agent spending and a slightly improved draft strategy in the last couple of years has put a good amount of talent on this roster. I see the Raiders running the ball the entire game and controlling the tempo in their favor.

Austen (One-Point Pick) - @Tampa Bay over Detroit

Austen: The Lions have been awful all around as of late, but they are still one of the worst road teams in the NFL. Tampa Bay is a "youngry" (young + hungry) team and they play that way. Josh Freeman is a better quarterback than even a healthy Matt Stafford, which is always his issue. The Lions are improved, but not enough to overtake a real playoff contender at home.

Stally: Not so fast!  There's one exception where the Lions beat a real playoff contender at home recently.  Last year, on Dec. 19, they went on the road and beat an 8-5 team that went on to finish 10-6 and missed the playoffs (and taking the spot from some *forgettable* 10-6 Packers team) because of that loss.  However, in that case for the Lions, it was a Tampa Bay team quarterbacked by Josh Freeman, so luckily we're not talking about them, right?  Oh, no, wait, we are!

Stally (One-Point Pick) - @Baltimore over Pittsburgh

Stally: Austen and I discussed this one for a long time as it certainly poses to be the Game of the Week. (Come on ESPN!  How was mighty New England at lowly Miami a more intriguing choice than this!?)  Austen pointed out that Joe Flacco had never beaten Big Ben.  Being a guy that doesn't believe in weird streaks like that having any merit, I immediately took the Ravens.  Also, being the guy that tried to talk Fisch into taking Arian Foster over Adrian Peterson so I could nab AP with the second choice (screw you Austen for telling him otherwise), I'd hate to fall victim of any sort of reverse psychology.

Austen: I was being honest with Stally when I said the Steelers should take this game because how much could one point really hurt me? One point only seems to make a difference in a match against these two teams. Steelers-Ravens games are always hard fought and are always the most exciting 13-10 games you will see. The reason Roethlisberger is undefeated against Flacco is because these teams are so similar except for the quarterback position. Roethlisberger almost always makes the slight difference that gives them the win. The Ravens had a huge lead in the playoffs, but could only muster something like 26 yards of offense in the entire second half of that game, which allowed the Steelers to make another run at the Super Bowl right through my beloved Jets.

Stally: Just ask Haskell, who watched that Steelers-Jets game with me, I'd never been as excited to see Pittsburgh win as I was that evening.

Stally's Goal Line Stand

The Indianapolis Colts are nothing without Peyton Manning.  Wednesday on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption," Kornheiser and Wilbon debated how many games Manning could miss and the Colts could still make the playoffs.

"What's that!?

"Um, playoffs?  Don't talk about playoffs!

"Are you kidding me!?  Playoffs!?"

In the words of long-ago departed Coach Jim Mora: "I just hope [they] can win a game!"  Mora said that the last time the Colts were truly bad and they did have Peyton Manning throwing the ball then.

I avoided this team in fantasy football like a questionable dish at a Dan Katz dim sum trip (Cow intestine? No, thanks!).  Look at my teams, Austen (any of the three leagues we play against one another), they all have one thing in common: No Dallas Clark.  No Reggie Wayne.  No Peyton Manning.  No committee of running backs.  No secondary wide receivers that won't even get any targets.  Not even New England sports legend Adam Vinatieri could get my attention.

I'm serious in saying that until Petyon Manning comes back this team should be more focusing on winning a game than making the playoffs.

Austen's Goal Line Stand

Not only am I a huge football fan, but I am absolutely obsessed with fantasy football. I am currently managing five or six teams, I cannot even remember anymore, and I am the advice giver that most of my friends turn to.

If you play fantasy football, you know how frustrating it is to deal with backfield committees (i.e. 2-3 running backs sharing their team's workload). True feature backs are few and far between and extremely valuable in fantasy land.

This season I thought I had discovered an underrated feature back in LeGarrette Blount. Cadillac Williams is gone and Blount rushed for over 1000 yards in about 10 games. I thought I had made out like a bandit by getting him in the third-fourth round in numerous drafts only to hear today that Bucs' coach Raheem Morris says Blount will be in a committee with 31-year-old Earnest Graham. Anyone playing fantasy football back in 2007 might remember him as the guy that came out of nowhere to gain 1200+ total yards and 10 touchdowns. He actually helped me make my league's championship game that year.

This concerns me not because I think Graham will supplant Blount as the starter, but because this is a guy who could steal a lot of touchdowns from Blount. As a 240-pound back, you expect a lot of touchdowns from Blount, so this really limits his potential. Also, Graham is a very good third down back with good hands and great in pass protection, so Blount's development in the passing game might be on hold for at least another year.

Hopefully Graham does not take too much potential away from Blount, but I am tired of coaches making running back committees when there is no reason to do so (i.e. Thomas Jones leading the Chiefs in rushing attempts last season despite Jamaal Charles averaging a league high 6.4 yards a carry). I will never be critical of a coach doing what is best for his team, but when it clearly is not an effective use of your team's offensive weapons and it is hurting my fantasy team, that's when I get mad.

For all of you fantasy football fans out there, I am taking a stand against these unnecessary committee situations and I will never stop writing about them until they are a thing of the past!

Stally: Here, here!  This stupid creation has ruined my Fantasy Football Sandwich Building Theory.  We'll save that for another day, but let me just say that, back in the day, running backs were the two pieces of bread.

Straight Up Pick 'Em

New Orleans @ Green Bay - Thurs, 8:30
Stally: Green Bay
Austen: Green Bay

Atlanta @ Chicago - Sun, 1
Stally: Atlanta
Austen: Atlanta

Cincinnati @ Cleveland - Sun, 1
Stally: Cleveland
Austen: Cleveland

Buffalo @ Kansas City - Sun, 1
Stally: Kansas City
Austen: Kansas City

Philadelphia @ St. Louis - Sun, 1
Stally: St. Louis
Austen: Philadelphia

Detroit @ Tampa Bay - Sun, 1
Stally: Detroit
Austen: Tampa Bay

Tennessee @ Jacksonville - Sun, 1
Stally: Tennessee
Austen: Tennessee

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore - Sun, 1
Stally: Baltimore
Austen: Pittsburgh

Indianapolis @ Houston - Sun, 1
Stally: Houston
Austen: Houston

New York-G @ Washington - Sun, 4:15
Stally: New York-G
Austen: New York-G

Seattle @ San Francisco - Sun, 4:15
Stally: San Francisco
Austen: Seattle

Minnesota @ San Diego - Sun, 4:15
Stally: San Diego
Austen: San Diego

Carolina @ Arizona - Sun, 4:15
Stally: Arizona
Austen: Arizona

Dallas @ New York-J - Sun, 8:20
Stally: Dallas
Austen: New York-J

New England @ Miami - Mon, 7
Stally: New England
Austen: New England

Oakland @ Denver - Mon, 10:15
Stally: Denver
Austen: Oakland


  1. hurry up and tell us the results! i'm way too lazy to do the math!