Beat The Man - The Midseason Report

Living in the Limelight, the universal dream...for those who wish to seem. Those who wish to BE? Must put aside the MAN! Our own Scott Jones endeavors to put a progressive spin on a harsh bummer of first half picks, starting with a Midseason Review of his Preseason Prognostications. No spinning keyboard solos here...just good old-fashioned Chopsticks!

Week Nine… time for me to bust out the NFL abacus and have a look at my pre-season predictions and results at the mid-term. No, I’m not going to go ‘fuzzy’ math on you here. I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And the truth…

Last Week’s results: 2-4 (bad)
Season to Date: 17-28 (worse!)


Yup. That’s the truth. In a world bound by ’spin’, I couldn’t manipulate myself out of that truth if I had moves like the Tasmanian Devil and an endless supply of string. I’d simply remain fit to be tied. But in the interest of fair play, we might do well to take a look at my initial impressions – and where those teams exist today.

Cuz the fact remains, looking at the standings in 2005… it’s anybody’s ballgame. Divisions are stacked together like a cheap set of pancakes. And several leaders could swap to the bottom at any moment. Parity? I’m beginning to yearn for the 70’s.

Teams that suck

What I said then:
“Nobody loves Brett Favre more than I do. Unfortunately, it takes 11 guys on a side to earn a win. Marvelous Favre just doesn’t have the supporting cast required for success… We’ll want to steal points from them early and jump all over the Pack in September. Thump ‘em for making Matt Hasselbeck a liar.”

Mid-season results: Facing teams as frightening as DET, CLE, NO, and MINN – the Pack have managed only one win this season (when they beat up on the New Orleans disaster). And before you tell me that injuries are the story? In September the Cheese went 0-4. They stumbled out of the gate and are simply continuing that trend. There’s nothing there in Packland. And that hurts, cuz I would sincerely hate to see Brett Favre hang ‘em up at the end of the year. For my money… he’s second only to Walter Payton as The Greatest Football Player of all time (taking into account everything that he is on and off the field).

Swami score: Not quite so many had the Pack rated as low as I did going into the season. I’m desperate for credibility but you’d HAVE to grant me an (A-) here, thanks. The only reason I don’t earn a plus is because their Defense has played better than I slandered them for. And they’ve actually been covering spreads (the fact that a highly respected team has gone 4-3 ATS while winning only 1 game – says plenty about the difficulty I’m having beating the Man this year, eh).

What I said then:
“Ouch, this is ugly. Romeo Crennel is going to have quite a difficult time wooing Julliette… Not one player out of the starting 11 (Defense) does anything other than make me giggle… Offensively our boy Trent Dilfer doesn’t have anyone to throw the ball to (we gotta give Edwards a year before feeling good about him)…They might be able to establish a decent running game behind an O-Line that’s now surprisingly competent. But when your Defense can’t stop anybody… you’re not running the football as often as you’d like.”

Mid-season results: In going 2-5 the Brownstains have actually played better ball than I ever expected. Which means Romeo Crennel is in fact doing a fine job and Juliette maybe hasn’t blown him off completely yet. RB Reuben Droughns has been impressive coming over as a question mark from Denver, landing consistent numbers while cementing the starting role (to the tune of 530yds, 4.2 p/carry)… but they can’t get in the endzone (O Rush TD’s). While our boy Trent Dilfer has posted decent results, given the circumstances, they’re now talking about yanking him for a no-chance-of-success doughboy in Rookie QB Charlie Frye. That would be a grievous mistake. Meanwhile, the Defense I pounced on has held opponents to respectable scores – once again crediting the coaching of Shakespeare’s favorite son.

Swami score: The Browns went 3-1 ATS to start the season (2-2 true record), yet once they’d dogged me out of betting against them (the shocker was beating Chicago)… they haven’t covered since (0-3 ATS). Just last week they lost to the worst team in the NFL (who were not on my suck list), the Houston Texans. I’ll take a (B-) since they killed the spread in September and have me thoroughly confused at this point.

What I said then:
“They are horrendous. Just awful. They really did nothing this off-season to the team talent but add a Rookie QB (who I don’t value as the number 1 worthy pick in the draft at all) and a solid LT (Jonas Jennings) to an Offensive Line that thought they were playing flag football last year… They still have no one to throw the ball to. And no one who scares you running it. When they score more than 20 I’ll be shocked… The price of gold is worth very little, if this team is any indication.”

Mid-season results: After shocking the Rams in week 1, Red Stripe have been flip flopping back and forth like an insomniac. The only thing consistent is – they really do suck. And if you lose to them it’s an absolute embarrassment (please remember that Seattle). Head Coach Mike Nolan seems to be saying the right things, but players have been shuffled around in odd and unusual ways. Who’s the QB this week? Who really cares. Does anyone think this team has any business in the league this year? We’ll check back in with Mr Nolan after their 17week BYE in 2005.

Swami score: Having gone 3-4 ATS and posting 20+ points twice (against the Rams and Cowboys, which is truly disturbing) we have here another team that’s hurting the favorites more than they have any business doing. That would be respectable if there was anything to point at as the reason for it. But it just seems like dumb luck for them more than anything. I’ll take a (B) here… and don’t call me Francis.

Bottom Feeders

What I said then:
“That’s right, take the Fish off the hook… The most important news here is they finally got rid of a coach who’s now single handedly destroyed 2 NFL franchises (Miami and Chicago), and replaced him with a guy who I think is going to impact the league in the same manner Jimmy Johnson did in Dallas. Nick Saban is one hell of a coach. He’s going to whip this team into shape… The Dolphins are a nice quiet pick when you’re getting a good number. Keep an eye on ‘em…”

Mid-season results: The Fish have been a disappointment. While my mark on Nick Saban seems perfectly credible, they’ve been very inconsistent and blew my chances at a ‘nice quiet number’ by whipping the Broncos in Wk1 and gutting out a tough win vs the Panthers in Wk3. They were SO impressive in September that I bought in for a 3 game losing streak against struggling teams BUF, TB, and KC (where penalties and turnovers killed their chances) only to watch them turn it around last week when I bet on heart in Louisiana. They’re killing me. Here I am crediting them from the get go – and they’re killing me. I’m very upset, but it’s tough to stay mad at a porpoise.

Swami score: A team I was very excited to snatch spreads from has gone 3-4 ATS. I was expecting better than that. Saban still has some work to do. I’ll take a (C) since they’re still in the mix to up those results in the coming weeks (or damage me even further).

What I said then:
“You have to worry about the situation at QB, but I’m gonna take a chance on Kyle Orton… The passing game in general will likely be anemic. However, the running game is strong. And the defense mirrors, and plays to, that strength… If the Bears can keep teams close – they can beat them… If you can get the Bears with a touchdown or more, against a team short on offensive fireworks? I’d favor the Bears. I may make them a quiet pick several weeks this season…”

Mid-season results: Aha!! Look, I’m a genius, see? I knew there must be SOME reason I think I know what I’m talking about. The Bears have been precisely what I expected from them covering, get this, 5-2 ATS. Folks, that’s excellent. And they’ve gone it one better now leading the NFC Norse with a 4-3 record. With the exception of the CLE game, the Bears have been a model of consistency making big happy faces for insightful bettors around the nation. The running game has been successful (Jones: 713, 4.6, 6TD’s) while the Defense has kept them close (3rd in the nation and allowing less than 30% conversions on 3rd Down). We like it when a team does what it’s supposed to do on paper. And we like it when we see that piece of paper before the casual bettor does. Unfortunately, that piece of paper has now been passed around the classroom letting everyone know… that you chew your boogers. The line will turn more difficult to beat with Chicago now…

Swami score: I love these guys and they love me. You think I’m not gonna tag a fat (A+) on myself right here? Gimme sum!

What I said then:
“I absolutely loved last season’s Draft where they added half a dozen bodies to the Defense that may end up starting for them… “Pac Man” Jones is going to gobble up footballs like dots in a maze… Having said that, they got their butts kicked in Free Agency for the second year in a row. A look at their list of departures will make your head spin… They got true concerns here. But they also have solid leadership and an HC that did miracles during their move from Houston. They’re worth a gamble depending on the match-up and how generous the oddsmaker is. I wouldn’t risk them vs. a strong passing game. But they have a chance against other respected teams…”

Mid-season results: Hmm… not yet sure what to think here. The idea with the Titans was to catch teams sleeping. We’re now at that point in the season. They had Cincy at home 3 weeks ago and had a chance at 23-31, where they fumbled it away on their own 1yd line with 2 min to play (and Cincy scored). Yet they have not had a chance to rob a good team other than that since the Colts Oct 2 (too early to do so). Furthermore, they’re having injury concerns at QB and RB that cloud their chances and diminish their capacity to come together as a team that can creep on you. I’ll still be keeping an eye on the Titans as they have games upcoming with JAX and Seattle at home (SEA coming off the Rams game), and IDY on the road (following a Monday Night against PITT). They’ve still got a chance to steal a few but the last month HAS been messy.

Swami score: Since we don’t allow Incompletes at BTM, I’ll have to settle for a (D+). They’ve done nothing since weeks 2 and 3.

What I said then:
“Comparisons can be drawn here to last year’s Steeler team. Everyone’s looking at JP Losman and wondering if he’s as good as he thinks he is. Much of their success will depend on his transition into a starting role… Defensively they lost a load in DT Pat Williams, but the remaining cast is interesting and you really have to like that Secondary… There’s something about the chemistry in Buffalo that makes me quite comfortable. I’m not sure I’m going to get on them real early, but I’ll be watching that line and their results with more than a little bit of greedy interest…”

Mid-season results: As is the case with most every team in the NFL this year, the Bills have been all over the map. Losman stepped out in wk1 with a win that got me very excited. He then tanked it, ignoring his WR’s week to week before getting the cane for Kelly Holcomb. So, that answers question number one. Defensively they’ve been everyone’s disappointment – having lost stud LB Takeo Spikes for the season early, the Bills can’t stop anyone’s running game thereby failing that spectacular Secondary. To put it mildly, they’ve been a source of frustration squeaking out a 3-5 record. Where are they going from here? I have absolutely no clue.

Swami score: I had the Bills in the Bottom Feeder category, which means we’re not supposed to expect much. But I must admit, I thought for certain I’d be able to bank on this team like I have with the Bears and perhaps even win the AFC East with them at the same time (barely). VERY disappointing. And yet, they’re 4-4 ATS. So you can’t slander me with a B-.

Great Pretenders

What I said then:
“Now don’t get me wrong here, I expect them to win the division… However, you cannot lose 2 of the most respected Coordinators in the league and expect to continue right where you left off… That’s a lot of weight to carry, brother. I think humility is about to smack you upside the head… Age and injuries have forced the youth of the crew to now be tested. A bit of a shift is taking place in the land of the electric razor. You better check that mug in the mirror lest you be over-confident. The blades have grown a bit dull…”

Mid-season results: I’d say that’s pretty spot on, mate. To be fair, I wasn’t saying much that wasn’t being said elsewhere. The polish was wearing off and everyone knew it. And furthermore, who could have predicted the rash of injuries that have spread across their team like Legionnaire’s Disease? Well, we’re talking about a team that’s been playing an extra month each year for 3 of the last 4. That’s close to the equivalent of an extra season (and when you factor in the intensity of the Playoffs? Let’s call it even). It’s time to let the engine idle for awhile, eh. Get your foot off the pedal; this fuel needs treatment.

Swami score: The way that things have fallen from week to week with the Pats, I’ve actually been trying to advantage a wager ON them – as opposed to what I thought I’d do. That hasn’t been a good idea. So, while my pre-season perception gets an (A). My application of that awareness gets a C-.

What I said then:
“Bill Cowher is my kinda guy, he’ll get the most out of anyone. But you’re looking at a defense here that ain’t nearly as good on a diagram as they were statistically. That secondary has serious problems… Offensively you’ve got a guy facing the complete opposite of what he had last year. THIS year – he’s supposed to prove he’s as good as we think he is. Last year – he only had to prove he’s any good at all… On the ground, Bettis just got one year older. And the other guy, Duce Staley, has never proven he can carry the rock for an entire year… It’s a good thing that Offensive Line is spectacular, otherwise these guys might be laid out flat while they ask the bookmaker why they’re always favored by so many points.”

Mid-season results: Pardon me for a moment while I remove my pants so you can redden my ass properly. I fail to respect the Steelers as properly as I should. I look at the roster and I say “There’s not nearly enough there to warrant the number they’re going to be giving”. Yet more often than not – they thump that number. I’ve come to the conclusion that coaching is everything. And the Front Office is second, players being third - in the hierarchy of a successful program. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a model program in that respect. They understand their own formula. Draft to fit their OWN measurables. Tell you what they’re going to do, and with few wrinkles of surprise – just plain smash you in the face with 53 guys that all understand their role in the system. That’s a train that’s loaded for boar and tough to untrack. You say “Let’s go!!” And they go. Very simple. When everyone understand what they’re doing and why – good things happen. I’m not sure why I have a problem betting on that as it’s what I prefer in a head coach (Cowher is a personal favorite).

Swami score: A team that’s publicly EXPECTED to cover, going 4-3, is a true accomplishment. Those covers include @CIN and @SD, while failing NE and JAX at home (possible trend there?). Meanwhile, they’re 5-2 won/loss and 1/2 a game back of said beaten Cincy. I’m due for 15 minutes of chin-spewing Cowher for my disrespect. And a (D) for my own efforts.

What I said then:
“I know it’s exciting to think a perennially crappy team has a chance to win some games. But let’s not get so excited that we overlook what we’re dealing with. That Offense looks real good. They got talent. But they’re also being led by a guy none of us is sure was worthy of the 1st pick in the draft. He gets to show us this year if he’s for real. I’ll spend my money on him AFTER he makes me more comfortable… Defensively, we might want to think about putting our wallet away. You’re looking at a Defensive Line that can’t at all do what Marvin Lewis wants it to. They couldn’t stop the ground game if you let them line up off-sides… Behind that you’ve got some interesting potential, but not a lot of continuity. In fact, the Secondary looks like a bunch of secondhand rejects. Go ahead and get tricky, Marvin – you’re gonna have to.”

Mid-season results: So QB Carson Palmer stepped into the NFL this year as a bona fide successful No 1 pick. After 2 weeks, I knew he had earned my money, but I waited patiently for them to get past the early-season schedule for a number and a team I knew they could beat and cover. At the very least, I learned not to bet against them as I thought I might. I pounced when they met Pittsburgh at home. And we all know the result of that encounter. The Bengals absolutely HAD to win that game (in the same way Indy must beat the Pats Monday Night), yet failed to do so – allowing the Steelers to pound it out exactly as it says they would on paper. I – am a dumbass. Sometimes I’m so eager to turn the page… I apparently forget all the pages before. Including my own write-up on the team. They can’t stop the run and now doubt has re-entered their mindset. The Secondary, on the other hand, HAS gotten crafty and the Orangemen have advantaged a heavy turnover ratio. If they could just get a finger in the dike, eh?

Swami score: The Bengals are now 4-3-1 ATS. And appear to be on the decline (due to the inflated number from early season results, and the other side of a loss to PITT). Though Palmer closed his case early, I deserve a (B) for keeping my head on straight about the other side of the ball. I just wish I made them pay for it by taking PITT 2 weeks ago.

What I said then:
“Oooooh look – the bad guy gets to wear black (Randy Moss). Cool man! That’s going to be fun to watch. But, what’s that? They gave up guys on Defense to get him? Wait, that Defense needs guys JOINING the team, not leaving it! Don’t they know that?… Having said that, I LOVE the addition of RB Lamont Jordan. You’re probably hearing that from lots of people and the accolades are most certainly warranted. He’s going to gobble up yardage and stain some jerseys, folks… But unless you’re Peyton Manning, you need a Defense to win football games. Sorry Silver and Black, Randy doesn’t get the ball enough to be as important as he’d like to be.”

Mid-season results: The Raiders are 3-4, having beaten only Dallas (at home) of anyone respectable. The Defense has been the difference in the won/loss column. LaMont Jordan has woken up the league to the tune of 499yds and 7TD’s after being ignored for years (including early this season). And Randy Moss has 25 catches (okay, so he’s also got 535yds, but my point is he doesn’t get the ball enough to handle their woes on the other side of the line of scrimmage). Still, the Raiders have covered 4 of their last 5 games and remain in the mix in the AFC WEST. Welcome to today’s NFL.

Swami score: My assessment was spot on, but if you’ve been betting on the Raiders all year – you’re in the black. A perfect example of why I’m having trouble ATS this season. What kind of grade do I get here? Um, I dunno – you choose.

The Mutts

What I said then:
“Can Joey Harrington deliver on the expectations of his draft status? I remain confused, because the guy has all the things you think you want in a QB. Yet somehow, he just doesn’t move it forward like you’re convinced he should be. If he fails to do so? Jeff Garcia can… the Defense is nothing to sneeze at. A disruptive Defensive Line is backed by some gifted (though young) linebackers and a Secondary that may or may not rise to the occasion. There are some questions there, but there are also a lot of answers as far as player potential is concerned. It would be a mistake not to consider the Lions a threat.”

Mid-season results: At this point I’ve completely lost interest. They don’t look anything different than they’ve been before and the Offense is a true disappointment. I’m not gonna say anything more than that. They bore me.

Swami score: As boring as they are… they’re 5-2 ATS with a 3-4 record. This makes me sick… They’ve played absolutely no one and have hardly looked good doing it. But they’re covering? Look for that number to reverse in the coming weeks. They’re not a mutt. They’re a grunt. (C-). I avoided a D cuz they have been earning money if you’re sick and twisted enough to bet on them.

What I said then:
“Switching to a 3-4 and acquiring DT Jason Ferguson from the Jets (a scrappy 300lbs+), followed by a very impressive draft plugging in 1st RD picks DeMarcus Ware at the L.T. ‘Elephant’ spot along with the PERFECT DE in a 3-4 with Marcus Spears from LSU? Uh, that’s pretty good, mate! But don’t stop there, they also bagged a solid LB in Kevin Burnett in the 2nd Rd (and another future consideration DE prospect in the 4th with Chris Canty). Add that influx of talent to what’s already there in the front 7 and you’ve basically stuffed the cupboards full of fresh delicious treats! They can DEFINITELY run the 3-4 with that sudden roster. Expect a return to 2003 results on Defense for the Cowboys. On Offense, lots of people are not so secure about Drew Bledsoe but the man is certainly a step up from what they’ve been dealing with the last several years there. And they do have capable vets at Wideout… And if you look at this Offensive Line, with the addition of Marco Rivera from Green Bay – the only thing questionable there is Freshman RT Rob Petitti. Put a Hall of Fame Head Coach on top of all that and you can’t be thinking anything less than 8-8. You better pay attention to the Cowboys, cuz they’re paying attention to you!”

Mid-season results: Hmm, that’s pretty damned good. I’d say they’ve actually surpassed expectations. The Defensive changes have made all the difference in the world (though they’ve suffered from deep-ball-itis). And Offensively, Drew Bledsoe has in fact been quite a step up from last year (not to mention new best friend of Hawk fans). This team is accomplished and capable. They’re looking at 5-3 in the very winnable NFC EAST (winable because they’re knocking each other down). Dallas has shown every indication they are going to put the hurt on you and you will have to earn the win if you’re going to get it. You’d have to be impressed as well at the way they bounced back from that damaging loss to us in Seattle – by pasting AZ.

Swami score: And oh by the way, they’re 6-2 ATS. Best in the NFL. Looking like the pick of the litter eh? (A). They outplayed an A+.

What I said then:
“Each year one or 2 teams manage to raise my eyebrow during the Pre-season. This year – that was Kansas City. I’ve been quite impressed with the way they’re flying around on Defense. The addition in players may have done more than add talent, it may have infused the roster already in place with a stronger belief they can now get it done. Larry Johnson has proven he is now a capable replacement for Priest Holmes. The O-Line can still control their opponent. And there just seems to be an overall sense of belonging among the team. The Chiefs come out of the gate facing the Jets and Eagles at home, and division opponents Oakland and Denver on the road. They then have a BYE week for the smoke to clear. If they make it out of that first month alive? You’re looking at a contender…”

Mid-season results: Well they split the difference that first month. And that’s pretty much been the story of the Chiefs this year. A little better than expected. Not quite good enough to be fully respected. Mutt category fodder by definition. The Offense has been a bit of a disappointment. Yet, the Defense must be considered a major upgrade to last year’s unit (though they have allowed scores over 20 quite repeatedly, as well as a couple over 30). I don’t know what to think of the Chiefs from here, except to say… I’m not expecting a whole lot.

Swami score: They’ve gone 4-3. Nothing much to get excited about. Still, there are weeks you can grab them for a good price if the shoe fits. B-

Top Contenders

What I said then:
“Far and away my pick to win it all. That’s right, this is the “Fearless” Forecast and we don’t worry about the perception of others around here [oops]… The perfection of their off-season has my jaw on the floor… Randy Moss is just one man… In return for one man, when it’s all said and done they got: [you know the names] That’s a starting 11 that looks like respect to me, folks. Will that take some time to gel? Yes. Is it good enough to excel? No question… There are some concerns on offense from the standpoint of coaching philosophy (as in: Mike Tice?), but on paper – this team is playing with a 20-sided die and +10 attributes. They’re dice are loaded. I’m terrified…”

Mid-season results: You know the results.

Swami score: Hey look – I just invented a new grade: F double minus (Can I go home now?)

What I said then:
“Not only carrying momentum from last year’s upgrade in success, they’ve significantly upgraded the talent as well… And it’s going to allow a fine Head Coach and former Defensive Coordinator, Jim Mora – to further confuse the Offenses of the NFL. You’re looking at a D-Line second only to the Vikings. Patrick Kearney and Brady Smith are excellent, and Schlep’s 5th Rd steal of the draft last year, Chad Lavalais, has in fact earned the starting spot next to destructo-man Rod Coleman. That front seven is hardly going to allow a QB to threaten an admittedly questionable secondary… Offensively you can expect a slight improvement in the passing game as Michael Jenkins improves on a fine rookie year, rookie speedster Roddy White (pk 27) gets into the mix, and electric QB Mike Vick can stop worrying about scales and just play the damn guitar. The running game should remain as effective as last years. And the Falcons from last season’s Championship game will continue to threaten that level or higher…”

Mid-season results: Odd breed of bird, these. It FEELS like they’ve been successful. But the truth is, that Defense has not played at all as I expected. For every impressive Defensive play, there’s another on 3rd and Plenty that gets converted (or worse). The passing game has NOT improved – perhaps even declined (Michael Vick has 723yds in Passing this year. Check that stat again – 723! That’s it. Need I mention 52% for 5TD’s and 6INT’s? Not good). And yet that Rush game keeps churning away for over 900yds between Dunn and Duckett (add another 300 for Vick) and a 5.4/carry for Little Man Warrick. They KNOW you’re forced to run – but you’ve still got 5.4 a carry? Wow. That’s nuts. Meanwhile, they’re 5-2 tied with Carolina and Tampa for the top slot in the NFC SOUTH. Where do we go from here? Once again… I dunno. But I will enjoy listening to coach Mora take us there (does any coach in the league have more fun than that guy? That may be crucial to his teams continued spirits late in the season. That’s positive energy, folks).

Swami score: Atlanta is 4-3 ATS and look like an excellent pick at home. 5 covers would make this pick a bit more accurate. I’ll manage a (B) here.

What I said then:
“Now this will be fun to watch in 2005… The Defense is going to have to find a way to make-up for a thin Linebacker core but they certainly have the talent in front and behind to do that… I’m thinking their front 4 does in fact return to the performance of 2003… On Offense they are loaded beyond average fan comprehension. Last year this ‘Defensive minded’ team stocked up on Offense and after losing a game-breaker in Steve Smith, picked it up the second half of the season scoring 30pts or more 5x and 20+ 3 times from November forward… I actually ranked the Panthers higher than the Falcons mathematically. It’s going to be quite entertaining to watch them slug it out all year for the NFC South crown… and perhaps more.”

Mid-season results: Carolina has been a bettor’s nightmare as they are now impossible to predict. After beating the champs, then falling to Miami the following week – a team I thought I’d advantage all year has gone 2-2 ATS facing the likes of GB, AZ, DET, MINN. If this is a top grade? They go 4-0 ATS in those contests. (3-1 at worst). This week they’ll be playing the Bucs, who broke out of the gates as contenders, only to go 1-4 ATS since. Thus I have no idea what we’ll learn from them in this Sunday’s match-up. So what do I think of the Panthers? I’m beginning to feel about as intelligent as a politician… I… don’t… know.

Swami score: They’re 3-4 ATS. That’s crap for a team in this category. Gimme a C- because at least they’re tied for the Division lead with a 5-2 record (yet another example of this years winning/covering inconsistencies).

What I said then:
“This off-season they drafted DL stud Luis Castillo (who can play inside or out in a 3-4), and a freak ‘tweener’ to man an OLB spot, Shawne Merriman, who plays like he’s got too much aggravation to EVER stand still. That 1-2 punch will join emerging star Jamal Williams, 2nd yr .NET favorite Igor Olshansky and Schlep ‘sleeper’ Dave Ball on the D-Line for an impressive rotation – and a slew of stellar veteran Linebackers to form a front 7 that just might keep the pressure off a still questionable Secondary. I haven’t seen a perfect 3-4 line-up like this since Bill Belichick was wearing Giant blue… Synergy is happening in San Diego. I expect the Chargers to validate last season with an AFC WEST crown this year.”

Mid-season results: The Chargers Defense has given up far too many points for that assessment to be accurate. And yet, they scratch and claw game after game as one of the more physical teams in the NFL. You’ve heard it said a million times, “This is the best 4-4…”. Well guess what – that ain’t no bull. Denver will win the Division (and deservedly so with the competition they’ve faced), but the Chargers have made for electrifying football in most every contest they’ve absorbed. The list includes: DAL, DEN, NYG, NE, PITT, OAK, PHI, and KC. Actually – that’s the entire list. And look at it again why don’t you. You put any other team in the same situation and you respect anyone who comes out of that with a 4-4 record (all the more reason to respect Denver. Cuz they’re playing a similar caliber schedule). Total points down in their 4 losses? 12. Largest margin of defeat? 24-28 Dallas (lost inside the redzone on a goal line stand as time expired). Want another reason to respect them?…

Swami score: San Diego is 5-2-1 ATS this season. Against gnarly competition (whoa – I haven’t used that word in years, radical!). They’re not exactly doing it as I said they would. But they are a bettor’s friend. (A-)

What I said then:
“For the last couple years people have been seriously annoying me with their respect for the Ravens. I found it annoying because there are certain things you need in order to win a Football game. Namely – score points… This offense has been an insult to the NFL. That’s about to change - maybe… Kyle Boller, please come to the white courtesy telephone. The world would like to know, “Can you play Quarterback in this league?” Cuz that’s the sticking point here… he now has the nucleus around him to give him a chance… (though Jamal Lewis needs time to find his footing)… I could be wrong but at this point I’m gonna side with the Ravens. And I’ll be looking to advantage them as often as I can.”

Mid-season results: Whaaaa waaaa… Not gonna happen. Boller went down before we got to find out about his make or break year (I guess that means it’s a break?). And the additions at WR with Mason and my stud rookie Mark Clayton (who’s been virtually invisible) have apparently done nothing to open things up. In fact, TE Todd Heap can’t hardy find the ball anymore. If you wanna be cruel, why don’t you go ahead and knock out both Defensive superstars Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, just for fun…

Swami score: Try not to break your leg jumping off the train. And plant a big fat L on my forehead (or for the purposes of this article - an (F).

So where does that leave my own accountability, respectability, and credibility in the order of things? Much like the season’s results? Gee, I don’t know… (though if you put all those letters grades in order it probably makes one hell of a Prog Tune. Just trashes your basic song structure!).

But I’ll know by January!

This weeks picks:
ATL –2 @ MIA
CIN –3 @ BAL
–2 vs PHI
IDY –3 @ NE

And SEA –4 @ AZ (glad to see Warner back).

Beat the Man ‘cuz… he’s got enough big hotels. It’s time for US to get sum!

G. Scott Jones is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to Seahawks.NET. Reaction of any sort is always encouraged at Top Stories