Thursday, September 07, 2006

Lead Story: NFL Season Starts! ('Roid Up!)
Plus: Dolphins over Steelers!

Remember when Ken Caminiti told SI that 50 percent of MLB players use some kind of steroid, and everyone kind of scoffed at him. Couldn't be! Then it kinda turned out he was right? (No, not right: Underestimating the total!)

The NFL has had its "Caminiti Moment," courtesy of the eminently more respected offensive lineman Jon Jansen, who pegs the number of NFL players who use PEDs at "15 to 20 percent."

That might seem shocking on its face, but only because it seems so low! I'll take the "Over" on that and double my kid's college fund.

Jansen also says he thinks PED use is "on the rise" because of HGH, which, as we all know, is the gold standard for cheating athletes because it's undetectable.

On the day its 2006 season begins, the NFL is threatened to be undercut by the PED issue, which has always been bubbling under the surface and only recently gained traction.

I still contend that (1) every fan figures most of the NFL cheats with PEDs, but we don't care, and (2) the league is such a juggernaut even widespread PED use or a PED scandal can't touch it.

(Where's my evidence? How about the lack of any outrage over the Panthers 'roid scandal a few weeks ago? Or the fact that most fans won't blink at this "15/20 percent" number.)

And if you thought that the baseball media turned a blind eye to steroids in MLB, they've got nothing on the see-no-evil reporters who cover the NFL.

(Aside from the Panthers, can you think of another single big 'roid story? Are the NFL writers trying to say there isn't a PED problem in the NFL? They're either fooling themselves or simply covering up for their meal-ticket. I don't blame them: NFL fans have indicated that they don't want to know.)

Related: The league and the union are talking about increasing testing, though union honcho Gene Upshaw seems pretty content to let things stand. "Toughest standards in sports" sounds great in a sound-bite, but remember that's relative; it doesn't mean the NFL actually has particularly tough standards. Otherwise, how could that "15-20 percent" number come up?

Meanwhile, the 2006 season kicks off tonight in a game between the Dolphins and the defending champ Steelers (minus Ben Roethlisberger).

We've seen this story before: No Big Ben means big problems for Pittsburgh. And Miami is a trendy team to pick for a breakout season (me in the Quickie, Dr. Z, countless others).

Between the Dolphins D (or the impotent Steelers O), the effectiveness of Culpepper-t0-Chambers and the overnight emergence of RB Ronnie Brown as a sensation, I'm taking the Dolphins over the Steelers.

Tomorrow's storylines today:
*Defending champs reeling!
*Dolphins poised for playoff run!

Commenters: Who's your pick and why?

-- D.S.

49 comments:

Ted (Pittsburgh) said...

No Big Ben means problems for Pittsburgh when Tommy Maddox is playing. Charlie Batch was 2-0 as a starter last year. Pittsburgh 24-13.

Mark (Austin, TX) said...

I am thinking, provided Steve Smith gets healthy, the Carolina Panthers may be the team to win it all. Great D, very good O and frankly a weaker conference to play in.

As for tonight, there is no way the Steelers can beat the Dolphins with Charlie Batch under center. The Steelers will probably have to repeat last year's run at the end of the season to make the playoffs. I would bet on either Indy or Miami to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Gary said...

1) Dan, I have to go with you on the Dolphins pick...Unless those Pittsburgh fans are allowed to become a factor. If the Steelers defense can keep it close, you have to like the home team. Look for Nick Saban to try and open up the offense early to...
1. Establish confidence in Culpepper
2. Keep those terrible towels underneath the fannies of the Pittsburgh faithful and
3. Force Bill Cowher and Charlie Batch to throw the ball as much as possible in efforts to overcome a big defecit.

If Saban can accomplish those three things, look for the Dolphins to come away with a big victory from the defending champs.

Gary (RI)

Had to bring back the DQ moniker

Jon said...

I just can't get myself to pick a team who's starting QB is Charlie Batch (didn't Pittsburgh know that Jeff George was available???). So, I'm going to have to go with the Phins.

roboninja said...

Would be sweet to see the fish beat the champs. The first win on their run to the Superbowl, baby!

Eric (High Point) said...

Dolphins 20-17 in OT.

Gerry said...

I'll go Dolphins but it will be close. I think the Dolphin's D is getting old and Willie Parker should be able to run through the middle and maybe make a few outside runs. All in all though, Charlie Batch doesn't scare anyone so Parker will see a lot of 8 man fronts and have his lanes closed up quick.

Ted (Philly) said...

The fact that Bill Romanowski's roid rages went unnoticed for so long tells you all you need to know about how people will react to roids in the NFL. (Remember when he spit in JJ Stokes' face?) Money dictates everything in football and why in the world would the new commish do anything to upset the cash cow right now???

As an aside, the best post-Caminiti era quote came from Rickey Henderson: "The article said 50 percent. Well, I'm not one of them, so that's 49 percent right there."

(Good to have you back Dan. Go Birds!)

Rafael said...

I"d have to see Culpepper go through an entire game without imploding to believe in him.

Parker runs around and over the old Dolphins D.

Pittsburgh 17
Miami 13

Brian said...

Batch is 2-0 as a starter, as Ted from Pittsburgh said. And Jon -- the difference between Jeff George and Charlie Batch is George piles up yards, while Batch, you know, wins games. He led the Lions to their last winning season back in 2000, before Matt Millen got Joey on the brain.

Spencer said...

Unless the Dolphins somehow trade for Randy Moss today, the Steelers are going to win this game. Moss made Culpepper good for all those years and now, well, the Dolphins might be better starting Harrington (at least you know and expect him to screw up).

Steelers will pound the run and their D will stop Ronnie Brown (without Ricky Williams who had an alright year last year in support).

Steelers: 17
Dolphins: 9
Culpepper Interceptions: 2

Anonymous said...

With Big Ben, it's a blowout... without him, it will be a little closer. Big Ben does not anchor that sick D... that would be Joey Porter, Polamalu, and a host of others. Ronnie Brown... 50 - 60 yards max... Daunte... better throw that ball away instead of running, or we'll be seeing Harrington under center. The Fins will not score enough to win this game. Batch will be fine, the only wildcard is Hines Ward. Either way, Pittsburgh 17-9.

Curtis said...

I saw Charlie play extensively in the preseason against the Eagles. It was not pretty. He may have been good at one point, but now it's Dolphins 20-10 IMO.

As a side, good to find your blog Dan!

hende said...

Its Miami's game to win, as long as Culpepper doesn't implode like he did with Minny before the injury. I'm also worried about all the writers jumping on the Saban bandwagon - he's good, but not a deity yet. Hopefully some karmic/cosmic backalsh will knock him down a peg or two.

Also, does anyone else get the feeling that Cowher is going to mail it in this season, just to get his contract over with?

But for me, and the 90% of the nation that doesn't favor Miami or Pittsburgh, this game just means the start of fantasy football. Unfortunately, we share the same 1st round pick of Ronnie Brown, but at least I got him with the 9th pick. What's your fantasy curse record like?

Nick said...

As a life-long Vikings fan, I know all about Culpepper's cycle of break out/implode. He's definitely on the upswing. He doesn't need any confidence-builder, he's already there. Chambers is the new Moss (sans traffic cop incident, yet). Dolphins, and it won't even be that close.

swiznami said...

Steelers will be leading by 10 points in the second half and run the damn ball for the rest of the game and everyone will be asleep by the fourth quarter. Can't wait.

As for the lack of steriod outrage, no one is saying much because for one thing, only one of the players named is still in the league and it's impossible to punish them (well, except for Steussie). The other reason is that the Panthers lost the Super Bowl. Had they won that game, you would have heard all kinds of angry rhetoric, but for now we're all still thinking about Janet Jackson's nipple. The ones who should be outraged should be Cowboys, Rams, and Eagles fans.

Anonymous said...

Without Big Ben the Steelers are going to be in trouble but Im still nto sold on Daunte. Last year before he was hurt, he was a turnover machine.

benny said...

Dolphins 24-10

2 Words: Chris Chambers

Depaul03 said...

Ahhh, does anyone remember how atrocious Culpepper was last year before he went down? BTW, if u are going to have a season ending injury, could it possibly come at a better time for a player?? Moss made Culpepper as good as he was. Dolphins will have a good record this year because of an easy schedule which includes the NFC North, @ NE early before the weather gets bad and Indy's 3rd stringers in wk 17.

For the Steelers, as previoulsy stated, they were horrid with Maddox, not Batch. They will be fine tonite and win a grinder.

Joe said...

I'm in a Pick 'Em league with my dad and a few of his friends from work, and in this my third year, one of the things I've learned is simple: when in doubt, pick the home team (especially in week one!). The Dolphins could be huge this year, but nothing's guaranteed. I'll gladly eat crow tomorrow if I'm wrong, but the Dolphins need to prove themselves first, and as much as this pains me to say as a Bengals fan, I'm taking the Steelers.

wonki said...

Not a huge fan of either team, but Culpepper will have a comeback season and Brown will assert himself as one of the league's elite backs. Still, the Steelers are still a force with their O-line, amazing secondary, coach and pressure to follow up last year's run. But with no Ben, no Bettis, a hurt Ward and the pressure to follow up last year's run (yeah, it's a plus and a minus), they're going to fold tonight. But Parker will still have a good game (fantasy pick). Final score: 24-17, Dolpins win.

H said...

For tonight, I'll pick Miami. I'm not convinced Charlie Batch can pick apart that defense. As far as a breakout year for Miami, I'm still not convinced. I have too many questions about the team to make that call. Can Culpepper Regain his form and stay healthy all year? Will the decreased mobility affect his game as you yourself have asked I believe. Can Ronnie Brown handle the pressure of being the full time running back? I still think the Pats are the team to beat in the AFC East, and I'm not saying that as a homer. We have a decent O-Line, a great defensive line with Seymour and Wilfork, among others. The Secondary will be bolstered by the return of Rodney Harrison. I think Junior Seau still has some gas left in the tank to make a meaningful contribution. Tedy Bruschi will still sniff out the ball on most plays. The Running game should re-emerge with Corey Dillon providing the power runs and Maroney providing the outside speed. Plus Kevin Faulk's ability to make catches out of the backfield. Oh yea, and we still have that guy named Brady...

Giddy said...

I'd have to say the Steeler should pull it out but seeing as though I have Ronnie Brown on my fantasy teams, I'd like to see him have big night.

Using that (lack of) rationale, I'll say:

Dolphins 17-14 in an ugly one.

Steve Cosentino said...

When was the last time Miami won IN Pittsburgh? I think the fins are overrated and the Steelers showed how well they can play w/o big ben last year. I'll say pitt wins 21-13 in a game not as close as the score shows

MplsJoe said...

I am thinking Culpepper will be "getting his roll on" early and often in a Miami rout.
*On a side note I am putting the over/under on weeks before Miami fans get sick of Culpepper's celebration dance at 6.

Lawdog1214 said...

Living in Findlay, Oh, I am tired of hearing anything and everything about Big Ben. So that puts me to wanting the Steelers to win in spite of him.

Being a Bengals fan, I always want the Steelers to lose.

Simnply put I have to be objective. In this case, with Bettis gone, I don't feel that the Steelers can win without pounding the ball. The Miami defense is fast and I don't think Parker will be able to control the clock the way the Steelers need from a RB.

Batch will not put up any numbers against the Dolphins.

With the Steelers offense faultering the defense gets tired and the Dolphins win 24-14

Lance A Boyle said...

I have to believe that the reason 'roids aren't an issue with football fans is because there's no competitive advantage being gained. In baseball, a hitter is going up against a baseball which hasn't changed size/weight in 100 years. As the players artificially get stronger, the ball obviously travels further. The ball can't fight back. A competitive advantage is gained.

In football, however, I have always assumed that a large but equal number of linemen on BOTH sides of the ball are using. Therefore, there is no competitive advantage. However, if for some reason, defensive linemen were magically prohibited from using PED and, suddenly, the offensive linemen were twice their size and yards per carry started increasing to 8 or 9, THEN fans would be up in arms.

Mike said...

Dolphins... I don't think the Steelers can generate enough offense, and I think Culpepper wants to prove he can still play.

LudaKris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
LudaKris said...

Get ready to see a lot of Willie Parker, and a lot of dump passes to him and Heath Miller. In order to Pitt to win, you will have to see a TD from both of them, or a game breaking play from Hines Ward, becuase you know Charlie Batch isnt going to go deep and hit WR with Accuracy. I take Dolphins to win, but by a narrow margin....for my fantasy sake, Daunte hit some Randy McMichael.

Kristopher (Tampa, FL)

bryan in lancaster, pa said...

last time a super bowl winner lost the following season's opener at Home? The Broncos. Reason? Starting QB from Super Bowl victory not on the field. (elway had retired). Point: No BenBurger (and No Bettis) - No win. Take the Dolphins to win, 20-10.

Anonymous said...

Ronnie Brown for MVP! He runs over Joey Porter en route to a huge night as the defending champs go down for their first loss of many this year.

Terry said...

Culpepper to Chambers? Really? People seem to be forgetting that the Steelers have Ike Taylor at corner and he will probably be shadowing Chambers all over the field. Never heard of Taylor? He's the one who shut down Chad Johnson three times last year, only Johnson wouldn't put a check on that stupid list in his locker because Ike wasn't even on the list.

With that said, I think this will be a typical first game. Sloppy with mistakes on both sides. I give the slight edge to Pittsburgh because they're at home. 17-14 Steelers win.

anonymous said...

i like toast.

and BLT sammiches.

pudding is good, but it's something i dont pick up often enough.

bubbleyum is another thing that could be more prominent in the rotation, but isnt for some strange reason.

tooby jackson said...

Terry-

Chad Johnson's numbers vs the Steelers last year:
Game 1: 4 catches, 94 yards
Game 2: 5 catches, 54 yards
Game 3: 4 catches, 59 yards

And in Game 3, I think Von Oelhoffen had more to do with shutting Chad down than Ikey did.

Thomas said...

Tonight: 'Phins (though in the pickem, I went with Pit). I think it'll be close (Batch is underrated), but I think DC will be the difference- barely. Miami 20-14 (OT).

SB: Carolina. That team is LOADED.

Anonymous said...

I remember when I started to watch football when I was about 10 or 11 years old (I'm 23 now). When talking about the size of the players my dad just said most of them were on steroids. I became a fan thinking from the start they were on the juice, not sure why I'd start to care now.

Geo B said...

Hmmm, Charlie Batch 2-0 as a starter last year. Steelers offensive line intact, Heath Miller should be his favorite target.

Daunte Culpepper was a turnover machine as a starter last year. As a Steeler fan, I'm hoping he's wearing Joey Porter as a cape. Can the Miami O-line hear the signals and protect Daunte?

Agree it's going to be ugly, I'm thinking 17-14 Steelers, who knows for sure, that's why they play the game. Both sides will make some plays, if Pittsburgh can get ahead and run the ball it's over.

Kevin said...

Dolphins 24-14. Pittsburgh has enough of a ground game to open things up, but Saban has these fish pumped. Ronnie Brown, though he's no Payton, is certainly the future of the franchise. And with consistent receivers like Chambers and Booker, Culpepper should come out slinging.

How demoralizing is it for Pittsburgh to have Big Ben out for the first game of the season? Seriously?

Anonymous said...

Steelers lose 17-3!

Anonymous said...

fyi....

Hende is a queer's name

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

Seahawks over Patriots...

some team has to break the Madden Curse.

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

Sorry... that was my Super Bowl pick. Don't know why I misunderstood. I read the posting too quickly I guess.

Dolphins win tonight. No Big Ben in the lineup is too much for the Steelers to overcome.

ItsTJoint said...

Dolphins...Charlie Biyoth. 'Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm...

I don't think we'll see those headlines. No Champs reeling...Dolphins are good...but somebody was better tonight...and beyond...

Anybody want to re-think their "pre-season picks"?

Brian said...

How would you like your crow, Dan? We have a fresh Batch that's just arrived -- just grind a little (Cul)Pepper over it, and it's a great taste.

Not a well-played game on either side, but highly entertaining contest all the same.

Anonymous said...

The steelers cause they just won 28-17

Ted (Pittsburgh) said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! The NFL should be worried, seriously. Looks like another season without their two poster boys, Tommy B and Post-season Peyton wont be participating in the Super Bowl again this year.

But everyone go right ahead thinking last year was a fluke, and the Steelers will correct you again in 10 days.

Anonymous said...

Come on Shanoff, the sports world needs you as a blogger. You cannot run from your blogging responsibilities.