Last Week: 4-3
The picks continue to be the silver lining on a cloudy season. And though I'm out of running for the playoffs, Nate has agreed to give me $3 for every game over .500 the picks are out of the WVFL discretionary fund.
Also, I'll be bringing back a fun (to me, mainly) tradition, giving each team's average points for and points against. I'll use this format Team (W-L / PF - PA). We can all follow that, can't we?
Lake Balboa Ladybugs (4-7 / 83.2 - 84.1) at Lowcountry All Stars (8-3 / 90.0 - 73.8)
While I worry about whose fantasy season I'll derail in 2009, Webster is worried about his 2008 playoff seeding. This truly is a diverse country. The Krogmann hex is slowly catching up with McNabb, whose once-promising season has devolved to the point where people are openly discussing axing both McNabb and Andy Reid after the season. If Randy Moss does not break his leg in his first Ladybug game, it will be considered a major upset.
It will make me sick to talk about Webster's team in positive terms, so let me just point out that Carolina is shutting down #1 receivers - like Roddy White - this season, and Reggie Bush is questionable. So if Monday comes and he's out, that's a dead roster spot for the LAS.
The Pick: Lowcountry All Stars 88 - Lake Balboa Ladybugs 71
The People's Elbow (6-5 / 81.1 - 78.3) at Crafton Tough Kids (7-4 / 83.4 - 77.5 )
A win will just about clinch a playoff spot for the Tough Kids, while a loss will have them sweating out next week's game for a spot. Let's hope they get the win this week, for the sake of Larry's ventricles. Let's hope this win isn't dependent on Jerricho Cotchery, who will get nothing against Tennessee. Marion Barber is going to have to run two teams to a win against the 49ers.
Nate's receivers provide two interesting matchups. Marshall is going against Asomugha, a guy teams don't even throw at, but Cutler loves force-feeding Marshall, even if it kills the Bronco offense. Marshall was suspended when these teams played in Week 1 and Eddie Royal went off, so...all in all, I'm calling 5 points or less for Marshall. The oddity is Isaac Bruce, an ordained minister, going against Adam Jones, an ordained troublemaker.
Karma be damned, Nate is rooting for Brandon Jacobs to be too injured to play.
The Pick: Crafton Tough Kids 71 - The People's Elbow 68
Newbomb Turk (6-5 / 69.9 - 79) at Purple Swirls (6-5 / 83.6 - 78.7)
The record might be the same, but these are two entirely different teams. For instance, the Swirls are good. This one couldn't be a bigger mismatch if it was a contest to find a 3-star bistro that has Red Seal on tap using only an iPhone.
If Carnell Williams is going to play for the first time in about two years, might as well ease him in with a light warmup against Detroit. Though I wouldn't want to rely on him for a bunch of points. The Houston defense is so bad that Braylon Edwards should drop at least 75 yards' worth of passing, especially figuring in wobbly balls from Brady's broken finger.
Believe it or not, the Jets have a top 5 run defense, giving the Swirls two bad running matchups. Matt Ryan against Carolina is no great shakes either. Nice to know somebody will get closer to the playoffs with a 65-60 win.
The Pick: Purple Swirls 65 - Newbomb Turk 60
Brookline Bucs (3-8 / 68.6 - 74.5) at Iron City Pounders (6-5 / 81.2 - 77.4)
Six teams are at 6-5 and scrapping for two playoff spots, but only one of them is facing an avant-garde comedy lineup this week. The #1 complaint of unhappy workers is unclear goals and a lack of purpose, but the Pounders will wake up Friday morning knowing exactly how many points they need to score. Every single Buc is a Steeler and they all play Thursday. Will Gary Russell pick up points for converting 3-and-1s?
The real competition for the Pounders Sunday is the scoreboard. They need to rack up points to get an edge in playoff tiebreakers. Manning, Lewis and Slaton have perfect matchups for such a purpose, but Carolina should bottle up Turner and I bet Tampa only beats Detroit by something like 16-10, taking Bryant out of the mix. Tampa just plays that way for some reason.
The Pounders' last three opponents have averaged around 51 points. And it just so happens that they're on a 3-game winning streak. Brookline will not be an outlier here.
The Pick: Iron City Pounders 87 - Brookline Bucs 62 (Justin Hartwig!)
Deathfrombelow (3-8 / 79.2 - 93.3) at Deathfromabove (7-4 / 90.8 - 84.5)
SCUD vs. Stealth. The highest scoring team against the team that has had the most points run up on it. A team that will win against a team that will lose. This one has it all! DFB will naturally focus on a ground attack, with Portis and Brown putting up good points, and DFA will have air superiority with Warner and Kevin Walter. Though the Giant pass rush is exactly the kind of thing that makes Warner go wobbly.
All three DFA backs go against tough defenses, but that hasn't exactly slowed down Peterson in the past. You know what...I'm calling the wild upset here!
The Pick: Deathfrombelow 91 - Deathfromabove 90
St. A's Crusaders (7-4 / 88.3 - 80.2) at Stringfellow Hawks (6-5 / 84.3 - 76.8)
Drew Brees has a tough matchup against the Green Bay pass defense, but Favre's against Tennessee is even less attractive. Of course, Thomas Jones also has to face the Titans and he plays for the Crusaders, so I guess it balances out. Grant and Dunn should pick up the slack for St A's, though.
Parker, Tomlinson and Williams look equally good for the Hawks, so let's sum up where we stand so far. QBs, both bad. RBs, all three good. What does that leave us? Winslow is hurt again, so let's give the ad-in to St. A's. Kickers and defenses are random, so we're left with wide receivers.
Welker and Santana Moss against Hester and Harrison. So, really, Welker and Moss against Harrison. I guess that about sums it up, does it not?
The Pick: St. A's Crusaders 101 - Stringfellow Hawks 97
Atlas Shruggz (2-9 / 65.2 - 89.7) at Vanduhlay industries (6-5 / 89.1 - 90.1)
Deuce is out with an injury, Chad Johnson is out with team annoyance. Jeremy Shockey has been annoying his quarterback since September, Reggie Brown hasn't seen his quarterback since August and the Shruggz give up 24 more points than they score. Rivers is good, though. Too bad this isn't a keeper league.
If Jacobs is good to go, this will be one of the rare weeks that VI fields a full roster. They are about to be 7-5. Oh, and don't be fooled by the 90.1 average points against for VI. Take away the last two weeks when they gave up 242 points, but still went 1-1, and it's more manageable 83.2
The Pick: Vanduhlay industries 93 - Atlas Shruggz 3
I emailed a preview of this column to Malcolm Gladwell. He pointed out some interesting things that become obvious once you think about them. Such as...
- Newbomb Turk is the only team with a winning record to have more PA than PF, and the only team with more PA than PF to have a winning record. (throwing out VI's last 2 games for now)
- The other teams with more PA than PF are a combined 12-32.
- In 5 losses, Newbomb has an APA of 100.2. In 6 wins, only 61.3.
- VI and DFA have the 2nd and 4th APA in the league, but winning records because of great offenses.
- Highest weekly total was 132 by St. A's in Week 10, lowest was 34 by Newbomb in Week 8. In those games, St. A's won by 88 and Newbomb lost by 77.
- Except for VI, all of the 6-5 teams have an APA between 76 and 79.