Monday, December 24, 2007

Monday 12/24 A.M. Quickie:
Pats, W'cards, Kobe, Clemens, FFL, More!

Today's Names to Know: Fantasy Football Misery, Patriots, NFL Network, Vikings, Redskins, Browns, Titans, Jaguars, East Carolina, Kobe, Jimbo Fisher, Roger Clemens and More!

I'll get to the Pats and 15-0 and looking ahead to 16-0 (even if fans won't be able to watch it) in a second. First, a bit of fantasy-related navel-gazing....

Fantasy Hell: Snatching Championship Defeat from the Jaws of Glory! In 10-plus years of playing fantasy football, I have never played for a championship. This season, if you recall, I ended up playing in 5 leagues, which wasn't much fun on a week-to-week basis, because I had rooting interests virtually everywhere.

But, in one league, I made it to the finals (as an 8th seed, no less – it has been a glorious playoff run). In the title game, my opponent was struggling. I wasn't doing great, but after the Sunday afternoon games, I had Adrian Peterson going and needed about 7 or 8 points from him to win the title. I figured with the Vikings playing at home with a playoff spot on the line, a spectacular (even modest) Peterson show was all but guaranteed.

"All but," indeed. Peterson was contained, symbolic of the Vikings' choke. I lost the title by a mere 4 points.

Now, I can't blame it on Peterson; at the last minute, I thought I was being SO smart by swapping Morten Andersen (who hadn't really done much for me this season) for Mike Nugent, who I figured was a better bet. Andersen had 9 points; Nugent was shut out.

Whatever: I lost the closest I had ever come to fantasy football glory. Losing by 4 was way worse than being blown out. And it sucks far worse than I ever thought it would.

Did any of you win your fantasy league title? Or, like me, lose in the title game?

Patriots roll on to 15-0: Even if the Giants hadn't clinched their Wild Card spot and thus have no reason to do anything but show up next week, the Pats were going to rout them and close out the season 16-0.

I'm actually pretty excited: There is an entire generation of sports fans – say, anyone under 40 – who have never experienced a team playing this well. Given the limitations of the free agency/salary cap era, we're watching the greatest regular season in sports history. (Were the '85 Bears more dominant? Possibly, but they weren't perfect.) Also, I can't stand the '72 Dolphins.

There are also the records to be broken: Tom Brady for TD passes in a single season. Randy Moss for TD catches in a single season. The Pats, as a team, for several records. All of which make this the ONLY storyline of Week 17 worth following. And rooting for.

(After all, if the Pats don't go 16-0, it wouldn't make a loss in the playoffs – if it happens at all – the Biggest Bust In Sports History. But that's a dream: They ain't losing.)

NFL Network Mayhem: Now, let's forecast the biggest story of Week 17, by far, or perhaps even the entire season: The Pats' final game – the history-making game – is on the NFL Network. That means that the majority of the country won't be able to see it. That is not good for fans OR for the NFL. And the outcry will be THE story of the week in sports. Again, that is not good for fans OR the NFL. Tracking...

Playoff Outlook: Aside from tracking the Pats, we're looking at two 6-seeds that are up for grabs.

In the AFC, the Browns are trying to fend off the Titans; now, the 6-seed in the AFC this season might be meaningless, but not if you're a Cleveland fan and expected to win about 4 games this year. What a one-season turnaround for the Browns. There's a fine argument to be made that, if they make the playoffs, Romeo Crennel deserves Coach of the Year ahead of Bill Belichick. (By the way, in the AFC, the 2-seed is as meaningless as the 6-seed, if you think the Pats have a manifest destiny to win the conference and the Super Bowl.)

In the NFC, the Vikings are on the verge of totally choking away what seemed like a lock of a Wild Card spot; with their win in Minnesota last night, the Redskins merely have to beat a Cowboys team with ZERO reason to do anything but show up in D.C. and let the clock run out to make the playoffs. It's a heartwarming turnaround story for a team that was hit so tragically by the death of Sean Taylor just a few weeks ago.

Looking Ahead to Next Week: The only thing worth following is the Pats' attempt at 16-0 (and all accompanying single-season records – individual AND team – that they are poised to shatter)… and that's on the NFL Network. Yeesh, that's grim.

More from Sunday: Again: If the Jaguars played in the NFC, we would be talking about them as the conference's team to beat; as it stands now, they will merely be an unusually tough out on the AFC side – I would say that the Jags are the biggest threat to the Pats in the AFC ("threat" being relative… no team is really a threat, but the Jags are a bigger threat than the Colts, Chargers or Steelers)…

In one game, Derek Anderson kind of ruined an entire season's worth of good feeling, but given his slow start, it was a fitting bookend to his Browns career (which will surely be pushed aside for Brady Quinn in 2008)...

Mostly, it was one of those late-season weeks where playoff teams are playing not to get hurt and the difference between that and "tanking" are hard for me to figure out. Next week should be even worse, so don't tell me "tanking" is abhorrent to the NFL way; it's more like the norm.

College Bowl Mania: East Carolina shocks Boise State in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, 41-38. Maybe Boise State was suffering a let-down after last season's magic Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma, or maybe a let-down after losing their Game of the Year to Hawaii. Or maybe it was just too much Chris Johnson.

Know the name: Chris Johnson, the ECU star who set an NCAA bowl record with 408 all-purpose yards. (Let's break it dow: 223 yards rushing, 32 yards receiving, 153 yards on kickoff returns.) In another parallel with last year, it was another Johnson (Boise State's Ian) who stole the bowl season with a wild performance (and engagement).

NBA: Kobe becomes the youngest-ever to 20,000 career points. Now: What's your bet on where he ends up on the final career scoring list?

Consider: Kobe will end the SEASON in the Top 25 (probably just behind Allen Iverson). He'll crack the Top 20 after 2008-2009. He'll crack the Top 15 after the 2009-10 season. He projects to easily clear the Top 10 after the 2010-2011 season.

Top 5 all-time would be 27,410 points, passing Moses Malone. But No. 4 is Wilt at 31, 419. So let me place my bet today at No. 5.

Florida State's Jimbo Fisher won't leave FSU for West Virginia: Yes, even with all of the Noles' many on-field and off-field problems. This was Fisher's "out," his chance to escape the vortex of gloom that threatens to hover over the FSU program for the next half-decade (or longer, depending on NCAA sanctions over this academic scandal). But he's sticking by Bobby Bowden and the FSU program. Good luck with that.

Roger Clemens makes his defense on YouTube: Points for taking advantage of populist new media opportunities, but does anyone really believe him?

(Isn't there a very simple way to solve this: Can't he sue George Mitchell for zillions in defamation? Maybe he won't sue because he can't.)

Again, to those of you logging in today but ducking out tomorrow for the holiday, the merriest of Christmases.

I'm gearing up for 24 hours of "A Christmas Story," only one of the greatest films ever created.

-- D.S.


Kirk Walton said...

Tough loss Dan, tough loss.

I have too many gut-wrenching FFL defeats and glorious FFL title wins (this will be my 6th straight season with an FFL title if I get just a medicore game from LDT and the Chargers' D tonight) to get into here, but one tough loss in particular (because the losses hurt more than the wins feel good) was back in 2003 -- remember that crazy 6 or 7 lateral play the Saints had to (almost) win their meaningless game? Well... I was playing the guy who had Aaron Brooks in our FFL championship game. And since Brooks threw a pass to start the lateral, he got credit for the TD. The play earned Brooks 5 points. I lost by 3. That has to be one of the tougher FFL beats ever....

Kevin said...

Two things:
1) I was in the same situation with Adrian Peterson last night, except I only needed about 5 points. I lost by .06 (I hate the fact we have fractions of a point as well). Point. Zero. Six. Now that hurts.

2) The problem with Clemens wanting to sue Mitchell for defamation is the ridiculous standards that the country has set in place for a public figure to be able to win a defamation suit. Basically he would need to prove that McNamee absolutely did not believe what he was saying to Mitchell (Mitchell only reported what someone else said, so as long as he had a reasonable reason to believe him, he's free and clear, Clemens would have to go after McNamee).

The guy ShysterBall explained the whole situation far more eloquently than I could a week or so ago. Which makes sense given that he's a lawyer and Im a lowly third-year.

Happy Holidays.

Stephen Tucker said...

Dan, I feel the pain of your loss. In the first week of the playoffs AP's stinker of a game in which he didn't even gain 10 yards kicked me out of the playoffs. To add insult to injury, dating back to week 13 I have scored the most points in the league every week including this week with the exception of week 14 when I was knocked out. And for that I get nothing. If it weren't for AP's stinker that week I'd be polishing the trophy tomorrow.

At least I did win my other league or at least am about to. I have a 61 point lead in a low scoring league, he has L.T. left I have Scheffler. So at least I have that to comfort me, but two trophies sitting next to each other would have been very nice.

J Fitty said...

Hail to the Redskins
Hail Victory
Braves on the Warpath
Fight for old D.C.

Run or pass and score we want a lot more!
Beat 'em, Swamp 'em, Touchdown! Let the points soar!
Fight on, fight on 'Til you have won
Sons of Washington.
Fight!, Fight!, Fight!

Hail to the Redskins
Hail Victory
Braves on the Warpath
Fight for old D.C.

Tim said...

One comment about Derek Anderson: who knows what Cleveland might do with he and Quinn next season. But I'm sure Browns fans have to feel that moving Quinn to starter could be like hitting the "reset" button on all they've done this year.

This is very similar to the Brees/Rivers transition in S.D. - but with a lot less talent than that Chargers team.

If the Browns go w/ Quinn, I'd think they would look to trade D.A. who would surely fetch better offers than four months ago!

DL said...

My worst one of all time was when I needed a miracle trade for QB in order to stay atop my league in 2006...then watched as Marvin Harrison (my trade piece to get Matt Hasselbeck) has a phenomenal week 16 and the guy who I made the trade with in week 5 ends up winning the trophy over me. I was bitter about that one for a while. And sure, criticize the trade, but playing without a Qube or Rex Grossman (which would have been worse?) and I don't make the championship game without it.

Brian said...

Dan, it's definitely tough to choke away the only chance you've had. But I think I've had it a little worse. In the two years I've been playing FFL, I've run 6 teams. Five have made the championship game, four as #1 seeds. And barring monster games from Marshall and Gates tonight, I'll be 0-5 in those title games. Believe me, I sympathize on Adrian Peterson's performance last night. But of even greater detriment was the GB defense, which I started on all three of my teams playing for the title this year.

Mega said...

Nobody remembers second place Shanoff!

Miles said...

#1 seed in the playoffs, #1 in total points by a WIDE margin, lost title game 119-49.

Unknown said...

How do you figure the Jags stand the best chance to beat the Pats? Peyton and the Colts clearly stand the best chance to beat them since they have the firepower to play a shootout with them and come out on top (forget about the Jags' blowout this week against a listless Raiders team). The Colts have beaten the Jags both times they played, and by your transitive property, if the Colts still couldn't beat the Pats, at home, what makes you think the Jags have the best chance of rolling into Foxborough and winning a playoff game?

marcomarco said...

Not to rub it in... but this is truly an amazing ride for New Englanders.

Let me put this into perspective:

Since October 1st, three major sports teams have lost 6* times.

Sox to Cleveland:
-Game two 13-6
-Game three 4-2
-Game four 7-3

-Orlando (2 pts)
-Cleveland (5 pts)
-Detroit (2 pts)

* NHL doesn't count
** No, i'm still not a hoop fan

Matt T said...

Last year, best record in the league (12-2) this year, tied for best record (11-3).

Last year, lost in the championship game, could have won, played wrong QB and RB.

This year, destroyed in the championship game. Thanks to a combined 3 points from Kitna/McGahee/Donald Lee/Mason Crosby.

Well I guess I have a chance if SanDiego's D scores 72 points tonight....

Michael W said...

Ended up in the consolation game, playing for 3rd/4th. Rivers is going to win or lose it for me tonight. And, of course, the two guys playing for 3rd and 4th are going to be, by far, the highest scorers this week. 1 v 2 was weak.

Travis said...

I blame my 2005 defeat on Verizon.

Lost opening week and went on to totally dominate everyone for the rest of the season... I moved to a new apartment on December 4 and set my roster for the following week before hand... I had already called in the dsl order for my new apartment, was told 7-10 days. The 4th was a sunday so that put me ion the middle of the following week.

Well 10 days came and no dsl.... called verizon...was told 24 hours... this went on for about 0 days.... finally they tell me DSL isnt available yet in that part of Brooklyn... HOW THE HELL can a part of the largest city in the USA not be wired for DSL? pathetic... anyway I lost that weekend of the 11th I beliueve. because 3 of my starters, my QB and like 3 other players were all inactives that week......ugh

Travis said...

Oh ya... I didnt play last year and I was 9 points down in the championship going into tonite.... other guy is done i had LT..... 14 points at half baby!!!! I AM CHAMPION...

:p also anyone seen I AM LEGEND? At the beggining theres a newscast and on the headline scroll at the bottom it says "Giants lose to Patriots for Second time this season 23-7" hmmmm if that happens that would be 19-0!!!!!!!

Unknown said...

2 leagues, 2 championship games...Blown out by 54 in one thanks to the illustrious play of Willie Parker, Plaxico Burress, and the Green Bay defense...Squeaked out the second by 1.12, my boy is feeling your pain...Happy Holidays!

Bookhead said...

The 72 Dolphins can't stand you either.